The Gore Score

I discovered horror movies as a little guy, having seen my first one at six and then falling in love with the genre on the for real-real until I had seen THE THING years later. When I fell for scary movies, as they will always sorta be to me, I fell hard and the older I got the more insatiable I became. It was a new love and when you fall baby, you fall hard.

My tastes changed. Slashers to monsters to classics to foreign to gore. Oh yeah, that gore phase. It hit me heavy and hit me hard. I was a fan of special effects and dreamt of following that career path myself one day – spoiler alert, I for sure didn’t – and that was what really got me into the gore – the work behind the scenes. There was an artistry to all of it, a craft. I fell in love with the personalities behind the gore, the process of it, and the risque nature that it all catered too as much of the ‘good stuff’ was cut out. Gore, even the most realistic, was just another part of movie making. Another aspect of storytelling. It was a visceral part of it that conveyed the terror and cost of facing the darkness.

I have to admit though that I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having been drawn but the sheer audacity of the gore itself. Yeah, I liked how it was made but I really loved the nastiness of it all. There was something dangerous about all of it. You’d see mainstream movies that would slip in an exploding head, or a gutted person that would rival what you’d see in the indie and foreign fare. Gore was, to my youthful self, the creme in the cookie of horror. Sure, sure, it was fantastic to find a movie with a goof story and great characters but darn it, what good was all of that if there wasn’t a head getting bisected or someone’s chest erupting into a crimson mist?


Gore is not for the faint of heart, and I get it. Even reading extreme violence can churn the stomach. What’s funny is that, as much as a kick as I got out of a bit of the old ulta-violence I didn’t really write a lot of it. I wrote some, but I never went all in for gore. I will say though, now that I have made a couple movies, I did go for a gross out in the second film, though a little bit of that ended up on the cutting room floor. There’s just something satisfying about creating an illusion of destruction knowing that it’s all done with some store bought meat, some fake blood, and quick editing.

What’s interesting is that as I have gotten older my gorehound status has sorta waned. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy a good gut munching but with the advent of ultra-gore movies coming out of the sub-basement of the underground horror movement, I find that without any reason or context, it’sjust a mass of fake blood and fake body parts. You can force ‘care’ for a character, in that, you never want to see anyone get tortured or abused (OK, I don’t want to see that) so you can take a complete stranger, a blank character, and drop them into that sort of an environment and you’ll elicit an emotional response but it’s not earned. It’s the equivilent of a jump scare. It’s cheap. With a smart filmmaker and good way to mask what they are shooting to give it authenticity you can for sure make some low rent horror look utterly believable and horrifying. Great. There is a skill to that. But it’s when you care about the character and understand the situation that it all begins to mean something. You can be affected by anything but the things that stay with you are the ones that put you in that place mentally and emotionally. So while I still get a kick out of gore, especially the fact that basic cable television gets away with things that ‘R’ rated movies didn’t just a few years ago, the grotesque thrill from watching gore with no reason or story just doesn’t have any interest for me. That’s why I never watched the FACES OF DEATH movies because, even though most of that footage was faked, I had no interest in watching just scenes of death and murder. Fake or not. And there are people drawn to the real stuff, and man alive is it ever out there to find, but again, there’s a difference. I can go in my basement and put together something to pretend that a horrible act happened but no one is harmed. People that want to watch real people being harmed, beyond an initial curiosity, are a whole other cat.

It’s weird that we’re in an era where you can make things more realistic than ever and thus nastier than ever but I still look back with fondness to the days of my youth when we’d find a movie we hadn’t seen and would be shocked at how gruesome it got. Or the thrill at seeing a gore scene pop up in a Hollywood film as if to wink that hey, we like that stuff too.

While I have aged, and my tastes had definitely changed from what they once were, I still am a gorehound at heart, just of a different kind. I don’t get a kick out of seeing gore for the sake of gore anymore, though it’s interesting to reason out how it was done and how they made it look so real. It’s an art, all of it, and I still appreciate that aspect of it. Maybe that too will change and I’ll begin to like romantic comedies and safe sit-coms about families but for now, I’ll still revel in my gore, and giggle every time a head explodes.


What The Living Forget…The Dead Will Remember


The things crawl and caper and drag themselves from their Mother and emerge into the world and thus begins the Dead Age. The world sleeps as they rise but as dawn breaks screams chase the sun into the clouds as blood paints the streets. A man falls into wakefulness at the sound of something scratching at one of the doors. He rises from dark dreams and glances to the place his wife should be and his shoulders slump. Day one hundred and forty three. One more day in Hell. The scratching comes again and he turns his attention to the noise and heads towards the kitchen and the back door. As he passes through the kitchen he glances towards the wall clock and sees it is only six in the morning. He had been out of work for a while now and the last thing he wanted was to be waken up by some idiot with the wrong house. Paper boy. It had to be the paper boy. The man reaches the door and looks down at himself and sees that he is hanging free of his boxers so he tucks himself back in, straightens his undershirt, and unlocks and opens the door.

It’s Greg.

Jesus Christ it’s Greg.

His face is sunken, his eyes gone, and he is covered in dirt but it’s him. Oh god in Heaven it’s his little boy.

The man stumbles forward, tears streaming down his eyes. First it was the job, then Maggie left, and then his boy, his boy, his beautiful little boy had died. The man shook his head, he blinked his eyes but there, there was his boy. His boy was back. He’d come back to him. The man started to bawl and reached his arms out to Greg.

The boy wavered a moment, took one tentative step forward, then another, then third and he opened his mouth to speak and put out his own arms. The man smiles down at his son. The thing that had once been Greg pulled its arms back and then plunged its skeletal fingers deep into the man that had been and the man screamed as blood and gore spilled out across the thin arms of his boy. The man tried to pull away but was losing too much blood and he fell onto his knees and looked into his boy’s eyes and saw nothing. The man tried to scream but the thing’s teeth sank deep into his throat and blood washed across the boy and in another moment the man was gone and all that was left of him was meat for the thing and its friends as they made their way to the feast. 


A Book Of The Living Dead

Red Re-Do 2 Red Re-Do 8 Red Re-Do 13 Red Re-Do 14

What You Bury


What You Bury Will Return

In front of him was row after row of benches that lead all the way to the front of the barn and on the benches were people huddled together and bent forward as if in prayer. How they could see, let alone stand the stench, Hunter hadn’t a clue but they were all silent and all focused on what they were doing and had yet to notice him. At the head of the rows there was a podium and behind it yet another cross, this one at least ten feet tall and beside it painted sheets with the same insignia of the lion with the lamb in its mouth and beside the podium was a chair and in it was someone slumped forward. Hunter took the spear in both hands and held it as tight as he could and made his way to the far left side of the rows and began walking forward slowly, his eyes on the parishioners as he moved. Now that he’d been inside a few minutes he was finally able to see more clearly and saw that there was blood everywhere and in the pews humans sat side by side with the things, their hands clasped and all of them roped in place so they’d stay and be still. And there would be no problem with being good little children in church because the tell tale holes were all there in every body he saw and he had been right, this was a dead place, but what it had been, and what had been going on he did his best not to imagine. – excerpted from Cemetery Earth


Cover Band

   It’s never easy on these books of mine to get 1. the right cover right out of the gate and 2. the cover formatted the correct way. Of all the books this one has definitely gone through the most cover iterations.

Initially, when I had first been thinking of this as at least a collection of stories I had a cover design all ready. It would be the image of a decrepit cemetery with blood bubbling up from the graves. Not over the top but creepy. THAT was always the plan. As I neared completion of editing the book though I started to wonder if there wasn’t a better way to do it. If there wasn’t a better idea.

I loved the idea of drawing the cover because it’s one of those things I just like to do, I like to do my covers. But then there’s reality, is the cover I see in my mind and I like one that would entice people to pick it up?

cemetery earth alternate cover

I like that. But I also know that my art style does not skew to the realistic. It skews cartoony and I am not sure that was what would work. So I decided to do a photo for the cover. My fiancée and me got all bloody and I set things up and figured I’d shoot the cover.

Cover Idea 04 possible cover idea possible cover 2

I really liked how these turned out. Simple but effective and it conveyed the feeling I wanted of dread and danger. I really like these. But in speaking to an artist friend he offered that yeah, those were cool but he could make them cooler. He could make them better. My friend Loren Gillespie III is a darned good artist and I have known him long enough to trust him so I trusted what he wanted to do.

Loren Cover 1 Loren Cover 2 Loren Cover 4

I liked all three covers, which he did illustrations on to give them a different feel, dangerous but surreal, but of the three I liked the last one the best. I liked the colors and the feel of that world. So that was the version I finally went with.

Cemetery Earth cover2-revised

Naturally things never quite work as you think so it had to be tweaked a little further to get it approved for print but this was it. This was the cover. This was the world of CEMETERY EARTH. I love this cover. Loren did an amazing job and I am really honored to have his work on the cover. We had worked together nearly twenty years ago on ‘zines and here we were working together again. Pretty awesome and fitting because this is a book that had lived in me for a very long time and stories that had been born years ago.

I really think that this is the cover. This is the cover that fits a book I am very, very happy with.

This really is CEMETERY EARTH.


  Cemetery Earth cover2-revised After what seems like ages, and sorta was, my newest novel is officially out! CEMETERY EARTH is a book about the end of the world and the dawn of the Dead Age when the living dead walk the earth. I love this book and think you will too.

It is available for $15 on Amazon and through CreateSpace

It is available for Kindle for $5

And is available for Nook for $5


  Cemetery Earth cover2-revised After what seems like ages, and sorta was, my newest novel is officially out! CEMETERY EARTH is a book about the end of the world and the dawn of the Dead Age when the living dead walk the earth. I love this book and think you will too.

It is available for $15 on Amazon and through CreateSpace

It is available for Kindle for $5

And is available for Nook for $5


­Summer of Massacre

          Ok, now I have seen everything.  It took a while but we finally got a horror movie trying to be Sin City.  Sort of.  The charm of Sin City though lay with its characters that they all intersected and interacted and lived in the backdrop of a surreal city where reality wavered.  Summer of Massacre though is one of those movies where they took the conceit of live film with digital backgrounds and effects and well, put them in a garbage disposal and hoped for the best.

Summer of Massacre is an anthology with four stories and a sort of a wrap-around.  The stories are dark, hyper-violent tales of murder and madness and rely heavily on digital special effects to push the boundaries with gore.  None of the four stories intertwine but are instead stories in their own place and time, though I would imagine that the idea is that all of this horror is happening during this ‘Summer of Massacre’.

The first story tells the story of a man out for a simple late night run who is horribly beaten and robbed by three men.  The men disfigure the runner and leave him for dead, though he is in a deep state of shock.  When another runner finds him and tries to help him he attacks and brutally murders her and then goes on a killing spree throughout the town.  There is no method to his madness, just a deep bloodlust.

The second story we have is about a fractured family perched on the edge.  When one of the daughters is forced to take her two siblings with her (all of the ‘kids’ are adults playing teens) her deep-seated anger bubbles to the surface.  Her handicapped sister is dying and disfigured and the sister decides it might be time to rid the family of her burden.  What she doesn’t anticipate though is what would happen if her disfigured sister should live through the murder attempt.

Our third tale is the most interesting of the bunch and focuses on a man about to make a deeper commitment in his relationship and so he decides to tell her about his past, a past that has been haunted since childhood by a monstrous figure bent on tormenting and killing him.  What he finds out though is that this thing is still hunting him and is getting closer than ever to finally having him all to its own.

The last story is a literal campfire story told at a religious camp about the legend that haunts the forest.  When the legend turns out to be real though the last survivors must find a way to escape or they’ll only add to the areas grim legacy.

See, on the surface the shorts sound interesting.  On the surface that is.  Sadly there is no beneath the surface here.  While each story could add nuances and subtleties it just isn’t there.  These are as straightforward as you could get, the focus being on the gore and violence.  The acting, what acting there is, seems almost improvised, and consists mainly of screaming.  The gore that is so prevalent throughout is made to be ridiculous because of the overuse of CG.  It’s this aspect that is so confusing about the film.  At first I thought the digital gore was to push the envelope and really go over the top but as the film progresses I started to wonder if this wasn’t just a gore comedy I wasn’t getting.  A joke that was beyond me.  The effects make me think that, the lack of story makes me think that, and the overall tone of nihilism makes me think that but, honestly, if this film is a joke, or a series of jokes, they fall flat.  Really flat.

This is one of those movies that made me hate reviewing films.  There was just nothing here for me to latch onto.  It is meanness and gore for the sake of meanness and gore and if you watch all the way through the credits the nihilism plays out to its seeming inevitable, albeit nonsensical, conclusion.  And that is the problem here, that there is so little logic that the film plays like a cartoon.  Again, maybe that was the point, but if so it didn’t work for me.  I never laughed, I never cringed (save for the performances and writing), and I never connected on any level with the film.  Clearly it wasn’t made for ‘me’. This is extreme party gore made to play to crowds of gorehounds who will laugh at every exploding head and evisceration. To me the movie played like a very juvenile exercise in extremes.  There is all but no plot, little acting, not much direction, and downright awful digital effects.  A lot of people will tout this as being ‘arty’ and that it is pushing the boundaries but really all it is doing is playing to the lowest common denominator and proving how bad horror films can get.  I admire the ambition of director/everything else Joe Castro to do so much on this film but in the end it’s an emotionless eyesore of a film that is memorable only for how bad it is.

1 out of 10