Category Archives: writing

Review: Poet: An Intimate discussion with Wade Radford

Disclaimer: I am in this documentary briefly, and also friends with the subject. In spite of that, what follows is an objective look at the film, and only my opinion.

One of the very first things I found out about Wade Radford was that he was a poet.This didn’t surprise me as his movie Twink (the film that brought us in touch) was nothing if not poetic at times. The first book of poems of his that I read was “Tough Blows of A Sleepless Universe” and I was, if not blown away, then at least suitably impressed. As further volumes of his work came out, the stronger and tighter his poems became. I suppose the culmination for me, was being asked to write a forward to his collection, “Ideations of Six Feet Under” . For me that volume is perhaps my favorite because it truly captured his honesty, anger and amazing amount of talent.

So, it was also no surprise when he told me that he was going to be making a documentary about his poetry. I was excited by this, as a movie by Wade is always a cause for celebration. The fact it was his first movie  in a couple of years, with long time collaborator and friend Jason Impey was all the better. I was equally humbled when asked to contribute to the film as a talking head (so to speak). I filmed my bits sent them off, and was able to watch the final product this past week.

In short it’s everything you might expect. And more. And less as well. In addition to my contribution we also hear from Jason, punk legend Honey Bane, and film producer Thomas Lee Bottom (who also funded this project). For the record, Honey Bane contributed one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a very long time, using one of Wade’s poems for the lyrics.  The sparse musical arrangement suits this song very well, and Honey’s vocals are nothing short of amazing. This song needs to be a single and played everywhere, it’s that good.

Interspersed with the interviews are pieces where Wade ruminates on, well pretty much everything. These parts are less about the poetry, and moreo about what goes into them. It’s not every day you get to see the inner workings of a poet. During these clips we’re taken to places that have significance to him, and he explains why they have meaning. The camera work during these interludes is at times breathtaking, as much as what Wade discusses is heartbreaking.

We also see Wade reading several of his poems throughout, and as wonderful as they are, and as powerfully read (if a bit over theatrical at times), it interrupts the flow of the movie.

The interview segments are what you would expect from a documentary and all who participate have great things to say and some keen insights at times. We’re all friends of Wade’s and it may come off as a mutual admiration society, but this is about the poetry, not necessarily the person. This isn’t about digging up the dirt, but peeling back the layers to see what makes the heart of his work beat with such unrepentant ferocity.

At a full two hour running time, it does drag a bit in spots, and while I think it would have been perfect at 90 minutes, I’m not sure what I would end up cutting, because it all seems important enough to keep in. And as I alluded to earlier the poetry readings do tend to slow it down, but they are also worth the time they take.

Some may see Poet as a vanity project, a product of equal parts ego and hubris, and for some they would be right. For Wade however, he is open, honest, humble, and most of all doesn’t take himself seriously. His wit and charm is very evident, and the readings are a testament to his talent.

As I watched Poet, I couldn’t help but think I wish I had half his ability, and that’s about the highest compliment I can pay anyone. Poet shows why that  praise is warranted.

Poet: An Intimate Discussion With Wade Radford is available to rent or purchase on Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/ondemand/poetwaderadford

 

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Hellraiser: Judgment Get the Hell Out of Here

Anyone who knows me, even if just from the podcast, knows my favorite horror movie is Hellraiser. To be fair it’s one of my favorite movies period, and has been since I first saw it one sunny September day in 1987. It’s difficult to believe that was 3 decades ago, as the memory is still as fresh as if I had seen it only yesterday. I’d gone with a friend who was not fond of horror movies to say the least, and finally walked out after Frank’s classic, “Jesus wept,” line. I’m not sure he ever forgave me for dragging him along, but I couldn’t have been happier.

Everything about the movie appealed to me, and Clive Barker cemented himself alongside Stephen King as one of my idols. The idea of the Cenobites, their reason for existence, and Frank’s obsession with extremes was something that resonated with me, and has never been very far from my thoughts. With the advent of VHS players, Hellraiser became the movie to which I judged future friendships. If someone was able to sit through it, or even better, like it, I knew they’d be a keeper. It’s a test I still use to this day and has served me well.

I can’t say the same about the sequels. Even Hellraiser II, which some prefer to the original never had the profound effect of the original, and while I enjoyed 3 and 4-everything after that was nearly as painful as the implements hanging from Pinhead’s belt.  Even 3 and 4 weren’t especially great, but they were entertaining, and at least attempted to do something different, or expand the world that Barker had created.

When the rumblings of yet another sequel started rearing its head a couple of years ago (not to mention the remake which has fortunately not come to fruition yet), the news was greeted with an eye roll and shoulder shrug. Yet every time I read something about it, I have to say my interest was piqued more and more. Even when Doug Bradley said he wouldn’t be playing Pinhead, I still had hope.

And now after several postponements and some time in limbo, Hellraiser: Judgment will be available on VOD Feb 13. The short answer to the question of whether I like it or not is, “Well, it doesn’t suck!”  And while it’s probably the best of the direct to obscurity sequels, it’s not exactly a good movie.

 

The first 10 minutes or so is spent expanding the mythos that Barker began all those years ago, and it is easily the best part of the entire movie. We follow what turns out to be a pedophile to an abandoned house where he is strapped into a wheelchair. A tube winds itself from the victim to a typewriter, where The Auditor types his sins with blood flowing from the tube onto pages made from flesh.

Once completed The Assessor comes in, seasons the paper with tears of children and eats the paper, then vomits it into a funnel. The vomit then makes its way into a trough where The Jury, 3 women with their faces stripped away plunge their hands into the mess and deliver a verdict.

When that’s completed the pedophile is then strapped to a table where The Cleaners come in, lick his entire body then pour their spit into his mouth to cleanse the inside. The final step is when the Butcher makes his appearance, an obese dark Angel who carries The Surgeon on his back who filets the victim and strips his skin off.

The whole process is so fascinating; I really wish there had been more, as I was mesmerized and sickened by the process. Sadly, the rest of the movie doesn’t live up to this beginning, as we then get treated to a substandard serial killer/cops on the trail flick. Pinhead and the gang are relegated to the beginning and end with just a couple of quick scenes in between. Paul T. Taylor is a fantastic Pinhead however, and makes you realize a Hellraiser movie can succeed without Doug Bradley. This incarnation really hearkens back to the original movie. Pinhead here is all business, and scary as hell. His black eyes and calm, almost bored demeanor are a highlight for sure.

Director Gary J. Tunnicliffe also plays The Auditor and is also a highlight, and as I said, wish there had been more of him and his level of Hell in the film (he’s not a Cenobite, but another aspect of Hell). Heather Langenkamp, of Nightmare on Elm Street fame has a sneeze and you’ll miss it cameo, and I have to believe there’s a lot more of her on the editing room floor than in the movie.

This brings us to the “detectives” working on the case; a pair of brothers, played by Damon Carney and Randy Wayne, as well as a female detective assigned to the case, played by Alexandra Harris. These characters are easily the weakest link in the movie. You never believe they’re actually brothers. Let alone detectives, and in spite of solid performances, the script really lets them down. Harris does a fine job as well, but feels like she was thrown in there just to spice things up.

The biggest problem the movie has is the small budget. There are so many cool ideas that could have been explored but had to be cut because there simply wasn’t room in the budget for them.  The “detective’s” office looked more like a closet with some furniture thrown into it, and the finale takes place in an empty warehouse. I don’t blame the director for these choices, as you work with what you have, but still I can’t help but wonder what this movie could have been had they had a decent budget.

While I would have a hard time recommending buying the DVD/BluRay, I don’t think people will mind spending a few bucks to stream it. There are far worse movies out there, but in terms of Hellraiser sequels, you’ll find none that are much better. I just hope we get a proper sequel one day with more than a $1.98 budget, this franchise deserves more.

3/5 Pins

Seven Long Nights At Camp Blood: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

There probably should have been “My ass!” after the final chapter subtitle, as I don’t know anyone who believed the cash cow was being taken to the slaughter house. Like every good exploitation flick, the F13 movies were cheap and made a good profit. Who would want to stop that? Bueller?

With Steve Miner off to do other things, it was time for a new director, and exploitation movie director extraordinaire, Joseph Zito was brought in. Fresh off The Prowler, an underrated grindsploitation classic, Zito does the best he can, and while Final Chapter is a cut above (see what I did there?) the third entry, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily great, or even good. It is however different, and certainly the best looking of the four. It also sports some well known names, including Peter Barton (who had completed work on Nightmare with Linda Blair), Corey Feldman (who would go on to film The Goonies  the following year, thus keeping him from appearing in the sequel as the main character), and of course Crispi Glover, the Deney Terrio of the F13 franchise.

Much like Part 3, the fourth movie starts almost immediately after the previous. In fact the film opens on the investigation at the cabins, and the ambulances carrying away the dead bodies, and Jason. I should mention, prior to that, is a catching up of what has occurred in the previous movies, you know, because the back story is so rich and detailed it’s easy to get confused. It’s pointless filler, but with the running time at just about 90 minutes, can see why they threw it in. Regardless, we arrive at the morgue with Jason’s body, and the morgue attendant, a horny and serial sexual harasser tries to convince a nurse to spend some time in the cold room. She does this initially, however when Jason’s arm falls off the table, she loses her interest in boning the doc and heads off to do her job. Sadly for the doc, Jason rises and nearly decapitates him with a bone saw. I couldn’t think of a nicer guy to deserve such treatment.

Obviously the nurse is next to get it, and Jason takes off again for the woods.  We then meet this installments fresh meat for the grinder. On the way to Crystal Lake, they see the headstone for Mrs. Voorhees on the side of the road-because where else would you bury the mother of a serial killer? It should have one of those natio0nal park, Views of Interest next to it. If you thought Peter Barton and Crispin Glover would be part of this group, you’re correct. Crispin’s character Jimmy is sort of an awkward loner (totally against type), who hangs with his best friend Ted (played by Larry Monoson of Last American Virgin infamy). Ted is the joker of the group, Barton is the jock, and there’s another guy who is so boring, I forget he’s even in the movie.

Once they get to the cabin, we then meet their neighbors a family of three, Mom, daughter and son. Corey Feldman is the son who has a keen interest in horror movies and makeup.  The next day, the teens next door decide to go skinny dipping because, really, we haven’t seen enough boobs yet. While that is going on Tommy and his sister breakdown in their old POS which is mandatory for living in the woods. They run into a hiker that sis gets the hots for and they bring him back to the house. And what’s Jason doing during all this? I don’t know, they never show what he does in his downtime. (aside from the awful remake in 2009 which I will not review, I love you all but not that much.) Needless to say that since there’s going to be a party that night, you know Jason’s gonna be there to bust a move, furniture, bones, pretty much everything.

At this party Crispin Glover proves he isn’t a dead fuck as his friend referred to him on the trip to the cabin. Ted, said friend, ends up getting high, and acquires a case of blue balls while watching some early 20th century porn. In all honesty I think that would have been more interesting to watch. One by one everyone gets killed, save for Tommy and his sister,

Part four has perhaps my favorite way of Jason being killed. It is so gruesome that even today it makes me squirm, despite the fact iut looks fake as hell. He gets a machete in the head, and when he falls it hits the handle and we see it sliding through his skull, nearly cutting it off. It’s a fantastic effect marred only by the fact that Jason’s makeup looks more like a pull over mask than anything else. Yes it’s suitably deformed, that doesn’t make it scary though

 

In spite of the subtitle, and as I said in the beginning, there was no way this would have been the final movie, as the series was way too profitable for Paramount. The ending was setting up Tommy to take over for Freddy, and that could have happened had Corey Feldman not had to film The Goonies and Gremlins. Let’s be thankful to the powers that be that, that never happened. What came next was so, so much worse, but that’s getting ahead of myself.

The parts of F13 Part 4 are greater than the sum. There are some good scenes, such as Jason’s kill, and of course Crispin Glover’s spastic dancing. Yet the layout of Camp Crystal changes as much as Jason’s makeup-there’s no continuity in either of them really, and where did the second house come from all of a sudden? The world may never know. Needless nitpicking aside, Part 4 isn’t the worst of the bunch to this point, but that’s really not saying much.

Friday the 13th:  The Final Chapter get’s 5/10 machetes

8 Long Nights At Crystal Lake: Friday the 13th Part III in 3D

To the best of my knowledge and recollection, Friday the 13th Part 3 (in 3D!), was the first and only F13 movie I ever saw in a theater; all of the others were on home video. What makes it such a vivid memory was my friend Richard, his brother Rodney and myself went to a midnight showing the weekend it opened (3 days after my 17th birthday). I’d met Richard through Fangoria, and he lived just a mile or two away from me. Our love for horror and especially make up effects for him, gave us a fast, if not especially long friendship. We made a werewolf movie together on his super 8mm camera that had sound, and while the end product was about what you would expect from some teenagers, it was a hell of a lot of fun.

The theater was so packed we couldn’t find seats next to one another, and that was only one of two things which dampened the night. The second was the movie. In spite of us having a lot of fun, and enjoying the 3D, as well as the audience reaction, it’s simply not a very good movie. F13 never aspired to be high art, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun, enjoyable flicks. Sadly, one of the most iconic things about the franchise is introduced in this snoozefest, where even some kickass 3D effects can’t save the movie. Steve Miner returns to the director’s chair, and we’re all the worse off for that.

F3D (as I’ll refer to it), takes place immediately after the events of the second movie. We start off with Jason hanging around a general store run by  two rubes Harold and Edna. Harold likes to nibble from packages around the store and put them back on the shelves, while Edna is a knitting and TV watching wunderkind.  In fact when we first see her, she’s watching a news story (with Steve Miner as the anchor), about the murders at Crystal Lake. Jason meanwhile borrows some clothes that were hanging on the clothesline (in spite of the fact he’s much bigger than Harold), and ends up killing them both. Harold gets an ax in the chest after taking a very noisy dump, while Edna gets a knitting needle through the eye.

We then meet this installment’s nubile victims. Chris Higgins and her friends who are all going to her family’s cabin, which just happens to be on Crystal Lake. Not only that, but she was once attacked by Jason and escaped, and this is her first time back since then. We also have her pregnant best friend Debbie, her boyfriend Andy, and Shelley, the pudgy, dumpy comic relief-as well as his blind date Vera. Oh, did I mention the older stoner couple? They’re there too though no one ever tells us why. With Ralph being disposed of in the last movie, we have new town crazy that we meet as he’s laying down in the middle of the road.  He warns them off with an eye he found, that belongs to one of the victims, Charming little bugger, he is.

I suppose the main reason the old stoners are there is for the scene where they have to eat all the dope in the car because the police are behind them with their sirens on. When they pull over the cops pass them. Hahahahahaha, isn’t that funny? Well, it was at midnight in 1982, when I may or may not have been high. As they make their way to the cabin, Shelley, who has a propensity for doing very bad pranks doesn’t like people touching his box of stuff, that has his entire life in it.

Once at the cabin we meet Chris’ ex boyfriend Rick. And as a sidenote, there’s a reason why people named Rick, are called Rick the Prick. This guy is a Harvey Weinstein wannabe. All he wants to do is screw Chris, and gets a little pissy when he doesn’t get his way. I found his death later in the movie to be especially sweet. Shelley pulls one of his pranks which angers everyone, so he schleps off to town with Vera. Once there, they run into some bikers, which concludes with Shelley knocking their bikes down with the car. Feeling a little cocky, he gains some self esteem, but is still a pretty miserable person. His death, when it finally comes is a relief.

The bikers somehow make their way to the house, and all of them end up getting killed in the barn. In fact, the barn becomes more of the center piece of the movie than the house. While it wouldn’t have been my choice, I can understand it as there’s a lot more room to maneuver, especially when you add 3D.

Speaking of which…the 3D effects in this were top notch for the time. Even on the DVD release they still look good. It’s really the only thing that makes watching the movie bearable. Aside from some pacing issues, awful dialogue and cardboard characters, there’s just a lot of stupidity flowing throughout the movie, for instance, Stoner guy has to go to the bathroom, so we see him use an outhouse instead of the perfectly good bathroom in the house. If he couldn’t smoke in the house I could see that, but he could, so it was simply a way to get him off on his own. Stupid.   Another time stoner has to go check the breaker box because the lights went out. The basement is separated from the main house like a bomb shelter. Again, for no other reason than the writer’s weren’t clever enough to think of something which made sense.

The kills in 3 are well done, but nothing special, and aside from one or two, not especially gory. There’s zero tension, and zero atmosphere, and all the scares are cheap jump ones, which is a real step down from the first two. Miner and the writers tried adding a sense of humor ti the movie, and it falls flat, because that’s not needed in an F13 film. Let’s not even talk about the acting. Had it not been for Jason getting his iconic mask after killing Shelley, no one would remember 3 at all.

I give Friday the 13th Part 3 4.5 machetes.

All The King’s Ploughs

As it’s NaNoWriMo time again, I thought I would share something from the piece I’m working on.  This is a bit of an odd one, as what follows will most likely not make into the final product.  What started out as a lighthearted idea, quickly became something a bit darker, more twisted. It seems no matter how much I try, the horrific elements seem to follow me.

Also of note is none of the following has been edited. This is as crude as a draft can be.  I post it because even though I may not use it, I like the scene quite a bit, and thought it made a good opening.

In the Sewers

 

Kharisi skewered the sewer rat with the tip of his iron sword. He watched with more than a little delight as the vermin wriggled, even as its little rat guts clung to the weapon. Kharisi turned and shook it at his dwarven companion. “Didn’t you mention lunch but a moment ago?’

Slate Fistcrunch glared at his companion, and stroked at a long, luxurious beard that was no longer there. Realizing his old habit, he let out a fart in Kharisi’s direction.

“The most sense you’ve made all day Slate.” Kharisi said with a small edge in his voice. He lowered the sword, and with one foot pushed the dead animal off his sword, and stepped on its head, grinding bone and brain beneath his boot. He walked a few paces ahead of his companion, the sound of dripping water echoing off of moss covered walls. “Well dwarf, which way?” Kharisi didn’t look behind him, but could hear the stocky Slate catching up to him.

Slate stood by the elf’s side and looked around. He held out the burning torch in front of him and squinted. They were at a three way intersection and he immediately dismissed the path in front of them as it was barred by an iron grate. To the left was a nothing but a dark shaft, and to the right, he could sense a slight wind and with it the smell of offal. “This way,” he said.

“Lead the way,” Kharisi said, motioning the dwarf to move ahead of him. AS they started to move to the rightward tunnel, Slate stopped, held up a hand, and drew his axe.

“What is it?” Kharisi asked, and the sound of multiple legs scurrying up behind them answered his question. Kharisi laid a hand on the hilt of his sword and he could feel the hairs from the enormous spider brush the back of his neck. He held his breath, his grip tightening on the sword, as the spider started to raise itself up to strike. Kharisi turned, his motion a blur, sword out and plunging into the largest of the six eyes. The spider let out something like a scream which chilled Kharisi to the marrow. It backed away, blood and gore dripping from the wound. Slate not wanting to miss out on the fun, took a short leap and plunged the fire end of the torch in the ruined orbit.

The now flaming spider moved back even further, hissing and spitting phlegm-like wads of venom that sizzled as they hit the damp floor of the sewers. “Kill it you damned useless dwarf!”

Slate grunted, and muttered curses under his breath. He dislodged the torch which managed to remain lit, and replaced it with his axe, chopping away at the spider, avoiding the venom, and still managing to get his by gouts of blood. Not for the first time he cursed the Bards for making the slaughtering of beasts sound so easy. One quick thrust my ass, he thought. As he hacked away He saw Kharisi move swift as the wind to the backside of the spider and climbing on its back, he shoved his sword into its head.  It gave one final squall and slumped, dead as can be.

Kharisi sheathed his sword, jumped down from the corpse and looked down at the dwarf. “All that hack and mucking about wastes too much energy. A deftly placed sword works every time. Ask the Bards.”

Slate grumbled something impolite and put his axe away. He pushed Kharisi out of the way and stormed ahead. As he set off to follow the dwarf, he noticed something glimmer in the muck, and bent down to pick it up-pocketing it before Slate could see.

He smiled and continued on.

 

“How much more of this place is there?” Slate asked. Kharisi gave a small shrug. “After the Arnisian War decimated the country King Saerus’ grandfather ordered these to be built for any emergency or need to escape. They’ve been built upon since, and seeing as how peace reigns-however fleeting-our good King has seen fit to make it a sewer, fit only for vermin and shit.”

Slate looked up at Kharisi, studied the elf’s emerald green eyes that were almost translucent. The alabaster skin only heightened their deep color. “Are you sure? I’ve never seen anyone working on them, or digging.”

“Mages perhaps.”

Slate let out a laugh that was closer to a bark. “As if a mage would sully their precious feet and robes down here.”

Kharisi pondered this for a moment, wondering if at first it was a jab against elves, as most wielded magic. Kharisi could as well, but it was weak-his strong suit had always been that of a Warrior. In spite of race, Kharisi was a few inches taller than most elves, and possessed a physique befitting the Arnisians from the North. A stocky, fierce nation, all but wiped out after King Haveron destroyed it with the use of a mana bomb. Much as he hated to admit it, Slate was probably right-Elven Mages were a rather prissy group.  He sighed and continued walking. “Be that is it may, it changes not one fact that these sewers do seem to be getting bigger. I remember as a boy, when these were first being built, I would come down and practice my swordplay on the rats. There were very few places to go, or hide for that matter, and the rats then were smaller, weaker and far more frightened of me, than I of them.”

They soon reached a dead end, with the only other option to go back. “Did we miss a turn?” Slate asked. He leaned against the stone wall, and when it gave way , he fell back into the opening it had created. Kharisi grabbed the torch that had tumbled from the dwarf’s grip and held it out after extending his arm into the entry just created.

“My my, you’ve earned your gold piece for today my friend.” He patted the top of Slate’s head, who took a not so serious swipe at the elf’s hand.

“All you’ve earned is an ass kicking, now let’s see where this goes.”

Kharisi had to duck to get into the opening, and what they found themselves in wasn’t another corridor, but a large room. In the center was a fire that threw off no smoke. A cauldron sat on the floor next to it, big enough for someone to sit inside. Slate and Kharisi looked at one another, unease enveloping both of them. “Stay close,” Kharisi said in a hushed tone. “Put the torch out,” he added, we don’t want to be too obvious.”

“Like Elder beasts in the plains,” a voice rang out. It sounded old and haggard as if it took everything the owner had just to say that. Both knew not to let their guard down, as Crones were known to be very tricky. “Come, come, I won’t….bite!” A cackle of laughter and a flash of light blinded them briefly and when they could see again there was a shadowy figure next to the cauldron, hunched, withered, and covered with a cowl that had straggles of straw coarse gray hair.

“I said, come.”

The duo found themselves walking towards the elevated platform where the Crone and her pot waited. Despite the chill from the stone walls and Fall weather outside of the walls, sweat began beading on their foreheads, this despite the fact the fire she had going gave off no heat. Slate was the first to climb up the three shallow steps and stood within striking distance of the Crone, though he gave no appearance he would do so.  The Crone eyed Slate, scanning him with an intensity that Kharisi found frightening.  “I’ve no interest in you dwarf!” She said, and with a small flick of her wrist, Slate flung backwards as an unseen force blew him off the altar.

“You, Elf, give to me what is mine,” flames danced in her white blinded eyes. There was a sliver of saliva dripping from the corner of her toothless mouth. The nostrils on her sharp nose twitched with impatience.

“I have nothing for you hag, not even a stiff wand for you to fondle.”

“Hag?” she cried, her stooped posture stretching itself out until she stood straight and tall. “Watch your tongue Elf! You killed my precious Eolanda, then stole the ring I gave to her. Tread carefully. Hand it to me and you may even live.”

Kharisi had no doubt she was serious, and while Crones weren’t necessarily good, they never went out of their way to harm a stranger. That was until Kharisi met this crone, whose heart was as black as the robes she wore. Must be very important if she’s threatening. Must not let her have it then. “Perhaps in your old age you’ve forgotten things, it happened to my grandmother. Besides, why would you give a ring to a spider?

“That is not yours to know.  Give me the ring.” Her voice was cold and frosty.  Kharisi stood there, unmoving, barely blinking.

“Once more, I know nothing about it.”

“Liar! I saw you pocket it, look into the cauldron as instructed, and saw the fight with the spider on the oily surface. He watched as Slate kept chipping away and Kharisi snuck around to deal the final blow. He saw himself pocket the plain looking ring and catch up to Slate.

Kharisi refused to admit his thievery and remained silent. He put his hand in his pocket and closed his fist around the jewelry. As he pulled his hand out, Kharisi opened his hand, showing the ring on his sweat slick palm. The crone snatched for it but was too slow, as Kharisi moved his hand then unclenched his fist to show the ring had disappeared.

“Enough games,” the crone said with a quiet voice. “That ring is mine and I want to have it.” From within the sleeve of her robe she pulled out a gnarled branch of a wand, and pointed it at Kharisi. A thin blue beam of light pulsed from the stick and sent a wave of cold over Kharisi’s body, he could feel his toes starting to freeze to the point he was unable to wiggle them. His teeth chattered, as his torso shivered. Kharisi’s eyes began to burn as he couldn’t blink, and the tears which tried to fall became little shards of ice. As he tried to close his mouth, his jaw froze in an O position, which he thought would bring no shortage of amusement to anyone who might see.

The Crone moved closer and the cold became stronger. She cackled and was so intent on Kharisi, that she hadn’t noticed Slatesneaking around behind her, axe held high. “That’ll be enough of that!” he said, and swung horizontally, cutting the Crone’s head clean from her body. The head flew through air, as the body crumbled to the floor. Her wand fell to the ground, bounced and hit Kharisi between his now thawing legs. In almost an instant, his bulge grew and distorted the front of his leggings. Slate pretended not to notice and grabbed the wand but it crumbled in his hand leaving nothing but shavings.

You had the ring all this time and said nothing? Slate said, his face turning red as much from anger as embarrassment.

“I had a ring. But it’s so plain I had no idea it was the one we were searching for.” He made no attempt to hide his engorgement, though he was still feeling the effects of the Crone’s freezing spell, he may not have even noticed were it not for the fact Slate kept glancing at his. Kharisi looked down and grinned. “Apparently something is still frozen. Care to warm it up?’

Slate gave him a look of disgust and turned away. “Let’s just get out of here,” he said, walking away. Kharisi remained quiet and followed, kicking the Crone’s bloody head out of the way out of spite.

Phobophobia

 

Several weeks ago my friend Joe made a mock up cover using a photo I had played with on my phone. The title, Phobophobia, was his idea. The only problem was, I didn’t have anything I was writing that might fit the title.  I liked his idea for the cover a lot, and put it on the back burner as I continued working on Lonely Are The Dead.

As it so happens, progress on LATD began to become a fight to get anything written. I sort of know where I want to go, but the ending has been eluding me. Everytime I would open the file, I’d stare, and edit what I’d already written, but couldn’t-and still can’t-figure out the right ending. The one I had in mind would serve its purpose of tying the tale up, but it’s not one I’m happy with.

 

And then last night in a conversation on facebook, Joe asked me if I was working on anything new. I had a couple of ideas for a short story for the next Fossil Lake anthology, but instead I wrote, “I have an idea for my next one, which I kind of got from that phobophobia cover you did. Lots of bugs, boils, and a serial killing priest.” Thus surprised me as I did have an idea involving bugs and boils, but the serial killing priest was a new element. However, it intrigued me, and I started thinking about it. I went to bed, and when I woke up this morning I knew how the first chapter would go. I banged it out in about an hour, and very happy with the results.

As I was writing it, I was struck with another inspiration: I would not only connect it with Barbed Wire Kisses, but also introduce the main character in LATD, psychic detective Napoleon Santierre.  What follows is part of the first chapter from Phobophobia. A one sentence synopsis would be: Father Rossi is a serial killer priest who chooses his victims based on his phobias, and Santierre, with the help of his victims and other ghosts sets out to uncover and stop him.

 

As always this is coprighted by myself and none may be used or excerpted without my express permission. Enjoy.

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Phobophobia

One:

Our Lady of Perpetual Dispensation

 

Father Rossi sat in the confessional, and wiped sweat from his smooth upper lip. He could feel it beading on his hairless scalp, and felt it trickle down his brow. Some errant droplets slid down into his eyes, stinging them. When that happened he would push the frames of his bifocals up and wipe at the tear ducts with a dainty finger. Even with his thin frame, the confessional was cramped, and with the air conditioning on the fritz, and claustrophobia beginning to kick in, hearing the sins of his parishioners seemed unbearable.

Not for the first time, Rossi pictured himself as the Lord wandering through the desert,. Dried, on the verge of bleeding skin buffeted by hot wind. as sand ripped at the flesh and blinding him at the same time. Arizona was no place to be without working air conditioning, particularly in the summer. Rossi sighed and opened the door. It had been almost fifteen minutes since the last sinner had bleated their litany of crimes against God, and he wasn’t surprised to find the church empty. The only noise to pierce the quiet was the repairman on the roof tending to the cooling units.

The priest took his walking stick which was leaning against the flimsy panel that separated him from the confessor and stepped into the oppressive heat of Our Lady of Immaculate Dispensation. He surveyed the small area as he always did when he finished his obligation, and wondered, again, as he always did, what he’d ever done to be placed in such an unremarkable, almost forgotten parish. The wooden pews were ancient, even when he’d arrived almost a decade prior, and almost unbearable to sit on for any length of time. The hymnals, on the rare times they raised their voice in song, were tattered. Pages were missing, and indeed, so were some of the covers. What remained of them had yellowing pages with fading ink. Rossi had continually asked for the funds from the Bishop to renovate or at the very least replace the hymnals but his requests had always been rebuffed. “Tough times, declining numbers, maybe another time…” is all he heard. When Rossi heard the Bishop was driving a new Lincoln town car he stopped asking.

The priest walked up the aisle, eyes focused on the altar and the large crucifix attached to the back wall. The eyes of a Christ in agony seemed to follow him. He knelt before the creaking altar, genuflected, and jumped as the sound of something crashing came from above. Rossi looked up and saw some of the plaster floating down like dirty snow. “What in blazes?” he said under his breath. He turned around, marched down the center of the church and opened the front doors and was accosted by the ruthless heat and blazing sun. Rossi for once ignored the weather, and walked around the wood and stone building to the back. There was a rickety wooden stairwell that led to the roof, as well as the bell tower though there hadn’t been a bell in place since the late 1800’s. Holding his cane in one hand and grabbing the splinter laden banister with the other, Father Rossi climbed up what was essentially a fancy ladder and peered over the Spanish tile roof top.

“Everything okay?”

 

There was no response. Rossi set his cane down on the edge of the roof, careful to not let it fall over. He pulled up the hem of his cassock so as not to trip on it and set a foot on the roof. With great care so he didn’t go falling off either, he pulled his other foot onto the fragile terra cotta shingles and held out his hands to gain his balance. After a moment, he made his way to the middle where the rusty evaporative cooler sat like a malignant growth, and saw the repairman straining to lift it back onto the metallic shelf it had fallen from.

“Need a hand?” he asked.

The repairman looked up, eyes hidden behind a pair of 99 cent store sunglasses. “About six of them.”

Rossi gave a slight smile, and bent down on his haunches, and the repairman waved him away. “No need, this ain’t going anywhere, ‘cept maybe through this roof if we mess with it.” He stood, and offered a hand to help the priest up. Rossi accepted the help, and heard his knees pop as he stood. He reached into the slit in the side of his cassock, and pulled a handkerchief from his back pocket. Rossi wiped the sweat from his face, and ran it around the damp collar.

“I’d give this last rites father. It’s done for.” He then went on to explain everything that was wrong, and how he might be able to get parts, but no guarantees as this model was so old, and should have been replaced years ago. Rossi nodded, a fake smile amidst a darkening face. He would nod, and give an “I see,” once in awhile, but all he could think of was the sweat.

The soiled clothing, the wet skin, and the bacteria that could form in the excretion. While no doctor, he knew that sweat could be cesspools for any kind of bug and cause ringworm, illness, and God knew what else.

No, I’ll have none of that, he thought. Rossi processed all he’d been told and concluded that despite its age, the cooler could be fixed, but the repairman didn’t want to. Already he was gathering up his tools, and placing them in a canvas bag, his work here done. What the priest saw was a lazy sinner only intent on sending Mother Church a hefty bill for doing absolutely nothing except get a tan.

The repairman zipped up the bag, grabbed it by the handle and made his way to the staircase. He noticed the can laying on the roof, and bent to pick it up. He gripped it by the bottom and offered the handle end to the priest. Rossi took it and held firm. Before the repairman could release it, Rossi gave a hard shove, throwing the worker off balance. He yanked his cane away and poked him in the chest sending him back and over the side of the church. Rossi heard the satisfying sound of his skull cracking on an exposed rock.

Rossi climbed down, careful to fall himself, and when he reached the bottom, stood over the repairman. Blood and gore leaked from the open wound, as his eyes fluttered in his sockets and his limbs twitched. He stepped over the soon to be dead man in search of a glass of water.

Then maybe he’d use the phone in his rectory.

Writing Updates

Those who follow me on twitter or facebook know some of this, but for those who don’t, (and why not?), here’s an update on what I’m working on.

 

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You may notice that it says narrator. Yes, Barbed Wire Kisses is an audiobook! Or will be, in about 10-14 business days. My narrator Wayne Messmer did an incredible job, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it! Details on where and how to get it will be posted as soon as it goes live.

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With another great cover by Joseph K. Adams, this is a compilation of my John Waters essays from talkbacker.com. I’ve gone in and reedited them, and in some cases added more material.  There’s a great foreword by Nick NIghtly and an introduction by myself. This is in the end stages of editing and formatting, and will be available as an ebook in mid July.

 

And last but not least there’s:

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My original intention was to have this out by mid summer. As with all plans, it’s not going to work out that way. I’ve had problems with getting an ending I’m satisfied with, and while it’s very close, it;s just not where I want it to be. My plan is for a Fall release. Possibly Halloween.  I know people are excited to read this, and I apologize for the delay, but I don’t want to disappoint anyone.

 

I’m also going to be working on a story for the next Fossil Lake anthology, as well as a radio play about H.P. Lovecraft. And of course there’s the articles at talkbacker.

I thank each and everyone of you for your support, and hope you enjoy everything I do.