Violet Eyes – John Everson



Creature features are all the rage right now in the horror market. Now many of them focus on crytozoology and that’s cool and all, but, for me, I find creatures that already exist a more plausible horror. Throw in the fact that these creatures are creepy, crawly bugs that are genetically engineered? Well, now I’m totally on board.

Violet Eyes had been on my TBR pile for a while now. I’ve read a few things from Bram Stoker Award winning author, John Everson, before. The man has talent. No doubt. But could he suspend my disbelief and take me on a wild ride with spiders from hell? For the most part, yes.

A government hired firm was doing some crazy genetic experiments on a small, uninhabited island in the Florida keys. That experiment went haywire and they had to pull the plug. Enter Billy, the former hard-partying, drug-running college kid that has been trying to clean up his act. Billy takes some friends to this island that he used to hide drugs on. You guessed it. The very same island. Billy’s friends are chewed to pieces by these crazy-ass damn spiders and flies, all have eyes that glow violet. Billy escapes with his life, but unfortunately he brings back some stowaways his small litttle hometown on the Everglades. Living next door is Rachel and her son Eric. Rachel has recently moved in after a messy divorce with her abusive and mainly psychotic ex-husband (Don’t we all have a psycho ex in our closets?). She thought her life was a nightmare before, just wait to see what awaits Rachel when Mother Nature is unleashed in a genetically modified fury.

Violet Eyes is a fun romp through a 1980’s-like government conspiratorial creature feature. Everson’ characters are likable enough that you invest in them. Usually, when an author hits the gas on the action and pacing, many times character development suffers. There’s some of that here, but no enough to turn you off. I’ve read some reviews where they complain about Everson periodically introducing characters throughout the story only to kill them off a page or two later. I’m actually okay with that. For me, it showed how ruthless these little arachnids could be. There were definitely places where I thought the plot could be tightened up or an idea expanded upon. Oddly enough, the constant obesession with sex by pretty much every adult character was the part that was hard for me to get over and actually dropped my rating by a half. Don’t get me wrong. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m an absolute horn dog, but if my friends and girlfriend had been eaten by a crazy swarm of killer spiders a week ago, and it appears that the little bastards hitched a ride back with me, I think the last thing I’d think about doing is banging the cute neighbor that just moved in next door. I could see maybe one character with an overactive libido, but all of them? I can’t believe I’m complaining about sex, but that’s my bitch about the story. All in all, a fast-paced thriller if you don’t think about it too much.

A solid 3 1/2 Spider Spewing Skulls out of 5


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Bone Chimes – Kristopher Rufty



Bone Chimes is Rufty’s first collection of short stories and I have to say that I think it’s some of his best work. There are so many gems hidden away in Bone Chimes that each new story you read will be your new favorite that replaced the story before it. The development is excellent and has a very 1980s heyday of horror cinema to it. In case you were wondering, that’s a good thing in my book. The influences of Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Bentley Little, Charles L. Grant, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg are all there.

Love Seat felt like it was made next door to the factory that built Stephen King’s Christine. The Chomper felt like it was set in Grant’s Oxrun Station. The Wager, Bruce Smiley’s Ultimate Death Machine, and Bedside Manner had that great Twilight Zone feel to them. But the one that made me look uneasily over my shoulder was Gearhart’s Wife. That one was full of creepiness and atmosphere that Rufty ladled on with a very large spoon. I kept thinking to myself, what would I do if I were loan officer. This may sound like blasphemy, but I think when he’s not trying to paint the pages red, Rufty’s best writing comes to the surface. He spends his time crafting atmosphere and the characters have that extra je ne sais quoi that breathes life into them. All in all, Rufty has something for everyone in this collection and I can’t say enough about it. Get your butt over to Amazon and click on it immediately.

5 Psycho Relationships out of 5


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The Devil’s Colony – Bill Schweigart



In a trilogy pertaining to cryptid monsters, I find it fitting that the final book in the series centers around the most horrible monster of all – man. The evil that man has inflicted on each other is astounding to think about. Hatred and bigotry come front and center in Schweigart’s The Devil’s Colony. Ben and Lindsay are once again called on by billionaire cryptozoologist, Richard Severance. This time, it’s to infiltrate the compound of neo-nazi Henry Drexler. Henry is the son of a former Nazi SS officer and scientist who was assigned by Hitler to find proof of the dominance and superiority of the Aryan race throughout history. Now Henry is using his family’s fortune and remote camp location in the Pine Barrens Woods of New Jersey to welcome all neo-Nazis and white supremacists who want to join him in continuing his father’s dream. But what else has Henry unearthed in his research of his father’s past?

The Devil’s Colony is different than the previous two entries in the trilogy. The first two, The Beast of Barcroft and Northwoods centers around the cryptid monsters that are unleashed and causing havoc. In The Devil’s Colony, the story focuses mainly on the horror’s of man and the cryptid monster is a side dish to come in during the last act. According to some reviews I’ve read, this difference may have tripped up a reader or two. However, it didn’t spoil the story for me. I enjoyed Schweigart’s tale and thought it hit many of the right notes. Perhaps, the cryptid portion of the story could’ve been sprinkled a little more throughout so that it didn’t seem like two different stories trying to be mashed together. All in all, I enjoyed the trilogy and look forward to more from Bill.


4 Nazi SS Swords out of 5


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A View from the Lake – Greg F. Gifune



Katherine and James purchased lake property in rural western Massachusetts when they were in their mid-twenties. They rented out the various cottages while James worked on his poetry. It was an idyllic setting and life. That is, until James discovered the body of a boy floating by one of the cottage docks. The accident sent devastated James and he slowly sank into madness and depression from a broken mind. Katherine watched as James became more and more recluse and angry until one day he disappeared without a trace. Trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered life, Katherine makes the decision to sell the property in the spring and to try and start a new life. All she has to do is get through the winter. Not an easy task now that she’s hearing strange thing that sound like James. Is this all in her mind or is he out there somewhere?

I’ve read a handful of Gifune’s work and most of them are noted for the story being enveloped in shadows and fog, to the point where it’s hard to tell what’s going on, what’s real and what’s not. A View from the Lake is no different. But where it is different than my other experiences with Gifune’s stories is that there is no pay off. The last 1/3 doesn’t ratchet up and have this wonderful revelation that ties everything together. In fact, the ending came out of the blue and left you with more questions than answers. The characters weren’t all that interesting and I didn’t feel for Katherine or James. I know this is one of Gifune’s earlier works and I think it shows. When you read his later works, you’ll see that he commands things so much better.


2 Confusing Hallucinations out of 5


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Succulent Prey – Wrath James White



Succulent Prey should come with a warning on the cover: WARNING – Not for the faint of heart, weak stomachs or if your idea of horror is Stephen King and Dean Koontz. If you like your horror to be serial killers, cannabalism, and graphic page after page drenched in blood, Succulent Prey might be for you. This is my first forray into Wrath James White’s writing and yes, it’s brutal, but White isn’t a one-trick pony. The guy can flat out write. In the hands of a less talented author, this story easily gets lost. But White breathes life into it…well…right before he rips open a chest and yanks our a heart and eats it. Okay, I’m regressing. Joey is an 11-year-old kid that gets abducted by a serial killer who gets his kicks by slicing his victims and drinking his blood. Joey was the first victim and for some unknown reason, the killer lets him go. The subsequent victims aren’t so lucky. They’re brutally sliced apart, blood drank and flesh consumed. The killer, Trent, is finally apprehended and sent away to a mental institution. Flash forward to present day where Joey is a sophomore in college and he’s a big boy, and when I say big, I mean football player/body builder big. Top it off that he look like Superman from the comics and you can see why he has no problem picking up women. Unfortunately, the scars of his past have made his sex life and desires slide to the extreme. And when I say extreme, I’m not talking a little light bondage S&M. No, Joey dreams of sinking his teeth into their flesh and consuming them in one bloody bite after another.

I’ll stop here on the story’s details and say that this story could’ve easily went off the rails into the rediculous many times, but Wrath gives us a compelling tale that pulls you in. Joey is a complex character that you can’t decide how you feel about him. His victims are the sad sacks with no self esteem that society typically exploits. At times, you think, “who’d do that?”, then you realize that yes, there are people out there like that. At times, the story walks the razor’s edge of suspension of disbelief, but White delivers a blood-soaked thrill ride with your hair on fire. If you like your stories to extreme splatterpunk, grab your raincoat and try to avoid the splatters.

4 1/2 Chewed-Off Nipples out of 5


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Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson



The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde has been eyeing me from my TBR pile for quite some time now. It’s been patiently waiting for me to choose it over the stacks and stacks of other choices. The reason it’s always been the bride’s maid and never the bride is because it falls into that unsavory category – classical literature. And for me, classical literature can be about as appetizing as swallowing a handful of broken glass. Oh, I’ve had a few triumphant moments with literature. Frankenstein, War of the Worlds, HP Lovecraft tomes, even Twain, Fitzgerald and Golding. But for every Catcher in the Rye, there’s Moby Dick and The Tale of Two Cities. I try. I really do. I want to love literature, but I don’t think it loves me back. Alas, I periodically go back to the well and try again. This time, it was Stevenson’s tale’s turn to suit up…and I’m glad it did.

We all know the basic premise of Jeckyll & Hyde. The lovable Dr. Jeckyll explores a way to rid himself of his dark urges by attempting to concoct an elixir that will dispel his dark side. Instead, it transforms him into the evil and wretched Mr. Hyde. Stevenson had me hooked with his storytelling from beginning to end. The tale is intriguing in the exploration of Jeckyll’s alter ego and the imbalance of chemicals that brings him out. In man’s search for purity by tinkering with Mother Nature, we discover that there is something so vile and impure lying beneath the surface waiting to escape. Is every human capable of evil? Do we all have evil within us, lying in the weeds waiting for it’s chance to surface? If so, what keeps the lid on the boiling pot, preventing it from spilling over into the outside world while others cannot keep the same lid securely fastened? It’s an interesting question, the duality of man, and one that Stevenson not only makes into an entertaining read, but also a thought-provoking one.

4 Tainted Salts out of 5


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Witching Hour Theatre – Jonathan Janz



The venue where we watch our favorite horror movies has metamorphosed through the years. We’ve went from old single screen movie theaters to drive-in theaters, to multiple screen multiplexes, and now many people have high quality electronics in their man cave that would give any theater a run for their money. For those of us that remember the older movie theaters, they were a magical place. The smells of popcorn and candy mingling with the sounds of the bustling crowds and the flashing bright lights of the marquee. Going to the theater was an event. But when the lights went down and the crowds dispersed, the theater could be a spooky place. This is the atmosphere that Janz captures perfectly.

Larry Wilson, an awkward loner and horror movie aficionado, doesn’t miss many of the Starlight Theaters Friday Midnight Matinees. He gets his popcorn and candy along with a large soda to wash it all down with. Tonight, he even got a future date with the cute girl behind the counter that he’s never had the courage to ask out. This night was shaping up to be one that Larry would never forget. Unfortunately, this was the last good thing to happen tonight. For this night, blood was going to spill and not just on the screen.

Witching Hour Theatre is a fun romp through familiar territory. Janz doesn’t try to do too much with this story. He lets it be exactly what it is – a B-movie tale told in an eerie familiar setting. He’s got all the right ingredients going – atmosphere, good characters, flawless dialogue and pacing, and oh yes, plenty of the red stuff. Come right in and take your seat. Don’t mind the stickiness on the floor. I’m sure it’s only spilled soda…or is it?

4 1/2 Slasher Flicks out of 5


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