Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Street of Crocodiles.

Street of Crocodiles is a puppet film that starts with a human, a caretaker of a lecture hall. His only contribution is to wind up the puppet box and lean above it dropping his saliva into the dust of the marionette world bringing it to life. He’s God, the great caretaker, his spit the life force of the discarded toys. Inside we find a Heath Robinson labyrinthine world powered by cotton reels and corroded sentient screws. The puppet master snips a spindly man from his restrictive bonds allowing him to travel through the streets in search of a Victorian doll child that guides him with mirrored light. Once he's cut from his umbilical string his journey seems pointless, being born is the only reason he’s alive. There are no ultimate goals or destinations to reach. The world is mechanical and dark.

Conducting with needles.

Through dusted windows the labours of the subterranean puppet world are viewed, from engineers with golf ball bulb heads trying to revive light in others, to tailors stitching together raw slabs of liver and maps to make new men. Cartographers of the body, the routes fused with the marionettes yet the course is circulatory, the destination the departure point. A line of travel that traces only borders. These architects of demarcation scurry around with empty egg cup heads. Literally these are brainless geographical engineers dividing new bodies of land with yellow lines in place of green.

This short film doesn't have any obvious plot and at times it feels like the Quay Brothers simply wanted to construct a series of grotesque vignettes in the tradition of East European stop motion as a curiosity piece. But as a whole the feeling of despair, of being boxed in, in being reliant upon gods and masters who send us on journeys with only fractured reflections of reality to guide us feels like the world around us. The haunting sounds echoed throughout by Leszek Jankowski musical montage only heighten this sense of segregation and despair.

Lessons from the toy box?

Streets of Crocodiles is dusty and dirty. It’s unconnected even though every part of its world is joined together. It relies upon loose screws and hastily constructed maps of parchment stitched together to function. It could be about conflicts in the Middle East to the threat of fascism. It could be about hierarchy and class, politics and power. It may simply be about how humans exist on this boxed in planet we inhabit. I personal tend to think it’s the latter while whispering cautions about all the former possibilities. This short film could be viewed as an existentialist treatise or a siege horror. No matter how you look at it or what you take from it Street of Crocodiles will stay with you long after viewing, possibly into that workshop of horrors, your nightmares.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Eight Legged Creeps.

I'm an arachnophobe. That’s to say I'm terrified of spiders, I mean really terrified of the creepy monsters. I have a personal war against the critters that stretches back as far as I can remember. I've no idea where it came from or if indeed I was even born with the condition. Either way, if it has eight legs I’ll scream like a schoolgirl catching a glimpse of Justin Bieber and develop a heart rate that would beat Usain Bolt if it could strap on a pair of running shoes.

So why did I write a story about giant human eating spiders that invade our planet and seem almost impossible to kill? Good question and I have no real answer except one winter morning I saw frozen spider webs clinging to the rusty railings of our local church yard and had an idea. As a writer the ideas come and I have the choice of developing them or tossing them into the recycle bin at the back of my mind (collections now bi-weekly due to brain council budget cuts).

It’s not as though I considered it good therapy to tackle my fear of spiders. I have no desire to rid myself of the curse as the only effective method is aversion therapy with the damned things. In fact writing the story ‘Exit Bags’ for the May December Publications anthology ‘Spiders!’ only reinforced my fear. 

Yet for once the scuttling hairy backed ones did me a favour. I wrote what I consider to be a really good story that was bought and published. Yes I did feel itchy writing it. I felt scratches when editing it and I even saw black dots running along the floor of my dreams. But I like it and I hope you do too. So please check out my story ‘Exit Bags’ and the other twelve stories in this fine collection edited by the talented TW Brown

Buy Spiders! in paperback or Kindle version from Amazon UK 

Buy Spiders! in paperback or Kindle version from Amazon USA

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Well

The WellThe Well by Peter Labrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the most useful devices for any horror writer is the trap, or the closed room story. It's been done so many times and is still effective. Peter Labrow uses it in his debut novel with a clever twist. If I was reading a short story about two teenagers trapped in a well away from anybody they knew and no chance to escape I'd have licked my lips. But a whole novel about it? Well I was curious.

Obviously Peter’s gift for writing a multi-layered story ensured this was no single thread arc. The kids in the well was peg on which he hung some very interesting and well-crafted subplots. These took the novel into crime, horror, supernatural, domestic and historical avenues. All of which were balanced perfectly to keep the story ad momentum moving fast.

This is a thrill ride of a thriller and a heart racing horror. Witches, telepathic children, predators and ancient pagan curses all combine to build a story that will leave you with sore thumbs in this fast adrenaline filled page turner.

The only criticism I would point to is the dénouement could have been a lot leaner. But given the many strands that had to be tied up I can’t really see how else he could have written it. However that minor detail apart, this book kept my interest right until the final sentence.

If this is what Peter Labrow can do with a debut I can’t wait to read his future novels. 

View all my reviews

Monday, 2 July 2012

I Took the Long Way Home.

I like the idea of The Hero's Journey. I've read the Christopher Vogler book,
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, I've read essays by Joseph Campell and I've hit so many websites talking about the structure that I feel like I've been on the journey myself.

Well of course I have, we all have. We've all had to overcome adversity, found love, lost love, battled our demons, taken a leap of faith and all the other aspects of Campell's monomyth theory. We do it in our personal lives and careers. We do it in our examination of ourselves when growing up, and if your'e over thirty, re-growing up. 

There is on thing about The Hero's Journey I could never really come to grips with however. It always felt too rigid to me. This may be the cause of it falling out of fashion in recent years. Though Hollywood still seems addicted to it. Well if it worked for everything from Star Wars to Harry Potter who can blame them?

I pull this lever, my jet-pack will takes me home.
I've structured stories using this plan then gone all native and pantster on my next piece of writing. I always felt like I needed to escape, to free my self from the bondage of the thing. The problem is I kind of accidentally structured the novel I'm writing using the Hero's Journey template. And it feel right. It feels like I'm writing a true novel, one that looks at all the half finished manuscripts in my drawer like they are delinquent children.

So how will I cope? Where will with this retraining structure take me?
Well these question have not only kept me awake but also forced me to abandon this novel several times. Then one sleepless night I had an epiphany. I look back now and realise it was simply an awaking to what everybody else already knew. Maybe I was so blocked in my anguish and fear of failing at yet another novel that it held back free thinking. But I reached the answer just in time.

I can continue with this template and adapt it. "What, did I hear that right?" Yes you did. I said I'm using a version of the Hero's Journey. I'm not adhering to the strict structure. If something needs adapting or changing to suit the story then I'll do that. I like the arc the Hero's Journey offers. I like the way it forces us to think about the characters and their personal arc too. But maybe I want things to be more organic while retaining that rainbow of the journey.

Coincidentally, or through synchronicity, I had a stab at writing a two page screenplay for a short film competition. While looking for tips to refresh me on the art I came across this Powerpoint presentation on Big Spaceship on how to write a screenplay that utilises the Hero's Journey, while expanding it for the good of the story.

It was exactly what I needed to read. I hope you like it too.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Shaun Is Writing.

Today I'm really pleased to announce that we have writer Shaun Adams here at The Futurist. I've just finished reading his new anthology of dark tales, 'Jack Is Writing' and have posted my review here. Shaun was kind enough to give up a few minutes to talk to me about 'Jack Is Writing', his influences and plans for the future. 

Tony: Hi Shaun thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions for The Futurist.

Shaun: No problem, it’s very kind of you to invite me over.

Tony: I really enjoyed reading your new anthology, ‘Jack is Writing’. I picked up a few constant themes and would like to start off by talking about those.

I mentioned apocalypse and asylum in my review. Are these two themes of Armageddon and insanity something you purposely choose when sitting down to write and if so why?

Shaun: Ouch, straight in at the deep end with this first one. This is a very good question. Most of the stories (excluding the 100 word flashes) in Jack Is Writing began life as prompt based contest entries at a writing website. I do tend to gravitate towards the horror contests so straight away I’m on the left hand path as it were. I don’t believe these two particular themes are set in my mind when I begin writing, at least not consciously.
It’s not as though I sit down and flip a coin, but as you have pointed out there is definitely a pattern emerging.

Tony: There is a mix of dystopia and surreal horror in your writing. These are very dark subjects to tackle. Is this influenced by writers you admire?

Shaun: I would say so, yes most definitely. From an early age, I was reading books by Pierre Boulle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Wyndham, H.G Wells and Jules Verne plus a weekly dose of 2000AD comics. 
By the time, I left High School in the early 80’s I was reading a mixture of sci-fi, violent western serials and fantasy. George Orwell’s 1984, Stephen King’s The Stand and William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s Logan’s Run were also milestones.  Here is a dark little secret shared, growing up in a time when nuclear war between the Soviets and the west was still in the back of a lot of people’s minds, I used to imagine stories about surviving such a catastrophe. Some of these got scribbled down in school exercise books, none survive though.

Don't mess with this man,
he survived a nuclear threat!

Tony: Well at least we all survived that threat, even if some of your stories didn't. I sense a love of sci-fi creeping into your writing. Is this a genre you would like to explore more in the future? 

Shaun: Ah, you got me bang to rights; I’ve always been a fan of the genre.  Mostly the recurring lesson seems to be that there is always a bigger fish, and one day we will find that out. What could be better than horror and monsters in outer space?

Tony: Horrors from inner space maybe? Some people do believe that UFOs don't come from the stars, but below the oceans and being kept secret by world governments. Speaking of which, you mention the Santa Clause conspiracy in ‘Eight Clicks to Eternity’ and have hint at conspiracy site trolls in ‘I never Ordered Pizza’. Are there any conspiracy theories you subscribe to? Come on I won't tell the CIA.

I will not listen to your
Moon landing nonsense.
Shaun: Ha, no I’m sorry to disappoint you there.  I love all that stuff though, The Lone gunmen in X files, that guy in Independence Day, “Hello boys, I’m back.” That kind of tinfoil Stetson wearing craziness is very dear to my heart.

Tony: Oh well looks like I won’t be picking up my reward from Washington then. Finally can you tell us when we will may see a Shaun Adams novel. Also what's next for you on the writing front?

Shaun: I’m working on something at the moment that is much longer than anything I’ve attempted before. Whether or not it reaches novel length remains to be seen. I can promise there will be madness and dark imagined creatures aplenty though. 

Tony: Thanks for taking the time to visit us at The Futurist today and talk to us Shaun. Good luck with Jack Is Writing.

Shaun: Thank you.

 Buy Jack Is Writing here at Amazon USA

                                         Amazon UK


You can follow Shaun on Facebook here- Shaun Adams Facebook.
on Twitter here- @Jack_is_writing

Or pop over to his excellent blog here- Jack Is Writing.

Jack Is Writing

Jack Is WritingJack Is Writing by Shaun Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a strange anthology in many ways. Firstly it mixes genres, then we have short stories rubbing shoulders with 100 word drabbles. That's fine though, I like a bit of variety, especially when mixing sci-fi dystopia with horror. The other element of strangeness is the themes. There seems to be a tug of war between apocalypse and asylum. The best stories by far are the end-of-the-world scenarios and the unhinged protagonist.

Apocalypse being relevant too. Much like Coppola's Apocalyse Now which opened with the Doors brooding track 'The End', Shaun opens this anthology with the end; the end of the world that is. The opening tale, Blind Star, was my favourite and by far the strongest both in style and story. Shaun should really consider expanding this into a novel or at least a novella.

But this anthology isn't just some sort of prayer to J.G Ballard, it's also a reflection of great horror writers such as King, Matheson and early Clive Barker. I don't think the drabbles worked as well as the longer pieces, and I'll be honest my star rating is based only on the longer stories. I'm not saying the 100 word tales are no good as most are. They just didn't seem to belong here amongst stories built on well established characters and solid themes.

One thing I noticed is that Shaun stayed away from conventional horror tropes, whether intentionally or not it proved to be a breath of fresh air. There is a lot of discussion about this choice at the moment, and while I see good and bad in both sides of the argument, it was great to delve into a world vacant of vampires and werewolves for a while.

I look forward to seeing a longer piece of work from Shaun Adams. If it involves madness, space, horror and dark imagined creatures I know it'll be a smash. Because those are Shaun's strengths and he could do worse than exploring those elements of his writing.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Quiet Houses Makes All The Right Noises.

Quiet HousesQuiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The framed anthology, or portmanteau, is a difficult device to pull off. I know I'm writing one myself. But as fans of Amicus films will tell you, when it's done right it lives with for a long time.

I think Quiet Houses is more Asylum than Tales That Witness Madness. The stories are connected seamlessly and each feels like it has earned it's place inside the overall arc of the book. I'd even go so far as to say it's closer to the Ealing classic Dead of Night in that respect. Also for the fact it's not really horror, but good old fashioned ghost stories told in a very modern way.

It's easy to see that Simon Kurt Unsworth not only has a great love for the genre, but also for the locations he chooses in these stories. Each setting also becomes a character in every story. It's when comfortably placed in these locations that the author turns the uncomfortable dial to ten and makes us look for the nearest taxi rank. Though knowing Simon Kurt Unsworth the cab would probably be driven by a spectre who would drive us to a very dark place inhabited by memories of death.

My favourite segment is 'The Elms, Morecambe'. Followed closely by '24 Glass House' and 'Stacks Farm'. Though saying that I can't really decide between any that easily.

If you like ghost stories written in an intelligent and beautiful manner. Or if have a love of portmanteau films and like a good scare, then you needn't look further than Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth.

Buy 'Quiet Houses'

View all my reviews

A Cold Discomfort.

A Cold Season (Library Hardback)A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book started slow, but not in a drag to read sort of way, more an easing into the world author Alison Littlewood was creating for us. And what a world. A northern English village cut off from society during a terrible snow storm. With no communication to the outside world and only strangers surrounding protagonist Cass, we already felt boxed in.

Then came the changes. Her son becoming withdrawn and abusive to her after making friends with a local boy. A domineering fellow school mum, a love interest that may not be what he seems. Not to mention the rats and visions.

I did wonder if this would unfold to be an English Rosemary's Baby or more precisely Frank De Felitta's haunting novel, Audrey Rose, thankfully it was neither. It had more in common with The Wicker Man (and A Cold Season movie would adhere to that tradition better than the abysmal Wicker Tree film).

Yet it was none of these things. Alison Littlewood has created something unique in her début novel. She's created a thriller that ramps up with each chapter while still threading a frosty supernatural mystery throughout. It's something a lot of more experienced writers fail to pull off.

The climax is a wonderful ride that scares, tears the heartstrings and makes you sleep with the lights on after reading.

A new mythology and a new voice to keep an eye on in the horror genre. I can't wait to see what she writes next. A Cold Season is a chiller in every respect and one of my favourite novels this year.

Buy 'A Cold Season'

View all my reviews

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Pied Piper of Balham.

Ruby watched the country house fill the tiny window of the train. She’d been dreading evacuation. She hated leaving her mum with the tear stained telegram clutched in her hands. But the place was wonderful. She’d never seen anything like it in her seven years in London. The green fields were only broken by blankets of swaying yellow wheat.

Nightingales sang to her from the trees as the door creaked open. Their song was as sweet as the lullabies her mother sang to send her dreaming. But when she listened carefully she could hear a dark tone inside their song.

Yellow teeth grinned somewhere down the long dark hallway. Footsteps echoed towards her. The door slammed shut behind her. Dust hung onto the darkness as though afraid to land on the floor. The yellow teeth shone brighter in the black hallway. They came fast, but death came slowly.

She awoke after a long time dreaming of nothing but black rooms, golden fields and yellow teeth. She heard the nightingales once more. Their dark song buzzed in her ear. Soon she realised it wasn’t birdsong at all; it was the grinding of teeth, mechanical and fierce. She felt around in the darkness for a corner and huddled herself into a ball.

The blades finally cut through the cement wall sending broad shafts of light into the sealed room. She noticed signs above the holes. There was a red Tube circle and an exit sign. She remembered the bombs then, the government abandoning them to a rubble grave. She recalled the men sealing up the stations like forgotten graves. They gave less respect than the Nazis who dropped the bombs from above London skies into the dark city below.

A warm hand filled her palm. She looked up to see her mother’s buttery smile that thawed her heart.

“C’mon love, you’ve been asleep a very long time.”

They drifted into London stunned by the lights that burnt all around them.

“We’re free sweetheart.” A light bloomed behind her mother that filled the sky and fell to the ground around them. Soon she was locked inside again. This time in the warmth of light and her mother’s love as they left the pain behind for those who carried on living.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Red angels in golden skies.

There's a golden sky filled with 96 red angels. #ynwa #jft96

We still think of you and fight for justice.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Never Ending Tale of Magpie's.

A small update on the progress of The Magpie's Tale. I started this anthology as a way to place some published stories and some trunk tales into a collection of my own. I had everything planned out to the cover, trailer and the story order. Then I hit a snag. While shooting the video for the trailer an idea struck. This tied in with my wish to have a thread or a theme that connected each story similar to my favourite Amicus films I loved watching as a schoolboy.
As with all ideas this one came with a new set of problems. Some of the stories didn't fit into any theme. When analysing them again I also realised that some of stories, mostly the published ones, didn't feel right any longer. Not that I'm dismissing them as standalone tales, just for this anthology they felt like tourists rather than natives.

So I started sketching out new ideas, some worked, some failed and some gave me the story kick in my stomach. You know that feeling a writer has when an idea feels so right they get the butterflies wearing steel toe-capped boots. These stories usually feel stolen from the idea highway that runs along invisible lines all round us. After a moment of guilt for grabbing a tale destined for another writer's brain along the road, I started to relish these sparks of inspiration.

So here I am writing an anthology that only contains two of the original stories, one previously published and one I wrote especially as a lead in. I've also ditched three full stories I wrote and two more ideas I never completed. Yet after all this hard work and brain bashing indecision I feel I'm finally onto something good, something I'll be happy to release with my name on the front cover.

I have a theme and a framed story. I have tales about a man with a terrifying tattoo that causes the world to see him as their enemy, a story about a boy who gets more than he bargained for when he completes an old jigsaw and a tale of revenge with more twists than a game of Twister with the band Twisted Sister. And many more beside those little horrors. I have a concept that finally feels right. Hopefully I will be able to send it off into the world soon. Until then here's a sample from The Dust of Hell.

'Grace wrapped her tiny hands around the hatchet resting against the broken screen door. The thud of the heavy axe head falling against each wooden step filled her with dread. She looked down at her brother, a ten year old man who had suddenly found strength in the promise of food. It gave him power and speed like a wolf striding across the plains chasing prey. John never looked back. Grace strode across the invisible meadow dragging the axe that cut channels into the dry earth behind her.

When she finally caught up with her brother she saw him standing on the edge of the hole shaking. She dropped the hatchet in a cloud of dust. John peered into the smoking pit. The impact of the sky creature falling to the earth must have pushed the soil through the ground, opening up the trap. How considerate, digging its own grave, John thought.
But he slipped back falling to the ground when the clouds uncovered the silver Moon and exposed the creature in there. It was no goose. It was a man, a man with the wings of a goose.'

Sunday, 1 April 2012


Discordant calliope tunes oscillated from the carousel masking the growl of the creature hiding between carvings above the ride. It sprang through the blur of harsh coloured bulbs landing on a wooden horse below. He scrambled up the pole above the child unnoticed, scraping flakes of gold paint that fell on her blonde locks. The little girl was enamoured by the glittering snowfall. Looking around she saw his twig fingers scraping away the gold-leaf behind her, grinning like a joker from a pack of cards.

“Go fish.” it screeched.

She froze, her falling smile a row of cracked painted teeth, her head a carved block. The bulbs flashed and burst as electricity seeped into the night.

The mothers screamed as their antique children whirled past. Fathers climbed aboard with curled fists, angry and confused. The creature sniffed as it leaped from horse to horse, child to child. Corn-dogs and burnt butter popcorn wafted from the east. Another fair in another county waited.

Nobody saw it leaping across dark fields to its next playground. “I spy more fun at the fair.” It echoed leaping through the night.

Later that night across the land, all that remained were wooden children for mothers to love. They clung to them with broken hearts, punctured with splinters, flaking with old red paint.

Original concept first published on Lily Childs Feardom.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Story News.

I'm proud to announce I have a story published on Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers called The Good Boy. It's an examination of decay both of the human mind and the world around it. Be warned however that the method I used could be shocking to some. Imagine the Mad Hatter's tea party where the Mad Hatter is a sociopathic killer!

I realised there was no point in painting around the edges if I really wanted to hang a startling portrait of insanity on the walls of your imagination. The character slaloms between clarity and confusion, rage and calm all the time concerned about the mundane aspects of life. It's a cyclic story using delayed reveals and detail throughout.

Please give it a read from the link below and leave a comment if you have the time.

The Good Boy by Anthony Cowin

Thanks, Tony.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Greats of Wrath

Cast: Liam Neeson, Sam Worthington, Bill Nighy, Danny Huston, Edgar Ramirez

We've all been there, work life causing stress, middle age break downs, career path petering out after defeating the monstrous Kraken. Wait what? No only gods do this. Still a decade after his top of the office leader board for that epic battle, albeit a very mythos based office, Perseus the demigod son of Zeus is trying to live a quieter life. He's successfully dodging the high flying career ladder and ducking from tabloid stories haranguing him for being a single parent by earning a crust as a village fisherman. He checks the mail every morning for news of child benefit for his 10-year old son Helius, though his mailbox is always empty.

Meanwhile,the same old power struggles between the gods and the Titans keeps the 24 hour God News in business. But humanity is tired of never-ending wars and blanket propaganda. The gods realise they are losing control of the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos, father of the long-ruling brothers Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. A bit like the Murdoch's then.

The triumvirate had overthrown their powerful father long ago, leaving him to rot in the gloomy abyss of Tartarus, or News International as some demigods call it. It's a dungeon that lies deep within the cavernous underworld, as I said News International! Perseus cannot ignore his true calling when Hades, along with Zeus' godly son, Ares, played by Edgar Ramirez, switch loyalty and make a deal with Kronos to capture Zeus. Think of the unions supporting Ed over David Miliband here.

The Titans' strength increases when Zeus' remaining powers are siphoned and hell is unleashed on earth. Sun on Sunday anybody? Enlisting the help of the warrior Queen Andromeda, played by Rosamund Pike and not Rebekah Brooks, Poseidon's demigod son, Argenor, played by Toby Kebbell, and fallen god Hephaestus, acted with usual cool nonchalance by Bill Nighy, Perseus bravely embarks on a treacherous quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus, overthrow the Titans and save mankind.

Maybe we can draw parallels on our modern world and that of the great legends. Maybe we look too deeply and attach comparison. Either way if history has taught us one thing, it's that history teaches us things. Oh and that mythology can be as enlightening as facts when it comes to deciphering the world we live in. This is a 3D feast for the senses in an often one dimensional world. Plenty of thrills, action and effects that will blow your sandals off the popcorn littered sticky carpet as you will see in the trailer below.

Sometimes a good lie is as good as a twisted reality.

Wrath of the Titans is due for general release on 30 Mar 2012.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

These Are The Clouds

I have a free story available to read now over at Dark River Press.

'These Are the Clouds' by Anthony Cowin is set in the final days of Earth while the ice returns for a second Ice Age.
With the police killing survivors, The Olympic village now a refugee site and angry mobs marauding the country with destruction and death on their minds a man must make a choice whether or not to relieve the suffering of his wife.

This apocalyptic dystopia is set against the poetry of human life and the failings we all have when survival and love are the only things left.

Also available in the February Stories page on Dark River Press are-

In the Dark by Mara Barreiro
New Boy by James Everington
Purgatory by Junior Lopez

I hope you enjoy reading allthe stories



Wednesday, 15 February 2012

100 Horrors: Tales of Horror in the Blink of an Eye

100 Horrors: Tales of Horror in the Blink of an Eye a fantastic new anthology from emerging publisher Cruentus Libri Press and edited by Kevin G Bufton, is available to purchase on Amazon from today. The concept is 100 authors from the four corners of the globe using their darkest imaginings to write 100 stories running the gamut of horror from serial killers to the supernatural; from the occult to the ordinary.
100 words is all they have to work with, crafting tales of micro-horror with the brevity and intensity of an ice-pick between the eyes.

There are many great writers included in this anthology. Many names I'm sure you'll recognise and others you'll come to enjoy. This really is an eclectic book full of short sharp shocks of terror. My tale of evil and paranoia haunting a young couple in the first days of bring home their baby is included in this collection. It's called 'Hush Little Baby'.

100 Horrors: Tales of Horror in the Blink of an Eye can be immediately downloaded from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by clicking these links. There will also be a paperback version of the book coming soon for all of those readers who either don't have an electronic reading device or simply prefer their tales printed on paper.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Tales from the Script

I once had a friend who was a shopaholic...he had to get drunk just to go shopping with his wife! Are you an honest shopper dear fiends? Are you easily tempted by a bargain too good to be true? Let's find out shall we as we dip into a horror classic called...

From Beyond the Grave

The bell tolls across the credits and guides us through the twilight of Highgate cemetery into another Amicus hit. This time using the famous short story writer, R.Chetwynd-Hayes, as its sole contributor. They would return to Hayes again in the 1980 scarefest, ‘The Monster Club.’

The film starts with the classic Amicus device of a framing story, this time set in a curiosity shop. The proprietor of ‘Temptations Ltd’ is a decrepit Yorkshireman played flawlessly by horror stalwart Peter Cushing. He sells ‘Object dart’ as he calls them, to unsuspecting victims, making it sound like items found at a Jockey Wilson museum.

The first customer is played by David Warner in the tale ‘The Gatecrasher’. An ancient mirror juts between decapitated mannequins and catches the eye of Warner’s character. He deceives Cushing’s shopkeeper into parting with it for a derisive sum. “It’s a deal” the shop keeper says making you think he could be the Devil, or even worse Noel Edmonds.

The mirror looks down upon a group of hip twenty something friends, though this is not a bubbly ‘90’s sitcom. We are thrown into a séance where Warner and co unsuspectingly conjure up a spirit that’s been trapped inside for centuries. The shadowy spirit rises from the darkness with frightening results, proving the old theatre tricks can still be very effective.

The demon bellows out ‘Feed me’ like ‘Audrey II’ from Little Shop of Horrors, maybe an intentional tip of the hat to Roger Corman. Warner has little option but to comply. The rest of the story is taken up with the slaughter and blood of young women he lures up the stairs in scenes reminiscent of Hitchcock’s ‘Frenzy’. His murderous little hobby ends when the spirit is fulfilled enough to ‘walk abroad’ and join The Ultimate, a vast cabal of dark world leaders who use people as food.

The dénouement takes place during a relaxed soiree with new tenants. Of course one of the girls suggests a séance and when the lights are dimmed we see the face of David Warner rise from the darkness of the mirror hungry for blood. It’s feeding time again.

The next story is a creepy favourite for many people. It’s the tale of a man, Ian Bannen, living a boiled potato life with a nagging wife played by Diana Dors. His ego is inflated when a local match seller, played by Halloween's Dr. Loomis, Donald Pleasence,  gives him respect believing he’s a decorated war hero. To continue this rouse Bannen decides to buy a medal from Temptations Ltd, but Cushing’s character won’t sell until he sees his certificate. Of course he steals it from the case and his journey into the darkness begins.

Soon he meets the match seller’s very creepy daughter Emily, played by Pleasence’s real life daughter Angela. Emily’s tells Bannen that she’ll do anything he wants as long as he orders her. So he orders her to bed and they make love under a tapestry that could be the motto for this film, ‘The Wages of Sin Is Death.’

Emily persuades him to order her to stab a doll she’s fashioned from snips of hair and candid photographs of his wife. The hairpin breaks the doll and it bleeds. With his wife gone Bannen is free to marry Emily. At the intimate celebration she once again persuades him to order her, only this time to cut the cake. As she slices the candy groom it bleeds down the tiers and Bannen is also despatched. They turn to the child, played by a very young John O’Farrell, and tell him they always answer childrens wishes, “One way or another.”

The penultimate tale is the comic relief. A switch of price tags from a tin snuff box to a sliver one does it for Ian Carmichael in ‘The Elemental’. Cushing bid farewell to Carmichael with the wittily sinister parting shot, ‘I hope you enjoy snuffing it.’

After a chance meeting with Madame Orloff, a medium for hire, he’s informed there’s an evil spirit inhabiting his body. It possessed him through the dust he blew from the snuff box. He’s initially dubious of her credentials. When the raging spirit creates more domestic damage than a glamour model meeting a Premiership footballer his wife Susan, played by Nyree Dawn Porter, agrees to send for Orloff.

She sits Carmichael down on a chair in the front room and begins to cut the thing from him like a spiritualist barber. The exorcism is accompanied by a raucous crashing of furniture and more plates being smashed than at a Greek double wedding. Eventually the elemental is released and all is back to normal.

Later as the happy couple relax they hear scratching in the floorboards above. Carmichael investigates but he’s thrown to the hallway carpet. Susan, like a short circuited Stepford Wife, is possessed by the Elemental and accuses him of trying to kill it. The iron fire poker swoops down and fades to Temptations Ltd.

Here we have Ian Ogilvy struggling to find enough money to pay for a carved door he’s discovered. Cushing accepts the last £40 in his wallet and places it in the opened drawer of the till to tempt him. The Proprietor returns and starts counting up the money and the film starts counting down to the end.

‘The Door’ is a bookend tale to accompany ‘The Gatecrasher.’ It too is a portal into another world. This time into the past and the castle of a depraved ghost who traps souls behind the door so he may live in eternity.

Ogilvy is locked in when he investigates the room behind the door. He fights the ghost as the castle walls crash around them. Trapped, he screams at his wife, played by the beautiful Lesley-Anne Down, to destroy the door with an axe. Finally the nightmare is over and the room gone. We see a new door open to reveal nothing more than a boring stationary cupboard, boring, but safe.

Cushing counts up to £40 and returns the money to the till. After seeing off an opportunist thief who has been casing the shop throughout the film, he breaks the fourth wall by inviting the viewers into the shop. Telling us he caters for all tastes, “Every one with a novelty surprise.”

If this film doesn’t manage to chill, scare and make you laugh then maybe you should be watching the darts on the other channel. Be very careful it’s not objet d’arts though, you might just be tempted..!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Magpie's Tale- A Themed Anthology.

A Magpie's Tale by Anthony Cowin from Anthony Cowin on Vimeo.

I'm in the final stages of completing my themed anthology titled 'A Magpie's Tale'. Influenced by the Amicus portmanteau films and Hammer Horrors of the 1970's. I hope this book will take people back to those golden days of chillers we watched through stair rails on the top steps while our parents thought we were safely tucked up in bed.

These seven frights of fancy are some of the best short stories I've written and a few new ones just for this book. They are all tied up by a  wrap around story that has a few surprises itself.

I've made a teaser trailer for the book and placed it on You Tube/Vimeo. Hopefully it will whet the readers appetites and motivate me to finish this exciting book as soon as possible.

Keep looking in for news of a release date.

Thank you,


Monday, 23 January 2012

The Secret Serpent

At sunset’s fall I held no blame
‘Til darkness stole from golden flame
She sat alone on riverbank dew
Where shadows cloaked my cold pursuit

A blade of grass, a blade of steel
Treading one and one revealed
Tears fell like fetid rain on,
her blood, her skin. My darkened shame

Her eyes revealed through moonlight mask,
Evacuee of Eden, as tall as masts
She rose.
She laughed.

Ruby mouth dripped with secret musk
Adam’s fruit bulged and thrust
My silver point, my flesh torn
My heart cut out, beat in her palm
Eve’s twilight trick, she’s a man reborn.

Originally published on Lily Childs Feardom.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Track Never Ending.

I saw a girl with mirrors for eyes and a piano smile
Wipe rust from her shoulders under overhead railways
She waved the men home from continents of corrosion.
A full throttle welcome for boys, salty and serving
Stockings at her ankles before the streetlights got warm
A winter of waiting she’s fully deserving.

Piss aromas in tenement stairwells crawl
Corporation rent books stuffed in sofas
Hide behind them when the Tallyman calls.
Musty washing hangs over cracked tubs where,
Silverfish dance in that mildew tango.
A dance for the dockers, she plays their tune
Guinness, guitars and nylon rubs.
A crucifixion peers down at her, she suffers its wounds
She bleeds with its blood.

If Jesus were a docker he’d sail out in the morning
No prayers, no kiss, absent without warning
Gin is the remedy and knitting without wool
The silverfish take the gentlemen’s excuse me
She no longer feels full.
She’s the unsung words to the over sung song.

Paws: The Revenge.