Monthly Archives: March 2018

X3 – Cover Reveal

X3, my third collection of short fiction, is coming out next month. The first volume gathered together my early stories, most of which were published in the small press explosion of the late nineties, while the second covered the noughties. More info on those can be found here.

This third volume mainly includes stories which were published in various magazines, ezines and anthologies in 2012-2014, plus a couple of surprises. More details, and ToC to follow. In the meantime, I wanted to share the cover with you, designed once again by Greg Chapman who recently won a big HWA award. Congratulations, Greg!

And here it is:

X3

Impressive, eh?

X3 is available for pre-order now and is half-price for a very limited time, so get yours early. 😉

Advertisements

RetView #8 – Demons

Title: Demons (aka Demoni)

Year of Release: 1985

Director: Lamberto Bava

Length: 88 mins

Starring: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey

demons

This film is 1985 to the bone. You can tell the moment the awful tinkly synth pop soundtrack kicks in over the opening credits. You don’t even need the long, lingering shots of shoulder padded, pink-haired punks riding the Berlin subway but you get that anyway, just in case you were in any doubt. Cheryl, a pretty college student (Hovey), disembarks the train, and is pursued down the platform by a mysterious masked man. Not really what you want. But when Strange Dude catches up with her, instead of assaulting her he gives her free tickets to a film showing that evening at a local cinema. Crisis avoided. You would think. Cheryl then meets her friend Cathy, persuades her to cut class, and off they go to the cinema together. Little do they know they are setting themselves up for a whole lot of freakish, bloodthirsty fun and games.

In one of those cool film-within-a-film sequences, the film they are watching is revealed to be a gross-out horror about a group of teens who go in search of the tomb of Nostradamus and end up turning into demons and butchering each other. As we find out the teenagers fate, the cinema is revealed to contain a cast of colourful characters including two guys who hit on Cheryl and her friend (one of them being George, played by Barberini, who turns out to be the star of the show), an elderly couple, a blind man, and a pimp with some prostitutes. One of the prostitutes tries on a mask in the cinema lobby and scratches her face, mirroring what happens in the movie they are all watching. A short while later she breaks into full-on demon mode and bursts through the cinema screen sparking a stampede for the exit as the cinema-goers begin to realise that somewhere along the way, the movie has morphed into reality.

*shudder*

To make matters worse, when they try to flee the cinema they find the exits blocked, meaning that the punters are all trapped inside with the demon, which goes around ripping off faces, slashing throats, and infecting them with the demon-virus.

That would perhaps explain why the tickets were free.

Those infected with the demon-virus also turn into bloodthirsty thugs, and pretty soon George and Cheryl find themselves locked in a mortal battle for survival as all hell breaks loose around them. A perfect first date this isn’t. As the demons run amok, the face melting, scalping, and flesh-chewing is relentless, subsiding only long enough to cut to a bunch of muscle-vested Latino punks at irregular intervals who are driving around Berlin off their tits on coke (which they hilariously snort out of a Coke can) and listening to Go West. Really. At one point they drop their stash and then have to painstakingly pick it all up again. Luckily enough, some of it falls over the girl of the gang’s exposed breasts. She even gets some inside her knickers, apparently. Bizarre. Predictably enough, the horny, drug-addled punks eventually come to a suitably sticky end. Keep your eye open for the reappearance of the masked man from the subway station, tying things up nicely. But the final shock is kept for the last few frames. I bet you didn’t see that one coming. And that’s AFTER a massive helicopter crashes through the roof.

Overlooking the Go West abomination, elsewhere Demons benefits from a thumping metal-oriented soundtrack featuring choice cuts from Motley Crue, Saxon, Billy Idol and Accept. It is a rare English/Italian production, spawned no less than seven sequels (though few have any relation to the original, sharing the same name only as a tediously transparent marketing strategy) and is widely regarded as horror writer/producer extraordinaire Dario Argento’s tour de force. However, 30-plus years on, the sad truth is it hasn’t aged very well. The writing still holds up, just, and the cinematography should be applauded. There are also some inventive and gore-tastic kills, as you would expect from one of the masters of horror. Let’s not forget this is the guy who will always be remembered for THAT scene in Zombi 2 where he has a woman’s eyeball slowly impaled on a thick wooden splinter. Ouch. But by the mid-way point of Demons the camp, OTT acting gets a bit tiresome and it is further let down by some truly awful special effects. Given that the budget was a measly $1.8 million (compared to the $28 million shelled out on Rocky IV, which came out the same year) that’s understandable I guess. It would be interesting to see what a large American studio with some hefty backing would be able to do with this. If any movie deserves a remake, it’s Demons.

Trivia Corner:

Between leaving his job at a newspaper and making his name in the horror biz, Argento worked with Sergio Leone as a scriptwriter on the classic spaghetti western Once Upon a Time in the West (1969).


Where did that Human Waste come from?

I was going to use this post to explain a few things about my recent release Human Waste. In particular, I was going to clarify exactly what my intention was. It shouldn’t be necessary, but in this case it kinda is. I get that fucked up ending could throw a few people. They do say the best art is art you have to think about a little, but I wanted to make it crystal clear.

But then I realized I can’t pull it apart and lay it bare without dropping spoilers left and right. And if I do that, there would be no reason for anyone else to read it. The secret would be out. So rather than break it down for you, I’ll have to let you do that bit for yourselves and tell you why I wrote it instead.

Anyone who knows my fiction will know that I usually prefer to stay in the shadows. By that, I mean most of it is old-school. Traditional. Haunted houses, alternate realities, creepy ghosts, the odd dude going mental and not realizing it. You know, the usual stuff. I always tended to shy away from the more explicit, in-your-face kind of horror, the same way I used to shy away from writing explicit sex scenes.  Reading a lot of other authors, I came to realize that most of it was unnecessary. Schlock, gore and sex for the sake of schlock, gore and sex. Not much of it advanced the story very far, or added to it in any way, which is what I‘ve always been most invested in.

But I must admit there was always a small part of me that longed to get my freak on from time to time. I often put graphic scenes in my stories, only to have a change of heart and remove them afterwards. Then I saw a submission call from Blood Bound Books for an anthology called DOA 3, which actually invited writers to get freaky. As freaky as they could and then some. I let the shackles off and knocked out a story called Subject #270374 which is, admittedly, fucking gross, and afterwards I realised how much I enjoyed that walk on the wild side. I began to think I’d gone as far as I could with the ‘traditional’ horror route, and splatterpunk was my new vocation. At least for the time being.

I’d had a few ideas floating around for a while. I’ve always been interested in prepping and survivalism. Not just the practicalities of it all, but the ethos behind it, too. There are a lot of people getting ready for the end of the world, whether it be the result of a solar flare, a world war, a meteor strike, another ice age, a global financial meltdown, an alien invasion, or a zombie uprising. As well as getting ready for a mass extinction, I get the impression a lot of them are also getting ready to say, “Look! I told you so!”

When I finished Human Waste, I didn’t even bother submitting it to any publishers. I wanted to self-publish it. That way, I could maintain complete control. I am aware of the stigma often attached to self-published writers. We self-publish because our work isn’t strong enough to be traditionally published, right? Wrong. My first six books were traditionally published. I turned indie through choice, not necessity. I haven’t submitted a novels or novella to a traditional publisher since 2012. One bad experience too many . This way, I might get slightly fewer sales and less respect, but at least I know where the money is going.

For argument’s sake I’ve called Human Waste a short story, but at around 10,000 words it’s technically a novelette. Stories of this ‘middling’ length are notoriously hard to place, anyway. The bonus content was selected on a thematic basis. Til Death Do us Part is a short story revolving around a similar end of the world scenario originally published in Morpheus Tales magazine, while I also include a short extract from my recent novella No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches, which substituted WWI-era German soldiers for modern-day zombies. War is war, regardless of the arena it’s played out in, and to those fighting in the trenches it must surely have seemed like the end of the world.

human-waste RED

Human Waste: A Short Splatterpunk Story is available now via Deviant Doll Publications.

And why not check out a few stops on Human Waste Blog Tour?


%d bloggers like this: