Let me start off by saying 2014 has been the worst year for horror movies in recent memory. Searching for anything new worth watching has been like hunting for truffles with a pig with a sinus condition.
Theatrical releases have been paltry to say the least. When OCULUS is the movie to beat, things are bad. So naturally I was chomping at the bit to see AS ABOVE, SO BELOW. I don’t think I’ve logged on to Twitter in the past month without seeing a tweet about the movie. Their marketing push has been big time (and if I’m seeing it all the time, they know their target audience). Plus, the catacombs under Paris have always intrigued me, so it became a must-see.
Now, be warned, this is yet another found footage flick. Once I realized this, I was accepting that there would be logic holes, as in – why the hell are they still filming when they should be running? And I knew there’d be enough shaky handheld camerawork to make my lunch bubble up my esophagus.
That being said, I actually enjoyed the movie. Like Alien and The Descent, it preys on our fear of the dark and tight, cramped places. The only thing that can make it worse is the knowledge that something sinister is lying in wait in the stagnant pitch. If you’re claustrophobic, you might want to bring a Xanax to the theater and the number to your therapist.
Although it takes a while to get to the actions, once it starts, it never lets up. Yes, there are jump scares that you see coming, but even a hardened vet like me was given a start several times. It’s loaded with creepy sounds and images that after a while make it feel as if you’ve jumped on the haunted house ride from hell. Speaking of hell, if priests could convince people that what lies within these catacombs is a preview of an eternity in hades, churches would have to be expanded to house everyone with a pulse.
The story centers around a young, pretty professor named Scarlett who is the female equivalent of Indiana Jones. Her lifelong search for the fabled Philosopher’s Stone, that alchemistic magical stone that can turn common elements to gold and grant eternal life, has brought her to the catacombs under Paris. With a seasoned team of urban explorers, she hurdles without trepidation to a place far deeper and more terrifying than corridors lined with bones and skulls.
I’m not going to spoil things here. The acting is better than most found footage films and the story, though weak at points, keeps the tension pretty high for the last third of the movie. It’s a great date movie if you want to have your girl grabbing you and seeking the comfort of your embrace.
I think people tend to over analyze movies in general. Horror movies like As Above, So Below, have to be appreciated for what they are – a great excuse to hold someone’s sweaty hand and have your heart rate accelerated every few minutes.
I’ve now seen the coolest review of THE MONTAUK MONSTER. I want to give a big shout out – and thank you – to Erik Smith and his Low Budget Review Show (love the name!). I have to say, I think he said nicer things about the book and me than my own mother. If you haven’t picked up the book yet, I think Erik can give you the final push to grab one at your local bookstore or online.
After taking a summer break from writing, I’m gearing up to start my next book. I wanted to go back into the world of monsters and cryptids, so I figured who better to ask for a creature to unleash on my readers than world famous cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman. I have to say, he gave me a great one to tackle. I’m going way beyond Bigfoot and Montauk Monsters this time around. Get ready to meet a monster you may not have heard of before, but will never forget when all is said and done.
Pinnacle is planning to release my next summer paperback in July, 2015. It’s called TORTURES OF THE DAMNED. Set in a New York suburb right at the moment when the world as we know it ends for good, TORTURES follows an ordinary family thrust into extraordinary circumstances. It’s 100% zombie free and not your typical post-apocalyptic nightmare. If it gives you heart palpitations, I’ve done my job.
OK, that’s all the news fit to print for now. I’m going back to my first movie marathon of the summer. So far, I re-watched Dark Skies (I’m a sucker for alien flicks and this is a favorite), Alien Abduction (pretty damn good), The Quiet Ones (better than I thought it would be but nothing to crow about), Thor 2 (dig it), and finally watching Arrow (promising after 5 episodes). The Green Arrow/Green Lantern comics in the 70s and 80s were always a favorite team-up of mine. And even though I’m a Marvel guy, I’m oddly psyched for The Flash this fall.
Oh, and I have officially given up on The Strain. Damn, I really wanted to like it.
Let this post be a lesson to you – always listen to your kids.
My beautiful daughter, Ivy, is a full blown teenage metalhead with her father’s bizarre tastes and view of the world. She’s been a huge fan of the band Motionless in White. These dudes are hardcore with music that’ll pound a railroad spike into the center of your skull – and I mean this in the best way possible. When it comes to metal, skull splitting is the goal. I recently saw them at Warped Tour and was blown away.
Ivy told me that one of the band’s members, Josh Balz (along with his girlfriend, Ryan Malarky, an incredible tattoo artist), owned his own oddities parlor, a place called The Strange and Unusual. If you don’t know what the name refers to, I command thee to go watch Beetlejuice. I’ve always said that my Ivy is little Lydia, only far less morose.
She’s been dying to go to The Strange and Unusual, and as a fan of the show, Oddities, I can’t say I wasn’t happy to take her. We made the drive out to Kingston, Pennsylvania and found the small yet oddly spacious parlor. Best of all, with Motionless in White in between tours, Josh was there. Really nice guy with a fabulous store of some of the quirkiest antiques, taxidermied beasts, mounted insects and polished skulls you’ll ever find. I walked around the parlor a half dozen times and my eyes kept catching things I’d missed on the previous circuit. It really is a feast for the senses (and head and shoulders above Obscura in NY – the place featured on the show, Oddities). It’s not cluttered or cramped, which made our stay even better. What made my day as the keeper of the books, the merchandise is reasonably priced, too.
Needless to say, the Shea family plunked down some cash so we could take a piece of the parlor home with us. Josh was happy to sign some autographs for Ivy and her friend and he liked my Samhain bloody syringe pen so much that we let him keep it. Next time I’ll bring some books as well.
As I always like to do when I visit cool places, I present the below gallery to entice you to hop in your car and check it out for yourself. Bring your wallet. You won’t want to go home empty handed. We’re already planning our next visit.
People ask me all the time what got me into horror. The answer has always been simple. Growing up a kid in the 70s, I was hooked by the weekly documentary TV show, In Search Of.
It didn’t hurt that it was narrated by Mr. Spock, one of my idols at the time. His voiceover work on that show was always, and I mean always, pitch perfect. Somber, serious, Leonard Nimoy took us all on a trip to the weird and paranormal that has been noted as the inspiration for an entire generation of writers, directors and actors. I don’t think I’ve met a writer at Samhain Horror who hasn’t said this show deeply impacted their lives.
In Search Of was my classroom for the bizarre and unexplained. Every week, I sat in my living room sipping on a Nehi, huddled close to our TV that was as big as our couch (at least the cabinet was – the actual screen may have been 20 inches tops). It was where I was first exposed to Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, ghosts, life after death, real buried treasure, aliens, the Bermuda Triangle and ESP, just to name a few off the top of my head. Everything seemed and looked so real, I couldn’t help but shiver at the thought of monster and ghosts populating the same world where I rode my bike with baseball cards in the spokes and played Wiffle Ball marathons until we could no longer see the ball.
The film itself was grainy, the terror palpable as each tale unfolded. Any episode of In Search Of back then was scarier than most horror flicks. And now that I can watch them on YouTube today, it still holds true. I’ve said it many times that the baritone of Leonard Nimoy’s voice is the horror soundtrack of my life. Without him and that wonderful show, I may have never discovered my true passion.
Summer’s winding down and Halloween will be here before you know it. Now’s a perfect time to watch this show for the first time or catch up with a long lost friend. At the very least, it will explain how we horror writers of a certain age came to be.
What’s your favorite episode? I know mine was Bigfoot and my first exposure to the famed Patterson Gimlin film.
What’s cookin’ monster dudes and monsterettes? Hope you’re enjoying your summer as much as I am and catching up on some quality reading time. August is the month I rest up so I’m ready for my favorite month, #Horrortober! Already putting together my list of horror flicks to watch and books to read.
When I’m not lounging around searching for my lost shaker or salt, I’ve been visiting bookstores, libraries and horror cons, talking about The Montauk Monster. And not just the book, but the real story behind the myth and how I tied fact and fiction together and injected it with a human growth hormone/speed cocktail.
Fellow Monster Man Jack and I recorded one of our get togethers where we talked all about the Long Island beasts and how the book deal came about. For those of you who can’t get to one of my talks, I present it here for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure).
What monster do you think is under-appreciated and needs its own book? You may be the person to inspire my next monster novel! If you live in the US and give a suggestion in the comments here, you’re eligible to win a signed copy of The Montauk Monster. Let your monster freak flags fly!
This is one hell of a review for my latest, HELL HOLE. No way I couldn’t share this one.
Originally posted on The Horror Bookshelf:
Publisher: Samhain Horror
Length: 282 Pages
Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review
Hell Hole is the story of former Rough Rider and current New York City Cop Nat Blackburn and his journey on a mission from his old war pal, President Theodore Roosevelt. The mission is seemingly simple: head to a little town called Hecla in Wyoming. Roosevelt tells Nat that the town was a huge source of copper and other minerals, causing it to explode in growth overnight. However, the copper veins eventually dried up and Hecla collapsed, despite rumors of gold being found in the mines. Not only did the town’s prosperity fall apart, but the residents of Hecla disappeared without a trace. Naturally, Nat thinks it is because of something easily explainable like Indians scaring off the settlers, who they see as intruders on their land. Roosevelt dashes that theory when…
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Ok, I know I’ve been away for too long. Between going to the Scares That Care horror con in Virginia, camping amidst storms and tornadoes and going to Warped Tour (where I discovered the sheer awesomeness of Beebs and her Money Makers), I just haven’t had time to sit my ass down and update the old blog and chain.
So I promise to make up for my silence. So much to do, so much to say. I figured I’d start with the latest eps of the Monster Men. First up is a review of some cool flicks and comics you can settle down with on a dark and dreary night.
And, if you’re in the mood for some horror themed vino to go with your night of terror, Jack and I did our first ever live wine tasting. We’re no experts, but damn, we know good hooch from bad!
Know any cool horror themed wine or beer? Let me know by commenting here. I’ll send a free signed copy of The Montauk Monster to one person in the US who can add to our horror bar!
My good friend and awesome author, Keith Rommel, has released the fantastic 3rd installment of his Thanatology series, THE SINFUL MAN. This guy is the goods, folks. His books are on my official required reading list. Everything you need to know about THE SINFUL MAN and all of the books in the series is right here! Read on, then head to wherever you buy books and get ‘em.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Sunbury Press has released Keith Rommel’s 3rd installment of the Thanatology series – The Sinful Man
Headaches. Hunger. Pain.
Leo needs something . . . his stomach growls, but it can wait. That’s not hunger he must feed. He has to get to his next high, but without money he knows he can’t buy what he needs to sate the voice inside telling him to get more, get more.
Voices. Visions. Addiction.
No luck asking his father. His mother is in no position to help. After failing to steal the money he desperately needs, Leo must appeal to his dealer, the dangerous and infamous Saint Nick—despite the inevitable beating he’ll take for showing up empty-handed. Still, anything to keep the voices and flashbacks at bay . . .
Demons. Addiction. Death.
Leo soon learns that everything has a price—not just money for drugs, but that every choice he makes has a repercussion. Suddenly caught between a world where he can see the sins of his past and a new consciousness that he doesn’t fully understand, Leo finds himself not only chasing the dragon, but being chased by demons of a whole different kind. He must learn the finality of being past hope—all while reliving his missed opportunities for second chances—and truly come to understand that he is responsible for his own undoing before he runs out of time. After a lifetime of bad choices, this Sinful Man discovers the consequences to his actions and the mortal responsibility of exercising free will.
What others are saying:
“Downright chilling. Rommel has woven another nightmare that will haunt your days and nights!” — Hunter Shea, author of The Montauk Monster and The Waiting
“Reading late into the night, this had me wanting more… and dreading it.” — Catherine Jordan, author of Seeking Samiel
From the very beginning of The Sinful Man, Keith Rommel grabs the reader by the throat and catapults him into a world where the reader’s own pounding heart screams that nowhere is safe. –Thomas M. Malafarina, author of Dead Kill – Book 1 – The Ridge of Death
Authored by Keith Rommel
List Price: $14.95
5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on White paper
Sunbury Press, Inc.
BISAC: Fiction / Psychological
Also available on Kindle & Nook
For more information, please see:
The rest of the Thanatology Series:
Book 1 – The Cursed Man — soon to be a major motion picture:
The Cursed Man, by Keith Rommel, tells the story of Alister Kunkle, a patient at Sunnyside Capable Care Mental Institution. Alister has been in seclusion for the last 25 years, having no contact with the staff or the outside world. The reason for this is that anyone who communicates with Alister dies within the day, for he is the Cursed Man and Death takes a professional interest in those unlucky enough to cross his path.
Believing him simply deranged, Dr Anna Lee, an up-and-coming young psychiatrist, has come to cure Alister. She is warned about Alister’s past and is shown evidence of previous encounters made by the skeptical or unbelieving, all of whom died, sometimes horribly. Regardless of the stories, Anna will not be dissuaded and is reluctantly allowed access to Alister. All assume her fate is sealed, but when she returns unharmed the next day, we also start to wonder about the stories.
So begins an enthralling narrative told in the past and the present as Anna attempts to learn why Alister believes he is cursed, while at the same time trying to convince him the events were not real and that in fact he is merely ill and so can be cured. Is Alister truly followed by death or is he simply mentally ill? The Cursed Man is an extremely well-written suspense horror story… I enjoyed it immensely; right up until the very end I was never sure of the outcome… Great story-telling in the tradition of Stephen King… — Booklore
Book 2 – The Lurking Man — a Sunbury Press bestseller:
Author Keith Rommel dared to explore the answer by creating his newest novel The Lurking Man, a story of dark suspense that unmercifully reveals the life of a self-deluded, neglectful mother who caused irreparable damage to her family and ultimately struggles with death as much as life. It’s the second novel in his suspenseful and thrilling Thanatology series that began with the eerie, spine-tingling The Cursed Man.
“Imagine Death knowing your deepest, darkest secrets and all of your private pain,” said Rommel about The The Lurking Man. “Now imagine it wants to use what it knows against you so that you bend to its will.”
In the Lurking Man, main character Cailean stands beneath a spotlight in a blinding snowstorm. She has no idea where she is or how she got there, but she senses something moving around her in the darkness outside the light.
When the ominous presence calling himself Sariel makes himself known, he declares that he is Death Incarnate and that Cailean has died. He has taken her to the Aperture, a place between the living and the dead, where he will force her to face the sins of her past in exchange for twenty-four hours of life to try and right her wrongs. But what she must do in return for this precious time is unthinkable.
AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD