Make way for the Temptress!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve read any poetry, or written any.  To be honest, aside from the tongue-in-cheek holiday poetry books at Barnes & Noble, I didn’t even know that there was horror poetry available.  Thankfully, my ignorance was corrected earlier this year when I met Ladyaslan.   I met the remarkably intuitive poet in quite an unremarkable way.  We followed the same page on Facebook, and gradually began messaging.  I told her I ran a blog, she told me she wrote, and the rest is history.

The cover art of Victorian Days and Punk Rock Nights alludes to the mysteries in the pages that follow.  While reading herladyaslan1 poetry, I couldn’t help but marvel at her boundless versatility.  Some of the poems are from the point of view of the hapless victims, sucked into the arms of the shadows of the night.  Other poems are voiced by the huntress, stalking the unaware who have only minutes of innocence left to them.  Still others are dark musings under moonlit skies.  You’ll meet vampires and revenants, and if you’re keen enough, you might pick out a succubus or two.  There are poems of regret and loss, poems of love and warning.  Ladyaslan moves deftly from emotion to emotion, all the while making it look easier than breathing.

By far, my favorite entry was entitled Gothix, which is a an opium and absinthe-soaked nightmare.  All of my favorite elements were in attendance: great atmosphere, graveyard charm, and fantastical monsters.  I have to confess that after I finished it, I had to read it again!  The second time was even better, because I picked up on nuances that I had missed the first time.

When you pick up your copy of Victorian Days and Punk Rock Nights, make sure you set aside a long block for reading.  Once you start, you’re not going to want to stop.  Before you begin, make sure your tea is ready, your chores are done, and your phone is turned off.  You’ll want to give her your full attention.  Extra points if you’re reading this in a dimly lit room on a dark and stormy night, wrapped in your favorite lace shawl (gentlemen – feel free to substitute your favorite robe for shawl!)

If you’re wondering where you can purchase your own copy, have no fear!  Victorian Days and Punk Rock Nights is available in every format you could want – electronic, paperback, and hardcover.  You can purchase it on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and directly from her publisher, Xlibris.  In short, there’s no reason you don’t own this book right now.

Not Your Average Monster

I think it’s safe to say that author Pat Douglas (book name PA Douglas) has forever ruined me where koala bears are concerned.  It’s not that I thought they were super cute to begin with or anything, but after reading “Killer Koalas From Another Dimension“, I certainly won’t be lining up to see them at my local zoo.

Douglas taps into the bizarre, in the style of Killer Klowns From Outer Space, and takes the reader along for the ride.  Trust me, it takes a talented author to pull off a story about homicidal koalas – and Douglas has that kind of talent!  Not only are his monsters believable, but so are the main characters.  Joana and Tim are a realistic high school couple.  Thank the literary muses that they’re neither Bella nor Edward.  They’re a normal, immature, slightly dysfunctional couple.  (Well, maybe a little more than that – Tim’s an insufferable jerk sometimes.  But let’s face it – who hasn’t dated someone like that at some point?)  Douglas keeps them right where they need to be – in a high school mindset.   

As for the story itself, the night begins with teenagers Joana and Tim in a field.  They’re
practicing something called geomancy.  Tim is trying to open portals to other worlds by tossing stones in mystic patterns.  At first he doesn’t think anything has happened, so he and Joana leave.  Little do they know that they’ve just begun the longest night of their lives!  What they unleash are rag-clad, spear-toting, vengeful koalas.  Will they survive, or have they doomed themselves and their town to an untimely and horrific series of deaths?  I suggest you read it and find out.

 

 

Bowie and the Aztecs…up to no good again!

Author Bowie Ibarra’s newest tale is a Lansdale-esque romp through the Wild West, called “The Cruel Fate of Dr Brewster McGill“.  Ibarra is up to his usual tricks – slavering undead, exciting chases, and intriguing characters – flavored with the right amount of comic relief for good measure.

It is often said that “curiosity killed the cat”, and that is most certainly the case in “The Cruel Fate of Dr. Brewster McGill”‘!  The titular character, Dr. Brewster McGill, is a snake oil salesman.  He travels from town to town with his assistant, Isidrio.  Together they  extol the healing powers of their elixir, which is purported to cure any ill.  Business continues as usual until they run into a rival schyster.  Their competition also sells a “cure-all elixir” but the catch is that his elixir actually works!  McGill becomes desperate to harness the secret elixir, and chase is on!

Enter into the excitement the extremely powerful Eye of Mictlantecuhtli – the other piece of the puzzle.  Dr. McGill and Isidrio find themselves drawn deeper into the intrigue surrounding the elixir, The Eye, and the powers that bind them.

Sprinkle in a healthy heaping of zombies, curses, cures, and trickery and you have a recipe for a great story!

If you’re looking for a fast-paced page-turner, then you certainly need to read “The Cruel Fate of Dr. Brewster McGill” by Bowie Ibarra!  Then, as a courtesy, head on over to amazon.com and post your own review of the tale.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Charnel House Reviews!

Welcome, fellow horror-fiends!  This is the home of the blog formerly known as Left Overs.  Let me give you a quick run-down to familiarize you with the new layout.

First and foremost, this is a review blog.  The opinions expressed are my own (unless, of course, it’s an interview of some sort).  Please feel free to comment on any posts that are of interest to you.  I only ask that visitors keep their comments respectful.  It’s possible to disagree without being rude.  🙂

Secondly, I do not accept money for my reviews.  While getting paid for them would be nice, I don’t want to be accused of any bias towards or against a particular work.  If you want a book of yours reviewed, please contact me.  If you are an author in the horror or science fiction genre and would like a link to your page, please let me know.

I hope you enjoy the site!

~ Holly Ann

(DeadAeris)

Something for everyone!

Go see this movie – The Cabin in the Woods. Do it NOOOW!

“The Cabin in the Woods” has, quite literally, something for everyone.  Regardless of whether you fancy monsters, supernatural in general, psycho killers, government conspiracies and plot twists, or if humor or torture are more your cup of tea, you will find something you like about “The Cabin in the Woods”.  I know this may be going out on a limb, but I really really loved this movie.  I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so I can begin forcing absolutely everyone I know to watch “Cabin in the Woods”.

First off, it’s absolutely hilarious.  Joss Whedon pulls out all the stops when it comes to paying homage to the genre.  We start with the usual crew of college kids (all of which possess morals, to varying degrees) who set out to spend some vacation time in the woods at a cabin.  What starts off as “Evil Dead” quickly morphs into a full-blown ride through everything the horror/slasher genre has to offer – but with a twist.  Aaand that’s the killer, literally.  While I really want to tell you what the twist is, it will completely destroy the movie for you.  It’s something that I’ve never seen done in any movie ever, period.  And it’s worth every minute leading up.

As for the cast, the faces may seem familiar, but not to the point that you can’t enjoy the movie.  Joss Whedon (writer) is of “Firefly”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer“, “Dollhouse”, “Avengers”, and “Angel” fame.  Chris Hemsworth is, of course, the indomitable “Thor”.  Other familiar faces include Fran Kranz (“The Village”, “Donnie Darko“, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodric Rules”), Richard Jenkins (“Burn After Reading“, “Step Brothers“, “Friends With Benefits”), and Bradley Whitford (“Billy Madison“, “Scent of a Woman“, and various TV appearances).  I’m sure there are other faces you’ll know, but those are just a taste.  (There’s even a special cameo by a woman who has made her mark on the genre).

“The Cabin in the Woods” kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire film.  There wasn’t one boring spot – I couldn’t help but continue to guess what was going to happen next.  I delighted each time I was wrong – what actually occurred was far more interesting than what I was expecting.  I walked out of the theater babbling inanely about how awesome the movie was – and ran straight into a woman who was complaining that it was “Two hours of my life I’ll never get back!”  Much to TKOut’s embarassment, I had to stop and chat with the woman and her daughter for almost fifteen minutes about why they didn’t like the movie.  The mother said that it was too predictable, and borrowed too heavily from other movies within the genre.  Honestly, I think that was the greatest strength the movie had.  As the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

I strongly encourage you to go out and rent this movie as soon as it comes out.  It’s an absolute thrillride – including laughs, screams, and gore-a-plenty.  It’s not your mother’s slasher cabin flick!

 

Not Your Average Joe

Joe Hill at a book signing.
Image via Wikipedia --> Author Joe Hill at a book signing.

I have now written this review three separate times.  I started with an anecdote about how I came to possess 20th Century Ghosts and Heart-Shaped Box, but I think that what I really want to tell you about is the author himself.  To be brief, I kept running into references about Joe Hill and what a master storyteller he was, but had neglected to add anything of his to my collection.  While in Maine, Chris picked me up 20th Century Ghosts, and afterwards a copy of Heart-Shaped Box arrived in my mailbox.

20th Century Ghosts is like no other book I’ve ever read in my entire life.  Reading it can be likened to an out of body experience.  From the very first page I got the strangest sensation.  I kept imagining myself sitting in a dark theater, just Hill and I, only he isn’t there at first.  He miraculously shows up just as the beginning of the movie comes to life on the screen.  He’s slouched down in the chair with a huge box of popcorn which he crunches noisily, eyes wide like saucers.  He is wearing a black knit sweater with a white undershirt and jeans, just a regular patron at a movie theater.  He leans over and tells me how excited he is and how he can’t wait to see what will happen next.  As we continue to watch the movie (living depictions of the stories) I gradually forget he’s with me.  Out of nowhere, he leans forward and says reverently through a mouthful of buttery popcorn, “Can you believe it?  I never saw that coming!”  Then he leans back in his seat and we continue watching, his eyes glued to the screen with a look of ecstasy on his face.  I’m sitting there slack-jawed, unable to tear my eyes away long enough to blink for fear of missing one little exquisite detail.

The entire book gives off this feeling.  The stories are written so naturally that the reader can’t help but feel more like a spectator.  Each story seems to have a life of it’s own, and just when you think you know the ending, it changes into a totally different scenario.  The stories are all wildly inventive, yet somehow plausible.  I think H.P. Lovecraft would have liked Joe Hill’s stories – they are all based in a very real and vivid world, with just enough of the absurd as to make them heavily unsettling.

Joe Hill is more than a writer, he is a master puppeteer.  He knows just which strings to pull to strip away his reader’s defenses.  With a few words he can pierce any reader straight to the heart.  When I first started reading 20th Century Ghosts, I thought I was in for the usual: the searching ravenous dead, or the unsettled dead that won’t leave the living alone.  What I found was far worse.  Ghosts come in every shape and size, and there are none more terrifying than those that inhabit every human’s conscience and soul.  Somehow Joe Hill knows exactly where to find those ghosts and how to bring them to light, often without the reader noticing until the pivotal moment.  Hill can elicit an emotional response over the weirdest and most absurd things, including an inflatable boy named Art, who just wants to live a normal life (“Pop Art”), or an idiot-savant who builds forts out of boxes that tunnel to different dimensions (“Voluntary Committal”), or a boy whose magical cape gives him the power to fly (“The Cape”).

Every story is wonderful and worth reading, and any story that I did not understand I attribute to my being naive.  My favorite story is “Abraham’s Boys”, about the famed vampire-hunter Abraham Van Helsing.  I have always taken it for granted that Van Helsing was a vampire hunter, but Hill explores a darker side.  What if Van Helsing were crazy instead?  How would his children react to his old world ideas and superstitions?  Meanwhile, Hill introduces a question that I still find troubling to this day, How is no proof somehow proof that something exists?  It’s like having a worm in your brain day after day, eating away at you.

Joe Hill is a peerless author.  He keeps a very interesting and informative website which can be found by following this link.  If you aren’t currently reading his stories, you are cheating yourself of an irreplaceable experience.  Personally, I have only read 20th Century Ghosts, but I can assure you that I will be following Joe Hill very closely in the coming years.  His stories and visions are classics in the making.

Bruce Campbell, demi-god

Cover of "My Name Is Bruce"
Cover of My Name Is Bruce

The always versatile Bruce Campbell shows his ability to actually laugh at himself and the kinds of movies that he makes.  I’m not sure that the same could be said about every other actor and actress that has made a similar mark on pop culture.  Recently, I saw “My Name is Bruce“, which is sure to delight any Bruce Campbell fan.

The basis of the movie is this: Bruce’s acting career is tanking, and he’s kidnapped by a rabid fan who has accidentally unleashed the ancient Chinese god of War (and bean curd).  This fan thinks that Bruce will be able to save the town, based on his acting ability in such films as The Evil Dead.  Bruce thinks its a joke at first, but soon realizes that the sinister Chinese god is real, and coming after the people of the town.

This movie works on so many levels.  The first is that if you’re a fan of Bruce Campbell, well, then I don’t really need to say any more.  For fans of cheesy horror movies, you’ll find some fun in the laughable foe Guan-di (god of bean curd and war), whose red eyes are little more than glorified flashlights.  I found myself laughing almost every minute during the movie, due in no small part to Campbell’s ability to constantly lampoon himself.  (Perhaps that comes from knowing how much he means to the majority of the nerd-population, myself thoroughly included.)   There are some cameos of director Sam Raimi favorites, including his brother Ted, and a few guys who were in the original Evil Dead movies.  They make a few jokes about their previous roles, and they wear mostly the same clothing, so they’re pretty easy to spot.  If you’re a fan of Bruce Campbell and his movies, then you MUST see “My Name is Bruce”.