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FEARNET.com News and Reviews

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    Ho Ho Ho! Seasons greetings, FEARnet fiends! If you're like us, then most likely you live and breathe horror. That means that you take the genre very seriously, and you probably celebrate it seasonally. Meaning, in February, you watch 'My Bloody Valentine.' When summer rolls around? You break out the summer slashers. And now that we're right in the thick of December, you're probably making your way through all of the Christmas holiday themed horror movies! No doubt you've probably celebrated Bob Clark's influential classic 'Black Christmas.' You may have gone more modern (and foreign) with 'Rare Exports.' Hell, you may have even gone camp with 'Jack Frost!' And most likely, you've revisited the original, notorious 'Silent Night Deadly Night.' But how 'bout the sequels? As of today, we're currently streaming'Silent Night Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out' and I've got 5 reason why you need to stop everything right now and watch it!

    1. It's directed by Monte Hellman.

    Believe it or not, the legendary director behind the cult classic 'Two-Lane Blacktop' was at the helm for the second sequel to the notorious 'Silent Night Deadly Night' franchise. Rumor has it that he only agreed to direct the film because he was asked while completely delirious with a nasty flu by a producer friend who wouldn't relent! After taking the gig, Hellman spent a week rewriting the script, another week in prep and 4 weeks on production, essentially making the entire movie in about a month and a half's time. The first edit took 10 days and was screened for an audience within 4 months, becoming one of the fastest productions the director has ever been on. Despite critical reception, Monte has gone on record to say he thinks the film is his best work. Not his best movie, but his best work.

    2. It features a pre-'Mulholland Drive' Laura Harring.

    I have a theory that David Lynch has this amazing ability to capture certain actors at the absolute peak of their beauty. Laura Dern in 'Wild At Heart.' Isabella Rossellini in 'Blue Velvet.' Kyle MacLachlan in 'Twin Peaks.' So I think we can all agree that Laura Harring has never looked more gorgeous than she did in 'Mulholland Drive.' Just stunning. But long before that, she made an appearance as Jerri, the lead character's brother's girlfriend in 'Silent Night Deadly Night 3.' She's sporting a hairstyle that's very, very late 80's, but still manages to be quite a beauty. Although, judging from the brief nudity in this film, you'll realize that she um... definitely had some enhancements to her chest area by the time she got to 'Mulholland Drive.' Sorry to shatter the perfect illusion.

    3. Bill Moseley is in it. As the killer!

    We all love Bill Moseley. The dude's in everything, but of course he gets a pass for life for his brilliant depiction as Chop Top in Tobe Hooper's 'Texas Chainsaw Massace 2,' as well as that amazing, amazing performance as Otis in Rob Zombie's 'The Devil's Rejects.' But in between those, he played Ricky Caldwell in 'Silent Night Deadly Night 3!' Granted he looks nothing like the previous incarnations of the character. (Respect always to Eric Freeman.) And at the end of SNDN 2, Ricky takes multiple slugs to the chest, yet inexplicably, when we see him here, he has a large fishbowl holding his brain in place because apparently he got half his head blown off in the last movie. Regardless, Moseley looks unique and Ricky's kinda creepy in this one. You definitely won't find another killer that looks quite like this!

    4. Robert Culp!

    The star of one of my childhood favorite television shows 'The Greatest American Hero' appears in 'Silent Night Deadly Night 3' as Lieutenant Connely, a character that was (supposedly) there when they gunned down the Santa killer Ricky Caldwell. And if that's not good enough for ya, how 'bout the simplistic 'Halloween'-esque score by J. Steven Soles. Granted, the majority of the movie is actually devoid of traditional score music, but when it does kick in, it's pretty darned cool.

    And last but not least...

    5. It's streaming FREE on FEARnet's website right now through December 19th!

    You can head over to our web movies page right here on the FEARnet website and enjoy 'Silent Night Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out' for free and from the comfort of your own computer up until this Thursday.

    And if you want to keep with the holiday horror tradition, we've got you covered. Streaming free from December 19th through December 23rd is 'Silent Night Deadly Night 4: The Initiation' and then from December 23rd right through to December 26th, you can watch 'Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker' here too.

    Merry Christmas, FEARnet readers & watchers. Don't be naughty! And have a Happy Garbage Day!

     


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    We've seen winter weather create a lot of interesting things over the years, from Lovecraft-inspired imagery at a lighthouse on the coast of Lake Michigan to an evil snowman with the hots for Shannon Elizabeth.  But we've never seen anything quite like what one Oklahoma woman just found outside her home...

    creepy icicle hand

    As reported by News On 6, Tulsa resident Kimberly Griffin walked outside her house last Sunday morning and discovered the highly unusual icicle you see above, which has led some to believe her home just might be haunted.  "I saw it first from the side and noticed it had 'branches' coming off of it," Griffin said.  "Then when I saw it from the front realized it looked like a creepy skeletal hand."

    The photo went viral after she e-mailed it to the news network, sending shivers up the spines of most who saw it.  Griffin laughs off the suggestions that the strange formation is the work of a poltergeist, and says a friend suggested she name the creepy hand Slick.  As of last Tuesday night, 'Slick' had begun melting, but was still hanging around.

    You so creepy, Mother Nature!


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    ghost selfie

    What if you took a selfie of you and your child and discovered that you weren't the only ones the camera captured?  And what if the photo was taken in your own home, and nobody else was around?  That's precisely the shocking discovery 24-year-old model Peaches Geldof made this past Friday, a photo uploaded to her Instagram account suggesting that she and her son had been photo-bombed by a ghost.

    As reported by The Daily Mail, Geldof has in the past experienced paranormal activity in her South East England home, where she lives with her husband and two sons.  "The house was built in the 1920s by a rich man and his pregnant wife," says the socialite.  "However, his wife had a stillborn baby and was so grief-stricken she went mad.  She apparently drowned herself in the bath."

    Geldof believes the mysterious hand seen in the creepy selfie belongs to the long-deceased woman, a story that is all the more creepy when you realize where the photo was taken; in the bathtub.  She also believes that the spirit isn't malicious or evil, but rather that it's a warm and welcoming one.  "Maybe she's just making her presence known because she loves having babies around," says Geldof.

    I hope you're right about that, Peaches!


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    Cthurkey

    You've probably seen the above image circulating around the web in the past couple days, getting shared all over Twitter, reblogged all over Tumblr and posted all over Facebook.  But what the hell is it?  Did somebody actually make this?  And more importantly, did somebody actually eat it?!

    The folks over on Gothamist just scored the exclusive details about the unappetizing abomination, revealing the origin story of this six-legged holiday beast of a feast.

    Texas-based database administrator Rusty Eulberg is the brain-child and father of the most bizarre meal, which he refers to as 'Cthurkey.'  Story goes that his wife Jenny is a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft, specifically of the monster known as Cthulhu, and Rusty and her cooked up this dinner for some friends a couple years back.  "We went and bought some crab legs and some octopus and bacon and cooked them all separate and slapped them together on a plate," he told the website.

    Cthurkey

    While their guests were at first incredibly horrified by the meal, and its presentation, it didn't take them long to chow down and realize that the feast tasted a whole lot better than it looked.  "It was delicious," says Eulberg.

    Suddenly, I find myself very happy about my choice to go vegetarian earlier this year!


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    What a year for horror comics! There's been so much to read. We've seen Hellboy wander around hell (after killing the devil). We've seen Rick Grimes and company struggle along against a demented foe in The Walking Dead. Hell, we've even seen KISS fight off the martians from Mars Attacks (though we really wish we didn't). Now let's take a moment and look back on our favorite "single issues" from the past year. We don't mean a comic series as a whole - just the single comic book issue in and of itself. From one-shots to standout issues… it's time to hone in on our fanaticism!

    Mystery Society Special 2013

    Now don't tell me you forgot about this little gem just because it came out in the beginning of the year. Mystery Society is the awesome, wild, inspiring comic by Steve Niles. It was also, unfortunately, all we got from the series in 2013. And that was better than nothing, seeing as we hadn't heard a peep from Mystery Society since 2010. The series centers around a team of misfit paranormal detectives out to trade Edgar Allan Poe's talking skull for the release of several famous monsters. With a plot like that how could we possibly resist this off-beat treat? And who's on this crazy team of investigators? Standouts include a woman who is already dead, two teenage girls who can teleport other people, and the brain of Jules Vern in a golden robot body. If you missed this comic you need to seek it out. 

    Itty Bitty Hellboy

    Perhaps one of the biggest surprises to come out of Dark Horse comics this year, Itty Bitty Hellboy is exactly what it sounds like. Designed for the youngsters in your clan, Itty Bitty Hellboy follows the backyard adventures of Hellboy, Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson, Liz Sherman and more. All your favorites from the series are here... as children. The issues in this series are fun and bizarre, but this first issue is too good to pass up. When the ghost of Rasputin (as a child) and his minions seek to spy on Hellboy, he walks up, shakes their fort (which is a cardboard box) and leaves with a smug smile. Add to that vignettes of Johann Krauss sneezing himself out of his suit, the villains lusting over Hellboy's baby pool, and lots of jokes based around nudity… and it's one weird ride. In fact, it's such a bizarre premise for a comic that we instantly fell in love with our Itty Bitty half-demon.

    Afterlife with Archie No. 1

    Archie and the gang, those bastions of innocence and small-town tranquility, are beset by a zombie outbreak and apocalypse. When you mix wholesome fun with spooky horror, and you release it right around Halloween, you've got our attention. The plot: when Jughead's loyal dog Hot Dog is killed by a car the heartbroken kid takes him to Sabrina the Teenage Witch for help. Sabrina's able to use some seriously forbidden magic to bring Hot Dog back to life, but he seems kind of... out of it. Then a sickly-looking Hot Dog bites Jughead and the outbreak begins... and all of Riverdale is in for a surprise. Yes, for real, that's the plot of this comic. The only reason this comic won't be making an appearance in our best series of the year list is because it only has a few issues out. This crazy genre mash-up has so much style and is so perfectly executed that we'd be lying if we said we weren't drooling (like a zombie) over it.

    Station to Station

    Sometimes you just want to read a good one-shot. There's something appealing about picking up a comic and knowing that you hold in your hands the beginning, middle, and end of a story. With Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman's thrilling Station to Station, we got just that. Wonderfully illustrated with drab, grim-faced color, Station to Station follows the story of a government coverup concerning the destruction of the bay area. A giant, interdimensional flying monster has been brought to our dimension, and it proceeds to brainwash all those around it. Now it's up to a few plucky scientists to resist the brainwashing and somehow destroy the beast. This is equal parts "giant monster," "pod people," and "science gone wrong." It's a great take on the classic giant doom story, and it rings with echoes of Lovecraftian horror. If you missed it this year that can only be because the creature's been tinkering with your brain. So shrug off that mental domination you're suffering from and go out and find this one-shot!

    Witch Doctor: Mal Practice No. 4

    This series is all about a supernatural doctor who helps people with curses, vampirism, and problems with elder gods and such. He's a medical doctor, but he knows how to tap into the spirit realm and fix what ails you. Think of Dr. Vincent Morrow as a mix between the cantankerous Dr. House and Dr. Strange. This series, written by Brandon Seifert, is brilliant, inventive, and one of our favorites of the year. But this issue number four in and of itself was our favorite of the arc. There's a weird larvae hanging out in Morrow's body and causing trouble (lots of trouble). So what does a good doctor of the paranormal do when he's afflicted? He sends his tethered spirit, shrunken down to microscopic size, into his own bloodstream to investigate (duh). It's like a spectral battle meets The Fantastic Voyage, and it's a fantastic read all the way through. You should read the whole Mal Practice arc of this comic, but if you can find this issue, grab it. You won't be disappointed.


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    Note: if you saw Leprechaun's Revenge on Syfy earlier this year then you've already seen Red Clover. It just has a new title and some decent gore tossed back in.

     
    The Syfy Channel churns out so many low-budget movies that it's really easy to lose track of them all -- and it's particularly difficult to recall the titles of the ones that aren't 100% disposable junkpiles suitable only for late-night inebriated visitations. Budget is the key problem with most of the Syfy movie fare, but sometimes (no, frequently) a low budget is what inspires fun-loving filmmakers to get a little more creative. 
     
    That's not to say that their recent release Red Clover (aka Leprechaun's Revenge, although it bears no relation to the "official" Leprechaun franchise) is any sort of minor masterpiece -- but, like early Syfy releases Scream of the Banshee, Zombie Apocalypse, High Plains Invaders, and Frankenfish, it finds a way to get a little wit, creativity, and creature carnage onto the screen, low budget be damned. 
     
    One finds that approaching a cheap monster movie like Red Clover as if it's a single-issue pulp horror comic book usually helps. This one's about a beautiful girl who (very unwisely) plucks a red four-leaf clover from the ground, which (of course) awakens a leprechaun that looks more like Pumpkinhead than Warwick Davis. (Which is good, actually. Aside from Mr. Davis' wacky performances, the other Leprechaun flicks are pretty terrible.) 
     
    For all of its obvious budgetary shortcomings, Red Clover does have some legitimate assets scattered amidst its familiar (and sometimes silly) premise. Aside from the actual horror bits, which you can discover for yourself, the film boasts some rather amusing performances from B-movie stalwart Billy Zane and the always lovable William Devane -- and the ladies fare even better. Courtney Halverson makes for a fine heroine, and not just because she's "Irish lass" lovely, and one Azure Parsons (as a loyal deputy) makes the most of her handful of scenes. She's really funny.
     
    If you're in the mood for the type of Syfy Channel movie you "point and laugh" at, there are dozens that fit that bill quite well. But while Red Clover definitely feels like a "cheaply made rush job cable monster movie," those who watch a lot of this stuff will probably appreciate the tone, the pace, and the monster found here.

     

    READ FEARnet's PARTNER REVIEWS OF RED CLOVER


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    Nevermind video game

    Though I'm only 27 years old, the advancements in video game technology since I was a kid have already far surpassed anything I ever thought possible.  It's easy to take technology for granted, but if you really take a step back and think about it, it's pretty damn mind blowing what game developers have been able to do in recent years, crafting games that look like live-action movies and even ones that are controlled by our body movements.  But what about a game that's controlled by something else?  What about a game that's controlled not by our movements, or our button mashing abilities, but rather by our fear?

    Described as a puzzle horror game, Nevermind is the brain-child of developer Erin Reynolds, and your survival in it is literally dependent on how afraid you are while playing it.  Players are hooked up to heart monitors and then tasked with traversing warped and disturbing worlds, and met with bizarre and horrifying imagery.  If the fear levels go up, and your heart rate increases, so too does the intensity and difficulty of the game.  On the flip side, if you remain calm, and your heart rate slows down, the game gets a whole lot easier.

    As Reynolds describes, Nevermind isn't just about scaring people and providing a unique video game experience, but it's also about calming people down and helping them to deal with anxious situations in their real lives, by imparting valuable stress reduction skills.  "Our hope is that you'll be able to take those skills into the real world," she says, "and use them in everyday situations."

    Below you'll find a concept video explaining more about the game, and you can keep tabs on its progress over on the Nevermind website.


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    Black Christmas Goosebumps

    Back in October we introduced you to a Tumblr blog called If It Were Stine, comprised of front and back covers for faux Goosebumps books, based on popular fan-favorite horror flicks.  At the time, the artists on the site had created covers for films like Halloween 3, Carrie and Suspiria, giving the movies family friendly R.L. Stine-inspired makeovers - Suspiria becoming Attack of the Ballet Witches, for example.  If It Were Stine is just the kind of fun project we absolutely love here on FEARnet, and we're here today to unload a brand new pile of books on ya.

    Since we made that post, the If It Were Stine archives have been beefed up quite a bit, and the blog has been infused with ample doses of the holiday horror spirit.  Films like Black Christmas, Jack Frost and Rare Exports have all been given the Stine treatment in recent weeks, along with The Descent,Tremors, Phantasm and even Troll 2.

    Check out some of our favorites from the new batch below, and see many more over on If It Were Stine - which is also now on Facebook!

    Rare Exports Goosebumps

    Jack Frost Goosebumps

    The Descent Goosebumps

    Puppet Master Goosebumps

    Troll 2 Goosebumps

    Tremors Goosebumps


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    Just when you think you've seen every macabre twist on familiar holiday themes, a film comes along that totally flips the script. Such is the case of December, a minute-and-a-half short from Dutch filmmaker and photographer Andreas Pasvantis.
     
    December1
     
    What begins as a gritty, terrifying snuff film suddenly becomes something surprisingly warm and cuddly – well, relatively speaking – in Pasvantis's skilled hands. 
     
    That's all I'm going to reveal about the plot of this twisted little yuletide gem, which managed to rack up over a million views since its debut on YouTube back in 2010 and is deserving of a revisit this holiday season. Watch it now!
     

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    Stay warm with this Stay Puft hat. One of the biggest, squishiest, and most dangerous movie monsters, the Stay Puft marshmallow man from Ghostbusters is an iconic movie bad guy - but one that you want to snuggle up against - and take a bite of. And what better way to make sure that no one's brain remains blank than with this warm, fuzzy Stay Puft hat?

    $15.41 at Amazon


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    In our fast-paced internet society, we consume media at a voracious pace, taking in hundreds of photos, videos and stories every single day.  It's no surprise that Tumblr has become a popular blogging tool in recent years, readers and writers trading in long-winded blog posts for easy to digest images.  A daily poke around my Tumblr feed brings all sorts of cool imagery into my day, and one thing that there's no shortage of on there is GIFs - sound-less moving images that last a split-second, and can be watched over and over again.  From exploding heads to cute cats, GIFs are the bread and butter of Tumblr, but you might be surprised to learn that they've been around a lot longer than the internet has... a whole lot longer.

    As we spotted over on The Huffington Post, GIF-style imagery dates back all the way to the 19th-century, in the days long before the internet was even a distant possibility.  Much the same way flip books predated movies, devices like Phenakistoscopes predate the modern day GIF by over 100 years, circular discs that were spun around to turn static images into moving images.

    A man by the name of RIchard Balzer has dedicated years of his life to discovering and showcasing these early works of art, teaming up with an animator to turn them into internet GIFs.  The reason we mention this here on FEARnet is because many of these primitive GIFs are surprisingly quite frightening, their imagery ripped straight out of horror flicks.  In one, a man decapitates the Devil with an axe, while in another a woman opens her door to find a demonic beast waiting for her.

    Check out a few of the creepiest ones below, and see more over on Balzer's Tumblr blog.

    beheading GIF

    19th century GIF

    19th century GIF

    Devil GIF


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    Most mainstream readers had been waiting a long time for the two books coming out in 2013.  Early the year before, news leaked that publisher Hard Case Crime would release a new book called Joyland as a paperback original, just in time for summer. Anticipation was cautiously high; reviews of King’s last book with the publisher, 2005’s The Colorado Kid, were mixed. Readers seemed far more eager for a book King announced way back in 2009; Doctor Sleep, King’s long-gestating sequel to 1977’s The Shining, was due to arrive in late fall.
     
    But beyond these splashy new novels, King was as busy as usual, writing and publishing at a frantic (some might say lunatic) pace. King launched the year doing something that was becoming a trend: unearthing long-buried work from the past and bringing it into the light. “The Glass Floor” first appeared in the sixth issue of Robert A.W. Lowndes’ pulp magazine Startling Mystery Stories in 1967; King’s first professional sale, he received $35 for his work. Later, he said, “I’ve cashed bigger [checks] since then, but none gave me more satisfaction; someone had finally paid me some real money for something I had found in my head!” 
     
    Though “The Glass Floor” had been published once more since 1967 (in a 1990 issue of Weird Tales), it has never been collected in an official Stephen King anthology. Its scarcity, not to mention its historic importance, makes any appearance of this story an occasion. Cemetery Dance magazine gave readers reason to celebrate: issue #68 reached back and brought “The Glass Floor” into the early winter of 2013.
     
    SK_GunsThe contemporary publication of King’s earliest sale set the tone for a year in which King seemed especially interested in his past. However, he didn’t shy away from brand-new writing, either, and at the end of January, he released an unprecedented nonfiction Kindle Single called “Guns.” Addressing gun violence in the United States, “Guns” managed to present a calm and metered tone on a volatile subject, colored by King’s own experiences with his Bachman novel Rage, and killers who seem to have treated the novel as “an accelerant.” While critical response to “Guns” was divided (some critics and fans didn’t appear to have read the work, concluding that King was either anti- or pro-gun; those that did read it discovered he was a little bit of both), the essay was an instant bestseller, rocketing to the top of the Kindle Singles bestseller chart. Beyond the actual content, the speed at which King was able to get “Guns” onto eBook reading devices was stunning; it was accepted by Amazon the day after he finished writing it, and published less than a week later.
     
    A flurry of books about King filled the stopgaps in his fertile year. A trio of insightful titles cropped up as the weather got warmer and spring took hold. Bev Vincent’s The Dark Tower Companion: A Guide to Stephen King’s Epic Fantasy offered an accessible, partially narrative guide to the eight books (and more) of King’s ambitious Dark Tower series. Robin Furth, one of the world’s foremost Dark Tower authorities, honed her focus differently, updating and expanding her Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance to include The Wind Through the Keyhole and more. It’s encyclopedic and readable, no small feat, referencing and cross-referencing the people, places, and things in Mid-World without ever bogging herself down in dry description or blandness. King expert Justin Brooks also took the revision road, offering a vastly expanded version of his Stephen King: A Primary Bibliography of the World’s Most Popular Author. Meant to function as a reference book, this version of Primary Bibliography also works as a book to be explored and read. Brooks not only includes entries on everything (everything) King has ever published, he also sheds light on newly uncovered unpublished work, stories like “The Points Dig Deep,” “The Insanity Game,” and “The Null Set,” which have never seen the light of day. The depth and breadth of this book cannot be overstated.
     
    As these books were keeping interest in Stephen King high, an out-of-the-blue surprise blindsided everyone: an unfinished 1987 Stephen King novel called Phil & Sundance surfaced for sale online. Fan sites published an image of the first page of the book, complete with a handwritten note by King. Skepticism ran high. Fans and collectors scrutinized the handwriting and the style of prose, with many dismissing it as an obvious fake. But it wasn’t. Phil & Sundance was presented as a gift to an ailing child in the Make-a-Wish program, who, in 1987, was suffering from a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Having recovered in the years since, the recipient decided to sell the incomplete work in early summer of 2013. Publisher Cemetery Dance snapped up the manuscript, with as-yet no plans to publish or distribute the work. “Ms. Mod” on King’s official message board clarified the unfinished status of the work: “…[W]e do not have the complete manuscript — ours ends at page 101 but is mid-sentence, although there are other unnumbered pages that may continue it."
     
    Although this vintage manuscript would remain unpublished (at least for now), King of 2013 was gearing up for a flood of summer publishing. It started with a trickle in late May, when King released the short story “Afterlife,” a story he’d premiered live during a reading at UMass Lowell the previous December. Further exploring the possibilities of penance and repetition, “Afterlife” is a somewhat quieter, subtler cousin of King’s recent stories of sin, “Fair Extension” and “A Face in the Crowd.” The stage set and readers primed, the summer’s heavy hitter, Joyland, slammed into bookstores on June 4th.
     
    SK_JoylandSeveral factors worked against this slim volume: Hard Case Crime is a small imprint, specializing in reprints of the best noir and crime fiction from the '40s, '50s, '60s, and '70s, as well as contemporary works retaining the flavor of those classic stories. King’s previous Hard Case Crime title, The Colorado Kid, strayed a bit from the publisher’s milieu, and its ambiguous ending divided critics and readers; the book stalled at #5 on the New York Times bestseller lists, appearing for only three weeks before dropping off for good. While King hardcovers have proven as popular as ever, King paperbacks have indulged the nasty habit of staying out of the #1 spot for over a decade – and that was for the movie reprint paperback of Dreamcatcher.
     
    When Joyland entered the paperback bestseller charts on June 23rd, it looked like business as usual, sliding in at #2 just below the newest Sylvia Day Crossfire novel, also in its first week. The following week, it took over the top slot, becoming Stephen King’s first #1 paperback in over a decade. (It was also Hard Case Crime’s first #1 novel ever, hopefully indicating that this will not be the last Stephen King novel for the publisher.) Joyland managed to hold the top spot for five more weeks – all of July and the first week of August – before being pushed out by J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. Even then, it managed to stay in the upper reaches of the bestseller list throughout the summer – King’s first summer non-series title under his own name since Rose Madder in July, 1995.
     
    In retrospect, Joyland’s domination of the summer makes sense. It’s one of King’s most effortless tales, a coming-of-age story set in an appropriately romanticized bygone era, a formula King has utilized to great effect in It, Christine, and 11/22/63. Here, the early 1970s come alive as they did in King’s earliest novels. It also doesn’t hurt that our incredibly appealing main character, Devin Jones, suffers from a broken heart, solves a mystery, helps a sick kid, and faces down a ghost. There’s a lot of story in Joyland, all of it rich, all of it accessible, and all of it set during one archetypal summer in which a good guy stays a good guy and wins the girl anyway. Plus, unlike The Colorado Kid, it features a very definite ending – concrete and elegiac and remarkably moving.
     
    Speaking of the New York Times lists, something interesting happened the week Joyland hit number one: King’s big 2010 novel, Under the Dome, snuck back onto the paperback chart, appearing at #20. Spurred by the popularity of the television show adaptation, the book climbed the charts slowly but steadily, re-peaking at #8 on July 21st. This marked the first time since 2000, when The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and the collected edition of The Green Mile were both paperback bestsellers, that two Stephen King books shared a chart.
     
    The summer was just getting started.
     
    DK_Dark_Man
     
    Stephen King and Cemetery Dance surprised everyone by announcing the limited-edition publication of The Dark Man: not a novel or even a story, but a poem. Almost none of King’s early poetry – the work he wrote and published between 1969 and 1971 – has been included in King’s official collections… a decision which has always been a little baffling, as poems like “The Dark Man” and “The Hardcase Speaks” are direct antecedents to King’s longer, more complex work. If a poem – even one as weighty and important to King’s career as this one – seems a light prospect to hang a book on, be assured the poem itself is only half the story. Frequent King illustrator Glenn Chadbourne has packed this thing with artwork, over seventy weird, unsettling individual pieces. Stephen King was 22 when he wrote “The Dark Man,” and its creation was compulsive. The drawings here capture that spirit and energy completely, and the result is as impressive as it is disturbing.  For those interested in King facts and figures, The Dark Man is now the King book with the earliest copyright: ©1969. 
     
    And that still wasn’t all!
     
    SK_Hard_Listening
    In late June, readers were treated to Hard Listening: The Greatest Living Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All. A book by and about the Rock Bottom Remainders (the all-writer rock band featuring Stephen King on guitar and occasional vocals), this de facto jam-book sequel to 1995’s Mid-Life Confidential was released exclusively as an interactive, epistolary eBook. King offers an essay called “Just a Little Talent,” relating a guitar-playing history that runs parallel to that of his writing history, and underlines the importance of trying to do well at something that doesn’t come naturally. There’s also a game of sorts: four of the authors (including King) submitted a story in the style of Stephen King, and readers were tasked with figuring out which was which. Worry not; the answers were included. Unlike previous King eBooks, this one is also packed with multimedia: songs, picture slideshows, videos, and quizzes illuminating the meat of the book and creating a truly unique Stephen King experience.
     
    SK_Doctor_SleepAs summer wound down, interest turned toward Doctor Sleep, King’s long-awaited sequel to The Shining. While the shadow of The Shining looms large over the novel, King manages to make Doctor Sleep its own entity by focusing on Dan Torrance, now grown and struggling with the addictions that claimed his father, as well as a new, fully-realized and fascinating character named Abra. Thirty-six years later, readers seemed eager to continue the story King began in 1977: the novel was released on September 24, and on October 13th, Doctor Sleep debuted at #1 on the hardcover chart. It remained at the top spot for two weeks, dipped once to #2, then regained the top spot for another week. Following that, popularity of the book mellowed by degrees, though it remained comfortably in the top 10 for the rest of the year. Doctor Sleep marks Stephen King’s 34th stay at the top of the hardcover lists; King has more #1 books than any other author in history.
     
    Two more in-depth books about King arrived hot on the heels of Doctor Sleep, both from publisher Cemetery Dance: A revised, expanded edition of The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book, by Brian James Freeman and Bev Vincent (with illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne and an afterword by Kevin Quigley); and The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Trivia Book, by Freeman, Hans-Ake Lilja, and Kevin Quigley (also known as me), also with illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne. This latter garnered a fairly glowing (and hilarious) review by pop-culture site Ain’t It Cool News: “[The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Trivia Book] will ask questions that it knows you will get wrong because you're thinking of the book instead of the movie, and then it will taunt you for not knowing the difference.”  
     
    As autumn edged into the Halloween season, Cemetery Dance released the seventh book in its popular Shivers series. Like Shivers VI (which included King’s original version of “The Crate”), Shivers VII features a story that was later adapted as a Creepshow story. The effective, quietly horrifying prose version of “Weeds,” eventually adapted as The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, closes this collection, which also features work by Clive Barker, Ed Gorman, and the aforementioned Kevin Quigley (again, that’s me).
     
    Meanwhile (and a little surprisingly), one of King’s most critically acclaimed novels in recent years returned to the bestseller charts: in response to the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, 11/22/63 emerged at #4 on the Times new Combined Print & E-Book Fiction chart. (It also showed up on the very lowest reaches of the trade paperback list). This chart also featured Doctor Sleep at #11, making this the second time in 2013 that two King novels shared a bestseller list.
     
    As winter whispered in, so too did one last offering by Stephen King before he called it a year. To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Cemetery Dance magazine, owner and editor Richard Chizmar put together a slim collection called Turn Down the Lights, featuring new fiction by the handful of writers who made Cemetery Dance the success it has been almost since the start. Jack Ketchum, Clive Barker, Brian Freeman, Peter Straub and more all feature prominently, but it’s Stephen King’s story, “Summer Thunder,” that kicks things off. A bleak, post-apocalyptic work that nonetheless finds grace in its hopelessness, “Summer Thunder” is, ironically, a perfect tale for winter.
     
     
    The fact that brand-new fiction is coming this late in a year already overflowing with Stephen King work can give readers hope, too. At this point last year, we only knew about Joyland and Doctor Sleep. All we know about the future are the two new hardcovers announced for 2014, Mr. Mercedes and Revival. If the trend of 2013 holds true, we are in for a lot of surprises and excitement.
     
    What else might we see – and read – next year? Be sure to look for my next article, “Overlooking 2014,” for some thoughts and rumors about what the new year might bring!

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    Artist Monica Cook works in a variety of media, but her most memorable output includes terrifying experiments in stop-motion animation, which bring surreal, fleshy nightmares to life in the most disturbing ways possible.
     
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    Two of Cook's short films are viewable at her YouTube channel, but the horrifying Deuce is the most memorable, as two uncomfortably realistic human clay figures attempt to hook up at a bar, with one ultimately transforming into a werewolf-like creature – all to the tune of a throbbing experimental score by Martin Capella.
     
     
    You can see more examples of Cook's work, including paintings, sculptures and the equally disturbing short Volley at her official site... but don't be surprised if you find your dreams invaded by some of these leering, mutating beings tonight.

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    2013 was an interesting year for games, particularly in its delivery of solid, compelling narratives.  While the landscape has been full of sequels and spiritual successors (not a new trend), there has been no lack of deep storylines to scratch the more intellectual itch of gamers everywhere.

    Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

    After terrifying PC gamers the world over with the harrowing Amnesia: The Dark Descent, developer Frictional games handed the reins of responsibility over to Dead Esther creators The Chinese Room, whose profoundly Victorian writing sensibilities lend a very different sort of horror to Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.  Scrubbing away the dank gothic dungeons of the predecessor for a brassy steampunk vibe and replacing the supernatural with the scientific, the underlying story is a slow burn that manages to work its way under the player’s skin and nest there for the duration.  Not to say that the usual Amnesia-style scares aren’t there: the initial encounter with the game’s porcine hybrids is the horror equivalent of lovemaking, building in intensity to a screaming, squealing orgasm.  It’s rare that a sequel can surpass the original, but A Machine for Pigs does it by being more of a mechanical follow up than a true sequel.

    Bioshock Infinite

    Another case of a sequel that eschews its predecessor’s plotline (at least on the surface), Bioshock Infinite leaves the ruined utopia of Rapture beneath the waves for the skybound city of Columbia.  Both Bioshocks (I’m lumping the Rapture-based 1 and 2 together) feature utopian societies founded by megalomaniacal patriarchs, ability-granting formulae, and hulking beasts that ferociously protect their young charges.  Infinite differs wildly from the original, however, with its open expanses and gut-churning leaps of faith between the city’s floating platforms, although it manages to tie itself back to its predecessor in a brilliant twist that’s just as heady and provocative as the game’s underlying themes of racism and xenophobia.

    The Last of Us

    If anyone could give the fast-putrefying zombie genre new un-life, it would be Naughty Dog.  Known for lighthearted fare like Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted, the developer jumped feet-first into the living dead with a tale of fungal takeover that’s equal parts Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Triffids.  The gameplay is safe and stable, mixing third-person action and stealth in a fashion that gives players the option to tailor their play style, but the game’s story, with themes of loss and redemption, is what really sets The Last of Us apart as its protagonist Joel is charged with protecting the young Ellie, who holds the key to the salvation of not only humankind, but his own sense of self and duty.  All of this is tied together with the most beautiful vision of the apocalypse committed to disc, with massive crumbling cities being overgrown with greenery in the wake of mankind’s collapse, new life springing forth from the ashes of death.

    Beyond: Two Souls

    A person’s enjoyment of David Cage and Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls is directly correlated to their definition of games themselves.  Beyond offers a gorgeous, but minimally interactive experience that relegates interactivity to a handful of hotspots and linear navigation for the sake of the story, which follows the life of Jodie (Ellen Page) as she and her supernatural familiar Aiden learn about themselves and the world around them.  Presented in a series of non-linear vignettes, Beyond is more often than not an emotionally draining experience, blending together elements like Stephen King’s Firestarter with espionage and vicious military operations, but then tempers these more action-packed moments with short interludes with Jodie as a foster child or traveling cross-country, David Banner-style, as she learns to use Aiden to affect the lives of those around her.  The story is further polished with the use of high-quality motion-captured actors, including the aforementioned Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, which lends extra gravitas to the proceedings.

    DmC Devil May Cry

    My initial misgivings about DmC, the Ninja Theory-developed reboot of Capcom’s classic franchise, were based on the reworking of Dante from a lovable scoundrel to a narcissistic douchebag.  All was forgiven as soon as the gameplay kicked in, which tightened the series’ mechanics to perfection.  Tying it all together is a foul-mouthed narrative that comes across like They Live fan fiction written by a middle schooler, peppering the script with f-bombs as readily as Dante peppers his demonic foes with bullets and blades.  It’s puerile, ugly, and more than a little stupid, but it succeeds wholly by never trying to be what it isn’t, and embracing its immaturity and irreverence and never letting go.

    Honorable mentions go to Injustice: Gods Among Us for giving a beefy story to back up its fighting game mechanics (plus, Superman becomes a fascist dictator), and Dead Space 3 for expanding its mythology to a place that makes the Necromorph menace even more horrifying than it ever was before.


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    Last week we showed you a preview of the upcoming animated horror-fantasy web series Hail to the King, based on the chart-topping sixth studio album from legendary rockers Avenged Sevenfold. This week the popular site Machinima has made the entire six-episode series available for streaming on their Happy Hour YouTube channel.
     
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    Hail to the King is directed by Jon Schnepp, producer of Adult Swim's splattery cult hit Metalocalypse, with which it shares some stylistic similarities (but way more monsters). The series chronicles the escapades of the Deathbat, the band's famous skull-faced mascot and anti-hero.
     
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    It also serves as a prologue to the storyline for the highly-anticipated Hail to the King: Deathbat game app, which is slated for an early 2014 release. You'll hear more about that soon, but right now you can fire up a mini-marathon via the player below!
     

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    We frequently disagree with movie critics on their critiques of horror films. It seems that the majority of mainstream film critics are not able to accept horror films for what they are intended to do: scare the audience and entertain. For a lot of fans, horror films are a form of escapism; they give viewers with an outlet to relax and unwind. We think it’s important for critics to consider the intent of a film when providing criticism. Not every horror film is meant to be taken seriously or to make a profound statement and we think that’s ok. 

    We are left wondering if mainstream film critics dismiss horror features as a lesser art form and perhaps tend to view them as not worth their time. In light of that, FEARnet has been running a recurring a piece exploring good horror movies that received ‘rotten’ reviews on the aggregate film rating site Rotten Tomatoes. Since the series has proved popular, we are bringing you a third installment.

    If you missed Round I, Round II or Round III, or Round IV check them out now. 

    Happy Birthday to Me 33%

    This J. Lee Thompson slasher film is noteworthy for a crazy twist ending, a variety of unusual death scenes, and for featuring a grown up Melissa Sue Anderson (from Little House on the Prairie). Happy Birthday to Me is a really fun film; it doesn’t take it too seriously, but it shouldn’t be dismissed. Critics asserted that the film was boring, lacking style, and a mere footnote in the slasher sub-genre. We couldn’t disagree more; we think that Happy Birthday to Me is an eighties slasher staple with great effects that has mostly stood the test of time. 

    Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter 24%

    Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is one of the most well crafted entries in the franchise. It boasts fantastic effects, an epic ending. Joseph Zito (The Prowler) directed TheFinal Chapter and special effects wizard Tom Savini provided the makeup effects. This is a standout entry in the franchise for most fans. Unfortunately, not everyone saw that; the film was condemned for a variety of reasons. Critics seemed to think that the film, while it had a talented cast, was a waste of time. Perhaps they are forgetting about the Dead Fuck dance moves? Did they not see Crispin Glover moving around like he was having a seizure? Surely if the critics had witnessed this, the film would have a Rotten Tomatoes rating of ‘fresh’. 

    The Sentinel 50%

    This Michael Winner (Death Wish) film is classic seventies horror cinema. It is noteworthy both for its well-executed special effects and the film’s creepy, surreal atmosphere. The way that The Sentinel melded religious elements with horror conventions made for a highly enjoyable viewing experience. The Sentinel boasts a very talented cast: Chris Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Burgess Meredith, John Carradine, and that’s just scratching the surface. Critics accused The Sentinel of being too derivative of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, but in all fairness, the similarities are only skin deep. The Sentinel stands firmly on its own and certainly does not disappoint. The sequence with Alison’s father engaged in sexual exploration with two much younger woman is, truly bizarre, and totally unexpected. 

    Freddy vs. Jason 41%

    Obviously, this Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky) film isn’t Oscar caliber, but it is a lot of fun. Seeing Fred Krueger and Jason Voorhees together for the first time – other than a partial interaction at the end of Jason Goes to Hell – was a total blast. The third act features a final showdown between two of the most legendary silver screen psychopaths that is like a horror fan’s wet dream. Critics called the protagonists ‘dumb teenagers” and said that the film had no plot. Admittedly, the plot is a bit thin and the characters are not highly developed but if you’re looking for highly developed characters and an intricate plot, you are missing the point. The purpose of Freddy vs. Jason is to see two big time film legends go head to head and duke it out; on that level, the film fully delivers. 

    All the Boys Love Mandy Lane 41%

    Directed by Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies), this contemporary slasher film is infused with a higher level of intelligence than most movies of its ilk. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is well cast; Amber Heard was a likable and convincing lead and the performances from the rest of the cast are above average. Critics asserted that the film wasn’t thoughtful or incisive and that it was popcorn entertainment at best. We think that Mandy Lane is a smart slasher that doesn’t conform to all of the traditional horror conventions. The film is a worthy slasher that you should seek out if you haven’t had the pleasure. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was in distribution limbo for years but it has finally made its way to DVD and Blu ray. 


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    Gentle Giant Merle Dixon

    In the past couple weeks here on FEARnet, we've featured new and upcoming Walking Dead toys from McFarlane, Funko and ThreeZero, and now it's time for Gentle Giant to get in on the fun.

    Gentle Giant had one of the most impressive showcases at this year's San Diego Comic Con, with all kinds of incredible Walking Dead collectibles on display.  Today, we've got a closer look at one of their upcoming statues that is sure to have you reaching for your wallet and pulling out your credit card.

    I don't think I'm spoiling anything by informing anyone that the stubborn Merle Dixon was killed off last season, his brother Daryl forced to put him down after he turned into a walker.  Despite how much trouble Merle caused throughout the show, it was nevertheless a highly emotional moment, and it's always heartbreaking to see a character you've spent so much time with suddenly become a zombie.  Gentle Giant has absolutely nailed the look of undead Merle with this new 1/4 scale statue, a limited edition, hand-painted offering that perfectly captures one of last season's most horrifying and memorable moments.

    The Merle Dixon statue is set for release on December 31st of next year, with a price tag of $399 attached to it.  A long time to wait, but by the looks of this bad boy, it'll be more than worth the wait!


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    Who has time to shrink their own heads nowadays? Not you, I'm sure! So buy some, pre-shrunk. In the spirit of the modern era, where everything is made smaller and lighter, you can get your shrunken heads even shrunkier. This miniature shrunken head ornaments can hang on your Christmas tree, but after the holidays, attatch it to your keys or backpack or rearview mirror, so you can enjoy the shrunkenness year-round.

    $19 at The Evolution Store


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    Real Jurassic Park

    If you've ever watched Jurassic Park - and I'm guessing you have - then I can be pretty sure that you've found yourself pondering how awesome it would be to actually step foot inside of a real dinosaur-filled theme park... am I right?  Well guess what?  Now you can.  And if that's not a Christmas miracle, then there is no such thing as a Christmas miracle.

    Palmersaurus Dinosaur Park

    As we spotted over on the website Sploid, the Palmersaurus Dinosaur Park just opened this month in Australia's Palmer Coolum Resort, and it's home to nearly 200 animatronic dinosaurs that move, fly, hatch and roar.  All species of dinos are on display inside the world's coolest theme park, ranging in length from 8 feet to a massive 72 feet, with the tallest of the beasts standing 33 feet high.  The park is the brain-child of billionaire mining tycoon Clive Palmer, and the idea behind the creation was quite clearly to make visitors feel like they stepped foot on the set of Jurassic Park.  It's literally like the movie come to life... minus the dated CG effects.

    Check out a video tour of the Palmersaurus Dinosaur Park below, and see more pictures on Buzzfeed!


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    Dark-pop artist Guinevere is not only a triple-threat singer, songwriter and producer (with hit singles like “Fly Away” scoring high marks on the dance charts this year), she's also a self-professed geek, with mad gaming skills and a passion for horror. That genre love comes through in a major way in the video for her latest hit “Ran for My Life,” which pays homage to The Walking Dead and Michael Jackson's Thriller (which, by the way, turned 30 years old this month – check out our tribute here).
     
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    With acclaimed and prolific music video director Dale “Rage” Resteghini at the helm, the clip features high-quality zombie makeup and tight choreography, plus some pretty inventive kills (I'm partial to the blender scene myself). Check it out below!
     
     
    If you dig this version of the video, be sure to visit Guinevere's official site to play an interactive “choose-your-own” variant, in which you can alter the outcome by picking which ways the heroine dispatches the living dead.

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