I wrote an essay quite a while back, maybe a year or two ago (possibly more), for author Andrew J. Rausch who edited it along with R.D. Riley. The book of essays on trash films was entitled (more…)
In this hyper-speed day and age, it seems more and more people that hang out online are more focused on the latest gossip, sensational news stories, and whatever the (more…)
All-new editions to begin rolling out this fall, beginning with Tales from the Crypt Volume 4!
Anyone that is a fan of horror probably has come across some of the very iconic imagery and artwork of the EC COMICS artists and stories in some way, shape, or form. Whether it was watching the CREEPSHOW films from the twisted mind of horror author Stephen King who was most-definitely inspired by Bill Gaines’ EC COMICS, or some of the more recent horror comics to come out following the style and inspiration that the horror comic has held for so many fans of horror comics. It is quite nice to see that Dark Horse has taken steps (more…)
Scott Aaron Stine, author of TRASHFIEND, a 320 page book that covers films, magazines, comicbooks, and various collectibles from the ’60s and ’70s along with some very eclectic interviews is a book that only some of the taste-rattled and brain-fried film buffs of horror and sleaze that consider dumpster diving into pop culture a refined art and see no end to the growth and culmination of one’s own various collections ever coming to an end. I read this book with an intensity that had me as giddy as a schoolboy about to see his first up close and personal view of a woman’s (more…)
On first look, Sheri Gambino’s 80-paged collection of short stories looks to be a book written by a female other who has a hobby that includes writing and publishing her work via a small publication company like Panic Press, as well as getting the book up on-line via Kindle on Amazon or able to be purchased via an E-Reader website. It seems that almost ANYONE can get his or her book published. After all, one just has to have some money and a press that is willing to spit out some pulp bound by creative artwork. Panic Press may be a small, indie publisher—but by no means is Miss Gambino a vapid, talentless writer who only writes because she wants to and is able. Miss Gambino has some serious talent. I read her book and the only topic of contention I have with her style of writing is that fact that almost every male character portrayed in her finely crafted stories are total scumbags and sexist pigs. Well, almost all of them (but that is probably because I am a man and I have a penis that I am particularly attached to.)
I guess with “revenge” and “femme fatale” both in the title of the collection of short stories, I should not be taken aback or surprised by the subject matter at hand. A good portion of the book centers on Lilith (as the title suggests), a succubus of Satan’s- a mistress of sorts. As defined in the dictionary, a succubus is a female demon appearing in dreams who takes the form of a human woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual intercourse. Lilith also is portrayed as a demon in human form that reveals her identity and demon-like nature after the male victim is almost ready to be devoured and eaten by her. I am not exactly sure what her exact title is, but she is a demon of sorts, pleasures men and Satan, and generally does not give her “clients” happy endings.
The short stories, some ranging from just 2 pages to almost 8 pages, cover a myriad of horror subject-matter, including werewolves, demons, serial killers, rapists, devils, vampires, zombies, witches, child molesters, and womanizers. Although Gambino’s stories generally cast men in a very bad light, this male reader was generally quite amused with the content of the stories and did not find myself stuck reading a book that I could not wait to get through with. On the contrary, I found myself enjoying the quick pace and action-filled stories that were simple and direct in their style of story-telling, perfectly pacing the suspense, action, and at times, graphic description of the violence and gore.
Whether it was a nicely spun werewolf tale such as Snarl was, about a Biological Scientist at the CDC who is sent to investigate a an outbreak of a virus causing intensified aggression Grey Wolfs (scenes of The Howling and An American Werewolf in London popped into my head when envisioning what the wolves looked like in their upright form while reading the story) or a story about a serial rapist that kidnaps and rapes, sexually degrades, and tortures his female captors (some even post-mortem) before moving on to a next innocent victim—each and every story packs a punch, generally to one’s balls (as is the case here with the generally female-empowered form and style of writing), and all the stories end with a nice little twist or chuckle from the reader.
I really did enjoy the whole modernization of the dark lord, or what some know and believe to be Satan, in which the author depicts Satan as a boss of evil practices of sorts where his workforce is given quotas (his workforce being the human evildoers on Earth such as the character Derrick in the story Recluse) where one particular individual must rape, torture, and kill at least one woman a month or Satan’s enforcer/sexual slave/satanic bitch/succubus Lilith will come back down to Earth and “start removing body parts” from him. Who knows? Maybe evil human beings are considered to be under employment from Satan. His (Satan’s) business address is Hell and rewards are redeemed when a human dies, or maybe there is no Hell or Heaven. It is something to think about, though. It also one of the more interesting aspects to Sheri Gambino’s writing. She incorporates modern settings and scenarios to different aspects about modern religion, horror themes, and myths and folklore of a darker nature.
In The Awakening, a classic tale of zombies, a wife is direly trying to locate her husband whom failed to stop and run back to help her after she fell and shortly after a horde of zombies fell upon her and bit her neck, infecting her with the undead plague or virus. After being bit, she spends the story trying to find her husband she so dearly loves, even after he ditched her to save his own skin (Men get no breaks in this book!). In the end, a zombie only craves one thing- HUMAN FLESH!
Of the twelve short stories, I found myself entertained and amused by all of them—some more than others. A few of the stories were pretty predictable as to what direction they were going in (Sometimes It’s Better to Stay Dead is a classic tale of the popular jocks picking on the weird, Goth chick who just so happens to have a killer pair of tits on her and is ridiculed but when seen naked secretly desired) but all the stories were well-written and quite enjoyable for fans of the macabre. Tales of revenge have always been a soft spot for me. I hate seeing bad guys (literally in this case) getting off scot-free from paying for their crimes and in Lilith’s Revenge, all of the bad people get a punishment quite deserving. It makes for quite a fun read and I recommend looking for it on-line or contacting Panic Press for details on buying a copy.
Everyone who knows anything about me can probably tell you that there are some things I really dig, such as gory horror films, nudity-filled exploitative horror, cult, and sex films, and a love for all things Latin—including their culture, but most important their women. There is just something about them that is a major turn-on and has always been. Myself, being of German-Irish descent, find their (Latinas) varying shades of brown-colored skin and naturally tanned bodies is quite a contrast to the lily-white and generally pale-skinned color of women from Ireland and Germany, unless of course fake-tanning is involved and then it’s just another episode of Jersey Shore.
The reason I bring up my particular tastes in women and all things Latin is that Hispanic author Bowie V. Ibarra, in writing Codename: La Lechusa, has crafted an action story that takes place in a town in Texas, San Uvalde and is the story of an assassin of Hispanic descent and heritage of which is described as a Latin Queen of Beauty with perfect breasts, strongly-muscled legs and a tight ass to boot. Author Ibarra gives the reader a very detailed description of his main character, a beautiful and sexy assassin by night, and a single-mother working as an administrative assistant for a construction company that is “ran” by an inept drunk. The assassin, going by the name of La Lechusa when on assignment and back to Paula Luna when not taking out bad guys for hire, works for a private agency that is sort of a mix of James Bond-style headquarters with the accompanying gadgets that go along with the job of discreet assassins. The assassin “headquarters” are run by a nun, Sister Joyce, and a priest, Reverand Farkas, and is where La Lechusa heads to get her assignments, spy gear, weaponry, and intel. The façade of the East Side Baptist Church hides the fact that it is a headquarters of sorts for a U.S. Government clandestine operation.
Ibarra takes great detail to craft a story that not only includes a fair amount of action, including some slightly graphic descriptions of murders taking place, but also tells a story of a mother, her daughter, and goes into the history of Paula (La Lechusa) and the men she has been with, the importance of monogamy within a relationship, and even more importantly, treating women with respect. The author sets the tone for Paula’s bitterness towards men (due to a past relationship where she was treated horribly beyond one’s imagination) and it made this reader think that some men treat women like total shit, thinking that because one woman is beautiful and confident with herself she is just a whore or another peg on a man’s sexual conquest ladder to be climbed up, mounted, and abused sexually.
The book’s story is littered with Spanish culture and phrases, local Texas flavor, as well as some Mexican folklore (such as the codename of La Lechusa) and at times I had to bust out my Spanish dictionary when I wanted to know exactly what was being said (Ibarra generally would follow his Spanish dialogue or thoughts between characters with a general reiteration of what was being said in case one does not have a Spanish dictionary readily available) and I feel that the moral lessons given, the Mexican culture lightly explored, and the locale of the story gives the reader a distinct feel and flavor added to the action and story of a mother and the love for her daughter and mother. The story is just not another action-packed story of an assassin killing off dirt bags who have wronged society or have been found to be highly corrupt.
I enjoyed reading Ibarra’s briskly-paced, action tale, but wished the depictions of carnage and kills was more descriptive and not so “rushed”. La Lechusa takes out a great many of her targets with a long Bowie knife (probably a little nod and tribute to the author’s first name) and I wanted the moments of murder to go a little longer in length giving the reader a bit of time to let the carnage of the events really sink in, giving the story a sharper edge to it. At times, I found the antics and comedic elements of Paula Luna’s character while hanging out at the bars with her “girls” to be more interesting. The book has three major components, in terms of story segments, to it. The history of Paula Luna in her younger years which shaped her attitude for love and romance, her career in the military which led to her current job occupation as an assassin-for-hire, and her current-day situation of balancing being a two-job career woman (secretary and murder-for-hire) and being a mother and role-model to her young daughter.
One component of the story that makes it stand out and gives it more of an edge with a few surprises is the introduction of Paula’s mysterious neighbor, an old lady who is deeply involved in magic and things of that sort of nature. She gives Paula and her daughter Mariana ancient necklaces that have powers for those wearing them. Throw into the mix Paula’s sexual endeavors with Damien, a man that has gotten the attention of her when most others rarely get a look from her, and one knows they will be in store for something quite interesting. Ibarra is an author that keeps things simple and easy to follow and understand, all the while making sure the action is briskly moving along so the reader does not lose interest. By no means are we reading a complex action-thriller with tons of complex plot points, such as a Robert Ludlum novel, but the book kept my interest maintained throughout. From an extremely critical point of view, my only gripe was that Ibarra sometimes would lay the similes on a little thick at times, which gave me a few chuckles here and there. Sometimes, they seemed a bit ridiculous and at times, uber-cheesy, but as the story progressed they were used more sparingly and appropriately. By no means am I an English major or authority on writing anything, but I just found the use of similes glaringly obvious. I probably would not even have mentioned this minor point of contention but it really was the only aspect of the book that I had a problem with. I really enjoyed the story and the thought that went into the depth of the characters.
Ibarra takes the time to put a great amount of thought into Paula’s character, past and present, and making her the focus of the story (as she should be) but also giving other characters in the story a bit of history as well. The book was a fun read and quite enjoyable but nothing that will cause one to pause and go into any sort of deep thoughts. It was written to entertain and amuse, succeeding in its task. As I was reading the story, I kept thinking back to a slew of ‘90s action flicks I saw not too long ago by director Andy Sideris. The flicks were nothing more than popcorn flicks but were heavy on the sex and quasi-absurd gimmicks and gadgets used to spy, combat, and assassinate intended targets. I can’t help but feel that Ibarra is a great fan of action flicks that are fun to watch, if totally unrealistic and absurd at times. I think the late Mr. Sideris (Rest in Peace- he passed away in 2007 of throat cancer) would be proud of Mr. Ibarra’s slick action story, as well as having a character such as Paula who was a very sexy, drop-dead gorgeous Latin woman (Sideris frequently cast Playboy Playmates in his films in varying stages of undress) and a woman who was proud, demanded respect, and took no bullshit or abuse from any man or woman.
Codename: La Lechusa, the story about a mother by day and an assassin by night, is published by Library of the Living Dead Press, an imprint of Twisted Library Press, and runs $14.95 at full-price in paperback or only $3.99 via Kindle. (As of this writing, Mr. Ibarra is the featured author and his book is the featured book on the website). I, for one, always prefer to read my books in a physical book format on paper, rather than digitally, and I guess that is not very “green” of me in this day and age, but I really look at a computer screen enough and like to just carry a book and not freak out if I drop it or it gets wet (which I would with a Kindle or laptop while reading a digital file).
I recommend Codename: La Lechusa for those that enjoy action films, sex, violence, and adventure on a simple level because Bowie V. Ibarra’s short novel delivers on all levels, with a distinct dose of Latin flavor and culture thrown into the mix as well. I would be interested to see if there are going to be more stories depicting the Latin assassin fighting crime for the good of humanity all over the world.
Agoura Hills, California
“DEVIL BAT DIARY – The Journal of Johnny Layton” by Peter H. Brothers
Inspired by the famous 1940 film, “Devil Bat Diary” (ISBN: 9-781461-070924), tells the “true” story of what really happened to the unhappy citizens of Heathville, Illinois, during that terrible prewar summer, as recorded in the long-suppressed journals of Chicago City Register’s principal newspaper correspondent, Jonathan “Johnny” Layton.
The Devil Bats were furry fiends created by a scientific genius who believes himself wrongfully relegated to concocting perfumes and colognes which he despises for wages not worth mentioning. So, as a means to an embittered end, he manufactures an evil ointment with a scent that so infuriates his giant bats to such an extent they feel compelled to tear the throats out of their unsuspecting victims.
“Devil Bat Diary” tells for the first time the full inside story of what took place in ways not possible to show to Production Code audiences back then: did you know that Chief Wilkins was in love with Layton, or that Mary was a religious lunatic, or that Layton and his trusted partner “One-Shot” McGuire couldn’t stand the sight of each other?
Written to coincide with the 70th Anniversary of the film’s release and dedicated to the eternal memory of the great Bela Lugosi, “Devil Bat Diary” is an unforgettably entertaining venture into a world filled with chirping Chiropterans, malicious murders, sacred sex and revolting revelations.
(Three-time Rondo Award nominee Peter H. Brothers is also the author of “Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men – The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda.”)
Sadly, I have not seen Bela Lugosi in the classic DEVIL BAT! I do own the movie, so I will be getting on this right away! Look for the book! I found it for sale at Amazon, so I am sure most bookstores will have it (wait, are bookstores even around anymoer?!?!) so go show your support and pick it up from an indie bookseller before one only has the option of buying books online. It is also available in Kindle edition but who wants a digital file, anyways? Real books are so much cooler to look at!