Wednesday, October 29, 2014

COFFIN HOP DAY #6: Funeral With a View (Book Review and Giveaway)

Title: Funeral with a View

Author: Matt Schiariti

Published: September 28th, 2014

Word Count: 101,000

Genre: Romance

Content Warning: Mild sexual content, minor profanity and adult themes

Age Recommendation: 18+


Thirty-two-year-old Richard Franchitti didn’t believe in love at first sight until he met free-spirited Catherine and started a brand new life. A devoted father and husband, Richard fought to keep his family together when it would have been easier to walk away.

Tragedy left him with unfinished business.

Now a disembodied spirit, Richard relives his most important days. From the beginnings of unconditional love, to the joy of his daughter’s birth, and all of the difficult times in between, each treasured moment brings him closer to answering the question:

“Why am I still here?”

He was born Richard Franchitti, but his friends call him Ricky. 

Welcome to his funeral.

About the Author:

Matt Schiariti is an Engineer by profession, guitar legend in his own mind, and would-be author, time permitting. When he’s not writing, he’s reading. When he’s not reading, he’s enjoying a beer sporting a fancy name on the label. When he’s not enjoying a fancy-named beer, he’s most likely reading some more. Sometimes he does all three at once, to disastrous effect.

Matt lives in southern New Jersey with his wife, two children, and insane dog. Funeral with a View is his second published novel, but not his last.

You have been warned.

Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
●     $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway
●     5 kindle copies of Funeral with a View

Giveaway is international.


When Ricky Franchitti, father and husband, finds himself on the receiving end of a beer truck, life takes a turn for the … afterlife.

Tethered to his body, Ricky is forced to relive the years up to his death, from first love with his wife, Cat, to the birth of their daughter. Told in retrospect, this modern take on It’s a Wonderful Life is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining. Many pop culture references will have fans of 80’s and 90’s comedies smiling. The banter between the main characters immediately endears them. Funeral with a View is a poignant look at Ricky’s journey to discover what “unfinished business” is keeping him from moving on.

To say more about the story would give away too much.

In the tradition of Matt Schiariti’s debut novel Ghosts of Demons Past, Funeral with a View has the wit and charm his readers have come to expect with newfound heart. Unconventionally romantic with its fair share of twists, this funeral will inspire more than tears. It’ll restore your faith in true love.

FOUR enthusiastic stars!

#CoffinHop to SIXTY horror-themed blogs by clicking the link for the list of participants. Tons of giveaways happening so don't miss out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

COFFIN HOP DAY #5: Ouija (Film Review)

A group of friends must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board.-IMDB

The opening scene of Ouija has best friends Debbie and Laine talking about Debbie's recent withdrawal from her social life. Laine wants her to go out. Debbie wants to stay home and is doing all she can to keep her friends out of her house. We see that she's recently attempted to destroy a Ouija board, but that thing is the proverbial bad penny. It keeps coming back. When Debbie is found hung from a string of Christmas lights, that same board sets off a horrific chain of events that has Laine and her friends fighting for their lives.

While it is agreed that Debbie hadn't exactly been herself in her final days, suicide seems unlikely. Grief stricken Laine recalls her and Debbie's childhood experiments with a Ouija board. Laine wants to understand what happened to her best friend. She needs to say goodbye. The board, she thinks, will bring her much-needed closure. When a video on a left behind flash drive reveals that Debbie had found the board in her attic, the mystery of its origin dovetails into a story about a decade's old disappearance and the people who formerly inhabited Debbie's home. Can the group solve the mystery in time to save their lives? Well, *spoiler*, a few of them can.

The last horror movie I watched in theaters was Annabelle and before that As Above So Below. Ouija is on par with the latter, and far better than the disappointing former. Annabelle let me down big time. I went into Ouija with low expectations because while I'm a huge Bates Motel fan, Olivia Cooke doesn't have a solid track record. The Quiet Ones was a cliche-filled disaster. I'm happy to report Ouija redeemed her for me. The movie takes some predictable turns midway, but is overall really fun. I loved it and jumped out of my seat more than once. The film rates about four stars on IMDB and I blame that partly on the genre. I'd give this one a solid 7/10. A fun night out for horror fans! Not the most original premise, but well executed. Hubs and I both enjoyed it.

Ouija fans might also enjoy a similar story:


A spirit board, a murder, and a cold case that refuses to stay hidden.

Harmony Wolcott’s childhood nightmares become reality when a session with a spirit board leaves her with more questions than answers. What starts as a message from beyond the grave, turns into something dangerous that won’t be ignored. Together with her best friend, Brea Miller, Harmony investigates the mysterious address that something or someone has given her: 6 Maple Avenue.

It’s not just the house that’s haunted.

The dilapidated scene seems like something from another lifetime, a place of mixed memories where Harmony and Brea’s friendship had started, and where their families’ lives had intersected years earlier. What happened there might well be the town of Reston’s best kept secret.

A tragic discovery threatens to unravel Harmony's patched together life and bring Brea down with her, proving, with devastating consequences, that sometimes the past is better left buried.



Monday, October 27, 2014

COFFIN HOP DAY #4: Guest Post by Author Michael Robertson Jr.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

No, I’m not talking about Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is great—family, food, and overspending!—but my favorite holiday of the year is currently upon us: HALLOWEEN!
Ghosts! Ghouls! Monsters! Spirits! Zombies! Oh my, oh my! What’s not to love?
Those of you who know me, or have read any of my work, know that I’m always one foot in the horror genre, if not in head-first. Scary and creepy and weird is what gets me excited—both as a writer and a reader…

…and a viewer.

Yes, I’m talking about horror movies. And what better time than Halloween for a horror writer to give you a horror movie suggestion?

Now, I could write all about your traditional, go-to Halloween films. I could write an essay comparing the strengths and weaknesses of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger (FYI: Freddy Wins. Easy). But that would be boring. Today I’m going to suggest a film that isn’t directly associated with Halloween, but can easily be added to your yearly viewing list. Trust me.

I know opinions on film, just like books, are completely subjective, but what I’m telling you is a truth of mine.
I watched this movie alone, in the dark, with my surround sound cranked up, and it chilled me. Made me reach for the light. I watched it in February of 2013, and have watched nothing since that has equaled the scare it put in me.

And the movie is…

SINISTER (YouTube Trailer)

Ethan Hawk plays a true crime writer who moves his family into a house where the previous family was gruesomely murdered, citing inspiration for a new book. He then finds a box in the attic full of old 8mm “home movies” which contain even more horrific scenes of death and murder.  He begins the struggle of answering the question: Who’s behind the camera? And as he digs further he starts to realize it might not be WHO, but WHAT.

The movie is creepy as hell, and honestly, the “home movies” are some of the best bits of any horror film I’ve ever seen. From their 8mm look, to the amazing score (seriously, the sound and music are perfectly placed) they do one thing and one thing only: Scare the pants off you.

Start watching this one in the dark and see if you can keep the lights off. I dare you.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s have some fun! To celebrate Halloween, I’m giving away two (2) eBook/audiobook bundles of my horror novel Rough Draft.  Each winner will receive a copy of the Kindle edition of the book, as well as an Audible audio edition. This way, you can use whisper-sync and never lose your place! I’ll be giving these bundles away to one lucky Twitter follower, and one lucky Facebook fan.

Want to win? 

Here’s how:

Follow me on Twitter @mrobertsonjr and @ reply me with the hashtag #RoughDraftBundle

Like my author page and leave a comment with the hashtag #RoughDraftBundle

On November 3rd (I’m sorry it’s after Halloween, but I’ll be out of town until then!) I’ll pick a winner from each site and let them know!

Good luck! And Happy Halloween!
Michael Robertson Jr

Michael is the author of suspense and horror novels, as well as short stories and collections, Michael's books have been downloaded over 80,000 times on His suspense novel Regret* has been in and out of the Top 100 Suspense rankings on Amazon, recently reaching the #1 spot overall in the free books section during a promotion. Rough Draft, a horror novel, has been in the Top 100 Horror rankings. Transit, a thriller novel and newest release, is now available on Amazon.

Lives in Virginia where he's currently working on a new novel and trying to keep himself from thinking his next idea is a better one.

*Writing as Dan Dawkins

#CoffinHop to SIXTY horror-themed blogs by clicking the link for the list of participants. Tons of giveaways happening so don't miss out.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

COFFIN HOP DAY #3: The Evil Within (Game Review)

"While investigating the scene of a gruesome mass murder at Beacon Mental Hospital, Detective Sebastian “Seb” Castellanos, his partner Joseph Oda and "rookie" Detective Julie Kidman encounter a mysterious and a powerful force. After seeing the slaughter of his fellow officers by a man wearing a white hood with burned scars, Sebastian is ambushed and knocked unconscious. After awakening and escaping from the hospital, Seb finds himself in a deranged world with Krimson City undergoing massive earthquakes, unreal shifts in terrain and hideous creatures called Haunted wandering among the dead. Facing unimaginable terror, and fighting for survival, Seb embarks on a frightening journey to unravel what is behind this evil force." -Wikipedia

Meet Ruvik, your (thus far) undefeatable nemesis. 

Hubs and I received our pre-ordered copy of The Evil Within a couple of weeks ago. As an avid survival horror gamer, I was thrilled to have something else to play. Coming on the heels of playing The Last of Us, The Evil Within had big shoes to fill.

Did it?

Yes and no. If you're someone who likes stated objectives in a game, you're not going to find that here. If you like intuitive controls, aka smooth movements without pop-ups of which buttons to press, you're going to be out of luck. Sebastian is clunky. His movements aren't easily accomplished, making picking things up a pain in the arse. Also, he can't run to save his life. Literally. There's a stamina feature with a button-tap recovery (pressing X ad nauseum) that inevitably fails you in the heat of the moment. If you think you're going to run away from anything, you're wrong. More likely you're going to choke out halfway to your destination.

Let's talk about the pros. Atmospheric creepiness abounds. You can see from the stills there's blood and gore to spare. Maybe a tad too much, as you become desensitized if you're not prone to being creeped out (and I'm not). It takes a lot to scare me. There are a few startling moments to be had, but that's mostly due to gamer error. The landscape is littered with bear traps, bombs, tripwire, and mines. I've been blown up more times than I can count. There's a "creep" feature (R1) that lets you sneak around relatively undetected. Exiting this mode assuredly lands you in a pile of bloody pieces. Walking (or running!) might well get you blown to smithereens.

The baddies in this game are ultimate evil. One touch from some of them will have you instantly dead. Some of them are there one minute, invisible the next. Those will make you want to pull your hair out. The game isn't stingy with supplies in general, but matches are an issue. If you defeat the badness in this game, you must burn its corpse lest it be resurrected. This is kind of a pain and it bites you when you're in the throws of a reanimating horde. 

Reminiscent of the Saw video game, The Evil Within has its highs and lows. Not as intuitive or clean in its game play as The Last of Us or any of the Uncharted games, it is decent enough in terms of horror survival. If I had to rate it, 7/10 stars.

#CoffinHop to SIXTY horror-themed blogs by clicking the link for the list of participants. Tons of giveaways happening so don't miss out.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I love horror movies. October is the perfect excuse to squeeze in as many as I can. It looks like I won't quite make it to twenty this month, but hey, I'm writing a final draft. How many of these have you seen? Which are your favorites?

1. House on Haunted Hill (1999)- I'm a sucker for anything haunted asylum. This one's a classic and the sequel's not half bad, either.

2. 1408- John Cusack. Need I say more? A classic haunted hotel tale where a debunker finds his gem. Samuel L. Jackson earns honorable mention as one of the creepiest hotel managers of all time.

3. The Devil's Knot- Based on the true story of the West Mephis Three, this is more of a murder mystery than horror, but it was superbly done. Reese Witherspoon does a phenomenal job as one of the victim's mother.

4. Kubrick's The Shining- I like updated movies (remakes and reboots) with the exception of The Shining (and the Nightmare reboot). Never has there been a performance better than Jack Nicholson's descent into madness. REDRUM!

5. House of Wax- Wax museums freak me out and some of the scenes in House of Wax are downright disgusting. So twisted I overlook Paris Hilton. Chad Michael Murray shirtless doesn't hurt. If you haven't already, check this one out. Gross.

6. Annabelle- Not on this list because it's a favorite, but because I'm working toward 31 horror movies in 31 days. I'm lukewarm on this creepy doll tale.

7. The Strain- Having not read the books, I'm talking about the FX television version which isn't half bad. Sure, some of the bad guys are lacking (ridiculous clown vampire), but I like the show overall. The concept of evil coming home to roost and hurting those you love most is an interesting horror theme. In this case, I'm quasi-glad to be such a loner.

8. Poltergeist- The ULTIMATE haunted house movie hands down. Poltergeist has stood the test of time, more or less, and continues to be one of my absolute favorite classic horror films.

9. Nightmare on Elm Street 2010- Truthfully, there's only ONE Freddie. I tried the reboot in theaters because I missed the franchise so much, but this departure was a bridge too far for me. Not bad for background noise, but the acting comes off as a slap in Robert Englund's face. Long live the original!

10. The Conjuring- Great soundtrack and I'm a sucker for Vera Farmiga. Overall, a decently creepy haunting and possession movie. One of the better ones I've seen in recent years.

11. American Horror Story: Freakshow- I fell in love with AHS Murder House and Coven, but hated Asylum. Jury's out on Freakshow, but I'll watch it. There are too few good horror shows on TV.

12. The Walking Dead- After taking a whole season off, the buzz got to me. I watched the opening of this season "No Sanctuary" and was intrigued. That scene with the efficient dispatching over the trough was chilling. I might pick this one back up.

13. Children of the Corn- No, not the original, which I had watched not long ago, but the SYFY craptastic remake. I eagerly await Freddy v. Jason coming up next. This one's not doing it for me.

14. Freddy versus Jason- While Freddy has the lower body count, he's still my favorite franchise villain!

15. Return to the House on Haunted Hill- Rarely can a sequel stand alone (and I'm not sure this one does entirely because I've seen The House on Haunted Hill, but it has to be close). The sequel focuses on a new conflict in a familiar setting and is a nice companion for fans of the reboot.Creepy and atmospheric, I can't help enjoying a second trip to the Hill House.

16. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning- The New Line addition to the TCM franchise isn't my favorite. While I have an appreciation for the less grainy cinematic look, it's not awesome. It's just gross.

17. Stay Alive- You don't have to be a sucker for One Tree Hill or Sophia Bush to love Stay Alive. It helps, but if you're a horror survival gamer (and I am) you MUST see this movie. Somehow this feels like the oft overlooked gem of the genre. There is a great story, creepy execution, and it's based on the Bathory mythos. Who doesn't love the Blood Countess? Funny, scary, tense ... I can't say enough good about it. A must see and one of my favorites!

Now for the trivia part!

Can you guess the horror movie from the following stills? Leave your answers in comments. Five randomly selected winners will get an audiobook code for either Fatal Reaction or Cure. Winner's choice. Audible can be used on computer or mobile device (grab the app) and there's no subscription requirement if you win. No strings attached.






Do you have them all? Good luck!

#CoffinHop to SIXTY horror-themed blogs by clicking the link for the list of participants. Tons of giveaways happening so don't miss out.

Friday, October 24, 2014

COFFIN HOP DAY #1: 30 Years to Become a Horrorific Writer (An Interview with Author Phillip Tomasso)

After 19 years at Kodak, the last 10 as an employment law paralegal, I was laid off. At 39 years old, I worried about starting over. I made pretty good money. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to land a job earning enough to survive. Fortunately, I landed a job with the city as Fire / EMS Dispatcher for 9-1-1. One of the first things impressed upon me was the importance of getting a flu shot.

I love horror. First horror novel I read was Stephen King’s Firestarter. I was fifteen at the time. From there I devoured horror novels left and right, reading at a time, keeping one at school, and one at home. Even before then, I loved horror movies (I just wasn’t much of a reader. Hated reading, actually).  So when I started really getting into my writing, I dreamed of becoming a horror novelist. Thing is, the first eight or nine books were suspense and mystery novels. (Most of the short stories I wrote, and sold, were horror, though).

So here I am working at 9-1-1, being told I really, really, really should get the flu shot. I didn’t. Never had one before and still haven’t ever had one. I won’t get into my own conspiracy theories behind them. What I did instead was write a short story about flu shots, and called it, “Vaccination.” I sold it and it was published in the 2010 Halloween edition of SHROUD magazine

People loved the short story. It was my first ever zombie tale. People who had received the flu shot turned into zombies. Most of the story took place at a 9-1-1 center, where most every employee had received the flu shot, except the main character. Countless times I’d heard that I should turn the short story into a novel.

In early 2013, Severed Press signed me to a 3 Book Deal for The Vaccination Trilogy. That September they released my first ever zombie novel, VACCINATION. Right on the heels was the second book, EVACUATION, and the third installment, PRESERVATION.

The reception for the trilogy has been nothing shy of humbling. A year after the release of VACCINATION, the combined books have over 180 reviews on Amazon, with an average 4.65 Stars. I couldn’t be more thrilled. The best part is . . . the story does not end with PRESERVATION. Later this year, or in early 2015, Severed Press will be releasing DAMN THE DEAD: An Infected Novel.

 It is 3 years after PRESERVATION ends, and focuses on one of the characters from the trilogy. DAMN THE DEAD is going to be one of the most unique zombie novels out there. (I read a ton of zombie books. I wanted something different, but horrific enough to hold a readers interest. I think I found it). The publisher and I are still deciding if DAMN THE DEAD will have additional installments. It may. It may not.

However, I am also doing a Prequel for Severed Press. In VACCINATION we learn that something went wrong at the labs creating the flu vaccinations, that batches were contaminated. What is behind the contamination? And did the scientists and government know more than they let on to at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse? (You will have to read it to find out).

During the summer I also released a mash-up novel. I took Stevenson’s classic TREASURE ISLAND and extended the story, adding … you guessed it, zombies. I called it, TREASURE ISLAND: A Zombie Novella. It’s a taut tale appropriate for zombie fans of any age (as long as they are okay with some guts and gore, and cadaverous dining). This book was released by my own imprint, Good Pony Ride Press. 

The point of the seeming-to-ramble blog is that when I was a teen I wanted to write horror, but it wasn’t until nearly thirty years later (can that even be right?) that I have achieved that goal. Whether I am writing about zombies, or vampires, or the Mafia, or serial killers, or private investigators, I am happy. I love to write. The hope, of course, is that people will take a chance and read my stories, and if they do . . . then that is just icing on the cake.

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for reading my guest blog. Feel free to contact me with any additional questions and/or comments! I love when people do that. And, hey, Happy Halloween!

Please visit my website: and consider following me on Twitter: @P_Tomasso

All My Best,
Phillip Tomasso

#CoffinHop to SIXTY horror-themed blogs by clicking the link for the list of participants. Tons of giveaways happening so don't miss out. Giveaways on THIS blog COMING SOON!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kindle Fire May Have Infected My Computer

It's been one hell of a Sunday.

I've had "malware" issues as of late and this morning, I believe I have found the culprit.

A little background on my setup: I am talking about Kindle Fire HD and Windows 7 with McAfee virus protection, Windows Defender enabled, and a savvy user who NEVER clicks pop-up links or accepts unsolicited or suspect "updates".

This morning I decided to update my author bios and "also by" lists on some of my more popular and recent books (Fatal Reaction and Better Left Buried) in preparation for The Missing Year launch on November 17th. All was well and I completed the file updates pretty quickly, uploaded to Amazon, and plugged in my Kindle to verify that the file looked stellar for customers. Amazon allows you to download a mobi of your book file for preview and I always check to make sure that all of the features work (color changes, links, etc) for prospective readers.

That's when BAD things happened.

My computer went to DEFCON levels of pissed off, pop-ups going off all over the place: "WARNING!", "DOWNLOAD THIS!", "YOUR COMPUTER IS AT RISK!".

As if somehow I hadn't noticed.

No, I won't "download this" and thank you for the warning. McAfee finds little, but on reboot, says there's a Trojan. Not the protective kind as you may have guessed.

I want this OFF of my computer!

Trojan quarantined and dumped. Malware attack continues. Computer set to block ability to download ALL malware removal software. Great. Yes, well, hackers, I have alternatives. Hubs (aka marital tech support) downloaded Malwarebytes (FREE adware removal tool compatible with McAfee) to a thumb drive and after some minor nightmare of closing non-stop opening windows manages to get this installed.

Malwarebytes finds over 1,000 instances of cyber-voodoo.

I'm here like, "All I did was plug in my Kindle."

That's when the light bulb went off. Can Kindle get viruses? Yes. There seems to be conflicting information on this but the clincher for me is, there's FREE antivirus specifically for your Kindle. I doubt Norton's made it for no reason. Now, you're wondering what makes me almost CERTAIN Kindle was the culprit, here's my proof: after said light bulb I went to go to the app store to download antivirus on the one device I didn't even think about needing it. No dice. No app store for me. Whatever "bug" got into my Kindle BLOCKED the app store. I don't use it a lot so I hadn't even noticed, nor did whatever malware have any noticeable impact on my Fire ... until I plugged it into my PC to transfer a file via USB. I wiped my Kindle to factory. Sucks, but that's the only fix. Viola! I have access to the app store again. Sneaky, sneaky hackers. First stop: FREE antivirus. My Kindle is now protected and set to scan daily. Word to the wise: don't wait for this to be you. Install the free antivirus on your Kindle and check it twice lest you be thrown in the nightmare that was my morning. For a minute there, I thought my PC was going to have to be formatted. That is a fate worse than death for an author. Crisis quasi-averted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Brittany Maynard's Right to Die

The news circuits are buzzing with talk of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard's right to die. Having received a terminal diagnosis shortly after her wedding, Brittany made the decision to move from California to Oregon for the purpose of dying.

Oregon is one of three states to offer "death with dignity" for patients deemed to be within six months of their natural death due to illness. Patients are required to seek life-ending measures on two occasions at least fourteen days apart. If deemed appropriate, they will be given a prescription for a pill to painlessly end their life. This is something only the patient can do. This isn't physician-assisted suicide, another issue altogether. Death with dignity allows for the terminally ill to stem their suffering and hasten an inevitable process.

I applaud Brittany's brave decision, wishing I lived in a world where everyone had this choice. I disagree with anyone forcing someone to suffer. 

Many of my blog followers know that I have dealt with this issue in the past, having lost my grandfather to Mesothelioma, a terminal form of cancer. 

As an author, I write what I know. 

Coping with his illness gave way to the thought of a story of someone faced with losing everything and the extreme lengths they and their loved ones must go to in order to ensure a compassionate end to their lives. People see things differently if they can put a face and a story to the cause. Brittany Maynard has done more to that end than I could ever hope to do, but I am lending my voice. 

The Missing Year , a contemporary romance novel and slow-burn medical mystery, is slated for November 17th release, but is available from Amazon as a pre-order for only $3.99.

"Thirty-four-year-old Blake Wheeler was everything Lila had ever wanted. A rising-star surgeon with his whole life ahead of him, Blake gave Lila ten perfect years of marriage before plunging her into the hardest year of their lives. 

When a late night shooting leaves Blake in a coma, Lila is faced with a difficult decision: continue life support or let him go. 

One year later, Lila remains unwilling to speak, in a private mental health facility where she refuses to move on. 

Dr. Ross Reeves knows firsthand about loss, having spent the better part of five years burying himself in his work. Tasked with the challenge of breaking Lila's silence, Ross investigates Lila's past and her husband's death, finding more to Blake's murder than meets the eye. A series of mysterious coincidences has Ross wondering if Lila is acting out of grief ... or guilt."

Compassion and Choices offers a section on "What You Can Do" to support end-of-life choice and has several touching stories from those who have been affected.

Death With Dignity offers a political action view, focusing on how the right to choose should be a basic human right.

From the Author:

#RIGHTOTDIE is a cause I feel strongly about. "The Missing Year" is my way of supporting the cause and raising awareness of the right to choose. A couple of short years ago my terminally ill grandfather was fighting mesothelioma, wanting very much to die rather than continue to suffer at the end of his life, and he had said to me, "When will this stop?", talking about his suffering. The only answer I could offer was, "When it's done", meaning the toll of the incurable cancer that slowly drained him over the course of months. My state does not support #DeathWithDignity. I watched someone I love suffer, losing all control of his body while his mind was keenly aware. I hope someday to live in a state where that doesn't have to happen.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Who Else Attended the Freakshow?

Oh, American Horror Story. I have such a love-hate relationship with you. Season One was arguably great, until shortly after mid-season. The ending had me wanting to track down the writer and junk punch them. I know a lot of people who loved the Asylum, but I wasn't one of them. I guess I'm not the 'naughty nun' type. Coven brought me back because I'm a sucker for all things witchcraft. Speaking of which, my UK pal Katie John has just released Witchcraft, the first book of The Meadowsweet Chronicles, if you're similarly inclined. It's on my Kindle and I can't wait to get into it..

Ever since its earliest days, the small English village of Heargton has been steeped in the occult. Tales of witchcraft and paranormal activity have been part of the local folklore for generations. Some people blame the lay lines that intersect at the very centre of the village, others blame a terrible curse. 

700 years on, Heargton Village still holds dark secrets, and when one of the village girls falls victim to a terrible ritual killing, the old superstitions resurface. 

At the heart of these whispers are the Meadowsweet sisters. All beautiful, all charming, all eccentric, but it is the middle daughter, seventeen-year-old Fox, who captures the imagination of American newcomer Jeremiah Chase; a deviant New York playboy sent to live with his Aunt in the Chase ancestral home of Coldstone Hall. A place that has its own grisly history. 

But, as Jeremiah discovers the history of the Meadowsweet Sisters, the Chase family history is also unearthed, leading Jeremiah to understand that good and evil are not always on opposing sides. 

A tale of witchcraft, demons and ghosts, blending traditional English folklore with the American Gothic.

Back to the topic at hand, Freakshow.

I got my ticket and I watched the opening twice, mostly because my husband goes to bed early and I wanted him to catch up so I watched it live AND on DVR. 

Can I say, this season had me at Twisty the Clown?

Captain Spaulding is arguably one of my favorite horror movie villains--thank you, Rob Zombie--so "Twisty" hit a lot of the same buttons for me. While he's a non-speaking clown, he has the "ain't clowns funny" repertoire that makes Spaulding so maniacally fun!

While I'm not sure if I'm going to ultimately be thoroughly disappointed with Freakshow (ala Murder House), the setup is intriguing.

Freakshow has the same sex-horror theme that the previous seasons have had, pushing boundaries with "Lobster Boy" Jimmy and his side gig as a flipper-toting sex toy for bored housewives. There's tension there. Carnie gangbangs, abductions, drugs, and what say, kidnapping? That candy striper got more than she bargained for.

I prepared to hate the two-headed girl, but have come to like the fact that she never seems to be in agreement with herself. The character is done well and I'm looking forward to seeing the inner turmoil come to a head. 

As per usual, I'm not a fan of 'accents' (sorry, Jessica Lange) or 'musicals', but I've come to overlook the fact that those things are staples in the series, at least the singing. Coven had me at Stevie Nicks. I'm a Fleetwood Mac junkie. Yes, readers, I'm showing my age, sort of. I'm thirty-seven, but was raised on this music, so I love it. Jessica Lange's singing didn't wow me the way it seems to have most people.

Mostly, though, the 1950's Freakshow setting is inherently creepy and mysterious. I like where this is headed so far, enough that I can't wait for next week's episode.

Give me more, Freaks!

What did you think?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Annabelle: A Horror Film Review

A couple begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists. -IMDB

IMDB rating: 6.2
My rating: 6

John and Mia are an expectant couple living in a changing world where unlocked doors are no longer ideal. News on the television of the Tate-LaBianca murders set the cult terror feel, giving the viewer the first hint of what's to come.

Annabelle, a gift from John to Mia, was simply a doll that completed Mia's collection. Annabelle wasn't built bad. She was made that way. When a murder at the neighbors' house enters Jon and Mia's home, the spirit of Annabelle Higgins, one of the killers, takes root. 

From there, bad things happen.

I've heard the movie described in other reviews as a "horror grab bag", and I don't disagree. Anabelle focuses on satanic cult mythology, relying on old religious tropes in what is ultimately a demonic grab for an innocent soul.

The doll is creepy. Period. Even new she'd have scared the hell out of me right out of the box. When she starts moving around and reappearing after she'd been trashed, I'd have lost it. That being said, as an avid horror movie fan, this one felt ... relatively unscary. Heavily sanitized and more of a soundtrack scare than anything authentically creepy, the film relies on jumps and scratchy violin noise to evoke fear. 

For at least half of this film, I was overwhelmingly bored.

I expected this going in. Why did I go? I'm a horror junkie, it's October, and I had to get it out of my system. 

Now that I have, I can say As Above So Below was a better movie. Save your theater bucks and hit this one up on DVD. Annabelle comes across as the cash grab it probably truly was.