Top 10 Horror and Fantasy Covers for May and June 2014

A bit late and also spanning two months instead of one, but here are the Top 10 Cover for May and June 2014!

 

9781466868984

1. The Walking-stick Forest

Artist: Karla Ortiz
Author: Anna Tambour
Publisher: Tor.com

“The Walking-Stick Forest”, by Anna Tambour, is a dark fantasy about a recluse who creates collectible walking sticks in post WWI Scotland by manipulating the woods somewhat like bonsais. He refuses a commission from a very rich, powerful man, never considering or caring about the consequences.

authority

2. Authority: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy)

Artist: Eric Nyquist
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Publisher: FSG Originals

After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X—a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization—has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray.

John Rodrigues (aka “Control”) is the Southern Reach’s newly appointed head. Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X. But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he’s pledged to serve.

In Authority, the second volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Area X’s most disturbing questions are answered . . . but the answers are far from reassuring.

 

Boy Eating

3. Irregular Verbs and Other Stories

Artist: Erik Mohr
Author: Matthew Johnson
Publisher: ChiZine Publications

keluarga: to move to a new village

lunak: to search for something without finding it

mencintai: to love for the last time

Meet a guilt-ridden nurse who atones for her sins by joining her zombified patients in exile; a lone soldier standing guard on a desolate Arctic island against an invasion that may be all in his mind; a folksinger who tries to unionize Hell; and a private eye who only takes your case after you die. Visit a resettlement centre for refugees from ancient Rome; a lost country recreated by its last citizen on the Internet; and a restaurant where the owner’s ghost lingers for one final party. Discover the inflationary effects of a dragon’s hoard, the secret connection between Mark Twain and Frankenstein, and the magic power of blackberry jam-all in this debut collection of strange, funny, and bittersweet tales by acclaimed writer Matthew Johnson.

libretto_cover_a_p

4. Libretto Volume 1: Vampirism

Artist: menton3
Author: Multiple
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Libretto Volume 1 is curated/edited by Kasra Ghanbari with a theme of Vampirism, being the misuse of power, as well as the objectification and exploitation of others. Featured contributors include Ben Templesmith, David Stoupakis, Riley Rossmo, Christopher Mitten, George Pratt, menton3, and others.

Swordcover

5. Sword and Mythos

Artist: Nacho Molina
Editors: Silvia Moreno Garcia and Paular R. Stiles
Publisher: Innsmouth Free Press

The blades of heroes clash against the darkest sorcery.

Aztec warriors ready for battle, intent on conquering a neighboring tribe, but different gods protect the Matlazinca.
For Arthur Pendragon, the dream of Camelot has ended. What remains is a nightmarish battle against his own son, who is not quite human.
Master Yue, the great swordsman, sets off to discover what happened to a hamlet that was mysteriously abandoned. He finds evil.
Sunsorrow, the ancient dreaming sword, pried from the heart of the glass god, yearns for Carcosa.

Fifteen writers, drawing inspiration from the pulp sub-genres of sword and sorcery and the Cthulhu Mythos, seed stories of adventure, of darkness, of magic and monstrosities. From Africa to realms of neverwhere, here is heroic fantasy with a twist.

 

girls-at-the-kingfisher-club-hr

6. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Artist: ?
Author: Genevieve Valentine
Publisher: Atria Books

The Hamilton sisters live a double life—caged in their house by day, they break free at night to hit the dance floors of New York. Following her debut novel, Mechanique (2011), Valentine offers this fanciful reimagining, set in the Roaring Twenties, of the fairy tale of the 12 dancing princesses. The princes have been replaced by bartenders and bootleggers, and the girls wear out catalog-ordered shoes. Their dominating father has kept them shut up at home, virtual prisoners, for their entire lives. When he gets wind of what they’ve been doing, he works to find them more permanent positions as wives—whether or not they like it. The narrative is simple, as befits a modern fairy tale, and the characters are drawn in broad strokes, each dominated by one identifiable personality trait. When the novel shines, it does so by juxtaposing the tension of the imprisoned daughters’ plight against the gimlets and glitter of the underground dance halls they frequent. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is like a jittery Charleston—loose, fast, and fun.

–Bridget Thoreson

the-bees-cover

7. The Bees

Artist: ?
Author: Laline Paull
Publisher: Ecco

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw, but her courage and strength are assets. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect nectar and pollen. A feat of bravery grants her access to the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all–daring to challenge the Queen’s preeminence–enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the hive’s strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by a greater power: a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, and her society–and lead her to perform unthinkable deeds.

Thrilling, suspenseful, and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees and its dazzling young heroine will forever change the way you look at the world outside your window.

 

10306480_10152422346508205_2756680466678465299_n

8. The Devil in the Details

Artist: Dominick Saponaro
Author: Debra Doyle, James D. Macdonald
Publisher: Tor.com

A new adventure of Peter Crossman, special agent of the Knights Templar — a man prepared to administer last rites with one hand while wielding a flamethrower with the other. Now an ancient manuscript of peculiar power has surfaced, and Crossman’s assignment is simple: Get it for the Temple at all costs. This will lead to conflict with entities secular and otherwise — and to a new encounter with Sister Mary Magdalene of the Special Action Executive of the Poor Clares.

 

in-the-dark

9. In the Dark

Artist: ?
Publisher: IDW Publishing

In The Dark is a monstrous collection of all-new original terror tales from the darkest and most brilliant minds in comics and prose. Featuring an introduction by American Vampire, The Wake, and Severed writer Scott Snyder, and a frightful feature on the history of horror comics, through their rotten rise and dreadful decline by comic book historian Mike Howlett!

GARCIA_Unbreakable_HC

10. Unbreakable

Artist: ?
Author: Kami Garcia
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

I never believed in ghosts.
Until one tried to kill me.
 
When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, she doesn’t realize that paranormal forces are responsible–not until mysterious identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into her room and destroy a deadly spirit sent to kill her.
Kennedy learns that her mother’s death was no accident, and now she has to take her place in the Legion of the Black Dove–a secret society formed to protect the world from a vengeful demon. A society left in the hands of a misfit group of teens with unique skills: Jared, combat trained, with a temper to match; Lukas, rogue hacker and code breaker; Alara, whose attitude is as powerful as her voodoo protections; and Priest, an engineer capable of making a weapon out of a soda can.
As the teens use their individual talents to battle paranormal entities, they earn their rightful places in the Legion–except for Kennedy, who is left wondering if she is truly one of them.
Can she stay alive long enough to find out–without losing her heart in the process?
Protect Yourself.
What you can’t see CAN hurt you.

 

The Day the Weird Tales Facebook Page Got Hacked

The Weird Tales Magazine Facebook page got hacked the other day and has been mostly posting clickbait content that seems to lead to a spammy website. With more than one million likes, the peanut gallery of the page fans came out in force in order to share their insight into this situation.

Update: Weird Tales is back! Praise Cthulhu!

Here’s an example of the content that has been going up.

11

 

And here are some choice comments.

The Supportive, if a little sociopathic.

10

 

The Mixed Priorities One

9

 

The NSFW

8

 

The Political

7

 

The Frustrated

6

 

The Mixed Messages One

5

 

The Activist

3

 

The Smug One

2

 

The WTF

1

Insensibles

insensibles_xlgOh Insensibles. A movie I saw the trailer for ages ago and tried really hard to find, but failed at the time. I was into occult horror movies at the time. Alas, it was not meant to be. Until now.

Set in Catalonia, Painless weaves two stories: in one, starting during the Spanish Civil War and running through to the ’60s, an asylum attempts to rehabilitate children who feel no pain, by teaching them physical suffering. For some reason these kids habitually injure themselves and others and this is why they need to be locked up in solitary. Hm… In the second, in the present time, a brilliant neurosurgeon who needs a bone marrow transplant, discovers this dark past when he searches for his biological parents.

I finally got a chance to watch it the other night and was mostly disappointed. There wasn’t a lot of supernatural or occult elements in it and they never really did show up either. I’m not sure why it was such a big deal those kids couldn’t feel any pain. It’s a disease that is real and as far as I know, people who have it don’t light themselves on fire or eat their own flesh on purpose. They just have to be careful to not injure themselves and unwittingly die from blood loss or something. The plot mostly follows one of the kids, probably because he’s the most hardcore of all (dude cuts a nurse’s Achilles tendon for slapping him around).

One of the writers of Insensibles is behind Rec (not bad!) and Rec 3 (kinda bad), but I’m not sure who to place the blame on for the pacing of this flick. You could have easily cut out twenty minutes before Berkano (nurse slashing kid experiences a rebirth as a torturer) shows up.

alexbrendemuhlinsensibles

I don’t want to say it was closer to Hellboy than say, Ninth Gate, but… it could easily have been a BPRD case, what with the Nazis and the super creepy torturer guy who can’t feel pain and lives in the ruble of an old prison. In that sense, it wasn’t bad. The Berkano dude was pretty creepy (he was also in Snowpiercer) and I really wish we had gotten to that point sooner and given him more screen time.

Spoilers after the break.

Painless_1_7_31_12

The point the movie largely fails for me is the ending. Such a cop-out. It doesn’t really resolve anything, and whatever meaningful implication they tried to point out by showing the protagonist’s baby isn’t enough to save it. So the non-pain feeling guy had a kid and that kid grew up to be a great surgeon but as far as I can see, he fails pain normally and his eyes are fine. So his kid will also…be a surgeon? I don’t know and really, who cares. Bit of a letdown for what could have been pretty interesting.

That aside, the movie had some solid directing and acting, though no real outstanding performances. I can’t stay mad it, but I probably wouldn’t watch it again.

2.5 out of 5 creepy bald fuckers

I Hate Anime: A Guide to Watching Horror Anime – Kore wa Zonbi Desu ka?

A new weekly feature for the blog!

I Hate Anime: A Guide to Watching Horror Anime is the result of my desperate attempts to watch horror animes while at the same time hating anime of any kind with a passion. You ask ”Why do you want to watch it if you don’t like it?”

I don’t have an answer for that. After you find yourself watching ”horror” TV shows from the early 90s because you’ve already seen everything else, watching some anime sounds like an okay proposition. Have you watched the Friday the 13th TV show? Anime should be a breeze.

Why I don’t usually enjoy anime

It’s probably just aesthetics. The animation style is usually lazy and puts me to sleep. More importantly, a lot of anime is creepy as fuck and I feel ashamed after watching it. I am aware there’s ”good” anime out there, I’m not debating that. I’m just talking about large swaths of it. Most of it. You know.

But hey, enough about me, let’s get started.

 

Is This a Zombie? (Kore wa Zonbi Desu ka?)

Ayumu Aikawa is a zombie resurrected by a necromancer named Eucliwood Hellscythe after being killed by a serial killer. As he tries to make the best of his undead life, he encounters a Masō-Shōjo (魔装少女?, lit. Magical Garment Girl, a pun on “mahō shōjo”, meaning magical girl) named Haruna and inadvertently takes her magic powers, being forced to become a Masō-Shōjo (and thereby crossdress) in the process. With Eucliwood, Haruna, and a vampire ninja named Seraphim living with him, Ayumu helps battle demons known as Megalos while trying to figure out the mystery behind his own death.

577778-640x250Episode 1 synopsis, spoilers abound.

So uh…yeah. This kid is a zombie and can’t go out when the sun is up because he’ll dry out. He’s more of an undead guy than a zombie to be honest, since I don’t think he eats any flesh or brains and hasn’t rotted yet. But he can’t be killed, so I guess that makes him a revenant of some kind. For some reason he’s basically the help for a ”necromancer” that looks like a 7 year old girl in knight’s armor.

On his way home he ends up at a cemetery where a huge ass monster of some kind shows up. After being chomped on for a while, another underage girl shows up with a chainsaw and kills the monster. We see her panties a lot. It’s weird as fuck.

[HorribleSubs] Kore wa Zombie desu ka - 01 [720p][12-17-31]

Apparently her dress gives her superpowers? Whatever. She tries to heal the zombie guy (who got chopped in half during the battle) but this makes her dress disappear (because, why not). She follows him home since she is now homeless and destitute. Then more things happened but I zoned out.

Later on he’s at his school when another monster shows up, this one a cool-looking lobster guy that sounds like Zoidberg. I’m not sure what these monsters have against him, but there you go.

[HorribleSubs] Kore wa Zombie desu ka - 01 [720p][12-13-19]

The underage monster hunter ends up without clothes again, but somehow the zombie guy ends up in the dress and proceeds kicks the monsters ass. Everyone in school sees the aftermath and laughs at him, forever branded a pervert.

[HorribleSubs] Kore wa Zombie desu ka - 01 [720p][12-13-53]

 

I chuckled a couple of times at the bizarre antics, but the passive protagonist was grating on me the whole time. This isn’t really a horror anime, it’s definitely a comedy with some ”monsters” thrown in. I doubt the storyline will be at all interesting, but I don’t care enough to find out anyway. Overall, a painless watch, mildly funny but still has all the weird anime tropes.

 

Weirdness Factor: Kinda weird. Girls look underage. The usual panty shots.

Will I watch another episode: Probably not. I laughed when the guy put the dress on like a deranged Power Ranger, but I didn’t really enjoy anything else.

Music: Utterly Forgettable.

Overall: 2 out of 5 Anime Chainsaws.

 

.

Vox Day is up for a Hugo.

It’d be funny if it wasn’t depressing.

Things that Vox Day has said:

 

Jemisin’s disregard for the truth is no different than the average Chicago gangbanger’s disregard for the traditional Western code of civilized conduct. She could, if she wished, claim that privileged white males are responsible for the decline of Detroit, for the declining sales of science fiction, even for the economic and cultural decline of the United States, but that would not make it true. It would not even make it credible. Anyone who is paying sufficient attention will understand who is genuinely responsible for these problems.

Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence to be found anywhere on the planet that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support from those white males. If one considers that it took my English and German ancestors more than one thousand years to become fully civilized after their first contact with advanced Greco-Roman civilization, it should be patently obvious that it is illogical to imagine, let alone insist, that Africans have somehow managed to do the same in less than half the time at a greater geographic distance. These things take time.

Being an educated, but ignorant half-savage, with little more understanding of what it took to build a new literature by “a bunch of beardy old middle-class middle-American guys” than an illiterate Igbotu tribesman has of how to build a jet engine, Jemisin clearly does not understand that her dishonest call for “reconciliation” and even more diversity within SF/F is tantamount to a call for its decline into irrelevance.

 

and

Further evidence in support of my time-to-civilization hypothesis. At this point, the debate competitions may as well bring in gorillas from the zoo and distribute the “debate” awards on the basis of which primate was able to throw the most fecal matter. That “alternative-style” of debate is no less dialectically legitimate than hip-hop, spoken-word poetry, and appeals to “nigga authenticity”.

If I were a college student these days, I would show up for a debate wearing a dress and smeared red lipstick, and no matter what the resolution was, start rapping very passionately about how the more pressing issue was how the U.S. government refused to let me marry a silverback gorilla. Then I’d turn it over to my partner, Baraka from the National Zoo, who would take a massive dump on the stage before chucking large handfuls of it at the other competitors, hooting and howling all the while.

Best Fantasy and Horror Book Covers for April 2014

A new feature for the Aghast blog: A Book Cover Top 10 of the month. Each month, I check out the upcoming releases in the genres of horror, fantasy and sci-fi and pick my favorite 10 covers to feature.

Tracking down the artists is the hardest part of the whole thing and I have failed in more than one case this month. A few words about the list: I included only novels, novellas and anthologies. So no comic books or magazines. I tried to link to each book’s Amazon page, each artist’s portfolio and each publisher’s website. I didn’t always succeed in finding them.

If you find an omission, please let me know.

In any case, check out these covers and maybe buy some cool books!

 

dragon-age-masked-empire-large

1. Dragon Age: The Masked Empire

Artist: Ramil Sunga
Author: Patrick Weekes
Publisher: Tor Books

Journey into the darkest and deadliest part of Orlais, where the weight of titles matters less than the strength of blades. Empress Celene of Orlais rose to the throne of the most powerful nation in Thedas through wisdom, wit, and ruthless manipulation. Now the empire she has guided into an age of enlightenment is threatened from within by imminent war between the templars and the mages, even as rebellion stirs among the downtrodden elves. To save Orlais, Celene must keep her hold on the throne by any means necessary.

lovecraftsmonters

2. Lovecraft’s Monsters

Artist: John Coulthart
Editor: Ellen Datlow
Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Prepare to meet the wicked progeny of the master of modern horror. In Lovecraft’s Monsters, H. P. Lovecraft’s most famous creations—Cthulhu, Shoggoths, Deep Ones, Elder Things, Yog-Sothoth, and more, appear in all their terrifying glory. Each story is a gripping new take on a classic Lovecraftian creature, and each is accompanied by a spectacular original illustration that captures the monsters’ unique visage.

Contributors include such literary luminaries as Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Karl Edward Wagner, Elizabeth Bear, and Nick Mamatas. The monsters are lovingly rendered in spectacular original art by World Fantasy Award–winning artist John Coulthart (The Steampunk Bible).

Legions of Lovecraft fans continue to visit his bizarre landscapes and encounter his unrelenting monsters. Now join them in their journey…if you dare.

 

GALLOW

3. The Crimson Shield

Artist: Alejandro Colucci
Author: Nathan Hawke
Publisher: Gollancz

I have been Truesword to my friends, Griefbringer to my enemies. To most of you I am just another Northlander bastard here to take your women and drink your mead, but to those who know me, my name is Gallow. I fought for my king for seven long years. I have served lords and held my shield beside common men. I have fled in defeat and I have tasted victory and I will tell you which is sweeter. Despise me then, for I have slain more of your kin than I can count, though I remember every single face. For my king I will travel to the end of the world. I will find the fabled Crimson Shield so that his legions may carry it to battle, and when Sword and Shield must finally clash, there you will find me. I will not make pacts with devils or bargains with demons for I do not believe in such things, and yet I will see them all around me, in men and in their deeds. Remember me then, for I will not suffer such monsters to live. Even if they are the ones I serve.

HouseIvySorrow_front

4. House of Ivy and Sorrow

Artist: God forbid HarperTeen mention their artist
Author: Natalia Whipple
Publisher: HarperTeen

Transparent author Natalie Whipple is back with another refreshing blend of realistic romance and light-hearted humor with a one-of-a-kind paranormal touch. Fans of Charmed, Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy trilogy, and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys won’t want to miss this spellbinding contemporary tale of magic, first love, and high-stakes danger.

Jo Hemlock is not your typical witch. Outside the walls of her grandmother’s ivy-covered house, she’s kept her magical life completely separate from her life in high school. But when the Curse that killed her mother resurfaces, it threatens to destroy not only her life but her grandmother’s too—and keeping her secret may no longer be an option.

 

.................................

5. Masters of the Weird Tale: Carl Jacobi

Artist: David Ho
Author: Carl Jacobi
Publisher: Centipede Press

This title in our Masters of the Weird Tale series focuses on the weird fiction of pulp master Carl Jacobi, and is introduced by John Pelan. Over sixty stories are collected in a large hardcover edition, featuring original artwork. A large number of stories have never before been collected in book format.

 wwa

6. The Last Weekend

Artist: Pedro Marques
Author: Nick Mamatas
Publisher: PSPublishing

Meet Vasilis ‘Billy’ Kostopolos: Bay Area Rust Belt refugee, failed sci-fi writer, successful barfly and, since an exceptionally American zombie apocalypse, accomplished ‘driller’ of reanimated corpses. Now that all the sane, well-adjusted human beings are hunted to extinction, he’s found his vocation trepanning zombies, peddling his one and only published short story and drinking himself to death—that is, until both his girlfriends turn out to be homicidal revolutionaries, he collides with a gang of Berkeley scientists gone berserker, the long-awaited ‘Big One’ finally strikes San Francisco, and what’s left of local government can no longer hide the awful secret lurking deep in the basement of City Hall. Can Bill unearth the truth about America’s demise and San Francisco’s survival—and will he destroy what little’s left of it in the process? Is he legend, the last man, or just another sucker on the vine? Nick Mamatas’ The Last Weekend takes a high-powered drill to the lurching, groaning conventions of zombie dystopias and conspiracy thrillers, sparing no cliché about tortured artists, alcoholic ‘genius’, noir action heroes, survivalist dogma, or starry-eyed California dreaming. Starting in booze-soaked but very clear-eyed cynicism and ending in gloriously uncozy catastrophe, this tale of a man and his city’s last living days is merciless, uncomfortably perceptive, and bleakly hilarious.

city-of-iron-fish

7. City of the Iron Fish

Artist: Jeffery Alan Love
Author: Simon Ings
Publisher: Gollancz

Simon Ings has written a surreal adventure probing the very fabric of existence, tearing it open to reveal a sometimes horrifying world within. It is a work that will delight any fan of China Mieville. Only a fool would question the strange magics that maintain the cool haven of the City of the Iron Fish in the middle of an inferno of scorching heat and splintered rock, for the well-watered streets of the city hide secrets in their shadows. Thomas Kemp is just such a fool…And embarks on a journey that will take him to the limits of reality. It may kill him, worse, that may not be enough. Especially as it is his only friend, Blythe, who may discover the secret of the city’s isolation.

18616071

8. The Bird Eater

Artist: Cyanotype Book Architects
Author: Ania Ahlborn
Publisher: 47North

Twenty years ago, the mysterious death of his aunt left Aaron Holbrook orphaned and alone. He abandoned his rural Arkansas hometown vowing never to return, until his seven-year-old son died in an accident, plunging Aaron into a nightmare of addiction and grief. Desperate to reclaim a piece of himself, he returns to the hills of his childhood, to Holbrook House, where he hopes to find peace among the memories of his youth. But solace doesn’t come easy. Someone—or something—has other plans.

Like Aaron, Holbrook House is but a shell of what it once was, a target for vandals and ghost hunters who have nicknamed it “the devil’s den.” Aaron doesn’t believe in the paranormal—at least, not until a strange boy begins following him wherever he goes. Plagued by violent dreams and disturbing visions, Aaron begins to wonder if he’s losing his mind. But a festering darkness lurks at the heart of Holbrook House…a darkness that grins from within the shadows, delighting in Aaron’s sorrow, biding its time.

 

81ood4cUtiL._SL1500_

9. The Keys to the Realms

Artist: Mark Winters
Author: Roberta Trahan
Publisher: 47North

In this sequel to The Well of Tears, the last bastion of magic standing against the dark forces threatening the prophecy of the Ancients has narrowly escaped destruction—wrought by the sorcery of one of its own. Reeling from loss and betrayal, the Stewardry at Fane Gramarye is in chaos. The young acolyte Glain is called to replace the traitor as Proctor and serve the new Sovereign. It has fallen to Alwen to lead the order and find the remaining Guardians of the Realms and their keys of power. Only then will the king of the prophecy win his throne.

When assassins breach the protective veil surrounding the Fane, an unexpected evil is revealed. The renegade mage Machreth has garnered new allies and his agents might already have infiltrated the ranks of the order. Glain must discover where the treachery lies before Machreth bends destiny to his will, but the truth is shrouded by secrets. Though her visionary powers are strong, there are things Glain can’t foresee. Can she still trust those she calls her friends—or her own heart? For even Glain has something to hide…

 

DorothyMustDie_CoverOnly1.indd

10. Dorothy Must Die

Artist: Pokemon slave labor
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know? Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.
What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I’ve been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart. Steal the Scarecrow’s brain. Take the Lion’s courage. Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

 

Aghast – A Journal of the Darkly Fantastic KICKSTARTER

 

I really like fanzines. I made my first one when I was nine or ten. I don’t even know how I got that idea in the first place, it’s not like the Greek small town I lived in had a zine scene. Probably a project some other, more well-funded school did. I got my buddy at the time to help out and we filled almost 30 pages with inane drivel. Knowing nothing about copyright and IP law, I used some Christmas cards as illustrations. I got my uncle to photocopy it for free at his job and after selling copies to all my relatives, we straight up went door to door (or store to store) selling this. I guess I figured stores and doctors’ offices needed magazines and they’d love a copy of THE CHILDREN OF 2000. In retrospect, the title sounds like a bad 50s sci-fi movie, but at the time the year 2000 was far far away.

Anyway, this is a really roundabout way of saying, I love magazines and more than anything, I love making them. I tried my hand on a one-off magazine for a comics convention and it did reasonably well (sold out, actually), so it was time to go bigger.

That’s AGHAST – A Journal of the Darkly Fantastic. An illustrated journal of dark fantasy and horror. Each story will be accompanied by an illustration done by me. I believe in presenting fiction in the best way possible; wide margins, art, good layout. The first issue will contain short stories by Jonathan Maberry, Megan Arkenberg, Tim Waggoner, Jeff Strand and Gemma Files.

It’s my own work, but I think the art I made for it so far looks pretty good and will only get better. I really hope someone snags that AGHAST! Backer reward, where you get to be illustrated on the cover of issue #2. It should be fun to do.

And don’t forget, we’re still open to submissions and AGHAST is a paying market (1c/word).

I’d appreciate your support and help in getting the message out there.

Let’s make some zines!

jujllj

Help, These Movies Are Kinda Bad: Ladda Land, Tape 407 and Bunshinsaba.

ladda-land-posterLadda Land

Oh Ladda Land. A movie with a schizoid personality that never know what it wants to be. A comedy? A drama? A horror film? A thriller? Fuck knows. The movie deals with a pathetic guy and his utterly shitty family. His wife may or may not have been fucking her boss. His mother in law openly hates him and turns his own kids against him. His daughter treats him like shit and actually moves out of the fucking house at one point, with the blessings of her mother. Holy shit dude, just fucking go already. Pack a bag and get the fuck out, these people are literally shit.

They have no value. Just fucking run.

Anyway, some maid lady gets murdered (I don’t think we ever find out who did it) and appears to be haunting a bunch of houses in the neighborhood. There’s subplot about their neighbor who is abusing his son and his wife, one about the guy’s job being a scam and leaving him hanging, the wife’s boss who is implied is fucking her (I’m honestly not sure, he shows up at their house and later the husband notices the bed is unmade, so who knows) and a bunch of other stuff.

The actual horror thing is just an afterthough for most of the movie. The last part tries to ramp up the tension, but ultimately ends up being pretty dumb. Fuck it.

1 out of 5 closet ghosts.

 

Tape-407Tape 407

Oh god. I can’t really recommend this movie. It has a bit of a twist so it gets points to that, but it’s the usual found footage shit in every other way. Especially in all the wrong ways, like people perpetually screaming at each other for no reason, repeating the same phrases again and again (”Listen to me! Okay? Listen. Listen to me! No, listen to me! Are you listening!”) in the name of ”realism.”

Look dude, you’re not making a documentary. You’re making a movie. That’s why you should try and avoid things that make me want to throw your DVD out my window like a Frisbee, even if you think they’re ”realistic.” Just make the yelling stop.

Anyway, the movie deals with the survivors of a plane crash that are stranded in the middle of nowhere and proceed to get munched on by creatures unknown. There’s two sisters, who serve as the protagonists, a tough air marshal, some photographer dude, whatever.  Everything is by the book: The asshole guy that everyone hates, people getting eaten one by one, the dumb twist at the end.

I don’t really care enough about this movie to keep talking about it.

0 out of 5 airplane peanuts.

P.S. This movie is so shitty I can’t even find a decent poster of it online.

P.S.S One of the posters has this quote: ”A twist ending to leave you breathless” – Frightfest. Jesus Christ that quote should get someone jail time.

 

Bunshinsaba-poster-korean-chinatsu-miyoshiOuja Board / Bunshishaba

I’m gonna keep this short because I didn’t actually hate this movie, I just didn’t particularly enjoy it. Bunshishaba is a local legend, kind of a cheapo Bloody Mary thing. Three high school girls call upon her to exact revenge on their bullies. Their plan works exceptionally well as they immediately start dying. Unfortunately, the titular demon has possessed one of them and the dark secrets of the weird ass village they live in are about to be revealed.

IMDB says: ”Yu-jin and her blind mother move to a small village from Seoul. On her first day at the new school, Yu-jin gets picked on by her classmates. Along with other victims of hatred, Yu-jin puts a curse on the four girls tormenting them through a Ouija Board. On her second day at school, one of the spellbound bursts into flames and dies just as she sits down where Yu-jin used the board. The next day, another victim burns to death, and now the school is enclosed by horror.”

It’s nothing mind blowing but at the same time it didn’t make me want to kill myself, so it gets a pass. I can’t say I found anything scary about it, the usual girl with long black hair jumping out here and there, but the back story was interesting enough, if a bit derivative. I’d say it’s worth a look, but definitely middle of the road stuff.

2.5 out of 5 vengeful ghosts.

More Bad Movies: Ghost on Air, Black Rock, Magic Magic

Ghost-On-Air-PosterGhost On Air

I liked the premise of this movie enough to go against my gut feeling and watch it. A popular radio DJ gets moved to the night shift slot and decides to tell ghost stories. Scary shit follows. How could you fail with this premise?

Turns out, pretty easily. The plot was a tad confusing at places, mostly because it featured a bunch of unrelated ghost stories with similar elements. One of them is about a girl who has an abortion and is haunted by her dead kid. The girl’s mom finds her hanging. Then there’s a different young girl haunting a store and it becomes really hard to tell which old lady is the mom from the first story and which one is the shop owner and how, if at all, these two stories are connected (from what I can tell, they’re not, but I’m still confused).

In any case, the DJ’s dead girlfriend was a horror writer who decided to investigate some ghost stories she heard about. It’s unclear even at the end of the movie, if this research was the cause of her death (I’m unsure if we’re ever told how she died, all we get is a scene in a hospital where she’s on a stretcher) or if it was unrelated. The dj finds her notes and after telling the stories on air, decides to also look into these hauntings.

There’s also a subplot about how a young female dj takes the prime-time spot from his, but it’s fairly misogynistic. I was expecting something more interesting to happen, as the woman is always trying to help the protagonist and he always blows her off. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re really supposed to think she’s a horrible monster.

Spoilers follow, including ending.

The movie has a pretty dumb ending. After the DJ ”solves” the hauntings by revealing the truth, he wins an award for best male DJ, gets his old job back and gets to push his rival out of the show. Apparently being a woman and having a job means you’re a whore and you should be punished.

In any case, there’s a scene right after that where the DJ watches on his laptop a video of his girlfriend telling him she’s haunted and asking ”Where are you?” I’m not sure why she’s recording this video or why she’s asking that, it seems like she could have called him or something, but what do I know, I’m not a ghost. Then the ghosts descend upon him and presumably drive him crazy. The end.

All and all, I wouldn’t recommend this movie. It has no good scares, the plot is convoluted for no reason and there just isn’t anything all that interesting here.

2 out of 5 ghost DJs.

 

BLACK-ROCKBlack Rock (spoilers throughout)

Another utterly dumb movie about how apparently ordinary people will decide to commit felonies for no reason, with no regard for their own safety or best interest.

Three women decide to go on vacation back to their childhood vacation spot, on a tiny island. Once there, they meet three hunters who they kinda-sorta know and invite them to hang out. After one of the women flirts with one of the men and invites him into the woods to presumable have sex, she has a change of heart but the guy won’t take no for an answer and tries to rape her. She cracks his skull open with a rock.

His two buddies are upset and decide to kill the three women because of reasons. I don’t know, not a lot makes sense here.

They play the usual cat and mouse game on the island, including more dumb scenes, like having the women try and make it into the water by crawling towards the beach, but one of them freaks out and starts screaming and gets up to run, immediately getting shot in the face.

I don’t know why. She couldn’t get the pressure of crawling on a beach I suppose. The remaining two women run into the water only to realize they’re freezing to death, so they get back out. This, despite a five minute conversation they had before they put the plan in motion, where one of them absolutely knew she could handle the cold water. I guess she was wrong.

The two women get naked to battle hypothermia. I guess the boobs were unavoidable.

Anyway, the movie ends as expected. It’s really dumb. If you’re really into watching women get victimized for an hour and then maybe get their revenge for two minutes, I guess you could give it a shot.

1 out of 5 hypothermic, naked women.

 

magic_magicMagic Magic (spoilers throughout)

Ah, the dumbest of them all. I admit to being intrigued for the first half hour of this movie, but once I realized the movie has an unreliable narrator, I kinda gave up on the whole thing. I like unreliable narrators, but when you got every other character acting weird as shit and then compound that with a protagonist that appears to be schizophrenic, is there really any point in watching? If there is no basis for reality and the events aren’t even that interesting (oh woo, this guy is mean to her, her friend was rude on the phone, a dog tried to hump her), it’s hard to take it seriously. Couple this with a really dumb ending and you get Magic Magic.

Everyone in this movie is both irritating and stupid. And terrible, like the guy who wants to have sex with his girlfriend who had an abortion the previous day and suggests anal when she says she’s still hurting. What.

In the ending, her friends take her to a Mexican witch who tries to exorcise her and ends up chocking her to death by feeding her a frog. This is happening as about ten people watch, none of them saying anything, apparently convinced she’s possessed.

I can’t say enough bad things about this movie. Fuck it.

0 out of 5 humping dogs.

These Movies are Terrible: Home Sweet Home and Insidious 2

Home-Sweet-Home-KAHome Sweet Home (2013)

What a terrible movie. The home invasion resurgence I’m seeing is bad enough on it’s own, but where other movies might try something a little bit different, this one is happy to be the usual shitty tripe. There is no Wikipedia page and the synopsis on IMDB is one line long, so I’ll have to wing it. A couple is spending a night at home when they realize some dude wearing that mask from Saw has broken into their home and also trapped them inside. That’s really about it and from here on, expect major spoilers.

Of course, the husband immediately gets his, leaving the wife to play the cat and mouse game with the killer. Of course right before that, she thought she’d surprise her husband with some sexy times while wearing a cheerleader uniform, so naturally the killer hunts her around the house with her dressed as a slightly aged cheerleader. She gets captured, escapes, gets captured again and so on.

A lot of dumb shit takes place, she makes choices that make no sense, her husband is completely useless and gets fucked up constantly and then in the end we have the usual fake-out death. The killer then stops messing around and murders the poor woman and then the plot twist hits. Turns out he was a police officer and under the painter’s onesie he’s wearing is a full cop getup. He stages the scene to make it look like he was called to the house and the credits roll.

I’m not sure how he’s going to explain that he got shot with the victim’s gun or where exactly he was earlier and why he’s at their house when no call has been made. Does this guy even have a shift? Or is he more like a freelance cop that works on the weekends? I don’t know. I’m sure you can plug these plot holes with some mental gymnastics, I’m vaguely aware that there was a whole thing where the couple had called the police the previous day about a prowler, but really, it’s too dumb to think about.

There is really nothing interesting about this movie.

1 out of 5 home invaders.

 

insidious-2-poster-teaserInsidious 2 (2013)

I honestly didn’t love the first insidious and I could never understand why people talk it up. It felt like one of those movies that you’d only think are interesting if you watch maybe a couple of horror movies a year. To me, it had a bunch of ideas I’ve seen before, but at least it was competently made, so I wasn’t completely disappointment. I’m even planning a re-watch.

I went into the sequel/prequel with good intentions, but ultimately, it was pretty bad. Again, Wikipedia fails me for a synopsis.

The movie takes place almost immediately after the end of the first one. The family moves to another house and tries to get things back to normal. But weird shit still happens, this time apparently centering around her husband and the baby.

Spoilers ahead.

The movie serves as both a prequel and a sequel to the original movie. We get a flashback showing how the father of the family also had a run in with the demons/ghosts/whatevers when he was a kid and managed to suppress his astral projecting abilities. Everything that takes place in the flashbacks is really well done and all around interesting. The problem lies with all the shit they add to the current timeline, which ends up coming off like a an episode of Supernatural mixed with American Horror Story season one. They throw in some ghosts, an overbearing, crazy mom, a cross-dressing serial killer that appears both as his innocent child self and his later, murderous incarnation and somehow try and tie all this in to the events of the first movie. It fell flat for me, though your mileage may vary.

I kept waiting for something to happen that would tie it up nicely, but it never came. It really is as disjointed as it looked to be. The bit of mindfuck where the events in the flashback are a reaction to the events of the future (you’ll know it when you see it, the movie makes sure to hit you over the head with it) was really the only interesting part of the movie.

The movie isn’t shy about showing us a bunch of ghosts in broad daylight (always accompanied by the usual piano and string cues), which gets ridiculous pretty fast. There is only a handful of effective scares and none of them are really that original or interesting. It’s a very formulaic offering, overall.

It’s probably not completely terrible, but nowhere near as good as the original, which wasn’t that good to begin with, so eh.

2 out of 5 cross-dressing ghosts.