October 29, 2011

2 More Days 'Til Halloween. Read Four for $4.

Now that I've taken you through all four of my current short stories, my Halloween gift to your Macroscope readers is a Four for $4 deal.

Get all four short horror stories, including "I'll See You In Hell", "The Worst Place On Earth", "The Monster That Ate My Summer Vacation", and the very latest, "The Trick-or-Treaters", for $0.99 each. Just check out my Author Page on Amazon and you can score them all.

Enjoy, and don't stay out TOO late this weekend.

October 28, 2011

3 More Days 'til Halloween, but "The Trick-or-Treaters" are already here.

I used to live in a working class neighborhood in a not-so-great area of Los Angeles.  If you looked at the crime maps on the internet, the area was a virtual collage of color-coded crimes and misdemeanors, but it was also an area with mostly houses for blocks & blocks.  The population was less transient than streets lined with apartment buildings, and, as a result, there were more children.

And more children mean trick-or-treaters on Halloween evening.

It all sounds great - little kids in cute costumes with their mock attempts at candy blackmail.  I was in to it, ready to play along with my buckets of Hershey's kisses.

But once the sun had completely set, I figured it would only be another hour or two before the parents packed the kiddies away and off the mean streets.

Imagine my surprise when I settled in to watch John Carpenter's Halloween for the billionth time when, at around 9:30, there was a knock on my door.

There was no peep hole and my lights were already on, so I couldn't peek through the window in secret.  There was, however, a pretty solid screen door, so I opened the main door to take a look.

It was a person, at least as tall as me, but clearly heavier, wearing saggy jeans, a dark hoodie, and wearing a plain white hockey mask and holding a sack full of.... who knows.

He didn't make a move.  He didn't make a sound.

He just stood there.

And I just shook my head and laughed, saying "No, dude.  Not tonight", before closing the door and waiting for him to leave.

He was probably just some teenager who wanted in on the fun.


But what if...

My latest horror short is called "The Trick-or-Treaters."

It starts from that idea and runs with it into some pretty crazy and surprising places.  I can honestly say that how I imagined this story would end is no where close to how it actually concludes.  And there are definitely some moments where I had an idea to write something where I thought, "wow, that's really, really wrong."

I'm reminded of a term Marlon Brando uses in "Apocalypse Now":

Moral terror.

It's brand new and available in the Amazon Kindle store today.  And definitely pay attention to my Macroscope post on Halloween proper.  I've got a little special something cooked up.

October 23, 2011

8 More Days 'til Halloween. Read "The Monster That Ate My Summer Vacation"

A little over a week left before the day, and I'm sure most of you will do most of your celebrations over the weekend, so let's call it a week.

Which brings us to my next scary project.

This one had been percolating in my brain in a variety of forms for years. And it comes from a couple of different places.

So much of horror is about dark, closed-in spaces, which, as you can imagine, makes me think about flipping the proverbial script to see what we can do in big open spaces in broad daylight. Which, as a California resident, can't help but lead me to the desert.

My mind wanders to the long drives out to Las Vegas and all of the nothing in between.

Or is it nothing?

When I fly over that same land, I think of all of the mountains and rock that goes for miles on end. It's literally a no man's land.

But just because there are no men, that doesn't mean that there's nothing else out there.

And that leads me to one of my other thoughts, as a genre writer: I'm SO much more interested in new monsters. I've had my fill of vampires and werewolves and zombies. These things have been done to death.

But something new...

You could literally be sitting right next to something horrible, and not know it until it's too late.

The original title was "Sidewinder". But it was August, and the process of finishing this story was literally consuming me.

Hence, "The Monster That Ate My Summer Vacation."

I'm pretty sure you've never seen or read anything like it. Check it out.

Now that we've finished our trips down memory lane, I think the next time I'll have to share with you something fresh.

 And awful.


October 21, 2011

10 more days 'til Halloween. Read "The Worst Place On Earth".

Keeping in the spirit of the month, here's a little bit on my next horror short ebook.  It's actually a title I used once before for a Macroscope post about my love of horror movies that I wrote in the wake of the first time I'd ever seen Eli Roth's "Hostel". 

But the title is really inspired by a feeling, and it was a feeling I had after watching one of the earliest trailers for "28 Days Later".  I've literally searched dozens of times for that particular version of the trailer, but I've never been able to find it.

Maybe it was a nightmare I had after watching the trailer.

But, there's a moment where people are running away to hide from something terrible, but they're running into a deep, dark, wet place that, under ordinary circumstances, they would never EVER go.

I was just struck by the sensation of the awful choice: what's after you is bad, but where you're going to escape it is worse than you could possibly imagine.

It's the worst place On Earth.

And, like any good writer, there's lots of double meanings in that title.  But I'll leave it to you, oh, intrepid reader, to suss that out for yourself.

I mean, at this point, if you're following my writing, you've already gone to Hell.  How much worse can it be? :-)


October 19, 2011

12 more days 'til Halloween. Read "I'll See You In Hell"

Those of you who've never seen "Halloween III: Season of the Witch", may not get the joke, but I'm not going to spoil it for you.  :-)

We're counting down the days to All Hallow's Eve, which struck me as the perfect time to re-share my horror shorts.  So, taking it from the top:

The first story sort of started from that scene in "Unforgiven", where a certain character who's staring down the barrel of a shotgun says to his tormentor:

"I'll see you in Hell."

And, to a person like me, that's the kind of line that gets your mind racing.  Would they really see each other in Hell?  And how would that go down?

Bad people doing bad things in a really bad place.

It's like an episode of "Oz" on steroids.

Hence, my very first ebook.  It's really pretty crazy.  But, at the end of the day, if you're not going to create something crazy, what's the point of creating in the first place?

I prefer to think of it as "innovation", right, Steve?  :-)

Anyway, if you want to go on this sick, horrified ride, jump on board.  Download it.  Read it.  Be scared.

And, if you've already read it, share the love (or hate, as it were :-)) with your horror-loving friends.

It's that time of year.

October 18, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year, or why I love Halloween

There are certain times of the year that tickle my heart as a filmmaker and a deep lover of movies.  I love February, when all of the classic Oscar-winning films suddenly get new life on TV.  I love December, when your favorite holiday movies return while the studios generally offer the highest quality films they've made all year.  I love May, when the biggest, loudest popcorn movies of the summer come roaring into the multiplexes.

But my dirty little secret is that I love the month of October most of all.

I love scary movies.  And these 31 days are the days that they all rise like zombies, shambling across the quiet countryside to frighten a new generation.  These old horror films are like old friends:

The tightly coiled maniacal genius of a medical student who can Re-Animate the dead.

The terrible thing Creeping inside the crate beneath the university staircase.

The little boy in the clown costume with the butcher knife on Halloween night.

The puzzle box that Raises a little Hell every time someone is fiendish enough to try to solve it.

The Thing inside that snow dog running across the Anarctic.

I could talk about Val Lewton and William Castle.  I could talk about Vincent Price and Peter Cushing.  I could talk about Universal and Hammer and Dimension and Artisan and Lions Gate.

I could talk about the newbies, like the people who can't help but video tape the things that go bump in the night, or all the poor souls who've forced to live or die and make their choice.

In many ways, I think a good horror film is the highest order of filmmaking.  Think of the skill it takes to craft a movie that can terrify and amuse, that can horrify but still attract repeat viewings, that can attract the best talent, that can push the boundaries of special effects.

The Silence of the Lambs
Cape Fear

I could go on and on and on.

But I won't.

I'll just ask you to turn on the TV or go to the theater, hold on to your sweetheart, and enjoy the rush of getting the daylights scared out of you for the next two weeks.

October 17, 2011

Review: The Thing

Do you have those movies that you've seen so many times that you've actually forgotten the first time?

I'm like that with "John Carpenter's The Thing". I think it's pretty safe to say that it is, hands down, my favorite horror movie of all time. I practically know it by heart. I re-watch it and study the evolving (or should I say deteriorating) relationships among the group of fairly ordinary men in an Artic research station that is infiltrated by a shape shifting alien that can perfectly imitate any animal it can devour.

I think it's a perfect horror movie. It's tense and scary. It's got great laugh out loud moments. It's pretty original. And it's super bleak.

It's funny to me that Carpenter himself worships the original movie, "The Thing From Another World", where the alien is basically a Frankenstein monster made of vegetables who fertilizes new versions of himself using human blood. It's such a weird, quirky movie with the stereotypical stupid scientist. But it also has some great jump out moments and a great end line:
"Tell the world, tell everyone: Watch the skies everywhere, keep looking, keep watching the skies!"

But, frankly, I don't find "The Thing From Another World" scary at all. For my money, the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" trumps it in every way: scare factor, Cold War paranoia, direction, performance... it even has a better end line: "They're here already! YOU'RE NEXT!!!"

That said, I can appreciate that The Thing From Another World comes from a different era in horror moviemaking, so I can excuse Carpenter's affection.  Especially because I so appreciate what he did with his own take on the film.  By returning to the original source material, John Campbell's novella, "Who Goes There?", Carpenter rediscovered the true paranoia and horror of this unwelcome visitor from another planet.

What's interesting to me in reading the Campbell story is the intelligence that's implied about the monster by the investigating scientists.  While a reviewer of the current prequel to Carpenter's film (which we'll get to in a moment) asks how such a creature could evolve through natural selection, Campbell assumes that the creature has developed the science that allows it to adapt to any environment at a cellular level.  They even assume that they've never seen its natural form, that even its ship was something it had appropriated from another species it had imitated.

Which is what is so great about Carpenter's film - the thing isn't just a monster.  In many ways, it's smarter than the humans and is constantly a few steps ahead of them, deliberately sowing the seeds of mistrust as it swallows them up, one by one.

It's this intelligence, this cunning, that is the single biggest thing I miss the most in the new prequel, "The Thing", with Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  But, don't get me wrong.  I actually love this movie.  It really takes the horror aspects of the franchise to a new level.  For fans of the Carpenter film, the way the two-faced thing is born in this film has to be one of the most horrifying scenes in any movie I've seen in some time.  The effects are crazy and the cast is great.  Mary Elizabeth really reminds me of Naomi Harris in "28 Days Later".  As my better half said, by the end of the film, what she's experienced, you cannot take any chances.  You have to be as hard core as possible.

But her survival hinges on the way the thing chooses to attack her early in the film.  Frankly, it's sloppy and not nearly as clever as it is in the Carpenter movie.

Then again, it is a prequel.  Maybe the Norwegian camp taught the thing a thing or two.

Go see them all.  They're great films.

October 06, 2011

The God of Forethought, or A Comment on Steve Jobs

I've always loved Greek mythology.  And one of my favorite myths has always been the one about Prometheus.

In short: Prometheus was a god who secretly gave the gift of fire to man for the first time.  But, because the other gods held fire for themselves, they punished Prometheus by chaining him to a mountain top where an eagle would come every day and, essentially, disembowel him.  And, because he was a god, his wounds would regenerate every day so that this eventually very fat eagle would always have something to snack on.

But if I may run with the myth analogy for a bit more, I think the true gift that Prometheus gave to the masses wasn't just the spark to light the bonfires.  It was the example he set.

Not only that the heavens could be challenged, but that they MUST be.  By everyone.  That the cost was far outweighed by the treasures.

And when you do that, a new world can be born.

Imagine if we all strove to achieve what he achieved.  Imagine if THAT was the standard.

Think of the universe that could be born.

Thanks for the spark, Steve.  You'll be missed.