Category Archives: horror

In Memoriam: Robin Hardy, writer & director of ‘The Wicker Man’

Robin Hardy was a true original, and his 1973 film The Wicker Man is often and justifiably hailed as the finest British horror film ever made.

The Wicker Man by Robin Hardy & Antony Shaffer

The book is a cracking read, too!

The story of the film’s conception is perhaps as fascinating as The Wicker Man itself, with a studio unsure of what it had on its hands butchering Hardy’s masterpiece in the process of its clumsy and half-hearted initial release.

My own personal obsession with Hardy’s work began when I saw (the theatrical version of) The Wicker Man at a special screening at Glastonbury’s Library of Avalon. A discussion followed the screening of the film about its pagan themes, and I was well and truly hooked.

Those were the early days of VHS video and I managed to track down an alternate cut of the film on a yellowy, fifth-generation pirate copy from Australia. This was later cleaned up using the best possible source materials and released on DVD as The Director’s Cut of the film.

Years later, with the advent of home-HD and the Blu-Ray format, The Wicker Man – The Final Cut arrived, providing a fitting epitaph to Robin Hardy’s life and career as he finally got to release the version of the film that he deemed closest to his original vision.

In 2011 I was very lucky to meet Robin Hardy, for a brief “Hello!”, in person at FrightFest, London. Mr Hardy was there to present the premiere of his sequel The Wicker Tree, adapted from his novel Cowboys For Christ. He was a true gentleman and eccentric – very warm and wickedly funny. (Read my capsule review of the rather wobbly, but joyously bonkers, sequel The Wicker Tree here.)

One unsung hero in the whole Wicker saga is Anthony Shaffer’s brilliant script, which really is one of a kind. The basic storyline was based on Ritual, a novel by David Pinner, which has recently been republished. The novelisation of the film (also written by Shaffer & Hardy) is well worth tracking down (a new edition was published by Tor in 2000) – with some lovely embellishments to the screen story, not least its haunting and ambiguous ending, it provides yet another version of The Wicker Man for us all to enjoy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it is time to “keep my appointment with The Wicker Man.”

R.I.P. Robin Hardy, 1929-2016

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Quoted in The Wicker Man novel by Robin Hardy & Anthony Shaffer

 


An Audience With Guest Author Stuart R. West

13608075_10208533000220126_1487223109_nI’m delighted to welcome guest author Stuart R. West to the blog today.

With superb comic timing, Stuart published his wicked novel Demon With A Comb-Over via Samhain Publishing – just as they announced they were winding down their business. But the killer punchline is all Stuart’s as he has many other exciting books for you to read, with more on the way.

Read on to learn more!

Hi Stuart, thanks for dropping by at my blog today.

SRW: Thanks for having me, Frazer! Freezy, Frazey Leezy! You like your hip-hop name? No?

I’ll stick with Lazer Free, thanks! Now – your novel Demon With a Comb-Over is a wicked blend of horror and humour. What made you settle on this hybrid genre for your book?

SRW: Frazer, it didn’t start that way. Originally, it was gonna be a straight-up horror book. But I thought, “Hey, what if the setting, the weird characters, all of that, lean toward comedy?” Seemed kinda like a no-brainer to me. Of course, some readers have thought it’s not funny. Humor’s subjective. Bring to it what you will.

The horror in the book ranges from subtle atmospheric creeps to full on guts-out (quite literally) visceral mayhem. How did you achieve the balance with this when you were writing?

13649674_10208533003540209_707351052_nSRW: I hope I did achieve it. There’s subtlety, than there’s full-on horror. Personally, I like a mixture of both. But I couldn’t write a trip to Hell without getting all up in everyone’s faces. Actually, there’re two detailed trips to the netherworlds. Readers seem to be mixed: some like the grue, others are all about the comedy. Then there are the ’hatahs. Can’t please everyone.

Charlie is a living, breathing and completely engaging protagonist, I think because he’s flawed and therefore believable. How did you dream him up and were there any real-world influences when developing his character?

SRW: Charlie’s actually me. Duh, Frazer, duh. All the foibles, the mistakes he makes, the pseudo-crimes her performs against humanity? All me. I’m putting it all out there. Don’t judge me!

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I’m guessing that you are no stranger to the world of stand-up comedy. The book shows your deep knowledge of that world to great effect. Care to share any road stories? Any particularly horrific heckles?

SRW: Right you are, my friend! Actually, I only performed stand-up twice. The first time was in college. I made everything up on the go. Thing is I had a built-in audience of about 20 people—my entourage from school—following me. So they laughed. Alcohol helped. The second time? Alcohol didn’t help. I went to an open-mike night at a club, thinking I could wing it again. Didn’t work so well. Crickets didn’t even begin to explain the response. Glad I got out alive.

This is also a wild guess, but a very strong element of Comb-over is the relationship between Charlie and his daughter. Reading it, I felt sure you must not only be a parent, but father to a daughter? If so, was this helpful to you when exploring the horror of Serena being threatened in the way that she is (by a vengeance crazed demon!)?

13624559_10208533015700513_2145899622_nSRW: Very astute, Frazer. Yep, I’m a father. My daughter’s now 24, but I pretty much raised her on my own. Well, that’s not true exactly; my ex was cool enough to give me 50-50 rights. But, yeah, it’s based on truth. I hope my ex never reads this post (she won’t, right?), but a lot of it is based on her – true down to the reliance of therapy, the accusations, the constant aggravation. She even told me once, “I checked over our daughter; I cleared you of abuse.” WHAT? Damn.

Another part of the novel that I enjoyed immensely was the use of the chapter headings based around the ‘rules of comedy’. “Put your fantasies out there. It makes you more relatable,” was one that stood out in particular. Care to expand on that one in the context of your writing?

SRW: Fantasies? No, that’s up to everyone else. It does seem like a lotta stand-up comedians dwell on fantasies. I believe part of the secret of comedy is making yourself relatable, saying crap everyone wants to, but doesn’t have the guts to. But the chapter headings I kinda made up. Sorry. My research assistant, “Ms. Google,” helped me with the rest.13643771_10208533016740539_1147014760_n

Those chapter headings really help support the structure of the story and the thematic content of each part, and the whole. Did you work to an outline based around those headings? Or did you go with the flow and discover this later?

SRW: I’m sorry to say the headings kinda came as an after-thought. No way, Frazer, am I that smart. Just seemed right as I plowed along.

Following on from the ‘Rules of Stand-up’, what do you believe to be the core rules of writing Horror?

SRW: Make your characters human, relatable. Then toss ‘em into hellish visions. Without characters people can empathize with, a tale would be like a tossed-off nightmare, barely remembered.

13644257_10208533022500683_74075230_nAside from a liberal sprinkling of salt around your bed each night (readers – check out Stuart’s novel for more about this!) what’s next for Stuart R. West?

SRW: Glad you asked, Frazer! I have an upcoming darkly comical novel from Grinning Skull Press called Dread & Breakfast. I’m working on the third and final book in my darkly humorous (I’m detecting a theme here) serial killer thriller series, Killers Incorporated. There’s a sequel on the way to my comedic mystery series, Bad Day in a Banana Hammock, about a vapid male stripper who keeps turning up dead bodies. The prequel to Demon with a Comb-Over, The Book of Kobal (a very dark, immoral, irreverent tale), is hunting for a new home since the original publisher, Samhain, is pretty much dead to horror. Hey! I have a children’s picture book coming out (dunno when) from Guardian Angel Press. I’d like to write a Lovecraftian/Cronenbergian horror tale about a genetic dairy farmer but it’s kinda a hard sell. Finally, up next will be a nostalgic ’60s set, Midwestern ghost tale.

Sounds like a great, diverse line-up! Thanks again for dropping by Mr. West!

SRW: Thanks for putting up with me, Frazer.13624723_10208533022940694_547791730_n

Demon with a Comb-Over available at Amazon.

Stuart R. West Amazon Page.

Blog: Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley

Stuart R. West Facebook

Twitter: @StuartRWest

 


The Jack in the Green: The countdown to Beltane has begun!

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To mark Beltane (May eve) and in celebration of this year’s Festival of Fire, my folk horror novel The Jack in the Green is on sale from today through to 6th May for the special price of only $0.99.

Here’s what one reviewer said about the book:
“I have enjoyed all of Frazer Lee’s work, but The Jack in the Green is by far my favorite! Lee strikes the perfect balance between psychological horror…and vicious violence and gore.”
(Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, The Horror Bookshelf)

Spread the word like wildfire my f[r]iends – thank you!

Cheers,
Frazer

The Jack in the Green – ebook only $0.99!

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Samhain Publishing

(special price offer ends 6th May 2016)

About the book

A nightmare made real.

On Christmas Eve, six year-old Tom McCrae witnessed an unspeakable atrocity that left him orphaned, his childhood in tatters. Now in his mid-thirties, Tom still has terrifying nightmares of that night. When Tom is sent to the remote Scottish village of Douglass to negotiate a land grab for his employer it seems like a golden opportunity for him to start over. But Tom can’t help feeling he’s been to Douglass before, and the terrible dreams from his childhood have begun to spill over into his waking life. As murderous events unfold and Tom’s feverish nightmares escalate, he will discover the hideous truth behind the villagers’ strange pagan ritual of The Jack in the Green.

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The Lamplighters: Book Pipeline Finalist

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The results of this year’s  Book Pipeline Competition, for writers with material suitable for Film/TV adaptation, have been announced and (insert fanfare here) I’m thrilled to announce that my novel The Lamplighters is a Finalist!

It’s a real thrill to have The Lamplighters make the selection from over 900 entries.

Congratulations to Grand Prize winner Zach Fortier with I Am Raymond Washington. It sounds like a fascinating book and I am looking forward to reading (and seeing!) it.

Here’s the complete list of Book Pipeline 2015 Finalists and Semifinalists. Congrats to all who were selected:

Finalists

Executive Outcomes by Nick Bicanic
A Fistful of Clones by Seaton Kay-Smith
The Lamplighters by Frazer Lee
Stranded by Douglas Wentworth
The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans
The Wet Woman by Alejandra Mattoni

Semifinalists

Do Not Resuscitate by Nicholas Ponticello
Jubilee by Jennifer Givhan
Just a Theory by Annie Wood
Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cash
The Virus by Janelle Diller

What does this exciting news mean for The Lamplighters?

Well, in the coming weeks I will be consulting with the Book Pipeline and Script Pipeline development team to discuss the screen adaptation potential of my work.

I’ll keep you posted on any developments.

Thanks for reading,
Frazer

Bram Stoker Award® Finalist for Best First Novel,
The Lamplighters is available in ebook and paperback from:

Samhain Horror (publisher website)
Amazon.com (kindle)
Amazon.co.uk (kindle)
Barnes & Noble (nook)

and wherever scary horror novels about The Skin Mechanic are sold.


Bram Stoker Award® Finalist ‘The Lamplighters’ – now an audiobook!

lamplighters

“The Skin Mechanic is destined to become one of the great monsters of modern horror”
(David Brzeski, British Fantasy Society)

 

Bram Stoker Award® Finalist for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, The Lamplighters is out now in an audiobook version from Audio Realms, narrated by Susan Saddler (who also narrated The Skintaker).

 

If you love to fill your ears with fears on the go, you can get your copy of The Lamplighters audiobook from:

Audible

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

– and wherever audiobooks about beautiful Mediterranean islands that harbour dark and terrifying secrets are sold.

 


Panic Button: Horror Channel UK TV network premiere


Panic Button, the acclaimed horror/thriller feature film I co-wrote with John Shackleton, David Shillitoe & Chris Crow, gets its UK network telly premiere this Friday 15th January at 22:45.

Watch it on Sky channel 319, Virgin TV channel 149, Freeview channel 70 and Freesat channel 138.

And for more social networking scares read Panic Button – The Official Movie Novelisation by yours truly!

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Praise for ‘Panic Button’ – the novel:

“A chilling commentary on the modern phenomenon of social media…I highly recommend reading this book, after which you really should go and see the film as well” (Jim McLeod, Ginger Nuts of Horror)

“More than competes with anything the creators of the original Saw could dream up” (Hellnotes)

“Frazer Lee explores the real dangers of putting our lives online and, through his characters, shows the real-life consequences of cyber-bullying, privacy, identity theft and the dangers of hiding behind the internet” (Malysa Stratton Louk, Digital Journal)

This is an intelligent and propulsive book, pressing all the right buttons – panic or otherwise – as a standalone piece of fiction even if you’ve not seen the movie version” (Paul Mount, Starburst Magazine)

Praise for Panic Button: The Movie

“The best British horror in years” ☆☆☆☆ (Adam Stephen Kelly, Ain’t It Cool News)

“The Social Network of Shocks” ☆☆☆☆ (Alan Jones, Film4 Frightfest)

“This is British horror at its bloody best” ☆☆☆☆ (Sky Movies)

“Nail-bitingly terrifying” ☆☆☆☆☆ (Abertoir Film Festival)


Happy #Friday13th – watch #TheStayMovie online!

stay-admit-oneHappy Friday 13th!

The clock is about to strike 13:00 hrs here in the UK, so…

Head on over to my Facebook Page for a private screening of my new short film The Stay.

Your link and password will be active for the next 24 hours.

Thanks for watching, and I hope you enjoy your stay.

And if you do, why not post a quick rating / review at the Internet Movie Database?
It only takes a minute, and you can sign in using your Facebook, Google or Amazon account.
Thanks!

Frazer

STAYawards