The Girl with All the Gifts

On 26 January THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS hits US cinema screens. Here in the UK we were lucky enough to get to see the film in September last year. My advice to those of you in the States? Go see this movie as soon as you’re able. Based on the acclaimed novel by M R Carey, it’s a superb zombie tale with an excellent cast, which echoes the works of George Romero and John Wyndham in equal measure. Below you’ll find a synopsis, the trailer, and a link to click to read my thoughts.

The near future; humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”. Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects.

At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell. Despite having been infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world, these children retain normal thoughts and emotions. And while still being subject to the craving for human flesh that marks the disease these second-generation “hungries” are able to think and feel making them a vital resource in the search for a cure.

The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks. But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest. Melanie is special. She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau.

When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.

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Scream Issue 34

Hope you’ve all had a good Christmas and are looking forward to New Year. I am. I’ve a lot of stuff in the pipeline for 2016, and it’s been too quiet around here for too long.

One of the great things about the holidays, I find, is that I get chance to catch up on a few of the films I’ve missed or that I’ve been meaning to watch again. My pile of as yet unwatched Blu-ray discs (which, I’m ashamed to admit, still includes a few of the gifts I received last Christmas) has substantially increased in size. I’m particularly looking forward to re-watching the final QUATERMASS series from 1979, and to working my way through the entire NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series in HD.

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I’m particularly looking forward to watching the NIGHTMARE films again. Coincidentally, this morning the latest issue of SCREAM MAGAZINE dropped through my letterbox, which includes a fascinating interview with Mark Patton, the star of the second ELM STREET movie. As usual, there’s plenty of other stuff in the mag, including a look back at the Hammer cult classic VAMPIRE CIRCUS, and features on Turkish horror, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, and much more. As always, SCREAM comes with the Moody seal of approval.

To get your hands on a copy of SCREAM, visit www.screamhorrormag.com. You can also pick up the magazine from any branch of HMVForbidden Planet, or any of the newsagents listed here. SCREAM is also available digitally as iSCREAM. You can also follow SCREAM on Facebook and Twitter @ScreamHorrorMag.

The Machine

themachineIn between writing, meetings and loads of other stuff, I’ve been catching up on a few movies I managed to miss over the last couple of years. THE MACHINE is a film I’d had my eye on since I saw it on the schedule of Grimmfest back in 2013. I finally got to see it last week, and I have to say, I was impressed. Stylish and smart, the film has an effortless Quatermass meets Blade Runner vibe which I couldn’t resist. Here’s a synopsis and the trailer. My thoughts follow:

Two computer programmers fall in love as they create the first ever piece of self-aware artificial intelligence, which is designed to help humanity. But things go wrong when the MoD steal their breakthrough and teach it to become a robotic weapon.

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What’s next?

Since STRAIGHT TO YOU was released, a lot of people have been asking what’s next. That’s a difficult one to answer, but I thought I should at least try.

I’ve a couple of completed novels in the bag which I’ve told you about previously (STRANGERS and 17 DAYS). As yet no decisions have been made as to when/how they’ll be released. All options remain open, and I’ll let you know as soon as I do. There are a few other things in the pipeline…

I’ve been saying for a while that I’ve had my fill of zombies, infections, apocalyptic pandemics and the like. That’s not strictly true. There’s one story left that I want to tell, and I’m working on it at the moment. I hope to have it finished by April/May this year and released soon after, probably as an ebook-only novella. I also have a number of short stories due in the next few months, and I’ll let you know as and when each of those releases are scheduled.

But the project I think I’m most excited about right now is THE SPACES BETWEEN. It’s a four book horror/science-fiction series set in the near future. If I was to describe the tone of the books, I’d have to say they’re like a head-on collision between QUATERMASS and Stieg Larsson’s MILLENNIUM TRILOGY (well that’s the vibe I’m going for, anyway). I’ve been planning these novels for several years now, but have only recently begun the actual writing process. Here’s a bit of hastily thrown together blurb for TOMMY, the first book in the series:

Nine years ago London was wiped off the map as a result of a catastrophic terrorist attack. Millions of displaced people have since been rehoused in a number of hastily constructed newcities, the largest of which is Elysian Fields, just outside Birmingham.

Parts of Elysian Fields are no-go areas: dangerous, virtually lawless and hopelessly overcrowded. The government and police troops do what they can to maintain order, but it’s increasingly difficult. The residents are on their own.

Almost.

There are some who still try to help. Greg Dawson is one such person. An old-school social worker, he’s now forced to carry a gun and wear full body armour to work each day. But the job and the people haven’t changed, just the situation, and Dawson’s as dedicated to protecting the vulnerable as he always has been.

When Tommy Huxtable, the five year old son of a powerful party member, is taken, Dawson’s called on to find and recover the child. But the deeper he digs, the more he discovers that nothing is as it seems in Elysian Fields.

You can keep up with my progress with TOMMY and other projects on the ‘Forthcoming Releases‘ page on this site.

Paul Kane’s Sleeper(s)

SleepersCover2I’m sure many of you know of Paul Kane. Paul and I go back a fair few years now – I think we first spoke around the release of HATER in early 2009. Our paths crossed more recently when Paul and his other half Marie edited THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BODY HORROR which contained my story, ALMOST FOREVER (and that’s an anthology well worth checking out – click here to remind yourself).

Paul’s back with a new novella – SLEEPER(S). It’s a great book with a real Quatermass-like vibe to it, and I was honoured to be asked to write the introduction. Here’s the blurb:

The sleepy English locality of Middletown is about to get even sleepier, as a strange malady starts to affect the population. It spreads quickly, causing the authorities to quarantine this small city, and seek out the only person who might be able to help: Doctor Andrew Strauss. However, Strauss has a secret, one that has linked him to this place all his life, one that has linked him to a particular person there, though he doesn’t yet know who. But he’s not the only one hiding things – and as he ventures into Middletown to collect samples with an army escort, a mixture of UK and US troops, cracks soon begin to appear in the operation. Especially when his team come up against the most terrifying threat humankind has ever known…

SLEEPER(S), from Crystal Lake Publishing, is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Bring classic horror back to the BBC

I don’t know how many of you are like me… thirty-something (very close to forty-something) and UK based. If you’re not then this post may not be relevant. Sorry about that, but this is something I’m passionate about!

Growing up as a young horror fan in the UK in the 1980’s, it was bloody hard to find any decent movies to watch. Dumb politicians, moralistic idiots and misguided religious fools conspired to strip our shelves of everything even mildly horrific.

Some of my earliest horror movie memories came as a result of the ‘Horror Double Bills’ which used to screen on the BBC, late on a Saturday night. There you could see Universal monster movies back-to-back with sumptuous Hammer and Amicus classics. Just click here for a taste of the superb selection of seminal horror we used to enjoy.

But, without anyone really noticing, the Horror Double Bills died out, and were replaced, on the whole, with blandness: reality TV shows, endless repeats, 24 hour news etc. etc.

I was really pleased to hear that a campaign to bring Classic Horror back to BBC TV in the UK has been started, and I wanted to ask all you UK readers to show your support. There’s a website, a Facebook page and even a petition. Please add your voice!

This isn’t just a nostalgia trip for old buggers like me. These films really were instrumental in switching me on to horror, and I don’t think I’d be writing the books I write today if it hadn’t been for those Saturday nights spent creeping back downstairs to watch TV after my parents had gone to bed, or staying up late in the school holidays and being scared half to death by Quatermass, Captain Kronos,  Doctor Phibes and the like. Let’s get these films back on the box!