Archive for the ‘Scary Stuff’ Category

Okay, technically this film is a 2019 film, but it’s being released in the States in 2021, so that’s the designation I’m going with.

Also, just a little background for my non-Jewish readers: in Judaism, it’s traditional that when someone dies, the body is constantly watched over and had Psalms recited over in order to comfort the soul of the deceased. The person doing this is known as a shomer, or a guardian. Usually this is done by friends and family of the deceased, but occasionally people are paid to be shomrim. This is all explained in the movie, I just wanted to put it upfront here.

And to complain that nobody ever hired me to be a shomer while I was job hunting. Seriously, I have experience with dead bodies and I charge reasonable rates. I would have been great at it!

Okay, onto the review. The Vigil follows Yaakov Ronen, a Jewish man who has left his ultra-Orthodox community for a more moderate style of Jewish living after a terrible tragedy befalls him. His old rabbi asks him to be a shomer for a man who has recently died. Desperate for money, Yaakov agrees, but soon finds himself up against an ancient evil that oppressed the deceased in life, and is now looking for a new victim to torment.

Wow, this movie did not disappoint. It took what could have been just regular popcorn horror movie fodder and made something really amazing out of it. Camera work and lighting is used really effectively to build a tense, creepy mood. There are these long, uncomfortable moments where we’re forced to watch as Yaakov uses his phone or gets comfortable around the body, which is laying in the living room under a shroud like something out of the Victorian era. You really get to know the folds and creases in the blanket, and it makes things creepy and disconcerting.

The monster of the movie, a Jewish demon called a mazzik,* is also well done. I’ve said this before, but showing too much of the monster can backfire on films, especially in popcorn horror films. Thankfully, the filmmakers keep the mazzik hard to see throughout the film, and that only adds to the terror. Like no matter what, you can’t truly see, let alone comprehend, this creature.

Add in some mind games right out of the movie Oculus and a couple of nods to Nightmare on Elm Street, and you’ve got one hell of a scary film.

It’s also a deeply personal film. Yaakov, played with powerful pathos by Dave Davies, is a very sympathetic character. He’s dealing with PTSD, he’s struggling with himself, his faith, and making his way through this world. The events of the film really force him to confront what he’s been dealing with and it’s amazing to watch.

I could find something to dislike with this film, but I would be nitpicking. On a scale of 1 to 5, The Vigil stands at a solid 4.2. Creepy and dark, led by a lead you can identify with, you won’t be able to turn away. The film is currently available through Amazon, so grab a seat, pour some kosher wine, and get ready for an unnervingly good time.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back soon, believe me. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

*And yes, I think we can be sure mazzik and the plural mazzikim is the source of the name for the comic book character and the character we love and adore in Lucifer.

Wow, I’m writing this post way later than expected. I blame the busy day I had. After work, I had to run errands, and then I had administrative work to do (answering emails, sending emails, setting things in motion, etc.), and I had to eat dinner…I’m sorry. I’m not sure why I’m bothering you guys with this stuff either.

Anyway, as you can tell from the title of this post, “Agoraphobia” is three weeks away from being released. This short story is about a man with severe agoraphobia and anxiety who is forced to leave his home due to a hurricane bearing down on his house. It’s a creepy, delicious little tale of dealing with your darkness under the most dire circumstances.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, then guess what? The story is available for preorder right now. I’ll leave the links below. I hope you’ll check the story out. And if you do, I hope you’ll let me know what you think somehow. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers. And if you leave reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, it helps me out in the long run, as well as give readers a better idea of whether or not a story is worth their time.

(Hopefully you consider mine worth your time.)

Anyway, the story will release March 16th, so I’ll be posting reminders right up until release day. Hopefully you won’t be sick of me by then.

Also, if you’re wondering if there’s a physical version for the story, there will be. However, it, like “Mother of the King,” will only be available as chapbooks at events I attend as a vendor. Sorry, but that’s just the business strategy I’m trying out. (Click here to find out what events I’m going to attend this year. Click here to find out what the hell a chapbook is.)

Speaking of “Mother of the King,” I’ll leave links for that below as well. It just received its tenth review on Amazon (and five stars, no less!), so you should go and check it out. Or you can check out my short story collection, The Quiet Game; my serial killer horror-thriller novel Snake; or my fantasy-horror Rose. Any one of them will be worth your time. I’ll include links below.

Alright, that’s enough self-promotion. I’ve got a busy week ahead of me, so I’ll be mostly focused on that. However, you should see me again by the end of the week, if a certain film is released to streaming as promised. Until next time, good night, my Followers of Fear, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

Agoraphobia:Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quite Game: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

I read the book back in 2018 and loved it (would have done a review, but I think by that point it had been out a while). I was excited when I heard that it was getting a show…and then sad when I heard it would be on HBO. However, now I have HBO Max, so I was able to watch the show. Which I finished watching today. As I’m obligated to do, I’m writing a review.

Based on the novel by Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Freeman, a black soldier living in 1950s America who returns home to Chicago after receiving a mysterious letter from his estranged father Montrose, stating he is in Arkham, Massachusetts, a location from the works of HP Lovecraft. Turns out, it’s actually a secret community called Ardham, but that doesn’t change how fantastical life gets for Atticus. Pretty soon, his life starts to resemble a Lovecraft story, involving secret societies of sorcerers and magic, ancient history, and entities that defy reality and biology. And it may end up putting Atticus and his whole family in danger.

So, it would be more fair to say this is a variation on the novel’s story than a direct adaptation. The first season acknowledges the concept of a multiverse and uses that to explain the changes from the novel. Some of these changes are minor–some names or genders are changed, roles are reduced or expanded, etc. Others are good, such as the expansion of Montrose’s character to be a meaningful exploration of a man with a troubled past still effecting his present. And others just made me scratch my head.

An example of this would be the creation of the character Ji-ah, a character from Atticus’s past who knows more than she lets on. On the one hand, I get why they added her and they tried to make her inclusion into the story important to the plot. At the same time, I feel like this whole character’s reason was diversity for diversity’s sake, which is an odd choice considering the show.

As for the rest of Lovecraft Country, it was great for the most part. The writing in even the dullest episodes was superb, and the actors were awesome. There were several scary moments, such as the events of the first two episodes and episode eight. The exploration of racism in America was powerfully done as well, drawing many parallels between events then and now (and making me want to know more about the Tulsa race riots. I do not remember learning about that in school).

If you haven’t checked out the novel, that’s also worth the read.

However, there were some downsides. The actress playing the villainess, Abbey Lee, played her role so emotionlessly I wondered if she couldn’t get into her character’s head, let alone play her convincingly. A lot of the music choices were modern rap or music from well past the 1950s, which honestly felt out of place in a historical fantasy-horror piece. And there were a few episodes where things kind of dragged for me.

Like the novel, Lovecraft Country the TV series isn’t perfect, but there’s plenty there to enjoy and make the watch worth it. You’re going to get different things from each iteration of the story, so it’s up to you which one you prefer.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ll give the first season of Lovecraft Country a 3.7. Combining horror, magic, heavy themes and great characterization, it’s worth the hype I heard. A second season may be in the works, but until we get confirmation one way or another, there’s still plenty of time to check it out. Get on HBO Max if you can and prepare for a powerful experience.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to work on stories I doubt will ever get their own adaptations (though it can’t hurt to try). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

Not sure when I first heard of this book or its author (might have been a documentary about the history of zombies I saw around Halloween), but I looked both the book and its author up and was like, “Huh, that sounds interesting.” The original plan was to listen to the audio book as part of my Black History Month/Women in Horror Month reading in February, but then the move happened, and I needed something to listen to while I unpacked.

Glad I started early. And to quote one of the replies I got when I said I was going to listen to it on Twitter, “Why hasn’t this been made into a limited series yet?”

The Good House follows Angela Toussaint, a lawyer who returns to her family’s house, known by the locals as “The Good House,” two years after a horrific family tragedy tears her life in two. While up there, strange events lead her to confront a monstrous evil, something that her grandmother, the beloved and powerful priestess Marie Toussaint, battled in 1929. And this confrontation will not only have consequences for the living, but for the dead as well.

Where do I start with this book? The story, the narration, the atmosphere, it’s all done really well. Dr. Due* brings these characters and settings to life, making you really believe them. Some of my favorite parts were told from the perspectives of Marie Toussaint or Angela’s son Cory, because I could honestly believe they were real people. I also found it fascinating to listen to the parts where Vodun was explained to the readers. I don’t know much about real Vodun or voodoo, but what’s in The Good House, if based on actual belief, is a decent introduction.

And the villain, the baka,** was great! How it inserted itself into so many aspects of Angela and her family and friends’ lives, just to taunt them. Half the time, it wasn’t even trying to do anything other than scare Angela or warn her it was coming, and it was freaky. When it then got serious, it was quite the spectacle.

The one aspect I wasn’t in love with was the ending. Yeah, it was a good ending, but I kind of felt it erased a lot of the progress Angela made as a character.

On the whole, though, The Good House by Tananarive Due is a scary, engrossing story that you’ll be glad you picked up. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 4.8. Grab a copy, put on an album by the Orishas (Cuban band mentioned in the book, and they’re good when you’re in a certain mood), and start reading.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. My next audio book will be Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I’ve heard amazing things about it, so I’m looking forward to diving in and eventually giving my own review.

In the meantime, Dr. Due, if you happen to be reading this, I would love to interview you on my blog someday. If that’s something you’re cool with, let me know somehow. I’ll send you an email and we can discuss it.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

*I assume she’s a doctor or a professor, she teaches at a university.

**Or is that spelled bakka? So hard to tell with audio books. The anime fan in me hopes it’s the former, however. So many wordplay jokes to make.

Cover illustration of “Agoraphobia” by Don Noble and Rooster Republic Press

You know what one of the good things about February is? It’s easier to figure out what day something is in March and how far away it is by what the corresponding day is in February.

As many of you know, I’m releasing some of my shorter stories as e-book exclusives with the print versions only available as chapbooks at events (click here to find out what a chapbook is. Click here to here about future events I’m attending this year). Why? Because I’m constantly trying new things to expand my audience, and this is just one of them. Anyway, another one of my stories is coming out next month on March 16th. Which, as you might have noticed, is exactly a month away!

See? It’s the corresponding day in February. Works out wonderfully.

The story in question, “Agoraphobia,” is about a man with severe anxiety and agoraphobia who is forced to leave his home when a hurricane bears down on his area. Considering how anxious and agoraphobic people are during this pandemic, I think they’ll sympathize with the main character. I even based his anxiety feelings on my own feelings of anxiety, so I hope those parts will speak to readers.

Anyway, the story is available for preorder now from Amazon. I’ll leave the links below for you Followers of Fear to check out. And if you do end up reading the story, let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me out in the long run.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have work today, so I’m going to get on it. Until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

I first heard about this film last month, described as The Call of Cthulhu meets small Norwegian island and with Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator and Chopping Mall fame heavily featured in the marketing. The trailer looked cool, so I mentioned it in a post about cosmic horror becoming popular, and patiently waited for it to come out. I watched it evening, so obviously I have to write a review about it.

Based on a short story by Paul Kane* and influenced by the works of HP Lovecraft, Sacrifice follows Isaac Jorgstadt and his pregnant wife Emma as they return to the tiny Norwegian island where he lived until he was a child and his mother took him to America. As his mother has recently passed, Isaac now owns the home and has come to see if he can sell it. However, between the townsfolk’s bewildering behavior, unearthed family secrets, and strange dreams, Isaac and Emma find themselves in the crosshairs of a powerful cult worshipping an ancient and terrible god.

Pandemic or no pandemic, I think we can call this the first good horror film of 2021.

First off, the movie was really well done. The strange behavior of the townsfolk adds to this feeling of unreality in the story, which is heightened by frightening imagery and occurrences. The tension between Isaac, who becomes more and more enchanted by the island, and Emma, who is just freaked out, compounds the uneasiness we feel. And the slow-burn nature of the story ramps up in just the right way in the third act.

I also like the way HP Lovecraft’s work is incorporated into the story. Images and statues of Cthulhu–or as he’s known in the movie, “The Slumbering One”–abounds; Isaac’s name in America is Pickman, a reference to Pickman’s Model; dreams play a prominent role in the film; and of course, we get the occasional tentacles. You really enjoy stumbling across all these references and being like, “I get that!”

I always enjoy when cosmic horror is incorporated well into a non-Cthulhu Mythos film.

Excluding Barbara Crampton’s attempt at a Norwegian accent and one line that could be misconstrued as offensive to certain belief systems,** I only had one problem with the film. During the climax, the ending was epic and scary, and then that final shot felt…anticlimatic. I would have liked to see a shot of the Slumbering One or his tentacles or something. Just something more Lovecraftian and scary to end the movie with. Is that too much to ask?

All in all, though, this was a creepy and enjoyable ride. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 4.1 As of right now, it’s only available from iTunes, but I say it’s worth the cost to check out.† Especially if you can pair it with some good calamari.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to birth my own nightmares. Until next time, pleasant nightmares (or as they say in the film, “dream well”).

*Whose work I need to check out.

**That better have been a put down on female genital mutilation and not on bris milah or similar rituals, I’m just saying.

†Hopefully you have an easier time playing the movie than I did. Still not sure if that was my iTunes player or my computer, but I had so many issues with the streaming.

This day has been full of exciting stuff happening behind the scenes. In fact, quite a lot has been happening on and off the blog. I can’t go into all of it right now, but I hope to get a few out before this time next week. For now, however, there’s an important one I have to make.

As I announced previously, my next e-release will be “Agoraphobia,” a short story I wrote last year about a man with severe anxiety and agoraphobia who has contend with the possibility of leaving his home during a hurricane. It gets even worse when something gets into his home.

I haven’t talked about it since then, but guess what? I’ve finished looking over the manuscript, the cover’s been created and the release date is set. The gears, ladies and gentlemen, are moving and “Agoraphobia” will release on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021! Why that date? No reason. I just believe stories, from short stories to novels, should have a good lead up time so that as many people as possible can get excited/interested in reading it.

And now, for the cover reveal. This cover was created by Don Noble and Rooster Republic Press. They do some amazing cover work, if you’re interested (you can check out their design services here). And I have to say, I love what they’ve done with my ideas:

Pretty cool, right? It’s quite atmospheric and I love the title font. And it really evokes the hurricane element.

So, where do you get “Agoraphobia” if you’re interested? I’ve include the Amazon links below. It’s available for pre-order, and at only 99 cents (or 77 pence in Britain or $1.26 in Canada). And if you do decide to read it after it comes out, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me, as well as other readers, out in the long run.

And yes, I’m sorry that it’s only available in e-book format. Print versions will only be available at events where I’m a vendor as chapbooks. (Click here to see what events I’ll be attending and when) Yeah, it’s a marketing strategy I’m trying. Here’s hoping it pays off.

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have a marketing machine to set into motion. I hope you’re excited to read “Agoraphobia” as I am for you to read it.

And if you’re interested, or need something to read in the meantime, I’ve got some other stories available. You can check out my short story collection, The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones; my serial killer thriller novel Snake and my fantasy-horror novel Rose; or “Mother of the King,” the first story in the New Arthur Universe, a series of shorter stories centering around the return of King Arthur. I’ll include the links below. And if you decide to read any of them, let me know what you think. As I said, it helps both me and other readers out in the long run.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

The Quite Game: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Me and my roommate Jonesy in my old apartment.

Funny story: earlier this week, I found out I lost some weight, even though I hadn’t expected it (if anything, I thought I gained). I’m talking to my dad about it and say, “I’ve no idea what happened. I’ll have to watch my weight carefully for a while. Make sure I’m not going through something like out of Stephen King’s Thinner.”

My dad has never read a Stephen King novel in his life. His response was, “…okay.”

Me: “Trust me, it did not end well for the guy suddenly losing weight in that book.”

And if you count that as a spoiler, remember that book is nine years older than me. What were you doing these past thirty-seven years?

Okay, onto the meat of this post. The audience on this blog has been growing by leaps and bound lately. So first off, hi everyone. Thank you for joining the Followers of Fear. We don’t (normally) sacrifice members and there are hidden benefits to joining. Namely you’ll likely survive when I start the Apocalypse. Maybe.

Second, since there are so many of you, I thought you should know something about me and my works. First off, me: I’m a novelist from Ohio specializing in horror and dark fantasy. I like reading and writing, anime and horror movies, and being an unabashed eccentric. I also have three books and a short story on e-book available right now, so if you don’t mind (and if it doesn’t make you want to unfollow me), I’d like to tell you about those books. You know, in case you’re interested.

I won’t mention the e-book, though. I did that last post.

The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones

In his publishing debut, Rami Ungar brings us five terrifying stories of darkness in magic. You can experience the strange visions of a man battling sex addiction in “Addict”. Or feel the wrath of an enraged dybbuk in “Samson Weiss’s Curse”. Face your fears in Gene Adkin’s Murder House in “I’m Going To Be The Next James Bond” and then journey with a young autistic “In The Lady Ogre’s Den”. But most of all, prepare to play the most insidious game of all: The Quiet Game.

My second foray into self-publishing. While a lot of these stories aren’t as scary or as well-polished as some of my later work, I think they’re still enjoyable to a degree. Plus, I had a lot of fun writing these stories. Give it a shot if you’re interested.

Available on Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Snake

How far will you go for love and revenge? When a young man’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the powerful Camerlengo Family, he becomes the Snake, a serial killer who takes his methods from the worst of the Russian mafia. Tracking down members of the Camerlengo Family one by one for clues, the Snake will go to any lengths to see the love of his life again…even if it means becoming a worse monster than any of the monsters he is hunting.

A homage to my burgeoning love to slashers, too many James Patterson novels, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, this was another one I had fun with. It’s also, too date, my longest book, over 100,00 words! And yet, people still find it a quick read. Must be the fast pace. Anyway, check it out if you like unusual tales about serial killers in your diet.

Available on AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Rose

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.
Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers, and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.
But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.
As Rose struggles to understand what is happening to her, she must navigate Paris’s lies and secrets; secrets that Paris will do anything to protect.

I wrote this novel back in my last year of college as my thesis. It took five years, and more rewrites than I care to remember, but the novel was accepted by Castrum Press, my first novel with a publisher (and hopefully not the last). And you know what? Nearly two years later, it only just got its first one-star review! Yeah, that’s a record (and something I hold as a badge of pride). I think that makes it worth a try, don’t you?

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible


So, those are my published works. And I hope to follow them up with plenty more. And while I work on those, I hope you’ll consider not only checking out these stories, but letting me know what you think once you’ve read them. I love getting reader feedback, no matter what that feedback is, and it helps me out in the long run.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m off to get a lot of sleep. Followers of Fear, stay safe, have a great weekend, and pleasant nightmares!

As many of you know, I recently moved into my new apartment, which comes with a second bedroom. I don’t really need a second bedroom, as my only roommate is Jonesy (and skeletons don’t need that much sleep), so I turned it into a home office where I can write and do my day job. And since I finished putting it together today (as well as putting up all the wall art and getting rid of all the boxes), I filmed a short YouTube video of my new home office/writing space. Or as I prefer to call it, THE NURSERY OF HORRORS!

And yes, you have to capitalize it when writing out the name. I wrote the rules, and I enforce them as well.

Anyway, the YouTube video is below. It’s about six and a half minutes long, so why not give it a watch?

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that tour. If you did, please consider liking and/or commenting on the video. Maybe even subscribe as well? I don’t post often to the YouTube channel, but when I do, it’s usually because I’m passionate enough about what I’m posting. Link for the channel itself is here.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to writing, editing and (hopefully) publishing some stories here that will scare the pants off of you in this new writing space. I’ll keep you updated on those as they happen. Until then, good night and pleasant nightmares to you all!

Back in November, I announced that I was going to release some of my short stories as e-book exclusives, with print versions available as chapbooks at events (click here to find out what a chapbook is, and click here what events I’ll be attending in 2021). At the beginning of December, I released the first of these stories, an Arthurian fantasy called “Mother of the King” (links below). That did very well and got good feedback. And based on that feedback, I’ve decided to tell further stories in that world.

While those are still gestating in my imagination, however, I still plan to release a few short stories over the course of the year as e-books. And, if the title of this post didn’t clue you in, I’ve decided on which story will be getting the e-treatment: “Agoraphobia,” which follows a man with severe agoraphobia and anxiety trapped in his home during a hurricane. And there’s something in his home with him.

I chose this story because I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from beta readers on the language and portrayal of anxiety. I also think, since this is more horror than “Mother of the King” was, more people will show an interest in it and want to download it. And of all the stories I’m considering for e-release, it’s the most edited, so that’s helpful.

Before I set a release date, however, I’m going to go through this story one more time and see if I can’t fix up any typos or whatever. I’ve recently learned how to do that thing where Microsoft Word reads your document to you, so I’m looking forward to using that as an editing tool. After I’ve gone through and cleaned it up as much as possible, I’m going to commission an artist to make a cover, as I feel that there aren’t any stock photos or covers I could use like I did with “Mother of the King.”

After all that, then I’ll set a release date, let you all know, and get the ball rolling on that marketing machine of mine. I hope you’re as excited as I am for me to get this story out there.

In the meantime, I’ve got some other stories available if you want to check them out. My other e-release, “Mother of the King,” is available, of course, but so are my fantasy-horror novel “Rose;” my serial killer-thriller “Snake;” and my collection of short stories, “The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones.” I’ll leave the links below if you want to check them out. And if you do end up reading them, please leave a review or let me know some other way what you thought. Positive or negative, I love your feedback, and they help me and other readers in the long run.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon CAN, Amazon UK

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.