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    Stephen King’s “JOYLAND” (Book Review)

    After an uncharacteristically quiet 2012, author and multimedia brand Stephen King is resurfacing with a diverse slate of projects: From the UNDER THE DOME TV adaptation to the big-screen remake of CARRIE to the long-awaited musical theatre experiment GHOST BROTHERS OF DARKLAND COUNTY to King’s risky revisit with THE SHINING’s Danny Torrance in this fall’s novel DOCTOR SLEEP. While most of the aforementioned projects have yet to see release, it’s safe to declare that King’s new paperback original JOYLAND (out now from Hard Case Crime/Titan) will most likely be judged the runt of 2013’s considerable litter.

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    TRUE BLOOD DRINKS AND BITES (Book Review)

    I have to admit this first:  I have been cold toward the HBO show TRUE BLOOD ever since they had the nerve to kill off Christopher Meloni’s character, Roman, mid-freakin-season this past year. As time heals all wounds, I’ve been debating whether I should get back into the show and finish off the second half of this past season, finally catching up before the new season starts on June 16th.  As luck would have it, here I find myself reviewing a cookbook that is designed around the show.

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    Joseph D’Lacey’s “ROADKILL” (Book Review)

    Following on the heels of their previous chapbook release (Conrad Williams’ unsettling THE FOX – see our review HERE), This Is Horror return with Joseph D’Lacey’s ROADKILL, an existential tale of automotive dark fantasy. The story contains little in the way of actual horror, demonstrating that the publisher refuses to be limited by any generic boundaries one might infer from their name; an admirable undertaking, although one that pays mixed dividends in this latest publication.

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    “Shadows In The Asylum: The Case Files Of Dr. Charles Marsh” (Book Review)

    Author D.A. Stern has a history of pushing some envelopes with his writing. Perhaps his best-known book, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT: A DOSSIER, took an unusual approach to presenting the background of the witch, accounts of the filmmakers’ disappearance, and almost 40 pages of journal. Along the way, the reader absorbs a deeper understanding of all of the disparate elements that made up the movie. Stern employs many of the same ideas to create SHADOWS IN THE ASYLUM: THE CASE FILES OF DR. CHARLES MARSH, and the result is one of the creepiest reads around.

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    “THE TRIBE: HOMEROOM HEADHUNTERS” (Book Review)

    Spencer Pendleton is starting out at a new Junior High and now has to cope with all the miseries attached: cocky bullies, snobby princesses, crabby teachers, and flare-ups of his asthma. While struggling to fit in with his indifferent classmates, Spence attracts the notice of a very unique clique, former students who’ve slipped the noose of the school system by forming a stylized native gang, burrowing in behind the drab walls and acoustical ceiling tiles of their building and sourcing weapons from discarded detritus like middle school Mad Maxes. Now this clan of tween terrors wants a new recruit to share in their agenda of disruption and disobedience, and Spence must make the choice between accepting a numbingly normal scholastic career or seizing the chance to truly belong to something for once in his life.

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    “TEN GRAND” #1 (Comic Review)

    In the wide world of comics, Noir and Horror have sat down to drink more often than one would think. From John Constanine’s globe-trotting, mystical escapades to Cal McDonald’s ghoulish case files, paranormal mystery men have become a staple of the medium as much as superheroes and tragic origins. With the recent launch of TEN GRAND, we are once again reminded why the world seems endlessly fascinated with a dimly lit bar and a sob story. A work mixing striking visuals and strong writing, it joins Image Comics’ recent fascination for bizarre crime stories, most notably, CHIN MUSIC written by Steve Niles and FATALE from Ed Brubaker. Though it has yet to be seen if it will pick up as much steam as its predecessors, it can be safely assumed TEN GRAND might stick around for the long run.

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    “MUTE” (Book Review)

    Leo, the protagonist of Jeffrey Hale’s MUTE (Grand Mal Press) is special. Born with the power of psychometry, he’s able to divulge past emotions and memories that may still resonate within objects or people. This talent, while admittedly handy, has gotten him locked up in a mental institution by folks not inclined to encourage psychic gifts.

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    “JUDGE DREDD: YEAR ONE” #2 (Comic Review)

    Despite the overwhelming artistic success of Judge Dredd in the UK, there have been few attempts to work with the character stateside. DC comics had a short run with the gun-toting officer in the mid-90s, but unfortunately only lasted a whopping eighteen issues before getting shut down. That’s not to say that the Judge did not explode as a media gold mine, ranging from toys and video games to books and movies. Though as far comic books go, he never quite generated the same interest as he did abroad. But, perhaps thanks in part to the new DREDD movie, he has once again been given a chance to show off his trademark brand of justice in one of the latest IDW Publishing additions, JUDGE DREDD: YEAR ONE.

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    “‘TAIN’T THE MEAT… IT’S THE HUMANITY! AND OTHER STORIES ILLUSTRATED BY JACK DAVIS” and “50 GIRLS 50 AND OTHER STORIES ILLUSTRATED BY AL WILLIAMSON” (Book Reviews)

    Fantagraphics Books continues their classic EC COMICS cartoonist anthologies collection with two more mind-blowing offerings. EC’s hugely influential horror and sci-fi lines (George Romero, among many of its devotees) were a haven for groundbreaking comic artists in the 50s until the company got shut down for being considered a bad influence on kids. One of Jack Davis’ more notorious stories was even underlined by Dr. Frederic Wertham in his SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, the alarmist book that largely triggered this anti-comics hysteria. The story in question, FOUL PLAY, featured a person’s decapitated head and intestines being used in a baseball game. FOUL PLAY appeared in another seminal EC title, THE HAUNT OF FEAR, and not TALES FROM THE CRYPT, which is what ‘TAIN’T THE MEAT… IT’S THE HUMANITY! concentrates on, but believe me, there’s plenty more Davis gore to go around.

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