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review 2018-01-13 17:33
Witching Hour Theatre - Jonathan Janz
Witching Hour Theatre - Jonathan Janz

The venue where we watch our favorite horror movies has metamorphosed through the years. We've went from old single screen movie theaters to drive-in theaters, to multiple screen multiplexes, and now many people have high quality electronics in their man cave that would give any theater a run for their money. For those of us that remember the older movie theaters, they were a magical place. The smells of popcorn and candy mingling with the sounds of the bustling crowds and the flashing bright lights of the marquee. Going to the theater was an event. But when the lights went down and the crowds dispersed, the theater could be a spooky place. This is the atmosphere that Janz captures perfectly.

 

 

Larry Wilson, an awkward loner and horror movie aficionado, doesn't miss many of the Starlight Theaters Friday Midnight Matinees. He gets his popcorn and candy along with a large soda to wash it all down with. Tonight, he even got a future date with the cute girl behind the counter that he's never had the courage to ask out. This night was shaping up to be one that Larry would never forget. Unfortunately, this was the last good thing to happen tonight. For this night, blood was going to spill and not just on the screen.

Witching Hour Theatre is a fun romp through familiar territory. Janz doesn't try to do too much with this story. He lets it be exactly what it is - a B-movie tale told in an eerie familiar setting. He's got all the right ingredients going - atmosphere, good characters, flawless dialogue and pacing, and oh yes, plenty of the red stuff. Come right in and take your seat. Don't mind the stickiness on the floor. I'm sure it's only spilled soda...or is it?

 

 

 

4 1/2 Slasher Flicks out of 5

 

 


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review 2018-01-13 16:30
The House - Bentley Little
The House - Bentley Little

So this was my first forray into a Bentley Little tale. I'd heard such good things about him and decided it was time to give it a go. I had a few of his sitting on my shelf staring back at me to choose from. I selected The House and, looking back, that my have been the wrong one to introduce myself to his work. It's not that the house was horrible. Far from it. But it became a mess and the last 100 pages were an absolute chore to get through. The ending was completely "meh" and I found myself disappointed at what seemed like a really good story at the beginning.

 

 

Five different people from different parts of the country grew up in a house that gave everyone the heebah jeebahs. These five people "escaped" their childhood houses and had never returned as adults. Most of their recollections were vague and fuzzy about their childhood homes until they all started having strange things happen to them that seemed to be all pointing in the same direction. They needed to return to their homes and take care of some unfinished business. What that business was, they didn't know.

 

 

So far, so good? Yes. I was digging Little's writing style and even though the five characters kept having similar things happen to themselves, to the point where it was beginning to feel like he was describing the same scene five different times, I was still chugging along.

 

 

Then we find out that the same Victorian house is in five different parts of the country and it's a gateway barrier to some alternate reality. The five people go to their respective houses and then things morph so that they're all together in the same house, which is now holding them prisoner. Without going into too much more detail, things started getting weird. And I can get into weird, but this weird was the same thing told five different times, over and over and over and...well, you get the idea.

 

 

Even though this is my first story by Little, I can tell that he has the chops to be considered a very good writer. The prose is not done by an inexperienced hand. The problem is the story itself. It really just goes around and around without much of a payoff, aha moments of explanation, or any points of interest. With a writing style as good as his, I expect more and not the clunker that was The House.

 

 

 

3 Foul Mouthed Urchins out of 5

 

 

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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review 2017-12-17 16:03
The Hungry Moon - Ramsey Campbell
The Hungry Moon - Ramsey Campbell

Somewhere in the 360 pages of The Hungry Moon is a good story. I just know there is. Actually finding it is the problem. At his best, Campbell is an English version of Charles L. Grant with a smattering of King and Lovecraft thrown in, for good measure. Other times, he feels like a rambling Alzheimer's patient trying to find his way around in the dark. The atmosphere is creepy and captivating. The character development? Yeesh. Not so much. I like to pride myself with being able to keep a firm grasp of the characters I'm reading and visualizing the settings, situations, etc. In The Hungry Moon, you'll swear that the American teacher is also the bookstore owner, the bitchy mom is another bitchy person, etc. All throughout the story, you'll find yourself rereading something and asking "Now, who was that again?" Why Campbell can painstakingly describe the moors to the point where you feel you're walking across it yourself, but vaguely puts each of his characters in a vague shroud of homegenization, I'll never know. It's really too bad. A story about a village overcome by religious hysteria caused by a Celtic monster sounds intriguing. You'll get so frustrated with the religious nuts, that you'll want to be the one to throw the first punch. Unfortunately, you'll have to wade through the endless drivel and blah to get there. And then after all of that, you think that after the steady crescendo towards the end there would be a big payoff. Nada. The ending is so anticlimactic and unsatisfying, it feels like a cop out. The Hungry Moon has just enough to keep you turning the pages, but not so much that you'll be glad that you did.

 

 


2 1/2 Roads That Lead to Nowhere out of 5

 

 

 

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review 2017-12-17 15:59
Infestation - William Meikle
Infestation - William Meikle

Meikle really is a maestro of fear. He knows how to add just the right notes, when to increase the tempo, when to crescendo to a furious pace, all while captivating his audience with a perfect production. Infestation has everything I love in a read. A tight plot. Interesting and believable characters. Realistic dialogue that flows easily without feeling forced. All the right notes.

 

 

A Russian ship is reported being in the Arctic in waters where it's not supposed to be. A Scottish special force unit is deployed to investigate. What they find is more horrific than they can imagine. Big beastie isopods have been released from the depths below...and they are hungry. They'll eat through wood, metal, and FLESH!

 

 

Infestation is a fun, quick romp that you'll furiously turn page after delicious page. Big beastie horror seems to be all the rage right now. Unfortunately, very few authors seem to know how to do it right. They need to take lessons from Meikle. He's at the top of his class.

 

 


4 1/2 Fluorescent Green Veins out of 5

 

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

 

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review 2017-12-03 23:49
The Girl Next Door - Jack Ketchum
The Girl Next Door - Jack Ketchum

Ketchum was a man way ahead of his time. In 1989, he wrote The Girl Next Door. There was nothing on the shelves remotely like it by other authors. There was nothing as brutal, as gut-wrenching, or emotionally draining as The Girl Next Door. This kind of fiction wouldn't see the light of day for another 10-20 years and no one has done it as well as Ketchum did almost 30 years ago.

 

 

Meg and her sister Susan's parents are killed in an automobile accident. They come to live next door to 12-year old David. Ruth, a single-mom whose rough-around-the-edges demeanor always made her home inviting to David and his peers. You could sneak a beer, take a drag off a cigarette and she wouldn't care. When the girls move in, David begins to have a crush on Meg. But as time passes, it is apparent that all is not well in the household. Meg begins to confide in David of Ruth abusing her. David can't believe it. Ruth? The mom that was so fun to be around? Soon David discovers that the stories are true and they're only the beginning of a long, downward spiral into horrific abuse and madness, and all he can do is watch it unfold in front of his very eyes.

 

 

The Girl Next Door is loosely based off a true story that took place in 1965. Just knowing that makes the world seem like a darker place. These types of stories weren't told on the news back then like they are now. This was a time where skeletons were kept in the closet and people turned a blind eye from things they deemed to be "none of their business". Ketchum's story has a twisted, Lord of the Flies quality to it. Adults were trusted by children to always be right and do the right thing back then. Watching the children join in on Ruth's madness towards the girls twists your guts with a chef's knife. You can't look away and just when you think it can't get any worse...well, I'm sure you can finish that sentence yourself. The Girl Next Door is a story that will haunt me for the rest of my life. It's that powerful.

 

 


5 Steel Doored Torture Chambers out of 5

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

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