The Horror… We’re now open to submissions

We’re officially looking to expand and develop our book catalog. We’re interested in reading horror or weird genre fiction, including novellas and novels. Please see our Submissions and Guidelines page for full details!

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Book Review: Turn the Radio Off

Gateways to Abomination by Matthew M. Bartlett

$3.99 e-book; $7.99 paperback from Amazon

Leeds, Massachusetts isn’t a place you want to visit.

You see, things have gone bad. Real bad. A mysterious radio station—WXXT—transmits polka music, distorted church broadcasts, snippets of history, and accounts of unspeakable terror. Just listening to the station—even once or twice, to something as harmless as atonal distortion or a folksy, repetitive sing-along—can have terrible effects on mind, body, and environment.

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Gateways to Abomination takes a lot of risks. While there are subtle narrative threads laced throughout the many stories, transmissions, transcripts, newspaper articles, and poetry-like accounts, the book is neither conventional nor linear. Each piece can be read on its own, but works best in full context. That said, stomaching more than a couple of stories at a time can be difficult. Not because they’re not well-written—because they are—but because of their nightmare-like prose and disturbing content. It’s a lot to absorb.

I’ve been consuming horror movies and literature for most of my life, and this book managed to punch through the walls of my jaded expectations. There is some truly horrific content here: gore, violence against children, body horror, and much more. What’s most disturbing is that these elements are used to facilitate a despairing sense of unavoidable damnation and suffering. This isn’t a horror work where you scream at the characters to make better decisions; if you’re in Leeds, and you’ve heard WXXT, you’re doomed, no matter what you do.

Each glimpse of the unspeakable—men covered in soul-sucking leeches, people turned into goats and vice versa, mysterious men in black hats, secret ceremonies in the woods—builds to something greater. An apocalypse of sorts is underway in New England, and we’ve got a worm’s eye view of the terror to come.

Don’t approach the book thinking of it as a short story collection. Consider it more a panoramic view of terror, of the approaching darkness, of evil in a small community that gradually infects and corrupts everything it touches.

Bartlett’s voice is strong, his scenes unnerving, his characters damnable and relatable. Gateways to Abomination is a happy discovery in the side alleys of independent horror. Readers interested in something that will push their buttons, something that will inspire a contagious sort of fear beyond the reading experience, would do well to pick up a copy of this book and support a truly unique and disturbing take on Satanic horror and weird fiction.

5/5 Dark Rituals

Spooklights e-book Now Available

Our debut release, Spooklights, is out!

For $1.99 you can read nine tales of literary terror from up-and-coming horror authors from around the country!

Hitching Post by Doctor Gaines

Spooklights by Colin Scharf

Dark Matter by Toni Nicolino

Dog’s Blood Blues by Jonathan Raab

Out of the Ashes by Amberle L. Husbands

Vodun by Michael Bryant

Distribution by Julie Godard

The Mask of Black Satin by Logan Noble

Between the Walls of Static by Jonathan Raab

Help support independent literature – and horror and weird fiction!

Spooklights from Amazon

From Kobo

From Inktera

From Scribd

Film Review: Good ( and Dead) Burger

Ghost Burger directed by Lee Hardcastle

Available at Vimeo ($.99 rental; $1.99 purchase)

Lee Hardcastle says he makes “claymations… not for children.” Indeed. His claymation films have gained a cult following on YouTube, where a search of his name will reveal a variety of handcrafted, still-shot, detail-heavy videos that range from spoofs of violent movies (Evil Dead II – with cats!), never-to-be film trailers (Ghostbusters 3 as directed by Quentin Tarantino), and original shorts.

If you’re not familiar with his work, Hardcastle brings a disarming and purposefully childish claymation aesthetic to action and horror presentations. The result is equal parts hilarious and grotesque. His creations kill, dismember, eat, and attempt to microwave one another with the madcap energy of a Monty Python sketch written by Clive Barker and directed by Stuart Gordon. His videos are instantly mesmerizing: so unlike anything you’ve seen since childhood Christmases watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and wondering what the Abominable Snowman would do if those little elves caught him on a really bad day.

The best part? His claymation is not just a gimmick. Watching the horror play out goes beyond the novelty of the form; it’s frenetic, funny, and creative. Hardcastle employs lighting, sets, pacing, music, sound effects, and creative camera work that is the equal (proportionally) to the films he seeks to emulate and pay tribute. His shorts seem familiar somehow—even the original works. That’s because, like all great directors, he pulls techniques and call backs from those who came before him. He’s a talented visionary, and an obvious horror fan and student of the greats. Claymation as a concept may pull you in, but you’ll stay for the substance.

Ghost Burger comes on the heels of Hardcastle’s unfulfilled crowd-funded effort Spook Train, which was to be a full-length, semi-episodic exploration of a haunted carnival ride gone wrong. The trailer itself is a work of demented art, and I can only hope he one day gets the funding to complete his vision. Ghost Burger, meanwhile, is a hearty replacement. Available for free (in episodes) on YouTube, or for less than two bucks to download and keep, you can watch 22 minutes of genre filmmaking at its best.

Set after “T is for Toilet” in the ABCs of Death anthology film, John, a young boy disfigured by his encounter with a possessed toilet, discovers that he can fight back against the ghosts that haunt him. Not only that, but they make tasty hamburgers. It just so happens that his uncle runs a struggling burger stand, and, when John and his cousin Ritchie hide the ghost’s ground-up remains at his stand, the ghost burger is born. No surprise—it’s a big hit, and all the townspeople want a taste. His uncle directs him to go get more—and doesn’t care where the meat comes from.

Thus ensues an action-adventure-horror romp that’s equal parts Ghostbusters, Monster Squad, and Evil Dead. John and Ritchie become more and more desperate to track down and kill ghosts for their “meat,” the townsfolk gobble up their efforts… and a mysterious old man warns them of impending doom.

To get into much more would spoil the surprise—and the chaos—to follow. At 22 minutes it’s rather short, but well worth the $1.99 you can pay to own the film. Think of it less as a price of admission, and more of an investment in the talents of a growing and promising filmmaker. Hardcastle’s style and form call back to the glory days of 80’s horror and genre film while doing something new in an old medium.

Here’s hoping that Spook Train gets to leave the station someday.

5/5 Piles of Premium Ghost Meat

Aspiring Critics, Take Note!

We’re looking for reviews of horror culture – films, video games, books, short stories, and everything in between. The subject matter can be new or old; we love the classics and enjoy discovering new terrors!

Length: 500 – 1000 words

Submit a .doc, .odt, or .rtf file to editor@muzzlelandpress.com, with the subject line “Review Submission.”

Include in your email a preferred byline, and a short bio that we will use at the end of the review.

 

Book Review: Come on down to Little Dixie, ya’ll

The Little Dixie Horror Show by Mer Whinery

Published by Literati Press; available in e-book and print formats

Mer Whinery’s collection of location-specific horror stories run a unique gamut: ghostly ghoulish lot lizards, the selling of your soul for comfort and new chances, children turning to rational (hallucinogenic?) violence, a beautiful short about a haunted movie house, and a decidedly unserious novella about a transvestite monster hunter.

The sheer variety of these bizarre and genuinely creepy tales is supported by the main character – the setting. Little Dixie is a spot in Oklahoma where all the worst parts of the Deep South uprooted and made their home, spawning generations of cultural, economic, and spiritual malaise. It’s a place of deep dark and people with secrets. Whinery shows us the darkest corners of Little Dixie, sparing no detail in what amounts to grisly, gore-ific, and straight up disturbing close ups on what goes bump in the night out yonder.

Whinery’s stories, while dripping with horror, are also full of love for a bizarre and dying community of swamps, abandoned truck stops, and both the living and the dead.

I’ll buy anything Whinery publishes next. His sense of voice is fantastic, and he’s got a great appreciation for horror (Lucio Fulci gets more than a few references) literature, films, and culture.

My only complaint about the book is the editing. Another pass or two by an editor would have made a world of difference in catching a variety of errors. If my criticism seems petty, good. Because a few misspelled words and clunky fonts shouldn’t dissuade you from grabbing this spookhouse ride of an underground collection.

5/5 Ghoul-infested Truck Stops