Monday, October 31, 2011

...And The October Girl!

...and Happy Halloween from Nevie Rose who says: "Punkin! Ghoooost! Black kitty! Amercan Fankstein!"

The October Boy 2011...

Happy Halloween from Sawtooth Jack to you and yours!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Supplement 10/30/11

Richard Sala is new to me, and I loved The Chuckling Whatsit. Part Old Dark House mystery, part Universal Horror, and the best Halloween surprise I've had this season. If we've got a Charles Addams today, it's gotta be Sala (and I'd like more Mandrill and Septimus A. Crisp now, please).

Nice Bradbury shelf over at Macabre Republic. Hey kids, start your own today and honor Uncle Ray!

Monsterkid commercial #1.

Cool namecheck in a cool piece of work.

Monsterkid commercial #2 (special creepy doll reboot for the grrls).

Just in case you missed it the first time around: check this twisty hunk of darkness from Orrin Grey. Just what you need for an October night.

Speaking of Charles Addams, here's a bigga bigga hunka raveup for monsterkids everywhere. I remember this guy... and Shivaree!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Five Favorite Universal Horrors for Halloween

First off, "favorite" doesn't necessarily = "best" for me, so this list often favors fun over quality (i.e. if I stuck to "best" I probably wouldn't even make it past the thirties movies). Anyway, here are five Universal classics I always enjoy.

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN: What a beaut. This is one horror movie where they really got everything right, including the brilliant Franz Waxman score. Plus: Karloff manages to top his initial performance as the Monster, and Ernest Thesiger manages to eclipse Boris in the creepy department. If that ain't enough raving for you, check out my post from last year here.

THE RAVEN: My Karloff/Lugosi pick. I love THE BLACK CAT, too, and it's probably a better movie with great turns by Karloff as a satanic priest and Lugosi as the hero(!), plus it's got that Art Deco creeper of a house and a really twisted plot (Boris stole Bela's wife and keeps her corpse in a glass case in the basement, and worse than that -- he married Lugosi's DAUGHTER, too!). But for my $, THE RAVEN is a lot more fun. Lugosi's completely over-the-top as Poe-obsessed surgeon Richard Vollin. Probably my favorite Lugosi role, with Ygor a close second and WHITE ZOMBIE's Murder Legendre coming in third (and, yep, I know I'm leaving out The Count... sue me). Anyway, forget the scenery and the hidden torture chamber and all that jazz in THE RAVEN... this Vollin cat could chew through granite, and Bela's just the guy to do the job.

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN: Universal really made a mess of this one when they cut the Monster's speaking role, but I do enjoy what's left. Plus, the scene in the cemetery with the grave robbers raiding Larry Talbot's crypt gets the prize for the best opening in any Universal horror movie. Add to that Lon Chaney, Jr. at his angsty-est and you've got a real winner. For me, FMTWF is THE Larry Talbot movie. The poor cursed bastard will do anything to die, and the fates just won't let him. And hey... here's a way to have even more fun with this one. Next time you pop in the DVD, turn on the subtitles and sing along with that song in the wine festival scene. Invite your friends. Get a whole roomful of people to do it. Several glasses of vino from your own private cellar will help. And you can wear your lederhosen, too.

THE OLD DARK HOUSE: James Whale does crazies. A whole houseful of 'em on a dark and stormy night. With Karloff, and Charles Laughton, and Ernest Thesiger (again, the greatest scene-stealer in the Universal canon). Plus Gloria Stewart, looking like a white flame! "That's fine stuff, but it'll rot, too!" WOW! Need I say more?

ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN: Go ahead. Hate me. But this was the first Universal monster movie I ever saw and I love it still. Chaney and Lugosi play it straight pretty admirably, and Glenn Strange's Monster scared the hell out of me as a kid. Mr. Strange was the murderous dreadnaught of my nightmares, and the way I see it his performances as the Monster are underrated to this day. And while I'm at it I'll just mention that I watch this one every Halloween while I carve my pumpkin. "Oh Chick!"

One more to grow on, i.e. my favorite Universal Horror Movie That Isn't. That would be THE GHOUL, a Gaumont British production. It's got Karloff and Thesiger, and it plays like a James Whale movie. The plot's a combination of THE MUMMY and THE OLD DARK HOUSE, and it's as fine a little rollercoaster ride as an old school monsterfan could hope for on a Halloween night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Johnny Halloween eBook

Just wanted to let folks know that Johnny Halloween is the featured eBook of the season over at the Cemetery Dance website. This collection features all my short Halloween fiction to date, including "The Jack o' Lantern," a prequel novella set in the world of Dark Harvest. That one's a real hardboiled horror tale, and it introduces one of the novel's main characters. Besides a half-dozen stories and an original introduction, the book also includes a nonfiction piece called "The Man Who Killed Halloween," in which I share some memories about growing up in Vallejo, California during the Zodiac Killer's bloody spree.

Anyway, the limited hardcover edition of this collection is long out of print, so it's nice to have the eBook out in time for Halloween. Right now you can grab Johnny Halloween for $2.99 from CD. There are links from the CD page for readers with Kindles and Nooks. Just scroll on down... and enjoy!

And while I'm at it: I'm a big fan of Alex McVey, and a big fan of his cover for this collection. It's a fine piece of work (as was the original cover Alex did that we didn't use -- one that will surely find it's way onto another book one of these days). So needless to say, I'd love to work with Alex again... especially if he carries through on his threat to craft a sculpture based on the Johnny Halloween cover.

Just so you know, Alex, I'm saving room on the bookcase for that.

Like, definitely. Reviews Dark Harvest

...and those are some fine words indeed. Thanks to Blu Gilliand for the shout out. And if you haven't checked out Blu's other picks for the scariest night of the year, I'm here to tell you that you can't go wrong with one of those, amigo. Blu's carved you a path to some fine reading... and put yours truly in some fine company while he was at it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Not Dead... Only Dormant

Well, it's been a while. Not much blogging in the last few months. Of course, I could give you a bucketful of reasons for that. They'd make sense to me. Hey, they might even make sense to you.

But to tell you the truth, explanations always end up sounding like alibis to me. Let's just say that American Frankenstein is coming back, and these days I'm working hard on an overdue project called Oktober Shadows. The going hasn't been easy with this novella. In fact, some days working on it has seemed a metaphorical exercise in battling burning windmills that'd test the Monster himself (and you can toss in a few bubbling sulphur pits, too). But the story finally feels right, and it's going well, and that is more than okay with me.

After all, this is October. It's the perfect time to be writing this piece. Another long California summer is dying (finally), and it's almost my favorite day of the year. Right now the page I've got minimized down there on my task bar is littered with dead werewolves, and it feels good to be the guy who put them there.

Which is really kind of odd, if you think about it. Getting so wrapped up in a world that only exists on paper. Maybe you have to be a writer to understand something like that. Or maybe not.

Still, when all is said and done, I hope those of you who pre-ordered Oktober Shadows from the fine folks at Cemetery Dance will find it worth the wait. Thanks to Rich Chizmar and Brian Freeman at CD for their patience, and thanks to those of you who ordered the book for the same. Believe me, I appreciate it more than you know... especially you readers who've taken time to drop me a line and tell me how much you're looking forward to the book, regardless of the delay.

Now, time to post this and get back to another dark land.

A place called Oktober.

The werewolves there are dead.

But to the north there are vampires...