Wednesday, October 31, 2018

SHOCKTOBER!!! Film Fest!

"They're coming to get you, Barbara, and they dressed so nicely."
Well, Halloween is upon us and SHOCKTOBER is drawing to a close for the year. If you're on the fence about what to watch tonight, I've made a little list of several of my less-well-known favorites. Watch one tonight, if you can find it, or have your own film fest next year.

Dead and Buried (1981): In a coastal town, mobs of townsfolk are murdering the tourists. Then those dead tourists start appearing around town as if they've lived there all along, which they did, before they died, but ... well, just watch it. It's fun.

Willard (1971): Disturbed young man befriends rats. Rats love the disturbed young man and do his bidding. His bidding involves revenge and murder. You might believe that this movie was remade in 2003 and starred Crispin Glover. It wasn't.

Night of the Living Dead (1968): I know. I know. Not obscure. You've seen it. Well, I'm here to tell you that unless you've seen the NotLD HD version currently streaming on Amazon (free with Prime), you, good sir or madame, have not seen this film, nor have you heard it. The sound and picture are so sharp you might just cut yourself. I actually heard all of the dialogue for the first time.

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972): Bob (Black Christmas, Porky's) Clarke directed this under a thinly-disguised pseudonym from a screenplay that he co-wrote with the film's star Alan Ormsby. While it starts out as a bunch of silly college kids goofing in a graveyard, this ain't no Porky's romp, son. What it is, instead, is a real "wait for it" film. It's worth the wait.

Peeping Tom (1960): If you have the chance to see this film, see this film. Yet another disturbed young man takes his love of film much too far. Don't we all? Guys?

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976): Alice is a quiet 12-year-old living in New Jersey. When her sister is brutally murdered in their church, Alice becomes a suspect. As the bodies pile up, even those who can't believe that Alice is the killer begin to doubt their belief. You should probably avoid this one if you're a practicing Catholic. Just sayin'.

Strange Behavior (1981): This one isn't obscure to you if you had cable television in the Eighties. That said: Young folks are being murdered in a small, midwestern town. Sounds familiar, right? Well, it gets weird. The weird also seems familiar, but it will still surprise you.

Sisters (1972): Brian (Dressed to Kill, Blow Out) DePalma's debut and his most Hitchcockian film. That's all I'm going to give you. See it.

Little Shop of Horrors (1960): Maybe you've seen it. Maybe you have only seen the cute musical version. If you and I ever have a beer together, ask me about this film and I'll tell you how it changed my life. In the meantime, see it. Roger Corman and I will thank you for it.

Have a happy Halloween, and if you're not feeling like a film tonight, why not download a copy of "The Comeback" to your favorite Kindle device or app, curl up under the sheets, and get your fright on? At $2.99 it's a cheap thrill! Click the link below to get started.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Reader Mail!*

N.E. of Satchamagoo, NY asks: "Should I read 'The Comeback' this Shocktober, or should I stick my head in the mud?"

N.E., I can't tell you what's best, but let these Amazon reviews of "The Comeback" be your guide:

*Any resemblance between N.E. of Satchamagoo, NY and any persons living or dead would be weird since that person and place are figments of my imagination. Now, go buy my book, whydon'tcha? Also, tell a friend and leave a review and you'll be entered into a contest to win my eternal gratitude! Act now!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Knowledge is ... Something. Umm. What is Knowledge Again?

Remember when you left that glowing five-star review of "The Comeback" on Amazon? I do. Remember how I immediately left a comment thanking you profusely for taking the time to leave your thoughts and feelings re: "The Comeback"? Yeah, neither do I. My sincerest apologies.

At the time I didn't know (somehow), that I could comment on reviews. Today, I left a grateful comment for every review on the page. Thanks again for the many kind words left on my Amazon page for "The Comeback" and, again, my apologies for the comment delay. BRAIN BOY LIVES!!!

Speaking of "The Comeback," if you haven't already, click the "Buy 'The Comeback'" link in the sidebar to the right (or the one below), and give yourself some cheap thrills this Shocktober. If you leave a review on Amazon, I promise to leave a nice comment (or answer any questions that you may have after reading my story).

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Trick

I'd been ready for it for a while. The last few reports I'd read about Harlan had said that his health was poor. I suppose that you can only be Harlan for so long before your body craps out on you. Maybe I knew that the long silence around Harlan meant the end was coming soon. I'd carried the sorrow around like a tumor for some time. Perhaps that's why I'd started playing the game version of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream again. Even as the voice of the monstrous AM it's still a connection to the man, I suppose. I'm currently stuck in a blimp wondering if I'm supposed to kill my character to get out of the level. Harlan might find that amusing.

Anyway, I got the news today. I'm down another hero.

It's not a word I throw around. Maybe Harlan would have liked the idea. Possibly not. Still, I can count my heroes on a single hand and have fingers left over (Hint: One's in the middle). When I use the word, I mean it, and I mean it deeply.

It all started with something I'd read about him in, I believe, F&SF. That lead to my purchase of these two books from The Science Fiction Book Club. Then I found out he'd written (in a way) the best episode of Star Trek, and A Boy and His Dog, a favorite SF film I'd seen at the local drive-in. The next thing I know, I'm tasked with writing an essay for my (fourth? fifth? sixth? grade) class on my hero. I chose Harlan, of course.

I chose Harlan because he fought for what he felt was right, even when no one else agreed. I chose Harlan because although he may have been afraid, he was fearless. I chose Harlan because he was unique and reveled in that uniqueness. I chose Harlan for the beauty and horror and depth and humanity of his writing. There is a virulent clichè in SF reporting/reviewing that goes like this: "it's a story about what it means to be human." It's lazy writing, every bit as lazy as "SF writers try to predict the future" and just as nonsensical. It's a fallback phrase that people just nod at and move on. Harlan likely hated it, though his work came closer than anyone's to fitting the description.

The Executioner of Malformed Children from the collection Shatterday
I'd played with being a writer from a young age. The words that Harlan put upon pages shored up that play into a conviction. Harlan has been on my shoulder through everything I've ever written. Make that both shoulders.

Excerpt from the short story Shatterday
“The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.” 
― Harlan EllisonStrange Wine

Harlan inspired me to fight for what is good and true and right. Harlan inspired me to fight for what is mine. Harlan inspired me to write and to write well. For better or for worse, Harlan's words had made me a writer. The trick, as he'd said, was that it was up to me to stay a writer.

Now he's gone. Like Anthony Bourdain, a great and powerful voice has left a void in a world more in need of them than ever. I'm down two heroes. At least I have their words to keep me warm in these chilling times.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


My heart's still beating. I won't go into what I've been up to as anyone reading this already knows, can guess or, hell, just ask.

If you've already bought my book, many thanks. If you haven't, now's your chance. If you're wondering what to give me, a review on Amazon or Goodreads is most welcome.

I hope you're all having a great Holiday Season. I am. Cheers.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

No Spoilers: "The Omega Men: The End Is Here"

After a month of reading a chapter or two as I had time, I finished the trade paperback of the much-lauded Tom King run of "The Omega Men." While my final opinion falls more into the "like" category than the "love," I admire its depth and ambition and found that it was worth the time I could invest in the story. If the book's sales were as high as its praise, I 'm certain that one of my biggest issues with the book (that it felt rushed) would have not been. Still, rushed or not,  I'm glad that DC saw fit to allow King's tale to play out to its conclusion if not its entirety.

Other issues, however, were baked in from the start. I found the central MacGuffin difficult to swallow, even in a tale as fantastic as this, and, while we're at it, the balance of reality-based themes and fantastic elements wasn't always so balanced. That, and a tendency to fall back on cringe-worthy tropes detracted from what was otherwise a page-turner.

Barnaby Bagenda's art, while wow-worthy at times, might have better served a different story. I found it too cool at emotional and dramatic peaks, and at times it muddied the story. I frequently found myself breaking from the narrative to decipher a panel. This, however, may also have been corrected had the story been allowed to play out longer.

All of that said, it was nice to engage with a thoughtful and timely space-spanning tale that wasn't A) a blockbuster cross-over event or B) a space-spanning tale designed to sell toys/is a glamorization of  Nazis (*cough*).

Is "The End Is Here" the best graphic story ever told? No, but it's close and well worth your time and attention for its successes.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Coffee Powers ACTIVATE!

Things I need to get done are piling up as quickly as I check others off of the list. All the while, the clattering of keys. The deadline for The Comeback novel looms as I have increasingly less time to work on it.

That said, here's a preview of The Comeback (draft):

The shredded remains of the airbag stuffed under the passenger seat and Shakey tucked back into my brain somewhere, I drove as calmly as I could toward The Silver Slipper. Part of the plastic skirt under my dented front bumper rubbed against the right tire as I rounded curves in the highway. Cops who weren’t there kept appearing in my peripherals. I was a sweating mess. The air conditioner had made a grinding sound when I’d tried to use it, so I drove with the windows down in the punishing Nevada heat. My phone started blooping at me.

It was Hannah. She wanted to FaceChat. Fuck. If I didn’t do it now, she might try back when Shakey’s around. I had to pick up. I pulled down the visor and checked myself in the vanity mirror. I looked like I’d been on a weeklong bender. Fuck.

Hannah: Are u able to FaceChat?

Hannah: I think we should get together next week for coffee to discuss whatever’s next.

Fuck. The sprain in my ring finger ached, probably from the death-grip I’d held on the steering wheel. Likely just a coincidence, right? Fuck.

I pulled off of the road, hoping that our conversation would be quick. I texted Hannah that I’d call her in a minute and ran my fingers through a sweaty wilderness of hair, deciding that a comb-through would make me look as if I’d been up to something. After managing to mash down a particularly unruly cow lick, I picked up the phone and called her through the app.

“Hi,” we said simultaneously. Nobody laughed.

“God, Doug,” she said. “You look like shit. What have you been doing? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I said as if she wouldn’t know that I was lying. “I’m fine” was the first sign that I was lying, always. I started again.

“I’m lying. I’m horrible. The nightmare stuff. The stuff I couldn’t talk to you about. The therapy stuff. It’s all back. It’s worse this time. I’m dealing with it. I have a plan, sort of. I still can’t …”

“Doug, call the police or I will. Don’t do whatever you’re doing alone.”

“The police will make it worse. Trust me. This is too bad. It’s fucking horrible. I just need some time. I need you to let me have the time I need to end this shit forever. Please, sweetheart. Please.”

"At least call your therapist."

"Him? This is beyond him. It's beyond the cops. This is nightmare stuff. Horror stuff. I can't sleep until it's over. It's more awful than I could ever describe. Please. Please."

There was a pause between us as she tried to look into my eyes through the screen of her phone. I realized that I'd been unconsciously using my free hand to hold the wrist of the hand the phone was in to steady it. I realized how insane I must have sounded just then. Hannah's brow wrinkled as she stared into the camera.



“Why are you smiling?”

My heart jumped. I placed the phone face-down on my thigh and reached for the visor. There, in the vanity mirror was my face. I was wearing Shakey’s smug grin.

Excerpt from the upcoming novel The Comeback. Copyright 2015-2017 by Larry McCarley. Pre-order capability coming soon. Follow The Comeback on Inkshares!