Friday, April 19, 2013

Not Your Average Monster

I think it's safe to say that author Pat Douglas (book name PA Douglas) has forever ruined me where koala bears are concerned.  It's not that I thought they were super cute to begin with or anything, but after reading "Killer Koalas From Another Dimension", I certainly won't be lining up to see them at my local zoo.

Douglas taps into the bizarre, in the style of Killer Klowns From Outer Space, and takes the reader along for the ride.  Trust me, it takes a talented author to pull off a story about homicidal koalas - and Douglas has that kind of talent!  Not only are his monsters believable, but so are the main characters.  Joana and Tim are a realistic high school couple.  Thank the literary muses that they're neither Bella nor Edward.  They're a normal, immature, slightly dysfunctional couple.  (Well, maybe a little more than that - Tim's an insufferable jerk sometimes.  But let's face it - who hasn't dated someone like that at some point?)  Douglas keeps them right where they need to be - in a high school mindset.   

As for the story itself, the night begins with teenagers Joana and Tim in a field.  They're
practicing something called geomancy.  Tim is trying to open portals to other worlds by tossing stones in mystic patterns.  At first he doesn't think anything has happened, so he and Joana leave.  Little do they know that they've just begun the longest night of their lives!  What they unleash are rag-clad, spear-toting, vengeful koalas.  Will they survive, or have they doomed themselves and their town to an untimely and horrific series of deaths?  I suggest you read it and find out.



Lean, green...carrot-eating machine?

When I first heard that Eric S. Brown had written a book called "Jack Bunny Bam-Bam and the Weeper Apocalypse", a few thoughts went through my mind.  I had no idea what the title meant, and couldn't imagine how anyone could possibly take a green rabbit holding a gun seriously, let alone get away with writing that kind of book.  I reluctantly began reading, and I finished it within two days.

Eric S. Brown is an extremely talented author.  He was able to hook me within two pages (though it took far longer for me to admit it myself), and within a chapter I was fully drawn into the world of this strangely addictive bunny-assassin.  I'm not going to tell you what a Weeper is because I don't want to ruin one of the books fun discoveries for you, but I will tell you this:  there's no way in hell I'd like to meet one!  Nor would I be particularly interested in meeting Jack Bunny Bam-Bam, who is a strangely intriguing anti-hero.  While he's not exactly likeable, his frank way of speaking and acting is admirable.  He says what he means, and means what he says.  And when he says someone is going to die, they're most likely at his feet dead already.  Yep - he's that kind of guy!

I will warn you - the ending is extremely frustrating.  The book feels almost too short.  Fear not though, Eric himself has mentioned on his Facebook page that there is a sequel in the making.  I strongly urge you to go out there, get that "Jack Bunny Bam-Bam and the Weeper Apocalypse", and get hooked!

Bowie and the Aztecs...up to no good again!

Author Bowie Ibarra's newest tale is a Lansdale-esque romp through the Wild West, called "The Cruel Fate of Dr Brewster McGill".  Ibarra is up to his usual tricks - slavering undead, exciting chases, and intriguing characters - flavored with the right amount of comic relief for good measure.

It is often said that "curiosity killed the cat", and that is most certainly the case in "The Cruel Fate of Dr. Brewster McGill"'!  The titular character, Dr. Brewster McGill, is a snake oil salesman.  He travels from town to town with his assistant, Isidrio.  Together they  extol the healing powers of their elixir, which is purported to cure any ill.  Business continues as usual until they run into a rival schyster.  Their competition also sells a "cure-all elixir" but the catch is that his elixir actually works!  McGill becomes desperate to harness the secret elixir, and chase is on!

Enter into the excitement the extremely powerful Eye of Mictlantecuhtli - the other piece of the puzzle.  Dr. McGill and Isidrio find themselves drawn deeper into the intrigue surrounding the elixir, The Eye, and the powers that bind them.

Sprinkle in a healthy heaping of zombies, curses, cures, and trickery and you have a recipe for a great story!

If you're looking for a fast-paced page-turner, then you certainly need to read "The Cruel Fate of Dr. Brewster McGill" by Bowie Ibarra!  Then, as a courtesy, head on over to and post your own review of the tale.






Time for me to eat my words...

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="187"]Cover of "The Hellbound Heart" Cover of The Hellbound Heart[/caption]

It's not a secret - I've never been enthralled with the movie "Hellraiser".  I don't know what it is about it, though I have a sinking suspicion that I didn't understand it at the time.  It came out when I was very little, and I think that overall it was just over my head.  In any event, I ran into a mention of The Hellbound Heart, the novella that started it all, somewhere online this past week.  My interest was sparked, and I headed over to my local Barnes & Noble to track down a paperback copy of the popular work by author Clive Barker.  At a whopping 164 pages, I really wasn't expecting very much.  I got more than I was expecting!

I started reading the book as soon as I got home from work, and before I knew it, was already on page 35!  The story of Rory and his wife Julia, Rory's brother Frank, and the love-lorn Kirsty Cotton was too exciting to put down.  I understand why Barker's book was only 164 pages - he doesn't bother wasting the reader's time with extraneous character descriptions.  He lets their actions speak for themselves.  And by do they ever!  I found myself hating and pitying the characters in equal measure.

Clive Barker is truly a master storyteller.  As he draws the reader in, the pages begin to fly by with a life of their own.  Soon, the character's struggles become as real as the book in the reader's hands.  And what struggles!

Who is "the hellbound heart"?  I'm not sure even Barker can properly say.  Is it the adulterous lover?  The foolish husband?  The libertine?  The shy, lovestruck bystander?  The macabre Cenobites themselves?  I believe it is one and all, to a certain degree.  Each one of the characters experiences their own personal hell and filled with their own personal brand of misery.

Whether or not you are a fan of the Hellrasier movie franchise, I strongly urge you to pick up this quick and engaging read from Clive Barker.  I've never read a book that was more simultaneously sad and horrifying.  I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spoilerless Thoughts on Evil Dead

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="372"] AMCTHEATERS.COM image for Evil Dead. (I told you - no spoilers!)[/caption]

This past Thursday, my husband and I decided to engage in a timeless ritual: the double date.  We met our friends Brian and Meg at the local mall for the evening showing of the Evil Dead.  Popcorn, soda, and pretzels in hands, we seated ourselves in the packed theater and waited for it to begin.  All around us, people were wearing Evil Dead and Army of Darkness t-shirts, and discussing Sam Raimi's cinematic cult masterpieces.  Not soon enough, the room darkened and the previews began to march across the screen.

And now we have come to the part where you're most likely to start screaming death threats at the computer.  When all was said and done, I just wasn't that impressed by the new Evil Dead.  Had they called it something like "Woodland Massacre" I would have been alright - just don't make it an Evil Dead movie!  It didn't have any of the kitschy terror that made the original films endearing, but I'll get there in a few.  The characters were blah at best, but the most damnable characteristic of this remake was the excessive torture in place of any actual storyline.

I personally do not like torture-filled movies.  I refuse to finish watching the SAW and Hostel franchises for this reason.  I find that kind of torture to be upsetting and it's hard for me to watch.  Going in to Evil Dead, I didn't expect any of that.  The original movies played on the psychological terror Ash and other characters felt, and the demons actively preyed on their minds and tore them apart as the movie progressed.  The demonic interference pushed character Ash to the point where it could be solidly argued that he had lost his mind and that some of the phenomenon was all in his head.  Going forward, the 2013 remake used torture scenes in place of any actual demonic horror.  It seemed as though the character's possession was only used to give the characters a motive to destroy each other (sorry if that's a spoiler).  Truth be told, I think I missed a solid 20 minutes of the movie averting my eyes so I wouldn't throw up, which left me irritated instead of horrified.

As to the kitschy terror, I miss that.  The creature effects in the 1981 film were great, and still look good.  I was in middle school the first time I saw The Evil Dead.  My father, our neighbor, and I watched it in total darkness.  By the end of the movie, I had a sore throat and didn't want to go to bed for fear of demon noshing on my soul.  To be fair, they did leave in many of the elements from the original, like the ugly necklace, the basement trapdoor, and The Book of the Dead.  I guess without Bruce Campbell, it just isn't the same.

Look for another review on Evil Dead after it hits stores.  I want to like this movie so badly that I'm willing to watch it again.  And I think that liking it eventually may be a possibility.  Perhaps now that I'm ready for the gore and torture, I can go through it again and concentrate on it's other qualities.  Until then, I remain deeply disappointed in the remake.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Welcome to Charnel House Reviews!

Welcome, fellow horror-fiends!  This is the home of the blog formerly known as Left Overs.  Let me give you a quick run-down to familiarize you with the new layout.

First and foremost, this is a review blog.  The opinions expressed are my own (unless, of course, it's an interview of some sort).  Please feel free to comment on any posts that are of interest to you.  I only ask that visitors keep their comments respectful.  It's possible to disagree without being rude.  :)

Secondly, I do not accept money for my reviews.  While getting paid for them would be nice, I don't want to be accused of any bias towards or against a particular work.  If you want a book of yours reviewed, please contact me.  If you are an author in the horror or science fiction genre and would like a link to your page, please let me know.

I hope you enjoy the site!

~ Holly Ann