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Showing posts from May, 2018

Pari: Not a Fairytale (2018)

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Well, this one got distinctly cold reviews from Indian critics, but I enjoyed it a lot. It's a relatively simple tale with interesting twists and turns, told with the help of flashbacks. It begins with shy, nerdy Arnab having a painful time with prospective bride Piyali, a beautiful and confident nurse. On the drive home with his parents Arnab insists that if Piyali turns him down he doesn't want any more matchmaking, thanks very much. A bit of a row begins, eyes are taken off the road, and in the monsoon rain they run down and kill a woman who is crossing the road. The woman, it turns out, is a Muslim who lives in a hut in the woods and for some reason collects stray dogs, Further investigation reveals that a young woman, Rukhsana, chained by her ankles to a post in the hut. She can barely speak, is illiterate, and seems to have been kept in total isolation from the outside world. Arnab feels sorry for her and helps her with funeral arrangements. Oddly, when the traditiona

Codex Shub-Niggurath - Review

How quickly things go when you're getting older. One minute you're wondering who would win in a fight between the Cybermen and the Autons, and the next minute you've got dodgy knees. Which is an odd way to introduce another poetry pamphlet from Pete 'Cardinal' Cox, Peterborough's Bard of the Bizarre. As you'll have gleaned from the title, this is another in his series of musings on Lovecraftian weirdies, and this time it's the turn of the Goat With A Thousand Young. Just the sort of benefit tourist the op-ed writers of the Daily Mail have nightmares over. As always, the poems themselves are pithy, concise explorations of Lovecraftian ideas and related notions. Just as good are the notes that Cox adds, weaving yet more strands in his alternative history of this world, and others. It's a bit steampunk, a bit conspiracist (in a good, fun way, not a mad racist way), and erudite as all get-out. First up is 'Chimaera of Lydia', the weird hybr

If You Go Down to the Woods Today...

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Beware the Moss People!   More at artist Kim Simonsson's site here .

Horror Babble!

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Right then, I'm doing various things. Writing my sixteenth book for Scare Street - that's quite a lot of books. Working on ST #38, which is shaping up nicely - more on that soon, I hope. And I'm also girding up my ageing loins for a collaborative project with Ro Pardoe's Haunted Library - exciting stuff! "But Dave, how do you relax amid this whirl of activity?" Glad you asked me that, made-up anonymous person. I often listen to audio versions of favourite stories, especially ghostly and weird fiction. Which brings me to Horror Babble, a substantial YouTube contributor that posts readings of mostly old horror. I think the team, led by Ian Gordon, do an excellent job. What's on Horror Babble? A lot of Lovecraft, if that floats your boat. Some M.R. James, a fair bit of Robert Bloch, a big chunk of Robert E. Howard, and a major dollop of Clark Ashton Smith. The complete Carnacki stories by William Hope Hodgson are also there, which is a plus, and there

'Picnic at Bluebell Wood'

The last story in Kate Haynes' collection Waiting in the Shadows is a tale of Mean Girls. Or is it? Moyra is a new girl at school, and feels her life would be complete if she could join the elite group of clever, fashionable girls. So when they invite her for a picnic she is ecstatic. Even more wonderful is the fact that the boy she fancies will be there. Of course, as the date of the outing approaches Moyra begins to wonder if she is being set up. Maybe the group is going to ruin her life, as mean girls tend to do? And sure enough, when she arrives at Bluebell Wood with her bag stuffed full of nosh, there is no sign of the cool girls. An upset Moyra decides to have a picnic by herself - that'll show 'em. But then she encounters a weird presence - pink of face and somewhat Jamesian - that prompts her to flee. At this point the mean girls scenario is twisted into something else. Moyra is entitled to join the elite group, but membership comes at a very high price. Far fro

'The Mirror of the House'

The penultimate story in Waiting in the Shadows is close to mainstream horror, with overtones of classic Gothic tales. Patsy has had a nervous breakdown thanks to marital problems. When she is released from hospital her husband takes her to their new home, a large Victorian affair that she does not like. Just to make things a bit worse, hubby also installs a housekeeper-cum-warder to watch over Patsy. There are shades of 'The Yellow Wallpaper' in this setup, but things work out rather differently. One room in the house is a bit weird. A large mirror conceals a door, and behind it lurk inhuman creatures seeking a way into our world. Patsy's misery and confusion serves as their admission. At first it seems as if the creatures are Patsy's ally, but things are not quite so clear-cut. A tale that could have formed one of the darker episodes of The Twilight Zone, here, and all the better for it. Next time I'll round off this review. Are there still copies of this b

'Magicians and Moonlight'

This story in Katherine Haynes' collection   Waiting in the Shadows is a sequel to 'The Folded Hands', reviewed earlier on this here blog.  In the first story the evil Mr Jones destroys the magician, Gontarsky, and in the second he tries to steal one of the latter's greatest secrets. This is revealed to be something like the alchemist's concept of the homunculus. However, Jones has to summon the ghost of Gontarsky to get the magic formula, so to speak, and this causes him difficulties.  When Jones does succeed in creating a being it is not the gentle, harmless creature Gontarsky imagined. Instead it is a variation on the Welsh legend of a woman made of flowers. The creature proves dangerous, to say the least. But then Jones encounters someone whose own arcane knowledge is at least as significant as his own... This is a neat tale with a sexy subtext. The theme has been under-explored, but in these days of sex robots it certainly strikes a cultural nerve.

Disturbing If True

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h/t Steve Duffy