For a long time I gave away a short story to new mailing list subscribers, but now I’ve upped the ante and produced HOW IT WORKS – a tongue in cheek guide to the inner workings of a typical horror author (me!). The book is available in Kindle and ePub formats, and also as a pdf. As well as a biography, frequently asked questions, and a guide to all my current novels, it also contains SCRATCH – the dystopian zombie novella I wrote for Infected Books’ YEAR OF THE ZOMBIE series.
The ebook is designed as a primer for people who are new to my work, so feel free to pass it on to anyone you think might be interested. Chances are if you’re reading this you’re already well versed in my work, but as the title of this post implies, I’m on the lookout for fresh blood…!
Here’s a film recommendation I’ve waited a long time to share. Before I tell you why you should see WELCOME TO ESSEX, let’s wind the clock back a few years…
I’ve mentioned Ryan J. Fleming on this site several times previously. As well as being a connoisseur of all things post-apocalyptic (a number of the film releases I’ve written about here have been direct recommendations from Ryan), he’s also a roving reporter, a long-time member of MOODY’S SURVIVORS, and he even had a starring role as a featured zombie in AUTUMN: AFTERMATH. We can now add film director to that list.
It feels like decades, but it can only have been a few years ago when Ryan told me he was making a film. In this business it’s often hard to have a conversation with anyone who isn’t desperate to tell you they’re writing a book, editing an anthology, working on a screenplay, or directing their first movie. Much of the time these comments are just pipe-dreams or wishful thinking. In Ryan’s case, however, it happened to be true.
Over the following years, he told me about assembling a crowd of more than a thousand zombie extras for a scene in Brentwood High Street, about naming a character (actually a character’s husband) after me (no doubt as payback for AFTERMATH), and about Russell Brand appearing in the film. In 2013 (I think), attendees at the HORROR IN THE EAST convention in Lowestoft actually saw some footage, and we realised he wasn’t just making it all up.
Fast-forward five years, and Ryan’s debut feature – WELCOME TO ESSEX – is finally out on DVD. I’ve had the pleasure of watching it, and I can tell you it was definitely worth the wait. I’m not going to review it here, I’m just going to ask you to support Ryan and his team and pick up a copy. Here’s the customary synopsis and trailer:
Overnight, the United Kingdom was consumed by an epidemic of terrifying proportions. The majority of the population were killed in a matter of hours as millions of recently-dead people returned to life and began to attack and kill the living. The disaster spread so rapidly that the government had no time to control the situation. The order to evacuate England was given. But it was too late. Now, the following day, a small group of mismatched survivors find themselves trapped in the famous town of Brentwood, hunted by large hordes of fast-moving corpses. They must learn to work together and reach the last-known point of rescue, Southend-on-Sea, or face certain death. Or worse.
What I love most about WELCOME TO ESSEX is the fact that it exists. The fact that a gent who passionately loves the post-apocalyptic genre can have the desire to make a movie, and the determination and conviction to make it happen. And on such a scale… this film looks the business and everything Ryan promised eventually appeared on screen, including a thousand zombie extras and Russell Brand. Okay, so it’s not the most original horror movie you’ll see this year, but it’s funny (often very, very funny), technically impressive, and filled with more passion and heart than a hundred Hollywood blockbusters combined. Congratulations to Ryan, the team at Smoking Monkey Productions, and anyone involved in the film in any way, shape or form.
I feel duty bound to draw your attention to CARGO, a top-notch zombie movie which premiered on Netflix this last week. I’ve had my eye on this one for a long time, primarily because of its source material. The film’s based on a stunning short movie which took the zombie-loving world by storm back in 2013. You can watch it here, and I recommend you do. No worries about spoiling the feature length version, because they’re two very different beasts as I’ll explain.
In a desperate bid to outrun a violent pandemic, Andy and Kay have holed up on a houseboat with their one-year-old daughter, Rosie. Their protected river existence is shattered by a violent attack, which sees Kay tragically die and Andy infected. Left with only 48 hours before he transforms into one of the creatures they have fought so long to evade, Andy sets out on a precarious journey to find a new guardian for his child. A flourishing Aboriginal tribe are Rosie’s best chance of survival – but with their merciless attitude toward the afflicted, they also pose a grave threat. A young Indigenous girl becomes Andy’s only chance of safe passage into this sacred community. But unfortunately the girl has no desire to return to her people – she is on a quest to cure her own infected father by returning his stolen soul. Each in their own way is seeking salvation… but they will need to work together if they hope to achieve it.
Hello. Long time no speak. I’ve had my head down writing the final HATER book – CHOKEHOLD – but I’m briefly coming up for air to bring you an important update about ALL ROADS END HERE.
On the whole, I’m pleased with how ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING has been received since its release last December. It’s still getting plenty of good press. Just this month, STARBURST magazine called it “a gripping, visceral read, glistening with gore and studded with extreme brutality and with a relentlessly downbeat tone which will please lovers of hard-edged apocalyptic fiction”, whilst SFBOOK REVIEW said it was “clever, convincing, claustrophobic fiction”. Just yesterday, GEEK SYNDICATE published their verdict, with Ian Simpson noting that by the end of the book “you’re likely to be standing in a pile of gore, or not standing at all.”
My publisher has been looking again at how we publish and market the second HATER trilogy, and we’ve decided that these are books which better suit a paperback release. ONE OF US… was hardcover only and is likely to stay that way until we’ve shifted more copies, but ALL ROADS END HERE and CHOKEHOLD will be released as paperbacks from the get-go.
In the case of ALL ROADS END HERE, this means that publication is going to be delayed, unfortunately. The book will now be released on February 12, 2019.
Apologies for any inconvenience or disappointment. This is definitely the right approach for the series as a whole and I cannot wait for you to read the remaining books. In the meantime, can I suggest you re-read DOG BLOOD? You’ll be catching up with a few familiar faces in some unexpected places in ALL ROADS END HERE…
And again, I’m sorry you’ll have to wait to read the new book. Rest assured I’m working on something to cushion the blow, and I hope to announce an upcoming release for 2018 very soon.
I am working hard to become a bona fide creature of horror. The picture below, ladies and gentleman, is a genuine attempt at a smile. I have developed Bell’s Palsy, and half of my face is currently paralysed. Like a half-hearted version of Two-Face from Batman, I can currently only raise one eyebrow and smile with half my mouth, but I can fix you with a hell of a withering stare from my (genuinely) unblinking left eye. I look an absolute bloody fright. Perfect horror movie fodder.
I’m currently in the middle of writing and planning and editing so haven’t had much to post about for a couple of weeks. I thought I’d take a moment to a). remind you all I’m still alive, and b). give you opportunity to laugh at my (hopefully temporarily) distorted mush. If the books dry up, I could always run away and join a freak show.
Thanks to This is Horror for a great review of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING. Rich Cosgrove was kind enough to write that “while sharing DNA with John Carpenter’s seminalThe Thing in that it’s effectively a single location exercise in paranoia and mistrust, (One of Us…) is very much its own tale.
One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning proves once again that David Moody is a significant talent in the UK horror scene, delivering a sharp, insightful study on what it means to feel isolated, not only geographically but socially, and reminding us how uncomfortably quick we are to mistrust and turn on our fellow human beings. If you even remotely like tales of societal breakdown or post-apocalyptic fiction, this book is essential reading.”
So, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the AUTUMN series a lot recently. AUTUMN was the first of my books which really took off. As you may recall, I gave it away free online between 2001 and 2008 (when, strange as it now seems, eBooks were rare and very few people were giving them away), and it was downloaded many hundreds of thousands of times. I wrote a series of sequels which were well received, and the first book was even adapted as an online full cast audio drama which you can still listen to.
But then HATER came along and my focus shifted. I then moved onto other books and projects, and it’s now a sobering five years since the last book – AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION – was released. Yet even now people still get in touch regularly to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the series.
When I wrote the very first draft of the very first book, way back in 1997, no one was writing about zombies. Very few people were watching zombie movies, either. In fact, no one was paying zombies any attention in any way, shape or form. But in the years which followed, a totally unexpected thing happened and, for the first time, the living dead became mainstream. In films, Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER was a huge hit (which sparked endless pointless debate about whether zombies should run or not, and whether or not his infected were zombies at all), and Zack Synder’s remake of George Romero’s ground-breaking DAWN OF THE DEAD bucked the trend and proved that not all remakes were worthless cash-ins. THE WALKING DEAD comic was launched and a number of writers including myself, BRIAN KEENE and DAVID WELLINGTON precipitated the flood of zombie fiction.
And despite hearing rumours to the contrary every few months since then, the bubble hasn’t burst. People still love the living dead.
I’m going to write two more AUTUMN novels. There – I’ve said it out loud and in public now. I have an idea which I can’t stop thinking about and that, for me, is the acid test. If an idea for a book won’t go away, then that book needs writing. I have a couple of other projects to wrap up first, then I’ll dive straight into what I’m currently calling AUTUMN: DAWN. I don’t want to say too much at the moment, but I think the time’s right for these new books. As I’ve already said, the world has changed dramatically since I first wrote AUTUMN. To my mind, zombies have always been the ultimate story-telling device for allowing writers and film-makers to study the human condition. By turning people into something so similar yet inherently different, it enables us to look back and consider what makes us human in the first place. Socially we’re in a vastly different place now to where we were in 2001, and I think it’ll be fascinating to imagine how we’d react to the events of AUTUMN if they took place today. The new books won’t replace the original novels, nor will they undermine them. Same dead world, different people. Not a rehash or reboot. It’s funny… one of the rules of zombie fiction and movies when I first started writing was that the characters had to have an unspoken innocence and couldn’t know what a zombie was. Given the pop culture explosion I’ve just been talking about, there’s no way I could get away with that in the new AUTUMN books!
So what about the movie?
It was released in 2008 to a torrent of abuse and ill-feeling. It creaks and it groans. It was made on a shoestring budget and it shows. People either loved it or hated it (mostly they hated it). I stopped trying to defend it and used the backlash to try and promote the books, working on the dubious premise that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Tellingly, none of the publishers of the series around the world mentioned the film in their marketing, though an editor who worked on the books did once tell me that ‘it’s always better to have a bad film made of one of your books than no film at all’. And with hindsight, I think I agree. But how bad a film is it? Was all the negativity justified? This week I took a deep breath and watched AUTUMN from start to finish for the first time in a decade. And you know what? I really enjoyed it. I’m under no illusions, it’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think it’s the absolute car crash that most people assume.
Here’s a trailer, and my thoughts follow. And yes, that is me on the DVD cover above.
A fairly predictable film recommendation from me today. I make no secret of the fact that I owe GUILLERMO DEL TORO big time. I’ve never met the man, never even spoken to him directly, but it’s no exaggeration to say that he changed my life. His endorsement of HATER and the movie he almost produced helped propel my gruesome little book from its modest indie roots to a worldwide release which exceeded my wildest expectations. I was trawling through some old clippings the other day and I came across an old interview with him where he talked about it: “…what I love about the premise is that there is a righteousness. It’s not a viral situation, not a contagion, it’s a situation of a social disease. That we can road rage into murdering someone at any second. That it’s a social epidemic is what attracted me. It’s not a zombie movie. The people that kill the people can rationalise why they did it. That’s what is scary about it.”
You can understand why this was such a big deal, but what made it an even bigger deal was the fact I was a huge Guillermo del Toro fan even before this happened. I happened upon a copy of his first movie, CRONOS, shortly after it was released in 1993, and I’d followed his career with interest since then. Or was that his careers? He seems to occupy a unique position whereby he alternates big budget crowd pleasing movies like HELLBOY and PACIFIC RIM with more personal films such as THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE and PAN’S LABYRINTH. His most recent movie, for which he picked up the best director and best picture Oscars at this year’s Academy awards, seems to have brought both of these strands of film-making together.
The premise is simple, the film is outstanding: At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.
I really should be working, but it’s been a while since I got hold of a copy of SCREAM and, as usual, it’s packed with good stuff.
Having recently sat through the film again, I particularly enjoyed the comprehensive feature about FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE. Also noteworthy were the articles about PIRANHA, the career of JOE DANTE, and oft-overlooked sequel EXORCIST III. And that’s why I love SCREAM, and why I post about it whenever a new issue lands on the doormat – it’s a magazine for true horror fans who’ve lived and breathed the genre for years. It focuses on the classics as well as the contemporary. Long may it continue!
You can get hold of SCREAM from www.screamhorrormag.com/store. It’s also available from BARNES & NOBLE and BOOKS A MILLION stores in the USA, CHAPTERS/INDIGO stores in Canada, EASON stores across Ireland, and in the UK you can pick up copies from WH Smith, HMV, FOPP and FORBIDDEN PLANET.
How long’s it been since I recommended a film here? A quick glance back shows that it’s 4 months since I talked about the plusses of PADDINGTON 2 versus the negatives of ALIEN: COVENANT, so a new recommendation is well overdue. I watched Duncan Jones’ MUTE last night, and though I tried hard to love it, I could only like (bits of) it. MUTE hit Netflix earlier this month, and it piqued my interest because it takes place in the same movie universe as Jones’ first movie, MOON. To my mind, MOON is one of the best films of the last decade, and I realised I’d never recommended it on this site. So here goes.
Astronaut Sam Bell’s (Sam Rockwell) three-year shift at a lunar mine is finally coming to an end, and he’s looking forward to his reunion with his wife (Dominique McElligott) and young daughter. Suddenly, Sam’s health takes a drastic turn for the worse. He suffers painful headaches and hallucinations, and almost has a fatal accident. He meets what appears to be a younger version of himself. With time running out, Sam must solve the mystery before the company crew arrives.