Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fuckin' Fantastic Fiction Follow-Up



There's been a healthy amount of interest in the previous post, so I'm following up with some related items.

These Greenhall/Hamilton novels, though not as well known as Baxter, are also must-reads. Both employ the author's patented 1st person point of view, and are written with the familiar sardonic dryness one expects after the previous two novels. 







As noted in correspondence from regular attendee here, Soiled Sinema, a writer of considerable note himself, Gregory A. Douglas's The Nest is cockroach heaven for those inclined towards the genre. The British Devil's Coach Horse, by Richard Lewis, also mined this terrain.



The seriously underrated Stephen Gregory delivered on the promise of The Cormorant with this '88 novel from St. Martin's Press. The Ramsey Campbell blurb is justified, as are the other reviews that hint at the book's themes of "obsession" and "breakdown". Gregory does obsession extremely well, and it's pitiful that his debut didn't earn the attention of something like Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory.



 Higgs' follow-up to The Happy Man was another grim outing with a solid thread of nihilism.

Recently, I reviewed Nathan Tyree's Mr. Overby Is Falling on this blog, and commented on the book's chilling nihilism. Higgs achieves an equal measure of nihilism here, and delivers a superb climax. 

It's a shame he abandoned the horror genre. I'd love to know why.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fuckin' Fantastic Fiction



Elizabeth, one of the greatest horror novels ever written, is on nobody's '100 Best Horror Books' list, but I don't care.  I recommend it -- and all the books below -- with no reservations.



Don't expect lists of 'Guilty Pleasures' from me because 'Guilty Pleasures' are for withering dickweeds who spent their youth listening to priests spouting bullshit while copping illegal reach-arounds. 



The authors of all these books are not household names, but they're welcome in my house any time.

These authors can write. By Christ, they can write! 



These masterpieces explore evil and chaos and anarchy, and smell of truth. 



All these books influenced me greatly, and reminded me that the greatest storytelling comes from unique voices, voices that aren't afraid to speak, aren't afraid to tell.
 


I love these books. I treasure them. I'm grateful for their existence.



 They're the work of brave people, of shameless adventurers of the soul.



They push established boundaries, they shun convention. 


Embrace them as I have.

You won't be sorry.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Are Giant Prey Mantises Part of Your World?


I'm not sure how comfortably Pierce Nace's Eat Them Alive fits into your world, but I can assure you it fits very well into mine.


I've written about this brilliant, audacious, and truly magnificent book twice before, and you can bet I'll be writing about it again. Being the stunning work of art that it is, it lies where it wants in my world, isn't required to work, and never incurs my wrath.


How could it? With a mug like this?


When Nace decided to out-Herbert James Herbert's The Rats (and associated vermin), and out-Smith Guy N. Smith's Night of the Crabs (and associated crustaceans), he/she (nobody knows Nace's true identity) didn't mess around. The book is a celebratory gore-fest of unrepentant violence and spirited insect rape, a poem to literary extremity. It is the sorry tale of a Man/Hero/Villain named Dyke whose penis is liberated by a nasty gang. Unable to forgive and forget the dismissal of his manhood, Dyke gathers an army of giant prey mantises to exact revenge on all who've done him wrong -- which is pretty much everybody, as you could imagine. If you're wondering where Dyke found mantises willing to assist him with his revenge campaign, I should mention that he happened to be close to an erupting volcano at the time, and, lucky for him, the eruption vomited up some sleepy giants of the mantis variety. Turns out dear old Dyke wasn't born under an unlucky star afterall. 


I Google "Eat Them Alive by Pierce Nace" quite often, hoping to scavenge another tidbit of its mysterious parentage. This morning over breakfast, I came across a youtube clip in which a young horror fan discusses his eight favorite horror books. One of them, it turns out, is Eat Them Alive. God bless this son of Britain! He also lavishes schoolboy praise on Barker's Weaveworld, King's It and Misery, and HG Wells's Island of Dr. Moreau

Check the fine lad out here: h**p://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIk7n3EcSTw   (replace *'s, of course)

Eat Them Alive is set on an island called Malpelo, and what happens on Malpelo is something I'm sure old HG would have been quite excited about. Islands are rarely boring. I know that. HG knew it.


There is some speculation that Nace is a woman: Evelyn Pierce Nace, an American crime author. Being extremely familiar with the Nace novel (I've read it at least five times), I'd be surprised if it were written by a woman. The passages of salacious dismemberment feel like the emptying of a male brain. Then again, castration does play a significant role in matters. Few males fantasize about that.


If you haven't read it, why the hell not? You're denying yourself one of the world's greatest literary experiences. You're starving your brain of something extraordinary, the likes of which it has never reckoned with before.

Make Eat Them Alive part of your furniture, part of your world.


Live a little.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

DVD's and Blu-Rays You Must Not miss


If you enjoyed the brilliant Animalada (Synapse), you'll appreciate this unofficial companion film on the same subject. Director Ulrich Seidl has a unique voice and a sharp eye for composition. 


Graeme Whifler's Neighborhood Watch was retitled Deadly End, a shitty, generic title. But don't be fooled. This ultra-dark and disturbing horror flick has a Stuart Gordon sensibility and grim intentions. It's set in a world not unlike Gordon's King of the Ants crossed with the paranoia landscape of Arlington Road. 


Recommended to me by my dear friend John Arden, a true aficionado of cinema, it's a strange and fascinating '72 flick that bears similarities to Bob Clark's Deathdream, but it's a unique beast that blends a simple love story with a tale of grotesque dread. The horror is too undercooked for some (read most reviews), but I liked it very much, and thought it massively original.


Nothing I can add to the chorus of approval on this little number, the late Ken Russell's epic on religious hysteria. The BFI DVD is as good as this film will ever look on anything but Blu-Ray.  


A new transfer from the Brits, excellent liner notes, and a fine piece of foreign poster art. The film almost feels quaint now in a Fred West kind of way.  


This ball-tearing crime drama (a British four-parter) features a killer cast and enough violence, intrigue, sleaze, and appalling behavior to power a movie studio for a month. Underseen and underappreciated, it is a revelation, and more than equal to material churning from paycablers such as HBO.

I know grotesque, so when I say this is truly grotesque, trust me. Bondage Game doesn't begin to describe the glorious, brain-damaged filth on display here. Only for true enthusiasts. 

True crime is going ratings-crazy on Australian TV, and there seems to be a new recreation of some criminal's appalling life every time you open the TV guide. This assembly of appalling behavior is hard-hitting and as fascinating as Chopper.   
 

Andrzej Zulawski's L'Amour Braque is riveting stuff, and this DVD from Mondo Vision is essential.


Stunning Hungarian classic about a serial seducer is given immaculate restoration treatment by the UK's Second Run.


Almost a lost movie until now, Lost Boundaries, from the Warner Archives, tells the fascinating and true story of a black doctor who decides to be a white man (for good reason). A true curiosity from the 40's.

Another stellar recommendation from the indefatigable Mr. Arden, this true New Zealand crime drama focuses on a notorious shooter who became the worst mass murderer in the country's history. Directed in a documentary-like style, it assembles character details (of victims and shooter) that are jaw-dropping.    


Love the book, loved the film when I first saw it almost two decades ago. This new Blu-Ray from Summit is of the highest quality, and there are some fantastic extras including a directory commentary and vintage behind-the-scenes footage. 


This searing drama about a community's reaction to the slapping of a child at a party went off like six months of fireworks when it was first screened in Australia, triggering heated debate and much controversy. It really is an extraordinary piece of writing and filmmaking, and is blessed with incredible performances.   


This Blu-Ray of one of the best films ever made is demonstration quality, and it stands the test of time like no other. 

Six staggering installments in which cameras not only follow, but actually ride the backs of birds in flight as they cross the world in search of food. Stunning photography, a rousing score, and a celebration of a creature whose ingenuity knows no bounds. One of the best nature documentaries I've ever seen.

This is funny. It's a restoration (from Legend Films) of Plan 9 (for colorization purposes). The best part: The "extra" is the original, black and white version (also restored), so all is forgiven. Great to see Ed getting his due. 


This just arrived today. From the rundown of what it includes on the back cover, it's obligatory viewing. From Synapse.