Archive for January, 2020

A humble serving of completely irreverent Cthulhu and Lovecraftian inspired stories.  This assortment of horror short stories and flash fiction takes Cthulhu and other elements of Lovecraftian mythos and tells them in a comedic tone.

Yep, so says the blurb on Amazon.  DEEP FRIED HORROR:  CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER (cf. January 16, 4) is up and available both on Kindle and in print.  It is a smallish book as such things go, only about sixty pages, but not overly expensive either.  To see for yourself and/or order, press here (for print) or for Kindle press here.

My part in this porridge is called “The Reading,” first published in UNIVERSE HORRIBILIS (Third Flatiron Publishing, 2013), a literary tale of poets and poetry, and trepidation when reading in public . . . or something like that.  It doesn’t end well.

To quote from the advertising copy:   CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER comes with four juicy patties, layers of melted cheese, and fresh baked buns.  A very delicious combination of savory flavors, which is good.  You’ll need something to distract from the full-body possession that occurs later.  You might experience vomiting, seizing on the floor, and risk biting your tongue, but you’ll then be enslaved by Cthulhu’s powerful mind-magic.

Why not give it a try?

Well, okay, this is another movie list from THE-LINE-UP.COM, “Growing Pains, Growing Terror:  11 Best Teen Horror Movies” by Hezra Martinez.  Subtitled “[b]eing a teenager has never been more terrifying,” it starts and ends with genre classics, 1980’s FRIDAY THE 13TH and, just four years later, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.  With one exception, the remaining nine titles are more recent, four even from the just ending decade, including such possibly less-known entries as HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017) and JENNIFER’S BODY (2009), along with such staples as I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997).  The one pre-’80s one: 1976’s CARRIE.

To reacquaint oneself with one’s youth (if one really wants to), including links for Amazon rentals, for all eleven one need but press here.

This is a dark film, literally.  Dark browns, shadowy, scenes in the slums of a Mexican city in the midst of a drug war, and how a child may or may not survive after her own mother becomes a victim.  Having just seen it this evening I’d have to add I had trouble following it — the kind of film I may want to see again, having just looked it up now on Wikipedia to, as it were, compare notes on the plot.  Interesting, sad, but requiring perhaps sharper eyes than mine to ascertain just what, exactly, it is lurking within some of the darker places.
This is the Indiana University Cinema’s take on VUELVEN  (literally “Return,” or so says Wikipedia), or in the U.S. TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID:  A haunting horror fairytale set against the backdrop of Mexico’s devastating drug wars, TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID follows a group of orphaned children armed with three magical wishes, running from the ghosts that haunt them and the cartel that murdered their parents.  Filmmaker Issa López creates a world that recalls the early films of Guillermo del Toro, imbued with her own gritty, urban spin on magical realism to conjure a wholly unique experience audiences will not soon forget.  Del Toro, who presented the film along with López at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, described it as “an unsparing blend of fantasy and brutality, innocence and evils.  Innovative, compassionate, and mesmerizing.”  The two are currently working together on a werewolf Western.  In Spanish with English subtitles.  Contains explicit content, including violence, strong language, and drug references.
So think Magical Realism and realize that what exactly is “real” may be called in question.  The girl, Estrella, is given three wishes in the midst of a school shooting incident.  Then when she discovers her mother missing she wishes to have her back.  Well, there are such things as ghosts, or visions, and demands from the grave to “bring him to us,” the one, that is, responsible for Mom’s death.
She finds other children orphaned in the “war” and, as a condition to join them, is told to murder one of the drug chiefs which, attempting to carry it out, she wishes she didn’t have to do — which may come true as well, but not without her still being linked to the death.  Then for the third, at the kids’ leader’s request, she wishes for a scar on his face to be erased, which leads to more death and a chase that ends with discovering her mother’s corpse.  And with the drug gang’s big boss hot on her heels. . . .
These are some notes at the end of Wikipedia’s article:  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 98 reviews, and an average rating of 8.22/10.  The website’s critical consensus reads, “TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID draws on childhood trauma for a story that deftly blends magical fantasy and hard-hitting realism — and leaves a lingering impact”.  Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 76 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating “Generally favorable reviews”.
Peter Debruge of the Variety wrote, “The actors may be young, but the story skews decidedly mature.  After all, in her commitment to realism, López allows terrible things to happen to the kids — including death in several cases — and that’s a hard thing to accept, not because it doesn’t happen in the real world, but on account of the melodramatic and manipulative way such tragedy is handled”.  Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Both the emotion and the horror might have taken still deeper root if the world of the movie felt less hectic and more coherently realized, if the supernatural touches and occasional jump scares welled up organically from within rather than feeling smeared on with a digital trowel”.  Brian Tallerico of the wrote,”TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID may be imperfect, but you can feel the passion and creativity of its filmmaker in every decision.  She’s fearless.”
Oh, and yes, the “tiger” has up to now been sort of a graffiti logo, to be not afraid.  But there is a real tiger too (what one might call a validation) at the very end.

The announcement came Thursday night, that the HOUSE OF ZOLO’S JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE, VOLUME 1 (see January 2, et al.) has now been released in all formats, print and Kindle on Amazon and e-book format on its own site, as well as being listed on Goodreads.  Delving into themes of post-humanity, future-shock, and the consequences of climate change, these short stories and poems fearlessly explore what it means to be human.  Alternately dark and hopeful, heartbreaking and humorous, this volume contains stories and poems to spark the imagination and inspire new perspectives on the future.

My page in the poke is a reprint originally published in Spring 1994 in MINDSPARKS (also more recently in ZIPPERED FLESH 3 from Smart Rhino Publications, cf. February 3 2017, er al.), “Golden Age,” about what it means to grow old in a society in which death may be becoming practically unknown.  For more information or purchase, links to Amazon and to the House of Zolo can be found in the January 2 post below, while for the new Goodreads page and its links one can press here.

Except he’s been demoted to just any “Prisoner” and beware of Episode 40 that went up today too.  In fact, timewise, #40 showed up in my email before the real McCoy, #39.  Such are the mysteries that roam the Interwebs.  Nevertheless the one titled “Prisoner,” née “The Third Prisoner,” originally published in (as Honorable Mention, Ligonier Valley Writers 2008 Flash Fiction Contest, “Zombie Stories”, November 2008) as well as in Brazil in I ANTOLOGIA LUSIADAS (in Portuguese as “O Terceiro Prisioneiro,” Ediciones Lusiadas, 2009), along with a few other places in English, is now up with its slightly shortened title in FLASH IN A FLASH, EPISODE 39.  If you’re a subscriber, just plunk your email announcing the fact (cf. January 20, 14, et al.).

But if you’re not, there may still be time, and subscriptions to FLASH IN A FLASH are free. To try it out, press here.  Or if you prefer, I understand episodes are eventually gathered up for a future FLASH IN A FLASH anthology — except that that one probably won’t be free (of which more will be here when/if it becomes known).

We are excited to announce the first round of acceptances for inclusion in BURNING LOVE AND BLEEDING HEARTS.  This is our charity anthology to raise funds for the Australian bushfire victims.  All sale proceeds will be donated to the Australian Red Cross and matched dollar-for-dollar by Microsoft (up to $50k) as part of their Giving campaign.  This was the announcement on Facebook today, and so it can now be made known:  This is the “Mystery” acceptance of January 15’s post, with preliminary details just released — despite being still open for submissions “of 1,000 words (ideally, but we’ll consider any length as it’s for charity!)” until January 31.

The guidelines:  The theme is Valentine’s Day, so we’re after dark, suspenseful, menacing, memorable tales of human love gone wrong, or monster love gone right!  We want to have your stories by end of January please!  It’s a tight deadline, but we think it’s a fun theme and a worthy cause, so please get your writer’s heads on and start scribbling.  So what better story for me to send but one concerning those New Orleanian vampire ladies, les filles à les caissettes (see e.g. May 2 2019, et al.), one as yet unpublished of the literal-minded but always ready for fun Claudette?  And best of all, titled simply “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale.”  And thus, five days ago, Editors Louise Zedda Sampson and Chris Mason agreed.

So there’s no money in it, but les filles are not averse to a worthy cause.  Should you be good with that as well, more information can be found here, or if you would simply be interested in a whole bunch of flash stories on love gone bad, to be out in time for Valentine’s Day, for details/Kindle pre-orders press here.

Just a quick reminder, if schedules hold up my “The Third Prisoner” should be tomorrow’s FLASH IN A FLASH feature (cf. January 14).  But to read it one must subscribe (it’s free — for two stories a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays!) which one is invited to do by pressing here.

Traditional silhouette animation as invented by Reiniger is a subdivision of cutout animation (itself one of the many forms of stop motion).  It utilises figures cut out of paperboard, sometimes reinforced with thin metal sheets, and tied together at their joints with thread or wire (usually substituted by plastic or metal paper fasteners in contemporary productions) which are then moved frame-by-frame on an animation stand and filmed top-down with a rostrum camera – such techniques were used, albeit with stylistic changes, by such practitioners as Noburō Ōfuji in the 1940s and Bruno J. Böttge in the 1970s.  (Wikipedia, “Silhouette Animation”)

Say what?  The “Reiniger” is German director Lotte Reiniger, in whose entry Wikipedia also has to say:  In 1923, she was approached by Louis Hagen, who had bought a large quantity of raw film stock as an investment to fight the spiraling inflation of the period.  He asked her to do a feature-length animated film.  There was some difficulty that came with doing this, however.  Reiniger is quoted as saying “We had to think twice.  This was a never heard of thing.  Animated films were supposed to make people roar with laughter, and nobody had dared to entertain an audience with them for more than ten minutes.  Everybody to whom we talked in the industry about the proposition was horrified.”  The result was THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED, completed in 1926, one of the first animated feature films, with a plot that is a pastiche of stories from ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS.  Although it failed to find a distributor for almost a year, once premiered in Paris (thanks to the support of Jean Renoir), it became a critical and popular success.  Because of this delay, however, THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED’s expressionistic style did not quite fit with the realism that was becoming popular in cinema in 1926.  Reiniger uses lines that can almost be called “colorful” to represent the film’s exotic locations.  Today, THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED is thought to be one of the oldest surviving feature-length animated films, if not the oldest.  It is also considered to be the first avant-garde full-length animated feature.

Or in other words Saturday afternoon’s Indiana University Cinema feature was not exactly your average, Disney-style kiddie cartoon.  It was okay for the kiddies though who, brought with their parents, could get in for free.  In silhouette the prince and his rescued-from-the-demon-isle girlfriend were likely just kissing, as were, later on, Aladdin and the prince’s sister.  Of the latter, in fact, with the father of the prospective bride looking on, it may not even have been quite that sultry — especially what with pop being the Caliph!

But then again maybe that was the point, with the limitations of the technique deliberately used with its also suggested exotic backgrounds to force one to exercise imagination. The two stills with this post perhaps will help give an idea. To give the IU Cinema program blurb the final word, I’ll only add that the latish afternoon presentation was different — and fun.

When THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED premiered in Germany on September 23, 1926, it was hailed as the first full-length animated film.  More than 75 years later, this enchanting film still stands as one of the great classics of animation.  Taken from THE ARABIAN NIGHTS, the film tells the story of a wicked sorcerer who tricks Prince Achmed into mounting a magical flying horse and sends the rider off on a flight to his death.  But the prince foils the magician’s plan and soars headlong into a series of wondrous adventures.  This cinematic treasure has been beautifully restored with its spectacular color tinting and with a new orchestral recording of the magnificent 1926 score by Wolfgang Zeller. 

Looking to January 4 and the first story acceptance for 2020, last night the contract arrived from Deadman’s Tome and DEEP FRIED HORROR:  CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER and, less than an hour ago as I write this, I e-mailed back my agreement to the terms.  This was the one for Horror, campy horror, schlock, and dark fiction about Cthulhu and other lovecraftian influences.  Think off-beat Cthulhu stories. . , with my entry in it a flash piece called “The Reading,” about a poet who writes on dark subjects.  The greatest horror of all, however, is that which he faces in reading his poems. . . .

Thus the writing life continues — with more details to be revealed as they become known.

Two very quick items:  The first, a new story has been accepted, with email and contract received last night.  The problem, however, and not an unusual one, is that the market is still open and the editor has asked that I hold off on giving details until all acceptances have been announced.  At a guess, I’d suspect this might be in late January/early February at which time the news will be reported here; until then we’ll just have to wait together.

Then the other, on the 13th I announced that authors’ copies of MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE! had been sent out.  So yesterday evening my copy arrived, exceedingly quickly, and coincidentally at a time when I’d just finished reading another anthology.  So now I know how I’ll be spending my evenings the rest of this week. . . .

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