Books

All posts in the Books category

Beach Reading with Mark McLaughlin

Published September 5, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Considering that the COVID pandemic cancelled any official beach book reading this summer for most citizens of the world, you are hear-by invited to extend that seasonal literary occurrence indefinitely and in whatever setting that you most desire.

A good place to start, literature-wise, might be Human Doll: A Novel by Mark McLaughlin. Described as Myra Breckenridge meets horror novel, this one might appeal to Drag Race fans with its sharply satiric look at drag culture and plastic surgery.

More information on this book and others written by McLaughlin, a Bram Stoker Award winner, is available at https://www.facebook.com/HumanDollANovel/ and https://bmoviemonster.com/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Book Review: Testament

Published April 2, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Testament-f

At the midway point of Testament, queer horror writer Jose Nateras’ debut novel, the protagonist is speaking with an experienced LGBTQIA historian about the gothic happenings that are occurring in his life. As I read, I began remembering all the amazing journalistic mentors I’ve had in my career – Ralph P. Gernhardt, co-founder of Gay Chicago Magazine…Louis Weisberg and Larry Bommer of Chicago Free Press, all leaders in queer publishing and community reporting. The ability to have this personal connection to a piece of literature is ultimately why Nateras’ book is so important. It is so rare to have a complicated, sympathetic gay narrator as our guide throughout a genuine work of terror fiction.

The narrator in question here is Gabe Espinosa, an emotionally devastated Latinx man. Still recovering from a hasty suicide attempt due to romantic misadventure, he soon finds himself the target of an entity that seemingly wants to destroy him not only for his sexuality, but for his racial background, as well. This plot point is another of the significant pleasures of this quick moving 195 page tome. Nateras imbues Gabe with many of the concerns and conflicts facing minorities residing in an already marginalized culture. Fetishism, invisibility and lack of status and opportunity are all explored here with taut emotion and sensitive reasoning.

Nicely, there are magnified scenes of shock and intrigue here, as well. A frenzied mob attack on the CTA in Chicago is almost heart stopping in intensity while the film’s penultimate encounter is also viciously rendered. In fact, one almost wishes Nateras had utilized more descriptiveness in closing out these supernatural details. A longer climax may have actually benefited this already exciting and relatable story, allowing readers to truly grasp the combative nature that Gabe must employ to fight back against what is haunting him.

The fact that Nateras writes such compelling characters also comes in to play here, as well. It is easy to fall in love with Gabe and his friends, especially his ne’er do well, bisexual roommate Bryan, and to have had the pleasure of their company for a moment or two longer would have truly been a gift. Thus, Nateras should be proud of this spooky, culturally valuable work and I can’t wait to read his next efforts in genre writing.

https://ninestarpress.com/product/testament/

https://www.amazon.com/Testament-Jose-Nateras/dp/1951880153/

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Thrift Store Find: Art Saves!

Published March 7, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Rolling Stone

I first got The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll as a confirmation present from one of my uncles. For awhile I carried it with me everywhere. A day or so after that confirmation, my parents came to pick me up from some event. I had been confirmed with one of my mom’s students and he overheard some of the other kids saying that I was gay in the parking lot afterwards. He told my mother about this…and she was furious…with me.

“Why would they say that, Brian?!?” “What have you done to make them think that?!?” “Do you know how embarrassing this is for me?!? For my own student to come to me about something like this?!?” As she hammered away at me on the car ride home, I murmured soft responses back while burying myself in this book., wanting to disappear. But as I poured over epic black and white photos of Little Richard, David Bowie, a pre-fame Aretha Franklin, a pert Annette Funicello clinging to a properly attired Dick Clark… I suddenly knew that eventually everything would be okay…that the world was full of magnificence and unusual artistry and someday…it all would be mine!

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan

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Dagger Cast Divas!

Published November 22, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Davette

As with many of us, I am tired of straight white men controlling the narrative. Therefore, I was thrilled by the two latest guests on Dagger Cast, the horror based podcast that I co-host with The Cell Phones’ dynamic Lindsey Charles.

Our Halloween show centered around Davette Franklin (above), a young black theater artist who curates an annual horror play festival. November’s show, meanwhile, finds me be very thankful for Sarah Yeazel (below), a comic book loving gay woman who is writing a series of essays about how cinema has shaped her life and sexuality.

You can listen to both episodes on Soundcloud (below) and other outlets like Spotify and iTunes.

Sarah

Happy aural journeys..and until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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ReQueered Tales Presents Steam

Published June 1, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

steam new coverIt is perhaps any artist’s worst fear that their work will be forgotten as the decades spin in their unrestrained progression. Nicely, the folks at ReQueered Tales are focusing on re-releasing the important works of previous generations of queer horror and science fiction writers. Now these creative giants can be discovered and celebrated by a new millennium of readers.

Excitingly, one of their first major entries for renewed and (hopefully enthusiastic) consumption is Jay B. Laws’ Steam. Celebrated in his brief career for his plays and novels, Laws’ Steam takes the horrors of the AIDS epidemic and gives them a fictionally horrific facade. The author, who died of the disease soon after the book was published, would surely be thrilled that his work was being given a big push in this time of morally reprehensible politics. His words, surely, ring just as true now as they did almost 30 years ago.

Steam, highlighted by beautiful new cover art, can be purchased at

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RJL2SPM

Be sure to also follow ReQueered Tales at https://www.facebook.com/ReQueeredTales/ to learn about the important reissues that they will be emphasizing in the future.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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steam 1

Steam’s Original Cover Art

Jeff Junker’s Queer Punk Horror Art

Published March 29, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Queer Horror Zine

Independent art makes the world go round. Case in point, one of the coolest things to happen to the LGBTQIA community was the ‘90s queer core music movement. Artists like Bikini Kill, Come, Pansy Division and the Rotten Fruits proved that there was a wide variety of DIY entertainment options for those who like an angrier, grittier, more angular approach to the creative muse.

In keeping with the energy of those vibrant times, artist Jeff Junker has just released Queer Punk Horror Art, a compilation of his work that is sure to bring back the ragged vibes of those days with the turn of every page.

The book is available now at https://www.amazon.com/Queer-Punk-Horror-jeff-junker/dp/1091273596/. So, pull on that paint flecked Darby Crash t-shirt and dive in!

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Book Review: Blood Cruise

Published August 31, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

bloodcruise1

The forbidden thrill of being a small town 14 year old diving into epic novels like Stephen King’s The Shining and Salem’s Lot can never be replicated. But floating through Mats Strandberg’s Blood Cruise, as an adult, definitely brings back a wonderful sense memory of those exciting, long ago afternoons.

While, joyfully, reveling in the visceral antics of grand horror fiction, this fine book also offers up an intricate look at the emotional lives of a wide variety of vacationers whose quick boat trip in Sweden turns into an odyssey of terror. Nicely, many of these individuals are relatable to queer terror lovers who often feel like they are left on the outside of both mainstream and alternative culture.

The proceedings begin with an introduction to Marianne, a still attractive senior citizen who feels as if life has passed her by. Readers will definitely feel for her as she is courted by a charming rogue and recognize all the insecurities and fears that she experiences as she begins to open up her heart and live again.

Nicely, another primary focus here is Calle, a former employee of the cruise line on which all the action occurs. His marriage proposal to his handsome boyfriend gone awry, this despondent romantic soon finds himself in charge of a couple of frantic pre-teens and eventually discovers the hero that resides deep within him.

Throughout, while rotating a dozen or so primary characters and various plotlines, Strandberg skillfully paints a true picture of life’s often harsh complexities. Here frazzled family dynamics, self image issues, rivalries and bitter regrets color in the personalities of all his characters. It is not always a pretty picture, but it is an accurate one …and as some of each reader’s favorite participants are bound to meet their deaths in a variety of unpleasant ways, it nicely binds the characters to us, making their ends all the more tragic. As all well rounded creative types do, Strandberg even paints in some nice emotional layers to his toothy, vengeful villains, granting them have a degree of sympathy, as well.

The most enjoyable thing here, perhaps, though is discovering the ways in which beloved individuals orbit into each other’s stories. Equally as fun, are those moments when one realizes that one personality’s point of view about themselves is often very different from those that encounter him or her.  These instances emphasize Strandberg’s talent for weaving not only a multi-faceted story but for inventing believable characters, as well.

A top ten seller across Europe, Blood Cruise, is available for purchase on www.amazon.com. Strandberg, whose book The Circle was turned into a hit movie by ABBA founder Benny Andersson, can be located on Instagram and Twitter @matsstranberg_ and online at www.matsstrandberg.se.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: Woof Magazine

Published April 14, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Woof

It’s cool that a “woof” on the Scruff app of my phone means that some dude 3000 miles away from me thinks that I’m hot. But, in all honesty, it’s a magazine like Woof! Dog Eat Cinema Magazine that truly brings out the beast in me!

Coming straight from the dirty sheets of The Netherlands, courtesy of editor-creator Hans Minkers, this publication is perfectly pulsating with provocatively illustrated articles on everything from post apocalyptic roller skate movies to the filmic output of Draculina publisher Hugh Gallagher. You can also find substantive reports on the movies of Andy Milligan (Issue #4, Hans Van De Broeck) and the creations of director-producer Johan Vandewoestijne (Issue #5, Van De Broeck), one of the men responsible for the popular Troma title Rabid Grannies.

As someone who prides himself on owning as many variants of Alice, Sweet Alice on tape as possible, I also love how each issue focuses on a different VHS collector, honing in on their special interests and passion films. Minkers also is the force behind one of the more enjoyable regular features, Whatever Lola Wants. Here, he reviews a VHS from his collection that has been chosen by his 4 year old daughter. Thus, we are treated to explorations of films as varying as Clue and Stephen Spielberg’s Duel.

Woof 2Nicely, decadent artwork is one of the primary focuses of this vibrant creation, as well. Sane Van Der Horst’s howlingly phallic creation in Issue #3 is a standout while Printsploitation founder Scott R. Miller contributes a centerfold full of unique performers for the publication’s latest issue. Willie Darktrousers also comes up with some enjoyably monstrous creations for the Gallagher feature.

And while the sleaze and grease of psychotic celluloid aberrations fully populate this enterprise, the feministic perspective is not ignored here. Laura Louwes is always on hand to give smart and fun reactions to classic porn titles with A Woman’s Perspective.

Issues of Woof are available for purchase by contacting woofmagazine@hotmail.com.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: Printsploitation 3

Published February 24, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Printsploitation3

If one needs evidence of the diversity of the horror fan, they have to look no further than the latest issue of Printsploitation magazine. A combination of a comic book, fine art publication and a more traditional genre magazine, this brain child of artist Scott Miller, features drawings from a number of influential indie genre artists devoted to various decades of terror cinema.

Nicely, in the third volume, the glorious black and white artwork is balanced out by a terrific article on the posters of ‘80s sexploitation flicks (and fun reviews of the films themselves) by Heavy Metal Movies author Mike “McBeardo” McPadden and a celebration of acclaimed yet obscure VHS box artist CW Taylor by Dr. Jose.

The art, itself, is an amazing display of eclectic interests and themes. From Don England’s take on Peter Cushing to Putrid’s detailed reimagining of the (much maligned) 1979 monster film Prophecy, this volume has surprises on every page. Favorites here include Corrine Halbert’s darkly innocent take on Michael from the epically trashy Euro horror Burial Ground and the beautiful rendered power profiles of such icons as Susan Tyrell, Debbie Rochon and William Girdler by Klon J. Waldrip.

Capped off by Halbert’s hypnotically quirky take on 1962 indie masterpiece Carnival of Souls on the cover, this beautiful tribute is a must have in the collection of any serious fan of the scare scene.

Printsploitation Issue No. 3 is available for purchase from

www.corinnehalbert.com and

http://printsploitation.bigcartel.com/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Book Review: Queer Stories for Boys

Published February 8, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

queer storiesGenre enthusiasts may know writer-director Douglas McKeown best for The Deadly Spawn, the 1983 cult classic that has garnered deserved love from monster kids, worldwide. But McKeown has also spent substantial time as a teacher and a theatrical artist, often directing and designing for the stage. He is also the facilitator of the Queer Stories for Boys workshop, which resulted in an outstanding self-titled 2004 collection, from Thunder’s Mouth Press.

Carefully edited by McKeown, this book shares a wide offering of experiences from a variety of gay men, ultimately, showing the diversity and strength of the community, as a whole.

In particular, Brad Gretter’s stories about growing up legally blind resonate with a wild sense of self-humility and otherness. His recounting of a childhood accident in a grocery store is hysterically funny while his tale about finding his sexual power in a leather club as an adult is both humorous and profound, offering up hope for anyone with self-doubt or esteem issues.

James Campbell’s Miss Betty, meanwhile, is story of pure beauty, elevated by the narrator’s sense of surprise and humbled discovery of how understanding and loving a true family can be. Miss Betty, herself, meanwhile emerges as a colorful character that all readers wish that they had gotten to know.

Activism (highlighted by Ronald Gold’s tales), sexual longing (presented in extremely relatable levels by David Ferguson and Rich Kiamco) and struggles with sports (nicely accentuated by Harry Schulz’s self deprecating memories) are some of the other topics tackled here, as well.doug deadly spawn

McKeown, himself, ably narrates a couple of tales, too. Liza’s Kiss is a truly enjoyable retelling of his straight brother’s ecstatic encounter with LGBTQA icon Liza Minnelli. Children of the Night, though, will probably resonate with lovers of horror and macabre the best. Here, he tells of his childhood adventures as the neighborhood terror, disguising himself as classic monsters to terrorize some unsuspecting locals. The final moments of this accounting linger the most, though. Anyone who has ever regretted an exchange with a loved one will be haunted by the sorrow expressed by the angry exchange that is documented between the author and his mother…a witness to how powerful (and necessary) this collection is, as a whole.

While Thunder’s Mouth Press, unfortunately, no longer exists, copies of Queer Stories for Boys can still be found on Amazon. McKeown, meanwhile, is active on the web at https://www.facebook.com/The-Deadly-Spawns-director-Douglas-McKeown-91628635424/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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