Book Review: The Ren Faire at the End of the World 3

Review by Ariel DaWintre

The Ren Faire at the End of the World: The Time of Sex, Magik, and Power Tools is Coming to an End (An Arcanum Faire Novel) 3, by Josef Matulich is a fun tale of the perils of building a Ren Faire in a town of witches and demons. Who knew so much was happening in Arcanum, Ohio?

I was immediately attracted to this book because of the title. It was so long, it had me curious. The start took me a bit to catch on. I was about 2 chapters in before I really understood what was happening. I would suggest reading books one and two first, because I felt I was missing something because this is part three. I think I would have understood it more and had more background on the characters, mostly the bad guy.

The book centers around Marc who is building the Ren Faire and his girlfriend. a witch named Brenwyn. There is an interesting cast of characters helping build and run the Ren Faire. I loved a lot of the side characters, Eleazar is awesome but I did keep wondering if he was from a different time or that this guy really stays in character! I really liked Michael and OCD list guy, they were right up my alley. Some of my favorite scenes were with Marc and his staff because they were funny. I didn’t like the bad guy, but his sister Cassandra, I REALLY didn’t like her., which is the point if you think about it.

I felt the story had a nice flow and it kept my interest. I was engaged and wanted to know the outcome of the story. I was worried about the main characters and really wanted the bad guys to get what was coming to them. If you like a story with witches, zombie farm and wild animals, and demons this is the series for you. The book kept my interest to the end and I have to admit I am a little scared to go to Arcanum, Ohio.

Ariel DaWintre is a writer and voice actor. She has performed in several audio works including “JoJo” in’s production of GothAmazing Race, “Ember” the novel Dusk’s Warriors, and “Claudette” in the novel Artistic License. She’s currently working on a fish out of water tale about an American living in Hong Kong. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Book Review: Her Dark Inheritance Meg Hafdahl

Book Review: Her Dark Inheritance by Meg Hafdahl

Don’t be alone. Not at Night. Not in Willoughby.

Willoughby, Minnesota is an idyllic small town in Middle America. It boasts one café, one motel, and a population of five-hundred-nine. But, there are more than small town secrets hiding in the shadows of the town square. Something lurks just out of sight—and out of mind—from the residents. A bloody history of accidents, violence, and murder plagues Willoughby and threatens the town even in the present.

In July 1982, someone brutally murdered three members of the Bergman family with an ax in their Willoughby home. For decades, town suspicion has fallen on the sole survivor of the bloody massacre: Caroline, the Bergman’s teenage daughter.

But Daphne Forrest knew her mother not as Caroline Bergman, but as Jane Downs-Forrest. It wasn’t until Jane’s death that Daphne found out that her mother was the suspected murderer that newspapers had dubbed The Minnesota Borden.

Daphne visits Willoughby for the first time, looking for answers to questions about the woman she thought she knew. She may not have grown up in Willoughby, but Daphne quickly finds that she shares a connection with the town that not even the residents can fathom. Willoughby wants to show her something, something that can save the town and, maybe, Daphne herself.

Thrust into memories of unfathomable violence and fear, Daphne must face her own mistakes and find a strength that her mother never had. If she wants to get out of Willoughby alive, she must face an evil that has stalked the small town since its founding.

Her Dark Inheritance follows in a glorious tradition of American ax murderers, but it’s far from the typical tale.

Meg Hafdahl creates characters real enough to climb off the page, including a monster that stalks you long after the novel’s last sentence. The town of Willoughby itself is as real as any character. Vividly described, it’s delightful and terrifying in equal measure. It embodies an abusive relationship that traps the residents in a situation where manipulation masquerades as protection and “this is for your own good” can be just as sinister as any threat. The story raises questions that strike to the core of all of us: What does it mean to be evil? What does it mean to be weak?

Hafdahl weaves an intricate tale of betrayal, murder, and small town intrigue. Her brilliant narrative style keeps you guessing from beginning to end about the next shocking twist. Whether it’s the truth about the Bergman murders or Daphne’s ultimate fate, Hafdahl keeps you at her mercy through every page.

I haven’t read a book in one sitting in a long time, but I couldn’t put down  Her Dark Inheritance. ‘One more chapter’ led to ‘one more chapter’ and ‘one more chapter’ after that. The book is labelled for Young Adults, but is just as gripping for adults. I recommend it whole-heartedly, especially for those who like to see the darker side of the American Dream.

Free Fiction Friday: Cure for Psychosis by David Mallory

Cure for Psychosis

by David Mallory

I used to suffer from schizophrenia, now before you all start thinking that I’m some sort of seed of evil, who is ready to whisk your child away and mail you parts of their body to you. I’m not that kind of crazy.

Sure, sometimes I hear voices and see things that no one else can gather with their senses. But unluckily, I do. At nights especially. You ever hear those stories about a person being caught sneaking around a stranger’s night and how terrifying that sounds. Good, now imagine that every night with a new person and voice, so it’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen.

Or how about blaring music to ignore the voices echoing through your head, wishing you dead or at least, threatening to take control of your body to maim you. Only for the music to end and you hear someone whispering your name into your ear, just for a second until the next track to play, but long enough for you to wonder if that happened or not.

But guess what. I figured out a cure for schizophrenia, or psychosis, as those quacks love to refer to it as. You don’t have to worry about seeing or hearing anything if you don’t have those senses anymore.

Now all you need to do to solve this problem is to grab the largest knife and the sharpest knife out of the drawer, probably the ones you use to cut up those vegetables that you never eat. Have you found it? Good. Now take the sharp blade part of it and place it into your ear, pointed right towards your ear canal. Then when you’re ready, push with all your might and you’re done!

Sure, this may cause massive pain and may involve the blade getting stuck, but after a few quick shakes, I’m sure it’ll be loose enough for you to pull it out. Fine, it will also be quite bloody, but just pretend those beads of blood pouring out of your ear are sweat and move on to the next step. Now grab the nearest paper towel or tissue to wipe the blood, earwax, and possible brain matter off your knife. The last thing you want is an ear infection.

Then do the same thing with your other ear. Now, this is going to be a bit more difficult than the last one because with one of your ears dead, your sense of balance is going to be thrown off for the foreseeable future.

Have you done all that and not passed out from blood loss yet? Great! Now throw that knife away and grab that sharp knife I recommended you get at the beginning. Do you have it in your hand? Alright, two quick recommendations before you continue – if you have glasses, you probably should take those off and make sure to finish reading the rest of the instructions before starting.

Take that new knife and point it towards your eyeball and quickly, before the warning bells in your brain go off, thrust that knife into it. And keep going until you can feel the tip of the blade scraping against the back of your eye. Now I seriously recommend you do this AFTER your ears because you won’t have to worry about hearing that hideous squelching sound coming from your eye socket.

Then just like last time, wipe off the knife, as best as you can with one eye anyway. And into the other eye, it goes! Now if you’ve done this completely right, you should no longer be able to hear those voices or see those people any longer. Congratulations! You’re fixed!

Now that you don’t need to worry about seeing or hearing those people, then there’s one final step. Accept your fate.

David loves macabre and bizarre thing. He also loves movies and is an aspiring horror writer.

Book Review: Beyond Night

Review by Stephanie Ellis

In Beyond Night, August Arminius, Decurion of the 9TH Legion leads his men under the command of General Malitus, their orders to claim Caledonia  in the name of Emperor Hadrian. Expecting to face no more than Picts, savage though they are, the soldiers come across monsters-beastmen–who can rip a man apart with ease–and then eat him for breakfast. Not only do they have these creatures to contend with, there is also the druid, Drust and the wizardess, Weaver who manipulate both beastman and Pict to further their own ends.

This is a fast-paced story, liberally sprinkled with gory battle scenes and the horrors of ritual sacrifice. The weaving of the supernatural with the mundane reality of the hard slog of a Roman centurion provides for an entertaining piece of escapism. I would say it is definitely not for the squeamish!

 Beyond Night is written by Eric S Brown and Steven L. Shrewsbury. Eric is the author of numerous book series including the Bigfoot War series, the Kaiju Apocalypse series (with Jason Cordova), the Crypto-Squad series (with Jason Brannon), the Homeworld series (with Tony Faville and Jason Cordova), the Jack Bunny Bam series, and the A Pack of Wolves series. Some of his stand alone books include War of the Worlds plus Blood Guts and Zombies, World War of the Dead, Last Stand in a Dead Land, Sasquatch Lake, Kaiju Armageddon, Megalodon, Megalodon Apocalypse, Kraken, Alien Battalion, The Last Fleet, and From the Snow They Came to name only a few.  Eric lives in North Carolina with his wife and two children where he continues to write tales of the hungry dead, blazing guns, and the things that lurk in the woods.

Award winning author Steven L. Shrewsbury lives and works in Central Illinois. He writes hardcore sword & sorcery and horror novels. Twenty of his novels have been published, including Born of Swords, Within, Overkill, Philistine, Hell Billy, Thrall, Blood & Cell, Stronger Than Death, Hawg, Tormentor and Godforsaken. His horror/western series includes Bad Magick, Last Man Screaming and the forthcoming Mojo Hand. He has collaborated with Brian Keene on the two works King of the Bastards and Throne of the Bastards and Peter Welmerink on the Viking saga Bedlam Unleashed. A big fan of books, history, guns, the occult, religion and sports, he tries to seek out brightness in the world, wherever it may hide.

Stephanie Ellis can be found at and on twitter @el_Stevie.

When Stephanie is not writing reviews, she is co-editor at The Infernal Clock ( a fledgling publishing venture and is also co-editor at The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear online magazine ( where they’re always open for flash submissions. She has also had short stories and a novella published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: An Alfred Hitchcock Primer


An Alfred Hitchcock Primer

by Kristin Battestella

Fans of old school thrillers young or old can earn their suspense credentials with these early Alfred Hitchcock nail biters.

The Lady Vanishes Only one lovely train passenger has seen the titular dame, causing rail car mayhem for Margaret Lockwood (The Wicked Lady) and Michael Redgrave (Mourning Becomes Electra) in this 1938 mystery. Travel delays and assorted languages invoke the tourist hustle and bustle as our ensemble is humorously introduced – from the governess rambling about her past charges and country songs or dances to cranky Englishmen commandeering the phone just to ask the line from London for the cricket scores. All the rooms are let out in this hectic hotel save for the maid’s quarters, and she comes with the room, wink! The bellhop is trying not to look at the scandalous bare legs as our bachelorette orders caviar and champagne, but the men in bed together is gay in both senses of the word with jolly good innuendo. This quirky inn comforts the audience yet there are whispers of pretty American girls and the almighty dollar getting preferential treatment, newspaper sensationalism, and intensifying continental troubles. A hit on the head at the train station leads to a kaleidoscope of confusion, unfamiliar faces, magic tricks, and slight of hand illusion. Everyone’s interconnected – incognito affairs, musicians, a famous doctor, magicians, and foreign diplomats. Some genuinely don’t recall seeing the woman in question, but others have an ulterior motive for not wanting the train delayed, willful gaslighting compounded by lies, lawyers watching their own back, and that unreliable bump on the head. Tea in the dining car alone, suspicious wine glasses – complaints about non-English speakers, nationalism, political secrets, and conspiracies. Who’s really on who’s side? Train whistle harbingers pepper the constant hum of travel, matching the rail montages, impressive rear projection, and black and white photography. Despite the confined setting, the pace remains fittingly on the move with perilous comings and goings between cars. There are stoles and divine hats, too, but that giant monogram scarf looks more like a napkin stuck in her collar! Humorous bunging in the cargo with magician’s rabbits, trick boxes, false bottoms, and contortionists is good on its own, however, perhaps such fun should have happened earlier before the serious mystery escalates. There are some contrived leaps as well – it’s amazing how all the Englishmen can shoot to kill and do it so easily – and though not naming the enemy country is understandable thanks to political relevance then and now, the obligatory bad guys are just nondescript. Likewise, one can see why the sardonic comedy teams and shootouts were included, and Flightplan really steals from this right down to the writing on the foggy window. Fortunately, the ticking clock race to the border, wrong track turns, gunfire standoffs, and international chases roll on right up to the end. But seriously, what it is with Hitchcock and trains already?



Lifeboat – Journalist Tallulah Bankhead is stranded on the high seas with torpedoes, sunken ships, u-boats, and Nazis in this 1944 self-contained thriller nominated for Best Director, Story by John Steinbeck, and Black and White Cinematography. There’s no need to waste time on spectacle with the in media res sinking – flotsam and jetsam with everything from English playing cards to dead Germans heralds the nationalism and wartime grays to come amid damp passengers, dirty sailors, famous dames, mothers, babies, and injuries. Tallulah’s in furs, smoking a cigarette, and dictating what junk to bridge aboard, and despite the tiny boat space, multiple conversations happen fore and aft thanks to strategic intercutting between the immediate wounded and more self-absorbed survivors. Fog and windswept water sprays accent the superb rear projection, and the strategic filming captures everyone from all angles with foreground zooms and background silhouettes. Natural ocean sounds and the rocking of the ship, however, might make sensitive viewers seasick. There are numerous colloquialisms as well as accents and translations, but conversation is all we have – a stage-like talkative jam packed with insinuating layers, interrogations, and double meanings. Can you make your own law in open waters and toss the Nazi overboard? Everyone feels the need to establish who’s American, Christian, or had relatives in Czechoslovakia and France, and the black cook is surprised he’s included in all the decisions. It’s unfortunately expected that Canada Lee’s (Cry the Beloved Country) Joe is the least developed character, yet he’s also the most genuine person starboard. This is also a more diverse ensemble than often seen in today’s movies, and three women talk to each other about shell shock and lacking supplies but nobody knows the right prayers for a burial at sea. Cold, wet, sleepless individual vignettes allow the refreshingly flawed stranded to come clean, and at the time having a Nazi officer as a realistic character rather than an evil archetype was understandably controversial. Testy questions on who’s skipper, united sympathies, and diplomatic delegating drop the formalities, as after all “we’re all in the same boat.” However, information is not always forthcoming and no one knows the course to Bermuda – except Herr Kapitan. Can you trust his seamanship? A compass, typewriter, watches, diamond bracelets, brandy, and newspapers with Sir Alfred in the classifieds add tangibles and some humor alongside baseball talk, debate on the superior rowing capabilities of the Master Race, and other unexpected camaraderie, for “dying together is more personal than living together.” Repeated “Some of my best friends are…” quips also address differences as rambling on past regrets becomes veiled talk about shocking revelations and amputations. Lost material possessions give way to symbolic shoes, bare feet, shirtless men, and tattoos, but there’s time for intense poker, lipstick, and flirtation. Bermuda is the macguffin, and storms, hunger, delirium, suspicion, and men overboard get in the way of getting there. Rather than just special effects cool, wet and wild action heightens the internal boat suspense as beards grow and tables turn. They’re surrounded by undrinkable water, rain is precious, fishing bait is nonexistent, and sudden twists happen with nothing but a splash. Violent mutinies and shellfire are surprising to see in a forties movie, but Bankhead is a stunning, strong, sexy older woman able to be kissing or angry in the same scene – a multifaceted female role few and far between these days. Once stripped bare by the consequences of welcoming your enemy, do you accept your fate, continue to row, or laugh at the irony? Perhaps this warning against fatally lumping all together and the guilty lessons learned in such a no win situation can only be appreciated in retrospect, as this tale tries to see everything from both sides, remaining gripping from beginning to end with nothing but eight people in a boat in the middle of the ocean intensity. It makes one wonder why nowadays everything is so gosh darn bombastic.


SabotageBuzzing light bulbs go dark in this 1936 caper based on The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad – not to be confused with Hitchcock’s previous Secret Agent or later Saboteur. Whew! Crowds are both confused and giggling in this blackout, singing or arguing by candlelit and wanting their money back from the down picture show. Flashlights, the silhouetted skyline, shadow schemes, and askew camera angles add to the power tampering suspicion, and suspenseful notes follow our mysterious man in black as he returns home, washes his hands, and claims innocence – despite his neighbor’s claims to the contrary. He talks of money coming soon yet doesn’t want to draw attention to his cinema business, but the professional, public, and domestic are intertwined with families living above the bustling marketplace. Fine dresses, fedoras, and vintage cars add to the quaint, however no one is who they seem thanks to grocers with an angle, Scotland Yard whispering of trouble abroad, and shadowed men with their backs to the camera conversing over promised payments. The innocuous movies, aquarium, and pet shop host seemingly innocent ingredients used for making bombs, and onscreen days of the week lie in wait while the public is occupied by the picture show, hoodwinked by what’s in plain sight. Creepy packages, trick bird cages, and threatening “sleeping with the fishes” coded messages become a tongue in cheek nod to the nature of cinema and hidden observations as covers are blown and men scatter. Our wife is clueless abut her husband and oblivious to her family being used for information, creating an interesting dynamic for her between the handsome detective and a damn cold, cruel husband. Who are behind these plans and why? Despite several great sequences, convenient plot points leave too many unanswered questions. The busy start is rough around the edges, meandering for half the movie before becoming eerily provocative as a child delivers a fatal ticking package in the middle of the crowded market. We know the route and the time – delaying for street sales, demonstration detours, and interfering parades ups the suspense alongside traffic jams, stoplights, and montages featuring clock tower gears, dangerous flammable film, our innocuous brown papered package, and the puppy on the bus next to it! A clock on every street corner checks each five minutes passing amid town criers, newsboys, crescendos, and clues in the film canister that go for the big shocker while silent visuals bring the threats home to the dinner table. Although I don’t think today we’d have a cartoon singing “Who killed Cock Robin?” but that might just be me.


The 39 Steps – Like Maugham’s Ashenden stories, I wish there were more adaptations of the other Hannay books by John Buchan, not just numerous remakes stemming from this unfaithful but no less landmark 1935 picture with Robert Donat (Goodbye, Mr. Chips) joining our original icy blonde Carroll and all the Hitchcockian one can muster including the mistaken man, foreign intrigue, macguffin secrets, and budding romance. Cheeky dance halls host marriage jokes, brawls, chases, and gunshots with shadowed men in trench coats, pipes, and fedoras. Double decker buses, netted pillbox hats, stoles, and more period touches such as newspapers, lanterns, and milkmen contrast mysterious maps of Scotland, missing fingers, knives in the back, and a gal whose name depends on where she is and which country is the highest bidder. The mercenary espionage, air defense hush hush, and ticking clock is upfront in telling us what we need to know whilst also revealing a whole lot of eponymous nothing. Danger tops each scene thanks to suspicious phone booths, perilous bridges, and jealous husbands spotting those knowing glances across the dinner table during Grace. Police at the door and women both helpful or harmful compromise potentially rural calm – news travels fast and a spy must always be on the lookout. Whom do you trust when no one is who they seem? Lucky hymnal twists and false arrest turns escalate from one location to the next with ironic parades, impromptu speeches, cheering crowds, and charismatic escapes despite handcuffs, sheep, and romantic comedy tropes. Filming through doors, windows, and Art Deco lines accent the men in disguise, overheard rendezvous, and small hiking silhouettes against the pretty mountain peaks. Trains, airplanes, and rapid waters add speed to the pursuit. The superb cabin car photography and railroad scenery don’t need the in your face action awesome of today, for chitchatting folks reading the daily news is tense enough for the man who’s picture is beside the headlines. While some may find the look here rough around the edges or the plot points clichéd, many of our cinematic caper staples originate here. The full circle music, memories, and shootouts wink at the facade of it all, remaining impressive film making for the early sound era with great spy fun and adventure.

CometTV.Com March Viewing Guide

Check out the new Horror/SciFi network! is a digi-network which people can watch via antenna and/or streaming live via the web. It’s the home for the best in classic horror and sci-fi films showing some of the most unique and rare genre content including films rarely seen from the MGM library.


We’re rolling out the red carpet for some of the best worst movies on planet Earth.

They’re so bad… they’re awesome.
Catch films like …

Creature (1985)
Gargoyles (1972)
Jaws of Satan (1982)
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Monster Dog (1984)
Reptilicus (1962)
The Milpitas Monster (1976)
Vicious Lips (1986)

Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Cyberpunk might be all the rage right now, but Johnny Mnemonic was doing it before it was cool. Keanu Reeves stars as a data courier who traffics top secret information via an implant in his brain. Sounds cool, right? Not when that data ends up acting like a virus that could kill you dead if you don’t get the passwords in time.

Thursday, March 15 at 4/3C
Wednesday, March 28 at 6/5C

Friday Primetime Movie 8/7C
Saturday Encore Presentation 8/7C

Monkey Shines (March 16)
Code 46 (March 23)
High Spirits (March 30)

Stargate Universe
Monday-Friday at 2/1C & 10/9C
Unlock the secrets of the ninth chevron with the boldest show in the Stargate franchise’s illustrious history. SGU features stunning visuals, a complex storyline, and all the gate-hopping action you could possibly need. So, what are you waiting for? Board the Destiny and join COMET for the adventure.

Press Release: The Campus

Jason Horton’s The Campus on VOD (Amazon Instant)

“The Devil Will Take Your Soul…One Piece At a Time.”

Los Angeles, California : Director Jason Horton’s (Monsters in the Woods) The Campus will be releasing through Video-on-demand this week. This indie horror film puts Morgan (Rachel Amanda Bryant) in a demonic limbo, after her father makes a deal with the Devil. Robert C. Pullman (“Fragmented”), Brit Sheridan (“Supernatural”) and Scott Menville also star in this Gas Money Pictures’ production. And, The Campus will be available, through a wide online release, this February 1st!

The Campus brings several stories together in a larger narrative. Horton says of the story and its genre: “with The Campus I set out to put a unique spin on a familiar premise, by combining several horror subgenres into a single coherent story. I used the Groundhog Day’s (1993) framework to combine different types of horror, while telling a very human story.” Horror fans can see this thrilling horror title, through VOD this week. The Campus debuts on Amazon Instant, on February 1st. And, this is one horror title not to be missed.

The official synopsis: Robert dies after breaking his deal with the Devil, bringing his daughter home for the funeral. Morgan arrives with the intent of ripping off the family business but soon finds herself in a never-ending cycle of terror; being brutally murdered then resurrected over and over again – each time losing another piece of her soul.