David’s Haunted Library: Sleep Savannah Sleep


 

Jason Crandall needed to make a new start, he worked in Los Angeles as a Marketing executive for years. Sadly his wife died leaving him as a widower with an 18-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. He decided to start his new life in Shadow Springs by becoming a massage therapist. Shadow Springs seems like a nice little town but before long before cracks start to form in the town’s illusion of normalcy and secrets come to light.

First Jason has to deal with a jealous husband of one of his clients but life gets more complicated as the beautiful Savannah Sturgess goes missing. Jason starts to have horrible visions that make him doubt his sanity and some people are looking at him as a suspect in the disappearance.  Everyone in town has their own set of secrets, but the biggest secret is what happened to Savannah and why won’t the dead rest in peace?

Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross is a book that works on several levels. It’s a murder mystery, horror novel and ghost story with the perfect setting of a small mysterious town.  The first half of the book takes its time making us feel empathy for the characters. By the time strange things happen in the second half you’re totally hooked and wanting to see what happens next.

The detail put into each character makes them come to life and while they are shown one way, to begin with you see other sides to them as the story moves along. Savannah, in the beginning, is seen as the town whore but when we get into why she is the way she is, she becomes a sympathetic character. Also, Flynn Garvey who is Savannah’s boyfriend has no personality in the beginning, but later we dig a little deeper and find he has a secret and there is more depth to him than we thought. Even the character of Tabitha Cooper who is not in the story much is someone you feel for. She is seen as a crazy old witch, but in reality is very different than others see her. All of the characters present an image to the outside world but if you scratch the surface a little they show another side. You care about these people because you can relate to them and that makes things even scarier when odd things start to happen.

The best part of this book was when Jason is questioning his sanity. You see him as just a guy dealing with the loss of his wife and trying to raise his kids to the best of his abilities but as he is having visions that make no sense his life quickly unravels. The feeling of losing your mind when you know people are dependent on you is the worst kind of fear and Jason is also dealing with ghosts from his past. In Sleep Savannah Sleep the horror doesn’t come from what you see, it comes from what you don’t see. This is an old school horror novel that preys on your emotions rather than showing you horrific imagery, though it does that too. Alistair Cross shows that he is a master storyteller by giving us memorable characters and a twist ending that you’ll never see coming.

 

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David’s Haunted Library: Cold Cuts

Antarctica is a hard place to survive in, it’s even harder when there are mutant penguins with tentacles running around. Ozzy is a pop culture geek and a junk food junkie while Ben takes himself seriously and is Ozzy’s polar opposite. Both are environmental scientists working in a lab at the bottom of the world in Antarctica.

They thought that putting up with each other, the isolation and the cold temperatures would be the hard parts of this job, but they thought wrong. Little did they know that the terrorist organization called The Order Of The Red Wolf has a Nuclear reactor that is affecting the whole continent causing Penguins to become monsters. There are no happy feet in this story.

Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen has action, horror and comedy with a story that moves along at the speed of light. It also manages to give us some memorable characters. One of them is Ozzy who transforms from an overweight misfit to an action hero with a love interest by the end. The story also has some strong female characters such as Terra and Lorelei who aren’t trained to fight but do a good job of it when they have to. The only negative part of this story is that we aren’t given a lot of information on The Order Of The Red Wolf which is the group that created the mutants in the first place, but that doesn’t take away from the story.

What I really love about this book is how it goes from gruesome to funny. Every time there is a scene with Penguins tearing someone apart you also seem to get a scene that is laugh out loud funny. This book has one of the funniest sex scenes that I’ve ever read in a book and there was another great moment that will make you look at the paintings of Bob Ross in a whole new light. Another scene that I enjoyed was when one of the characters gets attacked and keeps fighting off the penguins and repeating to everyone that: “My guts came out.”

Looking at Robert Payne Cabeen’s bio you can see that he is an artist and a screenwriter and it shows in this book. At the back of the book there are several drawings of what the mutant penguins look like but also the way the action is described paints a picture for the reader. As I was reading this I found myself envisioning the whole thing as a rated R summer blockbuster movie. For example towards the end there is a great battle scene between the humans and penguins complete with background music.  I found myself laughing because I kept thinking how awesome this would look on the big screen. Cold Cuts is a lot of fun, it has that perfect mix of horror and humor that I like to find in a book.

Kbatz: The Veil with Boris Karloff

 

Boris Karloff’s The Veil a Pleasant Paranormal Discovery

by Kristin Battestella

 

Behind the scenes troubles and production turmoil put an abrupt halt to the 1958 supernatural anthology series The Veil, leaving host Boris Karloff and twelve in the can episodes of surprisingly quality unaired and on the shelf – until recently that is. Who knew?

 

Eerie music and Gothic castle arches lead to a grand fireplace complete with Mr. Karloff introducing these tales of supposedly true but unexplainable stories, and “Vision of Crime” provides a shipbound moment of clairvoyance and murder between brothers. The hackneyed old ladies fall a little flat, however Karloff and a pre-Avengers Patrick Macnee have some fun with the incompetent constabulary. In addition to hosting, Karloff acts in all but one episode of The Veil, and deduction on derringers, opportunity, and motive with a whiff of the fantastic help solve the case. “Girl on the Road” may seem then-contemporary slow to start with fifties innocence and a dame having car trouble in need of a man to fix all. Thankfully, roadside drinks, suspicious phone calls, and looking over her shoulder fears hook the audience into waiting for Karloff’s mysterious arrival and the paranormal plot turn. While the trail leads to where we already suspected, the simmering mood keeps The Veil entertaining. Likewise, ship captain Boris serves up some deadly seafaring adventures with a side of poisonous snakes to his wife in “Food on the Table.” The disposal is for a pretty barmaid recently come into wealth – and of course, supernatural consequences follow. Again, the story may be familiar but the characters and performances see the viewer through the twenty odd minutes. An Italian setting adds flair in “The Doctor” alongside aging physician Karloff and his prodigal son. Stubborn superstitions versus new medical treatments leave a sick child’s life in the balance, and I actually didn’t see this twist coming.

 

 

Ironically, the French accents are iffy rather than flavorful in “Crystal Ball,” but hey, when your upward mobile lady friend-zones you for your boss at least you get the eponymous gift, right? The foretelling effects are really quite nice with smoky swirls, upside down visuals, and distorted reflections. Moulin Rouge meetin’ Uncle Boris adds to the saucy scandals, and naturally, our two timing mademoiselle gets what she deserves. Rival brothers, contesting wills, lawyer Karloff, family violence, and ghostly biblical warnings anchor “Genesis,” however “Destination Nightmare” has a different opening and introduction before its dreams and mysterious pilot sightings. Crashes, parachute errors, and propeller sputters add to the fears, fine flying effects, and wild toppers while rising temperatures and New York bustle make for some murderous window views in “Summer Heat.” The crime may not be what it seems, yet silence during the observations add to the helpless feelings. It’s nice to see such fifties coppers confronted with the unexplained in their investigation, too. Despite the unique India 1928 setting and Eastern philosophies, “Return of Madame Vernoy” feels western fake thanks to bad casting. I mean, sure he likes to tan, but George Hamilton?! Fortunately, remembering past lives and reincarnations remain an interesting concept. Do you go back to the living the life before and contact family from the past? Can you move forward knowing what was or is there some other purpose for such memories?

 

“Jack the Ripper” is the lone episode of The Veil with Karloff featuring in the bookends only, and the production differences are apparent. However, Victorian spiritualism and professional clairvoyants make for an interesting spin on the Whitechapel theme with brief flashbacks accentuating the predictions and dreamy, eerie quality. The violence is unseen, but reading the scandalous newspaper reports on the crimes create reaction and believability. While the viewing order of the episodes is irrelevant, random VHS or video releases and an elusive two disc DVD version billed as Tales of the Unexplained can make watching The Veil in its entirety a tough, frustrating hunt. Fortunately, it’s also fun to discover new old television thanks to today’s technology, and The Veil is available on Amazon Prime – complete with subtitles! The transposed episodes and mislabeled descriptions, however, are confusing without a third party list, and Amazon is also missing two more episodes of The Veil which can be found on Youtube. The Veil’s original pilot “The Vestris” aired as an episode from another anthology series Telephone Time, and wow, that show has some fifties hallmarks complete with a housewife dreaming of dancing to her new dial tone! Thankfully, sailor songs, fog, phantom coordinates, and ominous quarter bells give “The Vestris” a proper shipbound atmosphere. A lady on board bodes of misfortune, and Karloff’s appearance doesn’t disappoint. “Whatever Happened to Peggy” has familiar people, places, and young lady not who she seems to be. Her memory difficulties and escalating coincidence make for a creepy and unexpected cap on The Veil.

 

The mid-century cars and fashions look sweet, and The Veil uses period settings and Victorian panache to fit the time as needed. Somehow, big skirts, bowler hats, and cravats always add to the spooky mood along with candles, gas lamps, and tea sets. Well done music accents the supernatural sophistication, strong characters, and sly drama. The Veil would seem to use its morality before the twist plotting to set itself apart from other anthologies of the era, however Karloff’s unseen series predates One Step Beyond, The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits – only the earlier Tales of Tomorrow or Alfred Hitchcock Presents provided competition. Each half hour moves fast, knowing how to be eerie enough to fill the time but not over stay its welcome once we know the twist. Although the introductions could be worded better and Karloff gives a postscript telling what happens next rather than showing it, The Veil admits up front that there will be no explanations. If not for a somewhat limited availability, this much shorter six hours is certainly easier to marathon than Karloff’s own later Thriller series. Where Thriller struggles to fill its sixty minute time with crime or suspense plots and never quite goes full on horror as it could, The Veil uses murder and scandal for a paranormal punchline just like it promises.

 

Now similar anthology tales of premonitions, ghosts, astral projection, or psychic phenomena will make The Veil obvious for wise speculative viewers – the unfortunate result of it’s previously unviewed shelf life. The small number of episodes leaves The Veil feeling too brief to be of real substance, and its quick run through may leave one lacking or wanting more. Fortunately, the possibilities were here alongside Karloff’s macabre charm, fun mini twists, and surprising paranormal guesses. The Veil may not look like much, but its black and white mood, well told stories, and fantastic toppers are more than enough for a spooky, rainy afternoon marathon anytime of year.

 

Strange Happenings in Wisconsin

August_the_beast_of_bray_road_by_pyro_helfier-d7v0mcyA fan of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, Jeff Eickelberg recently sent us an email saying that one topic he would love to see us talk about was unexplained occurrences in Wisconsin. Specifically he asked about Great Lakes ghosts, cryptids, haunted farmhouses or anything else that could be considered ghoulish. Being that I live in Wisconsin I was more than happy to research strange happenings in Wisconsin. Probably the first thing people think about when they think of Wisconsin is The Beast Of Bray Road. The Beast is a werewolf that has been spotted several times in Southeastern Wisconsin. There have been at least two books written about the beast and a couple of paranormal TV shows covered the subject. There was also a movie that was released in 2005. If you want to hear more about The Beast Of Bray Road check out D.J. Pitsiladis article on the topic here.

Haunchyville

h2My favorite weird story from Wisconsin is about a small village of murderous dwarfs in the woods near Muskego. The village is called Haunchyville and is protected by an old albino man. The dwarfs live in small houses built to scale and don’t like trespassers. If you are unlucky enough to meet them they will cut your legs off at the knee and force you to live as one of them. Legend has it that the town was created when a group of dwarfs ran away from  the circus because the circus’ ringmaster abused them. When the albino man was a boy he got lost in the woods and found Haunchyville by accident. The dwarfs took pity on him and raised him, the albino re-payed the favor by using a shotgun to keep people away from Haunchyville.

I had heard of Haunchyville from a book called Weird Wisconsin by Linda Godfrey and Richard Hendricks and I was fascinated by the idea of a small village of killer dwarfs. As I was doing research to write this, I didn’t find any record of anyone seeing the dwarfs but in the woods where Haunchyville is said to be located you will find three buildings that look like they could be dwarf homes. Most people believe that the legend of Haunchyville was started by high school kids in Muskego in order to scare younger kids.

http://slpmode.com/a-v-club-milwaukee-dont-go-back-to-haunchyville/

 

Summerwind

20140127-003206Every state has more than its fair share of haunted houses and the most haunted house in Wisconsin was a place called Summerwind. Located in Northeast Wisconsin on West Bay Lake this mansion was built in 1916 by Robert Lamont. The hauntings began when Robert Lamont thought he saw an intruder one evening and tried to shoot him, the bullet passed through him and the intruder faded away. Upon the death of Mr. Lamont the house was sold to Arnold Hinshaw and his wife Ginger who were only able to stay in the house for six months. The couple saw vague shapes and shadows passing through the home. Also lights would turn on and off along with windows and doors opening and closing by themselves. What was most disturbing though was a ghost of a woman who would appear above the dining room table. Over a short period of time, the couple started to question their sanity. Late at night Arnold would play an organ because the demons in his head said he had to. One night after finding a corpse in the home(which they never reported to the authorities) Ginger tried to commit suicide and the couple decided it was time to move on.

People doubted that Hinshaw’s story really happened but then the next owners had trouble. The new owner was Raymond Bober and he claimed he knew the house was haunted and even knew the ghost’s name. The ghost was an eighteenth century British explorer and the land was given to him by the Sioux Indians. He wrote a book about his experiences in 1979 called The Carver Effect. Bober had nothing but bad luck in the house and abandoned it after a couple of years. The house then remained vacant until 1988 when it burned to the ground after being struck by lightning. Some people still believe that the land where the house stood is still haunted.

https://www.prairieghosts.com/summer.html

Boy Scout Lane

BoyScoutLaneWisconsin has more haunted roads then most states and one of those is called Boy Scout Lane. Located near Stevens Point, a Scout troop was killed on the road sometime in the 1950’s or 60’s. Stories vary on what happened, some say the troop was killed by their scoutmaster and another story says that the scouts dropped a lantern which caused a fire and killed the whole troop. It is said that the scouts are haunting the area and if you are there you will hear them hiking through the woods. People that have visited the area have said they had the feeling they were being watched and have seen floating lights that look like lanterns. No one has ever been able to prove that a group of scouts died in this area but the ghost sighting are still happening.

http://www.yourghoststories.com/real-ghost-story.php?story=601

Witch Road

witch_road3Boy Scout road isn’t the only haunted lane in Wisconsin, Near the town of Rosendale lies Witch Road. Legend has it that 60 years ago a witch lived on Witch road and when she died the road became haunted. Some of the people who have traveled the road say that parts of the road are unusually dark and cold and you can hear the sound of trickling water even though there is no stream near by. Others have witnessed white lights in the trees and a ghost of a young girl. The witches abandoned home can still be seen near the street, along with a tree that looks a lot like a witch.  Several people go to witch road because they were dared and even when they don’t see a ghost they still say it’s a very creepy place to visit.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/files_spectrology/witch_road.html

 

Dartford Cemetery

dartford-indian-chiefMany people think cemeteries are haunted but in reality most cemeteries are not haunted but are a beautiful memorial to those that have passed before us. But there is one graveyard that may be haunted in Green Lake called Dartford Cemetery. According to the locals there are several ghosts that wander Dartford at night. Graves here date back to the 1800’s and some of the ghosts include civil war soldiers, kids who died of polio and an Indian Chief whose headstone appears to glow in the light of the moon.

Several stories have been told about this place, One of them is if you sit on one of the mausoleums, a ghost will come and push you off. Some people who are brave enough to enter the cemetery after dark have seen tombstones that vanish and reappear. They have also seen shadows and orbs in the trees and have had the sensation of being watched.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/media/a_haunting_featuring_the_dartford_cemetery.html

Bloody Bride Bridge

c202126003ca8c4cfc617571c5d1f5d0Out on County Highway 66 near Stevens Point, lies a concrete bridge that crosses the Plover River. Though no one has ever been able to confirm the story it is said that years ago a bride and groom were driving home after their wedding in a thunderstorm. As they crossed the bridge the car spun out of control and the couple died in the crash. Since then people have spotted the bride standing on the bridge with blood covering her dress. It is also said that if you stop your car on the bridge the dead bride and groom will appear in the backseat of your car.

http://www.washingtoncountyparanormal.com/blog/the-mysterious-stacked-stones-of-bloody-bride-bridge-stevens-point-wi/

Hotel Hell

maribel-caves-hotel-photoEveryone has had a bad stay at a hotel but there is one hotel out there that some think contains a portal to hell. Built in 1900, Hotel Hell in Maribel was originally called the Maribel Caves Hotel. It had a rough history, it caught fire three times on the same date. One of the fires in the 1930’s killed all the hotel guests while they slept. These were not the only deaths that took place there, one night one of the hotel guests went crazy and killed some of the guests with a knife.

Though no one can say when it happened it was believed that a group of black witches who were attracted to the spiritual activity that went on there did a ritual and opened a portal to hell that released demons into the hotel. Luckily for the future guests a white witch came to the rescue and sealed the portal. The hotel has been abandoned since a fire gutted the inside in 1985. Since then many people have entered the hotel illegally and said that they heard disembodied voices and saw blood on the walls.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/files_spectrology/maribel_hotel_hell.html

Wisconsin Lizard Man

manbatWisconsin also has its fair share of cryptids, including a lizard man who was spotted at different times in the 1990’s on route 13 south of Medford. People who saw the creature say that it was covered in green scales and had large leathery wings.  The first person who spotted it said it was standing in the middle of the road and then shot up into the sky when the car got close. Shortly after that another person spotted it in the same area and said it was staring right at him but when the car got close he flew off into the trees.

About 10 years later in 2006, a creature that fit the same description was spotted near LaCrosse. A father and son spotted the lizard man flying straight at there car while screaming. They thought it was going to collide with them but at the last second the creature darted up into the sky. The picture to the left is an artist’s rendition of how the creature was described.

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/topic/81821-reptilian-sighted-in-wisconsin-by-man-son/

Pepie The Lake Monster

d3f36250d229c4a3623ade43e64569ebSo now you know Wisconsin has lizard men, werewolves and ghosts. But that’s not all we have, we also have our own lake monster. He lives in Lake Pepin which is along the Mississippi River about 40 miles from Eau Claire. His name is Pepie and he goes way back to when the native Americans lived there. Legend has it they would not take their canoes on Lake Pepin because they feared the giant lake monster would tip it over.

Back in 1871 some explorers said they spotted the creature and it looked like a cross between a rhino and an elephant. Since then there have been sightings and even some pictures of the creature, but no hard evidence has been presented saying the creature exists. People keep trying though, in 2008 there was an expedition to find it that came up empty-handed and currently there is a $50,000 reward for proof that Pepie exists. Pepie is so popular in Wisconsin that he even has his own website.

http://pepie.net/

Green Bay’s Griffon

article-2343642-1A5FD37C000005DC-129_634x518The last thing I want to talk about is The Griffon. If you are going to talk about ghosts in Wisconsin you have to talk about The Great Lakes. Ships have been crossing the lakes for centuries and up until the last 50 years or so, it wasn’t safe. Several books have been written on shipwrecks on The Great Lakes and where there are wrecks there are ghosts.

The Griffon’s home port was in Green Bay, in August of 1679 the ship was headed back to Green Bay from Niagara when it mysteriously disappeared. It wasn’t gone forever though. Throughout the years in the fog people have claimed to spot a ghostly three-masted ship that looked like it belonged to a different era. Could The Griffon still be trying to find its way home after 300 years? I guess we will never know for sure.

http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/04/the-ghost-fleet-of-the-great-lakes/

Do you have a favorite ghost story from your area you want to share? Please leave a comment or send us an email at horroraddicts@gmail.com.

David’s Haunted Library: The Box Jumper

 

David's Haunted Library

26880448A box Jumper is a magician’s assistant and one of Houdini’s box jumpers was Leona Derwatt. Leona came from a working class background and her father idolized Houdini. In 1919 she met Houdini while working in a magic shop, Houdini hired her on as an assistant and she became one of Houdini’s favorite employees. They worked as a team exposing spiritualists  as frauds and performing illusions on the stage. Their life together was complicated and it was made more complicated as the charlatans who Houdini exposed as frauds conspired against them.

The Box Jumper by Lisa Mannetti is like a paranormal mystery that keeps you off-balance until the end. The story is told out-of-order which to me made the book seem more original and added to the mood. You have to pay attention to how all the pieces fit together and how the story is told gives it a surrealistic feel.  It starts in the past, moves to the present and then keeps going to different periods in the life of Houdini and  Leona. You may have one scene with Leona where she is young and life is going well then there is a flash forward to a dark period in her life and then we skip to the future where she is reminiscing on her past. I found myself constantly wondering where this story was going which made the mystery in it that much better.

The best part of The Box Jumper is how it handles Houdini’s history. It deals with how Houdini exposed mediums and spiritualists as frauds and it gets into how the charlatans were able to trick people out of their money. This book brings history to life and showcases spiritualism and magic at a time when it was at the height of its popularity.  You don’t have to be a fan of horror to love this book , fans of historical fiction will love it too.

Another good part of this book is Lenora herself, you get to see her at different stages in her life and how she deals with abandonment, disappointment, happiness, and love. For a novella this book touches on several different themes and does a great job of making you feel for Leona. When I first read the ending I was upset by it but after thinking about it a little more I thought the end made perfect sense and I can’t explain that without giving the story away. The Box Jumper is a brilliantly written book and well worth your time.

Kbatz: 666 Park Avenue

666 Park Avenue Had Spooky Potential

by Kristin Battestella

Yes, I am superstitious about the number, and 666 Park Avenue probably began with one foot in its 13 episode grave thanks to its polarizing name. Though flawed with an unclear theme and a rushed rectification, this 2012 limited run remains a frightfully fun marathon.

New building managers Jane van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annabel) move into The Drake, a historic complex owned by penthouse living Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn) and his wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams). As Gavin uses his wealth and influence to advance Henry’s political ambitions, Jane renovates the building, finding unusual secrets alongside fellow resident Nona (Samantha Logan). Neighbors Brian (Robert Buckley) and his photographer wife Louise (Mercedes Masohn) encounter the unexplained at The Drake themselves, as does Louise’s sultry assistant Alexis (Helena Mattsson). Ghostly phenomena, suspicious residents, and past mysteries escalate as Jane digs deeper into the building’s history – and discovers her own deadly secrets.

park avenue

Although 666 Park Avenue is loosely based upon a book, the series ironically shares several similarities with the equally ill fated series The Gates, which aired two summers prior on ABC. Our new tenants move into a luxury, too good to be true apartment building, taking a working position in a community where their predecessor left under unusual circumstances. The ridiculously short credits also flash a lone title card before the listings scroll over the opening action, making who’s a regular or who’s merely recurring tough to deduce. Like The Gates, 666 Park Avenue also pads its short 42 minutes – or less – with unnecessary song montages, and despite a classy billionaire interracial couple at the top, diversity is lacking elsewhere. Does ABC keep repeating this formula hoping to get it right? The numerous writers and directors have no consistency for 666 Park Avenue, and the characters are their roles rather than truly bloomed personalities. The mismatched couples are unevenly developed and only seen hurrying home or leaving late. Some are in on the spooky while others are not, and most of the residents only interact for a hello or goodbye in the surprisingly tiny lobby. The Drake seems more like a hotel thanks to a weekly revolving door where regulars are left hanging for other going nowhere spooky. People are being sucked into the walls for goodness sake but 666 Park Avenue moves away from its scary core for irrelevant corporate schemes, Madoff name drops, and political double talk. Instead of sullying evil with the same old prime time hitmen or political assassinations, maybe not being so New York City steeped or having been period set may have let the building intrigue shine. The wicked blackmail in the second half of the series does better, but the ridiculous need to have an upscale party literally every other episode gets old fast. Truly, no one episode of 666 Park Avenue is all super, the audience never receives the answers we really want, and poor structuring muddles the quality paranormal pieces.

Fortunately, 666 Park Avenue is more spooky than nighttime soap opera with an adult cast, mature situations, desperate pleas, eerie phone calls, and mysterious contracts due. Thunder, spooky zooms, and ominous doors lead to residents with suspicious blood on their hands, petty thefts, and one creepy laundry room. The Pilot gets to the ghostly prospects early alongside deadly quid pro quo requests and a nefarious Order of Dragon past. This first hour feels like a decent haunted house movie, showcasing the eponymous elevator mishaps, spooky stairwells, and murderous flashbacks. Perhaps episode five “A Crowd of Demons” uses a Halloween party excuse too soon – we don’t know the players enough to see them dressed up yet – but this is an atmospheric good time once the ghosts break loose. After an uneven first half, “Downward Spiral” begins to get to the bottom of The Drake only to have its reveals delayed until Show Nine “Hypnos.” Stock crashes, evil men in suits, sacrifices, and past rituals pepper the upscale where we least expect it. Play up those literal trips down memory lane, the mental hospital scares, bricked up fireplaces, and spooky books! “The Comfort of Death” toys with ghosts in the mirror and long lived curses while “Sins of the Fathers” adds priests and more 1927 living history coming back to rent an apartment. Reappearing pills taunt an addict, a knightly organization battles The Drake’s Order of the Dragon – a lot of should have been there all along paranormal is tossed in too late along with a halfhearted evil topper in the “Lazarus” finale, and those dangerous bathtubs, past drownings, and bricked up bodies make viewers wonder why 666 Park Avenue wastes so much time on shopworn auxiliary in its early episodes.

Where the eponymous complex’s supernatural threats are quite interesting, our would be heroic couple Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones) as Jane and Dave Annabel (Brothers & Sisters) as Henry are a touch too innocent, plain, and naive for 666 Park Avenue. They don’t seem like much of a pair, just New York ambitious with lots of parties interfering while Jane’s connection to the building – which should have been immediately solidified – is strung along until the seventh episode. There’s generic architecture talk, but Jane merely breaks a few things and knocks down some walls in her haunted house reveals without finishing projects or following through on the top to bottom explorations. Eventually, it seems like the idea of Jane and Henry being building co-managers is dropped altogether, as the totally unaware of the paranormal Henry doesn’t seem to care about Jane’s pleas to move or her fear for her life until she goes missing and ends up in an institution. Of course, Jane has no right to complain about Henry’s politics getting shady when she has been keeping secrets about The Drake the entire time, and these plots that should be powerful are erroneously intercut with weaker B and C stories. William Sadler (Death in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey yes!) is great as Jane’s estranged father, however, his horror heavyweight potential comes to 666 Park Avenue too late. Likewise, Henry’s spooky dreams don’t happen until the finale, as if the potluck writers simply forgot that Jane had the supernatural visions. It’s not the actors’ faults, nor the dozens of writers and directors who otherwise do fine work, but it seems like there was no character bible for this duo, leaving the audience anchorless to the very persons for whom we should cheer.

13th floor penthouse power couple Terry O’Quinn (Lost) and Vanessa Williams (Ugly Berry) certainly have the slick and suspicious afoot capabilities, but once again the mixed motivations on 666 Park Avenue hamper their scene chewing. At once, Olivia seems like a clueless fairy godmother lavishing on the newbies. However, one too many times she deus ex machina conveniently helps Gavin out of an evil jam before being unaware again by the next episode. Gavin, of course, threatens someone every hour to prove he is the top of the top, using politicians to get rid of mysterious rivals or swiftly dealing with dangerous minions. He knows all along about some secrets yet is blindsided by other evil trickery. If he’s so powerful, why is his demonic brand such a slippery slope under constant threat? The rug is cut out from under the viewer when his evil hierarchy, past Order of the Dragon connections, and good versus evil religious aspects are never fully explained. 666 Park Avenue plays with pedestrian dirty politics too long, and I swear they literally pull a Seven from Married…with Children and send the Dorans’ pointless daughter down the stairs to never be heard from again.

 

Sadly, I’m not sure the yuppie marital discourse of Robert Buckley’s (One Tree Hill) struggling playwright Brian and his wife Mercedes Masohn (Fear the Walking Dead) as bitchy photographer Louise are necessary at all. Sure, they add bubble bath steamy and voyeurism, but oddly, 666 Park Avenue remains tame in the would be saucy affairs. Paranormal drug addictions and fatal attraction with Helena Mattsson (Betrayal) as Louise’s assistant Alexis become completely uninvolved with the aforementioned characters’ storylines, and although the gambling debts being tattooed onto Enrique Murciano (Without a Trace) as romantic Doctor Scott are a neat Karma twist, it never goes anywhere. The paranormal stamp on Brian’s writing is late in the game to save the wishy washy between his women, and we don’t know what’s really going on with Alexis and her debt until Episode Ten. Rather than juggling too many superfluous paranormal residents and their wannabe The Devil’s Advocate deals with Gavin and compromising the series, 666 Park Avenue should have combined these plots for just one strong younger couple, thus earning a second year to introduce some deadly love triangles.

But wait, there’s more trite with the stereotypical magical negro psychic and rebel teen Samantha Logan (Teen Wolf) as Nona. Not only do redundant ghosts also impart similar mysterious warnings, but Nona doesn’t always share what she knows, inexplicably leaving only the audience aware of the clairvoyance. Of course, Nona also has a magical negro grandmother in a wheelchair, and Ghost Guinan herself Whoopi Goldberg also makes an appearance as some kind of Matrix Oracle where, I hate to say it, she seems more like she’s just talking on The View. Erik Palladino (ER) as doorman Tony is also treated as a subservient ethnic minority picked over for a higher position but used as a thug or handyman and deliveries as needed. 666 Park Avenue also has a black widow obsessed with youth, an obituary writer who changes people’s lives with her pen, and two detectives snooping about The Drake. Well, one detective anyway – Teddy Sears (Masters of Sex) continues as another going nowhere side plot while his female black partner is never shown again. Typical.

 

Thankfully, symphony moments and ironic classic tunes add upscale accents to the blackmail and violence on 666 Park Avenue while creepy dream travels, phantom hallways, and hidden aspects of the building slowly reveal some sinister. It’s frustrating when something spooky happens only to be cut away for an ominous commercial edit, but distorted wide lenses and through the keyhole photography add a sense of askew not found on your typical New York drama. The women’s over-arched eyebrows give them a perpetual wow face, people researching their family history never bother to use ancestry.com, and some special effects look mighty poor. However, folks being sucked into the floor is pretty darn cool, and the 1920s styles make up for the contemporary lookalikes and lacking attention to detail. 666 Park Avenue has too many people, side politics interfere with the paranormal goods, and it takes half the thirteen episodes to really get going. The Drake’s spooky promise is never fully refined, and the episodic dragging once again proves that network television needs to catch up with today’s tightly paced shows and no time to waste storytelling. 666 Park Avenue should have been a taught 6 episodes rather than bloating itself with broad filler. Ironically, while improving on The Gates with its more spooky adult drama, these same pitfalls that shuttered The Gates condemns 666 Park Avenue.

It’s annoying when such creepy potential and likable actors don’t get the well thought out summer event series they deserve. Could have, should have – 666 Park Avenue is by no means great. Yet despite my negativity on the show’s never quite hitting the right notes, it was indeed entertaining to marathon for the weekend, and 666 Park Avenue fits well for viewers new to horror, budding paranormal teens, or those looking for something upscale and spooky but light on fear.

David’s Haunted Library: The Cliffhouse Haunting

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The Cliffhouse Lodge has a history dating back to 1887. Not only has it been a place to stay for people enjoying the beauty of Blue Lady Lake, but it was also a place with a dark history. In the twenties a serial killer called the Bodice Ripper terrorized the town and a ghost called The Blue Lady was seen when a death was about to occur.

Flash forward to the present and a new serial killer is terrorizing the town and the Blue Lady is making her presence known again. At the Cliffhouse Lodge, wet foot prints are being spotted in rooms, disembodied voices are being heard and when people look in the mirror they see the face of the Blue Lady.

What can I say about The Cliffhouse Haunting by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross other than it left me with a huge smile on my face. I’ve been a fan of Tamara Thorne going back to the mid nineties. I like her writing because her books have great characters and she creates a detailed mythology. Also her stories have just the right amount of horror, smut, and humor that I look for in a book.

The Cliffhouse Haunting is no exception, it was obvious that Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne had a lot of fun writing this and it was hard to put down. I would love to know the writing process behind this book because all the characters are so detailed and a lot of them reminded me of people I knew. I’m not sure who wrote what in this book but by the end of it I was wanting to read any solo work that Alistair Cross has out along with re-reading Tamara’s books.

The best part of The Cliffhouse Haunting is without a doubt the characters. The serial killer referred to as Hammerhead who hates everyone including the ghost who helps him is a perfect villain. We also have characters who are self-centered and egotistical but at the same time are fascinating because we’ve all met people like this. Authoress Constance Welling thinks she is God’s gift to the world but no one else seems to like her. I kept hoping that nothing bad would happen to her in the book because the scenes that she is in were so entertaining. There is one scene when she is doing a fortune-telling act that’s one of the funniest and most outrageous scenes I’ve ever read in a book. Another great character is Dr. Siechert who will want to make you stay away from doctors for the rest of your life and is part of a very funny scene which takes place in a supermarket.

In addition to memorable characters in this book I also loved the detailed history of the Cliffhouse lodge and how the mystery of the Blue Lady unfolds. I loves how The Cliffhouse Haunting goes back and forth from being funny to scary and it was hard to predict where the story would go next. There are some gruesome death scenes in this book and one in particular had me laughing and cringing at the same time. All I’m going to say about it is beware of the chocolate wanderer. You want to know what it is? You need to read the book; you won’t be disappointed.

25968318Another book I read recently was a novella by Paul Di Filippo and Claudio Chillemi called The Horror at Ganico Rosso. Set in the early 1900’s, this story tells the tale of retired detective named Joe who gets called back to work to solve a series of murders that’s related to a case that he worked on years ago. The murders are linked to the mummies of the Capuchin Catacombs and they may hint at a threat that is coming to earth from another dimension.

The Horror At Gancio Rosso is a short but entertaining read that is inspired by the works of H..P. Lovecraft. This story includes monsters, mummies,parallel dimensions and occult happenings.It also has a good mystery with intriguing characters in an eerie setting. The book had a pulp fiction type feel to it, the story is simple, entertaining and throws a lot of strange creatures and villains at you in a short period of time which is all a true horror fan can ask for. All in all this book is a lot of fun and reminded me of the type of stories that I’ve enjoyed in Weird Tales magazine and it’s a must read if You are a fan of Lovecraft.

25405077If you’re into works of strange fiction set in a futuristic world filled with violence and terror then you should check out Alessandro Manzetti’s Massacre Of The Mermaids. This book contains six stories in a futuristic Rome ruled by a She-Pope. Some of the items you will see in this book include women who get fishtails sewed on them and then are brutally tortured as part of a new religion, human landfills, a slaughterhouse prison and much more. This book is not for the faint of heart but it’s interesting to see how some of the subjects talked about in this book mirror some of the things we have in the present day.

This is a hard book to talk about, the stories were confusing to me but the imagery in each story was so good I wanted to keep reading. The way things are described here are dark and disturbing and the stories are so off the wall that I had to keep reading to find out where each one would go next. Alessandro Manzetti describes things like no other author has and Massacre Of The Mermaids shows how much of a work of art bizarre fiction can be. This book may be ultra-violent but the settings described give a great idea of how creative a horror story can be and it would be interesting to see a novel set in the world that Manzetti has created here.