Movie Review – 95ers: Time Runners (2014)

95ers: Time Runners
Directed by Thomas Gomez Durham
Courtesy of Inception Media Group
Release Date: April 15, 2014

95ers

I have to state right up front that I am very pleasantly surprised with 95ERS: TIME RUNNERS. When I first read the press release, my interest was piqued because I like time travel concepts, and I’m always interested to see how writers try to overcome the whole paradox issue. Many times, they completely disregard the issue, choosing instead to focus on the story instead of the science. But 95ERS: TIME RUNNERS does an excellent job of fleshing out a way to bypass the paradoxical issues and focus on a riveting plot line at the same time.

If you are not familiar with 95ERS: TIME RUNNERS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Inception Media Group:

In the distant future, millions have died in brutal wars leaving cities laying in ruins. The ultimate weapons become time machines which can insure victory by manipulating the past. In the not-distant future, FBI agent Sally Biggs is obsessed with investigating unsolved cases involving paranormal activities especially the bizarre disappearance of her scientist husband. She suspects that the mysteries have something to do with the destabilization of time, since Sally herself has the power to rewind history. But she slowly learns that her power is connected to a cataclysmic war in the future, and that she, her husband, and their unborn child become important targets of soldiers traveling from the future. Hunted by assassins while her own timeline is unraveling, her only hope is to follow her husband’s ghost to the awesome truth that ties all the mysteries together.

From my experience, most lower-budget time-travel movies are a bust. In some, the special effects are simply too cheap and distracting to enjoy the story. And in others, the plot suffers because all of the budget was spent on flashy effects. But that is not the case here; this film blends a nice balance of both story and special effects.

95ERS: TIME RUNNERS is shot fairly well and actually looks good onscreen. Some of the futuristic CG animation looks like video game quality, but it still looks impressive nonetheless. The timeline effects steal the show, though, and I have to truly commend the production team on them. I’ve never seen a visual interpretation of timeline-tracking like this, but it is both unique and vibrant. As such, I had no problems believing in this aspect of the time travel concept.

The storyline of the film is what really wins me over with this one, though. This is a thinking-man’s time travel story, and it’s about time we had a good one. With that being said, you really have to pay attention to what’s happening to truly understand the film. You cannot idly watch and expect to comprehend. But if you can devote your full attention to it, everything should click.

95ERS: TIME RUNNERS is a definite win for me, and I highly recommend giving it a look. The science alone is enough of a reason to check it out; much of what is presented in the film is based on research that is currently underway. Therefore, who knows how feasible this might be in the future? Regardless, give this film a chance for sure.

MSB

Movie Review – Flowers in the Attic (2014)

Flowers in the Attic
Directed by Deborah Chow
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: April 15, 2014

Flowers

Back in the late 80s, when I was in junior high, several of the girls in my class started reading FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC by V.C. Andrews. I knew nothing about the book and honestly thought nothing of it at the time, having developed a healthy appetite for horror in the forms of Clive Barker, Stephen King, Dean Koontz and many others. But when the teachers at our school forbid the girls to carry the book around with them, I became intrigued. What was all the fuss? Curious, I checked the book out from the city library and gave it a shot. WOW. Not what I was expecting at all, but very good nonetheless! One might even say it has tinges of horror in it, which is partly why I liked it so much. The underlying tones in the book have haunted me to this very day.

When I learned Lifetime was making a movie version, I jumped at the chance to watch it. After all, the book was (and still is) deemed controversial because of some of its subject matter, so who wouldn’t want to see a televised version of something like that? Although the movie is toned down quite a bit from the book, this is a still a very faithful adaptation to the source material and one heck of a film.

If you are not familiar with FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

Based on the bestselling book by V. C. Andrews, the Lifetime Original Movie, FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, is a gothic story of four siblings who, after the death of their father, are torn from a peaceful life and subjected to abuse resulting from a dark, family secret. Abandoned by their mother and forced to endure unimaginable treatment living in the attic of their grandparents’ mansion, the children form their own family unit. But as the oldest boy and girl come of age both emotionally and physically while caring for their younger siblings, they are entrapped by their family’s sordid past as they try to survive and escape the harsh living conditions.

There was another movie adaptation of this book that debuted in 1987, however it (in my opinion) is not nearly as good as this 2014 version. It was well made for the most part, but it did not capture the dark tone of the book. You can’t have a decent movie adaptation of a book unless you can actually bring the depths of the book to the screen.

FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC is shot well and seems to have a pretty modest budget. I particularly like the house they chose as the location; it fits what I saw in my head almost perfectly. The acting, likewise, is solid. I will admit I am surprised with the choice of Heather Graham as the children’s mother, however she does a good job with the role. Ellen Burstyn, however, steals the show as the overbearing, self-righteous grandmother. Her cold demeanor and rough exterior should be enough to garner an Oscar nod, in my opinion.

The actors who tackle the roles of the children do a superb job as well. Kiernan Shipka is ideal as the film’s narrator, Cathy, and she plays off of co-star Mason Dye like a pro. Dye, respectively, handles his man-of-the-house persona with ease. Ava Telek and Maxwell Kovach are adorable as the twins, and I hope to see more of both onscreen.

The story follows the book very well, however Lifetime barely touches some of the more controversial aspects of the book. I will not go into detail because you must read the book AND see this film, and I don’t want to ruin either. But I do understand this is a made-for-TV movie, so taboo topics cannot always be fleshed out.

FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC is a definite win for me and fans of thrillers and mysteries should have a blast with this film. The film hits store shelves next Tuesday, so make a note to check it out.

MSB

Movie Review – Machine Head (2011)

Machine Head
Directed by Jim Valdez
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: March 25, 2014

Machine-Head-Movie-2014-Jim-Valdez

When I see a movie cover like the one above, I am usually always interested. I mean, how could I not be? Three hot girls, covered in blood, standing on a highway while one totes an ax…there are so many awesome concepts here. And throw in the intriguing yet mysterious title, MACHINE HEAD, and you’ve got instant curiosity, certainly more than enough to raise this horror-lover’s eyebrow. Unfortunately, killer artwork and an ambiguous title are not enough to salvage this film.

If you are not familiar with MACHINE HEAD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:

The desert of Los Ranchos, CA isn’t your standard spring break hot spot, but it’s party time when a young girl’s wealthy father gives her the keys to his amazing desert ranch oasis. She and her hot girlfriends plan a wild spring break vacation getaway to take advantage of this lavish vacation pad. During the drive to the house, the girls find themselves terrorized by a mysterious black muscle car on the highway. They soon realize they have been lured into a sick game of high-octane terror. Machine Head unleashes a hell unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The girls will do whatever it takes to cross the finish line alive and get the checkered flag!

I really wanted this movie to be so much more than it is. And while I tried to find something in it to enjoy, I couldn’t. There are just simply too many things wrong with it.

Given the film’s synopsis, we are led to believe MACHINE HEAD probably deals with a mechanic or race car driver who uses his car in his killings or even kills people on the highway. Sadly, this is not the case. The majority of the film takes place in the vacation house, and the only ties to anything ‘gear-head’ related is a muscle car that we see the killer driving in a couple of scenes.

I also have a problem with the three main characters, portrayed by Sharon Hinnendael, Nicole Zeoli, and Christina Corigliano. We are given no reason whatsoever to care about them. They are three snobby rich girls who have no relatable traits to the audience, therefore I felt no suspense at any point throughout the movie. The killer could have offed them in the first 10 minutes of the film, and I could have cared less.

And speaking of the killer, what is his motive? Who is he, and why does he look like a Tom Savini stand-in? If he’s supposed to be cold and ruthless, why does he use the doorbell to torment the girls in the house? There are many questions I have about this guy, however my biggest one is this: why does this slasher flick not have any real ‘slashes’ in it?

All in all, I just have to give this film a thumbs-down. I’ve loved or liked 99% of the Anchor Bay titles I’ve seen, however this one falls into that tiny 1% of those I wish I hadn’t. Hopefully, director Jim Valdez will learn from this film and go on to make better ones. I would hate for MACHINE HEAD to be the pinnacle of his career.

The film is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Book Review – Someone Wicked: A Written Remains Anthology

Someone Wicked: A Written Remains Anthology
Edited by JM Reinbold & Weldon Burge
Release Date: November 24, 2013
Publisher: Smart Rhino Publications

someone-wicked-written-remains-anthology-weldon-burge-paperback-cover-art

I never get tired of seeing unique anthology ideas, especially when the completed product is chocked full of talented authors. Such is the case with Smart Rhino Publications’ somewhat recent release, SOMEONE WICKED. I have to openly apologize to Weldon Burge at Smart Rhino for taking so long to review this; he sent it to me back in December, but it somehow ducked out of sight after I moved at the end of that same month. But the wait was well worth it; this anthology is a real treat, and every horror/thriller fiction reader will want to add this to his/her library.

If you are not familiar with SOMEONE WICKED, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Smart Rhino Publications:

“There is poison in the fang of the serpent, in the mouth of the fly, and in the sting of a scorpion; but the wicked man is saturated with it.” — Chanakya
Avaricious, cruel, depraved, envious, mean-spirited, vengeful—the wicked have been with us since the beginnings of humankind. You might recognize them and you might not. But make no mistake. When the wicked cross your path, your life will never be the same. Do you know someone wicked? You will. The 21 stories in the Someone Wicked anthology were written by the members of the Written Remains Writers Guild and its friends, and was edited by JM Reinbold and Weldon Burge.

Gail Husch – Reckonings
Billie Sue Mosiman – The Flenser
Mike Dunne – The Fire of Iblis
Christine Morgan – Sven Bloodhair
Ramona DeFelice Long – The Chances
Russell Reece – Abracadabra
Carson Buckingham – The Plotnik Curse
Chantal Noordeloos – Mirror Mirror
Patrick Derrickson – The Next King
Barbara Ross – Home Improvements
JM Reinbold – Missing
Shaun Meeks – Despair
Liz DeJesus – Sisters: A Fairy Tale
Doug Blakeslee – The Flowering Princess of Dreams
Justynn Tyme – The Semi-Aquatic Blue Baker of Borneo
Ernestus Jiminy Chald – The Tail of Fate
Weldon Burge – Right-Hand Man
Joseph Badal – Ultimate Betrayal
Maria Masington – Impresario
L.L. Soares – Sometimes the Good Witch Sings to Me
Shannon Connor Winward – The Devil Inside

First, I have to compliment all of the contributing authors on thinking up a wide range of ideas to fit this concept. Like the film I reviewed earlier today, I wasn’t too sure what to expect with this collection; the cover art was vague and made me instantly think of Snow White. But, wow…my expectations were exceeded and then blown out of the water. There are some nice, juicy, original tidbits in this short-story buffet!

Each story in SOMEONE WICKED is written well and carefully crafted. The authors take great care with building the suspense in their stories, and the result is a collection of immersing and thoughtful (albeit horrifying) tales. There are a couple of stories here that will certainly make you think twice about crossing certain people.

I particularly enjoy the diversity of writing styles that are showcased in this anthology. Some of the stories are written in first person while others in the third. But each author lends a distinct voice to their stories, an almost trademark for their individual talent.

I enjoyed all of the stories in SOMEONE WICKED, which is a true feat because in most anthologies I usually find a couple of tales that I didn’t care for. But if I were forced to find a favorite, I would have to say “Sisters: A Fairy Tale” by Liz DeJesus would stand out the most. I love her writing style, and the subject matter of the story enthralls me.

SOMEONE WICKED is a huge win for me, and I recommend giving it a look. This book is definitely worth what you pay for it, so snatch it up regardless of what format you prefer.

MSB

Movie Review – Dark House (2014)

Dark House
Directed by Victor Salva
Courtesy of Cinedigm
Release Date: March 11, 2014

Dark House

Don’t mistake the title of this movie with the 2009 Fangoria-produced film of the same name. I have not seen that one, but I would wager the plot lines are drastically different. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one because I had not heard any buzz about it, especially since Tobin Bell was involved. But I’m happy to report it’s a heck of a film with a unique story, good acting, and some great special effects.

If you are not familiar with DARK HOUSE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cinedigm:

Nick Di Santo is tormented by his ability to touch someone and see exactly how they will die. On his twenty-third birthday, Nick is summoned by his mother to the asylum where she has been institutionalized since his childhood. Nick is stunned by her revelation that the father he thought was dead is really alive and may know the origin of Nick’s terrible gift. Nick sets out to find his father with his best friend Ryan and girlfriend Eve. But what starts as a simple road trip to meet the father he never knew soon becomes a horrific nightmare when it leads the trio back to the same abandoned mansion, a house that only existed in Nick’s childhood imagination—or so he thought. Finally succumbing to the will of the house, Nick becomes embroiled in a battle with a dark figure.

Curiously, I’ve read a few negative reviews about this film where the reviewer stated he/she didn’t understand the film. I’m stunned to hear this, as I thought the plot line was easy to follow. Not to mention, it is clever and intelligent, a nice change of pace from the traditional house-in-the-woods concept.

DARK HOUSE looks good and has a pretty decent production budget. The production team does a nice job of fleshing out details in this film, especially when it comes to the house itself. I like the location chosen, and the architecture of the structure is certainly menacing in its own right.

I enjoyed the acting in the film as well. Tobin Bell never disappoints, and the rest of the cast does a good job overall. I particularly like Luke Kleintank in the lead as Nick. He brings a realistic depth to his role, and his chemistry with Alex McKenna (who portrays his girlfriend Eve) is very believable.

My sole complaint about the movie is that the ending seems a bit forced. **SPOILER ALERT** When Eve and Ryan find Nick in the house at the end, we are never shown nor told what happened when Nick went into the basement. There’s a lot of assumption that is made (or at least there was on my part), so I feel the ending could have been fleshed out more.

Still, DARK HOUSE has a nice punch as a horror flick, and I do recommend it. The film is available now, so give it a look.

MSB

Movie Review – Dead on Appraisal (2014)

Dead on Appraisal
Directed by Sean Canfield, Scott Dawson, & David Sherbrook
Courtesy of Brain Damage Films
Release Date: April 8, 2014

dead-on-appraisal_full

When I first saw the cover for DEAD ON APPRAISAL, I knew I was in for a treat. It immediately reminded me of an 80s cult-classic that I absolutely love: TERROR VISION. And just like that gloriously gory throwback film, DEAD ON APPRAISAL does not disappoint in the least. Crammed full of dark humor, gore, and scares, this is one low-budget gem that every horror fan needs to own.

If you are not familiar with DEAD ON APPRAISAL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Brain Damage Films:

Real estate agent John Dante is stuck with a house he can’t sell. Despite his best efforts, he can’t seem to overcome the house’s macabre past. This haunting anthology’s first tale is THE MORNING AFTER. Following the party of a lifetime, a group of friends wake to find a nightmare in the form of a killer bug invasion. John is horrified to hear the story of Robbie, a young veteran who returns home to live with his father. In FATHER LAND Robbie’s dark secret slowly bubbles to the surface. Then there’s Freddie Cooper and his band. FREDDIE AND THE GOBLINS is a tale of how Freddie’s band mates try to ditch him only to be caught up in the singer’s growing psychosis. In a last ditch effort John’s girlfriend plans a party to help raise interest in the property, but with disastrous consequences. Will they survive the terrors that lie within its walls, or will they become just another of the house’s many sordid tales?

As I mentioned, this is a low-budget picture…but the production team does a stellar job with the money. IMDB estimates the film’s budget at $15,000, which would probably be pretty close. But a good part of this is spent on special effects, and the result is a wildly entertaining gore-fest that will have you cheering as the chunks of flesh fly!

DEAD ON APPRAISAL is shot fairly well and the overall presence of the film onscreen is good. My sole complaint about the cinematography is the lighting; there are several scenes that are not lit well enough to see what is happening. A good example of this is in “Father Land”, when Robbie is looking at the book in his room. We cannot see what he is looking at, although I assume it is something integral to the story.

The acting is not bad, about par for a low-budget film. But there are a couple of performances that stick out. Zack Fahey does a great job in his duel roles as Jerry and Freddie. Likewise, James Howell shines as Robbie’s father in the “Father Land” segment.

But the special effects and the crazy stories win me over for this film. DEAD ON APPRAISAL has some eye-popping gore that you simply must see to appreciate. Each segment in the anthology shines in this aspect. In “The Morning After”, my favorite scene showcases a man’s head that is torn open from the top of his jaw on up. Gore is an art form, and the special effects crew for this film have mastered it.

The puppets used in the final segment, “Freddie and the Goblins”, are kinda hokey, but they actually work for this film. This is especially true once the carnage starts. I won’t go into great detail because you have to see it to appreciate it…but take my advice, and check it out.

DEAD ON APPRAISAL won’t be for everyone, but gore-hounds and fans of campy horror should definitely check it out. I loved it, and I’m glad I have it in my film library. I recommend giving it a look if you can stomach it. If you can, it’s certainly a sight to behold. The film hits store shelves tomorrow.

MSB

Movie Review – About a Zombie (2012)

About a Zombie
(a.k.a. Portrait of a Zombie)
Directed by Bing Bailey
Courtesy of Revolver Entertainment
Release Date: April 1, 2014

About a Zombie

The DVD cover for this film, ABOUT A ZOMBIE, is a perfect example of how to draw me to a movie: put a gory, vicious-looking zombie on the front, and I’m pretty much hooked. I know, I know…you can’t judge a book (or a movie) by its cover, but at least a zombie in the artwork gets my hopes up. I’m happy to report this one lives up to its awesome movie cover, too. ABOUT A ZOMBIE is a brutal living dead flick that will rip your throat out and show it to you!

If you’re not familiar with ABOUT A ZOMBIE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Revolver Entertainment:

A working class Irish family is caught up in a zombie invasion of Dublin, Ireland. When their son, Billy, becomes a zombie the family chooses to take care of him in the home much to the chagrin of the neighbors and the local crime boss. Meanwhile, they’ve invited an American documentarian to film their situation and the film crew is caught up in the mayhem. Will the family prove that blood is thicker than water or will their love lead to their eventual doom? One thing is clear, for the zombies in Ireland, the famine is definitely over.

This movie has all the elements of a great zombie flick: good story, good zombie effects, and great gore. I will admit the zombie make-up on a couple of the extras could have been better, but you only see them in passing so it’s not a big deal. Otherwise, this is just about a perfect horror film.

ABOUT A ZOMBIE is shot well and is told from a couple of different viewpoints. Most of the story is told from the documentary filmmaker’s cameras. But there are a couple of scenes that use traditional third-person perspective shots, specifically when none of the filmmakers are around. This might sound odd, but it works well, and the transition from one to the other in the film is seamless.

The special effects are excellent, and there’s plenty of gore to satiate the heartiest of gore-hounds. My sole complaint here is that most of the gunshot muzzle flashes are CG, and the animation looks a bit cheap. But as far as I can tell, most (if not all) of the zombie effects and gore are practical. There’s even an exceptionally brutal and gory scene when a zombie tears into a woman’s pregnant belly; this has to be seen to be appreciated (if you can stomach it!).

The acting in ABOUT A ZOMBIE is good, too. I am particularly impressed with the work of Rory Mullen and Geraldine McAlinden, who portray the parents in the film. Both give stirring performances as two people who love their son so much that they are blind to his condition. Their realism in their roles help to bring an air of credibility to the film.

ABOUT A ZOMBIE is a big win for me, and I highly suggest you give it a look. It’s nice to see zombies done by other countries besides the U.S., and this Irish take is certainly worthy of praise. The film is available now, and here is a link to its Amazon page: About a Zombie Amazon Link.

MSB

Movie Review – Hazmat (2014)

Hazmat
Directed by Lou Simon
Courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment
Release Date: April 1, 2014

hazmat-dvd

Slasher films in general are interesting to me because there is so much variety that goes along with them. There are a number of reasons why someone might go on a murderous rampage; along with that, there are also a wide variety of ways in which to kill someone. Therefore, those two aspects set the stage for many a movie. HAZMAT is a low-budget slasher flick that uses revenge as a reason for the killings. And while it is not perfect, it is still a lot of fun.

If you are not familiar with HAZMAT, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment:

It’s been years since a chemical plant accident killed 138 employees, including Jacob’s father—which has left Jacob obsessed with the plant ever since. Jacob’s friends lure him to the plant to play a prank, hoping he will come to his senses and realize the plant is not haunted. When Jacob discovers he has been duped, he snaps, picks up an ax, and goes on a rage-filled killing spree. Now everyone trapped in the building, pursued by this disturbed ax-wielding maniac, must fight for their lives.

I love how menacing biohazard suits look. For some reason, they immediately instill a sense of nervousness into people when they see them. Perhaps its because they aren’t usually used unless things are potentially very bad. Or possibly its because they block all humanistic elements from the wearer. But regardless, the suit works perfectly in this flick as a way to dehumanize Jacob as he mercilessly kills his ‘friends’.

HAZMAT is shot fairly well and looks good overall onscreen. The building chosen for the film’s location looks great, and I found it very interesting to discover it didn’t actually have many passageways within. Per the film’s IMDB page, “The abandoned building used in the film had very few hallways, and the production designer had to create fake hallways where the characters could run and be hunted.” This is a good example of how much heart went into the making of this film.

The acting is so-so, about what you would expect for a low-budget film. But the special effects look good. There are some nice blood-sprays and some decent gore here and there. There’s even a very nice amputation that happens towards the end of the film.

But even though HAZMAT is a fun film, it doesn’t bring anything new to the slasher genre. I suppose the fact that we know right up front who the killer is might be a new twist, but I feel like that has been done before as well. This is really my only downside to the whole film.

Don’t let that dissuade you from seeing HAZMAT, though, if you’re a slasher-flick fan. It’s low-budget fun, so don’t look for huge production value. Just take this film for what it is up front, and horror fans should enjoy it.

MSB

Movie Review – The Wrath of Vajra (2014)

The Wrath of Vajra
Directed by Wing-cheong Law
Courtesy of Well Go USA
Release Date: March 18, 2014

The-Wrath-of-Vajra-Blu-ray

Well Go USA is quickly becoming the undisputed leader in martial-arts and import films. Almost every one of their titles I have reviewed, I have liked. Today’s film, THE WRATH OF VAJRA, continues this tradition. In addition to excellent production quality, this film is riveting in its intensity and contains some downright awesome fight sequences.

If you are not familiar with THE WRATH OF VAJRA, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:

Before the West entered World War II, a Japanese death cult called the Temple of Hades is ordered to aid in the spiritual destruction of China. Their method: abduct their enemies’ children and train them as killers for the Emperor. Young Vajra was especially gifted, but swears a secret oath of revenge when his brother dies. Now the greatest assassin in the temple, Vajra escapes to China and begins his quest to protect the innocent, and destroy the ones responsible for making him a living weapon. A former Shaolin monk, martial arts action star Xing Yu (aka Shi Yanneng) stars as Vajra in his first leading role.

I like the concept of kidnapping your enemy’s children and training them to be assassins for you. It’s dark and evil, a deeply disturbing idea that only a cunning genius could conceive. I’m not sure if this film is based on fact, but I would be very interested to find out.

THE WRATH OF VAJRA is shot very well and looks great onscreen. I believe they used a RED camera to film it, therefore the fight scenes in the rain look stunning. The rest of the production value is high, and the result is a very enjoyable movie experience.

The acting is pretty good, but the sole performance I did not enjoy is that of the child who portrays Little Brother (I cannot find the actor’s name for some reason). He spends most of the movie crying, which is understandable given the situation, but his tears get annoying very quickly. I found myself grimacing whenever he came onscreen.

But thankfully, the story and the action in THE WRATH OF VAJRA make up for that minor annoyance. The drama behind the story helps fan the flames of the action sequences when they heat up, and there’s plenty of them. I love the fighting in this film, and I look forward to seeing more of the lead actors (Xing Yu and Steve Yoo) in future films.

I greatly enjoyed THE WRATH OF VAJRA, and I suggest you give it a look if you’re looking for high-speed martial-arts action. Be sure and check it out on Blu-ray in order to get the full HD experience; you won’t regret it. The film is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Book Review – The Simon & Kirby Library: Horror!

The Simon & Kirby Library: Horror!
Edited by Steve Saffel
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Titan Books

Simon & Kirby

Modern horror owes a great debt to the pioneers of the genre from the past. There are many individuals responsible for ushering in the current age of terror: H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Algernon Blackwood, and Richard Matheson just to name a few. But the list goes on and on.

It would not be complete, however, without mentioning the influence of two famous comic creators: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. These two men made a name for themselves by revolutionizing an already thriving comic scene; but they became almost infamous with the publication of their horror comic, Black Magic. This title was singled out by a Congressional investigation committee and labeled a contributor to the corruption of youth. As a result, it was shut down shortly thereafter. Now, years later, the fine folks at Titan have compiled an exhaustive collection of Black Magic’s greatest stories and crammed them into one amazing volume. THE SIMON & KIRBY LIBRARY: HORROR! is a gem of a book, and fans of both horror and comics should definitely pick this up.

If you are not familiar with THE SIMON & KIRBY LIBRARY: HORROR!, here is a basic synopsis courtesy of Titan Publishing:

From the Golden Age of the comic book era comes an unrivaled collection of terrifying tales that thrilled readers and appalled a nation! For the first time, all of the stories written and drawn by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby themselves, as well as a selection of rarely seen collaborations, are collected in one huge hardcover edition.

There is just something about vintage horror that fascinates me. Maybe it is the way stories were told back then, or maybe it is the type of stories they chose to tell…I’m not sure. But needless to say, I thoroughly enjoy it in all forms of media. As such, this collection is right up my alley.

THE SIMON & KIRBY LIBRARY: HORROR! is a stunning anthology with a wide diversity of terror. From stories based on legends to completely original forays into the abyss, there’s plenty to choose from here. Each tale is superbly written and illustrated with the trademark style fans of Simon & Kirby will recognize immediately.

There are over fifty stories in this tome, however I cannot bring myself to pick a favorite. They are ALL good. I can mention a couple that stood out in my mind, which include “Donovan’s Demon”, “The Monsters on the Lake!”, and “Slaughter-house”. These three are perfect examples of what make Simon & Kirby’s horror so great.

THE SIMON & KIRBY LIBRARY: HORROR! is an excellent collection that horror and/or comic fans will definitely want to add to their libraries. I highly recommend giving it a look, even if you aren’t a fan of either. It is available now.

MSB