Book Review: Barnabas, Quentin, and the Sea Ghost by Marilyn Ross

Dark Shadows is a classic for Horror Addicts everywhere, so when I saw a row of 1970 paperbacks based on the Dark Shadows theme at a thrift store, I couldn’t pass them up. My only regret is that I didn’t buy all of them.

Barnabas, Quentin, and the Sea Ghost by Marilyn Ross were a combination of everything we love. A vampire, a werewolf, and what seems like a pirate ghost, Jenny Swift.

Nora and her father have come to Collinwood to head a salvage project deep under the sea. They’ve been told of the curses of the Jenny Swift including the death of the wife of the last salvage expert. But those warnings fall on deaf ears as Nora and her father are skeptics. As soon as Nora arrives, she encounters a midnight visitor and then shortly after meets Barnabas Collins who she falls in love with.

Despite the rumors of the curse of the Jenny Swift, the salvage operation goes forward. But when accidents start to arise and Nora finds seaweed in her bed, she thinks there might be something to it. On a scary night in the fog, she sees the apparition of Jenny Swift, the beautiful side of her face calling her to the ship and the horrid, mutilated side of her face scaring Nora to the bone. But when Nora is attacked in the cemetery—only to be saved by Barnabas—the Collinwood family wonders if there’s more going on. Could the mysterious Quentin Collins be the one attacking villagers and Nora? Adding a fortune hunter claiming to have rights to the treasure and you’ve got quite a story.

I really enjoyed the story and the descriptions especially of the cemetery and of the apparition Jenny Swift. Some leniency can be given to the quality of writing because of the time and because of the writing style being very script-like. If you can get your hands on this book, I say buy! And if you see any others, buy them up! Or, call me so I can go get them! For lovers of Dark Shadows, these are must-reads and for us regular Addicts it’s a pretty damn good waste of an evening.

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Guest Blog Post: Gothic Collaboration

Gothic Collaboration: The Making of Ravencrest by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross 

26796951We love Gothics. Tamara teethed on Dark Shadows, rushing home every day to watch vampire Barnabas, witchy Angelique, and ghostly Quentin. Alistair devoured Rebecca and Turn of the Screw at a young age. The tales we both grew up loving are centered on an innocent young woman (be it governess, servant, or bride) caught up in the dark mysteries and romances of a spooky old mansion.

The Gothic has attracted readers for centuries and with good reason. Gothics generally include a naive heroine, a sprawling mystery-laden house with closed off rooms or wings, a handsome brooding master of the manor to warm the cheeks – and the panties – of the heroine, and several mysterious servants who may or may not be the heroine’s ally. And there is always someone who obviously has it out for the sweet young woman – generally the head housekeeper. What’s not to love?

In our younger years, both of us scoured libraries and used bookstores for Gothics written in the 1970s and 80s, strumming through anything with a cover featuring a spooky mansion or castle, and a windswept girl fleeing in the night. Both of us were after Gothics with a supernatural flair. The bigger the flair, the more we loved – and still love – it.

“Write what you love,” they say, and our novel, The Ghosts of Ravencrest, is pure Gothic. It follows governess Belinda Moorland as she settles into Ravencrest Manor’s routine. From the moment she arrives, the self-styled “house administrator,” Mrs. Heller, has it in for her, but the elegant butler, Grant Phister, is warm and friendly even though he is obviously keeping secrets of his own. On her very first night, a handsome ghost tries to seduce her. As the story moves along, Belinda encounters more and more mysteries and the reader even gets to visit Ravencrest in 1788 to find out why some of the ghosts in contemporary times are so tormented.

But The Ghosts of Ravencrest is modern. While it has plenty of romance, horror, and sex that sizzles, it still retains the feel of the old-time Gothic mysteries. So far, we’ve met witches, a trio of evil nuns, and a disfigured harlequin, as well as a slew of other spectres including the White Violet – a beautiful actress who went mad in the 1930s – and Amelia Manning, aka, The Bride of Ravencrest, who – after the death of her beloved husband – proclaimed herself the manor’s eternal companion.

We learn about the history of Ravencrest, how it served as a madhouse and hospice during in the Civil War era and housed an orphanage in the east wing around the time of the great witch hunts in the early years of the nineteenth century. Many were burned, but the real witch escaped to live on to torment the inhabitants of Ravencrest another day…

The Ghosts of Ravencrest is the first book in The Ravencrest Saga. We will begin releasing episodes of the second novel-in-progress, The Witches of Ravencrest, later this fall. You will meet more supernatural beings, not just ghosts and witches, but creatures of every ilk. Perhaps we’ll uncover what Old Peckerhead, the scarecrow, has up his tattered sleeve. Or what makes Riley, the groundskeeper, have such a voracious appetite. Or maybe we’ll delve into the story behind the gliding, gibbering nuns, Sisters Faith, Hope, and Charity. The sky’s the limit, but certainly, we will see more Belinda’s special talents, and her budding romance with Eric Manning. And of course, some Ravencrest mysteries will be resolved even as new ones surface.  But that’s only the beginning. At Ravencrest, it’s wise to dig into the earth before something digs its way out and finds you first.

http://www.tamarathorne.com/

http://www.alistaircross.com/

 

 

An interview with Kristin Battestella

Our featured author for episode 116 of the Horror Addicts podcast is Kristin Battestella. Kristin has been a staff member at horroraddicts.net for a couple of years now and also contributed several articles to the Horror Addicts Guide To Life. Kristin will be reading an excerpt from her Fate and Fangs series for episode 116. Recently I asked her some questions about her writing:

When did you start writing?

unnamedI hope it doesn’t sound too pretentious, but I started really early, about when I was eight and nine years old. My mom saved all the stuff I used to write and wrote the dates on them. Those are, of course, pretty bad! I even showed them at several kids book events I did and saw I had spelled ‘author’ as ‘arthur’! I was always dressing up and making up stories and couldn’t keep track of what I was doing anymore, so I started writing it down. Early on it was mostly fantasy and science fiction stories before I started submitting to contests in high school and writing ice hockey articles for some local magazines. After writing part-time for my local newspaper and working in senior healthcare, I started looking into e-publishing for all my vampire stories. So really, I’ve been writing for over twenty years, so it is more a question of when wasn’t I a writer or telling stories, because I feel like I always have been.

What got you to start loving horror?

Wow, back when I started writing horror in the late nineties, there really wasn’t that much to read. Just King, Rice, the biggies you know. So I wrote what I wanted to read, first and foremost for myself. I was interested in exploring good and evil and consequences. I like vice in fiction, a way to explore danger and fear without actually doing anything scary! I think that came from watching a lot of paranormal shows and scary movies as a kid. I wasn’t afraid watching, but more fascinated with why the scares work in making you jump and scream. Why are fear and adrenaline so connected? Why do we enjoy scaring ourselves and activating that fight or flight response? I watched a lot of The Twilight Zone, and I used to study scenes in Psycho and Alien to see what is so frightening in them. I like the mirror to nature genre examination. In horror, it is okay to say that violation of the home or body and all we hold dear is scary to us. I do still write fantasy and SF, I have to alternate and give the scares a break at times, but I like the healthy exploration of fear or monstrosity.

What was the inspiration behind the Fate and Fangs series?

When The Vampire Family was first published in 2008 with Eternal Press, there was a lot of material 13485078that didn’t make it into the final novel. The timeline jumps around and there are several family members that come and go through the ages, and The Vampire Family was more about the centuries old coven wars between the Welshires and Lilithan vampires, so the more quiet, personal vampire stories didn’t quite fit. Instead of going right to the next novel, I wanted to have the bit of ‘getting to know you’ vampires through history moments in between with specific over reaching themes. So you have Love, Punishment, Struggle, Debauchery, Lust, Humanity, and Resurrection with each asking but not always answering the questions about choosing between good and evil, i.e. Fate and Fangs. Each also takes place in a different era, from Viking times to colonial America, and post war speakeasies. I like having vampires pop up in unusual times and places.

Tell us about how you got involved with Morning Coffee?

Morning Coffee is the flagship show for the RadioVision Network here in South Jersey. One of my fellow local paranormal authors I met through the NJ Authors Network Stefani Milan invited me as a guest to her show focusing on books and writers on the network, called Read All About It. When I spoke to the staff more after they heard about all the cool horror media talk in Horror Addicts Guide to Life, they invited me as a recurring guest to talk about movies, television, and where to watch options. I just started not that long ago, but hopefully it’s an informative segment for audiences looking to cut the cable cord and find more of what’s out there then what the box office tells you. Also, you can see how pale I really am in the video archive on the radiovisionnetwork.com website!

What are some of your favorite TV shows and movies?

13485083Addicts who’ve read my articles here know I love Dark Shadows and old school Hammer and Universal scares. Most of what I like is older and spooky, but I love mainstream classics, too. My favorite movie is The Searchers, actually, a John Wayne western, and my favorite actor is Montgomery Clift. One of my all time television faves is Blake’s 7, with Homicide: Life on the Street a close second. I tend to lead towards more British shows, too, but I’m behind on all the big franchises. I’m more into Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings, which somehow, makes me feel old now more than watching old movies!

What will you be reading for episode 116 of the podcast?

 My reading tonight is a condensed version of  Resurrection: Stephanie 12348944after the Lilithan, Book 7 in my Fate and Fang: Tales from the Vampire Family novella series with Muse It Up Publishing.  The series is a set of personal vampire vignettes in between my first The Vampire Family novel and the sequel I’m working on now, tentatively called Requiem for The Vampire Family, so this is a bit of the middle piece catching up what has already happened and bridging what will come next. In Resurrection, former vampire Stephanie frets on the human ho-hum and has a disturbing visit with the mysterious and magical Mestiphles – who gives and takes life as he sees fit. I’m not sure if my reading is perfect, though. I think I flubbed up a few times on my own character names – you aren’t thinking about if they are easy to pronounce when you only write them! However, I really enjoyed doing a dramatic reading. I do read all my writing aloud when I write it as a final editing polish, but it is very cool to know others will hear it this time! So, thank you for the opportunity, Addicts, and I hope you enjoy it!

Where can you we find you online?

Where am I not online? Truly I prefer meeting friends in person, so if you are a nearby Horror Addict or writer, keep an eye on the NJ Authors Network for upcoming workshops:http://njauthorsnetwork.com/My horror and Fate and Fangs pages:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Vampire-Family/157922293588http://vampfam.blogspot.com/
If you haven’t browsed already, you can find more of my treats here under the easy to pronounce Kbatz label:https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/author/kbattz/

 

KBatz 5 (ish) Antarctica Essentials!

As the wicked summer heat begins to fade, Horror Addicts. net has opened the dead mail bag, and what should there be but a fan question for Kbatz!!

Lovely UK fan Alex asks what 5 box sets I would take with me were I stranded in Antarctica.  Wow, that’s a toughy. I hope my exile isn’t in the summer, sunshiny time! I need it dark and icy!

1. I’d have to cheat and agree with Alex’s email and say the complete Dark Shadows box set. Classic, campy, scary, 1200 episodes plus will fill a lot of chilly nights, too!
2. Purely on non-horror indulgence, I’d have to take me some Sharpe and Sean Bean or the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions.  🙂 Man love!
3. Tossing in some sci-fi as well, I got The Alien Quadrilogy blu ray set for my Christmas! We just finished the exhaustive features disc for all 4 films. Lordy, I’d have to pack some Fassbender and Prometheus, too.
4. More old school UK props, I have to say my favorite show ever is actually Blake’s 7. Learn it, live it, love it!
5. I’m a chick and I am so, so over packing, but I have to end my list with the ‘every Hammer Horror film ever’ box set.  Simply because I don’t really think such a collection exists in a pretty set, and it dang well should!
What are YOUR Top Stranded Arctic/Island Genre Essentials, Addicts? Tell Kbatz! Because, just my luck, I’ll get all nestled in ala The Thing and realize I forgot a major favorite!
And Thanks for asking Alex! 🙂

K

Guest Blog: KBatz – Dark Shadows Bloopers

Dark Shadows Bloopers Still In Good Fun
By Kristin Battestella

My father and uncle cringed when hoisting my heaviest trunk up my new condo’s steps, and my husband was downright appalled when he asked what was inside. “My Dark Shadows tapes,” I told him.

All 42 taped off TV with their scribbled labels-some even with commercials!  My mother was a fan growing up, so I saw reruns now and again as a child and spent most of my teen years thanking the Sci Fi Channel for airing the entire gothic soap series from beginning to end. My obsessions come and go, so I’ve never upgraded to MPI’s VHS series or the new DVD releases of Dan Curtis’ half hour daytime soap, which ran from 1966 to 1971.  Every October, however, I get a hankering for Barnabas, Quentin, and that creepy theme music. Thus I rented Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures.

Perhaps one of the most well known-if not THE most- known show ever for hokey production values, Dark Shadows episodes were taped live, with no time to correct mistakes, much less budget and technology of the day. Some of the bloopers presented are almost famous; the late Louis Edmunds as Roger Collins claiming, “Some of my incestors-incestors!-my ancestors are buried here.” There’s falling sets, name flubs, and just as many trick candles, cameramen, and boom mikes as there are cast members.  Although some of the editing is poor, and a few of the mistakes presented are actually tough to spot.  It would have been nice to have the segments divided and labeled or introduced by the cast.  There’s no background music, but it’s neat that the goofs seemed to be grouped together by actor.  Who’s the biggest culprit?  I can’t tell you!

The music video segment opens and closes with some creepy highlight reels and poetry from Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins, but of course we have nearly all the musical segments from the show.  Both incarnations of Pansy Faye and ‘I Wanna Dance For You’; Quentin’s theme and the lyrics to ‘Shadows of the Night’; even a very young Nancy Barrett grooving it up at The Blue Whale.

This compilation dates to 1991 and 1992, but Lara Parker looks quite old in her newer In Salem segment.  The witch history, locations, and guests are very interesting and go hand in hand with Dark Shadows’ resident witch-who’s also pushing a new DS novel.  Unfortunately, the sound and editing is poor and tough to hear.

At least there’s great fun to be had in the game show segment, although I’d never heard of The Generation Gap.  (The clothes! The Hair!) Jonathan Frid’s heartthrob cheers from What’s My Line and Alex Stevens’ removal of his wolfman mask on the same show is a delight.  Joan Bennett needed no introduction on Line, and it’s sad her prolific work is not known to today’s audiences. Yet it’s amazing that there’s still treats like this to be discovered from almost a fifty year old show.

The promos segment is a little misleading, however.  This is Dark Shadows Bloopers after all, so the promos-which were promoting MPI video, conventions, and Dark Shadows books- are instead a reel of slip ups with Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and Jonathan Frid.  Comedy Tonight turns the tables and presents Dark Shadows inquisitor Jerry Lacy as a vampire, and there’s even a commercial for Barnabas pillows.  Alrighty then!  There’s a separate section devoted to merchandise as well, including books by David Selby, and a very creepy trailer for the Dark Shadows audio dramas.

I was surprised to find this DVD widely available, although my VHS Dark Shadows Scariest Moments is just that, a VHS only.   The menus and music are fun and user friendly, I like the jazzed up rendition of Quentin’s theme.  Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures is a must for fans young and old, but I don’t know its caliber as an introduction piece.  Young folks might laugh and tune in or laugh and tune out.  There’s plenty of DS material to be had for all:  DVDs, books, even mouse pads from darkshadowsdvd.com.  For some spooky fun, try Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures one October night.

Guest Blog: KBatz – Dark Shadows Specials

Dark Shadows Specials Feed your Need

By Kristin Battestella

It’s inevitable. Every Fall I get that hankering for a good old marathon of the classics sixties gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Now mind you, I prefer the latter half of the series, and only have from the Quentin Collins introduction to the end of the series on tape. Even if that’s the case, this lingering Halloween temptation still gives me thirty-five VHS to watch! Who has that kind of time? Fortunately, a Dark Shadows fix can be quelled with several video specials: Dark Shadows Scariest Moments, Dark Shadows: The Special Edition, and The Dark Shadows Reunion.

Like Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures, the Dark Shadows Special Edition serves up several wonderful documentaries, commercials, treats, and more. The hour-long Behind the Scenes segment contains rare early footage, photos, and outtakes to go along with the dozens of interviews from the cast and crew. It’s a little dated and very late eighties in style, but it’s great to hear the set anecdotes and see some of the actors who have since passed on. Tribute is also paid to the then departed as well; and I have to say, the subtitles are also glorious!

The next hour length documentary called ‘Nightmares and Dreams’ showcases all those bizarre dream scenes Dark Shadows fans know and love. Some of its old and looks slow and dated, but it’s so great to see these commercials and other rarities have survived on DVD-especially the very bizarre Spanish dubbed episode. The On location segment shares some very old footage; but is still intriguing, as is the Inside the Shadows feature about the casting of Jonathan Frid and the vampire mythos. Non-fans or viewers not interested in vintage gothic film making might find all this boring. The Dark Shadows enthusiast, however, is in for plenty of spooky delights. I mean, the Barnabas Collins Board Game-need I say more?

The Dark Shadows Reunion is a two-hour plus disc capturing a special cast reunion from 2000. Previously on tape as the ‘35th Anniversary Celebration’, creator Dan Curtis and most of the original cast reunite to share clips, memories, and the cultural impact of this spooky soap. Highlights include a segment from the very first episode among other early clips, a lengthy reel of key scenes from the series, and a Q&A from the audience. The format is a little long in the tooth (hehe, no pun intended!), but again it’s a treat to see some of the late cast sharing stories of the behind the scenes craziness and fun.

Of course, all this is very dry and flat to the non-fan, but old time Dark Shadows convention goers can cherish this fanfare. Bonus features on the set include interviews with the late Joan Bennett and the absent Jonathan Frid-in addition to more commercials and promos. However, there are no subtitles here, and not everyone is present at the reunion. Understandable, of course, but critical players like Frid and David Henesy would have been a hard-core fan’s delight.

The half hour Dark Shadows Scariest Moments is a quick, creepy fix highlighting some of the series’ most memorable moments, from the original Phoenix storyline line right up to the final 1841 Parallel time episodes. Though not all of the pro-offered material can be deemed truly scary, it’s fun to recall some of the show’s unique and iconic scenes. Where else on daytime television are people buried alive or plagued by a truly horrendous dream curse? The editing and pacing is a little slow and uneven, sometimes taking quiet a long time to get to the big scare, but that was the style of the show, too. Thankfully, the music goes a long way in the Dark Shadows mood and atmosphere. When we hear those familiar themes by Bob Cobert, we know what’s in store.

Dark Shadows Scariest Moments, however, is not an introduction piece. It jumps from character to storyline, the past and parallel time. You really have to know who is who and appreciate the series for this spooky, gothic video to  have its full effect. I’ve always thought the later Gerard Stiles and Head of Judah Zachary storylines were freaky and frightful, but there’s pieces here of everything Dark Shadows has to offer. Of course, it’s also fun to look for some bloopers in these spookies, too.

Fortunately, I have Dark Shadows Scariest Moments on VHS, but it appears it’s never been available on DVD. In a new effort to appease audiences, MPI appears to be releasing several more compilation and highlight DVDS- including Dark Shadows: the Curse of the Vampire and Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood. These new sets look to be nice refreshers on Barnabas’ introduction and Quentin’s haunting, respectively. While these don’t appear on Netflix just yet, the season sets are all available for rent. The 1991 Revival series is viewable online as well. The feature film House of Dark Shadows is also available at Amazon’s video on demand for a quick fix. Dark Shadows Scariest Moments advertises The Best of Barnabas and the Best of Dark Shadows tapes, but who knows if these can still be found. Unfortunately, the second full-length film Night of Dark Shadows has also not seen the light of DVD’s day.

If you don’t have the time to invest in a full on Dark Shadows viewing devotion, or if you’re short on cash to buy the season sets, Dark Shadows Scariest Moments, The Dark Shadows Special Edition, and The Dark Shadows Reunion can curb your Collinwood urges-until next October, that is!

My Fearful Symmetry and Women Scorned

I’ve read four vampire novels in the last six months and I’ve noticed that each vampire book that I read has a different take on what vampires would be like. This is what I think makes vampires so interesting. There are so many different ways to tell a vampire story and in each story the vampires themselves can have very different personalities.

A good example of this is My Fearful Symmetry by Denise Verrico. Denise Verrico was heavily influenced by the show Dark Shadows and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Denise’s vampires aren’t like the vampires that Anne Rice wrote about. The vampires in My Fearful Symmetry enjoy being vampires, they’re  religious but use it as a way to hold power over others and they keep other vampires as slaves.

The star of My Fearful Symmetry is nineteen year old Cedric MacKinnon. He makes his living as a prostitute in England and has recently discovered he has AIDs. He gives up prostitution and starts to perform as a street musician. One night he meets a mysterious stranger named Raj. Raj is a vampire and promises to give Cedric wealth and eternal youth if he agrees to join him.

Cedric agrees thinking that his life can’t get any worse then it already is but his life is no easier as an immortal being. He has to move to a temple in India and is forced to  go through rigorous training  to become an adept. Adepts are dancers, artists, servants and sex toys for the elder vampires. Being an adept is one step above being a slave but adepts are taught that they are artists that perform in the name of the Indian goddess Kali.

As an adept Cedric has to give up his real name and take on the name Shardul. He lives with the other adepts and servants and gets trained by a female vampire named Sandhya. Though Sandhya is rough on Cedric a relationship starts to blossom between the two. Sandhya has taught adepts for over 100 years and she has a dark past just like the other vampires trained to serve. Adepts are held in high regard but they have very hard lives. If they can survive their initial training they are then subject to torture by some of the elder vampires and get used for sex in order to advance their master’s political interests. If things weren’t bad enough for the serving class there is also a revolution going on.

Some vampires have formed an alliance and are swearing allegiance to a leader named Loki who was named after the Norse god of mischief that was destined to destroy the other gods. Cedric at first wanted nothing more then to live with his master Raj but as an adept he starts to see things in a different way. He starts having visions of a violent destiny and has to decide to join the revolution or continue to serve his master.

My Fearful Symmetry is actually the third book in The Immortyl Revolution series of novels. Books one and two are set in a different location and about different characters in the revolution. Book three introduces a new cast and is set in a different part of the world but by the end of the book you get to see one of the main characters of the first book. You don’t have to read the first two books Cara Mia and Twilight Of The Gods to enjoy My Fearful Symmetry.

My Fearful Symmetry is more of a dark fantasy then a horror novel but it has a good story, lots of action, good sex scenes, a love story and there are some ghoulish scenes to keep horror fans happy. I loved the character of Cedric and I liked watching him change throughout the story. This is kind of like a coming of age book. You see a young teenager turned into a vampire who at first is an immature, self centered, single minded kid but by the end he is an adult who tries to protect those around him.

One of my favorite scenes was where Cedric has to go through a purification ritual and is forced to sit in a dark space for one cycle of the moon. He is able to drink only blood mixed with a herb that brings on hallucinations. I also enjoyed the sword fights in the book and finding out about the adepts training.  Another item in the book that was interesting was seeing how Religion means nothing to the vampire leaders but they use it to get what they want and to keep the adepts in line. In one scene towards the end an adept spills a food tray on an elder vampire. The elder vampire insists that the adept’s master Kalidasa must kill him but Kalidasa says he can’t kill him because the adept is in the service of the goddess Kalli. Earlier in the book Kallidasa allows an adept to be sexually abused but when he fears loosing a servant he uses religion to save him. My Fearful Symmetry is a good urban fantasy that shows us a vampire society that mirrors are own. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

The next book I  want to talk about is from Journalstone books and is called Women Scorned by Angela Alsaleem. The story follows a woman named Camilla who was just murdered,  now an ancient spirit possesses her, using her as a tool of vengeance. Tortured by visions of murdered women, she is thrust into a world of terror as she seeks a way to rid herself of the nightmare she has become.

Camilla is still trapped in her body but has no control. In order to live she feeds off of a substance that is on the breath of criminals. This is the least of Camilla’s problems though, because there is a cult stalking the spirit that inhabits Camilla and they plan on using it to release a horde of demons on earth.

I have to warn you on this book you shouldn’t read it if you have a weak stomach because there is a lot of gore here but there is some great characters and its a well written story. Mainly Women Scorned is a tale about revenge and asks the question can you really move on after you punish your enemies. This is a hard core bloody horror novel that will make you squirm in your chair, if you like a lot of violence then pick this one up.