Book Review – The Late Night Horror Show by Bryan Smith (2013)

The Late Night Horror Show
by Bryan Smith
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Samhain Publishing

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Samhain Publishing just keeps getting it right when it comes to horror. With every new release, they continue to push the boundaries of terror and offer up a nice diversity of new and unique frights. Their upcoming release, THE LATE NIGHT HORROR SHOW, is a perfect example of this. Wildly entertaining and full of the horror that fans like me love, this book thrills on many different levels.

If you are not familiar with THE LATE NIGHT HORROR SHOW, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:

It was a run-down old multi-plex in a seedy part of town. But it had a special late-night festival of the cheap horror movies one group of friends loved, movies filled with zombies, vampires and backwoods maniacs.

How could they know it was a very special screening indeed? After the friends split up and their chosen movies began, they found themselves transported out of the life they knew and into the blood-drenched worlds of the films. Worlds where the living dead roam the countryside, the decrepit mansion of a vampire and his minions dominates the night sky, and the shrill scream of a buzz saw is always right behind you.

Author Bryan Smith is certainly a writer to watch out for. With a vast imagination and an easy-to-read style of writing, Smith is already a force in the world of horror fiction. He has several novels under his belt, and I have decided to check out as many as I can.

THE LATE NIGHT HORROR SHOW is fast-paced and written well. The wording and sentence structure flow nicely, which allows the reader full immersion into the world Smith creates. And you definitely want full immersion with this book. There are plenty of scares and gore to satiate even the hardest of hardcore horror fans.

The characters are widely diverse and fleshed out to the point of realism. I specifically have to point out how well Smith nails the stereotypical Southern traits within them; as a Southerner myself, I am proud of how well he writes them into the story.

My sole complaint about THE LATE NIGHT HORROR SHOW is that there’s way too much profanity for me, specifically F-bombs. Normally I don’t object to cussing in horror novels, but when it is used so often (like on almost every single page) that I start noticing it, I feel that’s a bit too much. Some folks might not care, but I feel this is worth mentioning.

Otherwise, THE LATE NIGHT HORROR SHOW is an excellent foray into terror. It is a taut horror-fest that will keep you riveted and turning the pages late into the night. I highly recommend this one so give it a look next week when it hits shelves.

MSB

Book Review – Night of the Scream Queen by Michael McCarty & Linnea Quigley (2012)

Night of the Scream Queen: Kiss of the Gator Guy
by Michael McCarty & Linnea Quigley
Release Date: May 28, 2012
Publisher: Dark Moon Books

Night of the Scream

A label on the back of this book screams “Quirky! Irreverent! Over-the-top! Zany!” This could not be more true, and that is definitely a good thing. NIGHT OF THE SCREAM QUEEN: KISS OF THE GATOR GUY is one of the most original but craziest books I have ever read. And since it’s co-authored by horror icon Linnea Quigley, how could any horror fan resist reading it?

If you are not familiar with NIGHT OF THE SCREAM QUEEN: KISS OF THE GATOR GUY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Dark Moon Books website:

Scream Queen Desiree Starr is tired of starring in one low budget horror movie after another, each passing film, her wardrobe becomes skimpier and skimpier. Private Martin Riley, a simple solider from Iowa is recruited for “Operation Reptilian”, a dangerous experiment where he is supposed to become a “Solider of the Future”–but he becomes something else entirely different. Dr. Morrie Madden, a military “mad scientist” who has played God one too many times. Aging British actor Blake Smith, once a leading man in horror films, but that was before his face started to deteriorate and now has to wear masks in public. All their lives become intersected and a hell breaks loose in the Devil Bayou swamplands.

I gotta tell you: I loved this book. It is chocked full of humor, realistic on-set drama, and even a few scenes of outright semi-terror! Authors Michael McCarty and Linnea Quigley have captured the essence of B-grade cinema and managed to put it into the written word. The result is an entertaining and bizarre jaunt into fun.

NIGHT OF THE SCREAM QUEEN: KISS OF THE GATOR GUY is written well and flows at a smooth pace. The characters are actually believable, which is a true testament to the authors given the subject matter and all. And the story itself is straight out of the pages of the National Enquirer, a scenario that might be plausible, but only if we lived in an alternate reality.

What makes this book so enjoyable for me are the ‘memoir’ pages taken from the biography of main character Desiree Starr. I feel like we are getting a glimpse into what the actual life of a scream queen could encompass. This lends a massive amount of credibility to the book and the story, and makes for a more entertaining ride.

NIGHT OF THE SCREAM QUEEN: KISS OF THE GATOR GUY is one of those book you only run across once in a decade or two. It’s one of those titles destined for ‘cult-classic’ status, and I would wager that people will be taking about it for years and years to come. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes horror, homages to horror, MST3K, drive-in movies, or B-movies in general. Give this one a look today…but don’t be surprised if you catch yourself grinning a lot while you read it.

MSB

Check out my short story ‘Stiff’ in the zombie anthology FIFTY SHADES OF DECAY

I sold my first short story a while back and the book is coming out in a week or two in physical form. E-copies of the book are already available on Amazon and Smashwords (links to purchase are below, if you are interested).

FIFTY SHADES OF DECAY is published by Angelic Knight Press and will be sold in a variety of bookstores. Here is a snapshot of the cover:

50ShadesCover

This is the first short story I’ve sold, so I’m pretty stoked to say the least. Here are links to the e-copies if you are interested in purchasing one:

FIFTY SHADES OF DECAY – Amazon

FIFTY SHADES OF DECAY – Smashwords

If you do get a chance to read my story, please drop me an e-mail or even comment here on the blog about what you think of it.

MSB

Movie Review – Snow Shark (2011)

Snow Shark
Directed by Sam Qualiana
Courtesy of Independent Entertainment
Original Release Date: 2011
Release Date: February 19, 2013

SnowShark_HiRes_

It’s been a while, but I finally found another movie that sucks so bad that it’s actually good. Yes, it’s SNOW SHARK, and you can tell by the title that this film is very, um, interesting. Seriously, though, director Sam Qualiana gives a great effort in this low-budget horror flick, but unfortunately the subject matter and execution come off as way too campy to take seriously.

If you are not familiar with SNOW SHARK, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Independent Entertainment:

In 1999, a team of animal biologists investigating a rash of wildlife killings disappeared in the lonely woods near a small town. Years later, a local resident claims to have killed a prehistoric carnivorous creature living in the snow. Now, someone – or something – is making lunch of the locals. As curiosity-seekers and crypto zoologists descend on the small town, drawn by the legend of the Snow Shark, Mark – sole survivor of an earlier attack – leads an armed and dangerous posse into a deadly battle. Dive into Snow Shark, the outrageous and spine-tingling tale of the world’s greatest predator, frozen for thousands of years, freed by an earthquake, and really, really hungry.

I wish I could have been in the room when the concept for SNOW SHARK was developed. I can just hear it now: “Hey, let’s do a movie about a shark…that swims on the land…or better yet, in the snow!” I’m not making fun, I’m dead serious; I’ll bet the production team had a blast fleshing out this idea.

This film is very low budget and it is very campy, however it has heart and some not-too-bad special effects. I actually enjoyed the film when I quit trying to take it seriously. If you go into this one without expecting much, you’ll probably enjoy it as well.

The cinematography in SNOW SHARK is ok, but the acting is quite bad. The bad acting is, however, one of the qualities that make it a “good” film. The cast strives to make the characters real, but they just don’t have the talent or the experience to do so; the lines come out flat and the emotions simply too fake. I found myself laughing quite a bit, even during the ‘intense’ scenes.

Surprisingly, the special effects didn’t look too bad. Let me change that a bit: the GORE special effects didn’t look too bad…the shark, on the other hand, was laughable. It simply looked too fake in most of the shots, however there was a single scene where a man is dangling halfway out of its mouth where it looks decent.

I am going to recommend SNOW SHARK, but only if you are looking for a good laugh. And even then, I imagine many of my readers will probably shut it off after 20 minutes or so. I would only give this one a look if you have some time to kill.

MSB

Comic Book Review – The Last Zombie: Before the After by Brian Keene & Fred Perry (2012)

The Last Zombie: Before the After
by Brian Keene & Fred Perry
Release Date: 2012
Publisher: Antarctic Press

The Last Zombie the-last-zombie2

I think I have a new comic book passion. Scratch that…I KNOW I have one. I have vowed, after reading the first two issues of THE LAST ZOMBIE: BEFORE THE AFTER, that I’m going to snatch up every issue of this series…and then every issues in the other story arcs as well. Epic in scope and excellent in execution, this is one comic that every horror fan needs to be collecting.

If you are not familiar with THE LAST ZOMBIE series, here is the plot synopsis:

THE LAST ZOMBIE series takes place years after a zombie apocalypse has decimated humanity. Dr. Ian Scott is part of a mission to find out what happened to a FEMA bunker in West Virginia. Contact with the bunker, which housed his fiancée, Jen, has been lost. Along the journey from Colorado to West Virginia, Ian contracts the zombie virus. He secretly injects himself with the precious, experimental zombie vaccine that the team is transporting to the FEMA bunker. Even with the vaccine, Ian is slowly deteriorating and succumbing to the virus. And Doctor Federman is beginning to piece together Ian’s secret. BEFORE THE AFTER is the fourth story arc in the series. The team takes refuge from a blizzard in an abandoned hotel. There, they investigate the premises, scavenge for supplies, and just try to endure the storm.

As chagrined as I am to admit it, I am not familiar with Brian Keene’s body of work, although I know he is a powerhouse in the horror world. After reading the first two issues of THE LAST ZOMBIE: BEFORE THE AFTER, I am definitely going to get acquainted with Keene’s portfolio. The man is truly a master of horror.

The Last Zombie-A

THE LAST ZOMBIE: BEFORE THE AFTER is unique in the fact that it deals more with the characters and their strife than with the zombies themselves. Oh, don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of walking dead action and terror…but usually in the form of flashbacks. With this series, we get to see what brought the characters to where they are now in their world.

The artwork looks great, and I particularly like how it is done in black & white. I’ve heard some critics say that zombie comics that are published in this format are just trying to rip off THE WALKING DEAD. I completely disagree. The lack of color adds to the realism and grittiness of the situations the characters have to face. So, if anything, the black & white aspect adds to the intensity, regardless of the genre.

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I highly recommend THE LAST ZOMBIE: BEFORE THE AFTER, and as mentioned, I will be checking out the other story arcs within this series as well. Give this one a look for sure.

MSB

Book Review – Earth Girl by Janet Edwards (2012)

Earth Girl
by Janet Edwards
Published by HarperVoyager / Pyr
U.K. Release Date: August 16, 2012
U.S. Release Date: March 5, 2013

EarthGirlcover

If you are like me, originality and uniqueness in a story go a long way when looking for new books to read. I have my favorite genres that I always look up when I’m perusing the bookstores, but even so, I like to see new ideas and concepts within them. I hate to see the same plots rehashed and reinvented over and over again, which makes every unique storyline that I run across a true treasure to find. EARTH GIRL, the debut novel from Janet Edwards, is one of those rare gems, a pure diamond in the coal-cluttered mine of Young Adult fiction.

If you are not familiar with EARTH GIRL, you will be very soon…I would wager that it is the next big series to hit the YA scene, putting it in the same caliber as the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy. Here is the plot synopsis, courtesy of the author’s website:

The year is 2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an ‘ape’, a ‘throwback’, but this is one ape girl who won’t give in. But can she prove to the norms that she’s more than just an Earth Girl?

I will be blunt in regard to my overall thoughts on this book: EARTH GIRL is by far one of the best fiction titles that I have read in the past year. Make no mistake…this is a book that must be on your To Read List for 2012/2013.

The above plot synopsis is a bit vague, I will admit, but I am not going to go into great detail here, so as not to ruin the story for you. But I will tell you that the basis EARTH GIRL deals with the excavation of a couple of key sites in New York. Yes, you read that correctly: because the stars have beckoned to mankind, Earth has been forgotten over the past couple of centuries, rendering much of it to ruin. But humanity has finally realized all of the historical significance the planet has and is therefore sending teams to dig up its past. The story revolves around Jarra, as she poses as an off-worlder in order to work on the site.

As you can see, the story is a refreshing and unique concept, and EARTH GIRL is a very welcome addition to a YA market that is flooded with overused ideas. Edwards’ writes with a brilliant voice and her prose dances off the page with the grace of a ballerina. The pacing of the story is dead-on and the characters are all interesting and likable (except for one particular young man who goes out of his way to be an ass). I particularly enjoy how the story is told from Jarra’s point-of-view, which allows the reader to get into her head easier.

It pains me to state that there is not U.S. release date for EARTH GIRL yet (UPDATE: the release is scheduled for March 5, 2013), however it appears that Pyr will be the company that is publishing it. Still, you would definitely not be wasting your money if you decided to pay a bit extra and order a U.K. version later this year. I am considering doing so, if anything but to see what the decided cover of the book will be (the advance reader copy I received does not have a real cover).

Check EARTH GIRL out as soon as you can. It is vastly entertaining and immensely enjoyable. It is definitely going into my library, and I cannot wait to see what Edwards does next.

MSB

Book Review – The Art of Dead Space by Martin Robinson (2013)

The Art of Dead Space
by Martin Robinson
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Titan Books

artofdeadspace

I’ve mentioned this before, but I have to reiterate: I love seeing concept art behind my favorite games and movies. There’s something almost magical about how designers can translate concepts into reality for the screen. So when I heard about THE ART OF DEAD SPACE and how it would cover all three games, I knew I had to see it. The fine folks at Titan planned the release of this book to coincide with the release of the third game in the series, and it is a perfect compliment to the epic horror franchise.

If you are not familiar with THE ART OF DEAD SPACE, here is the description courtesy of Titan Books:

THE ART OF DEAD SPACE is the ultimate gallery of the Dead Space universe, with over 300 images, sketches and concept art pieces by acclaimed game artists showcasing breathtaking spacescapes to terrifying Necromorphs, character designs to creating an in-game religion, plus commentary from the artists. Includes art from the entire Dead Space video game franchise.

If you’re a gamer, this book is a Must Own item. As a huge fan of the series, I am glad to own this beautiful coffee-table book. But aside from the lavish graphics, readers will get some in-depth and behind-the-scenes information only available here.

Dead_Space_3_Concept_Art_05b

My favorite aspect of THE ART OF DEAD SPACE is that it covers the whole series and everything within the universe. This includes characters, creatures, landscapes and locations, vehicles, scenery, and even outer space. The scope of this book is stunning and the information provided is very comprehensive.

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From carnage-filled hallways to desolate planetscapes, this book will transport you into the Dead Space universe and immerse you in its depth. Whether you’re a fan of good art or a diehard gamer, you will love the illustrations and information in this compendium. Check out THE ART OF DEAD SPACE now.

MSB

Movie Review – Cherry Tree Lane (2010)

Cherry Tree Lane
Directed by Paul Andrew Williams
Courtesy of Image Entertainment
Original Release Date: 2010
DVD Release Date: January 29, 2013

cherry-tree-lane

I had never heard of CHERRY TREE LANE until I got it in the mail a while back, but the DVD cover immediately piqued my curiosity. And I have to say: the cover art definitely does the film justice. Image Entertainment has a reputation for putting out some excellent horror, and this film is no exception. This film is brutal and uncompromising, a true jaunt into suburban horror.

If you are not familiar with CHERRY TREE LANE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Image Entertainment:

A young family is pushed to the very edge of terror and brutality in Paul Andrew Williams’ horror-thriller, CHERRY TREE LANE. Mike, Christine, and their son Sebastian have always felt safe in their peaceful suburban neighborhood, but a savage home invasion changes everything, pushing the family into a hellish fight for survival. As their nightmare unfolds, they learn the shocking cruelty that strangers can inflict…and what they’ll have to do to save themselves.

This film is a lot of fun but it is intense and sometimes disturbing to watch. While a lot of the violence is implied, there’s still enough of it to get the point across and then some. But if you can get past it, there’s a lot of entertainment to be had.

CHERRY TREE LANE is a complex mix of psychological and physical torment. I have to commend filmmaker Paul Andrew Williams on his ability to combine both into a crafty albeit fierce presentation. The result is a taut, unrefined journey.

This film is shot well and the acting is actually impressive. I have to be honest and admit I wasn’t expecting much after seeing the first few opening scenes. But when the movie picks up, so does the quality of the characters. I enjoyed seeing the whole cast onscreen and will be looking for them in future projects.

The special effects in CHERRY TREE LANE are good, although there’s not really much gore to speak of; we get to see blood and what-not, but I was looking for more carnage. This in no way detracts from the film, but I do feel it’s worth mentioning to the gore-hounds who read my reviews.

Although this film doesn’t break any new ground as far as storyline goes, it is engaging and a great way to spend 77 minutes. Fans of revenge flicks will definitely want to give this one a look, as well as those who simply enjoy horror. The film is already on store shelves, so give it a look.

MSB

Book Review – Dark Lord by Ed Greenwood (2008)

Dark Lord
by Ed Greenwood
Release Date: October 28, 2008
Publisher: Solaris Books

Dark-Lord-Ed-Greenwood-Hardcover20-lge

** Courtesy of guest reviewer Skylar Baker, my 14 year-old daughter **

Ed Greenwood needs to become a director of movies, or really, anything that deals with filmmaking, because his creativity is beyond compare.  His book, DARK LORD, is phenomenal.  He takes an unexpected twist on the whole “getting sucked into a seemingly-fake realm” thing, but also gives it character, with heart-stopping twists all throughout the plot.  I will say that this is going to be one of the best books I’ve read this year (even though we’re only two months into it).
 
If you are not familiar with DARK LORD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Solaris Books:

Rod Everlar is a writer who mysteriously finds himself drawn into a fantasy world of his own creation. Once there he discovers that three dark wizards dominate the land. Facing danger at every turn, he must learn how to seize control of Falconfar and find a way of defeating the spreading corruption before it’s too late. Dark Lord displays all the hallmarks of Ed’s reputation for creating a richly realized fantasy setting, and characters that shine. 
 
His description and fleshed out detail of the characters in this book really bring it to life.  Greenwood carefully weaves the personalities of the main characters:  Rod Everlar (just a simple stay-at-home writer) and “Tay,” (his gorgeous, winged, Aumrarr companion).  He makes sure that you never realize you’re not in Falconfar yourself.  I loved DARK LORD, and it would be a vital edition to any fantasy collection.
 
DARK LORD is so wonderfully written – it’s hard to put into words.  His style of writing outdoes almost all other authors, and the description all throughout is just…wow.  He takes such a used genre and molds it into something of new design.  There’s never a dull moment in Rod’s journey through Falconfar.
 
The suspense in DARK LORD is overwhelming.  The slower parts in this book just make it what it is; because it’s gradually leading up to some huge even that ends up in one of Greenwood’s exciting twists.  You seem to never know when you’re in the real world or if you’re strolling through Rod’s fabled world.
 
All-in-all, this is one of the best possible fantasy genre books you could read.  DARK LORD is wonderfully written and I must commend Ed Greenwood on this fantastic masterpiece that he so skillfully conjured.

LSB