Print this Page

Issue 6 – Spring 2004

  • Indicating the Awakening of Persons Buried Alive by Liz Williams
  • Sundrew by Neil Ayres
  • Choice Cuts by Edd Vick
  • Daimonizomenosmonikos by Brendan Connell
  • Bob’s Witch by Jodee Rubins
  • Ariadniad by Stepan Chapman
  • Formidolosus: Epidsode 3 by Gene P. Lass
  • A Keeper by Alan DeNiro
  • Morris, His Self by Michael Simanoff
  • The Git, the Dog, the Fish, and the Gray by Jay Lake
  • Why I Think I’ll be Staying In Tonight by William Shunn

MIRRORED by Gary West

her eyes

peering into the shattered glass

appear larger than they actually are

& the diabolical creatures

slithering between blood-edged shards

reflect the inner turmoil

that twists & gnaws at her flesh

regurgitating skewed memories

of a happier time

when all was fantasy & wonder

grinning cats & rabbits running late

when life itself provided the means

the imagination

to be who you were

without the fear of seeming childish

& uninvolved in a world

where severed limbs & broken dreams

are the order of the day.


GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jonathan Brandt

** Ding Dong ** “He’s here, Dad.”

“You like this new boy?” “I do.”

“Good. Ignite the stove.”


my friends, the aliens by Terrie Leigh Relf

stopped by for a visit, said,

“we want to see the neighborhood,

have a bite to eat.” So I take them

to Rebecca’s for stellar scones,

boosters of espresso. They pet a few

dogs, schlump on the well-worn deck,

talk of this and that, nothing in

particular. Then

the barrista shouts: “I’ve got one!”

We clamber through the door into the


There, on the floor, hog-tied with yellow

tape, a man of dubious character wearing

the barrista’s red-shined boot on his chest

instead of his official plastic badge.

“They tried to cordon off the area,”

she says, tossing the man in her trash.

My friends, the aliens, huddle and converse.

“We like it here–yes–let’s stay!”





Aliens, Elvis and Hollywood’s Master Plan by Bill Braun

My, oh my, how time does fly. It seems like just yesterday a certain Mr. John Klima had made the simple little recommendation to dabble in the literary endeavors that has become the essential Joe R. Lansdale. A conversation that I believe had changed the way in which I approached the multitude of authors that were available for literary consumption.

At the time this conversation took place I was, like just about every other casual book enthusiast, consuming any and all titles published by the legends of modern horror fiction: Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Saul. One might say that my horizons had yet to be broadened. Not that there was anything wrong with these particular authors. In fact, I still tend to gravitate to them when the particular mood strikes me. It was just that I hadn’t realized what else was available. All it took was a little nudge from the right person at the right time. This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t have stumbled across Mr. Lansdale at some point sooner or later. But looking back, I realize now how much I probably would have missed.

Although Joe R. Lansdale has conservatively made his way up the publishing ladder, the majority of his fans are more than likely in the minority of the book buying public. Unfortunate, but more truthful than what I like to believe. Many of his titles have gone out of print, probably never to see a printing press again anytime soon. And it is because of this that I thank John Klima for pointing me in the right direction.

Of course, those of you familiar with Joe Lansdale may be asking yourselves which book it was that ultimately started my addiction with the often unusual and in your face talents of Joe Lansdale? To answer that question we’ll have to take a short Wellsian journey back in time.

A quiet vacation among the northern woods of a Wisconsin summer, an excursion into the little town that was Minocqua and the uncanny feeling that one gets when drawn to the most available bookstore. Nothing more than a scattering of shelves stacked haphazardly upon one another, this particular bookstore made available to me Mr. Lansdale’s 1990 publication, Savage Season. I remember the book and its title stood out among all the rest simply because of the most recent recommendation.

Hesitant, but still willing to take this recommendation at more than face value, I snatched up the only available copy (probably along with a handful of King and Koontz titles just for safe measure).

Now it should be understood that when one takes a summer trip to Northern Wisconsin your reasons for doing so typically fall into one of three categories: fishing, water skiing or just plain relaxation. I have always, and will forever, fall into the latter category. And of course, a big part of relaxing, in my mind, involves sitting at the end of the pier, overlooking a calm and serene Birch Lake, listening to the Loons sing their songs off in the distance and devouring page after page of whatever book happened to be packed among the necessary toiletries. And I shit you not when I say that Savage Season was a book that I greedily consumed in a single sitting. It left me completely satisfied, yet strangely and ravishingly hungry for more, more, more. Never before had I read a book that had the truest form of prose, something that Joe Lansdale has become exceptionally well known for.

It wasn’t long after this brain-candy feast that I left the solitude of the northern woods, returned back to civilization and began the hunt for everything Lansdale. A quest that without question continues to this day. A hunt that began more than 10-years ago and at times reminds me of a crack-head looking to get a fix. (Ok, maybe not quite that bad, but you get the idea).

My searches have led me to some of the most secluded bookstores available in the greater Milwaukee area. My rate of success has been surprisingly consistent and I happily display all of these “trophies” with great pride among my personal library. This love addiction for Joe’s stories has not changed, nor has it been satiated. It’s entertaining to think that I could be engulfed in any other story at any other time of the year, realize that the new Joe Lansdale had been released and stop mid-sentence in order to crack the spine of his latest tale into the magical, malevolent and sometimes maddening world that his characters reside in.

With this being said, it’s not difficult to imagine my elation upon hearing news that a 45-page novella called “Bubba Ho-Tep” (first published in 1994 as part of a collection of short stories entitled Writer of the Purple Rage) was being optioned for theatrical release. I couldn’t verify this news fast enough. Thank the good Lord for the Internet.

But the good news didn’t stop there. Heaven’s no!

After a few clicks here and a few searches there, I began to realize that not only was Bubba Ho-Tepabsolutely being made into a movie, it was being directed by Don Coscarelli (Phantasm) and starring Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead trilogy). Eventually, the actual website for the movie ( was up and running for easy access and weekly updates.

My anticipation grew day by day as more and more reviews started to filter in. Bruce Campbell was selected as the best actor, alongside the best screenplay by the US Comedy Arts Film Festival. The Toronto International Film Festival and the Hong Kong International Film Festival both chose Bubba Ho-Tep as their official selections. Radio stations in Chicago and Los Angeles were hailing the film as a “significant piece of American cinema.” Everyone seemed to love this tale of Elvis Presley, the King, doing battle with the undead.

I know that those of you who have never read the original short story are right now scratching your heads and mumbling something like “…what the hell?” But suffice it to say that if you occasionally enjoy a story that is completely off the wall and outside anything that you have ever come to be used to among American Cinema you will have a blast.

As my excitement grew with each weekly update it suddenly, and without warning, deflated faster than the Hindenburg in May of 1937. Regardless of all the praise throughout the country, aside from the fact that this low-budget comedy/horror film was simply kickin’ every critic’s ass from coast to coast, I began to realize that Bubba Ho-Tep was in jeopardy of not being picked up by any major distributor. No one with any clout in the Hollywood community seemed to have the necessary manhood to step forward, take a chance and run with it. It didn’t matter that both Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell have achieved cult status with practically every one of their projects. The backing just wasn’t there. My enthusiasm washed away in a tide of angst focused directly at the Hollywood community. It became apparent that the only way that I was going to have any shot in hell of viewing this movie on the “big screen” was if some local Milwaukee theater was willing to step up to the plate, take the bull by the horn and say hell yes, I’ll play this movie.

Thank you Landmark Theaters Milwaukee!

Still, even before I realized and was able to verify that I would have my chance, limited as it may have been, at seeing Bubba Ho-Tep on the big screen, something just wasn’t sitting right with me. I wanted to know why, or more appropriately, why not?

The “why not” of the situation struck me while sitting with a small group of friends awaiting the start of the re-release of Ridley Scott’s 1979 Science Fiction Masterpiece, Alien. Now mind you, I wasn’t sitting in some run-down, termite infested theater for this screening but in a theater self-titled the Ultra-Screen; probably the biggest indoor theater in the Midwest and most certainly in the state of Wisconsin.

There we were, taking in a movie that I have seen dozens of times, can probably recite most, if not all of the key scenes and have never gotten bored with. This wasn’t another difficult-to-watch sequel. It definitely wasn’t a prequel. It was simply a salute and 25-year acknowledgement of cinematic history in all its horror inspired beauty. And guess what, the theater was practically filled to capacity.

I know why I was there and why my friends were there, but why were all these other people there? People of all ages. Men, and women. They couldn’t all have been there for the same fanatic reasons that I was. They couldn’t all have grown up with and appreciated this movie in the same way that I did? Not when there were so many other choices to chose from at the theater’s entrance.

Then it struck me harder than running full speed into the side of a garage.

What else was there available to see at the theater? What was popular, hip and trendy? What could make the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time? Unfortunately, for any movie fan with half a brain in their head the general answer to this question is usually, well…shit!

As I write this article I am able to sit back, take a short break and admire my own personal library, thinking back on numerous books that, if given the opportunity, financing and backing, would made wonderfully entertaining movies. But the truth of the matter is, 99.9% of these stories that have given me a great amount of enjoyment will never fall into the hands of even the most obscure of today’s actors, directors and film-makers. Heaven forbid Hollywood and the powers that be should ever take a chance on something new and creative. Something like the aforementioned Bubba Ho-Tep.

Now, in saying that I will be the first to admit that this past year has seen a number of fine movies. And no movie studio has taken a greater chance than on the creative genius and ability of Peter Jackson than New Line Cinema and their backing of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. What an uncommonly huge undertaking. I can only hope that the success of these movies has paved the way for change in the years to come. Because, lets face it, movie-quality such as LOTR is most certainly in the minority and what we are left with for the remaining 9 or 10 months out of the year is usually, well…shit!

Think about it. Please, think about it.

When was the last time you were able to pick up a local listing of movies currently playing and NOT see multiple showings of the latest remake, movie version of a previously run television show, movie based on a video game or comic book hero come to life to fight all the wrong doings of the world? I’m wiling to bet that anyone reading this article would be hard pressed to answer this question truthfully and honestly.

At first it was fun. Now it’s just gotten obnoxious.

I’m not sure which of the above referenced categories bothers me the most. It tends to change from week to week, or should I say from new release to new release. Right now I’m probably riding the “what’s with all of these damned remakes” wave. Is it just me or does it seem as if Hollywood has given up completely on the thought process and willingly handed over all power and control to those damned dirty apes? 

In all seriousness, though, what the hell is with Hollywood’s abnormal infatuation with remakes? Did I miss some breaking news from the entertainment industry? Has it been mandated from above that any decent movie, regardless of age or popularity, be given a whole new look to satisfy the masses every 15 to 20 years? Does anyone even pretend to understand what’s going on?

Well, let’s take a quick peak at what we have to look forward to in the not so distant future.

Dawn of the Dead. George A. Romero’s cult horror classic is being given a new look for release later this year. I can only imagine the ravings of all those lunatic Romero fans. And I’m not even talking about the living dead.

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Holy Shit! Why?! And of all people to be attached to this project, Tim Burton should know better. Then again, look at the work he did with Planet of the Apes. But of course he claimed that that excursion was not a “remake.” It was just Tim’s take on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel. Come on Tim, who exactly do you think you’re trying to fool? Swallow your ego and admit the facts. REMAKE!

The Stepford Wives. Does Nicole Kidman* have nothing better to do? Is it a personal goal of hers to be in as many movies possible each and every year? Sure she’s a beautiful and talented actor but an updated version of the Stepford Wives? Is it really necessary?

Latest whisperings have it that my previously mentioned hero, Peter Jackson, will be taking it upon himself to remake King Kong. This will be remake number 2 for that particularly beaten dog. Sorry Petey, but what the hell are you thinking? Turn away from the light, look away from the light. For God’s sake man, before it’s too late.

Unfortunately the list goes on and on and I don’t see any end in sight. And remember that this is just pertaining to what I have come to refer to as “remakitis” or more commonly known as “myideassucces” syndrome. It’s a common ailment that seems to be rapidly overcoming the Hollywood community and I beg all of you to make a personal commitment to help in finding a cure. Please, before it’s too late. Before I turn around and see a listing for Alien, starring Johnny Depp as Lt. Ripley. Oops. That’s right. He’ll be too busy playing Willy Wonka. Shame shame, Johnny, we all know your name.


Permanent link to this article: