Posts Tagged ‘horror movies’

Booklist: Mother’s Day Reads

Published by Kirsten on May 1st, 2014 - in Uncategorized

The new NBC miniseries for Rosemary’s Baby is premiering this weekend, just in time for Mother’s Day. Yes, it’s true, Mother’s Day is fast approaching! Motherhood can be tough and scary in so many ways, and mothers and mother-in-laws can be tough and scary, too, and that manifests itself in so many ways that I can’t even begin to list them. What I can do is give you a list of books in which mothers and their influences have played a significant part. Maybe you can relate (I hope not, but you never know) and maybe these will put things into perspective as everyone gears up for Mother’s Day.



   Rosemary’s Baby  by Ira Levin.

This classic work by Ira Levin tells the story of Rosemary Woodhouse. Rosemary and her husband, Guy, move into a very nice apartment that is suspiciously inexpensive,  in a building with an extremely disturbing history of witchcraft, cannibalism, and murder. Apparently the nosy elderly neighbors are covertly continuing that tradition, and have convinced Guy to take part as well. When Rosemary becomes pregnant, the residents of the building attempt to isolate her and take control of her pregnancy.

In spite of all the rosy depictions of pregnancy, it is a difficult experience emotionally and physically. and can be terrifying even when you have a fantastic support system, and sometimes it involves real tragedy. Rosemary’s Baby makes that frighteningly vivid. Roman Polanski’s movie is considered to be a faithful adaptation, and a classic work of horror as well.
Carrie  by Stephen King

The cruelty of the girls at school to Carrie is what I find most memorable about the book, but this story could not have existed in the same way without her mentally ill mother, Margaret White, whose violent, controlling, and isolating behavior is the source of many of Carrie’s problems. Even at the end of the story she calls out for her mother. While not Stephen King’s best writing, Carrie has clearly hit a mark with its tone and message. It was made into a movie of the same name, starring Sissy Spacek, in 1976, and again in 2013, with Julianne Moore stealing the show in the role of Margaret White.

Note:  Carrie also inspired a sequel (The Rage: Carrie 2), was made into a musical (1988), and was  made into a made-for-television movie for NBC (2002).
 Psycho: A Novel

Who doesn’t know of Norman Bates and the Bates Motel? In spite of  her unpleasantness and controlling behavior, Norman Bates loves his mother. Spoiler: she’s been dead for 20 years. Almost everyone knows the movie Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock; it is worth taking a short while (it is a short book) to check out the book. Bloch’s novel may have been influenced by the story of Ed Gein, a serial killer arrested near where he lived at the time.

      Beowulf  by Anonymous

I have reviewed the Michael Morpurgo version of Beowulf here, and if you are wondering why a children’s book is appearing on a list of very adult books,  rest assured that this adult thought it was amazing. The second book I’ve linked to is a graphic novel version by Gareth Hinds, which I discovered while surfing Amazon, and has some really great reviews. Beowulf is required reading for many middle or high school students (I think I read it in eighth grade) and it is not easy going. Morpurgo’s version is really engaging, though, and I am guessing that disengaged readers might get into it with this graphic novel version.

So why is this book on my list? If you have read Beowulf before, you know that a third of the story is devoted to the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother.  Sure, Grendel was a ravening monster who ripped people apart before devouring them, but a mother’s thirst for violent and deadly revenge, in this case, truly knows no bounds.



The Dollanganger Saga: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

The collection of messed-up mothers in V.C. Andrews’ Dollanganger Saga includes Olivia Foxworth, Corinne Dollanganger, and Cathy Dollanganger, all twisted up in various degrees of love, hate, and general twisted behavior. One thing you definitely see in these books is the tremendous influence a mother can have on her children, and how that can reverberate through multiple generations. The first book, Flowers in the Attic, has been made both into a movie of the same name and into a television miniseries that aired earlier this year, but the last one, Garden of Shadows, which is technically a prequel, packs a powerful punch as well.


Room by Emma Donoghue

Not a horror novel per se, Room is still pretty horrific.  The story is narrated by five year old Jack, who has never been outside the small room he inhabits with his mother. At night, Jack’s mother shuts him away to keep him from the notice of  their only visitor, Old Nick.  What’s actually occurring will be evident pretty quickly to the reader. Jack’s Ma shows her resourcefulness in keeping Jack entertained and occupied without revealing that something really wrong is going on, and protects him to the best of her ability. Their situation is awful, but her love for him is evident, and without the dysfunctional malevolence of some of the other mother-child relationships I’ve mentioned here.
Lakewood Memorial (Zombie Trilogy, Book 1) by Robert Best

A few years ago I did a project around Mother’s Day called Moms vs. Zombies. Just about the time that it was over, this book by Robert Best came my way. Zombies really aren’t my thing, but I was curious to find out how a mom did actually deal with zombies, and although it has more foul language than I like, and was also more gory than I like (zombies REALLY aren’t my thing) I read it cover to cover in short order. The characters are just great. In the hospital, you have Angie, a mom who works at the local hospital; one of her coworkers; a cranky old man and his relatives;  and Park, who appears to know how to use a gun, and is at the hospital to bring his recently bitten friend to the ER. On the other side of a bridge, Angie’s kids and their babysitter are under siege at her home. Both Angie and her kids are determined to reach each other, and boy, are they survivors. If I have to survive a zombie apocalypse, I just might be able to manage it with Angie and her kids on my side. I am afraid that I did not review it at the time, as I can’t really give zombie novels a fair shake, but some of Best’s characters have really stuck with me, particularly Angie, her kids, and the cranky guy in the wheelchair.


If you plan to watch the miniseries, enjoy Rosemary’s Baby, and if not, I hope you’ll take a moment to think of your mother, no matter how you feel about her. I hope you have a great Mother’s Day!






Destination: Florida– A Spring Break Booklist

Published by Kirsten on March 31st, 2014 - in Uncategorized

I don’t know about your state, but for the majority of residents in Indiana, spring break means Florida (or a staycation, in which you wish you were in Florida).  I’m pretty sure that if you live in a cold climate (which this winter has been all of us) Florida sounds pretty good right now. Whether you’re looking for reading material that takes place there, or just wish you were there yourself, here’s a list of books set in Florida that should get your blood pumping.


Duma Key by Stephen King

A terrible car accident that causes dramatic personality changes and leads to his divorce causes Edgar Freemantle to relocate to an isolated island in the Florida Keys, where he discovers that he possesses a remarkable artistic talent with supernatural aspects.


Hunger by Rodman Philbrick


Genetically engineered, human-eating sharks are loose in the Florida Keys. Doesn’t that summary make you want it for your next beach read?

If you prefer to stay inside while reading about malevolent, carnivorous, underwater predators, you could consider pairing this with the movie Deep Blue Sea. While I haven’t actually read this book, the plot sounds remarkably similar.


The Vision by Heather Graham

Treasure hunters, ghosts, and a serial killer haunt this romantic suspense thriller.


Fatal Treasure: Greed and Death, Emeralds and Gold, and the Obsessive Search for the Legendary Ghost Galleon Atocha by Jedwin Smith


Speaking of treasure hunters, here’s a real life story of treasure hunting filled with tragedy, obsessiveness, and, well, treasure. I can’t remember how old I was when the discovery and salvage of the Atocha became a big deal, but there was a massive exhibit at the Children’s Museum here, called The Search for the Golden Treasure, and I remember it well. The author of this book, Jedwin Smith, actually accompanied Mel Fisher and his company of treasure seekers on several dives.


Dead Tide  and Dead Tide Rising by Stephen A. North

These are fast paced zombie thrillers set in Pinellas County, Florida. Dead Tide Rising is the sequel to Dead Tide. Zombie lovers will find these to be good vacation reads, unless they happen to be vacationing in St. Petersburg.  Read our review of Dead Tide here and our review of Dead Tide Rising here.


Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand is well known for his comic horror. Werewolf fans on their way to Florida are in for a treat with Wolf Hunt, which describes a road trip across Florida by two low-level thugs charged with delivering a man in a cage to a crime lord. Given the title, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to reveal that the man is, in reality, a ravenous werewolf. Strand doesn’t short his readers on the gore, though, so even with the comedy, it’s not for the weak of stomach. Read our review here.


Dying Days by Armand Rosamilia

Another fast paced zombie thriller that takes place in sunny Florida. Rosamilia has written several books and short stories set in this world. This one is available for 99 cents on Kindle, so it’s an inexpensive and easy choice that will help you to decide if you want to try more of his work. Read our review here.


Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole: Tales of Haunted Disney World by Kristi Petersen Schoonover

Six short horror stories for adults set at Disney World. The perfect antidote to Disney sweetness.


Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

He is not a horror writer, but I have read and loved most of Cory Doctorow’s work. I haven’t read this one, however. Reviews I have seen on it suggest that Doctorow was focused more on his setting (Disney World) and exploring ideas than on character development and plot. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom takes place in a future where scarcity is not a problem, wealth is based on reputation, and death is temporary, lasting only until your personality can be downloaded  into a clone. This doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for meaningful conflict in a murder mystery. However, it sounds like Doctorow does put a lot of love into detailing the setting and the feelings of the people who really do live for Disney, which makes me wonder if he once wished he could live there himself. This was his debut novel, and his writing has become much more mature since then, but if I ever get back to Disney World (it’s pricey these days), I think I’d take this with me.


Shadows Over Florida by David Goudsward and Scott T. Goudsward

This nonfiction title is one horror movie fans can actually use to plan their vacations! Florida was the site of the filming of many grindhouse and exploitation movies in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Goudswards cover this in detail. They also document some of the influences Florida has had on prominent horror writers. Read our review here.


Not interested in Florida, and still want to warm up with a good book? Check out this booklist from earlier this year for more titles.

Whether you stay home, travel to sunny Florida, or choose some other vacation option, have a great spring break and enjoy some good reads!


Women in Horror Fiction: Barbie Wilde

Published by Kirsten on February 24th, 2014 - in Uncategorized

Image of Barbie WildeThe horror genre actually has the capability of being a welcoming place for women, because it offers opportunities for participation in a variety of approaches to the genre. Barbie Wilde is an example of a woman who has successfully transitioned from acting to writing, with her role as the Female Cenobite in Hellbound: Hellraiser II leading to the publication of her short story “Sister Cilice” in Hellbound Hearts, an anthology themed around the Hellraiser mythology created by Clive Barker, on which the movie franchise is based. Barbie has since published short stories in a variety of anthologies and recently came out with a book, The Venus Complex, which we reviewed here. It’s great to see the horror genre lifting up women in the horror community so that they can take advantage of all it has to offer, and I can only hope that not only continues, but becomes much more common.


1. Can you give our readers a brief introduction?

My name is Barbie Wilde. As an actress, I’m best known for playing the Female Cenobite in Clive Barker’s cult horror movie, Hellbound: Hellraiser II. I’ve also appeared in Death Wish 3Grizzly II: The Concert (along with then unknowns George Clooney, Charlie Sheen and Laura Dern) and numerous TV shows in the UK as either an actress, a mime artist or a host-presenter.

So far, I’ve written eight short horror stories published in eight different anthologies, as well as my debut dark crime-real life horror novel,The Venus Complex. Fangoria magazine has called me “one of the finest purveyors of erotically charged horror around.” (My mother would’ve been so proud, I’m sure!)


2. Why do you write horror?  What draws you to the genre?

I didn’t actually start out as a horror writer. I was always more interested in crime, particularly the psychology of the scariest monster on the planet: man.

Then Paul Kane (who interviewed me for his book, The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy) asked me to contribute to an anthology that he was editing with Marie O’Regan called Hellbound Hearts. All the stories in the antho had to be based on Clive Barker’s mythology that he created for his novel, The Hellbound Heart, which the Hellraiser film franchise is based on.

When Paul contacted me about writing a horror story, I was initially reluctant, as I didn’t think I could write horror. However, two weeks later, I finished my first horror story, “Sister Cilice”, about the making of a female cenobite. I’m actually planning a Cilicium Trilogy and the second part, “The Cilicium Pandoric”, is appearing in Fangoria’s Gorezone #30.

So quite a few horror stories down the line, why am I drawn to the genre? I think that there is a great leeway for your imagination to take flight in horror. You can use all sorts of mythological, literary and historical research and then turn these sources into something (hopefully) unique. Also, I was very influenced and disturbed by horror and science fiction movies when I was a kid and they made their mark on me, fueling all sorts of uneasy and paranoid fantasies. Movies like The Thing From Another World (1951), Invaders from Mars (1953), Psycho (1960), The Innocents (1961) and The Haunting (1963) made a big impression on me. And of course, TV shows like The Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsOne Step BeyondDark Shadows and Night Gallery were also very influential.


3. Can you describe your writing style or the tone you prefer to set for your stories?

I like to keep things as simple as possible– I love spare and muscular writing. [See influences below.] There is a strong erotic thread through my stories, which I’d like to think is more sensual than romantic. Also, even when I’m writing about the most horrific crimes and events, there is always a sense of humour in there somewhere.


4. Who are some of your influences?  Are there any women authors who have particularly inspired you to write?

Influences: Rod Serling, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Hemingway, Clive Barker, Colin Wilson (for his crime non-fiction, like The Criminal History of Mankind and The Order of the Assassins).
Influential women authors: Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood. I’m also inspired by writer-directors such as The Soska Twins, Jovanka Vuckovic, Mary Harron, Kathryn Bigelow and Ida Lupino.


5. What authors do you like to read?  Any recommendations?

All of the above authors, as well as Paul Kane. I just finished his latest compelling novella Rainbow Man and really enjoyed it. Other Kane books that I can recommend are The Gemini Factor and Red. All of Paul’s books are written so beautifully and so descriptively that you can just imagine movies been adapted from them. I also love the work of John Skipp and Craig Spector. Their novel, Light at the End, was a very cool and unusual take on the vampire genre.

My top pick of 2013 was the evocative and brilliant written Whitstable by Stephen Volk. The main character of the novella is Peter Cushing and it’s almost spooky how Stephen has channeled Cushing as a character in the story.


6. Where can readers find your work?

You can buy The Venus Complex as a paperback and Kindle on all the Amazons, as well as Barnes & Noble (online only). All the short stories that I’ve written are available in the following anthologies on Amazon. Most are published as both paperback and Kindle:
“Sister Cilice” (Hellbound Hearts)
“Uranophophia” (Phobophobia)
“American Mutant: Hands of Dominion” (Mutation Nation)
“Polyp” (The Mammoth Book of Body Horror and as a reprint for The Unspoken)
“A is for Alpdruck” (Demonologia Biblica)
“Z is for Zulu Zombies” (Bestiarum Vocabulum and as a reprint for Gorezone #29)
The following stories will be available soon:
“The Cilicium Pandoric” (Gorezone #30)
“Botophobia” (Phobophobias)


7. Is there anything else you’d like to share with librarians and readers?

If your readers would like to read more news, reviews and interviews, then please go to:
Follow me on Twitter at: @barbiewilde
Facebook Author-Actress Page:

I’ve got some interesting writing projects and appearances coming up in the future, so please keep an eye out for news on either Facebook or my website.


Interested in learning more? Visit Barbie Wilde’s Amazon page, her website, her Facebook page, or her Author-Actress Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter at @barbiewilde.