Tuesday, 18 October 2016

A Book of Monstrous Delights -The Jersey Devil - Hunter Shea


Everyone knows the legend of the Jersey Devil. Some believe it is an abomination of nature, a hybrid winged beast from hell that stalks the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey searching for prey. Others believe it is a hoax, a campfire story designed to scare children. But one man knows the truth...


Sixty years ago, Boompa Willet came face to face with the Devil—and lived to tell the tale. Now, the creature’s stomping grounds are alive once again with strange sightings, disappearances, and worse. After all these years, Boompa must return to the Barrens, not to prove the legend is real but to wipe it off the face of the earth...


It’ll take more than just courage to defeat the Devil. It will take four generations of the Willet clan, a lifetime of survivalist training, and all the firepower they can carry. But timing is critical. A summer music festival has attracted crowds of teenagers. The woods are filled with tender young prey. But this time, the Devil is not alone. The evil has grown into an unholy horde of mutant monstrosities. And hell has come home to New Jersey...

 I have yet to read a Hunter Shea book I didn't love. The Jersey Devil is right up there with the author's most riveting stories. Here's my review:

Hunter Shea delivers again with his latest, The Jersey Devil. Here we have a legendary creature of mythical proportions – one all the locals have heard of, but not everyone believes in. Boompa Willet is not one of the sceptics, He knows this creature is real because sixty years ago, he came face to face with it. Now, along with four generations of his family, the time has come for him to wipe the beast out of existence once and for all. But, where once there was one, now there are many. A host of flesh eating winged beasts, part man, part monster, with appetites of fearsome proportions, are ready to feast on the local population of the Pine Barrens, which is about to be greatly enhanced by hordes of young people attending a summer music festival.

As with his previous books, Hunter Shea doesn’t just present a monster story with all the horror, blood and gore that entails, he presents a normal family, facing an extraordinary series of events. Real people suffering real dilemmas, emotions, fears, crises. The tension builds to a terrifying climax. This is a book that satisfies, entertains and thrills from start to finish.

Hunter Shea, Biography

Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.

Publishers Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned – “A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!”

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, crytid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

You can follow his travails at http://www.huntershea.com, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Praise for Hunter Shea

“Shea delivers a tense and intriguing work of escalating tension splattered with a clever, extensive cast of bystanders turned victims…An otherwise excellent, tightly delivered plot…Fans of cryptid creatures are likely to revel in this love letter to a legendary menace.”– Publishers Weekly

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness/The Mouth of Madness Podcast

Purchase Links

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

A Feast of Horror at Grimmfest 2016

October 6th-9th 2016 and Grimm Up North presented their annual Grimmfest at the Odeon Printworks Cinema in Manchester.  And what an event it turned out to be. A delicious feast of horrific delights enough to satisfy the cravings of any horror fan – covering a dizzying array of sub-genres. 

This year, the eclectic selection followed a series of themes. The Southern Gothic strand included the opening film Let Me Make You A Martyr (featuring Marilyn Manson as you have never seen him before, giving a chilling performance as a cold-blooded, cynical killer). My Father Die and Trash Fire completed this trio. Of these, my personal favourite was My Father Die. Directed by Sean Brosnan (son of Pierce), this was essentially a revenge movie, very dark, savage – the story of a boy (Asher) with an abusive father who brutally assaulted him, leaving him deaf, as he viciously murdered Asher's beloved elder brother.  The father went to prison, but now, 21 years later, he is out, free to terrorise what is left of his family . But Asher has other plans…

 A Nordic Horror strand provided two excellent films – Villmark Asylum and What We Become. I loved Villmark Asylum, with its bleak location and fabulously creepy derelict building. This is the story of five Norwegian contract workers whose job it is to check a massive 312 room former sanitorium for hazardous waste, prior to its planned demolition.  They are searching for asbestos and mercury, but what they find is far more dangerous and it becomes a battle for survival.

What We Become is a Danish film where the Johansson family suddenly find their home and neighbourhood cordoned off in the wake of an alleged virus outbreak. But when the authorities impose a total curfew and start shooting anyone who disobeys it, they begin to wonder just what sort of an outbreak this is. Two excellent films, right up my own particular dark alley.

 Asian Extreme featured Train to Busan and the superb Taiwanese film, The Tag-Along. This centred on an Asian myth of a ‘Hungry Ghost’ that originates in the mountains and possesses its victims by feeding on their guilty secrets while stealing their souls. Should the unfortunate victim speak the full name of a living being, the ghost will move on to possess that person and, as a result, this takes the ghost – in the form of a little girl - down to the town. This film is arguably my favourite of the entire festival. Shown late at night, the story stayed with me. Eerie, scary and brilliantly executed.

 Two films centering on Bad Relationships were the exceptionally gory, Pet, and Broken. This latter film’s storyline concerns the relationship between a former rock musician and his reluctant care worker. The musician has been left tetraplegic as a result of an accident, while spaced out on drugs. This - at times - harrowing, and constantly dark film weaves an increasingly involved tale. An essentially self-centred and unpleasant main character reveals layers and depth of personality that actually made me feel sorry for him (well, almost). The care worker is left to perform the most intimate of tasks for her charge, as well as being expected to wait on his hanger-on so-called friends. The mounting relationship between the two central characters left me completely unprepared for the ending, and I like that. I love a twist I was not expecting. Great film.

 The seemingly timeless Darling, shot in stark black and white, and Observance, formed a Paranoia Can Annoy Ya (their description) strand. Gripping psychological horror. Again, these films had great plots, acting, production and twisted endings. Observance especially kept you guessing. What was really going on here? Who was watching who? Excellent.

 An Offbeat strand included Director’s Cut, featuring the multi-talented Penn Jillette. His illusionist partner, Teller, played a cameo role. This was horror comedy. Off the wall and good fun. Tonight She Comes and Another Evil completed this strand. The first of these began as a seemingly familiar tale set in an isolated backwoods area and involving four young people. The two girls are searching for their missing friend who should have been waiting for them at her cabin. The first young man is a mailman who simply wants to drop off a letter. His friend is out in the woods. This film featured plenty of gore, humour, scares and was anything but predictable. The talented young director, Mark Stuertz, joined the audience for a Q and A afterwards and was as entertaining as his film.

Another Evil begins as a haunted house movie where a topflight exorcist is brought in to rid the house of a couple of ghostly presences. But, in this film, evil comes in a number of guises. Some guests just don’t want to leave…

 The Unseen, and Beyond the Gates formed the Independent strand. In Beyond the Gates, the familiar plotline of two estranged brothers coming to empty their deceased father’s video store, is given a few unexpected twists. The pair find an old board game called Beyond the Gates. They decide to play it. This was not their wisest decision… The Unseen has some extremely poignant moments in among some unnerving and disturbing horror when a man, down on his luck, finds he is slowly disappearing. He hasn’t seen his daughter since she was a small child. The special effects and prostheses were excellent and this film provided a great opening to Day Two’s proceedings.

 Other films included New British Genre Gems – The Rezort (a post-apocalyptic nightmare) and The Chamber (claustrophobic horror set in an underwater submersible), a classic given a remastering – The Burning -  and sci-fi horror The Rift, starring Ken Foree who also joined the audience via the wonders of modern technology, live from Los Angeles for an after-show Q and A.

Also included was a collection of short films ranging from ten minutes to just under half an hour. For me, notable inclusions here were the surprisingly moving and unusual zombie film, A Father’s Day, and an intriguing, scary tale called Little Boy Blue. 

Thirty films, Q and As with actors, directors and writers, a hub where T shirts, posters, books, DVDs and a variety of gory, fun gifts, plus a demonstration by the incredibly  talented horror makeup artist, Shaune Harrison made for four days of horrifically fine entertainment.

With many thanks to Festival Co-Director, Simeon Halligan, who hosted the event for Grimm Up North and to everyone who worked so hard to make everything run so smoothly It takes a lot of effort to appear swan-like. These organisers were swans in full sail!