Archive by Author | Hunter Shea

Finding More Found Footage Films In Time For Turkey Day

Yep, I dropped a lot of F bombs in this post’s title. Before I ramble on, I wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to you all. If there’s one thing I’m grateful for (actually, there are many), it’s all of you who wander over to my blog and read my books and just keep me going. You are all bad motor scooters and mean go-getters.

I also want to give thanks to fellow author and horror douche (his words, not mine), Jason Brant for being on the Monster Men. We actually shot 2 episodes with Jason because we had such a good time. The first one is all about found footage movies. Just when I thought the subgenre was done, a slew of new flicks flooded the market this year. Jack, Jason and I go through a bunch, telling you which ones to seek out and which to avoid.

 

As you can see, I found my cowboy hat in the bottom of my closet just before we started filming, much to my wife and daughters’ chagrin. My youngest asked me if I was going to a rodeo, since I was also wearing a flannel shirt and jeans.

Just a quick update on the writing front, my next cryptid novel is in the hands of my beta readers and line editor, aka my sister. As soon as I sent it out, I got to work on a little novella that promises to be a demented ride straight to hell. If all goes well, expect 4 new books in 2015, plus some short stories.

And now I’ll leave you to your turkey and booze and football. Enjoy the long weekend.

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Merry Deadly Christmas – An Interview with Author Matt Manochio

OK, I’m jumping the gun here, bypassing Thanksgiving and diving right into Christmas. I have a very good reason. Author Matt Manochio’s new book, THE DARK SERVANT, has dropped just in time to savage the Christmas season. I sat down to talk with Matt (both at the bar at Chiller Theatre and back home) about his book, path to publication and lollipops. This is a book you definitely want to pick up. Anyone that introduces me to a new monster is one badass of a dude.


Ok, let’s set the table for this here sit-down. Your debut novel with Samhain, The Dark Servant, unleashes on the world on Novermber 4th. Tell us about the book.

Thanks Hunter! I’m guessing your readers have heard of Krampus, but for those who have not, Krampus, in European folklore, is a huge, hairy devil who serves as Saint Nicholas’s (yes, Santa Claus’s) dark half. Saint Nick rewards the good kids and farms out the bad ones to Krampus, who disciplines the brats in a myriad of horrible ways. I set my Krampus loose in northern New Jersey where he goes after a town’s hideous high school bullies—but there’s certainly more to it than that.DarkServant_The_v4

 

Where did you come up with the idea for the terrifying creature in The Dark Servant? The cover is absolutely amazing. Is it exactly how you pictured it in your mind?

I had never heard of Krampus until two years ago when my boss asked me if I knew of this monster. (He’d never heard of him either and knew I was into kooky pop culture stuff.) I was 37 at the time and couldn’t believe this thing slipped by me. It’s such a wonderful myth. And fortunately it’s been largely unexplored in American fiction. (Think about all the vampire, zombie and werewolf books that flood the market.) So while European storytelling created the legend of Krampus, I created my own walking, talking, irreverent version of the monster. And I couldn’t be happier with the results. As for the cover, I originally wanted the artist to show less of the monster. I wanted to give the creature its form or profile, if you will, but still allow for the reader to paint his or her own picture of Krampus—eyes, snout, fangs, etc. But don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with the cover (Samhain has great artists working for them) and the staff absolutely took my input not just on what the monster looked like, but on background (spooky, wintery forest), and font style and color.

You and I had a very similar path to publishing. Let folks know the highs and lows you experienced and how perseverance and good storytelling wins in the end.

For those who don’t know, Hunter and I were victims of the Dorchester Publishing collapse. I wrote in depth about my struggle for Writer’s Digest. But in short, however fantastic you feel upon getting that first book deal, which I got (and saw vanish) in 2010, research the publisher. I had no idea Dorchester was on its last legs and doomed for bankruptcy. The company laid off my editor months after I signed the deal for a straight crime thriller. I stayed in touch with my editor, who landed at Samhain not long after Dorchester’s fall, and when I got the idea for The Dark Servant, he was the first person I contacted and he encouraged me to go for it. So if you make connections in this business, keep them! Remain on good terms. Also as important, I kept writing. I was literally down in the dumps for a day when I realized I wouldn’t be published with Dorchester, but that was it. One day in August 2010. After that I took the outlook that if my work could sell once, it could sell again. You must keep a positive attitude in this business.

What are some of your favorite horror books and movies?

Movies:

  1. An American Werewolf in London
  2. John Carpentar’s The Thing
  3. Halloween

Books:

  1. ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
  2. Monster by Frank Perreti (not a favorite, but it heavily influenced me)
  3. Jurassic Park (ok, it’s not strictly horror, but it is among my favorites)

If you had to be chased down by Jason Voorhees or eaten by Jaws, which would you pick and why?

Jason Voorhees hands down. Jason could at least end my misery quickly. Did you see how much agony Quint was in when Jaws got ahold of him?

 

What’s your biggest fear? Have you tried to conquer it and failed, or do you just accept it for what it is?

This is a hard question to answer. If you’re talking phobias, I hate heights and don’t think I can ever conquer that fear. If you’re talking real-world every-day fears, it’s rather bland but important nonetheless: being able to provide for my family and hopefully putting my son through college. He’s 3 now, but they grow up quickly, and I’m terrified to think of what college tuition will cost in 15 years.

 

Do you have a favorite space to write? What’s the strangest place you’ve found yourself writing?

My favorite writing spot is sitting cross-legged on my bed. I don’t have a desk. Strangest place I’ve ever written something? I was a journalist once upon a time, and in 2008 I wrote an article for USA Today on my Blackberry about an AC/DC concert during the concert. (Go to my website if you’d like to read it. I linked to it.)
If you had to guess, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? (and you can’t say three, because that cartoon cheated!)

At least 100, especially if you work all angles of the pop. Just a guess.
Which do you think is better, the original The Thing from Another World, or John Carpenter’s The Thing?

John Carpenter’s The Thing, and not just because of the special effects, which were groundbreaking at the time. It was a well-cast movie, too. But the biggest reason I like it is because Carpenter’s version was more faithful to John Campbell’s short story, on which the movie is based.

What’s coming up next for you?

I’m waiting to hear back from my editor on revisions I made to a second book. Hopefully we’ll get to a point where we can sign a deal. I don’t want to say too much about it other than it’s a supernatural Western set in South Carolina during Reconstruction. I’ve got an idea for another book that I intend to start after this publicity tour dies down in mid-December. I’m taking off the last two weeks of the year and cannot wait to dive into writing (which I’m finding less and less time to do—toddlers have a way of sapping up your time).

About Krampus:

December 5 is Krampus Nacht — Night of the Krampus, a horned, cloven-hoofed monster who in pre-Christian European cultures serves as the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, America’s Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas rewards good children and leaves bad ones to Krampus, who kidnaps and tortures kids unless they repent.

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The Dark Servant, Synopsis

Santa’s not the only one coming to town …

It’s older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.

The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be—eerie, original and utterly engrossing!” — Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author

“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers—creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm! Highly recommended!” — Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor

“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.” — Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper

“Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!” — David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Series

“I scarcely know where to begin. Is this a twisted parental fantasy of reforming recalcitrant children? Is it Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Nightmare on Elm Street? Is it a complex revision of the Medieval morality play? In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. This is a winter’s tale, yes, but it is also a genuinely new one for our modern times. I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.” — Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead and Dog Days

“Just in time for the season of Good Will Toward Men, Matt Manochio’s debut delivers a fresh dose of Holiday Horror, breathing literary life into an overlooked figure of legend ready to step out of Santa’s shadow. Prepared to be thrilled in a new, old-fashioned way.” — Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical and The Angel of the Abyss

“In The Dark Servant, Manochio spins a riveting tale of a community under siege by a grotesque, chain-clanking monster with cloven-hooves, a dry sense of wit, and a sadistic predilection for torture. As Christmas nears and a snowstorm paralyzes the town, the terrifying Krampus doesn’t just leave switches for the local bullies, bitches, and badasses, he beats the living (editor’s note: rhymes with skit) out of them! Manochio balances a very dark theme with crackling dialogue, fast-paced action, and an engaging, small-town setting.” — Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Safety of Unknown Cities

“A fast-paced thrill-ride into an obscure but frightful Christmas legend. Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.” — John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes

“A high-octane blast of horror. A surefire hit for fans of monsters and gore.” — Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

“Have yourself a scary, nightmare-y little Christmas with The Dark Servant. Matt Manochio’s holiday horror brings old world charm to rural New Jersey, Krampus-style.” — Jon McGoran, author of Drift

Matt Manochio, Biography

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Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway. He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer.The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer’s Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller. Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn’t own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)

Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s Lot, Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).

Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in history/journalism.

Who Wants to Review My Next Book – Island of the Forbidden?

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is going to be here next week. I thought time flew once you had kids. It doubles in speed when you have books coming out!

My next novel with Samhain, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, will be published January 5th, 2015. That’ll give me a few days to shake off my New Years hangover.

My publicist, Erin Al Mehairi with Hook of a Book Media, is busy putting together what I’m sure will be a comprehensive blog tour for the book. I wanted to give the readers and reviewers an early crack at getting a copy of the book in exchange for a review. So, if you have a review blog/website or do a lot of reviews on places like Amazon and Goodreads, please contact Erin at hookofabook@hotmail.com to see if she can get you on the reviewer list. Of course, I’m happy to hear from you as well. My editors keep me chained to my desk in a dark sub-basement.

So, what’s this new book all about?

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Sometimes, the dead are best left in peace.

Jessica Backman has been called to help a strange family living on a haunted island in Charleston Harbor. Ormsby Island was the site of a brutal massacre two decades ago, and now the mysterious Harper family needs someone to exorcise the ghosts that still call it home. The phantoms of over one hundred children cannot rest.

But something far more insidious is living on the island. When the living and the dead guard their true intentions, how can Jessica discover just what sort of evil lurks on Ormsby Island? And why is Jessica the only one who can plumb its dark depths?


If you’re ready for a ghost story like nothing you’ve ever read before, contact us. Nightmares and sleepless nights come free of charge.

 

They Live!: Re-Examining John Carpenter’s Sci-Fi Epic

After a hectic Horrortober, I have to tell you, I’m tired. But not so tired that I can’t go through the rounds of editing on my new book. This one’s gonna be a doozy.

Sometimes, when the fates see you need a hand, they deliver. Today, I’m featuring a post by Spencer Blohm about one of my favorite directors, John Carpenter. We waxed poetic about JC on the Monster Men some time back (Episode 37 to be precise. Click here to see it). They Live has always held a special place in my heart, mostly because Rowdy Roddy Piper was my all time favorite wrestler.

Well, here’s Spencer’s take on They Live, giving this old writer a much needed rest. Take it away, brother…


 

The prevailing image of filmmaker John Carpenter remains that of a “master of horror.” The problem with that perception is that it doesn’t acknowledge his depth as a filmmaker. He’s dabbled in multiple genres, and he’s also shown time and time again that he can make compelling films, whether they’re made inexpensively with few performers, or big-budget star vehicles with lots of special effects.

Carpenter first gained recognition when he edited a film that won the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short in 1970. The film, entitled The Resurrection of Broncho Billy, told the story of a contemporary young man who fantasizes about being a cowboy during the days of the Wild West. Four years later, his own feature film would debut and introduce him to the public as a sci-fi force to be reckoned with .

In his first major work, Dark Star (1974) and the following film Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Carpenter established his ability to make films effectively (however crudely) with only provisional resources at his disposal. Dark Star was a science fiction comedy (co-written by and starring Carpenter’s classmate Dan O’Bannon), while Assault dealt with the defense of an abandoned police station. Both films were made on meager budgets with unestablished actors, and with Carpenter doing all or most of the musical scoring himself.

Carpenter had his first “breakthrough” hit with Halloween (1978). The name of bloodthirsty “Michael Myers” came from the name of the British film distributor who helped Carpenter release Assault on Precinct 13 in the UK. “Laurie Strode” was the name of an ex-girlfriend. The first big film for Carpenter, it also marked the on-screen debut of actress Jamie Lee Curtis. After the success of Halloween, however, Carpenter began to find himself being pigeonholed into the confines of the horror genre. Despite this, or perhaps to counteract it, he began working on projects such as a television biopic of Elvis Presley with former child star Kurt Russell. They would collaborate several more times on films such as Escape From New York (1981) and Big Trouble in Little China (1983).

Over the next few years, Carpenter continued to establish his reputation as an imaginative, genre-defying auteur. Capable of concocting the right blend of the suspenseful, the terrifying and the spine-chilling, his work on The Fog (1980), The Thing (1982) and Starman (1984) helped the horror genre attain box office prominence and respect from critics. Employing the concept of aliens in both The Thing and Starman, he explored more advanced themes of paranoia and control. Both films are not necessarily about what the alien, or “Thing”, symbolizes, but rather the unrelenting acknowledgement that such unknown threats exist, and that we should be afraid of them. The fears explored in these films ultimately led to the production of 1988’s They Live.

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The film involves another alien conflict, this time led by a drifter who puts on special sunglasses that allow him to see how government entities are subliminally influencing the thoughts of all citizens. The otherwise-normal looking political leaders are seen by the drifter (via the magic sunglasses) as horrific beings bent on complete control of their citizenry. Unpopular amongst critics upon its release, the film has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. As a viewer, you might recognize uncanny similarities between They Live’s apocalyptic narrative and the problems inherent in our own society today.

Carpenter also accurately depicts the continuing rancor over the issue of climate change. One character in the film rails against the increase of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere, saying about the aliens, “They’re turning our atmosphere into their atmosphere.” While advancements in alternative energy have been made recently with the gradual adoption of natural gas powered vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines, global politics continue to prevent the implementation of real change. And as the world tries its best to come to terms with the reality of global warming, many are left feeling alienated themselves – adrift in a society that teaches little else than how to contribute to an endless cycle of spending, wasting, and consuming.

While the unconventional casting choice of professional wrestling villain Roddy Piper in the lead role garnered the film some unique attention when it came out, some fans of the film will also note a connection to the writings of David Ickes, and the multitude of conspiracy theories he posited. Ickes himself commented on how perceptive Carpenter’s vision of the future in the film was in relation to his own conceptualization of actual reality. In an America devastated by economic collapse and disillusioned by the subsequent NSA scandals, a government interested in total mind control doesn’t seem like such a stretch.

In some respects, They Live is also reminiscent of 1976’s Network, which was written as a parody of the television industry but whose scenes now mirror what modern media has devolved into. As for Carpenter, he made his name eliciting powerful (often terrified) reactions from his audiences, continuing to both scare and inspire to this day. And for those that tried to pigeonhole him as nothing more than a purveyor of popcorn horror flicks, may they someday see through the propagandistic, consumerist veil of humanity’s alien overlords.


That’s some good stuff, right? Check out all of the links Spencer provided and get the full story. He can be reached on Twitter at @bspencerblohm.

What are your thoughts on They Live?

 

A HELL of a Review and the Coming of the Dead

Well, looks like I survived another #Horrortober. I finished the month having watched 41 horror movies. I think I tied my 2012 record. I have to go check the old files to be sure. The sad thing is, I didn’t even get to about 10 movies I had set aside to watch. I’ll have to save them for December when I’ll need some counter-programming to the slew of sappy Christmas specials.

I also managed to finish the first draft of my next cryptid novel. Rewrite process starts tomorrow. I’ll reveal the beastie the book is about in the coming months.

Now, on to something that just elevated my day. As you all know, my  weird western, HELL HOLE, came out this past July. Because it was out a month after THE MONTAUK MONSTER, it kinda got lost in the shuffle, though I’m making up for it with mini blog tour this month. Hell Hole

 

Matt over at HORROR NOVEL REVIEWS sent me an email and link to their review of HELL HOLE a couple of days ago. You literally couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Here are some snippets from the review :

There’s a fine line that separates a very good writer and a truly great writer. Very good writers get it right sometimes, great writers rarely, if ever, let us down, releasing nothing but riveting piece after riveting piece. Stephen King is a great writer. Joe Lansdale is a great writer. Jack Ketchum, Jonathan Maberry, Clive Barker, those are great writers. Today, Hunter Shea – in this mind – completes the transition from very good writer to great writer. This man will not let you down, and he’ll just about always give you a taste of his personal trademarks, like the presence of monsters and key heroic ensembles. It’s what he does. It’s part of what makes him great.

The five (main characters) make for one of the greatest ensembles I’ve had the fortune of discovering in any novel, ever.

Shea is one of the absolute best in the business in 2014, and I’m going to go ahead and say it, Hell Hole is the best horror novel of the year.

To read the entire review, click here. While you’re there, poke around the site. It’s the best place for a horror lover to spend a day.

I’ve always been reluctant to mention reviews, knowing it’s part of the business, but also leery of tooting my own horn. This review is the stuff you dream of when you decide that you want to be a writer. To even be mentioned alongside my heroes – King, Barker, Ketchum and Lansdale – is more thrilling and humbling than you can imagine. It’s always a little scary, sharing a very personal labor of love with the world so it can be scrutinized. At the very least, I always hope my books give people a little escape from an insane world. And Hell Hole was a labor of love. I wrote it for my dad, who loved westerns and showed me the horror ropes. Hey may have passed before I had a chance to give it to him to read, but I know he’s enjoying it, and this review, at this very moment.

In other good news, my next Samhain novel, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, the sequel to 2013’s SINISTER ENTITY, is now listed on Samhain’s site and can be pre-ordered on December 7th (which is both Pearl Harbor Day and the day I got engaged to my wife back in 1990). In this one, I put Jessica Backman in a very, very bad place. Why am I so mean to her?

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Sometimes, the dead are best left in peace.

Jessica Backman has been called to help a strange family living on a haunted island in Charleston Harbor. Ormsby Island was the site of a brutal massacre two decades ago, and now the mysterious Harper family needs someone to exorcise the ghosts that still call it home. The phantoms of over one hundred children cannot rest.

But something far more insidious is living on the island. When the living and the dead guard their true intentions, how can Jessica discover just what sort of evil lurks on Ormsby Island? And why is Jessica the only one who can plumb its dark depths?

ISLAND comes out the first week in January, along with a slew of other books by great authors like Jonathan Janz, Russell James and Glenn Rolfe. This isn’t an island you want to be stranded on, even if Maryanne and Ginger are there.

Top 5 Horror Movies By Guest Author Ira Gansler

I first met Ira this past March at Horrorhound in Cincinnati. Everyone at the Samhain booth was very happy to meet him. What a super nice guy. You’d think horror writers were all trolls and serial killers. We’re actually normal. Now, don’t get me started on romance writers.

But I digress. Ira now has his own book out, The Things in the Darkness. Let’s kick things off with his fab 5 horror flix, a taste of the book and where to find it. Take it away Ira…

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October is such a great time of year, which is why I chose to launch my book then. Though it came and went like a flash, I’m still enjoying fall. The leaves change color and drift to the ground. The sweltering heat of the summer is past yet the icy cold of the winter is yet to come. Best of all, it seems as if Halloween being at the end of the month makes it the unofficial national horror month and sometimes, for some of us, that carries over into November! Displays full of horror films can be found in every local store, in theaters, and creating a buzz or fond memories. I know many friends who are so busy, they put off the rest of their movie marathons till the start of November. So it seems appropriate, with October closing, and the month of Thanksgiving upon us, to look back at my five favorite horror movies. After all, I am thankful for them too! I happen to love horror films.

  1. Re-Animator – What is there not to love about this film? You have a story based on the work of one of the most influential horror writers to ever live, H.P. Lovecraft. You have the screenwriting and directing talent of Stuart Gordon at the helm. Amazing and versatile actor Jeffrey Combs gives the best performance of his career as the mad scientist, Herbert West. Rounding out the astounding cast is Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott, and David Gale each playing their roles to perfection. Last, but not certainly not least, is the musical talent of Richard Band, who has 87 composing credits to his name for a good reason. Oh, and we can’t forget the fact that this movie gives a whole new meaning to the term “getting head.”
  2. Night of the Living Dead – George Romero redefined an entire sub-genre and gave us a new creature to fear in the form of the living dead. Although Romero never once uses the word “zombie” throughout the entire film, he is now considered by most to be the Godfather of the modern zombie movie. Whether or not Romero intended on creating a new take on zombies, he did push every limit of what was acceptable on film in 1968. Watching the feasting zombie mob scene still kills my appetite to this day.
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street – It’s hard to believe now that the man who once auditioned for the role of both Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and was turned down for both would become one of the most iconic supernatural killers in cinema history. While the series may have gotten progressively cheesier as it went on and Robert Englund’s one-liners a little more absurd, the first stands as a masterpiece. It also holds a special place in my dark and twisted heart as one of the first horror movies that ever traumatized me. I still remember screaming and crying on my way back to my room at five-years-old after sneaking into the living room and watching Freddy Krueger drag a screaming and bleeding Tina across the ceiling.
  4. Candyman – Taking its cue from the legend of Bloody Mary, this is a movie that still sends shivers down my spine today. This movie was the perfect example of all of the elements of filmmaking coming together into one cohesive unit of greatness. I can’t think of a single actor that could have nailed the role of the Candyman like Tony Todd. Although Todd is a great actor, no role that he has played since will ever stand out more. Virginia Madsen stars in this film and watching her descent into belief of the urban legend she set out to study it genuinely scary in ways that no modern horror film manages. Next, whether it be the written word or screen horror, nobody has the skill and talent for terror like Clive Barker. This man brings images to life that portray some of the darkness things to ever see the light of day. Finally, and being a fan of many different composers, I don’t say this lightly, but Candyman may have one of the most simple, yet eerie scores that I have ever heard in a film. Philip Glass takes a great film and turns it into perfection with the score. Will you look in the mirror and say his name five times?
  5. Hellraiser – With my admiration for Clive Barker, it is no surprise that there are two films credited to this master of terror on my list. What amazes me most about Hellraiser is that it is one of the few films that really deviate from its source material, yet remains an amazing adaptation. Most people don’t realize that the stars of Hellraiser, the cenobites, had very little mention in the novella by Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart. In fact, Pinhead, performed with terrifying skill by Doug Bradley, was not even a named character in the original story. He was simply referred to as “lead cenobite.” This tale of human obsession and lust, about the thin boundaries between pleasure and pain is captivating from so many different perspectives. It is equal parts fear and gore without the slightest hint of failing. For me, no Halloween season is complete without at least one viewing of Hellraiser. Just how does Barker bring all of these elements together to make such an amazing viewing experience? Maybe that is a puzzle best left unsolved.

So what do you think? What are your favorite horror movies? What tales of terror completed your Halloween season? Which ones are you still trying to fit in watching? Let’s pull up a seat closely in the darkness and talk a little. After all, it’s not like there is anything in that darkness that can hurt us, right?


The Things in the Darkness, debut novel by Ira Gansler, October 2014

Synopsis:

An accident puts Kevin Tremmel into a coma. Upon waking, he is not the same. Is it psychological trauma or something darker at work?

Until recently, Kevin Tremmel was at peace with his life. He had a wonderful family, a meaningful career, and his life is finally settling down. Everything seems to be going great – until the night he dies in a car accident.

When the doctors revive him, it’s evident that he’s not the same. Strange urges and images haunt his waking hours, and he finds himself fighting frightening new impulses. Has the trauma of the accident caused a mental illness — or has he brought some malevolent being back with him?

In order to save his sanity, his sense of self, and his family, Kevin must discover what force is at work on him and how to overcome it. It’s that, or give up all he loves and become a servant to the things in the darkness.

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Praise:

“Terrifying and engaging, impossible to put down.” Henrique Couto, Writer/Director of Babysitter Massacre and Director of Haunted House on Sorority Row and Scarewaves.

“Creepy, contemporary riffs on Lovecraftian themes!” John Oak Dalton, Screenwriter – Among Us, Haunted House on Sorority Row, and Scarewaves.

Author Ira Gansler, Biography:

Ira Gansler

Ira M. Gansler is the father of three girls whom he adores and hopes to one day mold into fellow horror fans! He has been married to his fantastic, supportive wife for almost twelve years. Ira focuses on honing his writing craft through fiction, blogging, and screenwriting. He was one of the writers for the film Scarewaves, having written the screenplay for the “Office Case” segment.

Ira has been an avid horror fan since the time at age five when he ran screaming back to his bed after having witnessed the scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street where Freddy was dragging a bloody and dying Tina across the ceiling. Since then, he has embraced all types of horror. The Shining, anything by H.P. Lovecraft, and the original Night of the Living Dead will always hold a special place in his twisted heart. He prays that when the zombie apocalypse does come that it consists of slow zombies and that the Elder Gods show mercy on us all.

You can follow Ira M. Gansler on his blog, The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void at http://ragecircus.blogspot.com, on twitter @RageCircusBlog, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ragecircusblogger. Ira also writes reviews and conducts interviews for the From Dusk Till Con Network at www.fromdusktillcon.com.

Giveaway Option:

Enter to win one of two great prizes during the #DarknessEmerges Tour. Ira is giving away a GRAND PRIZE of a signed print copy of his book, The Things in the Darkness, plus a signed copy of his “Office Case” segment from the movie, Scarewaves. As a second prize, he’s giving away another signed print copy! Enter to win through the Rafflecopter below. Enter now until Dec. 1, 2014. This is a tour wide giveaway, and open to U.S. Residents only due to shipping. If you want to enter from outside the U.S., and you can, but if you win, you’ll receive an e-book.

Click here for the direct link to Rafflecopter:

Giveaway for Reviewers!

Anyone on the tour, or outside the tour, who reviews The Things in the Darkness on Amazon and GoodReads and sends their review link into Erin (Publicist for Ira Gansler) at hookofabook@hotmail.com, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Spend Halloween…In Hell!

What better day to kick off a mini-blog tour for my weird western, HELL HOLE, than on Halloween? There’s guaranteed to be something in that twisted yarn to make you say your prayers before turning out the light. To follow the tour (with guest posts, interviews and reviews), all you need to do is click the banner below. Big thanks, as always, to Erin at Hook of a Book for putting it all together.

Hell Hole button

And check this out. My main monster man, Jack Campisi, just released an official Monster Men music video. It’s going to be displayed on our YouTube channel, Monster Men 13. Tired of ‘All About That Bass’ playing in circles in your brain? Let the Monster Men take over! Perfect background music while you put on your Halloween costume today!

We expect to get no fewer than 300 trick or treaters tonight as we rock our annual house party. Hope I’ll have enough brain cells left this weekend to finish my next cryptid novel.

What are you all doing for Halloween? Please tell me my neighborhood isn’t the last bastion for balls to the wall trick or treating.

Happy Halloween!

It’s finally here….just a few days until the unholy feast of Samhain! We have hundreds of goodie bags ready for the little ghouls and witches that come by the house. Pumpkin beer is in hand and in the fridge. My costume is set – the big bad wolf from the movie, You’re Next. I bought the mask off the guy who wore it in the film. Pretty sweet, if I do say so myself.

you're next

As part of the #Horrortober fun, I’ve been sticking to my pledge to watch at least 1 horror movie a day. As of the 28th, I have over 40 movies under my belt. The rest of this week is devoted to the classics – Halloween, Halloween 2, Friday the 13th Part 6, The Funhouse and The Haunting. Now, you may ask, why Friday the 13th Part 6? To me, this is when the franchise took a crazy turn and became a nightmarishly fun event. When I saw it in the 80s in the theater, they oversold the seats. A pretty girl asked me if she could sit on my lap and we were making out 5 minutes after Jason was resurrected. The rest of the time was spent yelling and howling and having a blast. You can never duplicate the vibe of those 80s movies at home.

And of course, I’ve plowed through my reading list. So many great books out there begging to be made into movies.

I wanted to do something new this year, so I took my kids on a nighttime tour of the famous Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It was pretty incredible. You get to walk through 2 miles of dark passageways by lantern, stopping at famous tombs and mausoleums. I hadn’t realized they filmed the original Dark Shadows movie there, along with a Ramones video for Pet Sematary. Oh, and there’s that whole Headless Horseman legend as well. The best part was when we were at the back of the tour pack and I told my girls to turn around. You couldn’t see 5 feet behind us, the darkness was so complete. I whispered, “Anything could be back there.” That got us all walking a little faster.

Went to the Chiller Theatre con this weekend. Wow. Saw so many cool folks and spent way more than I had planned. I’ll have a separate post on that soon.

Last but not least, I’m just a few days away from finishing the first draft of my new cryptid novel. I’ll reveal who the monster is in the coming months.

To help get you in the mood, the Monster Men present our 3rd annual Halloween episode. Turn down the lights, grab a beer and crucifix, and enjoy!

Even More Bigfoot Movies and Books

Some time ago I posted a slew of Bigfoot movies where you could settle down and get your squatch on. Well, it’s time for an update because there is no shortage of cryptid interest out there and a whole lot of fiction books about our hairy cousins…at least by marriage. Here are some of the books and movies I’ve devoured over the past couple of months.

Deep Dark Woods

DEEP DARK WOODS BY TY SCHWAMBERGER

Of the Sasquatch books I’ve read and downloaded lately, this has my favorite cover. And the story inside doesn’t disappoint. Yes, there are folks trapped in the woods being hunted down by one pissed off BF, but the plot twist at the end is a huge, sick payoff. Ty is a very good writer and obviously loves his subject. This one did win kudos for mentioning the big guy’s dong several times. One of the hornier squatches you’ll ever want to meet. I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 squatch prints.

sudden fury

THE LAST GUNFIGHTER : SUDDEN FURY BY WILLIAM W. JOHNSTONE

OK, I know this seems like a strange one. It’s also proof that Bigfoot and I are somehow psychically connected. I was in the bookstore one day specifically to buy a couple of western novels. If you’ve read my book HELL HOLE, you know I dig a good western yarn. Amazingly, the first one I pick up concerns a logging company being driven out of the forest by what appears to be a Bigfoot. Well, I had to get it. I won’t give away whether there’s a cryptid or not stalking the woods, but damn this was fun. Gun slinging and searching for Sasquatch? Count me in. 4 out of 5 squatch prints.

skook

SKOOK BY WILLIAM R. BURKETT JR.

I literally got this book because I liked saying the title – over and over again. Drove my kids crazy. Turns out this is a damn fine story about a man and his young son and the terrifying encounters they have with a posse of Skooks – which, of course, are squatches. There’s actually a generations-old agreement between the skooks and ‘chosen’ humans who live in relative peace, but sometimes lines are crossed. There is an attack at a cabin that actually left me breathless. Worth it for that scene alone. 4 out of 5 squatch prints.

Hunting legend

HUNTING THE LEGEND

Moving on to movies, I’ve found at least a dozen squatch flicks that have been made over the past 15 years. I’ve got a lot of squatching-watching to do! I started with this one on a cold morning with time to kill. For some reason, Bigfoot leads itself to found footage. Not sure why. This one has some kid bent on revenge because Bigfoot killed his daddy when they were on a hunting trip years earlier. The acting is what you’d expect. I’m not going to say to run out and see this one, but if it’s free and you have some downtime, check it out. There are parts by the end that are a bit creepy. 2 of 5 squatch prints.

willow creek

WILLOW CREEK

I have been dying to see this Bobcat Goldthwait movie ever since I heard about it well over a year ago. Again, found footage. But this time it’s done right. A couple goes to the site of the famous Patterson-Gimlin film to see if BF is still lurking about. There’s a slow build up with some genuine laughs. Of course, they’re warned not to go there, which they ignore. Once they settle into their tent for the night, things go ape shit. It’s just the camera trained on them reacting to the sounds outside. I was tense as hell – and I’m one jaded old horror fan. I dug it, and now I have to find a way to own it. 4 1/2 out of 5 squatch prints.

There are some more I have to sit my butt down to watch, including BIGFOOT WARS, EXISTS (which some are saying is the gold standard for all Bigfoot films) and FEAR THE FOREST.

Do you have any Bigfoot gems I may have missed? Share it with the class. You never know. If I like it, I may just give you a reward.

 

 

 

Visit Hell For Halloween To Win

I’m writing this from deep in the abandoned copper mines in Hecla, Wyoming. It’s kinda dark in here but the internet access is surprisingly good. I just spotted a pair of rough hombres skulking around. They have the spirits all riled up. Hope they know what they’re doing.

As you may or may not know, my most recent novel, HELL HOLE, takes place right here in these mysterious hills. A pair of former Rough Riders plumb the very depths of these mines on the orders of none other than Teddy Roosevelt. What they encounter, well, let’s just say none of it’s good. Unless being harrassed by ghosts, black eyes kids, squatches and a whole host of craziness is your idea of a fun time.

Hell Hole

HELL HOLE was written with the Halloween season in mind. I want people to read horror as much as they watch it, especially this month of #Horrortober! So, here’s what I aim to do. I’m going to give a free ebook to everyone who does one of the following:

  • Go to AmazonBarnes & Noble or Samhain’s website and post a review/rating for Hell Hole. Once you do, send an email to huntershea1@gmail.com with a link to your review or rating.
  • Purchase a copy of Hell Hole. Again, send a screen print or other proof of purchase to huntershea1@gmail.com

Also in the email, tell me which of my books you’d like, as well as your preferred format : FOREST OF SHADOWS, EVIL ETERNAL, SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE, SINISTER ENTITY or THE WAITING.

One book per customer. This incredible offer lasts until October 31, 2014.

This is all part of my plan to win the lottery and buy the most tricked out RV in history, convert it into a book mobile and travel the country handing out books and spreading the love of reading. So come on, show your love for HELL HOLE and Halloween. I’ll make it worth your while.

 

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