Devil’s Cap Brawl Now Appearing In Kaiju Rising

Ragnarok Publications had released the Kindle version of their giant monster themed anthology Kaiju Rising, which features stories from Peter Clines, Larry Correia, James Lovegrove, Gini Koch (as J.C. Koch), James Maxey,
Jonathan Wood, C.L. Werner, Joshua Reynolds, David Annandale, Jaym Gates, Peter Rawlik, Shane Berryhill, Natania Barron, Paul Genesse, Mike MacLean, Timothy W. Long, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Kane Gilmour, Peter Stenson,
Erin Hoffman, Howard Andrew Jones, James Swallow, and yours truly, with killer interior art by Chuck Lukacs and Robert Elrod.

March will see the release of the print edition as well.

My own story, Devil’s Cap Brawl, is set in the High Sierras of the 1860’s, during the Central Pacific Railroad’s race east through the mountains. Chinese and Shoshone laborers are ordered to blast their way through a certain peak called Devil’s Cap, a promontory that houses a menace that has slept for millennium.

25032012060854pmLongtime readers will know I have a standing love for the TV series Kung Fu with David Carradine. It’s a mesmerizing piece of television centering on the journey of a Shaolin priest through the American West. I’m also a giant monster fanatic, not just of the classic 50’s B-movies America put out, but also the subsequent kaiju films of Toho and Daiei. I love the weird designs of Japanese monsters like Gigan, Megalon, and Hedorah, and my design of the giant ogre antagonist in this story, Dzoavits (the name taken from an old Native American legend) reflects that. I also have a soft spot for heroes like Ultraman and Spectreman (I missed the Power Rangers – too old) who grow to immense size and duke it out with these big rubbery monstrosities.

spectremanMarrying these diverse elements in a story appealed to me, and when I pitched the idea to Tim Marquitz and Joe Martin,they went for it, particularly as they wanted to feature a Chinese martial artist monk in their ongoing weird western series Dead West. So, the unnamed priest in this story may appear again in the future.

Go pick up the book. It’s fantastic.

Here’s an excerpt from my story, Devil’s Cap Brawl –

Dzoavits.

It erupted from the stone, doing to Devil’s Cap in seven seconds what it would have taken another eleven months for them to do with hand drills and blasting powder.

It was immense. At least a hundred and fifty feet tall. Another arm punched through the side of the rock and it extricated itself from the encasing rock like a fat man wriggling out of a barrel. It was moundish, with a huge hairy hump between its muscled shoulders, covered with spiky, quartz-like protuberances of a muddy hue that poked through its dirty grey-black hair. In the center of its chest was a hint of a head, framed by long, scraggly hair. There was an overlarge disapproving mouth that stretched almost from shoulder to shoulder, and was hung with fleshy lips and shot through with a row of yellow, serrated shark teeth. Above that maw, two bulging red eyes glowed. The thing opened its mouth, took its first cold breath of fresh air in God only knew how long, and let out a terrifying, protracted howl that washed over them in a wave that drove them all physically back in horror.
Rocks cascading off its body, it pulled itself free of its prison, revealing a pair of strange, spindly, kangaroo-like legs that ended in long grasping black talons. It seemed to rest on its massive arms, and use them for locomotion, like a great gorilla, or a man with withered legs.

The horrible thing perched atop the ruins of Devil’s Cap and surveyed the countryside, a newly emerged monarch. It sucked the air with its ponderous lungs and regarded the milling men below.

Joe tried to run, and tripped over Chow Lan, who had fallen sprawling in the snow and was groping for his spectacles. The Chinese and Indians were in full route, except for the priest, who knelt beside Tolliver, yelling in Chinese at the men who passed, apparently urging them to take him with.

Joe heard gunshots, and looked over. Several of the Indians and white men in the camp had seen the thing and had emerged from the snow tunnel. They were firing at it with shotguns and muskets. Joe almost laughed as he scrabbled to his feet.

But before he could run, the priest grabbed a hold of his sleeve.

“You must take Boss Tom with you,” said the priest.

“Let go of me, you bloody monkey!” Joe shrieked and swung at him.

It was an old prizefighter’s instinctual blow, the kind that would have knocked an untrained man unconscious had it landed. But the priest did something peculiar with his free hand, and Joe’s punch seemed to slide uselessly down his branded arm. Then the smaller man’s two fingers pinched Joe’s wrist and twisted. The pain was so intense Joe gasped and fell to his knees, all thought of struggle gone.

He found himself face to face with Tolliver, laying nearby. The man was a black and bloody mess. He must have been caught in the explosion Joe had heard earlier, the one that had awakened this thing. He had known Tolliver back when Irish muscle had done the backbreaking work, not Chinese. They had come up together. He felt ashamed at having tried to abandon him.

But they were all dead men anyhow, in the face of this thing from the pit of hell.

“Chow Lan!” the priest yelled. “Help him!”

“Where can we go?” Chow Lan yelled, having fitted his glasses back on his nose. One lens looked like a spiderweb.
The priest looked about for a moment, then pointed to the shallow western tunnel in the base of Devil’s Cap which the terrified coolies had abandoned.

He pointed.

Joe looked up as a massive shadow fell across the entire area. The air grew chill. The sky was dark.
Then were was a tremendous impact that knocked Chow Lan to the ground and sent the snow and the loose stones hovering for a surreal moment before everything crashed back down.
The thing had leapt from the summit and landed behind them.

Joe watched as it scooped up a fistful of the fleeing workmen. He saw dozens of men flailing between its huge ruddy fingers, and heard their screams as it stuffed them hungrily into its mouth.

“Let me go!” Joe yelled.

“You will help Boss Tom?”
Joe nodded, exhaling as the pressure on his wrist disappeared.

“Go then!” the priest ordered, and to Joe’s surprise, he began to strip away his shirt and pants.

“Come on, Chow Lan,” Joe urged, taking Tolliver under the armpits.

“Where he go?” Chow Lan wondered, taking Tolliver’s feet and watching mystified as the priest discarded his pants.

“Never mind him! He’s barmy! Let’s go!”

They bore Tolliver back to the shallow depression and huddled among the rubble and abandoned equipment.

The priest was bare ass naked. He sat down on the spot and closed his eyes. He was muttering something, and his fingers were interlacing in weird passes.

Tolliver groaned.

Joe reached into his coat and pulled out his bottle.

“Here Tom, here now,” he said, pulling out the cork and tipping it to Tolliver’s bruised lips. “Mother Mary’s milk, it is. You drink. I’m sorry, Tom.”

Beside him, Chow Lan gave a cry of surprise and fell to his knees, throwing his forehead to the ground.

Joe looked over and nearly dumped the rest of the firewater up Tolliver’s right nostril.

The priest was getting to his feet.

But he had changed….

Pick up the Kindle edition of Kaiju Rising here,and watch out for the print version next month all over.

http://www.amazon.com/Kaiju-Rising-Monsters-James-Swallow-ebook/dp/B00ICCX5QY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393403741&sr=8-1&keywords=kaiju+rising

If You’re Ever Down In Texas Look Me Up -Weird West Fest

Hey all, I’ll be appearing at the Weird West Fest in Giddings, Texas next weekend, December 14th (it was originally this Saturday the 7th, but the whole shebang has been rescheduled due to inclement weather).

I’ll be on the weird western panel from 2-2:30, and the HWA panel with Karen Lansdale (HWA founder and wife of Joe R. Lansdale) from 3:00-3:30.

I’ll be hawking books all day as well somewhere among the vendors, so if you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time (or just swing by for an autograph or to say hi).

Should be a cool convention, as the lions share of it will be taking place in a restored 1880’s Train Depot and all of the Lansdales will be around, including Joe R., whose work my readers will know is a big inspiration for Merkabah Rider and a lot of what I do.

Check the link.

http://www.weirdwestfest.com/

Hasta Pronto!

TexasTom2

Published in: on December 5, 2013 at 6:24 pm  Comments (2)  
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Kaiju Rising!

I’m involved in a brand new project from Ragnarok Publishing, an anthology of 19 giant monster stories called Kaiju Rising. Participating authors include Larry Correia, Peter Clines, Peter Rawlik, James Lovegrove, Erin Hoffman, James Maxey, David Annandale, Clint Lee Werner, Jonathan Wood, J.C. Koch, Paul Genesse, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Samuel Sattin, Jaym Gates, Timothy W. Long, Mike MacLean, Natania Barron, and Joshua Reynolds.

photo-mainCheck out the kickstarter –
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1089607742/kaiju-rising-age-of-monsters-anthology/posts

As of this writing we’re a featured kickstarter, about 70% funded and have twenty five days to go. Not bad.

http://sf-fantasy.suvudu.com/2013/09/featured-kickstarter-kaiju-rising.html

My own story, DEVIL’S CAP BRAWL, is a weird western/daikaiju/kyodai hero mashup, drawing on inspiration from wuxia, Godzilla flicks, and Kung Fu among other things.

When an Indian warns the Irish boss of a Central Pacific Railroad gang not to dynamite through a towering rock known as Devil’s Cap, the boss goes ahead and does it anyway, unleashing Dzoavits, a massive ogre-like creature which proceeds to smash the camp flat and endanger the entire crew. But among the hapless Chinese rail workers, a single man, a monk, doesn’t flee the beast’s shadow. He sits down and closes his eyes. And then he begins to grow….

Here’s an excerpt from DEVIL’S CAP BRAWL. Swing by the kickstarter and kick a buck. Kick two and help Ragnarok meets its stretch goals, which include some amazing interior illustrations from monster illustrator Robert Elrod, Chuck Lukacs (of Wizards of The Coast fame), and just maybe, a positively legendary fantasy artist…

Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History MuseumJoe cussed and trudged up the incline. He heard a crash behind him and all of a sudden the Chinese priest was climbing alongside him.

Halfway up the top, the ground shook hard and rumbled. A pile of loose rocks tumbled free and one struck Joe bloody in the head. The priest grabbed his shirt and kept him from falling. For nearly a full minute they hugged the rock, watching the trees sway and shed snow down on them. It was like gripping a bull trying to shake them loose.

“Earthquake!” he managed to yell.

Below, the coolies working the west tunnel ran into the open shouting, dirt and rubble sliding from their shoulders.
Bushy bearded Jesus, he had never felt one this bad. It seemed like it would never end. He glanced up and saw the wood enclosure trembling atop the summit. His heart sank when he heard a crack and saw part of the roof shift. The Paiutes spilled out and fell to their bellies just as the roof collapsed inward, the whole structure crashing flat over the engine and the tender. Debris slid down the embankment, carrying a couple screaming Paiutes with it.
Joe put his head down and quietly willed the engine not to fall from the mountain. Christ’s bloody breechclout, they would be here another year if they lost it. What would he tell Crocker? He had talked big to the priest about being footloose and fancy free. Damn if it didn’t look like he really would be. Sure, he’d get the blame, even for an earthquake. And Crocker would put some other mick in his place. It’d be back to Fisherman’s Wharf for him, bareknuckle fighting, spittin’ teeth and pissin’ blood and whiskey till a good job came his way again, if it ever did.

He looked over at the priest but he was gone. Fallen or carried off by a boulder or bit of rubble, no doubt. But no, Joe saw him above then, springing nimble as a goat from rock to rock, even in the midst of the shaking, making his way up to the summit.

Joe held on for dear life, and watched as the priest reached Tolliver where the Paiute had laid him when the shaking had started. He lifted the bloody man up in his arms and hurled himself over the edge like a madman. But instead of tumbling to his death, he skipped lightly till he reached the bottom of the hill, and then knelt there over Tolliver, shielding him from falling rocks with his own body.

No priest Joe had ever seen was like that.

The shaking stopped, and he looked up at the pile of wood and snow that had once covered the engine, and saw Old Judah’s smokestack poking through.

“Well thank Missus Lot’s salt tits for that!” he exclaimed.
Just then something burst from the side of the rock to his immediate left. It looked like a huge, mossy mass of tendril roots.

Joe was so surprised he relaxed his grip on the stone and fell backwards.

Well, that’s the end of me, he thought, as he plummeted into the open air. He supposed he would land on that rock he had been standing on before, and be broken in two. If he was lucky, he might squash a Chinaman and be saved.
But neither happened.

Instead, he felt a dull impact on his upper back and behind his knees, and found himself sagging in the surprisingly hard, strong arms of the priest like a suckling baby.

He looked at the priest in surprise, and noticed the inside of his forearms were tattooed….no, not tattooed. There were designs branded on his skin, puffy scars in the shape of a fanciful Oriental dragon on his right arm, and a tiger on his left.

He put down his feet.

“Ta, boyo,” Joe muttered.

But the priest wasn’t looking at him. No one was. The coolies and the Indians were uniformly staring wide eyed up at the top of Devil’s Cap.

The mass of tangled roots that had surprised Joe were moving, waggling like great knotty, long nailed fingers.
Because that’s what they were.

He didn’t want to believe it, but when the splayed things shot further out causing the rock to crack and crumble, they were on the end of an immensely long, muscular arm, shaggy with string grey hair stained brown by the dirt.

mountaineruptThe top of Devil’s Cap moved. It rose and fell once, like something beneath were testing the weight, then it swelled again, enough to tip Old Judah and its tender off the slope at last. The noise of all that iron and steel rolling down was a terrible cacophony, and a few men were caught up in it and smashed flat.

Something burst through the snowy cap….

Terovolas Signing At Dark Delicacies September 28th At 2PM

On Saturday the 28th (my birthday), I’ll be signing copies of TEROVOLAS over at the famous Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank, along with JournalStone authors Eric Guignard, Rena Mason, Eric Red, Lisa Morton, and Benjamin Kane Ethridge.

Swing by if you’e in the neighborhood!

terovolascoverMore about the book here.

 

 

The Akeldama Dig Now Appearing In Strange Trails

strange-trails-coverA new weird western anthology from Mechanoid Press, the guys behind Monster Earth, is out and features my short story The Akeldama Dig, about an ex-miner suffering from claustrophobia who agrees to tunnel into a rich man’s grave for a huge paycheck and runs into something….bad.

Born from my own mild claustrophobia (don’t get it in closets or elevators, but can’t be locked in a trunk), The Akeldama Dig takes place in (or underneath, really) Delirium Tremens, a town my loyal readers will be familiar with.

Here’s an excerpt.

“You’re a miner, Mr. Leslie?” Gallow repeated.

“I was,” Spiro said, warmed to the company by the drink, bad as it was. “I used to be foreman at the Copper Queen in Bisbee.”

“Used to be?” Gallow pressed.

“A shaft collapsed.”

gleision-mine-in-the-neath-valley-south-wales-pic-wns-955379992-154079He tried to keep the tremor out of his voice. He wasn’t sure if he had. Three little words hardly encompassed what had happened to drive him from his trade for good. First there had been a faraway groaning in the earth, then the timber had splintered and the whole shaft had shuddered and filled with dust and the tremendous clatter of stone. That reassuring pinhole of daylight far over his head had winked out like a pinched candle. He’d never known just how much he’d depended on that little light until it was gone. Hell, he had worked without sight of the surface since a boy fishing for lead in Galena, Illinois, but somehow he had come to think of that point of light in the Copper Queen as a guardian angel looking down. Seeing it go out was like seeing God turn away from you when you needed it most.

He may well have, for tons of rock had come down, enclosing Spiro like a firefly in a fist. He hadn’t been able to move. Could only lay there, feeling the cool subterranean air grow hot.

A few of the men who’d been near him had been trapped too. He could hear their muffled pleas turn to faraway screams as the desperate hours turned to lingering days and all reckoning of time faded like a drop of blood in water. He heard the subdued scratching of men trying to dig themselves free one bootless finger of dust and stone at a time. Then came a deep, perennial silence.

300px-Cave-in_(indust)At some point, he knew not when, something animate had penetrated the inches of space around his head and begun to paw and scrape at back of his neck.  This alien sensation had thrown him into a trembling panic which, while encased in tons of rock, made Spiro feel like a trapped bird. He had no notion of what it could be…some animal?  It was hours before he deduced it to be a single disembodied hand belonging to a man buried very near him. Like a spider, that strange hand blindly groped his neck for hours, growing feeble and finally ceasing its labors, cooling and stiffening as the unseen owner suffocated. He had thanked God for that man’s death. Every stroke of the phantom fingers, every brush of broken, bleeding nails against his sweaty nape had raised his small hairs and got him whimpering.

His head pounding, heart beating only intermittently in his sinking chest, he had prayed in his last moments that a rock might slip and flatten his skull, putting an end to his anguish. When the stone above his face had shifted and light had broken over him on the third day, he had nearly torn through his rescuers to get at the cool air.  After a precarious ride up the rope, he had whirled and flapped his elbows, dancing and gibbering hoarsely like a madman. They told him later he had bit the men who tried to restrain him.

Once he had been strong enough to stand again, he straightaway resigned and put miles between himself and his would-be grave. He hadn’t even stayed to learn the fate of his comrades.

But now every night was like the time in the shaft anew. He couldn’t bear to sleep beneath a roof. He awoke sweaty and thrashing beneath bedclothes. Whenever he closed his eyes for any period, his breaths grew short and sharp, his heart hammered, and all he saw behind his eyelids was the lid of a stone coffin. He had to drink himself insensible or go to the point of collapse just to sleep.

Featuring stories from James Palmer, Josh Reynolds, Tommy Hancock, Morgan Minor, and Barry Reese, Strange Trails can be picked up right ‘chere for about nine bucks.

Not bad for all that.

http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Trails-James-Palmer/dp/1491077492/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376679647&sr=8-1&keywords=strange+trails

Published in: on August 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight The Critics

I’ve been against this new Lone Ranger movie since it was announced Johnny Depp was playing Tonto. You can read my initial reaction, and my personal take on the character HERE.

lone-bannerI had no intention of seeing this thing, but about a month ago, I accidentally committed what’s pretty much a hanging offense in terms of movie appreciation: I spoiled the ending of a movie (STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS) to a friend who had been looking forward to the thing all year, the very day before he was headed to the theater. It was an honest mistake (I thought he had seen it early, he sees a lot of movies early, and that we were talking about WRATH OF KHAN), but yeah, I felt pretty terrible, particularly as it was a movie I had no intention of seeing (I had read the synopsis). I told him I owed him, that he could name any fitting recompense. Knowing full well my resistance to the thing on a moral basis, he told me I had to go see THE LONE RANGER and talk about it with him on his podcast.

Sigh.

So I went into this thing with my arms firmly crossed, and I saw it in a theater I hate (because it was cheaper and closer).

Lone-Ranger-largeBut you know, I came away appreciating it. It touched the greatness of the original material at times, and everybody did a fine job. I was a fan of the movie REMO WILLIAMS as a kid, and having seen it on a crummy, blurry VHS tape with tracking lines galore, I didn’t figure out the Korean character Chiun was played by Joel Gray, a white guy, until maybe seven years ago. I still think he did a pretty bang up job, and Depp plays Tonto well and fine here. I still wonder about his Native ancestry and maintain somebody like Adam Beach or an unknown Native actor would’ve been more ideal in the part, but whatever. For the purposes of this piece, I’m gonna refer you to my previous blog post and ignore all that. For now, this’ll take its place alongside REMO WILLIAMS and GUNGA DIN, in terms of white characters in makeup that I grudgingly accept due to my enjoyment of the material.

410241-the-lone-rangerThe Lone Ranger is fun. It’s like SILVERADO. A high adventure, rip snorting bombastic shoot ’em up where the bullets are as fast and plentiful as the jokes. It’s a buckskin buddy movie.

It’s LOADED with inaccuracies, as I’ve read in criticisms all over the place. It’s 1869, but there’s cartridge ammunition flying all over the place (most guns were cap and ball black powder till the mid 1870’s), and the Texas Rangers go thundering past the distinctive mesas of Monument Valley, wayyy out of their jurisdiction. The Comanches range far out of their usual stomping grounds as well (and Tonto was a Pottawatomie anyway).

But consider this. Verbinski and company aren’t dummies. They displayed a love for pirate movies in the first PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, referencing everything from THE CRIMSON PIRATE to CAPTAIN BLOOD. The same thing happens here. THE LONE RANGER is full of homages to classic westerns. Tonto’s elderly makeup reminded me a lot of LITTLE BIG MAN from the get-go, and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is referenced a few times, in the train sequences, and in the musical cues throughout.

The Searchers inspired?

The Searchers inspired?

lone-ranger-review-valley-610x403-c

Cue the Morricone.

Cue the Morricone.

Maybe I’m giving the production team a little too much credit, but is it possible these glaring inaccuracies were intentional? John Ford regularly told us Monument Valley was in Texas, and Leone had Tuco, Angel Eyes, and Blondie loading their revolvers with cartridge ammo in the midst of the Civil War. Heck, maybe even Johnny Depp as Tonto is a reference to all the white guys in redface that permeated THE SEARCHERS, WINCHESTER 73, and numerous other classic outings.

lone-ranger-review-butch-800x600And let me say, the ubiquitous William Fichtner, whose face I was amazed to see when I looked the actor up after the movie, as you see this guy in solid supporting roles everywhere, played the HELL out of villain Butch Cavendish. There’s a scene where he escapes from a prison train. The doors to the car open behind him to show his gang racing along side the train, and he steps out onto the saddle. For an instant he has this fantastically exultant grin, that was a spectacular choice. Wish I had a freeze frame of it, because he’s got this sense of rogueish evil relish that really made me dig the portrayal.

My biggest criticism about the movie is that Armie Hammer isn’t really allowed to BE the Ranger as we know him until the last twenty minutes. Up until then he’s as bumbling as his cinematic grand nephew Seth Rogen (as Britt Reid in THE GREEN HORNET – interestingly, Tom Wilkinson, who plays the rail baron in THE LONE RANGER, played James Reid in THE GREEN HORNET). Is there some PC fear on the part of Disney to let the Ranger surpass Tonto? I don’t know. What I do know is this movie’s getting the John Carter treatment. Like that movie, it’s much better than people are being led to believe, and it doesn’t deserve to bomb the way something crummy as say, THE WATCH, does. It’s not perfect. But it’s escapist western adventure. A fine fantasy.

But those last twenty minutes are sublime. Yes it’s completely unbelievable to have Silver racing along the top of a speeding train (or IN it), but when Hammer is trading shots with Barry Pepper (on ANOTHER train) and the William Tell Overture is blaring….

THE LONE RANGERThe Lone Ranger rides again.

Go see him before he rides off into the sunset for another twenty years.

Tomorrow, Saturday the 20th, I’ll be appearing at the Buckaroo Bookshop event talking up weird westerns and palavering about my favorite subject (hint: it’s me) during the 20th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival at the famous Melody Ranch outside Newhall, CA.

So if you’re around, I’ll be there all day hawking books Saturday and Sunday.

http://cowboyfestival.org/schedule/buckaroo-book-shop/

Published in: on April 19, 2013 at 11:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Merkabah Rider: Once Upon A Time In The Weird West Now Available

Merkabah Rider 4 coverToday everybody’s favorite wandering Hasidic gunslinger walks off into the sunset.

Merkabah Rider 4: Once Upon A Time In The Weird West, is now available most everywhere.

It’s high noon for the universe, and the Outer Gods are stirring in their slumber. Adon has gathered the Creed, his brotherhood of traitorous merkabah riders, as well as a host of dark allies including Navajo skinwalkers, an order of death worshipping monks, an master gunslinger cobbled together from the corpses of famous gunfighters, Lilith the Queen of Demons, and the fallen angel of death Samael himself to bring the Hour of Incursion about.

The Rider and Kabede, last of the Sons of The Essenes, form their own company to oppose him, including a fanatical preacher more steam engine than man, a pagan witch, a skilled kung fu nun, and of course Faustus Montague, an angel from another universe.

But from the capitol of hell, Lucifer waits to throw his legions in with the winning side…

gunFor four years the Rider’s taken me along on his journey across the demon haunted old west, tangling with tentacular entities, possessed gunmen, invisible monsters, throwing down on gunmen, demons, and other horrors. He’s taught me about the fascinating richness of Jewish faith and folklore, and I’ve grown as a writer relating his saga.

For that I’m eternally thankful.

Shalom, old demonpuncher.

Here’s a brief excerpt for you all.

——————

the-quiet-southwest-desert-lightning-storm-james-bo-insognaA whip chain of lightning lashed across the black sky, illuminating the landscape in a rapid series of photographer’s blue flashes, and if the Reverend’s heart had been capable of skipping a beat, it would have.

Below them, crossing the dark plain, advancing through the tempest pounding towards the house, was an army of nightmares pressed from Hell.

The Reverend saw hundreds of creatures creeping across the desert. It was as if the buried bones of the country had risen up all at once. He saw a herd of bleached white cattle, dried leather whipping on the bones like the wind torn rags of derelict sailing ships, thundering alongside a group of long dead buffalo. A pack of rotting coyotes ran beside shambling, skeletal bears, though no bears had been in these parts in ages. There were cadaverous human shapes, too, and fast moving, long tailed, reptilian forms. These were creatures of ages past, roused unnaturally from their long torpor. He saw a dozen of those prehistoric horrors, with black clad, armed riders mounted on their spiny backs. Large scissor-billed avian skeletons wheeled overhead, beating the black sky with impossible bone wings, ranging ahead of the undead host, some of them big enough to pick up a horseman in each bare, taloned foot.

Most terrible of all, he saw an immense human skeleton, maybe twenty feet tall, drag itself up out of the muddy ground, the rain melting the sediment of eons from its tree trunk-thick brown bones. The sloped crown of its massive skull was elongated, inhuman, and the huge, sorrowful eye sockets were black and deep as the gulfs in which curled every twisted nightmare, every prickling dread and doubt that plagued the restless in the dead of night.

The Reverend had to lean on a boulder to keep from falling to his knees, and though he was immovable, the howling wind did its best to blow him from the hill.

Good God, what were they?

—-

Pick it up here –

http://www.amazon.com/Merkabah-Rider-Once-Weird-Volume/dp/1483975517/ref=sr_sp-btf_title_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1365837342&sr=8-4&keywords=merkabah+rider

Evil Jester Bringing Horror Comics Back EC Style

vaultEvil Jester Press is in the last twelve days of its kickstarter campaign for the first four issues of Evil Jester Presents, a comic book horror anthology series in the same vein as Tales From The Crypt and The Vault of Horror.

They have some great talent lined up for their premier issues, including Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Jonathan Maberry, Gary Braunbeck, William (Logan’s Run) Nolan, Joe McKinney, and oh yeah…me.

Yep, as of now, I’m scheduled to make my comic book debut in one of the first four issues with an adaptation of my weird western tale of sasquatches, Texas Rangers, and Comanches, BIGFOOT WALSH.

Check out the promo video –

Evil Jester Promo

So spread the word, make a pledge, do both, or either.

Here’s their page –

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/eviljesterpresents/new-horror-graphic-novel-comic-series-evil-jester

And here’s a complete list of all accepted authors for the first four issues…
1.) Joe McKinney – “Swallowed”
2.) Gregory Norris – “O Christmas Tree”
3.) Mark C. Scioneax – “Riser”
4.) Gary Braunbeck – “We Now Pause for Station Identification”
5.) Benjamin Kane Ethridge – “Scissors”
6.) Holly Newstein Hautala – “Ballad of Silas Yoder”
7.) Vince Liaguno – “Night Nurse of Cobblestone”
8.) Jack Ketchum – “Polaroids”
9.) Charles Day – “The Gift”
10.) David Hayes – “Judith”
11.) Taylor Grant – “The Vood”
12.) Aric Sundquist – “The Fifth Room”
13.) Suzanne Robb – “Threshold”
14.) Jeremy C. Shipp – “Balloon Boy”
15.) Jonathan Maberry – “Like Part of the Family”
16.) Jason V Brock – “The Underground”
17.) Tim Waggoner – “Long Way Home”
18.) Jeff Strand – “Aunt Betty’s Basement”
19.) Ramsey Campbell – “Call First”
20.) Mort Castle – “Party Time”
21.) Michael C. Lea – “Earthbound”
22.) Marianne Halbert – “A Used Infinity”
23.) Robert Shane Wilson – “What Happens in Vegas”
24.) Edward M. Erdelac – “Bigfoot Walsh
25.) Gene O’Neill – “Masque of the Red Horde”
26.) William F. Nolan – “The Underdweller”
27.) Jim Chambers – “Observation Effect”
eviljester

DT Moviehouse Review: Back To The Future III

Time once more for my blog feature, DT Moviehouse Reviews, in which I make my way alphabetically through my 200+ DVD/Blu-Ray collection (you can see the list right here) and decide if each one was worth the money. Today I take a look at Back To The Future Part III.

(1990) Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Screenplay by Bob Gale

Tagline: They saved the best trip for last…but this time, they may have gone too far!

What it’s about:

Picking up moments after the end of Back To The Future Part II (when lightning struck the DeLorean sending Doc to parts unknown and leaving Marty stranded in 1955), a 70 year old Western Union telegram arrives for Marty from Doc, who has landed safely in 1885 but with an irreparably damaged time circuit. The telegram directs Marty and the 1955 Doc to a mine where the DeLorean has been stashed for 70 years, along with instructions on how to repair it using 1955 technology and get Marty home. But while fixing the time machine, ’55 Doc and Marty learn that 1885 Doc was murdered by Bull “Mad Dog” Tannon (Biff’s ancestor). Eschewing a return to 1985 to save his friend, Marty heads back to the Old West to rescue his friend.

Why I bought it:

As stated in my previous BTTF reviews, the entire Trilogy was a gift from a friend who upgraded to Blu-Ray (again, thanks, Ryan).

But would I have purchased BTTF Part III?

Well, admittedly, only had I purchased Part II.

It finishes out the series very nicely and it’s a western. Westerns are pizza for me. I’ll practically watch and find something to enjoy in just about every western ever made (except Jonah Hex…ew).

This is my favorite of the series after the first one. It’s a wonderful change of pace, putting Doc and Marty into a truly alien past setting, and even better, shifting the focus from Marty to Doc. If it suffers from anything, it’s that you sort of have to have seen Part II in order to fully appreciate everything that’s going on.

Believe it or not, I saw Part III in the theater without having seen Part II. It only took about a minute to acclimate to the plot, but I do realize I missed out on things like the reappearance of Flea’s character Needles towards the end, which retroactively establishes him as being partly responsible for 2015 Marty’s fall and subsequent failure in his nowhere job.

Marty grows up in this one to be sure. His realization that he doesn’t have to be bandied into confrontations (a lesson compounded by the fact that in 1885 a fight is to the death) leads to his altering the course of his own lackluster 2015 future (we presume).

 But as mentioned, most of the character focus is on Doc Brown. He is shown to be making out fine in 1885, an era he expressed a fondness for in 1955. Setting up a blacksmith shop, his barn is loaded with anachronistic inventions, from a ponderous refrigeration machine that makes one ice cube to a telescopic lens for his Winchester rifle. We learn about his love of futurist Jules Verne, a trait that opens up a dialogue with the wonderful Mary Steenburgen’s like minded schoolteacher Clara. Their relationship hearkens nicely back to a similar role she played earlier in her career as a woman in love with a time traveler, HG Wells himself, in Time After Time.

Their romance is the heart and the best element of BTTF Part III.

A table of western faces: Dub Taylor, Harry Carey Jr, and Pat Buttram

The movie is also full of nods to western fans. When confronted by Mad Dog, Marty tells them his name is Clint Eastwood hoping to intimidate them (and later employs the same method Eastwood’s Man With No Name in A Fistful of Dollars to ultimately defeat Mad Dog – as foreshadowed in BTTF Part II). Harry Carey Jr (3 Godfathers, The Searchers, etc), Pat Buttram (Petticoat Junction, The Gene Autry Show), and Dub Taylor (numerous westerns including The Wild Bunch and Gunsmoke) all share a table in Matt Clark (High Spade in The Outlaw Josey Wales)’s saloon, Burton Gilliam (Blazing Saddles) is a Colt pistol salesman, and Bill McKinney (The Outlaw Josey Wales, Bronco Billy) is a train engineer. In another nice touch, Mad Dog Tannon carries a riding quirt, bullying his underlings (and constantly saying ‘dude’)  in a manner reminiscent of Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

There are great self-referential touches too. Marty and Doc take a daguerreotype photo in front of the brand new clock face that will be set into the HillValley clock tower, to which their fates are inextricably tied. Doc apologizes once again for the crudity of a ridiculously complex scale model crafted to enact their plan for getting the DeLorean up to 88mph. Mad Dog mixes up his metaphors (“I’m gonna shoot you down like a duck.”) the same as Biff. Doc is shown to have created an 1880’s equivalent of the complex Rube Goldberg-like alarm and breakfast cooking machine shown in the opening scene of the first movie.

The unpleasantness of Part II is mostly gone here. BTTF III is a lighthearted, high spirited adventure and the shot of Doc with Clara and his kids Jules and Verne aboard the wonderfully designed steampunk time machine locomotive is a beautiful end to a great little series of movies. You can imagine the Doc and his family having continuing adventures throughout time once the credits roll.

But here’s a thought – if Marty’s maternal ancestor resembles Lorraine….what does that say about the McFly blood line? Eww…

Best bit of dialogue:

Heartbroken over his apparent loss of Clara, Doc retires all night to the saloon and waxes poetic over the wonders the of future to every available ear and a glass of whiskey (which he never even touches). When he tells the boys at the bar about the wonder of automobiles (“Where I come from, we don’t need horses,” a verbal reference to the previous “Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”), one of them asks –

Do people walk anymore? Do they run?

Doc: Of course we run. But for fun. For recreation.

Pat Buttram (in his hilarious, characteristic hound dog drawl): Run for fun? What the hell kinda fun is that?

Best scene:

I really love the climactic sequence. In typical BTTF style everything requires precision timing (“Why do we always have to cut these things so damn close?” Marty declares at one point). The superheated locomotive engine must push the DeLorean up to 88mph to activate the flux capacitor and send Marty and Doc back to the future. Of course the track ends at about the 88mph mark and plunges into a ravine. Then Clara decides to pursue Doc and blunders aboard the doomed engine, forcing Doc to vacate the time machine to save her. At the last split second, Marty flips Doc the 2015 hoverboard, and Doc takes Clara in his arms. Marty’s last sight of them as the time circuits activate is of the two of them floating off safely as the locmotive hurtles into empty space.

An exciting scene with a positive, lovely ending.

Would I Buy it Again? Yes

Closing out my reviews of the Back To The Future Trilogy, here’s an epic rap battle between Doc Brown and my other favorite time traveler. Just ’cause it’s silly and made me laugh.

NEXT IN THE QUEUE:  Bad Company