Thursday, October 31, 2013

recent read; Blind Shadows

Blind Shadows by James A. Moore & Charles R. Rutledge

When a childhood friend of Sheriff Carl Price is murdered in the small town of Wellman, Georgia, Price and another friend, private investigator Wade Griffin, find themselves pulled into a dangerous and strange investigation.  Moving from meth lab suspects to all-out horrors from outer dimensions, Price & Griffin face enemies who grow by number, size and lethality as the story builds.  The duo also make interesting allies along the way.

Every character had a backstory, and that made for solid storytelling, character interaction and growth.  The beats were steady, the stakes and suspense amped at the correct frequency.  I liked the blending of little people of the earth with larger Lovecraftian gods.

The authors seem to gel well - I didn't really feel thrown out of the story by style change at any time.

This was a very enjoyable read, especially for the month of October. Good horror and a wild ride at the end.

I liked the various references to other horror & pulp characters and writers sprinkled throughout the tale.  I bet there were more I didn't catch.

Looking forward to the sequel, Congregations of the Dead, already.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Halloween Haunted Viewings so far

I've squeezed in a smattering of horror viewings over the past couple of weeks.  Here are some quick thoughts.
Mark of the Vampire
I'd always heard of this one, and finally got around to watching it.  Quirky, at best.  Some good visuals.  Some moments that made little sense.  Lugosi has no dialog until the very end.  And (spoiler) if you didn't know - it all turns out to be non-supernatural; a very elaborate sting operation.  Caroll Borland made for a fine vampire bride, though.  One does wonder if the lost film, London After Midnight (of which Mark of the Vampire is a loose remake) was better executed.

Night Gallery:  The House
An odd tale of a haunted house, dreams and potential madness.  It might have been atmospheric, but the bright California sunshine and color wash out any visual sense of dread on this one.

Night Gallery: Certain Shadows on the Wall
This was the second half of the same episode.  Much better creep factor as three siblings who loathe each other await for the fourth to die.  And when she does, her shadow appears on the wall permanently.

THRILLER: The Watcher
A serial killer is on the loose, and he is a quiet face among his own neighbors in a coastal tourist town.  Perhaps most enjoyable for the sheer irony of Richard Chamberlain not only playing the leading ladies' man, but also for the villain trying to "protect" Chamberlain's character's innocence from the charms of women. (Chamberlain came out of the closet awhile back, but during the 1960s his homosexuality was a well-kept secret.)

THRILLER: The Grim Reaper
A cursed painting is acquired by a fading Hollywood star.  Her nephew tries to warn her of impending personal doom.  Starring William Shatner, screenplay by Robert Bloch (adapted from a Weird Tales story by Harold Lawlor) and music by Jerry Goldsmith.  This was one tour de force of old suspense/horror television!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Month Plans

Well, it is mid-month.  Mostly, the Halloween plans have gone off the rails.  After last year's triumphant read of 31 horror short stories and novellas, I thought I would switch to the visual medium and try for 31 episodes of horror television.  Night Gallery, THRILLER, Hammer House of Horror and The Outer Limits (original, of course!)

I am way behind on my viewing already.  Plus the Red Sox are in the playoffs, and the further they go, the fewer nights for horror viewing.

Maybe I can do a marathon, but that's a long shot.

Perhaps a combination of reads, shows and movies will do the trick this year.

Not to say the genre is lacking for me this month.  I did read Lumley's The Burrowers Beneath.  I've seen a couple of THRILLER episodes and one Night Gallery episode.  I am half-way through Blind Shadows by Charles R. Rutledge & James A. Moore. (And it is very good, btw.)

I'm still having fun with the Halloween spirit, and that's what counts.

Monday, October 7, 2013

recent read; The Burrowers Beneath

The Burrowers Beneath by Brian Lumley

Last year, I read a novelette featuring Titus Crow, and I wanted to read more.  Not having The Compleat Crow collection, I opted for the first full novel featuring the occult investigator - The Burrowers Beneath.

The story starts out promising enough, and is loaded with plenty of Lovecraft and Mythos references to make any fan grin.  Crow's friend, deMarigny, is the son of the character from "Through the Gates of the Silver Key."  The strange clock from that story is now in Crow's possession.  There are hints of previous occult adventures of the two men together.

Crow dubs the monsters of the Mythos, "Cthonians."  He fears certain Old Ones are burrowing under England.  Some mine workers and oil rig workers have had unpleasant encounters.  Crow aims to stop the Cthonians, if he can.  The Cthonians align to oppose Crow's efforts, employing psychic tricks, men in their thrall, and other terrors.  There are a few good horrors as Crow and deMarigny lock horns with the strange creatures.

Things take an odd turn of tone midway through.  The localized horror expands to a global threat.  Crow and deMarigny join a globe-spanning foundation - the Wilmarth Foundation.  The foundation's charter is to battle any and all Cthonians.  Their arsenal against the underground Cthonians includes magic, psychics, and oil derricks adapted to exterminate the burrowers.

I think someone at Black Gate said it best in the comments - 'give in and roll with it.'  Unfortunately, the global scale leads to detachment from events for the reader.  The immediacy is lost.

Also contributing to a detached feeling as the reader - almost the entire last fifth of the book is textbook example of telling instead of showing.   Much of the world encompassing dangers and battles with the Cthonians are related to Crow and deMarigny via letters.

The Burrowers Beneath is more pulp horror adventure than truly horrific cosmic terrors, but it is a fun, quick ride if you're in the proper mood.

(note: I set a link to the Kindle version.  Be careful.  If you are in Amazon looking at the TOR omnibus edition, The Burrowers Beneath/The Transition of Titus Crow (see above) and you switch to the Kindle edition, it brings you to The Burrowers Beneath, but it is NOT the omnibus.  The ebooks are each sold separately.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Twelve Children of Paris

Even though I already posted a bit about this novel, I wanted to log an official, albeit short review now that I have finished it.  To avoid too much retread,  suffice to state that what I posted while reading The Twelve Children of Paris held true right through the end of the novel.

Willocks pulled it off again. It's as good as The Religion and entirely different from it, too - which is how any truly great sequel should be - a new story, not a retread.

There are surprises plenty plot-wise, and I never knew who would survive or who would die right until the final page.

If Willocks sticks to his vision of a trilogy, he needs to outdo himself twice over. After The Twelve Children of Paris, I have utter confidence he can do that.

Truly an awe-inspiring novel.