Posts tagged: horror

Dead Space: Salvage Book Review

By , January 24, 2016

Dead Space: Salvage by Antony JohnstonDead Space: Salvage
by Antony Johnston

To tell you about this graphic novel, I must give a little background about the world of Dead Space. Dead Space takes place about 300-500 years in the future where the Earth is dying. Resources have become so limited that the people of Earth have started mining planets for resources, and have colonized several moons and planets. Even so, humanity is slowly heading towards extinction. Around 2308, a group of scientists find an object buried near the Yucatan Penisula. The object soon becomes known as the Marker, and is simultaneously worshipped (Unitoligists) and researched (EarthGov). The government hopes that with the Marker’s help humanity will be saved from extinction. Those who worship the artifact believe that the Marker will save humanity through a process called Convergence. The Marker has its own plans.

This graphic novel takes place right after the events of the main game, Dead Space. The Red Marker, a man-made version of the original artifact, has been put back on the planet Aegis VII.  The USG Ishimura (the first game’s setting) is floating in space, and the Earth Government is looking for the ship. Unitologist leaders, unimpressed with EarthGov’s methods of discovery, decide to take control of the mission. Why does a religious group have this much overt  power of the government, you ask? Suffice it to say that the Dead Space universe is really bad, even without the scary, stab-happy monsters.

In another part of the galaxy, a freelance salvage crew on a ship called the Black Beak spots the USG Ishimura.They decide to go on board and see what can scavenged and sold. If you are familiar with the Dead Space franchise, then you know that things turn bad very fast. When the crew of the Black Beak board the USG Ishimura all systems are down; the ship has gone completely dark! There is an organic sludge covering everything, and some red crystals sticking into the hull of the Ishimura, but not soul appears to be home. The salvage crew decides to bring the shards on board while looking for salvageable materials. The Black Beard crew starts screaming and disappearing, and monsters start to take their place.

Besides the writing, I really liked the artwork because it reminds of watercolor paintings. The panels are pretty dark with a lot of blues, blacks, and grays being used.  If you’ve ever looked at the concept drawings,or alternative cover drawings, in the back of most comic books, then that’s what the actual panels look like. The darkness of the panels, to me, parallel the bleakness of the universe that Dead Space encompasses.

Book review: The Day of the Triffids

By , October 29, 2015

Triffids-2You might not expect a novel about killer plants to be thoroughly lacking in over-the-top corniness, but John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids handily pulls it off.

William Masen awakes one morning to find that he is among the few humans in London who still possess the capacity for sight. The reason for sudden widespread blindness involves a meteoric event, and the circumstances that most of the helpless citizens find themselves in are scary enough without the addition of a more sentient threat: large, hostile plants known as “triffids”. Without specific safety precautions – the removal of a ten-foot-long stinging stem that can be wielded by the plants with amazing accuracy – the triffids are dangerous organisms, chiefly because they are both carnivorous and mobile. A city (and perhaps a country?) full of blind persons is no match for both a crumbling society and a giant deadly weed. Depressing, right?

An element of hopelessness is certainly present in Wyndham’s novel, but it’s more frequently both fascinating in its depiction of a strange concept, and gripping in its realistic narrative. Forget for a moment the fact that this story was adapted for film in 1963; while that version might be plenty entertaining in its own way, the source material compels because of its believability and the grounded nature of the story. At only 222 pages, you’ve got time to fit this SF classic from 1951 into your schedule!

- Ben

Popmatic Podcast for October 14, 2015: SHOCK-tober

By , October 14, 2015

Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy CartoonsSHOCK-tober is when Halloween lasts all month. SHOCK-tober is when Halloween takes over the Popmatic Podcast. Will Amanda die of fright? Will guest host Mike remember to talk about something library owns? Will Bryan throw so many snobs cards he dislocates an elbow? Will horror fanatic Bill wonder why he—who always remembers to talk about something the library owns—is not hosting the SHOCK-tober episode? All this and more on this week’s episode of the Popmatic Podcast. Plus—what is tickling our fancy this week.


The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

Catherine Coulson as the Log Lady in Twin Peaks

Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons by Gahan Wilson

Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird

Gahan Wilson’s Gravedigger’s Party by Gahan Wilson

Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archive’s Volume 1 by Steve Ditko

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko by Blake Bell

In Search of Steve Ditko

Original Music from Tales from the Crypt


My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

Going Clear

B Movie TV Roku Channel

Shock’em Dead

12 Hours of Terror at the Belcourt

Ash vs. Evil Dead


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book Review: Scowler

By , July 4, 2015

Scowler by Daniel KrausScowler
By Daniel Kraus

I came across Scowler while at the library. I did not check it out at that point, because while it piqued my interest, I am always somewhat hesitant to pick up teen novels. Many teen novels that I have read have diverse plots, and are well written. However, I would quickly discover that a major part of the books’ focus are on the main characters’ love lives— a love triangle usually ensues. I like romance in small doses. When I realized this book was a Horror/Suspense novel, I quickly ran to check it out from the library.

Ry Burke is 19 years old young man itching to be free from his mother, but who feels totally responsible for her and his sister. He vacillates between wanting to leave and go to college, and then wanting to stay on their farm in Iowa because it’s all he knows. Ry finds himself in a situation where he has to defend himself, and his family. Therefore, he calls upon old protectors to help him out once again: the kind Mr. Furrington, the wise Jesus, and the bloodthirsty Scowler.

The story opens with the anticipation of a coming meteor shower in the 1980s. It is made clear that this event will be central to the plot and characters involved. We then jump to 10 years prior, when events start unfolding in the Burke household that shine a light on the current situation.

Kraus presents a very frank (and sometimes horrifying) look at the impact violence, abuse, and mental health issues have on people (children, in particular). Therefore, readers should be aware that there are scenes that have uncensored cursing, nudity, and intimate situations in them. I would definitely recommend this book to adults and teens alike.

Book review: Bury Him Darkly

By , May 29, 2015

Bury Him DarklyBury Him Darkly

by John Blackburn

What is it about ancient vaults moldering in the bowels of abandoned, crumbling estates that compel folks to want to open ‘em? Every dang time.

In John Blackburn’s Bury Him Darkly, the folks in question include a wealthy industrialist, an obsessive biographer, an elderly German scientist, a respected scholar and a local journalist. Each has their own reason for wanting the Church – responsible for protecting the security of Martin Railstone’s tomb, according to his final and specific instructions – to finally allow the opening of the crypt before the valley is flooded as part of a civil engineering project. Most of these reasons revolve around the possibility that Railstone was a genius and was buried with important works of art and science. On the opposing team is the Dean of Lanchester, convinced that the deceased individual was likely insane and definitely evil.

Part of the appeal of this author’s storytelling, as pointed out in Greg Gbur’s introduction, is the unpredictable nature of the narrative. The premise above is straightforward enough, but likely not to develop into quite what you expect. Blackburn penned novels from the late 50’s all the way up through the mid-80’s, and his specialty was the efficient and entertaining thriller, often a mixed genre bag of mystery, SF, horror, and espionage. This tale, from 1969, falls into three of those four categories, and is the only work by this author that the library currently owns, sadly. You can always change that!

But if you’re not really that into the take-charge, hands-on approach to collection development, at least give this slim novel a try and enjoy some vintage thrills.

- Ben

Book Review: Dead Space: Martyr

By , April 26, 2015

Dead Space: Martyr
By Brian Evenson

The Earth is dying, the human race is circling down the drain, and something has been found in the Chicxulub crater, under the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. This incredible discovery has the ability to change the course of human existence, but are people really prepared for the consequences it could bring?

Dead Space: Martyr is a prequel to the popular horror video game, Dead Space. “Martyr” delves into the founding of a new religion called Unitology, and the Marker–a mysterious object that the practitioners worship. The novel mainly follows Michael Altman as he investigates the alien artifact found in the Chicxulub crater, the impact Altman has on the world after making his discovery, and how he feels about his role towards both.

The book is well written, and the author does a superb job pulling together numerous elements from the Dead Space video game to create a fluid story. There are several nods to the game that might go over some readers heads, though they never take away from intensity of the novel. I really appreciated the sense of dread and  paranoia that many of the characters experience. The feelings that I got from the book were not exactly the same as what I got from the video game, but it was close enough to send a chill down my spine.



Book List: YA Horror

By , March 1, 2015

The Vanishing Season  
by Jodi Lynn Anderson

“Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter’s come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I’ve watched the danger swell. The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I’m the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I’m tied–it seems–to this house, this street, this town. I’m tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don’t know why. I think it’s because death is coming for one of them, or both. All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.”


Long Lankin
by Lindsey Barraclough

In an exquisitely chilling debut novel, four children unravel the mystery of a family curse — and a ghostly creature known in folklore as Long Lankin. When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less-than-warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don’t know is that their aunt’s life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries — before it’s too late for little Mimi.


The Sin-Eaters Confession  
by Ilsa Bick

People in Merit, Wisconsin, always said Jimmy was . . . you know. But people said all sorts of stupid stuff. Nobody really knew anything. Nobody really knew Jimmy. 
“I guess you could say I knew Jimmy as well as anyone (which was not very well). I knew what scared him. And I knew he had dreams—even if I didn’t understand them. Even if he nearly ruined my life to pursue them.
“Jimmy’s dead now, and I definitely know that better than anyone. I know about blood and bone and how bodies decompose. I know about shadows and stones and hatchets. I know what a last cry for help sounds like. I know what blood looks like on my own hands. ”


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown   
by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave. One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself. 


Pretty Girl- 13   
by Liz Coley

Pretty girl 13 when she went missing lost to her family to her friends to the world found but still missing her self In Liz Coley’s alarming and fascinating psychological mystery, sixteen-year-old Angie Chapman must piece together the story of her kidnapping and abuse.




by Daniel Kraus

Imagine your father is a monster. Would that mean there are monsters inside you, too? Nineteen-year-old Ry Burke, his mother, and little sister eke out a living on their dying family farm. Ry wishes for anything to distract him from the grim memories of his father’s physical and emotional abuse. Then a meteorite falls from the sky, bringing with it not only a fragment from another world but also the arrival of a ruthless man intent on destroying the entire family. Soon Ry is forced to defend himself by resurrecting a trio of imaginary childhood protectors: kindly Mr. Furrington, wise Jesus, and the bloodthirsty Scowler. 


 I Hunt Killers  
by Barry Lyga

It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful field. Except for the body. Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say. But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, “Take Your Son to Work Day” was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminals’ point of view. And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod. Again. In an effort to prove murder doesn’t run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?


More Than This
by Patrick Ness

 A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this.


 Beware the Wild 
by Natalie C. Parker

There’s something about the swamp in Sticks, Louisiana. Something different, something haunting . . . something alive. Everyone knows this, and everyone avoids going near it. And even the Mardi Gras-bead-decorated fence that surrounds it keeps people away. Until one morning when Sterling Saucier’s older brother, Phineas, runs into the swamp . . . And doesn’t return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out in his place, and all of a sudden, no one in Sticks remembers Phin at all. They treat Lenora May as if she’s been Sterling’s sister forever. Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp’s done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance–but first she’s got to find someone who believes her. Heath Durham might be that someone. A loner shrouded behind rumors of drug addiction, Heath has had his own strange experience with the swamp. He and Sterling will have to piece together enough bits of memory and ancient swamp lore to get to the truth. But as the wild swamp encroaches on their town, Sterling and Heath may find a lot more than they expected . . . and Phin may be lost to them forever.


The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best.  The Guardians will protect and serve.  The Unconsecrated will never relent.  And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. Now, she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?


Last Night I Sang to the Monster
by Benjamin Alire Saenz

 Zach is eighteen. He is bright and articulate. He’s also an alcoholic and in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn’t remember how he got there. He’s not sure he wants to remember. Something bad must have happened. Something really, really bad. Remembering sucks and being alive, well, what’s up with that? (School Library Journal)




The Madman’s Daughter
by Megan Shepard

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London–working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true. Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward–both of whom she is deeply drawn to–Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius–and madness–in her own blood. Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.

by Neal Shusterman

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away. 


The Monstrumologist
by Rick Yancey

“These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.” So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was feeding on her, Will’s world is about to change forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagi–a headless monster that feeds through the mouthfuls of teeth in its chest–and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatenning to overtake and consume our world before it is too late.


Book review: The Haunting of Hill House

By , October 30, 2014

hauntingThe Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

If you haven’t already indulged in some literary eeriness this October, there’s still time. And if you like your seasonal reading both creepy and critically loved, why not step this way?

Widely hailed as one of the best haunted house tales of all time, Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House is an excellent example of supernatural fiction that incorporates a healthy dose of psychological terror. In fact, there are several distinct opinions held by fans and critics regarding the nature of the story’s frightening elements. Thankfully, we won’t go into that minor debate here.

The story itself concerns four individuals coming together to spend a summer in Hill House, an old country estate with a less than happy history. Managing the proceedings is a doctor who aims to document paranormal activity in the house and who has invited individuals with past unexplained phenomena to join him in the experiment. Only two show up, while a third person – the eventual heir to the house – joins the group to represent the family interests.

The author gives each character a distinct personality, but events in the week that follows are primarily seen through the eyes of Eleanor, one of the two respondents who accept the doctor’s invitation. Our peek into Eleanor’s emotional and mental landscape reveals a complex inner life, putting Jackson’s literary talent on full display. A far cry from blunt, gory, or hardcore horror, this classy ghost story can still deliver a memorably chilling experience.


Also, be sure not to miss the superb 1963 film adaptation!… haunting-dvd






…without confusing it with this other film, of course…which is fun in its own, Vincent-Price-ish way…





houseonhauntedhill-2…and has its own remake, unsurprisingly.






Plenty to enjoy with a day left in October!

- Ben

Popmatic Podcast September 10th, 2014: Critical Rehab

By , September 10, 2014

Tales by H.P. LovecraftThis week we give some needlessly maligned books, movies, and music some critical rehabilitation. You know, things like, um, Led Zeppelin(?). Then a fight breaks out about opera because LIBRARIANS.


Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls

Sophia Petrillo from Golden Girls

Jack Shephard from Lost

Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Tales by H.P. Lovecraft

The Library of America

Henry Kuttner

Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin

Only God Forgives

Tangerine Dream CD | Freegal | Hoopla

A Tribute to Bob Dylan in the 80s: Volume 1

One More Try” covered by Iron and Wine on A.V. Club Undercover


All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor

Tennessee Volksfest

Lullaby and… the Ceaseless Roar by Robert Plant

Hansel and Gretel by Beni Montresor

The Witches of Venice by Philip Glass



Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book review: Ringstones

By , May 3, 2014


by Sarban

Ah, Spring…when a young man’s fancy turns to love…when the pagan rites of old return to haunt the living. Isn’t that the saying?

Subtlety is a characteristic too often missing from much supernatural fiction, but one that can leave a stronger impression than blatant horrors or obvious menace. A perfect example of this style of weird tale is Ringstones, by Sarban.

A young woman takes a summer job as governess to three children at an estate in a remote area of Northumberland.

Let’s review.

The words “governess”, “estate”, and “remote” appear together in a single sentence – first red flag.

However, despite this bad omen (and because otherwise we would have no tale), Daphne Hazel accepts the position and the weeks that follow are full of lovely days spent educating and frolicking. Mostly. Except that you know that this is a “tale of dark and mordant horror”, as the book cover states, and the less said the better about the nature of that horror.

Sarban, whose real name was John Wall, only published three books, all during a short period of output in the late 40’s and early 50’s. His approach is often understated, but his writing is elegant and his suggestions are effective. As the weather warms up and the days get longer, it’s the perfect time for an atmospheric excursion to the English countryside (pagan rites included)!

- Ben

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