3 Horror Novels to Add to Your Winter Reading List: A Gathering of Evil, The Beauty, and Frankenstein in Baghdad - Dread Central
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3 Horror Novels to Add to Your Winter Reading List: A Gathering of Evil, The Beauty, and Frankenstein in Baghdad

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A trio of new horror novels are arriving this month, and while they couldn’t be more different, each one sounds like a must-read for fans of the genre. If you’re looking for some new books to add to your winter reading list, then here’s the skinny on A Gathering of Evil by Gil Valle, The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley, and Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi.

If any sound up your alley, just click the titles for ordering info.

A GATHERING OF EVIL by Gil Valle (Comet Press; January 4, 2018)
The name Gil Valle may sound familiar – he’s a former NYPD patrol cop who rose to infamy in 2012 after being wrongfully arrested by the feds for allegedly plotting to kidnap, cook, and eat women. He became known to the world as the “Cannibal Cop” and faced life in prison. Valle has since been completely exonerated of all wrongdoing.

In February of 2017 he released the critically acclaimed Raw Deal—a memoir about his ordeal and the criminal case. Now, he fleshes out his fantasies in his debut novel, A Gathering of Evil, serving up a feast of gut-churning horror. [WARNING: This book contains graphic and violent material. It is intended for mature audiences only.]

A Gathering of Evil is a graphic and disturbing story that will make even the most hardened fan of extreme horror squirm, including the Comet Press editors, who specialize in publishing extreme horror and hardcore dark crime: “Hats off to Gil for writing one of the most terrifying books we’ve ever read. It takes a helluva lot to get under our skin, and he succeeded.”

Synopsis:
A Gathering of Evil is the story of two New York women leading seemingly normal lives, completely unaware that they have been targeted by a group of wealthy and violent sadists. This group, who met through the Dark Web, share some rather unusual sexual appetites, along a with desire to turn those twisted fantasies into reality. Marilyn and Bruce, the wealthy couple from upstate New York who have organized the event, have gathered this group of people from all different backgrounds and brought them together through a common bond: the lust and desire to kidnap a young woman and brutally end her life.

The hunt is on. Will the prey survive this gathering of evil?

THE BEAUTY by Aliya Whiteley (Titan Books; January 16, 2018)
This one is a really special title, perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and China Miéville. Looking at the nature of human society and gender in a wholly original way, The Beauty is unlike anything you will have read before.

Nominated for the Shirley Jackson and Saboteur Awards, this game-changer was chosen by Adam Nevill as one of his favorite horror short stories: “What a refreshing gust of tiny spores this novella explodes into, and I inhaled them all with glee.”

Synopsis:
Somewhere away from the cities and towns, in the Valley of the Rocks, a society of men and boys gather around the fire each night to listen to their history recounted by Nate, the storyteller. Requested most often by the group is the tale of the death of all women.

They are the last generation.

One evening Nate brings back new secrets from the woods; peculiar mushrooms are growing from the ground where the women’s bodies lie buried. These are the first signs of a strange and insidious presence unlike anything ever known before…

Discover the Beauty.

FRANKENSTEIN IN BAGHDAD by Ahmed Saadawi (Penguin Books;January 23, 2018).
Winner of both the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and France’s Grand Prize for Fantasy, Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad is being made available in English for the first time this month. Saadawi is one of the few Iraqi novelists who has remained in Iraq and lived through some of the worst violence, giving his writing an immediacy that little other fiction about the Iraq War has.

Frankenstein in Baghdad is an extraordinary achievement. At once horrific and blackly humorous, it addresses the sources of violence in Iraq, the nature of Iraqi identity, and the effects of dictatorship, occupation, and violence on ordinary people. Translated into English by Jonathan Wright (who also translated Iraqi writer Hassan Blassim’s award-winning story collection The Corpse Exhibition), the novel provides insight into an Iraq still reeling from the U.S.-led invasion through a brilliantly conceived horror plot inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Synopsis:
In the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at the local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing and a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive.

As the violence builds and Hadi’s acquaintances–a journalist, a government worker, a lonely older woman–become involved, the havoc Hadi’s monster wreaks assumes a magnitude far greater than anyone could have imagined.

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Must-See: Michael Myers Versus Jason Voorhees Fan Short Film

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The short film titled Michael Myers Versus Jason Voorhees made its much-anticipated debut on YouTube channel CallMeJeff86 on January 15th, 2018.

The film is a passion project that pits two horror movie icons against each other; it’s Michael Myers from Halloween against Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th in a bloody fight to the finish.

What are you waiting for? Give the 3-part short a watch below, and then let us know what you think!

Michael Myers Versus Jason Voorhees is written and directed by Mason C. McDonald and stars Jeff Payne as Michael Myers, Dustin Miller as Jason Voorhees, and John Alton as the Vengeful Father.

Don’t forget to follow the film on Instagram and Twitter!

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