Recommended Reading – The Last Plague

thelastplagueToday I want to recommend THE LAST PLAGUE to you – the debut novel from Rich Hawkins. I’ve known Rich for a number of years now, and it’s been great to see him fulfil his writing ambitions. When we first met, I signed a book for him in Lowestoft (I think). This year, he signed a book for me!

By the way, completely coincidentally, Rich recently interviewed me for his blog. You can find the piece online here.

THE LAST PLAGUE (available now from Crowded Quarantine) is a nasty, blood-soaked door-stop of a book which features more grotesques and mutilations than I ever thought possible to fit into five hundred pages. It’s relentlessly bleak and vicious, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Here’s the synopsis. Click the link below for a few thoughts from Rich.

A pestilence has fallen across the land. Run and hide. Seek shelter. Do not panic. The infected WILL find you.

When Great Britain is hit by a devastating epidemic, four old friends must cross a chaotic, war-torn England to reach their families. But between them and home, the country is teeming with those afflicted by the virus – cannibalistic, mutated monsters whose only desires are to infect and feed.

THE LAST PLAGUE is here.

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Interstellar

interstellar3Real life has been a bit of a pain in the backside recently, preventing me from updating this site as much as I’d have liked. The film recommendations I’d been posting with uncharacteristic regularity at the beginning of the year have all but dried up. I’m hoping to put that right, and I wanted to start today by recommending that rarest of things: a film with apocalyptic overtones which manages the delicate balancing act of being positive without resorting to cliché.

Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR reminded me of Kubrick’s 2001 for all the right reasons. I’m sure many of you have seen it by now. If not, here’s a quick synopsis followed by a trailer. Click the link below for my thoughts on the movie.

With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history: traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars.

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Recommended reading – Sean Page’s ALIEN INVASION HANDBOOK

Stuck for Christmas ideas this year? Want to get that certain someone a present that a). they’ll like, b). will keep them occupied for hours and c). might just save their life? Look no further.

alieninvasionMy good friend SEAN PAGE has released a follow up to last year’s smash hit ZOMBIE SURVIVAL HAYNES MANUAL. This year he’s turned his attention to the ever-present threat of ALIEN INVASION. As always, Sean’s take on things is frighteningly comprehensive, and incredibly funny. Looking for an authoritative history of alien contact? It’s here. Want to know how to prep yourself for the aliens’ arrival? Sean’s your man. First-contact protocols, alien combat techniques, space defences… this book covers everything.

You can get hold of a copy now from Amazon, The Book Depository, Hive, Indiebound, Waterstones, WHSmith and many other retailers.

And I don’t know if Sean was trying to tell me something or if this really was a genuine mix-up by the good folk at Haynes, but the Alien Invasion manual wasn’t the first book they sent me…

Pie book

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and HATER

9780312608088 thumbThis post is really just a convoluted way of asking a pretty direct question, so please bear with me…

Summer’s definitely over now, and I’ve been looking back at some of the movies I managed to get to see. Without a doubt, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was the film I was looking forward to seeing most and, surprisingly, I thought it almost completely delivered.

It’ll serve little purpose if I review the movie this late in the day because I expect you’ve either a). already seen it and made up your own minds, or b). you’ve heard enough about it to know whether you want to see it or not. To summarise, though, it’s a technically stunning film with some great performances, an intense storyline, superb action scenes, and some of the most realistic animation you’re likely to see in a long time. I highly recommend it.

I’ve long been a fan of the APES movies. I’ve seen the original films countless number of times, and I’ve even managed to make it all the way through the abominable Tim Burton remake more than once. I was thinking about why I love the Apes concept so much when it struck me: it’s the same central conceit as zombies, isn’t it? Replace the apes with the undead, and you’ve got a very similar set-up. The apes are just another in a long line of variations on us versus them, and these movies work so well because of the increasingly thin line which separates one side from the other.

In fact, when I left the cinema after seeing DAWN, I couldn’t help thinking about HATER. With HATER, you could argue the only real difference between one side and the other is perspective. They’re pretty much otherwise indistinguishable from one another (unless you are a Hater, of course…).

Incredibly, it’s now seven long years since the HATER movie rights were first acquired, and although the cameras almost rolled back in 2009, there’s been very little movement on the project since then. But that might be about to change. I can’t say much at the moment (there’s not actually very much to say), but some positive initial discussions have been taking place with a view to getting HATER on the big screen.

So all this rambling finally leads me to my question. Seven years is a long time… do you still want to see a HATER movie? If so, what are your hopes and fears for the project? Personally, I think there’s never been a better time (as the success of our ape friends has illustrated), but what do you think? I’d really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to let me know.

And as soon as I have any definite news, I’ll post it here.

The Night of the Triffids

NightoftheTriffids.jpgNIGHT OF THE TRIFFIDS is a book I avoided reading for a very long time. As many of you might know, whenever I’m asked to cite my favourite book or the book that’s had the biggest influence on me, I always talk about John Wyndham’s seminal DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, and the idea of a non-Wyndham sequel never appealed to me in the slightest. But then I got to know the author, Simon Clark. I’d heard a lot about Simon when HATER was first released, with people mentioning my book alongside his BLOOD CRAZY (a great read which I must feature here in the near future). Simon and I both had stories appear in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF BODY HORROR and we met at an event to launch the book a few years back. I caught up with him again at a convention a while later, and was able to talk to him about all things triffid-related. It was immediately clear that this was no cash-in: he wrote a sequel because of his love of Wyndham’s original.

First published in 1991 and given a long-overdue re-release this month, the book takes place some twenty-five years after the events of DAY. Here’s the synopsis. Click the link below for my thoughts.

In John Wyndham’s classic bestseller The Day of the Triffids, the world has been overwhelmed by killer plants that have blinded almost the entire population. As the novel ends, Wyndham’s narrator scientist Bill Masen is escaping, with his wife and four-year-old son, to the Isle of Wight where a small colony of survivors is holding out. Simon Clark’s sequel picks up the story twenty-five years on.

The survivors are safe, for the time being at least, on their island, where they have continued efforts to combat the triffids, while also striving in various ways to build a new civilization – in a Mother House, for example, women spend their lives endlessly giving birth. Elsewhere in the world, similar colonies cling to survival, while the triffids persist in their attempts to destroy humanity.

One morning Bill Masen’s son, David, now grown up, wakes to a world plunged into darkness. Now, the triffids have an advantage over even sighted humanity.

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12 MONKEYS

12monkeysIt broke my heart this week to see the trailer for the SyFy channel’s unnecessary remake of the Terry Gilliam classic, 12 MONKEYS, which looked about as good as I expected (i.e. not good at all). 12 MONKEYS is a favourite film of mine, and I realised I hadn’t written about it for this site. So I’m putting that right today, and adding the movie to the Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club.

You know, of the slew of (almost exclusively inferior) remakes announced and produced over the last few years, 12 MONKEYS is one that hurts the most. And that’s ironic, because the film is a remake of sorts itself, being based on LA JETEE – a 1962 post-apocalyptic French short directed by Chris Marker, told entirely through still images and narration.

The premise of 12 MONKEYS is beautifully simple: “In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.” I’m sure you’ve probably seen it already but, if not, watch the trailer and click the link below and I’ll tell you why you should stop what you’re doing and watch the movie now.

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Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie

10291305_531390210305279_7043635267076570044_nNow I like my character-driven horror fiction to be dark, but in his most recent book, Craig DiLouie has taken dark to a new extreme.

SUFFER THE CHILDREN (out now from Simon and Schuster/Permuted Press) is a genuinely horrific book, extraordinarily uncomfortable reading. DiLouie takes that most precious of things – the relationship between a parent and their child – and pushes it beyond breaking point. The synopsis follows. Click the link below for some thoughts on the book from Craig himself.

“One day, the children die. Three days later, they come back. And ask for blood.

With blood, they stop being dead. They become the children they once were.

But only for a short time. Too soon, they die again. And need more blood to live …

The average body holds ten pints of blood. How far would you go for your child?”

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Miracle Mile

MiracleMileQuite a weird movie for this week’s recommendation. MIRACLE MILE (1988) is one of the strangest films I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s an almost surreal mix of genres: love story, thriller and comedy for starters, with a healthy dose of added paranoia. Here’s the synopsis and trailer. Click the link below for my thoughts.

A young man meets and falls in love with a young woman at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. This area is known as Miracle Mile, and the whole movie takes place there. They make a date, which he misses, and while he is searching for her, he accidentally finds out that we (the United States) are about to start a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. He frantically searches for her so that they can escape Los Angeles.

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By Dawn’s Early Light

220px-Dawn_s_early_lightI owe Ryan Fleming a thank you and an apology. Not only is he a film director, roving reporter and star of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH (page 351), he’s also a top bloke. Many moons ago he was kind enough to send me a copy of today’s film recommendation – BY DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT. I watched it almost straight away, but it’s taken me until now to write up this post.

BDEL is a TV movie from 1990, based on the novel TRINITY’S CHILD by William Prochnau. It boasts an excellent cast including Martin Landau, James Earl Jones, Rebecca De Mornay and Darren McGavin. It was directed by Jack Shoulder, probably best known to genre fans as the director of the divisive NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE. As usual, a brief synopsis follows. Unfortunately I can’t track down a trailer, so you’ll have to make do with a short clip from the movie. Click the link below for my thoughts.

When a fanatical group opposed to friendly US/Soviet relations explodes a nuclear missile over a Russian city, it begins a chain reaction of accusations and actions. As the clock ticks toward total nuclear annihilation, the American and Soviet leaders race toward a solution, fighting with their own camps as well as with each other. Two air force pilots are ordered to take their B-52 bomber into the air and await further instruction, but when it’s reported that a bomb has killed the President, pilots Cassidy and Moreau are ordered to perform the grand tour: the systematic bombing of all Russian leaders. Can these two follow through on a command that will mark the beginning of the end?

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Juan of the Dead

It’s been a busy week, but I managed to sneak in a quick movie (in gradual bite-sized chunks at the end of each day) which I wanted to tell you about.

juan1JUAN OF THE DEAD (original title Juan de los Muertos) is a 2011 Cuban-Spanish co-production which was billed as Cuba’s first horror movie. It’s a fairly by-the-numbers zombie comedy about a couple of slackers… so far, so Shaun, but the unique setting and the sentiment will make JUAN of interest to zombie completists.

The blurb: Juan is a slacker trying to reconnect with his daughter, who plans to rejoin her mother in Miami. Lazaro, Juan’s friend, is trying to connect with his own son, a persistent womanizer. They begin to notice that locals are “going crazy”, killing people and eating their flesh, and the recently deceased are returning to life. The Cuban government and the media claim that the zombies are dissidents revolting against the government. Juan starts a business to profit off of killing the zombies, but the group may soon find their own lives at risk.

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