THOUGHTS ON ANGER (AND BEYOND)

I can be an angry son of a bitch at times. Hell, my first novel was called LIFE RAGE and dealt with people with rage issues, and at the time it seemed a bit prophetic (turns out, it was), and I know that “Anger is an energy!” as John Lydon sang on the PiL song “Rise.”

But these days, anger seems to be everywhere, especially among older white males like me, and while it’s relevant – it’s just not as interesting anymore. Now EVERYONE is angry. It’s universal. And while it’s an energy, it’s not always a productive one.

And I want to move beyond it.

So much anger these days seems misdirected or focused inward, and people just feel like shit because of it. I want to transcend this. I want to move, as a writer and as a person, beyond the chaos.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be part of a literary movement. My favorite time period in science fiction was the “New Wave” when writers like Ellison, Moorcock, Ballard, Brunner, Aldiss, Russ, Disch, Delany, Le Guin, and Malzberg flourished. And I loved the Beats. I loved the Splatterpunks when that movement took off (whether people wanted to be part of it or not – LOL). I love fiction that transcends boundaries and taboos. That dares to go in a new direction.

So here I am, approaching 60, and wondering about what I’m doing as a writer. And I want to create my own damn movement! And I want to name it myself, because I don’t need the media to tell me what I write.

Starting in the 1820s, there was a movement in New England called Transcendentalism, which included writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It was a reaction to rationalism at the time, and believed that the individual was basically pure and good, and that society and its institutions corrupted the soul. It also saw the divine as being all around us, instead of being somewhere else, like heaven. Also, they believed that true “self-reliance” and independence were the path to happiness.

I don’t agree with all of those things, but one word that has popped up over and over in my thoughts the past few years has been “transcendence” in its more literal meaning. Transcending the body and society, transcending what is around us and moving toward something new. In most cases, the unknown.

I do not believe that everyone is born good and society corrupts us. I think society is corrupt because of basic human desires, and that we are all capable of good and evil, but, more, we are selfish creatures who want to control the world around us. I do believe that if there is spirituality – and that’s all about personal belief – then it is all around us. We just have to look for it. And personally, I’ve always been a proponent of self-reliance and independence.

So I’m toying with the idea of starting a new literary movement, called something like New Transcendentalism (but that’s a bit long). A movement for writers and artists who want to see, think, and feel outside the walls, who want to transcend flesh and the world.

I’m a horror writer. Can horror be transcendent? Of course it can! And I’m not talking Pollyanna bullshit either – all sweetness and light. I plan to continue to be as dark as I wanna’ be. But I want to reach for something more as well. Something beyond good & evil. And – and this is important – something that can be a helluva lot of fun. Because angry people are a dime a dozen right now, and there doesn’t seem to be much fun in the world.

But this is in no way restricted to any one genre. And though I call it a literary movement, there is no reason why it has to be restricted just to the written word. Music, visual arts, cinema. This is something that can be embraced in all mediums of art. And, as you’ve probably noticed, this isn’t a completely new idea. Everything that can be thought of, at this point, has already been done.

I’m just repurposing some ideas to fit our times.

New Transcendentalism. Or maybe, more simply, Transcendence.

I may be this movement’s only member. It may never grow beyond me. But it’s an attempt at something new.

I’m still working out the details.

Anyone out there want to join me on a brand new journey? There’s no road map. There’s no itinerary. No initiation process. If you’re reading this, and you think this makes sense, and you want to embrace it in your own work, then feel free. This isn’t a cult, and you don’t need permission.

There are certain books and movies that come to mind when I say Transcendence. But I don’t want to list them here, because that would be limiting. It’s not about imitating things that have come before us. And I don’t want to corrupt the idea before it’s even fully formed.

It’s about forging your own path. Many paths, all going in the same direction. Outward (and yet being very aware of our inner selves).

If you do want to keep this train of thought going in your art, just remember where you first heard about it. And if its sentiments make sense to you – grab on and let’s take the trip together.

Together, let’s let go of things we know, and hold hands as we leap into the unknown. Laughing all the way.

-L.L. Soares, 11/17/2022

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**”THE INTERVIEW: PART II”**

PART TWO: L.L. SOARES INTERVIEWS PETER N. DUDAR

L.L. SOARES: Well, here we are, back with Stoker-nominated writer Peter N. Dudar, to promote his new book, and give readers a little more insight into what we’ve both been up to lately.

Peter, I’d like to talk to you specifically about your new novella, THE MISSISSIPPI GLORY HOLE MUTILATIONS, out now from Grinning Skull Press. First off, congrats on the new book!

PETER N. DUDAR: Thanks! It’s great to have a new book out, especially after the pandemic. 2020 was a total wash as far as my writing career. So 2021 felt like I was starting from scratch. Getting back into writing was difficult; when you’re not flexing those muscles on a regular basis, they tend to atrophy a bit. I started slow, working on short stories and revising some of my older work. But by autumn of last year, I was ready to jump back in and working on something a bit longer.

LLS: I totally agree with you about the pandemic. For the first year or so, I lost all of my creativity. I didn’t read, I didn’t write, for about a year there. It was similar after 911. And It does feel like we’re starting from scratch again.

So, MISSISSIPPI GLORY HOLE is a sequel to BLOOD CULT OF THE BOOBY FARMERS. Can you tell us a little bit about that first book? And why did you want to do a sequel?

PND: BLOOD CULT was originally released in 2013, through Novello Publishers. I have to confess that stylistically, the story lands far outside my normal sensibilities, and my comfort zone. I tend to prefer well-crafted slow burn supernatural thrillers rather than the overtly gory and grotesque. BLOOD CULT allowed me the opportunity to craft a campy, over-the-top tribute to the old exploitation films of the 70s and 80s. My novella went out of print back in 2018 (I think), and I honestly was just going to let it rest in peace. The whole #MeToo movement happened the year after it was released, and the book’s subject matter was suddenly controversial in a very bad way. But when it went out of print from Novello, my publisher Michael Evans at Grinning Skull Press expressed interest in getting it back into circulation through GSP. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, but there was always that hesitation because I didn’t want any backlash coming back to bite me on the ass. It wasn’t until I started writing THE MISSISSIPPI GLORY HOLE MUTILATIONS that I realized that a) I love the character of Betty-June Gray and wanted to find out whatever became of her, and b) her new book was going to be an empowered woman story, where she would flip the script on the society that made her a victim in the first book. Once I knew that, I reached out to Michael at GSP and we worked out publishing both books this year. 

LLS: While BOOBY FARMERS is in the spirit of 1970s exploitation movies, the new book is more of a satire, even venturing into political humor. What inspired you to take such a different approach with the material this time?

PND: Yes, it absolutely IS a political satire disguised as a horror story, and it came as a response to five loathsome years of Trumpism and my own desperate need for a satisfying catharsis. The antagonist of the story is a composite caricature of several prominent GOP figures, but the most significant of the lot has a name that rhymes with the book’s Senator Rich McDonnell. But that isn’t the ONLY storyline in the book, it’s only one facet to it. The novella really examines a lot of what I don’t care for right now in our society. There are several really rotten characters in the story, who behave badly, and how I’ve chosen to portray them and the fates they face before the book ends underscores the sense of ridicule I believe they deserve.

LLS: The titles of both books tend to capture readers’ imaginations. But instead of inspiring dread, there’s a sense of playfulness, where they feel like they’re in for something that’s going to be a lot of fun and isn’t concerned with being politically correct. Was that your intention, and were these books fun to write?

PND: Both these books were definitely fun to write. Again, with BLOOD CULT, I was going for a campy, titillating story title that was going to stop people in their tracks and immediately want to know if that book was for real. And it actually worked fairly well, because whenever I worked a sales table at writers conferences, people would always pick that book up first, flip through it, and then put it back down on the rack. They just weren’t buying it the way I’d hoped they would. The thing with BLOOD CULT is that it IS goofy and campy, but only at the beginning. There is a certain point in that story that, once you hit it, the atmosphere immediately shifts to a serious, high-tension nightmare and the campy elements practically evaporate. When GSP produced this new edition, they hired artist Jeffrey Kosh to rethink the cover, and he went with a style that looks EXACTLY like a movie poster from the 70s. It’s brilliant! He also did the cover for GLORY HOLE, and again, with the same intensity I’d hoped for.

LLS: You’re right, Jeffrey Kosh did some amazing covers for your books! I love his style. We’ve both been very lucky when it comes to cover artists – which I think is really important. The cover gives people their very first impression of a book, before they even get to the words.

PDN: When I came up with the story idea for THE MISSISSIPPI GLORY HOLE MUTILATIONS, I wanted to create a title as evocative and captivating as THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974). I wanted it to sound like a macabre true-crime thriller that was also titillating in the same sense as BLOOD CULT is.

LLS: There’s also an obscure movie from 1972 called INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS that most people haven’t heard of. It’s a goofy movie made on a shoestring like MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (1966). If you haven’t seen it, you might want to check it out.

PND: And yeah, I really had a lot of fun writing these, because there’s the sense of freedom that introducing bizarro elements allows for. It lets me pull the rug out from under the reader, because they usually have read my other work prior to these books and never see it coming. 

LLS: Both novellas take place in the town of Cold Currant, Mississippi. Can you tell us more about the place, and what inspired you to create it? Do you have more stories you want to base there?

PND: Cold Currant is an entirely fictional town established along the banks of the Mississippi River. It’s an impoverished farming community in the deep south, which is about as polar opposite as you can get to my hometown here in Maine…but when I think about it, it’s really not all that different after all. Like I said before, I’ve always been in love with THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and wanted to create some kind of similar southern gothic vibe when I started writing BLOOD CULT. It just feels like The South has this deeper sense of cultural depression to it, where there are pockets of citizens that cling desperately to 20th Century ideals and societal norms. I loved going back there with GLORY HOLE, because the book feels saturated with that hot, swampy atmosphere you find in southern gothic novels. And I definitely plan to go back there for one final Betty-June novella sometime early next year. The final book will be titled THE JAILHOUSE CRACK WHORE EXORCISM. And if I can convince Michael at Grinning Skull Press, I’d love to put out an omnibus edition with all three novellas, with maybe one final short story at the end to cap it all off. 

LLS: Have you read much fiction by Edward Lee? He’s one of these writers I find myself going back to from time to time, and he’s a master of the redneck horror story, with classics like HEADERS and THE BIG HEAD in his oeuvre. While I don’t think your stuff is anywhere as extreme as Lee’s, these books are pretty over-the top, and there is a kind of shared sense of atmosphere at times. Is this intentional?

PND: Like I said, extreme horror really isn’t my favorite style of genre fiction, but I really should rectify that at some point and read some of his books. If I was trying to emulate anyone with my style of writing in these books, I would have to say it would be Joe R. Lansdale. His work DEFINITELY has that bizarro sense of humor and some wonderfully brilliant over-the-top moments. Nacogdoches, Texas and Cold Currant, Mississippi are definitely on the same landscape, even if my town is only fictional. I think both of my books have that same vibe as BUBBA HO-TEP (2002). Or maybe even the Rodriguez/Tarantino film GRINDHOUSE.

LLS: I remember seeing GRINDHOUSE (2007)in a theater when it first came out, and it was a real event. After its theatrical run, the two movies that make it up were broken up and are shown separately now. But the entire GRINDHOUSE experience, with both movies and the trailers all together, was a real treat.

PND: Let’s just say I had to reach my late 40s to write fiction that would have satisfied the 13-year-old version of myself. It’s gratuitous and graphic and insane, but the books also address some pretty topical stuff in ways I don’t think people are expecting when they start reading. There are morals to these stories, and if I’ve done my job well, people will have walked away from these books feeling entertained and glad they read them.

LLS: I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to really talk about this, but what writers do you think are your biggest influences? And not just for this new book, but overall?

PND: Well, Lansdale, for sure. We got the chance to meet him this past summer at (a writer’s conference in New England) which was cool as hell, but it just seemed like he always had a crowd of people constantly surrounding him, so other than getting to act like a fan boy and having him sign some of my favorite books of his, I never really got to talk one-on-one with him. In terms of style, though, I have a pretty broad spectrum for influences. For tone and atmosphere, I love authors like Peter Straub, Douglas Clegg, Shirley Jackson, Rick Hautala, and Tom Piccirilli (his southern gothic novel A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN is just unbeatable).

LLS: I totally agree about Lansdale. And Piccirilli’s A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN is excellent! I fucking love that book, and I can’t praise it enough.

PND: For building tension, it’s Thomas Harris, Robert Bloch, Richard Laymon, and Richard Matheson. For just plain brilliance, it’s Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Chuck Palahniuk, Jack Ketchum, and of course, Stephen King. It’s weird though, because every time I’m asked about my influences, I tend to panic and feel like I’ve left somebody out, especially with our contemporary authors who at the moment are creating some insanely brilliant stuff that deserves the spotlight. I feel truly jealous of the burgeoning new authors out there, still in their formative years, who are cutting their teeth on the authors in our own inner circles.

LLS: And keep in mind, over the course of our lives, we’re influenced by all kinds of media coming at us. The good and the bad. We mention the writers who had the most profound effect on us, but we’re just as affected by art and music and movies, and even the bad stuff – which helps us learn how to avoid it!

You mention contemporary authors. Do you have any that stand out to you? Who do you recommend reading right now?

PND: Oh, you for starters, brother! TEACH THEM HOW TO BLEED is hella-good. I just finished reading Steve Van Samson’s collection, BLACK HONEY And OTHER UNSAVORY THINGS, and absolutely loved it. Emma Gibbon’s DARK BLOOD COMES FROM THE FEET is as close to a contemporary version of Shirley Jackson as you’re going to find. Morgan Sylvia’s ABODE is a damn fine supernatural tale to read before Halloween. Kristen Dearborn’s new book, FAITH OF DAWN is coming out from Cemetery Dance in 2024. I got to read an advance copy and freaking loved it. Tom Deady’s novella, OF MONSTERS AND MEN is some of the best 80s coming-of-age nostalgia I’ve ever read. There’s just a ton of great writers delivering the goods right now; Tony Tremblay, Ed Kurtz, Doungjai Bepko, Bracken MacLeod, Errick Nunnally, Marianne Halbert, to name a few. Marianne’s collection, COLD COMFORTS, is terrific. Sorry if I’m rambling, but I’m always humbled and appreciative when friends of ours recommend our books. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about just how many modern masters of horror I can call my dearest friends. I’m still writing and publishing as a hobby rather than a primary source of income, but I feel like I’m moving closer to the day where writing fulltime will become an actuality. At some point I hope to find an agent and move from the Indie Press scene to mainstream publishing. 

LLS: Yeah, we’re pretty much on the same path there. And yes, there’s a lot of talent currently in the horror field.

There’s a Mothman in your new one. Were you aware of the urban legend of the Mothman from the movie THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES (2002, starring Richard Gere and based on John A. Keel’s book of the same name)? Did you do any research on the mothman phenomenon, and were you trying to put a new spin on it?

PND: I saw THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES when it originally came out, but honestly remember very little about it. That whole storyline in my book was probably more influenced by modern cryptozoology stories and websites like Creepy Pasta. I’ve always been fascinated with what David Cronenberg did with his remake of THE FLY (1986), where he captured this downward spiral change in Jeff Goldblum’s character, and how monstrous and pathetic he became during his transformation. Making Betty-June have to watch her own child going through this transformation creates the conflict that drives her decision-making and her own character arc in GLORY HOLE. How far will a mother’s love drive her? What are her limitations? When I was writing it, I had a very distinct movie-version of how this was all supposed to play out, with the Pig-Whistle Truck Stop Diner being terrorized by a six-foot mothman lurking about outside on a sultry summer night. But I also wanted to make it so that readers were rooting for the mothman rather than some of the terrible people inside the diner. And I wanted for it to come across that this would look fucking spectacular on the big screen if it was ever adapted for film. The mothman felt like the perfect monster for a hot, moist night in Mississippi.

LLS: There were several scenes, usually involving Jesus Gray (Betty-June’s son) and his transformation, that are rather poetic and very visual. I really enjoyed the scenes that involved Betty-June and her son. They kind of transcend the more satirical elements, and reminded me of scenes in your first novel, A REQUIEM FOR DEAD FLIES. I really like when you go in this direction.

PND: My friend Morgan Sylvia pointed out that very same notion, telling me that I’m very good at capturing a sense of Americana in my fiction. It’s a hard line to walk to create characters that are honest without being cliche, that evoke a sense of empathy for the reader without being condescending, and that feel natural even though their plot-points and conflicts make them who they are. Jesus Gray was born at the end of BLOOD CULT, and it was a miracle that he’d survived at all after everything Betty-June had endured on the Tucker Farm. That’s why she named him Jesus, because he was her miracle baby. In GLORY HOLE, we have an 8-year-old boy who is suffering toxic mutations from the local chemical plant and evolving into a freak. Yet she’s still tucking him into a bed at night that’s dressed with Marvel superheroes sheets and trying to convince him that he’s still a normal boy. It really is heartbreaking when you think about it, because our landscape is filled with mothers tucking their children into bed at night and trying to convince them that everything is fine, when their reality is cancer or financial distress or some other impending tragedy. Betty-June’s reality is a cluster of hard times, but the only thing that matters is trying to make life better for her son. 

LLS: We’ve known each other for more than twenty years, and our careers have involved a lot of parallels during the time. From the fact that our first novels both got nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for 2012, to that fact that we both have new books that just came out – which seem like rays of light, after the last two years of chaos involving the COVID pandemic. Have you been enjoying the ride so far?

PND: Well, it’s definitely boosted my confidence. I’m always reminded of Billy Joel’s song “The Entertainer”. He sings the line, “…and I won’t be here in another year if I don’t stay on the charts!” And it’s the goddamn truth. Unless you’re constantly putting out new material and staying relevant, readers move on to the next author and the next novel. Even if it’s just a short story in the next anthology coming down the line, every sale counts. Every publication is a stepping stone, because if they like what they’ve just read, they’ll make the effort to look you up on social media and learn more about you. I’m certain that the pandemic was a career killer for a lot of people. Without the opportunity to perform reading events or attend book fairs, we lost a LOT of outlets that we took for granted in terms of promoting our work and meeting our readers face-to-face. For me, 2020 didn’t exist. I’m a postal worker, and learned that I’m an “essential employee” when stores closed and people quarantined and basically all commerce in America was done through the USPS. I spent ten straight months of working 60-70 hours per week. I didn’t write a single word in 2020. Didn’t read a single book after March of that year. It was a disaster, and I think at some level I went through a sort of PTSD or deep depression from it all. At this point, just getting the Cold Currant Chronicles published has been a lifesaver for myself and my writing career. The fact that people are really enjoying these books is icing on the cake. I sure don’t take things for granted anymore. I feel like the luckiest man alive at the moment. 

LLS: The pandemic had a big effect on our lives. Things finally seem to be getting back to normal now. So, what else have you been working on these days?

PND: I had started a new novel in November of 2019, as a NaNoWriMo project. The book is a supernatural thriller called THIS LITTLE PIGGY MISSES YOU. Once I had the final revisions completed on GLORY HOLE, I went back and reread what I’d already started, and found that it was actually better than I remembered. I’m now around 30,000 words into it and will be plugging away at that for the rest of 2022. Beyond that, I’ve signed contract with Trepidatio Publishing for a new short story collection, which will be published sometime in 2023. I also have a story titled, “Will’s Theory of Free-Floating Fat”, which will be published in the New England Horror Writers’ new anthology, WICKED SICK in April of next year. I may have one or two other surprises as well, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed as we wait and see. 

LLS: Thanks a lot, man. And best of luck with the new book!

THE MISSISSIPPI GLORY HOLE MUTILIATIONS is available in both electronic format and paperback. Here’s the link to it on Amazon.

“THE INTERVIEW, PART I”

PART ONE: PETER DUDAR INTERVIEWS L.L. SOARES

PETER N. DUDAR: I’m here today to talk with the Bram Stoker Award-winning novelist L.L. Soares about his latest release, TEACH THEM HOW TO BLEED, published by Bloodshot Books. L.L., it’s great to speak with you again, and a huge congratulations on your fifth full-length novel. For those readers who aren’t familiar with your body of work, how would you characterize your fiction, and without too many spoilers, what can they expect if they dive in with BLEED first?

L.L. SOARES: My stuff tends to pull things in from different genres. I guess, at the most basic level, I’m a horror writer, but it’s not unusual for me to add elements of crime fiction, or science fiction, or even fantasy. And in my books, there is a very big emphasis on characters. If someone picks up BLEED without having read other things I’ve written, I think they’ll get a good taste of my style.

PND: Stylistically, BLEED has the feel of a gritty, hard-boiled noir story, which takes the vampire trope in a whole different direction than the classical vampire tale. What led to this decision, and what were some of the vampire myths you were happy to dispose of?

LLS: I have to admit, growing up, vampires were probably my favorite archetypical monsters. Zombies, for example, can give us some raw scares, but vampires can interact with us on our level, even blend in with us, and yet they’re predators. Over the years, vampires have become a list of tropes where you check things off, and I didn’t want to do it that way. I wanted to get rid of some of the baggage, and sort of reinvent them. I’m definitely not the first person to think that. I didn’t want to deal with stuff like crosses and coffins and bats, and all that more traditional stuff. I like fangs – they can be very effective as a visual metaphor – but they weren’t essential, either.

Vampires have survived in literature because they are adaptive to change. Whether it’s Stoker’s DRACULA, or the vampires of Anne Rice, who have a much stronger emotional life, or even Stephanie Meyers’ sparkly TWILIGHT vampires. Even if there’s a take on the subject I’m not a big fan of, I can recognize that each generation is able to adapt vampires in a new way, and it’s this fluidity that keeps them relevant.

Two things inspired me to write my own take on vampires. The first, I remember seeing a lot of movies over the years where we see vampires covered in blood, mostly because they tend to be messy eaters – and that’s terrific for a movie screen; it’s very cinematic – but I got to thinking that real vampires would be like alcoholics. They wouldn’t want to waste a drop. And so I came up with the idea of vampires who are so dialed into the need for blood that they’d meticulously want to get every drop of blood they can out of a victim

The other thing was I felt vampires were getting a little tired, and I wanted to inject some new mythology into them. On one level, I really wanted to make them scary again, and one major way I do that is I changed how someone becomes a vampire – it’s a process that involves great violence.

PND: At its heart, BLEED is a great example of the Revenge Story. My original assessment of the book was to refer to it as “an adult fairytale.” Is this accurate? 

LLS: I started the book with a desire to do a vampire version of stories like HANG ‘EM HIGH (1968), where something awful happens to a character and he goes about killing off the “bad guys” who did this to him. That’s how Eliveer’s story begins. But then I went in completely different directions.

I guess that there are aspects of the book that could be seen as an adult fairytale, especially the parts that involve the Bottle World. I don’t think the book as a whole is like a fairy tale. It’s just one of the ingredients.

PND: BLEED has an ensemble cast that feels very reminiscent of your earlier novel, HARD. That is, we’re given multiple storylines that may or may not intersect throughout the course of the book, and some of these characters form partnerships that reminded me of “the buddy pic” for lack of a better term, where their banter and their own selfish needs can build either a marvelous sense of conflict or bring out the best in themselves. My mind immediately jumps to characters of L.B. Jade and Slow Henry.

LLS: The ensemble cast goes back to my first novel, LIFE RAGE, where I looked in on several different characters, and then slowly drew them together. I like working with a big palette – a whole range of colors – and trying to flesh them all out. It’s a challenge and a joy. I notice a lot of my work tends to be either an ensemble kind of story, or sometimes I go the first-person narrator route, and there are benefits and disadvantages to both. I like the intimacy of the first-person story, and the way you can get inside someone’s head – but the narrator can’t be everywhere and know everything, so the ensemble story offers more ways to open up the narrative and see a full range of people, with different feelings and motivations. And yes, sometimes these characters have a kind of “buddy pic” feel to them.

As for Jade, she can change her gender at will. She quite literally is “gender fluid” in that whatever fits her best in a moment; she can change herself to reflect this. But this is not a new idea. There have been protagonists that can change their sex before – the most obvious examples being Virginia Woolf’s ORLANDO and the great science fiction character Jerry Cornelius, created by Michael Moorcock, starting with THE FINAL PROGRAMME, who could also change gender when he/she saw fit. By having this ability, Jade can seem more fleshed out, in that both the male and female aspects of her personality are on display.

But that’s just one aspect of Jade. I’d prefer if readers discovered Jade and Henry on their own.

PND: The novel also introduces us to Eliveer Davies, who seems to be the lead character at the beginning of the novel. I was wondering, how do you devise names for your characters? It seems like your fiction is full of characters with odd or extremely rare names, including Eliveer. 

LLS: I’m always looking for unusual names. Sometimes they just jump out at me. Eliveer is an unusual one. I remember being a teenager in a graveyard, and I saw the name Eliveer on a tombstone and it always stuck with me. I always knew I’d use it in a story sometime. Maybe it goes back to my own first name, Lauran, which is unusual (almost everyone I know spells it wrong, with an “en” at the end), which is kind of unique. The only other people who are named Lauran that I know of are my father and a western writer named Lauran Paine.

PND: Let’s talk about The Madonna of Skulls, the apparition on the cover of the book, with the sugar skull face and six arms. Who is the she, and how does she tie into the vampire cadre? 

LLS: I’m not sure I want to go into the Madonna’s origins too much. That may be fodder for another tale. The original idea I had, I think, while writing it was “What if Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie was evil?” Instead of granting wishes, she was more likely to kill someone you didn’t like. But then it evolved into a whole world inside her bottle, that she escapes from. The Bottle World is a homage to the kinds of “wonderlands” that have been in fiction for centuries. I’ve always been a fan of those kinds of stories, whether it be Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, L. Frank Baum’s Oz, or, to a lesser degree, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, or whatever. So when we begin to explore the Bottle World, the first creature we meet is a kind of Bizarro World version of the Cheshire Cat that is both kind of hideous and possibly sinister.

PND: There are still a lot more characters involved in the story, and you’ve really created this violent, blood-soaked tapestry with an impressive body count in your novel. Do you find this kind of thing missing in the books coming out nowadays, or are you merely writing to satisfy the reader in yourself? 

LLS:I started writing when I was about six or seven years old. I was really into monster movies as a kid, and my first stories were kind of like one-page sequels to movies I had seen on TV. I’m sure if I read one now, it would awful! But it was a start. A lot of people I know had no idea what they were going to be when they grew up, but I knew from very early on that I was going to be a writer, and that never altered. I started submitting stories to magazines (mostly science fiction) back when I was still in high school, so I had this dopey idea I was going to be published early on and have a long career as a writer. But it didn’t turn out that way. For almost two decades, all I ever got were rejections. So by the time I finally started to get published, it almost looked like I was a late bloomer, which was frustrating!

All that said, it has taken a long time for my style to evolve. And it’s still evolving. But I write a certain way, because that’s my voice as a storyteller. It’s not a conscious thought to write something that is lacking elsewhere, so much as it’s just how I tell a story.

One thing I’ve always held in high esteem is originality. I’ve always striven to write something new and original. But, in a genre like horror, sometimes readers also like things that are familiar to them. TEACH THEM HOW TO BLEED was the first time I thought I’d take something familiar, like vampires, and do my own unique take on them. In fact, I think I use the word “vampire” only once or twice in the whole book – most of the time I refer to them as “beasts.”

PND: I think the artist who provided the cover for the book did a marvelous job. I’ve commented privately that I thought the cover of BLEED reminded me a lot of the old BLACK SABBATH album covers. It’s immediately evocative, and really captures what your book accomplished inside my mind.

LLS: Yes, I want to give props to artist Carlos Villas for the cover. I think it looks terrific. I came up with the basic concept – even though the Madonna of Skulls is kind of a minor character in the book, I thought she was the most visually interesting, and I thought people would look at that cover and think, “What’s this about?” – but Carlos definitely made it his own.

PND: Again, we have all the elements of the noir story here, with gritty, flawed characters trapped in this world of hopelessness and literal darkness. It almost feels as if this particular novel was written with a big screen adaptation in mind. Yet you’ve managed to intersect this darkness with some moments of real beauty and humanity. Is this your way of maintaining a sense of balance in your writing? Do you need moments of light just to illustrate how dark the rest of the novel can get? 

LLS: That’s funny, because I think BLEED is one of the most upbeat things I’ve written, in a way.

But I’ve always been drawn to the darkness. I just always found the seedier aspects of life to be the most interesting. Whether we’re talking about sex workers, drug addicts, criminals, murderers, or yes even vampires. I never had the desire to suddenly write a romantic comedy or something. I just go where my strengths (and interests) lead me. And, if a story goes in a bleak direction, that’s never turned me off. I guess in the worlds I write about, bad things happen, and a lot of times there is nothing anyone can do to save you. God’s not going to save you, other people aren’t always going to be able to, and, no matter how tough you are, you can’t always save yourself. But that’s okay. I find that lack of a safety net to be fascinating.

But I also like the idea of using whatever tools you have to tell a story – so if there are noir elements, or fantasy, or whatever, it’s because I see all of these as different tools, and I like to use them all. There are also parts when I use humor to decompress things a little. Why have them if you’re not going to use them? It’s kind of like music – when I was a kid, everyone was like “It’s either rock or disco.” Later, when I was heavily into punk rock, it was a choice between “punk or metal.” Growing up, there were always radio stations that just played one kind of music. Rock, country, pop, alternative. But now, looking back, I want to draw from everything! I want to throw some jazz in there, a smidgen of blues, a classical aria, a big scoop of hip hop. I like it all, and I want to be able to use it all in the stories I tell. That’s what makes my stuff personal. The ability to draw from all my interests.

On my most basic level, I think horror is what is at the heart of most of what I write. Horror is part of my DNA – the first time I ever really felt “I fucking love this!” was when I was a kid and saw the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN for the first time. I didn’t know what I could do, but I wanted my life to somehow involve this genre or this sensibility and how I could use it to tell stories. My palette – to get back to the painting reference – is a lot bigger now. And I want to try everything. But horror will probably always be at the heart.

PND: Tell us what you’re working on now, and what your fans can expect in the immediate future.

LLS: I’m working on a few things. I don’t like to talk too much about works in progress – not because I am superstition or anything – but because I find, the more I talk about something to other people, the less interesting it is to me. I have no idea why – but I’ve had novels stall out on me, and I want to do whatever I can to keep the creative process spontaneous, to some degree. That’s why I don’t outline very much when I’m writing a book. I’ll outline maybe one or two chapters down the road, but never the entire thing at once. Because I know I’ll get an idea I never thought of at some point, and I want to be able to embrace whatever comes my way that appeals to me, without having to stick to a rigid plan.

I’m always working on something, and spontaneity is a big part of the creative process for me. That said, I am working on a crime fiction novel that is also a mash-up of horror and some science fiction. And I have ideas for sequels to TEACH THEM HOW TO BLEED, expanding on the world of these characters, and my last novel, BURIED IN BLUE CLAY. But which of these actually gets written is up in the air.

More immediately, I have a story in the upcoming New England Horror Writers anthology WICKED SICK, and a career-spanning short story collection coming in 2023 called SOMETHING BLUE And Other Colorful Deaths.

PND: So who are your influences. You said you’re into a lot of different genres.

LLS: When I was a kid, I remember reading a lot of horror early on – the classics – like Poe and Lovecraft. And lots of books about horror movies. In high school, I got more into science fiction, but the writers I was drawn to most were ones who either had a horror tinge to some of their stuff, or who experimented in different genres, especially those who were part of science fiction’s “new wave.” People like Fritz Leiber (who was a master of science fiction, horror, and fantasy), Theodore Sturgeon, Joanna Russ, Thomas Disch, Samuel R. Delany, Norman Spinrad, John Brunner, and, of course, Harlan Ellison.

In crime fiction, I’m a hardcore Jim Thompson fan, and also dig writers like Patricia Highsmith, David Gaddis, and Charles Willeford. I also really like transgressive literature, for lack of a better word, like William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, and J.G. Ballard. Ballard is especially important to me. In more modern horror, I really love the darker writers, like Jack Ketchum, Clive Barker, Richard Laymon, Ray Garton, and Edward Lee. But also writers like Charles L. Grant, T.E.D. Klein, Dennis Etchison, Lucy Taylor, Michael McDowell, and the great Shirley Jackson. I enjoy extreme, subtle, and literary horror. All that matters it that it’s good! And then you have someone like Joe R. Lansdale, who can write anything, and kick ass doing it! And I almost forgot Flannery O’Connor, a wonderful writer who is pretty much a genre all her own.

I didn’t get into Stephen King until later on. I actually thought he’d be too mainstream for my tastes. I think the first time I read him, someone had given me a copy of GRAVEYARD SHIFT. Soon after I read CARRIE and THE STAND, and realized how great a writer he is. And his ON WRITING is one of the best books about the craft of writing that I’ve read.

PND: What about contemporary authors? Whose books are you seeking out at the horror conventions and on Amazon? Who would you like to recommend?

LLS: A lot of our contemporaries are putting out great work right now. I know I’ll miss people, but names that come to mind include Jeff VanderMeer, Adam Nevill, Paul Tremblay, J. Edwin Buja, Gretchen Felker-Martin, Michelle Renee Lane, Brian Keene, Ed Kurtz, Doungjai Bepko, Mary Sangiovani, Rena Mason, Tom Deady, Errick Nunnally, Trisha Woolridge, Tony Tremblay, Bracken MacLeod, and Matthew M. Bartlett. And that’s not even a complete list of the talented people we share a genre with. I also really enjoy whenever a new Peter Dudar book comes out. I know it’s going to be a fun ride!

PND: Again, congratulations on another remarkable entry in your oeuvre. I loved TEACH THEM HOW TO BLEED, and I know your fans are going to dig it as well. Any final thoughts you’d like to add about the book?

LLS: People who have read it so far seem to really enjoy it, especially the characters – which I’m obviously happy about. And I do notice, like I mentioned before, that my style, my voice continues to evolve. I hope I am getting better and better at it. You read someone like Chekhov and you realize how high the bar is, and that you’ll never reach that level, but you have to try. You have to reach for the stars. And maybe you’ll even grab a few every now and then.

PND: Thank you for your time.

You can order TEACH THEM HOW TO BLEED in paperback and electronic versions.

Here’s the link to the book on Amazon.

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IS BACK IN PRINT!

Well, it’s been more than a year since I last updated this site, so I thought now might be a good time to correct that.

I didn’t have much publishing news during the pandemic, but I would like to announce now that my second novel, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, originally published by Gallows Press in 2013, is now available from Crossroads Press (who also reiussed my novel HARD a few years ago).

This means not only a brand new cover (thanks, David Dodd!), but a new ending as well (the one I prefer over the one that was published in 2013). Currently, it’s available for electronic reading (Kindle, etc.), but the paperback edition should also be coming out soon.

Over the years, some people have told me this is their favorite of my novels, so I’m psyched to see it get a second chance at life.

Here’s just some of the places you can get it now:

For Amazon Kindle, go here.

For Barnes and Noble, go here.

For Smashwords, go here.

For Google Play, go here.

For Kobo, go here.

COLOR OUT OF SPACE (2019)

Review by LL Soares

First off, I want to say, “Welcome back, director Richard Stanley!” Not that he really went anywhere, but he hasn’t made a full-length feature film since 1992’s DUST DEVIL! Sure, there was that ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU movie in 1996, starring Marlon Brando, that Stanley just started directing when the studio replaced him with John Frankenheimer, but that doesn’t count (check out the whole story of this disaster of a movie in the documentary LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, 2014). It must have been a painful experience, because Stanley has only directed short films (including the “Mother of Toads” segment in 2011’s anthology film, THE THEATRE BIZARRE), videos for cool bands like Fields of Nephilim and Marillion, and documentaries including THE OTHERWORLD (2013) and THE WHITE DARKNESS (2002). But he hadn’t directed another feature until now.

I first became aware of Stanley in the 1990s with a little film called HARDWARE (1990), a cool sci-fi horror movie where a guy finds a weird helmet that turns out to be the head of a killer robot that suddenly gets reactivated… it’s a simple but effective plot and I remember liking it a lot. After that, he made the praised DUST DEVIL (1992), and looked to be an up-and-coming new director before he got sidetracked by the DR. MOREAU bullshit.

Second, this one’s for the Lovecraft fans. COLOR OUT OF SPACE is Stanley’s adaptation of the story by H.P. Lovecraft. Did you know there have been more than 200 (mostly short) films made based on Lovecraft? Many of you know about Guillermo Del Toro’s passion project – to adapt Lovecraft’s novella AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS – which still hasn’t come to fruition. And of course there are Stuart Gordon’s classic Lovecraft films, RE-ANIMATOR (1985) and the underrated FROM BEYOND (1986). COLOR OUT OF SPACE, based on Lovecraft’s story “Colour Out of Space,” (with the British spelling of “Colour”), has been filmed at least four times previously, including a short film from 2017 by Patrick Muller, a German production from 2010 directed by Huan Vu, and an Italian production from 2008, directed by Ivan Zuccon. The most famous previous version, however, was a film called DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (1965, also known as MONSTER OF TERROR), directed by Daniel Haller and starring the great Boris Karloff, along with Nick Adams.

A lot of people were excited to hear that, not only was Richard Stanley coming back, but he was making a Lovecraft film. To put a cherry on top of the sundae, it was announced that the star would be…Nicolas Cage.

Wow.

And so we come to the third important cog of this particular machine. Hey, I know Cage is a polarizing figure. He was a big star at one point, making blockbuster action movies like  THE ROCK (1996), CON AIR (1997) and FACE/OFF (1997), and of course, NATIONAL TREASURE (2004). He even made some great movies around that time, including ADAPTATION. (2002) and the underrated MATCHSTICK MEN (2003). Then his career seemed to implode, but not due to lack of work. He was in tons of movies, it just seemed like a lot of them were make-em-quick-for-the-money duds. But I never lost my faith in him. For every bad movie, he’d make three interesting ones. Before his action hero ascension, he made lots of good movies, including BIRDY (1984), RAISING ARIZONA (1987), David Lynch’s WILD AT HEART (1980), and LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1995), the movie he won an Oscar for. And not all of the films he’s made since his career went all bizarre are awful, some of them are downright terrific like BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS (2009), DRIVE ANGRY (2011), MOM AND DAD (2017) and 2018’s MANDY, which was so good, people started taking him a bit seriously again.

Sure, Cage has a reputation for playing bigger-than-life wackos, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a joy to watch, and when he gets a good script, he can turn in a memorable performance. I’m convinced he always could.

So what happens when you take these three elements – Richard Stanley, Lovecraft, and Nic Cage – and put them all together?

COLOR OUT OF SPACE!

The Gardner family has moved out to a farm in the middle of nowhere, intent on a new start after a traumatic event. Theresa Gardner (Joely Richardson of the series NIP/TUCK, 2003-2010, and VAMPIRE ACADEMY, 2014) is healing up after a battle with cancer. Her husband, Nathan (Nicolas Cage) is intent on farming, and raises alpacas. They fight a lot over the Wi-Fi, which is constantly going out in this isolated area, and Theresa needs the internet to communicate with her clients, who she advises financially. Teenage daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur, also in BIG EYES, 2014) performs Wiccan rituals in the woods to help her mother. Teenage son Benny (Brendan Meyer, THE GUEST, 2014, and THE OA, 2016-2019) hangs out a lot with an old hippie hermit named Ezra (Tommy Chong, also in UP IN SMOKE, 1978, and THAT ‘70s SHOW, 1999-2006) who lives nearby in a shack. Youngest son Jack (Julian Hilliard, also in the TV series THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, 2018) spends most of his time with the family dog.

A young hydrologist named Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight, also on the series AMERICAN GOTHIC, 2016, and ONCE UPON A TIME, in 2015) comes upon Lavinia during one of her rituals, and explains that he is there to inspect the water table, since the state is planning to build a dam nearby.

One night, a meteorite crashes to earth in the middle of their yard. It emits a strange color (a psychedelic pink hue) and begins to transform everything it comes into contact with. The meteor mutates the land and creatures around it. Strange flowers spring up around the family’s well, and the alpacas, as well as the Gardner family members themselves, begin to experience weird changes.

The changes begin slowly, first changing the groundwater, which Ward suggests they don’t drink, to eventually turning animals and people into misshapen mutants. There are some nice body horror moments in the movie, including two people who are fused into one, agonized mass. And everyone in the Gardner family begins to slide toward insanity.

Things just get weirder and weirder as we approach the denouement.

Stanley does a good job with the story (aside from directing, he co-wrote the screenplay with Scarlett Amaris). Especially impressive is the look and feel of the strange glowing “color” that the meteor emits. Since it’s impossible to show us an alien color that we’ve never seen before, the use of eerie, overwhelming pink light in the mutation scenes works quite well. The creepy soundtrack by Colin Stetson is also very effective, as is the work of cinematographer Steve Annis, who gives us a strong visual sense of what’s going on.

Richard Stanley and the themes of Lovecraft work very well together. Nicolas Cage alternates between giving an effective performance, and going over the top at times. It actually doesn’t affect the mood at all, since everything is going in the direction of complete madness anyway.

However, while I liked this movie, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. COLOR OUT OF SPACE ends up being less than the sum of its parts. It wasn’t the masterpiece I was hoping for. There are times when the movie feels off, or things don’t go in a particular direction as strongly as they could have. It’s like a wild animal that tries to break out of its cage – and makes a valient effort — but utlimately, doesn’t.

But it’s good enough so that, if you’re a fan of Richard Stanley, Lovecraft, or Nicolas Cage, or any combination thereof, then I suggest you check this one out. It’s not the best Lovecraft adaptation you’ll ever see, but it’s far from the worst, too. And it’s supposed to be the first film in a Lovecraft trilogy that Stanley is working on. Let’s hope it’s all uphill from here.

 

© Copyright 2020 by LL Soares

 

VEROTIKA (2019)

Note: Lately, my reviews have been showing up on a new site called FILM HORDE, but because nothing is normal these days, that site is on temporary hiatus, and I’m posting my reviews back here again — for now. Here’s the latest one.

VEROTIKA (2019)

Review by LL Soares

(Warning: Review contains spoilers!)

WTF!!

Every once in awhile you see a movie and wonder how did this get made? What was the director thinking when they made it? And that’s exactly what I thought when I saw Glenn Danzig’s new movie, VEROTIKA, which got a brief theatrical release a few months ago before it came out recently on DVD and Blu-ray from Cleopatra Entertainment. If you’re a fan of bad movies, then you’ll have to add this one to your list.

Look, I’m a fan of Danzig’s music, from his days in the Misfits and Samhain, up to his albums with the namesake band Danzig, and when I heard he was going to make a movie – and a horror movie at that – I was excited. I’d heard that the movie would be based on some of the stories from his Verotik line of adults-only comics, which meant there might be some incredible visuals – depending on the budget – because the one thing Verotik is best known for is the art, by artists like Liam Sharp, Simon Bisley, and Tim Vigil, and its generous use of nudity, especially well-endowed women. I guess, in picturing the movie before I saw it, I imagined a live-action version of HEAVY METAL (1981), with lots of nudity and gore.

Let’s say the movie fell a little short of my expectations.

VEROTIKA begins with a woman in chains (an image that is used several times throughout the film), who is confronted by Morella, a goth-looking woman with upside-down crosses under her eyes, who gouges out the chained woman’s eyes, while cracking a joke. Morella is also our hostess for these little adventures. She is played by adult film star Kayden Kross (also in SAMURAI COP 2: DEADLY VENGEANCE, 2015).

The first segment is called “The Albino Spider of Dajette.” In it, a girl named Dajette (Ashley Wisdom, REPRISAL, 2018, and the short film GOOD GUY WITH A GUN, 2020) is getting frisky with a guy, but she won’t remove her top. When he pulls it off, we see that her nipples are replaced with eyeballs (which is never explained and doesn’t add much to the plot – sadly, they also don’t move, so they never seem fully animated). The guy runs away, and Dajette cries. Her tears fall on an white spider that is crawling on some flowers, and the tears transform the spider into a weird-ass monster with eight arms (Scotch Hopkins, GANGSTER LAND, 2017, and BLOOD CRAFT, 2019), who comes to life in the real world whenever Dajette goes to sleep. Kind of an arachnid Freddy Krueger. Of course, when the humanized spider is around, he goes on a killing spree, killing prostitutes, just like Dajette, including some of her friends.

The police are trying to stop the serial killer, while Dajette alternates between being sad because no one loves her, and guilty over the horrors that happen she goes to sleep. The spider-man tries to encourage Dajette to sleep more, so he can come out and play. Eventually, she tricks him into a vulnerable situation, so he can be stopped.

Despite the fact that this one makes the most sense of the bunch, in a dream-logic kind of way, there’s still not a lot that redeems it. Sometimes the monster is free to roam around when Dajette sleeps, and other times he’s in the same room with her (with no explanation why). And what about those nipple eyes? What’s the story with those?

And everyone in this segment speaks in awful French accents. I guess it’s supposed to take place in Paris, but after awhile, with more and more characters trying to sound French, it just becomes laughable. The acting isn’t very good (I guess that’s an understatement, although Hopkins, as the spider, stands out just because his character is so odd), and the effects aren’t all that amazing either (the spider-man’s extra arms are clearly plastic and have no perceivable life of their own).

Our next segment is called “Change of Face,” and this is the one I have the most questions about, because very few of the plot elements make any sense. A stripper known as “Mystery Girl” (Rachel Alig, also in BIKINI SPRING BREAK, 2012, and OFFICER DOWN, 2013) dances around the stage with a hood, with her face hidden, because she has scars. When she’s not dancing, she’s off attacking random women and slicing off their faces with a big knife. Even though this doesn’t sound like it would kill the women, most of them die due to “shock and blood loss.” Why is Mystery Girl so obsessed with taking other women’s faces? At first I thought the idea was that she would put the faces on over her scars and look like someone new each time she stripped. This wouldn’t make much sense, but in the goofy logic of the movie, it would work. Instead, she just hangs them on the wall around her mirror. There are all these fleshy sheets tacked to the wall, for seemingly no reason. She just likes to collect them! What a waste. There’s no deeper purpose. If she’s going to be ugly, then those beautiful women she steals the faces of are going to be ugly, too!

Meanwhile, the police, led by Sgt. Anders (Sean Kanan, who amazingly has had recurring roles on the soap operas GENERAL HOSPITAL and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL) try to solve the mystery of the face stealer.

This one was also weird because even though it takes place in a strip club, there’s not much nudity. Girls either wear string bikinis or black tape over their nipples, or fishnet tops. And nobody gets completely nude. What kind of strip club is this? Especially based on the nudity-abundant Verotik comics?

Aside from the fact that this story makes no sense, there are other reasons why it’s bad. The acting is atrocious (even more so than the Albino Spider story, even though no one has to pretend to be French in this one). Some of the line readings are just cringe-worthy, and no one acts like a real human being. The dialogue is sometimes hilarious. At the end, I just wasn’t sure what the point was.

By the time we get to the third segment, “Drukija, Contessa of Blood,” the bad writing takes a turn. Instead of giving us a plot that doesn’t make any sense, “Drukija” just dispenses with the plot altogether. It’s really just a retelling of the story of Elizabeth Bathory, the subject of the movie COUNTESS DRACULA (1971), and several other films. A noblewoman bathes in the blood of village virgins to stay young. Instead of Countess Bathory, we have Contessa Drukija (Alice Tate, of SNOWBOUND, 2017, and roles on the TV shows JEAN-CLAUDE VAN JOHNSON and THE KOMINKSY METHOD), who spends her time doing two things: going around the village to check out the virgins, and bathing in virgin blood after her young victims have their throats slit. That’s it. We never really see what she DOES with her youthful vigor. Maybe because she just doesn’t do much else. Her only real relationship is with Sheska (Natalia Borowsky, SO, YOU WANT TO BE A GANGSTER? 2018), who acquires the virgins for her and makes sure the Contessa is kept happy. There are hints that Sheska is in love with Drukija. And since Drukija is an aristocrat, there are no police coming for her, no punishment on its way.

At least this one has a lot of nudity (compared to “Change of Face”) and the acting is a little better (Tate and Borowsky stand out only because they aren’t completely awful). But it’s just the same thing over and over, with no plot development.

The interstitial scenes of Morella don’t add anything. She just presents each story, but doesn’t have one of her own, sadly.

The thing is, despite the fact that they adapted stories by Edward Lee (“Grub Girl”) and Nancy A. Collins (“Sunglasses at Night”), two horror mainstays, the Verotik comics line was known more for the art than the stories, and this movie just continues that theme. Written and directed by Danzig himself, there’s not a lot of drama, suspense, or real horror here. Throughout the film, I kept wondering why the stories didn’t go in more interesting directions, and yet they were so odd (and often pointless) that it added to the overall strangeness. This is the kind of movie where you’ll be amazed how bad it gets at times, but I have to admit I also laughed more than a few times. I really don’t think it was intended to be funny, but it’s such a misfire that there’s a strong sense of campiness, even though all of the actors (no matter how bad) take their roles seriously (if they’d been more self-aware and winked at the camera, it probably would have been worse). The production values also leave a lot to be desired.

One plus, however, is the soundtrack. Since Mr. Danzig is involved, this comes as no surprise. The soundtrack includes songs by Danzig, Ministry, and Switchblade Symphony, to name a few.

So I’ll admit, this is a bad movie, but I also found is strangely entertaining in its own way. I thought Glenn Danzig might be the next Rob Zombie (i.e., musician turned successful horror film director), but I guess he’s more of an Ed Wood Jr.

If you’re housebound with the coronavirus situation, this one might be a good double feature with Tommy Wiseau’s THE ROOM (2003), or Wood’s ORGY OF THE DEAD (1965). Hell, make it a triple feature!

Word has it that Danzig is already making a follow-up movie, described as a “vampire spaghetti western” and it will actually have some recognizable actors in it. In a weird way, I’m looking forward to it to see if Danzig actually improves as a filmmaker, or if he gives us more “so bad it’s good” chills and thrills.

© Copyright 2020 by LL Soares

 

 

 

MY NEW NOVEL IS COMING!

I’ve been calling it the “vampire book” to my friends, but it’s something completely different. My own special take on the theme. As usual, originality is a commandment of mine. And now the book has a home.

TEACH THEM HOW TO BLEED (the title is from a Motorhead song) has been acquired by Pete Kahle over at BLOODSHOT BOOKS.

I’ll be posting details here as they develop. Right now, it’s estimated to come out sometime between Fall of this year and Fall 2021, so it could be a wait. But as things progress (like when the cover is done, when you can preorder it, etc.), all the news will be here.

I think you’ll like it, but fair warning, it’s one of my darkest books so far.

You’ll see.