Sunday 29 November 2020

The Beyond (1981)

Lucio Fulci's thematic trilogy entitled 'The Gates of Hell' is fairly self explanatory. In each film some hapless mortals find themselves dwelling above an entrance to the big H, and wackiness ensues. The Beyond is the second, coming after City of the Living Dead and before The house By the Cemetery. 

The film has a simple plot that provides a pretext for a series of horrific set pieces. Some have right compared this film to a fever dream, in that the scenes almost make sense logically, but not quite - they are essentially horrific for their own sake, Yet the film is also visually striking at times in a way not normally found in Eighties horror. There's an art house feel, for instance, when the main character encounters a blind woman and her guide dog on a deserted road bridge. 

Friday 20 November 2020

"Man Size in Marble" by Edith Nesbit

Robert Lloyd Parry of Nunkie Theatre reads Edith Nesbit's most powerful and disturbing ghost story. Quite rightly considered a classic, this is much darker stuff than you might expect from the author of The Railway Children. But it is part of a body of excellent Gothic fiction that Nesbit produced while also writing fiction for younger readers.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Color Out of Space - Review

Well, here we are - a new movie adaptation of Lovecraft's classic tale. What's more, it's helmed by British director Richard Stanley, who also has a writing credit along with Scarlett Amaris. Stanley is perhaps best known for his horror movie Dust Devil, but he is also famous for being kicked off the set of his attempt to film The Island of Doctor Moreau. Thus Color Out of Space is being hailed as the return of Richard Stanley. Is it a triumphant return? 

Well, yes, in that the film is hugely entertaining all the way through. It begins with Lovecraft's words - 'West of Arkham the hills rise wild...' as the opening titles roll and we are shown a lot of trees. Then we cut to a witch conducting a ceremony by a lake. The witch is Lavinia Gardner (Madeleine Arthur), a young actor who pretty much holds things together at some key moments. Lavinia has just moved to the boondocks and is casting a spell in the hope it will get her back to the big city. Enter hydrologist Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight), who shows he has more knowledge of this spell-casting stuff than you'd imagine. Like Arthur, Knight is eminently watchable - for the right reasons.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Want a Review Copy?

If you would like a review copy of the eBook version of the latest ST, please let me know and I will send you one. 

All I ask is that you mention it and provide a link to this blog or the Lulu purchase page, or indeed both. 

No lavish praise required but delivering it would reduce the risk of a runic curse or similar. 

Friday 6 November 2020

Subscriptions - USA and Rest of the World

Hello, gentle reader. Over to the right you'll see a subscription widget allowing you to pay for 3 issues via PayPal. This is extremely convenient if you would rather not purchase a print-on-demand copy (see previous post). However, I've noticed that people in the US have a tendency to click on the UK subscription (£25) rather than the US and RoW link, which is £30. (There's also an EU subscription, which may soon be obsolete due to rising postal rates.)

Why the difference? Well, in the UK I can bulk buy a few dozen print copies and send them out individually to British subscribers. I can't do this with US and other overseas subscriptions because of eenormous postal costs. So instead I use the print-on-demand system to print and post copies individually to American (or Canadian, or Japanese) subscribers. This is more expensive than the UK system, and therefore costs me a little more. 

So, if you are outside the UK and want to to click on the subscription button, please us the one for your part of the world. And thanks to everyone who does subscribe, it's very important in these difficult times. 

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Issue 45

Since nothing else is going on this week I thought it would be ideal time to launch the latest issue of ST. So here are the links to the issues you can order, if you feel so moved!

This link takes you to the Lulu site, where you can buy the latest ST as a print magazine OR as an ezine for those trendy young people with their internet gizmos. As can see, there's a rather Gothic castle on the cover, courtesy of Sam Dawson.

The print-on-demand version!

The ezine - EPUB version!

The Amazon Kindle ezine in MOBI format is here.

What's in it, you ask? Well, here are the authors, story titles, and their first lines.

By the middle of the second week of fever, she almost felt comforted knowing the monster was there.

'Stricken' by Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin

Gordon Weeks is glad he lives in a bungalow without a cellar.

'The Harmony of the Stares' by Charles Wilkinson

This cold autumn gives way too easily to winter.

'The Decision' by Rosalie Parker

I found Cyril feeding pensively his parakeet, which was perched on a dented and rather streaked globe, with cubes of melon.

'And Maybe the Parakeet Was Correct' by Mark Valentine


There he is below!

'The Terminal Testimony of David Balfour' by Malcolm Laughton

“One more go. Pleeeeese, Daddy.”

'The Roundabout' by William Curnow

The wildness was what I fell in love with, but in the end, I knew that it would be what took her from me.

'The Wildness'  by Iain Rowan

“It’s a vanishing hitchhiker story. One of the famous ones.”

'The Ghost of Niles Canyon' by Tim Foley

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Powers and Presences (Sarob Press 2020) - Review

This interesting new collection (sort of) from Sarob Press is subtitled 'An Appreciation of Charles Williams'. An obscure figure, I think, for most modern readers, Williams was much admired by T..S Eliot and W.H. Auden, among others. A biographical note is provided on the flyleaf.

Charles Walter Stansby Williams (1886-1945) wrote seven mystical/supernatural novels between 1930 (War in Heaven) and 1945 (All Hallows’ Eve). He was also a poet and theological writer, and a member of The Inklings, the Oxford-based group of literary titans that included, amongst others, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

I have to confess at this point that I have read just two of Williams books - in fact, the two mentioned above. War in Heaven I recall enjoying, All Hallows' Eve was a bit of a struggle. Williams has been described as a Christian fantasist, and his stories interweave elements of Arthurian legend - the Matter of Britain - with modern settings and characters. He is, for my money, a fine writer but not a very entertaining one. I find myself always on the lookout for the hook in the bait, the didactic point he is trying to make in favour of his faith. 

That said, John Howard and Mark Valentine, two writers I have a lot of time for, have written stories (and essays) in tribute to Williams, so I was interested to discover what angles they decided to explore. John Howard's contribution is a short novel, 'The Dance of Gold', set in rural England during the run-up to the Second World War. The realm is therefore in peril, so when a scholarly priest finds what seems to be a coin minted in Arthur's reign in his poor box, he is amazed and concerned. 

'Lost Estates'

This is part of a running review of  Lost Estates  by Mark Valentine (Swan River Press 2024) The title story of the collection! And it begin...