Oct 302008

Instead of doing a Halloween theme story this year, I’m going to share with you four horror related books, movies and blogs that I enjoy. I don’t know about you, but I always get in the mood for Halloween around the middle of November but by then, everyone has moved on to sappy Christmas stuff. Hopefully these four items will help you through.

Fist up is ‘Severance Package’ by Duane Swierczynski. This fun horrific story is about a shell company set up by a shadowy secret agency. Not everyone in the company knows who their ultimate bosses are, which is unfortunate because when the agency decides to eliminate the company, they do so with extreme prejudice. Ever want to kill your boss? Well the fucker is trying to kill you. Bloody wackiness ensues.

There is so much to recommend this book. For one thing, it is fast. I mean, it is finish-it-in-one-day fast. My girlfriend and I blazed through this book because it is just that economical. What fascinates me and makes me jealous as a writer is that Duane crams in so much character development with his office violence. A book like this should be shallow but it’s not.

‘Severance Package’ might be the best action movie you’ll read this year.

The polar opposite is ‘The Terror’ by Dan Simmons. It’s a fictional account of a real life Northwest Passage explorer team. Wait, don’t run away from this period piece just yet. Did I mention that instead of frostbite and starvation, what seems to be killing the crew is an unholy snow monster from Hell?

Clocking in at 784 pages you would expect this novel to be a slow crawl of icy doom but you’re wrong. Much like Severance Package, this book moves fast. The first chapter opens with the poor ships already trapped in the ice and being stalked by the monster. It’s 784 pages because there are a shit load of people to kill. In this day and age, I am grateful for a horror novel that starts the thrills in the first chapter.

Half National Goegraphic, half ‘The Thing’ and half Edgar Allen Poe, this monster of a book is perfect for reading during the cold winter.

Let’s say you want a good movie to scare the shit out of you. ‘Midnight Meat Train’ is a movie adaptation of a Clive Barker short story. Due to studio politics, this one went straight to video and I actually saw it on Demand. It’s a gruesome story about a photographer who notices that some people don’t get off of late night subways.

This kind of story could be a stupid gorefest but it was surprisingly intelligent. The photographer is obsessed and almost fascinated as opposed to just acting foolish. We don’t get inside the mind of the killer but there is almost a tinge of pathos with him. The absolute lack of humor in the movie is a welcome change from most modern horror. This is a dark story that uses speculation to break up the tension instead of jokes.

It is really a shame this never made it to the theaters. It’s miles away from films like Saw and Hostel in that the set pieces are revolve around fear, not torture.

For my last entry, I want to highlight a blog. And Now the Screaming Starts is one of my daily reads ever since it introduced me to ‘The Terror’. It’s an intelligent Horror blog that does avoids the traps that so many other horror blogs fall into.

The first trap is the attitude that the past was superior. It gives credit to the great movies of yesterday but it is always on the look out for today’s great classics. Imagine a sex blog that only reviewed porn movies from the 70’s. Or imagine a sex blog that only posts pictures of Betty Page. You have pretty much imagined 90% of the horror blogs I run into. It’s okay to have a blog dedicated to the past but unless you do it as perfectly as Groovy Age of Horror,

The second trap ANTSS avoids is this irrational hatred of Torture Porn movies that dominates so many horror blogs. I myself have no interest in seeing Hostel or Saw, but I don’t declare them the end of civilization like some blogs do. ANTSS is a fan of Saw and writes such intriguing analysis that I am half tempted to see it. He’s not a crazed cultish, he’s a smart man who knows how to deconstruct something. I wish we had more people like him in the sex blogger community.

So there we go. I hope you found something to scare you this season. I hope you sleep with the lights on and jump when you hear an unexpected sound. When you want to read something that gives you a different kind of shiver, come back and maybe I’ll have something for you.

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