Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s main subscription ebook reading program. Kindle Unlimited gives you virtually unlimited (hence the name) reading privileges to a wide variety of titles, for a low monthly fee.
Not every title listed on Amazon is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. Literary fiction from the big New York publishing houses generally is not included. You likely won’t find the latest Jonathan Franzen novel in Kindle Unlimited anytime in the near future.
Kindle Unlimited is heavy on genre fiction. This means: romance, space opera, LitRPG, fantasy, and horror.
I have a fair number of horror titles in Kindle Unlimited. I write supernatural horror, in the tradition of Peter Straub, H.P. Lovecraft, Bentley Little and E.F. Benson.
And yes (I know this sounds a bit pretentious) Stephen King. I have achieved barely a gazillionth fraction of King’s commercial success. But his formula of character-based, fast-moving horror is always on my mind when I sit down to write a horror tale.
What kind of horror don’t I write? If you want splatterpunk, or “extreme” horror (aka “torture porn”), then you should skip my books and stories. I have no interest in writing horror fiction that is endlessly grim and/or sadistic. My horror fiction is more akin to the campfire ghost story.
Below are the horror titles that I presently have enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. This means that you can read them for free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.
To view one of these titles on Amazon, simply click on the image of any book, or any hyperlink below.
(Don’t have a Kindle Unlimited membership? Click here.)
A college student takes a walk down the most haunted road in rural Ohio for a cash prize. This is a “haunted road” story, basically a tale of being stuck on a cursed country road at night. Ghosts, evil spirits, and hellhounds abound. Also, an evil witch that inhabits a covered bridge.
The year is 1976, and the Headless Horseman rides again. This coming-of-age horror thriller is sure to please readers who appreciate character-based supernatural fiction with lots of twists and turns.
The basic idea is: the ghosts of American history coming back to haunt Middle America in 1976, the year of the American Bicentennial. (And yes, I’m old enough to remember the Bicentennial, although I was rather young at the time.)
In early 2016, I read an article in The Economist about the luk thep “spirit dolls” of Thailand.
Manufactured and sold in Thailand, these are factory-made dolls with a unique sales point: each doll is supposedly infused with the spirit of a young child that passed prematurely.
The luk thep are intended to bring comfort to their owners. (They are marketed to childless women.) To me, though, the whole idea sounded rather macabre.
And I couldn’t help thinking: what if one of the dolls was infused with a child spirit that wasn’t very nice? What if that same doll ended up in the possession of an American woman who happened to visit Thailand on a business trip? Luk Thep is a fast-paced ghost tale that spans two continents.
How egg-throwing teenage boys ruined my last trick-or-treat
My novel 12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN is a supernatural coming-of-age tale about three young friends who endure the trials of a 12-hour curse on Halloween night, 1980. To survive the night, they must battle vampires, animated trees, and the horrific creature known as the “head collector”.
12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN is one of the most autobiographical novels I’ve ever written. Like the characters in the novel, I was 12 years old in October 1980. The suburban Cincinnati, Ohio setting is very similar to the one in which I spent my formative years.
That said, the main character of the story, Jeff Schaeffer, doesn’t have much in common with me, or with the boy I was more than 40 years ago. And while I had a group of friends, neither Leah nor Bobby is an exact representation of anyone I knew back then.
Oh, and I never did battle with any of the supernatural creatures that appear in the book.
Here is another point of fabrication: I went on my last trick-or-treat in 1979, not in 1980.
I set 12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN in 1980 because some of the themes I wanted to explore required an adolescent perspective; and I was twelve in 1980, not in 1979.
But like the characters in the novel, I was somewhat torn (as were the adults around me) about the appropriate age for giving up the trick-or-treat ritual.
In the culture of those times, you were generally okay for trick-or-treating up to age ten or eleven. But once you reached junior high, well, people would give you funny looks if you showed up at their door on October 31st, asking for candy. And once you reached high school, you were definitely too old.
In 1979, therefore, my friend Ken and I decided to go out for “one last Halloween”, kind of like the characters in the novel. (Ken, being a year older than me, actually did turn twelve that year.)
I wore a prefabbed costume from Kmart. I don’t even remember what it was. (I seem to recall a green skeleton, but I can’t be sure.) Ken, however, had one of the coolest Halloween costumes I’ve ever seen—before or since.
This was the early Star Wars era, and every kid was a fan. Ken was no exception. His mother made for him a very elaborate imperial stormtrooper costume. This was not something store-bought. She made the whole thing from scratch. It was amazing.
Halloween 1979 in the Cincinnati area provided a clear, pleasantly cool autumn night. We set out a little after 6 p.m., and everything went fine…at first. Then we crossed paths with a group of teenage boys, a hot rod, and some eggs.
One thing I’ve noticed about the 21st-century: suburban teenagers are less mischievous than they used to be.
This could be because of helicopter parenting. How much trouble can you get into when your parents are tracking your movements on a smart phone app? Kids today are also very absorbed in virtual worlds of different kinds.
In the late 1970s, however, adolescent entertainment consisted of whatever was on network television (cable TV didn’t become common until about 1982), books, and other young people.
And since there were no parental tracking apps, your parents typically had only a vague sense of your whereabouts at any given moment.
In this atmosphere of fewer ready-made distractions and much less supervision, there were more motives and opportunities for getting into trouble. And plenty of teenage boys jumped at the chance.
This particular group of teenage boys, riding around on Halloween night 1979, had decided that it would be fun to throw eggs at the kids who were still young enough to go trick-or-treating.
They were obviously selecting their victims at random. I will retroactively blame Ken for our being singled out. His solid white stormtrooper outfit really did make him a target.
The car—it must have been a Dodge Charger or a Trans Am—slowed down as it approached. Ken and I had no time to assess the situation, let alone take evasive action. Then someone in the passenger seat threw some white objects at us via their rolled-down window.
The car roared away before we realized what had happened: they had pelted us with eggs.
Ken had been walking closest to the road, and he was a mess. The stormtrooper outfit his mother had so painstakingly crafted was now smeared with dripping yellow egg yolk.
Some of the eggs had splattered on me, too…though not very much.
After that, we decided to call it an early night. Neither one of us wanted to walk around dressed like an omelette.
At least the boys didn’t throw rotten eggs at us, I would think later.
My guess is that the egg-throwing foray was a spur-of-the-moment thing for the boys.
Speaking of the teenage boys: I never learned their identities. Whoever they were, though, they would all be pushing sixty in 2021.
So that was how my last Halloween went, in 1979 and not in 1980. By Halloween 1980, I decided for myself that I had had enough of Halloween and trick-or-treat. It was time to let that childhood ritual go.
Halloween, nevertheless, retains a strong grip on my imagination. 12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN was therefore a very fun book to write as an adult.
Below is a series of scenes from THE ROCKLAND HORROR 4, an upcoming installment in THE ROCKLAND HORROR series.
In the following scenes, undead samurai warriors have invaded the town of Cumminsville, Kansas!
They’ve come across the Pacific Ocean and half a continent. They’re on their way to Rockland, Indiana, of course!
From THE ROCKLAND HORROR 4:
As the dusk fell, a man named Roy Hollis pushed back his wife’s frilly curtains from the living room window of his one-story farmhouse. Roy’s farm lay four miles outside the town limits of Cumminsville. The middle of nowhere, really.
Roy gazed out across the rows of his cornfield.
He had a bad feeling tonight.
Something foul was afoot.
The sun had begun to set about an hour ago, but there was still a trace of sunlight above the western horizon. It burned the top of the cornstalks gold, orange, and red.
Roy strained his eyes examining the cornfield. He was sure he had seen a trace of movement amid the cornstalks.
There was no wind tonight. It might have been a stoat or a bobcat. The little farm was surrounded by woods, and animals of every kind.
Roy hoped that it was something as harmless as a stoat or a bobcat.
“Whatsamatter, Pa?” Randy asked. Randy was Roy’s fourteen-year-old son.
Roy turned around, and was a little startled to see Randy standing just behind him.
“You alright, Pa?”
“I’m fine, son. It’s just—don’t sneak up on me like that, okay?”
“Sure. But what’s wrong outside? Why are you looking out the window?”
“I just thought I saw something moving out in the cornfield,” Roy said.
“You want me to fetch the .22 and go have a look?” Randy responded eagerly.
Randy was disappointed that the war had ended before he was old enough to serve. He was always looking for some excuse to fetch the family’s .22 rifle and go on a mock patrol.
“No,” Roy said. “Don’t you go out there.”
“Just don’t go. Now listen to me, son.”
“Yessir,” Randy said, deflated.
Randy’s other son, twelve-year-old Micah, sat at the kitchen table, poring over a copy of Life magazine.
Life magazine was filled with news about the war. Roy did not need to read Life. He already knew all about the war. He had been there, done that. Roy was a recent veteran, after all.
Although he had been married and old enough to avoid the draft, Roy had nevertheless enlisted after Pearl Harbor. He had honestly believed that Hitler and Hirohito had designs on taking over the United States. They would plant their Rising Sun and swastika flags not just in godless New York and Washington DC, but also in little salt-of-the-earth towns like Cumminsville, Kansas.
That prospect might seem far-fetched now. It had seemed all too realistic in December 1941, when Germany and Japan were winning all the battles, and taking territory left and right.
Roy had joined the United States Navy and served in the Pacific. He had had a few close calls near the end of the war, when the Japanese started going after American ships with those kamikaze suicide attacks.
His war, though, had been nothing like that of the marines who had been tasked with the duty of going ashore, and removing the enemy from their entrenched island positions. Roy was very grateful that he had chosen the Navy, and not the Marine Corps.
Since returning to Cumminsville, Roy had occasionally found himself on edge. Lingering anxiety from the war, he supposed. There were articles about that in the newspapers, too. Men who had returned from the war, but who could not remove the war from inside their own heads.
“Got a bad feeling tonight,” Roy said to no one in particular.
His wife, however, answered him from the kitchen.
“You need to relax, Roy,” Mabel Hollis said. “No one’s going to be sneaking up on the farmhouse. There are no Japanese soldiers in Cumminsville.”
Mabel was cleaning up the remains of their dinner, recently concluded.
“I know that, Mabe,” he said, closing the curtain. “I know there are no Japanese soldiers in Kansas. Of course I know that.”
Tonight, however, he wasn’t completely certain that was true. Tonight he had a bad case of the heebie-jeebies, and he couldn’t say why.
Some time later, the Hollis family was listening to a broadcast of The Jack Benny Program on the big Magnadyne radio in the living room of the farmhouse. Mabel, Randy, and Micah all laughed uproariously throughout the show, but Jack Benny’s jokes simply didn’t resonate with Roy like they had before the war.
By the time the thirty-minute show ended, Roy had barely cracked a smile.
Moreover, he had a persistent feeling that something was in his barn that didn’t belong there. The same thing that had been in his cornfield an hour ago.
He couldn’t have described exactly how he knew this. It came to him in a vision. Not a vivid, picture-perfect vision like the evangelical preachers sometimes claimed to have. This was a vague sensation, partly seen and partly only felt.
In any case, though, Roy sensed that it would not let him go until he checked, and knew for certain.
He began to stand up from his rocking chair.
Mabel looked over at him uneasily. She had been sitting on the sofa, working on one of her knitting projects while she listened to the radio.
Randy and Micah usually occupied the floor while the family consumed radio programs. The boys sat Indian-style throughout the broadcasts, leaning forward with rapt attention. They were still there, even though Jack Benny had just concluded.
The evening news broadcast was beginning. Randy was interested in news about the emerging postwar order—or rather, disorder. Randy was still planning to enlist when he turned eighteen. He said that by then, there would be another war, this one with the Ruskies.
Now Randy and Micah were looking up at their father, though. Roy stood in the middle of the living room.
“I think I’ll go have a look-see in the barn,” he said.
“Why?” Mabel asked. “Did you hear something?”
“No,” Roy answered. This was the truth. Also, Mabel was no fool. There was no way she would believe that he had heard something in the barn while Jack Benny was playing on the radio. No one’s hearing was that sharp.
“Want me to—?” Randy began.
“No,” Roy said. “Stay here with your mother and brother.”
Roy did not take the .22 rifle to the barn with him. He took a 12-gauge shotgun that he kept in the home’s mud room, immediately off the kitchen.
Before he set off, he lit a kerosene lantern. That would not only light the way, it would also keep the mosquitos at bay.
Roy desperately hoped that all of this would turn out to be nothing, that a few hungry mosquitos would be the worst perils he would encounter on his way to the barn and back.
He exited the farmhouse through the door off the mudroom. He began his walk out to the barn, the lantern in one hand, the 12-gauge in the other.
The short walk, across the main yard and skirting the edge of the main cornfield, was uneventful. No mosquitos, even.
Then he came to the big, unpainted wooden barn. The barn had been there since the late 1800s, when Roy’s grandfather, father, and uncles had built it.
He pushed the sliding barn door open, making it creak on its runners. He set the lantern down in the grass while he did this, to free one hand.
The barn door open, Roy picked up the lantern again and looked inside. He was reminded again that he needed to electrify the barn, now that he was home for good. That had been on his to-do list even before the war. There was adequate light, though, between the lantern, and what moonlight came in through the barn’s two clear glass windows.
The family had one horse, a gelding named Priam. Priam was edged back against the rear of his stall. The horse’s eyes were blank, almost as if the animal were drugged.
Priam was…scared? Was that possible?
Roy set the kerosene lantern on his nearby workbench. (He kept the 12-gauge in his right hand.) Then he spoke soothingly to the horse.
The horse did not answer him. He just continued to stare at Roy with those blank, dark eyes of his.
What was there for Priam to be afraid of? There were no wolves in this part of Kansas; there hadn’t been for nearly a hundred years.
And on a related matter: why, exactly, had he deemed it necessary to come out here?
It was just that very intense feeling he had gotten, while listening to Jack Benny. And that half-formed vision of an intruder
Roy heard something shift behind him. He turned around and saw the intruder. And yet, that description did not really do justice to what he saw.
The creature standing in the open doorway of the barn looked vaguely like a Japanese soldier from the late conflict. And yet, it wasn’t a Japanese soldier, either. It was some hideous malformation that was based on a Japanese soldier, but it had elements of something else.
Since returning from the war, Roy had taken an odd interest in Japanese history and culture. This interest bewildered even him. But he felt a compulsive need to learn more about his former enemy.
There were several books on Japanese history in the Cumminsville public library. These books informed Roy that Japan had long been a martial society. He had read about the samurai warriors, who had hacked each other to pieces with curved, razor-sharp swords.
The samurai had dressed for combat in armor that was designed to intimidate the enemy, as well as protect the wearer. Roy had seen illustrations of the old samurai warriors, clad in full battle gear.
The creature standing in the open doorway of the barn looked something like one of those medieval samurai warriors. Or a misshapen version of that.
The thing had glowing red eyes.
“Wha—?” Roy said, trembling.
The intruder opened its mouth, revealing rows of long, canine teeth. No—more like crocodile teeth.
In the space of just two seconds, a complicated series of thoughts went through Roy’s mind. There was no way he could even begin to understand what this thing was, or exactly what it wanted.
What was clear enough was that it was hostile. He had to kill it now, or it would kill him.
Roy began to raise the shotgun.
But the intruder was too fast.
Roy Hollis’s shotgun did go off in the final second of his life, as the intruder raced forward at him, but the muzzle of the gun was knocked astray. The shotgun boomed, and buckshot scattered harmlessly into the far wall of the barn.
Roy’s blood splattered on the wall of the barn, too.
Priam, the gelding, began bucking and whinnying in his stall.
The horse drew the attention of the supernatural creature.
The intruder moved with impossible speed, covering the floorspace of the barn in a mere second.
A few seconds after that, Priam was silent, too.
“Did you hear that?” Randy said, addressing his mother and younger brother. “Out there in the barn, I mean.”
Micah and Mabel nodded. They had all heard the sound of the shotgun going off. They had also heard Priam, whinnying in what sounded like distress, before his whinnying was abruptly cut silent. This far out in the country, sounds carried long distances with clarity. And the barn was a short walk from the house.
“I heard it,” Mabel said. Then she added, hopefully, “Your pa might have killed a weasel or a skunk out there.”
Randy didn’t immediately contradict his mother, but he didn’t share her interpretation, either. That wouldn’t explain why Priam had whinnied, and then gone instantly silent.
“I’m going out there to see,” Randy said.
Mabel began to object. Randy, in a rare act of outright adolescent defiance, cut her off.
“I’m going out there,” he said. “Pa may be in trouble. He may need my help.”
“All right,” she acquiesced. “But give him a few more minutes, okay? Then you can go out there and see.”
“A few more minutes,” he agreed. “Then I need to go.”
Randy stood on the front porch of the farmhouse, holding the twenty-two.
His mother had still not liked the idea of him going outside to investigate. But when another ten minutes had passed with no sign of Roy, Mabel had relented.
Looking out into the night, Randy called out for his father.
“Pa! Are you there?”
Then a dark blur, roughly the size of a man, moved across his field of vision, in front of the barn.
Randy blinked. The shape had moved so fast that he could not fully catch sight of it, especially with the darkness factored in.
Then another blur. And another. Both of similar size and shape.
Then more blurs, rushing to and fro.
There were three shapes in total. They were moving across the yard in a bizarre, zigzagging pattern.
Randy knew, somehow, that these things were responsible for whatever had happened to his father.
(And something had to have happened; because his father had not returned to the house, or answered Randy’s calls.)
But what the heck were they? He had anticipated nothing like this.
“Where’s my pa?” Randy shouted, his voice trembling.
One of the blurs paused, perhaps midway between the barn and the front porch of the house.
It looked at Randy. And now Randy could see it, partially illuminated by the moonlight. But he could not believe it.
Randy took in the creature’s glowing red eyes. Its mouth opened, exposing razor-sharp teeth.
His hands shaking, Randy aimed the twenty-two and fired.
The thing darted out of the way,before Randy had even pulled the trigger.
Randy lowered the gun. Beneath his terror, and his dread regarding the fate of his father, was bewilderment. How had it moved so quickly? The thing traveled at a blinding speed, like a large, monstrous hummingbird.
That was the last thought that would ever go through fourteen-year-old Randy Hollis’s mind.
One of the thing’s companions took Randy from his right side. Randy never even saw it coming; and he never learned the full truth of what had happened to his father, either.
That’s the end of the excerpt!
This is a secondary plot line—which takes place far from Rockland, Indiana. But it will give you a taste of that the book will be like.
THE ROCKLAND HORROR is where history meets horror!
THE ROCKLAND HORROR 4 will be released in early April!
Thirty-five years ago yesterday, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors hit the theaters.
Five Nightmare on Elm Street movies were made in the 1980s, with two more in the 1990s. Oh…and one more (Freddy vs. Jason) in the early 21st century.
The first movie in the franchise, released in 1984, was brilliant. As far as the subsequent ones go….Well, this may have been yet another case of Hollywood trying to ride out a profitable concept for a bit too long.
Kind of like The Walking Dead in more recent times…which is now in its 11th season. The Walking Dead stopped being really good about seven seasons ago, IMHO.
I am an unabashed purist when it comes to the film adaptations of books. Numerous novels have been butchered in Hollywood’s hands. Stephen King hated Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining (1980) so much, that he all but disavowed the project.
Although the movie is now almost 30 years old, I wanted to see Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) for a handful of reasons.
First of all, I had read that the movie closely follows Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. Secondly, Francis Ford Coppola directed the movie; and I’m an extreme devotee of The Godfather trilogy. (I can quote entire sections of all three Godfather films from memory.)
Finally, with a cast consisting of Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, and Gary Oldman, it couldn’t go wrong. Or so I thought.
I’ve read Bram Stoker’s iconic novel at least three times, so I know it very, very well. Suffice it to say that Francis Ford Coppola’s interpretation of the book does hit most of the major characters and plot points. (The character of Renfield, however, is seriously underplayed—practically nonexistent in the movie.) But Coppola made some major blunders, in my estimation.
First: way too much sex and romance for a horror movie. In the movie, Coppola attempted to reproduce the prudish Victorian sexual tensions hinted at in the book. (The sexual mores of the 1890s were anachronistic even in the 1990s, of course.) But in doing so, Coppola wildly exaggerated the erotic element between Dracula (Gary Oldman) and Mina Harker (Winona Ryder). The result is a series of plodding, old-fashioned love scenes that don’t really go anywhere, and deviate significantly from the book. (This is one of the elements that Coppola added in, which isn’t in the book.)
Secondly: flawed style and realism. The movie is very atmospheric, employing visual cinematic techniques that (once again) were anachronistic even in 1992. This creates a movie that has a lot of atmosphere, but lacks the realism necessary to bring about a suspension of disbelief.
Thirdly, the pacing is more than a little off. And at 128 minutes, this is a fairly long movie.
My advice: You might enjoy Bram Stoker’s Draculaif you’re a fan of the original novel, as I am. If you haven’t read the 1897 source material, however, you can safely skip this one. I kind of wish I had.
Steve Wagner assumed that the summer of 1976 was going to be carefree. The 17-year-old wants nothing more than to spend his last summer of high school driving his new car (a ’68 Pontiac Bonneville) and working his part-time job at McDonald’s.
Oh, and Steve has a new romantic interest: the beautiful and strong-willed Diane Parker.
But early in June, there are signs that this will be no ordinary summer:
Young people are going missing in Steve’s neighborhood.
There are mysterious hoofbeats on the road at night.
Then Steve has a close encounter with the Headless Horseman, the vengeful Hessian officer who was beheaded at the Battle of White Plains in 1776.
And the Headless Horseman has brought other revolutionary ghosts with him.
They all seek revenge on random American victims in this Bicentennial summer.
As the supernatural forces target Steve’s inner circle, he is forced to confront the unimaginable.
If Steve fails, both he and everyone he loves will meet grisly deaths before summer’s end!
I’m presently working on The Rockland Horror 4. As the title suggests, this is the fourth installment in The Rockland Horror series.
The release date for the book has been set for May 3, 2022. It should be available before then, however. (I would imagine sometime in January or February of next year; March at the latest.)
If you would like to order the book in advance (at a reduced price), then you can do so here, via Amazon. Another advantage to the preorder is that the book will drop automatically onto your Kindle when it comes out.
If you would prefer to wait, or if you haven’t read the first three books of The Rockland Horror series, then you can either check back here (I’ll announce the actual release with a blog post, of course) or check The Rockland Horror series page at Amazon.
A note on reading order. While each of the books is a self-contained story, they are best read in order. If you haven’t read books 1, 2, and 3, I would recommend that you start with those.
It was a chilly, wet day in March 1917, and thirty-year-old Joe Cullen was overdue for a smoke break.
Joe shot a quick glance over his shoulder. He wanted to make sure that his foreman was nowhere in sight.
Joe was relieved to find himself completely alone on the tree-lined road. All around him, there was nothing but the silent woods. And the light, cold moisture falling from the leaden sky.
Well, almost nothing. There was the Briggs House, too.
This thought made him smile self-consciously. Country people and their superstitions. Never mind that Joe was as country as they came. He also read books, dagnabbit. He had knowledge of the broader world.
He bent and laid his shovel down in the long, sallow, late-winter grass at the edge of the road. The road itself was muddy, owing to the wet weather. He did not want the handle of his shovel to get muddy, too. He still had a lot of work to do with that shovel before quitting time.
That done, he stood, removed his gloves, and slipped them into the lower left side pocket of his coat. From the lower right side pocket he removed a box of Lucky Strikes and a box of wooden matches.
Joe was wearing a broad-rimmed hat, a treated canvas raincoat, and heavy boots. The overhanging tree branches—though still bare of leaves—also caught some of the light rainfall. But when you were working outside in weather like this for an entire day, it was impossible to avoid either the dampness or the chill.
Today’s precipitation was not a hard, driving rain; but it was a steady, unrelenting spittle that varied between mist and drizzle. Fireplace weather, Joe’s mother would have said.
But there would be no fireplace for Joe today—not until quitting time, at least; and that was still several hours away.
Joe was currently employed by the Indiana Department of Transportation, a brand-new state agency created by the Indiana Highway Act of two years prior. Joe was part of a crew that had been charged with preparing Washington Hill Road for paving.
At present, the road was all packed earth and gravel. It was literally the same road that had been used in the pioneer days. Washington Hill Road turned to mud every springtime, or even during a midsummer thunderstorm. That might have been suitable for the age of the horse. It would not do for the age of the automobile.
As he paused to light his cigarette—cupping both the cigarette and the match in his hands to shield them against the moisture in the air—Joe allowed himself a look at the Victorian mansion that was impossible to miss at this point on Washington Hill Road.
The Briggs House rose above him in the distance. The decrepit monolith appeared old-fashioned and dark, even when silhouetted against today’s cloudy gray sky.
The Briggs House was on the left side of the road. It stood at the top end of a long, winding, overgrown private lane that rose to a promontory. When the trees were bare, the roofline of the mansion could be partially glimpsed far below Washington Hill, Joe knew. He was a lifelong resident of Rockland, Indiana.
He smiled to himself, and took a drag on his cigarette. Joe Cullen knew all about the Briggs House—the murders, the whispered stories of witchcraft and necromancy. Much of that was pure fabrication, and at least half of it was pure nonsense.
Joe Cullen had no way of knowing that within a matter of minutes, he would hold an entirely changed attitude about the Briggs House.
About The Rockland Horror saga:
“A terrifying multigenerational horror saga set in a cursed house in Indiana. Zombies, evil spirits, and supernatural monsters!”
On Halloween 1986, three young people lose their lives in a series of supernatural events at an abandoned house. The house becomes an urban legend. In the present day (circa 2017), a group of teenagers accidentally awaken the house’s dormant powers. The forces inside the house take the young people down, one-by-one.
That’s the setup for the Syfy original film, Neverknock.
When viewing (or reviewing) any “Syfy original” movie, one is wise to set the bar low. That’s what I did when I sat down to watch Neverknock.
The urban legend is an inexhaustible source of horror film and fiction. I can’t fault the premise of Neverknock, but there are some issues with the execution.
The opening incident involves some over-the-top phenomena, making it difficult for the viewer to suspend his sense of disbelief. It only gets worse from there. There is a monster that appears repeatedly throughout the film that looks like a leftover from a 1980s horror film.
The cheesy special effects are a big part of the problem with this movie. Watch A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) today, and the special effects will look amateurish by today’s standards. But A Nightmare on Elm Street was made almost 40 years ago. Viewer expectations have changed since then. (That’s even true of older viewers like me, who can remember A Nightmare on Elm Street when it first debuted at the cinema.
The bottom line is this: If a filmmaker doesn’t have the budget for modern special effects, the best option is to not attempt them.
And this is quite possible. Sometimes the best horror is found in what is left unseen, to the imagination. But Neverknock shoves it in all your face, and what it shoves at you simply isn’t credible. As I watched the movie, I could not help noticing the figurative zipper in the figurative monster suit.
The acting was decent, given that this was a movie about mostly vapid teenagers who are killed off in rapid succession in gruesome ways. I especially appreciated the performance of Dominique Provost-Chalkley (of Wynonna Earp fame). Hers was the only character with any real depth.
Some movies linger with you for days, for reasons both good and bad. This is a movie that you’ll forget within a few hours of watching it.
Book 3 of The Rockland Horror saga is now live on Amazon. There will also be a Book 4. (I already have the basic story mapped out, in fact.)At present, though, I’m working on a sequel to Eleven Miles of Night.
Eleven Miles of Night is set in 2013, and was published in that year. The next book in what will become the Jason Kelley series will take place eight years later, in 2021. It will involve Jason’s re-entry into the world of paranormal research.