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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Review: Black Pantheons: Collected Tales of Gnostic Dread by Curtis M. Lawson, Wyrd Horror, 2017, 131 pages

I have had a hard month. Despite the time etched on the calendar I have had a cold month.

I have been trying Court cases, the majority involving man's inhumanity to man; something in this dimension of space and time is all too common and all too familiar. We live in a culture of hate; what is and what many feel, with unwavering intolerance, should be.

Reality is hard and finite. Reality much of the time is cruel. There is no dream of what might be only the darkness of now.

Needing a break I was approached with a new tome; a collection of tales inspired by the cosmicism of H. P. Lovecraft. Eleven stories of wonder, including a retelling of sorts of a classic children's tale; the title -- BLACK PANTHEONS.

Curtis M. Lawson brings us 11 stories and 131 pages packed with what might be exploring the mythologies of this and other cultures all rooted in the here and now all the while transporting both the protagonist and the reader to dimensions vast and heretofore unknown.

The stories are entertaining and thought provoking; ethereal and challenging. Prepare to have your mind stretched. Prepare to have your temporal beliefs challenged. Prepare to stand in the shoes of the characters.

And by the way, you will never look at the story of "Pinocchio" the same again.

As inspired by the master Mr. Lovecraft and his mythos of long ago, this is a marvelous modern take with exploring vignettes and full blown tales that offer hope, including the horrors, that other dimensions and means are within reach.

This is new collection, published this very month and further details on its purchase and the scribe behind these tales and are contained on http://curtismlawson.com/ .

Check it out and buy his book.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Book Review: The Diary of Dr. John Polidori 1816, 2015 reprinted from 1911 edited by William Michael Rossetti

Long before Horror literature was rendered practically impotent because it was bastardized by illiterate wannabees, plot thieves and over sexed sexless hacks, there was a time when classic literature was crafted without fear and with abandon. There was a time even when the most melodramatic piece of trash showed worth because an actual story rather than a rant existed.

In other words, talent actually lived and walked and breathed and wrote.

The year is 1816 and Dr. John Polidori, budding writer and personal physician to the immortal poet Lord Byron spent a long weekend with Byron and a married couple, Percy B. and Mary Shelley. Out of this weekend and a quadruple dare was born and the Romantic Movement fired a shot heard for ages to come.

Amidst the incessant rain the group discussion led to supernatural tales with Polidori penning THE VAMPYRE, A TALE; the first vampire novel published in English and Mary Shelley creating the immortal and extremely influencing FRANKENSTEIN.

What is contained in these pages is the back story, a memoir of the moment a point in time when literature rose above the mass market. Edited by William Michael Rossetti, the maternal nephew to Polidori and the brother to Dante, this volume is copious and fascinating.

Originally published in 1911 this tome is not dated with page after page capturing the same lightning in a bottle that gave Mary Shelley's creation life.

For any writer this is an important glimpse into a moment of creativity. For any writer this is a chance to be a witness to history itself.

Buy the book.





Thursday, April 13, 2017

Artist Review: Gary Wray

If you don't know the name Basil Wolverton you cannot in all honesty with the straightest of studious face and smart styled eye glasses claim to have any level of literacy; or in the alternative profess any knowledge about comics.

Literacy aside of course.

Wolverton who lived from 1909 to 1978 was an illustrator and cartoonist whose career became known for stark originality and unique style thus qualifying him as an undisputed genius and legend in his time and for times to come.

As with his contemporaries, Edward Gorey and Robert Crumb, Wolverton's work is unmistakable, a landmark and highly influential. And by the way if Gorey or Crumb escape you please do the honorable thing and divest yourself of all you own and relocate under a rock.

Gary Wray is our contemporary and very much our Gorey and Crumb. He's also our Basil Wolverton having won Weirdo Magazine's ugly art contest, a Wolverton contest for those Wolverton devotees.

Be it painting on canvas or sculpture Wray art is unique and important. I happen to own many pieces, both canvas and figure and I marvel at the originality and vision. Affordable and accessible the artist's one of kind items can be found online and even on eBay and Etsy.

For full disclosure I own many pieces and even commissioned Gary to paint a portrait of my beloved cover to Corpses Don't Bleed. I do so because I am amazed by the imagination and creativity captured in each and every item.

Classic movie monsters are created with a flair, monsters of the mind are also in the lair. If you want something more than a simple action figure; if you want something to capture an artist's creative moment buy Gary Wray.




Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: PETER CUSHING LIVES! The Peter Cushing Society

Celebrating their 61st year The Peter Cushing Appreciation Society is the quintessential, and actually the essential, authority on the life and career of Peter Wilton Cushing OBE aka Dr. Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes, Professor Frankenstein, Dr. Who and hundreds of memorable characters of film, television and the stage.

United Kingdom based the Society is the protector and preservationist of countless images, clips, interviews, etc. etc. celebrating the life and career of the actor's actor.

This is a treat that cuts across genres because Peter Cushing was a perfectionist of many mediums and many tales; horror, science fiction, comedy, drama and adventure. It is here you can sample to satisfy your thirst for knowledge and find morsels you never knew existed such as that appearance in a Laurel and Hardy short.  

You can find the society at PeterCushingblog.blogspot.com and sign up for its many platforms. I have to say that being greeted each morning with a Peter Cushing short certainly makes the morning a lot brighter.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Film Review: Vampyr (1932) Carl Theodor Dreyer

Here is a classic forgotten by many. And how this German masterpiece and I have avoided each other is beyond me. 

Well maybe it has to do with all the missing and destroyed prints: most of the German, all the English, Dutch and French prints have gone missing or have simply been destroyed by natural causes. Thank the Dear Lord at least one print survived and received the restoration necessary to keep it alive.

This tale of the undead begins when traveler Allan Gray checks into a small inn in the village of Courterpierre and wakes to find an old man who leaves behind an ominous package. The label reads 'do not open until I am dead'; the wrapping contains an old volume about the lore and existence of vampires.

This is a subject new to our hero, a man who bears a resemblance to H. P. Lovecraft. But a subject he finds himself obsessed with and unwittingly submerged in. 

The village is under attack by a malevolence so powerful and unique that no one seems to understand its power. Weird character appearances follow with flesh and blood individuals at times divorced by light and shadow in a story chock full of shadow men and women who lead Mr. Gray and us closer and closer to the evil at hand.  

The cinematic use of shadow as a 'special effect' is simple and genius. Quite frankly it is natural and uncorrupted by today's cartoony CGI.

The style of this film bridges silent and talkie. Much exposition is still made with scene cards but dialogue is spoken. The acting is subliminally expressive, again, falling in that gap between silent and sound. But the acting, as with the writing, is solid. 

What you find is a realism to this film, not a parlor display, in the dirt, dust and blood presented. The folklore is rich without being pedantic and the tension and creeps build. 

This is not your carefully plotted parlor vampire but something uniquely European. The monster in this production hearkens back to the original collector of souls, that of the old hag. A matriarchal vampire in 1932 was groundbreaking and believe me her appearance in this plot continues to rattle the planet.

The plot twists are many. The menace is unchecked. You will have to subtitles, but hey it is the some of the best reading you will ever know.

It is in the public domain and readily accessible. Dreyer's vision of the undead is a linking of the modern and impressionistic and cannot be missed. It should be studied. It should be cherished and taken seriously along the greatest horror films of any day.

Watch it. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

News. Real News Not Fake or Very Fake News.....About Cosmopolitan Magazine

Before you lift that eye brow, I am about to tell you a tale; true in its substance and five years and counting in its scope. Before you scoff, just take a moment. Sit down and relax. Close your eyes, let your limbs go limp and empty your mind so you can concentrate....

Scantily clad young women. Their hair flowing. Their flesh firm and glossy. Lips soft and inviting. Eyes sparkling and begging...and those breasts...those legs....look at the nape of that neck...I can spy a tongue...

Need a moment? Clean up? How long do you need? How about two years or five years? Yeah with sex and sex, raw, bright, graphic this whole thing has lasted five years and counting...Such stamina. Such passion. Sherman's campaign during the Civil War lasted less.

William Randolph Hearst oversaw a self made publishing empire, but an empire built on the lurid yellow journalism that he perfected. Even before Hearst journalism was always the means to sales and with Hearst amidst the scandals, the slanders and the innuendo could sell better than a war?

Victoria Hearst is the patriarch's granddaughter and at the helm of an attack she began in 2012, an attack she intensified in 2015 and an attack that is still brewing in 2017. Everyday her radio spots can be heard in the largest of markets, that is New York.

Victoria Hearst labels a cash cow of her grandfather's empire and her legacy, pornographic and wants the removal of the highly hyper-successful Cosmopolitan Magazine from the checkout line to an area behind the counter, covered somewhat except for title and sold only to those of a proper age.

Ms. Hearst insists this is not a family feud and she admits she profits from the sale of magazine. Her issue is simply product placement and access. She is not seeking an editorial or style change. She is not promoting censorship. She just doesn't want children exposed to, or rather smacked in the face with, the alluring covers and salacious content. She prays for control, for adult themes to read and ogled by adults.

Patty Hearst's little sister is aided in this crusade by a number of social justice groups including the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

In a perfect world this is admirable. I do not believe in censorship but I do believe in age appropriateness. However our culture is mired: we have an internet connection on phones, our musical acts, male and female and all those in between, wear less and gyrate more than the girls of Tony Soprano's Bada Bing. We live in age when Playboy is the tamest magazine on the rack. Sex does sell and it is everywhere.

Our literature is saturated with four letter outbursts and allusions to one's junk. Art is not art anymore and well even a stance is considered not a stance...

Opponents and skeptics have attacked Ms. Hearst claiming her born again status is the root cause of this battle. What concerns me is that somehow these critics feel that a spiritual person is somehow flawed for being a spiritual person. I consider that bunk to say the least.

Others feel this is yet another sales ploy. Publicity and controversy create curiosity which creates sales. But surely the magazine is and has always been one of the most profitable without the controversy.

We live in times when everything is turned upside down. People are famous and influential for being famous. Make a sex tape and be a star. Star with a well written script and no one will hear the words. People are dumbed down spewing talking points rather than having an original thought. Selfies and postings of food are supposed to be the stories of the day.

If you have an opinion, well reasoned or even not. If others don't agree with you, you are label the foulest of things by those who are the most tolerant, intelligent and nurturing.

I commend Ms. Hearst for trying to bring some sanity to this cesspool. Cosmopolitan should continue writing and photographing and publishing what it does. It is popular and should continue to profit. However in an age where film and music are rated, it should follow the piper.

I have to say that I am against ratings but unfortunately many parents lack the brain matter or the energy to bring their children up with age appropriate entertainment which in my opinion feeds and shapes the cognitive features of a child.

Your thoughts? I'm with her. I'm with Victoria on this one.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Film Review: That is REVIEWS from Mill Creek Entertainment

Hey, here is a real value and probably better entertainment than modern day Hollywood can provide.

Mill Creek Entertainment is packaging 50 movie collections comprised of in the domain A films and mostly B, C, and D endeavors for reasonable prices AND the ability to also register these films for streaming online. What a choice? What a country? All in a 10 disc set.

So as DVD players fade into the Beta dimension with 8 tracks and Kennedy vehicles you can still view your complete purchase of these nuggets online. Such a deal for no extra charge.

Packaged by genre and sub-genre you can find Westerns, Romances, Action films, Horror etc. etc. No
overblown, poorly acted, computer generated phlegm here. You will find classics and brilliant cult offerings. Sure there may be a clunker or two but with 50 films for under twenty dollars, so what can be the complaint snowflake?

And it is film so even Meryl Streep can't object. You know she never responded to my invitation to my Super Bowl LI party. She missed one Hell of a game. She missed one Hell of a dip and Guinness to boot. Well the Hell with her fancy dancy palate; these films are great.

Buy a pack.