It Came From the Vault: Classic Horror novels

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2016 by David Watson

 

 

vault

 

Origninally published January 1, 2011…. A short suggestion of Classic Horror Books… Maybe you are looking for something “new” to read for the coming fall… Check out these titles have you read them all?

 

 

With the topic for episode 54 of Horror Addicts being classic horror. It would be easy to just mention Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein or maybe Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft. I thought it would be more fun to find some lesser known classics. If your willing to look for them you will find these for free online.

Varney_the_Vampire

One book I found was Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood by James Malcom Rymer. Though in some places the author for Varney the Vampire was given as Thomas Preskett Prest. Both James and Thomas wrote several books in the mid 1800’s and they introduced the world to Sweeney Todd in a book called The String of Pearls in 1847.

The Feast of Blood was a serialized gothic horror story which was released in a series of penny dreadfuls between 1845 and 1847. The story is about a vampire named Varney and the troubles he brings to a family called the Bannerworths.  As the story moves along Varney is shown as a sympathetic character. He was cursed to be a vampire after accidentally killing his son in a fit of anger. He is either killed or commits suicide several times in the book but always comes back to life and is doomed to feed on the blood of  the living for eternity.

Varney The Vampire was published as a book in 1847 and totals about 667,000 words. Varney was a major influence on vampire fiction, he has fangs, hypnotic powers and super human strength but he is able to walk in daylight and is not afraid of crosses. This book is one of the inspirations for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Another book that inspired Dracula is The Vampyre by John William Polidori. This story was written during the same period as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Authors Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, John Polidori, Claire Clairmont and Percy Shelley were staying at the Villa Diodati in the summer of 1816. It was rainy and to pass the time the five of them wrote stories.

This book was released in 1819, the story revolves around a young Englishman named Aubrey who meets a man named Lord Ruthven. Aubrey soon realizes that everywhere Lord Ruthven goes people end up mysteriously dying. Lord Ruthven is not a traditional vampire but several comparisons can be made between Lord Ruthven and Count Dracula.

A third book I found was The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. This is a book from 1898 about a haunted house in England. The story follows a boy named Miles who was just expelled from a boarding school. When he returns home he brings along two ghosts that terrorize Miles and the rest of the people that live in the house.

Some other books I found was The Book of Were-wolves by Sabine Baring-Gould This book contains several old myths and short stories that pertain to shape shifters. This book may not be a traditional classic but its all older stories about werewolves and I love werewolves so I wanted to include it here.

The last book I wanted to mention was Brood of the Witch Queen by Sax Rohmer. The story follows a man named Dr. Bruce Cairn who is using mind control to get people to kill for him. This pulp novel was written in 1918 by the same author who created Dr. Fu Manchu.

Press Release: Nurse Blood

Posted in News on August 23, 2016 by Horror Addicts Editor

Nurse Blood Summary (Limitless Publishing) Pre-order now, release date August 23rd:

 

Nurse Blood Front Cover

Sonya Garret roams the bar scene hoping to steal the heart of an unsuspecting victim—literally…

Sonya, better known as Nurse Blood, is part of a team of lethal organ harvesters who seek out the weak to seduce, kill, and part out for profit on the black market. When Sonya meets Daniel McCoy, a young man recovering from a broken engagement, he’s just another kill to line her pockets with quick cash.

Agent David McCoy vows to find out how and why his twin brother Daniel disappeared…

Daniel’s body hasn’t been found, and the leads are slim to none, but it won’t stop David from dedicating his life to solving his brother’s case. When the evidence finally uncovers the shocking truth that Daniel’s disappearance is linked to organ harvesters, David knows his brother is most likely dead. But he’s determined to stop the villains’ killing spree before they strike again.

One last harvest is all Sonya and her team need to put their murderous past behind them…

A family with the rarest blood type in the world is the only thing standing between Sonya and retirement. David McCoy and the FBI are hot on their trail, though, and multiple targets make this the most complicated harvest yet. Will David unravel Sonya’s wicked plans in time to avenge his brother and save an innocent family? Or will Sonya cash in her final kill and escape for good?

Murder for profit stops for no man when you’re Nurse Blood.

 

Guest Blog: For Sale or Rent Book Review by Theresa Braun

Posted in News with tags , , on August 23, 2016 by Horror Addicts Guest

guestblog2

The story opens with a housewife going through her mundane routine. There’s a vague sense that something is amiss in her life, but what is really of utmost concern is the dilapidated and overgrown property across the street that is “For Sale or Rent.” Both the protagonist and her husband remain nameless throughout the piece, creating a disconcerting effect. I also got the sense that the setting could be anywhere in the United States. The neighbourhood details are descriptive, but general enough for the reader to assume it could be his or her own block.

Prompted to investigate the source of an unnerving sound, the protagonist crosses the street and peeks into the house in question. She finds that there is more going on there than the abandonment of a property, a piling up of dead bugs, and a jungle of a front yard. Once she meets the realtor, things start to take an ominous turn. Not only is there something off about his appearance, but the predictions he has for the housewife are enough to have anyone running for the hills.for sale or rent_

The suspense keeps building until it’s confirmed that the main character’s husband is one of her threats. Around that time, the whole neighborhood seems stuck in some kind of bad dream. What exactly has moved into the house?

Things aren’t what they seem, and the housewife begins to question her sanity. Her world spirals out of control and eventually she has to surrender to the inescapable madness around her. The last stretch of the story is rather frightening, yet some of my questions about what was going on in the spooky structure are not answered. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the nail-biting ride.

My favorite character would be a tie between the realtor, the old neighbor, and the person on the other end of the phone when she calls 911.

My favorite scene is one toward the end where the protagonist is at the height of her threatening situation and she calls 911. For me, things got a whole lot scarier at this point.

Best line:  “His features became liquid, sliding over the bones of his face until only a blank flesh-colored mask remained gasping around a horrible toothy maw.”

What was best for you as a reader? The story’s gradual reveal of details and the build-up to the closing lines really worked. I’d have to say that Madron preyed on my personal fears. The idea that the world could suddenly change and not be what it seems is rather terrifying—especially when the people who are supposed to be closest to you turn out to be your enemy. Questioning reality and my sanity would scare me senseless. There’s not much you can do if you’re mind becomes your prison, or if the world at large wants to devour you, literally.

The opening of the story was a little slow for me (although I was happy that I hung in there). When I went back to read the first few pages again, it was apparent that Madron planted some intentional details that were well thought out. However, I was anxious to get the horror party started. On another note, not everything has to be answered for me when I read a story or see a movie. Some of the best plots have left me hanging. That said, there are a few questions I had after putting this particular piece down. I wanted to know more about what was taking over the neighbourhood (trying to be vague here as to not spoil anything) and what the sound was that the housewife investigated at the beginning. Furthermore, why would an evil force out to destroy you give you psychic predictions regarding your fate—unless it was an intentional tactic to drive you out of your wits? A little more elaboration on this would have been welcomed, for me.

Because this story tapped into my personal fears, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. There’s a bit of a Lovecraftian vibe, so if you like his stories, you will enjoy this one.

 

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Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Perhaps growing up in a haunted house in Winona, Minnesota is to blame. Traveling as often as possible is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and her latest short story “Shout at the Devil” appears in Under the Bed Magazine.

 

www.facebook.com/groomanddoom

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Press Release: Monster Smash-Ups

Posted in News with tags , , , on August 22, 2016 by Horror Addicts Editor
Press Release : “MONSTER SMASH-UPS” 
monsterMash
 Indie horror comic label Scary Tales Publishing has announced the publication of their newest horror anthology comic magazine, “MONSTER SMASH-UPS”.  This new 40-page magazine format comic book was inspired by the classic Warren Publishing B&W horror comic mags of yesterday. The premier issue even includes a story written by frequent Warren contributor, comic legend, Nicola Cuti.  Each of the six stories has its own unique style and was illustrated by a different artist, from industry veterans like Manuel Martin and Bob Berry to talented newcomers assembled from around the world.
All of the stories are mash-ups; the villagers attacking the monsters in “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein”, a swamp creature vs. zombies in “The Bogman Cometh”, Dracula vs. an Arthurian knight in “Unholy Grail”, vicious predators vs. space miners in “Harvest”, a renown naturalist vs. unnatural terrors in “Mr. Darwin’s Zoo of Horrors”, and even an Arabian legend vs. a horde of menacing mummies in “Ali Baba and the Mummy Thieves”.
Kevin M Glover, publisher of the relatively new indie comic label, said: “We’re very excited to present this more serious collection of horror shorts.  Each tale of terror ends with an ironic twist, ala the old ‘Tales from the Crypt’.  People really seemed to love our companion comic mag, the frighteningly funny ‘FRACTURED SCARY TALES’, (currently launching its 3rd print run), but they also asked if we could make a book that was more scary than parody.  ‘MONSTER SMASH-UPS’ is that book. Just don’t read it alone in the dark!”
The first issue of the semi-annual publication has over forty pages of content, with six chilling short stories.  The suggested retail price is $14.95, but is selling for an introductory price of only $10.00.  It can be purchased online at:FracturedScaryTales.com.
Publisher Kevin M Glover is perhaps best known as the producer of the cult films, “Dinosaur Valley Girls” and “Venus Flytrap”.  He is also a multi-award winning screenwriter, published author and active member of the Horror Writers Association.  He can be contacted through his website: ScreamWriter4Hire.com.

HorrorAddicts.net, 132 Lisa Mannetti

Posted in News with tags , , , on August 20, 2016 by Emerian Rich

HA tagHorror Addicts Episode# 132
SEASON 11!
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

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lisa mannetti, jill tracy, prometheus, wisconsin horror

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

71 days till halloween

sam phillips, american horror story, live haunted attraction, universal studios, bela lugosi, alfred hitchcock presents, listener jeff, wisconsin horror, murderous dwarves, david watson, hollow house, greg chapman, theresa braun, the box jumper, lisa mannetti, a stitch of madness, aj brown, witch house, evangeline walton, emerian rich, blood of socorro county, sean young, summerwind, haunted house, ghastly games, the last night on earth, steve merrifield, will weaton, the heroine’s journey, rj thyme, lizardman, jill tracy, sell my soul, baron samedi, voodoo, nightmare fuel, dj pitsiladis, crystal connor, never tear us apart, frightening flix, kbatz, prometheus, aliens, dead mail, brad, night’s knights, sam kellerman, mindy, scream machine lyrics, ghost ships, the griffon, lisa mannetti, the box jumper, houdini

Final Escape S1E04, Alfred Hitchcock Presents 1985
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LNFMOBnKwo

Seattle Event:
http://thecrystalcon.wix.com/crystalcon#!the-speakers/mibl3

Scream Machine lyrics:

https://soundcloud.com/s-m-2/scream-machine-sick-little-monsters

Once Upon a Scream- special edition pack

https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/once-upon-a-scream-special-edition-pack/

“Broken Pieces” by Valentine Wolfe

http://valentinewolfe.bandcamp.com/track/broken-pieces

HorrorAddicts.net blog Kindle syndicated

http://www.amazon.com/HorrorAddicts-net/dp/B004IEA48W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431022701&sr=8-1&keywords=horroraddicts.net

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Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc…

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h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

s t a f f

David Watson, Stacy Rich, Dan Shaurette, KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Mimielle, Killion Slade, D.J. Pitsiladis, Jesse Orr, A.D. Vick, Lisa Vasquez

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An Interview With Lisa Mannetti

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2016 by David Watson

Our Featured author for episode 132 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast is Lisa Mannetti. Lisa writes what I like to call historical horror fiction. Recently she talked to us about her work:

What is your story for episode 132 about?

Stoker_NomineeI will be reading from The Box Jumper, my stand-alone novella about Houdini which was nominated for both the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Awards and won “Novella of the Year” from This is Horror. The protagonist or narrator is Leona Derwatt, a former “box jumper” i.e. assistant to the great magician himself. Thirty years after Houdini’s death, she says she’s going to reveal his secrets about the paranormal—but is she telling the truth? Leona was in love with Houdini and she helped him debunk fraudulent Spiritualists, but in the present (1956 in the novella) she’s trying to guard herself from telling a shady medium/magician named Emory the real source of Houdini’s powers. As the book progresses, we (as readers) realize she’s been drawn into a dangerous situation with Emory and two of his cohorts that is more nefarious than she ever imagined. The novella’s five parts and main structure follow the five classic symptoms of demonic take-over—from “invitation” to “summoning” to “obsession” through “infestation” and finally, “possession.” Has Leona been “invaded” and overcome by dark forces? Or is she merely a tragic, lonely figure who’s fallen prey to madness? Terrifying and poignant, the novella delves into the darker side of a broken woman who worshipped an immensely charismatic public figure—and maintains—was loved by him in return.

When did you start writing?

I first started writing when I was eight years old—and the very first story I dwatch 277x419wrote (that wasn’t an assignment from one the nuns who taught at my school) was a psychological tale about vampires. Sounds pretty sophisticated, right? It wasn’t though. It turns out my parents were going crazy because I had night terrors and I was keeping the entire household awake night after night. When I wrote the story, my mother read the “Twilight Zone” ending I’d tacked on which was that the girl’s frightening nightmares and dreams were actually triggered when her mother came in each every evening to kiss her while the child was asleep and resulted in her bolting upright and screaming an hour or two later. This goodnight ritual was my mother’s routine because she was going for an advanced degree from NYU and by the time she got off the train and came home, I was already in bed, asleep. The great thing from my parents’ point of view was that by writing about it, I saved them megabucks at the psychiatrist they were just about to drag me to. The important thing for me was that if you let your subconscious run, great stories (not this one, necessarily) can happen. And sometimes it doesn’t matter if truths about the author emerge—I mean unless you have my mother as your first reader, chances are excellent you won’t know what the hell you’re revealing and won’t have to feel embarrassed.

What are your favorite topics to write about? 

I really like writing about the dark side of life. Disease and disfigurement are prominent themes. I’ve written about polio, glanders (a disease that afflicts horses but can also spread to humans), radiation poisoning, and a host of other terrible ailments. In fact, I think one of the reasons the door to my imagination opens wider when I set the stories in the past is because the medical treatment was so abysmal compared to today’s standards that disease (of all kinds) was more part and parcel to everyday life. I like to write about the things that “seize” us mentally or physically and force us to cope with what’s beyond our control. I also like to write about the changes a disease has—not just on our bodies—but on our psyches. Both disease and possession/manipulation in my work are metaphors (ultimately) for the things around us we can’t control—those profoundly painful moments each of us face in life. We all encounter deep disappointment, death of loved ones; harrowing circumstances that make us question ourselves and the world around us. I like to write about that nexus—the things that impact our lives and create permanent change in our bodies, minds and hearts.

Who or what inspires you?

I think a lot of my stories are still attempts to reckon with the fact that we all die someday. Because my mother was a nurse (later a public health director) we had plenty of medical-type textbooks around the house and the pictures and the diseases both fascinated and terrified me. From fourth through seventh grade, for example, I was obsessed and phobic about getting leprosy. It sounds funny now, but I really did worry about it to the point I was getting up in the middle of the night to check and see if my palms were turning yellow or if I’d lost feeling in my feet. The Catholic nuns were big on discussing it back then (and collecting money to send to leper colonies) and there was plenty to read in the school library about notable figures like Father Damien. The big thing about him, as I recall, is that during one Sunday sermon he began speaking about the affliction “we” lepers endure and that was the hint to the rest of the colony that he’d joined their little weeping sore club. There were also tons of books in each classroom that dealt with the lives of the martyrs—all of whom died gruesome, miserable deaths. (Everything from being shot with arrows, to roasted over coals, to thrown to lions) and between those books and my mother’s handy pictorial guides, disease became a lifelong fascination for me. I didn’t really move to the next level—how it impacts our personalities—until I was in my late twenties and diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumor that turned out to be no big deal. But, while I was at the doctor’s office, I saw a woman about my age who was not only disfigured, but completely miserable. Don’t get me wrong. I had the utmost sympathy for her, and it was abundantly clear she was suffering. It was also obvious that she couldn’t help snapping and being somewhat nasty to people around her because her life had been utterly ruined by her disease. It was terrifying to me to contemplate—not just the havoc and devastation the disease wrought on her physically—but how her mind and heart had given way and succumbed, too. Years later I read Pet Cemetery and realized Stephen King was probing the same idea when he depicts what Rachel went through on account of her crippled sister.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

Tom and Huck adult 2014Well, one thing that strikes me—as both a reader and a writer—is that the genre has both suffered and gained from a schizophrenic perception of its merits and faults. The first gothic supernatural novel, The Castle of Otranto written by Horace Walpole in 1764 (which was both enormously popular and truly awful) claimed to be drawing on the works of Shakespeare. In my personal opinion the only thing Walpole really has in common with the bard derives from what I consider one of Shakespeare’s more preposterous works: Titus Andronicus. Castle includes some pretty laughable scenes including one where a giant helmet falls out of the sky, and Titus has a lot of over-the-top action, too—his daughter, Lavinia, enters at one point carrying her father’s severed hand between her teeth. Sure, there were and are some terrible horror novels—just as there are in any genre and in mainstream books as well. As a reader and a writer, I find it both fascinating and wonderful that authors like Stephen King and Peter Straub and Shirley Jackson (and many others—too numerous to mention) completely legitimized and elevated horror—and it’s a pleasure to be able to write serious, literary works in their wake. Without their achievements, horror would be consigned to remainder tables, beach reads, and scrap heaps for the most part. The general public seems to have difficulty in making the imaginative leap or transitional analysis that (for example) makes them aware that a book like William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice or a play like Tennessee Williams’s Suddenly Last Summer are fraught with horror—and that many of us draw upon the same kinds of important themes when we write.

Could you tell us about 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave Your Lover?

It started as a little joke to amuse myself, then P.D. Cacek suggested I find an illustrator and she introduced me to the wonderful and wonderfully talented Glenn Chadbourne. 51 Fiendish Ways is a macabre gag book of mostly one-liners about the nasty side of breaking up. There may be copies here and there, but alas it’s pretty much out of print. The good news is that sometime in what I hope will be the near future, Glenn and I are going to reissue the book with new cover art, a new introduction, etc. I’ve always been drawn to dark satire—it’s a skewed perception of a situation—just as horror the “overlay” used by horror writers.

This is a small video trailer of 51 Fiendish Ways for your enjoyment.

Could you tell us more about The Gentling Box?

Although it wasn’t the first novel I wrote, it was my “debut” novel and I was thrilled beyond measure when it won the Bram Stoker Award.

The book is set in 19th century Hungary and Romania and its protagonist (who is suffering from a fatal disease), Imre, a half-gypsy horse trader; his immediate family; and his close circle of friends have all been duped by his wife’s mother, a sorceress named Anyeta whose goal is to gain personal power and to throw off a curse that will condemn her to being eternally awake and aware in her own grave. But, the only way to make an end of Anyeta and to grant her victims peace is gentling—a crude surgery performed on wild horses in order to tame them. Imre’s most hellish childhood memory is witnessing his father opening the crate-like gentling box and placing the wooden and leather devices around the heads of a herd of wild horses. Jutting inward from the circular bands are metal spikes which penetrate the horses’ brains and Imre cannot forget the sight of the blood or, more sorrowful still, the dimming of intelligence in the horses’ huge glossy eyes. Despite his trade, he has never gentled a horse—nor can he bring himself to face the ironic fact that in order to free Anyeta’s human victims, he must gentle them. His decision, then, is whether he can summon the courage to heal himself of his disease by claiming the curse known as the hand of the dead, knowing that once he does so, he must also ultimately face the terror and the freedom of the gentling box.

Here’s the trailer from the second edition:

N.B. The book is currently in its third edition (with wonderful cover art by Steven Gervais) published by NightScape Press and available from Amazon and other online retailers.

It seems like a lot of your work is a mix of historical fiction and horror, Do you have a favorite time period to write about and how long does it take you to research a book before you write it?

gbox+280x419My background (actually my graduate degree and half my Ph.D.) is in 18th and 19th century English Literature; but this is a sort of chicken vs. egg situation since I’m not sure which actually came first. I’ve always been drawn to that period and it seemed like a natural fit when I began writing fiction. That said, I’ve set books and stories in 16th century Scotland, the late 19th and early 20th century in America, as well as in the present. I find that the past often opens the door imaginatively for me and I often write in the first person because it’s a natural and immediate identifier for the reader. Unconsciously, the reader accepts and becomes one with the narrator and therefore finds it easier to slip into the past as present.

It depends on the story or book; but six weeks for a story and six months of research for a book are pretty typical. I also continue to research as I write and will look up whatever I need: a street address, the name of a song, a diagnosis. It keeps the process very interesting to say the least and I select what I find mind-boggling so hopefully the reader will also get caught up in those details. While I’m writing a particular piece, I also watch any videos and read any other books I can find that touch upon the topic—it keeps me close to the lives my characters are experiencing and even unconsciously influences the subtle details of the tale. So, for example, when researching Houdini, I not only read all his written work and biographies about him and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and watched videos of his and Doyle’s films, I also read up on and watched anything I could find about mentalism, the Spiritualist movement, séances, magic, hypnotism, demons, 1920s New York City and Boston, mediums, and witchcraft. Plus a lot more that I can’t think of right off the top of my head.

What are some of the other books you have available?

YA Tom and Huck 547 x 819There are tons of my stories published in numerous well-edited anthologies that also include some other wonderful authors—so I can recommend them all without reservation. (Check out my Amazon Author page.) But, also available are my Stoker nominated stories, “The Hunger Artist” –which can be found in Zippered Flesh 2 (Smart Rhino Publications), and my short piece about Lizzie Borden, “1925: A Fall River Halloween” in Shroud Magazine #10. “Everybody Wins,” which was made into a short film starring Malin Ackerman (Bye-Bye Sally) is available in Uncommon Assassins. (Smart Rhino Publications).

Among my books (fiction) are The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (Smart Rhino) and Deathwatch, (NightScape Press) which is a collection of two related novellas, “Dissolution” and “The Sheila Na Gig.” “Dissolution,” which was nominated for a Stoker Award, is set in 1893 and will soon be a feature-length film directed by Paul Leyden. It’s the story of a young medical student who’s been expelled from university and finds himself in an isolated town in upstate New York where he learns that though he’s been ostensibly employed as a tutor to twelve-year old twins, their father has actually hired him as an assistant in an endeavor to separate them because they’re conjoined. “The Sheila Na Gig” is also set in the 19th century and concerns a young man and his dysfunctional family and his grandmother’s supernatural powers. Both novellas are very dark.

The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (Adult and YA editions) is a lighthearted tale in which Twain’s Tom and Huck have been reincarnated as twin white cats and familiars to a witch. They long to be boys again—scheming accordingly—and, as New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry writes in the introduction, “The novel is equal parts Mark Twain’s quaint and homespun humor and Mannetti’s sharp-as-a-razor modern-day wit…an adventure into the funhouse of intelligent imagination.”

Finally, “1925: A Fall River Halloween”; The Gentling Box, and The Box Jumper (April 2017) have all been translated into Italian.

Where can we find you online?

Just about everywhere! I’m also a member of the HWA and the Author’s Guild.

Websites:

www.lisamannetti.com

https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Mannetti/e/B001HPT6J8/

http://lisamannetti.blogspot.com/

http://twitter.com/LisaMannetti

https://www.facebook.com/LisaMannetti.Writer/

https://www.pinterest.com/lisamannettiaut/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1978203.Lisa_Mannetti

The Chancery House:

www.thechanceryhouse.com (my virtual haunted house)

Lisa 2Lisa Mannetti’s debut novel, The Gentling Box, garnered a Bram Stoker Award and she has since been nominated four additional times for the prestigious award in both the short and long fiction categories. Her novella, “Dissolution,” will soon be a feature-length film directed by Paul Leyden.
In addition to The Box Jumper, her novella about Houdini which was nominated for both The Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Awards and won “Novella of the Year” from THIS IS HORROR, she has also authored The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn; Deathwatch; a macabre gag book, 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave your Lover; as well as non-fiction books, numerous articles and short stories in newspapers, magazines and anthologies. Recent and forthcoming works include “Arbeit Macht Frei” in Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, “The Hermit” in Never Fear: The Tarot, and a novel about the dial-painter tragedy in the post-WWI era, Radium Girl.

Kbatz: Prometheus

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2016 by Kristin Battestella

Frightening Flix

 

Despite Its Flaws, Prometheus is Entertaining 

By Kristin Battestella

 

I feel like there’s a chest burster inside me.”

That’s what I said in the ER this past July when they asked me to answer their polite 1 to 10 point-at-the-smiley-frown pain scale. I didn’t know what was causing the increasingly horrible and unbearable pain beneath my right ribs. I could barely move, breath, or speak. I flailed my arms in pain and accidentally hit the nurse when she tried inserting my IV. Of course, this reminded me of one early hospital scene in Aliens, and later, after I clawed my husband’s hand and drew his blood, I said, “I guess this is what I get for going to see Prometheus!”

Doctors Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall Greene) petition the Weyland Company to support their archaeological discovery: ancient civilizations each repeated the same astronomical pictograph and alien “Engineers.”  Shaw sees the pattern as an invitation to the stars and the origins of humanity, and the state of the art Prometheus disembarks to the distant LV-223. Only the android David (Michael Fassbender) is awake for the journey while the rest of the crew- including the doctors, Captain Janek (Idris Elba), and Company representative Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) remain in hyper sleep. Once they reach the moon, the human crew rises to search an ancient monument full of dead Engineer bodies, mysterious urns, and surprising familiar iconography.  As storms fronts approach on the surface and the crew separates, one by one their fates and faiths are tested, for these Engineers and their perilous DNA projects aren’t as dormant as they seem….

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Plotting A Prequel Conundrum

Whew! It turns out it was just my gall bladder going, but director Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction with this pseudo Alien prequel was certainly on my mind most of the summer. I’d been waiting over a year for the release – even remaining spoiler free into its approach. The possibility of Alien’s back-story feels like its been in my subconscious for decades. I used to drive my father batty with speculation about how the crash on LV-426 happened, to where – or whom – that homing beacon was transmitting, and how the evil android Ash and the then unnamed but obviously money loving and corrupt Company were involved. Yes, most of these questions from Alien are not answered in Prometheus and that is this film’s blessing and curse. Some may rightfully dismiss Prometheus simply because it answers nothing beyond itself. After all, what’s the point if technically nothing gets us any closer to Alien’s mysteries? The connections and feelings are there, but it seems like Prometheus’ key elements are being spread out for its inevitable sequel or a completely new trilogy. It becomes both rushed in its foreboding yet too disjointed as the plots diverge and reveal. This almost feels like Alien 3, strangely, where one film had to suffice both its brooding horror and action SF predecessors. The internal pace is fine to start, with good cringe inducing moments and a horror styled pattern of storms and entrapped personnel. Though the deleted scenes were apparently cut for length and action pace, it feels as if Prometheus should have continued in this speculative science fiction or horror vein, with complete character intelligence and a scary food for thought.

There is room to speculate on the alien dangers and high concept religion and faith debates. However, writer Damon Lindelof (Lost) also left serious plot holes, unexplained developments, and changed script scenarios in rewriting newcomer John Spaihts’ original treatment. Nothing short of having all the action taking place on LV-426 as originally envisioned would have appeased die-hard fans. Whether Prometheus was going to be a direct sequel or not, whatever storyline you finally intended to go with – all those decisions should have been settled upon rather than be left hanging in the film. Frankly, nothing – no creature connections, planetary aspirations, or character motivations – should have been held back in the hopes for a sequel. In the theater, I was screaming to myself that this film better dang be successful enough to earn a sequel, otherwise, this will really not just disappoint, but anger the audience. If you open Pandora’s Box, do so all the way.  Innumerable plot holes and character head scratchers and inconsistencies linger in Prometheus. Some of that is answered in the viral and behind the scenes material, but you can’t hinge the full vision of your film on the extras or sequels. Not only are the big spiritual topics not as deep as could be, but the intentional ambiguity is far too on the nose. I thought I was alone in wishing for more from Lindelof’s weak touch, but Prometheus takes the easy way out by dropping its high concepts for a typical big action ending. The first half of the film is brimming with foreboding and body horrors just like Alien, but unexplained secrets become plot contrivances and what should be hidden personal or family connections are too obvious. Perhaps a truly sophisticated slow science fiction morality tale can’t achieve success today, but it feels like Lindelof didn’t even give Prometheus a chance to try.  In the behind the scenes materials, he admits he found Alien boring, and no studio today will accept boring! If one can let go of Alien and accept that Prometheus is not a direct prequel and will not answer your long held questions, then it can be enjoyed thanks to great sets, thoughts, and performances. Can a hardcore SF viewer accept the plot holes and screenplay mistakes? We don’t really have much of a choice until the supposedly in the works follow up is on the big screen.

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Powerful Performances

Well, well, Michael Fassbender does it again! Perhaps his ambiguous android David wasn’t meant to steal the show, but his artificial intrigue and robot speculations are the best part of Prometheus. Though his questionable actions initially support the faith versus science explorations and romance between Shaw and Holloway, David’s seamless orchestration of the crew and events around him subtly exceeds his programming. Fassbender’s (X-Men: First Class, Shame) uniquely devoid wizard behind the curtain pushes and pulls in true Vader fashion, and this malevolent Data is almost like a synthetic child on the verge of sociopathy. David is hyperactive, told not to go somewhere or touch anything, but he continually disobeys any instruction – maybe it’s for his own purpose, maybe not. He’s androgynous and prepubescent, almost not physically developed or impotent and thus uses his superior intellect and the low opinions of others to gain control. Despite his not having emotions, Shaw becomes the twisted object of David’s affection, and he scientifically violates her in a slick and premeditated plot. It’s not desire as we would think, but rather experimental curiosity. It’s third party rape because he can, and thus in David’s mind, he should.  Thanks to Fassbender’s well-played deceptions here and in Prometheus’ viral campaign, there are times where the viewer might swear David damn well does have emotions, and this Pandora of possibilities is a tad frightening.  An android who wants to be like Lawrence of Arabia? There are no Laws of Robotics here, and it’s creepy to see David’s graduation from playing with alien bugs to using human fodder go unchecked – particularly when it is such a cold and logical step to him.  Without internal censors to curb David’s motivations and ambitions, his last shall be first realization that people are inferior is allowed to run amok and create Prometheus’ finest moments.

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Naturally then, when Holloway belittles David, it is not only his own undoing, but it sets all of Prometheus’ events in motion. Rather than being the hero, Logan Marshall Green’s (Dark Blue) scientist comes off as big jerk thanks to script and character issues. He drinks because he is unhappy that he has discovered the existence of human progenitors on another planet. Huh? This writing faux pas ironically works in Fassbender’s favor. One might actually be sympathetic to David instead thanks to the way he is insulted or dismissed. The android is kind to Shaw, but her trust is betrayed and it makes for some fine work by Rapace. Noomi (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is up to snuff as our Ripley successor, oh yes.  Though younger than her co-stars, she may seem a bit too mature against Logan Marshall Green or too upscale European for American audiences. However, this edge is perfect for the deep, heavy, and spiritual Shaw. These beliefs drive her pursuit of science, but they should conflict – and her newfound alien discoveries spearhead Shaw’s reexamination of herself. It all seems kind of lofty or too high brow, but Rapace keeps Shaw likeable and believably kick ass. Yes, there are convoluted script moments and unrealistic post-injury scenes that do take the audience away from the character. She can run around alien planets and climb all over the place after that?! The lack of believability in the plot also takes a bit away from the awesomeness of her alien encounter, but no faults come from Rapace, and I look forward to more of her. 

I do, however, wish more religious connections were made out right between this trio. After all, we have a worshiped alien being birthed by a woman named Elizabeth after an impregnation orchestrated by a surrogate father. In keeping with the ABC android names of the previous films in the franchise, we have a D for David. But why the name David instead of any other D name? Was there meant to be some sort of Root of Jesse lineage and messianic message? It is Christmas aboard the ship after all, and the Shaw praying scene in the trailer was cut from the final film. One of the new creatures in Prometheus is also called a “deacon.” What exactly is all this religious iconography supposed to mean? Humanity is seeking out their alien creators and thus outgrowing their divine masters, and in some ways, David is doing the same thing to his human inventors. This ideological succession, oedipal shadings, and patricide hopes are touched upon in the script and chewed on nicely by the players when its given to them. The triumvirate keeps the entertainment and intelligence afloat for the audience, but unfortunately, the shaky foundations in the writing don’t answer these lofty questions. Had the cast been given complete character motivations and plot aspirations, nothing could have stopped Prometheus.

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Poorly Handled Ensemble

Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster) is ice queen good fun as Prometheus’ resident secret wielding company representative, but there could have been a lot more to her character than what we receive.  If you think about Vickers’ background and motivation too much, too many nonsensical red herrings emerge. Her big secret is quite obvious, but whether she is a human or robot isn’t hardly addressed, nor is her alternating bitchy, sympathy, intelligence and stupidity. As with David, serious Scott fans could have had their hearts set a flutter by Vickers and possible Blade Runner connections. Unfortunately, as is, the character ends up meh despite Theron’s best attempts to counter the iffy scripting. Likewise, it is always a delight to see Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential) and that therein is another big hole in what could have been Prometheus glory. I’m going to be nice and say the aging make up isn’t that bad – we just know it is Guy Pearce and would rather see him be the power hungry and creator- complexed young Weyland as seen in the Ted Talks viral video. Why couldn’t he have a pre-mission briefing instead of that weird hologram recording? That right there would have gone a long way in explaining all the characters and their reasons for signing on to such a space flight! The waste of creative character developments and potential is actually almost as in your face as Weyland’s actual not so surprise twist!

Although the supporting cast is most definitely talented enough, they aren’t given much to do beyond making mistakes or being barely there. Idris Elba (Luther) certainly has the presence to be the rogue captain of this wonderful ensemble, but his heroics and humor are so broadly written all over the board in crayon that we can’t fully care about Janek despite Elba’s charisma.  He’s devil may care but spiritually sensitive and cares about his crew and ultimately, humanity. However, Janek doesn’t give two shits about crewmen in jeopardy and doesn’t bother to ask what the mission entails. This isn’t multi-dimensional character development; it’s more like the captain is just a script placeholder to use whenever something is needed. It’s a sacrilegious waste of Elba, and Rafe Spall (Anonymous), Sean Harris (Outlaw), and Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones, Red Road – Did no one in this production see Red Road?!) become plot points for alien high jinks instead of being truly developed characters. 

Similarly, we never really get to meet the potentially charming Emun Elliott (Black Death) and Benedict Wong (Dirty Pretty Things), and there are even more unnamed disappearing and reappearing soldiers aboard the titular vessel. If we’re not going to spend some time with these crewmembers in order to know their fears or faults intimately in a slow build of apprehension and peril, how can the viewer appreciate them? Deleted scenes and alternate takes improve the troop slightly, but the audience never gets the feeling this crew is in it together, as in Alien or Aliens. Sure, we need a conspirator or two, but these folks are so divided, it seems like they each had different versions of the script from which to work. If you’re not fans of the players, it is tempting to fast forward thru their stupidity and squandered opportunities. As Prometheus is, this talent becomes padding for the body count in the final act. 

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Positive Bells and Whistles

Fortunately, whatever you may think of Prometheus, it looks damn great, simply smashing. Instead of a dark and congested submarine – perhaps expected by our recent trends toward brooding, bleak, apocalyptic futures – the palette here is bright SF, with sweet looking, large-scale special effects and an imaginative ship design. It all looks sweeping, epic, and state of the art but somehow still natural and practical – a realistic progression and scientific advancement on our current technologies. There are some Alien allusions in the designs as well, and Prometheus does meld soundly as the mechanical precursor but 21st century offshoot to the franchise. Fortunately, the action scenes aren’t brimmed with unnecessary cool gadgetry for the sake of instant technological flash. The detailed and well-thought production here will outlast the in the moment product placements so often found in today’s films – remember all that MSN crap in The Island? Prometheus is not ‘sponsored by Sony’ in your face, and unlike the eighties 3D hurrah, there are no ridiculous foreground objects and actions thrusting at the screen desperation.  I dislike 3D and chose not to see Prometheus as such, however, you can still tell which swooping CGI effects shots are meant to be in the multidimensional glory. Thankfully, the exceptional Icelandic waterfalls and galactic scenery aren’t overruled or at worst ruined by the 3D as so many films are. 

Ironically, while writing this review, I received the Prometheus 4 Disc Collector’s Edition as a gift from my husband.  Of course, I’m not as interested in the 3D blu-ray disc as I am all the other critical bells, whistles, and special features.  I haven’t even gotten thru all the exhaustive behind the scenes interviews, production galleries, screen tests, commentaries, and more. Like the immensely detailed Prometheus: The Art of the Film companion book, alternate concepts, deleted scenes, storyboard ideas that didn’t make it into the film, and even those screen tests and viral videos all help to piece together a lot of the head scratching and character flaws in Prometheus.  The aforementioned video and several other blu ray and DVD editions are now available of course, each with varying degrees of special features. However, I thought it might still be amusing to share some of the quick notes from my original Prometheus Monday afternoon summer theater experience, for these trailer observations seem particularly prophetic now: “Frankenweenie looks dumb. Savages is too Oliver Stone generic, The Watch the usual comedy. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter looks too action badass can’t see the forest for the CGI, and Rock of Ages has great music but what a crappy ass cast! I would see none in the theater and would not be surprised if some or all do poorly.”   Hehe.

There is most certainly an audience for Prometheus, and viewers should see it at least twice for complete entertainment value – even more for finite assessment. Love it or hate it, general science fiction fans looking for a return to mature, sophisticated tales can find something here, and Alien fans tired of the Predator crossovers should definitely have a look. Granted, the separation from total Alien connections and the “is it or isn’t it” on the nose marketing approach was a deception to audiences expecting complete franchise resolutions. That audience burn alone is enough to not see Prometheus. Again, those expectations both helped put people in the seats to pad Prometheus’ box office and hurt its reputation by disappointing longtime fans.  Because of these botched Alien connections and the fly by night scripting, a necessary sequel is indeed forthcoming, although I wish the powers that be hadn’t mashed up Prometheus in anticipation of a follow up film or two and box office splendor. Behind the scenes flaws and Alien relations aside, Prometheus is nonetheless entertaining for fans of the cast and science fiction lovers.

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