Friday, 28 September 2012

Darkfall Book Review Author Stephen Laws

This week the Grumbling Gargoyle gives us her thoughts on the novel 'Darkfall' penned by the vivid imagination of author Stephen Laws.

There’s a storm coming. In the office block, oblivious to the approaching chaos, the Christmas party revellers continue with their celebrations...until the bad thing happens and suddenly they all disappear without trace other than...a single severed hand.

DI Jack Cardiff along with his investigative team are about to discover the horror that is ‘Darkfall’. They face unimaginable terror as the very walls around them, plaster, stone, brick...take on a life of their own. For all of those trapped in the building and cut off by the savage ferocity of the weather things couldn’t get any worse...until of course...they do!

I love this author. Why? Well I’ll tell you. He writes with such imagination that you honestly never know where he’s going to take you next within each delicious page or what kind of bizarre happening is going to keep you so enthralled that before you know it the dog’s reported you to the RSPCA for neglect and you’ve grown quite a full and substantial beard ( which took me by surprise given that I’m female!). Laws is the only author whose work I would purchase immediately upon release without having read the blurb, such is the confidence I have in this mans ability to entertain me whilst maintaining a high standard of writing.

Laws unique approach to storytelling allows the reader to experience the true meaning of horror, a type of horror never before encountered which never fails to shock. With his work you’re not developing trench foot from constantly wading through the quagmire of ‘Same old, Same old’ Horror Fiction, oh no, this stuff is much grittier and far more inventive. Each of Laws
books catapults you to a different experience of fear, induced by his creative genius.

Darkfall is no exception. Oh ‘Here there be Monsters’ indeed...and then some! Without wishing to give too much away it’s suffice to say that the building itself behaves in such a way as to terrorize everyone within the confines of its unnatural pseudo-organic structure. As for the vanishing revellers?...Well, lets just say that they’re not exactly dead...and if you’re waiting for echoes of a spooky little ghost story here you’ll be heartily disappointed...if you’re waiting for a serious display of mind boggling visceral carnage accompanied by abject gut wrenching horror with a generous dollop of ‘OH MY GOD!’...then feed the dog, get comfy...and get used to wearing a beard...’cos you won’t be able to let go of this brilliant piece of writing until you’ve finished the whole thing!

Laws characters here are well developed, believable, lively and very active which is just as well because the vibrant energy infused throughout this book is almost palpable. It’s a gloriously fast paced read with more twists and turns than a politician’s promise...and just as scary!

As a footnote I think it’s worth mentioning that whilst this book was written some time ago its rivetting, captivating content with so many other great pieces of work by numerous authors...quite timeless and should be enjoyed and appreciated accordingly.

Anyway, must dash...I have a beard to groom!

Rating 5 out of 5 stars

By The Grumbling Gargoyle

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Requiem for the Undead (AKA Requiem Por Un No Muerto) Review

Horror Short – Starring Romeo Navarro, Fernando Venegas, Alejandra Lemur, Mauricio Islas Bennetts. Written/Directed by Melvin de Jesus Jimenez Najera (2012)

In Mexico, the zombie apocalypse is being controlled by a dedicated PAZ (Police Anti Zombie) team, who endeavour to halt the spread of the pathogen with house to house searches, uncovering any undead that well meaning relatives are hiding. When PAZ agent Andres (Romeo Navarro) gets bitten, he tries not to let it effect his ability to do his job.

            Requiem for the Undead is Director Melvin de Jesus Jimenez Najera’s forth film, and at 12 minutes is his longest. It is a tale of denial, not only Andres’s denial that he has been infected, but also society and the government’s denial; the outbreak is not as ‘under control’ as they think. This sense that the zombie pathogen is permanently on the verge of an upsurge is highlighted by the absence of music throughout the film. Instead there is a steady rumble and wail of helicopters, sirens and alarms in the background suggesting a constant, relentless battle against the zombies.

            The film opens straight into the action, with agent Andres having a run in with a couple of zombies. Calling for backup that doesn’t arrive, Andres is bitten. The film then follows Andres as he deals with his life sentence by carrying on as though nothing has happened. Requiem for the Undead explores what, for me, makes the heart of any great zombie movie – the powerful relationships that are formed during an outbreak, focusing on the bond between Andres and his partner, Manuel (Fernando Venegas).

            Mexican with subtitles, Requiem for the Undead is a convincing and fast paced film that is extremely well acted, and tightly written. Dialogue is natural and believable, particularly the banter between Andres and Manuel, suggesting more than a professional relationship between the two agents. The production values and special effects are slick, making a highly enjoyable film. The only criticism I can make is that at 12 minutes the film is over too quickly, and, with such likeable characters and an interesting slant to the zombie genre, I can easily imagine Requiem for the Undead as a feature.

5 out of 5
By Lisa Richardson


Trailer Réquiem Por Un (No) Muerto from KnockDownFilms on Vimeo.

Requiem for the Undead is being shown at the following festivals during 2012 -
Shriekfest – Los Angeles
Pollygrind Underground Film Festival – Las Vegas
Atlanta Horror Film Festival
Feratum Film Festival – Tlalpuhaua, Mexico

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Shadow of Death Review

Horror – Starring Dan Bone, Daniel Carter-Hope, Corinna Jane, Sophia Disgrace, Jane West, John Brown. Written/Directed by Gav Chuckie Steel (2012)

Nancy has run out of weed. Desperate to score, she calls ex-boyfriend Dan. Dan doesn’t have any but knows a man who does, Marley. Only Marley is spending the day ‘Just getting back to nature, mon’ at Devils Jump, way out in the English countryside. Nancy and her flatmates Jamie and Debra head off into the woods with Dan in search of drugs, instead they find a wannabe policeman and a righteous killer.

Corinna Jane as Debra
This slasher comedy, inspired by Evil Dead, Bad Taste and Friday The 13th was written, shot, directed, edited and scored by the man behind Deadbolt Films, Gav Chuckie Steel. With virtually no budget – unbelievably estimated at £250 – and Gav holding down a full time night job, looking after his children by day, and to top it all, no film school knowledge, other than a life long passion for horror movies and film making, The Shadow of Death is a little miracle.

Described by Gav as ‘A horror film by a horror fan’ and shot on a Panasonic SD60 camcorder, what started as a few friends getting together at the weekend, turned into a much bigger project, and marks Gav Chuckie Steel as something of an inspiration. ‘Please don’t talk about making a film,’ says Gav in the end credits of the movie, ‘MAKE A FILM! I did it by reading books and watching films.’ Gav’s determination and drive are clear to see throughout the 81 minute movie.

Dan Bone as Craven
The Shadow of Death is a classic killer-in-the-woods tale, reminiscent of 2006’s The Tripper and 2007’s Shrooms, but with diverse and quirky characters that provide a comedy slant and individuality. A continuous shot at the beginning of the film introduces the main characters by showing the contents of the girls’ coffee table, giving an immediate insight into their personalities before we see them. There is Nancy (Sophia Disgrace), the stoner, with her skinning up paraphernalia, Jamie (Jane West), the nerd, fixing computer components, and Debra (Corinna Jane), the mediator, cradling a coffee mug. For me, the lovable idiot ex-boyfriend, Dan (Daniel Carter-Hope), and the deluded Chuck Norris wannabe Super-Special-Officer-Craven (Dan Bone) are the stars of the movie – the latter reminding me of a cross between Nick Frost in 1999’s and 2001’s TV series Spaced and Justin Lee Collins – both adding just the right amount of humour and eccentricity.

Friends Dan, Nancy, Debra and Jamie lost in the woods
For the most part, The Shadow of Death is convincingly acted, though a couple of the characters are less than endearing, making them a little hard to care for at times. But as they overcome their differences during the movie, they do become more likeable. Corinna Jane, as Debra, rises up to take the lead female role, giving an increasingly strong performance.

The original soundtrack comprises of a folky inspired score that captures the beauty and serenity of the woods, while the edge-of-your-seat gory moments are complemented by a dramatically and intensely rising score. Exciting and eerie, The Shadow of Death is well written and, considering that the low budget indie was made for less than a lot of people spend on their annual holiday, the production values are fantastic. Influences from Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Peter Jackson give the movie a grindhouse feel.

Jane West as Jamie and Sophie Disgrace as Nancy
Mark Kelly’s special effects are amazing, especially considering the overall budget, and are suitably gruesome. Victims are despatched in some highly original, bloody and inventive ways. Drug dealer, Marley, has a particularly impressive death, involving a bong, that will make your eyes water.

The narrative did confuse me in places, and I’m unconvinced that the group would have stayed so long in a shack that the Blair Witch would have been at home in – with its crosses made from twigs hanging from the ceiling, and books on the occult etc – but this could just be me, and any slight flaws are down to lack of money and inexperience, and do not detract from what is, overall, a highly impressive film. Gav Chuckie Steel is a talented film maker and someone to be admired and supported, and I am looking forward to Deadbolt’s next project, a zombie film that has already been scripted.

One tip … don’t forget to stay after the end credits have rolled for a final taste of grotesque humour!

Rating 4 out of 5

By Lisa Richardson

The Shadow of Death gets it's premier in Farnham on Wednesday 31st October, for tickets follow the link:-

You can also follow The Shadow of Death at the following locations:-

Monday, 24 September 2012

New Trailer Paranormal Activity 4

Back in August we brought you the first teaser trailer for the 4th installment of the Paranormal Activity series, today we bring you the latest trailer that's just arrived via Yahoo, enjoy!!

As with all the other Paranormal Activity movies the team behind the 4th installment are remaining tight lipped when it comes to the plot. However according to our friends over at 'Bloody Disgusting' this sequel will explore the group of witches (who live next door to a newly introduced family).  With the release date set for the 19th October we will all find out soon enough!

Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Zack Estrin, Oren Peli (film "Paranormal Activity")
Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton and Matt Shively

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Outpost Book Review Author Adam Baker

The Grumbling Gargoyle takes a look this week at Adam Baker's 'Outpost', a struggle for survival in one of the most desolate places on earth...the Arctic Ocean!

Moored in the Arctic Ocean, Kaskar Rampart is a derelict refinery platform. This desolate rig is home to a skeleton crew of fifteen who, after reaching the end of their lengthy time on board, are each desperate to escape the banality and boredom that is steadily creeping upon them. Thankfully, the relief ship which will take them back home to civilisation is due any day and so it is with unreserved eager anticipation they await its arrival.

However, something unimaginable has happened and the world as they know it exists no more. A global pandemic has devastated city after city, replacing TV stations and other means of communication with an eery silence...thus leaving the crew of the Rampart completely marooned. The crew are now acutely aware of the battle they face in order to survive the brutality of an Arctic winter as starvation and hypothermia threaten to overwhelm them...what they are not aware of is that the contagion which has ravaged their forging its ravenous way towards them!

Now don’t think I can’t hear you sighing after reading the word ‘Contagion’!. You’re probably thinking that this book is going to be yet another mucous filled tribute to the effects of Extreme Sneezing with a bit of Bubo Bursting and Projectile Vomiting thrown in for good measure, all conspiracy and contamination and no true storytelling substance...well you’d be wrong! ( Ha! )

The ‘Contagion’ referred to here Zombifies its victims leaving them with a prime directive to infect others, thereby assuring the continuity and progression of their vile metamorphic reanimation. STOP!...You’re inwardly moaning again thinking that this is just another Post-Apocalyptic flesh nibbling, Zombie shuffle, in an already, it could be argued, overly saturated market. Wrong again! ( double Ha! )

Yes there are Zombies but these are very different from any you have previously encountered and I’m not telling you why. All you need to know is that whilst Baker has somewhat reinvented the Zombie here, the terror of its existence not only remains but is amplified thanks to Baker's outstanding ability to encapsulate horror and abject fear through his artistry as a skillful writer. Through strong character development you, the reader, become to know this mixed bag of people for the individuals they are and grow to love or hate them accordingly.

One of the main characters, for example, is Jane a reverend who, whilst providing comfort and counseling as part of her job description on the platform, is herself riddled with self loathing and doubt. This is delightfully refreshing as these chinks in her ecclesiastical armour allow us to see the human side of her weaknesses, failings and vulnerabilities whether we approve or not and I personally found the initial introduction to her character to be of particular interest...but, once again, I’m not telling you why.

Be assured you are in for both a chilling and a chilly ride through these pages. Every step of the way you will witness unprecedented hardships and sufferings as you experience the monstrous, gruelling challenges that face this group of isolated people each struggling to combat the escalating horror which surrounds them. The Arctic winter grows ever closer, threatening to completely shut them off from any hope of freedom from the relentless madness which holds them captive and so it is imperative that their quest for survival succeeds...even though no one is certain what future awaits them beyond this vast Arctic prison.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Fast paced and highly entertaining keeping me awake well into the night...mostly due to nightmares!...Now there lies the measure of a good book!...

Rating 4 out of 5 stars  
Purely because I felt the ending, whilst not letting the book down in any way, could have been slightly more fulfilling.

By The Grumbling Gargoyle

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Brutal Review

Horror – Starring A. Michael Baldwin, Michael Patrick Stevens, Jennifer Wilde, Camryn Molnar, Annie Molnar, Marvella McPartland. Written/Directed by Michael Patrick Stevens. Co-directed by Darla Rae (2012)

Family man, Carl Gibson, finds himself naked from the waist up and chained to a chair in the dingy basement of a stoical, dungaree wearing loner, called Brutal. Subjected to a torturous game, Carl wonders if he will ever see his wife and children again.

Award winning Brutal is Writer/Producer/Director/Actor Michael Patrick Stevens’ first feature, and what a powerful and impressive début. It is also co-directed by award winning film maker, Darla Rae. The movie had its first screening at the Crypticon Indie Horror Film Fest 2012 in Kansas City, where it won ‘Best Original Horror Feature’, and very well deserved too. When a film pretty much kicks off with an electric sander and bare flesh, you know things are going to get gory … and they do. The first section of the film concentrates on scenes of torture, with Carl (A. Michael Baldwin of Phantasm fame) begging for his life, confronted by an array of gruesome tools, and always under the gaze of the dispassionate Brutal.

Michael Patrick Stevens as Brutal

If you like bloodshed, you will love this movie. Brutal (Michael Patrick Stevens) likes to play, though the rules of his morbid game mean that, ‘You win, you lose. You lose, you die’. Carl’s life hinges on the turn of a wheel-of-fortune, the results of which, I’m not ashamed to admit, turned my stomach. But if you are expecting your average torture porn movie, then think again. With Brutal, Michael Patrick Stevens expertly challenges audience expectation to deliver a twist that infuses the movie with heart and soul.

Brutal is intense and bloody. The original music score created by Alan Howarth increases the tension at vital moments and complements the movie’s themes of loss, hate, revenge and forgiveness. But as creepy and potent as Brutal may be, there are moments that lighten the horror just enough to add a whole new dimension, such as Brutal being busted by his sweet, doddering mother.

Marvella McPartland as Ellen Lachman
The cast give strong performances. A. Michael Balwin’s portrayal of the abducted and tortured Carl – a part that Stevens wrote with him in mind – is so realistic that you can’t help being drawn in to feel his fear and sense of loss at the hands of the cool, detached Brutal, played convincingly by Stevens. The make up special effects are to an excellent standard, adding to the stomach lurching reaction I had to certain scenes, and together with solid acting, high production values, and a fantastic script, create something painfully and brutally authentic. I thoroughly enjoyed this original, well paced and disturbing tale that cleverly supplies twists right to the very end. The driving force of the movie is the way that it manages to touch on the darkness that resides in us all. With Brutal, Stevens has created a masterpiece worthy of recognition.

Rating 5 out of 5

By Lisa Richardson


For more information and screenings etc, follow 'Brutal' at these locations:-

Official Site      Twitter      Facebook

Pseudopod Podcast Review

Our Pod-Master General brings you another helping of some of the best FREE horror pod casts around.  This week he reviews the horror podcasts of 'Pseudopod'

It is my opinion that each individual writer of the Pseudopod family is worthy of a complete write-up in their own right. That is not within my purview however and I will leave that honour to Pseudopod's presenter Alistair. It is his task after all and besides which, he does it so well.

Each of these pod casts begins with a lovely heartbeat/mood music intro and then Alistair give us a thorough rundown of the Author of today’s story. When I say thorough, I mean thorough. We are told all about the history of each one, their awards and accolades (Of which there are many), what it is that they are currently working on and sometimes, with a little glance into his crystal ball, where the writer is going.

After that we are treated to a brief synopsis of each story and sometimes the reason that the story came about. This is more than enough. As I said - Alistair does it so very, very well.

294. Demon Rum. (34 mins) Somewhat ironically the narrator of this story has, what I would call, a whiskey soaked voice slightly softened somewhat by a hint of the James Earl Jones about it. As the tale is called Demon Rum and it is a horror story it is set pretty much where you would expect; in a dingy dockside Naples Taverna, in the dead of night and lit only by a waning moon and candlelight.

Our world weary sailor enters with that desperate need for one more drink but he is refused. Confused, it is explained to him by the rather sinister bartender that his money is no good here. That you cannot buy the things in here, you must trade for them. A tale. A story for a shot. A fair deal to a thirsty man, is it not? But it cannot be some shaggy-dog that has been passed from a friend of a friend. No. Not here. It must be a truth about your life. A tale of yourself. A little piece of life that has made you…

This is a pod cast that has everything about it. The writing is sublime and the vocal casting is perfect as Dominic Rayburn takes us through each twist, turn and shadow until we finally find ourselves there with him, hanging on every word, gasping for that drink.

This doesn’t put a foot wrong as far as I am concerned and when you add to it the production value and its thirty-five minute length. (Just enough for a sandwich and a cuppa) it makes this particular pod cast one of the very best that I have heard. Not a step out of place. Rating:- 5/5

295. Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls. (40 mins) When you have a glorious title like that you had better have a good story to back it up. The author here most definitely does. This is not straight up horror in any way. In fact, it all depends on your definitions as to whether this tale is horror at all. Is Romeo and Juliet, a tale of two angst ridden teens who both die at their own hands, a horror?

There may be no actual suicides at the end of this story but the same question is played out here. This time, however, Romeo can do something a little extra special. Everything THIS particular angst ridden teen draws comes true.

Horror or not this is a very well written story. Our narrator tells it with heart and a matter of fact drawl that lends this whole bundle a professional believability that I find hard to fault.

Is it a Horror Story? Depends. Is it well packaged and delivered? Yes! Is it worth a listen, horror or not? Most definitely!! Give this one a try if you can. Just don’t expect…..the expected.  
Rating:- 4/5

296. The Squat. (42 mins) When a teen runs away from home, and no happy teen runs, then you find yourself outside in a world that narrows itself down into the Beasts that need to fed and the prices that you are willing to pay to feed those beasts. The names of these beasts? How about hunger, fear, addiction, shelter, companionship and……well, as this story points out, there are other, even hungrier beasts.

Now we come to the price list. Here this pod cast does not shy away. All of the costs are itemised. Self respect, self worth, back-stabbing, under-age homosexual prostitution and murder. And what do you do when you discover that the price of your friends’ survival… you.

I have a lot of respect for this pod cast. It is unflinching and uncompromising. All of the bones of what is barely even a life are laid bare. As a tale it is fine, but that is about it. Perhaps the world has moved on and we are all a little wiser. Perhaps I have become jaded. Whichever it is this story told me nothing that I did not already know and the horror house element does very little to add anything extra to a life on the street that is a horror in its own right. Rating:- 3/5

298. The Long Road To The Sea. (42 mins) Unfortunately the narrator sounds to have absolutely no emotional connection to anything to this story. Whether this is to reflect the story, as it is told from the viewpoint of the re-animated dead or not, it took a lot of concentration to stick with this story from the beginning.

Travelling in a world after a mysterious collapse, the Convoy is a creator of Zombies. They don’t bring with them a killer virus, nor do they bring an infected horde of biters and clawers, no, not at all. They bring with them medicine and technology. Their arrival is a source of joy. The broken and dead, once simply disposed of, are now set back on their feet again. Once more a productive, if somewhat limited, member of society.
It is a situation which everybody considers to be fine. But what are the rules now? Where are the boundaries? Is it possible, in this world, for a young girl to find lust, or even love with a past romance? With a creature that is dead in every respect except the barest of thought and locomotion? When bandits attack, how expendable are the already expended? And finally - would you give your life for the already dead?

This actually turns out to be a fantastic story. Well written and well thought out. The narrator finally seems to get himself involved about half way through and this really adds to the sheer momentum.

If you like to think about the morals and the ethics of where medicine could take us and wonder to yourself about just how quickly the horrific can become the celebrated, then this is the story for you. Rating:- 3/5

Pseudopod is a very, very good place for horror podcasts. It seeks out the best stories from the best authors and, on the whole, fits the ideal narrator to them. Their podcasts are always understated rather than overblown and most of the stories chosen have that very special element to them that makes you consider them long after they have finished. Apart from The Long Road To The Sea at the end they are all ones that will grab your attention rather than you having to force your attention towards them. I have been listening to Pseudopod for quite some time now and, I have to say, they just keep getting better and better.
I have, in past times, had to do a little background work with the Titles and the Genres so that all of the podcasts would ground themselves in the same section on my mp3 but apart from this I have never had any complaints with the way that this broadcaster is set up.

If you like horror to think about, that has originality and verve, then these are the people for you. Overall Rating:- 4/5

Find out more about Pseudopod at

You’ve found the world’s premier horror fiction podcast. Pseudopod brings you the best short horror in audio form, to take with you anywhere.

WARNING: This is a podcast of horror fiction. The stories presented here are intended to disturb. They are likely to contain death, graphic violence, explicit sex (including sexual violence), hate crimes, blasphemy, or other themes and images that hook deep into your psyche. We do not provide ratings or content warnings. We assume by your listening that you wish to be disturbed for your entertainment. If there are any themes that you cannot deal with in fiction, that are too strongly personal to you, please do not listen.

Pseudopod is for mature audiences only. Hardly any story on Pseudopod is suitable for children. We mean this very seriously.

Review by Peter G Staff (Pod-Master General)