Creature-Feature Conversations: The Beyond

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Pop quiz: Who’s your favorite director? Not just of horror movies, but in general. For me the answer will always be Lucio Fulci, Italy’s dearly departed king of surrealistic splatter. Knowing that, you can imagine how over the moon I was when Muzzleland Press head honcho Jonathan Raab asked if I wanted to return to his ongoing blog series, “Creature-Feature Conversations,” to discuss one of Fulci’s all-time greatest films with him and author Thomas C. Mavroudis.

Raab and I previously watched and discussed the 1991 Dan O’Bannon movie The Resurrected, which was a lot of fun (I highly recommend you give our conversation I read). Getting to talk about The Beyond with Raab and Mavroudis, though? That was a blast.

Like a bullet through the face of an evil little girl with ghost-white eyes, oh yes, it was definitely a blast.

Enjoy the zombie-filled trailer for The Beyond below, then redirect those big beautiful ungouged peepers of yours over to the Muzzleland Press website to get your Fulci fix.

Soggy Greetings from the Residents of Innsmouth

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I love getting stuff in the mail, don’t you?

Even better is getting stuff in the mail that I had a hand in creating!

The postman’s latest delivery was a doozy: Residents of Innsmouth, a new art book by Russell Smeaton, AKA Tikirussy. Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s classic tale “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” this book presents a series of portraits depicting the upstanding citizens of New England’s most secretive fishing village in all their scaly, scabrous glory.

Accompanying each illustration is a short biographical story, poem, or profile penned by a different author. Some are serious. Some are funny. Some are visceral. Some are contemplative. All are great.

Being that Lovecraft is my favorite writer and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” is one of my favorite stories of his, it should go without saying that I’m very happy to have gotten to be one of the contributing authors. I wrote three pieces offering glimpses into the lives of three of Smeaton’s most colorful Innsmouthers: 1. Jumbo Lump, the Gilman House chef who’d practically kill to cook something other than seafood, 2. Sturgeon the Surgeon, a self-taught doctor struggling to treat a population whose anatomy is constantly changing, and 3. Walter E. Grave, a ruthless gangster with a penchant for leaving those who cross him “swimming with the fishes.”

Other contributors include John Linwood Grant, Sarah Walker, Shayne Keen, K.A. Opperman, Ashley Dioses, Alan Sessler, Phil Breach, Jill Hand, and John Paul Fitch.

Below, I’ve included a pint-sized peek at some of Russell Smeaton’s character designs (sorry, but if you want to see them in full you’ll have to buy the book). Originally funded through Kickstarter, the initial printing of Residents of Innsmouth has already sold out and is now in the hands of the backers. Don’t start scouring eBay for secondhand copies just yet, though! Anyone who missed out can order a new print-on-demand copy of Residents of Innsmouth by contacting Smeaton himself via his Facebook page at facebook.com/Tikirussy.

Until next time, happy sailing!

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Creature-Feature Conversations: The Resurrected

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COVID-19 got you down? You’re not alone. Luckily, to make this ongoing quarantine a little less boring and a lot more spoopy, author/editor/publisher Jonathan Raab of Muzzleland Press has resurrected his blog series “Creature-Feature Conversations.” Every few weeks, Raab and another writer will watch a horror movie, then have a back-and-forth conversation about it via email, which will then be shared online in its entirety for your amusement and/or derision.

Featured authors thus far have included Gemma Files, Mer Whinery, Sean M. Thompson, Dominique Lamssies, and Brian O’Connell, with many more to come. Conversations cover everything from behind-the-scenes history to thematic analysis to MST3K-style ribbing. This week, I was fortunately enough to play Siskel to Raab’s Ebert as we discussed the semi-obscure 1991 H.P. Lovecraft adaptation The Resurrected. I’ve shared the trailer down below, for those interested. Give it a watch and then head on over to the Muzzleland Press website to see what Raab and I had to say about grisly this cult flick from Return of the Living Dead director and Alien scribe Dan O’Bannon (R..I.P.).

In Stefan’s House: A Weird Fiction Tribute to Stefan Grabinski is Here!

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This one has been in the works for a while! Now available from Dunhams Manor Press, In Stefan’s House: A Weird Fiction Tribute to Stefan Grabinski is one of the most personally signficiant anthologies I’ve ever been involved with. Why? Because of the man who inspired it.

Stefan Grabinski has often been called “the Polish Poe” and “the Polish Lovecraft,” and while those comparisons properly evoke the enormity of his talents and the level of renown he should have had, they don’t really do justice to how unique his work really was. Grabinski’s “psychofantasy” or “metafantasy” stories (as he liked to call them) were informed by his lifelong interest in mysticism, demonology, and the occult, as well as by his dueling emotions of awe and anxiety towards industrialization (manifested most notably in the author’s many depictions of thunderous, fuming, untamable steam engines). These are stories that are both folkloric and psychological, obsessive and inquisitive, erotic and surreal.

And yet, within his lifetime Grabinski achieved only modest success in his native Poland, and not much at all outside of it. He was summarily forgotten, for the most part, following his death in 1936. I can’t say I remember how I first heard about him, but I’m thankful that I did. He’s become one of my all-time favorite writers, easily among my top five. In recent years, there’s been a small but noticeable upswing in Grabinski appreciation. Though he remains somewhat obscure, his work has come to mean a lot to me over the years, so it’s energizing for me to see him slowly but surely receiving the acclaim he is long overdue.

It’s even more energizing to think I might get to play some small part in that process.

In Stefan’s House has been a labor of love a long time in the making. My story, “The Witch Engine,” is an attempt is to look at some of Grabinski’s major recurring themes through the lens of my own experiences as a child of the modern age. To Grabinski, locomotives were the vessels of the future. To me, they are relics of the past. With “The Witch Engine” I wanted to explore the tension that lies between those two perspectives. I hope I managed to do the idea at least a small measure of justice.

My fellow contributors for this anthology include such humblingly talented individuals as Brian Evenson, Steve Ransic Tem, Michael Faun, Christian Wiessner, C.M. Muller, and more. To preview the entire contributor list, and to buy yourself a copy, go to the Dunhams Manor Press webstore. Paperback editions are just $15. If you’re looking for something a bit fancier, though, a very limited edition hardcover version will soon be available for $45, featuring new cover art and original interior illustrations by artist Mutartis Boswell. Down below you’ll see a jaw-droppingly gorgeous piece that accompanies my story. If you want to see the rest, buy the book!

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Behold the Undead of Dracula is Now Available!

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Halloween is fast approaching. What better way to spend the coming weeks than delving deep into a macabre universe of classic movie monsters… with a twist? Lucky you, Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror is now available!

An affectionate tribute to the crumbling castles and lysergic psychedelia of ’60s and ’70s creature features, this new anthology from Muzzleland Press features the kind of bawdy, bloody tales that would make Peter Cushing, Roger Corman, and Mario Bava proud, but filtered through a modern lens. From straightforward homage to postmodern revisionism and self-aware metafiction, the stories in Behold the Undead of Dracula read like descriptions of lost Hammer Pictures productions that never existed, couldn’t have existed, should have existed.

My own contribution, “Diabolus in Musica,” is a riff on Dennis Wheatley’s devil-worship potboilers. It features a b-movie music composer who finds himself the victim of hellish visions and satanic machinations while trying to finish his latest film score. Check out the full table of contents down below for a taste of what the rest of my creepy compatriots have in store for readers.

Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Muzzleland Press bookstore. Buy it so I don’t starve!

“Go to the Devil” by Matthew M. Bartlett

“Over the Violets There That Lie” by Gwendolyn Kiste

“George Strait and the Black Orchard Grimoire” by Mer Whinery

“Vengeance of the Blood Princess” by Dominique Lamssies

“Diabolus in Musica” by William Tea

“Taste of Fear in the Night (European Release Title: Curse of the Mountain Witches)” by Tom Breen

“You Should Smile More: The Blood Coven of Arkana” by Heather L. Levy

“Mina’s Castle” by Sean M. Thompson

“Cleaver Castle of Carnage Presents: The Coven Strikes Back” by Christa Carmen

“The Bloody Cask of Rasputin” by Thomas C. Mavroudis

“The Filthy Creation of Frankenstein” by Gemma Files