It’s time for another giveaway!

You guys are so lucky! Up for grabs this time are one of THREE (3) copies of Paul Kane’s upcoming book HOODED MAN:

HOODED-MAN

Courtesy of Abaddon Books, here is the official plot synopsis of HOODED MAN:

When civilization died and the world descended into a new Dark Age, Robert Stokes lost everything, retreating into the woods near Nottingham to turn his back on it all. But foreign mercenary and arms dealer De Falaise sees England as ripe for conquest – and when he and his army arrive at Nottingham, Stokes is reluctantly drawn into the resistance. From Sherwood he leads the fight and takes on the mantle of the world’s greatest folk hero. The Hooded Man and his allies will become a symbol of freedom, a shining light in the horror of a blighted world, but he can never rest: De Falaise is only the first of his kind. Filled with impressive action and desperate characters, this hard-edged dystopian omnibus collects the novels Arrowhead, Broken Arrow and Arrowland.

The book will be released on June 11, 2013, so be sure and enter now for your chance to win one of the three copies! Entering is SO EASY…check out the details below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! Feel free to email me at msb@matthewscottbaker.com if you have any questions.

MSB

Graphic Novel Review – Judge Dredd: Origins by John Wagner (2013)

Judge Dredd: Origins
by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, & Kev Walker
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Publisher: 2000 AD

Judge Dredd-US

If you’re not a fan of JUDGE DREDD, you really should be. But don’t let the 1995 Sylvester Stallone disaster-of-a-movie with the same title dissuade you from doing so; that film is NOT worthy of the Dredd name and does not follow much of the actual Dredd canon (um, hello…he never removes his helmet!). Instead, focus on the comics and graphic novels; this is where Dredd was born and this is where you will truly learn who he is. The graphic novel JUDGE DREDD: ORIGINS is a perfect place to start.

If you are not familiar with JUDGE DREDD: ORIGINS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of 2000 AD:

The birth of Judge Dredd’s world is revealed. How America became a wasteland with two enormous Mega-Cities on each seaboard. How Judge Dredd himself came to be, and his first taste of dealing justice on the streets. Secrets will be revealed. The future will be forged. Justice will be served.

An unusual delivery is made the the Grand Hall of Justice, a package that will force Judge Dredd to lead a mission into the Cursed Earth and into the darkest recesses of the history of the Judges and Mega-City One…

Now in this much-anticipated Dredd epic, history is written by Dredd co-creators John Wagner (A History of Violence) and Carlos Ezquerra (Strontium Dog) with a special introductory tale featuring the art of Kev Walker.

This is a must-have for Dredd fans! Whether you are new to his world or a life-long fan, this graphic novel will most likely teach you something you didn’t already know about Dredd and the tough world he inhabits.

Dredd-1

JUDGE DREDD: ORIGINS is written well, with a complex storyline and intriguing plot-work. I can honestly say that I learned a lot while reading this one. And the artwork is excellent as well. Each cell portrays a gritty but realistic portrait of Dredd’s world in high detail.

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JUDGE DREDD: ORIGINS is an absolute win for me. If you’re a comic/graphic novel collector like I am, then you’re going to want to jump on this one for sure. It’s available now, so be sure and snatch it up.

MSB

Book Review – Deck Z: The Titanic by Chris Pauls & Matt Solomon (2012)

Deck Z: The Titanic
by Chris Pauls & Matt Solomon
Release Date: October 3, 2012
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Deck Z

I absolutely love books that can take a well-known historical event and reshape it with a horror aspect. Such is the premise behind DECK Z: THE TITANIC. As you’ve probably already gathered, this book gives an inventive retelling of the Titanic tragedy, but this time there’s a valid reason behind the ship’s sinking: to save the world from the living dead. The result is a solid, fast-paced voyage into zombie terror that will leave you gasping for breath!

If you are not familiar with DECK Z: THE TITANIC, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Chronicle Books:

The year is 1912. Theodor Weiss, a German scientist, has discovered a strange new plague that ravages its victims, transforming them into soulless, flesh-hungry monsters. Yet, his lab studies show that the strain also holds great promise: it could be the cure for all types of the plague. When Weiss uncovers a sinister military plan to use the disease as a weapon, he steals the world’s only sample vial and makes for America, where he will be safely out of the reach of German operatives. And what better way to travel in anonymity than on the world’s largest ocean liner, making its maiden voyage that very week? The Titanic! In DECK Z: THE TITANIC, Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon reveal the grisly and untold story of what really happened in the dark underbelly of the world’s most famous ship.

This book took me on a heck of a journey. I thought I knew what to expect going into it, but I found there’s much more to it than what I figured. Don’t take this book at face-value; you must read it to appreciate the story within.

DECK Z: THE TITANIC is written very well with solid structure and fast-paced intensity. The characters are believable and the dialogue flows nicely. The epic time-period is brought to life in vivid detail, although I commend the authors for not overdoing it with drawn out, overly dramatic descriptions; this would have only bogged the story down and thus inundated it with unneeded rhetoric.

What I find most intriguing about this book is the premise itself. Who else would have thought to turn a tragedy onto its ear and thus rewrite it as a positive thing? I daresay not many authors would have done so. This is prime storytelling at its finest.

DECK Z: THE TITANIC is an absolute win for me. The action is fast-paced and the zombies are gruesome. What more could you ask for? I recommend checking this book out if you’re a fan of zombies, historical fiction, or just horror in general. Give it a look for sure.

MSB

Movie Review – It’s In The Blood (2012)

It’s In The Blood
Directed by Scooter Downey
Courtesy of Monarch Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 23, 2013

It's In the Blood

Every once in a while, I run across a film that almost defies description. These films are always well made and are so broad in scope that they could fall into one of several categories. They are also so good that a simple review like this one cannot do them justice. I have found one of these rare gems with IT’S IN THE BLOOD, a recent release from Monarch Home Entertainment. Aside from boasting one of my favorite actors in a lead role (Lance Henriksen), this film is vastly entertaining and well worth the watch.

If you are not familiar with IT’S IN THE BLOOD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Monarch Entertainment:

One year after a tragic incident tore their family apart, a grieving son and his estranged father embark on a journey into the wild to reconcile their past. When a horrifying accident leaves the father badly injured and strands them in the wild, it is up to the son to save them both. However, this wilderness is not what it seems and as they deteriorate, so too does reality. Horrifying creatures, ghostly apparitions– are they all in their heads… or could the truth be far more terrible?

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but I’m a big Lance Henriksen fan. I’ve enjoyed seeing him onscreen ever since I saw ALIENS, way back in 1986. IT’S IN THE BLOOD gives him the opportunity to show just how diverse of an actor he is. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him a couple of years ago, and he is truly a great guy to be around.

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IT’S IN THE BLOOD is shot very well and the movie itself looks amazing onscreen. The acting is excellent, with both Lance Henriksen and Sean Elliot giving outstanding performances in their roles. The special effects are great too; we even get to see a bit of gore and even the staunchest of gore-hounds should be pleased.

But where this film truly excels is the storyline. Dread Central calls this, “…one of the finest and most unique independent horror films in recent memory,” and they are dead on with that assessment. I am truly impressed with the plot and the writing here. It is chocked full of symbolism and metaphor, but neither is overdone or cliched. The result is a finely crafted horror film that will leave you satisfied on several different levels.

IT’S IN THE BLOOD has garnered several awards and they are all well-deserved. I highly recommend giving this film a look and suggest you do so soon. The film is available now in several formats.

MSB

Check out these two amazing new titles from Titan Books!

These two hardcover books will be a welcome addition to any collection! Make a note on your calendar to check these out once they are released.

The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction
Simon & Kirby SF
The creators of Captain America and the Boy Commandos produced some of the most thrilling science fiction ever. Spanning more than 20 years, this volume features the first stories Joe Simon and Jack Kirby ever produced together (the Blue Bolt adventures) as well as Race for the Moon, featuring pencils by Kirby and inked artwork by comic book legends Reed Crandall, Angelo Torres, and Al Williamson. Also features an introduction by Dave Gibbons.
RELEASE DATE: May 28, 2013

Flash Gordon: The Fall of Ming
flashfallofming
Continuing the comprehensive library of the greatest science fiction hero of all time, this brand new collection of library editions feature all new restorations that will preserve these legendary adventures for generations to come. Starting with revered writer-artist Alex Raymond, this volume continues the adventures of pulp hero Flash Gordon on the planet Mongo as he begins his final battle with the merciless villain Ming. With an introduction by Dave Gibbons and background feature material.
RELEASE DATE: June 11, 2013

MSB

Movie Review – Dark Skies (2013)

Dark Skies
Directed by Scott Stewart
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: May 28, 2013

dark-skies-blu-ray-cover-05

I don’t talk about this much, but I’ve always been fascinated with alien-abduction movies. I’ve already confessed many times that I LOVE the ALIEN franchise, but that’s different…those creatures are not abductors, they’re just mean, ferocious, unstoppable killing machines. The alien-abduction movies I’m referring to now are those that usually deal with Grays, the name given to the abductors from those who have supposedly been taken. When I saw Anchor Bay was handling DARK SKIES, I knew it was going to be a must-see for me. And although the film reiterates many existing tropes of abduction movies, this is still a must-watch. DARK SKIES is a top-notch horror flick that will make you squirm.

If you are not familiar with DARK SKIES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay:

From the producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister comes Dark Skies: a supernatural thriller that follows a young family living in the suburbs. As husband and wife Daniel and Lacey Barret witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barret family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacey take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family.

I think the primary allure of alien-abduction movies for me is that the victim(s) is usually so powerless that no matter what they do, the ending is always the same: someone is taken. I’m not sure why this strikes such a primal nerve for me, but I always get chills when watching these kinds of movies. I guess that’s why I find them so effective in regard to entertainment value.

DARK SKIES is extremely successful in the thrills and chills department. The film is shot very well and many of the camera shots emphasize, if not enhance, these scares. I caught myself jumping at various points throughout the film, so many times that I actually laughed at myself for getting so worked up. The acting is also great and the production value is very high. Overall, this movie looks excellent on-screen.

The special effects, although few and far between here, are good, and I am particularly impressed with how the production team decided to tackle the appearance of the Grays. Instead of soulless blobs of color or over-detailed, humanistic beings, the effects team decided to make them vague, but with just enough detail to scare the crap out of the audience. You truly have to see them to catch what I mean. But I tip my hat to that decision, as it makes the feel of the movie even creepier.

My sole complaint about DARK SKIES is that we’ve seen pretty much everything the movie has to offer before, in previous films. Now, don’t get me wrong: I am NOT trying to dissuade you from seeing this film. On the contrary, I highly suggest you check it out. It is made well and should entertain even the most diehard of horror fans on some level. But…do not go into this one expecting something new. You will probably be disappointed if you do.

DARK SKIES is a definitive win for me and I recommend giving it a look. There are plenty of chilling scenes in this film to sink your teeth into, and the ending has a slight twist that should leave you feeling cold. Be sure and check out the alternate ending as well in the Bonus Features; I actually prefer the existing one, but the alternate was pretty cool, too. This film hits store shelves next week, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – Mold (2012)

Mold
Directed by Neil Meschino
Courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing & MVD Visual
Release Date: May 21, 2013

MOLD

The 80s were a truly special decade for me; I was born in ’74, so I was a true teen in the 80s and thus got to experience a lot of groundbreaking firsts in the movie industry. The rise of the slasher flick, the splatterfest obsession and Cold War conspiracy movies were just a few of these milestones. MOLD is a fun throwback to 80s horror that gives homage to splatter and the cruel Cold War mentality. Chocked full of gore (sorta), quirky humor, and outrageous characters, this is one movie that you’ll have to see to believe.

If you are not familiar with MOLD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing:

It’s 1984, and the war on drugs just got weird. A classified government project is underway to create a new weapon to combat the drug cartels. That weapon is a fast-growing, genetically engineered strain of mold designed to wipe out cocoa fields — the old problem is this MOLD also feeds on human flesh. And when the murderous mildew is mysteriously released in a secret lab, it wages its own war on a group of unsuspecting scientists and military officials who are forced to fight their way to safety while trying contain the MOLD before it is unleashed on the world. MOLD is a glorious, gooey and hilarious tribute to 1980s style horror and science-fiction classics like NIGHT OF THE CREEPS and STREET TRASH.

First of all, you have to go into this movie with the proper knowledge of what to expect. This is a lower-budget, tongue-in-cheek masterpiece that doesn’t take itself very seriously. If you start watching MOLD with any other ideology in mind, you are probably not going to like it.

With that being said, this is one excellent movie that can take you on a helluva ride if you’ll let it. The film pulls no punches when it comes to cheekiness, and it definitely knows what it is: dark humor mixed with political satire amidst a horror backdrop. How can you not be interested?

MOLD is shot well overall and the script is not half-bad. The acting is actually not too bad either, although I feel like a couple of characters might have over-played their parts a bit too much. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but I sorta got annoyed with it about 3/4 of the way through. Still, it’s nothing that truly detracts from the overall films itself, though.

The special effects are excellent, with lots of mold-covered, vomit-blasting fun. If you like ‘melting’ humans, explosive puke and face-eating antidotes, you’re going to love this film. I’m not sure how big of a budget the special effects team had to work with, but it appears they used it very wisely.

MOLD might not be for everyone, but I loved it, and I recommend checking it out if you like 80s throwbacks and/or splatter flicks. It’s hokey, but in a good way. And if you watch it, be sure and stay for the credits…there’s more to see. I give this one two thumbs up…but just so long as my thumbs don’t succumb to the titular growth!

MSB

Book Review – Yellow Moon by David Searls (1994)

Yellow Moon
by David Searls
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Yellow Moon

Samhain Publishing is on a roll! I am continuously impressed with them because I have yet to read one of their titles that I have not liked. I also have to commend the author of today’s book, David Searls; I reviewed one of his previous books last year, BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON, but I feel that he actually topped himself with YELLOW MOON. This book has a hearty dose of terror and a cringe-factor that is off the charts!

If you are not familiar with YELLOW MOON, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:

One day, thirty strangers arrived in the small town of Cleary, Ohio. And five boys vanished during a baseball game in the park. Bizarre tunnels have appeared under the town, leading to a place no earthly eye has seen before. Eventually the children will return, but the once-peaceful town of Clearly may wish they’d stayed away. For they will not be alone. They will bring with them unimaginable creatures, monsters only visible in the eerie light of…the yellow moon.

Author David Searls certainly knows what horror fans want in their fiction. One minute he’s startling you with something unexpected, and the next he’s making you cringe with something gruesome. These two attributes are necessities in any horror medium, and Searls delivers heartily on both!

As with his previous book, YELLOW MOON is written very well and flows seamlessly at a nice clip. I’m surprised at how short this book is, chiming in at just over 200 pages, but it certainly packs a punch in just a few pages. There’s more content here than some 500-page novels I’ve read.

The characters are believable and the small-town setting is a perfect place for the plot to unfold. And speaking of the plot, wow…Searls takes something simple and turns it into a full-blown nightmarish scenario. This is a definite tell-tale sign that you’re dealing with a talented writer, when they can change the ordinary into the hellish.

There’s plenty of suspense in YELLOW MOON as well, although I think the horror outweighs the suspense by a vast margin. This is definitely a good thing for me! There’s also some nice carnage and gore as well. I would love to see some of these scenes played out in movie form, just to see what the special effects team could come up with.

YELLOW MOON is a major win for me and I highly recommend giving this book a look. It was originally released in 1994, which is why you’ll find references to using a payphone (a what?) and other old school nuances, but don’t let this dissuade you; this book is just as terrifying now as I’m sure it was back then. You have to wait a couple of weeks to get it, but definitely mark your calendars now.

MSB

Movie Review – H.P. Lovecraft’s Cool Air (2006)

H.P. Lovecraft’s Cool Air
Directed by Albert Pyun
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Original Release Date: 2006
Release Date: May 21, 2013

Cool Air

As I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past, I absolutely love Lovecraft’s work. The man was a genius far beyond his time. But what you might not know is that I’m a big fan of director Albert Pyun’s work as well. I’ve liked his films since the 80s, and he just keeps getting better over the years. So imagine my surprise when I discovered he had tackled one of Lovecraft’s short stories! I didn’t realize he was the man behind this film until the credits started rolling. But Pyun does Lovecraft great justice with this adaptation; it is a low-budget but well made feature that Lovecraft fans should enjoy.

If you are not familiar with H.P. LOVECRAFT’S COOL AIR, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

Struggling screenwriter Charlie Baxter sets out to write his long-blocked “great American screenplay” when he suffers a heart attack and his mysterious upstairs neighbor Doctor Shockner comes to his rescue. The doctor persuades Baxter to stay until he recovers fully, and introduces him to a nightmarish world of insane experiments and murder. Baxter knows something must be done to stop the evil that resides in the room at the top of the stairs.

The story for this film may sound simple, and in reality, it is; but the complexities involved with the characters extend much deeper than the plot synopsis can relay. As a result, this movie is actually more character-driven than anything, but that is certainly not a bad thing. If anything, it helps add to the tension.

H.P. LOVECRAFT’S COOL AIR is written very well, thanks to the fascinating pen of Cynthia Curnan. The inner dialogue that we get to hear from the main character, Charlie Baxter, is insightful and somewhat prophetic. It is this dialogue that helps to set the stage for what is to come, and it is also what helps us understand who Charlie really is.

And speaking of the main character, Baxter is portrayed by one of my favorite (albeit obscure) actors, Morgan Weisser. Weisser is probably best known for his stint on the short lived and untimely canceled TV show SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND, but his scope of work varies and covers a broad range of genres. Weisser is excellent in this role and I am glad to see him onscreen once again.

My sole complaint about H.P. LOVECRAFT’S COOL AIR is that there minimal special effects, and those we get to see are not very well done. They are CG effects, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but some of them are misplaced (for example, they are on an actor’s face and when she moves, they don’t). This is a minor complaint, as I know the film had a small budget, but it is definitely noteworthy.

Still, H.P. LOVECRAFT’S COOL AIR is a win for me and I recommend giving it a look. Director Albert Pyun still entertains me on many levels, and I always look forward to seeing what he’ll do next. Give this film a chance, and I think you’ll be pleased. The DVD hits store shelves tomorrow.

MSB

Movie Review – Last Kind Words (2013)

Last Kind Words
Directed by Kevin Barker
Courtesy of RLJ Entertainment
Release Date: May 21, 2013

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I have to be honest: I had never heard of LAST KIND WORDS before I found it in my mailbox. But sometimes, that is the best way to watch a film…if you go into it with no prior knowledge, then you won’t take any preconceived notions with you. That’s exactly what I did with this film; I didn’t even read the cover or the press release before I watched it. And I’m glad, too…this is an excellent film, and it was a nice surprise!

If you are not familiar with LAST KIND WORDS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the RLJ Entertainment press release:

17-year-old Eli has just moved with his family deep into the backwoods of Kentucky to work on the isolated farm of the town recluse, Waylon. Inexplicably drawn into the strange forest that lies beyond the farm, Eli encounters Amanda, a beautiful, mysterious girl who captivates him, body and soul. But when Eli discovers decaying bodies hanging from the trees, he realizes that both the forest and Amanda are harboring some very dark secrets. Suddenly, Eli is living in a waking nightmare where the lines between life and death are scrawled in blood, betrayal and terror from beyond the grave.

This film is striking on several levels. It is visually appealing, the acting is superb, and the story itself is riveting and original. You really can’t ask for much more in a movie.

LAST KIND WORDS is shot very well, and I have to tip my hat to the cinematographer. There are many haunting shots in this film, and they add greatly to the suspense and the drama. I would even go so far as to say it is some of the best cinematography I’ve seen this year.

The film has a simplistic feel to it, which is as it should be for a rural Kentucky setting. But it also has a bleak and vivid sense to it as well; Eli’s family life is less than desirable thanks to his father, and this enlivens the drama amidst the tension of the plot.

The story of LAST KIND WORDS is the true winner in the film for me, however. It is a unique ghost story of sorts, and it’s final images will linger in your mind for a while after the credits roll. I particularly like how we, as the audience, realize things are not as they seem…but in a different manner than expected. This is very good storytelling.

If I were forced to find a negative with this film, I don’t think I could. It looks great, it’s made well, and it entertains. This is truly a fun and chilling film. It hits shelves next week, so make a note to give it a look.

MSB