Saturday, August 20, 2011
Franklin Richards is whatever age he wants to be.
And he not only makes himself that age, he makes it so that he’s ALWAYS been that age, and no one ever remembers anything different BECAUSE HE CHANGES THE FUNDAMENTAL NATURE OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. In a very real way, Franklin Richards IS ‘Marvel Time.’ And the entirety of his universe ages more slowly because Franklin doesn’t want to grow up and he certainly doesn’t want things to change too much while he enjoys his extended childhood...
I couldn’t help but see him, though. A small ashen man, he was practically crumpled into himself, barely able to stand and blankly staring upon his child. His very dead daughter was in a heap, like yesterday’s laundry atop a gurney brought by the morgue to our small mortuary and funeral home. Even from the corner, I could see she was beautiful. Like a perfect rose, preserved in death with a haunting glow, his young twenty year old daughter radiated grace and a quiet calm in death. True, I felt that way about many I’d seen, but this one appeared special...
Jimmy Sangster, the man who wrote the screenplays for Curse Of Frankenstein, andDracula, for Hammer Studios, has passed away at age 83.
The two aforementioned versions of the venerated classics not only saved the archaic production house from imminent collapse, but turned it around on it's heel almost overnight, and into an immediate hit factory...
Thank you for Mr. Sangster for some great stories and some great memories.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
And The Race Against Time
Al Bruno III
The End is The Beginning
River City hadn’t sponsored a New Year’s Eve celebration in fifteen years so the citizens had long ago resigned themselves to turning their attention across Hallenbeck Bay to their neighbor city of Megalopolis. Every year Megalopolis would put on a free concert and simulcast it on a dozen radio stations. A giant clock would be erected atop the world-famous Olam Tower to display the countdown. Then, at midnight, there would be a fireworks display so extravagant that it could almost be seen from space.
In fact on one occasion it had been seen from space and had nearly triggered an interplanetary war.
Thankfully the masked and caped heroes known as Guardian Force, those sworn protectors of Megalopolis and River City, had been there to keep things from spiraling out of control.
They were just as busy on this night struggling to contain a crime wave. Roy Ramses, Arachni-kid and Cheela of the Jungle were battling polyester-clad jewel thieves in the Megalopolis diamond district. Golem Girl, Dr. Obscure and the Peacenik were trying to protect an experimental space jet from an army of roller-skating gibbons.
That left ShadoMask on his own in River City and his long chase was reaching its conclusion.
The ShadoMobile and the getaway car had crashed into a brick wall leaving both men on foot. The Reddeath ran through the streets of River City, his crimson robes fluttering out behind him, his white mask catching his panting breaths. In one scrawny hand he clutched the crumbling, jagged edged stone that was the Tablet of Destiny.
ShadoMask pursued him. The caped hero was barely able to run. His silver and black costume was torn and bloodied but it still seemed to shimmer by the light of the full moon. His dark cowl covered the upper half of his face, the lower half was oale and bruised. He clutched at his side, experience had taught him that a broken rib had punctured his lung. He grabbed the remaining bolo from his utility belt and threw. The weapon sailed wide of the target.
Somewhere a radio blared, “...that was the band Atrocity Farm with their hit single ‘My Love Is A Unicorn’. I’m your host David Harris and this is the KT-106 FM New Year’s Eve party and we are hear to rock in the 80’s. I can see by the giant clock on Olam Tower that it is almost time for the big countdown.”
The Reddeath stopped running, he turned to grin at his arch enemy, “It’s time. How glad I am that you’re here. I always knew it would come down to us at the end.”
“...stop you...” ShadoMask’s voice was a pained whisper, “...stop you...”
“How will you do that old friend?” the figure in red grabbed hold of ShadoMask’s throat and lifted, “How can you hope to defeat me in my moment of apotheosis?”
ShadoMask kicked upwards his knee catching the Reddeath in the chin. Both men went sprawling. The Tablet of Destiny hit the asphalt of Greenwald Street and cracked in half.
The masked hero dragged himself by his elbows, crawling for the stone fragments, the stone fragments that contained a formula that could undo the world. ShadoMask wished that one of the other members of Guardian Force were here to help him- even the Peacenick.
ShadoMask’s gloved hand landed on the top half of the tablet, he grunted, flipped over onto his back and threw. The five thousand year old handful of stone shattered as it stuck the wall of a tenement building.
“All right cats and kittens!” The voice of David Harris blared out from every television and radio for miles, “Let’s all countdown together and say goodbye to 1979!”
“No!” The Reddeath leapt to his feet and grabbed the surviving part of the tablet, “Not again! You won’t beat me again!”
Somewhere the sound of a siren began to fill the air, it was drawing closer. ShadoMask grinned, his son had gotten the message to the police after all. “Good boy,” he whispered, “good boy.”
Then the Reddeath was standing over him, stomping on ShadoMask again and again. The masked hero tried to fight but he could barely move, barely breathe.
Police cars were skidding to a halt a few yards away.
Uniformed officers began shouting for him to surrender but the Reddeath had turned his attention to the remaining part of the Tablet of Destiny. “Still enough...” he chuckled, “...still enough!”
He read the words, couplets of ancient Mesopotamian verse that were also complex mathematic formulae.
The moon seemed to swell, its illumination darkening to a deep red.
That red flowed across the sky, blotting out the stars and robbing the lamp posts and flashing lights on the police cars of their strength until they were little more than fading candlelight.
There was a sound like thunder. Voices began to cry out. The Reddeath watched as the policemens’ bodies began to shift and change. Their eyes turned black, their faces twisted into vulpine shapes. Their screams became howls and those howls were spreading through River City and beyond.
The Reddeath laughed at his victory, at the thought of a world that was his to control. Then he winced. A fiery pain radiated down through his body.
He held his pale hands up and saw they were twisting into black-furred claws.
“Wait! Not me!” The Reddeath shouted with horror, “Not meeeeeeeee!”
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
IN THIS TWILIGHT
The Mask Collector
Saturday May 31, 2003
Darren had only one thought as he shouldered past the man on the stairway, 300 pound guys should not wear bicycle shorts.
The 300 pound man in question had sleepy eyes and pale lips that were pursed in a continual grimace. A ragged beard covered his face, his thick greasy hair was pulled back from his forehead in a ponytail. The t-shirt he wore was too small, the pasty crescent of his belly protruded from the lower edge of the dark fabric. The logo on the t-shirt had long faded to discolored outlines that declared the man’s desire to ‘ ARTY AK D’. The legs that sprung from the bicycle shorts made Darren want to wince, they were bloated and marked with deep veins.
“Hey,” He said. “You must be my new neighbor I'm in 1668.”
Darren kept moving towards his apartment, “Yeah.”
“Did they fix your water heater?”
The 300 pound man laughed and kept walking down the stairs, “A sucker born every minute.”
And a Merry Christmas to you too Santa. Darren thought as he carried the box of clothes through the open door of apartment 1667. He set the flimsy liquor store box down with all the others. That was almost the last of it, he just had to get his TV up the two flights of stairs and he was done.
And I did it all by myself. Not bad for a guy that almost died a few months ago.
Taking a moment to rest Darren looked the place over once more. It was a little drab and cramped but it had possibilities, and it had a balcony, Darren had always wanted a balcony. He still felt a twinge of guilt over how things had ended with Marnie. When he had woken up in that hospital bed with tubes and monitors coming every which way out of him he’d realized that what the doctors were calling a congenital heart defect was really a wake up call of the highest order.
Those changes however hadn’t been very popular with his friends, mostly because they were Marnie’s friends too. Darren had expected people to take sides in the matter, he sure as Hell hadn’t expected that no one would take his. Everyone saw him as the bad guy, and they were all too busy helping Marnie move into her new place to even return his phone calls.
Nice going ‘buddies’. She’s not the one that had a heart attack at 31.
It was time to wrap the, maybe order a pizza and watch a DVD. Darren headed back down the stairs wondering bitterly how long it would be before one of his so-called friends would be balling Marnie.
Darren cringed a little at the thought and then made himself think of something else.
The 300 pound man was heading back up the stairs, he was carrying a battered parcel covered with stamps and labels. He stuck out his hand, “Hey, by the way, my name is Chad Lunt.”
“Brad?” Darren took the hand, it was soft and gelid to the touch.
“No! Chad. C-H-A-D. Of the Lunt family. It’s British,” he explained. “My parents were part of the nobility back in England but they had to move to this failed craphole of a country.”
“Uh, if you say so?”
“I mean this nation is pretty much dead isn’t it? I mean look at your President, look at these kids today.”
“You know I’d love to talk –”
“And these girls today, with their half shirts and their tattoos, they’re all dirty sluts,” He leaned forward with a conspiratorial grin, “the only good thing about this place is that we’re so close to the college campus that some of the little whores live here, you should see them in the summer walking around in their shorts and tank tops.”
“Well I –”
There was a faraway look in his eyes, “I mean you wouldn’t think of it to look at me now but back in the day I used to get laid all the time. You wouldn’t believe the amount of…”
“That’s great but I’m losing daylight here,” Darren said, “I’ve got to finish moving and then get the rented U-haul back. OK?”
“Yeah sure. We’ll talk once you’re settled in.”
Darren ran down the steps two at a time and got to the U-haul. Standing inside the truck he glanced back at the Kerwin Landings apartment complex, a collection of four three story buildings. Each building looked like a refrigerator tipped onto its side with three apartments per level. Each building had a dingy laundry room and plenty of florescent lighting in the hallways and stairwells. The clientele was mostly retirees and students, but Darren liked it because it was close to his job and far across town from his old life.
The television sat in the rear corner of the truck covered with an old blanket. It was a large model and it had been a nightmare just getting it into the truck, he didn’t relish the thought of carrying it up those stairs by himself but he was on his own now wasn’t he?
Darren smiled a little at the thought, On my own.
THE LOST EXPLORER is one of my favorite short stories ever and a big influence on me. I didn't know they were going to try and make a film of it. I hope to track down a copy soon...
Tim Walker, who shot his first story for Vogue sixteen years ago at twenty-five years young, chose to film a mystical story taken from Blood and Water and Other Tales by Patrick McGrath, who Walker refers to as ‘the apocalyptic Roald Dahl’. The Lost Explorer begins with a child, Evelyn, played by 14-year-old Olympia Campbell, stumbling on a tent among brambles at the bottom of her garden. Inside, an explorer is dying of malaria and clutching a revolver. ‘The Lost Explorer’ is played by Richard Bremner, he of Harry Potter fame (Lord Voldemort)...
This movie is everything I love in a horror film. In fact it isn't as much a horror film as much as it is a Weird Tale in the best sense of the word.
One Morning in New England, 1940, the entire population of Friar New Hampshire - 572 people - walked together up a winding mountain trail and into the wilderness. They left behind their clothes, their money, all of their essentials. Even their dogs were abandoned, tied to posts and left to starve. No One knows why. A search party dispatched by the U.S. Army eventually discovered the remains of nearly 300 of Friar's evacuees. Many had frozen to death. Others were cruelly and mysteriously slaughtered. The bodies of the remaining citizens are still unaccounted for. Over the years, a quiet cover-up operation managed to weave the story of Friar into the stuff of legends and backwoods fairy tales. The town has slowly repopulated, but the vast wilderness is mostly untracked, with the northern-most stretches off limits to local hunters and loggers. In 2008, the coordinates for the "YELLOWBRICKROAD" trail head were declassified. The first official expedition into a dark and twisted wilderness will attempt to solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar...and reach the end of the trail...
POLARIS by HP Lovecraft, IN THE HILLS, IN THE CITIES by Clive Barker, THE TOWN MANAGER by Thomas Ligotti, THE WILLOWS by Algernon Blackwood, THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS by Robert W. Chambers, and THE LOST EXPLORER by Patrick McGrath- these are the stories that have haunted me and stayed with me all my life. None of them have involved monsters or slashers or roving bands of exploding sheep- they have tales as weird as they were scary, stories as full of dark wonder as they are of doom and despair.
YELLOWBRICKROAD is just that kind of tale I can't recommended it enough. Some have been dissapointed by the ending but I was more than pleased and if I've learning anything from this movie it is that it isn't the destination it's the journey.
Check it out as soon as you can!
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011