Ginger Nuts of Horror
Those of you of a certain age will remember an era without widespread internet, hell some of you will remember an era where there was no internet. In those dark days we had to rely on things like zines to get our fix of horror news, reviews and fiction. Hand crafted magazines that conceived out of love and born out of a photocopiers. It's an era that has sadly all but gone, luckily for us though there are still folk like Jack Bantry and his rather special Splatterpunk to keep the flag flying.
When I was a young lad growing up in the 1980s (mid to late, specifically), it was a heady time. It seemed as though everyone was into all the same stuff, especially where films were concerned and we generally cared not a jot about genre labels (maybe they didn't exist back then...). Comedy, action, horror, drama, sci-fi, fantasy, cartoons, live-action and so on - all had equal footing in our minds (perhaps this was unique to growing up in the south of Ireland, I don't know). But I can't help feeling that I was affected most by a certain type of film - namely that which used analogue synthesizer music as its score. For some reason, films like this loom large in the landscape of my imagination - The Terminator, Blade Runner, Tron, Demons (yes, I got to see this as a pre-teen...), Firestarter, Near Dark, Dawn... and Day of The Dead - many, many films I love, with soundtracks by Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Goblin, Brad Fiedel and so on. But most prolific of all were the scores by one John Carpenter, composed for his own films. Films like Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, Big Trouble In Little China, Christine, Dark Star... (I appreciate most of you will know exactly who JC is, but on the odd chance that one or two don't...).
Short story collections are excellent mediums for a writer to demonstrate their capabilities; most of us cut our teeth on the format, experimenting with more focused and concise forms before expanding into more concerted and expansive works. There are various tricks and techniques one can use to lend such collections degrees of coherence; consistent themes or images; running threads or characters that turn up in each tale. Others take a more “scatter-shot” approach, shifting subject, tone and style from story to story; a means of demonstrating breadth as well as technical capacity.
Who doesn’t appreciate euthanasia with a side of vomit?
First and foremost, author Stephen Kozeniewski can write and write well. Readers who appreciate tightly crafted syntax embedded with carefully plotted literary devices (e.g. theme, symbolism, satire, etc.) really need to grab one of his stories.
I am constantly on the hunt for a truly terrifying ghost story and while I have come across some creepy stories, none has ever really terrified me. When I read the description for Wretched Walls, I thought that maybe, just maybe, this was the one.
Sick B*stards is the story of Father, Mother, Brother and Sister, a family who are seemingly the last survivors of a nuclear war. The family wakes up after the blast with no memory of each other or the situation leading up to their survival struggles. They don’t even remember their own names.
But all is not as it seems...
I always suffer from a slight panic attack in the preceding moments before opening the latest work from one of my favourite authors. Scared that the author has lost his writing talent, it is a very scary time, especially when the author in question has such a high standing. Nathan Ballingrud is one of the most exciting names to come into the horror in recent years his collection North American Lake Monsters stood head and shoulders above any other collection that I read last year. Could he keep this up for the latest release from This is Horror?
Albert Kench has just returned to Victorian London from Australia. He has been summonsed home after his sister Sally has been admitted to Oakbridge Asylum. When he visits her, he discovers she has become unrecognisable. She is near skeletal. She hasn’t spoken in over a year and she is missing an arm. He finds out she has been visited daily by an old childhood friend Rachel Darby.
Vinyl Destination is a blast. The core concept is pleasingly mental – evil-dead-meets-cosmic-horror which gets corrupted by the records that have been used by the council to line the refuse pit said horror is sleeping in, waking it in the process, resulting on the hapless inhabitants of Bellbrook being gradually turned into musical icons from the last half century – and the delivery is gleefully demented.
Nuns, haunted houses, sacrifices to stem the flow the ancient evil lurking in the dark recesses of the world. Sounds like a top notch read doesn't it?