Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Sinister Mr. Corpse

With The Sinister Mr. Corpse Jeff Strand returns to horror comedy. After experiencing the dark horror of his novel Pressure it's nice to have Jeff make us laugh again.

Stanley Dabernath's life was going nowhere fast. He was broke, evicted, eating stolen noodles three times a day, of low moral constitution and attempting to run a video distribution company featuring such titles as: Extreme Fishing, Vampire Splatter and The Mysterious Case of the Chunks of Flesh. Things weren't going well for Stanley but at least he was alive. At least he was alive until the semi truck full of milk ran off the road, tipped over, trapped his foot and then drowned him in milk that came pouring out of it.

Television reporter Donald Mandigan has gained exclusive access to the story of a lifetime. He has been invited by Project Second Chance to do a live broadcast of the first resurrection since Lazarus. Stanley was about to receive a second chance at life as The Amazing Mr. Corpse.

Stanley does an amazing job of adapting to life, such as it is, once he realizes that he really did die and return. Life as a living corpse isn't that bad and Stanley finally has his shot at fame and riches. All he has to do is make an appearance, autograph a shirt/action figure/poster/hat/photograph, enjoy the spotlight of fame, take his daily injection and collect a big check. It's a good thing Project Second Chance has assigned him a personal assistant to keep up with all of it.

So how does The Amazing Mr. Corpse become The Sinister Mr. Corpse? You'll have to read the book to find out and it's worth reading every page to learn all of Stanley's story.

Once again the small press has done a wonderful job of producing a quality product. Great job by Delirium Books. I really like the gold inlaid title, image and author's name on the cover of the book. The book comes in at 259 pages and was a pleasure to read.

Would I read The Sinister Mr. Corpse a second time? I already have.

Big "Thank you!" to Jeff Strand for allowing me to quote the following from the book. In this scene Stanley is meeting his assistant, Veronica, for the first time. It really gives you an idea of what Stanley's personality is like and what it would be like to work with him.

"You're not a freak," Veronica insisted, "you're a--"

"--a scientific phenomenon, I know. But, c'mon, look at me. I've got a face that only a drunken coked-up lobotomized mother could love."

"Don't be so caught up in your appearance. You're Mr. Corpse. People aren't expecting beauty."

"So I don't gross you out?"

"Not at all."

"What about now?" Stanley opened wide, showing her a mouthful of chewed-up eggs.

On a more personal note: If the comic industry can have Batman & Spawn teamup I think the horror story industry could have Captain Nothing, from Nothing To Lose, and The Sinister Mr. Corpse team up. That would be cool.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pain & Oprah

Hi there folks! I'm enjoying a pain killer moment and taking time to write this.

The dental work yesterday did NOT go as planned. The plan was: Use pain killer injections, make mouth numb, fill one tooth, extract another tooth, go home. That would have been so nice. Instead it was: Use injections, mouth not numb, use more injections, mouth numb, start removing decay for filling, experience intense pain, more injections, more pain, more injections, begin extraction, PAIN!, extraction complete, more injections, begin decay removal again, more pain, realizing we just have to push through this, PAIN PAIN PAIN!, decay removal finally done, filling done, go home. Who needs horror stories when you have experiences like that? Today I'm still in pain but not as bad as yesterday. Still, not fun. I will get the Strand & Hawkes reviews up this week.

Oprah? How did she get here? Oprah has listed "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy as the latest entry in her book club. A post apocalyptic novel chosen by the queen of the housewives. Horror lives.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday Update

Hi there! This is just a little entry to let you know what's going on.

Monday Mr. Postman brought me a signed copy of Wild Things: Four Tales by Douglas Clegg.

Tuesday afternoon I am having a tooth extracted and some filling work done on another one. Yikes!

Wednesday - Sunday I plan to have at least two reviews up for you. One of a Jeff Strand book and one of an Angeline Hawkes book. Maybe I can work in a third one. I know there are some authors out there that have given me quotes to use but I haven't gotten the reviews up yet. Nobody will be forgotten, I promise.

Am I the only one that ever dreams of drowning because my car went off a bridge? Creepy. Now go read a book!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Corpse On The Wall

Author Christopher Hawkins brings my Three for Free series to a close with his story Corpse On The Wall. This short story is available at his website and is a great read. You can find it and other selections in the Writing section of his website. I love it when authors share previously published work with those of us that might have missed it before.

Finding a strange corpse hanging in your home town is enough to give anybody the creeps. What I found creepy about this story was the way it shows the real horrors of society. As an individual a person can be very rational. As a member of society an individual can easily become just another mindless member of the herd. Individuals don't scare me, society scares me. How often have you done/bought/tried/watched/experience something because "everybody else is?"

Not everybody will take the same ideas from the story I did and that is a good thing. It shows were not mindless members of the herd.

Go read the story and enjoy it. Be sure to read Carpenter's Thumb while you're there.

Big "Thank You!" to Christopher for allowing me to quote the following from Corpse On The Wall.

The wall was there. The wall had always been there.

For as long as anyone could remember, it had stood at the edge of their little town, towering high above the rooftops, surrounding it the way a mother’s arms surround a child. The circle of its sure, steady timbers was thought to be a good thing, when people stopped to think about it at all. "Keeps the bad folks out and the good folks right here where they belong," the old farmers were often heard to say, and when they said it, everyone agreed. Still, no crops were grown in its shadow, and no one in the town would walk too near it after the sun went down.

And so it was until the day that someone chanced to glance at the wall and saw a shape hanging dark and heavy against it. It had appeared in the middle of the night, or so it was thought since no one could recall ever seeing it there before. But, every last person in the town who looked up at it knew in an instant what it was, for there was no mistaking its shape, or the shadow that it cast.

It was a corpse, suspended high against the weathered wood.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Free Apex Digest

I'm on a free roll this week. I'll have another free story covered later but for now let me share a link to a free (you pay s/h) Science Fiction and Horror digest. Apex Digest is giving away a free copy of Apex Issue 2. The only thing they ask is you give it a fair chance. You can get a copy by clicking here.

The names of authors that have contributed to Apex are pretty impressive. Some very well known outside of genre fans and others you may not have heard of but will most likely enjoy.

I've taken the Apex Challenge, as I'm now calling it, and ordered a copy. If you wish to do the same all you have to do is click here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Don't you just love it when an author shares their work for free? Jason Brannon has done just that and it appears he will do it again in the future. Surf on over to Jason's website at and head to the Downloads section. Once there you can download and enjoy his short story Fishing. Don't forget his first novel The Cage is available for pre-order now. Fishing is a wonderful short story and I hope you can enjoy it as much as I did.

Life, death and truth, the sea holds them all. Sometimes what you catch isn't what you expected when you decided to go fishing.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Haunted Harbours Ghost Stories From Old Nova Scotia

Haunted Harbours: Ghost Stories from Old Nova Scotia by Steve Vernon is a collection of twenty-one ghost stories from around the waterways of Nova Scotia. If you've had a hard time telling an author from a story teller this is the book that will set you straight. Steve puts on the hat of a story teller and invites you to sit and listen as he entertains with this book.

So far this is the only book I've reviewed here that is kid safe. You won't find graphic depictions of death. You won't find zombies dining on human flesh. You won't find vampires flying into the windows of young maidens with violent intentions. You will find some great ghost stories though. Perhaps you remember sitting around a campfire as a child and swapping stories. Of course you had the stories that ended with "the bloody hook was in the door!" or "and it was his feet scraping the roof she heard!" but the best stories were the ones told by the normally quiet adult. The stories that had you seeing shapes in the fire and hearing noises in the dark.

Growing up on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico I heard plenty of ghost stories of the sea and was thrilled to see that I had not heard any of the stories Steve tells in Haunted Harbours. The stories here all come from actual ghost stories told in Nova Scotia that are still being told today. I enjoyed the stories so much I ordered a copy of the book for my brother, a boat captain himself.

None of the stories go over ten pages and most are much shorter than that. Steve does a wonderful job of giving us the setting, characters and haunt without overloading the stories with information we don't need. The settings of the stories require the use of some nautical terms but Steve gives enough detail that you don't have to guess at what he is describing.

While you could read through Haunted Harbours, it's only 120 pages, in one sitting I would suggest against it. Take the time to read and enjoy each story on it's own. These are stories you will find yourself telling to people around campfires or in taverns later. Let the stories soak into your system and become a part of you. Then you will become part of the story telling tradition and pass it along to others.

I really like the artwork on the cover by Michael Little and the interior art by John van der Woude. They really help set the mood of each story and spark your imagination. Last week a three masted ship, Stad Amsterdam, similar to the one on the cover of Haunted Harbours spent two days at the Port of Pensacola. Sadly the public was not allowed on the ship but we were able to enjoy some wonderful views of it up close. I had no problem visualizing characters from the book walking the deck and in the rigging of that ship while it was here. The story telling lived on.

It was difficult to come up with a paragraph or two to quote from Haunted Harbours because each story has it's voice that calls out to me. Anybody reading the stories will come up with their own favorite passage. I finally decided on the one below because it shows not only the commitment between a sailor and his captain but the commitment between friends. Big "Thank you!" to Steve Vernon for allowing me to quote the paragraphs below.

John MacNeil was dying. It was his last voyage home from trading in the Caribbean; he was dying of tropical fever and was afraid of being buried away from home - not for himself, you understand, but for his wife, who would worry about where he lay. "Don't bury me in the sea," he begged the captain. "For my bones will know no rest and my widow will weep out an ocean over my empty grave."

The captain was a good and honest man who'd known MacNeil most of his life. He hated to break faith with a sailor and a friend. "I'll do what I can," he promised. MacNeil passed on that night, but not before wringing one more promise from the captian, who swore on his father's good name that he'd see MacNeil's body laid to rest in the Isaac's Harbour Cemetery.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bram Stoker Nominations

The nominations for the 2006 Bram Stoker Award have been announced.
Because I am not a voting member, or even a HWA member (one day I hope to be a memeber), I can openly say "Congrats Jeff Strand for the nomination for Pressure! I hope you win!"

There is a lot of great work in the nomination list. Get out and read some of it.


Headstone City by Tom Piccirilli (Bantam)
Lisey's Story by Stephen King (Scribner)
Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
Pressure by Jeff Strand (Earthling)
Prodigal Blues by Gary A. Braunbeck (Cemetery Dance)

FIRST NOVEL Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
The Keeper by Sarah Langan (William Morrow)
Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon (Five Star)
The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff (St. Martins)
LONG FICTION Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge (Cemetery Dance)
Hallucigenia by Laird Barron (The Magazine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction)
Mama's Boy by Fran Friel (Insidious Publications)
Bloodstained Oz by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore (Earthling Publications)
Clubland Heroes by Kim Newman (Retro Pulp Tales)
SHORT STORY Tested by Lisa Morton (Cemetery Dance)
Balance by Gene O'Neill (Cemetery Dance)
Feeding the Dead Inside by Yvonne Navarro (Mondo Zombie)
FYI by Mort Castle (Masques V)
“31/10” by Stephen Volk (Dark Corners)
ANTHOLOGY Aegri Somnia: The Apex Featured Writer Anthology
edited by Jason Sizemore and Gill Ainsworth (Apex)
Mondo Zombie edited by John Skipp (Cemetery Dance)
Retro Pulp Tales edited by Joe Lansdale (Subterranean)
Alone on the Darkside edited by John Pelan (Roc)
FICTION COLLECTION Destinations Unknown by Gary Braunbeck (Cemetery
American Morons by Glen Hirshberg (Earthling
The Commandments by Angeline Hawkes (Nocturne Press)
The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford (Golden
Basic Black: Tales of Appropriate Fear by Terry
(Cemetery Dance)
NONFICTION Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We
Die by Michael Largo (Harper)
Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of
Hell on Earth by Kim Paffenroth (Baylor Press)
Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished by Rocky Wood
(Cemetery Dance) Cinema Macabre edited by Mark Morris (PS Publishing)
POETRY Shades Fantastic by Bruce Boston (Gromagon Press)
Valentine: Short Love Poems by Corrine de Winter
(Black Arrow Press)
The Troublesome Amputee by John Edward Lawson (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Songs of a Sorceress by Bobbi Sinha-Morey (Write
Words, Inc.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Hole

A co-worker told me I needed to see a movie that has been on Encore over the last couple of weeks, The Hole. I'm glad I took her advice. This was a great movie. It's based on the novel After The Hole by Guy Burt. I hope to read the book in the next few months. This isn't a movie for the kids and is rated R for good reasons. Will I watch it again? Oh yeah.

One of the things that made the movie memorable for me was the fact that the cast is mostly unknowns to me. With the exceptions of Embeth Davidtz as a therapist and Keira Knightley (of Pirates of The Caribbean fame) as a hot teen girl, the rest of the cast were all new faces to me. This made it easier to accept their predicament without thinking "But he/she makes _______ a film so I know nothing too bad is going to happen to the character." Quick note for my male readers: Yes, Keira does go topless in one scene. I can almost hear men running to the video store now.

The story begins with one of four missing teenagers, Liz, showing up bloody and screaming at the private school they all attend in Britain. This begins the first of two versions of the story. The first version is told from this teenager to the therapist assigned to work with her. It seems there was a school wide field trip planned. Those students that weren't going on the three day trip were being sent home to their families. The four teenagers wanted a private field trip and arranged for just such a thing. By paying Martyn, the kind of teen that can find/buy/sell anything, for his help they find themselves at the entrance to an old bomb shelter. Martyn unlocks the hatch with the promise he will return in three days to let them out. He has to lock it behind him or anybody that happens along with see something is wrong. When three days pass and Martyn doesn't return the four teens begin to realize something is wrong. It takes only a day or two for Liz to find the microphones hidden in the shelter and stage a performance that convinces Martyn to return as the four sleep and unlock the hatch.

Then the second version of the story begins. The police point out to the therapist that she hasn't told Liz she was the only one of the four found alive. Martyn is found in the Dominican Republic and returned to Britain to face charges. Martyn quickly denies being responsible and begins to tell the story of Liz (Thora Birch) and Frankie (Keira Knightly) that shows they aren't as innocent as Liz's story would have us believe. It is in this telling that the story becomes very dark and we begin to see how love can bring forth evil. Once this second version of the story begins I promise you will not want to leave your seat. Just when you think it's all over the movie has one twist left for you.

I really enjoyed this movie and believe most of you will enjoy it as well. My co-worker also recommended another movie that turned out to be pretty good: The Prestige. The Prestige is a movie that requires you to pay attention. When the plot twists start you wont want to miss any of the details. Go rent both of these movies and have fun this week. It's better than watching American Idol (yuck!).

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Creepers by David Morrell is, without a doubt, on my re-read list. While the term "thriller" may be more appropriate for this book, "horror" is easily applied. When I read a book I can usually see the movie version of it in my mind and this book was no exception. However, the level of horror generated in the telling of the story could not be translated to film. If you really want a good scare curl up with this book on a dark night by yourself.

The title comes from a term applied the group of main characters. Creepers are people that explore urban areas that have been closed to the pubic. Old hotels that have been boarded up. Subway lines that have been sealed shut. Abandoned areas of development or industry. Their goal is to sneak in, because it is trespassing, explore the snapshot of history contained within and then leave. They take only pictures and memories while leaving nothing behind.

In the story a group of Creepers have been joined by a reporter documenting their work and adventures. A reporter with a past he doesn't wish to share with this group. A reporter with secrets that may cause everybody in the group to pay a high price. Who else keeps secrets? You'll have to read the book to find out. Be assured that as the secrets are revealed and the plot twists start coming at you that your pulse will quicken and you may just have to put the book down for a few minutes.

What could be scarier that exploring an abandoned and unsafe structure in the middle of the night? Finding out you are not the only ones doing it. Finding out that when things seem their worst that the worst is yet to come.

Don't be surprised to find David Morrell playing with your emotions as you read through Creepers. Where you jeer a character one moment you may cheer that character the next. Enjoy each plot twist as it arrives.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


I'm sorry folks. I know I have neglected you.
I've had so much going on in life I'm behind on more than just my reading.
I promise to get at least two reviews up for you by Monday. If I don't then you can force me to read the biography of Paul Reubens while hitting me with a wiffle bat.