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Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Dead of Night by L.C. Mortimer

Dead of NightPaige Bowers was just another small town girl in a college town. She was going to classes and doing pretty well due to her study habits. She had an idea on what she wanted to be in life and is a focused student.

The big problem with being so focused is that you can miss the little things around you. You can miss the fact that the streets of your city are not busy. There are less people in class, and even the dorms. It is even worse when a professor in one of your classes must point this fact out to you as you maybe “there” but not fully there.

Paige does have enough sense to ask her teacher, Dr. Bales, about what his thoughts are regarding a flu virus everyone is being told to get. It appears that this year’s strain is even more dangerous as the government has been pushing everyone to get the shot. The problem for her is that she has parents that are a bit alarmist. Her mother, more than her father, is one to believe shots are not healthy. There are things in the shots that could harm a person, and she had kept Paige from getting many shots when she was still an infant.  So, after a talk with her mom, there is no shot being taken by this young college student.

The one thing you must ask yourself is how you would react when a teacher tells you to purchase a few emergency supplies. I for one would question why, much like Paige and as you heed his words of wisdom you may find out you have been missing out on a large picture that has been developing all around you.

As that picture comes into focus you will find power outages, people panicking and rushing stores and gas stations. The dorms are nearly empty and worst that phones are nearly useless and everyone is being told to stay indoors. If you are fortunate, you know of a small shop and will be able to get some of the supplies others are rushing to large stores for. It may also help that you have parents who have been hoarding and have prepped you for the worst case scenario and you have a bug out bag ready.  Why is this all helpful? Well as you read LC Mortimer’s book The Dead of Night you will find that Paige had missed quite a bit and will have to face a new world.

The book takes the reader into a realm where death is nearly unavailable, panic is the root of disaster, and humanity is its own worst enemy. It’s a story that will bring the reader into a well-developed world and the mind of a young woman just trying to get home. It will not be easy as major roads are sure to be cluttered with people running for their lives. Supplies will run short at stores and vandalism and crime will become critical to stay alive for humanity.  It’s how Paige deals with all of this that is the forefront of the book.

L.C. Mortimer does a great job of bring the reader into this girls world, and what it encompasses. You will live through her eyes as she travels and wonder if you’d make the right choice. Could you leave others to escape, or try to save them? What if they don’t listen? What if you are too tired to go and just need to sleep? How do you face others you meet?

All of these questions will be asked as one reads the book. It’s a book that makes great use of the surroundings that are established within the pages. A book that will keep you interested and keep you reading.  Simply a book that is sans zombies but you find out there are monsters in the world, and they also walk on two feet.

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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Reviews

 

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“From Dust to Snow” by Shawn Micallef (An Original Story)

Yes, I know, I need to get another post out I thought I’d add something original.  Why?

Well I am reading three books right now, well two as just finished one, and got to figure which gets the next review. I have finished Divergent by Veronica Roth as I wanted to see if would peak my interest in the upcoming film. After reading the book it may have just done that. I also picked up the book Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. Lastly I am also reading The Dead of Night by L.C. Mortimer.

As I try to determine what is next I decided to write an original short story that will give the reader a look at the process on how snow is formed. Why do you ask?  Well I hope you did but if you didn’t going to tell you anyway. As there has been SO MUCH snow in my area of this big blue dot I thought I’d use the snow as an inspiration.  So without further comment from me, below is my original short story. Oh yeah legalize…This is an original work of fiction by one Shawn Micallef. Any likeness to other stories is a happy coincidence.  No dust, water, ice particles were hurt in the writing of this story, but plenty are hurt when I have to push the snow through my small snow blower. Enjoy!! Lastly grammar police and proof spellers take a vacation this was a quick drafted story that I wanted to share. GIVE ME A BREAK! LOL

 

SnowflakeFrom Dust to Snow by Shawn Micallef

I was born when a violent shaking of the earth was met with a large explosion that through millions of my brothers and I into the air. As I looked back on what I had left all I could see was fire, rivers of red hot liquid pouring out of the top of some large mountain.  One of my brethren said it was a volcano, but when I asked how he knew he wouldn’t give me a clear answer. All he said was he heard some weird two legged monsters talking about readings.  I did not know what he meant but well he was older than me.

I came from the lower level of the millions of us blown sky ward. He was within the top layer and was lighter colored as he had something called the sun shining on him.  He told me that we are what are called ash, or dust particles and that the eruption blew us up into the sky to live.  He sure learned a lot listening to those creatures. I want to think he said one was named Sheldon and the other Penny.

I really shouldn’t see myself being born that day as I have lived for a long time in that crater (I think that’s what he called it) for a long time. It’s just I think I’m alive now as I get to experience the sun, the wind, and even at times we get a bit wet as water comes through trying to push us back to the ground. We are so high up that those water guys are unable to force all of us down and we just travel along thanks to the wind.

I wish I could see the land below us, but we are so high up I cannot see much through the clouds. They act as a barrier between us and the land below making it hard to tell how far we have traveled. I do know we’ve been up here for at least 30 sun cycles. I count each time the sun disappears for a long time and later appears on the other side and moves around us to disappear again. I just know it’s a fascinating trip but I wonder if we are going to be stuck up here for a long time now just like the long sleep we had in the crater?

Oh wow it’s gotten cold suddenly. We keep moving and the wind has picked up and is pushing us faster now and I can see rain falling in front of us and many of my brethren are getting attacked by the water. I so hope I can get by them, but I am so cold.

NO!! One of those water things has landed on me, and I’m falling down. It’s almost like it’s trying to take me over I’m trying to fight it as I fall but the more I fight the more it envelopes me. It’s so COLD; I think I may finally perish as it’s so cold. The water thing is not speaking just clinging to me and starting to harden around me. I’m getting colder every moment it does that and I think I’m going too……

Where am I? Who am I? Why?

Oh I am new, I am white, and I am ice.

I am not ice, I am, I am, I am… Snow.

I see land below me and oh look I see more of my kind below. I don’t know them but they are all huddled together in a big opening of land. There are these big green sticks shooting out of the ground. I am falling towards some of them I hope the wind blows me away as they look like they’d hurt.

The sky the wind that is coming up at me as I fall is changing how I look. Little pieces of me are falling off, while other areas are being formed and shaped. I am starting to look so pretty I don’t want this trip to end. It’s just so pretty but I see now those sticks are much much bigger than I thought. I think I’d shatter if I landed on one of those things.

The earth is even closer now I’m going to land soon and my body has stopped changing. I look so beautiful as I fall to the Earth. I just hope I don’t land on something that will break me. I do see others below so I may find someone who knows me, but first I have to land.

OUCH! I made it. I’m back on earth and this time I’m not under so many of my brethren but I’m on top. I feel like the one who knew so much as he learned from Sheldon and Penny. I hope there are creatures like them around but it is so peaceful here. Those big stick things are all around but I did not land on any of them, just he he my brethren. There is so much talking, so many questions about where we are but me I like it. It may be cold but when the sun shines I feel warmer.

This may be where I will make my new life as I listen to the others before we all go back to sleep till the next time something awakens us. The only thing we know is that we are snow, and if it was not for that cold water stuff we’d still be floating above in the sky.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Short Stories

 

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Asylum by Mark Allan Gunnells

AsylumZombies seem to be everywhere and attack anything living.  They are a true killer who does not worry about, race, religion, gender, type of creature, or sexual orientation. All they care about is that their prey has a heat beat and warm blood running through the veins.  It also helps that the prey be bit squishy so they can really sink their teeth in to their meal.  It’s a great thing, at this time, they are only found in the mind of writers.

Yes I realize I’m painting a wonderful image of zombies but there isn’t much in the way of a killer that is as lethal, and patient as a zombie who has gotten your scent.

This takes me to the novella, Asylum, which was written by author Mark Allan Gunnells whose book The Quarry introduced me to his writing.  I will warn those with younger eyes there is some sexual acts in this story that could bother those of a younger nature. To those who like that kind of stuff, there are sexual acts between consulting adults (men) that are mentioned in this story.

Asylum is not just the name of the novella but it is also the name of the bar we find the bulk of the story revolving around. The place is owned by Madam Diva a drag queen who wanted a place for others to go and be safe from the ignorant of the world. Diva employees an older Ex-military bartender, Gil, a black stripper named Devon and her lighting and music is handled by Devon. Others in the bar are Lance and his female friend Autumn, and another pair of men named Clive and Toby. These are the last of the people in the bar as the night is winding down.

The story opens with two college age young men in the parking lot with the more experienced of the two in a car with some accountant. This young man, Jimmy, is used to this lifestyle, hence his hookup and eventual fun in the car. He has brought his young, naive, friend Curtis along to give him a glimpse of what small town America had been hiding from him.  At that moment in time Curtis is not only thinking about this evening but also about voiding his bladder.

Jimmy is “busy” in the car and Curtis decides he cannot wait any longer and goes around the corner of the bar to relieve himself. As Jimmy goes about pleasuring the accountant their night of fun is destroyed when the car window shatters and before Jimmy knows it the object of his attention is being pulled out the open window. It was quite the picture as the accountants pants were down by his knees. Due to the bigotry of others Jimmy’s first thoughts are it’s some “haters” out to beat up the gay men. He will find out just how wrong he is when he jumps out of the car looking for a fight, but instead finds the accountant being eaten, ALIVE!

This is where the books action steps into primary action as Curtis comes back, grabs his friend and they run to the only safety they have, Asylum.

Asylum will take you, ever so briefly, into the lives of those who find themselves in the bar. Each character will have to face some type of realization of what is going on outside their walls.  The fact there are only two doors that are keeping the horde from braking in is not going to make things easy for those inside.

The story does more than make the reader face the zombie horde, but pieces of the story may also make you question who the monsters are? As you read the story and find out some of the back stories of the characters you realize these are just men. They are men who like anyone else just want to survive the craziness of the outside world. It’s possible when you read that you will get the underlining subtext of the statement. The outside world is not just the zombies outside as there are all types of monsters.

The other great thing about the story it will have you asking yourself a few of the questions these men ask themselves. The question of how to spend the potential last minutes of your life. Do you go down fighting? Do you partner up with someone for that last romp? Do you crack and just go nuts? How do you react?

Asylum is a nice entry into a very crowded zombie genre. The thing that sets this story apart the most is how well Gunnells does in developing his characters.  You begin to feel for them and want them to survive. You will of course have to read the story to find out if they do or not.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Reviews

 

Dead Weight (2012) Independent Film +Audio Interviews

Dead WeightIndependent films are often a hit or miss and don’t see the light of day till the film festival period begins. It’s rare to find out about such a film while it’s still being finished. It just so happened a few years ago I learned of film that had finished shooting in Wisconsin and was in post-production. The film was written and directed by two men and was filmed with the help of friends, family and others who wanted to help their dream. This became a group dream and through a brief period in Wisconsin the movie was filmed. They were fortunate that even the crazy weather helped the situation. The film in question does not live up to its name as no one found this to an issue that weighed on anyone. It was a labor of love, even with a title of Dead Weight.

Dead Weight is the brain child of friends John Pata and Adam Bartlett and it took nearly two years for the young men to get their movie made. It was an idea that both men developed from the original story to the feature length film that is NOW available for purchase, rental (Family Video) and some locations for On Demand purchase.

The cast could be called a risk taker as the main star (Joe Belknap) of the film is a first time actor. Others in the cast had everything from small experiences to some who were established actors. In all truth established actor Aaron Christensen even asked if there was a part available for his acting wife Michelle Courvais. Thankfully there was a role for her as she did play a key part in the film. How Dead Weight was put together is something that will surprise those who view the film and will raise questions about the human spirit as you watch.

Dead Weight starts on the funny side as we find a young man returning home, changing and making himself a bowl of cereal to eat. The fact that he took a risk on the milk for the cereal adds a bit of levity to the opening but things do not stay that light for long. As he’s sitting on his couch he begins to read a comic book when the phone rings. Sadly for one Charlie Russell (Belknap) it is a phone call he will never forget as it’s his girlfriend Samantha (Mary Lindberg) on the line. She has shattering news there’s an outbreak and the world is about to change around them.

This begins Charlie’s long trek to get to the city of Wausau, Wisconsin, and reunite with Samantha. We find him in the wilds of Wisconsin traveling with four additional companions. These brave individuals being the group leader Thomas (Christensen), the group’s lone female Meredith (Courvais) and two other men. The group stuck together and shared their meager supplies as they travel. They do all they can to avoid those affected by the outbreak as they follow the lone map to Wausau. They have taken Charlie at his word that they will find help in Wausau and risk their lives to get there with him.

Along this trip we will see many ethical questions raised about ones humanity. We will get to watch as characters begin to slowly doubt each other, and that at times the infected are not the only danger. We have to question what would we be willing to do reunite with a loved one in this type of a world. Would we follow Charlie’s example or take other roads to get to our destination? There are other psychological questions to be answered as we watch the events unfold. The one true fact of the film is this; Charlie must get to Wausau no matter the cost. The other question between Samantha and Charlie which side will you find yourself in favor of as you watch their lives prior to the outbreak.

Dead Weight does an amazing job at presenting this story to the viewer. They are able to show the bleakness of the world through the lens and the way the way the film was framed. During the filming they shot in sequence so as things changed for the characters the cast also followed in those emotions. A sudden spring snowfall made for an additional element that helped show a passage of time that is important to the films progress. This is evident as some scenes the freshly fallen snow is seen melting in others.

I have a special place in my heart for this film as John and Adam gave me some unique access to the movie. At the time I was involved with a Horror Podcast and was given an invite to a private screening of the film. I was able to sit down with the stars of the film, and even interview for the podcast. John and Adam had even done a prior interview with me on the film and after each talk it was hard not to want to see this film become popular.

I even took my wife to see one of the first public viewings of the film in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, were we purchased a copy of the movie. It was a special event as you felt like a family was involved in the undertaking of Dead Weight. The credit for the film was shared among all involved.

Dead Weight may not be a perfect film to Hollywood’s standards but the film is very well made. Yes you have to allow for some of the rawness in the acting, and some of the scenes but the movie made use of the locations they were able to use. This included a local airport, restaurant, and the wilds of Wisconsin. It is a movie that could stick in the mind if you give it a chance. So my suggestion, give it that chance.

As an added treat I have added an audio interview I did at a screaning of the film with some of the stars (Joe Belknap, Mary Lindberg, Aaron Christensen, Michelle Courvais) of the movie.  The review was done and played on the podcast, HorrorAddicts.net at the time so there will be references to that time and a question of what are favorite horror films.

 

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in Reviews

 

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The Carvings Collection by Author Drake Vaughn

Carvings CollectionDrake Vaughn is the author of the book The Zombie Generation which took the reader into a unique look at the Zombie genre. It was a book that had readers wanting to “sink their teeth” into other books by the author.

Vaughn has come out with another full book called The Carvings Collection but this book is different. It’s not a full tale but instead a collection of short stories you could believe were “carved” out of the man’s mind. Stories that go deep into different genres of horror from real life to the paranormal can be found within the pages.

The book has ten different and distinct stories that will surely find an audience for the genre covered. It is more impressive that the stories are done in such a manner that they will appeal to different readers and some may have you asking for more.

The book starts with the story, “Dolls”, which fittingly talks about a young girl and her dolls. The story introduces the reader to a girl who has an interesting life. She lives with her father, his grandmother and her father’s new girl.  A seemingly innocent arrangement till you read how the young girl has been treated. So is it any wonder that suddenly a doll starts speaking to her? The fact the doll has seemed to learn some of the things the young girl has seen cannot be too healthy and well the story will have to tell the rest.

The reader then can read a story about a woman afraid of cars in the story, “Driver’s Seat”. You learn why she’s afraid of cars and the problems that came from that event. The reader then finds out about the dangers of skipping class to get high and running from authority in, “Master Key”.

The story, “In the Chair”, will be the next entry into the book. This one tells the story of a man persecuted for fulfilling the dying wishes of his mother. Those wishes are to help her dye after treatment for her cancer seems to have not worked. The problem after the news breaks of what he has allowed, and the court is done with him, someone else feels justice needs to be done. This person will take, what seems to be pleasure, in distributing his own justice. This involves tying the “killer” to a chair and slowly starving him much as his mother must have felt.  Does he escape, or does justice get done?

The book follows with “Carvings”, where a man’s dreams may be coming to life as those who have harmed him begin dying around him.

Sales” is the sixth entry in the collection and deals with a salesman who may have bit on more than he can chew.  He is hired to break into a penthouse apartment and may find out he may have under estimated the owner and is going to be, well read to find out.

The Garden” tells of how it’s not nice to destroy and vandalize a man’s garden. You never know what could be hidden within all those plants, and how the owner will react.  You could find out that some take their “gardens” very seriously.

The Test” is one story that seems to be perfect for today’s world. It could almost be said it was somewhat ripped from the headlines. A prank goes very bad and someone ends up dead after the prank.

The reader will then get to “Trip to V-Town” which is a story of how the poor kids want to visit the upscale tracks of town. The problem this cities other side is that which belongs to Vampires. Those involved in evading V-town will create some just horrific acts on those who live there. Some of these are not safe for little children, just as they children are not safe in V-Town.

The final story is one called “Flatheads” and has nothing to do with a screwdriver or a haircut. The story instead talks about the flathead worm. The worm can get up to 4 to 10 inches in length depending on the type of flathead. In this story they get to be a bit longer in size. No they don’t get to 2 feet in length, you got to think BIGGER. Try imagining so large they are now the dominant life form. They are so dominant that in this new world they use humans as hosts for their infants. This of course does not look well for humanity and this story takes you into a small group who is trying to survive. The problem they share their home with the flatheads and this cannot be a good thing.

Just as the titles of the stories the subjects are just as diverse. The stories range from the scary to the just down right creepy. They are not always safe for children so I suggest parents take a moment to read the stories before giving them out to their children. They are not overly to dangerous for a young mind, but enough it could bring up some uncomfortable questions.

The simple truth is that The Carvings Collection is a book of tales that will keep any reader interested.  You may find yourself skipping a story to jump to another but you must make sure to read them all. I say that as this is a carved collection from Drake Vaughn that no matter how you fell is a great full meal for the mind.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Reviews

 

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