dark tales from the mind’s eye



About Me
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Welcome to the Ian M Faulkner author site!

I really hope you’ll like what you see; if you do, then please tell your friends to come visit. If you don’t like it… my name is Stephen King. 

Here you’ll find snippets of my work, some freebies to read and what I think and what I’m up to in my forthcoming literary projects. My contact email is displayed and I’m always happy to answer any questions regarding my work that you may have.  I don’t mind you sharing my work, but if you are going to publish extracts or full stories, then please get written permission before you do so.

Thanks again and enjoy!

Ian M Faulkner



The Deepshell Boys – Available On May 15th From Amazon!

The question has finally been answered. Extraterrestrial life exists in the form of microscopic RNA.

The momentous NASA discovery turns into a deadly boomerang. The probe sent to retrieve it brings back a terrible virus – within months, most of humanity become ravening plague ridden creatures. Vicious, impervious to pain, incredibly strong – with a single driving imperative – to infect or tear apart anyone they can find.

They are known as the OTHERS. Unstoppable, deadly – no longer human. The world is now a death planet- a crumbling, lethal necropolis – where huge swathes of rats, cannibalistic psychopaths and packs of rabid dogs roam freely.

And mankind’s only hope for salvation now lies with…

The Deepshell boys.

Out Now From Severed Press: CRYPTID

About Me
Selected Published Works
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This is my new Creature Feature horror novel ‘CRYPTID’ from Severed Press.

From the back cover:

Be careful what you look for. You might just find it.

1996 – A group of 14 students walked into the trackless virgin forests of Graham Island, British Columbia for a three-day hike. They were never seen again.

2019 – An American TV crew retrace those students’ steps to attempt to solve a 23-year-old mystery.

A disparate collection of characters arrives on the island. But all is not as it seems.

Two of them carry dark secrets.  Terrible knowledge that will mean death for some – but a fighting chance of survival for others. In the hidden depths of the forests – man is on the menu.

Some mysteries should remain unsolved…

Ian M Faulkner





Charles Sherrod – The ‘GHOST’ Series of Novels in Review


The Ghost (42)Here is a somewhat unusual departure for me – in that it is the first time I have reviewed a mystery /suspense /action novel series. The creator of this particular series, author and artist Charles Sherrod Jr, lives in Texas, although originally a native of Joliet, Illinois.  

Sherrod, I have to say, is somewhat of a rarity in this genre, and as such, difficult to quantify. In terms of that he not only a skillful artist with a unique style and  consummate skill, (his work is wonderfully illustrated) – but he is a good story-teller to boot – his major, and for that matter, minor characters, are wonderfully fleshed out in three bold, vibrant dimensions. His tales of the eponymous, technology wielding anti-hero, 62 year-old Dr. Gordon Vincent, leave Sherrod’s reader both thrilled and engaged. The author manages to introduce a subtle injection of sufficient mystery regarding the central dark protagonist as the story unfolds, who was once an outlaw – but now turned hero – ‘The Ghost’. That particular literary device is effectively used here, and ensures that his readers are always left wanting more. As with any good hero, there is also a growing empathy instilled in us for Vincent’s tortured character; these really are the essential ingredients in any series and has hopefully given it longevity. After all, these type of stories inherently require equal emphasis on all sides of the equation to achieve a good balance.  Charles Sherrod Jr achieves this seemingly effortlessly with his ‘Ghost’ series.

The first outing for ‘The Ghost’, was published in November of 2013 – although the author originally had the initial idea of the character many years previous to this – in fact, ‘The Ghost’ having gone through several incarnations before arriving at the perfected character he has now created. There are currently 7 novels in the series:  The latest, and eighth installment of this popular series, to be entitled ‘Gods & Legends’, will be released in the very near future. I am hesitant to reveal too much – simply because I really don’t want to spoil it for any potential reader – but suffice it to say Charles Sherrod or his creation, Dr. Gordon Vincent, never disappoint. Here, for your perusal, is the briefest extract from his soon to be released ‘Gods & Legends’.

 ‘…With quiet still eyes, she grabs another. Images of ancient cults worshipping mighty gods and mythological beings litter its pages. The images send a bit of icy joy through her.  The blood. The carnage. “Nice…,” she whispers. With her attention diverted, she fails to notice a pair of eyes watching her. A man, staring at her from the shadows. His tea shade glasses hide his steely gaze that has focused on her since she entered this place. Knowing that she is looking for something quite unique. Something he knows of. He steps out of the shadows. “So….you seek a tale of legend, do you not? The legend of Dawn City,” he says. His gloating British accent barely attracts her attention as she gazes at his approach.  “No…..I do not,” she groans.  She continues to read, but listening intently as his footsteps grow closer.

“Then what do you seek? From days long past, comes a legend  who once protected a city from the nights when evil would roam it’s streets and madmen would rule it’s dark corners. Claiming the darkness as his own. This is what you seek.” As he comes within a few feet of her, she swiftly unsheathes a long blade from under her cloak. Holding it across the side of his neck. “I am not fooled by you. Now leave me or I will slice you in half,” she says.  He delivers a sharp smile as the blades sheen reflects off his lenses. “You do not trust me? Let me give you a reason to….trust me,” he says. He grips the blade with his left hand. Sliding it down, leaving a trail of dripping blood. “I can bring you what you seek. The legend itself……the dark guardian of Dawn City.”

Here is the list of currently available titles currently on Amazon:


I am willing to review other authors/publishers work on a request-by-request basis. If you’d like me to review something (and don’t mind an honest and unbiased review), please email me at the link provided using ‘review request’ in the header. I promise I will get back to you.


WILD THINGS Anthology Review by Ian M. Faulkner


Steve J. Shaw – Editor

A new section for my site – book reviews. Just as a preamble, before you read these reviews, I want to make it clear that I don’t actually know any of the authors contained within the anthology – also I deliberately didn’t look any of the writers up to see what their chops were. I read their stories cold and thereby could give my unvarnished and uncolored opinion without any preconception as to who these writers were, or what they had already done.

I am willing to review other authors/publishers work on a request-by-request basis. If you’d like me to review something (and don’t mind an honest and unbiased review), please email me at the link provided using ‘review request’ in the header. I promise I will get back to you.

-Ian M. Faulkner, Aug ’15



Tiny and Frank, two incompetent British gangsters find they have literally bit off more than they can chew when they inadvertently go the wrong address on the orders of their criminal boss to put the frighteners on a money-owing drug addict. They stupidly end up torturing the wrong victim – namely Harry, a local postman and exotic fish-lover – with deadly and devastating consequences for all concerned. Anna Taborska’s story is nicely paced, the moral of the tale well founded – the twist in the yarn is both unexpected and deliciously amusing.



The most endearing thing about this story, masterfully written by Christopher Law, is that is stretches the readers sense of reality. What is real and what is a deluded fiction on the part of the protagonist? It is a valid question, and one that the reader finds themselves posing to themselves as the story unfolds. Ostensibly, this simple tale revolves around a man who has had a fairly abysmal and loveless childhood, until he discovers, just shy of puberty, that he can transform himself at will into a magnificent and powerful bird of prey. In his later years, he seemingly arrives at a cathartic decision – he decides to bare his soul and ‘confess all’ to the reader, whilst awaiting his own death sentence to be carried out at a prison facility in America. But is he delusional, or telling the truth? On one superficial level, the story could be taken for just as it appears – however, this is merely one aspect of a multi-faceted tale. I really don’t want to give too much away – but this finely crafted work is a tour-de-force from Christopher Law; he is definitely a name to watch for in the future.


Scruffy Dog

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This tale gently lulls you nicely into a feeling of security at familiar characters, settings and comfortable situations. But as the story gradually unfolds the reader gets the distinct and unsettling feeling that there is a hidden icy-cold current running just underneath the accustomed waters. Writer D.S.Ullery, carefully draws the reader, unbeknownst, into a cleverly fashioned silk-lined trap – just as the central protagonist, Nanette Mitchell is, within the story. The pace is excellent, there are good characterization, and the fear and tension are well woven into the fabric of the tale. A good and satisfying addition to the anthology.



‘Hunting’ is a strange, absorbing and haunting re-working of the Celtic Selkie legends. I really don’t want to give too much away or reveal too much of the plot, as that would spoil it for the reader, but let me say that Rachel Halsall wields the English language like a finely honed knife – capably carving her words deep into the readers’ memory – I will guarantee that this story will not leave you for a long time to come. Her prose really is like a poetry and she is an absolute pleasure to take in. ‘Hunting’ is one of those stories that you don’t just read – it is one of those rare tales that is infused through the pores like a fine delicate fragrance – a story layered with false hopes, displaced people, and possessing a raw pungency of what it is to be a human being; for good and for ill. A scent that will cloy to you and one that will not diminish with time. A truly wonderful read and highly recommended!


A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

A quite dark and visceral little tale from Darrel Duckworth – the author deftly deals with an insidious and eclectic mix of greed, revenge, folly, magic and lycanthropy. A centuries old feud between two families comes to a grisly head when the last surviving member of the impoverished family tries to take an exquisite and seemingly fool-proof revenge on the man he perceives as his arch-nemesis – and the primary cause of his family’s misfortune.

A great little read for one of those wintery nights, tucked up in bed. That’s only the wind howling outside the windows, right?


The Shape of Nothingness

Not often I get to say this – but here’s a story dealing with a theme that has been explored by many writers in the past, all with varying degrees of success – and yet this particular one, from author Scott Shoyer, stands out head and shoulders above the rest – a rare tale that I found to be both refreshing and stimulating in equal measures.

The main protagonist is Daniel, a centuries old immortal who, for reasons that become apparent, cannot let a woman fall in love with him – the results are inevitably deadly for her – yet despite this, he desperately yearns for two of the most basic of human needs that has been repeatedly denied to him because of his immortality; companionship and love. Now, after untold decades, he finally meets a woman that seems like she would be his ideal companion – yet she is hiding a terrible secret of her own. This is a lively, well rounded story – both well-crafted and well balanced. A thoroughly good read and another fine addition to the anthology. 


The Fragility of Flesh

An intriguing tale from author Laura Mauro – one that vividly captures the poverty of British inner-city modern life – a situation that would be recognizable to many. The main character of this story is Carol – a teenage child of a single parent, bullied and harassed by her peers at the local high school –tormented and miserable, the child has tried different strategies to escape her tormentors’ attention – to no avail. But a chance encounter with a fox may give her the escape she so desperately seeks. ‘The Fragility of Flesh’ is both insightful and extremely well crafted; the ideas behind it are obviously well thought out and researched. One of those story’s that you find yourself wanting more of – excellent!


Golden Moments

James Park manages to capture the reader’s attention from the first few words – a prerequisite for any author hoping to get their work into an anthology – he writes extremely well and his story of monstrous revenge, desire and duplicitousness is a delight to read. I’m loathe to give away too much, even as to the characters which, may I add, James Park fleshes out wonderfully  – but let me just say that the whole tale is twisted, dark and thoroughly frightful and never disappoints; elements that any good horror tale should contain and this one has them in bushels!


Leydra’s Maiden

‘Leydra’s Maiden’ is simply put, a damn good story. Atmospheric, dark, and as the   tale unfolds, you feel yourself inexorably pulled into it – and then find yourself immersed into a late 1600s puritan England – a place where witches are frighteningly real as are their fantastical, other-worldly mistresses – you can almost smell the peat burning cooking fires, pungent herbs and created potions. Without giving too much away, Matilda is a young servant in a rich man’s farmhouse – basically a good man who only wishes to help out the local community with the creation and maintenance of a charitable pauper’s hospital. His wife however, has been struck down by a mysterious illness – she is tended to by the young Matilda – yet despite the servant girl’s best outward efforts, the wife is getting weaker and sicker by the day. All is not as it seems, and as a tale of deceit, loathing and murder unfolds the reader is drawn skillfully into a labyrinth of darkness and sorcery. Kelda Crich is a marvelous writer – a true wordsmith – I certainly hope to see more of her work in the near future.


Santa Marimbondo

H Finn weaves a nice little tale of horror here – one that has a great 70’s Amicus or even Hammer retro feel about it – it feels very cinematic in its style and content – the visuals that Finn conjures up with their words are skillfully yet gently achieved. In this reviewer’s humble opinion, this fine story wouldn’t have been out of place out of place as a screenplay in one of those wonderful horror film anthologies starring the likes of greats such as Cushing or Lee. The plot revolves around an anthropologist, on vacation in Brazil, who discovers a locally worshiped saint, called ‘Santa Marimbondo’, or the wasp.  She sets out to discover more about it with the hope of writing a paper on the subject – but ends up embroiled in an entomological nightmare, one seemingly custom made for her in hell itself! Good stuff!          



Kafkaesque in its overtones. ‘Centipede’ is a delightfully black, humorous tale about a pudgy nerdy teen, Alan, who has an unrequited crush on a beautiful fellow Asian/American student, Yuki. The character of the girl is a fine study from Helen Cattan-Prugl, of the epitome of a selfish and unfeeling American teenage girl consumed by materialism. She is entitled and shallow, and the character, beyond her looks, has no redeeming traits whatsoever. Thus she makes a perfect foil for the hapless Alan, so desperately besotted with her, he is willing to commit murder to gain her love. Both characters have so many personal flaws, the story could have quite easily slipped into a caricature of itself, if not for the authors delicate, intelligent and deft handling of it – it turned out dark, satirical, a damning statement on American consumerism, and above all, very funny. Top marks!


The Change

Calum Chalmers is a writer of great skill – seemingly effortlessly, he instills a wide seething vein of suspense into this smart and unexpected story that lasts from first till the last word. Sometimes as a reviewer, it is very possible to inadvertently say too much and give away the plot. I am always mindful that I have a responsibility not to do that. Suffice it to say that the story’s protagonist is cursed to a miserable existence that means once a month he has to undergo a painful and traumatic metamorphosis. His life is further complicated by a vile, bullying boss and a woman who he would love to be taking out – but Thursdays would be out! As a writer myself, I am practiced at using ‘trapdoors’ for my readers in my own work. But I do have to say – I didn’t see the one that this author used until I had happily fell down it. Brilliantly done!


The Were-Dwarf

Vinny, the eponymous hero of the piece, is sadly vertically challenged – born with dwarfism he has managed to overcome his physical challenges and positively thrived in the world of celebrity, entertainment and media. But after being attacked by something on a lonely dark road, his whole life changes for the better – and tragically, the worse. This is a great story – Johnny Mains does an excellent job of painting his character, Vinny, with subtle shades of light and dark pathos and humor – I’d love to see this character explored in a larger venue – it lends itself to a novel. Hopefully Johnny Mains will consider this, as I’m certain that this tale will get the author lot of exposure and attention that they rightfully deserve!


When a reviewer reads through an anthology, which I have frequently in the past, I inevitably find an incongruity – that one story that sticks up like a sore thumb and you find yourself wondering how that particular tale ended up in the pages. This, rarely, and happily, was not the case with ‘Wild Things’. Editor Steve Shaw has done a solid and inspired job with his first anthology editing job. The highest praise I have ever given an editor is saying that ‘they know their business.’ Steve Shaw does. My congratulations to him in his selections for it and order in which they were placed. Having been in his shoes, I can tell you it really isn’t the easiest job in the world – and he has acquitted himself admirably. I look forward to his next endeavor with interest.

-Ian M. Faulkner

Life on Mars? Apparently – but not from Disney.

carterpostJohn Carter (2012)

Directed and co-written by Andrew Stanton and produced by Walt Disney Pictures.

Ok. The plot just in case you didn’t know. It’s the late 1800’s and the movies protagonist millionaire John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a former American Civil War Confederate Army captain, dies suddenly whilst conducting mysterious business at his considerable estate. Carter’s nephew, Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), is summoned to the funeral; and as the deceased Carter’s instructions are followed, his body is put in a tomb that can only be unlocked from the inside. After the funeral,  Carter estate’s lawyer hands a bemused Burroughs Carter’s personal journal that has remained unread.  The journal recounts John Carters extraordinary adventures on the Red Planet, Mars – how he got there and why his tomb can only be unlocked from the inside.

That’s the very basic plot in a nut shell. Obviously there is far more to it than that.

Now on to the juicy bits.

This was what I like to class as a ‘should have’ movie. A movie that ‘should have’ been great. I mean, c’mon for fuck’s sake, Disney!! It had all the elements that cinema goers world-wide crave. Great story based on the book series and well-loved Sci-Fi fantasy classics of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Amazing special effects. Good director. Good writing. Great cast. No expense spared budget. Yep – it ‘should have’ been great.

But it turned into a marketing fiasco that ultimately was Disney’s cinematic version of the Titanic (the sinking ship variety, and not the Cameron blockbuster) and was their costliest entertainment debacle to date.

This may give you some idea of how big a flop it was:

Disney went on record in 2012 as saying that it attributed its Studio Entertainment division $160 million swing from profit to loss in the second fiscal quarter of that year mainly to the under performance of John Carter.Given its incredibly expensive marketing and production costs, the film was by and large considered a complete and utter box office bomb.

President of Hollywood.com Paul Dergarabedian went on record as saying that this sci-fi extravaganzas  bloated budget would have required it to generate worldwide tickets sales of more than $600 million – and that’s just to break even…bear in mind that kind of box office sales numbers has only been reached by 63 films in the whole history of movie-making!

So what went wrong? Well the blame can be liberally shared around. Here’s three reasons – my oh so humble take on it all.

They fucked with the original story. Yep, I know the old argument that what’s good on paper doesn’t always necessarily translate well to film. But there’s a limit to how far this axiom can take you or the excuses for complete idiocy that it can make for bad cinematic decisions. Burroughs story really was a classic of the sci-fi fantasy. It practically redefined the genre. It had everything – pathos, thrills, strong characters – and enough alien concepts to give it a marvellous ‘otherworldly’ feel. The unnecessary changes that were made to the original story were enough to have poor old ERB spinning in his grave. If I’d written this and seen what they did with my work I’d feel violated. It was almost as if whoever put this mishmash together did it without actually reading the books but used the sparknotes instead.

They didn’t consult with the fans before diving straight in. Burroughs has a HUGE worldwide following and has had for decades. There’s a reason for this longevity of  interest and devotion. The reason is obvious really – but its like this simple fact seemed to totally escape Disney. The Mars series of books survived in their original incarnation and still sell today because they’re good. And if something isn’t broken, why spend time and money trying to fix it?

They changed the title. Yep, even a simple thing like that can make a difference I personally think. What the hell was wrong with A Princess Of Mars? All that Disney achieved by changing it was to upsetting the purists. And any other folks who were going to see this movie from cold, and didn’t know about the original literature series didn’t care what it was called. So you instantly create a situation where online movie and literature forum members who can, lets face it,  be a little vociferous and slightly puritanical in their views at times, are then trashing the film makers approach and content before they’ve even seen it. Bad news travels quickly – the name change was the kiss of death in my opinion. They said at the time, that the rationale behind the title change was to reflect that Carter would not become ‘Of Mars’ until the end of the movie. Another reported explanation for the name change was that Disney had suffered a big loss in 2011 with Mars Needs Moms. A conducted study they did noted recent movies with the word Mars in the title had not been commercially successful. Yeah – ok.

Andrew Stanton. Basically he’s the sort of guy from my research for writing this piece is its his way or the highway. He ignored criticisms of the way he was marketing the movie i.e. using Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir song recorded in 1974 in the trailer. I mean, why not use something a bit more up to date? To be fair to Stanton though, Disney’s head of marketing during the production was a guy called MT Carney. A total industry outsider who’s only claim to fame before that was that he ran a marketing boutique in New York. previously ran a marketing boutique in New York. Stanton also chose billboard imagery that simply failed to resonate with any prospective audiences, and put together a hashed preview reel shown at a Sci-Fi convention that did not get a strong reaction from the audience. Or rather it did; although probably not the one he was hoping for. Here’s what Stanton is quoted as saying at the time, ‘…My joy when I saw the first trailer for Star Wars is I saw a little bit of almost everything in the movie, and I had no idea how it connected, and I had to go see the movie. So the last thing I’m going to do is ruin that little kid’s experience.’ Erm…ok Andy…lets just ruin everyone’s experience when they have to sit through it. My friend fell asleep at the beginning. I had to wake her up because she was snoring.

So to sum it all up. A bad movie? Meh…kind of middling. The effects are inspirational, acting is generally good. James Purefoy as Kantos Kan  is a joy on-screen as always, and Taylor Kitsch was actually very good as the planet hopping hero John Carter. All in all not awful but not brilliant.

Believe it or not, there has been talk of a sequel – but I’m fairly sure the financial disaster that was headed by Andrew Stanton and co-written by himself, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon kind of rule them out – although apparently they are keen to do it as are actors Taylor Kitsch and Willem Dafoe . We shall see!

Newman was Nobody’s Fool.

NobodysfoolNobody’s fool (1994)

This is again, unusually for me, yet another little cinematic gem that hides its light firmly under a bushel; and in my opinion is certainly one of the understated great pieces of cinema from the 90’s. Directed by Robert Benton; the cast includes such luminaries as Richard Russo, Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, Dylan Walsh, Pruitt Taylor-Vince, Gene Saks, Josef Sommer, the sadly departed Philip Seymour Hoffman as an inept small town policeman and Philip Bosco,

This was Tandy’s (Driving Miss Daisy) last produced movie role and was released just three months after her death.

Nobody’s fool is a wry and often darkly humorous look at life in an outwardly peaceful small American town seen mainly through the eyes of Donald ‘Sully’ Sullivan, an Irish American free-lance construction worker portrayed wonderfully by the screen great Paul Newman. The character of Sully is often accompanied by his dim-witted yet incredibly loyal best friend Rub (Pruitt Taylor Vince) who partners him on the various building work he does for the nefarious Carl Roebuck (Bruce Willis), owner of Tip Top construction company whom Sully has tried to unsuccessfully sue for several years after a fall that injured his knee. Roebuck is a serial adulterer with various vacuous blonde secretaries he seems to hire specifically for that purpose. Sully has an open crush on Roebuck’s wife Toby (Melanie Griffith) – and flirts with her every chance he gets.

Sully rents a room from an elderly lady, Miss Beryl (Jessica Tandy), who’s son is the local banker – a business man who has rather grandiose schemes for the small town and its future development – there is a constant friction between Miss Beryl’s banker son and Sully. The banker would obviously like to see the back of Sully both as a tenant and an influence in his mothers’ life, and tries his hardest to get rid of him. However its fairly obvious that his motives for doing this are far from altruistic.

Things are meandering along for Sully, drifting from one job to another and playing strip poker at the local bar when an unexpected encounter with his estranged family forces him to examine his motives as to why he abandoned his wife and child years before. This inevitably brings up many ghosts from his own past as he tries to kindle some kind of a relationship between his now grown up college professor son and newly discovered young grandson, Will.

I wont go further into the plot than this as there are some wonderful set pieces and unexpected twists that can only be fully appreciated by watching the movie in its entirety. What I will say is that Newman was rightfully nominated for the 1994 best actor Oscar for his performance; a portrayal that really showcased his best work and was indicative of his acting maturity in his later career – the movie’s screenplay was also nominated for best screenplay. Newman unfortunately didn’t win the Oscar for this performance (that year it went to Tom Hanks for Forrest Gump) but did however win a Silver Bear for it in Berlin’s 45th Annual international film festival in 1995.

As an aside, the filming was done in the Hudson Valley New York towns of Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, Beacon and Hudson.

North Bath, which was the fictional town for both the book and movie is based on the Fulton County city of Gloversville.

Nobody’s Fool definitely makes it onto my 50 must watch movie list – if only for Newman’s performance. It is currently available on Netflix.

Low Budget High Praise! The Man From Earth.

manearthThe Man From Earth (2007)

Yes, I know. I normally like to pile on the poop deep and heavy if I think something is bad – and a lot of movies out there are really bad! However – this one is an exception. A shining jewel! A glittering nugget of gold that stands out amongst the mundane celuloid dross.

This piece of cinema really is the definitive poster child to showpiece what can be achieved on a low-budget with a tight, well crafted script, a good director and an excellent cast who all know their business.

But don’t take my word for it. Here is just a small selection of some of the top awards this movie has won:

2007 – WINNER – Grand Prize – Best Screenplay – Rhode Island International Film Festival

  • 2008 – WINNER – 2ND place – Best Screenplay – Rio de Janeiro International Fantastic Film Festival (RioFan)
  • 2008 – WINNER – Best SCI-FI Screenplay – International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, Phoenix, AZ
  • 2008 – WINNER – Best Screenplay – Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre – Int’l Independent Horror, Fantasy & Bizarre, Argentina.
  • Festival, Atlantic City, NJ
  • 2007 – Saturn Award nominee – Best DVD Release – The Man From Earth
  • 2008 – WINNER – DVD Critics Award – Best Non-Theatrical Movie

Directed by Richard Schenkman on a shoestring budget of a mere $200,000 in 2007 this movie rapidly gained rightful cult status and popularity not only from word of mouth, but from fan sharing on peer-to-peer networks – oddly encouraged and approved of by the producer who said at the time that the financial goals of the movie had already been attained and surpassed so he really had no problem with fans passing this movie around – although if anyone still wanted to buy the DVD, then by all means feel free!

This tour de force script was sadly the final one penned by veteran TV writer and acclaimed sci-fi author Jerome Bixby. Originally conceived in 1960 it was finally completed from his death-bed in the April of 1998. Bixby dictated it to his son, another renowned screenwriter Emerson Bixby. The movie comprises many elements that must had evidently fascinated Jerome Bixby during his life. Some themes had been lifted directly from his Star Trek TOS episode Requiem for Methuselah. Anyone familiar with this classic Star Trek episode (and if not I’d certainly recommend that you’d see it) will instantly recognise the premise behind this powerful and intellectual movie.

The plot revolves around a group of college professors who meet up at a friend and fellow colleague’s isolated desert house to throw him an impromptu party. The recipient of the gathering is John Oldman and he is leaving the university they all teach after a 10 year tenure. The whole movie, with an impressive ensemble cast, is set around an in the house. As the party progresses, his curious colleagues press Oldman to explain the reason for his departure as he is a popular, tenured professor on the campus. Oldman, somewhat reluctantly, imparts to the assembled group that he is in fact an ancient Cro-Magnon human who has now lived for more than 14 thousand years; and that he is forced to move on every 10 years or so to keep people from realizing that he never actually ages. But the question is, is Oldman telling the group the truth? Or is this some elaborate psychological game he is foisting on his friends purely for his own amusement?

Each of his friends are also tenured professors having their own particular scientific discipline and as Oldman pulls them into his complex tale it makes them all question all the suppositions they previously had and even questions one of them’s firm belief in the divine and God. The story keeps you guessing right until the end of the movie – the script is incredibly well crafted, the direction tight, and the performances from the impressive cast that include David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, John Billingsley, William Katt,  and that great character actor Richard Riehle.

Perhaps my one and only minor nit is the ending – I thought it was a little heavy-handed – almost clumsy in its execution – but even with that still one of my favorite movies and I highly recommend it.

Die Screaming, Audience!

Die_Screaming_Marianne_DVD_coverDie Screaming, Marianne (1971)

Well, what can I say? I might have died laughing at this 1971 first outing clunker from Pete Walker – that cultish British director notorious for his gore and sexploitation movies – but certainly not from screaming. Unless, of course, it was screaming at the outrageously bad script this film unfortunately has.

The plot of this pretentious pulp basically revolves around the heroine, a young attractive go-go dancer (although you rarely get to see her extol her dubious dancing talents except for the opening credits. It appears from this brief snapshot that her dance moves include looking like she can extinguish cigarettes at a distance with her feet while simultaneously turning doorknobs). Anyway – I digress; back to the movie. Marianne (played by Susan George of soon to be Straw Dogs fame) is targeted for death by ruthless assassins who are bent on her never reaching her 21st birthday. At this magical age she inherits a large wedge of cash pie from her crooked Judge father who doesn’t want her to inherit anything or get her hands on evidence left by her late mother of his criminal doings. Add an equally murderous and slutty psychopathic half-sister into the equation with undertones of incest, an isolated villa in Portugal and you have a convoluted muddy mix of a plot guaranteed to leave even the most ardent Walker fan scratching their head in puzzlement about what the hell is going on.

The storyline kind of got away from me within the first 20 or so minutes and the third flash of Susan George’s panties which, as far as I could see, she didn’t actually change for the entire movie. After 40 minutes I was left wondering if anyone was going to actually murder her. After an hour and ten minutes I was willing to actually kill her myself along with the script writer and director who all richly deserved death in my opinion by that point in the proceedings.

It was nice to see 70’s comedy stalwart Barry Evans (Here we go round the Mulberry Bush, Confessions of a Taxi Driver) in a supporting role; but more than a little perturbing to see Leo Genn as the judge – this awful role from a quality Shakespearean actor that had once received a supporting actor Oscar nomination for his work in the movie Quo Vadis?

It is always sad to see how the mighty have fallen.

To sum up it all up, if you find yourself with a spare couple of hours as your Brazilian Bikini wax appointment has cancelled out on you and you still feel the urgent need for inflicting some real pain on yourself, then watch it.

Other than in these unlikely circumstance you’d probably do as well to leave Die Screaming, Marianne firmly where it is.

I am not Spock! I am Baffled!

Baffled!_FilmPosterHere’s a rare one from the 70’s. Some say it might have been better left there. But for all you Nimoy fans out there, here’s….

Baffled! (1973)

Lets face it Leonard Nimoy is good at several things. Hes a great director (Three Men & A Baby). He’s a great biographer (I Am not Spock, I am Spock). He’s a talented photographer (The Full Body Project); An accomplished poet   (You & I) (1973) (ISBN 978-0-912310-26-8) (Will I Think of You). (1974) (ISBN 0912310701)

Trouble is, though, unless he’s playing a certain pointy eared cerebral, green blooded alien, he’s a lousy actor.

Some may argue his performance in the remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) was fair to middling. It was, but he was playing his psychiatrist character like… well, you know who.

So let’s examine his role in the 1973 occult thriller move Baffled! The plot involves a racing driver, called Tom Kovak, who suddenly begins to experience snippets of future events, apparently so he can warn the recipients of his new found gifts and prevent terrible disaster from occurring. It’s a pity that these visions didn’t extend to seeing how badly this was movie was to be received; Nimoy could have prevented a professional disaster for himself at the same time. Anyhow, back to the plot, such as it is. He meets up with a psychic expert played by Susan Hampshire and the action switches to a formulaic mystery at a remote house on the English coast. The movie was a pilot for a thankfully never realized TV series. Nimoy seemed to oscillate between two expressions of acting in the movie. Pain or bemusement; or a bizarre combination of the two. Yes he was obviously baffled by Baffled! And so were the viewers by the end. Baffled as to how they could possibly recover the last hour and thirty minutes of their lives.

If you’re a Nimoy fan and you haven’t seen this one, then give it a spin round the track. You may be moderately amused.

Norwegian Nasty

songnorwayAnd continuing on with my movie reviews of Good, Bad and Ugly – today we have a real Norwegian nasty from the dark days of 1970.

The Song Of Norway (1970)

This light operatic stinker was adapted from the 1944 Broadway operetta hit about the famous Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. Not unnaturally the movie was set to Grieg’s often bland compositions and then they were edited and rearranged by Robert Wright and George Forrest; who also wrote those lyrics that Mr. Grieg had somehow happened to overlook when he originally composed the music. Virginia and Andrew Stone (‘Julie’, ‘Cry Terror’) both produced and directed this non-start action movie, they photographed on actual locations in Norway and Denmark, where Grieg’s riveting life story actually happened – and then popped over to  England to shoot some more scenes where it didn’t. Grieg himself was played by that electrifying star of  the Norwegian stage Toralv Maurstad. Now there’s a name you’re not likely to forget. Or to be able to spell. Or pronounce probably. Anyhow, as good as a stage actor as Toralv was alleged to be, his performance in this movie was akin to a strategically shaved chimp suffering from terminal hemorrhoids that had been forcibly dragged onto a movie set to unwillingly perform under the promise of receiving 30 lbs of bananas as a reward.

There were a massive 45 – count them 45 – musical numbers and 25 songs. And as this cinematic turkey flickers in front of your eyes, one can’t help but be thrilled as various, and apparently congenitally hobbled European actors perform a twitching, uncoordinated and interpretative romp through endless vistas of picturesque Norwegian countryside. You really do need to watch this movie to get as sense of it awfulness of truly heroic proportions. The problem with any movie about Grieg, is well…Grieg. He was a person who, in real life, could have captained his countries Olympic boring team.

Pauline Kael of the New Yorker sums it all up far more eloquently than I ever could:

‘The movie is of unbelievable badness; it brings back cliches you didn’t know you knew – they’re practically from the subconscious of moviegoers. You cant get angry at something this stupefying; it seems to have been made by trolls’.

Trolls indeed. Rent it. See it. Shoot the TV.