View of the living room as Mom had it for many years
The Blog Where Horror Dwells
The Editor Formerly Known as Mr. Deathrealm. Author of BLUE DEVIL ISLAND, THE NIGHTMARE FRONTIER, THE LEBO COVEN, DARK SHADOWS: DREAMS OF THE DARK (with Elizabeth Massie), BALAK, YOUNG BLOOD (with Mat & Myron Smith), et. al. Feed at your own risk.
Sunday, May 28, 2023
The Restoration/Updating Continues
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
The Canterbury Nightmares
Now Available for Pre-Order from Crossroad Press:
The Canterbury Nightmares... a new anthology of terror tales, all of which combine the essence of Chaucer’s pilgrims on their journey to a shrine with the apparent climax of the recent global COVID-19 pandemic. These stories were born in a time when personal connections were few, breathing the air in a grocery store felt unsafe, and the country all but dissolved into divided and seemingly irreparable factions.
The Canterbury Nightmares: Eleven travelers head out to visit The Grand Canyon, all motivated by their own powerful, personal reasons. All have suffered profound losses; all harbor secret but consuming agony. An old man taking a long-promised journey with his wife. A congregation that has lost its way. Individuals of different backgrounds and cultures, all dealing with grief, loss, and isolation. In The Canterbury Nightmares, you will be led not only to the soaring precipices of the Grand Canyon but also into deep, dark, unimaginable recesses.
This one features my story, “The Secret Place: A Knight’s Tale,” as well as ten more chilling works by some of today’s most compelling—and perhaps prophetic—storytellers. The book is due for release in September 2023.
“The Old Man’s Tale” – Steve Rasnic Tem
“The Liberation of Brother Buffalo” – Michael Boatman
“Think of the Family” – Ai Jiang
“To See Her in Sepia” – Scott J. Moses
“The Preditor's Tale” – Terence Taylor
“The Wife of Wrath’s Tale” – John B. Rosenman
“The Secret Place: A Knight’s Tale” – Stephen Mark Rainey
“The Sacred Clarion” – S.A. Cosby
“The Tour Guide's Tale” – Anna Tambour
“Every Form of Person” – J.A.W. McCarthy
“Vending Machine Girl”– Eric LaRocca
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Conquered Hurdles and a Frenzy of Wild Beasties
My crowning achievement for all this, I believe, has been categorizing and organizing ALL my old books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and LPs and putting them on reasonably respectable display. This little chore been on the docket for years upon years, but I had pretty much reconciled myself to not living long enough to complete it. The books, as you might expect for a writer/avid reader, proved the biggest challenge, simply because of their sheer number. A few years back, I had downsized the book department to a considerable degree, but that was kind of like emptying a few buckets of water from an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Yesterday, after the estate sale, Ms. B. and I provided pizza as well as a variety of munchies and adult beverages for friends Terry, Beth, Bob, Yvonne, and Samaire, plus my daughter Allison. The weather was decent, so we made it an outdoor party, which may have prompted our neighbors to wonder whether a gaggle of wild beasties had somehow taken over the property.
Happily, the sale — and subsequent celebration — marked the successful conquering of several of our most daunting hurdles. There’s more to come, to be sure, but at this point, it feels like we’re getting closer and closer to seeing the downhill run to the finish line... whatever the hell the finish line ends up being.
A feeding frenzy of wild beasties! Allison, Old Dude, Samaire, Beth,
Terry, Bob, Yvonne
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Back in the Shadows Again
|Some of the James Bond novels, the original Signet editions of which now re-reside on their original shelf|
in my dad’s old den
Sunday, May 7, 2023
I'm reasonably fond of these, so I appreciated actually seeing them again. I remembered them, but I had no idea where they lurked or whether I'd ever see them again. So... yay!
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Yours Sincerely, Wasting Away
I guess you could call it a landmark birthday, basically by way of a Beatles song. That look of the dude in the photo is when your body turns 64 but the rest of you is something like half that. That's the lord's truth.
It was a pretty pleasant day, which helped blunt some of the stress I bitched, moaned, and whinged about about in my previous blog entry. Geocaching on my birthday is a longstanding tradition, so I headed solo over Burlington way to pick up an even ten that have been lurking over there for a little while now. Some of them were considerably more than a walk in the park, so I had a nice time of it. On a somewhat sad note, my old friend and longtime geocaching partner Old Rob is more than a little under the weather, and it has the potential to remain an issue for some time to come. I'm sending out every good wish for him, and I hope you will too, whether you know him or not. He's several years older than I, but I remember like it was yesterday when he turned 64 and placed a geocache titled after that same Beatles song. I believe it's still out there in the wild, so it's almost tempting — almost, I say — to revisit it for old times' sake. I've been revisiting quite a few older caches lately, some of my own to perform maintenance, and some others just for the sake of hiking.
After Brugger got off work the afternoon, we ventured over to State Street Wine Company for a few celebratory drinks. It's become one of our primary go-to establishments since it's so close to home and the folks there are very personable. Rather than go out to dinner (we have dining-out plans with friends Terry & Beth and Joe & Suzy on tomorrow night), Brugger and I made Thai spring rolls, which was my dinner request. They were awesome.
All in all, a mellow day, and under the circumstances, that was just what the doctor ordered. We'll see how it goes in the coming days and weeks. Peace out.
Monday, May 1, 2023
A Perfect Storm
|A much-needed evening oasis at friend Samaire’s place|
Sigh. I was going to sit here and elaborate on how stressful and even traumatic some of the snowballing issues that have beset Brugger and me over the past month or so have been (I did, in fact, compose a considerable number of words on the subject). I deleted the bulk of them because it all began to sound like a great big whine. Still, I can’t help it; here is a bit of that post, abridged.
Saturday, April 29, 2023
Monstrous! Part 2 — Night of the Firebeast, 1979–1983
In the early 1970s, I composed a silly but fun little SF monster story called “Night of the Firebeast,” which featured a giant winged reptilian critter (see illo above) from the planet Venus called Damiron (or Damarron, in at least one of the tale’s numerous revisions). I drew a ton of pictures of the monster, and friend Bill Gudmundson, who regularly constructed detailed, articulated models (and animated them, à la Ray Harryhausen), built a couple of different versions of Damiron for me. I still have one of those models, a bit worse for wear, but still holding together.
In my final year of college (1981), having discovered the writings of H.P.
Lovecraft — and by now entertaining grandiose notions of becoming a famous
horror writer — I rewrote “Night of the Firebeast” as a weird hybrid of
daikaiju and Lovecraftian lore, still featuring Damiron but under the name
“Pachacutec” (the actual name of a Peruvian king, which I considered
apt, since the story was now set in Peru). I went full bore illustrating
scenes from it, mostly in pen and ink. Although the tale was hardly the
masterpiece I had envisioned in my budding little brain, it felt pretty solid
(and at some much later time — early 2000s, I believe — I sent a copy of the
J.D. Lees, editor of G-Fan magazine, who up and published
the thing). “Pachacutec” became the first chapter of my first honest-to-god
novel, again titled “Night of the Firebeast,” which I finished in 1983 — just
after I moved to Chicago to live with Bill G. The novel rightly never saw the
light of day, but I have long considered it a valuable practice run for my
novels that eventually did come to fruition.
In later years (2006), Pachacutec appeared again in a short story, this one entitled “The Transformer of Worlds,” published in an Australian anthology of giant monster stories, simply titled Daikaiju, edited by Rob Hood.
Again, for the sake of future history — if any — I am posting the complete set of drawings and paintings I created for Night of the Firebeast, if not for your entertainment then for mine, as I do find these personal chronicles useful for looking back to figure out what the hell I was thinking at any given point in time. These are pretty much in the order of events in the novel, so feel free to draw your own conclusions regarding the context. I don’t have it in me to compose a synopsis for the old beast; as it is, I’m not sure I could even remember, as these go back forty years and more. Click on these little fellows to enlarge.
Please note that I warned you yesterday that this might happen!
Friday, April 28, 2023
Monstrous! Part 1 — The Ultimate Godzilla (or Not)
As Ms. Brugger and I continue our renovation of the old homestead in Martinsville, we continually dig up intriguing relics from the days of yore — well, my yore, anyway. Tucked away in the corners of the house, I have scads of old art portfolios, and this morning, I came upon several pieces I haven’t seen in years. I knew these beasties lurked up in the attic, as I have periodically excavated some of the ruins, but seeing them again brought a lovely onslaught of nostalgia for all things daikaiju.
In junior high school, I created Japanese Giants, a fanzine devoted to Godzilla, kith & kin, more or less patterned after my dear, late friend Greg Shoemaker’s renowned Japanese Fantasy Film Journal. For me, Japanese Giants was a one-shot, but the title lived on, first via editor/publisher Brad Boyle, who took the reins until issue #4, and then by way of friends Ed Godziszewski and Bill Gudmundson, who kept the magazine going for several years into the 21st Century.
By high school, I had grandiose plans of becoming a writer/illustrator, and sometime in my senior year — 1976 or 1977 — I drew up a few pages of what I considered the ultimate Godzilla story. However, around that time, I found myself increasingly distracted by young women of the opposite sex, and my dream project never progressed beyond that initial sample.
For the sake of future history — if any — here it is. Later, if you’re not really good, I’ll post a bit about my other ancient original daikaiju endeavor, Night of the Firebeast. So you just watch yourselves.
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Dark Corners of the Old Dominion
Monday, April 17, 2023
I’m Getting Too Old for This Shit
Before dementia crippled Mom’s cognitive abilities, as a housekeeper, she was beyond conscientious. The house always appeared immaculate, and she took care of its routine maintenance to the best of her ability. Still, she was either unaware of, or unable to address, some of the larger issues that beset the house over a long period of time. The place dates back to the mid-1950s, and a remarkable number of the house’s appliances, fixtures, and systems are original. Well, were, considering that Ms. B. and I have set about the updating with a vengeance.
Currently, the interior is a mess, as this overhaul is no
trivial matter. I never realized that my mom was an honest-to-god,
card-carrying pack rat, for there is virtually no corner of this outwardly
immaculate house that doesn’t conceal miles of piles of stuff. Massive
amounts of that stuff have gone to meet their maker or been set aside
for an estate sale; but after days and days and days of clearing things out,
the piles don’t appear very much smaller. Plus, we’re having all the walls dewallpapered and painted,
the kitchen and baths totally redone, and the wall-to-wall carpets removed, for there is
gorgeous hardwood hiding underneath. The plumbing was older than Noah’s ark, so we’ve
had the waterworks redone — and just in the nick of time, as some of
those old pipes were on the verge of giving up the ghost and flooding the earth.
We’ve still got a ways to go, and I can tell you, I am thoroughly exhausted. It all sort of reminds me that I might not be as young as all that anymore. On the other hand, when it comes down to it, I’m faring better than an awful lot of far younger whippersnappers, so y’all just watch yourselves, or I might hang around a while longer. You may take that to the bank.
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
It’s Official! DEATHREALM: SPIRITS
Monday, April 10, 2023
Some years ago, writer/director Damien Leone’s All Hallows Eve (2013) introduced me to Art the Clown, and I think it’s fair to say I found Art one of the most disturbing horror characters in existence — particularly those of the clown persuasion. Clowns have never frightened me per se, but I can readily admit that some have unsettled me (my daughter once had this cast iron clown coin bank that “ate” coins, which did none of our sensibilities any favors). With All Hallows Eve, Art kind of messed up my head because, in the situations in the movie, he was simultaneously funny as hell yet altogether terrifying. Knowing that his appearance to someone was a harbinger of personal doom — a horrific doom, at that — effectively creeped me out.
The first Terrifier (2016) followed along the same lines. It felt a little more over-the-top, but it still disturbed me on a level that most horror/slasher movies do not.
Last night, I took the opportunity to watch Terrifier 2. It offered quite a few brilliant, scary moments/scenes, such as the Clown Café dream scene with its catchy, whimsical tunes. (In fact, I quite enjoyed the music throughout the movie, particularly the techno dance stuff.) Art provided several horrific moments worthy of his earlier film appearances. And the introduction of Creepy Little Demon Girl made for an entertaining touch. For the sake of continuity, I appreciated the references to Art’s first two adventures.
Overall, though, I didn't much care for this one. First and foremost, the running time is way too long — 138 minutes vs. 83 minutes for both All Hallows Eve and the original Terrifier. All those extra minutes added nada, zip, absolute jack shit, and — worst of all — introduced the element of boredom. Bzzzt, wrong! The movie’s surreal, dreamlike moments worked well enough, yet almost all of the “real-life” events dragged on to the point of tedium and frequently dove straight into the realm of the asinine rather than the frightening.
No. No, thank you.
So, Terrifier 2 is a mixed bag, and its most effective moments might be considered classic Art. Sadly, though, the crap weighs too heavily in the bag, and thus it gets a rating of only two out of five Damned Rodan’s Dirty Firetinis.
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Fugue Devil: Resurgence: A Breath of Fresh, Foul, Fetid Air
"Reading Stephen Mark Rainey's Fugue Devil: Resurgence (Black Raven Books, 2022) was a breath of fresh (foul? fetid?) air for this voracious reader of dark literature. I had approached this new collection of horror stories hoping for an above-average sophistication of style, a deliciously morbid atmosphere, and some enthralling plots — and what I found exceeded my wishes. Rather than relying on the usual blending of graphic violence and the cheap thrills of gore with supernatural elements, Fugue Devil: Resurgence faces the unutterable horror of human existence in a malevolent universe, Rainey's compelling style drawing the readers into the gaping jowls of a dismal world.
"Fugue Devil: Resurgence is an outstanding work, in that it achieves this outcome with a singularity of grace and style. Throughout the collection, a sustained dread of our most evil imagined outcomes is contrasted with Rainey's melodic prose. In 'Threnody,' you can almost hear the strains of the cosmic music beyond the spheres, which conjures horrific beings. I found myself breathless as I read 'Masque of the Queen' — I had literally been holding my breath, unawares — a tale which takes place in a deadly dimension of mystical beauty, strange gods, and weird planets. 'Fugue Devil' left me physically numb with fear. 'Hell’s Hollow' carried me into a world of rural woodland terror.
"Tinting a Lovecraftian world view with a psychedelic patina, Fugue Devil: Resurgence is the most original volume of horror stories I have read in a long time. The alluring quality of its description magnifies the horror of the dark and rapacious void it depicts. I read most of it in one sitting, unable to put it down."
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Scares That Care AuthorCon II — Blow by Blow
Brugger and I set out bright and early for Scares That Care AuthorCon II this morning, loaded to the gills with my various books and old copies of Deathrealm to hopefully foist on the unsuspecting populace. We had good weather and mostly good driving conditions, at least at first. Just west of Durham, NC, some moron damn near collided with me in her ridiculous zeal to zoom across three lanes of traffic. Then, just north of Durham, NC, we ran into a two-mile, hour-long traffic jam due to both highway construction and accidents (the accidents clearly being the result of idiotic judgment on someone's part in the highway construction zone). Happily, we survived these ugly setbacks, and the rest of the trip went swimmingly — particularly our stop at Indian Fields Tavern in Charles City, where we both found burgers of the most heavenly persuasion. I grabbed a nearby geocache. From there, driving was a breeze, and we sailed into Williamsburg in good condition and tolerable spirits.
|The monstrously delicious Charles City Burger at Indian Fields Tavern|
|Mr. Keene and Mr. Deathrealm|
|"Menacing" Maurice Broaddus|
|Richard Dansky and David Niall Wilson|
"The Golden Years of Horror" panel. L–R: Ronald Kelly, Mr. Deathrealm,
Ron Malfi, Tim Waggoner,
Maurice Broaddus, Mary Sangiovanni, Tim Lebbon; outside the frame of the photo: James Chambers,
Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jonathan Janz
|Joyce and Ron Kelly at their table in the main ballroom|
|David Simms doing his best to look unmenacing|
Ms. B. might have been a little hungover this morning...