Gearing up for a crazy summer with two, count ’em, two releases – TORTURES OF THE DAMNED on July 28 and THE DOVER DEMON on September 1. Nothing like trying to cram all your fun into a small window of time.
I just got a delivery of bookmarks for both books and I’m happy to sign and send them to anyone who would like them. Thanks to Jerry Mulcahy for being my master designer. If you want the bookmarks, just send a self addressed, stamped envelope to : Hunter Shea, PO Box 232, Yonkers, NY 10710. I’ll sign those puppies and mail them right out.
I’ve never been a big fan of Women In Horror Month, and for a very good reason. If you love horror, every month should and can be filled with great books by great writers who just happen to be women. True, horror is a male dominated genre, but you don’t have to look hard or far to find plenty of tales penned by the fairer sex that are just as good if not better than what the male chimps dream up. Just off the top of my head, I’m thinking of some of today’s best in the genre like Mary Sangiovanni, Kelli Owen, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Sephera Giron, Melanie Tem, Catherine Cavendish (who I’ll post about next week), and Kathe Koja. That’s literally the work of about 5 seconds.
Well, you can add one more to the list – J.H. Moncrieff. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of her debut horror novella, THE BEAR WHO WOULDN’T LEAVE, part of Samhain horror’s Childhood Fears series. I was never a teddy bear kid. I did have a three foot tall Bugs Bunny that I literally dragged around everywhere until every stitch came undone. Bugs wasn’t scary at all, even though I watched him daily shoot people with cannons and guns and drop them off cliffs.
The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave is about a disturbing teddy bear named Edgar (right there, you know this plushie just ain’t right) given to young Josh by his bastard of a step-father. When I first saw the title, I thought of the John Belushi SNL skit, The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave, about a piggish house guest that way overstays his welcome. That skit was as funny as Moncrieff’s tale is chilling.
Sometimes evil looks like a fuzzy teddy bear.
Still grieving the untimely death of his dad, ten-year-old Josh Leary is reluctant to accept a well-worn stuffed teddy bear from his new stepfather. He soon learns he was right to be wary. Edgar is no ordinary toy…and he doesn’t like being rejected. When Josh banishes him to the closet, terrible things begin to happen.
Desperate to be rid of the bear, Josh engages the help of a friend. As the boys’ efforts rebound on them with horrifying results, Josh is forced to accept the truth—Edgar will always get even.
I have to tell you, I had a total blast reading this book. At times brutal, especially with the portrayal of a child terrified and abused by his step-father, and his mother’s inability to stop it, once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Edgar is one freaky teddy bear. I mean, just look at the cover above. You sure as hell don’t want that glaring at you all night. What makes things even worse for Josh is the sense of isolation. Sure, he has a friend that helps him out, but what he needs is an adult to swoop in and save him from this nightmare. It’s that sense of desperation, paired with a killer bear that recalls the glory days of Child’s Play, that makes this a hell of a read.
J.H. Moncrieff has arrived! And I’m so glad she’s part of the Samhain family.
There’s even a trailer for the book if I haven’t convinced you to pick up a copy. Watch it and keep your eyes on that giant bear your man gave you for Valentine’s Day. It just may be out to kill you!
It seems like it’s been decades since I was this thrilled by a horror movie. And when I sit back and think about it, 30 years is about how long I’ve been waiting for a movie like It Follows. Maybe it’s because the movie has a whole late 70s, early 80s vibe, taking me back to the time when I was young and enthralled by the movies of John Carpenter and George Romero. In fact, there are so many elements of It Follows that remind me of Halloween, yet with an entirely unique story and feel, that I felt like a teen again, experiencing a whole new world of horror at its best.
Here’s the story – Jay (played by Maika Monroe, who was just in the horror/thriller The Guest) is a kind of directionless girl living in the suburbs of Detroit. She has a tight group of friends (her sister, Paul who was her first kiss and also kissed her sister when they were younger, and Yara, a girl who spends all her time reading ebooks on a pink clam shell) who just hang out with no real aspirations or parental supervision. We only see Jay’s mother from side angles, and when we do, there’s always booze nearby, so we get the feeling that this generation has been left to themselves.
Jay is dating a guy she met outside the neighborhood. He takes her out one night and they make good use of the back seat of his car.As she’s basking in the afterglow, he chloroforms her, straps her to a wheelchair and has her sit in an abandoned building, waiting for a spirit to begin stalking them. He explains that by having sex, he’s transferred a curse to her. She will be followed by a spirit that can look like anyone until she passes it to someone else. If she gets caught before she does, the spirit will kill her and in turn, kill him.
The rest of the movie is spent with Jay running from the shape shifting spirits. They walk slow, but they also never, ever stop following you. She can drive far to buy some time, but the spirits will always catch up with her. There’s never really a moment of full rest, and you can feel the desperation with each frame. Her friends stick by her, but even they can’t help much because they can’t see what Jay can and no one knows how to stop it.
Now for the look of the movie. All of the cars in It Follows are hulking behemoth’s from the 70’s/80’s. From the decor of the houses, to landline phones and even the way people dress, you’d swear the movie was set in 1979. The only connection to modern times is Yara’s e-reader. Viewers are shown the absolute depression of Detroit, with rows of abandoned, crumbling homes. I feel the director chose to stop technology and fashion right when Detroit was beginning to falter, capturing the final heyday of a city in amber.
The opening sequence of It Follows is the best I’ve seen since Halloween. The score is absolutely chilling. I went out and bought it an hour after I saw the movie. It’s part of a new wave of horror movies using synth soundtracks, just like they did back in the day, to set your nerves on edge.
We all know that horror movies have long conveyed that premarital sex leads to very bad things. I can think of no worse consequence than the curse bestowed on Jay in It Follows.
And yes, I’m going to come right out and say this is an instant classic. For my money, it’s the best horror movie I’ve seen since Carpenter’s The Thing. I get the sneaking suspicion that writer/director David Robert Mitchell is as much a Carpenter fan as I am, because he’s created something that can proudly sit alongside the master’s best works.
Samhain and I want to make your Friday the 13th the creepiest ever. From now until March 15th, my first two ghost novels, FOREST OF SHADOWS and SINISTER ENTITY are only 99 cents everywhere ebooks are sold. If you’re new to my madness and just read ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, this is the perfect chance to catch up on where Jessica Backman’s obsession with the dead began. You’ll think twice before visiting a haunted house, learn what an EB is and why it’s sometimes best to let the dead rest in peace…or turmoil. So fire up your Kindles and Nooks and iPads before time runs out on the best offer Samhain has ever made!
The dead still hate!
Something dreadful happened in the remote Alaskan cabin. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.
“With Forest of Shadows, Hunter Shea combines ancient evil, old school horror and modern style. Highly recommended!” — Jonathan Mayberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot and Ruin and The Dragon Factory.
“Forest of Shadows is a frightening, gripping story that left me too frightened to sleep with the lights off. This novel scared the hell out of me and it is definitely a creepy ghost story I won’t soon forget.” —Night Owl Reviews
How can you escape the ghost of yourself?
The Leigh family is terrified. They’ve been haunted by the ghostly image of their young daughter, Selena. But how can that be, when Selena is alive and well, and as frightened as her parents? With nowhere else to turn, the Leighs place their hopes in Jessica Backman, who has dedicated her life to investigating paranormal activity. Accompanied by a new partner who claims to be able to speak to the dead, Jessica will soon encounter an entity that scares even her. And a terror far worse than she imagined.
It’s been almost 2 years since Jessica Backman’s last foray into the world of the unknown, but she’s finally back. ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN has been officially released. Jessica is in her early twenties now and completely disenfranchised with the entire concept of ghost hunting. Knowing that she draws the dead to her, empowering those with less than noble intentions, she’s distanced herself from her family, friends and uber psychic, Eddie Home. Instead of running to the dead, she’s now running from them.
Eddie is now a shell of his former self. The power surge he had to employ to save Jessica and the family they were helping in SINISTER ENTITY has left him drained. He’s plagued by the cries of the dead, unable to help them.
Despite their weakness, Eddie and Jessica are both drawn to haunted Ormsby Island off the South Carolina coast. There’s an old mansion there and a secret so taboo, so terrifying, the world has done its best to wipe it from its collective memory. To save the living, they must face their deepest fears.
Early reviews have been great!
“When I’m ready to reconsider my views of the afterlife, of the nature and motivations of individuals, of the meanings of life and purpose, I look to Hunter Shea. He brings to the early 21st century the kind of thought-provoking literary horror that Ambrose Bierce gave to the 19th century.” Mallory Heart Reviews
“Island of the Forbidden” is the ultimate haunted house story. There are all of the elements for an explosive story in which everything goes wrong. And in “Island of the Forbidden,” everything goes wrong.” Examiner.com
“The story is a non-stop rush from the first chapter to the satisfying, terrifying end. This is 2015’s first must-read for the horror fan.” Russell James, author of Dark Vengeance and Dreamwalker
“Island of the Forbidden has it all, ghosts, an evil presence, psychics, creepy dead children, an old haunted house, the list goes on. I couldn’t put it down!” – Scarlet’s Web reviews
If ghost stories are you thing, I wrote this book just for you. This isn’t your momma’s ghost tale. Oh no.
You can order a copy of ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN (ebook or trade paperback) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Publishing and wherever books are sold. If you get it, give me a shout and let me know what you think of it.
We’re also kicking off a HUGE blog tour, thanks to Hook of a Book Media. Click on the graphic below to see all the stops. Special thanks to Tim Busbey for his graphics expertise. I’ll be giving away lots o books along the way!
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…
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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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
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.
“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 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card.