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Reviews

Goosebumps: Stay Out of the Basement

  Stay Out Of The Basement

  Cover Line: Something’s waiting in the dark….

  Back Line: Live Plants…Dead People?

  Rating: 3 out of 5 stars in alignment

  Book Description: Dr. Brewer is doing a little plant-testing in his basement. Nothing to worry about. Harmless, really. But Margaret and Casey Brewer are worried about their father. Especially when they…meet…some of the plants he is growing down there. Then they notice that their father is developing plantlike tendencies. In fact, he is becoming distinctly weedy–and seedy. Is it just part of their father’s “harmless” experiment? Or has the basement turned into another little shop of horrors?

Margaret and Casey are confused. Their dad, Dr. Brewer, hasn’t been himself ever since he was fired from his job at PolyTech. He hardly speaks to them, he’s wearing baseball caps, he stays up late, he spends all day in the basement, and he puts all his time and money into his hobbies. But what Margaret and Casey don’t know is that dad is probably going through midlife crisis. Or at least that’s what I thought.

As the story goes, After Dr. Brewer is fired from his job at PolyTech, due to some experiment gone wrong, he moves his work to his basement at home. There he establishes a lab that he locks and forbids anyone from entering. And already you have to think that even Mrs. Brewer might be a little suspicious of what her husband’s really up too. But oblivious to her husband’s change in personality she leaves town to help her sick sister.

When their parents leave to the airport, Margaret and Casey, along with their friend Diane, debate taking a look at Dr. Brewers work. Finally cracking, they all decide to go take a look and as they descend the stairs into the basement, they discover dozens of tall, fruit bearing plants. They find this odd considering that their dad only started work down here a few weeks ago. It’s hot down there and for some reason Casey takes off his shirt. As the kids continue to look around, they begin to hear heavy breathing coming from the plants.

After being freaked out by the human sounds emitting from the plants they decide to leave the basement. As they enter back into the kitchen they notice Dr. Brewer pulling into the driveway, and that’s when Casey realizes that he left his shirt downstairs. As he hurries to retrieve it, Margaret notices that Dr. Brewer gets caught up talking to a neighbor, leaving Casey more than enough time to hurry back up with his shirt. Right? As Dr. Brewer wraps up his chat and starts to come inside, Margaret starts to scream to Casey who in the process of grabbing his shirt, is grabbed in return by one of the heavily breathing plants.

Hurrying downstairs Margaret rushes to help Casey so they can run back upstairs in time before their dad returns. But as they begin to trot up the steps they see Dr. Brewer in the doorway. Instead of freaking out, he sits them down and calmly explains that someday he will explain what he is doing in the basement, but until then, he insists the children stay safe and out of the basement. To be sure they follow this decree, the next day locks are newly placed on the basement door.

Later on Margaret talks to her mother on the phone and tries to explain her concern. But Mrs. Brewer isn’t buying it (because she realizes that Mr. Brewer is going through mid-life crisis, and Margaret is growing into her rebellious teen years). Anyway, after Margaret hangs up, she heads downstairs to talk to her father. When she enters the kitchen that leads to the basement, she is startled to see her father at the sink. Curious of what he’s up to she watches him from around the corner. As she spies him, she notices that he is eating something and quite ravenously at that. After finishing, throwing something in the trash, and heading back to the basement, Margaret creeps out to investigate. When she opens the trash she discovers a freshly emptied bag of plant food!

Soon after finding this, she tells Casey who seems to not want to put the obvious puzzle together. But a few days later as the two are playing Frisbee, Casey excitedly sails a throw to his father who isn’t paying attention. The Frisbee knocks of his Dodgers cap revealing a balding head with tiny leaves sprouting from the scalp. Pretty freaked out, the kids are sat down, and Dr. Brewer explains how it’s a side effect from the work he’s doing in the basement.

What big daddy Dr. Brewer tells the kids is, that he has been working with both plant DNA, and animal DNA, and pretty much trying to play God. Basically. And though Casey gets sold on this, Margaret still feels that something’s not right. Later that night, while lying awake, she hears her father walking in the hallway and decides to try to confront him again. Finding that he is in the bathroom, she peeks in and is frightened to see her father unwrapping his hand and revealing a gash oozing green blood.

The next morning, while explaining what she saw to Casey, Dr. Brewer announces that he has made them lunch. Suspicious the two sit at the table and quiver as they are served a dish of what is best described as green mashed potatoes. Saved by the door bell, Dr. Brewer goes to answer it giving the kids enough time to scrape their plates clean, only to announce they ate it all.

At the door is Mr. Martinez, Dr. Brewer’s old boss. Feeling somewhat guilty for firing Dr. Brewer, he wanted to swing by and see how his “work” was coming along, and if it was good enough, maybe he could get his job back at PolyTech for him. Surprised, Dr. Brewer guides him downstairs.

The next day while Dr. Brewer is out helping a neighbor fix a sink, the siblings get bold again, and go down in the basement. Although not very smart, we get to see Casey’s bright future as he picks the lock to the basement. I do believe he’s like 11 years old. Anyway, while snooping they come across Mr. Martinez’s neatly folded suit. Realizing they never saw Mr. Martinez actually leave the house yesterday, the two begin to speculate what actually happened to Dr. Brewer’s boss. Suddenly they hear footsteps upstairs, and rush up to the kitchen but are caught once again by their father. Startled to see the siblings holding the suit, Dr. Brewer explains how yesterday Mr. Martinez got hot in the warm climate of the basement and took off his suit coat and left without it. Fully understanding this, especially because Casey had done the same thing, they accept their father’s lame excuse.

Upon awaking the next day, the kids are excited to hear from their father that their mother is coming home that day. As Dr. Brewer leaves, Casey becomes so happy that he insists that he and his sister fly kites until their mother returns. Sounds like a good idea, but the kites are in the basement. So after they break in, again, they go in search of the kites, and stumble upon Mr. Martinez’s shoes and pants. It is then they begin to realize that Mr. Martinez probably didn’t leave the house half naked. Suddenly they hear a bunch of thumping and knocking coming from a supply cabinet close by. After breaking into that too, they find some pretty disturbing plants, some with faces, and some with arms.

Through the anthropomorphic foliage though, Margaret spies a couple pairs of feet with human legs attached. Pushing past the weird plants they find Mr. Martinez, who we must think is gaged in his boxers, and their father! As the two help the captured men out of the closet the one that looks like Dr. Brewer quickly tells the kids that he is their real father, and that the other man on the way to the airport, is a plant clone of himself. After being untied the new Dr. Brewer leaps to a corner grabbing an axe and heads for the stairs. But as he does the “imposter” Dr. Brewer comes rushing down the steps with Mrs. Brewer.

Ok, this is where it gets a little confusing to describe. So, the Dr. Brewer with an axe has no hat on, so he’s cap less Brewer, and the other is capped Brewer. Okay? Okay, so, cap less Brewer with the axe tries to convince he’s the real father, the same for capped Brewer. Finally Margaret charges cap less Brewer and retrieves the axe. Then she is faced with the choice of who is her real father. To make it quick; she gets a knife from Casey and she slices cap less Brewer only to see his red blood. So that automatically makes him the real dad supposedly. She gives him the axe and he splits cap wearing Brewer right in two down the middle.

The book is concluded with Dr. Brewer explaining that some of his blood got mixed with the plant DNA and started the whole mess. Completely sold on that, even though he has leaves growing out of his head, the family goes on with its happy life. Dr. Brewer destroys the mutant plants and actual plants a few normal ones in the backyard. One day as Margaret is in the back yard she becomes frightened when she notices a small yellow flower actually nudging at her ankle. And it spoke “Margaret, help me. Please — help me. I’m your father. Really! I’m your real father.”

Wow, a natural M. Night Shyamalan stuff right there. So what do you think? Yes, yes, I know it’s a children’s book, but it is quite fun to go back with adult eyes and re-see and re-read these things and how you interpret them now that your older. I initially thought this one was better than Welcome to Dead House, but still found some parts pretty cheesy.

But on the contrary there are some pretty funny passages that I found, and makes me wonder if R.L. Stine was trying to get a few chuckles in there as well.

“Why do you want to do this?” Margaret asked her friend. “Why are you so eager to go down there?” Diane shrugged. “It beats doing our math,” she replied, grinning.

“So what are you trying to say, that Dad is out of his tree?”

There are many others as well but you will have to give it a read and find them for yourself. I did this review differently from the last. Its longer, and more in depth in the story, and I was wondering if this is better, or if I should keep it shorter and smarter. What do you think? Let me know by dropping a comment below or email me at unspeakablegibberer@live.com. All in all I kind of liked this one, I just hope they get a little better down the line. Cheers!


Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House

  Welcome to Dead House

  Cover Line: It will Just kill You.

  Back Line: Look Alive!

  Rating: 3 out of 5 stars in alignment

So a few months ago I was looking for something, that of which I can’t remember right now, and came across some old boxes from my childhood. It’s always fun to rummage through old keepsakes and memories, and as my wife and I went through them we came across my old Goosebumps books. Yep those cheesy horror pre-teen novels that everyone had to have. My selection spans the first 49 books in the “classic” series, and it got me to thinking about what any of them were about.

Although I don’t remember reading them all, I remember reading a few of them for sure. A few that stand out in my mind are; Monster Blood, The Haunted Mask, Night of the Living Dummy, and my favorite The Beast from the East. Typically plot based around one to three child protagonists who endure some evil/supernatural downfall, and are forced (usually without the help of able adults) to conquer it.

I guess im bringing all of this up because I plan on rereading through the series. And although I am missing the last twelve or so books, I think if the series is going good after 49 of books I might pick them up. Besides my kids my like them someday. So I began with #1 Welcome to Dead House, and decided to log this little challenge as I go and review each yarn as well.

Book Description: Amanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too. But their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends. So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind. Because they want to be friends… …forever.

So the new kids in town just don’t quite fit in with the rest of the folks in Dark Falls. By the way, who the hell would pick up leave their old life behind to move to a town called Dark Falls, seriously? Anyway, as the family tries to settle in, make new friends, the kids can’t help but feel a sense of dread, which turns in to paranoia for young Amanda. That was kind of annoying, but I guess it guilt up the suspicion in the story that the reader endures with the protagonist.

The story proceeds with strange encounters with what sound like pale emo pre-teens, who become Amanda and Josh’s friends. The family dog Petey seems to dislike everyone in the town including the real-estate agent that turns over the house, Mr. Dawes. No foreshadowing there. One day the dog runs off and the kids spend all day looking for it.

While the parents head off to a neighborhood party, the kids decide to head to the cemetery and look for the dog. On the way they encounter Ray, one of the emo pre-teens, who warns them that it’s dangerous to go to the cemetery at night. Duh. But they go anyway and discover more than their dog. Turns out the town is dead, and they find this out when they stumble upon the tombstones of the “friends” they’ve made the last few weeks. As they turn a flash light on Ray to inquire about this the kids face melts off from the bright light. Learning that everyone is dead including their dog, Petey, they realize that they are probably next.

So in a mad dash they head home to find their folks, but no one is there but the dead kids. Mr. Dawes shows up looking like a hero gaining Amanda and Josh’s trust and whisks them away in a car supposedly to see their parents. But it doesn’t take long to find out that Mr. Dawes is one of the town’s ghosts… zombies… vampires. I’m not sure what they are cause they’re out in the day, they just can’t be in direct light of any kind, they need fresh blood, but they appear and disappear like ghosts.

Anyway, the kids find their folks after melting Mr. Dawes, and crash a tree through a shaded area to expose sun light melting all the towns’ folk awaiting their bound parents sacrifice. So the kids save the day, and everyone is safe. They decide to move again and as they are leaving after everything is packed up, a new family rolls up the driveway and announces that they are the new owners of the house. But the worst part is that as they pull away from the home, Amanda sees who she believes is Mr. Dawes ushering the new occupants in the house. So she pretty much condemns the new family to murder. Nice.

Definitely not the best one in the series I can tell already, and im not entirely sure why or how this story kicked off the series, or helped in its popularity. The writing is obviously meant for younglings and I appreciate that. I’m hoping that the future books are at least a little better. Below is a little desert for those who want a mental refresher, I found the Welcome to Dead House episode that aired on Fox quite a while ago. Enjoy the commercials!


Welcome to Hoxford by Ben Templesmith


Life has been hard for Raymond Delgado. Abuse, war, and death have changed his perspective on life, and now, he believes he’s a god. With a reputation of not playing well with others, and after being bounced around from prison to prison, Ray finds himself on a first class right to Hoxford. Maintained by Warden Gordon Baker, Hoxford is a privately ran institution that has a reputation of harboring prisoners that will never be released unto the world. But there’s something else about Hoxford, something dark, and Ray can smell it. Off his medication and into the land of delusion that makes up his reality, Ray, the new god, is the only hope for the insufferable crew that inhabits the cells of this damned prison.

Im of coarse talking about Ben Templesmith’s graphic novel, Welcome To Hoxford,a gripping tale that left me feeling more thoughtful rather than perplexed.

Mr. Templesmith’s line of work is quite prolific. Most might know his work from the graphic novel, 30 Days of Night, along with, Wormwood, Fell, and his adaptation of Bram Stokers, Dracula. He has been nominated for several Eisner Awards, International Horror Guild Awards, and has won a Spike TV Scream Award.

Welcome To Hoxford is a gripping tale that I believe is best shown through Templesmith’s art. I went through the book three times right away when I got it. First, like any excited kid, to see the pictures, and to see if I could get a sense of what the story was by the art alone. Second, I read through it. And third, I went through it with the two put together. I liked what I saw, but I felt the writing fell kind of flat from time to time. Like the rise and fall of a good tune though, it kept me flowing. I wasn’t exactly sure about how the whole things ends, but I feel like I took something away from the story that some people might not get.

I am unsure if Ben had a legit meaning behind Welcome To Hoxford, but something I admired was the character, Ray Delgado’s way of thinking. I’ve been told before by people, “The world is what you make it”, and “If you believe it enough, you make it true.” And that is something that I believe was a strong characteristic of Ray. Sure, he thought he was a god, and had a problem with biting… people. He believes he’s so powerful, that in fact, he says he will kill our god at a time of his choosing. So when shit hits the fan, and it does, it’s no surprise that this man will not back down without a fight. He believes in himself so much that his power comes from within. Something that supported my theory is the way the book ends. Though he ends on top, he’s not a god, and he changes his perspective again, which makes me think he really is a schizophrenic pshycho that can’t get his mind right on what he wants to be in this world.

Besides the ending, I enjoyed and continue to enjoy this book. There is something about Templesmiths art that reminds me of Ralph Steadman, but with more attention to detail, I like that. I have had it for about a week, and I have gone through it eight times. So I say check this one out folks.  While you’re at it check out Ben’s blog or his Official site by clicking the links or clicking on the banner in the middle of the page. His work is available at Amazon.com, or his site. I must admit that I came across this story after viewing the fan made film below. Great adaptation of this story, and I think you all would enjoy. Im giving this one 4 out of 5 stars in alignment.

Welcome to Hoxford, the fan film from Julien Mokrani on Vimeo.


Monster Review: Monsters ~ Alien Invasion Film That Conquers Nothing

So, let me start by saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover, like you can’t judge a film by its posters, teasers, trailers etc… What I mean by the later is when you see an upcoming flick with a name like, oh well say MONSTERS, accompanied by a poster that reflects a semi-apocalyptic world, you think you’re going to get some monsters. Right?

The premise: Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon reentry over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain “the creatures” … The story begins when a U.S. journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through the infected zone to the safety of the U.S. border.

Ok now that were all on track let’s get into this thing. Written and directed by Gareth Edwards, Monsters, is more of a soft apocalyptic romance than the thriller it’s advertised to be. I was very captivated by the beautiful cinematography, and how Edwards was able to pepper in signs of destruction so naturally. I figured the story between Andrew (Scoot McNairy) and Sam (Whitney Able) would turn into a romantic one, because people seem to come together in times of survival. But I found it hard to sympathize with two people who had to cross “dangerous” territory to get back to America for no particular reason.

Scoot McNairy in front of alien attack mural

After a half-hour in of character building, the only thing that kept me watching was the hope of some serious “monster” action, since the title seemed to imply I might see some. I can’t even remember the word “monster” even being used in the film. The aliens seem to come in two sizes, big spidery Octopuses, which I thought were Cthulhu Spawns, and the larva that grow on the trees of the Mexican jungle that make up the “Infected Zone”. Through the whole movie we get glimpses of dead tentacles and eerie sounds from the shadowed jungle, but we never get a clear shot of them because they come out at night. Nothing about them seems scary, and they only do violent things when provoked or attacked, leaving us to believe they are a docile species and we’re the ones over reacting.

I don’t want to give away the ending in case there is anyone who wants to check it out for themselves, but I wasn’t impressed at all. For those who have heard, or think this is the next District 9 your sadly mistaken, and it’s a crime to compare Monsters to the likes of it. Im giving this feature a single shining star. Bing


Monster Review: Troll Hunter ~ Norwegian Mockumentary Exposes Existence of Trolls

I came across this flick on YouTube about a year ago when I saw a new trailer for a foreign movie called, Troll Hunter, directed by André Øvredal. The effect of the teaser being the shaky camera, the quick movements, people screaming, and line “The most important film of our time is Norwegian.” left me thirsting for more. So when I saw it appear on Netflix’s instant watch list, I jumped at the chance to view it. Shot with the same jerky camera appeal that made The Blair Witch Project, or Cloverfield shine, Troll Hunter brings back the old myths and legends of the Norse trolls, only to prove they’re not myths.

Something is happening in the hills and mountains of Norway. It seems bears are to blame for a lot of problems, including killing people, which galvanizes a group of university film students to follow the accounts and document their findings. But as they begin to follow a supposed bear poacher, they discover bears aren’t what’s behind the recent problems, and the poacher’s not hunting normal game. Hans (played by Otto Jespersen), they find, is a troll hunter, dispatched by a sect of the Norwegian government to dispel trolls that wander from their territory and to close to human occupied areas.

After being convinced of the existence of trolls, the students agree with Hans to follow the troll hunter and film his work. Knowing the government will not like this idea, Hans describes how the job sucks and he’s ready for people to know just how dangerous it is to go wandering in the wrong neck of the woods. He then goes on throughout the movie telling tiny stories, and giving very convincing explanations as to how these creatures have been covered up for years.

“People want natural explanations. But if you know what to look for, you’ll see what’s caused by trolls.” says Hans as he explains how a bridge collapse was caused by a troll standing up and hitting the bridge with its head.

To me this film covers all its tracks. From why some trolls explode instead of turning to stone from exposure to light, to why some have three heads.  Even the very Jurassic Park explanation as to why there are so many high voltage powerlines crossing the beautiful mountains. After all you need something to keep the big guys contained. Right? The running joke about how the trolls can sniff out Christian blood was also a nice laughable touch. All the little details that made my skin itch with the question, could this be real? Well could it?

A film like this deserves attention, and it’s getting it, im just not sure how I feel about it. From what I hear, a remake is already in the works. Yep, it seems Chris Columbus, of Gremlins and The Goonies fame, has taken the reigns over on the U.S. rights to the film, and a script is being written. It might not be true, but I read that a lot of the dialect in the original was improvised. It does seem to have that feel to it, with the casual flow, and the dry comical delivery that Otto Jespersen brings to the table. And if that’s true, I really hope that the new film would be the same. For the most part I can’t believe America has to take a NEW perfectly amazing foreign film and desensitize it so quickly.

Ah, but I digress. The bottom line is see this film! Through all of the reviews and comments I have seen for this movie I haven’t come across many bad ones. For the most part people believe that this how “found films” should be and I agree. Like I said before it left me wanting more, movie wise, and also knowledge wise. After I finished watching I jumped onto my computer to read up as much as I could about trolls, and even Norway. So it should be no surprised that since I like this movie that I give it 4 out of 5 stars in alignment. If I haven’t convinced you, well then just check out the trailer below, or the actual movie on Netflix. Enjoy!


The Drabblecast ~ #228 ~ A Fairy Tale of Oakland, By Tim Pratt

Art by Bo Kaier

And Merry Christmas again! I feel I should have used my Christmas rant from the last Drabblecast post here, but instead I think I will talk about how awesome this episode is. Once again we are blessed to have Tim Pratt as our feature author this week. Tim is one of The Drabblecast’s favorite authors, and It shows too, because if being published by the same audio fiction outlet 11 times doesn’t mean something then I don’t know what’s going on. This weeks story carries on the Christmassy theme that was sparked in last weeks episode, “The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke, but goes the next step to show what happens to balance out those miracles that the Hanukah, Kwanza, or Boxing day season brings us.

Drabble and twabble this week hit it on the nose. “Last Christmas”, by Greg Winkler, was terrifyingly hilarious. Hope my mom doesn’t start “stuffing the turkey” without supervision. The twabble by Steve D. Lidster,  aka ROU Killing Time on the DC forums, with this baby:  “The sky grew dark and Quetzalcoatl beat leather wings against the sky. We were wrong about Y2K, but right about maYan2K.” Scary.

Like I was saying before Tim Pratt is a favorite at The Drabblecast, as well as one of my favorite authors too. He has a way with words, a way with wrapping someones mind in the elements he creates with his stories. I rarely find myself day dreaming or simply not paying attention when reading/listening to one of Pratt’s stories. He is the author of the urban-fantasy series based around his bad-ass character, Marla Mason, that he publishes under the name T.A. Pratt. Be sure to swing over to www.marlamason.net where he will soon be serializing, Grim Tides, a new addition to the Marla Mason series. I highly recommend any of those novels, or any of his short story collections; Hart & Boot & Other Stories, or Little Gods.

“A Fairy Tale of Oakland” is the second christmas story that Mr. Pratt has been commissioned to write for The Drabblecast and I must say that seems like a tradition worth keeping. Last years story was “Rangifer Volans“. In this episode we learn that there is a balance that needs to be kept. With light there must be dark, and with good there must be evil. That’s were the Krampus comes in. I had never heard of this before this episode. I mean don’t get me wrong, I had heard of the word, Krampus, but I just thought it was some silly reference to a Seinfeld joke. I’m glad it’s not.

With this whole new idea in my head I will be warning my kids about the Krampus for years to come. Just makes christmas more fun than it already is. Besides it’s just as creepy knowing that there is a creature that will stuff you in his sack and possibly eat you if your naughty, as an “elf on a shelf ” statue that is designed to sit in your living room and watch your kids only to report to santa if they’re naughty. Hmm, Maybe there should be a tiny Krampus elf that does the same thing. Just a satyrish goblin that watches ominously from a dark corner. Or hell go one step further and put that tiny monster in your kids room and tell them it watches them sleep. I can see the naughtiness slipping away already.

Anyway, good stuff as usual from Tim Pratt. This story, like the one last week, made me think about justice and how it’s meaning has changed over the years. The tales of the Krampus were probably abolished for the same reason you can’t spank your kids these days. If your kid cries to someone that Mommy and Daddy are terrorizing them with a tiny monster that will come and eat them if they’re bad, well, then that someone will probably turn you in and then the real Krampus (aka the government) comes , and your kids get eaten by a system that is unstable and has cracks the size of the Grand Canyon. Just saying, something to think about.

  Good fiction usually gets my vote, but throw Mr. Pratt in the salad and I really like what I see/hear. I give this episode 5 out of 5 stars in alignment, mainly though for Norm’s line, “Like you really want to piss of a bad kid and then give him some coal. terrible idea.”

Oh and be sure to jump over and take a look at Tim Pratt’s new novel, Briarpatch.

 


The Drabblecast ~ #227 ~ The Star, by Arthur C. Clarke

Art by Adam S. Doyle

Happy late boxing day folks! I hope all of your boxes were happy and well-tended, and I also hope you all had a merry Christmas too. Here it is December 27th and this guy cant help but have the blues. No, no, I got all the things I wanted, sure, I just can’t help but feel the warmth that only a Christmas season can bring slipping away. It begins right after presents are opened, you feel this string of uneasiness beginning to creep into your head. Then the classic Christmas breakfast, were it doesn’t matter how many home-made biscuits you eat, you realize that emptiness is the feeling of awesomeness leaving you slowly. The day trickles on with family visitations, and chatty banter about how you’re so happy to be with everyone today. It’s true too, you are happy, at this point you think the food, or the eggnog is the cause of the uneasiness. Like a dying lite inside that you can’t help but let go out.

You go to bed, reminding your self the whole time that today was great, the food was great, the family is great, and the presents were great. Then as you abruptly wake up in the middle of the night and strain your ears for the yuletide music that you left playing on your clock radio, you scowl as you see the time is 1:15 and the station has switched to its normal playlist, why couldn’t they just play it through Boxing day?

The warning signs are there when things begin to die out or slip away, and when those signs are left without notice, people feel hurt and broken from the sudden change. The jolliness has left us, like some life has left us. And that is what I felt before I began to listen to this weeks Drabblecast, episode 227, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke.

Due to holiday obligations I was unable to listen to this episode until only yesterday. I was feeling those blues begging to really sink in, until the dulcet tones of Norm Sherman’s voice perked me up, as I knew I was in store for a great story. But the show isn’t complete with out Norm’s witty banter, and the talented Drabbles and Twabbles that are featured every week. The Drabble this week, Creator by Nathan Lee, went very well with the main feature, and the twabble by Algernon Sydney is Dead went like this:  “Joy to the World the Beast is come! It’s time for reckoning. Let every heart prepare for doom and crime upon nature bring.”

He, he, he good one. The Star, by Arthur C. Clarke was a fabulously futuristic story that got me to thinking pretty heavily. I am no atheist, yet I would not consider myself a devout christian either. I have never been baptised, yet I believe in a higher power. Whether I believe in a buff aged bearded fellow in the clouds, or in something that flies around in space ships, hell maybe Lovecraft had it right and we were spawned by a race of aliens that created us as a joke! Either way, like Norm says, it gets you thinking, wondering, that if there is a God then what are we to him? What stops him from smiting us or destroying our civilization?

Something else I got out of this one is that miracles are miraculous, yes, but what may have been sacrificed to become that guiding light, or that miracle.

Good to have some thought-provoking fiction to make us think, and that’s why The Drabblecast is a great charm to add to that bracelet your sister gave you this Christmas. They’re always there folks, plain and simple. Week in and week out delivering not only thought-provoking fiction, but the kind of stuff that turns you on to new things, concepts, ideas. So that’s why if you enjoyed this weeks episode or just like the pretty art, done this week by Adam S. Doyle then you should drop on by the donations page of The Drabblecast and show some love.

Good stuff this week topping off an awesome christmas weekend. Unspeakable Gibberer gives this one 4 out of 5 stars in alignment.


Lovecraft eZine Issue #9 for December 2011

Happy Winter Solstice to all! Oh and Merry Christmas as well. The season is chilly and the days are darker, making it that perfect time of year cuddle up next to the fireplace and read some Lovecraftian fiction. We must have been good little ghouls and dhols this year because Mike “The Man” Davis has included some awesome stocking stuffers to go along with the new issue. Although they’re not all ready yet, Mike has managed to wrangle up three audio readings of stories, and has been hard at work trying to record every story in all the previous issues!

Real quick I wanted to mention the amazing artist that contributed work to this months stories. Ronnie Tucker, Galen Dara, and returning champs, Nickolas Gucker ,Mike Dominic, and Steve Santiago, all of who you might remember from last months issue. All very compelling pieces of art that I felt really reflected each piece properly. Nice job folks.

The big gifts under the tree this year were amazingly twisted and ominous, and I must admit, took a bit of my holiday cheer away for a while. But after I finished reading them all I was suddenly happy having had my prescribed amount of Lovecraftian fiction. Elder instincts, by W.H. Pugmire, Among the Dark Places of the Earth, by Julio Toro San Martin, At Best an Echo, by Bradley H. Sinor, Stone City, Old as Immeasurable Time, by Kelda Crich, and Just and Accountant, by Henrik Sandbeck Harskin. A couple of these tales in particular creeped me the hell out, and I hope you find them as uncomfortable as I did.

These are ones you have to check out and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to. Mike has made the eZine available for free since day one, but that doesn’t mean he’s not spending any money to continually bring you high quality Lovecraftian fiction every month. Those stories cost money folks, so if your feeling especially cheery this holiday season I suggest showing your jolly spirit in big way by donating to the Lovecraft eZine. Or if you’re a Scrooge or just feeling poor this time of year you can still do Mike and all the little elves at the Lovecraft eZine a big solid and talk about whats going on here. Tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts, likes, comments, etc. there all great ways to spread the word, and besides, if you wont give up the cash maybe one of the many people you inform about the eZine will.

Great issue this month and looking forward to see whats in store for us next year. This one gets 4 out of 5 stars in alignment folks. Merry Christmas, and a happy New year.


Steve Santiago – Genius? or Bored Psycho with Art Supplies?

Beyond Fear

In some of Lovecraft’s greatest tales he refrains from describing the horror itself in hopes that the reader’s imagination will take over and create a terrifying monster for him. However, we as humans must SEE the horror to confirm our thoughts are accurate in conceiving something so blasphemous that we love to think about it, yet pray to the gods that it really doesn’t exist. Luckily for us there has been a huge influx of artist whose psyche has been nurtured by the words of weird authors growing up, thus raising a new generation of visualists. Visualists who in the fashion of Goya, yet armed with digital pencils and photoshop, have begun to create compelling art that make most people uncomfortable when they get a glimpse. We like that stuff, and that’s why we like Steve Santiago.

I came across Steve while looking for a disturbing icon that I could call an unspeakable gibberer. I found one of his images entitled “Hybrid Horror” (click that link to see it), and inquired about using it. Turns out some of his work is locked, or need permission for use because of the stock photos used to create the image, and this was one of those. So, instead of waiting for the ok, Steve offered to create something for the site personally. Then wallah we were blessed with one of the creepiest damn things I’ve ever seen. Steve and his family dwell in Fresno, California where he is a graphic designer by day, and a father of 3 by night. He has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and has been lucky to work in the field for over 15 years. This guy knows his stuff and is one of the friendliest people I have had the pleasure to chat with. I wanted to do a little bio/interview post for Steve because things have been blowing up for this guy lately; with upcoming projects with Drabblecast, and work with the Lovecraft eZine Issue #8, I realize this guy is going places. I decided to post a couple of interview questions to help some people realize that Steve is not as crazy as you would think from looking at his work. After the Q/A are a couple of pieces Steve has previously completed. Enjoy!

Who is your favorite artist/inspiration? The first name that comes to mind is Frank Frazetta. The way he captured motion and used color still amazes me. Also the old master, Vincent van Gogh, and for a modern artist I would have to say Dave McKean for his mixed media style of perfectly blending illustration with photos and sculptures.

Who is your favorite author? Wow, to single out just one would be a crime! Growing up I had many. Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Robert E. Howard, Jules Verne and of course, H.P. Lovecraft all fueled my young mind with thoughts of adventure, terror and Sci-Fi. I would then try to draw scenes from the pages I read or the covers but would fail miserably. I have to admit that I’m not much of a reader anymore. My sacred spare time is spent drawing or photoshopping for fun or competitions. But over the past year or so I have been brushing up on my Lovecraft and rediscovering his works all over again. Thanks in part to the H.P. Podcraft Literary Podcasts.

What got you into Lovecraft or weird fiction in general? My older brother and I grew up watching shows like “Kolchak the Night Stalker” “Night Gallery” and “In Search Of…” We were fascinated with ghost stories, UFO’s and creepy folklore. I was a teenager when my brother and I discovered the Michael Whelan illustrated covers that collected Lovecraft stories. That was our first experience with Lovecraft and I thought those were the most disturbing stories I had ever read, I loved it!

What is your favorite Lovecraft story? At the Mountains of Madness.

Do you have any hobbies? I’d have to say that since 2006 my hobby would be entering photoshop, illustration and logo contests that started on Worth1000.com and now on deviantART.com. It is very competitive and addicting! But it has been a great way to improve my skills. Always something new to learn.

Work/piece your most proud of? I’m never really satisfied with anything I do. I keep thinking I could have done better but I do like your web banner! I also like the cover I did for an upcoming Drabblecast episode. It incorporates 3 stories into the cover which wasn’t as easy as I thought it might be.

Do you have any goals or dreams to fulfill? I just had one fulfilled by having an illustration published (online) that has something to do with Lovecraftian fiction (The lovecraftzine.comissue 8 illustration for “The Time Eater” written by Adam Bolivar) and to do a cover for The Drabblecast which I have been a big fan of for quite some time. My Drabblecast cover should be out soon. So my new goals now are to continue to contribute art for The Drabblecast and be asked to create the cover for a future issue of the Lovecraft eZine. A long term goal would be to illustrate a book. I can dream can’t I?

With the work you’re doing for DC (Drabblecast), I’m curious if there is a story, or even an episode art that stands out most to you? Episode #206 entitled “Creature” that caught my eye and turns out to be one of my favorite Drabblecast stories. Excellent cover too.

What got you into DC? My love for podcasts lead me to find some really good anthology sites. Although when I first started listening to DC, I never imagined I would get the opportunity to do cover work for them. Thanks Bo!

Any future gigs you wish to get into/continue? To continue illustrating and photoshopping art for The Drabblecast and the Lovecraft eZine. They both have a great platform and continue to grow their fan base and I’m happy to be along for the ride.

As I write this now I see that Steve’s episode art for The Drabblecast #225 Trifecta XIX is out! good stuff, and to see that swing over to The Drabblecast’s new fancy site, or stay tuned here for a little review of this weeks episode. Below are some pieces of work that Steve has so nicely decided to share with us. For mor of these awesome pics, and to get know Mr. Santiago a little better, check out his stuff at http://www.quest007.deviantart.com.

Time Eater

Chupacabra

Midnight Swim

Needless to say Steve Santiago gets 5 out of 5 stars in alignment.

Lovecraft eZine Issue #8 for November

Cover art by Jethro Lentle

Happy Thanksgiving to me! I was thankful this year for receiving an impressive issue of The Lovecraft eZine #8. One story after the next of compelling Lovecraftian tales that made my day when I got home after a day of glutinous gorging and family togetherness. Had my fill of both but what I needed to cap of the holiday were some creepy tales.

 First I want to say great art work this issue by the likes of  Leslie H., Stjepan Lukac, Mike Dominic, Nickolas Gucker, and our pal Steve Santiago (Who is responsible for how awesome this site is.) Second, don’t forget to help these guys out and throw them some donations to continue bringing great stories, artwork, and other goodies your way.

As much as I would love to critique each of these awesome stories, I think it would take too long and I might go off on a tangent, and those can be disastrous, like this one time I as at work and this guy walked up and asks, “Hey, I was curious about your tail… oops. Anyway like I was saying, this month we are lucky to have five great stories, and they are: “Desert Mystery! Gas & Go!” by Ann K. Schwader, “The Tunnel Inside the Mountain” by A.J. French, “#Dreaming” by William Meikle, “What Dances in Shadow” by Derek Ferreora, “The Time Eaters” by Adam Bolivar.  Each one was a great read!

I spent a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and as I look back, a big part of my enjoyment was born from reading these tales. Mike Davis is doing great things for the Lovecraftian community, and by making the Zine so available to everyone, he is helping to ensure a future of creepiness, and creative fiction.

 Lovecraft eZine issue #8 for November gets a loaded 5 out of 5 stars in alignment. Cheers!


Black Seas of Infinity: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft

Black Seas of Infinity: The Best of H.P. LovecraftBlack Seas of Infinity: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars in alignment

A great collection of Lovecraft stories! This was the first anthology I purchased of H.P.L.’s fiction and after reading a few of the stories previously I was very happy at the selection and order in which the stories are laid out. With essentials like “The Call of Cthulhu”, “Dagon” to name a few, anyone just getting into Lovecraft would be lucky to have this in their untrimmed claws.

View all my reviews


You Shall Never Know Security, By J.R. Hamantaschen

Upon receiving my copy of J.R. Hamantaschen’s anthology, “You Shall Never Know Security” (Published by West Pigeon Press) I did as I do with most new books, and that is examine the cover. No book should be judged by its cover, or so they say, but I believe that a good glance at not only the cover art, but the words surrounding the literature, are important to take in before you begin. After all, that’s why they are there.  I was pleased to see what I was getting myself into. Like the back of the book states, “in the finest tradition of H.P. LovecraftThomas Ligotti, Dennis Etchison, and T.E.D. Klein,” all of which are authors who have time after time been able to portray the feeling, that life is a losing proposition. And after reading through this masterpiece of unnerving literature, I must also agree that these stories are truly what 21st century dark fiction is all about.

 This collection of thought-provoking literature is part of a new turning point in modern fiction. The world is no longer yearning for horrific old pens to cover the same feeling of dread paragraph after paragraph. No, even though one must not forget the classics, we must also understand this is not a new ballpark ready for the same players; this is a different game altogether.

A young writer from Queens, NY, Mr. Hamantaschen has successfully been able to filter the best themes of modern Sci-fi, horror, and speculative fiction, and has efficiently modernized a genre filled with dread, and uncertainty. As a young writer myself, I appreciated the characters established in each story. All containing relatable problems, and sharing the same thought process that I have seen people my age share as we try to discover our place in this world.

A spectrum of emotions are covered throughout this book and span from social awkwardness, jealousy, ignorance, determination, desire, hate, pain, embarrassment, and love. These are emotions that as new adults fuel our needs and motivate us to grow up confused and hurt, because it never turns out as we wish.

When I sat down to write this review, I opened the book and looked at the table of contents trying to decide which story was my favorite. To be honest, I can’t even properly decide. Each story has a specific feeling that overtakes me as I read them. As a
must I would suggest the last three stories of the anthology. These tales are some of the best thought out dark fiction that I have read, and all share a tangential theme. For those on a quick track to see if you like this work, any of the first five stories will lube your brain and get you thinking.

I review a weekly fictional podcast called, The Drabblecast, in which the host, Norm Sherman, has been featuring work from J.R. That is what truly turned me on to this stuff. If you have been checking those out, you’ll see that I have also been mentioning J.R.’s work as well with little quips like: “A seriously creepy book that everyone should buy, borrow, and beg to read
it.” and “I must say this book is a must to have tucked under the pillow, you know, to have something to clench when you wake with unease in the middle of the night. Yeah, it will do that to yah.” And it will folks, it will.

The anthology is available through Amazon.com, and is a book that will be immortalized on my book shelf, and should likewise be on everyone else’s. Whenever I have that moment to sit down and read a story, well let’s just say that I will be grabbing my hand-worn copy of “You Shall Never Know Security”. The stars are in alignment for this baby, 5 out of 5.

Furthermore, if you are extremely satisfied with this anthology, and wish to contact the author, you can reach him at, JRtaschen@gmail.com.  He answers every email.