Friday, November 27, 2009

Dr. Gore's Funhouse Interviews Fatally Yours

Sarah "Fatally Yours":Jahier

Hiya fiends! Yours fatally was featured in another interview! This time, I discuss my start in horror and what keeps me so passionate about the genre over at Dr. Gore’s Funhouse!

Horror critic and journalist Christian Sellers (GoreZone Magazine, wanted to pick my brain on being one of the first women horror bloggers back when I started in 2005 and what makes me tick, especially in a male-dominated genre.

Check out my interview over at Dr. Gore’s Funhouse!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gory Gear: Dance Party Massacre - Season 3

One of our favorite horror inspired clothing lines, Dance Party Massacre, is back with a whole new line of horrifyingly awesome tees! Their Season Three line is all about a retro vibe and feel while still keeping its wearers feeling fresh!

Case in point is the new tee called “The Trilogy”. This retro-styled tee is a throwback to ‘70s and ‘80s horror movie posters. It features plenty of booze, babes and blood to satisfy any nostalgic horror fan!

There is also “Survival Kit,” a red shirt featuring all the tools for surviving the horror trade including a cross, a butcher knife, a needle containing “the cure”, a flask containing “courage” and so on! This is one of the coolest shirts in the new line and will be sure to make you the center of attention!

The sweatshirt “Live Fast & Die Young” is sporty and boldly proclaims your intent to enjoy life while you still have it…before some masked killer comes to punish you for all the illicit fun you’ve been having! I really dig the style on this one, because it looks sporty but has a very anti-establishment message emblazoned across the front!

The colorful “Never Sleep” is emblazoned with eyeballs all over the front of a black tee. It is a very playful and fun tee, one that’s sure to turn some heads! Jeepers creepers, you’ll want to keep an eye on this one!

With Season Three, Dance Party Massacre has premiered their woman-only “Bite Me” tee! This vampy design is sure to attract attention, whether it is bloodsuckers out for a quick bite or passing pedestrians who will no doubt give you wide berth, which is hopefully the outcome you wanted! I love that DPM has made a strictly woman-only tee, especially one as sleek and stylish as “Bite Me”!

Dance Party Massacre has many other fantastic clothing designs and any horror fan would be lucky to wear their tees! With the holiday season coming up, now is a perfect time to add these to your wish list or buy them for that extra special someone in your life!

Dance Party Massacre is one of my favorite tee shirt companies because of their uniqueness, clever humor and killer style of their clothing. If they were a movie, they would definitely be a treasured cult classic!

Check out DPM’s killer site:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Book Review: Creeping Shadows - Three Dark Tales

Creeping Shadows is a novella anthology that contains three different stories from authors Alan Draven, Brandon Ford and Jessica Lynne Gardner. The novellas differ from historical supernatural horror, to a story based on recent true events to a tale about an ancient Aztec curse. I loved the variety of the stories and how they each offered something completely different to readers!

The first story, Vengeance is Mine by Alan Draven, re-envisions the the tale of Jack the Ripper. The infamous Whitechapel butcher, whose actual name is Vincent Fowler in this story, starts off attending the prestigious Royal Academy of Surgeons of England but gets kicked out for a distasteful prank as well as his low social rank (his mother was a prostitute and he feels the Academy has always looked down upon him for that shameful fact). After traveling to America, Fowler returns many years later to seek his vengeance on London and begins killing prostitutes. Yet, as much as he relishes spilling their blood and bodily organs, he begins to be haunted by a specter of one of his victims…and this ghost just won’t quit until she gets revenge!

I really enjoyed how masterfully Draven wove true facts throughout his fictional story, even paying attention to the little details! The whole class war aspect of the Jack the Ripper case, in which he was supposedly trying to draw the attention of the aristocrats the the poorer areas of London, was even explored! And his hatred of prostitutes is very well established as his own mother was one. As someone who is very much interested in the macabre Jack the Ripper case, I definitely appreciated Draven’s careful following of the facts in the case and how his own interjections fit squarely into the facts as well.

Furthermore, the novella was very quickly paced and a very exciting read. It was interesting to get to take a peek inside Jack the Ripper’s head and see exactly what he might have been thinking. Plus, the gory killing scenes were quite shocking, even if you already knew all about the case and its victims. The inclusion of the supernatural was an added treat!

The next novella, Merciless by Brandon Ford, was probably my least favorite and didn’t seem to quite fit within the other two novella’s supernatural themes. It is based on a true story about two young high school girls abducted by a madman. They are brutally raped and beaten within an inch of their lives, but they work together to try and escape the madman’s clutches, even as he drives them further and further away from anything familiar.

There is no doubt that Merciless is a horrifying story, but its unfortunately something we read about in the news every day (the original story it is based on is here) and I don’t necessarily want to read about it in my leisure time. While the story is well-written, it just doesn’t offer anything new or original like the other two stories contained in this anthology. Still, this is more personal preference and there is no denying the talent of Ford’s writing…I just wish the subject matter had been a bit more engaging.

The last story, Sugar Skull by Jessica Lynne Gardner, is probably my favorite of the anthology. Someone or something is killing Latinos with a rare poison that the police can’t track down. The victims all had a sugar skull shoved down their throats coated with what appears to be a Central American poison. When Annabel’s father is also found dead, she, with the help of her mother and a forensic specialist, must track down the killer, who appears to be tied to an ancient Aztec curse.

Sugar Skull was a fantastic story that I just couldn’t put down! More so than the other novellas in the anthology, I found myself glued to the pages of Sugar Skull, rooting for the characters to solve the supernatural case! I really loved the uniqueness of the story and appreciated that the author used Dia De Los Muertos and Aztec legends as the backdrop for the tale. I also thought that the villain turned out to be very frightening! I still get the heebie jeebies when I think about it! I also enjoyed the tragic backstory of the villain and the sacrifice it took to finally stop the killings.

Creeping Shadows is an extremely engaging, creative and worthwhile anthology. It definitely lives up to its title and you will definitely be checking over your shoulder after reading the stories contained in Creeping Shadows! I highly recommend this book to pretty much all horror fans, because it definitely has something for everyone!

Order it on Amazon!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Canyon (2009)

What comes to mind when you think of the Grand Canyon? Wide, expansive spaces? Majestic views? Awe-inspiring vistas? Certainly fear and/or tragedy isn’t one of the first things you think of (well, I hope not anyway!), but the Grand Canyon has had its share of shocking deaths within its deep walls.

According to Wikipedia, “About 600 deaths have occurred in the Grand Canyon since the 1870s. Some of these deaths occurred as the result of overly zealous photographic endeavors, some were the result of airplane collisions within the canyon, and some visitors drowned in the Colorado River. Many hikers overestimate their fitness level, become dehydrated and confused, and must be rescued.”

The Canyon preys upon people’s fear of being lost in the wilderness and of nature in general. It tells the tale of city slickers and eloped newlyweds Nick (Eion Bailey) and Lori (Yvonne Strahovski) who decide to spend their honeymoon taking a mule ride down to the Grand Canyon’s floor. Problem is, they need a permit and permits have to be booked months in advance. They think all hope is lost, but then they meet weathered tour guide Henry (Will Patton), who promises he can procure the necessary permits and guide them down the Grand Canyon. Things start off well, but when they reach the canyon floor disaster strikes when Henry suffers a nasty fall off his mule and is bitten by rattlesnakes. Without their mules and no way to reach the outside world for help, Nick and Lori must find their way out of the canyon…before it is too late.

I’ll be honest, I was intrigued by the trailers for The Canyon. I thought there was a chance for the film, a take on the nature-run-amuck subgenre, to actually be good. Unfortunately, the film is as bland as vanilla and never pushes boundaries.

The best part of the film, the beautiful setting, is the most fleeting and ill-used. Sure, the characters are constantly surrounded by the towering canyon walls, but the Grand Canyon’s vastness isn’t quite captured. I wish director Richard Harrah and cinematographer Nelson Cragg had tried to make the titular character a bit more menacing and scary. It would have been nice to see the Grand Canyon become a character onto itself, but it became secondary to the other natural horrors experienced by the married couple.

Also, the script by Steve Allrich was painfully generic. The only thing that really stood out was the wily character of Henry (which also yielded the only stand out performance, by Will Patton). The characters of Nick and Lori were boring and I couldn’t really root for them because I knew so little about them. Plus, they make some truly bone-headed decisions (hey, let’s climb this cliff that goes hundreds of feet straight up! Hey, let’s not backtrack our steps but try to find another way out!). And, again, the biggest underdeveloped character was the Grand Canyon itself. It was supposed to be this formidable opponent of the married couple, but it really felt like the film could have been set anywhere and it wouldn’t have made that much of a difference. It really is a pity, because the Grand Canyon definitely has the potential to be formidable, but this film just didn’t capitalize enough on its location.

I kept waiting and waiting for The Canyon to become thrilling, but the moment never came. There were some shocking scenes (including a pretty tense amputation scene), but they never amounted to much. The Canyon is just far too safe and generic for me…and wasted a perfectly frightening setting!

Order it on Amazon!

Thankskilling (2009)

Horror fans don’t have a lot (if any) options when it comes to horror-themed Thanksgiving holiday movies. When Eli Roth’s faux Thanksgiving trailer was seen during the Grindhouse double-feature in 2007, interest in a feature-length Thanksgiving-themed movie only grew (speaking of which, Roth’s horrifying holiday vision is supposedly in the works).

Well, now horror fans have another option with Thankskilling, and independent production from In Broad Daylight Pictures being released November 17th, 2009. Thankskilling comes off as a wacky Troma film, filled with bad acting, ridiculous situations, silly one-liners and hell, a talking turkey! You definitely need a sense of humor to get through Thankskilling, just like you need one to get through seeing your relatives during the holidays.

Thankskilling is about a group of friends that drive home for Thanksgiving, but inadvertently find themselves and their community terrorized by a talking, killer turkey. The turkey was resurrected 510 years after a Native American placed a curse on the pilgrims after the very first Thanksgiving.

Dear lord, I’m sure glad I was in a Vicodin haze while watching Thankskilling. This is a campy, over-the-top film that is completely silly and isn’t to be taken seriously. The best parts are when the turkey is on screen…he is completely hilarious! There is even a part where he skins and wears someone’s face a la Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that’s pretty awesome! And take a look at some of the gut-busting lines he utters: “I’m gonna drink your blood like cranberry sauce” after threatening one of the characters or “You just got stuffed!” after raping a character or the infamous “gobble, gobble motherfucker!”

The rest of the characters are all basically brain dead and are intended to poke fun at all the stereotypical horror situations. There’s the slob of a redneck, the nerdy bookworm, the jock, the slutty airhead and the Final Girl. The characters’ parents all play minor parts in the film as well, and I really enjoyed the silly Sheriff’s character!

Of course, some of the acting is pretty bad, but most of the actors are decent. I really enjoyed Chuck Lamb as Sheriff Roud and Aaron Ringhiser-Carlson as the redneck Billy. And whoever voiced the turkey was just brilliant!

Some situations are so unbearably stupid, though, that my disbelief was wayyy too suspended. For example, a dog peeing on the turkey’s grave resurrects him. Really? Writers Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey couldn’t think of anything more creative than that to bring back the killer turkey? Or how unbelievably dumb the characters are in certain situations (hmmm if a turkey was wearing my dad’s face you’d think I’d notice!). I understand that this was the tone for the film and part of its appeal, but if you don’t enjoy horror-comedy hybrids that are this outrageous, you probably won’t enjoy Thankskilling.

For a low budget film, I really was impressed with the look of the killer turkey. Besides being hilarious, he also looked pretty awesome. I believe they used a puppet, and whenever he spoke it did indeed look realistic. The gory effects were pretty good too…I especially enjoyed when one of the characters ate the turkey and the turkey ate its way out through his stomach! The skinned face of one of the characters looked pretty realistic as well. And the turkey used an electric carver, a meat thermometer and other Thanksgiving utensils as killing tools! Unfortunately, there were some instances of CGI that were noticeable, but luckily these weren’t too numerous or distracting.

If you enjoy campy horror-comedies in the vein of over-the-top Troma releases, you just may count Thankskilling as one of your blessings this Thanksgiving. If those aren’t your thing, though, you way want to steer as clear of Thankskilling as you would dry turkey and nosy relatives!

Order it on Amazon!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fear(s) of the Dark (2007)

Fear(s) of the Dark is an animated anthology featuring black and white shorts of varying artistic styles. The result is simply stunning and there is no doubt that fans of animated horror and comic books will dig this amazing French film.

The stories all deal with different kinds of horror, from classic Cronenberg-like body horror to the horrors of growing up and relationships to the overarching theme of the anthology – fear of the unknown.

The film begins with a wrap-around story by Blutch featuring a scary old man dressed in period clothing walking a pack of menacing dogs. Between segments he ambles across the rugged countryside and decrepit city, loosing his dogs on unsuspecting people. This wrap-around segment is just beautiful to look at and is artfully rendered in what looks like charcoal. Out of all the segments, this was my favorite aesthetically. It has such texture and wonderful depth! Plus, the old man is frighteningly and hideously scary!

The style of most of the stories was simple black and white line drawings, so don’t be expecting too much fancy animation (with the exception of the wrap-around story mentioned above). Yet, even though the animation was simple I really enjoyed each and every one of the stories. They were each different, both in style and in narrative. My favorite of the tales was probably the last segment, about a haunted house of sorts, by Richard McGuire. The use of lighting (which was mainly candlelight) here really helped the narrative and created a tense atmosphere. I also loved Charles Burns’ tale of a humanoid insect that burrows under the skin of its captor’s girlfriend. The gaping wounds and body horror associated with the story reminded me much of Cronenberg’s films.

The only portions I wasn’t too fond of were the interspersed segments where people talk about what they fear (both irrational and rational fears) against a background of abstract black and white shapes. These segments just made me feel like I was sitting in on a psychiatrist’s appointments having to listen to people’s strange neuroses! I really feel these took away from the stark beauty of the rest of the stories.

All in all, though, Fear(s) of the Dark is an exciting, unique and beautiful anthology of stories fit for anyone who appreciates animation.

Order it on Amazon!

Book Review: The Picture of Contented New Wealth by Tariq Goddard

The Picture of Contented New Wealth is an intellectual horror story set in a creepy old house in the English countryside. Something evil has been lurking in its dark paneled walls for as long as the house has stood, but ever since the Conti family has moved in the presence seems more…malign.

The evil presence soon reveals itself as demonic in nature, no matter how unbelieving the secular family is. Mrs. Conti soon becomes possessed and her young son falls under her power. It is up to the incredulous Mr. Conti to find a way to save his family.

Here is the official book description:

“In the brilliant red doom of a Hampshire Sunset, Brigit Conti can hear a voice behind her ears that is not her own. Bed-bound, and complaining of a rare bone disease that no Doctor can diagnose, her husband fears that the house they have purchased is a portal through which an older, more malign energy has passed, possessing his wife and son. Through their successive deterioration, his secular and agnostic world-view undergoes a metamorphosis, drawing him to a strange man from the hills: the Rector, their unlikely saviour. Or are he and his family merely victims of their own self-serving yuppie way of life?

The Picture of Contented New Wealth is a gothic tragedy set in the nineteen eighties, bringing proper characterization and a literary sensibility to the traditional horror story. Its mix of generic elements and mystical realism deal with the irreducibility of evil and its successful normalization in to our daily and dominant reality.” 

This eloquent novel is not your typical haunted house or possession story. Author Tariq Goddard weaves some heavy philosophical and religious themes throughout the novel, yet “heavy” shouldn’t be taken to mean that they weigh the book down. These themes help bolster the book’s story and make perfect sense in the grand scheme of things.

Goddard makes wonderful use of the large house the Conti’s move into, called Tyger Tyger, which, of course, brings to mind William Blake’s poem The Tyger (“Tyger! Tyger! burning bright/ In the forests of the night,/What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”). And Tyger Tyger House certainly does burn bright…with all the fires of Hell! Its long, shadowy corridors, whispering voices, shadowy figures and things that just don’t seem right certainly sent shivers up my spine! The experiences the family members face in the house are downright unsettling, including their son claiming to play with the family’s long-dead cat or their au pere’s horrifyingly real nightmares.

Equally horrifying is the possession of Mrs. Conti. Her husband is so disbelieving of the supernatural that he thinks she is just mentally ill, but after his continued experiences with both the house, strange occurrences and his sick wife, comes to believe in the supernatural. Mrs. Conti’s attacks keep getting worse, her appearance changing along with her demeanor. Her transformation is chilling to read and yet you can’t help but wanting to read more.

I haven’t personally read any of author Goddard’s previous works, but I sincerely hope that in his literary future he decides to write another horror novel. The Picture of Contented New Wealth crawled deep under my skin and remained there long after I had finished reading it. Its metaphysical horror story will certainly get you thinking all the while you cower under the covers!

Order it on Amazon!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book Review: Simon Snootle and Other Small Stories by Lorin Morgan-Richards

In this tiny tome, author Lorin Morgan-Richards has woven the most whimsically woeful stories this side of Edward Gorey! While the seven stories and their accompanying illustrations are sure to delight, the binding and the outside cover of the book are sure to thrill as well. For, you see, the book is all hand-bound by the author and has the look and feel of a book that will be treasured for many years to come. In fact, it feels more like an heirloom art piece from the Victorian era than a book, but then that would discount its many imaginative stories contained inside!

Book Description:

Simon Snootle and Other Small Stories describe seven misguided tales of humorous woe by several downtrodden characters that are simply looking to be themselves. The book begins with Simon Snootle, a meager young man who lived most of his life at the bottom of a cistern with neighborhood cats. He is not aware of any tragedy of the situation, but rather makes the best of it, knowing that eventually more things will fall in as he did.

Simon Snootle is a unique and peculiar book and those with an appreciation for darker literature and odd tales in the tradition of such Gorey classics as The Gashlycrumb Tinies will no doubt cherish this pocket-sized collection of “small stories”. Its hopeless gothic romantic stance coupled with dark satirical humor and whimsical illustrations will definitely appeal to kindred spooky souls of mine who don’t take themselves or life too seriously.

Buy it on Amazon!

Visit Lorin Morgan-Richards’ Official Site!
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