Listicles Can Help Writers

25 09 2016

Have you seen The Line-Up? It’s new website about noir, horror, true crime, and subjects close to my squirmy little heart. Most websites will have lists of this or that, but I find these lists on The Line-Up pleasantly surprising.

M.R. James gets respect from the more refined, but Sarah Waters doesn’t show up much. I liked “The Little Stranger”, though technically it was more a psychological gothic tale than a ghost story. Still, Waters researches the hell out of her period subjects and her descriptions did put me in the M.R. James neighborhood, which was cool seeing as she was born some decades after he died. “Hell House” is Matheson’s take on “The Haunting of Hill House” with his lurid pulpiness dripping off each page. The house’s history is delightfully over-the-top. Light chills like early King. I’m using this novel to help structure a work-in-progress.

Touch the book to see The Line-Up.


Once you’ve had a look at the ideas, let your mind wander. Is there an idea that strikes deep in you? Is there a way to make that idea more personal to you by applying it to your life experience? Did an image appear, or a piece of dialogue, or a character from another book or movie, or anything strike you? That’s where you begin.

Anyway, finding esoterica on lists comes in handy.

Like this list for “50 Most Haunted Houses In 50 States”. Some kind soul swept together and summarized 50 ghost stories for us to read and pick over for ideas!


What could happen if a child abuser stayed overnight in the Viullisca Axe Murder House? Or if you were the ghost on the recording in St. Vincent’s Home? Touch Spooky House to see that list.



Make Yourself A Whole New You Then Unleash It On The World: A Disquieting Pause

17 07 2016
Your New Self Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

Your New Self Is So Immense It Could Not Fit Onto Your Screen.


As a passionate advocate of growth, I’m always looking for ways to self-improve. Here are some of my best tips which may help your personal journey. Some of them are simple steps which you can engage in immediately. Some steps are more ambitous, yet more rewarding.

1. Read A Book Every Day.

It’s good for your mind and expands your world.

2. Swab The Inside Of Your Mouth For DNA.

Oral hygnene is key to good health.

3. Learn A New Language.

New languages give you fresh perspectives.

4. Clone Your Flesh.

For the highest quality organs, skin grafts, and for posterity.

5. Learn Computational Bioengineering.

To open up  your potential in a growing job market.

6. Optimize Your Genomes.

Use CRISPR to remove genes getting of the way of your higher self.

7. Build Your Bio-Synthoid Army.

You know how your thoughts affect your behavior, which affects others and their behavior?  Be more proactive. Have your thoughts affect the behavior of your own mutant army of Daleks. Watch how the army affects your world’s behavior and eventually what the world thinks of you.

The Hammer Films Western: “The Bloody Fangs of The OK Corral”

21 02 2016

In 1963, motion pictures were in the midst of seismic change. The Hollywood western serial had lost their appeal. This left Hollywood stuck with props, real estate, and personnel under contract who knew only cowboys and six-shooters. Meanwhile, horror movies from Great Britain gained in appeal during the ‘50’s. This began the movie genre now called “The Weird Western” and perhaps the strangest production almost undertaken by a major studio.

The movies “Curse of the Undead” (1959, Universal), “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter” (1966, Embassy), and “Billy The Kid Vs Dracula” (1966, Embassy) used the talent and properties ready-made for the western, and featured the familiar chills found in the new wave of horror. The box-office grosses made these experiments worthwhile.

So much so, British horror house Hammer Films sat up and took notice. In 1966, they set newly-minted producer Nigel Braithwaith to work developing their own western production. It was to be Braithwaith’s first production and according to his production notes, he wanted to set “Hammer on its blooming ear, wot!” The project was at first titled “Fangs of the Gunslinger”. Braithwaith traveled to Hollywood to assemble the talent.

Braithwaith went straight to the top. He met with Walter Brennan, who was on hiatus from shooting a season of “The Real McCoys.” Few people knew that the man known for playing fusty old ranch hands had started in New York legitimate theatre and yearned to try something new. Braithwaith had further good luck when Hollywood scribe Eric Taylor sent in a treatment. Taylor had broad experience with genre movies including westerns and crime noir. Braithwaith accepted the treatment and Taylor set to work.

At first, the writer was excited. A town named Tombstone seemed ripe for horror. Many of the Hammer tropes could be easily adapted to the Old West. However, the differences became cause for furious battling between Taylor and Braithwaith. Taylor wanted the vampire to be raised by a Comanche curse. Braithwaith needed for the movie to tie in with existing Hammer properties. Taylor wanted the lair to be the deserted Clanton ranch. Braithwaith had seen picture books of Arizona and wanted the lair to be in a Pueblo cliff dwelling. Using the character of Old Man Clanton did not sit well with Hammer, as the character lacked name recognition in Great Britain. The studio heads wanted the vampire to be Buffalo Bill Cody, then Wyatt Earp. Finally, all settled on Ike Clanton with suitable backstory.

The production was further complicated when Hammer reduced Braithwaith’s budget. The shoot location was to be moved from balmy California to Spain. Not an insurmountable obstacle as many European westerns used Spanish locations. But this set the tone for further complication.

The script suffered dozens of revisions as it passed back and forth from California to Hammer Studios.

The plot became a hodgepodge: The night after the gunfight at the OK Corral, a distraught Ike Clanton travels to Transylvania. “If the Almighty let mah brother git filled with holes, I renounce Him! I will settle up with Tombstone and those Earps!” A deep voice says, “I shall help you.” Ike looks up. Standing before him is Count Dracula. Ike shrieks as a bat flies past the full moon. The next night, the town of Tombstone is struck with a series of murders where the victims are drained of blood. Wyatt Earp and his brothers search for the killer. It’s only when noted lecturer Professor Van Helsing arrives by stagecoach that the killer’s nature is revealed.

In the midst of scripting, Hammer decided the title lacked impact. “The Fangs of Old Man Clanton” seemed more a title for a Rin Tin Tin feature starring Lionel Barrymore. The new title punched up the OK Coral connection.

Obstacles multiplied.

Brennan could not travel to Spain and keep his schedule for his TV series. Not wanting to lose their star, Hammer compromised again and shooting was set in Arizona. Brennan had read about Stanislavki and threw himself into Method acting.

“I want a cape!” Brennan demanded. “Long, long fangs! The longer the better!” Capes were procured and special fangs fashioned. Screen tests of Brennan as Vampire Ike disappointed. Braithwaith noted “WB looks like walrus at the bleeding opera.” The fangs were shortened without Brennan’s knowledge.

Taylor hadn’t been paid in weeks and filed a complaint with the Screenwriters’ Guild. Braithwaith had to draw on his limited knowledge of the old west to adapt an ever-changing production.

John Carradine had somehow sighed a contract with Braithwaith, despite being in a sanitarium recuperating from alcoholism. The only footage extant from this entire production, ironically, is the cutaway shot of Carradine in a cape, shot day-for-night, against a wall painted institutional green.

Hammer player Peter Cushing was cast to play Van Helsing. However, British-born-and-bred Peter Cushing hadn’t worked in direct sunshine in all of his then thirty-five years of life. Within hours of arriving in Arizona, Cushing succumbed a hideous case of sun poisoning. Braithwaith noted “Overripe tomato from bleeding Surrey”. The bandages Cushing wore had to be worked into the script as a rash contracted while battling the undead.

Hammer followed the production updates with mounting concern. They demanded Braithwaith return to Great Britain to begin a new Mummy movie with Christopher Lee. Braithwaith pretended to not receive the orders and went rogue.

“Bleeding fight scene will clench convince the bleeding lot of them!” wrote Braithwaith. He was positive that footage of the climactic fight would convince Hammer to continue financing. The troupe had to sneak into Pueblo National Park in the dead of night to shoot a long take fight between the tusked Vampire Ike, the swaddled Van Helsing, and a visibly-distressed newcomer James Garner cast as Wyatt Earp.

The scene hinged on Vampire Ike lunging for the heroes as he shrieked “I’ll drink your blood, you varmints!” Take after take was ruined by the chopstick length fangs popping off Brennan’s teeth at the crucial line. When the line was delivered with the assistance of binding twine, the fight commenced. The fight was joined on camera by several Park Rangers and the entire crew was arrested.

If it had been completed, the production would have included other recognizable names. A young Billy Mumy was to play Wyatt’s son “Fauntleroy”. Tony Franciosa was reading for “Deputy St. John Talbert”. The seemingly ageless extra Jackie Spratlin would reprise an uncredited role as “Barfly” for a record breaking 22nd time in a career.

Hammer abandoned the crossed-genre movie for their reliable horror fare. Despite this, the production had some behind the scenes impact on future horror hits. Hammer used the plot of a traveller appealing to Dracula for revenge in “The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires” (1974). Vampire Ike’s fangs had been adapted and shortened for the vampire Barlow in Tobe Hooper “Salem’s Lot” (Warner Bros. Television, 1979).

What of Nigel Braithwaith? He disappeared soon after doing thirty days for trespass. He did not return to Hammer Studios and his scheduled production “The Witches” with Joan Fontaine. It is said that on nights of the new moon, where light is at its least optimal for filming, a voice can be heard echoing around the Pueblo cliffs: “Bleeding walrus saying bleeding varmint to a bleeding to-mah-to…”

This Is BOSS! Short movie: “Anthophobia”

16 09 2015

“The Flesh Sutra” Chapter Is One Of The Best Of 2014!

9 01 2015

According to the blog “Diabolical Plots“, my story “The Metal and Its Mold” was one of the best on Pseudopod last year, in such company with James Tiptree Jr., Elizabeth Hand, Ferrett Steinmetz, and Charles Dickens.

That story is Chapter Five of “The Flesh Sutra”, available on Amazon.

I’ve Submitted To The Stoker Awards!

4 11 2014

“The Flesh Sutra” has been submitted into the Novel and First Novel categories! I’m excited because I believe in a world filled with zombies, vampires, and subtle surrealities, “The Flesh Sutra” offers something deeper, more insightful, and vivid.

Keep your eyes open, as I plan to submit to the Compton Crook and the Shirley Jackson Awards.

Meanwhile, take a glimpse of something that weirded out the editors of Pseudopod. Click the image.

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A Great Article With Book Recommendations

21 10 2014

Reggie Oliver is way underrated, for example. He writes great suspense.

The Literature of Fear: 12 High-Quality Horror Books for Sleepless Nights

The Flesh Sutra

18 10 2014

“The Flesh Sutra” is a work filled with fascinating characters, surprising, sometimes horrific, events and a very sweeping, cinematic style.”
In Fin de siècle Boston, the mystic healer Alecsandri Keresh falls into the desperate embrace of his lover, Mrs. Olivia Spalding, as he is shot dead. In those final moments before the soul passes through the gateway of death forever, Alecsandri’s rage transforms his power and he forces his way back. But he does so through ghastly means and returns to life – as an abomination.

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Horror Comedy Movie Reviews

24 09 2014

Netflix is a very good lay, in that it will show me only enough to keep me interested while scramming when I lose my endurance. I will not watch a movie that I find ridiculous in its first ten minutes. Life is too short and the internet is too, too tempting, even the parts without porn. Witness:

“Willow Creek”
Bob Goldwaith is an underrated yet frustrating director. He seems intent on taking the most extreme personal experiences and showing that dog-f**king happens to folks just like you and me. “World’s Greatest Dad” took a teen’s death by auto-erotic strangulation and turned it into another chance for Robin Williams to show his dick. “God Bless America” took spree-killing to its most rewarding targets, but failed to deliver the truly transgressive conclusion “They Deserved It.”
“Willow Creek” follows a troubled young couple on a quest to find Bigfoot in the wild. The premise is worn, and the movie’s found-footage format is wearing thin, but Goldwaith finds some golden moments in this production. The young couple is played by actors who share real chemistry and convey realistic emotion. The script allows the characters to develop and dares the viewer to be bored, even when waiting for those noises outside the tent. The conclusion is predictable, but still chilling.


“Jug Face” (not a comedy)
A stylized rural community sacrifices people to a monster in a hole. Too stylized for me to feel suspense for the characters. Tried for “American Gothic” (the TV series) and fell short in a way I haven’t figured out.


Turns “The Bad Lieutenant” into a he’s-really-an-okay-bloke comedy. No.


“Rigor Mortis”
Stylized the scary right out of a haunted tenement.


“All Cheerleaders Die”
Lucky McKee is another director who seems on the cusp of making a great movie, but needs some one (ME!) to give his scripts a last going-over. “May” took an obsessed teen seamstress in a predictable direction, gave the story a twist, and mistook the movie’s central event for an ending. “The Woman” took two tropes and ran them together in a surprising manner, then went overboard instead of using restraint.
(Please watch these two movies anyway. McKee’s strength is that he is a great Actor’s Director. Angela Bettis and Pollyanna MacIntosh by themselves are intense leads.) But “ACD” has too many characters, no clear magic concept, and lacks the courage of saying “yes, the magic that reanimated five four people is EVIL and not Wiccan”. The only PoC is the lead bad guy, who is also the most believable performer. This movie makes you appreciate Joss Whedon more, in that he knows that horror and comedy *alternate* scenes, and that jokes which digress from a scene ruin suspense, while jokes within the scene can heighten suspense.

Want A Copy Of “The Flesh Sutra”?

20 09 2014

Just message me or email me at timissocial at gmail dot com.
I will send you an epub forthwith.
If I can get five more reviews on Amazon, my publisher can advertise on BookBub.
You get a book that’s been acclaimed by horror editors just for your sincere reaction noted in Amazon.
You need something to read this week. Try the book today!

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