...and don't forget to keep it creepy!!

Happy Halloween!!

Have a safe and scary night, everybody! And thank you to all who have stuck around thus far! Expect more reviews to come soon and don't forget to post your comments, opinions and suggestions below!

The Collection Review

The Collection
By Bentley Little

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if everything you said came to be? How would you react if you found out one of the nation's founding fathers was a murderous cannibal? These are only a couple of the scenarios presented in The Collection, a compilation of the early works from "the master of the macabre", Bentley Little. This book holds 32 short stories, each with their own introduction containing a short description of what inspired them or how they were conceived. One of the major appeals to this book is that just about any curious soul can pick it up and find at least a few stories to immediately pique their interest.

One of my favorite things about The Collection is the sheer chill factor in each separate story. Considering they were all penned at various times and stages in Little's life, they each hold their own flavor and appeal that keeps the experience fresh and with varying degrees of terror and macabre. Very early on, stories like "The Woods Be Dark" and "Lethe Dreams" both delve into odd and/or macabre family situations. Without trying to alienate the many other stories within the The Collection, I will be drawing my review from mainly these two stories as I would rather encourage anyone reading this to pick this book up and experience the many titles and tales within.

 In "The Woods Be Dark", which was written during the mid-80's and set in the South, we're given a story through the eyes of a young girl living with her family off a path that leads into a forest. Pretty much beyond this, nothing in the story is normal. From the eery return of "Robert" to the "ritual" our narrator endures. Without trying to spoil too much of the story, here is a small excerpt:

"The bad place looked just like I remembered it. The leaves of the trees was all black and brown and they twisted together to make a roof over the clearing and completely block out the sky. It was always night there. On the sides, small trees grew in between the big trees and made a solid wall except for the entrance where I was coming in. The middle of the clearing was covered with bones and skulls and the teeth of rats, all lain out in little rows, like crops. Dead possum skeletons hung from frayed old ropes in the trees, and they was swinging but there wasn't no breeze." -- "The Woods Be Dark", Bentley Little

Next we have "Lethe Dreams" which is a short that was originally published in 1987. In the paragraph preceding the story, Little states it was published in Night Cry, a digest-sized sister publication of Twilight Zone and that it was the turning point in his career. This story presents the couple, Marc and Cindy as they try to adjust to their new life as parents. While Cindy seems to be maintaining, Marc struggles with constant headaches brought on from exhaustion and broken sleep as well as wild, vivid dreams that plague him occasionally when he does actually get rest. Raising kids ain't easy.

"The images frightened him, made him afraid to get out of bed, made him want to fall back asleep, made him unable to fall back asleep. He could see them, or feel them, sneaking around the edges of the room, hiding in the shadows just out of range of his peripheral vision. He wanted to wake Cindy up, to have her comfort his nightmare fears the way his sister used to, but something held him back. Instead, he reached over and ran his fingers through the thin part in her silken brown hair, the part which remained perfectly straight and untouched even through the dishevelment of sleep She stirred under his touch, her back snuggling even closer against him, and he ran his hand down the soft flesh of her thin arm." -- "Lethe Dreams", Bentley Little

The Collection is the kind of novel that keeps you enthralled from one story to the next with unique and imaginative narratives and situations. Each story is a milestone on the road to the Bram Stoker Award earned with his first novel, The Revelation (1990). For a concise biography of Bentley Little, I would suggest visiting here as there really isn't much to be found on the internet besides fan sites and a Wikipedia posting. As a matter of fact, this little snippet would explain why that is:
"Bentley is one of those rare authors who prefer to be judged by the merit of their work and not through self promotion. That being said, he avoids going on-line and has no regular access to the Internet. Though he does occasional interviews to get the word out about his new books, he generally avoids getting involved in major promotional activities." -- The Horrifying World of Bentley Little

 As an added bonus, one particular story in the book, The Washingtonians, was adapted as an installment in the horror anthology, Masters of Horror. The trailer for this episode can be viewed below.

9 Dead Review

Nine Dead (2010)
Melissa Joan Hart, John Terry, Daniel Baldwin, William Lee Scott
Dir:  Chris Shadley

Okay, so here's a movie that took the concept of "ripping off Saw" and actually made something original and somewhat clever out of it. The story follows nine strangers who are abducted supposedly at random by a mysterious masked gunman. They are given a recurring 10 minutes to figure out why they have all been brought together; each rotation of the clock costs them one life.
First things first, like I said, this movie feels inspired by Saw (an abstruse kidnapper, a group of bewildered strangers, a crazy connection and a major life changing lesson taught at the expense of the life it was meant to change...yeah), except instead of focusing on the sensationalism and gore, Nine Dead builds around suspense and mystery. We're presented a scenario where these nine "victims" are sequestered in a door-less, windowless vault of a room and provided only chalk to do the one thing that can possibly keep them alive: communicate. Relatively early in the story we find each character has some serious skeletons in their closet and from there they begin to slowly connect the dots.

Let the games begin...

The characters are pretty diverse:
  1. a store owner who speaks no English
  2. a pedophile
  3. a sleazy loan shark of a club manager
  4. a district attorney
  5. an insurance agent
  6. a cop
  7. a small-time criminal
  8. an illegal gun seller
  9. and a priest
Each has their own messed up story to tell, with the help of a few flashbacks, of course. To be honest, I found the story for the most part pretty intriguing, almost in a Fight Club sort of way (every time you watch it you notice subtle clues you missed before). The trade off, though, is while the movie is pretty well written, it just doesn't hit the senses like a true horror film. Towards the end, as the pieces fall more into place, it seems to lose steam all at the same time. I guess if you liked the first, say, 25 minutes of Saw V, then be prepared to see that whole scenario repeated, ad nauseam to a somewhat diluted ending.

"I don't see what was so wrong with the ending..."

"You liked The Haunting of Molly Hartley! Your argument is invalid!!"

Splatter Review


Corey Feldman, Tony Todd, Stuart Pankin
Dir: Joe Dante 

"So, here's a riddle for all my closest friends: Is it better to kill yourself or let your enemies destroy you? Answer: If you want a job done right, better do it yourself..."
Throw in some ritualistic chanting followed by a self-inflicted head wound and you've pretty much summed up the first minute or so of the movie. Not to mention an extreme close up of what could be mistaken for a transvestite. And after rocker Jonny Splatter (Corey Feldman) takes his own life, his closest "friends" (including Tony Todd and Stuart Pankin) gather for his video will, each hoping for something they feel they deserve. Unfortunately for them, they do get what they deserve, but it's not quite what they had in mind. 

Splatter is a 30 min horror short on Netflix, though it can be viewed as the interactive series it was intended to be here. It's kinda like a "choose your own adventure" book, but with a cheesy internet horror spin.

I found this series to be pretty good; being able to change the ending was a nice change-up from the average straight-on movie. Granted you can only change it so many times, it's still something different. I liked the cast, especially Spencer, Mortis and Fiona (Tony Todd, Mark Alan and Erin Way, respectively). It does bear mentioning each cast member did play their part well. One of my favorite scenes was definitely the casket scene with Spencer (you need to watch on Hulu for that one). The only minor issue I had with the series was the lighting. I enjoyed it in most of the scenes relating to Corey, but throughout a good deal of the show, it just feels a bit too bright over the actors. Actually, I lied. There was one more thing I didn't care for -- Corey's sFX gloves (can be viewed in the bottom pic of this post). I don't feel a real explanation is needed for this one as they're just corny. But still, this is only a minor issue and for the most part, superficial.

Fiona, Spencer, Mortis and Krule
Beyond these simple visual issues, the overall story is well told and each character's individual personality shows as they progress through the bloody ordeal. I would recommend this mostly to any hardcore fan of campy horror or Corey Feldman in general or if you want to just check out something a little bit different than the usual fare.

"You know you wanna say it; I look like an extra from Underworld or something."

"Yeah...I totally told him she said he looked like an extra from Underworld or something. Was that too 'Krule'?"

Infection Review

Infection (2004)
Michiko Hada, Mari Hoshino, Tae Kimura
Dir: Masayuki Ochiai

"Friday...Friday...Gotta get...down on..."
So yeah, I've been sick. And let's be frank--nobody likes being sick. Especially when it makes you go nuts and bleed like a stuck pig or liquify your organs. In Infection, that's pretty much what happens. In part one of a horror trilogy by Masayuki Ochiai, an incident of negligence causes a patient to lose their life. As the staff plot a cover-up, a new mysterious patient is rushed in and reluctantly accepted. If things weren't bad enough, the new patient eventually dies as well and soon, mysterious symptoms begin to pass between the staff.

 I feel the movie has done more than its fair share in capturing one's attention through both scenery and narrative. What's lacking in visual gore is made up for with the creepy overtones, the dialogue and a general sense of despair. The hospital seems to get darker and more dismal as things begin to crumble around Dr. Akiba (Kôichi Satô) and his staff. The origin of the disease contagion becoming more and more enigmatic as their newly acquired patient dissolves into a disgusting pile of nothingness. Soon each staff member slowly descends into a pit of madness as they are contaminated one by one.

Some elements, including some of the scenes with the deranged patient or the breakdown of the young nurse, as well as the lonely swing set, are particularly bone-chilling. They definitely let you know things aren't going to be alright in any way, shape or fashion for the remainder of the film. The always eerily calm Dr. Kiyoshi Akai (Shirô Sano)  also lends a hand in making you wonder what's truly going on. In the end, you're left with a stunning realization as to the truth of the disease, the reality of what is really going on at the hospital. I'll be looking for the subsequent parts to this story eventually. If this is only part one, it can only get worse...and that's a good thing!