Spooky Empire Weekend, Part II

Here’s the belated second part of my Spooky Empire Weekend trip report…

Saturday I didn’t make it back to the Freak Show Film Festival until 3:30, so I missed Alien Raiders, which ended up winning top prize at the festival and which I overheard some people say was really, really good. Bummer. But I saw the short films Cam 2 Cam and The Room. Cam 2 Cam gets bonus points for having a pug puppy in it, and it manages to be fairly suspenseful even though most of the movie is an online chat. The Room is extremely well shot and well scripted, with some neat twists along the way.

Next up was The Curse of Dr. Mongoo,  which is one segment of a planned anthology film. It’s extremely silly, splattery, and entertaining, and contains one of the funniest vomit gags in recent memory. (It’s the timing, not the quantity, that makes it so funny.) If you’re the kind of person who would watch a movie because some guy on a blog said that it contains one of the funniest vomit gags in recent memory, you’ll love this movie.

Then my first feature film of the day, the vampire flick Live Evil. This one also falls into the “extremely silly, splattery, and entertaining” category–a definite crowd pleaser. Like Dr. Mongoo, it doesn’t offer much beyond campy B-movie thrills, but on that level it works very well. Lots of laughs, lots of gore, lots of nudity, and lots of action. It’s also playing tomorrow night at the Halloween Horror Picture Show. 

At this point we took a 180 degree turn from campy splatter to grim terror with Resurrection County, my favorite movie of the weekend and my favorite horror film of the past couple of years. It’s a “campers run afoul of nasty hillbillies” flick, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for by being intense as hell. My stomach was in knots through most of the frickin’ movie. It’s got great acting and likable heroes, and once things turn dark, they turn VERY dark and brutal, even though the film doesn’t go overboard on graphic violence.

There’s one scene in particular, which I won’t spoil, that should have gotten laughs. Nervous laughs, at least. Nope. The audience was dead silent. This is one effective horror movie. I suspect that it won’t get much theatrical play outside of the film festival circuit, but I hope I’m wrong, ‘cuz this one kicks ass.

Part III coming soon…

Spooky Empire Weekend, Part I

The first time I attended the Spooky Empire Weekend (when it was called Screamfest) I went as an author guest. It was fun, but it was NOT the kind of event where people flock to tables going “Oooh! Oooh! A published novelist!” Let’s put it this way: on the Guests page of the website, I was below the “blank placeholder” spot. This year, I went just as a civilian, and had a fantastic time.  

The dealer’s room was enormous and had thousands of DVDs, approximately 7% of which were official legal releases. I bought a pirated copy of my buddy Greg Lamberson’s movie Slime City just to tell him that I did. I also bought a deck of Texas Chainsaw Massacre playing cards, because everybody needs a pack of Texas Chainsaw Massacre playing cards, and the novelization of The Toxic Avenger. I don’t even like The Toxic Avenger that much, but I had to see what they did with this. (Report forthcoming…maybe…)

Much of my time was spent in the Freak Show Film Festival, which was run by Robert Massetti and which was, I must say, a damn good film festival. My original intent had been to camp out there and see the entire lineup, but sanity took over and instead I watched about half of them, leaving time for stuff like, y’know, meals. For the most part, each feature film was paired with one or two shorts…I’ll cover the shorts in a lump at the end.

The first movie was Nobody, which I really enjoyed despite the fact that if I’d known what it was about beforehand, I would’ve skipped it. I knew it was a noir movie, but it also fell into the What The %$&@ Is Going On? genre, where you’re not sure if you’re seeing reality, dream sequences, flashbacks, or what (although all is eventually made clear). I’m not big into that kind of storytelling, but it was a very solid, well-made little film. Also cold. The screening room was frickin’ freezing, and the entire movie is filled with cold outdoor night scenes. Fortunately, I’d packed a sweater, sparing me similar misery for the other films. I’m a thin-blooded Florida guy…

After dinner, I saw 13 Hours in a Warehouse, which is Reservoir Dogs meets an Asian ghost movie. The special effects are way too hokey for the movie to be scary, and some of the dialogue (most notably an extended conversation about Robin Williams movies) is shamelessly Tarantino-influenced…but it’s an entertaining movie, the acting is good, and I was never bored, which is always a risk when you’re watching a movie called 13 Hours in a Warehouse.

So I started the festival off with two features that I liked, but things really picked up on Saturday. Stay tuned…


Necronomicon was a great time, as always. For the Spooky Stories Pajama Party on Friday night, I read “Gramma’s Corpse” (which got a loud gasp at a non-gory part–sweet!!!), my version of “The Three Little Pigs,” and “Special Features.” On Saturday, I was on a “Humor: Is Nothing Sacred?” panel.  I spent the rest of the convention just chillin’ with cool people, and watching Joss Whedon’s “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” which I’d never seen, which was brilliant, and which I wish I hadn’t seen for the first time in a Rocky Horror-type environment.

Next weekend: Screamfest!

Wrong Blog!


Today I’m the guest blogger on Michele Bardsley’s blog (Subject: “If you were going to be on a reality TV show, which one would you pick?”), which means that my own blog is pretty much just going to be a link to her blog.
You’ll notice that I was a BIT more verbose than the other participants. Either I didn’t understand the assignment or they didn’t.

The Walking Dead


I read exactly one comic book, The Walking Dead. I don’t buy the issues as they come out; I just get the six-issue trade paperback compilations. Despite an amazing cliffhanger in Volume 7, I didn’t rush right out to buy Volume 8 immediately.
But I’ve read it now, and….holy crap!!! I absolutely couldn’t believe what the series was willing to do to its characters, 40+ issues into the story. I’m not sure if readers were praising its bravery or throwing screaming fits, but I was seriously impressed.
Now I want to write a comic book series.


Hey, are you gonna be at Necromicon in Tampa this year? You should go. Friday night, October 10th, I’ll be part of the Scary Stories Pajama Party, reading a spooooooky story from 10:00 to 10:30 PM. If you want to hang out until midnight, there will be other spoooooky stories by Lynne Hansen, Richard Lee Byers, and Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc. 

I’ll be reading my story “Gramma’s Corpse” from Waiting For October, which is so scary that the entire audience will have a group accident. “Stop!” the people in the front row will shout. “We cannot handle the bone-chilling terror for a moment longer!” But I’ll just cackle like a mentally disturbed dental assistant and continue reading until the horrific end. Muahahahahaha!!!
Learn all about Necronomicon right here: http://www.stonehill.org/necro.htm 



So last night I saw Religulous, a documentary starring Bill Maher and directed by Larry Charles, who did Borat. (And if I may leap off-topic immediately, I’m still saddened that my Borat experience was ruined by not knowing that most of the people in that movie were non-actors who believed that they were in a legitimate documentary, which would’ve made it a LOT funnier. Since the first few minutes were obviously scripted, I figured the rest was too. Bummer for me.)
Religulous is a very entertaining, extremely funny movie, but though it wants to be a thought-provoking attack on religion, it really only works on the level of “Bill Maher makes fun of a few idiots.” A documentary that ends with the message that religion is going to bring about the complete destruction of the world should pick more challenging interview subjects than a guy who plays Jesus at an Orlando theme park. An interview with a reformed homosexual who’s in the business of un-gaying people is laugh-out-loud funny…but he’s too easy of a target, as is a store owner whose most impressive religious miracle is that one time it started to rain when he asked it to (“Your bar for miracles is pretty low,” Maher tells him).
It’s well worth seeing to watch Maher having fun with some whackos, but whatever beliefs you carry into the movie, you’re going to carry right back out with you.


So is there any reason that I should sign up for Twitter, as opposed to simply posting a bunch of really short pointless blog entries, much like this one?

Welcome to October!

Hey, kids, it’s everybody’s favorite month! So let’s start the celebration with some short story updates…

Shroud Magazine has accepted my short story “Burden.” It’s a very dark, unpleasant tale about a guy who really, really resents having to take care of his brother after an accident. If you didn’t like my stories “One of Them” or “Glimpses,” you probably won’t like this one, either…but I won’t remind you of the connection when the magazine comes out, so you’ll buy it anyway and then say “Gosh darn it! I didn’t like ‘Burden’ any more than ‘One of Them’ or ‘Glimpses!’ Curse you, Strand!”

Meanwhile, in the polar opposite tone, I’ve seen the nearly-final cover to Monstrous, a collection of giant creature stories which contains my verrrrrrrrry silly oversized-vampire tale “The Big Bite.” The cover freakin’ rocks. I’ll share it when I’m allowed to.
Also meanwhile, Amazon shows Blood Lite with a publication date of October 21st, so “The Bell…FROM HELL!!!” isn’t too far away. Horror Library Volume 3 also has an October publication date, so “The Apocalypse Ain’t So Bad” isn’t too far away, either. Cool.
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