Want to become a part of Eraserhead Press’s New Bizarro Author Series? We are actively seeking submissions and time is quickly running out for this year. The books will make their debut at BizarroCon in mid-November. You can read the detailed submission guidelines here.
We’ve asked our 3 series editors about the kinds of books that they are looking for. This is what they said:
I’m only interested in novellas, so no story collections please. Please keep the books under 30,000 words. Although it specifies that in the guidelines, most of the submissions that I receive are longer.
I like books that focus on language, meaning the author put a lot of effort into writing each sentence. But I don’t like style over substance. Form and content are of equal importance to me.
I have a weakness for books that are related to pop culture and are gimmicky. But a mediocre book with a good gimmick isn’t going to work for me. It needs to be a great book with a great gimmick.
I’m looking for books that use a central high-concept idea: books that can be summed up in a sentence or two. Also, the sentence (or two) should make a potential reader excited about your book and make them want to buy it.
I prefer pitches for unwritten books over full-manuscript submissions. Send me a whole bunch. If I end up liking one, I’ll ask you for a sample of your best writing. I know there isn’t much time left to write an entire book for this year’s series, so if that’s not possible, there’s always next year.
I’m looking for smart, entertaining, creative stories with strong plots and emotional cores. I want stories that are unique and personal to the author, stories that couldn’t have been written by anyone else. I’m open to looking at all types of bizarro, and am excited about expanding what fits under the bizarro umbrella. I’m especially interested in authors who represent diversity in their identity and within their stories.
I’m looking for character-driven work in which the oddity feels natural to the story, rather than forced and unnatural to the narrative.
Bradley Sands is teaching an online class on writing bizarro fiction. It’s for a new lit site called Lit Demon.
In this workshop you will learn to write high-concept bizarro while concentrating on the absurd and the surreal. You will discover what “high concept” means and learn what appeals to bizarro readers. We will study the differences between bizarro and traditional fiction, as well as their similarities. We will discuss characters in bizarro (particularly protagonists), settings, and the relationships between characters and settings. You will be taught to use traditional plot structures in untraditional stories. We will speak about conflict and what protagonists do to solve the problems they face. Do they do this differently than protagonists in other genres? If so, how?
By the time you finish the workshop, you will be able to write a bizarro story that will delight and totally weird out your readers.
Bradley Sands is the author of Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, TV Snorted My Brain, and others. He edits the New Bizarro Author Series for Eraserhead Press. He also works as a freelance editor. Bradley holds an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University. In the past, he was the editor-in-chief of Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens (A Journal of Absurd and Surreal Fiction), an associate editor for Bombay Gin, and an assistant editor for Weird Tales.
“I would not be published today if it weren’t for Bradley. As a guest teacher in a bizarro workshop, he picked me out and asked for more, and asked for better. He was constantly challenging me to push further and in a short time helped me chisel my writing abilities to a finer point. Bradley was able to not only see gaps in my writings, but was able to push me toward interesting solutions to fill those gaps, not just create bridges. He doesn’t push his own style on you, but helps you realize your own. A fantastic teacher and editor all around.” – Andy de Fonseca, author of The Cheat Code for God Mode
Voting for the Wonderland Book Award preliminary ballot begins now for the Best Bizarro Novel and Best Bizarro Collection of 2013. Please send your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes in the Novel and Collection categories to email@example.com with the subject line “Wonderland Book Award Preliminary Ballot.” Preliminary voting ends July 31st.
NOTE TO AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS: Please do not solicit or campaign for votes.
Japan Conquers the Galaxy by Kirsten Alene
Thunderpussy by David W. Barbee
8-Bit Apocalypse by Amanda Billings
Shatnerquest by Jeff Burk
Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr
The Cheat Code for God Mode by Andy De Fonseca
Santa Claus Saves the World by Robert Devereaux
Cucumber Punk by P.A. Douglas
Killer Koalas from Another Dimension by P.A. Douglas
Son of a Bitch by Andre Duza and Wrath James White
The Mondo Vixen Massacre by Jamie Grefe
The Party Lords by Justin Grimbol
All Art is Junk by R.A. Harris
Alien Smut Peddlers from the Future by Kent Hill
The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone by MP Johnson
Moosejaw Frontier by Chris Kelso
Death Machines of Death by Vince Kramer
You Are Sloth! by Steve Lowe
Fat Off Sex and Violence by Shane McKenzie
Clusterfuck by Carlton Mellick III
Cuddly Holocaust by Carlton Mellick III
Quicksand House by Carlton Mellick III
Village of the Mermaids by Carlton Mellick III
Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus by Cameron Pierce and Jim Agpalza
Grambo by Dustin Reade
Basal Ganglia by Matthew Revert
There’s No Happy Ending by Tiffany Scandal
Dreams of Amputation by Gary J. Shipley
Babes in Gangland by Bix Skahill
Damnation 101 by Kevin Sweeney
Vampire Guts in Nuke Town by Kevin Strange
The Church of TV as God by Daniel Vlasaty
Notes from the Guts of a Hippo by Grant Wamack
Dinner at the Vomitroplis by Jesse Wheeler
Bigfoot Crank Stomp by Erik Williams
Tales of Questionable Taste by John Bruni
Time Pimp by Garrett Cook
Paper Mache Jesus by Kevin L. Donihe
Clown Tear Junkies by Douglas Hackle
Zombie Sharks with Metal Teeth by Stephen Graham Jones
Hammer Wives by Carlton Mellick III
The Last Gig on Planet Earth and Other Strange Stories by Kevin Strange
DangerRAMA by Danger Slater
From the same author that brought you SHATNERQUAKE, SUPER GIANT MONSTER TIME, CRIPPLE WOLF, and SHATNERQUEST comes…
Jeff Burk is the cult favorite author of several books including SHATNERQUAKE and CRIPPLE WOLF. He is also one of the most original, ridiculous, and nerdy voices in the bizarro genre. B-MOVIES AND BEER RUINED MY LIFE! contains six short stories and two non-fiction pieces by Jeff Burk. From the filming of a hentai where a monster can’t get it’s tentacles up to a house made literally of cats, this collection shows why Wil Wheaton described his writing as “Lloyd Kaufman and Sam Raimi’s mutant offspring,”
This ebook also contains two non-fiction essays. One about his worst reading ever where someone called the cops and an essay on loving extreme horror.
This collection contains:
I’VE SEEN ENOUGH HENTAI TO KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING…
THE DOG WHO STARED
HOUSE OF CATS
FROSTY AND THE FULL MONTY
THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED CRACK HEAD IN THE WORLD
PUNK ROCK NURSING HOME
WHEN THE COPS CAME FOR SHATNER OR MY WORST READING EVER
YOU SICK FUCK OR WHY I LOVE EXTREME HORROR
Available only on Kindle
Lucius Shepard died on March 18th. With deep respect and gratitude, we are reprinting this recent interview with him conducted by friend and mentee, Edward Morris that appeared in Issue #11 of The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction published last December.
We asked Morris for a few words by way of introduction and he had this to say:
“Last night, a swath of irrecoverable jungle burned forever, and a Species Of One disappeared for all time. Last night, every light in the city of Vermillion went out at once, and a human door across Time and Space slammed shut.
But the footprints of the jaguar paint the Hokusai rooftops of Montavilla, and the honey badgers come nosing down across Burnside to lie in my yard and moan like dogs who know someone has died.
This dragon, this centaur, this immortal Fabulist taught me to live in the jungle, to love the jungle, to sleep upside-down in trees and eat rats and paint my face with the blood like the VC. To hone our craft to a killing blade.I am amazed to report that we inspired each other, taught each other…and occasionally interviewed each other. Here is the last such drum duet on skulls:”
Fear and Loathing in Portland:
An Unexpurgated Interview with Lucius Shepard
by Edward Morris
I stand in the dark light, on the dark street, and look up at the window of an OMNI stalwart whose work lit the sky for me like a million wishing-stars when I was a boy. I thought then: “This guy gets it. He has seen the landscape of my dreams.”
As I have seen his, too, and more. The inner and outer landscapes Lucius Shepard has traveled contain worlds within worlds within worlds of story, imparted through a certain half-smile that means I Shall Tell You All. Ray Bradbury’s Colonel Freeleigh in DANDELION WINE was described as a human time machine. Lucius Shepard is a human spaceship that can travel in five dimensions at the change of a subject.
I approach the doorstep of the fabulous old sandstone building and think about every building like this that I’ve vacuumed,the things I’ve seen in some basements, the miles of Shanghai tunnel that only slumlords now know…and their former henchmen.
The hidden city, the one called Rose’s City after its most legendary madam, the Portland of opium dens and hobo jungles and poets smoking hash in clean dark windows. The Portland I can see from the fire escape on Lucius’ floor….
Not the first time I have ventured into the strange sunsets of the Lovecraft Housing Blocks just past the Crystal Ballroom. All those mossy old Art-Deco masterpieces with names like the Sara Anne, for blocks and blocks of green-space streets so quiet you can hear the ones who were here before us creeping through their own Shanghai Tunnels, far below the parks in Hoyt Street, a whole civilization blooming from our scraps…
I get in this mood, when I go see Lucius. It’s been almost three years. For part of that, he was out of the country, for part of it he was ill, and for part of it I’m not even going to work my side of the street here.
Lucius’ Portland is a lot more fun. I hear his voice in every trainhopper ghost the Yards ever coughs up in the fog of strawberry spring. He is as Portland as webbed feet. And tonight, as always, the twenty-one-year old me working part-time at the comic book shop, sits up and whistles with a copy of the latest issue of VERMILLION open on the register desk. That kid doesn’t know why. I do.
Lucius buzzes me in, and I walk up three flights of stairs, listening to the song of the antique building in the night, like a ship settling. Outside, the stars turn black, but though his skin is pale and he looks peaked, his eyes are bright and the laugh in his voice bespeaks better health.When I see this, my own eyes grow brighter, and the pen comes out. I’ve been waiting three years for this. Lucius knows it, too.
ROLL SOUND: ROLLING SPEED IN 3,2,1…
INT: What’s the toughest thing you’ve ever written, and why?
LS: VIATOR. I had a complete breakdown. It was difficult to construct, with all those long sentences. The whole book had this sensitivity early on, and it was difficult to get the balance right, to have it anywhere near finished.
Well, eight or nine chapters in, I woke up one day with my serotonin level completely blown. I was this big, gray thing in the mirror. Eventually, I got back on track. But it was a nightmare, and I had to get it out.
INT: What are you working on now?
LS: Due to staggering medical bills I have to get caught up on, I am whoring in Hollywood again. The script I’m working on right now is sort of like ‘Die Hard On The Moon’, if you will. It’s tough. The family has about as much conflict as the family on ‘Lassie.’
I’d written very little before I got well. Writing for Hollywood is different. It suppresses your creativity. Like when they put Barton Fink on a wrestling picture in that movie and said ‘Do that Barton Fink thing…except when I do my Barton Fink thing, it’s always too much and I have to pull back, to make this or that family member less screwed-up, or whatever. It’s very difficult… but I don’t really consider Hollywood scripts “writing.”
INT: I’ve asked similar questions of S.M. Stirling and several other authors placed in the unique position of having the present catch up to their postulated future while they are still alive. When it comes to your breakout 1987 novel LIFE DURING WARTIME, how does the present situation in that region (Mexico, Mesoamerica and South America) stack up against your vision of it?
LS: We got caught up in other wars: The Balkans, the Middle East, and all the rest, but we’re already heading for a war down there. It’s been in the cards for 25 years …Colombia, way back, and all the elements are still in place there, even if everyone’s holding hands and singing Kumbaya because the cocaine trade’s more circumspect than it was under Pablo Escobar. It’s still there. It feels like Detroit in the Sixties when they cleaned up downtown by flushing all the crime out to the suburbs.
The elements are there now in Venezuela, too, because of the oil…There are a lot of serious contributing factors. Violence has escalated in that whole region because, in part, of the American deportation of the guys that became Mara 15. Honduras has one of the highest national homicide rates in the world, and Mexico is off the charts. The cartels…Mara-15 is fast becoming a contender, and the Zetas in rural Mexico as well.
Now, with the gangs, it’s a whole new deal. I started going to Honduras in 1976 but didn’t start seeing these kinds of changes until the late Nineties. George Bush was deporting people to Honduras and elsewhere There were these two brothers in Honduras, gang lords, whose MO was to kidnap an ordinary public bus full of workers and women and kids, have their group call the policia and tell them they did it.
Then they’d kill everyone on the bus. While the cops were thus occupied, more of the group would hijack a dump truck and use it to rob a bank. Thus, one crime with sixty casualties. They out-violenced us. That’s why no one’s really been in a hurry to go to war down there. Makes it less appealing (laughs).
They still hate Americans, and for good reason. You can’t really get a sense of that until you examine the last two centuries of their history. American corporate interests have violated the whole area and made it OUR Balkans. There’s not a lot of love lost.
The whole panoply of events hasn’t worked all the way out yet, but if we get a Republican president the next turn or two, we could get into a high-tech war in Venezuela that would, of necessity, have a lot of infantry /jungle/ war of attrition features like Vietnam. Drones are a little hard to pinpoint in jungle with any accuracy.
In short, the particulars may be different, but the elements are all still there. Waiting. LIFE DURING WARTIME could still happen.
INT: When it comes to graphic novels in general…We’ve discussed this at length before, but for the benefit of the folks just tuning in, did writing VERMILLION kill your taste for wanting to write a graphic novel again?
LS: (Laughs) Depends on how much money I need. That wasn’t a happy experience. The people running Vertigo had good instincts, but not when it came to the direction of the Helix imprint, and that series. For one thing, VERMILLION was *not supposed to be an all-ages comic. That was very stifling.
I was just finding my way. It would have been interesting to truly finish out the arc of that story, rather than write this quick ending because I had to. The experience didn’t kill my taste for that form, but there are only certain reasons why I’d seek it out now. Like getting the chance to adapt another writer’s work into graphic novel form, something like that. Make Me An Offer…
INT: I have a loaded question revolving around your DRAGON GRIAULE cycle. What do you think of the viability of ‘Science Fantasy’ as a sub-genre in the canon, and would you say that any of the aforementioned cycle falls into that sub-genre?
LS: It’s a totally viable sub-genre. Among other Burroughs stories, the UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS cycle is completely Science Fantasy, beam-weapons and all.
Jack Vance was another writer who did Science Fantasy very well. He stands out for me in that genre more than anybody.
INT: Jack Vance is still alive, last I heard. (He died not long later. —ed.) He’s in his nineties. He, Robert Silverberg and William F. Nolan are the oldest living members of that crowd, if memory serves.
LS: Good. He was always one of my three or four favorite Science Fiction authors, and so very much of what he did was Science Fantasy in its purest and often most epic sense.
A lot of times, you could see him really step outside himself, and transcend his own usual forms. You have to remember he was writing on board ship, half the time, back and forth between various ports of call. Writing has always been an honorable profession for merchant seamen because there’s so much down-time. Vance was great Science Fantasy, Cordwainer Smith…
INT: What about Robert E. Howard. Some of what he did—?
LS: Not “Conan.” (chuckles) Never could get into Conan. I almost had a chance to write one of those. Jason Williams from Night Shade Books was putting together a kind of thinking-man’s Sword & Sorcery anthology, but I couldn’t make the stretch to that world. I said that mine would have been something like CONAN THE INTELLECTUAL…
INT: ‘Conan The Librarian.’ Couldn’t resist.
LS: Sure. I don’t know if the DRAGON GRIAULE cycle falls anywhere near there or not. To me, it was just a big, ambitious story, a metaverse. THE SKULL of course took it into the contemporary age, which was what I think you were asking, but even then… Once, I wrote a story in which only one thing was done differently. As though it were the real world, but with a great big dragon, or in another instance, some one thing amplified. I don’t know if that’s still traditional Fantasy, or Science Fantasy by default. It can be tough to call.
THE SKULL was fun. It was written in a lot of different styles. One section, for example, was written in one long sentence. Another section was laid out like a play. The newest is straight-ahead and linear, as much so as I think any of my stuff ever gets, but everyone seems to think they’re all kind of odd. But they seem like normal shit to me. (shrugs) The next books are a collection called Five Autobiographies and a Fiction, and a novel called Beautiful Blood.
*Lucius and I talked a lot longer, of many things. Vast, sweeping, left-field wonderment things, French Metal and half a million recommended movies back and forth. The soul of the land seeping into his bones in Tibet, the Trans-Tibetan Railroad I once boarded in my dreams, and hearing the Dalai Lama exclaim over the airport gift of an Atlanta Braves baseball cap: “Oh, B for Buddha!” Things that light up the soul on the way home, especially when it’s cold and the neon is very far away.
Our conversations usually extend longer than an interview would support, off the page and up the peaks and down the valleys of mountain ranges that extend beyond Madness, into what Kit Marlowe called the literature of the age. That landscape can be found in quiet apartments on nights like this, with no entourage, no DJ, not even backing vocals. Merely the dance of laptop keys whose action gets worked so hard that they stutter out Morse Code to the world. Sometimes, that sound is the only tune we need to Rock and Roll.
by Allen Taylor
I only wanted that sense of humanity that seemed intrinsic. I’ve wanted it since I crawled out from under the toadstool that served as my shelter those initial days of my life.
That’s why I roamed the aisles of the local supermarket looking for feelings.
“Excuse me, miss,” I stopped a lady with a store badge on her chest. She was an older lady, somewhat withered, bearing a nice smile for a woman with no teeth. “Can you point me to where you shelve your feelings?”
“Oh, why certainly young man.”
It’s always intrigued me that old ladies address young men as “young man” during normal conversation. But she proceeded to deliver on her promise.
“Two aisles over that way. Near the chili.”
I made haste to get to the chili aisle with my baby sister in tow. She’s not really a baby. At nineteen she is much more mature than I am. She, after all, has those feelings which I desire.
“I’d be surprised if they have them on that aisle,” Little Sis said. “I’ve never known a supermarket to carry feelings before.”
“We’ll see,” I said rounding the corner and looking for the chili. Sis found it first.
We looked and looked, but no sign of feelings. I finally reasoned that the old lady thought I’d said “beans” since there were about fifteen hundred varieties of beans on the shelf next to the chili and just as many brands. But no feelings.
“Pardon me,” I stopped a middle-aged man with a store badge on his chest. It was labeled “Manager” so I thought he must surely know if the store would have feelings. “I’d like to know if you stock feelings.”
“Sure do,” he smiled. “I stock them on my sleeve.” Then he jabbed Little Sis in the rib and cackled. She laughed. I must have not looked amused. The manager could tell. Of course, not having feelings, I was not unamused. Nor was I “not amused” in the way that one might be negatively amused if positive amusement were within the range of possibilities. And that fact of my reality must have shown on my deadpan face.
“Sorry,” he said. “I thought you were joking.”
“He’s not,” Sis said. “He really feels left out.”
“Oh.” The store manager suddenly donned a look of puzzlement, then it appeared a light came on. “Oh … Ooooh. Yes, yes, of course.”
At that, he scratched his forehead, then snapped his fingers.
“I have an idea,” he said as he took off for the front of the store. Little Sis and I followed.
Once he reached the front office he unlocked a door with a set of keys and went in leaving me and Little Sis standing outside. Almost immediately we heard him say over the intercom, “Attention, store personnel. We have an urgent need for feelings at the front of the store. Any employees willing to donate to the cause, please come forward.”
I was amazed – or would have been had I been able to feel amazement – that a line of store employees started forming next to us. The store manager returned from his little office holding a plastic bag. I watched as employees began placing little trinkets in the bag.
“Thank you,” said the manager, nodding. “There’s a slight annoyance. A perturbance. Very good Miss Salamander. Oh, and lucky you,” he winked, “a joyful moment.”
This went on for about ten minutes, the manager calling out different feelings as employee after employee dropped them into the bag. When it was over he turned to me and handed me the bag.
“Will there be anything else, sir?”
I reached into the bag and pulled out what looked like an amazement. I wrapped it around my neck and my face contorted to take on a look of unexpected amazement.
“No, I guess that should be it.”
“Thank you for shopping at Carry Mart,” the manager smiled. Then he walked away with a whistle as store employees dispersed and shuffled back to work.
Little Sis and I exchanged looks of carefully chosen expressions – I actually found a bewilderment buried deep in the bag – and left the store. When we got to her car I smiled, pulled a pride out of the bag and wrapped it around my neck, then tapped Little Sis’s hood with the tip of my finger.
“See,” I beamed. “I told you so.”
Allen Taylor is the publisher/owner of Garden Gnome Publications and editor of the Garden of Eden anthology, a digital-only anthology of speculative fiction set in the legendary garden. His fiction and poetry have appeared online and in print for more than 20 years.
by Chris Swindell
The Thing in the bed rolls Its one great eye around to glare at me, bloodshot and green and yellow at the edges. A mouth smiles at me, ropey lips pulling back over teeth that look like half-chewed Chiclets. A voice like a leaking faucet asks me for some water.
I give it a glass of lukewarm tap water.
“Thank you,” It says in Its drippy voice.
The Thing in the bed rolls over. Its dinner plate-sized eye shuts with a squeak. It drifts off to sleep with a gurgling moan.
I have never, in all my life, been so in love.
The Thing in the bed first appeared two years ago. Or was it three? Maybe seven. Anyway, It appeared. I found It in my back yard slouching among the azaleas.
“Hello,” It said. It was so much smaller then.
“Hi,” I said. It looked into me with Its single eye and I knew in that instant that I’d found my purpose in life. I’d finally found my one true love.
I’d been in love before. Twice in high school, if you can call that love. Once in college. Once more since, and that one hurt the most.
But the love that I share with It is different. It’s pure. There’s no messy jealousy, because nearly everyone has his or her own Thing now. There are no complicated social or sexual concerns. No disappointments. Life is easy, simple. I sit by Its bed as it sleeps. I feed It and give It water when It is awake. Sometimes I go out to get more food. Sometimes I even feed myself.
Cassandra, my neighbor, found hers on her porch. She’d just had a baby and her fiancé had left her and she’d been pretty down. I see her every now and then when I’m out foraging for food. She has never looked happier.
I don’t ask about her baby. There isn’t any point.
The Thing in the bed – my Thing, my one and only Thing – stirs a bit, and makes a drip, drip, drip noise with Its wide, ropey mouth. But It doesn’t wake up, and I’m glad. It needs Its rest. It dreams Its strange dreams, and I watch It. I am so tired, but I cannot go to sleep. I cannot leave It alone. It needs me, my perfect, wonderful Thing.
Outside, Bill and June from across the street are foraging. I hear them kill a stray cat. All cats are stray these days. I feel sorry for Bill and June. They have to share their Thing. It must be awful, not having It all to yourself.
My Thing wakes up, rolls over. It scratches Its grey hide with a vein-covered, long-fingered hand.
“Please,” It gurgles in Its beautiful drain-voice, “I’m hungry.”
I smile and run a hand over Its cheek. The hide beneath my palm is like saddle leather. It burbles happily as I get up to go. I wonder if Bill and June will share the cat with me. They won’t, of course. Maybe I’ll be able to steal it. Maybe I’ll have to kill one or both of them. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I always liked Bill and June. But my Thing is hungry. And I am so in love.
Chris Swindell is a Cleveland-based writer of sci-fi and absurdist flash fiction. His work has appeared in The Harrow and Space Squid.
Ultra David Vs. Mecha-Goliath by Michael Allen Rose
Dieselpig by Garrett Cook
Violins for Sale by Scott Cole
The Slobbering Tongue That Ate The Frightfully Huge Woman by Robert Devereaux
The Corpsefucker Blues by Ryan Harding
Ogner Stump’s One Thousand Sorrows by Andrew Goldfarb
Wild Bushpig Grrrls by S.C.A.R.
Head Humping and Tentacle Fucking: Author Profile on Edward Lee by Jeff Burk
BizarroCon 2013: The Scandalous Version by Tiffany Scandal
Alan M. Clark’s Advice for Aspiring Illustrators : Part One
Fear and Loathing in Portland: An Unexpurgated Interview with Lucius Shepard by Edward Morris
A Decade of Weird Fiction And Doing It Right: A Spotlight on Raw Dog Screaming Press by Gabino Iglesias
Conversations with the 2012 New Bizarro Authors by Spike Marlowe
Click here to buy!
BY JEFF BURK
It’s that time again – time for my favorite movies of the year! Like always, if you want to catch up on my previous Top Ten lists, you can check them out here:
2000 to 2009
I know this list is a little late but this time I waited until I saw every movie released in 2013 that I had an interest in seeing. I learned my lesson last list when I missed DJANGO UNCHAINED (which would have most likely placed at spot three). But I’m finally done with movies released in 2013 and saw a shit ton! Some of them were really good!
I’ve heard a lot of negatives about this year in movies and when I first started working on this list I was inclined to agree. Most of the offerings from major studios were pretty crappy (with two notable exceptions – we’ll get to them). But the realm of independent films was crazy awesome. If you knew where to look, you could find a treasure-trove of original and amazing films.
But it wasn’t all good. To get it out of the way, here are the two worst movies I saw in 2013:
ONLY GOD FORGIVES (Nicolas Winding Refn, Denmark/France) – If you want to watch ninety minutes of beautiful people staring blankly in well-shot scenes, this is the movie for you. If you care about pacing, plot, story, originality, or just aren’t a sucker for hipster wankfests, then stay far away.
LORDS OF SALEM (Rob Zombie, United States) – Holy shit, if there’s one person that should not make a tribute to Alejandro Jodorowsky – it’s Rob Zombie. Yet someone allowed him to. It was just a boring mess until the last twenty minutes when it plummeted into a laughably bad attempt at being “deep.” Also, how Zombie managed to get so many details of the music and radio business wrong is totally mind-blowing (and not in a good way).
Enough shit-talking, now let’s be positive!
TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2013
10: AFTERSHOCK (Nicolás López, United States/Chile)
Taking place in Chile, this is the first torture porn natural-disaster movie (at least that I’ve seen). Considering it was produced, starring, and written by Eli Roth (HOSTEL and CABIN FEVER), that should give you an idea of what it’s like. After an earthquake devastates a major city, the survivors must battle each other and the many aftershocks to stay alive. Vicious, violent, and willing to kill any character at any time – AFTERSHOCK is a fun romp for the viewer with a sadistic-streak.
9: WRONG (Quentin Dupieux, United States/France)
From the same twisted genius that gave the world a movie about a sentient car-tire that could make peoples’ heads explode (RUBBER), comes WRONG. This sophomore film is about a man whose dog is petnapped by a company that steals pets to teach the owners to love them more. But when the company loses his dog for real, the man begins a surreal and strange journey to track down his beloved pet. Nowhere near as meta as RUBBER but in many ways just as strange, WRONG is a bizarro film about how much of our heart our pets take with them when they leave.
8: V/H/S/2 (Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Timo Tjahjanto, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard, Indonesia/Canada/United States)
The past few years have been great for horror anthology films. The sequel to 2012’s found footage horror fan-favorite V/H/S and this one example of the sequel blowing away the original . Almost all of the shorts surpass everything from the first entry in the series but special shout-outs need to go to Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans for the horrifying and intense Satanic-cult thriller “Safe Haven” and to Jason Eisener for the ridiculously original “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” – the only horror film I can name from the POV of a dog.
7: FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (Richard Raaphorst, Netherlands)
During the end of WWII, a Russian special-forces team infiltrated a top-secret Nazi facility where they were attempting to make grotesque “super-soldiers.” Soon the Russian soldiers are caught in a fight-to-death battle with horrible monsters sprung from the mind of a fascist mad-scientist. The movie as a whole is fun and well-written but the special-effect designs are the true highlight. The creatures the soldiers must battle are surreal and grotesque and the most interesting monsters since HELLRAISER.
6: THE ABCS OF DEATH (Twenty-eight directors from fifteen countries)
The premise of this movie is insane – twenty-six short horror films, each by a different director(s), and each themed around a letter of the alphabet. This could have been a disaster but the fact that the shorts are (mostly) really good makes this one of the most interesting genre experiments in recent memory. While some of the directors obviously didn’t give a shit (I’m looking at you Andrew Traucki and Ti West) most of the directors used the opportunity to try and make a serious impact on the audience. The very fact this movie features a robot biting the head off a baby guarantees it a spot on my list.
My favorites shorts – D, H, L, P, Q, R, T, V, W, and Z
Before anyone points it out, the movie is in fact directed by twenty-eight people – two of the shorts are co-directed. The movie poster is wrong.
5: RESOLUTION (Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, United States)
A man goes to the middle-of-nowhere to try and save his friend from meth addiction by Tasering him and handcuffing him to his shack’s wall to force on detox. But while staying in the drug-den, the man begins to get strange packages of film and photos detailing scenes of horror and pain. To say much more would spoil the movie’s many surprises – but what starts off as a dark drama later turns into cosmic horror that would delight any fan of Lovecraft.
4: GRAVITY (Alfonso Cuarón, United States)
Two astronauts are stranded during a space-walk after an accident destroys their shuttle. So begins a ninety-minute survival tale in the vacuum of space. Simple and to-the-point, GRAVITY was the most thrilling most experience I had all year. Plus I saw it in IMAX 3D and this movie was the best use of the technology to date.
3: THE WORLD’S END (Edgar Wright, United Kingdom)
Finally, after too many years, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (the brilliant minds behind SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ) have been reunited! Their third film is another work of amazing genre inspired comedy. A man cons his five childhood best friends into joining him on a twelve-stop-pub-crawl in their mutual hometown that ends at a bar named “The World’s End.” But aliens and robots are going to get in the way of their attempt to reclaim lost youth. While a fun and drunken romp, at its core the movie is story about how you can never go home and why you’d never want to.
2: AMERICAN MARY (Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska, Canada)
A med-school student is raped by her professor which causes her to quit her program. To make money, she takes what she learned of medicine and surgery to the underground body modification scene. And after some time learning new skills there, she uses her knowledge of extreme body-modification on the man who harmed her. Visually striking and horrific, all the scenes of bloody and grotesque horror are done with in-camera practical effects or with real-life members of the extreme body-mod community. Equally influenced by David Cronenberg and Eli Roth, AMERICAN MARY is the best hardcore horror flick of the year!
1: PACIFIC RIM (Guillermo del Toro, United States)
Giant robots punching giant monsters for two hours!
This panders so much to my personal tastes that in the hands of almost any director it would still place in my top ten. But instead we got one of the best modern filmmakers giving us something that makes me wish I could have seen this when I was nine-years-old . Can you imagine how much fun this movie must be for kids?
The best summer blockbuster since JURASSIC PARK.
I saw so many awesome movies this year, that they couldn’t all make my top ten list. Here are a few that were also great and worth your time:
Honorable Mentions: House Hunting, Spring Breakers, Big Ass Spider, Jug Face
So those were the best movies I saw in 2013. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.
MOVIE COMING OUT IN 2014 THAT I’M MOST EXCITED FOR:
It’s a good time to love giant monsters.
My darling children, and the thoroughly compromised grown-ups you seem inevitably fated to become:
For close to twenty years, some joker named Robert Devereaux has been chronicling my life. There were things he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.
Lately, he’s gone into my attempt to fix the horrendously flawed human psyche. Did that attempt succeed? I won’t spoil your fun by telling you.
I asked Robert (I always think of the once adorable little tyke, one of the damnably nice boys, as Bobby) to say a few words about his most recent attempt. Here’s Bobby’s reply to his readers:
“Lately, I’ve been trying to save the world through my novels. So far I have failed. I expect to continue failing. On that score I harbor very few illusions. Still, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a world changer. Abraham Lincoln is reported to have greeted Harriet Beecher Stowe with: ‘So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.’ And Huckleberry Finn, in which Huck conceals runaway slave Jim while fully expecting to go to hell for it, remains an inspiration. Then there’s Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle , which brought reform to Chicago’s meat-packing industry.
“Fifteen months ago, my wife died of ovarian cancer at the age of sixty-one. In her two and a half year decline, I heard her say more than once that if cancer finally took her life, at least she wouldn’t have to live through the disasters the human race seems unable to prevent, such power have we given those who put boundless greed over our and the planet’s survival.
“Do I sound bitter? Bitter I be. And bitter shouldst thou be. So kindly shrug into your leaden cloak of bitterness, yoke it across your shoulders, and join the parade of the damned.
“Twain, quite the curmudgeon in later years, wrote this: ‘Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.’
“And so, via Mark Twain’s bitterness and a world whose inertia is tending toward irreversible ruin, we arrive at Santa Claus Saves the World, part three of my Santa Claus Chronicles. Saint Nick is given the chance to reengineer the human psyche, to fix God’s botched job before it’s too late, hoping to outrace a critical tipping point.
“This being fiction, there are, of course, opposing forces, not the least of which is God Himself. Also active are the Tooth Fairy, her imps Quint and Gronk, the harrumphing elf Gregor, and Venga, a fallen golden robotic handmaiden of the Greek god Hephaestus.
“As I researched this book, I began making lists of human flaws. Let me tell you, those lists are unending. I have been kind to my readers. I have not tried to include every last flaw in my novel. We all know what they are. And it would have been so hard on the trees.
“No, let the token few I name suffice.
“On a happier note . . . hmmm, what could have I been thinking when I began this sentence? There is no happier note.”
Yes, sweet kiddies. I caught the author in a foul mood. But moods come and go, as you well know. He’s a jovial sort usually, and that joviality is as genuine as his despair.
That’s about it. Must get back to supervising our toy production and the planned delivery on Christmas Eve.
Don’t forget the milk and cookies, if you’re so moved. These days, I’m into almond milk and gluten-free cookies. But carrots are still fine for my reindeer. And any little note you care to leave. I love your notes—and you—to death!
The jolliest of ho-ho-ho’s to you and yours,
Santa Steps Out
Santa Conquers the Homophobes
Santa Claus Saves the World
An 80′s dude with a mullet feels like there is something really off about his family…his sister and parents are acting strange and no matter what he does, even being the quarterback of the football team and winning a high school debate, doesn’t impress them. Then he realizes his feelings are validated when he hears a strange recording from a friend. That’s when the setup of the first half of the movie ends up getting truly bizarre and the finale…well you just have to see it for yourself if you haven’t already. There is truly no ending like it in the history of cinema.
A true classic that reflects how the rich feeds off the poor through ooze, sex, and tons of stretchy, flesh-colored latex, Society is a great film that belongs on your Bizarro movie shelf. You can watch it in its entirety here:
Written by Cameron Pierce and illustrated by Jim Agpalza, this is the first book in Sinister Grin Press’s Lockjaw bizarro line and is limited to 100 hard cover copies.
An apocalyptic nightmare in the tradition of Uzumaki, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Tetsuo: The Iron Man.
In the mining town of Itchy Zoo lives a boy with pumpkin flesh. His name is Tetsuo, and he’d like to tell you about the terrible things that brought ruin to his town. How he shot his brother, how the people of Itchy Zoo became puppets, how he fell in love for the first and last time, and how Satan watched it all go down.
Written by Wonderland Book Award-winning author Cameron Piece and fully illustrated by Jim Agpalza, Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus is a bizarro epic that’s as beautiful as it is bleak.
By Sam Reeve
It’s that time of year again, the one that I hate so dearly. December doesn’t bring snow in Vancouver, just rain and grey skies, and that foul holiday (Christmas) is celebrated as strongly here as any other. I decided two years ago to drown myself in weird art instead of turning into the Grinch, and it’s now a tradition.
Starting this Sunday on December 1st, I’ll be featuring a different artist each day. You’ll learn some things and see some pretty weird shit, and maybe, just maybe we’ll be able to block out the Christmas carols together. Below you’ll get a taste of what’s to come.
Missed the any of the previous Weird Art Months? Check out the artist roundups for WAM 2011 and WAM 2012.
“Hot Rod Worm! It’s what’s for breakfast!” – John Skipp
(Jeff Burk is the head-editor of DEADITE PRESS, ERASERHEAD PRESS’ horror imprint. He is also the author of SHATNERQUAKE, SUPER GIANT MONSTER TIME, CRIPPLE WOLF, and SHATNERQUEST. He has been a life-long horror fanatic and learned to read with reprints of TALES FROM THE CRYPT comic books.)
I love horror movies! I am completely obsessed with them. I try to watch every horror movie that comes out and seek out any title anyone recommends to me. My parents are responsible for this addiction. They were both horror freaks that introduced to me many classics of the genre at an early age. My Mom use to get me a Halloween present every year of a horror movie that she thought I should see (for the record, her favorite is THE HILLS HAVE EYES).
Over the years I’ve seen hundreds (goddamn, maybe into the thousands) of horror movies. From any country, any era, any budget – if it’s horror, I’ll watch it.
The Halloween season is upon us and I use to host horror movie marathons every year for my friends (now I lean more towards crazy parties but that’s another story). But I still like to rewatch my favorites during the season when I can find time. With that in mind, I spent a lot of time (maybe too much) internally debating and came up with the list of my twenty-three favorite horror movies. These are not what I would argue are the objectively “best” horror movies ever made – these are my personal favorites. These are the movies that I rewatch all the time and when someone asks for recommendations it’s something from this list.
Now let’s get this corn-syrup-and-red-dye-soaked party started!
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
1981, John Landis, USA/Britain
It seems so goddamn difficult to make a decent werewolf movie. But not only is AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON the best werewolf movie ever made (nothing comes close) it’s one of the best horror movies of all-time. Few movies can seamlessly switch from comedy to horror.
Rick Baker’s special effects are outstanding. The transformation has gone down in history as one of the best horror scenes ever put to film.
1980, Ruggero Deodato, Italy
In what may be the first found-footage-movie, a documentary team has gone missing in the jungle. When their footage turns up, a ground of producers watch it to decide if they want to release it as a nature documentary. What they find is the film crew being cruel and abusive to the natives and their eventual mutilation and devouring by the natives (no spoiler – it’s in the title).
For a low-budget exploitation gore flick, there is a surprising amount of intelligence on display. The movie asks a lot of questions about the differences between media and reality and the complicit role of the audience in violent entertainment.
But the real reason you watch this movie is to see how far it will go. This is one of the founding films of the hardcore horror sub genre. And there’s a reason why, to quote the film’s taglines this movie is “the one that goes all the way.”
Warning: this film does contain scenes of real animal death. The Italians just didn’t give a shit back then.
2005, Neil Marshall, Britain
Five women go on a spelunking trip to the middle of nowhere. But the cave they choose to explore is home to a race of monsters that eat anything they can catch. Now the five friends must battle their way out of the darkness if they don’t want to be dinner.
Marshall’s second film (his first being the awesome werewolf vs. soldiers epic DOG SOLDIERS) is an excellent study in intensity. The first act slowly introduces the characters and shit starts goes wrong in the cave immediately. By the time the monsters are introduced you’ll be practically falling off your couch with shock after shock. This movie also features my all-time favorite jump-scare – the camcorder scene (those that have seen the movie will know what I’m talking about).
Just make sure to see the original British cut of the film. The American edit cuts the last scene from the movie. It’s only about thirty-seconds missing but it changes the entire context of the story and neuters the film.
THE WOLF MAN
1941, George Waggner, USA
I said earlier that AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is the best werewolf movie ever made so why is this higher up on the list? Because THE WOLF MAN is my favorite of the old classic gothic horror films. Swamps shrouded in fog, old gypsy curses, classic special effects, and stellar performances from Lon Chaney, Jr. and Bela Lugosi make this a genre defining work.
While my tastes tend to lean towards the hyper-violent and sadistic, there is no denying the power and unique aesthetic the Universal horror line had.
THE WICKER MAN
1973, Edward Woodward, Britain
My favorite horror/murder mystery/occultic/musical. There has never been anything like THE WICKER MAN before or since. A fundamentalist Christian policeman is summoned to a small British island to investigate the disappearance of a little girl. To say anymore would spoil one of the most unique experiences in the horror genre.
THE WICKER MAN has been the victim of an extremely laughable remake and disappointing sequel (amazing mishandled by the writer/director of the original) but don’t let that dissuade you. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore and they never did.
TETSUO: THE IRON MAN
1989, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Japan
A style-over-substance (and I mean that as a compliment) masterpiece of nightmare filmmaking. A man gets a literal infection of technology that results in wires and machine parts overtaking his body and the loss of his humanity. Shot in grainy black-and-white, the movie is one surreal scene of horror after another.
TETSUO: THE IRON MAN is the perfect combination of American-style exploitation sensibilities with the genre-defying-craziness the Japanese horror scene is known for.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2
2011, Tom Sixx, USA/Britain/Netherlands
The first HUMAN CENTIPEDE movie was a fun little mad scientist flick. Somehow it developed a reputation in the mainstream as one of the most extreme and gross movies ever made. Exactly how that happened completely escapes me considering A SERBIAN FILM was released around the same time – but we’ll get to that later in the list. The first was original but far from graphic.
Sixx heard criticism that the movie wasn’t that extreme from the horror scene and took it to heart for his sequel. THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 takes place in “the real world” and stars an obsessed fan of the first film trying to create his own Human Centipede. What the first film only suggested at, the sequel shows in explicit detail. For someone twisted like me that seeks out the most outrageous and sick movies, this is a goldmine.
What really elevates this movie is how it is filmed in pseudo-art-house style. The first half of the movie almost comes across as a parody of David Lynch’s ERASERHEAD. The use of black-and-white actually makes the gore even more graphic. But there is one use of color in the movie. Brown. Can you guess how that is used?
1981, Lucio Fulci, Italy
THE BEYOND is a psychedelic nightmare captured on film. It ignores logic for the sake of creating an atmosphere in which any kind of horror could happen at any moment. Fulci’s vision of a small town that contains a gateway to hell itself is a ignores any sense of rationality in favor of sheer madness. Zombies, eye-violence, and exploding heads litter this surreal and unnerving piece of European art-house exploitation. While Fulci made many other films worthy of praise (notably CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and ZOMBI 2) he never matched the mind-bending terror of THE BEYOND.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
1974, Tobe Hooper, USA
I would argue that NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (which I’ll talk about later) and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE have defined modern horror. Everyone in the genre owes a huge gratitude to those two movies. Made during the height of the Vietnam War, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE perfectly reflects a world gone insane with no one seemly in control. The flower-power hippie generation was over and this movie was one of the nails in their coffin.
Horror fanboy pet peeve – It bugs me so much when people reference how bloody this movie is. There is almost no blood or gore in the entire film. Almost everything is very cleverly implied. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE should be held up as a masterpiece of suggestive filmmaking instead of cheap gory horror.
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
1945, Jack Arnold, USA
Breaking from Universal’s trend of adapting novels, plays, and legends – CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON stands out as the only truly original creation from the classic movie monster line. Set not in a gothic castle or a dank swamp but the sunny Amazon River, there is little that invokes the Universal style but for one thing – the monster. The Creature is the pinnacle of man-in-a-rubber-suit monster design. Played by two talented, and uncredited, actors, the Creature demands awe every time it appears on screen.
It was originally released in 3D and it always had been a dream of mine to see it that way. Recently I got to attend a revival showing in the original 3D – wow! The classic scene of the Creature swimming beneath Julia Adams never looked more beautiful or surreal.
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
1995, John Carpenter, USA
The best Lovecraftian movie ever made to never reference H. P. Lovecraft, Cthulhu, or black magic spell-books. Sam Neil (aka “hey, it’s that guy from JURASSIC PARK”) stars as an insurance investigator hired by a book publisher to investigate the disappearance of superstar horror author Sutter Cane. So begins a film that starts as a dark murder-mystery and veers very quickly in surreal nightmare territory.
What Carpenter got right that so many directors of more explicitly Cthulhu Mythos films got wrong was the sense of meaningless and mind-bending terror in the face of forces much greater than yourself.
1992, Peter Jackson, New Zealand
The goriest (in terms of gallons of blood on screen) zombie movie ever made! This ultra-gore/comedy is one of the most fun films ever made. Each scene will have you squirming and howling with laughter. There is a kinetic energy in this movie that is unmatched. Once you make it to the scene of the Kung-Fu Priest kicking ass for the Lord, you’ll be completely in love. There is no greater crowd-pleaser than DEAD ALIVE.
It still shocks me that the man who made this would later go on to adapt THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
1994, Nacho Cerdà, Spain
The easiest way to sum up this short film is it’s the most beautiful film about necrophilia that you will ever see. No joke. The movie is essentially one long scene of a mortician fucking a corpse. Cerdà took an extremely ugly subject matter but presents it through stunningly gorgeous filmmaking techniques to create an extremely affective art-house gore flick.
1982, John Carpenter, USA
The best sci-fi/horror film ever made. A research expedition in Antarctica finds an alien spaceship buried in the ice. But when it turns out the creature onboard is not dead and can shape-shift at will while infecting other life-forms, the team must stop the monster before it can reach the mainland and take over civilization.
THE THING is a masterclass in paranoia. No matter how many times you see it, moments like the blood-test scene and the creature’s amazing transformations never lose their power to shock.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
1968, George A. Romero, USA
The first modern horror film. Before this almost all horror movies were in the Universal/Hammer vein. But NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD took the horror out of gothic castles and English swamps and placed it modern America. It also single-handedly created the modern concept of zombies.
Romero’s first film still has the power to shock. The scenes of the zombies eating flesh were amongst the most graphic images put to film for its time. Some of the scenes involving race and child death are still too ballsy for many directors working today.
And that ending. Dear god. It might be the best ending to any horror movie. Unlike PYSCHO, the shocking finale surprise has not become a pop-culture stable. If you somehow haven’t seen NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, drop what you’re doing and go watch it. Even all these decades later it’s still a bleak and soul-crushing vision.
2006, Eli Roth, USA
The film to kick-start the torture-porn trend. Because of how influential it was, many forget what a breath of fresh air it was after the SCREAM-rip-off and PG-13 ghost dominated 90’s. HOSTEL brought the viciousness back to horror.
It was also the quintessential post-9/11 film. It’s world of Americans being bought and sold for torture perfectly reflected the nation mood in the same way the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE did for the Vietnam-era.
Roth also showed filmmaking techniques and intelligence that his many imitators and detractors missed. The film half of the film with the tourist’s exploitation of local women is directly mirrored in the second half with their own violent exploitation. Shots and music cues are directly reused but under dramatically different circumstances.
While torture-porn has been regarded as nothing more than cheap prurient trash, Eli Roth proved with HOSTEL that it can be used to make real art.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD
2004, Edgar Wright, Britain
The funniest horror comedy ever made! A group of slacker friends decide to wait out the zombie apocalypse at their favorite bar. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg demonstrate a hopeless love and adoration for the horror genre as they go through shout-outs to almost every zombie film you could name. And you don’t have to be a horror-nerd to love the movie. Their wit and creative gags will entertain anyone who watches. While Wright and Pegg have an incredible body of work (the TV series SPACED and films HOT FUZZ and THE WORLD’S END), their tribute to the horror genre is far and away their best work.
THE EVIL DEAD
1981, Sam Raimi, USA
The originator of the “Cabin in the Woods” horror archetype. Five friends go to a cabin, find a cursed book, and accidentally release demons. While the series is remembered as a comedy because of THE EVIL DEAD 2 and ARMY OF DARKNESS. The first film is straight-up hardcore horror.
DEADITE PRESS is named after the villains of this movie. To me THE EVIL DEAD is in many ways the ideal horror film. Graphic violence, colorful monsters, and surreal breakdowns all combine into a genre-redefining experience that still shocks.
That pencil scene still makes me squirm.
POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD
2006, Lloyd Kaufman, USA
All hail Troma, the kings of trash! No one does low-budget gore, tasteless nudity, and bad taste better than Troma Studios. Founded by director Lloyd Kaufman, they are the oldest independent film studio in the world and have never backed down from their mission of genre anarchy.
While they are best known for THE TOXIC AVENGER and THE CLASS OF NUKE’M HIGH, Kaufman’s greatest achievement is the zombie/gore/comedy/musical POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD. There is no taboo that director Lloyd Kaufman does not approach with gleeful abandon. A corpse finger butt-plug, a talking Hispanic sloppy joe, and dancing-and-singing zombie-chicken-demon hybrids are just some of the insanity in this masterpiece.
TOKYO GORE POLICE
2008, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Japan
This is just totally bat-shit insane! Taking place in the future, the Japanese police force is dedicated to taking out “Engineers,” which are basically genetically-mutated living weapons. There is little disputing that the Japanese make some of the most genre-defying films in the entire world and this is the cream-of-the-crop. This is part horror/sci-fi gore and part anarchist satire. TOKYO GORE POLICE is ROBOCOP for the torture-porn generation.
Stunning special effects, outrageous creature design, and fountains of gore make this a truly unforgettable viewing experience.
A SERBIAN FILM
2010, Srdjan Spasojevic, Serbia
Milos is a retired porn star but financial troubles and the promise of a huge payday have pulled him back to do one last film. The catch is he can’t read the script or know what the scenes are about until they start filming. If you think you already know where the movie is going – you’re wrong. It goes to much darker and nastier places than any other movie has dared.
This and THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 are easily the two most visually graphic movies ever made. Nothing is left to the imagination and everything is shown in explicit detail. But the obscenities that A SERBIAN FILM revels in are unrivaled in all of hardcore horror (only SALO comes close).
It’s difficult to recommend this film due to how far it goes. This one’s only for the real fans of extreme cinema. It makes the SAW series look like Disney flicks.
1983, David Cronenberg, Canada
The concept of losing one’s identity is common in horror but no film does it better than VIDEODROME. Max Renn runs a television station that specializes in cheap sleaze and he’s always looking for the next perversion he can market. When he stumbles across a pirate TV broadcast of what might be a real snuff show, he gets sucked into a dark underworld of sex, torture, and technology.
Cronenberg is known for his intellectual body-horror and nothing shows off his skills better than VIDEODROME. This film almost makes more sense if it were to come out now instead of thirty years ago. It’s commentary on losing one’s identity to social technology is shockingly relevant to today’s age of Facebook and Twitter. It’s not often that one can say a film is truly visionary but Cronenberg did it here.
DEATH TO VIDEODROME! LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH!
1987, Clive Barker, Britain
My all-time favorite horror movie! From the incredible monsters, the puzzle-box, the moody soundtrack, and gothic set-up – this one has it all!! From the iconic opening scene to the many creative tortures and deaths, this movie never lets up.
What really separates HELLRAISER from the rest of the eighties horror boom is its villains are not motivated by unexplained cruelty or revenge but pleasure. The characters are seeking the ultimate pleasures of heaven and hell – they just have to kill a few people to get there. I once read a review that put forward the idea that you could replace every moment of spurting blood with cum and the movie still makes sense.
In my opinion, this is the most beautiful horror film ever made. Every shot oozes with equal parts moody atmosphere and body fluids. Clive Barker’s design work for the Cenobites and Hell are unmatched in how they combine equal parts fetish-sex and terror.
The title HELLRAISER wasn’t decided upon until well into the movie’s production. Fun titles that were tossed around by the crew include SADOMASOCHISTS FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE and WHAT A WOMAN WILL DO FOR A GOOD FUCK. I think both capture the movie’s themes quite well.
What do you think of my list? What are your favorite horror flicks? Let me know in the comments.
by Alan M. Clark
I was born in 1973, a breech birth with thick callouses on the soles of my feet. “Your feet were dirty too,” my sister, Litty, recalled, “and you were all out of breath.”
“You wouldn’t think there’d be enough room in the womb to get up any speed,” I said, “but it seems like I was running from something.”
“Bad genes,” Litty said.
I can’t say what it was—memory doesn’t serve, but if what Litty said was true, some of them must have caught up with me.
I was home-schooled by my sister. Litty pretty much raised me. Her affection, which turned sexual early on, was all I got from family. I was not socialized. My father was missing in action in Vietnam, had been since 1972. Mom did “back work” in some of the richest homes in Los Angeles. I didn’t care for Litty near as much as I did her caresses. I didn’t care for Mom either, but she fed me.
When Litty wasn’t available to watch over me, I had to go with Mom, and she made me assist her in her work. She was employed by some of the richest people in the Los Angeles area, mostly old folks, to groom their backs. She squeezed and cleaned black heads and white heads, and expressed Sebaceous cysts.
Her work was disgusting. I hated the people she treated. They were loathsome, smelly old coots that no one loved. They looked at me like I was trash. At her ministrations, they moaned in pleasure and pain alike. If they hadn’t been rich, there wouldn’t have been anyone in their lives.
Their homes, though, compared to projects where we lived, were heaven. Would be heaven, that is, If I could’ve looked around, but Mom kept me close as her little helper. On command, I’d hand her hair pins, tweezers, wash cloths dampened with hot water, gauze; whatever she needed to get her job done. If I shied away, she’d yank me closer and get in my face and whisper a warning. “You pay attention and do as I say or you’ll be doing this job with your mouth.”
Once while at the Gulbranson home, she heated one of Eustice Gulbranson’s cysts with a hot wash cloth and expressed it so hard, a thick stream of smelly cheese jetted out of it into my right eye. I got pink eye and had to slather it with medicated goop and wear a patch for what seemed like months.
Litty told me about the Manson Family’s practice of crawling through the houses of the well-to-do, casing them for later robbery or murder. The Manson Family called it Creepy Crawling. Sometimes, they’d do it while the occupants were asleep in their beds. Sometimes they’d rearrange things or leave messages behind.
I liked the idea because I felt small and powerless in a big world full of people who did as they pleased with me. If I was to ever have things my way, as small as I was, I’d have to use stealth.
I was ten years old when I did my first Creepy Crawl. At the time, my favorite breakfast cereal was Kreepy Krisps, with toasted rice bats, skulls, and spiders. As I entered the Gulbranson home through a bathroom window at about 2:00 in the morning, I thought of myself as Kreepy Krawly, and the name stuck. While Eustice and her husband, Patrick, slept, I explored their entire estate, their 10,000 square foot home and the gardens. I swam naked in the pool. In the den, still naked, I turned the sound down and played Asteroids on their TV set for a couple of hours. Close to dawn, I took a large butcher knife from the kitchen, went to the bedroom and sat in a chair facing the bed and watched Eustice and Patrick sleep.
I kept hoping they’d awaken, open their eyes, see me, and freak out. I figured I could get away from them pretty easily, but feared Eustice would recognize me. Still, I lingered. I was excited by the danger. How long before they’d awaken? Would they awaken all at once and look in my direction or would it be gradual, giving me a chance to slip away? Was I really willing to risk being recognized? If Eustice seemed to recognize me, I could silence her quickly with the knife. Her husband, the old geezer, would never know why. He’d never catch me.
But he groaned and turned in my direction, sending me scampering from the room with my heart in my throat, an adrenalin high that I’ve struggle ever since to relive, coursing through me.
He wasn’t awakened, but I’d had enough for now. There would be time for further risks in the future.
In the den, I donned my clothes quickly, pulled the eye patch and ointment from my pocket, and looked for a good place to leave them. A life-sized bust of Nefertiti rested on a desk in the corner. I gooped up her right eye and slipped the eye patch over it, then made my way out of the house and headed for home.
I took nothing from the Gulbransons but a sense of power. For the next few weeks, I kept myself entertained by running endless scenarios in my head of their reaction to my visit. For the longest time, that was enough, but then it wasn’t and I needed more. I needed the adrenalin rush again and set about to devise a way of putting myself in sufficient danger to get it. I decided that the lives of others would mean nothing to me in the pursuit of that high.
Kreepy Krawly made his appearance in many homes over the next few years, but the conflict between a desire for the high and a reluctance to land in jail with my freedom taken away, kept me at odds with myself. No one died. I scared the hell out of Los Angeles, though.
By the time I was fifteen, I found out that Litty had given me HIV/Aids. Because of the way the disease was thought of back then, I saw it as a death sentence, and figured I didn’t have much to lose anymore. I decided it was time to risk everything, and that meant murder. Little did I know how good the medications for HIV/Aids would become, how long I’d live, and how the moment of that decision would lead to so many lives cut short. Once I’d started, there was no going back.
I’ve been on the run ever since, the callouses on my soul thickening by the day.
Art “Shadow Games” copyright © 1993 Alan M. Clark
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