Those of you who know me know I’m not a vampire guy. I leave that for my comrade in Monster Men arms, Jack Campisi. But when I was asked to write an essay about an offbeat vampire movie, I was actually excited. My initial thought was to wax poetic about The Hunger, starring David Bowie and Susan Sarandon. Alas, someone had already taken it. (By the way, some other vampire movies I dig are Rabid, Near Dark and Let The Right One In)
Luckily, no one had snagged my actual vamp favorite, The Vampire Lovers, starring the lovely Ingrid Pitt. I recently took my daughter to see it in 35MM at the Alamo and she loved it, too. Chip off the old beast.
Well, if you’re a lover of vampires in cinema, you’ll definitely want to check out STRANGE BLOOD.
STRANGE BLOOD contains my ‘insightful’ essay on The Vampire Lovers and 70 other off the beaten track vampire flicks. Here’s a little on the book:
This is an overview of the most offbeat and underrated vampire movies spanning nine decades and 23 countries.
Strange Blood encompasses well-known hits as well as obscurities that differ from your standard fang fare by turning genre conventions on their head. Here, vampires come in the form of cars, pets, aliens, mechanical objects, gorillas, or floating heads. And when they do look like a demonic monster or an aristocratic Count or Countess, they break the mold in terms of imagery, style, or setting. Leading horror writers, filmmakers, actors, distributors, academics, and programmers present their favorite vampire films through in-depth essays, providing background information, analysis, and trivia regarding the various films. Some of these stories are hilarious, some are terrifying, some are touching, and some are just plain weird. Not all of these movies line up with the critical consensus, yet they have one thing in common: they are unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the world of vampires. Just when you thought that the children of the night had become a tired trope, it turns out they have quite a diverse inventory after all.
That synopsis have your blood running? Then pick up Strange Blood today!
Like my wife, I’m sure you Hellions need a break from me from time to time. Put your hands together and give a warm welcome for author JG Faherty and by all means, pick up a copy of his latest book, Houses of the Unholy.
I thought long and hard about what to write for my guest post. And I decided rather than talk about what scares me, or why I wrote a certain book, or why does everyone love zombies (or vampires, or clown-faced killers), I would write about what I hope for from the things I write. Most horror writers will say they want to scare their readers, or entertain them, or perhaps maybe even make them think about this social or political issue. And that’s all true to a degree.
But for me, there’s something else.
What I like to write are stories that make you uncomfortable.
There are a lot of ways to do that. You can hit readers over the head with buckets of gore and you can sneak up behind them and give them a jump scare. Keep them at the edge of their seat with non-stop action or be so subtle they don’t even know they’re scared until later that night while they’re lying in bed with the lights off and still thinking about that certain scene in the story.
A lot of horror writers tend to stay within a specific sub-genre. Zombies. Splatter. Extreme. Weird. Vampires. Werewolves. Kaiju. Ghosts. Torture Porn. Suspense. You name it, there’s someone specializing in it. And that’s great. All of us have different tastes, and that shapes what we like to read and what writers like to write.
I’m a little different. I guess you could call me a throwback. I’ve never stayed within the lines of a certain sub-genre, or even a genre at all, unless you consider the broad descriptor of dark fiction. I primarily write horror, but sometimes it drifts into the areas of weird fiction, thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction. I’ve written about supernatural creatures, haunted houses, serial killers, and zombies.
As a child, I discovered horror by reading Poe, Shelley, and Stoker. But I also devoured The Hardy Boys, Jules Verne, HG Wells, and Ray Bradbury. I watched all the classic Universal monster movies but I also never missed the reruns of the sci-fi classics from the 1950s: Them!, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet, The Blob. As I got a little older, I learned many of the movies were made from books, so I read the books, too. In my teens, I discovered gore. Faces of Death, I Spit on Your Grave, Motel Hell, Evil Dead, and so many others. In college, I read every horror novel and short story anthology to hit the bookstores, from King and Koontz and Straub to Garton, Skipp, Spector, and McCammon. I went back and ‘discovered’ the authors I’d missed as a kid. Manly Wade Wellman, Karl Edward Wagner. And I also still read sci fi (Alan Dean Foster, James Bliss, Heinlein, etc.).
Over time, as a reader, I came to know what I liked and what I didn’t. When I got to my thirties, I no longer cared for splatter or torture porn. I preferred books that had complex plots, that ratcheted up the suspense chapter after chapter, that sent shivers up your spine because you didn’t know what was going to happen next.
And, when I started writing, I stayed true to that form.
It’s easy to go for the gross out, for the quick disembowelment, the body tossed in the wood chipper. Something like that might make you flinch, or gag. But for me, that kind of scene never stayed with you, and often it ended up more silly than scary.
I wanted to write things that make people keep the lights on at night, not laugh about how someone’s intestines got used to hang their mother.
So I’ve always stuck to the plan that I have no plan. If the story in my head calls for no blood, then there’s no blood. If it calls for buckets, then there are buckets. As long as it’s necessary for the plot. I veer away from the gratuitous, the unnecessary. When it comes to gore, a little can go a long way. I won’t skip on the zombie eating its victim’s organs, I just won’t spend 3 pages describing it. A few sentences ought to suffice, and then let the readers’ imaginations do the rest.
With all that in mind, when it came time to do my latest collection of short stories, Houses of the Unholy, I wanted it to run the gamut from violent to comic, from supernatural to all-too-real, and from straight horror to those places in between genres.
Most of my stories do tend to be ‘classic’ horror; there’s something supernatural, somewhere. It might be the major point of the story or a subplot, but it’s there. Beyond that, I like to think there’s something for everyone here, whatever you happen to enjoy.
I hope that, like the younger me, you’ll read broadly, and maybe discover something new. Something that sends a shiver up your spine and keeps you awake at night.
Something that disturbs your peace of mind.
A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty has been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award® (The Cure, Ghosts of Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time), and he is the author of 6 novels, 9 novellas, and more than 60 short stories. His latest collection, Houses of the Unholy, is available now, and it includes a new novella, December Soul. His next novel, Hellrider, comes out in August of 2019. He grew up enthralled with the horror movies and books of the 1950s, 60, 70s, and 80s, which explains a lot. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/jgfaherty, http://www.facebook.com/jgfaherty, http://www.jgfaherty.com, and http://jgfaherty-blog.blogspot.com/
If you’re a horror fan, odds are you love slasher flicks. Who is your all time favorite slasher villain? I’m partial to big ol lumbering Jason.
But have you ever stopped to ask yourself WHY you love watching some maniac chase and mutilate scores of people? Before you run out to make an appointment with a therapist to find out why you’re so twisted, check out my latest VIDEO VISIONS column over at Cemetery Dance Online. In what will be a year of exploring slasher movies, I start by pondering our bizarre fascination with slashers. The answer is simpler than you think. Although it may make you question some life choices. And if you have a particular slasher or movie topic you’d like me to explore in a future column, let me know. Great and demented minds do think alike.
What’s shakin’ Hellions? Remember the old Marvel Two-In-One comics where The Thing was paired each month with a new superhero? Well, I may not have scrapped against the Yancy Street Gang, but I can present a horror two-in-one.
First up on Monster Men, author J.H. Moncrieff takes us on a tour of Dracula’s Castle and the Haunted Forest of Romania. I am green with envy. Or is it pea soup?
Next, the Final Guys travel up to Maine to see if we can reunite with our beloved pets of the past. Does the new Pet Sematary rise above the original? Church still smells bad.
The Monster Men are kicking off a new series of episodes where we go back in time and look at the horror movies that came out in a specific year. We started it all off with 1987 (the last year I was a single man) and boy, what a year! It may be the best of all time. Give the episode a watch and tell me what you think. What was your favorite horror movie of 1987? Also, what years would you like us to explore next?
As a man who makes his stock-in-trade trade in creature features, I make it a point to watch as many monster flicks as possible. Somehow, I missed the 1993 horror/scifi romp, TICKS. That was the year my wife got seriously ill, so there are quite a few things that flew under my radar. Cut to years later and I always assumed I had watched it. Well, I hadn’t…until now.
I’ve had TICKS on my Amazon Prime watch list for a while now. If I had realized it was Ami Dolenz on the poster, I would have watched it sooner. The daughter of Monkee Mickey Dolenz, I crushed on her when she played a genie in the movie Miracle Beach.
If you’re looking for pure icky bug mayhem and some gooey gore, TICKS is for you. We start with a very young Seth Green being sent to one of those city kids goes to the woods camp. He meets a street thug who threatens to kill him if he doesn’t make a free throw. That gutter punk is none other than dancing Carlton, AKA Alfonso Ribeiro. It’s wig flipping to watch him play the tough kid who also sells dope on the side. They’re picked up in a van by couple Holly (played by Rosalind Allen, who I remember from the soap, Santa Barbara, but was also the marine biologist on Seinfeld) and Charles (Peter Scolari, from Newhart and Bosom Buddies – ever wonder how much he truly hates Tom Hanks?). Their sullen daughter is along for the trip and they’re joined by bad boy Ray, his main squeeze Dee Dee (Ami Dolenz) and a girl who never talks.
Oh, did I forget to mention that Clint Howard is a filthy redneck who has some insane contraption that pumps steroids into his marijuana plants? It looks like something the Little Rascals or Bugs Bunny would make, only less sturdy.
That weird goo is what drips on a tick and starts the whole shit storm. I always let out a little cheer when I see Clint in a movie. He’s this generation’s Dick Miller (RIP). The ticks pupate in these ooey-gooey egg sacks and when they pop out, they’re about the size of a man’s hand. Giant ticks skitter everywhere, latching onto faces and backs, crawling up pants and burrowing under rippling flesh.
This is all practical effects and it’s glorious. Be warned, a dog gets the tick treatment and he does not fare well. The third act is freaking bonkers, with hordes of ticks descending on the cabin, pot farmers looking to kill the wilderness kids and something growing inside Carlton. I don’t want to give too much away, but take my word and watch it if you haven’t already. Alas, there’s no nudity, but you do get Dolenz in a very teeny black bikini. There’s plenty of slime and blood and ticks exploding like pus filled popcorn when flame touches them.
I wonder how Seth Green feels about this movie. If you didn’t know better, you would swear he would never get another acting gig. He’s that bad. But hey, he was young and learning. Without this, we might not get Buffy or Robot Chicken!
It’s been a while since I posted a movie review, but I felt this was good penance to make up for missing TICKS for the past 26 years. It is now my job to preach the word. The only thing creepier than the ticks in the movie are the millions of ticks around my house carrying Lyme Disease. Thank you, Plum Island buttholes for creating that little gift.
Now, go watch TICKS. I have to attend to my chiggers.
Oh, and if you revel in the squeamish delight of TICKS, your skin will crawl with joy when you read THE DEVIL’S FINGERS. Swap out bugs for a killer fungus and let the games begin!