‘Rain’ comes to the Kindle

RAIN

Ben and his family move to France. There is an accident. There is death. There is rain. Much rain.

Rain, the novella originally published by Gray Friar Press in 2007, is now available to purchase for the Kindle. The novella is currently priced at 99 cents in the US and 75 pence in the UK. Rain was shortlisted for Best Novella at the British Fantasy awards in 2008. Also available for the same price are a couple of novelettes, Footprint on Nowhere Beach, which first appeared in The Mammoth Book of Future Cops and A Door Opens and Closes, from a past issue of Cemetery Dance magazine.

‘[Rain is] a short but strong story, like a summer storm, and it left a powerful mark on my mind.’
Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews

Horror films… bubbling under

Ten horror films I love and that have been, or will be again some time, in my top ten… (in no particular order)

The Fly (1986)

The Exorcist (1973)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Rec (2007)

Night of the Demon (1957)

Les Diaboliques (1955)

The Haunting (1963)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Angel Heart (1987)

Nosferatu (1922)

My top-ten horror films #1

1 – THE SHINING (1980)

TheShining

Another example of a director (Stanley Kubrick) who worked outside the genre trying his hand at scaring people. And I reckon, with help from his writing colleague Diane Johnson, he hits the bullseye. Dread seeps through every frame.

I know this film is accused of being over-the-top due to its bug-eyed performances from Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, but I really think it is quite a subtle picture. I think the cold, clean symmetry of the shots, the pared down spikes of incidental music (if it can be called such a thing), the long Steadicam sequences really add to the pressure being exerted by the forces at work within this dysfunctional family and the malevolent roof over its head.

I like how Kubrick has faith in his own timing. He has patience. In lesser hands the scene in Room 237 (changed from the novel’s 217 because owners of the Timberline Lodge in Oregon, the real-life hotel posing as the Overlook hotel, didn’t want potential guests refusing to stay in it) would have ended with Jack Torrance snatching back the curtain for a ‘jump scare’. Instead we witness from Jack’s POV the shower curtain as it is elegantly teased back by the woman in the bath after an unbearably long wait. Kubrick favourites Joe Turkel and Philip Stone play excellently creepy hotel staff members (you will never hear the word ‘corrected’ laden with more menace).

The novel by Stephen King is a dear favourite of mine, but it was after watching this film for the first time that my flesh began to crawl at the sight of every long, lonely hotel corridor I had to traverse. A brutal, relentless and very, very scary masterpiece.

My top-ten horror films #2

2 – DON’T LOOK NOW (1973)

dln

Utterly devastating. Nicolas Roeg’s magnificent film (based on Daphne du Maurier’s short story) begins and end with tragedy, and contains clues and ambiguities and auguries in almost every scene.

Laura and  John Baxter (played by the excellent Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland) travel to Venice after the death of their daughter. Once there, Laura encounters two sisters, one blind but blessed (cursed?) with the gift of second sight. She can ‘see’ Christine, the Baxters’ dead child. Laura is thrilled, and comforted by this revelation but John is dismissive, despite possessing his own psychic abilities, a power that, to his detriment, he refuses to acknowledge. While the two leads try to come to terms with their loss, the city is gripped by panic; a serial killer is at large…

The emotions and tensions unravelling throughout this film are almost palpable.  Even now, having watched it countless times, I have to switch it off towards the end and have a break, steel myself for the punishing last chase through the wintry Venice labyrinth. An intelligent, powerful, heart-rending classic.

My top-ten horror films #3

3 – ALIEN (1979)

alien

One of a handful of films that caused my heart to beat so hard while I was watching it that I thought it would, um, burst right out of my chest. Utterly nerve-shredding. It was our first real view of space as being anything other than pristine, sterile. Miners work out here: foul-mouthed grease monkeys trying to line their pockets with green on groaning old spaceships held together with spit and prayer. Dragged prematurely out of hypersleep by the ship’s computer, the crew of the Nostromo must investigate an alien signal, a possible SOS. After the volunteers have left, the signal is decoded. Not an SOS after all. A warning. So begins the whittling down of the crew by arguably the most frightening of all cinematic monsters, thanks to the warped vision of HR Giger.

The cast – Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm,  John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright and Sigourney Weaver – are uniformly excellent. I love the ad lib feel to the script and the fact that the monster is only glimpsed, a powerful tactic the sequels, though good, eschew. The brilliant, skeletal score (Jerry Goldsmith again) recalls the ribs of the ancient spaceship discovered on that desolate planet we would eventually come to know as LV-426. Nothing about the music, or the dissonant, echoing rattles within it, fills us with optimism. It is a bleak film, but it is stylish, intelligent and thrilling. The same words could be used to describe Prometheus – Ridley Scott’s belated return to the Alien mythos – but that film contains an absence of simplicity that Alien boasts.

As interesting as the director’s cut is in presenting us with Dallas’ grisly fate, it exerts a considerable brake on the pace of the film. I’d stick with the original release.