Saturday, November 13, 2010


Snow kept my attention from beginning to end. It begins harmlessly enough when the Chicago airport is closed due to a giant snowstorm. Todd Curry, divorced father of a one, is focused on being with his son on Christmas morning. Three other stranded passengers rent a Jeep and join him to continue to their destinations. Their trip is without incident until they almost find a very disoriented man, named Eddie Clement, with deep slash marks on his back, who claims his daughter has been lost in the snow. In the meantime, their Jeep breaks down and they start to walk. (This part was really scary, since I drive a Jeep.) When they pass the broken down car, they notice how long it looks like it’s set there. Once they find Eddie’s daughter, they are shocked to discover that she has no face. Eddie asks Todd to join them before they disappear into the woods.

They soon enter the next town, Woodsen, which appears to be abandoned.
When a zombie like creature rushes out to kill them a girl shoots it and calls to them to join her in an abandoned store. It becomes known that the snow is their enemy and a persistent one. Just a small crack allows it to enter into a premise and destroy everyone by putting scythe like knives into their shoulder blades and working them like a puppet. This evolved into a type of zombie story in the winter with snow, but was very well done.

Shawna’s death was particularly gruesome and frightful since she died alone at the hands of so many of the monsters. After such a great build up of her character, it was quite a let down to read about her violent death.

Malfi gets two thumbs up for originality, setting and character development; however it was like most horror stories in how it lost characters, regardless of how well they had been developed. I’m eager to read the sequel to this one. But we have to wonder why did Eddie and Emily stay on earth when all the other snow monsters leave?

Monday, November 1, 2010


To date, this is the scariest monster ever. Freddy Krueger can invade your dreams, the Thing can invade your thoughts and memories. How can you protect yourself from this? I especially liked the concept that you never know who the alien is. It could be your best friend and you wouldn’t know until it had you. I saw the original years ago and it scared me for many decades afterward.
The bleakness of the setting adds to the mystery and tone of solitude. It makes you feel like they are abandoned with only their potential friends and this alien with a hidden agenda. It is never really clear exactly what it plans to do once it conquers all. Add to it the fact that they’re trapped in this cold lifeless place and you have a remarkable setting for fear.
I love the way it portrayed humanity as anything but. Once man develops fears of his own kind, paranoia turns him into an animal. He will kill and not care in the name of self defense. Paranoia is an infectious disease where everyone and everything is feared. It also can initiate an open season on murder without guilt.
The ending is as bleak as the setting when McCready and Childs drink whiskey and wait to freeze to death, thinking one is the Thing, but not knowing which one. I think one of the most appealing things about this one is that you’re not sure if black is black or white and vice versa. There is no stability in your belief system.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Wolfman

Talk about dysfunctional families and the Talbot family should be a prime example. Although Lawrence was sent to an insane asylum when just a boy, he might have been the sanest Talbot of all. Sir John, the patriarch of this family, appears to be a raging lunatic. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that he was bitten by a feral boy years ago while in India, and contracted lycanthropy, which causes him to become a werewolf during the full moon of the month. His loyal servant, Sikh, has strapped him into restraints and prevented him from doing any harm for the last several decades; however recently he managed to escape and brutally kill several people, including his own son, Ben.
Ben’s fiancĂ©, Gwen Conliffe, hunted down Lawrence to obtain his help in finding his brother. By begging for his assistance, she gave him an invitation to physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his father and also handed him a death warrant. Once Ben’s body is found in a ditch, Lawrence insists on viewing it. He is horrified at its shredded condition, which has obviously been the work of some kind of wild animal mutilation.
Lawrence goes to the gypsy camp in hopes of finding some answers, but the townsmen have decided that the dancing bear is responsible for killing Ben and come to take their revenge. While they are targeting the bear, a large wolf begins its assault upon the mob and the gypsies, killing many of them before running off into the woods in pursuit of a young boy. Lawrence rushes off to save the child but is mauled by the wolf instead. Maleva, the gypsy, gives him aid and insists on letting him live because he is still a man, while her daughter, wants to let him die because he is now an animal. Maleva tells her that only someone who loves him can release him.
After a lengthy recovery with Gwen nursing him back to health, Lawrence visits his mother, Solana’s tomb. He blunders upon a shrine under her crypt, where ‘Daddy Dearest’ explains the family legacy to him. He shows him a chair, complete with straps where Sikh restrains him so he doesn’t kill, but locks the door to his son and knows that he will transform into a werewolf and kill during the full moon. When he does, Sir John tells the police and he is once again sent to the insane asylum where he was spent his youth. This is not a kind place but a house of horrors and torture, which only strengthens Lawrence’s hatred for his father— especially when he remembers that it was Sir John, who brutally murdered Solona years ago.
Lawrence is brought into public display of other doctors to prove that he is not a werewolf, however, he transforms before their eyes and murders a few of them before he escapes and returns to normal and finds Gwen. They realize that the have fallen in love and she is bound to protect him from the police.
It is inevitable that Lawrence confront his father, which is very intense when they both become werewolves and battle to the death while coincidentally setting Talbot Hall on fire. The police aren’t far behind and chase Lawrence into the woods as he follows a hysterical Gwen.
In the end, Gwen kills him with a silver bullet and ‘releases’ him from the curse. She is distraught but he thanks her for freeing him.
This is a tale of child abuse, spousal abuse to death, torture, betrayal, prejudice, and revenge. The only functional part of it is the love that Gwen has for her dead fiancĂ©’s brother, which is a little twisted, to say the least. And to think that her love was what gave her the courage to kill him. This is not a family that I would even want to know, let alone marry into. Mayberry does an excellent job of describing all the dysfunction and mayhem that goes with it.


It’s amazing that the commercial towing crew of the Nostromo explored an alien planet without any of the precautions, which would be taken in visiting a contagious ward at a hospital. How did they expect that the life on this planet would be friendly and compatible with ours?
Three crew members, Dallas, Kane and Lambert discover that the signal which brought them here, is coming from a wrecked alien spaceship. Upon further investigation, Kane stumbles upon a hatchery for aliens. He sticks his face up closer for a look and one of them attach itself to him. Amazing sense of precaution demonstrated here.
When Lambert and Dallas rush him back to the ship, Ash, the science officer, overrides Ripley’s authority and allows them to board, violating the quarantine protocol. It was astounding that they threw all caution to the wind in regards to this dangerous contagion. They even allow Kane to eat dinner in the general chow hall after his miraculous recovery. That in itself was mind boggling. It was no less of a surprise that an alien exploded from within his stomach and killed him at the dinner table.
It is soon discovered that Ash is, in fact, a robot, who is working under the direct command of the company to bring back the alien as a first priority with no regards to the crew. He supposes that it will be used for warfare, since it is albeit indestructible.
One by one the crew members are killed by the beast, which continues to grow in size, until only Ripley remains. She decides to destroy the spacecraft and escape on the shuttle so that the alien will be destroyed. It is most terrifying to discover that it is actually on board the small craft with her. I don’t think that I could have remained as calm and decisive as she did and solve the problem by flushing it out of the craft and into space.
The alien could represent any problem, when if ignored, grows into an unmanageable situation and can literally destroy all those around it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

World War Z

World War Z is a statement about the ineptness and arrogance of the government. It’s difficult not to become enraged about the messages of incompetence and isolation. It also stresses mankind’s ability to overcome difficulties and the tremendous capacity to adapt and survive.
When forewarned about the impeding dangers of the ‘virus’ it was ignored and believed to be an easily handled situation. Attack and destroy all who are different. Now doesn’t this sound familiar? Bully your way into their masses by blindly shooting a pathway, killing whatever gets in your way, which is a common theme with many invading armies.
The problem with zombies, however, is that the usual government standard operating procedures do not work in annihilating them. The troops need to be re-trained to go slow and easy and aim for the head. If that doesn’t work, make concentration camps with innocent people used as a moat to protect the insiders. Zombies are terrifying in that they just will not die unless shot directly into the head.
What a horrific apocalyptic end to the human race: a virus, which spreads rapidly and creates a living dead creature capable of existing beyond its own death.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Yattering and Jack

Who’s the monster now? This unusual humorous piece from Barker tells about a demon sent from Hell to cause Jack go insane in retribution for an ancestor, who had violated a contract with the devil. The one rule is that he cannot touch Jack.
Perhaps, Jack’s best defenses are that he knows the demon is on a mission and its one weakness. As hard as the demon tries, Jack confounds it. He goes about his business and enrages it to the point of fighting with him. Aaah but it’s not supposed to touch him. Now it becomes his slave.
What a wonderful twist on a monster/horror story. One almost feels sorry for the poor demon, which goes from being Satan’s slave to becoming Jack’s slave. This is an intriguing and unique read from Barker.

Cycle of the Werewolf

This story was more about relationships than monsters. A sister, Jane, is tethered to her handicapped brother, Marty, and resents every minute of it—until they are bonded by fear and belief in a common enemy. Their Uncle Red is a Cavalier bachelor, who pretends to believe them, only to discover that they are, in fact telling the truth.
This monster defies reason and all who believe in logic. It appears to randomly pick its victims from the unfortunates in Tarker’s Mills.
Marty is setting off fireworks during the night on a bridge when the monster confronts him. He aims and sends a bottle rocket straight into his eye. When he tells Jane, she believes him and scours the town, looking for someone with an injured eye. When she almost defeated and thinks Marty is teasing her, she sees that Reverend Lowe has a patch over his eye. She goes into the parish garage and discovers a bloody bat of one of the monster’s victims.
Marty and Jane are able to convince Uncle Red that Reverend Lowe may be the killer. He tells their story to the local sheriff, who scoffs it off but later, decides to investigate. Sheriff Haller discovers all too late that Uncle Red is telling the truth and becomes another victim.
Uncle Red sends the children’s parents out of town and spends the night with them on the next full moon. They wait with a gun, which holds a lone silver bullet, which, according to legend, is the only thing that will kill a werewolf. The monster comes for them and it is finally revealed that Minister Lowe is, in fact, the werewolf when they kill it and it returns to his form.
King is a master at demonstrating dysfunctional relationships and this short story is among the best, which he wrote. The siblings appear to have a better relationship with Uncle Red than their parents. Their bond becomes tight after the werewolf is killed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rawhead Rex

I found this demon very beleivable and angry. H e was pissed that the Christians had taken over his land and -in the past- had buried him alive. I think I'd be more than a little miffed at the whole situation myself. He didn't seem to have a plan or consistent type of victim, he just reeked havoc on anyone in his path. I think, all too often, we bully our way into a culture and cram our beliefs down its throat without any consideration of the end results. Rawhead examplifies the rage they must feel. The movie, however, was a low budget slasher film, which was common to that era.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Memorial Service

Another stroke in the bathroom and she stares blindly at the wall. I call her name and she doesn’t respond. We had such a great day together. I pushed her through the flea market and we Christmas shopped for family. A young man gave her a ‘Million dollar’ bill to invite her to his church. She was so excited to have been given such wealth. We went to dinner at a local Denny’s, which was followed by a tiff in the bathroom. When she realized that we were having words, she handed me her Million dollar bill to just forget about it. Now she can’t even recognize me—her only daughter.
I call for my roommate to get her to the Jeep and rush her to the hospital for help. I knew that I’d gotten her there in plenty of time for them to reverse the stroke, but why were they taking so long to do anything?
After a week of no response, they call to ask me if I want to resuscitate her or not. “What?” In the year she spent with me, we NEVER discussed this. I could only say what I would want. ”No, do not resuscitate.”
My next conversation was about putting her in a nursing home to live out her days on machines. A friend suggested that I call Hospice and bring her home. On New Year ’s Eve, she was brought home to her family and cat friends. She was so doped up on morphine she didn’t know where or who she was. The Hospice nurse kept giving her more and she kept breathing slower and deeper. I went to bed with the promise that she’d call me if anything changed for the worse.
I slept for about an hour before my grandson came and called me, “Come quick, Grandma, she’s dying” I ran to the den and watched as life was gradually slipping away from her.
I woke my daughter, who was sleeping nearby, and called her caregiver to join us. They got there in time to be with her before she crossed over to the other side. My daughter played Amazing Grace on the computer while I saged her. We spent several hours with her before the men arrived to take her away. It was bittersweet.
As much as I would have liked to take her back to West Virginia and given her a traditional funeral, funds would not permit it. We had her cremated instead. Since my grandson wanted to go, we waited three months to take her home. (This was self fulfilling prophecy. I used to joke and say that I was going to arrange her late arrival at her own funeral because she was notoriously late for everything.)
My mother loved ‘paink’ and we asked everyone to wear pink in her memory. Just in case we provided little pink rosebud corsages for the guests. There were 80 pink roses in eight different vases because no two decades are the same. One single rose was placed in a heart shaped vase next to her picture to represent the one year she spent with us. These were the only flowers at the service.
When I looked around, there were only 27 guests, comprised of family and a few friends, many of which were mine. I was stunned that the attendance was so low for a woman who spent her entire life trying to please the townspeople. She had refused to come live with me in Florida because she didn’t want to leave her friends. The time she spent with us was the happiest of her life, but it just didn’t last long enough…

Breeding Ground

Breeding Ground
Sarah Pinborough
Was Breeding Ground by Sarah Pinborough a horror story or a comedy? The whole concept of women giving birth to widows must be someone’s idea of a phobia come to life. There are many apocalyptic theories, but this one was over the top as our main character wanders through a totally unoccupied town to pillage its remnants.
The fact that a ‘deafness gene’ can be used as a weapon against the widows to destroy them is amazing. How on earth did they determine this?
Why did they leave safety to go out into the world filled with venomous spiders? This seemed to be a totally illogical and ill planned move.
The sex scene seemed like a dash of Tabasco added to a scrambled egg. It added zest to an otherwise bland menu; however, it was inconsistent with the entire cadence of the book.
How convenient that there were several unanswered questions when finished with the book. It left the door open for the sequel.

The Funeral

The Funeral
Richard Matheson
The Funeral was a great tongue in cheek horror story. Who hasn’t wondered how their funeral would occur? Will there be enough flowers, the right casket, the proper music, enough attendees, and a respectful eulogy? And who hasn’t known a Morton Silkline, someone who would do \anything for money? Put a wealthy undead with a greedy undertaker and you have your story.
Matheson leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination and thereby empowers him or her to mentally create whatever is in the room with Silkline and Asper. Whatever it is, isn’t good.
I AM Legend
Richard Matheson
This novel held my attention from beginning to end. I’ve always wanted to write a book from the serial killers perspective and here it is. He is the legend, the one the rest of the world’s inhabitants fear. He is the thing that goes ‘bump’ in the night while he seeks out the sleeping vampires to kill in their sleep.
Matheson packs emotion throughout this story when he shows a harsh world and the only survivor. He describes his loneliness and lack of emotion when he travels through the desolate city and takes the ‘lives’ of its vampire inhabitants.
Many years ago I watched Omega Man and was fascinated with its theme. At the time, I didn’t realize that it was based on this novel. I believe that Night of the Living Dead is also derived from this story. Many of the post Apocalyptic stories use this novel as a springboard.
By far, this is a truly brilliant story told with intensity and emotion. It tops my list for must reads.