Showing posts from December, 2009

Three new rejections

Last couple of days have seen a bunch of rejections arrive in my inbox.

Writing Shift rejected my short story "Acting's a Hell of a Job" - thirty day turnaround
Midnight Echo rejected "Chicken" - twenty-one day turnaround
Strangetastic rejected "The Clean-Up Crew" - sixty-seven days

I've sent "Chicken" off to Port Iris, dingers crossed. I'll be on the lookout for a new potential home for "The Clean-Up Crew" later. I think "Acting's a Hell of a Job" is a no hoper - or at least a tale that needs a thorough rewrite.

Wish me luck!

Seasonal thoughts

I'm not a fan of Christmas. Being truthful I rather try to avoid much of it. I'm not religious so the worship part is out. But equally I like to respect people's beliefs so the commericality of the Festive Season I find crass. I also am teetotal so the drink 'til you feel sick aspect escapes me.

All in all, I have to admit to being a little bit of a "Bah Humbug!" Scrooge-like figure about the whole thing. For anyone that knows me this is not news. But I wouldn't dream of stopping anyone enjoying the season in whatever way they enjoy. Okay I might moan a little about it from time to time. I'm rather good at moaning, after all I am English, but being truthful I would never try to sway anyone's individual beliefs and practices.

But it does depress me when I hear about children - seven, eight, nine years old or something like that - wanting a new bike, an iPod, a Playstation (or whatever the latest games platform is these days), a this, a that and a &qu…

Beowolf and Grendel

I've always had a fondness for Norse mythology. So when I saw this disk in the local Blockbuster I knew I had to have it. Yeah, I know - I have absolutely no self-control.

So I bought it, brought it home and now I've watched it. Enjoyed it too!

Before I mention anything further I should say this was not the "I've Come to Kill Your Monsh-Tah!" Ray Winstone starring semi-animated Hollywood movie. Not that I'm going to say anything against that movie, just that it was a little too polished for my taste.

However there's another movie telling this tale - a co-production between Canada, the UK and Iceland starring Gerald Butler, Stellan Skarsgard, Ingvar Sigurdson and Sarah Polley.

This is a much grittier film and a hell of a lot more beautiful to look at. The scenery is simply magnificent - very bleak I'll grant you but still absolutely stunning. Iceland is a beautiful country and it reminded me just how much I want to visit the place. I've been meaning to…

My Bloody Valentine

Okay I've caught up another one. Yeah, you're going to say I'm behind the times I know but I'm working through a backlog here so give me a break on this one.

Well the film is certainly violent. Lots of pleasing gore to satisfy even the sickest horror fan (I'm not the sickest honest). Ten years after a mining disaster which resulted in a number of the trapped miners being killed - although not by the accident but by one of their trapped fellows - the killer is back going on a mad rampage. The only problem is that he's dead. So who is responsible for the latest murders?

Yeah, I know. It's not exactly original. And to be honest, even the twist in the tale is so obvious you can spot it a mile off - or half an hour at least.

But it's well made, well paced; the acting is pretty good and all in all it's damn good fun. But what is it with horror movies that they have to leave an open ending. I mean killing of the lead baddie never harmed the best franchises d…

Leicester Tigers

The Tigers are not the team they once were. I've been a mad fan of rugby union for nearly three decades and since taking my degree at Leicester University I've been a mad fan of Leicester Tigers.

Back when I started they were a good team, although they were not the best. I had to cope with years of the sport being dominated in England by Bath - a problem when one of my Uni friends was from near Swindon and a big Bath fan.

Then things changed. Leicester became the team in the English game and all was good. More than good I have to admit I was over the moon all through this period. Multiple Premiership titles and a brace of European Cup victories to add to the collection.

However they're not alone at the top of the pile anymore. There are about half a dozen teams in England who are all up there.

So having watched them today I fear that they are going to be out of the European Cup by the end of the group phase. They're currently level on points with Clermont Auverne but if th…


I watched a rather darkly comedic thriller last night called Stuck. For once it was a film I could watch with the family - normally I head off to my office and stick a horror movie on whilst they watch a western, or a musical, or a police procedural TV show or something about cookery, or a game show, or something else I don't watch. It works for us...

Anyway Stuck is a wonderfully dark movie starring Stephen Rea as a downtrodden man, rendered useless by the recession. He's lost his job. He's just been thrown out of his apartment and the world basically doesn't want him.

During his first night on the streets he is hit by a car, becoming lodged in the windscreen. But instead of immediately rushing him to the local ER the woman driving the car, played by Mena Suvari, drives home and hides him in her garage. She and her boyfriend then try to figure out what to do with him.

This is a great movie, although perhaps not one for the squeamish out there. I've seen horror movies…

I Spit on Your Grave

I never watched this film when it first came out, largely due to the fact it was banned in the UK at the time.

Well more than two decades later it is now available, the film certification board reflecting the change in the morals of the country in the intervening years. And all I can say is having watched it in the era of Saw and other torture-porn films, plus movies with explicit sexual content like Baise-Moi and 9 Songs, is that it is extremely tame in comparison to newer films.

In fact I could imagine a film with similar story / content made today might only get a 15 Certificate, never mind be banned.

For anyone who's not seen it here's a quick summary of the plot.

A young female author leaves New York and heads out into the sticks to get some peace and quiet so she can work on her next novel. Only problem is she's landed in small town USA and you know in a horror film that's not going to end well. Four local redneck types decide to have a little fun with her which to t…

What the Hell's going on in Copenhagen?

I've been watching the Copenhagen Conference with interest over the last two weeks and all I've seen is childishness and ridiculous posturing. We have a real problem in the world. Pretty much everyone knows that.

As a species we lice on just one planet and we seem keen on destroying its ability to support us.

We need to cooperate to save our home. We need to have politicians who will step up and play their part.

There's still time I guess but I feel despair growing within me. Are they going to do anything real at this gathering? Or are they just going to squabble?

We in developed countries need to do more. We need to help the developing mations do more. It's that simple. Else we may have to accept large parts of our planet will become very inhospitable and many millions will die.

There's still time. Fingers crossed.

Two more rejections

New writing market Port Iris has rejected another two of my pieces - a review of Bryan Smith's book Depraved and an article on the history of The Malleus Maleficarum - a book on hunting witches.

So it goes...

Two review sales

Website Nossa Morte have accepted two more of my reviews, for film The Hills Run Red and Sarah Pinborough's book Feeding Ground.

Together with the already accepted review of Tim Waggoner's Nekropolis that makes three of mine that will appear on the website in future issues.

I have been featured in every issue so far and I've had something in every issue.

Short Story Rejection

Another one bites the dust...

New fiction market Port Iris has rejected my short story "Highwayman Wannabe".

I think this is a story I might retire...


Unlike most of the horror films I've watched in recent weeks this is actually a pretty decent film. Cherilyn Wilson plays a young woman with a serious sleep disorder, she spends the vast majority of her life asleep and she's cared for at an asylum. This is possibly the only seriously questionable bit in the film, I have no idea why someone with a sleep disorder would be in a mental institution but we'll let that fly for now.

Because her being there means she can be next door to a serial killer who hypnotises people in order to kill them (killer = Patrick Kilpatrick, a seriously creepy actor). Bit of a far fetched set up but it has some decent action and has a number of horror favourites playing the parts.

We have Jeffrey Combs and Kathryn Leigh Scott in supporting roles...

So it's a bit ropey in concept but it's certainly well made, decent direction - acting more than acceptable and dfinitely entertaining.

Father Ted

A couple of days ago, on a whim, I bought the Father Ted box set. That was definitely a good idea. Watching the episodes has cheered me enormously.

Fantastic fun - I have the episode "The Plague" playing at the moment. There are only about four or five situation comedy series I have really liked.

Blackadder is one of course, Fawlty Towers another. Red Dwarf I found fantastic, if I don't think about the last couple of episodes and the recent re-union thing.

I like Monty Python, the Fast Show and some other comedy sketch series but I generally find sit-coms annoying. But Father Ted is something rather special.

International Cooperation

I've just read a news story about this climate conference thing. In some ways it was a little depressing as it outlined the battles between EU leaders over the contribution to be made to a EU fund to fight climate change - the target for which is 6bn Euros by 2012.

But there was one thing in the article I found very encouraging. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy held a joint press conference in which our two countries have between them guaranteed a minimum of 1.7bn over three years.

Now it's not the amount as such that's the point here, although it is good to see that the fight against climate change is getting some serious support. The point is that the UK and France are standing side by side as friends.

And it's when countries work together that problems as serious as climate change can be resolved.

Guess What? Another Rejection

Yep, another one. My short story "Highwayman Wannabe" has been rejected by Electric Velocipede.

I know I should take these on the chin so to say - consider them part of the life of writing. And to a certain extent I do. I am always going to get rejections.

I'm just going through a sticky patch in life. I'm sure I'll feel a little better in future. And you never know I might even get an acceptance at some point. And at some point I may even feel like writing something again...


Another night, another movie. That could be said to sum up my life pretty much. Well last night's film of choice is a rather iffy Australian Zombie film called Undead.

It's a complete mish-mash of a film. We have zombies, fine. Then add in aliens - ok, getting slightly weirder. Go the whole hog by trying to make it comedic in places, but not all the way; add a survivalist nut; a government conspiracy and so on and you get a very confused film.

It's badly acted. It has appalling effects, a pitiful plot and a total case of badness.

Yes in other words I loved it. But my liking of bad movies is well known.

But before you dismiss me as someone with no taste whatsoever I must point out I do have some serious film likes.

I think the best horror film ever made is "Halloween" (the John Carpenter version from 1980). I like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Harvey". I thought "Frost/Nixon" was brilliant. I like "Citizen Kane", "Bladeru…

Another Rejection

My short story "Chicken" has been rejected by Andromeda Spaceways. For a story that's less then two weeks since written that's three rejections now.

Guess my recent form might be telling me something.

I thought when I managed to get a handful of acceptances in pretty short order that I'd discovered how to do this. I was wrong I must admit.

It's getting quite disheartening. For all the work it is to find places to send in stories just to get rejections I'm not overly sure I want to continue. I don't do this writing thing for the money. Okay I will not send my work into markets that don't pay but that's more pride than anything else. Okay the money is nice I guess. It means I can buy some more books but it's not going to change my world.

But is it really worth it? It means I end up spending a good deal of my free time away from my family on this dread machine trying to make stories work and then longer still trying to find markets to send them i…

I'm not a horror obsessed looney!

Many people think I am but it simply isn't true. I like a great amount of non-horror films and books. Honest!

And to prove it this afternoon I sat down with the family and watched a film my wife picked. And that film was G-Force - a mixed live action / computer animated famliy film about secret agent guinea pigs. Yep, that's got to be about as far removed from horror as you can get.

And the film - well, it's actually very good. I wouldn't say it's to my usual taste but on a Sunday afternoon it can be a bit of lightweight fluff - fun in other words.

It's not going to mean than animated stuff takes over from horror as my staple movie diet, but I will be watching one every now and again - especially as my wife wants to see Up!

More Rejections

Dark Recesses Press have rejected by short story "A Day Like Any Other". I've sent it in to Futurismic figuring you never know.

Shock Totem have rejected my article "The Maleus Maleficarum". I have no idea yet where this might be sent. It's its fourth rejection so maybe I should consider retiring it. We'll see.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

This third Underworld film is very much one for the fans. It's a prequel of sorts to the first two movies and, very much unfortunately for the men watching, doesn't feature Kate Beckinsale and her unfathomably tight catsuit.

The story focuses on the Lycans' fight for freedom from oppression by the Vampires. Michael Sheen plays Lucian, a Lycan raised by the Vampire leader Viktor (Bill Nighy) and, although a favourite, treated little more than a pet.

The role of the sexy female lead is filled by Rhona Mitra playing Viktor's daughter Sonja who does a reasonable job of replacing Beckinsale, even though she was always going to be fighting a losing battle in that regard.

Sonja and Lucian are secret lovers, a union forbidden by the Vampire council. When Lucian breaks the rules of the limited freedom his favourite status affords him he is tortured and locked away seemingly forever.

It ends his allegiance to the Vampires who raised him and he determines to free his race.

It's vi…

I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer

This is a first for me - a horror film about cricket. Needless to say it's not the most serious film out there.

It's a non-supernatural horror tale - a revenge story in which a "slightly" deranged man is seeking out the members of his school cricket team who made his life hell when he was a teenager.

There are some truly silly death scenes in this movie - all involving cricket stumps - and a pitifully thin plot. This is real B-Movie territory. It has bad acting (although not deterimentally so), awful effects and just general badness oozing out of every pore. In other words I loved it. I like bad movies and this was seriously bad.

There's even a totally gratuitous shower scene. Essentially the whole film just goes on hold for a few minutes so the camera can concentrate on every single square inch of one woman's skin - and I mean every inch. The cameraman really takes his time to make certain he doesn't miss anything - even returning to certain areas repeatedl…

Asimov article live

My short biography of Issac Asimov is now live in the December 2009 edition of New Myths.

The article can be found at

There are a couple of my book reviews on this site also - for Richard Satterlie's Imola and Brian Keene's Urban Gothic

Urban Gothic


The Wizard of Gore

This is an odd film. Very gory, very odd.

Crispin Glover plays Montag, a sick stage magician who kills people onstage for his illusions. One man suspects he is doing it for real.

It's very oddly filmed. The whole thing feels like a massive drug trip. It's full of nudity and gore and features the Suicide Girls, a troupe of punk glamour models.

It's interesting but it feels incomplete as a movie.