December 30, 2011

WTF Movie of the Week: Dagon!

Please, kind sir, do not destroy
my pagan altar!
Aaaaah, Lovecraft... the writer for millions, inventor of dark things that go splash in the night, hypersensitive hermit and scorn of the movie industry. So many directors tried and failed miserably and the ones that did succeed are meagre attempts at best.

Then, early 2011, Guillermo del Toro threatened to bring Lovecraft into the mainstream together with Tom Cruise. His project of bringing At the Mountains of Madness to the big screen unfortunately stranded when Universal Pictures decided that it would be too horrible to show in mainstream theaters. If you want to read more about this, go here!

Well, at least we still have Dagon!

It centers around Paul Marsh who is a rather uptight young man with lots of money and a beautiful girlfriend (Raquel Merono). After their yacht is wrecked off the Spanish coast, they end up in the small village of Imboca. Trying to find help for their friends and to find their way back to civilization, they quickly find out that there's more to the village then meets the eye.

The part that follows is taken straight from The Shadow over Innsmouth. Paul is chased out of the hotel and finds a drunken bum who tells him the sad story of Imboca. The bum helps him escape, but Paul is cornered again. The scene in the house with the freaky Spanish kid yelling for his grandfather is one of the most intense movie moments I've ever witnessed (and deliciously Lovecraftian).
What follows you will have to find out for yourself, but let's just say that the stories Dagon and The Shadow over Innsmouth are balanced equally, complete with human sacrifices, fish/human hybrids, an cameo by Dagon itself and much more...

Firstly, the movie is an American-Spanish collaboration and it does the movie a world of good. The Spanish speaking majority of the cast gives a true feeling of being lost in another continent, with different rules and different customs. This would not have packed the same punch if the fishy people had spoken with a thick Southern drawl.

Secondly, the special effects are amazing for a low-budget, early 2000's, no-big-names, love project. The fish make-up, the skin suits, even the early CGI looks okay if you see it in a flash and are not too nit-picky.

Thirdly, the remaining credits go to Ezra Godden as Paul Marsh (who even looks like Lovecraft in a way) who runs around in Imboca constantly wearing a Miskantonic U. sweater (what a great touch!) and his two beautiful co-stars Raquel MeroƱo as the ill-fated heroin and Macarena Gomez as her horrific antagonist.

A small salute most also be given to Francisco Rabal who plays the wonderfully courageous bum, was overall a great Spanish actor and who died some months before the release of this film.

If you like Lovecraft, go and see it!


December 14, 2011

Free Story: Macabre by Michael L. Kersting!

From below the Panama Canal comes tonight's short story of love, suspense and doom!

John Matthews is an architect who travels to Lima, Peru after his anthropologist wife goes missing. The last he's heard of her, she was travelling to the South American country to study a group of native indians, the Jivaros. Arriving at the Peruan capital, he quickly finds out the tribe is not always equally peace-loving. Helped by the local chief of police, he searches the jungle for his wife, only to come it's final and horrible conclusion.

Told with both feeling and a manly determination, Macabre breathes the atmosphere of the great mysteries and discoveries of the Pre-WW2 era. It somehow evokes the spirit of Indiana Jones coupled with the hard protagonists of Ernest Hemingway. Especially the chief of police Mr. Amerez is man who knows the dark side of his country and sometimes has to warn this grief-strucken American, is a wonderful antagonist.

Michael L. Kersting himself was born and raised in Guyana, South America. He knew from a young age he wanted to write and started his career as a writer for several newspapers. Since then he has published several volumes of poetry, flash fiction and short horror stories, most recently the horror collection ‘Room to Let’ which is available at He now lives and works in Ontario, Canada.

I hope you will enjoy this story as much as I did when I first read it and if you feel you could do with some extra publicity: my inbox in always open!

December 10, 2011

WTF Movie of the Week: House of the Devil.

Ah, the 80's: walkmans, hairspray, legwarmers,
devil worship... Yup, it's all there.
When I'm writing and I reach page 10 or something, I frequently start to wonder if one of the characters shouldn't meet an horrible end. Will the reader go through another 30 pages of character development before the juicy stuff starts? And then I start to doubt about the whole story and frequently it lands on the shelf somewhere.

Glad to know what out there, there are writers who don't have these doubts. Like the writers of House of the Devil.

It's a 2009 movie set in the early eighties. I was barely conscious of my own existence around 1981, but I've been told that it does a tremendous job in capturing the essence of the time. The walkman, the leg-warmers, the hairspray and the pay phones, it's all there. It's about Samantha, a college student, who desperately needs money. How desperately exactly we find out as the movie unfolds. For she takes a babysitting job, which doesn't actually involves a baby. The person that needs babysitting is an elderly woman who 'keeps to herself'. Despite numerous protests of her best friend, Samantha stays in the house.

Then, for about 42 minutes, nothing happens. And it's here that most blood-loving gore-ghouls will tune out. Samantha goes on an explore-o-thon inside the house. Since the movie is called House of the Devil there must be something creepy going on, right? So, we the viewers are on the edge of our seats every time she opens another door to another dark room, as she prances around the kitchen with her headphones on, when we see her sitting watching TV. And this is where the movie displays its brilliance. The atmosphere is so claustrophobic and beautifully crafted that it becomes hard to turn away. Even though nothing happens! It's almost a shame when something does happen, because, honestly, that's when the story goes haywire.

What happens is some senseless blood and gore, a few good fights and a frankly ridiculous surprise ending that a blind man could've seen coming. I was happy they didn't stretch that out too long, because I was grinding my teeth already.

All in all it wasn't a bad movie. The director captures atmosphere of the 80's and especially the 40-odd minutes of non-action were enough to send this one straight to the top.... hmmm.. let's say twenty. The odd ending can be forgiven, although I do feel that if the writers had spend the same amount of attention to that, I could've been better as well.

A movie full of unrealised potential! Give it a try, especially if you liked The Others!


December 7, 2011

Playlist for the writers!

...lalalalalaaaa--- <hack>....
Recently I started a new writing project. As always it starts out as a novella and we'll see where it takes me this time. One note-worthy fact is that this will be my very first attempt at a full-on dark fantasy story. I've always wanted to do one, but never had an appropriate story. Now I do.

But with writing a new novel comes, of course, a new playlist! Since the previous list was such a big hit, I decided to share this one with you as well. Some songs might seem an odd choice, but this is just what does it for me. Don't hang me up on this one!

1. The Passenger - Kid Loco - The first thing that attracted me to this 45-year old French DJ, was the title of his wonderful album Confessions of a Bella-Donna Eater. Really, how can you pass up an album with a name like that? This song deals with a mystical sounding man called The Passenger who rides down the gnarly streets of the city. It evokes an atmosphere of darkness in the way Tom Waits used to do. Oh, the original is by Iggy Pop, apparently.

2. Perhaps Vampires is a bit Strong, But... - Arctic Monkeys - I passed on this band for the first couple of years and missed their great debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. I'm a sucker for long titles and if it's coupled with a nice retro-post-neo-punk band, it doesn't get any better. Okay, the song itself has nothing to do with vampires, but it's a nice angry-young-men testament.

3. Nanananananana - My Chemical Romance - Really? With a name like that and you're not even mildly interested? Ever since their great album The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance have been part of all my playlists.

4. Ain't No Rest for the Wicked - Cage the Elephant - Another recent discovery, this US band has been pumping out weird rock songs since 2008, but managed to stay under my radar. I heard this one on the radio and was immediately hooked.

5. Black Canal - Fish - Maybe it's the publication of my book Resurrection of a Broken Mind which was read by a Scottish friend of mine, but ever since I fell back in love with Fish' voice. This spoken word epic (8-9 minutes) was released as a bonus track on Suits (1994), but works well on its own as well.

6. Baba Yetu - Christopher Tin - Yes, it was on the soundtrack of Civ 4 and I know it from there. But it's so uplifting and wonderful that I needed to have it. Lately, I rediscovered it and now put it in its rightful place in my playlist.

Dead can Dance - Echolalia
7. Echolalia - Dead Can Dance - Basically for the obligatory fantasy feelings, but I love the dark implications of this one. It's like a chant from some dark cult or something. I have to look it up one of these days. The title itself just implies a psychological condition where the patient has to repeat certain words over and over again. In itself worth a place on the horror list.

8. Lullaby - The Cure - Well, this really should've been in the all-time horror music list, but somehow, it wasn't there. So it goes here. I rediscovered The Cure after listening to their unplugged album and than aching for the originals. One of the best clips you ever saw, as well.

9. Heavy Horses - Jethro Tull - The entire Heavy Horses album reeks of wide-open nature and meadows and fields and other countryside paraphenelia. It should since it's an ode to the disappearing British countryside. It's basically in all my writing playlists.

10. I Miss You - Blink 182 - Actually, this is of my wife's favorites that I kind of took to after hearing the wonderful lyric Catching things and eating their insides. I turned to the clip and loved it in an instant. A lovely song about love that cannot last, a guy who feels he's not good enough, etc. It's as good as The Cure, I kid you not.

Well, that was it for now. When I find more nice tunes, a good movie or read a good book, I'll let you know!

Take Care!

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