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30 Years Ago Today: The Superstars of the Supernatural are back!

Ghostbusters IIHow difficult is it to make a good sequel? Not many measure up to the original, but there are a few exceptions. In my opinion, Ghostbusters II is one such exception.

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver all return in the sequel, both released and set five years after the initial film. The studio pushed for the sequel against the judgment of Aykroyd, Ramis, and director/producer Ivan Reitman, but fortunately all agreed to work together to bring it to fruition.

The sequel’s soundtrack did not enjoy as much success as the first, but there are still some quality songs from popular artists of the day, such as Bobby Brown, New Edition, Doug E. Fresh, and Run-D.M.C.

News of a third installment featuring the original cast first appeared online earlier this year. Rumored for decades, it had been consistently shot down by those involved in the first two films. I asked Hudson about the possibility of a Ghostbusters III about a decade ago; he pointed to a video game and said, “That’s the closest we’ll ever get.” I’m glad he was wrong; I only hope he is involved in the new movie, produced by the original director’s son, Jason Reitman.

Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror edited by Laurie Lamson (2014)

Now Write Science Fiction Fantasy Horror book review

Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
edited by Laurie Lamson
Tarcher, 2014
384 pages

Many writing tutorials promise exercises and prompts, but fall short on delivery. The Now Write! series, however, offers multiple applicable exercises for each chapter of instruction. Dozens of contributors give their best practices to get you writing better and more often. Some of these writers are pretentious and their snobbery jumps off the page within the first few sentences of their article, but if the reader can see through the author’s ego, the exercises are still worth the time.

That said, there are some very helpful chapters in Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Jessica Page Morrell’s “The Villain’s Handbook” is a primer for creating memorable monsters. Janice Hardy’s “So, What Do You Know? Deepening Your World Building Through Point of View” helps you get to know not only your characters but the world they live in, which helps you inform your audience through the character’s point of view. Jay Lake’s “Flashing Yourself” is great for warm-up writing to get your creativity flowing.

The resources in Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror are particularly helpful to young writers still trying to find their place in the world, but also serve as good reminders to those who have been writing for decades.

Learn more about Tarcher.

Learn more about the Now Write! series.

Purchase Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror edited by Laurie Lamson or explore other titles in the Now Write! series.

300 words.

Not a bad start. Especially since starting is the hardest part. I know now what my roadkill is and what part it plays in the story. It took a while to come to a decision on that, but once I had this particular idea, it wouldn’t let go.

Tonight I plan to write quite a bit more, and hopefully the story will come together as I envision it. I know what direction I want to take it, but not sure what direction it will take me.

Anyone else game?

One week until Halloween…

I can’t believe it’s almost here…my favorite time of year! When the ghosts and goblins come out to play, and not even garlic keeps vampires away. Halloween! Halloween! It’s almost time to scream!

The most influential man in horror?

When it comes to modern zombies at least, it has to be George Romero. From his classic Night of the Living Dead to Dawn of the Dead to Day of the Dead to Land of the Dead to Diary of the Dead, and of course, 2009’s Survival of the Dead, Romero has mastered the art of the zombie flick.

The first installment came out in 1968. Romero didn’t just work on “…of the Dead” titles, though. He was also involved in 1982’s Creepshow, which led me to create the Super Veteran card below (based on the subset from the 1983 Topps set)…

What’s your favorite Stephen King movie?

I’m not a big reader anymore. I used to be. I loved “Lord of the Flies,” “Ordinary People,” and various other books in high school. One of the first horror novels I read was Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary.” But reading is not something I enjoy doing much anymore.

Watching movies…now that I can get into. Movies based on books…I’m hooked. I love Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and another series of movies that I won’t admit to because I don’t want to be mocked. Moving along…movies based on Stephen King novels are hit-and-miss. There are some really good ones (Pet Sematary, Carrie, It), and some awful ones (which I won’t name just in case they are among your favorites). But my favorite has to be Christine.

One of the cards I created for Thorzul’s Nightmares on Cardboard III contest is a tribute to Christine, in the style of 1983 Topps (the year the movie was released)…

Another Nightmare…

The deadline for Thorzul’s Nightmares on Cardboard III contest is just around the corner…and here is card #2 that I am sending to him…

Ooooh…a card within a card…ooooh.

Review: Masters of Horror (season 1)

A few years ago, Showtime had a series called Masters of Horror. Since this is October, the month of horror, I thought I would review a few of my favorite episodes from the first season of the program.

The series started in 2005 with “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road,” a promising start for the series. In short, young wife kills abusive husband, tries to dispose of body, gets chased by monster in the woods, overcomes by killing the monster, hides fact that she killed husband by making him look like victim of the monster. There is a good amount of gore and torture in this show, but it’s well-used (I’m not a fan of gore unless it furthers the plot). Director Don Coscarelli is best known for Phantasm, and this episode will do nothing to change that. But it’s a solid start to a good cable series. Recognizable faces include horror veteran Angus Scrimm, appearing in the episode as Buddy, and John De Santis, who plays the demented Moonface. He made his acting debut as Lurch in “The New Addams Family” in the late 1990s. As a side note, Coscarelli is attached as a screenwriter and director to a movie listed on IMDB called Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires, scheduled for 2011 release.

The second episode was even better, an adaptation of the legendary H.P. Lovecraft’s “Dreams in the Witch-House.” I’m not going to tell you the plot of this one, but instead will urge you to go to your local library and find some Lovecraft anthologies to check out this month. THIS IS THE MONTH TO READ HORROR! The director, Stuart Gordon, was also at the helm of Re-Animator in 1985 and From Beyond in 1986, two other Lovecraft tales. Again, GO TO THE LIBRARY AND CHECK OUT THE BOOKS!

The third episode in season 1, “Dance of the Dead,” stars none other than Robert Englund. Yes, that Robert Englund! He plays the role of the M.C. in this sordid tale of rebellion, death, and pseudo-zombification. Pseudo because there is no actual brain ingestion. This one is gorier and more disturbing than the first two episodes, which should come as no surprise when the director’s name is revealed: Tobe Hooper. Who? How dare you! He is the one who basically created the slasher genre, who redefined what horror movies should be with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974. And for you grunge fanatics out there, Billy Corgan did the music for this episode. The price of the series on DVD is almost worth it for this episode alone, if you can stomach the blood.

“Jenifer” is the fourth episode in the series, starring (and teleplay written by) Steven Weber (Brian from “Wings”). Weber is police detective Frank Spivey who saves a deformed woman from an attacker, takes her back to his house, and ends up taking her to the woods to live with…kind of like a backwards Stockholm Syndrome. But in the end, when Spivey tries to rid the world of Jenifer after she eats one of their neighbors, he is killed by a passing hunter, who then takes Jenifer with him. A bit predictable, but what is the last horror movie that really threw you for a loop?

We’ll skip over “Chocolate” (even though it stars 80s icons Henry Thomas from E.T. and Matt Frewer from Max Headroom), and go on to “Homecoming,” a pleasant little tale about zombified soldiers, directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, and The Howling). It is really more of a satire that uses elements of horror, as the dead soldiers come back to life in order to vote against politicians who support the war, but there is controversy over whether the dead have the right to vote. Whatever your political leanings are, this is an entertaining episode.

The next two episodes were directed by horror giants, John Landis (“Deer Woman”) and John Carpenter (“Cigarette Burns”), but fall far below their other contributions to the genre. Landis makes up for it in a brilliant second season episode to be discussed later. “Cigarette Burns” is an interesting concept, but the execution was subpar and overall disappointing. It could be the time constraints that made the episode less than it could have been, or it may be the underwhelming performance by the lead character.

Skipping over “The Fair Haired Child,” which isn’t bad, but isn’t particularly memorable (for me), we move on to “Sick Girl,” directed by Lucky McKee. Ida Teeter is a bug scientist who falls for a chick named Misty that she sees outside her elevator every day. As it turns out, Misty is the daughter of one of Ida’s former professors, who sent a nasty little bug to Ida that was intended to make her undesirable to the professor’s daughter. But the bug got a hold of Misty instead, who then gave the bug to Ida, and they formed a happy little buggy family. It sounds goofy, and it is, but that’s what makes it so fun to watch.

Speaking of fun to watch, “Pick Me Up” features a turf war between a pair of serial killers, one a cowboy and the other a trucker. Both stalk a young lady played by Fairuza Balk, who is probably best known as Vicki Valencourt in The Waterboy. All three end up in the truck, and then there is a wreck, and then the serial killers end up in an ambulance. And there is another twist at the end, but you’ll have to watch the show to see that. This may be my favorite episode of season 1.

“Haeckel’s Tale” is a good story about necromancy, set in the frontier times. There’s really not much more that can be said about it without giving away too much, but it’s another good episode.

The final episode of season 1, “Imprint,” is one of the most disturbing shows I’ve ever seen. And I don’t mean disturbing in a good, entertaining way. I mean disturbing as in DISTURBING. There is a lot of oriental torture which made me a bit sick to my stomach, and I had trouble watching the whole thing. Had this been the first episode I watched, I may not have continued with the series.

Overall, though, Masters of Horror is a great collection of 1-hour horror tales featuring some pretty big names in the genre. Season 1 is better than season 2, but season 2 has a few gems as well. I’ll tackle those soon.

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