Seven Rounds

(Thus Far, we haven’t published any fiction.  I figure we’d get things started with a flash piece from mine.  And you have something that mixes horror tropes and actions click on the ‘Submissions’ Link and send it out way!)

Seven Rounds

By J.M. Perkins
‘Drop him!’ I command, wishing my voice was deeper.


The perp does, but then starts stalking right towards me.
“Halt!” I command and this time she doesn’t listen.

The first bullet I fire is just that: copper coated lead.  I can already tell it’s not gonna do shit.  I hit her anyway, more reflex and lingering sanctification than anything else.  I don’t even know why the brass insists the first shot has to be norm (that’s what my other sidearm is for).  Oh well, regs are regs I guess.

The next two shots are silver.  Even during the day there’s a surprising number of wolf gangbangers nowadays; and they don’t stop just ‘cause the sunlight makes them wear their human skins. These slugs hit her without noticeable effect – but silver is light and less effective than a norm round unless you have a susceptibility to it.

I pull the trigger again and again and again. The garlic and holy water infused bullet with a  crucifix etched on the front doesn’t work. But if I thought she was a vampire I’d already be running back to the squad car where the crossbow is locked above the dash.  The compressed flower petal shell doesn’t do anything (only had it work once actually). And the distilled absurdity round causes her to laugh uncontrollably but otherwise keep advancing (I’m always relaxed when that one doesn’t work, anyone who has bravado concerning Cthuloids is a liar and a fool).

It’s not til round seven that she goes down: cold iron, as pure as we can make it.  Shoulda known.  While she’s lying on the ground I check the norm.

“You ok?” I ask.

Tears stream down his face. “She was going to take me to the everspring fields, I was to be a prince.”

“Yeah. Sure you were… I’ll get your statement in a second.”

The perp is coughing up something that looks like glitter and smells like potpourri.  I call in for an ambulance, wrap her tiny wrists (smaller than mine, even) in golden binding chord.

“You have the right to remain silent,” I say, “Anything you say, do or incant may be used against you in a court of law or through the column of the threefold return. You have the right to consult an attorney, summoner or cultural translator before speaking to the police and to have said party present during questioning or trial by honored combat now or in the future.”

It’s times like this I can’t help but think how much simpler being a cop was before the return.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love (some of) the Remakes: Fright Night (2011) Review

I should probably start this review with a disclaimer: I generally don’t like remakes.  Not that there’s anything wrong with them per se. Taking great stories and giving them a unique spin can lead to great results. But, as a rule, I’d rather see all that talent, money and artistry going to make something new.

Some exceptions to that rule: John carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ (never saw 2011’s prequel/remake), (in a non action-horror way) 2012’s 21 Jump Street and 2011’s Fright Night. In all of these cases; smart ,passionate screen writers and movie makers borrowed brand recognition in order to work with budgets and scales that might otherwise have been unavailable. 

Fright Night isn’t something new in terms of plot: A Vampire moves into town, after initial disbelief the hero realizes that he and only he can deal with this as his love interest is put into danger.  But even if you’ve heard this particular one before, it’s how they fit all the pieces together, it’s the ‘telling’ that makes it all work so beautifully.

First off, Colin Ferrel does a first rate job as the embodiment of suave menace as ‘Jerry.’ In what is either a conscious or fortuitous nod to the original ‘Dracula’ this is a monster who is more ‘manly’ than any of the protagonists, who’s emasculates lesser males as he threatens to turn them into cuckolds.

More to the point though, I love this movie because of all the little touches. The visuals serve the story, the artificiality of the Vegas suburb making for a great (and unique setting). A character using his cell phone to google how to pick a lock, a vampire lighting a house on fire because they won’t invite him in, and perhaps the only ‘No reception!’ scene in recent memory that didn’t make me want to smash my television.  This is the kind of movie where characters do what you’re always screaming at them to: like assaulting a vampire nest at Dawn (not, you know,dusk) and smashing out the windows of the house to let more light in or the mother character chooses to believe her son -even if he has been acting strangely- over the total stranger that moved in next door.

Because of moments like these, the tension actually works in this film which is perhaps even more impressive considering how funny the film can be.  They don’t act stupidly (within reason) and as such you believe in them and you believe in their peril.  So every moment of tension is earned. 

I highly recommend checking out Fright Night if you get a chance, it’s well worth your time.

Zombies Zombies Everywhere but What the Heck Comes Next?

Photo by Daniel Hollister; used under Creative Commons Attribution license

What comes after Zombies?

Instead of bemoaning the hyper-abundance of the undead (which would be silly because Zombies are awesome), I thought it would be fun to speculate on what might be slithering our way next coming next.

I’ve been watching Dr. Who recently and -unlike everyone else I know of- the Doctor is perhaps my least favorite part of the experience (we can get into that later).  Personally, I would much prefer if they took their budget, writers, and actors to make something more akin to the Twilight Zone in a franchise unburdened by a character who can not possibly lose.  In particular, I greatly enjoy the monsters and I remember reading an article about showrunner Steve Moffat and the philosophical underpinnings of the fear his monsters inspire.  For me, I like to think about the psychologicaly related to the monsters (the Silence will always be Alzheimers to me for example).
I think nearly every great monster can be related to a psychological issue even if the creator only got there by accident (Werewolves as metaphor for PTSD).  In my opinion, Zombies (and to a lesser extent Vampires) represent unchained id. Even if we laugh at most of Freud’s theories nowadays the tripartate theory of consciousness is still an incredibly valuable metaphor.  Which means we need a standard monster (class) that represents unrestrained superego.
I think we’ve tried it halfheartedly (Zort from the Day the Earth Stood Still remake, Kevin Spacey from Se7en) but the obvious example is aliens, spirits or fey that are here to punish us for our misdeeds.  Zombies and vampires are the horror that lurks within us: that fact that we could have nothing more to us than hunger.  The other obvious side is the horror that comes from transgressing a boundary and being punished for it.  Which, of course, somewhat ignores the reality that there are already innumerable horror stories of revenge and punishment for transgression.  We’ve done it over and over again for a reason.
If you want something that could achieve the same kind of cultural ascendancy of zombies though, I would argue that unrestrained superego is the way to go.  
But what do you think?  Any monsters you think could achieve the kinda of cultural apotheosis enjoyed by the humble, indefatigable zombie?  Sound off in the comments.

(Also, I should point to this great article from io9.com discussing some of the same concepts.)

Action Horror.com Wants Your Stories!

In case you didn’t notice the handy dandy Submissions link, ActionHorror.com is now officially a short fiction market. We even have a listings at Duotrope and Ralan’s.  We’d love to publish or republish that is Action Horror short stories.  Alternately, if you have a relevant movie, podcast, collection, novel, et al; we’d love to review it.
So fire up your email client and get submitting us stories and sending us review requests!

Top 5: Action Horror Video Games

(cross posted at www.strugglingwordguy.com )
These are my top picks for video games that manage to give you all the action you could want while while making you piss yourself just a little.  If I’m being honest; more than movies, more than literature it is video games that are my first and greatest influence in how I approach and understand story.

(Note: I’m encompassing survival horror under the banner ‘action horror’ cause… well, I want to.)

5. Resident Evil:

Or ‘Biohazard’ as it is known in Japan.  One of the first games to do justice to zombies.  Forget the increasingly terrible movies and remember instead the ‘holy shit’ awesomeness of running and gunning the T-Virus infected dogs… because Umbrella help you if all you had left was a knife.  Seriously Resident Evil, thank you so much for ensuring I never, ever had enough ammo.  Bonus points for the series giving up its addiction to camera angle scares (starting in Resident Evil 4) but staying just as scary.

4. System Shock

This game did not get the wide adoption it deserved.  Probably one of the best examples of video game writing I’ve ever seen.  All you have is your weapons, your wits, and your psionic powers against an army of I don’t even know whats and the psychotic AI that’s managing it it all.  Unlike a lot of the games on the list… SS remains almost entirely out of print today.  Which is too bad.

3. Bio Shock

This spiritual successor to System Shock definitely lives up to its pedigree.  An Ayn Rand flavored under the sea extravaganza which with so many delightful vignettes courtesy of the deranged ‘splicers’ of Rapture.  Granted, I do think that the final boss was a little… silly; in the way that all super steroid final bosses are.  But everything up till that point was pure gold.  Love the tension of weighing ‘should I or shouldn’t I attack that eight foot tall armored mutant over there to suck the life essence out of the little girl he’s protecting.’  Decisions, decisions.

2. Half Life

Still one of the pinnacles of the first person shooter genre.  The level of polish and care that went into the game shames 99% of the first person shooters out there.  One word: headcrabs.  Nowadays, we have two words: poison headcrabs.  Recently found out the ‘zombies’ sounds are actually a man’s screaming voice begging for help.  Neat!  Now I have more things to have nightmares about.

1. Doom

Ahh doom, you will always have a special place in my heart.  With the exception of the film Aliens, this is why we’re obsessed with with space marines battling unimaginable horrors in spaceeeeeee *echo, echo, echo*.  Looking back on it now, it’s easy to forget that the demon design used to scare me.  But they really, really did.  I remember grabbing an ‘unprotected’ key only for the walls to lower and five of these guys come rushing out throwing fireballs and making my soundblaster contort itself into the low-res language of hell.  Good times.

Honorable Mention:

Left 4 Dead 1 & 2:  Great game(s).  Pitch perfect take on the ‘infected’ style zombies.  Amazingly designed to force you to work as part of a team.  More homages than you can shake a chainsaw at.  The director AI is a thing of beauty and why I’m still playing these games a two years later.  Still, I didn’t include it primarily because there’s something about getting the opportunity to play as one of the infected that drains the horror from the experience.

So what did I miss?  What would be on your top five list of Action Horror Video Games?

Anime and Action Horror

(cross posted at www.strugglingwordguy.com)
A While Back, I got to do a one man presentation at San Diego’s Anime Conji about Anime and Action Horror.

This was my awesome audience for the event (I would like to point out that the collective cool of their poses made the picture come out just a little bit blurry).

This was my audience for my Anime and Action Horror Panel

And here is the Anime/Action Horror PowerPoint Presentation I created for the event.

Anime and Action Horror PowerPoint

After attending many conventions of all sizes and sorts this past year; I have to say that the energy, enthusiasm and spirit of fun at Anime Conji was wonderful and exceptional. The convention is only three years old, and I can’t wait to see how it develops. I think Anime Conji is one convention I’ll be attending for years to come.