A Halloween Treat from Kealan Patrick Burke

DeadLeavesKealan Patrick Burke is a favorite here in October Country, an extremely talented (and, in my opinion, under-appreciated) writer who combines a keen eye for detail and atmosphere with an innate understanding of the importance of the human element in horror fiction. He’s got a deep catalog of stuff out there, but if I had to recommend my favorites I’d include his update/overhaul of the hillbilly slasher genre, Kin, as well as his excellent Timmy Quinn series: The Turtle Boy, The Hides, Vessels, Peregrine’s Tale and Nemesis: The Death of Timmy Quinn).

Those are all longer works, and they’re all excellent, but Burke’s greatest strength as a writer may be his short story work. So it’s great news indeed that Burke has made a collection of his Halloween-flavored short stories, Dead Leaves: 8 Tales from the Witching Season, available for free from Smashwords through November 1. In addition to stories like “Carve the Pumpkins,” “Tonight the Moon Is Ours” and “The Tradition,” he’s included a list of his favorite books and movies for the Halloween season and a new introduction.

I’ve followed Burke’s writing from the beginning, and I can tell you that this collection is worth a whole helluva lot more than the “nothing” that he’s charging, so please take advantage and check it out. I think  you’ll discover, as I did several years ago the first time I cracked open my copy of The Turtle Boy, that this is an author worth reading.

This Kickstarter is a real ‘Nightmare’

NightmareI’m not sure if this one is going to make it. With less than two weeks left to make a goal that’s only been about one-fourth pledged at this point, the Kickstarter for the book Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy – The Making of Wes Craven’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ has quite an uphill battle in front of it. This makes me sad.

For fans like myself who came of age during the dominance of the unholy trinity of Jason, Michael and Freddy, it’s a no-brainer to back something like this. We’ve already got the definitive making-of book on the Jason films in Crystal Lake Memories. There was a similar effort for the Halloween series in the works, but author Justin Beahm recently announced that the project has sadly fallen through. And now we’re about to blow our chance at a giant coffee table tome covering the original, classic Freddy film.

Take a look at the Kickstarter page (linked above). Check out the video there featuring the book’s author, Thommy Hutson, and Nightmare‘s own Heather “Nancy” Langenkamp. Read through this interview Hutson did for Ain’t It Cool News. The book’s been written and designed already (and it’s designed by Peter Bracke, who did a phenomenal job on Crystal Lake Memories). I know $65,000 seems like a lot to self-publish a book, but when you’re talking an oversized, high quality, full color effort like this one, that price tag is dead on.

If you want to know more about the kind of passion and knowledge Hutson is leveraging for this product, check out the amazing FOUR HOUR Nightmare documentary he wrote and co-produced. Then go on over and back the book version. If this one fails, I’m afraid we all may lose a little sleep over it…


Cemetery Dance announces SIX new Stephen King special editions

CarrieNewSubtitle this As My Wallet Gently Weeps.

This past weekend – Saturday, April 5, to be exact – marked the 40th anniversary of the publication of Stephen King’s debut novel Carrie. Without turning this whole post into an essay on that alone, let me just say that it was a huge anniversary for me personally. King’s work is what got me into reading, and then into writing. It’s why nearly all of my “real” jobs have involved writing in some way; it’s why I write short stories and why I’m writing a novel; it’s why October Country exists today. So, yeah, the guy’s work is important to me.

I can’t think of another writer that got a better running start on a career than King. Carrie, then ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Night Shift and The Stand? A solid debut, two bonafide classics, the scariest vampire novel I’ve ever read, and a group of note-perfect horror shorts? Yeah, I’d say that’s a decent beginning. While there are other classics and favorites littered throughout King’s bibliography, it’s hard to top that opening salvo.

Cemetery Dance recognizes this as something to be celebrated. This specialty press has long been associated with King, producing beautiful special editions of a number of his works, including From A Buick 8, IT, Full Dark No Stars and many others. Now they’re turning their attention to his earliest works, beginning with the five books listed above and then skipping ahead a bit to include Pet Sematary.

First up, naturally, is Carrie, which is already available for preorder. You can read all the details at Cemetery Dance’s site, but I’ll helpfully point out the new introduction by King and the afterword by the author’s wife Tabitha King (who famously rescued the book’s first pages from a trashcan). If you’re gonna order one, you might want to hurry – these things tend to sell out quick.

I’d love to get ’em all, but the one I absolutely plan 100% on ordering is Pet Sematary. That’s the one that started the journey for me, and I was bummed when I missed out on PS Publishing’s 30th Anniversary edition of it last year. I don’t plan to miss out again.

Subterranean Press to release limited ‘Books of Blood’ set in 2014

The_Books_of_Blood_by_Clive_Barker_Volume_SixStart saving your pennies, kids.

Subterranean Press has announced plans to publish a six volume signed limited edition set of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood in 2014. This will mark the first U.S. publication of the set in six separate hardcover volumes. Previously we’ve only gotten them separately here as paperbacks, with the first three volumes going under the Books of Blood banner and the last three titled after individual short stories (volume four was The Inhuman Condition, volume five was In the Flesh, and volume six was Cabal, which lumped the short stories together with the title novella).

The set will also feature Barker’s original dust jacket art from the UK first edition hardcovers.

Books of Blood is one of the most important and influential collections in modern horror fiction, and it launched the career of one of our most treasured creators. Subterranean (which has released a 25th anniversary edition of Barker’s Weaveworld and has Chilead: A Meditation in the works) does beautiful work, and I have no doubt they’ll craft a worthy vessel for Barker’s stories.

Kickstarter Alert: Joe R. Lansdale and Dark Regions Press Need Our Help!

LabryinthSkullI don’t talk about Kickstarter campaigns on this blog often because there are so many worthy ones out there it could easily be all I talk about. However, I’ve found one that could help us get a new Joe R. Lansdale book, so I can’t help myself. Before I get to that, though, a word about a new October Country sponsor, Grammarly. I use Grammarly for proofreading because I want my writing to be good, not gud. Check them out and see if they’re a good fit for your own proofreading needs.

At this point in his career, Joe R. Lansdale may be best known for his crime novels and coming-of-age stories, but the man has a solid foundation in horror. So it’s always good news when he returns to the dark side, and that’s just what he’s hoping to do with a new psychological horror novella from Dark Regions Press.

Dark Regions is looking to release the novella next year as part of its Black Labyrinth line, a planned set of ten horror novels and novellas that will be released in formats ranging from inexpensive digital copies to deluxe collector editions. They’ve already released the first in the series, a gripping Tom Piccirilli novel called The Walls of the Castle, which proved to be an impressive start for the line. Now they’re turning to the popular crowdfunding source Kickstarter to get Lansdale’s edition off the ground.

If you look at the different editions Dark Regions is aiming to produce, you can understand why they’re asking for help. It’s an ambitious set of books that will appeal to everyone from the casual reader (digital and trade paperback editions) to the hardcore collector (oversized, cowhide-bound hardbacks with a maximum of 23 copies made, signed and loaded with bells and whistles). You can see them all at the Kickstarter page, along with the various contributor incentives they are offering.

Personally, I’m more of a reader than a collector, but I do have a few nice collector items in the ol’ library, and I treasure them. They treat the book itself as the work of art, not just the story it contains, and if you can afford them they’re wonderful to own. Me – I just want to read a new horror novella by Joe Lansdale. If you’re of like mind, head on over to the Kickstarter (which is, as of this writing, sitting strong at over 40% funded with a little over three weeks to go) and back this worthwhile effort.

‘Terminator Vault’ to take us back 30 (!) years to the making of a sci-fi/horror masterpiece…and its sequel

“It absolutely will not stop. Ever.” – Kyle Reese, The Terminator

terminator-vault-bookSo, next year, The Terminator turns 30. Just let that wash over you. It’s been three decades since Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron cemented their geek cred with this mind-bending, time-bending little movie. So naturally, when a big anniversary of a genre touchstone like this approaches, you can expect to see all kinds of goodies appear to capitalize on it. The first piece in what I expect will be a major wave of merchandising next year arrives a little early – October 15, to be exact – in the form of a new behind-the-scenes book, Terminator Vault.

As Kyle Reese predicted way back in the first movie, the Terminator franchise seems unstoppable. Cameron and Ah-nuld reunited in 1991 with Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and although I think most of us would have been fine if things stopped there, others have attempted to take up the reins with a couple of so-so sequels and a television series. To this day, rumors persist that a new film is happening and that Schwarzenegger will be involved in some way. While fans debate whether or not that’s a good thing, most agree that the first two movies are sci-fi/horror masterpieces.

(And yes, they lean heavily toward sci-fi, but try telling my 12-year-old self, who levitated out of his seat when the Terminator’s exoskeleton shoved his way out of the burning wreckage of a truck cab in the first movie, that they’re not horror, too. He refuses to believe you.)

Terminator Vault appears to be focused solely on the making of the first two movies, promising the kind of in-depth look and reproduction of materials (concept sketches, script pages, and the like) and interviews with insiders that have become staples of these kinds of releases. Author Ian Nathan, who also wrote Alien Vault and is an executive editor at Empire film magazine, should have plenty to work with when it comes to these movies, as the majority of the principal players are still around and involved with the industry.

Good things just keep stacking up in October, don’t they?

Elmore Leonard, 1925-2013

Elmore LeonardElmore Leonard, author of more than 40 novels and numerous screenplays for film and television, passed away early this morning from complications from a stroke he suffered several weeks ago. His work has been, and will continue to be, a huge influence on generations of writers to come.

There will no doubt be countless thoughtful, eloquent responses to Mr. Leonard’s death forthcoming. We here at October Country simply wish to pass our condolences, thoughts and prayers on to the friends and family of this amazingly talented author.

Dark Horse to release classic EC Comics reprints

CryptCoverAs we inch ever closer to the Halloween season, news is beginning to trickle down about all the cool horror-related books, comics and Blu-rays that will be coming our way. I’m already stoked about the Blu-ray of Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness that’s coming our way in September, and I’m looking forward to the 35th (!) Anniversary edition of my favorite horror film of all time, John Carpenter’s Halloween. Oh, and don’t forget Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, because I sure as hell haven’t.

The next tidbit that’s caught my eye is the news that Dark Horse Comics will be picking up where Gemstone left off in reprinting the classic EC Comics series Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror. This cements Dark Horse as the official curator of classic horror comics, as they add these important titles to a library that already includes hardcover collections of Creepy and Eerie. Russ Cochran will be coming over from Gemstone to oversee the Dark Horse editions (which begin with volume 4 of Tales and volume 3 of Vault). The reprints will be digitally re-colored with original colorist Marie Severin’s colors on hand to guide them.

Tales from the Crypt volume 4 hits shelves the day before Halloween, while Vault of Horror volume 3 will bow in January 2014. This is great news, and even though my bank account is already beginning to grumble in protest, I’m betting there’s more dark goodness to come in the weeks and months ahead.

‘Gorezone’ magazine set to return

Quiet, tasteful covers such as this are part of what made Gorezone legendary.

Quiet, tasteful covers such as this are part of what made Gorezone legendary.

The fine folks at Fangoria magazine made a quiet little announcement earlier this week that will be welcome news to gorehounds everywhere – they are bringing back Fango‘s sister publication, Gorezone.

Gorezone was a child of the late 1980s, when there was too much bloody goodness flooding theaters for Fangoria to handle alone. With horror output from the Hollywood studios coming at a rapid pace, the magazine was giving more space to sequels and slick serial killers like Freddy and Jason, which meant other stuff its readers were interested in – extreme horror, foreign horror, etc. – was getting squeezed out. So Gorezone was born to handle the overflow.

Apart from the covers, which sometimes featured Leatherface (or Freddy or Jason) but were more likely to have nasty FX shots from more obscure films, Gorezone became a fan favorite (and frequent censor target) thanks to columns from the likes of Chas. Balun and Tim Lucas, more in-depth articles on special effects, and its refusal to shy away from any photograph, no matter how bloody or gross. I mean, they called it Gorezone – what did people expect?

The magazine had a short run beginning in the late 1980s before being shelved, but it’s still a fan-favorite today. And now it’s coming back as a bi-monthly publication. It won’t be available on newsstands, but copies and subscriptions will be available through Fangoria‘s website. Keep an eye on that site for more details, including a date for the first issue, as they become available.

‘Crystal Lake Memories’ release date announced

Photo_08_hiresIt’s not often that I talk about horror movies here. I love ’em just as much as love the books, but I’m usually not compelled to write about them the way I am about fiction. But every now and then an exception comes along.

This won’t be the first time I’ve talked about Peter Bracke’s excellent book on the Friday the 13th franchise, Crystal Lake Memories. But it is the first time I’ve talked about the film documentary that’s coming to serve as sort of a companion piece to this companion piece. It’s also called Crystal Lake Memories, and a release date of August 27 has been announced. Also announced: a running time of over seven (7) hours.

Process that for a second. SEVEN FULL HOURS of behind-the-scenes goodness. Some of it, I’m sure, will be stuff that’s been seen before (there’s a lot of stuff out there thanks to the various home video releases these movies have enjoyed over the years). It will certainly sound like overkill to many, but I have no doubt there are fans out there ardent enough to mainline the entire thing in one sitting. (You know, fans like this.)

It’s coming out on Blu-ray only, and the pre-sale begins in July. You can find all the pertinent details here, and can check out the documentary’s official website here. You can also still order the book that started it all right here, and let me tell you – if this kind of thing is your thing, you won’t be sorry.

I’m honestly hard-pressed to explain why I love these movies as much as I do. There are tons of reasons not to like them. But there’s something about them, especially those first four (before Jason went full-on superpowered zombie, and was really just an insane man in a mask) that strike a chord with me. There are scenes and images in those early entries that are frightening to me on a primal level. Some of the others are just pure fun.

At any rate, if you’re fond of the fellow in the hockey mask, be sure and check out this upcoming documentary. It’s from the same production team that produced the amazing Never Sleep Again, which examined the Nightmare on Elm Street series in ridiculous detail. I expect it will be well worth our time.