The latest from Patrick C. Greene and Hobbes End Publishing – THE CRIMSON CALLING – Centuries after their eradication and the death of their Queen in the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Vampire population now numbers in only the hundreds. A few of the remaining survivors regrouped and a High Council was born. Now a new threat has arrived: modern day military is not only tracking members of the council, they are attempting to create their own vampire soldiers.
Enter Olivia Irons. Ex Black Ops. Doing her best to live a normal civilian life, but it never feels right. No family, no friends, and trouble always seems to follow. When the Sanguinarian Council offers her the chance of a lifetime, the biggest risk of all seems like the only path left to choose. How will she answer The Crimson Calling?
If the Avengers and The Expendables franchises have taught us anything, it’s that more is better, or at least…morier. And while horror fans may enjoy the classic scenario of a small group facing a singular implacable menace, sometimes it’s fun to engage in sensory overload via a film filled to the face with a variety of menaces.
This list focuses on the over-the-top monster mashes that leave us sated like scary smorgasbords. No ALIENS, STARSHIP TROOPERS, zombies or other multitudes of the same species here; the following focus on flicks with several different kinds of monsters.
Back in 1933, horror and monster pictures were just beginning to take hold and prove their box office worth. But Universal’s nascent house of black and white horrors must surely have paled (literally) in comparison to RKO’s monster fest KING KONG. O’Brien had worked on a silent adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE LOST WORLD nearly a decade earlier, but comparatively speaking, KONG was light years ahead in the FX department, featuring stop motion special effects work by Willis O’Brien that included not only the titular monster monarch but a stegosaur, bronto(or pleisio?)saur, styracosaur, a giant lizard and the triple threat of an allosaurus, eel monster and pterosaur engaging Kong in epic battles.
As if that wasn’t enough. O’Brien and crew devised an icky menagerie of smaller insect and reptile critters that attacked crew members forced off a log bridge and into a swampy pit by Kong. Reportedly, this scene was deemed too horrific by studio suits, so it wound up on the floor. Sadly, that footage is long lost.
In 2005, Universal released a fun -if overlong- remake created by The Lord of The Rings director Peter Jackson and his New Zealand effects house WETA, which featured more of everything, including the pit scene.
This would not be Jackson’s first shot at the infamous sequence though, as he lovingly recreated the lost footage based on the original script and various descriptions. See it here!
THE BLACK SCORPION
There was plenty of dino-filled matinee fare after KONG, though most were not nearly as well realized. Japanese films mostly just pitted single monsters (including Kong) against their reigning champion Godzilla until the mid-sixties, but this entry in the giant bug brigade, coming in 1957, brought back O’Brien and his creepy stop-mo aesthetic for a unique, if rather cheap effort that, aside from the titular mutants (their were actually many of the big arachnids) presented an unnerving subterranean sequence filled with spiders and worms that had all the nuclear age housewives shaking out their bouffants and sleeping with their kids’ Daisy BB repeaters for months.
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS!
Japan’s Toho Studios followed Universal’s formula of one film containing multiple monsters in 1965 by bringing their Big Three, Godzilla Rodan and Mothra, together to battle the new menace of GHIDORAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER but it wasn’t until 1968 that they assembled no less than eleven kaiju for a proper monster party set in the far away future of 1999, when daily moon trips were/will be the norm and all the giant menaces that have so plagued the world have been corralled onto a pacific island affectionately termed Monsterland. But as we all know, the future will bring with it alien contact, and in this case the aliens are hostile. They’ve devised a method to control the monsters and promptly release them to raze the world’s capitols. Godzilla and friends, Rodan, Mothra, Anguirus, Kumonga and many more, eventually turn face and help defeat the aliens but the enemy has an ace up their silvery sleeves: King Ghidorah. The space demon, vastly outnumbered, quickly succumbs, finally dying after three films. It’s fun to see the 90s through the eyes of the 60s, but all those monsters onscreen at once is a 12-year-old sci-fi geek’s dream come true.
AT THE EARTH’S CORE
Exploitation studio stalwarts American International and Amicus came together for this very very 70s B pic based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs tale featuring western star Doug McClure, Peter Cushing and the irresistible Caroline Munro, in a tiny animal skin bikini no less. The plot: Victorian era scientists ride a drill machine past the earth’s upper crusts, where they find a neolithic civilization enslaved by a race of rodent men who are in turn working for telepathic flying reptiles.
But wait, there’s more. Along the way, our heroes encounter dinosaur-like beasts unseen in the above-ground fossil record, such as a giant bulldog lizard thing, two bipedal wild boars fighting over a mansnack, a beaked allosaurus, a fire breathing toad, and a creepy carnivorous plant. The same producers followed up with the equally monster-filled THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS, but neither of those carries the weird charm of this bad boy.
GALAXY OF TERROR
Just get a look at the poster art and there can be no doubt that this ALIEN-inspired Roger Corman production, despite its budget shortcomings, delivers monsters galore, and yes, a full galaxy’s worth of terror, not to mention a cast to kill for: Robert Englund, Edward Albert, Ray Walston, Erin Moran and Sid Haig. But its Taafee O’Connell who is best remembered for the dubious distinction of being raped by a giant maggot thing. So yeah, this is that kind of flick. Quite a departure from the above-mentioned films in terms of subject matter. Aside from the maggot thing, there is a tentacled brain sucker, a malevolent disembodied arm, a glowy-eyed giant demon, sentient wires, Erin Moran minus epidermis, and… okay not as much monstrage as some of the previous flicks, but just the idea of a film trying to outgun ALIEN earns it those coveted monster mash points.
THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD
The legendary sailor and adventurer began his film career in 1958 with Ray Harryhausen at the helm of spectacular stop motion effects that, for my money, are his best work. Kerwin Matthews leads a cast of white folks playing Arabs doing battle with and running from, such monstrosities as Talos The Bronze Giant, a vicious horned cyclops, a two headed vulture, (aka a ‘Roc,’) a massive fire breathing dragon and an army of unsettlingly agile skeleton warriors. Spawned a handful of sequels, but none compare to the majesty and wonder of the original.
INFRA-MAN aka THE SUPER INFRAMAN
OMG, ya’ll — a Chinese kung fu/sci-fi/monster flick? No further sales pitch needed. An ancient subterranean troupe of intelligent and malevolent monsters (hmm…kinda like NIGHTBREED, but much better at jump kicks) rises to overtake the world and install as its ruler The Princess Dragon Mahm, a seriously bad bitch with a hand that is a dragon’s head sprouting a tongue for a whip. …FUCK yeah. That’s not all she has up her sleeve — er, reptile…arm/neck. She turns into a full blown winged dragon that can re-grow its head, countless times! So, a scientist creates an implant or something that allows bad ass Danny Lee to turn into the titular hero via a series of aerial flips. Just in time too, because the princess’ horrific hordes are as brutally destructive as they are ugly. Infra-Man’s seemingly unlimited powers serve him in battle against: a reptilian bulldog/gorilla beast with one metal drill hand and one metal boxing glove! A green tentacled fellow who can plant himself like a seed and sprout to Godzillian heights as a bundle of flailing tentacles! An orange bipedal arachnid who traps dudes in web spheres! An armor plated demon with a red mustache! A chick with eyes in her hands, that, of course, shoot lasers! Infra-Man is obviously China’s answer to Ultraman, Kamen Rider and countless other Japanese heroes, but I have to admit — I’ve always liked INFRA-MAN better than any of those shows.
More MONSTER MASHES to come!
A few days ago my latest short story CINDERBLOCK released as an ebook. It’s unusual in a number of ways, most obvious being that it’s a horror story set in a sporting environment. As far as I know and with few exceptions, the closest horror has gotten to athletics is Jason donning a Detroit Red Wings goalie mask in Friday the 13th Part 3.
By now, it’s clear to most of my social media associates, readers and imaginary friends that I have a more than passing interest in martial arts and all forms of unarmed combat. Most horror writers are deeply peaceful folk who actually abhor violence, and while I share that perspective, there are few things I enjoy more than watching a good match between trained combat athletes, and on a good day, stepping onto the mat myself.
One of CINDERBLOCK’s principals is an old Polish fight trainer named Doc Lubinski, who is not unlike Burgess Meredith’s Mickey in the Rocky films. This is what people who spend too much time thinking about storytelling refer to as an archetype, which is a way of saying “stereotype” without sounding demeaning. But as a martial artist I’ve certainly had a few Doc Lubinski types expressing encouragement and enraged disappointment at my own humble efforts. By far, the most influential and colorful is Billy “Pops” Wicks, to whom the story is dedicated.
Pops, the son of Norwegian immigrants, took up wrestling in his teens and soon found himself working in traveling carnivals as the guy who takes on “all comers” while a top hatted barker riled up “marks” -local boys who wanted to impress their gal. Of course, the mark would never reach the Promised Land that lay under the skirts of their preferred farmer’s daughter. or if they did, it was out of sympathy. Pops’ job was to toy with them long enough to make it interesting, then to force a submission.
This style of wrestling is called Catch As Catch Can, more recently shortened to catch wrestling. I discovered it and Pops through another of his students, Pancrase* veteran Johnny Huskey.
As one might expect of any man from that rough post-depression era, Pops is salty, outspoken, and generally annoyed with how goddamn candy-assed contemporary fighters are. Unlike Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters, catch wrestlers are expected to stay off their backs when competing or fighting. So emphatic is Pops about this that he has been known to jab young pupils with straight pins if they don’t work out of the bottom position. Believe me, no matter how big or skilled your opponent is, you’ll find a way to escape if you see an angry-faced Norwegian man coming toward you with a straight pin. The pin you see, is to remind you that you’re being “pinned.”
Eventually wrestling changed, and Pops joined the movement toward choreographed action. If a wrestling star got a bit unmanageable among his peers and promoters, he might just find himself booked against Pops, which was a fast track to either humility or hospitalization
But my main point is that Pops loves wrestling, and he loves his wrestlers. To me, his very direct approach and reliance on simple yet brutal techniques is reminiscent of the legendary Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do fighting philosophy. In fact, Lee trained for some time with Gene LeBell, himself a catch wrestler, and a good many catch techniques are found in Lee’s Tao Of Jeet Kune Do.
When my first novel PROGENY was released, Pops excitedly bought and read it. If I may be a bit personal here, that was extremely gratifying for me, considering my own father died before its release. Pops exemplifies what a great teacher of any skill should be -a man who teaches boys how to be men, how to be honest, how to do everything as well as you can. There wasn’t time for the story’s Doc Lubinski to get a very wide arc in CINDERBLOCK, so it was important to me that his love for his pupils was apparent, that the reader would understand how much his boys, both the dead and the living, meant to him.
The boxing gym in CINDERBLOCK might itself seem sort of a cliche. But any inner city kid will tell you, that’s where you find them. The athletes of whatever culture that is most persecuted in any given historical era will gravitate to boxing, and because they have little other choice, they will excel. During Lubinski’s time it would have been the Polish, now it’s black and latino kids. The story’s protagonist O.C. is that kid who could easily have gone the wrong way, if not for “The Old Pole,” as I like to call him.
Doc is not based directly on Pops so much, but is my attempt to compress my understanding of the coach/pupil relationship into capsule form and make it believable enough to fuel the story proper. What I know of Mike Tyson’s relationship with Cus D’amato is also in there, maybe some Mister Miyagi, and of course — Mickey. 🙂
*Pancrase: A Japanese MMA promotion pre-dating the UFC that emphasized submission grappling over striking.
Wiki Billy Wicks
Thank you to everyone who took advantage of the free download and posted a review on Amazon!
****THIS PROMOTION HAS ENDED****
The publisher of PROGENY, Hobbes End Publishing, decided to make the Kindle version FREE for a limited time.
You only have a few days!
What reviewers are saying:
“A rip-roaring quick read told so vividly, you’ll feel like you’re watching a movie.
Bigger than the battle between man and Bigfoot is the battle between man and son. Three father/son relationships, each one has their own complexities, dramas and heartaches. Although different, they also share a painful similarity: loss. Loss of respect. Loss of innocence. Loss of control.
A horror story that goes beyond monsters lurking in a forest..a story of monsters lurking within living beings..of broken relationships and misunderstandings that wreak more havoc than Bigfoot himself.”(Edited for length) Jen’s Pen Den
“…surprisingly good, very solid writing, likable (or very much not likable) but always three dimensional characters, strong pacing and just overall engaging storytelling. One can read it as drama with meditation on parenting, action thriller with concentration on a hunt and its consequences or just a story about Sasquatches. Either way it works and well.” (Edited for length) Bandit – Goodreads
“This story is much more than a Bigfoot tale. It’s a coming of age piece of art, about a father and son who experience something deadly behind their wooded home. Mr. Greene has a poetic prose in his writing, and Progeny is a quick and fun read.” Leigha Langston – Amazon
“[PROGENY] climbs inside and demands at least one more page to be read before stopping for the night.” Dean – Amazon
“Patrick C. Greene is a masterful story-teller.”
“PCG is from the twilight zone, and I am just lucky to be along for the ride!”
“He kind of reminds me of a young Clive Barker.”
Exciting news today! One of my publishers, Sekhmet Press, decided to make four of my books free on Sunday and Monday, April 13 & 14 on Amazon. Don’t miss this chance to pick up some highly-rated horror, and please take the time to leave a review. Not only does it help with those insane Amazon algorithms, but I really want to know what you think. Thanks for taking the time! Hope you enjoy the terrifying ride.
FINAL DAYS of the PROGENY Kindle Countdown Sale!
“Progeny is a rip-roaring quick read that’s told so vividly, you’ll feel like you’re watching a movie. It’s one of those stories that builds its premise slowly but surely, enticing the reader to turn the pages faster and faster as the terror heats up. In fact, I’d say for the last third of the book, I was curled in a fetal position, afraid to even look out my own window lest I see a giant monster staring in at me.
“Deanna reflexively turned toward Chuck–but her eyes were drawn to the window of the door behind him. A massive dark form was there, filling the window frame, peering in at them with huge eyes that eerily reflected the firelight.”
For me, Progeny was all the scarier because of my fear of the woods (don’t you dare laugh!). I don’t know how many times I’ve walked through the forest and heard a twig snap or seen a footprint that was way too large to be a deer or rabbit. Furthermore, I don’t know how many stories I’ve heard from friends who’ve come upon a mountain lion or bear while hiking. The woods are teeming with life, and in Progeny, they’re teeming with a life that’s far more alarming than any mountain lion or bear.
“Lightening flashed in an extended strobing burst, silencing Zane–and giving all of them a brief glimpse of the massive hairy beast standing less than ten yards behind them…Then it was dark again.”
Yet, despite its many terrifying moments, Progeny had its touching moments, too. Bigger than the battle between man and Bigfoot is the battle between man and son. The word “progeny” means offspring, descendent, or son. In this book there are three distinctive father/son relationships, and each one has their own complexities and dramas and heartaches. Yet, although these three father/son pairings are different from each other, they also share a painful similarity: loss. Loss of respect. Loss of innocence. Loss of control. Loss of love. Loss of life! Patrick C. Greene does a terrific job of telling a horror story that goes beyond monsters lurking in a forest. He tells a story of monsters lurking within living beings. Of anger and sorrow and regret. Of broken relationships and misunderstandings that wreak more havoc than Bigfoot himself.
If you’re looking for a heartfelt yet suspenseful read, this is it!” Jen’s Pen Den
5 STARS ***** 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!! Read the full review TRICK by Patrick C. Greene.
So much more than a Bigfoot story…
Hey everybody! It’s Jen! Patrick’s wife and biggest fan! Join us this week as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the release of Patrick’s debut novel, PROGENY! There will be a lot going on, places to visit on the interwebs, interviews and blogs to read, excerpts from the new novel, and some freebies and giveaways you don’t want to miss! The first thing to do is join the Facebook PROGENY event here PROGENY CELEBRATES ONE YEAR! so you don’t miss out on any of the action!
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Oh my goodness – he’s everywhere!
What does the FOX say? Find out HERE,
Jen’s Pen Den review HERE,
and the Fiona Mcvie interview HERE
you will find the first chapter HERE
And on Thursday
more Freebies and Giveaways, exciting announcements and another new release!
A few of the prizes:
Signed copy of Progeny
Signed copy of Dark Destinies
Paperback of Endlands 1
Paperback of Endlands 2
Paperback of Strings
Paperback of Wrapped In Red
Signed original Progeny concept sketch #1
Signed original Progeny concept sketch #2
Free electronic copy of Silver Surrogate (new release)
*prizes subject to change based upon availability.
- Happy Book Anniversary: Progeny by Patrick C. Greene (jenspenden.wordpress.com)
- Here is my interview with Patrick C Greene (authorsinterviews.wordpress.com)