Monday, March 22, 2010

Book Review: How to Make Friends with Demons by Graham Joyce

William Heaney is a man well acquainted with demons. These demons are not his broken family – his wife has left him for a celebrity chef, his snobbish teenaged son despises him, and his daughter’s new boyfriend resembles Nosferatu – nor his drinking problem, nor his unfulfilling government job, but real demons.

Demons are real, and William has identified one thousand five hundred and sixty-seven smoky figures, dwelling on the shadowy fringes of human life, influencing our decisions with their sweet and poisoned voices.

After a series of seemingly unconnected personal encounters, William Heaney’s life is thrown into a direction he does not fully comprehend. Past and present collide. Long-dormant choices and forgotten deceptions surface. Secrets threaten to become exposed. To weather these changes, William Heaney must learn one thing: how to make friends with demons.

Though not a straight-forward horror novel, How to Make Friends with Demons is an absorbing genre-bender from author Graham Joyce. The character of William Heaney is immediately likable. From his charitable work with GoPoint, a shelter for the homeless to his “everyman” problems, including his strained family relations – we can easily relate to Heaney’s thoughts and actions. Yet, we also learn that Heaney runs a forgery ring, copying rare literature and using charlatan’s methods to sell the forgeries. However, he always donates all his profit to GoPoint. We also learn about his more sinister side and how he came to recognize demons. It seems that back in his college days a dorm mate of his conjured a powerfully evil demon from an incantation Heaney himself had put together. Even since those fateful events and subsequent consequences Heaney has been able to recognize demons that plague humans, even his own. As you can see, William Heaney is a very complex character, and despite his flaws and poor choices, Joyce has written him in such an “Average Joe” way that the reader can identify with him.

Heaney isn’t the only well-developed character, though. Joyce has populated the book with some very memorable, very colorful characters. These include Heaney’s forgery partners-in-crime artist Stinx and model-celebrity Jaz, inspirational GoPoint founder Antonia Bowen, Heaney’s mysterious love interest Yasmin, a disturbed ex-soldier named Seamus, college dorm mate Fraser, and of course, Heaney’s estranged family.

The fascinating characters could have been enough to make an entertaining novel, but Joyce pushes it farther and places the characters in intriguing storylines. I was captivated by all the different events, past and present, surrounding Heaney’s life, and how in the end they all came together to form a cohesive and stimulating story. There isn’t that much “horror”, but the quick glimpses of shadowy demons and the occult circumstances surrounding some deaths during Heaney’s college days were decidedly creepy. Surprisingly, though, the novel ends on a more heartfelt and uplifting note. Throughout its pages it also hits on many different themes, such as alienation and redemption, which everyone can easily associate with.

How to Make Friends with Demons is a rare find in horror literature these days. It presents true horror in the form of human’s own cruel nature and also shows us how our demons can be overcome. It is an intelligent and interesting novel for anyone wanting a more low-key and realistic approach to horror that features unforgettable characters and many intriguing plot twists.

Check it out on Amazon!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interview with GoreZone Magazine Editor Bryn Hammond

I’ve been a fan of the UK-based GoreZone Magazine for quite some time now and always delight in flipping through its glossy, well-informed pages. So, I was tickled blood-red when the opportunity arose to interview their mastermind and editor-in-chief, Bryn Hammond.

Bryn Hammond has been entrenched in the horror genre for quite some time now and he’s loved the genre for so long he can’t remember exactly how he fell head over heels for it. Before becoming editor-in-chief to one of the best horror mags around, he was a screenwriter, filmmaker and actor in the genre, endeavors he still actively pursues. He is currently acting in the remake of The Driller Killer as well as Monitor and hosting a TV show.

Check out our interview with the engaging Mr. Hammond below.

Fatally Yours: When and how did you first become interested in the horror genre?

Bryn Hammond: WOW. I have loved horror since forever. I can’t recall how I got into the genre but I’ve always preferred a scare fest to a romcom any day. Horror is the king of all genres and always will be.

Fatally Yours: What is the one horror film or book that most profoundly affected you?

Bryn Hammond: There have been so many. I recall my mom buying me The Lost Boys for Christmas one year and scaring the shit out of me by telling me that at the end of the movie there’s this huge monster that sucks everyone out of their beds. I was totally freaked! Of course that didn’t happen, but what did was, I became addicted to the genre even more. I’d spend every waking hour in our only video shop, a 20 minute walk away from my home, looking at the old VHS covers and renting all of them. I still love the old VHS cases; they’ve given me fond memories. My nan used to take us to car boots and I would rummage through all the old VHS tapes to find horror flicks I had yet to see. It was at one of these car boots I discovered Critters 4, which I didn’t know had been made.

I also recall the day Child’s Play 3 got released in the UK. I pulled a sickie from school as I had pre-ordered the movie to rent! I was obsessed; I really wanted a Chucky doll. That same day my mom was working late and we had a babysitter looking after us. My dad, who used to beat up on my mom, climbed the garden fence and tried to break into the house. It was terrifying and left a stamp on my brain. Now, if I watch that movie I get the jitters; I seem to get beamed back to that moment, seeing my dad in a mask climbing the fence. A horrifying situation to be in as a child. Now I think about it, maybe the need to be scared was to make me feel human. I had seen an awful lot of violence as a young child and pretty much became desensitized by it, and the only way to feel fear was to watch a horror movie. I’m sure a doc would have a field day with me!

Fatally Yours: How did you first become involved in the horror industry and how did your film, The Summer of the Massacre, come about?

Bryn Hammond: Well, I started out as a model at a young age, and was always writing stories and scripts growing up. I’d contact the names on the backs of VHS tapes, asking them if they would read my material. While most kids of 9 and 10 were out playing knock-a-door-run, I was in my room with my typewriter, creating comic books.

As I grew older my need to be involved in the industry grew. I ended up writing and producing my own TV show on a Sky channel, which lead to me having my own radio show on a station called Bridge FM.
This went on for years until I got into a really bad relationship, which kind of kicked me from pillow to post. I lost interest in everything I was doing and my passion died, which is generally the consequence of unhealthy relationships. I was working at a very well-known TV station at the time but my mental state was all over the place and I ended up homeless. I became soulless for a period, but eventually found light at the end of the tunnel by reading. If it wasn’t for turning on the TV one Saturday afternoon and watching Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire, I don’t know how my life would have turned out… I watched all her movies and surrounded myself with books about her. I just loved her get-up-and-go attitude; even through trials in life, she climbed that steep hill to reach her goals.

At this point I left my whole life behind and moved forward. I met my soulmate, got myself back on track, and my life became complete within six months. I was offered a record deal, but my self-esteem was shattered so nerves took over during the audition, and I stuffed it up by sing-talking the words. But as one door closes, another opens—this is when I revisited the Summer of the Massacre script.

I hunted for a director for ages, but they all complained that there was no budget. My partner had a camcorder in the shed and, as the story goes, I asked where the ‘on’ button was and began to film! I pulled together the cast from a website called UKSCREEN, purchased some software I found online and, well, the rest is history. I made the movie and it got picked up.

Fatally Yours: What made you want to pursue publishing GoreZone Magazine and how did you go about it? 

Bryn Hammond: Well, when I was really young I did a church magazine. It got banned as it had horoscopes in it. It was a gossip horror mag, and the first issue had Freddy on the cover as it was a Halloween special. I also did a lot of comics as a child; I just loved the whole picture selection process. I would read magazines for hours, whether it be in my room, on the bus or in the bath. When I stayed at my nan’s she would take me shopping and I’d spend hours in WHSmith and the local newsagent, who had shelves high of magazines.

Skip to age 24, I started working for a local paper and got the buzz back. I toyed with loads of names, and GoreZone Magazine stuck. We registered the name and own 100 per cent copyright so ignore what certain bloggers are saying… I can’t waste my energy on negative people; life’s too short. The rest is history.

When I held the first issue in my hands back in 2005, it was the most exciting feeling I have ever had. I make sure the mag covers everything I want to read, how I want to read it. I hate ass-licking column inches; I want a blunt read that tells me what’s happening behind the scenes and what the likes of Eli Roth do when the cameras stop rolling. Does he go home and chill with a bottle of wine, or does he go out clubbing and have midnight orgies with the girls from the Playboy mansion? I love gossip and I love horror even more. I think we balance that well in our magazine.

Fatally Yours: Can you run us through a typical day of being Bryn Hammond and exactly what running GoreZone Magazine entails?

Bryn Hammond: Okay, today has been a slow day as we went to print last night. So I got up and made myself a herbal tea. I’ll jump in the shower with R&B blasting in the background, get ready, open the mail and then head to the office. I normally have another tea and chinwag with Dean, who deals with marketing, to go over what we’ve done the night before. Following that, I go into the design studio and speak with the design team, then I head to speak with sales before I finally make it to my office to go over emails and open my mail. I look at up-and-coming movies, go into meetings and the day has gone before I know it. I head home at about six o’clock, have tea, check my two adopted kids are cool and go over their homework with them and play with my two adorable cats, Mimi and Beanie. Then I hit my home office to work on anything I have outstanding in the States. GoreZone being worldwide, my day doesn’t stop at 6pm UK time.

Fatally Yours: What sets GoreZone Magazine apart from other horror genre magazines?

Bryn Hammond: Well, I’d like to think we have a lot more passion. Everyone who works for GoreZone Magazine really wants to be here. If we have any loose screws, we fix them. My sidekick is Naila, our chief subeditor. She’s a talented, strong female and brutally honest.

I like to think we have a great balance of articles and we are slick, sexy and well-rounded. Our readers really get it that you don’t have to have a monster ripping a head off on the cover to sell copies, because the name tells them what the product is. We don’t dumb down like other mags and we are polished but we are not perfect there’s always room for improvement. I believe we are only as good as our last issue, so always work hard to make sure we get better and better and better.

I also adore the readers. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing the job I love. GoreZone Magazine readers are amazing and I love hanging out with them at our film festival. You can ask any of the readers; they are my extended family. I have some of them on my cell phone and call them now and then to say hi and ask what they think of the mag. If they say it stinks, I’ll find out why and make sure I make them happy in the following issue.

I also always reply to their emails. It may take a while, but I will reply—as I said above, if it wasn’t for the readers, I wouldn’t be doing the job I love. If they’re happy, I’m happy. I think that’s what makes us as a company stand out from other magazines. Not naming any names, but I remember as a child writing to one magazine and getting a nice reply, saying hey don’t give up your day job.

Fatally Yours: As editor-in-chief, how do you ensure that GoreZone remains successful?

Bryn Hammond: Well, I am very ambitious and will make sure we are always a success by keeping on looking ahead. I avoid looking back and just keep running; I don’t see the point in stopping. I will keep pushing boundaries with the magazine and keep getting better and better…

Fatally Yours: Besides GoreZone, what other magazines, websites, etc. do you enjoy?

Bryn Hammond: I love Esquire, it’s amazing. I actually bought the latest issue yesterday when on my way back from my personal doctor—Doctor Brunt, who makes me look youthful. DiCaprio is on the cover. I was disappointed that he was holding a cancer stick in his hand, as it doesn’t set a very good example to people who look up to him. I also love FHM and NME.

In terms of online, I love your website, it’s really cool. I always enjoy reading Michael Varrati material, and I really like the gossip sites as well, such as Perez Hilton and Mr Paparazzi. I have a load of love for Bloody-Disgusting, as do I for the Sun’s website. I don’t have time to pick up the paper on a daily basis, so I like to just get a quick celebrity gossip catch up during my lunch break.

I’m a pretty normal guy when it comes to the Internet. I have a healthy relationship with my computer. I don’t often go online, but when I do I go to sites that I know will be fun and not just print unhealthy, negative, self-loathing opinions. I spoke with director Jeff Broadstreet about certain unhealthy websites and we both agree on many topics. He’s an awesome guy, and I think people shouldn’t be so judgmental. Go rent Night of the Living Dead 3D—it’s a cool beer movie.

Fatally Yours: In addition to being the editor of GoreZone, you are also an actor and filmmaker, set to star in the upcoming remake of The Driller Killer among other projects. Tell us about your past roles, your filmmaking work, and any upcoming films you are working on!

Bryn Hammond: You know what, I’ve always loved acting. I think acting gives people a release and an escape from their own world.

Remember when you were a kid and you played movies? That’s what I think acting is. When I was at school, all my friends were playing Thundercats. Not me—I was playing Return of the Living Dead 2!
One thing I do hate about acting though, is that the girls always get all the best roles. I loved Mindy Clark’s role in Return of the Living Dead 3. I wanted that role! I loved  Suzanne Snyder’s awesome death scene in Return of the Living Dead 2, and I absolutely loved Beverly Randolph’s role in Return of the Living Dead. When I was a kid I’d learn their lines and practice their facial expressions in front of the mirror.

I love strong female roles. Actually, talking of strong female roles, my horror icon is not Jason, Freddy or Leatherface. It’s Amelia Kinkade from Night of the Demons. Angela is the most kick-ass villain ever.
Anyway, back to me acting. I play a tramp in the Driller Killer remake and a mental patient in Monitor. This Monday I’m filming a show for Sky TV. It’s in the vein of the best 100 horror flicks, which I’m very excited about. That’s why I saw Doctor Brunt, for a botox top-up to decrease the lines!

Fatally Yours: Horror films, though popular, are mostly viewed as subversive movies that, according to some, are only a step above pornography. For horror fans, it’s sometimes hard to convince others that the genre is much more than just blood & boobs. How would you convince someone that the genre has much more depth?

Bryn Hammond: I wouldn’t. If they can’t see beyond the fresh-faced, tight-topped talent, then they are very narrow-minded and are clearly watching The Texas Dildo Massacre. 

I think horror is one of the most diverse genres of all. It has comedy, thrills and chills. Horror also crosses over to all genres. Just look at Tim Burton’s work.

I know there is a lot of snobbery that goes on and people bitch slap horror, but it’s a genre that handles various topics with care. For example, look at A Nightmare on Elm Street’s homoerotic theme, or take a look at Single White Female’s subtext, with the character of Hedy who suffers borderline personality disorder.

People who say horror is only one up from porn clearly haven’t watched many movies, or if they have, they are picking them off the wrong top shelf. Porn of the Dead wasn’t directed by George Romero, I’m sad to inform them.

Fatally Yours: What are your thoughts on the modern horror climate? 

Bryn Hammond: I’m loving the horror climate. I think horror remakes are getting a little OTT but I am looking forward to seeing the new Nightmare on Elm Street. The trailer looks really cool.

I know a lot of my staff are gonna have a moan at me come Monday morning when they read this, but I really enjoyed the remakes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Amityville. Amityville gave me night terrors. And Jennifer’s Body was amazing—I loved the whole Clueless meets Lost Boys feel to it.
I loved Paradise Lost. It really took me back to when I was on holiday in a small Turkish town—let me tell you, it will be the last time I go back there; it was terrifying. The villa was great, but the location was just like the setting for Paradise Lost. I just watched Tony last night and thought that was really gritty, Revolver did an amazing job on that movie. Also, Black Christmas was fun.

There’s always going to be bad movies out there, but if they’re awful I just avoid them. It’s no good to bitch about them and think to myself that I’ve wasted a couple of hours of my life. Best to press eject and never speak of it again!

Fatally Yours: Is there any kind of horror film you find difficult to watch or refuse to watch?

Bryn Hammond: I hate true-crime movies. I find them extremely upsetting and disturbing. I really enjoy documentaries, but can sometimes be freaked out by them. Recently, I settled down pretty late with a bottle of wine to watch the Amanda Knox murder case. It left me having to check the doors and windows. I woke up the next day and refused to take my head from under the bedsheets, as I was terrified what I’d find when I came from under! I know, it’s strange!

Fatally Yours: What people in horror do you look up to and admire?

Bryn Hammond: Gosh, well, I really admire people who get up and go and get what they want, and don’t let anyone stop them in their path. My personal idols are Hugh M. Hefner, Iona Willis and Anna Wintour. These people are really iconic editors to me and I hope to be able to achieve just half of what they have managed. I’m still young and I’m still learning, and I hope that one day I can sit at a table with them and discuss the politics of being an editor.

Fatally Yours: Who is one person you would love to feature in GoreZone Magazine and why?

Bryn Hammond: This is a hard one. One person I have my eye on is Traci Lords; I’d love to do a cover with her. She’s so pretty and so talented. I find talent a real turn-on—I love brains and ambition.

I’d also like to do covers with Susan Ward and Sarah Buxton. Gosh, there are so many people I’d love to work with. I’d really love to do a cover shoot with Kellan Lutz, Thomas Dekker and Traci Lords. Now that would be one hell of a sexy cover shoot—both men on dog leads and Traci doing her famous lip curl!

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films of all time?

Bryn Hammond: I have so many. Return of the Living Dead 3, Pet Sematary 2 and Warlock 2 are particular favourites. I loved 90s horror, especially the period of 1992–94; there were so many amazing movies released. Okay, most were direct to DVD, but the quality of the output was just amazing. I loved Killer Tongue as well. What a crazy movie that was.

My all-time favourite horror movie is Night of the Demons though.  But, depending on my mood, my top 10 list will change ever so often.

Fatally Yours: What can we look forward to in the coming year with GoreZone Magazine? What kind of goodies do you have planned for us, Bryn?

Bryn Hammond: Loads more freebies, for one. We are currently shooting episode five and six of our FREE DVD series, Emily Booth’s GoreZone Movie Massacre, copies of which come as a covermount with the mag. We’ll also be giving the mag some new looks, adding some new columns among various other things. There are some amazing covers in the pipeline, one of which we shot just a week ago. It’s stunning. I can’t say too much at this point, but fans of Freddy and Monroe are going to love it.

We’ll be holding an awards ceremony, at our third international film festival. The whole shebang will be hosted by Emily Booth and Christa Campbell on 2–3 October, at the Prince Charles Cinema. Tickets are on sale now from our online shop at There is also our music festival on 9 April. We have the likes of Die So Fluid playing, which I’m excited for. I’m having a real horror themed costume designed, as it’s a zombie night. We’ll be decorating the Roadmender like the nightclub from Hellraiser 3.

It’s all go. I want to say a huge thank you to all our readers for making my dreams a reality. I am thankful for your support as well. You guys rock.

GoreZone Magazine is on sale monthly in all good newsagents including HMV, Barnes and Noble, Spar, FPI and Forbidden Planet.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book Review: The Canal by Daniel Morris

In The Canal by Daniel Morris, a deadly monster lurks beneath the waste and stink of a city’s sewage canal, leaving behind the skinned remains of its victims. Detective Joe Lombardi has a certain affinity for solving canal crimes, so he’s put on the case. His tragic past has afforded him a familiar relationship with the canal, much to the chagrin of his square partner, Alan. Alan loathes Joe and the sloppy way he dresses and conducts himself. Alan hopes to solve this case for himself so he can get rid of Joe once and for all.

Yet, as they investigate the case they realize the true sinister nature of the murderer and that it just might not be human. The case begins to eat away at both Joe and Alan as more details surface about the murders and they must act quickly before the canal takes any more victims.

The Canal is a definite page-turner, dripping with atmosphere and oozing suspense. Author Daniel Morris gruesomely describes the polluted world of the canal and the gritty city it runs through. You can almost taste the brackish water of the canal and smell its pungent sewage stench through the pages. Several scenes (including several where different characters take the plunge into the diseased waters) had me dry-heaving because like the character of Alan I’m a bit of a neat freak and germaphobe. So reading about people taking a dive into the crusty, sludgy and heavily polluted water that’s not just swimming with nasty diseases but a flesh-eating monster had my toes curling and me squirming in my seat!

I also love how we are just given quick glimpses of the mutated monstrosity of the creature that don’t give away too much. Bit by bit we see more and more, until at the end when you see just how terrifying the monster really is. I think that by holding back the author made the final reveal all the more terrifying!

The author also did a fine job developing each of the characters. I was both intrigued and disgusted by Joe and while I though Alan was initially a prick, I warmed up to him. All of the other characters, from the homeless Rose to the uptight and immaculate “downtown” detective brought in to run the case to the mysterious Paul who treats the monster like a pet and so on, were just as interesting and really helped propel the story along, adding plenty of layers and nooks and crannies to explore.

I also thought the subtle environmental message of being careful what we throw away and being aware of where our waste goes was appropriate and timely. You can either embrace the message or disregard it, but it is definitely there for those that wish to acknowledge it.

The Canal is a great read, offering many twists, turns, sights and smells that you won’t soon forget! It’s a gumshoe murder mystery with a truly terrifying monster and will make you think twice about what might be lurking in the sewage canals of your city!

Order it on Amazon!

Horror of Our Love: A Short Film (2010)

What if Michael, Jason or Freddy tried to get a date with one of their intended victims? What kind of hijinks and shenanigans would they get themselves into while trying to woo a girl? Not to mention, how would the girl react?

Well, director Dave Reda (director of the fantastic Bit Parts) asked these same questions and filmed a hilarious short to try to provide important answers to viewers who are just dying to know!

In the six and a half minute short, a killer (a mix of hockey-mask wearing Jason, bag head Jason and Leatherface’s flowing locks – played by Reda) falls in love with a girl (the cute Kate Melia) after killing all her friends in the forest and tries his darnedest to get her to fall in love with him. He brings her severed body parts, real hearts and decapitated heads, but they just don’t seem to be doing the trick as all she ever does is scream and run. Will he ever get his girl?

I don’t want to give too much away, but I had a great time watching this enjoyable and funny short. I’ve promised not to give away too many of the gags, but think of this short as the kind of love token two horror-loving adults would share with each other on V-Day!

Though the humor throughout the short is horror-centric, there are a few nods to some classic ‘80s flicks as well. And whether horror or pop culture references, every gag in the short is hilarious! It’s one of those videos you just can’t wait to share with people because you know it will have them rolling on the floor!

Reda says that the song “Horror of Our Love” by Ludo inspired the short (and that song plays the entire running length of the short – there is no other dialogue), and it pretty much matches the mood and atmosphere of the short perfectly (or should I say the short matches the song…?). Either way, they go together like a machete in a killer’s hand, so it’s all good!

Congrats to Reda and team for crafting a totally terrific homage to undying love and I hope it is released soon so more folks can take a look at this silly, sweet and satisfying love story custom-made for horror fans!

For more info, check out Reda’s film company, Elftwin Films!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review: And Falling, Fly by Skyler White

And Falling, Fly is a beautifully poetic work by author Skyler White. I first became acquainted with Skyler through Women in Horror Month and her intriguing interview made me want to check out her novel.

And let me say, as much as I was impressed by her interview I was doubly impressed by And Falling, Fly!

The description from the back cover:

In a dark and seedy underground of burned-out rock stars and angels-turned-vampires, a revolutionary neuroscientist and a fallen angel must pit medicine against mythology in an attempt to erase their tortured pasts…but at what price?

Olivia, vampire and fallen angel of desire, is hopeless…and damned. Since the fall from Eden, she has hungered for love, but fed only on desire. Dominic O’Shaughnessy is a neuroscientist plagued by impossible visions. When his research and her despair collide at L’Otel Matillide – a subterranean hell of beauty, demons and dreams – rationalist and angel unite in a clash of desire and damnation that threatens to destroy them both.

In this fractured Hotel of the Damned, Olivia and Dominic discover the only force consistent in their opposing realities is the deep, erotic gravity between them. Bound to each other finally in a knot of interwoven freedoms, Dominic and Olivia – the vision-touched scientist and the earthbound angel, reborn and undead – encounter the mystery of love and find it is both fall…and flight.

And Falling, Fly is captivating and masterfully written by author Skyler White. In fact, writing is so fluid, graceful and imaginative that I just couldn’t put the novel down! I am usually one that loathes too much romance in books I read, but I actually enjoyed the love story between the two leads and it fit quite well into the over-arching story. With elegant prose, amazingly complex characters, intriguing forays into neuroscience, magical surroundings and even some nice philosophical and religious ponderings, and Falling, Fly is a wondrous book to have the pleasure to read!

Of course, this is a dark fantasy novel so besides the love story it features its fair share of bloody action – usually revolving around a clan of vampire sisters (whom Olivia belongs to). Their beauty is sharply contrasted against their ferocity as they feed on others’ desire and fear. In actuality, these vamps are actually fallen angels, but plenty of other demons haunt the pages (and other characters) of the book. The novel also takes place in a hotel otherwise known as Hell run by a kindly old man named Gaehod. Here he tries to help those that have fallen, but most don’t want the assistance and are content to do nothing but to waste away their eternity there.

I loved White’s description of the otherworldly L’Otel Matillide – it’s unlike any other Hell I’ve ever read about. Instead of a gigantic pit of fire, the Hell in and Falling, Fly is quite well-appointed and set up like a hotel. Though deep underground, it has a garden (complete with an apple tree and a serpent) with a river running through it, a night club where “guests” can indulge their every desire and endless rooms to explore. Sure, it might sound more like heaven, but it is a self-imposed prison for the lost and forsaken. There are also achingly beautiful descriptions of the Irish countryside, and White’s writing style and voice brings anything she describes to vivid life!

Like the setting, the story is just as complex. The backstory of Dominic being a “Reborn” (or one that is reincarnated but is cursed to remember his past lives) and trying to block his memories with neuroscience was extremely interesting. I also like how this tied into the ending of the book and how his desire to lose his memories threatened to defeat him in the end. The backstory of Olivia is just as thought-provoking – she desired to be loved and accepted just as she is so that she might re-gain her angel wings.

From its sophisticated, intelligent writing style to its compelling characters to its reinvention of vampire lore, And Falling, Fly had me hooked from page one. It’s a book that’s hard to put down once you start reading and extremely rewarding once you reach its end.

And Falling, Fly is a gorgeously penned dark fantasy novel that has piqued my thirst for more novels in this vein from Skyler White. It’s the perfect novel for hopeless romantics, sinners, saints and those in the mood for a completely different vampire novel.

Highly recommended!

Order it on Amazon!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Interview with Screenwriter and Producer Brian Patrick O'Toole

Brian Patrick O’Toole is an accomplished screenwriter and producer who has had a varied career from video game designer to literary agent to Fangoria correspondent to screenwriter and producer. Brian has worked on such genre films like Cemetery Gates, Dog Soldiers and the recent indie hits Evilution and Basement Jack. Evilution and Basement Jack are part of a trilogy of films that will be completed with upcoming The Necropolitan, a film Brian is currently working on.

I had a chance to chat with Brian about his love of the horror genre, how he pushed to get Dog Soldiers made, the challenges of independent filmmaking and his passion for video games. Read on, Fatal Fiends!

Fatally Yours: What are your first memories of the horror genre and how did you fall in love with it?

Brian Patrick O’Toole: You always remember your first good scare. Y’know, that scare that defines every phobia and nightmare that haunts you all of your life. Mine happened in 1968. My parents decided that it was a good idea to take a five year old to see a horror triple feature at the local drive-in. The midnight show was Night of the Living Dead. You have to know that the only two films I can remember seeing before NOTLD were The Love Bug and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I was put on the roof of our blue station wagon alone with the speaker as the movie began. My five-year-old mind couldn’t separate between what was happening on the screen and the shuffling movie-goers crossing the gravel in front of the car. In the vehicle ahead of us, a couple started making out but all I saw was a man attacking a woman. My mother used to love to tell people how they had to pry my fingers from the bike rack after the movie. I didn’t sleep for almost three days. This was the genesis of my love of horror films. The next three movies I saw right after NOTLD were Destroy All Monsters, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave and Planet of the Apes. I was hooked. Horror was everywhere for me after that experience, even on TV where I would run home from school to watch Dark Shadows, stayed up late on Friday and Saturdays for WGN Chicago’s Creature Features where I was first introduced to the Universal Horror Classics like The Wolfman, Frankenstein and Dracula and grinded sleepovers to a stop so we could watch The Night Stalker. To date, I have yet to match the horror I felt that night in 1968 but I keep trying. The closest I’ve come was playing the original Resident Evil game. You never forget the first time those mutant dogs crashed through the hallway window.

Fatally Yours: What continues to keep you in horror’s thrall?

Brian Patrick O’Toole: The horror film is a true interactive experience. Comedy and drama are so subjective. Some people thought Airplane! is genius and others think that it is the stupidest movie ever. Some people cried at Jack’s death in Titanic and some people, like me, were wishing Rose would move her fat ass over and let Jack share that board. There was room! Some people were inspired by The Passion of the Christ and some people, like me, were yelling lines from Monty Python’s Life of Brian “He’s not the Messiah! He’s a very naughty boy!” But a scare is a scare. You can cover your eyes but you can’t cover your ears at the same time. Fear is universal. We love to be scared – in a safe environment. I love to be the puppet master that orchestrates a good scare. Unfortunately, all these soulless remakes of classic horror films are making it hard for new horror films to break through; and when one finally does, like Let the Right One In, Hollywood jumps on it and remakes it. And they usually miss the point, the heart of the original, and just make the remake bigger – not better. I’m finding the best scares lately are coming from video games not movies. The reason for that is that video games give horror fans that one thing movies couldn’t – they let the player be the hero who controls the action and his fate. Doom, Resident Evil, Castlevania, Silent Hill, and Alone in the Dark were the games that originated the gaming genre of “survival horror”. Survival horror is where the real scares can be found lately.

Fatally Yours: You’ve had quite a varied and impressive career, from video game designer to literary agent to producer and screenwriter. Tell us a little about your career trajectory and what you are doing now. 

Brian Patrick O’Toole: Up until 1977, my career plan was to be a paleontologist. I still loved horror films and disaster movies but I wanted to dig dinosaurs. Then, I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind and everything changed. I wanted to make magic that affected people like I was after seeing that film. I actually snuck a tape recorder into the theater and taped the movie. Then, I went home and typed out the movie in what I thought the script would look like. I actually wasn’t too far off in my formatting. Next I started writing my own scripts but they all lacked something that I couldn’t put my finger on – that is, until I saw Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. That something was subtext, meaning. Dawn of the Dead changed my life and it remains my favorite film of all time.  However, I didn’t seriously think about a career in filmmaking until 1979. 1979 was the year of Alien, Phantasm, The Amityville Horror, Prophecy, The Warriors, Tourist Trap, When a Stranger Calls, Zombie and The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Biograph Theater – where Dillinger was shot and killed. I was sixteen and sneaking out to see midnight shows of films they would never show at the local mall theater.  It was the year that I swore I’d be a filmmaker and I have lived everyday since making that dream come true.

The video game designing part of my career spawned from a time when horror films were a tough sell and the company I was with, Intrazone, needed to expand their horizons. We were working with LIVE Entertainment at the time and they expressed interest in getting into the PC gaming arena. They had the video game rights to Speed Racer and a BMX magazine character called Radical Rick designed by Damian Fulton. When I was a kid I wanted to be Speed Racer so it was a special opportunity for me to make a video game based on his adventures. I met with game maker supreme Voldi Way, owner of WayForward Technologies, who came aboard to help us bring my game designs to life. We premiered the games at the very first E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) and the buzz was great. Then, as fate would have it, the CEO of LIVE and his wife were shot and killed by their two sons (you might remember those nutty Menendez Brothers) and everything changed. LIVE became Artisan and Artisan didn’t want to get into the video game business so two cool, complete games were shelved forever. Members of Guns ‘n Roses even recorded a version of the Speed Racer theme song for the game. Such a shame.

Fatally Yours: Did you consciously choose the horror genre for most of your projects or was it just coincidence? Do you have any plans to work in other genres?

Brian Patrick O’Toole: My training is actually in comedy. I attended the Player’s Workshop of the Second City in Chicago for a while. I love comedy. Actually, horror and comedy share the same rhythm: set-up and reaction. All of the films I have been involved with do have humor in them, twisted as it may be. The closest I’ve come to a comedy is with Cemetery Gates. It was originally written as a straight Jaws-in-the-woods but when I saw the mutated Tasmanian Devil suit I didn’t think it would be taken seriously. The suit makers did an awesome job but I didn’t think that they based it on the real creature but rather on a drawing I had made that was done in an Anime style. So, I decided to embrace what worked and re-wrote the script with a more outrageous twist. Let’s face it, seventeen people die in 90 minutes. It’s a party movie!

Another “comedy” I was involved in was Van Fisher’s Neo Ned. The original screenplay was slanted more toward the dramedy side and told the story of a reluctant neo-Nazi who is placed in a mental heath hospital where he falls for a black woman who believes she is harboring the spirit of Adolph Hitler. The final film slanted more heavily toward the dramatic side but I am still very proud of that movie. The film stars Jeremy Renner who is a nominee this year for Best Actor for the film The Hurt Locker. Jeremy is an amazing talent and I am so excited for him. I hope people will check out Neo Ned and see another example of Jeremy’s great work.

Fatally Yours: Can you tell us more about being involved in producing Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers. I understand people were hesitant to push that this film to get made until you came along. 

Brian Patrick O’Toole:  I absolutely put my job on the line recommending Dog Soldiers for production. Neil had been trying to get it made for eight years before I got it. The script we got moved at a glacial pace with more than a nod to Night of the Living Dead and had a lot of references to soccer embedded in it. The sad thing about script reading is that you are almost encouraged to skim. I never skim. I read the whole script because you never know what gem you’ll find in the rough. That’s how I found Dog Soldiers. I took the time and read the whole script. Everyone at the production company didn’t see the same gem that I saw so I put my neck out and staked my job on the success of the script as a movie. In 2000, horror was a tough sell because the genre had become mostly self-aware films like Scream. In fact, no one was saying horror. They were calling them Dark Fantasies at that time. We, the American production team, put a lot of time, effort, and money into Dog Soldiers to get it right. Producer Christopher Figg, who did Hellraiser and Trainspotting, was a real gentlemen and I consider him the driving force of the production. Dog Soldiers played theatrically throughout the world except in the US because we had our first screenings for distributors right after 9/11. No one wanted movies about soldiers or werewolves. We eventually sold the film to the SyFy Channel who broadcasted the movie as a SyFy Original. It is still one of their highest rated films. The fans really embraced Dog Soldiers and I really enjoyed traveling to film festivals across the US, meeting them and showing the film on the big screen. The thing I was most proud of was getting an action figure made of the werewolf. That was pretty cool! I’m looking for a company to do an action figure of Basement Jack right now. So, if you know someone…

All in all, Dog Soldiers was a very bittersweet experience for me but I’m encouraged by its fan base. Oh, and by the way, I get a lot of emails asking me why the Blu-ray of the film is so grainy. The reason why is that Dog Soldiers was filmed in Super 16mm, which is a naturally grainy film stock. So, the print used is not bad. The Blu-ray is the best Dog Soldiers can look. I don’t know why the new distributor didn’t put out a Special Edition because there is a material from the UK DVD and I did record a commentary for the North American release.

Fatally Yours: Your recent films Evilution and Basement Jack were received well and we here at Fatally-Yours enjoyed them very much! A third film that will complete the trilogy is in the works. Can you tell us what’s in store for us with The Necropolitan and where you’re with it right now? 

Brian Patrick O’Toole: I cannot tell you how appreciative I am for all the positive reviews we have received on both films. First, I’m glad that most people “got” them and had fun with them. Black Gate Entertainment is, in every sense of the word, an independent film production company. Our bosses are the fans. I never want to let a horror fan down because I am one and I know when a film is not being sincere with its audience. It was awesome that we were able to premiere the films at the Fangoria Weekend of Horror conventions in New York, Los Angeles, and my hometown CHICAGO. We took the films to the fans so their feedback was immediate and very encouraging. I’m also very encouraged by the emails asking about the third film, The Necropolitan. The Manager character has really taken off and fans are telling me that they are looking forward to his film in the trilogy. The Necropolitan script went through a few re-writes but I believe we have the story we want to tell now. It will be done in 3D. It won’t be gimmicky 3D. I want to use 3D like Hitchcock used the process in Dial M for Murder. All I can tell you now is that it is a creature feature and that all answers will be questioned. We are currently seeking financing, but the film is ready to go before the cameras – hopefully by the end of this year.

Fatally Yours: Why did you choose to make a trilogy with the three films, especially since they are so loosely connected?

Brian Patrick O’Toole: When I joined my producing partner and friend Eric Peter-Kaiser at Island Gateway Films, we wanted to start a horror division, which became Black Gate Entertainment. We planned on doing three horror films to begin and chose to do a zombie film, a slasher movie and a creature feature. Eric came up with the brilliant idea of linking them all together with a common story thread. It was tough coming up with something that wasn’t like a narrator character that bookend the movies like in The Twilight Zone, Creepshow or Tales from the Dark Side. I like the idea of a puppet master who had a hand in guiding the fates of the characters in all three films. The Manager was born but I had my doubts of it working. Eric and I wanted the stories to stand alone so I was worried that the Manager would just be a gimmick. Enter actor Nathan Bexton. Nathan completely understood the character and made him his own.  Nathan as The Manager was the perfect storm of an actor developing a character.  I’m so glad fans of Evilution and Basement Jack are embracing the Manager as a new horror icon. I hope they like what we have in store for the Manager in The Necropolitan.

Fatally Yours: You were the screenwriter as well as producer for these films, but also wore many different hats because they were independent films. What were your biggest challenges when making these films?

Brian Patrick O’Toole: The best part of independent film is that you can wear many hats. It really is a family of people working together for a common goal up against numerous odds. I’ve found that less money equals more creativity. I think audiences appreciate the honesty behind our films. As the screenwriter of both Evilution and Basement Jack, I think the toughest challenge is keeping the original vision for the movie intact. However, unless you are directing the film as well, once you hand over the shooting script your job is done and it becomes the director’s show. Evilution originally was more of a Poseidon Adventure with zombies but slowly became a smaller, more claustrophobic film. Basement Jack has to be the best time I ever had on the set of any of my films. The director, Michael Shelton, came to the production with a clear vision and brought some digital magic that we never hoped to get on our modest budget. As a producer on any film, your work really comes at pre-production and post-production. During production, once the word “action!” is yelled, it is the director’s film. You hope that every problem was taken care of during pre-production and you’re only there to put out little fires, like keeping everyone on time and on budget. I love everything about independent filmmaking and feel very lucky to be able to do what I’ve always dreamt of doing.

Fatally Yours: Has the “digital revolution” made independent filmmaking easier, more difficult or both? Why?

Brian Patrick O’Toole: Change is always good. But change always brings new challenges. When we were in pre-production for Evilution, I was totally against filming digitally. Then I met cinematographer Mathew Rudenberg and saw his reel. To say I was blown away by what he could do with a digital camera would be a great understatement. Mathew taught me that the secret of good digital filmmaking lies in the lights. He is a very talented individual and my greatest fear is that the studios will scoop him up before we can work together again. He is the next Dean Cudney.

As far as digital making everything easier or more difficult, my experience during Evilution and Basement Jack was that it made production easier but the time and money saved there was spent in post-production. Digital offers a lot more freedom and that’s what edges it up over traditional film.

Fatally Yours: Do you feel that CGI has affected horror films for the better or for the worse?

Brian Patrick O’Toole: I am totally against CGI characters. And this is coming from someone who was there in CGI’s infancy. I did a film in 1994 called Sleepstalker: The Sandman’s Last Rites and we did some computer morphing scenes that looked more rubber than sand. The thing about CGI is that no matter how talented the digital artist is, their work will never take the place of the organic. For example, let’s take the 1933 King Kong and Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Sure, the original King Kong was an eight-inch model but he was organic. There was something very real about him and the prehistoric beasts that he battled. Now look at the digital Kong and friends. There is no weight to them, nothing natural. Watch each film with the sound off and tell me which giant ape makes you believe… and cry at the end. Now having said that, we did have some digital shots in Basement Jack. The director, Michael Shelton, is an excellent visual artist and has worked on such films as The Passion of the Christ, Invasion, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Pirahna 3D, Mirrors, My Bloody Valentine 3D and the American Godzilla. Michael gave us some great shots but I remain a fan of the practical effect.

Fatally Yours: What advice would you give an aspiring screenwriter, producer or filmmaker?

Brian Patrick O’Toole: When I was pitching scripts as a literary agent I had the opportunity to meet some real Hollywood movers and shakers. I once asked a famous director that same question: “What advice can you give an aspiring screenwriter, producer or filmmaker?” He said to me: “If you are good at something else, do that.” That was like a lightning bolt to my brain. Thankfully, I am a very stubborn person and challenged his advice.

Producers: Film your ending and nudity as close to the beginning of the shoot as possible. Really believe in your project because you’ll be pitching it to many, many people. Worry when a department head says, “I want to surprise you.” Learn to know when to shake hands, hug or bump fists. Your investor is the only person you need to answer to – No one else is your friend.

Screenwriters: Learn your craft. You don’t wake up one morning and say “I’m going to be a brain surgeon today” and go and do it. Anyone who is willing to read your script and give you comments is a friend worth keeping. If five people read the script and have different opinions, leave it alone. If everyone has the same comment, time for a re-write. Get people to read your script aloud (table read) – You won’t believe how that helps with dialogue. You will never sell an original screenplay but your original screenplay may be a writing sample that gets you the opportunity to write a producer’s idea. Spec Scripts are a necessary evil: Write a sample script in every genre.

Filmmakers: Everyone can buy a digital camera but not everyone has connections to talent. Casting agents are your best friends. NETWORK! Mentors are worth their weight in gold. Write emails to people you’ve met and join their Facebook/Twitter pages. Hollywood is always in chaos but remember that a wave makes all boats rise. Be brave enough to ride the wave. This is a great time for Independents because of the Internet. For very little money, you can successfully do your own marketing and sell your films on-line by personally contacting your target audience through blogs, websites and social websites like Facebook and MySpace.

Fatally Yours: What are your thoughts on the current horror climate?

Brian Patrick O’Toole: Studio remakes are killing the genre. Horror belongs to the independents. Let’s take horror back with great original material, then let the studios remake them and we can use their money to make more original films. I’m hoping that Saw VII, rumored to be the last Saw, is also the end of the sub-genre of torture porn horror films.

Fatally Yours: I know studio remakes are the bane of existence to most of us horror fans, but if you had the opportunity to remake one horror film, what would it be and why? 

Brian Patrick O’Toole: I had an awesome idea for a Dark Shadows movie that I actually had a chance to pitch to Dan Curtis before he died. Now I hear that Johnny Depp owns the rights. I had a pretty clever idea for a Planet of the Apes sequel that would take place between Conquest and Battle from the original series. But I read in Variety that Fox is doing a Planet of the Apes film called Caesar. So I’m hesitant to mention this but I have a great idea for a remake of The Car and a re-imagining of Grizzly. But I’ll look at any remake project a studio wants to throw our way.

Fatally Yours: Besides being involved in film, you’re also a big video game fan who has written a column for Fangoria. What horror-themed video game releases are you looking forward to in 2010? 

Brian Patrick O’Toole: I’ve been writing the “Horrorcade” column for Fangoria Magazine for five years in May and I really enjoy it.  It was always a dream of mine to write for Fangoria since I bought the first issue in 1979. In fact, that issue is my good luck charm. It has been with me on every film shoot since Sleepstalker. I almost lost it during the filming of Cemetery Gates when the Griffith Park cave we were using flooded during a rare L.A. rainstorm but luckily my backpack protected it.

This year has started big for horror games with the release of Dante’s Inferno and Bioshock 2. I am really looking forward to the new Castlevania reboot, The Calling, Splatterhouse and Dead Rising 2.  Aliens vs. Predator looks like it’ll be an awesome multi-player on-line game. I am always open to a challenge so if anyone wants to friend me on-line my XBOX 360 gamertag is “Dog Soldier BOT” and my PS3 gamertag is “wereBOT”.

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror-themed video games of all time?

Brian Patrick O’Toole:  Hands down, Resident Evil 2 is my favorite horror game. Castlevania is my favorite series, even those Nintendo 64 3D games. I love Left 4 Dead 2 on-line. Demon’s Souls is my favorite horror RPG. My favorite horror games that no one played are Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad and Earth Defense Force 2017 for the XBOX360 and Deadly Creatures, Ju-On – The Grudge and Madworld on the Wii. My guilty pleasure is the Friday the 13th game on the NES – there is no way to win that game but it’s always scary when Jason pops up. That game needs to be remade with this generations processing power. It would rock!

Fatally Yours: Speaking of favorites, what are your favorite horror films and books? 

Brian Patrick O’Toole: My favorite film is Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. I love B movies and watch them all. I actually just sat through Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus on Netflix. The shark put the bite on a jet airliner in mid air and bit the Golden Gate Bridge in half. Beat that, Jurassic Park IV! Godzilla movies are my guilty pleasure.

Reading so many screenplays really doesn’t allow me time for much personal reading. My favorite book is Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. The books I recommend most are Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, Mark Twain’s Letters From Earth and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided. I’m reading Ozzy Osbourne’s autobiography I Am Ozzy right now.

Fatally Yours: What upcoming projects can you tell us about? 

Brian Patrick O’Toole: Eric and I are developing several projects. We have The Necropolitan for which we are currently seeking investors. We are also co-producing a film I wrote called A Necessary Evil, which is a modern take on the Elizabeth Bathory story. We have a musical dramedy that I wrote with Basement Jack star Sam Skoryna. Currently, I am re-writing a ghost story called Outside the Eye of God. And, as always, we are looking at other projects. One of the great joys I have in filmmaking is the ability to give talented people their first opportunity.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to speak with you and Fatally -Yours’ readers.  Eric and I hope you all get a chance to check out Evilution and Basement Jack through e-tailers like Netflix and  Please visit the websites at: and

Friday, March 5, 2010

Shutter Island (2010)

From the previews, Shutter Island looked like another slam dunk for legendary director Martin Scorsese. It looked like it was chock full of chills and thrills, from the surreal sequence of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character holding a woman who turns to ash to the foreboding look of the island itself. It continues to top the box office and even the reviews for it have been mostly positive.

However, I wasn’t too terribly impressed with this ho-hum thriller.

It’s 1954 and U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonard DiCaprio) arrives on the high security Shutter Island, home of some of the most criminally insane patients in the U.S., to investigate the disappearance of a female patient with his new partner, Chuck (Mark Ruffalo).

As Teddy and Chuck get deeper and deeper into their investigation, twists and turns appear around every corner. The man who caused Teddy’s wife’s death is supposedly a patient at the institution, there appears to be some mad Nazi-like experimentation going on with the prisoners, a mysterious lighthouse stands guarded day and night, the missing woman either vanished into thin air or had help, and the patients seem to be cooperating with the doctors to hide something from the Marshals. Through all this, Teddy has nightmares about his wife as her death haunts him.

As Teddy uncovers more secrets, he starts to believe that there is a conspiracy afoot and starts to believe he will never make it off the island.

I had been looking forward to Shutter Island ever since I first heard about it, but after seeing it I can say I expected a little more from it. I’m not saying it’s a terrible film by any means, but if you can guess the big twist just minutes into the movie, it’s safe to say it has some flaws.

Before we get to the flaws, though, let’s discuss its merits. The first thing I enjoyed was the woefully gloomy atmosphere. From the dilapidated cells of the institution to the constant stormy weather (oh ya, they experience a hurricane) and grey surf that pounds the rocky island and drab clothing of the nurses and orderlies, the film just gives off a dismal feeling. And the cinematography – from the dizzying heights of the high rocky cliffs to the claustrophobic cells of the institution – is breathtaking.

However, no matter how pretty it looks the film starts to drag after the first hour or so. There also aren’t very many “scary” instances, though there are quite a few horrifying ones. One occurs when Teddy sees an old woman with only a few clumps of hair on her head as he arrives to the institution (see preview). There are a few other startling patients Teddy has encounters with, but not many. And if you hope to see more scenes like the one where his wife turns to ash in his arms (as seen in the preview) you can probably forget about it – the main focus of the film is Teddy and his partner digging for clues in the rain as to the whereabouts of the missing patient, and later, what the institution is hiding.

While Shutter Island wasn’t a bad film, I was expecting something a bit more complex and interesting from a Scorsese “psychological thriller”. Yet, Shutter Island didn’t really thrill me and I left the theater thinking “meh”. Am I glad I saw it? Sure, but would I ever want to see it again? Probably not.

Available from Amazon!

The Wolfman (2010)

With the poor performance at the box office, not to mention its delayed release, one might think The Wolfman isn’t worth checking out. On the contrary, however, it is a stunning film that even makes you forget it’s a remake. Its gorgeous gothic visuals (stark trees against a full moon, a decaying estate holding onto its stately yet tragic past, fog shrouded moors, dank dungeons) perfectly set the mood of the dark, tragic tale set in 1891 in England.

Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), renowned actor, is called back to his childhood home by his brother’s wife Gwen (Emily Blunt), whom he has never met, after his brother goes mysteriously missing. When he arrives and is greeted indifferently by his father (Anthony Hopkins), he learns that his brother’s ravaged body has been found – and looks to have been attacked by wild mad man or ferocious beast. He vows to discover who or what killed his brother, even if it means dredging up painful childhood memories and putting himself in harm’s way.

In a tense and whirlwind attack of a gypsy encampment Talbot is bitten by the beast. He almost dies, but is nursed back to health by Gwen, whom he forms a special bond with. Yet, when he heals completely the townsfolk come around and tell him that on the next full moon he too will become a beast and murder people. He is also paid a visit by Det. Abberline (Hugo Weaving), who suspects that he is responsible for the killings.

To be truthful, I really wasn’t expecting much. I hadn’t heard that much of a buzz behind the film and I saw it in a near empty theater. This is really a pity, because the film is a wonderful homage to the original as well as making the storyline different enough so that it feels like its own movie.

Also, while I wasn’t too keen on Benicio Del Toro as the lead, I was surprised at how quickly I embraced him in his role. Same goes for Anthony Hopkins. Del Toro really made me sympathize with Talbot and his tortured, puppy dog eyes just sold the act even more. I also enjoyed seeing Hopkins in the role of the distant elder Talbot, and though he isn’t given that much to do, he still did a very believable job playing a father with a few skeletons in his closet.

Really, though, we don’t see a werewolf movie solely for the performances – we see it for the action and for the creature effects! And I’m happy and surprised to report that all of these things were fantastic. The film opened with a jarring scene and I felt that the rest of the action sequences (the werewolf’s grisly attack on a gypsy village, a rampage through London, the final hunt and so on) were appropriately paced throughout the film so there wasn’t a dull moment! The creature makeup and special FX looked great (another great job by Rick Baker) and shots of shoddy CGI were so few and far-between they aren’t even worth mentioning. There were also some choice cuts of bloody gore, far more than I was expecting, which should please all you gorehounds out there.

The Wolfman heralds the return of classic horror with its elegance, gothic atmosphere and exciting action. I really cannot comprehend the negative reviews it has been getting – it’s not a rip off of the original (have these people even seen the original?), it’s not boring and it certainly doesn’t “lack bite” (I wonder if they wrote that just cuz they wanted a cute headline), but it’s one of the few good (if not downright great) horror films I’ve seen in a theater for quite some time! I hope people will come to their senses and sniff out The Wolfman, because it is definitely a howling good time!

Available from Amazon!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Book Review: Incarnadine - The True Memoirs of Count Dracula Vol. 1 by R.H. Greene

In the richly descriptive Incarnadine: The True Memoirs of Count Dracula: Volume One, we are given a detailed account of the man that will come to be known as Count Dracula in his early years. We see what life was like for “Konstantin Kuzmanov” when he was a man and experience his life as a soldier during the Ottoman Empire, then his conversion to pious priest and witness his falling in love, only to see him lose his one true love and his subsequent defiance of the heavens that transforms him into one of the undead. During this transformation he takes several companions with him, three which survive and become his infamous “brides”. Incarnadine tells of Dracula’s early origins in Medieval Eastern Europe and author R.H. Greene fills the imaginative tome with historical fact, including religion, rule and superstitions, all of which make for a wondrous backdrop to the philosophical, religious, emotional and physical challenges the future Count Dracula encounters.

The novel is beautifully written by Greene, and has a rather bittersweet, melancholy tone that runs throughout. You really get a sense of Kuzmanov/Dracula’s point of view in Incarnadine, a perspective that runs much deeper and more philosophical than most books based on Bram Stoker’s character of Dracula. Since the book covers a large span of time, there are lots of profound and major events that occur, all of which add to the grand legend of Count Dracula. For example, at one point the newly undead vampire, distraught over what he has become, turns into a grand oak tree for a period of years. Yes, yes, I know how that sounds but instead of being outlandish and silly, author Greene makes the event a very poignant one.

Greene also weaves Slavic myth and legends throughout the novel, making it seem that much more realistic. Some of it (like the tree passage, mentioned above) seems straight out of a Brothers Grimm tale, but it is also nice to see some of the familiar vampire lore and superstition (crosses, the ability to shapeshift, the ability to control animals, sun sensitivity, etc.) peppered throughout the book. So while this particular book shows a wholly new perspective on Dracula, it still keeps some of the familiar vampire tropes and goes a step further by explaining their origins.

Indeed, there is so much both old and new going on in Incarnadine that I’m glad that these memoirs have been broken in two volumes. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the second volume (though I hear it has already been written), but I eagerly look forward to it, as it picks up with Jonathan Harker paying Dracula a visit at his castle home in the Carpathian Mountains.

Incarnadine is a thoughtful, exciting and wholly engrossing novel that sheds new light on vampire lore and lets us experience the grand legend of Count Dracula through his own eyes. It has its share of gross-out gore (in particular, the description of some of the “brides” is cringe-worthy), but overall the novel delves into more profound, philosophical territory. If you like your vampire stories with a little more bite, I highly encourage you to check out Incarnadine: The True Memoirs of Count Dracula: Volume One.

Buy it on Amazon!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith

Right on the heels of the delightful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes its prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls. Dawn of the Dreadfuls is a completely original work (it’s not based on an Austen classic like the original was) with a different author than P & P & Z. Yet, it still manages to retain the charm and bloody action of P & P & Z.

Dawn of the Dreadfuls takes us through the colorful account of the Bennet sisters as the “unmentionable” menace threatens their idyllic life in the English countryside. After a corpse reanimates during a funeral, Mr. Bennet insists that his daughters be trained in the deadly arts. After much wailing about impropriety, reputations and what the neighbors will think, Mrs. Bennet finally accepts his decision and the rakishly handsome martial arts instructor Master Hawksworth is brought into the household and takes a special liking to his star pupil, Elizabeth. Meanwhile, soldiers are also amassing around the countryside in preparation to fight the growing zombie horde and Elizabeth meets their peculiar but charming scientist Dr. Keckilpenny who likes to conduct experiments on the “unmentionables” to better understand them. Not only is Elizabeth’s heart pulled between Master Hawksworth and Dr. Keckilpenny, but she also has to mind the ever-increasing numbers of zombies roaming the countryside. Everything comes to a head at Elizabeth’s coming out ball, held at repugnant Lord Lumpley’s estate, when an army of undead decides to attack the party-goers.

As a prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Dawn of the Dreadfuls is an extremely fun and fulfilling novel that manages to fill in a lot of the back history of how the Bennet sisters were trained in the deadly arts. It is just delightful to see the Bennet sisters grow from naïve young country maids to deadly warriors. I also enjoyed the interaction between Elizabeth and the colorful characters of Master Hawksworth and Dr. Keckilpenny, both who vie for her attention in very different ways. Author Steve Hockensmith has populated the novel with many other colorful characters as well, including Captain Cannon, who lost all his limbs to zombies and now has four soldiers acting as “limbs” for him, the previously mentioned Lord Lumpley, whose physical description matches his name but doesn’t prevent him from womanizing, the legendary Catherine De Bourgh, zombie slayer extraordinaire, and many more!

Though the novel doesn’t match the witty Austen-isms from P & P & Z and lacks its clever dialogue, it makes up for this with action and its interesting characters. The characters I discussed above, but the action is just as great. From the sisters training in their dojo to having their first experiences with killing zombies to the great zombie siege at the end, the book moves fast and the action comes quick. I also didn’t mind the few hints at romance but also appreciated that Hockensmith didn’t go overboard with it. What he did go overboard with was the gore, which I more than gleefully appreciated! From desiccated corpses to the freshly undead to decapitations, impaling, and all sorts of gore, the novel didn’t disappoint!

Dawn of the Dreadfuls is a fun zombie period piece that will work well for both fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and fans of just zombies in general. Since it isn’t adopted straight from a Jane Austen novel like P & P & Z was, it is more accessible to the general horror populace with a craving for brains. With full-fledged zombie mayhem contrasting against a genteel English populace, Dawn of the Dreadfuls is the perfect cup of tea for horror fans thirsty for an entertaining zombie novel!

Order Dawn of the Dreadfuls on Amazon!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Interview with Wicked Apple Jewelry Artist Lin Pyatt

Lin Pyatt has always loved horror. She grew up on spending long nights with Hammer films and reading horror books. However, she never thought she’d be able to incorporate her love of horror into her work until recently…

Lin started Wicked Apple jewelry studio to produce her unique mixed-media art. She only recently began using horror themes in her jewelry, and realized she could combine her two loves of horror and art!
Along with Wicked Apple, Lin runs the non-profit The Carpe Noctem Foundation, where she combines her degree in Museum Studies with her love of horror.

Fatally Yours: How and when did you fall in love with horror? 

Lin Pyatt: As early as I can remember, honestly! I may be betraying my age, here, but I saw It’s Alive in the theater… of course I was very young. I religiously watched a program called Terror Theater which featured classic horror camp. I also watched Night Gallery, Outer Limits, The Night Stalker, Hammer Films, and read horror comics. Anything horror-related! Even horror coloring books! My heroes were always Dracula, and the like. Those poor hunted monsters!

Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you? 

Lin Pyatt: That is a good question… it means things that frighten you, or evoke fear, terror, make you wonder what is out there. Horror is supposed to frighten us, in both a primal and metaphysical sense, make us examine our fears, and ourselves. But I agree with John Carpenter, in the sense that horror may introduce elements that make us think the horror is ‘out there’ somewhere, but really it is within us. We are the monsters. We use horror, at times, I think, to put it ‘out there’ and make it something tangible, so we can try to exorcise it.

Fatally Yours: How do you incorporate “horror” into your designs?

Lin Pyatt: For my jewelry I use classic images of horror, or things that evoke the darker side, gothic, classic horror. I have been making horror-ish fused glass pendants and hair flowers, and my new collage pendants are a great creative outlet, too. I might add a dark touch or element to something normally bright and shiny.

Fatally Yours: What other things influence your designs? 

Lin Pyatt: My first major was anthropology, so world culture and design elements are a large part of it. Steampunk, which has some dark elements, and even some classic designs, early Hollywood, dark fantasy is a big one, too! Even Disney, which has some pretty dark stuff in there!

Fatally Yours: What inspired you to start your own jewelry company and embrace such a dark aesthetic? 

Lin Pyatt: I have always designed jewelry. I started when I was little, making presents for people, and I had so many requests that I eventually began selling pieces. I just incorporate what I love into the designs, Horror being a large part of that. Wicked Apple, the name, came out of the historical idea of the dark, forbidden fruit, the same ideas that Disney used with Snow White’s poisoned apple.

Fatally Yours: What challenges have you faced and overcome with running Wicked Apple?

Lin Pyatt: Well, I’ve changed the name three times, mainly due to changing my approach, the events I do, etc. It’s a lot of work. You’re always arranging for the next show. Working for yourself means you do everything – advertising, books, planning, designing – everything! I’m also in grad school, so I’m busy already… one major challenge. Also, the economy right now isn’t treating small businesses very well.

Fatally Yours: If you could choose anyone, living or dead, to model Wicked Apple jewelry who would it be and why? 

Lin Pyatt: I think I’d make an amazing ring for Vincent Price to wear or a stunning necklace for Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Steele, or earrings for Simone Simon! But I’d love to see anyone today in these pieces, particularly people who have a wild, fun side, like Dee Wallace, Deborah Harry, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Cassandra Peterson, Natalie Portman, Helena Bonham Carter, Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Madonna, Thora Birch, Brinke Stevens… (Ooh, and the men: Johnny Depp or Robert England, Malcolm McDowell  - whoever would be willing!)

Fatally Yours: What elements can female designers bring to horror-themed accessories that is different than males’ designs?

Lin Pyatt: Well, obviously ‘girl’ themed accessories: hair ribbons, hair flowers – that is something I love to focus on. It is a large part of my line and something that I love, although it is feminine (which, I’ve never really thought of myself as ‘girly’) those can definitely have both the humorous horror and creepy horror elements. Jewelry itself is in general, more feminine, anyway. I think we soften it, make it more concrete. Women are actually way more likely to accept the reality of horror (we see ‘blood’ and deal with horrific things more than men, I’d say).

Fatally Yours: Tell us a little about your horror non-profit, The Carpe Noctem Foundation. What are your goals with the non-profit and how will you accomplish them?

Lin Pyatt: It was formed as a nonprofit, public foundation to “promote the study of the significance and purpose of Horror in cultural mythology and folklore, both historical and modern”. We plan to open a gallery/museum to feature and promote horror artists of all types (film, painting, etc) and explore how horror is an expression of cultural and personal fears, and examine the purpose and importance of it as a genre. Once we receive our 501(c)(3) we plan to hold many events to help with fundraising in order to promote horror art forms of all kinds!

Fatally Yours: What women do you look up to and admire and why?

Lin Pyatt: I have always had trouble identifying with feminine images and females. Most of my friends were male, and I never thought of myself as feminine. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve really explored that side…

Growing up, I guess it was Marlene Dietrich (who rode the line of femininity herself!), and scream queens like Simone Simon and Barbara Steele.

As for women in the horror business: I recently chatted with Dee Wallace, and she is just fabulous! Great personality and great attitude – I can see why she has been so successful for so long. I also met Meg Foster, who is such a sweetie, and a wonderful person. I admire anyone who can do things their own way and succeed.

Fatally Yours: What advice would you give women who want to start their own company?

Lin Pyatt: Do tons of research! Get as much market research info as you can: demographics, etc. But most importantly, do what you love, so your heart can be in it, because if you don’t you’ll be miserable. Don’t just start a business to ‘work for yourself’. Figure out what you want to do, or love to do, and incorporate that in.

Fatally Yours: What’s the last extremely disturbing horror movie/book you saw/read?

Lin Pyatt: Disturbing, in a good way? Well, a while back I saw the Japanese horror film Audition. Amazing, and very creepy, because it is so very realistic. One of these ‘this could happen!’ films! Pan’s Labyrinth, or The Ring for the same reasons. More about how terrible we all are to each other – again, WE are the monsters.

Fatally Yours: What’s one horror movie you think is HIGHLY underrated?

Lin Pyatt: Shadow of the Vampire immediately comes to mind – it is one of the most brilliant films ever made. Also, an older film called The Crawling Eye, which has a great story but a terrible name. Or even misunderstood films, like American Psycho or Ninth Gate.

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films, books, etc.?

Lin Pyatt: Films: Shadow of the Vampire of course, the Hellraiser series (or almost any Clive Barker), Universal monster films and classic horror, anything with Vincent Price! I love almost all of them, really, even old, cheesy ones.

Books: I love short stories, so, almost all anthologies, Cthulhu mythos, etc.

Comics: The old House of Mystery series!

Art: Mark Ryden, Virginie Ropars, Lori Earley, Chris Mars, Travis Louie, Lisa Phoenix, I could go on and on…

Fatally Yours: Do you have any new designs you’d like to tell us about?

Lin Pyatt: I just began doing mini collage fused glass pendants! They are even more unique than my regular fused glass due to being a collage of mainly ‘found’ elements. I am making many new ones for the upcoming shows!

Fatally Yours: What can we expect from you, Wicked Apple and Carpe Noctem in the future?

Lin Pyatt: I intend to expand the jewelry line with more accessories, and more men’s stuff! I also intend for the Horror Museum and Gallery to help form a more cohesive ‘Horror community’, and promote horror as a genre.

Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you and your designs?

Lin Pyatt:

Wicked Apple’s Facebook page
Wicked Apple’s online store site
The Carpe Noctem Foundation Facebook page

Monday, March 1, 2010

Interview with Journalist Jamie Jenkins

Jamie Jenkins, known by many as “Maven” or “Moviemaven” in the online world is a journalist with a passion for horror that stems from a combination of nostalgia and love for the good old fashioned spookies. She has always hungered for knowledge about the dark side of human nature and feels that no other genre of film or literature lends itself to capturing humanity as does horror.

Jamie was always attracted to literature but her love of wildlife and science won over after she graduated high school. She attended the University of Georgia as a Biology major and now spends her weekdays in the Infectious Diseases Laboratory at the College of Veterinary Medicine. The rest of her time is spent researching, viewing and discussing film and all of those hardworking folks behind the scenes. Always eager to learn and grow as a fan as well as a writer, Jamie is elated to be able to do everything she loves and hopes to encourage others to do the same.

Fatally Yours: How did you fall in love with the horror genre? 

Jamie D Jenkins: It’s my mother’s fault. She was a big genre fan all my life. Whatever she saw at the movies, I saw as well starting from a very early age. Then it became a way for us to bond. We like to play the quote game. She’s good but I beat her now.

Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you?

Jamie D Jenkins: To me horror is the genre that most reflects what’s going on in the world. You can trace elements of history based on what scares the community. Look at the big bug movies of the Nuclear Age for a perfect example. It’s also the genre that has no limits or rules and I love it for that. The only real limitation is the creator’s imagination. That can be very scary.

Fatally Yours: How and when did you start writing about the horror genre?

Jamie D Jenkins: For years I wrote fiction and then stumbled onto two websites called and in 2005. That’s when I started writing reviews and before long became a staff member writing editorials and doing interviews. HM fueled my love for the genre and gave me the license to spew out all the stuff that was stuck in my head as a fan. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not (laughs).

Fatally Yours: What is one thing you’ve done within the horror genre that you are most proud of?

Jamie D Jenkins: I was lucky enough to attend the Pittsburgh premier of Land of the Dead where I got to hobnob with some personal heroes. Romero is responsible for many of the films that cemented my love. I also met Tarantino and discovered him to be a warm and friendly guy. That made me very happy because you always want your heroes to be good guys. Writing about the genre also allowed me to meet my fiancé, Patrick. I’m certainly proud of that.

Fatally Yours: How would you convince people who aren’t horror fans to give the genre a try?

Jamie D Jenkins: Whenever I encounter a “normie” as we like to call them at Last Blog, I attempt to find out why they aren’t fans. If I believe they just can’t take it I don’t force the issue. But if I find out they could be latent fans, I introduce them to some mild, quality films to begin or give them a watch list to get them going.

Fatally Yours: In your opinion, what constitutes a good horror review? What guidelines do you follow when reviewing something?

Jamie D Jenkins: A good horror review is one that will tell your readers, those that trust your opinion, whether or not they should waste their time. I don’t do spoilers so they are safe to read and I am always honest. That can be difficult if you are friends with the filmmaker but if my readers can’t trust me what is the point of doing it? And I try to incorporate humor (unless the film is very serious) to make them enjoyable to read, I hope. I find that if the writing is entertaining and full of personality then people will be able to better discern whether or not you are a reviewer they can depend on in the future.

Fatally Yours: Do you feel women in horror get the proper recognition when compared to their male counterparts?

Jamie D Jenkins: These days I feel like it’s getting better and better.  I know that when you ask the general question “who are your favorite women of horror” you will likely get a string of actresses as an answer. But more and more people are beginning to recognize that women are all over the genre. I think sites like Fatally-Yours and The Chainsaw Mafia are helping a great deal to get the word out that “women are doin’ it for themselves.”

Fatally Yours: As a woman who writes about horror, have you found it harder to be taken seriously in a genre that seems to be dominated by males? 

Jamie D Jenkins: Absolutely not. To be honest my gender has been very helpful. I have found that even though horror fans were mostly males for a long time (times they are a’changin’) they craved the opinion of female fans. I think the men love knowing there are chicks out there who like what they do and I believe the other chicks like knowing they aren’t alone in their depravities (laughs).

Fatally Yours: Since you’ve been involved with the horror genre, have you noticed a change in women’s roles within horror whether it be roles in horror films, women behind the camera or women writers?

Jamie D Jenkins: Yes, for sure. But I can’t really say if there has been a significant change or more a change of awareness. Since I have become involved on the other side of the screen, I have become more and more exposed to the women in the business. I find it empowering and inspiring.

Fatally Yours: And now for that question you just mentioned above, what women in horror do you admire?

Jamie D Jenkins: There are so many. I deeply admire those that do a little of everything. Shannon Lark is one of my greatest inspirations. She is out there doing everything she can for the genre. Stacie Ponder and I have so many things in common that I know I can trust her opinion. If she tells me I should see something, I know I’ll love it. As for those I don’t know personally, I have always loved what Katherine Bigelow did with Near Dark. I am rooting like hell for her The Hurt Locker nomination [for the Academy Award]. If you wanna go back a ways, Shannon brought Paula Maxa [Grand Guignol’s leading lady from 1917 - 1933] to my attention. That woman was incredible. I wish more people knew about her contributions to the industry.

Fatally Yours: What inspires, influences and motivates you to keep writing about horror?

Jamie D Jenkins: As long as there are horror film makers, there will be something for me to blab about. It may be good or it may be bad but I will always have something to say. I do, however, get deeply inspired by innovative ideas and fresh takes on old stories (I am not referring to remakes). And every time I start to think the genre is getting stale or repetitive, something comes along to light the fire again. This year it was Trick ‘r’ Treat. I can’t put into words what that film meant to me when I saw it. But it is an excellent example of a film that got my juices flowing.

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films and books?

Jamie D Jenkins: My number one movie will always be Jaws. I mean c’mon, there are people who still won’t go into the ocean because of that flick 35 years later. That is power. I have also been a lifelong fan of Romero and his dead movies and I’ve had a crush on Jason Voorhees for years. I’m a big Friday the 13th fan. But there are far too many for me to venture naming any more. I love so many different films for just as many different reasons. For books, give me anything by Poe, Richard Matheson or Brian Keene to give examples across the board. I’m also enamored of Max Brooks for his contributions to the zombie subgenre.

Fatally Yours: Outside of horror what do you enjoy doing?

Jamie D Jenkins: There is life outside of horror? (Laughs) Seriously I’m also a big fan of comedies and dramas. I really enjoy all film genres. I love to watch game shows and Lifetime movies, especially the ones about stalkers or bad babysitters. I also crochet in my spare time and play loads of video games. And I try to never stop learning. Give me the History Channel any day. I’m really a big geek. But that’s okay with me. And I’m super devoted to my three cats (soon to be four when Patrick moves in). They keep me laughing on a daily basis.

Fatally Yours: What are your goals for yourself within the horror genre?

Jamie D Jenkins: I just hope to keep doing what I love to do any way I can. I don’t see it getting any better than that…unless someone is willing to pay me to run my mouth full time. That would allow me the opportunity to devote all of my time. I am working on a couple of books as well. I’d love to see those get finished before I’m too old to type or books are obsolete.

Fatally Yours: Where can people find your reviews/more info on you?

Jamie D Jenkins: You can currently find my work at as well as I am proud to be a part of the Mafia. I get to interview some really incredible women. My MySpace page has links to articles as does my Facebook.  You can also find me hanging out frequently at There are some great board members there. It’s like a family. At Last Blog we do podcasts as well as printed work so come on by and give us a listen. My partner, Bo Ransdell, is an avid, intelligent fan as well as an amazing screenwriter. We have a lot of fun.
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