Archive for July, 2013

Sleeper(s)

July 11, 2013 - 1:19 pm No Comments

Sleeper(s)
Author: Paul Kane
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publications
Page count: 184pp
Release Date: 30th June 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
It started with Mr Eley and his controlling wife visiting Dr Wray. Mr Eley was more tired than usual and prone to dropping off. At first the doctor dismisses it as the result of overwork, but as she examines her patient she notices signs of anaemia and clamminess of his skin. And he is not the only one. Slightly concerned she takes a blood sample for analysis. By the time the anomaly in the patient’s blood has been found it is too late.
The Central Hospital is already overcrowded with what they are calling severe cases of Narcolepsy. Authorities outside Middletown are alerted to the fact that the sleeping sickness is airborne. The town is soon quarantined with no mobile signals or internet.
Soon we meet Andrew Strauss, a genius doctor in the world of virology but also an insomniac boozer. In a hotel, away at a conference, as a keynote speaker, he is hiding from a one night stand with his assistant, when she turns up at his room door with the army. He is needed to investigate Middletown.
Kane starts with the shocks just a few pages in, as the bodies start to collapse under the power of this strange disease. The novella is thoroughly researched with an air of authenticity to it, particularly where the biology and science is concerned. Strauss is also a rather interesting character; he is damaged and flawed, putting his six year friendship and relationship with assistant Bridget in danger through his irresponsible actions and his obsession with a woman he dreams about every night. A woman who can’t possibly be real. Or can she?
It is clear Kane has been influenced by the work of John Wyndham and he is happy to admit this, as Kane indulges his inner fanboy with lots of classic SF references.
There is a bonus short story at the end, Masques, which I suspect is a Poe adaptation from his forthcoming book Rue Morgue.
A good solid piece of SF/Horror, Kane proves why he has such a good reputation within the genre. Worth your pennies!

Moody & Simmons Double Act

July 8, 2013 - 1:05 pm 1 Comment

This is Horror: Moody & Simmons Double Act

DSC_0130

On Saturday 29th June 13 at 7pm I joined an intimate audience of around twenty horror fans or so to meet David Moody and Wayne Simmons as they chatted about all things horror and the writing industry. This bizarre double act, better known as the Mitchell Brothers of Horror, were as fun and lively as you would expect; and some of their stories were a bit off the wall.

The two met in 2005 . Following the Dawn of the Dead remake, Wayne found himself looking for zombie books. Believe it or not, there were very few people writing in the sub-genre back then. Wayne looked at ‘All Things Zombie’ and found David’s site. David was giving away his first book free as an ebook. Now, back in the anals of history, there were no such things as kindles or nooks, and David was giving away a PDF version. To this day, he still gets fans arrive with a tattered old self printed manuscript to be signed. What appealed to Wayne at that time as a reader, was that David was doing things differently, and his books were very unlike anything he had seen before in the genre. After conversations with Dabid, Wayne sent him a short story, which would later become his debut novel Drop Dead Gorgeous. This, again, diversifying from the ‘norm’ of zombie fiction, was set in Northern Ireland, Wayne’s hometown, and looked at the dynamics and tensions prevalent in NI. From then, we have a tale that is reminiscent of Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Morecombe and Wise . . . Moody & Simmons’ paths kept crossing, and from their, grew, if you’ll pardon the pun, the Never Trust a Man with Hair Tour. Despite the gradual deterioration of book signing events at stores, both Moody & Simmons state that the Waterstone’s staff have been brilliant, and in fact, this event which took place at the Esquires Coffee Shop in Coventry was supported by Rich at Waterstones.

DSC_0132

David talked briefly in retrospect about when he hosted the signing of James Herbert’s Ash where there was an endless line of people in the queue. This was a real culture shock for David, as despite his success, he is pretty much still an Indie Horror author, much like Wayne.
When Wayne started to see some success, he says he ‘worked his ass off’ to get the book in the stores, and it wasn’t easy. He found himself in the position of having to buy back the rights to his own book and funding the delivery of DDG to Forbidden Planet stores himself. This took a lot of attitude and persistence, but proves the power of hard work and the talent of Wayne as a writer.
As for David, his first book Straight to You is currently being rewritten for a re-release, but initially, it was a self published book, born as a result of David’s redundancy package, a pittance I would imagine, but a pittance that allowed him to get his name out there. It was important for both writers that they get their readership, more than anything. From downloads, David went for Print on Demand and the sales were steady. Then came the release of Hater with an email following a month later from LA, asking for the film rights to Hater. After going through his friends to see who may have played a practical joke, the email and subsequent call turned out to be genuine – and the man touted to produce/direct? Guillermo Del Toro. Yep, he of Pan’s Labyrinth fame. From there, a publisher in NY took on David’s books. Though not to the same scale, Wayne’s career hit a similar high when he submitted Flu to Snowbooks. This was at about the same time swine flu hit and the book sold through three print runs in six months, astounding!
I could go on for ages with the things the double act talked about in two short hours, but my fingers are already starting to hurt. However, I’ll finish with one small story, then a few gems of quotes from the Mitchell brothers of Horror.
David finished off by telling us about his worst ‘review’ ever, though both David & Wayne agree that you can learn so much from reviews. David apparently received an email from a man invoicing him for the time wasted spent reading Autumn. Obviously, this man has no taste!
So no, on to the quotes of the evening:
DM: I’m a frustrated filmmaker’
DM ‘I couldn’t get rid of these stories that I wanted to tell.’
WS: ‘I write as I go along, from an idea that sparks me off. I normally start with two characters interacting.’

Plastic Jesus by Wayne is out Nov 13. David is currently working on the re-write of Straight to You, but has just released his collection of Autumn stories, Autumn: The Human Condition from Infected Books.

Continue reading for my review of this book:

Autumn: The Human Condition
Author: David Moody
Publisher: Infected Books
Page count: 448pp
Release Date: 1st July 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
The latest addition to David Moody’s Autumn series, is a large collection of stories spanning the five books in the Autumn sequence. The books tracks existing characters and new characters through their attempts to survive.
The vignettes start with the tale of Jake Wilson, who has moved to Canada with his family. His overprotective Mom Polly phones him in the early hours of the morning to tell him that Vancouver has gone silent. Something is happening, something big and dark and this excerpt reminds us that the events of the Autumn novels are on a global scale. The silence in Vancouver is spreading across North America, and it isn’t long before Polly’s family are silent too.
Next we ‘meet’ Amy Steadman, and this is where things get really interesting, as the book progresses, we get tales from the point-of-view of the dead. Amy is a 24-year old graduate, the ‘face’ of the lingerie boutique where she works selling designer goods, but Amy hates the way appearance matters so much. A good job really, because she won’t look very pretty for long!
It starts with a cough, people choking and collapsing all around the world and dying rapidly as they vomit blood. Then three days later they get up again.
Through different voices, Moody tells us how the world adjusts to what has happened. Moody captures the air of frantic panic and disbelief as the bodies start to fall and vehicles crash and planes fall out of the sky, destroying the cities and towns. Moody is a master auteur at describing the human condition as the title suggests. In the segment entitled ‘Innocence’ he further captures the fear and naivety of childhood in the face of this world defining disaster. Truly scary at times and moving, this is the perfect accompaniment to the Autumn universe. A must have for Moody fans.

You can find out more about Moody at http://www.infectedbooks.co.uk/ and Wayne at http://waynesimmons.org/blog/?page_id=135

Saturday Night Scare 2

July 2, 2013 - 9:23 pm No Comments

Last month I brought you Saturday Night Scare and reviewed a couple of horror films on DVD, so here is number two in my Saturday Night Scare blog. Enjoy

Knight of the Dead
Director: Mark Atkins
Starring: Lee Bennett, Dylan Jones
Running Time: 78 minutes
Release Date: 1st July 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Hunted by assassins, a band of crusading knights escorting the holy grail are forced into a forbidden valley of black death. What they discover is far more terrifying than the plague. Overrun by hordes of flesh eating zombies, they’re only chance of survival is to hack and slash their way to freedom.
As to be expected from this premise, there is death aplenty, but it’s such a shame they killed off one of the better actors early leaving the less talent actors to fumble through this weak script. It wasn’t necessarily a bad film; the special effects were rather good and there was plenty of action, but there were missed opportunities here with the use, or lack thereof, of the holy grail. So much more could have been done with this religious artefact. Enjoyable in a basic ‘brain-dead’ way, pardon the pun, more could have been made of the mediaeval setting and the small cast. Perhaps the worst casting was in the role of Luther, the ‘heroic’ priest, who looked more like a camp Richard O’Brien than anything else. Overall, not a bad zombie flick, and I applaud the attempt to try something new, however, it was in the casting or mis-casting, that the issues lay.

Carriers
Director: Alex Pastor, David Pastor
Starring: Chris Pine, Piper Perabo
Running Time: 81 minutes
Release Date: 2009
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

To finish off my evening, after a shaky start I decided to get me some Captain Kirk action, with this 2009 extended cut of Carriers. The film jumps straight into the low key action introducing us to a post apocalyptic world where a virus is running rife throughout the States and is airborne. Two brothers, one played by Pine, are travelling across country to reach Turtle Beach, a place they stayed as kids, to hopefully reach an isolated part of the country and safety. Two young women are travelling with them.
This really is a low key film, but all the scarier for hat, as tensions rise between the two brothers on their journey and Pine plays, to be quite frank, an arsehole. As they journey they come across all number of horrors that this new world subjects them too. Visceral, yet bleak and poignant too, this film is well worth investing your time in, with some solid performances and an inventive script. Top notch.