You know the movie Smokey And The Bandit? Reading Sam W. Anderson's The Nines is like remembering it but instead of Jerry Reed as the Snowman, replace him with a middle-aged, steroid-abusing, muscle-bound beast named Artimus. Instead of humping a trailer full of Coors across the state line, he's ferrying a much more sinister cargo on a stretch of American highway known simply as The Nines. This is the arterial thoroughfare of the country, all the bad shit, the stuff that is everywhere but no one seems to know how it got there...this is how it gets there.
Artimus just hauls and drops, no questions asked. His "Bandit" is a the less-than-sane Baily. She's stern and all-business and she talks the her hand. This book starts out with our man Artimus about to embark on what should be just another run. But his twin brother, Henry has another idea. See, Sheriff Henry has an addiction to meth and Asian porn...and he likes to be naked. Sheriff Henry is feeling real bad about leaving his woman and daughter in Vietnam after the war. So he's decided that doing the right thing for once might just cause all the dominoes to fall in a line and put him of the path to happiness and a good life. Boy, is he wrong.
The Nines is every bit as enjoyable as Anderson's American Gomorrah omnibus. I love the dark and gritty noir and the hyper-fucked up characters that weave the fabric of his work. The one's mentioned above along with Sister Dazy, the nun who could drink the late Oliver Reed off his stool and have no problem blowing him at the same time. David Howard the film-obsessed young man with the mail-order bride and the sinister agenda. The burn-scarred Deputy Bear and Deacon Rice (one of the most vile villains in modern fiction) help carry the load of this twisty turny story. It's equal parts Lansdale and Coen Brothers on the set of Movin' On. It's the great green gobs of greasy grimy guts that America keeps in it's ever-puffed out chest.
The Nines is fast-paced and fun. The populace so deeply flawed and fractured yet inherently human and funny all at the same time. I enjoyed the ride. And what a ride it is.
The Nines is available from Rothcopress.
Normally non fiction and in particular tomes dedicated to one subject have normally bored me to death, I have problems with keeping focused on one topic at a time. To that I have never really been a fan of books that look at and dissect films, however having said that, after reading Jez Conolly and David Owain Bates excellent entry in the Devil's Advocates series of books that look at classic horror films, I am now a convert.
Dead of Night was one of those films that if you asked me I couldn't tell you if I had watched it or not from the title alone. It was released a mere matter of days after the end of World War II. It was the prototype portmanteau horror film and featured some of the finest directors and writers to work in British films.
For those of you who don't know, in Dead of Night, architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) arrives at a country house party where he reveals to the assembled guests that he has seen them all in a dream. He appears to have no prior personal knowledge of them but he is able to predict spontaneous events in the house before they unfold. The other guests attempt to test Craig's foresight, while entertaining each other with various tales of uncanny or supernatural events that they experienced or were told about. These include a racing car driver's premonition of a fatal bus crash; a light-hearted tale of two obsessed golfers, one of whom becomes haunted by the other's ghost (cut from the initial USA release); a ghostly encounter during a children's Christmas party (another tale cut from the initial USA release); a haunted antique mirror; and the story of an unbalanced ventriloquist (Michael Redgrave) who believes his amoral dummy is truly alive. The framing story is then capped by a twist ending.
This really is an archetypal film (not least that it has an architect in it) and Conolly and Bates have honoured the importance of this film with with a beautifully researched, passionately presented and captivating read that delves into the darkest corners of British film making to present a book that never fails to be entertaining.
Before delving into the film proper, they set the scene wonderfully with a "road map" to the film which sets the scene by referencing some of the themes and plot devices used by the film and contextualising them postulative thoughts on the country at the time. It also gives us an informative history of the film and its relationship with film TV and DVD.
It then moves on into a fascinating detailed look at each of the stories, including the interlocking story that bookends the film. From reading this book it is clear that the writers have a huge love of not just this film, but of British filmmaking as a whole. The passion that they both share is evident in every single sentence of this book. It was a joy to read such a detailed and informative deconstruction of a film. This is an intelligent well researched book that looks past the basic plot of the film and shows us how this film tapped into the zeitgeist of the time. Unlike some books of this nature, the links to cultural themes never feel like they are clutching at straws for something to say, and end up being very enlightening. Dead of Night is a must read for all fans of supernatural cinema.
there is a woman guarding a great secret and he's supposed to kill her.
John C. Foster has delivered a truly unique thing with his novel, Dead Men. A severely dark and gritty supernatural noir mural, painted in broad strokes of blood and ash and fear, probably using a torn scalp for a brush. It's a feral book, skittish and baring teeth and probably disease in its frothing drool. A fistful of quarters connecting with your jaw is what Dead Men is.
John Smith wakes up after dying in the electric chair. Clad in a slit-back suit he is paired with another John Smith (nicknamed Alice) who is the British mirror image of himself. And a third John Smith who is the most fiendishly sketched psychopath I've read in a long time. John Smith I and Alice roar off in a black caddy looking for a girl, this is their mission. During which signals will get crossed and double crosses are common currency. They need to find and kill this woman, that was the order.
If only the mission ere that simple. When Smith slowly starts to assemble the chunky pieces of his memory and realize what kind of mess he's been placed into, that is when the book really catches. The sizzle of the fuse you've been holding pops and crackles into a full blown flame, chugging its way to the keg of powder that promises to be the follow up. Wait? Did I neglect to tell you this is only the first of a series. I'm sorry.
Dead Men: Libros De Inferno/Book One. The writing is razor sharp and scalpel thin. Held deftly between thumb and forefinger it creates clean wounds that sting and heal nicely. The language and imagery are shadow pitch on the sole of your boots as you walk the streets at Midnight. That dark. Foster is a force to be reckoned with, a voice to be listening to and a writer to be reading.
I mean it.
Dead Men is available from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.
And from Amazon UK
They Say Karma is a bitch,
13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, or a lot of school girls do nasty things to each other all in the name of popularity, might seems like the stuff of Sunday afternoon movie fare on Channel 5, a means girls for the damp and dreary UK, however 13 Minutes is so much more than that. It is a deeply layered book that keeps the readers second guessing the truth of the mystery, while at the same time giving us a brutally honest and sometimes bleak look into the hearts and mind of a modern teenage girl.
A recent Facebook conversation reminded me that I never got around to reviewing Splatterpunk #7, which is borderline unforgivable. So let’s get to it, shall we?
The Chomper by Kristopher Rufty - A nifty little tale of that perfect suburban location, and the lengths a couple is willing to go to keep it. I really enjoyed the tension between the husband and wife in this, and I couldn’t quite see how the story was going to pan out, which was gratifying.
Awakening by Jeff Strand - My flash fiction piece of 2015. Gross, twisted, and hilarious, all at once, it’s worth the cover price for this one alone. Seriously, note perfect. The dialogue is a special triumph. Like if Douglas Adams did splatterpunk horror comedy. Gold.
Pas de Deux by Garrett Cook - Yeah, this one is twisted. An exploration of a relationship that goes way beyond the bounds of S&M play, I found this one compelling and repellent in equal measure. Genuinely dark, intelligently written. Haunting, and pulls no punches.
Readings off the Charts by Adam Cesare - Someday, this cat will write a bad story, Today is not that day. Cesare’s grasp of character, ability to sketch relationships and a sense of place are as keen as ever here, and he recreates well the horror movie experience of wanting to yell at the protagonist to NOT DO THE THING, even as we’re unsure what, exactly, it is about doing the thing that will turn out to be bad. This story will be included in ‘Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Vol.1’ edited by Randy Chandler and Cheryl Mullenax. The economy of the story telling, always a Cesare strength, is especially at the fore here. Cracking conclusion to the Zine.
Chuck in a spirited defence of Eli Roth by no less a legend than Jeff Burk,and the usual round up of horror fiction reviews, and it’s another superb outing from editor Jack Bantry. Splatterpunk is 100% the real deal, and if seedy-but-brilliantly-written hardcore horror is your pleasure, guilty or otherwise, I’d say this zine is essential reading.
Purchase a copy here
the Village Witch will unleash almost four hundred years of resentment, hatred and homicidal rage on the town.