Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The kick ass Peter Schwotzer of Literary Mayhem and Famous Monsters of Filmland Reviews Tales of Obscenity #1

Click either image for a link to the full review

“Daddy’s Got You” by M.R. GOTT - My favorite tale in the magazine. A man goes to his daughters bedroom to comfort her and finds that comfort is only an illusion as his world turns into a nightmare filled with blood and terror.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Timothy McGivney on Tales of Obscenity #1

"I've been on a short story craze lately and am happy to report that all the stories within are truly obscene, vile, sick and twisted and accompanied by some really cool artwork too. My three favorites are Jennifer Loring's "In Remembrance", a sort of Romeo and Juliet zombie tale---absolutely amazing---and a cut above the rest. As is Christopher Fulbrights "The Way I Love You". It's a total jaw dropper! The main protagonist is so full of hate and bitter rage it practically seethes from the page. And the gross out award goes to M. R. Gott's Daddy's Got You. This made my skin crawl and gave me flashbacks to the horrific slides I had to sit through during microbiology. Good job everyone! Can't wait for the next issue!"

Timothy McGivney is the author of Vampalicious & Zombielicious

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cultural Reflections

I (somewhat)recently turned 30 and the last of my old high school buddies I still am in touch with is weeks away from this truly insignificant(this was written a few months ago, Parisi is already 30, the old fuck), but culturally imposed time for self-reflection.  For whatever reason I feel the societal pressure to do the same, and after listening to Kevin Smith’s recent Audiobook “Tough Shit” I was inspired to look back at the moments and artifacts that lead to the creation of my first novel finding publication, and the two subsequent sequels that are not very marketable after the poor sales of the first in the series. 

We’ll start with Mr. Smith’s influence, on me.  The first Kevin Smith film I saw was Chasing Amy, a true favorite of mine to this day.  I saw it in a small grimy theatre with my culturally superior cousin (Hi Troy) and was completely unprepared for it.  As a lifelong comic geek, I was immersed in the world of Holden and Banky.  Despite missing most of the references to the view askew universe (why is everyone laughing at Silent Bob’s monologue, its poignant.)  I was drawn into Smith’s world.  I immediately rented Smith’s other available films Clerks and Mallrats.  While I liked Clerks, I honestly didn’t relate too much to it.  I was only 14 at the time.  Mallrats however struck a chord with me and I literally watched it over and over again.  After watching the movie the first time I rewound the rented VHS and watched it again.  It spoke to me in a way I was too young and inexperienced to put into words. 

Later in life (nearly 15 years) I can now understand why those early Smith films meant so much to me.  At the time they were just funny, partly because of how crude they were and partly due to the fact they didn’t feel stupid.  Whole running gags were based around single words.
T.S. Quint: [reading the break-up letter that Renee gave Brodie] Woah, she calls you "callow" in here.
Brodie: You say that like it's bad.
T.S. Quint: It means frightened and weak-willed.
Brodie: Really? Shit. That was the only part of the letter I thought was complimentary.

 However crude and incoherent it was, Mallrats was a personal film for Smith, (he says so in his book) it was about an idea or feeling wrapped in the conventions of a simple dick and fart comedy.  In my novel (or story as I think of it) I consciously do the same thing, though using a completely different genre. 
Stories that entertain, while containing enough ideas and genuine feeling to hold up to repeat experiences are the best.  With this is mind I want to talk about how great it was when I started to get my hands on Dick. (See that is a Smith influenced joke.)

Phillip K. Dick was (he is dead) a science fiction writer, but at the same time he wasn't.  While he had the trappings of and conventions of science fiction in his books, they were always about more.  Some of his novels (confessions of a crap artist) seemed to jam in a few sci fi ideas merely to stay in the genre.  In 8th grade I watched Blade Runner (Theatrical Version) and went out and bought a copy of Where Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.  

The movie was good, but at this point in my life the book blew me away.  It was awash in so many deep ideas, but never lingered investigating any of them fully.   To me Where Androids Dream of Electric Sheep will always be an open ended investigation into what is life, versus what is existence, and how we measure the value of these concepts.  I still have my old battered to hell paperback of this personal classic, and it is one of my most cherished books. 

While other books by Dick were incredibly influential to my mental development I want to address one in particular because of the national events that transpired shortly after I completed a report on it for my 10 grade English class.  Confessions of a Crap Artist is about an intelligent disillusioned kid who in the story’s climax goes on a shooting spree.  It was jarring in my mind to have a sympathetic protagonist who ultimately goes on an unrelenting killing spree, it was even more jarring as it was mere months before the events at Columbine High School.  Like much of Dick’s work it had an incredible influence on me, one that would inform my own series of stories. 

In my work to this point, I do not shirk from violence when the narrative demands it, however I have made very conscious decisions to portray not only the actions themselves as unpleasant and gut churningly brutal, but also what comes next.  Dead villains in my stories have families that mourn them.  The survivors of the extreme violence always bare the weight of these situations.  Nearly all my characters have some level of PTSD.  The final element of the unpleasant violence in my stories that I am most conscious of is the manner that gunfire is dealt with.  When I was younger I came across a quote on guns that has stuck with me for years, by Frank Miller from The Dark Knight Returns.  “ A gun is a coward’s weapon.  A liar’s weapon.  We kill too often because we’ve made it easy…too easy…sparing ourselves the mess and the work.”

I don’t remember how young I was when I stumbled upon these words, but they stuck with me for most of my life.  All the gun fights i write hearken back to this idea.  In near clinical detail I let my readers know where the bullets are striking characters and what the bullet is doing to their anatomy.  Guns aren’t magic wands, it’s not a loud noise and the bad guy magically falls.  I’d like to do my part in portraying guns not in a romantic light, but as a great tool for drilling holes into things and nothing more. 

Speaking of Batman when I was in second grade my Mom borrowed Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman from a neighbor for me and I was utterly entranced.  From the haunting score that I still celebrate to this day, to the slick dark gothic visuals and in the center of it all a demonic looking figure battling a clown. 

Note; this is an unfinished reflection that would move from Burton to the Simpsons to Noir and Pulp books and lastly to my exploration of horror through the website Arrow in the Head.  Alas I have other shit to do so I am simply posting this as is…

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Top 10 Moments from the original EVIL DEAD trilogy

I am a pretty big fan of Sam Raimi’s original trilogy (less said about Spidey 3 the better).  I revisit these films pretty often and here is my list of the top 10 moments.  My credentials for this list are a collection of Evil Dead and Army of Darkness figures, comics, shirts and video games.  Oh, and I have the cast score of the Evil Dead Musical as well.  Click below for my list on ...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gritty Little Thriller...Sweet Karma

A mute Russian girl (Shera Bechard) infiltrates Toronto's underground sex trade to avenge the death of her sister.  At a lean 85 minutes writer director Andrew Thomas Hunt sends his protagonist Karma on a no frills path of vengeance against an international sex slave operation.  

With a strong female protagonist (she doesn't need to be rescued) and some great, inventive and grounded kill sequences I enjoyed this film.  (Strip club kill was the best in my mind)  It was gritty and never romanticized the sex trade, instead it was portrayed as filthy, and run by people equally filthy.  If you have less than two hours and and want to see a few pimps(I personally can't stand positive/soft portrayals of pimps) get their comeuppance, this is a satisfying if a tad too by the numbers little grind house descendant.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

M.R. Gott's Interview series...Jonathan Janz

Please Welcome Jonathan Janz to Cutis Anserina...

What reader’s do you think House of Skin will most appeal to?

Though I think horror lovers and fans of ghost stories will enjoy the book a great deal, I think the themes of this story are universal enough to resonate with non-horror fans, too. Paul Carver and Sam Barlow (two of the three co-protagonists) desperately want redemption. Paul has allowed alcohol and poisonous relationships to stain his existence; Sheriff Sam Barlow was unable to prevent a tragedy (a series of tragedies, actually) from occurring. The idea of these men wanting to redeem themselves is something just about everyone can relate to. Add to these characters the relationships in the story—particularly the one between Paul and Julia (the third co-protagonist), and I think there’s something to appeal to just about any reader.   

In House of Skin Myles Carver’s life provides the backstory for the Watermere estate.  How important do you think a backstory is for a haunted house?

I think backstory is absolutely crucial in this type of tale. The Gothic construct places as much emphasis on the history that brought a place or the characters to a given point as it does on the contemporary storyline. Richard Matheson’s Hell House wouldn’t be as powerful without the past story of Emeric Belasco. The events from the Chowder Society’s past are what endow Peter Straub’s Ghost Story with such a powerful terror. Similarly, the backstory of how Watermere became haunted, in my opinion, is what makes the book resonate. 

Do you think of House of Skin as more of Julia Merrow or Paul Carver’s story primarily?  Why?

Great question(Why Thank You)—you’re the first one to ask me that, actually. Though Paul seems to be positioned as the titular protagonist (and obviously he’s a main character), I see House of Skin more as Julia’s story. She’s the one with the history with the house. She’s the one who knows Annabel and what Annabel did. She’s the one who has sort of kept watch over Watermere all these years, wondering about Annabel and awaiting her return. And even if Julia isn’t aware she’s waiting, I think the fact that she never moves away speaks volumes about her desires, even if she’d not own up to them were they stated aloud.

How did the character of Annabel, Myles Carver’s wife develop?

There’s power in femininity. There’s a raw species of energy that is totally unique to the female gender. That power and energy can be a beautiful thing, or it can be a horrible thing. Most men have had women in their lives that they sort of felt worshipful about; most men, whether they’d admit it or not, have met women who were downright scary. Annabel is an ethereal looking creature, but she’s also an embodiment of evil, of selfish desires, and of the dark side of sensuality. She’s rage incarnate, and I suspect she’s an amalgamation of all the women I’ve met who’ve either beguiled me or frightened me. Oh, and she was also inspired by the Romantic poets (Shelley, Keats, and Byron, especially).  

How is House of Skin different from your debut novel, The Sorrows?

The Sorrows is like an indoor roller coaster with multiple twists and turns. The kind that whips you around when you least expect it and scares you with its sheer audacity and surprise. House of Skin is a roller coaster, too, but it’s more like the old-fashioned, wooden, outdoor roller coasters that feature a long, slow climb that takes the rider higher, higher, higher, the chain beneath him going chik-chik-chik-chik…until the breathtaking descent that sucks the rider’s heart up into his throat and makes his stomach queasy. Both novels are fun rides, but House of Skin is more of the gradually unfolding kind.

Who are some current genre authors you are following?

Stephen King will always be my favorite. I love Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Lansdale. Others I’ve gotten turned onto in the past five years or so are Brian Keene, Tim Lebbon, and several of my fellow Samhain authors.

There is a great deal of emphasis placed on horror villains and antagonists, but what is one of the best conceived protagonists in a horror tale to you?

Hmmm…I think the ones we love the most are the ones we either relate to directly or the kind we simply admire. A few I really love and relate to are Hap Collins in Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard books, Abner Marsh from George R.R. Martin’s Fevre Dream, and Avery Ludlow in Jack Ketchum’s Red.(Great Answer, huge fan of the book and movie) Protagonists I really admire would be Special Agent Pendergast (Preston and Child), Levi Stoltzfus (Brian Keene), and any number of Elmore Leonard’s cool-as-ice protagonists (like Stick or Valdez or Mr. Majestyk). And then there’s the combination of the two kinds, where you relate to the character and you want to be more like the character. For this combination, I’d say Stephen King’s Roland Deschain (from The Dark Tower series) takes the prize for me.

What was the first truly frightening novel you remember reading?  Was your reaction to bury it in the closet, or run out and find other stories like it?

The first novel that really scared me—I mean, really kept me up at night—was probably ‘Salem’s Lot, which I read back in high school. By the time I read that one, I was already a total Stephen King fanatic, so it won’t be surprising to know that I continued to devour King’s books with, if possible, an even greater fervor and voraciousness.

Your work Savage Species is going to be released this summer in serialized form.  How did this project come together?

Ah, this is one I’m incredibly excited about. I had written about, oh, sixty percent of the book when my agent Louise Fury told me that she’d had a conversation over dinner with Don D’Auria (my amazing editor at Samhain), and two other people at or near the top of the Samhain Publishing company hierarchy. At that dinner the idea of a serialized horror novel materialized (uttered first, I think, by Louise, but then adopted with enthusiasm by the other three present), and soon after that I received a call from Louise wanting to discuss “something.” If I remember correctly, she told me about the idea and asked if I had anything that might work with the serial format. It just so happened that I’d been working on Savage Species (then called Native) and felt the novel was really taking shape nicely. We went back to Don, who thought the book idea was perfect for the format (Louise and I obviously felt that way too), so I proceeded to write the rest of the novel with the serial format in mind. Strangely enough, only a few things were changed because of the format. Breaking places between installments did shift somewhat (to maximize the “cliffhanger” aspect of the book), and I eventually added a prologue to ensure the piece a “grabbing” opener. But it was really a story that was perfectly suited to the serialized format, so I’m beyond pleased that it worked out so well. I’m also glad that Don D’Auria liked the title Savage Species more than the other titles I was considering, because I really think it’s a perfect title for the story.

Thanks so much for having me as a guest, M.R.! I’m excited to check out some of your fiction too!
Jonathan Janz

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Evil Dead (2013) Review

How do you review, Evil Dead 2013?  As a longtime fan of the franchise, I was utterly disgusted at the idea when it was announced, Campbell and Raimi’s inclusion be damned.  I was planning a boycott, then the first few stills were released, and I was curious.  Then the trailer won me over and after an opening weekend viewing, what do I think?

Fede Alvarez’s flick is pretty damn impressive.  It was also incredibly refreshing to see a horror movie, which aspired to simply be scaring.  Not tongue in cheek, nothing meta or too clever for its own good.  The Evil Dead is meant to scare audiences, and it succeeds far more than it falls short.  This is one of the best genre offerings I have seen in quite some time, and  a satisfying conclusion and climax.

The setup to get our cast to the cabin, is original and refreshing.  Mia’s(played bravely by Jane Levy) friends and family are helping her kick her heroin habit.  Once Mia is taken over by the deadite’s this allows for the cast not freaking out as much as they would.  Mia is just going through withdrawals.   The other four relative newcomers play their parts admirably, and while there isn’t very much background for them, they aren't paper thin either. 

When shit fully hits the fan Alvarez pulls out all the stops, and tries to hit the audience with everything he has.  The film is very violent, and a few times I felt like this was overly relied on.  Think twice about who you bring, as there were a few walkouts at my screening after a mutilation sequence.  That’s not to say Alvarez’s direction lacks a genuinely dark tone, he establishes a clear mood from the first frame.  The audio mix was also used very effectively.  Older fans will definitely recognize some reused audio.    

The dialogue was a bit flat in places (which seems odd with Diablo Cody’s involvement), relying heavily on profanity in the exchanges between the deadites and the survivors.  (Mind you this is not coming from someone who was offended.)  This is a minor qualm in an other wise very strong offering. 

Evil Dead 2013 is original enough, while giving proper respect to the original that spawned it.  While it’s not the highest praise, but this is by far the best horror remake I’ve seen.  Genre fans should be pleased with this new addition to the Evil Dead franchise.  P.S. stick around until the credits end…if you’re an older fan you’ll thank me. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

John Dies at the End

A decade after Bubba Ho-Tep Don Coscarelli is back with another feature based off a cult author’s work that masterfully blends humor and horror. 

John Dies at the End follows our hero Dave Wong and his buddy John as they are forced to fight off and interdimensional invasion.  The invaders are using a new drug known as soy sauce to take over the physical beings of those who take it, allowing them to be controlled by the invaders.  The soy sauce affects everyone differently, so that no encounter with a possessed person is ever the same.

Coscarelli’s film captures the spirit of David Wong’s book incredibly well, and he has great success mixing the horror and comedy elements.  There are moments in the film that are both genuinely creepy and laugh out loud funny.  Don Coscarelli’s infuses the film with a trippy visual flair that adds energy even to some simpler scenes of dialogue.  It also creates a sense that at no point is anyone truly safe. 
The cast is incredibly strong overall with relative new comers Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes giving great grounded performances to balance the absolute chaos that moves around them.  Paul Giamatti plays a newspaper reporter who interviews Dave, and this is the narrative device used to move the story forward.  While this creates a choppy sense of pace at times, it also allows Don Coscarelli who also wrote the screen play to stream line Wong’s novel.  For diehard fans of the book this means great chunks of the novel are just missing.  There is some voice over work by Chase Williamson as Dave, however most of the humorous elements have been cut, and the voice over is used almost exclusively to move the plot forward. 

I stated at times the books comes to a grinding halt, and at 100 minutes these slower elements are nowhere to be found, but many action set pieces are also absent, including my favorite one.  In keeping with the spirit of the book , Don Coscarelli still includes the existential humor that helped to define Wong’s book.    

John Dies at the End is a trippy, creepy existential comedy.  Some fans of the book, will probably be let down by some of the alterations made to make the story more filmable, especially for a smaller budget feature.  Despite this, the movie is wholly enjoyable to those of us with odder sensibilities and I can say I enjoyed every frame of Don Coscarelli’s newest film with a stupid grin on my face. (Review previously posted at Ravenous Monster.com)
Special Features:
Audio commentary with director Don Coscarelli, producer Brad Baruh, Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes 
Deleted scenes 
Behind the Scenes featurette 
Monster Design featurette 
Fangoria interviews with Director Don Coscarelli and Paul Giamatti 
AXS TV: A Look at John Dies at the End