Monday, January 21, 2013

Dead Stop [Book Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2012
Length - 297 pages
Written by D. Nathan Hilliard

Rating: 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:
   Welcome to the Textro Truck Stop... where they have hot food, hot coffee, and even hotter waitresses.

   It's a slow Friday night at the Textro, and business isn't expected to pick up until the football game let's out in nearby Masonfield. Deke, backed up by his friend, Harley, is here on a mission of romance. Rachel Sutherland has come to unwind from a bad day at the clinic. Thomas "Grandpa Tom" Burns and "Leaping" Larry Brown have dropped in for some diesel and coffee while, across the diner, Holly just wants to get her socially disastrous boyfriend, Gerald, home. Waitresses Stacey and Marisa are taking it easy during the lull, serving the few patrons while waiting for the game crowd to arrive.

   But things are about to get busy in an unexpected and deadly way.

   There is a storm coming in and the crowd that arrives with it isn't from Masonfield... at least, not anymore. These surprise guests are from the nearby Mazon County Cemetery, and they have their own idea of what should be on the menu.

   Now, a dwindling collection of locals, waitresses, truckers, out-of-towners, and one astonished veterinarian find themselves in a desperate fight for survival against a foe they thought only existed in the movies. And as the night wears on they discover that if they don't escape by dawn, they may not escape... ever.

   Let me start off by just telling you that this is, by far, the BEST zombie novel that I have read. (and I've read dozens!)

   Hilliard's prologue (titled "Awakening") - basically the arrival of Armageddon - builds the foundation of the story - the "awareness", the "NEED" of the abominations that he has so vividly created... (and Chapter One is right up there with the classic Night of the Living Dead - and it only continues to get better!)

   Hilliard brings to light, previously un-thought of (to me anyway) concepts, such as a corpse's eyes and mouth being sewn shut (rendering it blind and unable to feed) or, after a feeding frenzy, the victim's feet being left behind, due to them being tied up inside of boots, etc - things like that - brilliant!

   There are also several "Hold Your Breath" moments throughout the book. 
Hilliard does an outstanding job juggling multiple, interesting characters - characters that you generally care about and want to learn more of. Also, he does not hold back, at all, when it comes to the gore! (a particular nauseating autopsy scene comes to mind)

   I genuinely cannot rave enough about this book! 
It has a fantastic concept, is superbly written, and is extremely realistic/terrifying!

   This is the 'True Romance' of zombie novels. Buy this book either for yourself, or for your loved one - it will make a great Valentine's Day gift! ;-)


Friday, January 18, 2013

The Devil's Rock

Genre - Horror
Year Released - 2011
Running Time - 86 minutes
Directed by Paul Campion
Written by Paul Campion, Paul Finch, and Brett Ihaka
Cat Includes: Craig Hall, Matthew Sunderland, Karlos Drinkwater, and Gina Varela

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Two commandos, sent to sabotage a Nazi fortress in the Channel Islands, discover a Nazi occult plot to unleash demonic forces to win the war.


If you have been following my blog, for any length of time, then you should remember me telling you to "keep an eye on Paul Campion". 
If you do not recall the name, he is the director of two superb short films that I reviewed, back in 2009 - 'Night of the Hell Hamsters' and 'Eel Girl' (see my reviews - dated 01/23/09)
He has also done f/x work on several major films, including Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of NarniaSin City, X-Men, etc.

Currently available on Netflix Instant, The Devil's Rock is Campion's 1st full-feature film, and he does not disappoint!

Opening on the eve of D-Day, June 5th, 1944, we are witness to two soldiers traversing a minefield, in order to reach a Nazi fortress where they are to sabotage the German's gun emplacements, in order to distract Hitler's forces away from Normandy.

While fulfilling their mission, the two soldiers hear screams, gunfire, and laughter. When they enter the fortress to investigate, they discover bodies strewn about, with blood everywhere, splattering the walls and floor. 
They are about to realize the truth behind the Nazi's dabbling in the occult...

Campion has written & directed a great film, filled with excellent acting and fantastic special effects!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Zom Alive: 2110 [a Novella]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2012
Length - 54 [digital] pages *Read on my Nook
Written by Billie Sue Mosiman

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
In the year 2100, a plague turns the world mad.
An easily contracted virus spreads throughout humanity, causing those who become infected to exhibit extreme violent/psychopathic behavior...

Billie Sue Mosiman has such a gift with words. She sets the stage and you immediately feel as if you are in the story.

In this one, we are introduced to James "the killer" - a zom (he is not dead, just "infected") - who is keeping a journal.
We then meet Baya "the girl" who is planning an escape from her underground city where she is being threatened.
The narrative then jumps back & forth between their stories.

If you are in the mood for a good apocalyptic tale, this one will not disappoint!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Homecoming [Short Story]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2012
Length - 20 [digital] pages (total) *Read on my Nook
Written by Franklin E. Wales

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
The story takes place in the Italian Apennine Mountains, during World War II.
We are introduced to two American soldiers who have "dug-in" during a a blizzard.
When one of the soldiers has to go outside to relieve himself, the nightmare begins...!

Nazi Werewolves... 'nuff said!

Kidding aside, if you are a fan of the film 'Dog Soldiers' go to Amazon and grab this story right now (it's available on Kindle for only a buck!)

Wales has knocked it out of the park with this one, weaving a taught thrill-ride of a tale that follows a soldier being hunted by "creatures" right out of Hitler's laboratory!
You are definitely left wanting more at the end of this one!

The actual story of Homecoming is 13 pages in length. After that, your buck gets you the Prologue & 1st chapter of Wales new novel 'Eaton Falls' - coming out this spring!
The prologue begins on Christmas Eve, 1902, where "the sickness" is ravaging the small town of Eaton Falls. Here we meet a husband/father making his last stand against the hunger and blood lust tearing through his community.
Chapter 1 then jumps to December 1st, present day, where strangers have just arrived in the town...
I am definitely looking forward to this one!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Name is 'A' [aka 'The Columbine Effect']

Genre - Crime/Mystery/Thriller
Year Released - 2011
Running Time - 90 minutes
Directed by Shane Ryan
Written by Shane Ryan
Cast Includes: Katie Marsh, Demi Baumann, Teona Dolnikova, Alex Damiano, and Kaliya Skye

Rating: 2 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Inspired by real events, this film depicts a brutal crime committed against an innocent youth by four seemingly average girls. Through handheld and diagetic camerawork, 'My Name is A' is an unapologetic look at the internal workings of teenage girls who have come undone.
The four depictions converge into one act of brutality.
The actions of these girls girls are neither justified nor sympathized with. It just asks the question "Why did this happen?"


This film is inspired by the true story of Alyssa Bustamante - a fifteen-year-old girl who murdered her nine-year-old neighbor, Elizabeth Olten, right before Halloween of 2009, "just to see what it felt like".

The film follows different story lines - Alyssa and her "sidekick" friend, who basically just hang-out and argue with one another; a "performer" who dreams of becoming a famous artist/singer, and an angst-ridden bulimic (played very well by Alex Damiano) - for me, she was the most interesting aspect of the film.
Oh yeah, each of the above girls also happen to be "cutters"...

This film was a tough one to rate. I get the film, it was just agonizingly slow! (nothing that I would watch again, hence my "2 skulls" rating)
By the time the 3rd chapter rolled around, I felt as bored as the teen's lives were in the film.

Throughout the film, I kept wondering to myself where the parents of these girls were, and when one parent finally did show up, I wished that they never had!

Putting the slowness of the film aside, it was put together well enough. Director Shane Ryan did well directing his cast and kudos to Kevin MacLeod for giving the film an interesting score.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw [Short Film]

Genre - Short/Horror/Comedy
Year Released - 2011
Running Time - 25 1/2 minutes
Directed by Chris Regan
Written by Chris Regan
Cast Includes: Rosie Duncan, Lukas Habberton, Scott Haney, Dominique Bull, and Simon Messingham

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
This film is about a witch, Jenny Ringo, and her slacker roommate Gavin.
Jenny returns from a trip away to find that Gavin has somehow obtained a monkey's paw with which he has made some very ill-advised wishes.
It's up to Jenny to figure out how to reverse the wishes and save the day.

Just go directly to to view the entire film.
It's only 25 minutes (and literally seems like five!)

While Jenny is gone on a Wiccan Retreat, her roommate, Gavin, becomes lonely, and while on his way to grab some grub, he meets a magician who gives him a monkey's paw (cursed with a pirate's spell) granting him 3 wishes.

After he wishes for some new friends, we meet "Jeff Awesome" & "Candy Gorgeous" who won't leave and become very angry at the flip of a switch.

When Jenny returns, she must find a way to put things right - but at what cost?

Chris Regan did an excellent job writing & directing this short. He definitely knows what he is doing, and leaves you wanting more. 
Just hit the link above, and see for yourself, and if you like it as much as I do, great news - he's currently working on a sequel (so sign up on the mailing list, while your at the site)

I can't wait to see what happens to Jenny next!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Crogian [Book Review]

Genre - Horror/Sci-Fi
Year Published - 2012 (Published by Necro Publications)
Length - 214 [digital] pages *I read this book on my Nook
Written by John Leahy

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
"The U. S. Air Force makes an incredible discovery in an Alaskan creek, giving them the means to open a doorway in space. A probe is sent through the doorway and brings back a soil sample from a strange planet. 
A molecule is isolated from the sample and developed as a deadly weapon. It leaks into the atmosphere over Southeast Texas, unleashing legions of mutated insects, plants, fish, and reptiles upon the population..."

With the flood of apocalyptic fiction out there, (most focusing primarily on zombies) it was refreshing to read a new take on the apocalypse - Giant Bugs, etc!

Crogian is an acronym derived from CReator Of GIANts (and I do mean giants!)

If there is one insect/bug that I despise the most, it's the cockroach! So when I'm reading about 3 foot long, 1 foot wide cockroaches, (and those are just the small ones!) it tends to creep me out!
Just think about all of the tiny insects out there in the world, and now imagine them all as giants... Wasps the size of basketballs, mosquitoes the size of softballs. Horseflies, beetles, centipedes... the list goes on and on!
Now imagine that your food and water supply has been contaminated, on top of the giant insects! Is this painting a terrifying enough picture?

Leahy has written a visually-descriptive novel that you will not forget.

This is a perfect book to start off the new year!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Breeding Farm

Genre - Horror
Year Released - Upcoming (2013?)
Running Time - 85 minutes
Directed by Cody Knotts
Written by Cody Knotts & Matthew Deering
Cast Includes: Eileen Andrews, Melissa Constant, Matthew Deering, and Richard John Walters

Rating: 2 Skulls

Plot Summary:
After a night of partying, four friends are kidnapped by a mysterious man.
The friends wake up in a basement, and realize that they are part of something horrifying.
A human breeding farm.
They are to be milked, bred, and much, much worse.

The trailer was removed from YouTube, due to adult content/subject matter.
If you are interested, you can view it on Vimeo - be warned however, of the graphic nature of the trailer - highly unsuitable!

I'm confused... 
The film starts off with "Based on True Events" and ends with "the events in this film are fictitious"?!?

Right away, from the very opening scene, you will know if you are going to like this film or not.
As you can see from my rating, I did not enjoy the film.
I found it disturbing, humiliating, and depraved, which is probably what the director was going for (hence my 2nd "skull")

If the film is, in fact, based on true events (a kidnapper who takes women, strictly to auction/sell as "livestock") I can maybe (and that is a far maybe!) see where the director is going with this film.
If the film is purely fictitious, that's a shame, as there is absolutely no redeeming value in this film whatsoever!

If I were you, I would skip this film entirely, and instead check out the director's 1st film 'Lucifer's Unholy Desire' (which I just reviewed on Friday) that film has a far better story and far better acting!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Lucifer's Unholy Desire

Genre - Horror/Thriller
Year Released - 2012
Running Time - 84 minutes
Directed by Cody Knotts
Written by Cody Knotts, Friday Pfender, and Vince Ruffalo
Cast Includes: Emily Cordes, Andrew Roth, Shawn Shelpman, and Camera Chatham Bartolotta (the film also features the vocal talent of Doug Bradley)

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
     A worldly exorcist is ordered, by his boss, to investigate the death of a minister's wife.
But upon his arrival, he discovers that this is no ordinary death. The minister is under the influence of a young woman, who seems to have everyone in the church under her spell.
     The exorcist quickly moves to stop the young woman and uncover her dark secret. In the process, he unearths that everyone involved has opened themselves up to demonic possession and oppression. But to stop the demon, he must first learn how the young woman became possessed and overcome opposition from both her father and the local police inspector.


When Jacob Wilcox, (played by Andrew Roth) a former navy seal who claims to be able to see demons, first arrives in town, we are introduced to the cast of characters: the local minister, Rev. Bill Thornwood, (played by the director) Sonia Reich (played by Camera Chatham Bartolotta) best friend of Rachel, the deceased wife of the minister, Sonia's son Tommy, (played by Shawn Shelpman) and Tommy's girlfriend Susie Schaefer (played wonderfully by Emily Cordes)

I do not believe that this film would have been as good, without Emily Cordes performance - she completely pulls it off!

In Wilcox's search for the truth, we are witness to the downward spiral of each of the characters, and the consequences of their flirting with evil. 
Director Cody Knotts did an excellent job portraying a compelling story that keeps you riveted until the very end.

If you enjoy a good "possession flick" be sure to look this one up!