Review: The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker (2015) St. Martin’s Press

I recently finished reading The Scarlet Gospels, by famed horror author Clive Barker. I usually like Barker’s work and have been a fan of his for a long time but this book was a huge let down. I haven’t always liked everything he’s done but usually the darker stuff he creates is great. The last Barker book I read was Mister B. Gone and I loved it. His descriptions of demons and Hell in that book are a world above what he penned in Gospels.

I’ve read several reviews on The Scarlet Gospels now and they range from utter disgust to elation – there seems to be no middle ground. I’ve also seen several people accuse Barker of using a ghost writer for the last 2/3 of the book. After reading it, I’m not so sure about that theory but I will tell you this: it sure ain’t the Barker of old!

tsg

I learned a few things about Clive Barker over the past few years that changed my opinion of him. Probably the biggest thing that shook me was learning that he loathes what the Hellraiser film series has become.

One of my favorite books is an anthology called Hellbound Hearts, which has Hellraiser as a theme with short stories by various authors. It’s an amazing book and one that I did not want to end. I cannot say the same about The Scarlet Gospels. I had hope that Gospels would be as good as Hellbound. Alas, not even close.

If you read the introduction to The Books of Blood 1-3, Barker tells us that he hates being known as the “horror guy.” He’s spent the past few years delving into other subject matter, including young adult fantasy fiction. So when news broke that he was returning to Hell, I was both shocked and skeptical.

Still, I also learned that Barker almost died and I know that kind of experience can change everything about a person, including their creativity flow. Not to mention that he lost his parents, his longtime partner and another friend he considered a son as well. Oh, and he’s also revealed that he was a male prostitute for a time, early in his writing career when he was struggling to make ends meet.

So it’s no surprise then that The Scarlet Gospels feels like anything but Clive Barker because the man who wrote The Hellbound Heart is not the same man and that’s okay.

What’s not okay is The Scarlet Gospels. It sucks.

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Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 – OST (1986) I.R.S.

tcm2

You might say that I’m low key obsessed with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, so finding this record was quite the event for me. Music is my my life!! This is definitely a favorite film and also soundtrack. So much so, in fact, that waaaaay back in the day, before any of this technology that we all take for granted, existed, I used to listen to a cassette recording of the entire film while I was at work. Good times.

How did I do that, you ask? Well, I hooked my stereo up to my then VCR and recorded the audio of the film while the tape played onto a cassette. Viola! The quality was awful but back then we didn’t care.

'Bubba' - original art by me.
‘Bubba’ – original art by me.

My job was awful and completely mindless, so I’d pop the cassette into my Walk-Man and listen to the film while I worked. Tossing boxes onto a conveyor belt became much more bearable with the sounds of murder and chainsaws in the background. This was before audio books or anything, so yes, I was an innovator! Ha!

Whenever I’ve told someone that I used to do this they would look at me funny…yet, like I said, no one bats an eyelash at audio books these days. I needed my Choptop fix 24/7, lest I try and go looking for Sawyers myself…which I actually did once upon a time. But that’s another story…

Anyway, this record has The Cramps, Timbuk 3, Concrete Blonde and Oingo Boingo just to name a few! I just cannot get enough of it and find myself searching for the sounds of K-OKLA and my favorite DJ, Stretch, on the radio dial…If you’ve seen the film then this’ll all make sense. If not, beware The Last Roundup…

My only wish is that a deluxe version gets reissued and includes some sound cues and dialogue from the film. That would be killer!

“The secret is the meat. Don’t skimp on the meat!”

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A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge – OST (1986) Varese Sarabande

Here’s my A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge soundtrack. I posted this on Instagram for the August Vinyl Challenge. Here’s what I wrote:

Day 14: Title Starting With ‘A’: A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 – Freddy’s Revenge, music by Christopher Young. Released 1986, Varese Sarabande.

I bought this record on Discogs from a woman in Italy. It was just dumb luck finding it. It took forever to ship though, holy crap. But it was worth the wait. It’s in amazing condition too. I’d rate the wax at NM-. And the sleeve is in excellent condition as well. This record is just overall awesome. I mean, just look at it!

I’ve written about this film extensively over the years. I’ll have to find my film review and put it up here. It’s one of the more interesting stories from the series and has Freddy at his most evil, in my opinion. This would be the last time Freddy was truly dark and evil and before everything went goofy with catchphrases. Even his voice in this one is dark. There are so many things going on in this film just under the surface and a few that hit you over the head with a baseball bat.

The score itself is fantastic. It’s dark and brooding and everything you’d expect from a Freddy film. The only thing missing from this album is the song, “Touch Me (All Night Long) by Wish & Fonda Rae, from the scene where the main character, Jesse, is dancing in his room.

Anyway, finds like this are why I collect vinyl. This is one of my more prized records.

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Nightmare City (1980) Dir. Umberto Lenzi – why did no one tell me about this film?!

Why was I not told about this film sooner!? I only recently heard about it because legendary special effects man, Tom Savini, is set to remake Nightmare City in 2016. His crowdfunding camping was a success! Boom!

I absolutely loved what Savini did with Night of the Living Dead. So much in fact, that I prefer it to the original, so this has all the makings of a killer remake! And that’s coming from someone who typically loathes remakes!

I have not seen this film yet and that’s exciting. It looks awesome and if the reviews for it being “terrible” are anything to go by, I’ll most likely love it!

It’s been called a “cobbled together disaster” and “absolutely terrible in every way.” Sounds perfect!

According to Wikipedia, director Umberto Lenzi said that he felt the film was not to be labeled as a “zombie” film but rather a “radiation sickness movie” with hints of an anti-nuclear and anti-military message. Again, this sounds amazing.

I’ve discovered that, after growing up on American horror, I really dig Italian horror films so this is right up my alley. And is it me, or did Robert Rodriguez borrow heavily from Nightmare City for his Planet Terror film?

Anyway, this one is on my wish list now. I’ll give it a full review when I watch it. Let me know if you’ve seen it and what you think.

Book Review: Gerald’s Game – Stephen King (1992)

Gg
Gerald’s Game – artist unknown

“I’m a space cowboy
Bet you weren’t ready for that
I’m a space cowboy
I’m sure you know where it’s at
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah”

Steve Miller Band, Space Cowboy

** spoiler alert ** I have owned the same copy of Gerald’s Game since it came out in mass market paperback, which would be around 1992 or 93. It’s the small paperback version with the red cover and the image of the bedpost with the handcuffs attached to it.

At the time, I was working for a pet supply company and would serve as a vendor for grocery chains. In this line of work you get to meet the other vendors and one of them was a guy that supplied grocery stores with books and magazines. As for who buys books in the grocery store is a discussion for another time but consider that smut is banned yet something like Gerald’s Game was allowed…if only because the smut/gore is spelled out long ways.

Anyway, during mundane conversation I expressed an interest in Stephen King and this book in particular. The book vendor was delivering fresh copies of Gerald’s Game and was gracious enough to tear off the cover of one of them and hand it to me. He wrote it off as “damaged” and the rest is history, well , sort of.

So that’s how I came to own Gerald’s Game. I say “own” because I only just recently got around to actually reading it, here, some 22-years later. I’m a procrastinator – sue me. It’s been on my shelf for two decades now and seen its own share of bookcases, boxes and cities.

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