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Guest Blog – Property for Sale: 666 Transylvania Alley by F. Wesley Schneider

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Back in early November, we gave you the lowdown on Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound, the first novel from Pathfinder RPG co-creator and noted game designer F. Wesley Schneider, which was released on December 1st by Tor Books.  It’s a dark fantasy adventure of murder, intrigue, and secrets best left buried, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder role-playing game; and today we’re back with a guest blog by Mr. Schneider that sheds a bit more light on things.

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Property for Sale: 666 Transylvania Alley
Living in the Haunted Realm of Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound
by
F. Wesley Schneider

Not every fantasy setting is all noble courts and fairy glades. Cursed lands, somber places reminiscent of the first chapter of Dracula, are a common fantasy trope. Mountain towns beneath looming ruins, farms at the edge of misty moors, places where burlap-clad villagers refuse to open their doors after dark. I love Gothic settings like these, tranquil getaways populated by suspicious churchgoers and hollow-eyed barflies. I’ve even created my own in the nation of Ustalav, the Pathfinder world’s garden of Gothic horror and the setting of my novel Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound. But soon after I started working on my own cursed land, readers hit me with one of those perfect questions:

Why would anyone ever live there?

I’ve got lots of answers for that, but realized that any time I give an opinion, I’m speaking as a foreigner. Despite all I’ve written about Ustalav, I’ve not once set foot in those lands. But Larsa, Jadain, and Tashan, three of Bloodbound’s protagonists, certainly have. So, through their experiences, I wanted to answer that question in a different way, shedding light on why they live in a notoriously haunted realm. Each of the characters has his/her own reason.

Larsa, a half-vampire vampire hunter in the service of Ustalav’s baroque government, is trapped. As one of the nation’s royal accusers, she pursues vampires who hunt outside specified grounds and who threaten to expose the capital’s secret vampire community. She’s not a crusader; she’s a game warden, a balancing agent trying to keep the status quo. She could leave Ustalav, but then, where would she go? She’s a product of Caliphas, the few people she knows live there, she has a function, and—although she doesn’t relish it—an important role to play. Her vampiric relations also live there, a fact that holds her back just as much as the threat of how they might respond to her departure. Larsa stays because she’s obligated to, her responsibilities locking her into abusive relationship that she little way of recognizing. While, in the course of the novel, she gains perspective on that, her work isn’t likely to be done any time soon.

Jadain, on the other hand, was born and raised amid a loving family. While events forced her to enter the church against her will, she’s an adult now and free to do as she pleases. If she wanted to leave Ustalav, she could. But why would she? She’s never traveled beyond that land, and even if foreigners do tell stories of cheerier lands, what proof does she have that things would be better? Is a land haunted by ghosts and ghouls any worse than a land plagued by goblins and griffins? While her concerns about responsibility are similar to (but healthier than) Larsa’s, her station as a priestess at the nation’s royal cathedral brings with it the chance to affect change. Jadain sees how she might do good, how she might comfort the weary and afflicted. She fundamentally knows that she can make her home a better place. She has faith in this, and in her goddess’ support—though it becomes clear that not all of her sisters share her optimism. In any case, she hasn’t given up the fight and won’t abandon the cause of family, people, and country.

Tashan’s not a native of Ustalav, though. In fact, as a member of the explorers’ society called the Pathfinders, he’s just passing through. A swordsman from the ancient-Egypt-inspired land of Osirion, Tashan finds Ustalav ugly, uncivilized, and, worst of all, cold. He’s also the vector by which this very topic is raised, literally asking “Why would anyone remain in such an accursed place?” As an outsider, it’s easy for him to make unfavorable comparisons, and he makes it clear that he does intend to leave. As he travels with the two natives, though, he learns that life in Ustalav isn’t just about staying where one was born; it’s about determination and defiance.

That defiance hearkens back to the innkeep from the opening pages of Dracula, the proprietress of the Golden Krone Hotel. She warns Harker of the evil ahead, and even when her counsel falls on deaf ears, she arms him with her own crucifix. That old woman, and indeed all her neighbors, lived in Dracula’s shadow long before Harker’s passing, defiant of the evil lurking just over the ridge. In the Transylvanian night, having given her crucifix to a stranger, that nameless character might be the bravest soul in Stoker’s entire novel. It’s commoners of that stock I wanted to populate Ustalav with.

Ultimately, that resolve keeps Larsa committed to her land, that quiet hope feeds Jadain’s optimism, and that bravery reveals itself to Tashan during his travels. They’re all shades of the same resolve, but reach toward explaining why Ustalav’s haunted populace doesn’t just drift away. As Bloodbound’s Jadain says, “…you can’t give in to vague fears, or else it’s like the dead still rule. These are our lands, our home.

F. WESLEY SCHNEIDER has published countless gaming products for both Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons and is a former assistant editor of Dragon magazine. Bloodbound is his first novel.

Synopsis:
Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound follows the story of Larsa, a dhampir—half-vampire, half-human. In the gritty streets and haunted moors of Gothic Ustalav, she’s an agent for the royal spymaster, keeping peace between the capital’s secret vampire population and its huddled human masses. Yet, when a noblewoman’s entire house is massacred by vampiric invaders, Larsa is drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that will reveal far more about her own heritage than she ever wanted to know.

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Amityville Arcade Does What Nintendon’t – Kills You!

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Oh, Amityville, is there nothing you cannot possess with your horror? Not even retro video games are immune from your evil for soon we shall experience the haunted coin-op horror that is Amityville Arcade.

The other day I told you about Amityville Cop and a slew of other forthcoming Amityville movies in the works. This prompted the makers of yet another that I somehow missed out on at the time to pass along info on their foray into this haunted horror subgenre: Amityville Arcade. Pay to get in! Pray to survive!

A down-on-his-luck arcade owner purchases an arcade cabinet from the legendary Amityville murder house. The plan is to turn it into a tacky roadside attraction to round up business in time for Halloween but it does not take long for them to realize they got more than they bargained for when the owner’s daughter is sucked into a Lovecraftian digital hellscape. And the arcade’s three half-wit employees are, sadly for the rest of us, the only thing standing between our world and whatever lays inside the game.

Who knew the Lutz family even owned an arcade cabinet?

Makes you wonder what other possessed objects from that house of horrors are still lurking out there waiting to be taken in by some unfortunate souls?

Amityville Bird Feeder?

Amityville Pet Rock?

Amityville Waterbed?

Amityville 8-Track?

Amityville Lava Lamp?

Amityville Stretch Armstrong?

Amityville Cuckoo Clock?

Oh, wait. I believe Amityville 1992: It’s About Time already did the cursed clock.

Anyway, unlike some of these other upcoming Amityville productions in development that I’ve written about, the writer of Amityville Arcade, Newt Wallen, assures me that in addition to being a horrific love letter to retro gaming his film will also carry a satirical edge poking fun at the glut of Amityville cash-in movies and the very notion of a long-running series out of fresh ideas.

Libby Chapman directs this retro gaming horror comedy that begins filming this February at TNT Amusements in Philadelphia. Look for special appearances by horror movie host Mr. Lobo and scream queen Crystal Quin and practical f/x and prop fabrication by Ryan Hickey and Joe La Scolla.

They’re hoping to deliver some top notch special effects on a small budget. Something tells me whatever they come up with for Amityville Arcade will still prove better than Full Moon’s disastrous Arcade from back in the day. The horror… The horror…

If the finished film is half as good as the promotional artwork I’m ready to plunk down a few quarters for it.

Now if you’ll excuse me I really need to get back to work on my screenplay for Amityville Mr. Microphone. You see, the Mr. Microphone came from the Amityville murder house and now after being discovered in an abandoned storage locker it finds its way into the hands of luddite who collect retro gadgets. But, being that the mic is possessed by evil, whenever he uses it, the voice coming through the radio speakers is that of an demonic entity that makes whoever hears its voice obey its evil commands, which, in turn, begins turning the lonely loser using it into a power-mad maniac. Only polyester clad priest Father Ronco can help– Oh, geez! Someone reading this is probably going to steal my million dollar idea. I better write faster.

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases: January 16, 2018

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Welcome back, friends.  One would imagine that a release list containing only five entries wouldn’t contain any discrepancies, right? Nope. The Amicus Collection may have come out on December 5th, but it popped up again this week so if you missed it then, go get yours now.

The big hit of this week, and of 2017, Happy Death Day gets its release this week on both Blu-ray and DVD.  This was a great movie and recently surpassed $100 million dollars worldwide. I highly recommend it.

Up next is The Snowman.  You can check out the Dread Central review of this wintertime serial killer thriller here.

If you’re feeling more of a science-fiction kind of vibe, check out Beyond Skyline.

Basically there’s a little something for everyone this week.  What are you going to watch?

Pleasant viewing, friends.



MOVIES

Beyond Skyline (2017)

Starring:

Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Iko Uwais, Jonny Weston

Synopsis:

When the population of Los Angeles is vacuumed off the face of the Earth, Detective Mark Corley storms his way onto an alien ship to rescue his estranged son. But after crashing the ship in Southeast Asia, he must forge an alliance with a band of survivors to discover the key to saving his son and taking back the planet once and for all.

BUY IT NOW!


Eye of the Cat (1969)

Starring:

Michael Sarrazin, Eleanor Parker

Synopsis:

A man and his girlfriend plan to rob the mansion of the man’s eccentric but wealthy aunt. However, the aunt keeps dozens of cats in her home, and the man is deathly afraid of cats.

BUY IT NOW!


Happy Death Day (2017)

Starring:

Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken

Synopsis:

Blumhouse (Split, Get Out, The Purge) produces an original and inventive rewinding thriller in Happy Death Day, in which a college student relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity. The thrills continue with an Alternate Ending never-before-seen in theaters.

BUY IT NOW!


Snowman, The (2017)

Starring:

Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Chloe Sevigny

Synopsis:

From executive producer Martin Scorsese, The Snowman is based on Jo Nesbø’s New York Times bestselling thriller series. When an elite crime squad’s lead detective (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.

BUY IT NOW!



COLLECTIONS

The Amicus Collection

Starring:

Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham

Synopsis:

Known as The Studio That Dripped Blood, British film company Amicus Productions (founded by American writer/producers Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky) built a legacy of horror anthologies and twisted thrillers that remains among the very best genre movies of the 70s. In this trio of Amicus classics featuring stars that include Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Britt Ekland, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham, Calvin Lockhart, Michael Gambon, and Charlotte Rampling, you’ll discover the studio’s legendary portmanteau Asylum, their insane Gothic shocker And Now The Screaming Starts, and exclusive to this set the infamous werewolf whodunit The Beast Must Die, as well as a Bonus Disc of Amicus trailers, TV commercials, rare interviews, and more – all in this 4-disc box set.

BUY IT NOW!

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Pride and Prometheus Fuses the Horror of Mary Shelley with the Romance of Jane Austen

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This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so you can expect to see several articles tied in with that momentous occasion over the next several months. Today we have your first word on Pride and Prometheus from John Kessel, which fuses Shelley’s Gothic horror with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982. He is the author of the novels Good News from Outer Space, Corrupting Dr. Nice, and, in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity (a New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence. Also with Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short sci-fi, most recently Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology.

Pride and Prometheus arrives February 13th from Sega Press. Look for a guest blog from John Kessel in the coming weeks!

Synopsis:
Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.

Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England, where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?

Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.

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