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2012 in review

Kinda cool, isn’t it ?  Thought I’d share it with you!  Thanks everyone for a great year!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Shambling Up The Ranks…


Go “like” their page! (

It’s the time of year again!  Time to bundle up, grab a hot apple cider, and hit the road to your favorite haunted attraction.  Every year I’m thankful to be living near Buffalo, New York, where there are plenty of haunted houses to visit.  Last year, District of the Dead opened its doors for the inaugural year.  It was a small house, run partly for profit and partly for charity.  I was excited to see what the new year would bring for them, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

District of the Dead made many smart changes for the 2012 season.  First – they moved to a better location.  They are now at the corner of Sheridan Drive and Eggert Road, near Yings Wings Things & Bar.  This new location is prime – they are at a busy corner and surrounded by well-established businesses.  The second smart change they made was their overall expansion.  There are now two haunted houses:  District of the Dead, and Lake Effect.  While both houses are smaller than most in the area, they are jam-packed with scares!  The actors and actresses are literally laying for you in wait around almost every corner.  The team also used clever distractions and props to divert unsuspecting eyes away from their attackers.

Where District of the Dead really shines is in the pure zest of their workers.  Every blood dripped, drooling, gargling zombie on the property seems genuinely thrilled to be there.  I’ve been to enough haunted houses – trust me, when the cast and crew aren’t into the house, it shows.  Don’t be surprised if you’re eating next door at the local Mighty Taco and a freak in bandages and bloody drool comes bursting through the door – they’re just doing their job.  Scaring you senseless and inserting themselves into your nightmares.

I highly suggest you visit the District of the Dead this year.  The admission is reasonable ($13), the cause is worthy (they support local charities including The Food Bank of WNY), and the scares are plentiful.  Did I mention they also had chainsaws???  I can’t wait to see what next year will bring!

Go see this movie – The Cabin in the Woods. Do it NOOOW!

“The Cabin in the Woods” has, quite literally, something for everyone.  Regardless of whether you fancy monsters, supernatural in general, psycho killers, government conspiracies and plot twists, or if humor or torture are more your cup of tea, you will find something you like about “The Cabin in the Woods”.  I know this may be going out on a limb, but I really really loved this movie.  I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so I can begin forcing absolutely everyone I know to watch “Cabin in the Woods”.

First off, it’s absolutely hilarious.  Joss Whedon pulls out all the stops when it comes to paying homage to the genre.  We start with the usual crew of college kids (all of which possess morals, to varying degrees) who set out to spend some vacation time in the woods at a cabin.  What starts off as “Evil Dead” quickly morphs into a full-blown ride through everything the horror/slasher genre has to offer – but with a twist.  Aaand that’s the killer, literally.  While I really want to tell you what the twist is, it will completely destroy the movie for you.  It’s something that I’ve never seen done in any movie ever, period.  And it’s worth every minute leading up.

As for the cast, the faces may seem familiar, but not to the point that you can’t enjoy the movie.  Joss Whedon (writer) is of “Firefly”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer“, “Dollhouse”, “Avengers”, and “Angel” fame.  Chris Hemsworth is, of course, the indomitable “Thor”.  Other familiar faces include Fran Kranz (“The Village”, “Donnie Darko“, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodric Rules”), Richard Jenkins (“Burn After Reading“, “Step Brothers“, “Friends With Benefits”), and Bradley Whitford (“Billy Madison“, “Scent of a Woman“, and various TV appearances).  I’m sure there are other faces you’ll know, but those are just a taste.  (There’s even a special cameo by a woman who has made her mark on the genre).

“The Cabin in the Woods” kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire film.  There wasn’t one boring spot – I couldn’t help but continue to guess what was going to happen next.  I delighted each time I was wrong – what actually occurred was far more interesting than what I was expecting.  I walked out of the theater babbling inanely about how awesome the movie was – and ran straight into a woman who was complaining that it was “Two hours of my life I’ll never get back!”  Much to TKOut’s embarassment, I had to stop and chat with the woman and her daughter for almost fifteen minutes about why they didn’t like the movie.  The mother said that it was too predictable, and borrowed too heavily from other movies within the genre.  Honestly, I think that was the greatest strength the movie had.  As the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

I strongly encourage you to go out and rent this movie as soon as it comes out.  It’s an absolute thrillride – including laughs, screams, and gore-a-plenty.  It’s not your mother’s slasher cabin flick!


Feast (film)

Feast (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Silly pun aside, the movie “FEAST” was pretty interesting.  Again, this Easter was a time for crazy movies.  I was at my boyfriend TkOut’s house, and I had a choice of “Seven Days in Utopia” (a golfing movie – ick), or whatever TkOut could find.  I chose the latter – and wound up watching a movie from 2005 that I haven’t seen in years.  Watching it again, I was surprised to see some familiar faces.  Navi Rawat (“The O.C.“, “House of Sand and Fog“), Henry Rollins, Krista Allen (“The Final Destination“, “Liar Liar“, and “Anger Management”) and Josh Zuckerman (“Sex Drive” and “Surviving Christmas“) are just a few.  I can almost guarantee that you’ll recognize other faces as well.

This particular creature feature starts out in some bar in the middle of nowhere, crowded with a cliche cast.  The movie even mocks the cliches by introducing them with a short run-down of who they are, a fun fact or two, and their life expectancy.  You might even chuckle aloud.  After a quick sex scene between the drunken bar owner and a woman (possibly a waitress?) the movie gets going in earnest.  Random strangers burst in covered in blood, yelling about some coming terror.  Then the blood bath begins!

The movie successfully markets itself as a cheesy, B-grade film, but quickly wins over the viewer with some seriously gory special effects.  Even the creature animation is pretty good – from the animal-skull head down to the claw-laden feet.  Thankfully, the movie never loses sight of what it is, and doesn’t spend time allowing the characters to sermonize or ponder the creatures.  Once they arrive, it’s a knock-down-drag-out war between human and beast.  The movie delivers unapologetic gore at every opportunity – even going so far as to coat one of the more annoying characters in a spray of acid-vomit that causes him to rot while still alive (insert copious maggots).

At turns funny and terrifying, “FEAST” is not to be missed!  If you’re looking for something campy and cool, I highly recommend this movie.  (Warning:  NOT FOR CHILDREN!  Short scenes of human sex, and a smidgeon of monster sex.)  Apparently, there is also a second movie, “FEAST 2: Sloppy Seconds“, which I will be reviewing when I can get my hands on a copy.

Super 8 (film)

Super 8 (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Easter day, I sat down and watched “Super 8” for the first time.  (If you haven’t already guessed, I’m from an atypical family, and we don’t always watch sappy movies on the appropriate holiday…)  In any event, the enigmatic trailer combined with a rave review from a class of 5th graders at my previous school caused me to accept the invitation to watch “Super 8”.

At first, the movie seemed to go pretty slowly.  I sat there crocheting for most of the first half hour, positive that I wasn’t missing anything.  From what I could tell, it was a slightly updated version of “Stand By Me” – a bunch of boys running around doing their thing while the parents don’t watch them.  So far, so good.  The fact that the children were using a camera to make a zombie movie added a very nice touch.  Then there was the train crash scene.  I don’t think I have ever seen a more terrifying train crash scene in any movie.  I immediately dropped my crochet and watched as tons of metal went flying across the screen, all to the tune of various (glorious) explosions.  Absolute and unabashed awesome.  Arguably one of the best wreck scenes in any horror film I’ve seen in awhile.  It seemed to last forever, but never get boring.

From the train crash onward, it was hard to look away from the screen.  Each scene got progressively more interesting, and the plot thickened.  The usual suspects were in abundance: freaky military personnel, absentee father, crazed alien.  What was unusual about the movie, was the unexpected twist in the storyline.  “Super 8” gleefully transcends every alien movie you’ve ever seen, while retaining shades of “E.T.” and “Aliens“.

I wish I could tell you more about the plot, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.  This movie really is THAT good.

While you’re watching, you might recognize some familiar names in show biz.  (Fortunately, recognizing them doesn’t mean that they’ll stick out to you as a particular character to the point of it ruining their current role!)  The project was spearheaded by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.  You  may remember J.J. Abrams from “Armageddon” and “Lost”, and if I have to tell you who Steven Spielberg is, well then you’re not fit to be reading this article.  Other familiar faces include Ron Eldard (who played Dodge in “Ghost Ship“), Joel McKinnon Miller (“Men in Black”, “Just Like Heaven”, and others), Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights“, “King Kong” and “Early Edition”), Amanda Michalka (AJ of “Ally and AJ”), and Elle Fanning (little sister to Dakota Fanning).  Whew!

If you’re looking for a movie that is out of the ordinary and very entertaining, I highly recommend watching “Super 8”.  The movie is well-acted, the plot is interesting, and the train crash is not to be missed.  If you do choose to view “Super 8”, make sure you stick around for the credits.  The kid’s zombie movie is included as part of the credits – and it’s actually pretty good!

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier (Photo credit: Artbandito) (Not my Boston, but still pretty darn cute!)

Sorry for the long absence, I just recently switched jobs.  I’m now teaching almost full time at a new school.  For those of you who noticed the name change, sorry about that.  Being a teacher, I’d rather not share my personal life and all my interests with my students.  They’re good kids, but I’m an only child and I adore my privacy.      🙂

In any event, I’m back.  You can expect more regular reviews and such.  And yes – if you’re an aspiring author, feel free to make your mark on the page.

Long overdue praise…

Cover of "Down the Road: On the Last Day&...

Cover of Down the Road: On the Last Day

There are multitudinous zombie books on the market.  They fill every shelf, nook, cranny, and niche that exists.  You can bake them, cook them, sew them, crochet them, knit them, take social and business advice from them, wear them, and draw them.  Apparently, there’s even a matching pillowcase and bedspread set for your bed replete with reaching zombie hands.  There is a veritable horde of cutesy zombie books for children.  Its plain to see that zombies can be enjoyed by a variety of different people.

It would seem that even the authors are no exception.  Bowie Ibarra, for one, certainly doesn’t pass up his chance.  In the second of the Down the Road Trilogy, titled “Down the Road: On the Last Day“, he gleefully butchers and terrorizes his way through the book.  I got the distinct impression that he had a hell of a time while writing the book – and that’s not an impression I get very often.  I could imagine him sitting at his computer, laughing hysterically at the antics of his characters.

The story is based on a host of characters trying to fend of zombies, which is essentially the story of most zombie novels.  Ibarra adds an extra element of on-going stress by introducing a few United Nations crazies into the mix.  One in particular, is hell-bent on the subjugation of every person he comes across.  Not exactly fitting company for a town full of people who are just trying to survive.  The resulting clash is one of the greatest endings that I have read to date.

If you get this book I promise you three things.  The first is that you should probably be prepared to cry.  Often.  The first chapter sucked me in, and then had me bawling like a baby.  There is also an unconfirmed rumor that the last fifty pages or so may have had me bawling.  Again, unconfirmed.  The second thing you should know about this book is that you will laugh yourself silly.  Ibarra has a knack for knowing when the subject matter gets too heavy.  A little bit of humor goes a long way to letting the reader know that the people in the book are multi-dimensional.  Yes, it’s the zombie apocalypse, and yes that sucks.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t have a few laughs while you’re waiting for your number to be up.  My last promise to you is that you are sure to lose sleep.  Some of the images and scenarios are so disturbing that it was all I could do to lay down and not see them play across the dark of my eyelids.  I’m talking about truly horrific stuff, not just the usual “oh it’s a zombie – watch it eating guts” kind of thing.  Ibarra seems to be able to reach into your subconscious, take the most terrifying aspect of the zombie apocalypse, and drag it screaming into the light where it follows you into your dreams.

“Down the Road: On the Last Day” sees the return of characters Alex and Red, who were friends of the central character of “Down the Road”.  Alex and Red are back in all their conspiracy-theory glory, and having a great time with a host of new characters.  I’m hard pressed to find a favorite character, because each member of the cast is interesting, unique, and important in their own way.  They have very tangible weaknesses and strengths.  What makes them even more special is the fact that they are relatable.  They suffer our same perils.  They have affairs, get into arguments, fall into irrevocable lust, and learn to forgive.  Each character is so real that I couldn’t help but relating them to people I know in my own life.

“Down the Road: On the Last Day” ends just as it should, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fair.  If you’re looking for the zombie feel-good book of the year, you should probably look somewhere else.  If on the other hand you’re looking for a fast-paced and entertaining read, then you need this book in your hands right this minute!  I liked it so well that before I had even finished, I went over to to pick out the next book, “Down the Road: The Fall of Austin“.  If pass this by, I guarantee you will regret it!

Don’t forget to hop on over to to see the exclusive book trailer for “Down the Road: On the Last Day”.


Cozy Mayhem

Suzanne Robb is back – and she’s gathered together three absurd and macabre tales.  Her latest offering, titled “Were-wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutation, Oh My!” is currently available at for a steal of a price!  (Head over there right now and buy it – then come back and keep reading!)

Each tale is progressively more interesting and thought-provoking than the last.  My personal favorite is B.I.T.E.  It’s one of those stories where you never can figure out what’s going to happen next.  It centers around a group of people trying to stop the apocalypse – but they’re not exactly the kind of crew you would originally sign up for the job.  And well, the huge murderous squirrel-nemesis doesn’t hurt either!

The other two stories are also equally interesting, but I’m afraid that if I go into their plots, I’m going to give away all of the hidden details.  It all boils down to this : everyone should read “Were-wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutation, Oh My!” because it is an all-around fun book to read.  Before you know it, you’ll be at the end of the book searching for a hidden chapter or something to keep you going because you’re feeling withdrawal set in hard and fast.  (Or, like me, you’ll spend ten minutes paging back and forth on your Kindle praying that you really haven’t hit the end of the book so soon.  I wish I could say that I’m a drama queen and that I’m exaggerating.  I really did keep checking just in case.)

Suzanne’s stories are all character-driven.  There are moments when it’s possible to forget that the story is actually a horror story.  It reads like a one-sided conversation.  It’s engrossing and thought-provoking at the same time.  The first of the trio, The Moonlight Killer, features a (for all intents and purposes) mostly milquetoast main character.  He doesn’t really love his girlfriend, but can’t seem to be bothered to give up the free sex by breaking up with her.  It’s interesting to watch his transformation as the story goes on because in many ways it’s believable.  The people we idolize will always be regular people with a few outstanding qualities.  So too, do we see this with our main character.  Despite his heroic qualities, it is still possible to see the real person at the end – at times selfish, and at other times immature.  His flawed humanity ultimately makes him a likeable character.

Beware – if you’re not careful you might just get lost in “Were-wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutation, Oh My!” because the world Suzanne Robb presents is ultimately very much like our own…


It’s hard to believe that so much horror and gut-wrenching sadness could ever originate from the likes of the cherubic-looking gentleman featured in the picture to the right.  He could be your next door neighbor or the teller at a local bank.  Luckily for zombie aficionados, he’s neither.  In fact, he’s none other than the celebrated zombie author, Craig DiLouie.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I just got around to reading “The Infection”, which has been on my To Read list for some time now.  Had I known what kind of tale was in store – I’d have picked it up sooo much sooner.  In fact, I’m so excited about this book, you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve written and rewritten this review to try and get it right!

DiLouie’s greatest strength is in his ability to move the story along at a fast yet organic pace.  There isn’t a single spot of unimportant or boring information, and the characters develop on their own without DiLouie playing God and throwing random obstacles at them for the sake of their growth within the story.  Each character seems real from the first time the reader meets them, and they stay that way until the very end.  There’s Kid, who spent his whole life being bullied at school only to find he was tailor-made for the apocalypse.  We have Wendy, the she-cop who’s too beautiful to be taken seriously, but ultimately finds her way to acceptance.  Anne, the enigmatic group leader who never lets her guard down.  There are others in the ragtag group, each as important as the last.

The actual zombie infection is multi-faceted as well.  It starts with an event called The Screaming, which is the sudden and agonizing death of a large percentage of the populace, and eventually moves on to The Children of Infection.  The Children of Infection are horrific abominations that are  driven out of hiding when the cities begin to burn.  They include my personal favorite, the Hoppers.  They are naked monkey-like organisms that end in grasshopper legs.  DiLouie deftly blends modern zombie and apocalyptic fiction with the 50s style monster genre, creating infection vectors that are, quite literally, larger than life.

As if DiLouie weren’t talented enough, he’s also able to elicit a visceral reaction from his readers.  I found myself inadvertently yelling at my Kindle while my favorite character was devoured by one of the Children of Infection.  I hadn’t seen it coming, and I knew it wasn’t a crack shot from the author.  It was, unfortunately, what was to be expected of any zombie novel worth the paper on which it’s printed.  Characters must die, whether they’re the hero or the scumbag.  Everyone alive during Infection is living on borrowed time, and nobody knows it better than the characters.

I was so impressed by “The Infection” that I almost flipped to the first page to read it again.  While I’ve already discussed DiLouie’s writing style, there is one more very important tidbit I’d like to leave my readers with.  DiLouie handles flashbacks and character back story in a unique way.  He titles his chapters after the pertinent character, and makes sure that anything that happened in the past is written in past tense.  That sounds easy enough, but then when the reader is immersed, the story is written in the present.  This causes the reader to feel as though they’ve been swept along into the story with the characters.  It also builds a sense of urgency and fear that moves the story along.  Instead of experiencing the story as a casual observer, the reader is forced to take greater interest because the story is taking place in the here and now.

Thankfully, this book will appeal to readers of all levels of zombie experience, from the die-hard survivalist who is counting the days until the apocalypse, to the closet-zombie reader.  Whatever you do, go and purchase this book RIGHT NOW!  Especially because rumor has it (as in, has it) that there will be a sequel entitled The Killing Floor out sometime early this year.  I promise you – this book needs to go straight to the top of your reading list…right now!

(You can view the ultra-creepy book trailer on here!)





2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.