Revenge Of The Manitou (Graham Masterton)

The 71 year old Edinburgh-born author has an unusual pedigree. He used to write sex books like How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed – 3 million copies of that one sold. He was also heavily involved as an editor for porn mags like Mayfair and Penthouse too. Then he became a prolifically successful horror novel writer. Interesting…anyway, this follow up to his earlier The Manitou is much more entertaining. At first I was leery as the book opened with the focus on an eight-year old protagonist, but I quickly warmed-up to Toby and the Fenner clan.  [Read more…]

The Blob (1958 USA)

Hardly substantial enough to be a guilty pleasure, let alone a cult film: a giant quivering mound of raspberry (or is it blackcurrant?) jelly chasing – and often catching – fleeing, highly respectable teenagers on a weekend night. From the moment we hear Burt Bacharach’s opening theme song “Beware of the Blob!” we know we’re in for a good, solid, campy light hearted fun. Refreshingly free of any scientific investigation/jargon. I like to watch this stuff for historical reasons: the 50’s cars, teens in high collar shirts and high pants, crime-free suburbia, Polio posters, proper girls, crooked teeth, chess games, super friendly cops… [Read more…]

Dracula A.D. 1972 (United Kingdom)

(I dedicate this post to Peter Cushing, who always maintained his dignity even when his hands were full.) Moving on…no prizes for guessing which year this baby was released. T’was a leap year in horror. A vintage year for being a vampire trapped in St Bartolph’s churchyard, London. Although it feels slapdash, with its day-as-night shots, total lack of continuity and sloppy script, this film succeeds as a comic masterpiece. A bit like the Beatles disastrous Let It Be sessions, Hammer’s Dracula run-at-the-top was also nigh. Right nigh. And there was little Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee could do to stop the rot except to throw as much middle aged, Anglo-Saxon gravitas at the latest concotion they had found themselves roped into. [Read more…]

The Dunwich Horror (USA 1970)

I reviewed this on April 30, 2015. Now I’m doing it again. Before you steal a forbidden grimoire from a library and writhe nude on a Druid’s altar, hear me out. Why revamp an old post? Because its there! What I love about the Dunwich Horror is that its an overly long episode of Night Gallery. Lovecraft’s stories, with their references to tentacles and other undulating protuberances coming in and out of things at all angles, were certainly sexual – in a mad way – but they were never sexy. He would have hated this sexing up of his story but who cares? This is a unique work: where else will you see a feminist raped to death by a male chauvinist cabbage from an outré dimension? Exactly. Plus the ocean is used throughout as symbolic of timelessness and eternity, and Wilbur Whately’s Twin’s presence is made known by a combo of a heart beating audio clip and the sound of water slushing. Its quite groovy. [Read more…]

The Red Room (H. G. Wells)

Hell House (Richard Matheson)

Matheson really was a master of his craft. He took the conventional Gothic structure and threw it out of the window. Assaulting the reader with carnal, palpable terror, from its first page to the very end. Readers new to Hell House will be wondering how far are things going to go regarding the repulsive sexual shenanigans… What would have been shocking and new to audiences in 1971 has become a tad too familiar today, unfortunately. While this speaks volumes to the book’s cultural and literary impact – the fact that it has been copied and imitated by so many on film and on the page detracts from the book’s overall contemporary wow factor. I bet Stephen King used this as some inspiration for The Shining. [Read more…]

If You Could See Me Now (Peter Straub)

The blurb of my copy of the book manages to drop three spoilers in the space of two sentences, and then reiterates one of the spoilers just in case I was slow on the uptake. I shall endeavor to avoid doing something similar. Straub brings class to horror unlike anyone I’ve ever read. He has literary tricks up his sleeve that will keep sophisticated readers happy throughout. He is a master of tone. And not just with the mystery he puts forth in this novel, but with the way he sets up our narrator as this haughty know-it-all faced with a town of plebeians that plague him. This book is a wonderful ride to take for that reason. [Read more…]

Rose Red (2002 USA)

Stephen King screen adaptations have become quite a conundrum. He has lambasted most of them for altering characters and flow. King purists stick to the argument that the phenomena and events he describes simply cannot be captured visually. Rose Red represented ABC’s televisual attempt at the horror master’s work. Scripted and executive produced by King, it’s more ironic than terrifying; the only example I’ve seen where the TV/ movie shortcomings orignate from Stephen King’s story rather than the production values or casting. This three part mini-series revolves around a haunted house, named Rose Red, in Seattle. [Read more…]

The Cellar (Richard Laymon)

Some say the best things in life are free while others say you have to pay an admission fee. Richard Laymon books are somewhere in between. Its nice to pick them up at the library but I don’t really mind paying either. Providing they are cheap and easy in some bargain bin…I love the fact that Laymon can make even the most overly used clichés seem new to the reader. I knew exactly what was coming, yet I didn’t. Stock characters are going to get themselves in over their heads in a creepy town with a history of people who ‘just go missing’. And yes, everyone’s gonna go into this demonic, evil house (at night) when they know they shouldn’t. [Read more…]

The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty)

“The Exorcist” is as superior to most books of its kind as an Einstein equation is to an accountant’s column of figures.”–New York Times.  How can I disagree with the world’s most famous rag? Not on this occasion. By the time I finished the final sentence I felt like a convalescing patient. My sanity stretched to the limit, gasping for relief, my hair literally standing on end. William Peter Blatty had achieved a dubious distinction for a fictional writer: he produced a novel that raped a generation. He’s left a traumatic, permanent mark on millions of people since 1971. He also wrote the filmed version too – traumatizing even more people who couldn’t be bothered reading the book. How dare he?! [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: