15 “The Scarecrow” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


So far Gotham‘s record for introducing Batman villains hasn’t been flawless. The Penguin, as a story arc project, is coming along nicely, and Edward Nygma is humming away nicely in the background. But the rest have largely been one-shot, single episode features.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that an episode titled “The Scarecrow” is going to feature, well, Scarecrow. We got the preview yesterday, in what seems to be becoming a new feature for the show: the two-episode villain introduction.

Admittedly, the last time was with the Electrocutioner, which isn’t exactly an A-list Batman villain.

But Gotham has won the room to experiment, in a way that few of the new series I’ve been regularly reviewing has. It’s already won its second season, and though it does hit bum notes from time to time, it’s more or less found its rhythm.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

14 “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]

22 episodes is a lot of TV series.

I’m slightly astounded that this used to be the unquestioned standard for US TV shows. It’s exhausting! And with episode 14 of Gotham, we have another seven still to go after this.

That’s not necessarily a complaint, but it makes me question how the story progression has been going. Will Penguin be a main focus throughout? He’s already approaching the top of the crime world, so will Gotham move on from him after the first season?

Who knows? And we’re not going to find out for a bit, are we?

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

The Babadook – A Review

the babadook

I first became aware of The Babadook a fair while ago, at about the time that film festival audiences were raving about it. A low-budget, Australian, independent horror film, centring on a small cast, it seemed exactly my sort of thing. It also seemed like exactly the sort of thing which would get an all-too-brief release in a few small independent cinemas, before disappearing.

Fortunately (for me) not so! I am surprised and a little confused at the amount of coverage it has received, and more so to be able to see it in my local purveyor of cinema.

So the stakes are raised. In a pretty weak field of horror films out for Halloween (Note: Horns is not a horror film), this looked like the stand out offering. Which is a tough burden for any film to carry.

Read on…

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself


Happy Halloween to everyone! Have yourselves a very creepy night.

Happy Halloween, to all and sundry.


I have plenty of issues with Halloween as a celebratory occasion (Americanisation of the UK, not being genuinely sure what people are celebrating, the fact that it seems to be a free licence from society for little shits to engage in acts of vandalism, etc, etc), I’m not anti-Halloween. Horror as a genre- whether in film, television, literature or wherever else- tends to be much maligned in today’s society, and those of us who really enjoy it are sometimes looked upon as dangerous aberrations.

Except on one day a year, when the TV channels roll out the classic films, costume shops justify their existence, and even the supermarkets deck themselves out for the occasion. So to celebrate, I’m going to have a go at explaining why I’m a horror fan.

It boils down, at its simplest level, to the fact that I enjoy feeling scared. When you get right down to the core of it, that’s what horror is always about. The fear is the core of it, and the very reason why we love it. There’s an excitement in being afraid that very little else matches.

For me, horror films have always been a part of a larger experience. From horror films as a child, sat in my bed or on the sofa in the dark, flinching at every noise, to the present day with the walk back from the cinema in the dark and wet night. A true horror film will have your hackles up until the first light of the new morning. A good horror story will worm its way into your mind, and somehow even dawn won’t bring relief.

But the real power in horror, to me, is to go beyond the obvious. Recently, films such as the Saw franchise and the Paranormal Activity films have relied on gore and shock to scare the audience. Anyone familiar with me will know that I’m not a fan of either. For me, that’s the easy way out. Real horror should be about more than being grotesque or loud. Real horror should about getting into your head and frightening you to your very core.

Now, that’s going to be different for each individual, but often I find it’s the most understated films that really frighten me, in a way that an abundance of splatter and sudden noises don’t. Often, they aren’t even strictly horror films; for example Robin William’s downright creepy photo technician in One Hour Photo.

So if you’re not going trick or treating tonight, or going out somewhere to get drunk (as all holidays these days seem to be celebrated by some people), then why not have yourself a creepy night in? Have a think about what frightens you, what you’re really afraid of. Then hunt down a horror film about it, I’m sure someone has thought to make one.

And then, afterwards, just try to remember that it’s all fictional. There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself. Probably.

Bloody Carnival Anthology

The Bloody Carnival anthology, from Pill Hill Press

More good news! My short story “Tears of a Clown” will be appearing in the anthology Bloody Carnival, from Pill Hill Press.

It is an anthology of stories (unsurprisingly) centring around carnival and circus settings, and from what I can currently gather, it contains a lot of scary clown stories.

Which brings me to my contribution, “Tears of a Clown”. One of the scary clown brigade, it follows a man with a phobia of clowns, who finds himself alone in an empty circus, after dark, desperately searching for his fiancée’s daughter. I had a lot of fun writing it, despite my own fear of clowns (seriously, when I own my own home, I’m going to keep a shotgun under the bed, specifically for dealing with clown attacks*- that’s how neurotic/paranoid I am), and I really hope that you’ll enjoy reading it (HINT: buy a copy. Please).

I’m not quite sure when it’s going to be released, but I’m guessing it will probably be sometime in the next few months. I’ll post more details as and when I have them.

*Interesting note: said shotgun would also be useful for my other main phobias, spiders and mannequins. If you think using a shotgun on a spider is overkill, I urge you to consult Ron Pearlman’s character in Alien: Resurrection, as well as the film Eight Legged Freaks.