Monday, September 19, 2016


You viewers of The Haunted Spookshow Of Channel X are well aware of Ye Olde Author's unabashed affection for those chintzy boxed costumes of Halloweens past.  The garish imagery of the garb, the chemical scents that choked store aisles, and the incessant susurruses of children's vinyl-clad bodies informed the Octobers of my childhood.

I love those old Ben Cooper and Collegeville and Kusan duds.  Absolutely love them.  (I was even a Jaws 2 in kindergarten!!!)

So it is with great fanfare and jubilation that I present THE GREATEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN:





Retro-A-Go-Go is taking pre-orders now, for late September delivery.  And at $34.99 apiece, I think they're a total bargain, because trying to find original masks / costumes in decent condition will set you back much more scratch.

Oh!  These are just Series 1—more waves are gonna be on the way!!!

So go pre-order some masks.  They'll look great on the walls of your manic-caves!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


All true, all topical headlines devoid of content—THE SENSATIONALISM YOU CRAVE, WITH NONE OF THE CONTEXT!!!

Monday, June 27, 2016


High school hooligans thought it would be hilarious to lure hulking simpleton Maxwell Beecher to Make-Out Valley with promises of acceptance and debauchery.  No one knew that M-OV, being far off the beaten path, was also an illicit toxic dumping ground.

Shenanigans of the fatal kind ensued, culminating in Max dissolving in sludge and his classmates vowing silence...

...and silent they were, until their screams heralded Max's return from the grave.  Many cruel jocks, coaches, and snobs got their chemical-drenched comeuppance.

Turns out that it wasn't Max under the fume hood, though, but his brainy, comely, and all around cranky fraternal twin sister, Maxine.  Quite the reveal!

Using her mastery of chemistry (particularly of the "meltin' kind") and handiness with an axe, Maxine still targets bullies and nogoodniks, but also shady industrialists and the corrupt officials in their pockets.  She's also the most eco-friendly of the masked slashers, and sometimes finds herself on the side of granola-type protesters (until killing them out of annoyance, that is).

Maxine Beecher, aka "HazMax"
Masked Slasher
Attributes:  Agility d10Smarts d10Spirit d12Strength d12Vigor d10
Skills:  Fighting d10, Intimidation d10, Knowledge (Chemistry) d12, Notice d8, Repair d6Stealth d10, Throwing d8
Derived:  Pace 4Parry 7Toughness 9 (2)
Hindrances:  LoyalVengeful (Major)
Edges:  CounterattackFast HealerHard To KillKiller Instinct, LuckNerves Of SteelNo Mercy, QuickSweep
Gear:  Axe (Str +d6)Hazmat Suit (Armor +2, Protects Against Radiation, Chemical and Biological Agents, Low-Light Vision, Pace -2)All The Toxins
Special Abilities
  • Fast Regeneration:  Maxine's exposure to strange chemicals has amped her recuperative powers against everything but fire.
  • Fear -2:  HazMax's intimidating garb is fearsome to behold.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Oh, the anguish of unmet expectations.  Little pains me more.

Just look at that cover.  When combining Shitty Photoshop + Freeware Fonts + Lurid Text About Critters That Crave Human Flesh, I expect a rollicking collection of Z-grade, trashy terror tales. Zombie Raccoons & Killer Bunnies should be, like, a book where one can read about, say, undead roaches that devour the planet, or ghoulified lab apes that hump themselves into puddles of goo.

Lowbrow, deranged, ravenous animals are my jam, man.

Books In Which I Have Invested Both Currency And My Limited Time On This Earth

So it totally blows that ZR&KB is nothing like I anticipated—or wanted—it to be.

Editors Martin H. Greenberg (RIP) and Kerrie Hughes immediately get the zombie raccoons out of the way with Jody Lynn Nye's "Death Mask".

Except that there's only one pissed-off procyonid.
And it's more of a ghost.
Reanimated by a druid.
For revenge.
Against a cruel bumpkin farmer.

The story's better than I make it sound, but it's a basic Tales From The Crypt-ish morality play (and, really, Pumpkinhead with a raccoon), and doesn't even come close to the cover's promise.

"Old Ide Pilkington came to harm,

Immediately after comes the killer bunnies in Donald J. Bingle's (tries-too-hard-to-be-)comedic "BunRabs", which details chickens fretting about their ancestral floppy-eared enemies based on confusion over how Easter works.  It starts off amusing, then wears out its welcome, then nosedives into confusing and stupid, in no small part because poultry are apparently Internet savvy.

Two tales in, and the editors have already vicariously blown the title's load... of course there's thirteen more stories through which to slog.  Ugh.

There's Anton Strout's "For Lizzy", about a magical bookwyrm run amok in an elite monster-fighting agency's archives framed by The Hackiest Romance Ever.  The beastie is cool, though, and worth a conversion for your RPG of choice.

Tim Waggoner's (remember him?) "Bone Whispers" is eerie enough, with a Dead Man Walking and his groundhog nemesis.  But it's got two (maybe three, if you're exacting) glaring typos that should have never made it to print.  Poor dude can't catch a break with me.

The tale that makes the most of the cover's potential is "Watching", by Carrie Vaughn (of Kitty The Werewolf fame).  It's simple but just plain freaky, and there's a whole Chill / Cryptworld campaign in its scant ten pages.

The best of the bunch is Alexander B. Potter's "Faith In Our Fathers", about a magic backwoods boy, parental love, and The Weasel God—not A, but The—who keeps eating the kiddo's pet cats.  I totally want a full novel about the mysterious, melancholy, low-key protagonist and his chock-full-o-animal-deities world, but, again, the story lacks even a whiff of exploitation.

"...Brae Diardin of the Ulaidh Fianna lifted her face to the breeze, breathing in the fresh scents of newly turned earth and blossoming fruit trees with a sleepy smile."

"Finnbhennach was owned by Ailill, consort to Queen Medhbhan of Connacht, and raised with her own herd of royal cows."

"Moifinn glared down at Bala as if the whelp had been responsible for the damage, and Isien moved forward before Brae could take offense at the unfair accusation and say something that they would all regret."

I don't even know where to start with Fiona Patton's gallingly terrible "The White Bull Of Tara".  Not sure what I hate most about it:  the infodump of random characters and places with names that require Google Gaelic to pronounce?  That the plot involves cartoony druids (again?) and fairy bovines in a book with a cover that promises the exact opposite kind of tale?  The way it reads like a my kid sister's twee 3rd-grade Trapper Keeper scribblings about her D&D character, Candace Charmstar?

Just Remove The Romance And Adventure (Plus Thrills, Characterization, And Tension)...
... And You Have Patton's Story

Awful.  Just awful.

There's a story about a pixie-killing shrike, and another about an immortal super-squirrel.  One about a magical, murderous, amphibian pottery golem, and another (rather chaotic one) about biker-slash-ninja rodents that has to be a tie-in to a novel, which is annoying because there's little context about what the hell is going on.

All in all, they're pretty forgettable, which is a cardinal sin in an anthology.

I kinda-sorta liked the tales about alien swamp-bats and robo-possums, though.  Quirky.  Not in any way, shape, or form exciting or fun, but quirky.

The book ends with Larry D. Sweazy's "The Ridges", and the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off.  It's overflowing with evocative atmosphere and reads pretty decently, but falls apart with just the slightest bit of critical brainpower.

See, our shut-in programmer Protagonist lives with his ailing father, and has a crush on his mysterious and secretive new neighbor who is The Most Beautiful Woman He's Ever Seen...

...and all three happen to be werefoxes, but Protagonist doesn't know it...

...nor does he know that his entire suburban subdivision is inhabited by tons of other werefoxes (which include his various extended family members)...

...and all these vulpine secrets explode when several surrounding households of lifelong neighbors reveal themselves to be werefox-murdering "slayers"...

...that all the other werefoxes knew about since forever, but didn't handle because of some kind of completely glossed-over-in-one-ludicrous-sentence balance of power or something...

This Is The Only Way The Plot Makes Sense

...but then the werefoxes kill the slayers when the slayers attack...

...and then Protagonist porks Gorgeous Neighbor Lady because of course he does, and they make a litter of kits.

The end.

Utterly horrendous.  Still better than the Irish cows, though.

When all is said and done, ZR&KB is a shittily boring and boringly shitty anthology, and a tragic waste of both premise and reader goodwill.

Final Review Score:  One-and-a-half Night Of The Lepus-es out of five.