Monday, November 27, 2006
on the heels of
what should arrive today but my author copies of the deluxe
The Nightmare Frontier. It's an absolutely gorgeous
volume, what with Chad Savage's striking cover art and Sarob
Press's excellent production work. Alas, I discovered a few
typos on the jacket — a couple of "its" were typed as "is" and
Island is titled Blue Dreams Island. I
did proof the interior galleys prior to production, however, and
the text looked about as good as it could get, so I hope all the
corrections made their way in. Regardless, I think it's my best
novel to date, and I'm ecstatic to see it produced so
beautifully. I believe
Shocklines may still be able to fill orders, so if you've
been on the fence, now is the time to pick it up before
it's gone. Personal interest aside, I always strongly recommend
supporting Matt at Shocklines because there is no better
place to find good deals on horror, online or elsewhere. If you
don't buy The Nightmare Frontier, buy something
at Shocklines, and tell Matt I sent you.
I am a
big fan of Thanksgiving; for my family, it's one of the best
times for togetherness of the entire year, and this year was no
exception. There was lots of good food, lots of enjoyable
company, and — just about best of all — several days away from
the bleepin' office. I also wrote 5,000 words in The
Monarchs of Harrow, and I'll probably get in another
My review of Godzilla vs. Mothra is up at
About Horror.com. In case there's any ambiguity in the
review, I love this movie. And the Classic Media DVD release is
And finally, at long bloody last,
Evermore is officially on the street. My contributor
copies have arrived, and hoooooo! What a beautiful book.
Excellent production job by Arkham House, and the contents are
first-rate. Go get it. Now!
Vernon, in his new
Hellnotes review of
Blue Devil Island, says that the novel "represents
balls-to-wall combat scenes, spine-tingling old-school terror, and plain big
fun." I would be hard-pressed to quibble with that.
I've been hard at work in the kitchen this evening, building a big old
pumpkin pie for tomorrow, and it's baking in the oven for about the next
half-hour. The challenge will be saving it for after dinner
tomorrow; something tells me I'm going to have a monstrous craving right
about the time that thing comes out of the oven all nice and hot.
My Mothra vs. Godzilla review hasn't shown up yet at About
Horror.com, but it probably will over the weekend. Just because the
movies got me into the spirit, I put on Destroy All Monsters
tonight. I expect that makes about my hundredth viewing since I was a
kid. If I'm lucky, I may catch it another hundred before packing it in for life's
November 21, 2006
Yesterday, I received
a couple of nice items from Classic Media to review for About Horror.com
— DVDs of Godzilla Raids Again (a.k.a. Gigantis —
The Fire Monster) and Mothra vs. Godzilla (a.k.a.
Godzilla vs. the Thing). Both feature the original
Japanese versions as well as the U.S. release versions and have
commentaries by Steve Ryfle and my old (and I do mean old!)
friend Ed Godziszewski, now editor of my ancient brainchild,
I couldn't not do it, so last night I watched both versions of
Godzilla Raids Again, checked out the commentary, and
wrote the review. It's just been posted at About Horror.com. Tonight I watched both versions of Mothra vs. Godzilla,
checked out the commentary, and wrote the review. I just sent it out to
About Horror.com's proprietor, Staci Wilson, a few minutes ago, so it'll
probably appear on the site tomorrow. Godzilla...goooood.
November 18, 2006
Blue Devil Island
a reasonably good review
this week. Here's an excerpt:
"In Rainey's enjoyable WWII adventure with a SF plot twist, courageous American
flyers with the navy Blue Devil unit shoot down Japs above the Solomon
Islands...Then, in the cinematic tradition of the period, the story veers into
horror-flick territory with SF undertones when the airmen discover peculiar
savages in the caves of Conquest's mountainous landscape. For good measure,
Rainey (The Lebo Coven) also throws in a gigantic, monstrous extraterrestrial...The novel benefits from
the author's obvious interest in WWII aircraft, and readers nostalgic for the
era's war movies and pulp fiction will enjoy the ride."
It could be worse.
Friday, November 17, 2006
who know me know that I'm a 007 fanatic. I'm also something of a purist.
To me, James Bond and Ian Fleming are inseparable; in my realm, the
novels by John Gardner, Raymond Benson, and even Kingsley Amis do not
even exist. And in the movies, Sean Connery has always been James Bond.
Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan each had their strong points; and
George Lazenby might have made an excellent Bond if he'd stuck it out
past On Her Majesty's Secret Service (which is actually my
favorite 007 movie — and novel, for that matter).
I was never a fan of Roger Moore, so sorry. And now comes Daniel Craig,
with whom I was not at all familiar before Casino Royale.
But I think, after this afternoon, I'm firmly in the "Daniel Craig is
okay by me" camp.
Casino Royale is easily, and I mean easily, the best Bond
since On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The producers
wisely returned to basics and ditched the tired storyline of the
megalomaniacal tycoon looking to conquer civilization. In Bond, we have
a cold-hearted "blunt instrument," to use M's words, who performs at a
remarkable physical level, yet bleeds real blood, feels real pain, and
blunders fairly substantially now and again. This is, at long last, Ian
The movie takes plenty of liberties with the source material, but it
also does justice to the novel, in the same way that From Russia
With Love, Goldfinger, and OHMSS honor their
sources. While I might have preferred a few things done differently (and
why they still don't bother to ask me first, I'll never know), there are
virtually no groan-inducing moments, which hasn't been the case even
with many of the better films of more recent years, such as
Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. A few scenes
could have disappeared altogether and not hurt the film (such as Bond
being poisoned during the card game; this was a needless distraction
that added nothing to the whole and added ten minutes to an already long
running time). But again, even this is not one of those ruinous,
fling-me-out-of-the-picture moments, which have crept into every Bond
film since You Only Live Twice, I believe.
David Arnold, whose 007 scores have treaded the line between
occasionally effective and tedious, contributes one of his better
soundtracks, featuring a distinctive opening theme with motifs that he
repeats instrumentally through the film to good effect. And Daniel
Klein's opening montage, unlike the lurid crap he produced for the
Brosnan movies, comes across as appealingly retro, despite its use of
Speaking of which — thank the maker — Casino Royale
doesn't suffer from an abundance of horrid CGI effects, one of many
elements that helped to utterly ruin Die Another Day
(which was already bad enough and didn't need any additional
I'm confident that Casino Royale will appeal to diehard
Bond fans such as myself. I just hope it will draw enough of the
swelling ranks of Short Attention Span Theater devotees to keep
Broccoli, Wilson, and Company on this positive track for the foreseeable
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Received the most
welcome word today that Cemetery Dance is buying my short story,
"The Gaki," for an upcoming issue — probably #59, due sometime next year,
probably fall. A pretty fair wait, but a sale to CD is always good
for making me smile — and having an extra drink. Tonight, I've got bourbon and ginger ale;
why not have a
shot or two to celebrate with me?
Sunday, November 12,
Spent the weekend at the old homestead in Virginia, getting in some serious
walking and writing up a storm. Yesterday, I was originally intending to ride
with the missus up into the country around Ferrum, VA, where I went to college,
but she wasn't feeling well, so in the end, I opted not to go. Almost wish I
had, even alone (which I used to do frequently anyway), because it was such a gorgeous
afternoon. But the time wasn't wasted. Managed to write a full chapter —
5,000 words' worth — of
The Monarchs of Harrow, and built a banner ad for
Blue Devil Island.
So no complaints on this end — except for the fact that tomorrow is Monday.
Big honkin' sigh.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
having such a blast announcing stuff, I might as well bring up
Evermore, which is being shipped pretty much as we speak.
It's taken about three times as long for this book to appear as we ever
expected — all due to circumstances quite beyond the control of either
Bob Smith or myself. Initially, Arkham House managing editor Peter
Ruber's stroke set things back several months, but then, after the
machinery started grinding away again, it turned out that much of the
work Bob and I had already done — proofing, submitting revisions,
providing ad copy, etc. — all ended up having to be redone. Then there
were evidently some scheduling issues at Arkham House that had to be
sorted out. So...FINALLY...I think we can see the light at the end of
the tunnel with this one. Of course, I'll have to actually have the
thing in my hands before I completely believe it.
This is a killer anthology, though. Some excellent work by all
contributors, and an eye-catching cover by Tony Patrick. I hope this one
will do well for everyone.
November 6, 2006
from Sarob Press that copies of
The Nightmare Frontier will be shipping from the UK on or
about Monday, November 13. They should start arriving in readers' happy
little mitts over the following days (hopefully not long weeks, though
you never know with overseas shipping). Orders of the limited edition
from Shocklines will take a little longer because the copies will be
shipped to me first for autographing, then back to Matt to be sent to
customers. The print run was based on the total number of pre-orders, so
I don't know if there will be many spares available to be picked up. If
you haven't pre-ordered it and want to get a copy, best to hit
Shocklines or Sarob Press now, while you probably have a chance.
I know this is an expensive volume, but I'm confident that anyone who
takes the plunge will consider it more than worthwhile. My gratitude to
all who've pre-ordered the book. It's going to be one hell of a beauty —
and it's right scary, too.
what it was like to read a horror novel that actually made you sweat with dread
and your hand shake ever-so-slightly as you turned the page? Remember what it
was like to feel your heart thud against your chest as the plight of the
characters became your own? Remember what it was like to have a story cast a
spell over you rather than ram everything down your throat? If so, you've reason
to rejoice; if not, then you need to discover what that's like. In either case,
Mark Rainey's The Nightmare Frontier delivers the goods. This is
the Good, Real Stuff. From its powerful opening in the jungles of Vietnam to its
nerve-wracking finale, this novel never releases its grip on the reader's
nerves, brains, and heart."
Braunbeck, author of In Silent Graves, In the Midnight Museum,
and Things Left Behind
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
One of the
only days I don't particularly mind going to work at the office — Halloween. That's
because we spend the morning trick-or-treating and getting tons of candy, having costume and jack-o'-lantern contests,
and I get to read something spooky. Today was a good one — I read an
excerpt from The Monarchs of Harrow to an SRO crowd, and
since no one threw rocks at me, I think it went over quite well. Even got some of the newer folks
suddenly interested in picking up my books and such. This is a good thing.
Anyway, in just a wee bit here, we'll be heading over to our neighbors,
the Workmans (Workmen?) for dinner, movies, and then perhaps a trip to
the Woods of Terror. I do so love Halloween. Happy, happy to everyone.
And ye olde Log is
now just over a year old. Hardly seems possible. I'm kind of glad I've been
keeping this thing up fairly regularly, as many of you folks have been kind
enough to send me comments about it, and it gives me something halfway painless
to look back at. Years ago, I kept the Log in a series of notebooks, and those
are kind of neat too, except some of them are starting to fall apart. Hopefully,
the cyber-version can be kept around, in some electronic format or another, for
as long as I'd ever want to look back at it...
Everyone be sure to
wear your Silver Shamrock masks tonight! Muhahahaaa!!!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
This month at Storytellers Unplugged, rather than essays about the world
of writing and literature, many contributors are posting short fiction
for Halloween. Mine is an excerpt from my mostest favoritest of my scary
"The Fugue Devil."
Now, last night was most entertaining — went to Durham, NC, to the Starlite
Drive In, and met Mark Sieber and his wild bunch to see Saw III.
Now, I haven't seen Saw II,
though I did see the first one, but I don't appear to have missed much,
story-wise. This one was quite graphic, yet somehow undisturbing;
perhaps it was so clinical in its approach that any visceral thrills
were simply negated, or perhaps the cold wind blowing through and a few
medicinal beers just numbed me up real good. The movie was reasonably
well-acted, but the story and characters never particularly engaged me;
their motivations were muddy (the word that both Mark and I came up with
simultaneously, so we must be right) and its twist on a morality play
seemed a contrivance to keep the villain from being, well, just a
villain. Regardless, I thought it was an okay flick; definitely decent
drive-in fare. And it's always good to hang out with the Siebers.
Gale/Five Star just sent me the
uncorrected, bound galleys of
Blue Devil Island. They're packaged as
faux-trade paperbacks, with full-color covers. I've started giving the
novel a final reading
through, and so far, I haven't found any major errors. Five Star has
excellent copy editors, and they've been a real treat to work with.
been ages since I've actually read through the novel, I gotta admit I am
alternately as pleased as a penguin with a bowl of cookie dough ice
cream and as dismayed as a penguin whose ice cream spilled in his lap.
Mostly, it reads pretty well, but every now and then I run across
something that makes me cringe mightily. I'll probably send revisions in
on a few such passages, as I'm not sure I want the novel — or readers —
to have to live with them.
I just got back
from a nice Thai dinner with artist
Wayne Miller and his S. O. Carmen. Broiled squid appetizer and duck curry
for me tonight. Hot! And I reckon I'll be off here to watch Doctor Who
and Battlestar Galactica shortly.
Then back into
working on The Monarchs of Harrow.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Well, it's not the New York Times, but the local entertainment paper,
has included a feature on me and my literary-type stuff. (Yes, the
article that was supposed to run last week, but which was bumped to
this week, so that next week, it will be in last week's edition.) Apart
from the inevitable occasional info-stumble, it mostly gets the facts
straight. The print version comes out tomorrow, but it's already up on
their Web site. Here tis:
at Yes, Weekly
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I was a wee bit disappointed this week, as the local tabloid,
was supposed to do a feature on me
and the local horror scene, but the article got bumped in favor of a
story about our former police chief, who got in trouble and was
shit-canned, blah blah blah. No big deal, really; now the article is
supposed to appear in this coming week's edition. Another few days for
the populace to sleep soundly and safely...
After a stressful
week that culminated in unprecedented gastric pain, the weekend turned
out to be damn pleasant. Saturday morning at the crack of dawn, I went
with my good friends, Joe and Suzie Albanese, up to Mabry Mill on the
Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia for buckwheat pancakes and wandering
around the old mill grounds. The mill is one of the most photographed
sites in the country (this is one of Joe's shots) and while I usually
don't get all excited about things like beautiful autumn leaves, the
autumn leaves were so damn beautiful, I got all excited.
I did pick up the novelization of
Ju-On, by Kei Ohishi, which I started reading immediately
and immediately got scared. Even though I know everything that's going
to happen in the book, it pretty much gave me the creeps. All the moreso
because my mom went to Georgia for the weekend, and I went and stayed at
the old homestead to look after her dog, so I was alone and in the
perfect setting for reading scary stuff. This also worked out well for
writing; I completed an entire chapter of my current novel project,
The Monarchs of Harrow. It just so happened I was writing a
scary chapter, and it couldn't have been a better weekend to do it.
anticipate a week of horror movies coming up, as we're bearing down on
Halloween. Always a favorite time of year for me...
The Grudge 2
is the sequel to the American remake of the Japanese theatrical version
of the four-film Ju-On series. Got all that?
I'm a huge fan
of Takashi Shimizu's original four Ju-On movies. The first
two were made-for-television features (Ju-On: The Curse 1
and Ju-On: The Curse 2), and the second two were
theatrical releases (Ju-On: The Grudge 1 and Ju-On:
The Grudge 2) that continued the original storyline. Of them, my
favorite is the first Japanese theatrical release; it features the most
coherent plotting, despite its non-linear style of storytelling, and
imagery that I can only describe as outright terrifying. While that
film's original ending seems somewhat abrupt and unsatisfying, the
alternate ending (which more appropriately should be termed "extended,"
and is available on the original DVD) is everything it ought to be:
dramatically sensible and aesthetically satisfying. To my mind, the
alternate ending is the "real" ending.
The biggest problem with the new Grudge 2, which
has aplenty, is that it suffers from the bane of too many
western-made horror flicks: it's loud, with music and
sound effects that swirl to ear-splitting decibel overkill
whenever something scary happens. One of the most welcome and
effective elements of the original cycle is its quietness.
Instead of deafening musical explosions that pummel you whenever
scariness strikes, the first four Japanese films present
chilling audiovisual fugues that work infinitely better than
that goddamn omnipresent hollow thud-thud boom and blast
of music that inevitably accompany the shock in American
thrillers. For example, in Ju-On: The Grudge 1,
during the build-up to the first ghostly manifestation, a
subtle, repetitive melody eerily haunts the recesses of the
soundtrack, and when the shock finally does hit, silence ensues.
To my sensibilities, this is the perfect example of how to
generate dread in a film.
Thoroughly unsatisfying in The Grudge 2 is its
egregious lack of character development. Instead of spending at
least a modicum of screen time getting to know the players —
whom you realize from the beginning are doomed — we have one
puppet after another succumbing to the Saeki curse sans
even an attempt at providing sensible backstories. The moments
of the movie that do delve into the characters' backgrounds are
ill-timed, tedious exercises in exposition, which do nothing but
throw roadblocks into the story's progression.
Ah, story. Wouldn't it be nice to actually have one? The
original Ju-On movies comprise a long, single
narrative that — while admittedly are only marginally more
developed than this movie's — use the nonlinear progression of
time as an integral element, so that isolated events strike as
meaningful revelations, rather than predictable outcomes of an
established formula. The Grudge 2 literally has no
surprises in store — except for one, which is such a dramatic
failure that its inclusion in the Ju-On mythos is
essentially an embarrassment. This has to do with the character
of Kayako (the original victim and originator of the "the
grudge") being a "sineater" of sorts. It's a dull contrivance,
which, oh my lord, is then perfunctorily glossed over! It is
therefore to groan.
Make no mistake, my harsh sentiments come from an admittedly
subjective devotion to the original four entries in the Ju-On
cycle. Objectively, I should give some credit to the
restraint Shimizu shows, at least on occasion, in this movie,
where he refuses to succumb entirely to the juvenile excesses of
so many western horror disasters. A few of the scenes that
foreshadow impending doom — such as the first visit to the
"haunted house" by the trio of mischievous young women — are
done with a masterful flair reminiscent of the original movies;
yet these effective moments seem out of place in a film that, in
so many respects, is a great big trainwreck that one hopes will
spawn no more more fatal accidents anywhere down the line.
The original four Ju-On movies told the story of
the Saeki curse as it needed to be told (and I would even go so
far as to say that the second of the Japanese theatrical
releases is superfluous). This idea has played itself out, and
it deserves to be thrashed no further.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Book Em 2006 was a nice event, held yesterday at Waynesboro (VA) High School,
with a large bunch of authors hanging about. I was situated in the Kreepy Korner,
with Elizabeth Blue, Matt Warner, and Elizabeth Massie, which was occasionally
infiltrated by the likes of Matt's wife Deena and Beth Massie's S.O. Cortney
Skinner — who couldn't stay out of trouble if you paid them super-size Hollywood
advances. After a slow start to the day, we managed to actually start moving
books around lunchtime, and by the close of the day, we were smiling pretty
Forty percent of our sales went to benefit literacy, but even after Book Em took
its cut, it was a pretty profitable day — and the whole thing was for a good
For afters, the Warners came along to the Massie/Skinner ranch, where we watched
Dagon on DVD and sacrificed piles of Chinese food to the hunger gods.
The local TV station came and got a bit of footage. For about two seconds, you
can see the back of Beth Massie's head and my shoulder. That's probably about
all most ordinary humans can stand, anyway.
And a happy horror
day to all! I tend to enjoy Friday the 13s; they're usually very good days for
me. Today, I'm heading off to Waynesboro, VA, for the Book Em fair tonight and
tomorrow. Hoping for a good weekend all the way around.
Found a nice little
surprise in today's mail — my contributor copies of Cemetery Dance
#56, which features my story, "Other Gods." It's a big, fat honkin'
issue, with other fiction by Glen Hirschberg (as well as an interview),
Peter Atkins, David Nickle, Jeremy Robert Johnson, and Scott Nicholson.
Bunches of reviews and other features by Mike Marano, John Pelan, Bev
Vincent, Tom Monteleone, and Paula Guran. Damn good company, and it's
always a pleasure to appear in Cemetery Dance. It started
up not long after I began
back in the days of
yore (alas, poor yore, I knew him, Horatio, and all that) and has really
turned out to be the granddaddy of small press horror. Woohoo! Cover art
is by Mr. Stacy Drumm, who provided some killer art for Deathrealm
back in the day.
Tomorrow, it's off to Book Em, in Waynesboro, VA, where I hope to
survive a weekend that features Elizabeth Massie, Cortney Skinner, Beth
Blue, Matt and Deena Warner, Kristy Tallman, and several other notable
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Did the Q & A thing at Rockingham Community College tonight, which was quite
pleasant. Not a large group, but very receptive. Met some intelligent and
enthusiastic folk who seem to be serious and realistic about their literary
aspirations, which is always refreshing.
Just returned from an excellent, slightly long weekend at Hilton Head Island,
SC, where the missus and I met up with a couple of our bestest friends in the
world from Chicago. It was a damn near perfect weekend, with generally excellent
weather, a round of golf that was only marginally awful, dining at some damn
good restaurants, and plenty of spirits flowing. We had actually planned to come
back tomorrow morning, but we opted to leave this afternoon because the key we'd
left for our neighbor decided, for whatever mysterious reasons keys have, not to
work , and they couldn't get in the house to feed the cats for us. (Needless to
say, the critters were mighty glad to see us when we got in a little while ago.)
Worked out for the best, I think, as Hilton Head is — to put it mildly — not
inexpensive, and another night out might have busted the bank (which is already
pretty well crippled). Traffic on the way home was hellish, though; there was a
terrible accident just north of Columbia, SC, and we were stuck in one spot for
nearly an hour. At least one of the vehicles was burned up, and I'd be surprised
if anyone survived.
was really the only major snag, though. Otherwise, the trip was relaxing and
refreshing, and now I've gotten a craving to play golf again. Someone please
have some pictures later, which could provide a laugh or two...
Thursday, October 5,
Promo stuff has kept me busy tonight. The local entertainment tabloid,
as I mentioned below, is doing a write-up on ye
olde curmudgeon, and tonight I got the email interview questions, which were
pretty extensive and generally quite thoughtful — not mere rehashes of so many
questions I've answered many times over in the past. I reckon this one turned
out decent enough; I just hope
the full article will not make me appear as the raving looney that some
interviews have. Not that any of these have had any basis in fact.
also scheduled to have an Author Q & A on this coming Tuesday evening at
Rockingham Community College, a little ways up the road. It's an informal,
hopefully fun gathering of the local writers' group. No telling whether anyone
will actually show up or not, but I'll at least get a free cup of coffee out of
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Tonight, I had to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I
couldn't take it anymore. Even if it's still early for Halloween.
the season premier of Lost, which I've watched regularly
for the past two years. It was almost engaging, but it still felt
plenty like a bunch of filler and just didn't take the series anywhere.
It's getting very iffy whether I'm going to stick with it for a whole 'nuther
season. Got so much else I could be doing instead...
about forgot I'm supposed to do a Q & A session for the writers
group at Rockingham Community College on Tuesday night. I might better
put together a few answers for the questions...
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
edition of The Log goes into the archive. Hard to feature I've been keeping up
with this thing for almost a year now; it's certainly not the most
controversial, enlightening, or entertaining journal on the Web, but it provides
a nice outlet for me to plug stuff, vent a little, and occasionally give
readers a little chuckle at the end of the day. From the regular hits, I gather
that at least a handful of you folks tolerate my particular brand of torture
well enough to come back and visit now and again. Bless you.
October and all, I'm going to devote myself to a bunch of horror movies this
month. I've got scads of stuff on VHS and some on DVD that I haven't watched in
many moons. So tonight, I watched my old VHS of
The Devil's Rain,
which I recorded when I lived in Chicago, around 1985 or 86.
There were two commercial breaks, each lasting less than two minutes. Ah, but
for the good old days. And it's a hoot of a movie. I remember seeing this one
for the first time either at the
drive-in or movie matinee when I was 15 or so. A good, gross, nonsensical flick
featuring William Shatner, Tom Skerritt, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino, and John
Travolta. That's certainly good for one big hoo-hah!
the local entertainment tabloids,
Yes Weekly, will be running a feature on me in a couple of
weeks (the 18th, I believe). Tonight, local journalist Craig Miller called me up
to do the interview, so we had a right pleasant chat on subjects ranging from
the state of horror to Godzilla. Hey, anytime an interview strays into Godzilla
territory, you can bet that I'm a happy old grump. He's an old fan of
Deathrealm, which certainly doesn't hurt.