Category Archives: fave five

My Five Favorite Monsters from Childhood

Oh what a monthit’s been here on the blog with a slew of great contributions fromauthors and bloggers. Look, if you haven’t had a chance to pore overthe Monster Movie Marathon guest posts, I urge you to do so becauseeverybody did a fantastic job. So many aspects of monster movies werecovered, and monsters in general, and because of that I kind of feellike I should apologize for taking the tone to a kindergarten level.But it is my blog after all, so if I want to reminisce aboutmy childhood some more, I will.
I didn’t become abig fan of monsters until probably my teen years, but the seed wassewn way back when I was a little boy. Looking back there were a slewof monsters I saw in movies and on television–not to mention thechildren’s books–so I thought I’d offer up a fave five list of myfavorite monsters from childhood. Don’t tell me there aren’t at leasta couple from your childhood too, that you hold dear.
5) Gizmo(Gremlins): I wasprobably ten years old when I first saw Gremlinsand lemme tell ya, when those cuddly critters ate after midnight andmetamorphosed they freaked me right out of my own skin. I think JimHenson’s Workshop worked on the character design for these guys(correct me if I’m wrong). In any case, Gizmo was absolutelyadorable. I mean come on, don’t tell me you didn’t want one just likehim when you were a kid. Sure, they were higher maintenance than aprize poodle, but what dog could compete with such a cute littleface.
Andif you consider Gremlins2 the cuteness factoronly skyrockets. Remember the scene where he straps on the redbandana like Rambo and starts fashioning his own bow and arrows.Effin’ sweet. Yes, the movie was kind of crap–but in a good way.
4) Beast Man (He-Manand the Masters of the Universe):When I comes across the occasional episode of He-Manwhile channel surfing, Ihave a hard time figuring out just what the heck I loved so muchabout that show. The animation was recycled to a ridiculous degree,the plots were utterly silly, and talk about an unrealistic settingof the bar for a boy with body image issues. The entire male cast ofthis show had to be on some magical form of steroids.
Anyway,one of the many thugs under Skeletor’s employ was Beast. He was anorange, musclebound halfwit that got thrown around by He-Man probablymore than any other villain–maybe Lockjaw took more thumpings perepisode, but it’d be a close call. Still, the character design wasgreat, and despite being an ineffectual villain the guy struck animposing image when on screen. Of course, he’d open his mouth and theintimidation factor went out the window, but the same could be saidfor every characteron that show. I have a soft spot for the orange galoot though, so Ihad to put him on the list.
3) The TazmanianDevil (Looney Tunes): Lessmonster than marsupial perhaps, but I say the adorable holy terrorcounts so he’s on the list. He’s dumb as a post with sharp claw andteeth, and a ravenous appetite for destruction. Honestly, Daffy Duckhas long been my favorite WB cartoon character, but I’ve got a softspot for Taz. He was one of the villains that I rooted for as achild. Him and Wile E. Coyote.
My memory is a bit foggy, but I don’t think there were many vignettesmade with Taz. I should hit YouTube and see what I can find. Lordknows there are a ton of Coyote sketches. But they’d have to be fromthe early era of WB for me to enjoy them. All the cartoons they didafter 1960 really lost their appeal. It’s those ones from the 40s and50s that are really special to me, in terms of animation style andtone. Sigh, now I really need to go find a Tazmanian Devil cartoon.
2) The Wolfman(Hilarious House of Frightenstein) -I’m not sure if anyone outside of Canada even got this show. Maybe acouple New England stations. Anyway, this was one of my absolutefavorite kids shows when I was growing up. Hosted by VincentPrice–yes, THE Vincent Price–it was basically a sketch comedy andvariety show. There was Dracula, Igor, Frankenstein, the Witch, and afew other zany characters. The vast majority of which were played byone man. But the character I dug the most was the Wolfman
I don’t know who was doing the make-up for this show, but the Wolfmanwas one of the most convincing jobs on the show. And for a campyCanadian children’s show that’s a remarkable achievement. The Wolfmanwas the house DJ of sorts, spitting out a whole lot of radio discjockey cliches with some punny monster gags, then he’d play a classicrock song. Maybe there was some disco thrown in–it was an oldshow–but I’ve blocked those memories out. Throw in a psychedelicbackdrop as he and Igor danced to the songs, and the sketch was justmesmerizing for a kid like me.
1) Super Grover(Sesame Street): I couldhave populated this entire list with Jim Henson’s Muppets, but Iforced myself to keep it to one. Just about everything I loved aboutSesame Streethad something to do with monsters. There was the two-headed monsterwho fought with itself, the aliens who beamed into homes and marveledover household objects, and Cookie Monster of course. Picking onethat was a constant joy to watch though, I gotta go with Grover. Notjust Grover. SuperGrover!
Groverhad to be the most artless andlikablecharacters on SesameStreet.He was a dimwit and a clutz, but so genuine a personality it wasimpossible not to smile when he was on TV. The little sketches whereGrover talked to little kids were surreal in that I could easilysuspend disbelief, ignoring it was just some guy with a hand puppet.That was Jim Henson’s magic, though. Those Muppets, more often thannot, felt as real as the people on the show. So when Grover put on ared cape and a steel helmet to become Super Grover, my eyes wereglued to the screen.
Well, there’s my list. I’m interested to know what you’re list mightlook like, so feel free to leave a comment and share what yourfavorite monsters were when you were a little kid.

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Filed under childhood, fave five, Gremlins, He-Man, Hilarious House of Frankenstein, monster movie marathon, monsters, Sesame Street, Taz

10 Blogs That Heart Horror Fiction

For as vast as the blogosphere is, blogs dedicated to horror fiction are a rare find. Plenty of blogs for the paranormal romance crowd, and you can’t take a step without tripping over a YA blog, but horror doesn’t get a lot of play for some reason. Well, the genre is kind of a red-headed stepchild among the other genre orphans. I think there’s a lot to like about the genre though, which is why my blog is dedicated to dark fiction.
I’m not alone, either. Here are ten other blogs for you to check out that offer their own perspective on horror, thrillers, dark fantasy, and the like–and each one has heart.
Darkeva’s Dark Delights: Don’t ask me where I first discovered her blog–maybe she discovered mine first. At any rate, Darkeva has a great blog full of reviews and interviews, all dedicated to horror and dark fantasy.
Dead in theSouth: I’ve been following Kent’s blog for about as long as I’ve been blogging, myself. When he’s not interviewing the best and brightest authors over at Cemetery Dance, he’s throwing out his own opinions on books and movies.
Dollar Bin Horror: Rhonny Reaper has a great horror blog as far as I’m concerned. Of course, I’m a cheapskate, which works out well given the theme of her blog. But, when she’s not highlighting bargains on horror movies, obscure and otherwise, she’s bringing attention to some of the more off-the-beaten-path horror fiction around.
Ginger Nuts of Horror: Here you’ll find some fantastic interviews and reviews of some of the grittiest and most visceral horror literature out today. Case in point, this interview with Nate Southard, in which I learn Deadite Press will be re-releasing Southard’s novella, Just Like Hell.
Grade Z Horror: Good ol’ Captain Murdock treated readers to Richard Laymon Month this past April. If you are in any way a fan of Laymon’s work, I recommend you check that out. Or, any number of his book reviews. The guy can fish up some gruesome stuff from time to time.
Little MissZombie: Melissa has a fantastic blog for horror fans. And, she really outdid herself in February when she hosted Women in Horror Recognition Month with a slew of interviews with horror authors of the female persuasion.
The Man EatingBookworm: Peter can suss out quality horror like nobody’s business. Lately, he’s been especially good at highlighting books on the Kindle Store that don’t suck. C’mon, you’ve seen what’s on the Kindle Store. Trust Peter, he will rarely steer your wrong. For instance, his Blake Crouch Week.
Paperback Horror: Colum loves horror and it shows with his blog. He shines a light on the best of the genre, whether it be the bestsellers or hidden gems you might otherwise never have heard of. Just recently, he pointed me towards an author named J.R. Ward with an interesting novel titled, The Gospel of Bucky Dennis.
Read Horror: Michael Wilson is onto something with his blog. Reviews, previews, news, and more. The highlight might be his Meet The Author interviews, which highlight some of the new faces in horror these days.
Too Much HorrorFiction: If you’re a fan of the horror novels of the past, particularly the 70s and 80s, then you’ll want to pay a visit to Will’s blog. Just ogling the old paperback covers of yesteryear is enough to make it worth checking out. But, the reviews offer a great insight into horror’s past and how it relates to the present.
There you go, ten blogs for you to visit, assuming you haven’t already. There are more out there, though. That’s where you come in.
What blogs with a penchant for horror fiction do you visit? What would you recommend I add to my blog roll? I want horror, ladies and gentlemen, so lay it on me.

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Filed under book blogs, fave five, horror blogs, On My Radar, top ten

My Five: Favorite Women in Horror

If you pay a visit to Chris Zenga’s blog or Day of the Woman, you’ll find a very cool giveaway taking place to coincide with Women in Horror Recognition Month. One lucky winner will score a new illustration by Chris Zenga, and that guy has some very cool illustrations to his credit already.

To throw your name in the hat, all you have to do is let them know who your favorite woman in horror is. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is. But while I’m entering the contest, I thought I’d also share a list of five female horror authors. If you’re not already familiar with their work, you should definitely remedy that.

  1. Lisa Mannetti – The Gentling Box is a work of art and an amazing debut novel, which earned Lisa a Bram Stoker award. Now, she’s on the preliminary ballot in 2011 for Long Fiction (Dissolution) and Short Fiction (“1925: A Fall River Halloween”). Read my review of The Gentling Box, 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave Your Lover, and Deathwatch (includes Dissolution).

  2. Louise Bohmer – Her debut novel, The Black Act, delved into the darker aspects of fantasy, but she’s also an accomplished editor to boot. She even edited Greg Hall’s At the End of Church Street, which is on the preliminary ballot for First Novel. Here’s my review of The Black Act, and expect a review of Church Street tomorrow.

  3. Amy Grech – More than a hundred short stories to her credit, Amy doesn’t pull any punches with her dark tales. Here’s my review of her collection, Blanket of White.

  4. Sarah Langan – Audrey’s Door was an impressive, haunting tale, and that’s just one novel to her credit. Read my review.

  5. Tonia Brown – If you didn’t think zombies and erotica mixed, then you haven’t read Tonia’s Lucky Stiff. Check out my review.

And that’s just five names. There are many more names I could mention, both long established and up-and-coming authors, but I’ll keep this short and sweet. If you’ve got a favorite female horror author, share your opinion.

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Filed under Contest Links, day of the woman, fave five, women in horror

The Best Movies of 2010 (Part 2): Sci-Fi & Fantasy

It’s a little bit wrong that I’d offer up my fave five list of 2010 sci-fi and fantasy movies, considering I have yet to watch Inception. So, cut me a little slack, please. This is just for shits and giggles.

There are a couple of movies I’ve yet to see that stand a good chance of being on this list (Inception and Never Let Me Go). Both are critically acclaimed, and one was the movie of 2010 in the box office, so just assume they’ll wind up on this list in time. In the meantime, here’s my five:

Not as good as the first, but still not bad: Iron Man 2

Robert Downey, Jr. makes a great Tony Stark. And Mickey Rourke would have made an amazing Whiplash if the character had been utilized better in this movie. Granted, Sam Rockwell in the role as the #2 baddie is a nice consolation, but the trailers for this movie had led me to believe that Whiplash was going to be a marquee supervillain. This was not a great movie, but I enjoyed it enough to include it among the five. But when I finally watch Inception, it’s gone–fair warning.

It made me wish I had a pet dragon: How to Train Your Dragon

The first fifteen minutes of this movie had me wondering if I was setting myself up for disappointment, because despite the flashy animation and opening action sequence, the characters didn’t strike me as very interesting. Then, the relationship between Jay Baruchel’s character and the dragon he captures, Toothless, gets going. After that, I was hooked. Depending on how much I enjoyed Despicable Me, this could very well be my favorite animated movie of the year.

The idea of a little girl as a superhero makes it fantasy: Kick-Ass

It’s not exactly fantasy and it’s not exactly sci-fi, but I think it can sneak its way on this list. It’s a damned good action movie, at any rate. What reservations I have about this movie stem from the misleading trailers that depicted this movie as a fun PG movie, when in reality it is a hard-nosed depiction of vigilantism with a comic book veneer–at least in the last half of the movie. It’s got everything an action movie needs to make it worth watching, including a campy homage to Adam West’s Batman by Nic Cage.

A film for my inner gamer: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Comic book adaptations are dominating this list. And while I made fun of the fact that its target audience no-showed at theaters, I thought this was a fantastic homage to video-games of yesteryear. And the music was pretty good too. I’m one of those curmudgeonly types when it comes to popular music, but I really liked the songs played in this movie and could probably be swayed into buying the soundtrack. Cera does his usual schtick, which is fine, but it’s the supporting cast that really carries this movie–especially Keiran Culkin.

It must be some kind of … : Hot Tub Time Machine

Not only is this my favorite sci-fi movie of 2010–it’s got a time machine so it counts–but it’s my favorite comedy of the last couple of years, squeaking by The Hangover. Given the absolutely ridiculous premise for this movie, about a bunch of guys reliving their youth at a ski lodge in the 80s, but the cast wound up being perfect. John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Crispin Glover, Clark Duke, and Chevy Chase in a movie that pokes fun at and revels in 80s goodness. Fantastic.

Now that you know what my faves are: What were your favorite sci-fi/fantasy films from 2010?

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The Best Movies of 2010: Horror

There’s nothing I love more than a truly good horror movie. That’s because they’re so rare. Maybe if I could be bothered with Netflix I’d have better access to horror films of merit, but I’m admittedly a bit of a Luddite, reluctant to bow at the altar of one more corporation. Or I’m just cheap.

As it stands, this list will reflect the movies I’ve seen. There are a couple of movies I’ve yet to see that stand a chance at breaking on this list, namely Let Me In, Paranormal Activity 2, and The Last Exorcism, while others I will likely never make an effort to watch–Piranha 3D, I’m looking in your direction.

This is why I never liked skiing: Frozen starring Sean Ashmore [review here]

Think Open Water, but on a mountain. I watched Open Water 2 earlier in the year, was getting kind of bored in the last half, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy a movie so similar in plot but based on a ski lift. The key to movies that take place predominantly in one tight setting, and revolve a very small cast, is strong dialogue and actors who can carry it off and convey the mounting tension. The trio in this did well, and whoever did the sound editing went out of their way to make me cringe during a key scene when something goes crunch.

I’m just happy they didn’t sparkle: Daybreakers starring Ethan Hawke [review here]

Maybe folks would rather classify this one as sci-fi, but there are enough ingredients in the film to make me comfortable in sticking it in the horror genre. Ethan Hawke does a real good job in this movie, which I was thankful for because when he’s mailing it in he has a knack of dragging a movie down. Pretty much all of the cast play to their respective strengths, maybe to a point of cliche. And considering this one has been swept under the rug for a lot of year-end lists, I just wanted to give it a positive mention.

Who knew tails were sexy: Splice starring Sarah Polley [review coming soon]

Sarah Polley might be my favorite Canadian actor, at least from the past decade. And she, along with Adrien Brody, does a fantastic job of portraying a scientist with a wee bit more ambition than what could be considered safe. And Delphine Chaneac as Dren, the genetically engineered monster, is f-cking magnetic in just about every scene she’s in. What really helps the movie, especially her performance is the fact that the CGI is not distracting and most of the time I wasn’t overtly aware of it. I just got sucked into the story.

They’re not zombies, but they’ll do: The Crazies starring Timothy Olyphant [review here]

With so many horrible remakes, reboots, and sequels, I was relieved to sit down and watch this one and walk away thoroughly entertained. Maybe that’s because I never saw the original, or maybe it’s because this iteration of a movie about a town torn apart by some kind of infection that turns townsfolk crazy to a homicidal degree does more than offer a body count. Characters are sympathetic, the action seems plausible for the most part, and the pacing of the action is great the whole way through. It’s not quite as good as Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later, but it’s pretty close in my view.

Bad Boston accents not withstanding: Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio [review here]

Leo can’t carry a Beantown accent, but I’ll leave the final verdict to New Englanders. Other than that niggling detail, this movie was about as great as I could have wished for. After seeing the trailer for this in 2009, I went out and got the Dennis Lehane novel on which it was based. Loved the book and salivated at the chance to see the movie. It has a wonderful blend of Hitchcockian suspense that is amplified by Scorsese’s direction. This is one of those films that is shielded from the “horror” label in favor of “psychological thriller”, but regardless of how you want to classify it, it’s a damned good movie.

So there is my fave five in horror films. What were your favorite scary movies of 2010?

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The Best Books of 2010 (Part 2): Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Last week, I offered up a fave five list of sorts dedicated to some of my favorite horror titles released in 2010. This week, I’m shining a light on some of the sci-fi and fantasy titles I read from the past year. Well, there’s only one book on this list that could be classified as science-fiction, so I decided to include it hear as I didn’t read enough from that genre to have a fave list for it.

There’s actually a lot of fantasy and sci-fi titles from this past year that are still on my wish list and to-be-read pile, much like with the horror genre. A couple of book with potential to have been on this list include Joe Hill’s Horns and Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World, so bear in mind this list only reflects my opinion of a relatively limited pool of books.

Let’s call this one historical sci-fi: Voltaire’s Calligrapher by Pablo De Santis [review here]

This is a short novel and has a unique vibe to it. It’s historical fiction with some intriguing sci-fi ingredients thrown in. The book was originally published quite a few years ago in South America, but North America got its first taste of novel, translated of course, and was well worth the wait it would seem. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s worth giving a chance. Why should Swedish authors get all the love these days? Save some for the South Americans.

Urban fantasy with a chip on its shoulder: Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey [review coming soon]

This one was originally published in ’09, but the paperback release came out in spring of last year, so that counts in my book. I’d read enough good reviews for this book that when I won my choice of books from Adventures with Cecelia Bedelia in April, I picked this one. It’s urban fantasy in so much that it takes place monstly in Los Angeles and has plenty of demons, magic, and fighting. But the protagonist and narrator, Sandman Slim, is easily the surliest sonofabitch in the genre. Like, if Mickey Rourke attended Hogwarts.

How about a graphic novel: Neil Young’s Greendale by Josh Dysart [review coming soon]

A music aficionado I am not, but I enjoy Neil Young’s tunes more often than not. So imagine my surprise to hear there’s a graphic novel out inspired by his album, Greendale. I wouldn’t have figured a comic book based on a folk rock singer’s baying-at-the-moon style of singing would work, but this was pretty darned good. George Bush and Sarah Palin might not care for it, but it’s not like they were the target audience anyway.

Zombies with a romantic side: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan [review here]

This is the sequel to one of my favorite novels of 2009, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It didn’t carry the same jaw-dropping impact as the first, but it was a very good followup and the daughter’s story wound up as intriguing and suspenseful as her mother’s in the first book. The third, and presumably final, book is due out sometime in 2011, and I’ll certainly be looking forward to it. Out of all the books that could be saddled with the YA romantic fantasy label, Ryan’s novels have been my favorites by far.

My favorite novel of any genre: Black Hills by Dan Simmons [review here]

My first opportunity to read a Dan Simmons novel turned out to be a showstopper of a book. When I read this book in the spring, I was reasonably sure I wouldn’t come across a better 2010 release. So far, I hold to that assertion. This was just a great sweeping story about a Native-American’s life from boyhood to old age, and his tribulations in holding onto his heritage, surviving love and revenge, and enduring the pernicious ghostly thoughts of General Custer in his head. Amazing book.

There you go, five books that you should consider reading if you want to dip into those genres. The past year looked like a very rich time for the two genres, so if you have any suggestions, by all means:

What were your favorite sci-fi/fantasy novels from 2010?

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The Best Books of 2010 (Part 1): Horror

If I get to include novellas and graphic novels, I read over a hundred books in 2010. Excluding the comic books and the short novels, my number is closer to fifty. How many were horror novels? Surprisingly not as many as I’d have thought. Still, there are five books I would heartily recommend to anyone looking for some quality horror fiction.

Two Re-Released Novels: The Gentling Box by Lisa Mannetti [my review]

Originally published in 2008, Lisa’s debut novel wound up winning a Bram Stoker Award. Now, Shadowfall Publications has released a new edition of the novel with illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, Lisa’s co-conspirator in the humor book, 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave Your Lover. If you have not read The Gentling Box, I can’t recommend it highly enough. A tragic piece of historical fiction about a father desperately trying to save his wife and daughter from a villainous witch of a mother-in-law.

Ouroboros by Michael Kelly & Carol Weekes [my review]

My favorite novel of 2009 got a second trade-paperback release through Dark Regions Press this past summer. It’s a short novel, clocking around 250 pages, but it packs a serious punch. And it’s a rare instance where most of the characters are elderly. That’s especially unheard of in the horror literature that I read. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story and Stephen King’s Insomnia are the only two other examples I can think of. But, again, I may be biased because the story is set in Nova Scotia.

An Anthology: The Best Horror of the Year Volume 2, edited by Ellen Datlow [my review]

Early in the year, Night Shade Books released this anthology which compiles some of the best short stories from 2009 that Ellen Datlow could find. There’s a diverse mix in styles and tone, and if you’re a fan of short fiction then this is definitely a book worth checking out.


Free Fiction: The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman [my review]

Over the summer, there was a bit of buzz swirling around the blogosphere about this novella from renowned author and editor, Brian James Freeman. Published by Cemetery Dance, a free electronic version was made available as a way to promote the book. Since free is in my price range, I downloaded a copy and was wowed just a little bit. I think it’s still available for download, but if you want something more tangible, you can find the hardcover edition here.

Guilty Pleasure of the Year: Draculas by Jack Kilborn, Black Crouch, Jeff Strand, & F. Paul Wilson [my review]

If Planet Terror was about vampires, chances are it would resemble the story in this book’s pages. The four authors collaborated for the first half of the year, coming up with the premise and characters for this story, then went about trying to one-up each other in the gore and mayhem departments. It was a relentless bloodbath of a book, so much so I felt like I needed a shower when I finished–but I liked it. Does that make me a bad person?

Favorite Novel of the Year … so far: Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon [my review]

Horror movies starring teen characters are invariably terrible nowadays. If there’s been a genuinely great horror film in the last ten years with a teenage or twenty-something ensemble cast, by all means tell me its title, because I’d like to watch it. So, leave it to books to provide me with what a good horror story would look like with teens as the main characters. There’s a strong element of B-movie horror, but it’s tackled in such a way that gives the characters depth and had me rooting for them the whole way. As opposed to the movies, when I can’t wait for the little bastards to die so the credits can roll and seethe at Hollywood.

So, there you have it. Five books. Three novels, a novella, and an anthology from the horror genre that deserve honorable mention. I’ve got more books I plan on discussing in the weeks to come, horror and otherwise, but for now I will leave things off with this question:

What was your favorite horror book of 2010?

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