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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old May 20 2011, 11:26 PM   #616
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

I recently discovered that there's a top-notch used bookstore here in town, and bought a bagful of old horror paperbacks. Basically, I snagged anything that had words like Devil, Satan, or Lucifer in the title.

The first one I read was Next, After Lucifer by Daniel Rhodes--a tale of demons, medieval black magic, and spirit possession in southern France. A bit of a slow burn, but with a satisfying climax.

One of the most interesting things about it is the way it anticipated the current obsession with the Knights Templar, decades before Dan Brown. An American professor of medieval history buys a villa, and investigates the legends around the Bluebeard-like Templar who used to reside in a nearby ruined castle. Only to discover that the legends are true, mwahaha.

Man--I wish I could afford a villa in southern France. Sounds like a fun place.

Now I'm reading the sequel, Adversary.
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Old May 21 2011, 09:54 AM   #617
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Nice. That's one of the drawbacks to the advent of e-books; it will put an end to used books if they take over completely.
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Old May 21 2011, 01:50 PM   #618
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Nice. That's one of the drawbacks to the advent of e-books; it will put an end to used books if they take over completely.
I've been perfectly able to get obscure horror books for my kindle for a reasonable price. My original 1978 Penguin copy of Dracula isn't going to disappear because of it either.

Actually I seem to have been buying nothing but horror novels for it for the last several months, a lot of books I'd been meaning to pick up or hadn't bothered to before, all for less than the paperbacks go for in stores, a lot of the classics being given out for free from Amazon.

Which makes me regret buying the entire Varney Compendium for £30 (~$60) considered the thing is so damned huge and the Kindle version is free...
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Old May 21 2011, 05:54 PM   #619
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Yeah, authors who have had their works out of print for years are finding new life in ebooks.

I read one of Guy N. Smith's "Killer Crab" novels years ago, and I've kind of always wanted to find some of the others or anything else he's done. Now he's got tons of his stuff on Kindle, and, I assume, on Nook. Not only is the whole "Crab" series there, but also his werewolf series and lots of other stuff.
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Old May 21 2011, 07:08 PM   #620
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Well, I finished Adversary. It was pretty good as well--not quite as atmospheric as the first novel, but a bit faster-paced, with more action.

This time, I recognized a number of borrowings from The Satanic Bible. The story is set in San Francisco, where the undead Templar necromancer from Next, After Lucifer attracts disciples and victims by posing as some kind of mysterious psychic guru. He even talks about "psychic vampires," at one point.

Interestingly, the story also reminded me of The Devil's Advocate. The Al Pacino/Keanu Reeves film was based on a novel by Andrew Neidermann, which was published years after Adversary, and apparently wasn't as good. I hope Daniel Rhodes laid a curse on Neidermann for stealing his movie deal.

The ending is clearly designed to leave room for a third book, but it seems this third book was never written. Rhodes has published a third novel entitled Kiss of Death, in the same vein, but apparently it's unrelated.

Next up: The Bedeviled by Thomas Cullinan (1978)
The house made people do strange things... too horrible for the mind to conceive... too ungodly for the soul to fight.
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Old May 21 2011, 07:58 PM   #621
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

^^ That's quite a promise to live up to.

Chemahkuu wrote: View Post
RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Nice. That's one of the drawbacks to the advent of e-books; it will put an end to used books if they take over completely.
I've been perfectly able to get obscure horror books for my kindle for a reasonable price. My original 1978 Penguin copy of Dracula isn't going to disappear because of it either.
Yeah, but they'll never have that used book smell.

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
Yeah, authors who have had their works out of print for years are finding new life in ebooks.
And probably making more money. My Kindle book only costs 99 cents, but I make three times as much per sale as I do with the paperbacks.

I read one of Guy N. Smith's "Killer Crab" novels years ago, and I've kind of always wanted to find some of the others or anything else he's done. Now he's got tons of his stuff on Kindle, and, I assume, on Nook. Not only is the whole "Crab" series there, but also his werewolf series and lots of other stuff.
"Killer Crab" series. There was a giant crab short story in that giant monster anthology that came out a couple of years ago; I wonder if that was an excerpt. Scanning his page at Amazon, it seems he writes novels in the B-Movie tradition.
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Old May 22 2011, 01:35 PM   #622
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

I prefer my books not to be smelly in the first place
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Old May 22 2011, 10:51 PM   #623
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Heh. For me, books are a total sensory experience.

I can still remember the smell of the ink in the copy machine when I used to go to the library forty years ago.
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Old May 23 2011, 03:40 AM   #624
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

The Bedeviled turned out to be much better than I expected. The writing was cruder, and the characterization more superficial, than the last two novels I read. But as the novel progressed, the story became more absorbing, and the ending was terrific.

It seemed like a fairly conventional haunted-house story at the start: a somewhat unhappy family moves to a rural community in Ohio, and into the father's family home--a strange farmhouse with a very dark past (of course). One of the father's ancestors was a cavalry general in the American Civil War, and the leader of a Satanic cult. His ghost is still prowling around the area, seeking a new body to inhabit, and the cult's descendants are still following that old-time religion. Or are they?

Before long, all sorts of ghostly and demonic things are going on. But one of the novel's great strengths is its unreliable narrator. The story is told from the mother's first-person POV, and it's never clear if what she describes is really happening--if the supernatural shenanigans are real, or if she's just slowly going insane--or both.

It was pulp, but good pulp. It turns out the author had a thing for both the American Civil War, and titles that begin with "The Be-". He wrote two other novels, both set in the Civil War, The Besieged and The Beguiled, and the latter was adapted as a movie starring Clint Eastwood.

I give The Bedeviled three 's out of a possible four.

Next up: Hands of Lucifer (1987) by John Tigges.

No breathless blurbs on the cover this time, unfortunately.
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Old May 23 2011, 01:31 PM   #625
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Just finished all 12 books of the Dresden Files so far, cannot wait until May for the next one now. Need more supernatural fiction...
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Old May 23 2011, 01:37 PM   #626
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Goliath wrote: View Post
I recently discovered that there's a top-notch used bookstore here in town, and bought a bagful of old horror paperbacks. Basically, I snagged anything that had words like Devil, Satan, or Lucifer in the title.
Lots of Dennis Wheatley, then?

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Old May 23 2011, 03:24 PM   #627
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

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Goliath wrote: View Post
I recently discovered that there's a top-notch used bookstore here in town, and bought a bagful of old horror paperbacks. Basically, I snagged anything that had words like Devil, Satan, or Lucifer in the title.
Lots of Dennis Wheatley, then?

No, unfortunately.

I certainly looked, and they had a number of novels by Wheatley. But not one of his devil-worship books.

What's up with that?
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Old May 23 2011, 04:47 PM   #628
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

There was always some Wheatley in the house when I was a kid, as my dad loved them. I think I only ever read one - The Haunting Of Toby Jugg.
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Old June 5 2011, 08:14 PM   #629
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Okay--I just finished reading Hands of Lucifer by John Tigges. And I think it may actually be the worst novel I've read in my life.

To be fair, Tigges does do one thing well: his descriptions of supernatural occurrences are sometimes quite effective. There's a scene in which a woman is beaten to death by a demon which is especially freaky. So, full marks for that.

The problem with the book is--well, everything else. To begin with, the writing is just bad. It commits the cardinal sin of the novelist, by telling, instead of showing. And I found some actual grammatical mistakes in a few places. For example:

"I've been thinking about what Father Gorkland said. He seems to feel that I've imagined a lot of the stuff that went on around here. The smells. Contributing normal things like the water pipes breaking and things like that to some devious entity or person."
'Contributing' is the wrong word: he meant to say 'attributing.' In another passage, Tigges actually says 'nothing' when he meant to say 'something.'

Stacey kept talking, rambling on about about Jesus, her Saviour, and her own personal direct contact, the Reverend Eddie John Stangood. But Nicole heard nothing else, entwining with the words of the girl seated opposite her. It sounded more like a far off, distant siren, moaning and groaning as it built in intensity
That first passage above highlights another problem: Tigges seems completely incapable of writing believeable dialogue. Who the hell uses words like 'attributing' in real-life conversations? A lot of the dialogue would have sounded stilted and phony, even coming from an academic--instead of, say, a TV announcer, as in this case:

"Look here, Father Gorkland, I don't have time to be arguing moot points of theology or about mankind's behavior today. Nicole and I have a real problem."
Tigges' characterization is equally bad. Although the two main characters, Myles and Nicole, are semi-believeable, the secondary characters all seem to be made out of cardboard. His characterizations of religious ministers like the above-mentioned Father Gorkland are especially poor. I despise evangelical televangelists, and I even I found Tigges' caricature of one--the Reverend Stangood--objectionable.

The story is just a third-rate rehash of The Exorcist by way of Poltergeist--it even features the demon swearing at the exorcist during the climactic exorcism--and yet Tigges seems to think he's doing something fresh and original. How do I know this? He actually includes advertisements for his own books in his book! For example:

Never--not once in all the years that he had been a priest of God and Jesus--had the idea of possession ever been mentioned to him by anyone outside ordinary conversation. He had even read the more lurid novels concerning the subject. The Exorcist had caused quite a flap when it was published, but the one he had enoyed the most had been Garden of the Incubus, which had seemed the more accurate and better researched of the two.
I suppose it's possible that an editor inserted this passage, and others like it, but I would have thought even a hack writer would have more self-respect than to allow something like that.

Add the cheap final 'boo!' at the end, and you have a book that's almost completely lacking in redeeming qualities. Maybe not quite the My Immortal of horror fiction, but close. What a steaming heap of shit.
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Old June 5 2011, 10:09 PM   #630
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

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Okay--I just finished reading Hands of Lucifer by John Tigges. And I think it may actually be the worst novel I've read in my life.
That's noteworthy. My personal worst so far is probably Rogue Moon. I'm reading Varney The Vampire right now, which is probably technically worse-- tense changes in a single paragraph, for example-- but it was written in the 1850s and is far more entertaining.

To be fair, Tigges does do one thing well: his descriptions of supernatural occurrences are sometimes quite effective. There's a scene in which a woman is beaten to death by a demon which is especially freaky. So, full marks for that.
That's noteworthy, too. It's hard to do.

The problem with the book is--well, everything else. To begin with, the writing is just bad. It commits the cardinal sin of the novelist, by telling, instead of showing. And I found some actual grammatical mistakes in a few places. For example:

"I've been thinking about what Father Gorkland said. He seems to feel that I've imagined a lot of the stuff that went on around here. The smells. Contributing normal things like the water pipes breaking and things like that to some devious entity or person."
'Contributing' is the wrong word: he meant to say 'attributing.' In another passage, Tigges actually says 'nothing' when he meant to say 'something.'
That's interesting. Are these errors all in dialogue, and are they consistent from character to character? Errors like that can be forgiven if they are an intentional part of a pattern. Otherwise-- ouch!

That first passage above highlights another problem: Tigges seems completely incapable of writing believeable dialogue. Who the hell uses words like 'attributing' in real-life conversations? A lot of the dialogue would have sounded stilted and phony, even coming from an academic--instead of, say, a TV announcer, as in this case:
Well... I don't know. Again, is it consistent and is it entertaining. Technically, the same criticism could be made of Rod Serling. Or Shakespeare. Is it ignorance or affectation?

How do I know this? He actually includes advertisements for his own books in his book! For example:

Never--not once in all the years that he had been a priest of God and Jesus--had the idea of possession ever been mentioned to him by anyone outside ordinary conversation. He had even read the more lurid novels concerning the subject. The Exorcist had caused quite a flap when it was published, but the one he had enoyed the most had been Garden of the Incubus, which had seemed the more accurate and better researched of the two.
I suppose it's possible that an editor inserted this passage, and others like it, but I would have thought even a hack writer would have more self-respect than to allow something like that.
Now that's just awesomely bad. I've never heard of anyone doing anything like that before; it never would have even occurred to me.

Add the cheap final 'boo!' at the end, and you have a book that's almost completely lacking in redeeming qualities. Maybe not quite the My Immortal of horror fiction, but close. What a steaming heap of shit.
So the Plan 9 of Horror then? I guess the question is, was it entertainingly bad, like Varney is, or torture to slog through, like Rogue Moon?
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