Book Review – The Dover Demon by Hunter Shea

The Dover Demon
by Hunter Shea
Courtesy of Samhain Publishing
Release Date: September 1, 2015

dover-demon-large-cover

I guess you can tell that I’m a pretty big fan of author Hunter Shea’s work, seeing as how I’ve reviewed several of his books over the past few months. What can I say? The guy can certainly entertain! Samhain Publishing recognizes my fandom as well, for they put a quote from one of my reviews on the cover of Shea’s recent offering, THE DOVER DEMON (you can’t see it in the picture above, but it’s there). In the quote, I said, “Shea’s work is smart and inventive, in both scope and merit. His themes are universal and his horror is, well, horrifying. You can’t ask for anything else.” I said this about Shea’s 2013 book SINISTER ENTITY, but the statement rings true for everything he has written. THE DOVER DEMON is yet another interesting and unique entry into Shea’s bibliography. And just like his previous books, this offering is extremely entertaining.

If you are not familiar with THE DOVER DEMON, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:

The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned. In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever. Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?

I am honored to have a quote on the cover of one of Shea’s books. He is rapidly approaching celebrity status in the horror world, and being associated with his name is a major accolade for me.

THE DOVER DEMON is written with Shea’s trademark, easy-going style, and thus flows smoothly. The story is rife with originality and unfolds like a carefully constructed puzzle, revealing just enough information to keep the reader enthralled. This book, however, has a nice twist towards the end that I never saw coming. I have to confess it threw me for a loop at first, because it is a drastic ‘reveal’ that takes the book in a different direction. But as the story progressed, I realized this is a very good thing.

The characters are just as we like them in horror novels: damaged but likable. There are a couple, like Kelly Weathers, who are more damaged than others…but this vulnerability is part of what makes them so relatable. I found myself laughing at Kelly’s antics one moment, and then feeling sorry for her the next.

As I mentioned above, the story of THE DOVER DEMON is what really wins here. I had heard a bit about the legend prior to reading the book, however I never dreamt it could go in a direction like Shea takes it. I am continuously impressed with how sharp of a mind the author has, and I love where his imagination takes us as readers.

THE DOVER DEMON is a huge win for me, and I once again suggest every horror fan pick up a copy soon. If you’ve never read Shea’s work before, now is the time. If you are already a fan, you’ll enjoy this one as much (if not more) as his previous work. The book is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Angst (1983)

Angst
Directed by Gerald Kargl
Courtesy of Cult Epics
Original Year of Release: 1983
Blu-ray Release Date: September 8, 2015

angst

I have to confess I had never heard of ANGST prior to getting its press release. But the plot synopsis grabbed my attention and commanded an interest. While waiting for the screener copy to arrive, I did some research on the film. Curiously, ANGST is the only movie director Gerald Kargl has listed on his IMDB page…but he’s worked on over 120 commercials, promotional films, and documentaries since its 1983 release. Regardless, I am happy to report ANGST is a heck of a film, and horror fans will want to snatch it up immediately.

If you are not familiar with ANGST, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cult Epics:

ANGST, photographed by legendary Oscar-winning Polish animator/experimentalist Zbig Rybczynski and scored by Krautrock synth god Klaus Schulze (Tangerine Dream), is one hell of a gorgeously stylized and shockingly visceral experience: a forgotten classic on the fringes of the slasher cycle. Erwin Leder (Das Boot, Schindler’s List) plays a maniacal killer based on the real-life serial murderer Werner Kniesek. As he stalks through the bland Viennese countryside, Schulze’s music pulses darkly, and Zbig’s innovative first-person camerawork grabs you by the throat, never letting go. Angst is one film that, without any empty hyperbole, we can guarantee you’ll never, ever forget.

Cult Epics presents for the first time since its original release, the Uncut, Uncensored version (optically restored tunnel murder-scene) in HD, with painstaking bonus features; including a new Interview with Erwin Leder, and Audio Commentary and an Interview with director Gerald Kargl conducted by Jorg Buttgereit (Nekromantik) and an Introduction by Gasper Noé (director of Irreversible, Enter The Void, Love), who cited Angst as an influence, ‘one that I have watched more than 40 times’.

I think the biggest draw of this film is the realism. Actor Erwin Leder does an amazing job as the killer, and his performance is downright bone-chilling. What he does to his victims, and the calm way he describes his mindset via the narration, both lend a major dose of credibility to this epic movie.

ANGST is filmed very well, and the cinematic style is a major part of what makes this film so terrifying. Many of the shots involve the camera rotating around Leder as he goes about his business, but this does not appear to be achieved in the traditional way; the camera seems to be mounted on a rig that is attached to Leder himself. This unique perspective amplifies the tension in the film, and makes for a more thrilling experience.

As mentioned, the acting is top notch, with Leder in the main role. Interestingly, none of his supporting cast last long enough to become developed. More time is spent on Leder himself, which helps cast a darker shadow on the tone of the film.

ANGST is a major win for me, and I highly recommend it. The in-depth glimpse the film gives into the mind of a serial killer is staggeringly realistic, and you will remember this film for a long time after the credits roll. In addition to a great HD picture and quality sound, the Blu-ray comes with Special Features, such as:

New High-definition Transfer
Optional playback with or without Prologue
New Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Introduction by Gaspar Noé (2012)
Featurette: Erwin Leder in Fear (2015)
Interview with Gerald Kargl by Jorg Buttgeriet (2003)
Interview with cinematographer Zbigniew Rybzcynski (2004)
Audio Commentary by Gerald Kargl conducted by film critic Marcus Stiglegger
New HD Trailer

MSB

Book Review – The Monstrous, edited by Ellen Datlow

The Monstrous
by Various Authors
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Release Date: October 27, 2015

TheMonstrous

Editor Ellen Datlow must be a psychic. There’s no other explanation. I mean, how else can she know exactly what horror fiction fans want? I read and reviewed one of her previous books last year (LOVECRAFT’S MONSTERS, click here to read the review), and I loved it. So when I was approached to review this one, I said ‘Yes!’ before I even knew the premise. Datlow is extremely gifted when it comes to story selection, and THE MONSTROUS is yet another fine example of her talent.

If you are not familiar with THE MONSTROUS, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Tachyon Publications:

Take a terrifying journey with literary masters of suspense, including Peter Straub, Kim Newman, and Caitlín R. Kiernan, visiting a place where the other is somehow one of us. These electrifying tales redefine monsters from mere things that go bump in the night to inexplicable, deadly reflections of our day-to-day lives. Whether it’s a seemingly devoted teacher, an obsessive devotee of swans, or a diner full of evil creatures simply seeking oblivion, the monstrous is always there—and much closer than it appears.

The spirit of short horror fiction is alive and strong in the literary world, and I am SO thankful it is. I love short stories, and when they can incorporate the horrific and terrifying, then so much the better. This anthology is an excellent example of such.

Every story in THE MONSTROUS is carefully crafted and written well. The authors showcase a wide range of abilities in this collection, and each offers a unique foray into the subject matter. I particularly like how the term ‘monster’ is approached in various ways amidst the stories, from the literal to the figurative. This diversity allows for a more pleasurable and well-rounded read.

I also have to comment on the cover art. The imagery on the front of the book strikes a primal root within my brain that resonates with dread. I can’t put my finger on why, but the creature on the front of the book chills me to the bone. Perhaps its the hybridity of its characteristics, or maybe even the fact that it’s partially human…I’m not sure. But regardless, I find it horrifying.

If I were forced to pick a favorite story from within these pages, I simply could not do it. I like every single one of them. They all have merit in some form or fashion, and each does the subject matter justice beyond measure.

THE MONSTROUS is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend it. The twenty tales in this tome will leave you sleepless for many nights to come, and yet begging for more. The book hits store shelves at the end of the month, just in time for Halloween, so make a note.

MSB