Thursday, August 27, 2015

Interview I did in 2010 about Vegan Revolution With Zombies

Interview I did to promote Vegan Revolution...With Zombies on Animal Concerns of Texas an El Paso Texas based animal rights show on Public radio. From October 2010

Friday, August 21, 2015

New Movies I Think You Should See!

Cop Car is A great low budget indie thriller that is part coming of age, part thriller and all fun. Kevin Bacon is fantastic.

I am not a huge Guy Ritchie fan but I loved his updated Man from U.N.C.L.E. which man manged to hit all the right notes.

Book Review: In The Gulfs of Dream By David Barker and W.H.Pugmire

The Gulfs of Dream and other Lovecraftian Tales by David Barker and W.H. Pugmire
Hardcover, SIGNED AND Numbered Hardcover Edition,Trade paperback 274 pages PUBLISHED June 2015 by Dark Renaissance Books

Hailing from the American northwest far far away from the northeastern lands where Lovecraft lived and worked these two authors certainly carry his flag. I have read very little work before from either but I have enjoyed several Pugmire live readings in Portland at the H.P. Lovecraft film fest. David Barker I knew less about other than he was a writer also from Oregon.

This collection has novellas co-written by the two authors and collects solo stories by each other. I can see why these two were drawn to each other. I doubt I could have told you who wrote each story with a blind taste test. Having their names before the stories did help to give little clues to make makes each tick.

Pugmire as an author looks very modern but his style and often his stories feel as though they are pulled straight out of 1935. The same could be said of Barker. I have to admit that this is not my favorite style of horror, but if you like the grand old style of H.P Lovecraft you can't go wrong here.

The opening and title novellas were fantastic with meta moments of the authors inserting commentary about the form and style they were using. In one meta moment a character talks about his own writing owing too much to Poe. In the title story characters have asides talking about what a weird tale is or is not. It talks about a actual Museum of Weird Tales.

This book is not exactly my cup of tea but I am really impressed by it. Barker and Pugmire make a natural team and create atmosphere of dread that feels like it comes from a dusty old book in the library.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review: The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

361 pages

St. Martin’s Press

There is a reason that Clive Barker separated from the pack of horror writers even in the over populated post Stephen King flood of the 80's. Just look at some of the titles. The Damnation Game, Weaveworld and the Great and Secret Show to name three. I am also a fan of some of his less popular novels such as Coldheart Canyon and Sacrament. One of the problems with the Scarlet Gospels is Barker set the bar so impossibly high in his career. To make matters worse and set the bar even higher Barker teased this book for 15 years. Teasing your fans like that with hints and hype in interviews can only make the expectations grow even higher. In reality maybe we should have taken this as a warning.

I have been reading Barker since I was 8th grade. He was one of my heroes from that time. It should be noted first that I consider several of his short stories to be among the best EVER written. I think he has written multiple Masterpiece novels. Hellraiser and Lord of Illiusions are two of my favorite films. I have met Clive twice, and he was amazingly kind to me. I hate to do this, but I didn’t like the Scarlet Gospels despite eagerly waiting and wishing for it for 15 years.

The disappointment level for most fans is quite high. Before I even got a chance to read I heard more than one person suggest the book was ghost written. As I started the book I certainly saw why many people thought this was the case. It didn’t read like a Clive Barker book. For one thing a great deal of the prologue was “Told” in dialogue sometimes with very little description at all. That is something I don’t recall ever seeing in a Barker book. The man’s strength is his verbose and often beautiful use of language.

It is important to point out that beginning writers often have stories/novels rejected for this. One of the most common pieces of advice young writers need is “Show, Don’t Tell.” Huge chunks of this novel is “Told” in characters talking to each other. If you open the book to page 4-5 and read it, you’ll find almost entirely dialogue. I admit at this point I thought there was no way Clive wrote this.

I mean if you read most Barker novels there is no mistaking it’s him. You know you are reading a Clive Barker novel. Do I think it was indeed ghost written? I am going to say no. Lets keep in mind that Clive has had a divorce, and several bouts with serious illness since this title was first discussed in interviews. It is unreasonable to expect the man to write with the kind of power he did in the past. Not to mention it had been some time since Clive had written anything besides Abarat and he had seemed more focused on painting in the last decade. Writing is like muscles, atrophy can set in and it seems there was some lost mojo.

According to Revelations a website devoted to Barker’s work the Scarlet Gospels was originally “230,000 words, the page count of 368 pages reflects its editing down to a final word-count of just over 100,000” That is a lot of cut words. While it has been suggested that several storylines were cut, I suspect it was a over zealous editor at St.Martin who cut chapters down to almost all dialogue. There is a chance that a author's cut might be better or “More Barker.” There is a long novel’s worth of words on the cutting room floor.

Now on Goodreads I gave the book three stars, which is only low if you compare it to a lifetime of five star reviews that I have given Barker in the past. I don’t think it was nearly as bad several of my friends, including a few who just couldn’t finish it. I think Hellraiser nerds will enjoy it. If you go in with the bar set appropriately then you might enjoy it.

There were enough Barker-ish moments of invention and weirdness to entertain me. But I can’t ignore the problems. The story brings together Harry D’Amour the private detective that was in Barker’s film Lord of Illusions and his novel Everville and the Cenobites uniting his mythos. Barker spoiled the end not only in interviews but the dust jacket letting everyone know that Pinhead would die.

Harry and a group of friends end up walking (a lot) around hell and getting inbetween a battle between the Hell Priest (pinhead) and Lucifer. Yes the devil is a character. That is my biggest problem with the book. Barker’s greatest strength is creative imagination. He doesn’t write vampire novels, or use classic monsters. He would also come up with wild new terms and original never before monsters.

The cenobites who were weakened by over exposure in films sequels were a good example. Demons to some, angels to others but they were like no demons we ever saw before. You had a sense they came from reality that was almost beyond our ability to imagine. It wasn’t just characters out of the bible like on CW’s supernatural.

None the less Hell, demons, and Lucifer get very unBarker attention in this story. Once Lucifer and Pinhead are fist fighting in a crumbling castle in hell…well I was checked out. When I read Hellbound Heart or any early Barker novel I would marvel at his imagination. How did he think of that? I am not sure I did that once in 100,000 words of Scarlet Gospels. That is why I think everyone is so Bummed.