Tori’s Back!!! We talk Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, more Predator, Popcorn, Silver Coin #13, Rocktober Blood, the f*&ked up films of Andrey Iskanov, plus a lot more!

Prey!!!

We give you our spoiler-free review/reaction to Dan Trachtenberg’s PREY, the newest film in the Predator franchise that rocked HULU like no other release before. Is it worth the hype? It is, and we also give fair warning when we deepen our discussion with full spoilers. From there, we thought it’d be nice to review the new Marvel Comics’ Predator #1 that dropped recently, kicking off the Comics Giant’s first foray into the Predator-verse.

The Silver Coin Deep-Dive (Full Spoilers)

Now that the first two volumes of Michael Walsh and friends’ Amazing Horror Anthology Comic The Silver Coin are on Comic Shop Shelves, Anthony and Shawn do a full re-read on the series and go in-depth on the Silver Coin mythos. Full Spoilers! We talk about every issue, how they tie together, what characters overlap, and all our theories about the bigger picture of this wonderful Horror Opus!!!

The Cellar!

I do quick, spoiler-free reviews for The Cellar, You Won’t Be Alone, and the new Brubaker/Phillips’ Reckless graphic novel, The Ghost in You.

Conjuring Three: The Devil Made Me Do it

We talk about the third installment in James Wan’s Conjuring series! We stay spoiler-free while we discuss what we liked, didn’t like, and how this new entry in the “Conjuring Universe” stacks up compared to the others. Also discussed: Fried Barry, Black Roses, Army of the Dead, Eve’s Bayou and The Untamed. TV-wise, we cover Little Marvin’s Them, and in comics we talk about Boom! Studio’s cinematic adaptation of Cullen Bunn’s The Empty Man, Horror Anthology The Silver Coin, and Ed Piskor’s Red Room!

Kong Vs Godzilla

This episode, Anthony gives his review of Adam Wingard’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, and as a diehard fan of the giant lizard, we trust his opinion. Also, Shawn gives Wrong Turn 2021 its second chance on the show, Tori talks South-Western Giallo White of the Eye a holler before joining Shawn in salivating over Waxwork Records‘ new Lords of Salem vinyl release. Plus, Larry Fessenden’s graphic novel and LOTS more!

Come True, Wrong Turn & Stay Out of the F*&king Attic!

We review a bunch of new stuff, including Anthony Scott Burns’ new film, Come True, the Wrong Turn re-boot, and Jerren Lauder’s Stay Out of the F*&king Attic. Plus, Lucky, The Craft: Legacy, Anything for Jackson, and tips on how to overcome streaming’s Paradox of Choice!

A Most Horrible Library – Archie Horror Comics Deep Dive!

Chris helps Shawn get the various editions of Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein straight, then takes him through the Archie Comics’ Horror line – Jughead the, Hunger, Blossom 666, Vamperonica, Sabrina and the one that started it all, Afterlife with Archie! Also discussed, digitally remastering the original Vertigo Comics line, colonizing B&W Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell, and we dip a little into the idea that John Logan’s Penny Dreadful feels an awful lot like another seminal Alan More title – not in a bad way!

A Most Horrible Library

A horrifically new literary podcast from the creators of The Horror Vision!

Join Chris and Shawn as they discuss all things Horror Literature/Comics. This first episode we divulge a bit of what led us to Horror Comics, then dive into a bunch of titles we wholeheartedly recommend.

Here’s what we discuss:

Miskatonic (Aftershock)

Red Mother (Boom! Studios)

Gates of Hell (Eibon Press)

Homesick Pilots (Image Comics)

Something is Killing the Children (Boom!)

Castle Freak, Freaky, Max Brook’s Devolution, and the joys of Audio Books!

Chris, Ray, and Shawn meet up to talk about all things Horror! First, hear Chris talk about the joys of not only Max Brooks’s new novel Devolution, but the full-cast Audio Book performance of both that and Brooks’s seminal zombie novel, World War Z! Next, Shawn has seen the new, Barbara Crampton-Produced Castle Freak remake and he LOVES it! Hear why. And Ray continues to methodically educate himself on Shudder’s entire catalog; this week he talks about Fulci’s New York Ripper, Bava’s The Body and the Whip, and the not-for-the-weak-of-heart Angst! Plus… Christopher Landon’s Freaky, and a lot more!

Porno, Run & So Much More!

Anthony, Tori, and Shawn meet up to talk about all they’ve been reading and watching. Big review this week is Shudder’s Porno, which dropped just before the holiday. Worth a watch? You betcha! Hear Shawn’s review of that and new HULU suspense flick Run, as well as Tori’s admiration for Jim Jarmusch’s much-maligned The Dead Don’t Die. Anthony helms the time machine and revisits Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions and Hellraiser V: Inferno. Plus: Eibon Press’s Fulci Comics and a whole lot more!

50th Episode Just in time for Halloween: Bly Manor, The Mortuary Collection and More!

Ray, Anthony, and Shawn hit Zoom to talk about all their pre-Halloween watches. We talk about The Mortuary Collection, Tremors 7: Shrieker Island, The Haunting of Bly Manor, French New Extremity flicks Sheitan and Ils (Them), Haun and Luckert’s new comic Red Mother, the glory and thrift of region-free Blu Ray players, and Modern CG as the new schlock! That’s not everything, but it’s a lot of it!

Quarantine Viewing & Shudder’s Host

As quarantine crawls into its fifth month, Tori, Anthony, and Shawn meet up online to talk about everything they’ve been watching/reading to keep them sane. Topics of discussion include but certainly are not limited to the new 80s Horror documentary In Search of Darkness, the original Sleepaway Camp trilogy, Shudder’s new, scary as all hell Host, and soon-to-be-adapted North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud, which premieres in October on HULU courtesy of Babak Anvari. We also talk about the cosmic horror of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Nameless graphic novel, Alien 3 and 4, and rare 80s flicks The Kindred and Killer Party.

Show notes:

Shawn’s annotations on the Ennochian Magick contained in Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Nameless graphic novel can be found here:

http://joup.co/beneath-panels-4-nameless-place-fear/

That puts you in at issue four’s annotations, but the links for the first three are at the top of the page, and you can click through to issue 5 and 6 from the side bar on the right.

The annotations for Grant Morrison’s entire 7-year Batman run that Shawn mentions in this episode were written by the following.

David Uzumeri’s annotations are my favorite. He does a fantastic job, first on Funnybook Babylon and then on Comics Alliance. Notice you’ll also find his annotations for Final Crisis and FC supplement Superman: Beyond on some of these pages as well.

Funnybook Baylon Batman Annotations page 1

Funnybook Baylon Batman Annotations page 2

Comics Alliance Batman Annotations

Gary Lactus does a great job in his own right with annotations. His website Mindlessones.com is a great read and an excellent comic resource and I’ve used it to augment the studiousness Uzumeri’s annotations have inspired in me for this re-reading of epic proportions.

Gary Lactus Batman RIP annotations page 1

Gary Lactus Batman RIP annotations page 2

And finally, Douglas Wolk’s work annotating Final Crisis is another fantastic supplement to the series. I know so little about the history and structure of the DC Universe (always been a dabbler in DC and more of a Marvel man) that without something like this I had no hope of understanding even the smallest bit of the epic scope of FC.

David Wolk’s Final Crisis annotations

That’s all folks!

A Most Horrible Library

by Shawn C. Baker

Vault Comics’ The Plot

I am of the ilk that believes comic books can be literature. There are the obvious entries into that argument, graphic novels by authors like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughn, etc. But those iconic, high-water mark novels didn’t just change the fabric of the comic book industry; they influenced a subsequent generation of creators to follow suit. This influence is especially apparent in Horror Comics. In recent years there has been a surge in high concept Horror titles. Many of these find a home with independent publishers that don’t carry the same weight as institutional companies like Marvel or DC. Even Image and Dark Horse, as big as they are, put out titles I’m always surprised go largely unnoticed. It will be the goal of this column to try and expose some of those titles. 

I thought for this first entry in A Most Horrible Library, I would start things off with a book currently on the stands.

Title: The Plot

Author: Tim Daniel and Michael Moreci

Artist: Joshua Hixson

Publisher: Vault Comics’ Nightfall Line

Vol. 1 TPB available 7/01/20 (collects issues 1-4)

Issue 5 also available 7/01/20

During a recent re-read of Grady Hendrix and Will Erickson’s Paperbacks From Hell, I realized that Ancestral Horror had become something of a lost sub-genre. Perhaps ‘lost’ is a touch melodramatic; there have been some considerably successful examples in recent years. Crimson PeakThe Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle are all rooted in Ancestral Horror. I’m even of the mind you could argue that Ari Aster’s Hereditary fits into the genre. But as the past has become less important to our society, the ‘sins of our fathers‘ plot device has likewise lost its power to horrify us. That said, it wasn’t all that long ago that religion’s faltering grip on our hearts and minds appeared to banish Horror’s ties to the Devil. I’ll never forget how disappointed I felt when I learned the REC remake had replaced demonic possession with terrorists making rabies. My point is, it wasn’t too long after that remake that a veritable deluge of films about possession appeared in theatres, one after the other. The lesson? 

Everything old is new again, just like those generational sins that plague the characters in Ancestral Horror stories. 

If you put your ear to the ground of most film genres, you’ll hear what’s bubbling in the world of the written word. Horror films take a lot of cues from Horror literature, and thanks to those icons mentioned above, comics are now recognized as just that. This brings me to The Plot, a relatively new ongoing monthly horror comic published by Vault Comics under their Nightfall imprint.

The Plot starts, like all good Ancestral Horror stories, with the proverbial chickens coming home to roost. Charles Blaine is the successful head of Sortvand Pharmaceuticals, a company he took over after his father passed away. When we meet Charles, we see him go from enjoying the spoils of his empire on the eve of his fortieth birthday to meeting his end at the hands of something monstrous. Something that has dragged itself up out of his family’s past and come to collect. “In order to give, first you must receive,” the cryptic message that proceeds his death also echoes through each issue, taking on ominous connotations that would appear to tie into nefarious deeds perpetrated by previous Blaine family Patriarchs. Don’t worry; none of this is spoiler country. Charles’ death is the inciting incident that kicks off the story, sending his black sheep brother Chase back to the Blaine ancestral home in Cape Augusta, Maine. 

As the story progresses, we learn that, while big brother Charles’ was being groomed to take over the family business, Chase ran away. We don’t know why he ran, but there are intimations from other characters that don’t exactly paint him in the most flattering light.

Whatever drove Chase away, his return comes off as part heroic, part foolish. Certainly, his impetus to take up the mantle of raising Charles’s two adopted children, Mackenzie and Zach, is as altruistic as it gets. But there’s something else deep-seated in Chase. An impulse that ties him to the family mystery, and thus, makes him either the inevitable next target or part of the cause. 

So the three Blaines arrive in rural Maine as fish out of water. With the help of Reese, the love Chase left behind, now a local school teacher, they try to make a home. Only the town itself opposes their attempt at happiness. Bigoted locals do not appreciate Mackenzie and Zach’s Chinese heritage. The Sheriff makes no bones about telling Chase he needs to leave, that his family has always been bad news for Cape Augusta. And the house, well, the house is a horror show all its own. There are hidden tombs inside its walls, rooms that flood with phantom water, and what I can only describe as Bog Creatures that haunt every nook and cranny of the estate.  

In The Plot, Tim Daniel and Michael Moreci have conceived a story that, while clearly an homage to an outlier sub-genre, still manages to have its own unique pulse. There’s a modernity to some of the character dynamics that balances the tried-and-true ‘villagers with pitchforks’ vibe percolating in the background. Mackenzie and Zach’s heritage feels as though it will eventually come to play a more significant role, and the ties to 70s-era big Pharm adds the possibility of a conspiracy of macroscopic scope.

Likewise, Penciler Joshua Hixson and colorist Jordan Boyd employ a dark, almost gothic palette to populate the book with eerie, often earthen textures drawn directly from the Hammer philosophy of setting-as- character. Their wonderfully subtle approach to juxtaposing rotting, sepulchral entities with the visual tropes of Ancestry anchor the Blaines, both past and present, in an environment that feels perpetually unsafe. The underlying tension this creates makes each issue throb with promises that Horror lay around every corner. To me, that’s what Ancestral Horror is all about: What lies in wait.

Quarantine Viewing Guide!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the smart people in the world remain sheltered-in-place, Chris, Ray, and Shawn hold their first remote meeting to help give you recommendations for what to watch and read while we’re all trying to Flatten the Curve! Plus – a brief remembrance of Stuart Gordon and the films by him we love!

Jon Wright’s Grabbers!

This episode we watch and react to Jon Wright’s delightful 2012 Horror/Comedy Grabbers, an Irish monster movie with a beautiful setting and a drunken cast. Our Classic Corner pick is Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and we don’t stop there! Locke and Key’s premiere on Netflix, Dale Fabrigar’s D-Railed, Osgood Perkins’ Gretel and Hansel, Shudder’s The Marshes, American Horror Story, David Cronenberg’s debut novel Consumed, and Vault Comics knock-out horror titles The Plot and Black Stars Above. Oh, and there’s quite a bit more where those came from. Su Nioj!

The Horror Vision: Reading Image Comics’ Infidel

Recently, my friend Jesus gifted me a copy of Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell’s Infidel trade paperback. I’d heard titterings about this book online; that it was a fantastic new horror comic, and a modern update on the haunted house paradigm. But despite flurries of excitement in my peripheral vision, Infidel somehow escaped my purview on the shelves of my beloved comic book shop.

I say most sincerely then, thank you, Jesus, for sending this book my way. Infidel is, simply put, stunning horror. It is modern, terrifying at times, and downright ugly at others. Ugly, despite the absolute majesty of the art and execution of the concept.

You can find this first volume pretty much anywhere comics are sold. Will there be others? I’m unsure; the first trade ends the story satisfactorily enough, but of course, with a success, there is always room for more. Plus, the thankfully vague explanations for the haunting the characters stumble upon in the back half of this volume are just begging to be fleshed out. There’s dark magick here, and something else you can’t quite put your finger on. Which makes everything all the more frightening.

When you look at Infidel, the first thing that strikes you is the art. It’s gorgeous and strange; beautiful even in its abject ugliness. It carries the story but remains abstract and non-committal. Make no mistake, this is not an easy feat, and everyone involved deserves a tip of the hat for the pacing, tone, and emotional resonance Infidel carries.

Look at that. Bone-chilling, right? Well, that’s just the beginning of the nightmare fuel in this book.

Infidel’s basic plot is this: two Muslim American women and their multi-cultural neighbors find themselves living in a building haunted by Xenophobic ghosts. It’s a great set-up, but the execution even transcends what you can say about it in an elevator pitch. Needless to say, the book landed a film deal after a mere two issues, and if reading this late at night, the dark pressing in against your lamp, doesn’t creep you right the hell out, well, you might want to consider signing up for a night in that haunted mansion.  Infidel is probably the creepiest book I’ve read since Scott Snyder and Jock’s Wytches (and just when the hell is that coming back?)

Infidel hits you in the horror nerve while whittling your defenses away with well-earned empathy for the characters. Bad shit happens in our world, but in Infidel, that’s only the beginning.