The Mort Report!

Book Reviews by Mort Stone

 

09/24/2022
The Drive-in

By Joe R. Lansdale

This was totally, completely, utterly different from what I expected – I went into this one on reputation, choosing not to read the blurb beyond the first sentence. What can I say – they had me at “Drive-in”.

What was the last movie you saw at the drive-in?


I can remember mine very well, because I was too young to see it at the movies and I convinced my parents to go on the first feature. It is also the start of my love affair with the King – PET SEMATARY.
Soon after that, all drive-ins in my country would be gone forever.

I feel kind of cheated in a way – I was not old enough to get up to all the kinky stuff I always saw in movies or read about in books – so the entire experience I have of these occasions are seen through very young and innocent eyes. Also, I never went there without my parents (again, the age thing), so it is something that I miss even though I never had the opportunity to experience it firsthand.

But back to the book:
Friday night at the movies, all the characters are there, it can only be great. Right?
Something happens (read the story) and the entire drive-in area becomes a world of their own. There is nothing else. It is just this space and these people, completely unprepared and without any answers.

And that’s when Lansdale goes hard into this post-apocalyptic vision where it is humanity and the breakdown into – well, nothing good can come from human nature when it becomes survival of the fittest, right?
The author does not hold back and, even though it is not close to being the kind of extreme you can get in Splatterpunk these days, he went further than I have read by him before.


What probably surprised me the most was this element which almost touched on bizarro in a way, if you take the evolution of the bad guy(s), but I won’t put it in that genre. At the core, this is fairly hardcore supernatural horror.

I did have some mixed emotions about this one, mostly because I have read other things by this author before and wasn’t expecting the end product, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. The writing is superb, the story is well thought out (be it weird) and I am going to push the rating up to 4.5, because it is only the first in a trilogy.

For now, highly recommended to those who are into supernatural horror that examines the breakdown into chaos of humanity, and those who like light elements of the bizarre.

4.5 STARS

 

09/17/2022

Brian's Birthday Bloodbath

By Brian Berry

There once was this kid that came into a guidance counsellor’s office.
GC: What can I do for you, son?
Kid: I don’t know what I want to do with my life.
GC: Well, what are you good at?
Kid: … (blush)
GC: Other than jerking off, I mean.
Kid: I like to be the center of attention.
GC: You’re too shy to act, kid.
Kid: I like to make people laugh.
GC: Really! Tell me more.
Kid: I can tell people the craziest, funniest stories with a straight face.
GC: Okay, okay…go on, a few things are coming up in my head.
Kid: Actually, that’s a lie. Only I find it funny. The other kids are all a little scared of me.
GC: Why is that?
Kid: I like to hurt people. Like…a lot.
GC: What else?
Kid: I will never admit to it. I will deny any wrongdoing until I die.
GC: Got it, kid. Here’s what you need to do. Develop all those skills and then become a politician someday.
Kid: But I don’t like people!
GC: Ex-act-lee!
Kid: Will I still be able to go to MacDonald’s every day?
GC: Oh, you’re one of those. Look, I don’t care how many people you hurt or even kill, but I draw the line at killing livestock.
Kid: But…
GC: No but’s. I want you to leave. You’re just like all the other heartless clowns. Now, fuck off, Ronald.
Kid: So, you’re saying clown, then?


Okay, this exchange has absolutely nothing to do with the book. But haven’t you ever wondered what makes people seek out to become a clown? Don’t get me wrong, you get good clowns too. I’m pretty sure there must be…laws of averages and all…

Anyway, in this book Brian just turned twelve and he is getting his crush as a babysitter. No, no, get your head out of the gutter, dirty birdy – not that kind of story.
It just so happens to be the same night after Bones the Clown has escaped from the asylum.
And their paths are about to cross.

Brian Berry – the writer, not the character – just went balls out, unapologetically hardcore, blood and gore with this one. His most extreme so far.

Recommended to extreme horror fans.

5 Stars

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09/10/2022
Something Akin to Revulsion

by Judith Sonnet

Did the name Judith Sonnet really pop up only recently? All of a sudden, it seems like her work is everywhere in the extreme horror community.


Do you think she can steal your heart with her words? Probably. Along with your lungs, kidneys, spleen, eyes and anything else that can be sold on the black market. But that’s not the worst of it!

What can be worse – you wonder – than that?

It’s because she’ll laugh. Yes, not cackle hysterically, but laugh with the air of someone who knows something you don’t. She knows how to delve deep into your psyche to seek out the depravity you dare not even think of.


But enough of that.


There is a story in this collection that addresses something very close to her. And I am not going to address it, even though she discusses it – you can read the story if you want to know more – because it is NOT an issue.

What I do want to say, whether you need to hear it or not, is that in the extreme horror community, we are all a little different than the ‘normal’ people. We have all had our own traumas and hardships to deal with, which is why we seek out the stories that pushes the boundaries. There might be answers to our questions beyond the borders of the norm.

If everyone were to be judged on merit, regardless of personal beliefs and attributes, we might discover that most of our preconceptions are false. And in this community, most of us know just how wrong people are.

If you tolerate what you don’t understand, you might learn things about yourself. And if you find yourself in this community and still want to have prejudices about trivial and unimportant things, you best fuck off because you have overstayed your welcome.


I want to commend Judith for being so open about her life. And I want to congratulate her on developing her writing talents – I think she has found what she is meant to do with her future.


Warning: Extreme content, it will probably offend you.


4.5 Stars

 

09/10/2022
A Death at the Office 3

by Frank Edler

This series is hilarious. Just do yourself a favor, get these stories at godless.com for when you have had a stressful day, so you can sit back and relax with some silliness. 

I don’t have much more to say that I haven’t said in my reviews of the previous two parts, but you might be surprised at some of the insightful observations this author makes.

For example:
“Office music needed to be mellow and unassuming. It had to have no artistic quality nor rhythm. Anything that got a toe tapping was a no-no. It had to appeal to everyone and by that very nature, it appealed to absolutely nobody.”

If you’ve ever had thoughts about office politics and how ridiculous some things can get, there will be something in here you will not only be able to relate to, but it might put a smile on your face. 


e.g.
“Mr. Death grew suspicious of Harvey Death defending himself against accusations of stealing from The League when nobody had accused him of anything. Mr. Death decided he was guilty of having a guilty conscience and reassigned Harvey Death to the mailroom.”

Snap it up, have a laugh, enjoy yourself.

5 Stars

 

09/10/2022
5 Tales of Tantalizing Terror

by Patrick C. Harrison, III

Patrick C. Harrison III, or PC3 if you will, (just don’t call him Commodore 64), is a writer, editor, publisher and many other things (what, like I was gonna write his entire Bio again?) who has been building a solid reputation and following in the Indie horror community.

If you look at his photo, you may be forgiven if you wonder:
“Didn’t he write that sick book…what was it called…Doom? Groom? Schroom?”

For the record, it’s not.


But he can match Mr. Ralston with depravity and writing talent, making us wonder if this isn’t one of those Michael/Janet Jackson conspiracy theories where you never see the two of them together…hmm. Come on, somebody start that rumor!

I am obviously joking (or am I?), but I will not be opposed to buying a book on which these two have collaborated. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge…

And that was the fun/funny part of this review…brought to you by Sony.

This book contains 5 tales that, at the core, has to do with fear. They are all well written and original, as you would expect from this author, but I must admit that my mind would drift every now and then, thinking about the things I fear.

You know The Rock? Big, strong man who people wouldn’t fuck with if they knew what was good for them?
I’m nothing like him. I’m more like the Kevin Hart of the relationship, only not as funny. Or as good a swimmer. Or as rich. Or as talented. Damn, I am beginning to think this was a bad analogy.

What I’m trying to get at is that I fear a lot of stuff. Some I will readily admit to:
Spiders, dentists, public speaking…
Others I keep inside. And those are the ones these stories let my mind drift toward. The primal fears that most of us don’t like to dwell on.

So, well done, PC3 – it was written well enough to evoke emotion, which is all any author could really ask for, right?

4.5 Stars

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09/03/2022

Carnie

by Ash Ericmore

Why do Carnies always get such a bad rep?


They are there to entertain you, to come in and out of your life for a brief moment so you can have memories for the rest of your days. They don’t overstay their welcome and they don’t believe in long, drawn-out goodbyes. That in itself makes them better than half your family at Christmas.


Mia and her friend Sarah are going to the “Fear Factory” with two guys, but the line is so very long, so they have this idea to sneak in. And then things don’t go as planned.


Right, we have so much to discuss here.


Let’s start off with the carnival. You are willing to go to a place that is run by strangers, all disguised so you wouldn’t be able to identify any of them later. You were not born under a rock, so you know how badly Stephen King tried to warn you about these grown-ass people in make-up and costume, with crazy, unkept hair and alcoholic red noses, and shoe sizes that most probably give you a false impression of the family jewels…yet, you just say:

Maybe I will have fun…Bad things will never happen to me…John Wayne Gacy was into boys, so I don’t have the right equipment…


Then, you willingly go into a place they call the “Fear Factory”. And just because these people are not always known for their hygiene, doesn’t mean they are going to give you a cleaning nightmare. Sink full of dishes…oh no, the horror. They literally tell you they are going to try to scare the piss out of you…and who knows – since everything happens behind the scenes – maybe they will make you lick it up like you are Ozzy on a drug binge.


I am not calling you stupid at this point, you fucking idiot, because there’s more.


And then you get the bright idea to do some breaking and entering (you don’t actually have to break anything, I checked) into the lawless land of behind the tent-flap where nobody can see you, hear you, help you. And just for the record, you are probably not as well equipped for this situation as Mad Max would be, Dumb Dick.


I try to be as open minded as possible, people, but maybe you should read the shit that can happen to you when you act like a moron. Believe me, it gets very very bad for them, even worse than having to wash that sink full of dishes.


Ash Ericmore knows how to take you to that place where few others would venture.

Great, fast read – the first of a trilogy – but only recommended to extreme horror fans.


5 STARS

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09/03/2022

Burning Down the Night

by Bryan Smith

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Bryan Smith story. Not because I didn’t want to, there are just so many stories I have to get to that some authors just go down in the maelstrom until I find them again. 


I discovered his work very early on in my Kindle journey, and when I read DEPRAVED, it was truly the sickest thing I have come across up to the point in my life.

This story – while it starts on the same day as the death of a grunge rock Icon – is not about the grunge or music industry. Nor is it about said Icon. So straight off the bat, think of it like the Spike Lee movie SUMMER OF SAM, where it doesn’t really have anything to do with the killer at all, it just sets the background.

And then, if you will take one piece of advice from me, just suspend reality and go along for the ride. A case of mistaken identity in the worst possible way for slacker Cole Watson brings about a journey that is often hilarious, scary, unbelievable and over the night many will die.

There are excessive amounts of drinking in this story, and of course, there will be drugs, which will make him question his perceptions of reality, but will it all work out in the end?

I must admit, while this story is violent, it is not nearly as extreme as a lot of Smith’s stories I have read in the past, which shows me the author was more focused on trying to make the reader giggle rather than cringe.

So, if you are in the mood for some violent but lighter entertainment, this one should do you nicely.

4 STARS  

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08/27/2022
Freaky Briefs

by Jeff Strand

Everyone who follows my reviews know I am a huge fan of this writer. For me, his combination of humor and horror puts him right at the top of comedy-horror – and he now has a Stoker Award, so I am not the only one who feels that way.


Now, for those of you who has not subscribed to his monthly free newsletter – go ahead, do it right now: http://eepurl.com/bpv5br - he gives you an original short story every month. This is a compilation for those who need to catch up or those who just want to enjoy them all over again.


They are short, often violent, sometimes silly and always entertaining. With titles like THE DOUCHEBAG WHO RENEGED ON THE DEATH PACT; THE NIGHT I REALIZED HALFWAY TO THE PAVEMENT BELOW THAT I WAS NOT, IN FACT, SUPERMAN; THE SOUPVILLE STABBER PRACTICES SOCIAL DISTANCING and THE TRAGIC TALE OF SLAPPY McWANKERVILLE, to name but a few, I can promise you there will be belly laughs in this one.


Now, I am not going to lie and say that all 75 Short Absurdities worked for me, but I can forgive him the 3 that I thought was below par and tell you that, percentage wise, any book that can entertain me for 96% percent of the time is an absolute winner.


And I am going to end with a few quotes from the book:


“The Cavern of Wolves contained only one wolf, but it sounded scarier plural.”


“I’m going to do everything in my power to make my severed head say something creepy. It’ll haunt you forever. I may even cackle. Are you secure enough in your sanity that you can handle a severed head cackling at you?”


“I’m not a monster. I understand that these bugs are just trying to get through the day, like anybody else. They have families. And drowning is a horrific way to die. So, when I stop cackling, I make sure to lower my head in prayer.”


Just get this one and, every time you have to put it down, imagine Jeff Strand standing in the arena in a skirt, screaming:

“Are you not entertained?!”

5 STARS

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08/27/2022
Den of the Wererats

by Terry Miller

Not since the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES have there been a likable rat character in fiction. Fortunately, this book doesn’t change that. But it does amp up the creepy factor for these dirty rats when they can become Wererats.


So, I know what you are thinking:

If there are Wererats, there will probably be Werecats, owned by Werewitches who wields Werebrooms, trying to protect the Werecheese…


Do not – and let me repeat this – do NOT mistake this subject matter as cartoonish in the least. Terry Miller goes dark with this one, not only with the violence but also with some general ideas about the nature of rats.


And it escalates like a dirty joke to the HR department – before you know it, things are out of control.


I liked this story, it turned out better than I thought it would, and I did discuss the one thing about the writing that bothered me a bit with the author…who assured me there might be more to this story in the future.


4 STARS

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08/20/2022 
Counting Bodies Like Sheep

The Evil Cookie Publishing

COUNTING BODIES LIKE SHEEP is an anthology that brings together some enormous talent in the horror industry and you will not be disappointed when you pick this one up. Cruel, bloody, sadistic and even a little weirdness, makes this the perfect wedding gift for that special person who doesn’t want to marry you…


From Ed Lee and Christine Morgan to Armand Rosamilia and Stephen Kozeniewski, not to mention LaValley and Volpe, and others who are making a name for themselves, there will be something in there for your sick and depraved taste.


All of these stories are entertaining, but there are two I have to put right at the top:

SHITS ‘N GIGGLES by Bridgett Nelson was so terribly dark, yet if you work with doctors long enough, such things don’t always seem as unlikely as you might think.

BODY DROP by Gerard Houarner took me by surprise – in a very good way. I loved the idea and I adored the way it was written.


5 Stars!

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08/20/2022
Brady

D. W. Hitz

When it comes to horror, I always tread carefully with animals. That is my line in the sand – I can’t do animal torture. And I can tell you, with great relief, how that is not something you have to worry about in this book.


BRADY is a good dog. Or was.

The book starts right after Karl has buried his beloved pet.


And then this story goes supernatural in a very big way.


This was the first story I have read by D.W. Hitz and it is an absolute joy to see how skilled he is with his craft. He grabs you early on and holds your attention throughout.


The only complaint I have is, toward the end, there was only one possible way this story could end – but it was still a lot of fun getting there.


Well written and recommended to horror readers.


4 STARS

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08/06/2022
The Summer I Died

By Ryan C. Thomas

You need three words to describe this book:

BRU-FUCKIN-TAL!


“We had set out to shoot beer cans and smoke weed, just two friends trying to hold onto a childhood that was slowly disintegrating with age.”


Every now and then, every reader gets the urge to just go back to the classics. This is an itch that was long overdue a scratching.

Look up a list about the best extreme books and you will find this one on there – or you should, if the list-maker did their homework. Which brings me to one of the books that has been on my wish list the longest – ever since I learned about extreme and Splatterpunk horror.


And, man, this one deserves its spot in spades. From the 30% mark this story is one, long adrenaline rush. Before 50% you will have lost hope for these characters. They are fucked: There is no way out of this.

Then comes a glimmer of hope…but there is so much more story left to read, so…


The way this author keeps you in suspense throughout is nothing short of brilliant. If you are a fan of this genre and you haven’t read this one yet, you are missing out. For me, this one gave me the same rush as Ketchum’s OFF SEASON – It is that damn good!


5 and a half stars!

 

8/06/2022
Your English is Good

by Colt Skinner

If I am not mistaken, this is the first Emerge story published.
Colt Skinner created two very interesting characters here – Melody and Eddy – and the idea is good. I think you’ll benefit from going into this one blind – I don’t want to give any spoilers. What I will say, just to nudge you in the right direction, is that the name F. Paul Wilson popped up in my head. I am not sure how accurate that is, since I haven’t read anything by him in many, many years – but something about the gritty character that is Eddy just made that connection. If I happen to be wrong, please read the story and give me feedback on who this writing style reminds you of.
The good news is that Eddy will be in a new story that will be published next year – I mailed the author and told him I think the character is good enough to develop more, and he assured me that is the plan.

Solid 4 Stars, closer to 4.5

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07/23/2022
House of Perversion 1 & 2

by Carl John Lee

Book One:

I went into this one blind.

I mean totally, completely without any information.


The follow-up to this story has been released (I saw a picture of the cover on FB and one of my friends shared it on his feed) and I wanted to get that, so I got both to make sure I don’t miss anything, just to get the feel for the writer.


“I think you've overstayed your welcome in
So go the fuck away, don't come again
I'll see your face in the fire and burn it out”

LIKE A VILLIAN – Bad Omens


Well, Mr. Lee, you have ruined a night’s sleep for me. Why? Because I could not put this fucking book down. I did not want to stop once I started – it is just a brilliant supernatural revenge story.

I want you to go into this one blind as well – maybe you’ll get the enjoyment I did from it. Just know this – it is based on a screenplay the author wrote in the 70’s for Exploitation cinema. There’s lots of sex and blood and nastiness going on in this one, so don’t think because it was written nearly half a century ago that he holds anything back.

5 STARS

Book 2:

So this was book number 2.

You know, I have other books I need to review, but the first one impressed me so much that I HAD to read this one next.

Are you familiar with Roger Corman and the exploitation films of the 70’s? If you are too young, let’s just say lots of sex, drugs and horror – but better than most people might expect…sometimes.

Carl John Lee was greatly inspired by this man and these films, and he worked in the movie business as a screenwriter from the seventies. Two weeks ago, I have never heard of him. But, DAAAMMMNNN! The two HORROR HOUSE OF PERVERSION books blew me away. And to think they are based on screenplays he wrote more than 40 years ago is almost beyond belief.

The second book includes a band (I got a real Alice Cooper type of concert feeling) and groupies, and a compound in the middle of nowhere, and all types of debauchery happening inside. And then things start going wrong for the groupies, and by the halfway point you think to yourself that these poor girls are all fucked, and how does this fit in with the first one at all?

You know what? A part of me wanted to say: Oh, it was really good, but it was not such a huge surprise as the first one, so like any sequel it couldn’t live up to it…
Then my wife, lying in bed next to me, asked me why I kept scratching. And that’s when it dawned on me that it was a nervous tick, and I was so invested in this story that I actually had a little adrenaline rush going on there.

He just writes the story so damn well – it is so visual, and you feel like you are in some movie theatre watching this play out. There is so much tits and ass, but it stops being sexy when it becomes brutal. Best of all, this one was more extreme than the first one, but the story was totally independent from the first one. 

Carl John Lee, if you ever read this review, please contact me, buddy – I need to read more of your work!

5 Brutal Sexploitation reels!!

 

07/16/2022
Dear Meat

By J. Snow

Emerge #7 – to showcase emerging talent in the horror genre, this is the seventh publication this year to feature someone you may not have heard of before but will hear about in the future.


DEAR MEAT by J. Snow is a post-apocalyptic story which paints a bleak picture of the future, where the world is overpopulated and food is scarce, yet it is still run by those who lack the morality to care for others as much as they do themselves. If political figures in the world today is popping up in your head right now, I’m right there with you.


I want to say as little as I can about this one, because there is so much happening, and you should discover it for yourself. It is not a feel-good story by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a story of survival. By any means necessary.


If you are familiar with the Jeffrey Caston FOOD stories, you might have a good idea of the type of atmosphere you are heading into.


I was really impressed with this one and I recommend it for all you fuckers who like their stories on the shaded side of grey.


5 STARS

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7/09/2022
Plastic Monsters

by Daniel Volpe

There was a stand-up comedian (I can’t remember who it was, but I want to give him the recognition, so if you can help me, that would be great!) who once said – and this is not verbatim:


“You should absolutely get breast implants, ladies. Because your outside should show the world what you are inside. Fake.”


“When I go out into the world
I just don't like what I see
You could call it Paradise
But it looks just like Hell to me”
NEVER KNOW – Bad Omens

This book is a story that tackles body issues and the thought of beauty, as it is imprinted into little girls from a very young age. And I want to let you in on a little secret, ladies:
The people who make you think you are not good enough is too toxic to be in your life. Men or women who are so hung up on looks that it is the most important thing they are looking for, will eventually replace their ‘toy’ when a better looking one comes along. Shallowness will be there forever, and nothing you do will ever change that.


Not all men like huge breasts – although the media sure shows it that way. A natural look is often more attractive because it shows that person is not trying to pretend to be something they are not. And guess what – even perfect looks will go away someday. If it takes some men longer to realize it, that is on them, not you.
Wow, Mort, you sure talk a whole lotta shit without saying nothing about the book…


Here’s the thing:
It can be summed up in one sentence:
Pam wants to be perfect, and she will do anything to achieve it…anything!
Daniel Volpe is a tremendously talented writer. I have been following his work and I am waiting for that story that will eventually disappoint me because it is not as good as I hoped. This is not that story. In fact, right at the end (last page) I was still wondering if the end will disappoint me.
And immediately after, I sent him a message to tell him that ending was PERFECT!


Read this book. Read this author. Support him, because he will become a big name in the horror genre someday.

5 STARS!!!!!

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07/09/2022
Try Again

by Wesley Southard

TRY AGAIN has a very interesting concept – hitting the reset button on a situation continuously, almost like a scary GROUNDHOG DAY. However, unlike the popular movie, time does not stop and the night progresses, it is only the people who resets.

Confused? Yip, it does sound rather confusing, I know. Robin had a bad incident at the gym and, heading home, she is still fuming when she arrives to find her dad a hostage during a home invasion. She wants to save him, but every time she tries to enter the house, she resets to her drive back home.


With the people inside the house who is holding her dad hostage knowing someone is trying to get in, will she be able to save her father even if she gets inside?

Look, huge kudo’s to Southard for putting a certain phrase on repeat to inform the reader about the reset without boring them. Also, well done in keeping the action going inside the loop. There is so much happening in a somewhat short space of time.

At the end of the day, this novella is good, and I can recommend it to horror fans in general. While gory in places, I don’t think this is Splatterpunk (I say this because I’ve heard a few rumors that people might think I only like extreme – rest assured, I love a good horror story. Period.) so there should be a really big audience for this up-and-coming talent.

4 STARS

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07/02/2022
CHOCOLATEMAN

by Jonathan Butcher

So much sh1t…

There is some background I want to give before I start my review. I’ve talked to this author a few times and we get along really well. He asked me if I would read CHOCOLATEMAN and I turned him down. I can handle a lot of things, but Grossout is not something I like too much. While there is a place for it, it is just not really my thing.

Fast-forward a few months and I am reading the book (another long story, but not important). He told me I didn’t have to finish the book, just to give it a fair chance. I decided to push through.


And here are my thoughts:

Sh1t. Sh1t everywhere. If it takes you a few hours or a few days to finish this book, you will be thinking about sh1t all the time. But…is this story sh1t or THE sh1t?  From the previous work I’ve read of this author, I can assure you of one thing, This guy can write. I mean he has some serious skills when it comes to this craft. It is just a pity that there is so much mention of choc-choc throughout.


And I will be completely honest with you:

At times, I thought it was becoming just a little too much. Oh no, don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely integral to this story – there is no other way he could have told it, but there’s just no getting away from it. Sh1t, sh1t, sh1t and, did I mention, sh1t? Sure, it is still a horror story – don’t think just because of the copious amounts of fecal matter that it is not scary…

But something really strange happened at around 80% through this story. Something just clicked in my head, and I started to view things from a different angle.


And, to help any future readers of this story out (without spoilers), I am going to share:

What if the feces in this story is a metaphor for some kind of vice or some kind of addiction?

And, for the sake of my point of view, I changed it in my mind so that every time he talked about sh1t (or choc-choc, if you will) I thought about alcohol. People who are alcoholics and suffer from the disease of alcoholism, what if this is actually what it does to them, to their families, to strangers and to others who suffer from the same affliction? Thinking back, if I think of it on this metaphorical level, I can even make sense of the things that has happened throughout the book. So, from that point of view, this is a brilliantly told story – with the shock value to make you think about it much deeper than you usually would. You can replace alcohol with drugs, or whatever you can wrap your head around that can destroy lives because of addiction. And then this story becomes something special…something more.


So, my opinion is this:

For a book I didn’t start to read with much enthusiasm, it turned out to be THE sh1t.

 Or,

I could be totally wrong…maybe the author is just full of sh1t?

Heed this advice when you tackle this one – it may turn out to be so much more than you could have anticipated.


5 brown pudding emoji’s!

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07/02/2022
The Survivors

by T.C. Weber

This author was unknown to me before this book and – confession – whenever I hear post-apocalyptic horror, I cross my fingers that there will not be any zombies in there. There are good zombie stories out there, but they are becoming rarer because the market was flooded for some years.


Good news – no zombies!


This tale takes place in a world where climate change has ruined life as we know it and merely surviving is a daily challenge. Although it doesn’t specify the date, our current generations are referred to as the “Vanished Ones”.


Lucy must protect her two children as their clan is forced from their home. In a world where daylight must be hidden from and small groups of survivors fight each other to the death, being without shelter is almost certain death. And the matriarch of their group, Lucy’s aunt, is a violent realist who will do whatever it takes to survive.


This is about as much info as I want to give you. The pace and writing were good, and the story was better than I expected. At times harsh and often horrific, I think the author managed to capture his version of this world very well.

The only complaint I have is that I had to backtrack twice because the environment I created in my head became inaccurate later in the story. I will save you the trouble of the first – It is not like WATERWORLD, where everything is under water, the story just starts in their home which is a little off- shore.


Really good story – harsher than I expected, but with reason. Enjoyed it a lot.


4.5 STARS

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06/25/2022
Into the Pit

by Brian G. Berry

Have you ever stood in front of a pit, looked down into the darkness and wondered what every single person who has ever been in that situation has thought?

Namely: If I pee in there, will I hit something?

This story has nothing to do with those thoughts. However, I’m willing to bet any time you walk past any deep hole in the future that is the thought that will pop into your head.

You are welcome.


INTO THE PIT by Brian G. Berry is an interesting story, and there are two things that stands out to me.

But first, the story:

The Moonlight Butcher kidnaps children, kills their parents and feeds them to the thing in the pit. Or is it just a delusional madman whose mind is making excuses for the horrible deeds he is doing?


The two things I want to mention are these:

It warms the cockles of my heart to see someone developing as a writer. If you take his first published book – THE CHILD EATER – and you compare it to this one, there is a huge difference and the improvement as a storyteller is a beautiful thing to behold.

The other is that this guy does not hold back on the violence. The fact that the victims are children does not spare them from the cruelties this story has to offer, which firmly puts this firmly in the realm of extreme horror. Lots of blood and gore – so be warned.


A very solid 4 stars – closer to 4.5!

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06/18/2022
The Cuck

by Aron Beauregard

When I was young and single, I was friends with someone I worked nightshift with. One night, we were talking about pick-up lines, and this is probably the best of them:

“You go up to a girl and ask her if she has a boyfriend. If she says Yes, you ask if he likes to watch.”

That one made me laugh my ass off. Of course, I don’t know if it would have worked – I never had the guts. No, not the line, just going up to a girl I didn’t know and starting a conversation. I was awkward back then. I’m still awkward now, but I’m also happily married and have made peace with the fact…


Anyway, THE CUCK by Aron Beauregard was something new for the author, since it takes place in the UK. All-in-all, I think he handled it pretty darn well. There wasn’t a single time I thought: Blimey, this bloke is blowin’ the lingo, innit?


Fuck off, I ain’t British, but in my country we are much closer to the Queen’s English than the American, so I would like to think that I have a fair idea of how they sound.


But, back to the book – take two horny guys, give them one drink too many and then send them on their way, with ads for sex workers all over the place. What do you think is going to happen?

Here’s a clue: there’s no knitting involved.

But someone wants to watch…


Aron takes his sadistic imagination and puts it to good use in this story where there are no guns but, boy oh boy, will there be violence. One scene in particular made me cross my legs rather lady-like.


So, yeah, not for sensitive readers, and Aron Beauregard is not the author you want to start with if you haven’t read extreme or Splatterpunk before. You can’t handle it…he WILL fuck you up.


5 mutilific stars!

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06/18/2022
Parachute

by Holly Rae Garcia

Don’t know exactly why, but this cover spoke to me the moment I saw it. I have looked at it many
times over the last two weeks and I still can’t tell you why it drew me so much, but I’m glad it did.

Going into this, I just needed a break from the Splatterpunk/extreme horror scene. This cover
popped up on Amazon, I read the blurb and thought: Why the hell not?
Which means I’ve never heard of this author or story before.

PARACHUTE reads like an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Or, if you are of a younger generation,
THE OUTER LIMITS. Or, if you are even younger still, BLACK MIRROR. And if you are too young to
know any of these, use your damn innernet to look it up, kid.

This story is about a teen called Angela Rodriguez, who just graduated high school. They head to an
abandoned elementary school, where they break in and discover an old gym parachute. When they
start playing a childhood game, things start to go off the rails. It gets interesting form there.

My thoughts on this story is that it was interesting. While it didn’t blow my mind, it was something
that kept my interest throughout and I am glad I gave it a shot. This is definitely an author I will have
to keep my eye on. The ending was right up my alley, and I am really glad Miss Garcia ended it this way.

Recommended to those who like their stories on the weirder side, but not to the point where you
can call it bizarro.

4 STARS

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06/11/2022
If I Die Before I Wake

Tales of Savagery & Slaughter

Published by Sinister Smile Press

If I Die Before I Wake: Tales of Savagery and Slaughter is an anthology that just drew me in immediately. In fact, when I saw the cover, I reached out to find out if it would be possible to get an ARC of this, so I want to thank the person who made this happen.


I am REALLY glad I went with my gut on this one, because it sure as hell delivered. While not all of the stories were great, there wasn’t a single bad one. That in itself means Sinister Smile Press did a great job with their selection.


In this one it is all about revenge – so who can’t relate? And, since most of them do not have any supernatural elements, it makes it all the more realistic and scarier.


In OUTRUN THE WOLVES, we learn that it might not be a good idea to be rude to a psycho bitch.

In THIS FERTILE SOIL, we run into a superstition that just may be true.

In BUTCHER’S BLOCK, we look into the art scene and an urban legend of the macabre.

In PRECISION BODY WORKS, we discover an innovative way of making someone regret their actions.

In THEE MOST EXALTED POTENTATE OF LOVE, I made this note: Interesting Femme Fatale Fatale. You will have to read the story to find out why.

In PERCEPTO!, we discover that nothing can be quite as electrifying as a good movie theatre.

 In UNCHAINED, two movies are referenced, one of which is KILL BILL and ………, but I want to keep that out of the review for fear of ruining the surprise.

In JUST A GIRL, we delve into a threesome with Gwen Stefani.

In THE LAST GIFT, there is an interesting angle on a WWII legend.

In MONKEY CAGE, well, let’s just leave it at this quote: “She’d seen THE HILLS HAVE EYES one too many times.”


Now, there are two stories I need to highlight in this collection, both from authors I don’t know.

I AM GODDESS by Tamika Thompson, which is the third story in this book, is probably the least gory of the lot, but it is possibly the best written one. Powerful – highly recommended.

FAMILY ANNIHILATOR by LP Hernandez, which is the very last story, blew me right the fuck away. This is the highlight – it just ticked all the boxes for my personal taste. Superb!


5 Stars!

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06/11/2022
After the Burn

By Ronald Kelly

Do you know Ronald Kelly?

Soft-spoken Southern gentleman, likes to draw pictures, writes like a fuckin’ champion?


I recently discovered the metalcore band Bad Omens. I know what you’re thinking, and you may not be totally wrong, but you should give this song a listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouW_RCAI0sg

THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND shows you just how incredible this guy’s voice is. The range? Insane! I’ve even watched a few reaction videos and some of them made me smile – they knew the previous, hard music. So, when this guy comes with this high, soft voice, with a slow – almost gentle – song, a lot of them said: “I don’t know what is happening right now…”


Go ahead, give it a go. Don’t let the word ‘metal’ put you off. The production is absolutely out of this world – it is so dark, while being so light, it is heavy, while being so soft. There’s a brilliance in there, whether you like metal or not. The music video speaks to me on so many levels as well.

And when he gets angry, oh boy, that damn range!


So, why am I talking about music while reviewing this book?

Well, Ronald Kelly’s book – AFTER THE BURN – reminds me of that song on an emotional level. There are times where you can’t believe how dark this gentleman will go. His writing is beautiful - it is so dark, while being so light, it is heavy, while being so soft…where have I heard those words before?


These six short stories and two novellas takes place in the same world; a post-apocalyptic world, where the nukes exploded, and humanity is all but done. Yet these stories are so diverse – from the silly fun of TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS to the heartbreakingly beautiful MEAT IS LIFE to the extreme Splatterpunk story of A SHINY CAN OF WHUP-ASS, this collection has something any horror fan can dig his or her teeth into, even if it is not filed to sharp points…


If you are a fan of this author, you know what to expect. If you haven’t read him yet, you are in for a treat.


Highly recommended to all horror fans.


5 STARS!

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05/28/2022

DEATHLESS 

by Jeff Strand

I’m actually glad I waited a little before I wrote this review, because now I can say this is the sequel to the book PRESSURE by BRAM STOKER AWARD WINNING AUTHOR Jeff Strand!


I have never made a secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of this writer. I absolutely loves the way he can bring humor to stories that are still considered splatterpunk and extreme horror. And the win is a validation that is long overdue.


So now that I got that fangirling out of the way, back to the story at hand.


PRESSURE is probably one of his darkest stories. And since I don’t want to give away too much for those who want to (and should) read it, let’s just say Alex Fletcher befriends Darren Rust, who turns out to be a psychotic serial killer – and thinks that Alex might be his soulmate. But, since Alex is just a normal guy, the feeling is not mutual.

And Darren pretty much fucks up his life from there.


In DEATHLESS, Alex is just trying to take it day to day and survive as best he could. And there may be a ray of sunshine heading his way when he meets Luna Booth. She is a spectacular person who is willing to accept him as he is and won’t judge him for his past.

But is she too good to be true?

Get ready for round two…

 *** *** ***

 I have to say, I didn’t think Strand could match the darkness of the first book, but I was wrong. There are two places in this book that goes very fucking dark, where I thought to myself that he was pushing boundaries for the things he would usually write. But that just goes to show how well he writes these characters – you, as the reader, are truly invested in their lives.


Recommended to horror fans who can stomach a really dark story brilliantly written.


5 STARS

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05/28/2022

Twenty Years Dead

by Richard Farren Barber

So, this is what they call ‘quiet horror’.

The idea is really original – people who die will rise twenty years later, for a brief moment, before they pass permanently. This is not a zombie story – thank goodness – and it doesn’t have any elements of the apocalypse. Phew!

Dave will get one final chance to find out why his father had abandoned him and his mother before his death. But will he find the answers he is looking for?


Here are the good things about the story:

From a psychological point of view, this is a study in family, relationships, humanity and character, and how the past can ultimately define what we become in the future. On an emotional level, this short story delves into a lot of issues.


Here are the bad things about this story:

This is NOT a horror story, in my opinion. While it did have some supernatural elements, it is background noise, and there was nothing I found scary or surprising enough to give me the jolt of excitement I was looking for.

Since I was biased going into this one – expecting a horror story – and felt disappointed when it was over, it took me a day to realize that it was not a BAD story.


So, I will not try to convince you to pass this one. Instead, I will say that the horror fans who likes their gore and the adrenaline rush, you are not going to get it with this one.

I think it should be read by those whose stories must be driven by emotion and a soft, eerie atmosphere, where the resolution holds all the power of the read.


3.5 stars

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05/21/2022
Visceral 2

By Patrick C. Harrison, III & Daniel J. Volpe

Eight brutal stories that will push your limits and the boundaries of decency.


Shit, who are we trying to kid here? Decency has left the building a long time ago. If you look really hard in the rearview mirror, you’ll be able to see…nothing. It’s just not there, man.


So, I think six of these stories were great, one was good, and one made me tap out.


Patrick Harrison III (or PC3 to the slow typists) is a fairly well known in the indie horror community as a writer, editor and co-owner of Death’s Head Press publishers. He did the first VISCERAL with Christine Morgan and he is probably best known for his Western Splatter book A SAVAGE BREED, CERBERUS RISING and CERBERUS EXPLOITATION, as well as numerous stories in anthologies. If you have read anything by him, you will know this guy is not the type of kitty you take on without gloves…and a loaded .44 Remington Magnum…and a diaper, just in case. Whenever I read his stories, I always feel like he’s figured out the strengths in his writing and he writes to them.


Daniel J. Volpe is one of the up-and-coming superstars in the business. His debut, BILLY SILVER, put him on the map immediately, and I have not read a bad story by him yet. TALIA, A GIFT OF DEATH and ONLY PSYCHOS are all stories that have a rating above 4.35 on Goodreads, but his book LEFT TO YOU proved something that I have felt for a long time. Of all the authors I know, he probably has the most natural talent for writing. He also has the potential to bring new readers to the extreme horror genre and, more importantly, may be able to transition to mainstream appeal in horror writing. Unless something severe happens, I can’t imagine how he will not be a legend in the genre someday. To top it all off, he’s just a super nice guy who is approachable, so go for it.


Okay, the stories are all brutal, as I have already stated, but I am not going to rehash them here. They make you uncomfortable, they make you cringe, and they may even be able to make you cry. So, heed this warning – this is extreme horror people.


There is one story I need to say something more about:
FIRECRACKER KINGS
I know my limits – I can’t do animal torture. I can’t detach enough and the mental images not only makes me sad, but I get nightmares from them. Literally – nightmares.


Now, in this genre you do come across it from time to time. As most readers of this genre (and all the other morbid fucks who are drawn to darker things) know, serial killers are known to start on animals and gradually progress to humans. Which means, sometimes it is necessary for the story.  I can’t fault the authors who use this in their stories, if it fits with the characters and story, so I have decided not to penalize the authors with my rating because of it. However, I will end my review with a trigger warning.

TRIGGER WARNING: Animal torture in the story FIRECRACKER KINGS. I did not finish this story and therefore it had no bearing on my rating.

5 STARS

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05/21/2022
Something in the Groove

By Glenn Rolfe

Does every generation think their music was the greatest? You are allowed to, you know, because I’ve read somewhere that your music taste actually develops around the age of 12 or 13, into what you will prefer for the rest of your life.


So, my fellow 80’s children, we know our decade was simply the best when it comes to music. Toward the end of the decade, it was the very last time when you could hear pop/rock/reggae/soul/R&B and even some metal on the same chart. That’s right: Phil Collins to Guns N’ Roses to UB40 to Bette Midler to Billy Idol to The Beach Boys to Whitesnake to Rick Astley to…whatever the fuck you wanna call Bobby McFerrin’s music.

And that’s why we had such a broad choice of music that we knew and could choose from. Which is also why I could kick some serious ass with 80’s music trivia!


Any-hoo, this story is about a vinyl copy from the hard rock band, Bad Obsession. Extremely rare and perhaps even cursed, our favorite urban shaman Lee Buhl is back to track it down. And Rhiannon might also be there. For those of you who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, I refer you to Rolfe’s first published book THE HAUNTED HALLS, and maybe even a short story in an anthology (I think it was WELCOME TO THE SHOW). However, this story works fine as a standalone.

So, the question will be: Can this record actually summon a demon?


** ** **

For those of you who don’t know Rolfe, here’s what I can say:

Not only is he a really good writer, but he is just a super nice person as well. As a reviewer, his method of ‘Kill them with kindness’ makes me feel like a shit if I have to leave a bad review – which has happened.

But I am elated to say that this one is probably my favorite from him. Whenever an author incorporates 80’s rock into their stories, I am immediately invested.


Let me share something from the book:

“He remembered a time not so long ago when he would have taken her to his room and treated her like a Def Leppard groupie beneath the stage, setting free his lust and need to feel in control.”


For those of you who don’t get that reference, allow me to explain:

In 1988 I was 12 going on 13, and it was the first time I heard the album called HYSTERIA by a band called Def Leppard. Up until then, I’d listened to mainstream music mostly. My brother borrowed the vinyl from a friend, and I ended up stealing it for a day to listen to it in my room when he wasn’t there.


THAT is the record that defined my musical taste. It blew my fragile little mind. I’d never heard anything so perfect in my entire life, and I’ve owned (and worn out) 4 copies of that album through the years.


Now, Def Leppard was probably the biggest band in the world for a little while. On tour with that album (the live video is called ‘In the Round, In your Face’) they would set up a circular stage in the middle of an arena and have fans all around them. During their breaks, band members would go beneath the stage, and there are legendary rumors of what happened down there. Only female fans were allowed, and admission was taking off their tops.


When I read that line, I felt kind of giddy because of the connection, and there was a moment where I paused and wondered if the book could actually live up to my expectations from there.

It did. I loved this one and recommend it to all horror fans – but the 80’s kids will get an extra kick from it.


5 STARS

 
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05/07/2022
Survivor's Guilt

By Matt Shaw & Aron Beauregard

What do you get when you take two of the darkest, most twisted minds in the world, and combine them to create a single story?

This could go one of two ways, with very little middle ground. It will either live up to the high expectations and blow the readers away, or it will be a huge disappointment. No pressure, right guys?


Well, let’s look at the story.

Connie and Ray have survived traumatic events, but they still need help. Just not the kind of help you are thinking of. You see, most survivors go through intense feelings of guilt because they survived while others didn’t.

But humans are complex beings and not everybody looks at the world the same way. Which means the outcasts, even though they try to hide it from others, are drawn to each other.

And when they find each other…

I have read a lot of work by these two authors, and I can certainly vouch that their content is extreme to a degree where few others dare to go. But that also means that I have been looking forward to this one for months and expectations going into it has been high.


Here’s what I was worried about, though:

The Brit and the Yank have very different writing styles. Will it actually clash to the point of being distracting? Will their ideas gel and come out smooth, or will it be two distinct voices shouting over each other?

I am glad to say that they did gel very well, even though both stayed true to themselves. The ride is really good, and then we get to the halfway mark…

A lightbulb will go on in your head. The story becomes so obvious, and you think to yourself: Self, they are heading there. This can only end one way. I’m a bit disappointed to have figured it out this early.

Dear reader, have a little faith in these guys. They managed to twist this thing into something more than I thought it could be. And I have to congratulate them – this one did them proud.

Highly recommended to all extreme/splatterpunk horror fans.

5 Stars

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4/30/2022
Faces of Beth

by Mort Stone

Hmm…so this is a Carver Pike you won’t expect.

Let’s get this out of the way. FACES OF BETH – the title is a about a character named Beth who suffers from a very rare skin disease called temulentusia, where the skin has these strange, glowing lines and, in direct sunlight, it gives the face this blurry appearance that makes it look like multiple faces on top of each other. You know, like when you’re drunk.


Hope that explains it.

I’m willing to bet you’ve just looked that up, didn’t you? And Google gives you a lot of stuff you can’t read, right?
Let me put you out of your misery.

Google temulentus.

That’s right, I’ve just made that shit up. 
Beth is actually a very complicated woman. She’s got psychological problems. But Andrew loves her. So, he marries her and moves her entire family into his house. Now, I need to backtrack here for those who think no man would ever do that.


The male ego is a sum-bitch. A lot of men think they can handle anything. I will try to explain like this:
In the movie ZOMBIELAND 2, there is this scene where the girl brings all her luggage to the car, while one of their rules is to travel light, so to get things going, Woody Harrelson’s character says he’ll load it up. So he waits for the girl to get in the car, gives it a couple of seconds, then slams the trunk shut, and they leave leaving all her luggage behind.
 
And that sums up what a lot of men THINK – they can leave the girl’s luggage behind.

Only, it doesn’t work like that.
Next thing you know, you’re like the guy who has to get all the Kardashian luggage at the airport.

So, Andrew has become an instant father, brother-in-law and grandson-in-law. While it is exhausting, he loves Beth enough to accept it and adapt to the circumstances. For the most part, he even enjoys parts of it. Because family is family, after all. But, like any house of cards in a shit-storm, things can’t keep going at that pace.

Eventually, things will start to crumble, much like my attempt at cooking the perfect dinner will end up with an upside-down pot on the sauce-covered floor, with the cat licking it off the fridge door, and me sitting with my hand over my face. Or, as it’s known at my house, Thursday evening.


In the end, it will come down to the ultimate test of Andrew’s love for his wife and his love for his life. Because things are not always as they seem.


For some reason I keep thinking of this as the grown-up Carver Pike novel, because this is a straight up horror story – this does not fall in the extreme realm. And it also means that Carver should be able to broaden his readership with this story.

It was not perfect for my taste, but I also recognize the fact that the author actually achieved what he set out to do with this story. I can recommend this to most horror readers, especially the ones who are into possession stories.

5 Stars

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4/23/2022
Man, Fuck This House!

By Brian Asman

Every now and then, a book’s title can grab you even more than the cover. Call me a dirty minded fella if you want, but any time I see the word ‘Fuck’ in a title, it gets my attention.


Enter, MAN, FUCK THIS HOUSE.

I have read a few books by Brian Asman and I have enjoyed them all. Not only can this guy paint you an almost cinematic picture with his words, but he can make me laugh AND he’s not afraid to throw in the gore.


This is the most serious of his work that I’ve read, and it seems like he went for a solid horror story, but every now and again, the humor does slip through.

Eg.

“No one had direct knowledge of death except those who’d experienced it, and they remained famously tight-lipped about the whole thing.”


Well, you get a family that moves to a new house, which turns out to be haunted, yada-yada… But wait, there is a fresh angle to this one that made me forget all about AMITYVILLE HORROR, or POLTERGEIST, or PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, or INSIDIOUS, or THE CONJURING, or 1408, or CASPER…

It is not like any of the ones you are thinking about right now.


This is a study in family dynamics, when daddy is oblivious and mommy might just be a little mentally unhinged, where the teenage daughter is a good girl but her younger, genius brother might be either possessed or just plain fucking with mommy’s head…and don’t forget the house!


This book is a fresh take on a well-known story, and I enjoyed every moment of the ride. If you haven’t read Asman before, give this one a go. If you have, you will know you are going to get quality and value for money.


Highly recommended for all horror fans.


5 STARS

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4/23/2022
Hardcore Kelli

by Wrath James White

So, apparently this Wrath James White guy is some kind of bad ass in the extreme horror world. It’s really tiring to hear about how bad this guy is and how scary that guy is, just because they think up these violent stories. I mean, look at him – how bad can he actually be?

Wait…what? 


A boxer?


He’s the big guy?!

Well, fuck me, let me start over.


Ahem: Wrath James White is actually one of the guys in this genre who may be capable of the shit he thinks up – if you look at the size of him. But he would never. Why, just last night after we picked some sunflowers, we sat around a campfire and sang ‘Kumbaya’, right after knitting matching scarves and painting a white dove mural on a wall.

Okay, so I’ve never actually met the guy, per se, but I can tell we have a lot in common – we are just misunderstood, gentle souls. Think I’m lying? Watch this – two arms, two legs, one head, one torso. Granted, about three of me will fit inside his skin, but size doesn’t matter. Not if you’re as big as him, anyway.

But you want a book review. Fine!
Hardcore Kelli is a well-written, violent story…that would have worked better as a graphic novel. While this is the first thing I’ve read by Mr. White, I know him by reputation. And, having read this, I can tell you that he is very good at painting a vivid, gory picture.


As a writer, I can see why he has made a name for himself and I definitely want to read him again in the future. This story, though, comes at a time when I am totally sick of all the superhero bullshit. It is fucking everywhere, and my son is just getting into it at this stage, which means I can’t escape it.
While this book is not a superhero story, it is so very close to becoming one. And, in the end, because of the vivid descriptions, it became a little too much for my taste.

So, I am not going to slam this one. Right now, the market for this type of story might be bigger than for the average extreme book out there. Though not my personal taste, I can recognize the brilliant writing of this story, and I want to rate accordingly.
Highly recommended to those who like graphic novels and something with a superhero feel to it.


3.5 STARS  

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04/16/2022
A Bouquet of Viscera

by Bridgett Nelson

Overview from the book:

An overzealous vigilante, who sees her victims' auras, finds herself in a very uncomfortable situation. A young woman, injected with a microchip in a futuristic America, develops unusual and grisly cravings. Four high school graduates end up on the menu of a giant, mutant sea creature. Diary entries share shocking and disturbing confessions...but who is the author?

Review:

Wow!

Bridgett Nelson is a name that has popped up a lot lately, so my expectations were high going into this. How could it not be? Both Ronald Kelly (who did the foreword) and Jeff Strand (who did the blurb) endorsed this book – no small feat for a debut.

Well, most Indie authors write their first work and hope to get a foot in the door. Bridgett used another approach. She stormed through it like it was an old cowboy saloon with swinging doors, both hands fisted with a raised middle finger and screamed:

“Here I am, bitches, let’s get this party started!”

This does not read like a debut. It is well polished, clever, original and dynamic. Right off the bat, the story “Auras” shows you not only the strength of her writing, but just how clever she can be. There was not a single story that I felt was one dimensional and, while it might be clear she comes from a medical background, the ideas were vastly different.

I am willing to go all in with this author – don’t let the pretty smile fool ya, she’s got a twisted imagination and the writing skills to back it up. If she keeps at it, I predict she will become a name and force to be reckoned with in the industry.


BUT:

“Content Warning

A graphic, violent sexual assault is depicted in this story. It may not be suitable for all readers.”

That’s the way the story “Jinx” starts. You’d do well to heed that warning.

For those of you who may not be familiar with me, I read a lot of extreme and splatterpunk horror. I might be desensitized to certain things by now. But this story – and I am not saying this lightly – is the darkest short story I have ever read. In fact, currently it falls in the top 3 darkest STORIES I have ever read.

If you are familiar with either THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jack Ketchum or WHAT GOOD GIRLS DO by Jonathan Butcher, this one is right up there with them. It rips your insides to shreds and you feel not only sick afterwards but sickened.

I CAN NOT STATE THIS STRONGLY ENOUGH:

If you are not an extreme horror or splatterpunk fan, who’ve got some experience under your belt with the genre, DO NOT read this one. It WILL upset you. Fuck, I am seasoned, and it upset me. Don’t try to be a hero, it is not going to work. Just enjoy the rest of the book, because it is a great read.


5 STARS

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04/09/2022
Gross Out

by Duncan Ralston

How do you follow up something like WOOM, which has become a cult classic as of late?

Well, you don’t try to rewrite it, for one, and you don’t try to out-gross or out-sick it, because the people will expect that. Any copy can never be as good as the original – if it exceeded expectations – and quality should outsell quantity. 

In the writing business, which is damn hard anyway, there is nothing more valuable than a good reputation. Once you lose readers, the chances of getting them back is small to none. And for indie authors, word of mouth is worth more than gold. 

Well, Duncan Ralston has navigated the minefield of possible mistakes with a new entry in the WOOM universe, and GROSS OUT is my favorite book of the year so far. While he actually toned down on the ‘gross’ factor (there’s still some things that might disgust you, don’t worry), the story is entertaining and hilarious.

The setting is an author convention called Splatterfest, for obvious reasons, and it builds to a climax during the Gross Out Contest at the end of the weekend. And you get all kinds of different characters – if any author sees themselves in these characters, it’s on you, not Ralston – who attends: Some are famous, some are struggling, most are insecure about SOMETHING, and nearly all of them have an agenda…revenge being one of the most prominent.

Which means only one thing: During the Gross Out Contest, the shit will hit the fan. 

I absolutely LOVED this story. There is not a single thing that didn’t work for me – style, pace, humor, gore, emotion and even the romantic part. In fact, I think this story might be better than WOOM because it is so hugely entertaining.

I recommend this to ALL horror fans!

5 STARS!!!

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04/09/2022
One Last Shindig

by Mark Towse

Would it be better or worse to be trapped on a tour bus with old people when the world comes to an end?


You have to give it to them: In order to reach the age they are, they have to be resilient, at the very least. Sure, they may be slow, loud, stubborn, and smell a little funny, but so are babies…and if you think about it, you don’t have to carry them everywhere or be judged a bad parent. That’s right, I said it. It doesn’t matter if the world comes to an end, some people will still be judgmental as fuck.


But these old geezers decided to make their final stand and have one last shindig – go out with style! Or will their years of experience actually pull them through what seems to be a hopeless situation?


*****

This story is fun and clever, with a few chuckles when you see someone you actually know in some of these characters. You are not going to figure this one out until the author is good and ready to reveal it.


The bonus novella: Watch Me Fly –

I have to admit, this one had me rolling on the floor. In a very pessimistic way, this might actually be exactly what it would be like to be a superhero in today’s world.


Overall, a very enjoyable read, though I think the bonus novella actually surpasses the main story in entertainment value.


A very solid 4 stars.

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03/26/2022
Modern Hysteria

by Aron Beauregard

Aron Beauregard brings you another tale of depravity and gore that pushes the boundaries – as we’ve come to expect.

And in this one he addresses one of the modern problems to have reared its ugly head with technology – the internet and the anonymity it promises. For people of a certain age – those who grew up in the real world – the world is fast becoming a place we can’t possibly understand.

I saw a post the other day that said:

“Do y’all remember, before the internet, that people thought the cause of stupidity was the lack of access to information?

Yeah. It wasn’t that.”

And one of the biggest problems I can see in the world today is simple:

No accountability.

Without going political – what do you expect if you look at the so-called leaders in the world? They can lie, cheat, steal and simply deny, because who will hold them responsible? And with the things happening in Europe at the moment – I am stunned that people still refuse to believe what is shown to them. How fucking stupid are you?

Enough of that – sorry.

MODERN HYSTERIA is about ‘The Dropout Challenge’ – Beauregard’s version of something like ‘The Blue Whale Challenge’ – where desperate, lonely youths are brainwashed into self-harm and even suicide. (I can recommend the essay which is exclusively available in the hardcover edition of this story).

I am not going to rehash the story here – lots of brutal shit goes down – but I want to point out how the question is raised in this one of accountability. When I was a kid, if I disrespected someone or did something I shouldn’t (this includes common human decency), I got my ass kicked. There weren’t cameras all around to ‘protect’ me and I learned about respect. There was nothing to hide behind.

These days, people can say and do just about anything, because they have the ‘right’? Bullshit! We are doing more harm than good. If a kid calls an adult an asshole because they couldn’t get their way, they need to be taught how the world really works. I’m not saying beat them to death (almost certainly not), but if they are not held accountable, they will only get worse. What will demotivate them?

And the most surprising thing I learned was that there are actually no laws that protect people from this kind of online abuse. Even if they find the person responsible for one of these ‘challenges’ where people lose their life, they can’t be held directly responsible because…


Like I said – the world is turning into a place I don’t understand. As a parent, it is scary to think that my child might someday be susceptible to this, and even scarier to think of the things I can’t even imagine that will come across his path.

Are we really heading in the right direction or are we producing the kind of humans that will be the downfall of humanity? I guess only time will tell.

Great story, from a great storyteller.


5 Stars!

 
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03/26/2022
The Clown Hunt

by Judith Sonnet

Does anybody really like clowns?

I have this traumatic memory from when I was a child. Big crazy hair, tons of make-up and colorful clothes. You see, Aunt Edna was what they called eccentric, and I was too young to remember much beyond the family gatherings where she would lube her lips up with her tongue before she bent you over like a stapler, planting a gross kiss on your mouth.

Do I associate her with clowns? I don’t know. All I know is that clowns have always made me uncomfortable. Grown ass people disguising themselves to be among kids is just not something I get.

Well, there are others who don’t like clowns. Much more than me. In fact, there are even some that abducted clowns for the sole purpose of hunting, torturing and killing them. Do they deserve it? Well, maybe not – I mean, if you knew the clown personally, it might be a whole different story, but violence is never the answer.

Until it is.


Sonnet has written a very good extreme story here. But don’t write her off as someone who tries to shock people because she lacks the skills to write well. This lady has got talent, and she does some serious character development before the shit truly hits the fan.


And, it is quite clear to see how she was inspired by Jon Athan and Aron Beauregard on the brutality scale as well.


Now, I will address this in this review, simply because people can be total assholes. The main character is gay, but this is not the kind of story that pushes a political agenda. This is an extreme horror story, regardless of the background. And in this community, most readers are much more open to differences -  as long as the story delivers what it promises. Don’t allow prejudice to ruin the experience, because this author will surprise you.


4 Brutal stars!

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03/19/2022
Haunt of Southern Fried Fear

by Ronald Kelly

Man, it has been a while since I’ve read one of these types of horror books.

Ghost stories.

Where the author doesn’t try to scare you to death, but creates this eerie atmosphere.


And even though Ronald Kelly won a splatterpunk award last year, nothing about this falls into the extreme or splatterpunk categories. This is straight-up make you uncomfortable horror. And for the few horror readers who doesn’t know Mr. Kelly’s work – he does it damn well.


So what scares you – other than ghosts? Scarecrows…rollercoasters…clowns…dolls…spiders…drains…being chased by a light in a dark tunnel? Do you perhaps suffer from lygophobia?

Can we cover ghost hunting, slavery, a sawmill, prison, a wooden horse, a furnace, a mine, Vanilla Musk and lots of other things with the central theme being ghosts and hauntings? Why, yes. Yes, we can…and we will.


As a constant reader, I know there are many skills that can be developed by writers who hone their craft through the years. However, there are only a few who has this natural talent for telling a story in a way that puts you THERE.

I read my first Stephen King book in 1988. I can still tell you most of what happens in that story. And while I have never been in Bangor, Maine, or even the USA, I was always THERE in his stories. Like it was a part of my life that I had lived. Ronald Kelly does the same with his Southern stories. I have never shucked corn, been to a barn dance or done any square dancing, nor have I chewed tobacco. I have never said things like “homemade fixings” or “I don’t rightly know”. But in this collection of stories, I was THERE. I was a part of it.

Hell, who else can use the phrase “…to be a doctor or lawyer or such,” with a straight face without quoting the song?


I can recommend this book to horror readers who enjoy atmosphere above gore, and even to some who might not be into horror but appreciates a story well written.


5 Laid-back Southern Stars!

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03/19/2022
Restless Void

Lucas Mangum

RESTLESS VOID is the second book in the planned three-part DIGITAL DARKNESS series, where Lucas Mangum is pulling some of his previous work into the same universe.

The best description I can think of is that this is a techno horror – let’s say THE MATRIX with a supernatural element. It’s a little hard for me to rate it on an ‘extreme’ scale, though – THE GODS OF THE DARK WEB had such a shockingly sick scene – still one of the top five sickest scenes I’ve read – that this entry feels much tamer in comparison.

What has become quite clear is that Mr. Mangum has evolved a lot as a writer since his first published book and can start relying more on the strength of the story and his writing skill rather than pushing the splatter side.

So, in this story:

Tanya is a vlogger.

Okay, for those of you who are a certain age, allow me to explain. A vlogger is someone who makes video blogs and posts it on the internet. These are the people who has the looks and charisma to appear on camera, so they provide content – either created by themselves or clever people who lacks the first two qualities – for fans all over the world.

As a side note, I just need to add that most of the youth today THINK they have it, so there are millions of vloggers out there, which means you can get the biggest shit your fragile little mind never even considered to be taken as fact. There are, however, some who knows what they are doing. And Tanya is one of the latter.

She has a show on mysterious disappearances. And a chance meeting with a stranger sends her down a rabbit whole where the consequences are dire and escape might be impossible.


And that’s where I am going to stop. You are on your own from there.

My thoughts on this story is that it is very well written and the people who loves techno will devour this. However, there are two things I need to point out.


The first is that this should be read in order. If you haven’t read the first book, you will more than likely become totally lost in this strange, upside down world.

The second is that this story has a complexity that needs your full attention. If your mind drifts for two pages, you will be lost and will have to backtrack to catch up again.


Overall, a really good book, which should tie together the series.

4 Solid Stars

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03/05/2022
Only Psychos

by Daniel Volpe

I was born in the wrong place at the wrong time

For the wrong reasons and the wrong rhyme

On the wrong day of the wrong week

I used the wrong method with the wrong technique.”

WRONG – Depeche Mode


That song kept running through my head as I read the latest offering by Daniel J. Volpe – ONLY PSYCHOS. Many different characters will come together during a snowstorm to create, well, this cuckery.


Think of it this way: It is an amalgamation of bad people, with bad habits and bad intentions, in a bad place, with bad karma, on a bad night, with bad consequences.

Good night!


The mother who is trying to protect her children, the teenagers who became porn stars, the serial killer, the guy on the run, the sick family with dark secrets…all make for a wonderful Christmas movie for the whole family to enjoy in the middle of the night –

Riiiigggghhhhht.


My personal preference when it comes to horror is usually the non-supernatural kind, where the people are the real monsters and shit just gets as real as it possibly can. Volpe delivers this in spades in this semi-claustrophobic tale of chaos and slaughter, where nobody is safe and survival is not guaranteed.


Splatterpunk at its very best!


5 STARS

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03/05/2022
The Night Road

by Kevin Lucia

Have you heard about ‘runner’s high’?


Apparently, there are some people who experience a high when they are running. Me? Not so much. I ran long distance when I was a kid. Had asthma and the doctor recommended it to my parents. Of course, I didn’t want to, but I wasn’t given a choice.


I did this for about three years, at least twice a week. Never got that high. Sometimes it makes me wonder what is wrong with me, other times I think it’s a form of self-hypnosis. You manage to convince yourself that something is what you want it to be. Like those who tell me about ‘delicious broccoli’…


Anyway, Kevin Lucia is a clean writer, you can see he takes his craft seriously and does his job well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t relate to the main character in this story. A female runner. The story is not bad at all, I just felt disconnected. Which is also a little strange. I have lost people close to me and I have felt guilt and sorrow, so that part spoke to me, but the way she acted was more of an intellectual exercise for me.


Which leaves me in a bit of a bind. How do I rate this one?


While there is a very strong message in this one and the story was well written, the fact that I couldn’t relate to the character made me want to feel more than I actually felt. And there will be people who will be sucked in and broken by this, there is no doubt in my mind that this one will have impact on the right audience.


So, I am going to push it up from 3 stars (my opinion) to 4 stars, simply because I want to recommend this to those who like the feels in their horror. It will devastate some and I can recognize the power of the story.

Also, I will be reading this author again in the future.


4 Stars

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2/26/2022
Reincarnage

by Ryan Harding & Jason Taverner

Slasher horror is impactful, balls to the wall blood and gore, high energy carnage. Sadly, if you’ve read enough of these stories, the impact fades and it can become predictable. So, when you come across something that feels original, it brings back the excitement and love of the horror genre.

REINCARNAGE by Ryan Harding and Jason Taverner gets a re-incarnation from Death’s Head Press, and it brings something different to the table. Instead of a nameless killer surprising unsuspecting victims, all the information is out there in the open.

Everyone knows Agent Orange is the killer and everyone knows they are being hunted. Everyone knows he is not human and everyone knows that, while he can be killed, he will come back to continue his destruction.

And when a group of strangers wakes up in the Kill Zone – a section cordoned off from the public and meant to keep the killer inside by the government – the only thing they should be worried about is trying to survive. They do not know why they were chosen, but they will have to do everything in their power to survive long enough to be extracted from the area.

But will they be extracted? Couldn’t it be the government who’ve put them there in the first place, for some kind of secret experiment? If help wasn’t coming, was there any hope of survival? Could they kill Agent Orange themselves?


This book is one very long adrenaline rush. The action is non-stop, the kills are brutal and the descriptions vivid.

You have to like your horror extreme to get through this one, but fans will enjoy the ride.


5 STARS

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02/19/2022
Road Kill Anthology

Texas Horror by Texas Writers, V6

I have a confession to make.

When I got ROAD KILL to read for a review, I gave an internal sigh and thought of it as homework. The cover does less than nothing for me – an avid horror reader – and it looked kind of childish. Then I opened it to see how many of the writers I knew.

Three. Out of seventeen.

Another internal sigh. This was clearly a case of some unknown writers who got the opportunity to be in an anthology with a few known ones, and they were all hoping the bigger names will be enough to sell well. Don’t get me wrong, I support unknown authors all the time, but in a lot of cases the work is not always as polished as it should be.

Then some unplanned work came my way and I pushed it aside.

Later, when my schedule was cleared, I decided I had to go back to this one – I hate making commitments I can’t keep. I did not give another internal sigh, because that would just make me a drama queen. However, I went into this one expecting to feel like I’m wasting my time.


Well, indie horror readers should probably know Patrick Harrison III, Stephen Graham Jones and Jeremy Hepler – if they haven’t read them, they’ve most likely come across the names a few times. And, as expected, the three of them had very solid stories.


However, with the first story – THE TEETH by Jacklyn Baker – I got sucked in and by the end of it, she’d knocked the teeth out of my disinterest by curb-stomping my preconception. That story kicked ass! And the more I read, the more impressed I became. These authors are not beginners by a long shot.


ROAD KILL is one of those “don’t-judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover” cases and I can tell you this one is worth your time. The stories are all either good or great, and more of them the latter. In fact, I want to highlight THE CHICKENS THAT ARE NOT HER CHICKENS by Mario E. Martinez as my favorite in this one.


Horror fans, do yourself a favor and look this one up. You can thank me later.

5 STARS

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2/12/2022
Nightmare Nirvana

by Aron Beauregard

From the darkest corners of one of the darkest minds working in extreme horror today, comes these scraps, morsels and crumbs of depravity to blow you away.


NIGHTMARE NIRVANA is a homage to dark thoughts, sinister intentions and macabre situations, and if you know Mr. Beauregard by now, you can expect the usual dark art to accompany these 18 stories of morbid scenarios.


What is worse: Going to the gyne or the dentist?

What’s more difficult to bake: The perfect pie or a baby?

Which job is harder: Magician, truck driver, mechanic or stripper?

Are you a hero or a shitter? And which is worse off?

How fake is professional wrestling?


So many questions, and the author will answer them unapologetically. It may not be what you want to hear, and it certainly will not be what you expect – but that’s why we buy this guy’s books, isn’t it?


To the many whose attraction and fascination with the darker side of life gets frowned upon by those deemed ‘normal’ by society…welcome to Nirvana!


Recommended to extreme and splatterpunk fans.


5 STARS

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02/05/2022

Bradonomicon

Published by Potter's Grove Press

Brad Tierney.

Who?

There may not be a lot of people in the world who knows the name – before this book, of course – but in the small community of splatterpunk and extreme horror, he’s become the number one fan.