Friday, September 26, 2008


There have been a number of depictions of vampires in movies and television – most of them different shades of terrible. Although undead bloodsuckers have been a staple of filmed entertainment since before the era of talkies, few of them are really worth the time it takes to watch them. A notable exception to this is the television series Ultraviolet. Filmed in 1998 for British television, it is only five hours long, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. The show stars Jack Davenport (Coupling, Pirates of the Caribbean), the great Idris Elba (Stringer Bell on The Wire), Susannah Harker, and Philip Quast.

Davenport plays a London police detective, whose partner, under suspicion for corruption, becomes the target of an investigation by a mysterious agency. When Davenport tries to help his partner, a meeting goes wrong, the partner attacks him, and Davenport kills his partner with a grenade, only to see him explode and turn into ashes. Davenport is then recruited into the agency, which is fighting vampires, such as Davenport’s recently turned partner.

Interestingly enough, the word vampire is never spoken. Instead they are referred to as “leeches”, or, cleverly, as “Class Fives” (think about it and you’ll get it). The central thrust of the series is Davenport’s being caught between two worlds. His new partners believe they are waging a war to save the human race, while the vampires claim they only want to co-exist in peace. Only in the last episode is the truth revealed.

This series is available cheaply on DVD, and anyone interested in the subject matter would be well advised to seek it out. One note, although there is a certain open-endedness about the conclusion, this is how creator Joe Ahearne intended it to be. There were no further episodes planned. A pilot for an American version was shot, but by all accounts, it was a mess, and the series was not picked up.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Clickers II

At the end of Clickers, the invasion of a New England town by the title creatures and the Deep Ones that followed them had been thwarted, or at least survived. Apparently, however, the Deep Ones didn’t take too kindly their casualties suffered at the hands of the land dwellers, as, after a gap of several years, they return to exact revenge in Clickers II.

The sequel opens the scale of the story up considerably. The government took extreme measures to keep the first attack quiet, with Colonel Livingstone, who commanded the original battle against them, forced into retirement, and the survivors either killed or in hiding. The cover-up falls through when the clickers come ashore again, with the Deep Ones again behind. Instead of a localized occurrence this time, the invasion commences all along the Eastern Seaboard. As the aquatic terror rolls inland, Livingstone and one of the survivors of the first attack are forced back into the front lines. Hampering the efforts is an overly religious U.S. President (how likely is that?) who refuses to even believe the invasion is taking place, as that would indicate acceptance of evolutionary theory. By the time everything gets sorted out, you’ll be glad you don’t live too near the ocean.

As with the first one, this is a 50s B-movie in written form. But that isn’t a criticism, as the book is fast-paced and fun. J.F. Gonzalez is back as one of the co-writers, but original co-author Mark Williams died after the publication of the first book. His place is capably filled by fan-favorite author Brian Keene. Anyone who liked the first Clickers should pick up this superior sequel. And if you haven’t read the first Clickers, get ‘em both. They read well back-to-back.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Read Douglas Clegg's New Book - Free!

Douglas Clegg has demonstrated his generosity in the past, and now he does so again. His new book Afterlife has just been released by Cemetery Dance (order it here), and he has placed the full text of the book on-line to be read for free. I have been a big Douglas Clegg fan for many years, and if you haven’t read his work, this is a great opportunity to give him a try. Afterlife is one of the best novels of the year, and deserves a place in the library of every fan of Dark Fiction.

To read this novel, go to and click on the link which reads, “Read It Now – For Free!”. You’ll thank me for this later.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New On-Line Story Of Note

If you’re looking for a quick but high quality read, check out Kent Gowran’s new story “More Than Corn, Cadillac Joe” at DZ Allen’s Muzzle Flash. As always, Gowran comes through with the hard-boiled story. About time we see something a little longer from him (hint, hint).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another Bonehead Move

I have a terrible habit of agreeing to do things I am not competent to do. This has manifested itself again, as I have agreed to do a series of podcasts about horror films, classic and not. This will give me a chance to fail in a new arena. More details as they emerge.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Devil's Den

At first glance, The Devil’s Den would seem to be a ripoff of the last third of From Dusk To Dawn, with a strip club populated by vampire strippers. That couldn’t be more wrong. In this one, the strippers are ghouls. Which is completely different. The movie stars the ever-annoying Devon Sawa, the better-than-the-material Ken Foree, and the eye candy Kelly Hu and Karen Maxwell. The plot, such as it is, involves two morons who go to a strip joint. The strippers are vampires ghouls, they start to eat people, the queen ghoul must be killed, etc., etc. What can you say? It is billed as a horror-comedy, although there is precious little of either.

Sawa gets on your nerves, Hu and Maxwell are cute, and Foree, excellent and underrated, must have been wondering if he really needed the money.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Damned Thing

I’ve been buying the Masters of Horror releases on DVD since they started putting them out, since I was gullible and believed them when they said there would be no season sets (Season 1 now available for peanuts). The series has been uneven in quality, but what isn’t? The latest release is The Damned Thing, based on a classic short story by Ambrose Bierce, adapted by Richard Christian Matheson, and directed by Tobe Hooper.

Before I get into it, I would like to raise one issue that bewilders me. The script of The Damned Thing bears almost no resemblance to the original story. There is a creature which sometimes appears to be invisible, but that’s it. So why not present it as a completely original work? I doubt very much if the name Ambrose Bierce is much of a draw (Richard Christian Matheson is probably almost as popular), and the story itself isn’t famous, at least not overly so. This happens a lot, where someone acquires the rights to a literary property, then discards everything except the name. If anyone can think of a reason for this, please let me know.

Anyway, the Matheson version of the story concerns a Sheriff in a small Texas town (Sean Patrick Flannery). As a boy, he watched his father go berserk, slaughter his mother, was chased and shot by his dad, then watched as his father was ripped to shreds by an invisible monster. Still bearing scars and a limp from the shotgun blast, he has grown up to be paranoid, although I would cut him some slack, considering. He is estranged from his wife and son as the result of this, and does a considerable amount of moping. He is bedeviled by the local newspaperman, who seems to devote himself to infuriating everyone in town. (As someone who grew up in a small town, I can tell you he wouldn’t last a month). The sheriff’s moping is disturbed when The Damned Thing returns. It drives everyone around into a homicidal frenzy. The funniest part was when all the sheriff’s neighbors show up heavily armed and angry. He locks them in the basement “for safety” with their weapons. Cue rattling gunfire, and a woman screaming “They’re all dead!” Hope you weren’t counting on their votes, sheriff.

It turns out The Damned Thing was freed from deep in the earth years ago by the sheriff’s father while drilling for oil. Instead of being grateful, TDT conducts a vendetta against the family of the man who freed it, showing up to kill them on their birthday (The Damned Thing has a well kept planner, no doubt). It is occasionally invisible as in the original story, but usually looks like a sentient oil slick. It is unclear as to whether it is supernatural in nature, or just an unknown phenomenon as in the original story.

I had high hopes for this. Almost anyone who reads horror has a lot of affection for Richard Christian Matheson, and Tobe Hooper has some impressive credits. But, to me, it was a mess. No explanation of The Damned Thing is ever given, nor are its actions explained. It had a couple of interesting moments, but that was it.

There were some bright spots. Ted Raimi is entertaining as always as the local priest, and if you are a gorehound, there are some pretty icky scenes. (Personally, I don’t have anything against gore, but want it to serve the story)

I would be remiss not to point out my Beautiful Wife enjoyed it. As she is a lot smarter than I, you might want to heed her opinion instead.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Chop Shop Horror Show Debuts

Awhile back, I mentioned that a friend was preparing to launch an on-line magazine specializing in old-school horror. Well, the first installment of The Chop Shop Horror Show is now on-line, and it kicks ass! The first story is by rising star (soon to be a household name) Bryan Smith. It's called "Living Dead Bitch", and as usual, Smith delivers in spades. Get thee to the site and read it immediately. You'll be glad you did.