Deep Red Country Music

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Although I play bass bank in a punk band, I like a lot of country music. Real country, that is. And lately I’ve tapped into a dark, modern steak of country to draw inspiration for my Southern-centric horror and crime stories.

Just so we’re clear, what modern FM radio calls “country music” I call watered-down pop with twangy guitars. Total crap. I can’t tolerate it.

Genuine country music, exemplified by the likes of Hank Williams, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Willy Nelson, etc., is sadly a dying art form.

However, I’ve become a fan of these folk/country sub-genres called Red Dirt Music and Dark/Gothic Country, which seem to overlap each other, best I can tell. I believe Red Dirt Music gets its name from the color of dirt in Oklahoma and Texas, and it’s described as “country music with an attitude” much like the Outlaw Country associated with Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard (all the greats, in my opinion).

Dark/Gothic Country is much what it sounds like, a modern bent on these styles in which the lyrical content and mood of the song is downbeat, usually sinister, morbid or macabre, often dealing with murder, death, ghosts and other grim fare. It makes for a killer writing score, if you’re a weirdo like me.

Here’s a whole playlist you can explore.

And a couple of favorites I recently found:

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – Pine Box

 

B-movie Obscurities on YouTube

If you’re into rare or forgotten horror films, you should check out a couple of YoutTube channels I stumbled across called Midnight Macabre Films and Retro Movies Central. The movies are free although the video quality varies greatly because a lot of these appear to be VHS transfers. But, hey, those fuzzy images of the old VHS tapes were all part of the rental-store experience (unfortunately), so it provides that extra nostalgic quality of watching these things on your player back in the ’80s. Check out titles like The Slayer (1982), Invitation to Hell (1984), Neon Maniacs (1986), The Outing (1987), The Deadly Spawn (1983), Alone in the Dark (1982–and a personal favorite!), plus, many, many more…

Shatner Speaks Esperanto in INCUBUS

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I’m a nut for horror films. Always have been. The size of my collection could be described as absurd, and I’m always on the lookout for movies I’ve missed, particularly those rare “forgotten” films from the days before any jerk with a video camera, ten untalented friends and a free weekend could throw some crap together and call it a movie.

Over the years, I’ve heard of one titled Incubus but have never seen it. It seems there are two flicks with the same title– one made in 1982, of which I was familiar, but an earlier Incubus was made in 1966, starring none other than Star Trek’s William Shatner.

I’ve also come across the word “Esperanto” in the past but never bothered to look up the reference and assumed it referred to someone or something from a foreign land, likely Hispanic.

Well, it turns out “Esperanto” is the most widely spoken “constructed” language in the world. But “constructed” languages don’t seem to be a big hit, because whereas it was reportedly created back in the late 1800s, the “universal” language of Esperanto evidently never took off. (“Press ‘1’ to hear your options in Esperanto.”) However, two films were shot with the dialogue spoken entirely in Esperanto, and one of those films was Incubus (1966), which appears to be an artsy but atmospheric occult thriller. Here’s the plot description in a nutshell: “On a strange island inhabited by demons and spirits, a man battles the forces of evil” (–IMDB.com).

Soon after its initial release, the film negative was mistakenly destroyed and Incubus became a “lost” movie for decades until someone finally found a print. Thus, the movie is now “Found” I suppose.

So, if you want to see Captain Kirk speak a funky language as he battles evil, and you too are into obscure horror flicks, then you’ll be thrilled to know Youtube currently has the movie available for free streaming in its entirety right HERE!

Enjoy.

I WANT TO BE A MONSTER WHEN I GROW UP

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Here’s a little something different — a full-color illustrated children’s book released by Pint Bottle Press in late 2016. I wrote it and illustrated it with my oldest son Hudson, and it got some pretty great reviews, like this one from the UK website Ginger Nuts of Horror.

If you know a kid who loves monsters and creepy stuff, they’ll love this book, available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle download.

…Aaaaaand that basically sums up the Pint Bottle Press releases so far. As I mentioned in a previous post, we have two more upcoming horror titles for 2017, and who knows what else might soon roll down the pipeline.

More news will follow, but I’m now finished explaining the history of this little publishing company, and further posts will probably be dedicated to whatever the heck I find interesting at the moment.

THORAZINE DREAMS by Vic Kerry

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My home state of Alabama is not exactly a hotbed of art and culture, despite a lot of good people making the effort. There are concentrations in the larger cities as well as exceptions to this rule in every small town, but football, church socials, mud-riding and deer-hunting rule the day down here, and writers in particular are few and far between. Shockingly, I came across another horror writer in Vic Kerry, however. He hails from Jasper, Alabama, and after working with him on the Double Barrel Horror anthology  we decided to publish his new book of shorts stories Thorazine Dreams through Pint Bottle Press. Previously published by Samhain Publishing, Vic Kerry is the author of the novels The Children of Lot and Revels Ending plus the novella Decoration Day.

Check out this killer review of his story collection from HorrorPalace.com. And buy Thorazine Dreams in paperback or Kindle download at Amazon!

*By the way, there actually are a few more horror writers in the state. Most notably the reclusive Robert McCammon lives in the Birmingham area. Two other ‘Bama horror writers are John Mantooth and Bret Talley.

Double Barrel What?

I had a couple stories that I held back from Seven Feet Under because I thought that even though they were fairly gruesome, they were maybe a bit too tongue-in-cheek for the rest of the book. I have a tendency toward dark humor–sometimes to a fault–and maybe it subverts some of my stories’ tension or mood … but I too often can’t resist, and I gotta be me.

So, to fill a lag between releases around the time that Sinister Grin had picked up Seven Feet, I thought I’d release the stories “Beware, the Whammy” and “Swallowed” as a two-story eBook, which I’d seen some other authors do. But unless an author has already established a loyal readership, the likelihood of a two-shot eBook getting much traction is pretty slim. But what if the eBook were part of a series of eBooks, all with the same visual branding, each containing two-stories from a single author? Kind of like Two-fer Tuesday on my local classic rock radio station. I hadn’t seen anyone attempt to brand eBook shorts as a series, so I gave it a whirl. I knew that Amanda Hard from my critique group at Critters.org had an unpublished story, “Chef & the Maiden” which I particularly liked, so I recruited her to come up with the first two-fer.

Then I thought, if double-branding the eBooks is a good idea, then tripling it would be even better. This idea metastasized into a six-eBook series with writers who I’d crossed paths with in earlier shared anthologies. Maybe if I price the eBooks cheap enough, they’ll sell–how about a buck?

Truth is I don’t even own a Kindle. I guess I’m old-fashioned because a book doesn’t feel “real” to me unless I can old it in my hand. Thus, I collected all the Double Barrel Horror stories into a single paperback collection (also available as a single eBook anthology).

And now, I’m working on Double Barrel Horror, Volume 2 with six different authors. Click the HERE to jump to the Amazon page with all the Volume 1 releases.

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SEVEN FEET UNDER from Sinister Grin Press

In hopes of reaching a wider audience for myself and Pint Bottle Press, I published the follow-up story collection to A Dark & Winding Road with Sinister Grin Press, which had previously published one of my stories in the Fresh Meat anthology. Seven Feet Under serves up “Seven Twisted Tales from America’s Deep South.”

My hope is that I’m gradually building a kind of Southern-fried mythology with my short story series. The Deep South in question is specifically set in my home state of Alabama. Most of the stories take place in one of two neighboring small towns, Trapper Valley or Shady Brake, which are inspired by the actual small-town trifecta of Fultondale/Gardendale/Mount Olive located in North Jefferson County, Alabama.

When growing up reading horror stories and watching scary movies, I was kind of bummed that my own stomping grounds didn’t have much of a horror heritage. Hats off to Kathryn Tucker Windham’s beloved 13 Alabama Ghosts, but that children’s storybook didn’t have quite enough teeth for my taste. So, I decided to invent the folklore myself. Whereas Texas is known for its Chainsaw Massacre, Pittsburgh is known for Romero’s zombies, and New Jersey has its Jersey Devil, I’m trying to brand Alabama with my own Twisted Tales. I don’t know if it will ever stick, but I’m having fund giving it a shot.

Check out this review of Seven Feet Under from Horror Addicts.

FreshMeat     seven