Archive for horror authors

Find Out What Scares Horror Author Michael West

Posted in Alexander S. Brown, author interviews, books, frightening, Halloween, Horror, Horror Authors, Horror Book, indiana authors, interviews, literature, michael west, october, scary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2014 by Alexander S. Brown

Nearly, a year ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Michael West.  This introduction was when we began assisting with the podcast known as The Star Chamber Show.  It wasn’t until last September that I had the opportunity to meet him at an event known as Imaginarium.  Although we had the pleasure of speaking many times prior, it was here that we began fanboying out over the horror genre.  With his knowledge regarding scares and monstrosities, I am pleased to have horror author, Michael West on my blog.

 Michael

Michael West is the bestselling author of Cinema of Shadows, The Wide Game, Spook House, Skull Full of Kisses, and the critically-acclaimed Legacy of the Gods series. He lives and works in the Indianapolis area with his wife, their two children, their turtle, Gamera, and their dog, King Seesar.

His children are convinced that spirits move through the woods near their home.

What does Halloween mean to you?

Halloween has always been a special time of year for me.  When I was a child, it was the fun of dressing up and getting free candy, sure, but it was also a time of year where Horror was actually celebrated.  Turn on just about any TV channel and find a scary movie or Halloween-themed show.  Stores are filled with monster masks and other spooky items.  Creepy, ghoulish stuff is everywhere.  I guess it all comes down to the fact that this is the one time of the year that I don’t feel like an outcast.

What is your most memorable Halloween?

I’ve had so many memorable Halloweens.  It’s hard to pick just one.

How do you celebrate Halloween today?

We normally put on a Haunted House in my garage and then have a pizza party for all my friends and family who help me pull it off.  Leading up to the big night, I watch Horror films on AMC and my brother usually holds a themed Halloween Party that I really enjoy.

What was your best Halloween costume?

My best costume was probably me Devil costume from 1991.  I carved cloven hooves out of wood and did actual prosthetic make-up.  That one went over really well and I won Best Costume at a few Halloween parties that year.

What was your worst Halloween costume?

There were a few Halloweens when we lived in an apartment and I worked for a movie theater.  I had to work on Halloween night, so my costume was my manager’s uniform. That was my worst for sure.

Some people believe Halloween is a negative holiday to celebrate.  Why do you feel Halloween has such a controversy to it?

Some see Halloween as a celebration of darkness and Evil with a capital “E.”  I don’t see it that way at all.  I see it as good, ol’ fun.

What do you do to keep the ghosts and ghouls away on Halloween night?

Usually, I watch Halloween.

What frightens you and why?

Two of my biggest fears are spiders and being eaten alive, which keep popping up in my fiction too.  I don’t know when the fears started or why.  I’ve had them as long as I can remember.  The other major fear I have is that something will happen to someone I love.  If you love someone, you know what that fear is like.  This person is your world, and the thought of losing them, of what the world would be like with them not in it, is just too horrible to even consider.

What’s your favorite scary movie and why?

John Carpenter’s Halloween.  It is just about the perfect scare machine.  The lighting, the cinematography, the acting, the score.  Oh, that score.  It just isn’t really Halloween until I sit down to watch it.

What’s your favorite horror book and why?

Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.  King introduces to us some of the most memorable, likeable, characters, people you really get to know and feel a connection with, and then he puts them through Hell.  I’ve read it a half a dozen times over the years, and the passage where the vampire child is clawing at the window, begging to be let in, still makes my blood run cold.

Do you prefer slow burners or fast paced thrillers?

I like both.  Actually, my favorite stories start off as a slow burn and then end with fast paced, action – packed climaxes.

What inspires your more frightening work?

Sometimes it is a news story.  Other times, an idea just hits me when I least expect it.  Some are based on my own fears and the fears of people I know, and still others are inspired by events from my life.  The car accident from The Wide Game, for example, was based on an actual event that happened to me back in 1987.

Do you plan to contribute to the horror genre in the future?

I never set out to write a Horror story.  I like to say that everything I write is a love story, except the thing that threatens to drive people apart is not your normal everyday problems, but the supernatural.  All of my stories tend to have some dark slant to them, so yes, I see my work to continue to involve Horror in one fashion or another.

Where can we find your work?

You can find my work at my website, http://www.bymichaelwest.com

My publisher’s website, http://www.seventhstarpress.com/  and on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

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Author Guest H. David Blalock Reflects on Halloween

Posted in author interviews, Fiction, H.David Blalock, Halloween, Horror, Horror Anthology, Horror Book, Horror Books, Independent Horror, interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2014 by Alexander S. Brown

At last, October is here. Although I plan to contribute more reviews on Halloween themed entertainment, I thought it would be fun to invite a few authors and artists throughout October to share their views and memories of Halloween.

Our first featured guest is a prolific author known by his fans as H. David Blalock. His writing talents are superb examples of diversity within the literary world. Some of his horror stories can be found in the anthologies Southern Haunts: Spirits that Walk Among Us and Southern Haunts 2: Devils in the Darkness. Look for his name again in the upcoming Southern Haunts 3: Magic in the Moonlight. Even though these are only a few titles, be sure to check out his series The Angel Killer Triad, now available where books are sold.

Before we jump into our interview, here is a little back story on Mr. Blalock:

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Born in San Antonio, Texas, David spent the majority of his formative years in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 16, his family moved to the Panama Canal Zone where David finished school and entered employment with the Department of Defense as a Powerhouse Electrician. Hiring into the FAA, he returned with his wife and two daughters to the States and settled briefly in Gulfport, MS. He later moved to Memphis, TN, as an Air Traffic Controller for the Memphis ARTCC where he remained until retirement.

David’s writing has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, webzines, and writer’s sites. For more information on David, his work and appearances, visit his website: www.thranKeep.com .

What does Halloween mean to you?

Not nearly as much today as it did when I was young. Nowadays I don’t see as much meaning in it as I did when trick or treating was my main goal. Today, it’s just another holiday.

What is your most memorable Halloween?

We used to have some remarkable Halloween parties. At one in particular, I remember a bonfire that precipitated a particular set of events, including: a significant amount of liquor, several attendees, a can of gasoline, a large blue flash, melted boot soles, and the first and only time I have ever seen a human being jump straight up in the air and then be displaced several feet before hitting the ground, running at full speed.

How do you celebrate Halloween today?

I usually spend it quietly, sometimes with friends and family. I live in an area where there are few kids and we seldom have visitors, so I enjoy the quiet time.

What was your best Halloween costume?

When I was a boy I probably had a couple but I can’t remember. I’ve slept since then.

What was your worst Halloween costume?

I would have to say the one I wore a few years ago, during one of our Halloween parties: the Kingpin from the Spiderman comics. Don’t ask.

Some people believe Halloween is a negative Holiday to celebrate. Why do you feel Halloween has such a controversy to it?

Because it has a religious background to it. The real name of the holiday is “All Hallow’s Eve” and it is actually supposed to be the first of the days that is reserved for praying for the dead. The others are All Saints Day (Nov 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2). By associating the sacred days with pagan symbols, ghosts, ghouls, etc. those who object are scandalized.

What do you do to keep the ghosts and ghouls away on Halloween night?

I find that a good single-malt whiskey does wonders.

What frightens you and why?

I find today’s splatterpunk and gore off-putting, not because it’s repulsive but because it has nothing to do with real fear. To me the fear of death is humanity’s common understanding of its mortality. What really frightens me is not what I know is inevitable but what I don’t know: the unknown. Will it kill me or will it do something that might make me wish I were dead? Worse, will it do something that will affect me beyond that veil?

What’s your favorite scary movie and why?

The Robert Wise film The Haunting (1963), co-written by Shirley Jackson and Nelson Gidding. It was based on The Haunting of Hill House and did a fantastic job conveying the atmosphere and emotion from the novel while maintaining an understated quality that made the fear that much more exaggerated to me.

What’s your favorite horror book and why?

I really can’t nail that one down. I have many favorite horror authors. Lovecraft, Maachen, Bierce, Dunsany, Chambers, Campbell… I could go on and on.

Do you prefer slow burners or fast paced thrillers?

The slow burners are my favorites. They build atmosphere and let you become part of the story before digging in with their claws.

What inspires your more frightening work?

I like to think I’ve continued the ideas and concepts put forward by the masters of the first half of the 20th century. Psychological horror to me is much more effective than just the shock value of today.

Do you plan to contribute to the horror genre in the future?

Yes. I look forward to writing more and editing more in the next few years than I have done in the past.

Where can we find your work?

I have work available from several different publishers. Most of my work is available from Amazon (a list of currently available titles is at http://www.amazon.com/H.-David-Blalock/e/B00JPGRLAM/) and all online booksellers as well as the publisher websites. My website (www.thrankeep.com) has links to work at webzines.

Controversial Movies that Cross the Line

Posted in Controversial Films, Fiction, Horror, Horror Movies, Independent Horror, Mississippi Horror Author, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2014 by Alexander S. Brown

 What Are Your Limits?

I have been asked, “What are some of the scariest or most graphic movies you have ever seen?”

The movies I consider scary are ones that have existed as classics and have stood the test of time – movies that everyone have seen.

Graphic movies aren’t as well known as their scary cousins. Graphic movies are those hidden gems that have been banned, caused controversy, and has resulted in younger audiences becoming grounded upon parents discovering their younglings went against their better judgment.

If you are looking for gore this Halloween, I do have a list for you, but I urge you to watch at your own risk. These movies are not for the faint of heart.

Instead of listing movies that are gory for no other reason but to be gory, I have listed movies that have an actual meaning to them – despite their subject matter.

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The first on my extreme list is A Serbian Film. Out of all other movies, I would consider this one to be the most gory, graphic, and explicit. Even the cut version of this movie goes too far. A Serbian Film begins with a Quintin Tarantino feel. A retired porn star is in need of money and receives an offer he can’t refuse. With a script that has been kept secret from him, until the day of performing, he discovers that he has been tossed into the world of snuff films.

A Serbian Film graphically shows scenes of bestiality, necrophilia, and yes, even a scene that is dubbed “new born porn”. Although the scenes are fake, thank God – they are repulsive enough to make the viewer realize, you cannot unsee what you have seen.

With gore aside, this movie makes a strong point in which I feel society has turned its head to. The point is, if there is someone sick enough to buy it, there is someone sick enough to produce it. This also shines light, not only on the all mighty dollar, but the dangers of pornography and human trafficking.

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Cannibal Holocaust is another infamous movie that resulted in a lawsuit for the director.  With graphic scenes of REAL animal slaughter, the viewer is taken a step further as the director casted actual cannibals. How he was able to get actual cannibals to work with him and his crew is beyond mind blowing to me.

One of the most gruesome scenes regards a native impaled on a stick. This is also the scene that gained attention from the courts. During trial, the director was forced to bring the native actress into court so she could reenact the stunt.  Rumors surfaced that the woman who performed before the court appeared similar to the impaled victim in the film.  Also, she was unable to reenact the impalement stunt.

With all said and done, this movie focuses on Yellow Journalism, something that is still alive and thriving in today’s society.

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Men Behind the Sun ties with Cannibal Holocaust in my opinion. Men Behind the Sun is a fictitious historical horror movie regarding the tortures within Unit 731. This wartime movie doesn’t shy away from scenes featuring actual animal abuse: a cat being thrown into a room filled with rats, and rats being burned alive. If you can stomach these scenes, you can probably endure the movie, despite it shows the real autopsy of a young child.

Men Behind the Sun has been heavily banned and was deemed as being a movie that negates any educational value. Although this movie is what it is, I believe it holds truth to the suffering that camp sufferers may have experienced. Men Behind the Sun could have easily been a drama, had it not been for the scenes which made it so controversial.

Excluding the moments that were real, the viewer is introduced to ice water torture, the stomping of a baby, people being skinned alive, etc. Although filled with gore and torture from beginning to end, I feel the storyline is equivalent to any other war related film, except this is the one that doesn’t hold back.

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If you can tolerate the previous titles, you can likely tolerate Faces of Death. Despite what people say, only a small percentage of this movie is actually real. The rest simply shows what can be done with a good camera and an awesome effects team.

Faces of Death is that one infamous movie that I had heard about all through school and watched it for curiosity sakes, of course during the time I was in school, it was rumored that all footage was 100% real.

For those who have no idea what Faces of Death is about, the viewer is taken through the many ways to die by narrator, Francis B. Gross. We are introduced to other cultures and tangible horrors that we might not be aware of existing.

The parts of the movie which I found most interesting are the scenes presenting a professional medical insight. Also, the scene at the end about the man who was haunted by his dead wife and daughter was interesting – although it was fake. If you’re a gore author, like myself, some of the scenes in the move can help your descriptive nature.

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Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom inspired by the Marquis De Sade novel should raise a few eyebrows. Critics and historians alike have praised this art house movie and have debated if it can be considered horror or not. The genre of this film is in the eye of the beholder.

Beautifully shot with stunning angles, costumes, and scenes, the viewer is introduced to four wealthy libertines who kidnap a group of teenagers. These teenagers are introduced to four prostitutes, who tell stories of their depravity. During and after storytelling, the libertines force the teenagers to preform acts that are sexual and torturous.

Visuals include victims eating bread filled with needles, a fine dining scene where everyone is forced to eat their own excrement, and finally scenes regarding castration, rape, and the burning of genitals.

There are a few philosophies regarding this movie which make the subject more interesting. Some viewers hail it as being a film that urges people to consider their own limits in the world of sex. Others claim Salo is metaphoric to the German holocaust. This is the only movie I have listed where the director was murdered by one of his actors after filming was complete.

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In a Glass Cage begins with an ex-Nazi living in Mexico with a wife and child. The first scene introduces us to his failed suicide attempt, causing him to be hospitalized in a glass tank to stay alive. Not long after, a young man is appointed to become the caregiver of this ex-war criminal.

We later discover that this young caregiver was a victim of the ex-Nazi and instead of seeking revenge, he plans to continue life, following in the footsteps of his abuser. In a Glass Cage is an art house film that is beautifully shot, well-acted, and well written. This movie is not the goriest out of the list but scenes of insinuated child abuse is nerve cringing, especially a scene featuring a five year old taking a shot of gasoline directly to his heart.

This movie is a literal spiral into Hell and shows firsthand the actions of a deranged mind. Again, we question if this movie is horror or if it is an extreme drama.

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Found. is a movie that I stumbled across at a comic con. The seller (Alternative Exchange) told me this was an extreme movie that was underrated and the she didn’t lie whatsoever. Found. is a strong movie that feels like a drama until the last fifteen minutes.

The lead character discovers his older brother is a serial killer. Not telling anyone, the boy allows nature to take its course. I felt this movie was solid for its many abilities, especially since it had a strong social message which focuses on racism and bullying.

It’s not until the end when our toes begin to curl and our fingers grip the couch. In the bloodbath, which is the end of Found., there is incest/rape, beheadings, and tons on other nasty elements which balance on the fine line of leaving nothing to your imagination.

Found. is based off of the novel by the same name and is bound to become a cult classic alongside other infamous movies such as Audition.

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Speaking of Audition, this list would not be complete without mentioning Takashi Miike. Audition is a slow burner based on a widower and his son. What could have easily been a romantic drama eventually takes a hard left turn. The widower holds a fake audition where he become smitten with a sweet, shy girl. They begin dating and the character development between the two is bittersweet. Audition really focuses on how some people can be so desperately lonely.

Throughout Audition, the viewer is presented elements that make them think something isn’t right. It isn’t until we see a burlap sack thrash around in the girl’s apartment that we realize she is insane.

The last fifteen minutes of Audition has been hailed as some of the most intense torture sequences in horror movie history. If acupuncture torture gets under your skin then this movie might not be for you. One of the most infamous scenes shows the lead actress vomit into a dog bowl and forces her last lover to eat her regurgitation… Here’s a side note, she actually gagged herself and puked for this scene to look more realistic.

The basis for this shocker isn’t love hurts, but the warning to be careful of who you love.

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Moving away from realistic horrors, we now have Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist. A couple in mourning from the death of their newborn take retreat in a cabin, where insanity begins to ravish them. There are four chapters to this movie, not including a prologue and epilogue. This is a supernatural, erotic, psychological thriller shot in an art house style.

Such as popular movies during the satanic panic wave, this too moves as a slow burner with elements that suggest “The forest is the devil’s playground.” Shot in a grimy, depressing tone, it isn’t until the end of Antichrist that the viewer is repulsed, as the majority of the movie is told through shadow.

It isn’t until the sexual torture begins between man and wife that we leave our comfort zones. The torture sequences include having a hole drilled in the man’s leg so that a weight be attached to his body, a clitoral castration, and a literal scene of bloody masturbation.

The highly graphic sex scenes, which weren’t torture related, required body doubles to act out the intercourse. With all aside, this movie shows what I believe is not only a mental but a spiritual downward spiral for someone who has suffered loss.

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Finally, we have The Human Centipede movies. In my opinion, the first sequence is not a visual shocker, however, psychological wise – it’s like having a bucket of ice water dumped on you. At this point, I don’t have to go into details about the subject matter of the first movie. In a nutshell, a surgeon sews three people anus to mouth, each person in this modification are forced to eat the excrement of the person before them.

Now, after we survive that system shock, we are introduced to The Human Centipede 2. Shot in a grimy black and white, which managed to make even the nongory scenes appear grotesque, we are introduced to a slew of characters who are all insane in some way or the other.

The only sane people in the movie are those who become the centipede, which is twelve people long instead of three people long, like in the first sequence. We are force fed scenes depicting physical torture, fecal matter consumption, sandpaper masturbation, barbed wire anal rape, and the stomping of a new born baby.

What fascinates me about The Human Centipede 2 is that it touches on a subject rarely seen in the entertainment industry. The Human Centipede 2 is frightening in a sense that it shows what would happen when an insane fan takes his fandom one step too far.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading about these movies. Love them or hate them, here they are with their political messages, artistic nerve, and their infamousness. I have to admit more than a few of these movies crossed my line and pushed my boundaries.

Yes, it is true that we have the freedom of speech and expression but when is too much too much? As an entertainment consumer, I can tell you that some of these titles offered up too much to be considered movies I would boast about.

Being a horror author, I can understand the lengths to what some characters will go before a point is made. Thus poses the question: When working with an important subject, is it necessary for the creator to shock audiences into recognizing the brutality of our own existence? If yes is the answer, then these movies have succeeded.

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Best Wishes,

Alexander S. Brown