Tuesday, March 31, 2015

'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' gets a Documentary

Do you guys remember Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? Well, it's back, IN POG FORM!

Not really, but the nostalgic fan-favorite is getting a documentary funded over on IndieGOGO that looks pretty interesting. Here's a snippet.

This intriguing documentary will explore the history and background of one of the most controversial works of modern children’s literature: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. In the 1980s and 1990s in elementary libraries across the United States these books developed a growing interest from boys and girls who were taken in by the gothic tales, the whimsical tone, and the ghostly illustrations. Now the Scary Stories book series stands as the most challenged children’s book of the last 30 years and a testament to the power of something that is often taken for granted: a good scary story.

I vividly remember the Scary Stories series being at the top of my list for every elementary school book fair fund raising event. By today's standards the books would probably be considered wildly inappropriate for young kids, but that was back in the 1980's when stories about demonic severed hands were commonplace, and there were only so many Garfield anthologies a kid could read.

Now Screaming: Parasyte The Maxim Episodes 1-6 (Hulu Plus, Crunchy Roll)

You need to be watching this show.

Sure watching something like The Walking Dead or American Horror Story will give you more water cooler chatter than an Anime, but your time would be much better spent here.

Parasyte started airing in October over Hulu Plus and Crunchy Roll. Unlike works in the horror-you-should-experience like video game titles Silent Hill and Resident Evil, Anime never really broke through.  I reviewed Blue Exorcist to some confused eyebrows from my fellow horror fans.  I'm sure this will raise a few too.

At first glance, nothing about this show is that revolutionary.  Heinlein's The Puppet Master's is the fertile ground this is born from, and we've seen the fruit before in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Faculty, The Thing, and more recently Scott Sigler's fiction.  Having experienced all of those (and other less quality works) I feel comfortable not being hyperbolic in saying that (at least in these first episodes) this is the ultimate interpretation of these tropes.

Seriously, you need to be watching this.

The premise: alien parasites fall from the sky, burrow into human heads, and take over human brains. These aliens then control the body and can instantly transform the head into a monstrous killing machine (sort of like The Thing), but need the human blood supply to remain alive.

Our protagonist is a failed case, as the parasite is only able to take over his hand.  This leaves both personalities to argue, philosophize, and navigate the changing world around them as well as indulge in some Super Hero-esque "look at this cool shit I can do now" activities.

Where this title separates itself from the herd is that nothing is lazy.  The characterization is robust. The art is beautiful.  The story telling is constantly tense but somehow never overwrought.  Also, that tension comes from a diverse set of pressures and not just the supernatural ones.  Social, societal, parental, and relationship difficulties are all present and cleverly handled.

All of this is juxtaposed with balls-to-the-wall horror that goes some really dark places, and each dreary stab of supernatural horror brilliantly tugs at all of these other dramatic strings.  It seems like everything and the kitchen sink story wise, but, then again, that's how life is.  Somehow, nothing here feels out of place, and the verisimilitude of this insane horrorscape seems on point.

But the best part of this show is the relationship between the protagonist and his parasite.  Making the alien invaders a powerful sentient race that seems guided by a simple id (1. Preserve self at All Costs 2. Take over humans 3. Destroy all other humans) was a brilliant move that was probably made in the source material (a Manga from the late '80s early early '90s).  Admittedly, I haven't read it and can't confirm that, but this is what pushes the show from good to great.

This elevates each of the monsters encountered, seeing how these simple instructions are evolved or mutated based on individual or environmental factors is fascinating.  Further, it fuels the heart and soul of this program, which is the relationship between Shinichi(the protagonist) and his parasite, which he names Migi(after Japanese for "right").

The slow evolution of their relationship and philosophical discussions debates the barriers of what it means to be human and the merits thereof.  There's beauty in the parasite's simple instructional parameters as it is frighteningly similar to the simplicity of the smallest cells of us.  There's this part where Migi notes that although he is able to transform, grow, and divide at will, if he splits off a small enough piece of himself it is no longer himself but rather just directed by those simple instructions again.  Are we us or a collection of cells?  Is Shinichi still human?  Is his fight to retain human morality what makes him human or is it the biology that he now lacks?  Can one exist without the other?

This critique is limited to episodes 1-6 because, as of now, that's what I'm recommending everyone watch.  I've watched past that, but 1-6 have an arc that feels like it could exist on it's own and at that point you could walk away satisfied.  Go treat yourself.

This show was firing on all cylinders from the start. As if Star Trek: TNG began with a bearded Commander Riker.  It's been a long time since watching the first episodes of a series didn't feel like being forced to eat my vegetables, let alone hook me and delightfully surprise me so early and often. Who knows if it can stay at this high quality long term, but this initial run is a must watch for any fan of horror.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Re-Issue of "The Breadwinner" Trilogy by Permuted Press

Remember way back when we reviewed "The Breadwinner" and its follow up "Haven" by friend of the blog and sometimes guest reviewer Stevie Kopas? We told you they were great books, and apparently we're not the only ones who thought so.

We'd like to congratulate Stevie on her trilogy being officially published and re-released through Permuted Press on March 17th. Check out details from the press release below, along with the slick new cover art above. If you still haven't read this fantastic apocalyptic trilogy, there's no better time to start than now!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Acid King - 'Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere' (Music Review)

Back in the 1990's nobody really cared about stoner rock. Everyone was interested in Pearl Jam and Nirvana more than Black Sabbath-inspired, throwback riffs. The closest you got was the occasional dude in a jean jacket who liked Kyuss. Unbeknownst to many, in 1994 Lori S. and Joey Osbourne formed Acid King, and the San Francisco trio would go on to inspire a horde of modern bands who use words like "doom" and "stoner" just because it's currently en vogue. I first heard Busse Woods in 2001, roughly two years after its release. It totally blew my mind. It was such a raw and dark album that evoked all the best qualities of my dad's record collection from the 1970's.

Now after almost a decade, Acid King have dropped a new full length on the masses. Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere is a juggernaut. A juggernaut with the best album cover of 2015 so far. Seriously, it's a WIZARD RIDING A TIGER IN OUTER SPACE!

Lori S. has described this release as "moody" and "adding more depth to their sound". This is absolutely accurate as it's a far more cohesive and sonically dense album than III or even Busse Woods. With eight total tracks, jacketed between a short "intro" and "outro" the core of the experience is six spaced-out jams that clock in at roughly 50 minutes. Middle of Nowhere has a much stronger flow than any prior offering from the band. Each song transitions well from one to the next, and gives the album a great feel start to finish. This is one you can put on at the beginning of a long drive and you'll never hit skip. "Red River" was my favorite song, being the shortest full offering, but none of the other tracks disappoint.

A few noticeable departures from past albums. Lori's vocals are more sparse. She really does a good job of giving the music an epic amount of space, and you'll ride through waves of riffs for up to a few minutes before she punctuates them with her recognizable style. The songs approach "jams" at times but never spiral completely out of control or get boring. One of Acid King's greatest strengths is knowing how to build tension and exercise a riff without overdoing it.

 Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere is NOT a traditionally "accessible" album. However, for aficionados of the genre and the longtime fans this one was well worth the extended wait.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

VHS Cover Art Book Stole My Heart

I've already told you guys about my obsession with 80's and 90's era VHS box art. It's one in the long line of many nostalgia triggers from my childhood spent in local mom&pop video stores.

So when I saw this book VHS Video Cover Art by "The Dude Designs" over on HorrorMovies.ca my eyes almost exploded out of my skull. Dig that face-melting cover!

Seriously, Thomas Hodge knew we wanted this, and he delivered. Go check out the offical site and when it's done turning your world upside down, you can buy it here on Amazon.

Monday, March 9, 2015

'Creature Stew' Anthology Highlights Indie Horror Authors

If you're looking for a nice, quick anthology of short horror fiction that can be read on a bus, toilet, or anywhere you need an expedient fright on your Kindle, Creature Stew should fit the bill. It even contains a story about a giant monster catfish!

This press release came across the Terrorphoria inbox, and we've checked out some of the stories contained within. Quality stuff from a number of vetted and up-and-coming writers. Also, it's only 119 pages for you horror fans who "barely have time to read magazines." Did we mention you can read it on the toilet?

From the official press release:

Creature Stew presents short fiction by eighteen outstanding horror authors. Released on January 31, 2015, the e-book is available from Amazon. This terrifying collection of short stories features work from award-winning, veteran horror authors, as well as stories from talented writers making their fiction d├ębut. If you're looking for a fresh dose of rampaging, brain-eating zombies or perhaps a killer catfish, the size of a Honda, that can churn a man into mush, look no further!
Creature Stew includes fiction by C.C. Adams, Kate Bowen, Shenoa Carroll-Bradd, Michael Clark, Dave Dormer, Marc Ferris, Tom Folske, Ken Goldman, Daniel Hale, Robert Hart, Tessa Hatheway, Calypso Kane, Matthew Smallwood, Paul Stansfield, Chad Stroup, D.S. Ullery, Matthew Weber, and E.S. Wynn.
The eighteen included short stories were selected from numerous submissions accepted from the general public in a free, egalitarian process. Published by Papa Bear Press, Creature Stew is currently available in e-book format. Papa Bear Press is an independent publisher and writer's resource based in Bellaire, Texas. As our first commercial venture, Creature Stew reflects our mission to seek out talented new voices, while showcasing quality fiction from today's rising stars in popular literature. The anthology can be purchased from Amazon via the following link: