Archive for June, 2014

THE BATTERY is wonderful storytelling whether you like zombies or not

Posted in Movie Reviews on June 25, 2014 by Christian

TheBatteryAlternatePosterSome people won’t like THE BATTERY. Some zombie fans won’t even like THE BATTERY. But if you’re a fan of quiet, creeping horror, of character-driven story, and yes, a little blood and guts, then you will not just appreciate THE BATTERY, you will adore this movie.

On the face of it, THE BATTERY is just another post apocalyptic zombie flick, but that’s like saying the freshest, juiciest hamburger you’ve ever had is basically the same thing as McDonald’s. The difference is in the near-perfect execution—and the amazing patience—that writer/director/producer/star Jeremy Gardner has with this film.

“Ben” (Jeremy Gardner) and “Mickey” (Adam Cronheim) are former teammates from a minor-league baseball team. Ben was a star starting catcher, and Mickey was a pitcher in the bullpen. They didn’t really know each other during their playing days, but have formed a “battery” in the new, zombie-infested world. (For those who are not in the know, a battery is a shorthand term describing a pitcher and catcher.)

Ben has come to terms with the new world they live in, but Mickey hasn’t even adjusted to the point where he can put down a zombie. He hides in his headphones and lets Ben do all the dirty work while they wander from one spot to another. Mickey wants to settle down, find a safe place and maybe some companionship, while Ben believes that their lives are as good as they’re going to get. The tension between these two world views is what drives much of the picture, but especially the first and second acts.

Let me take a moment to applaud Cronheim’s performance. In the hands of another director, his character would come off as weak and whiney, the central casting call for the biggest flake to come in, melt down, and either cause problems to be solved by the hero, or at least be rescued by him. Cronheim doesn’t let this happen. Mickey is not weak. He’s not broken. He’s just different than Ben, closing in on incompatible, but not quite. The dynamic between the two is the movie’s diesel engine.

I mentioned patience with Gardner’s direction. There is a scene about fifteen minutes into the film that encapsulates what people are loving or hating about this movie. Mickey finds a couple of toothbrushes and some toothpaste, and they spend the next dialogue-free 90 seconds brushing their teeth.

Think about how long 90 seconds is in a movie. It’s a long damn time–but Gardner uses the time so well, and the pair’s performance is just so spot on. I mean, just imagine how good brushing your teeth would feel in that situation, and its a great wordless description of Ben’s and Mickey’s relationship. I would say more, but I can’t. The scene says it all.

The plot turns when they find a pair of walkie talkies and discover that there are other people in the area–people who tell them that they aren’t welcome. Mickey argues with Ben about finding them, but he ultimately settles for a night under a roof–something that Ben finds dangerous, but probably just reminds him of the horrors he witnessed the last time he stayed in a house. Their stay there culminates in Mickey’s first zombie kill, and while the blood and violence are something that you’d expect in a zombie movie, the character development is not.

I want to tell you more about the movie. I want to tell you all about the movie, but it is really something just best left experienced, and if your tastes run like mine, you will be awestruck at how much story, how much quality, Gardner squeezes from a mere $6,000 budget. I’ve seen tentpole movies that couldn’t carry this film’s water. Good tentpole movies.

The release date is listed as June 4, 2013 on IMDB.com, and while it is available via streaming portals, the BluRay and DVD are just now only available for preorder with a street date of September 16th. However you watch this movie, though, watch it. THE BATTERY might not be for you, but if it is, you’ll thank me. I’m a huge fan of the genre, from THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD to 28 DAYS LATER to THE WALKING DEAD (which it superficially resembles) but I can unequivocally say, THE BATTERY is the best zombie film I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot.

What’s my current manuscript about? Find out with Five by Five…

Posted in Observations & Musings on June 17, 2014 by Christian

J. David Anderson, author of A TRAIL IN BLOOD, tagged me in the “Five by Five” writing meme, in which a writer posts five thoughts about their own work-in-progress (WIP) and tags five other writers.

After finishing LOSING TOUCH, I tapped out a novel-length manuscript called THE AFTERWALKERS, which is in the spit and polish phase. It’s about a transient amnesiac who survives by stealing his victims’ life forces. But that’s not really a work-in-progress.

And so … on with the show:

  1. My current manuscript is tentatively titled LAKE WASHEGAMA, and is about a man who moves his family into his dead uncle’s country cottage, only to discover that (gasp) things aren’t what they seem!
  2. The idea came to me the morning of New Year’s Eve, when the title HIVE MIND came to mind. Unfortunately, I already have a published short story by that title, a fact which I only just remembered in the last month or so, necessitating a new title.
  3. It started out more as a monster story, but I found that it became just as much about the main character’s relationship with his uncle, as relayed in flashbacks and memories.
  4. The main character is an ex-radio jock, which I intended to make more of the story at the beginning, because it’s how I earned my living for fifteen years, but that part of the story never really took off. I’m not sure if it will stay in the final draft.
  5. I’m about 85% done with the first draft, which means I’m about 15% away from not knowing what to do with this thing.

So that’s it–five thoughts about my current work-in-progress. But this meme isn’t called “Five”, it’s “Five by Five”, so I’m tagging Taylor Grant, T. Fox Dunham, Rob Smales, Dawn Napier, and Shaun Meeks to make it right … only, that makes it six (them plus me), which means I’m in violation of meme law and subject to punishment by a tribunal of cats.

I can only pray my sentence is swift, Judge Grumpy Cat.

I can only pray my sentence is swift, Judge Grumpy Cat.

 

QUALIA NOUS adds tales by Chambers, Kelley

Posted in News on June 11, 2014 by Christian
"Cataldo's Copy" to feature in QUALIA NOUS.

“Cataldo’s Copy” to feature in QUALIA NOUS.

Two more stories have been added to QUALIA NOUS, the upcoming sci-fi/horror anthology from Written Backwards. Editor Michael Bailey has announced that “The Price of Faces” by James Chambers and “The Effigies of Tamber Square” by Jon Michael Kelley are the two newest entrants into the table of contents.

Chambers, who hails from New York, is the author of THE ENGINES OF SACRIFICE (Dark Regions Press), a collection of four cosmic horror novellas that Publisher’s Weekly called “chillingly evocative”.  Earlier this year, Dark Quest Books published his urban fantasy novella, THREE CHORDS OF CHAOS.

Kelley is the author of the novel, SERAPHIM (Evil Jester Press). He has also contributed to such anthologies as CHIRAL MAD (“The Persistence of Vision”), CHIRAL MAD 2 (“The Tended Field of Eido Yamata”), and MISERIA’S CHORALE (“The Catacomb Enigma”). He lives in a gold-mining town in the mountains of Colorado.

Here is the working table of contents for QUALIA NOUS, ordered by alpha:

Bailey said that the final table of contents might be established by the end of June, but he’s waiting on two more solicited submissions before making his final selections. In any event, QUALIA NOUS will be available later this year in paperback from Written Backwards.

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

Nolan, Booth, Brock take three spots in QUALIA NOUS

Posted in News on June 10, 2014 by Christian
"Cataldo's Copy" to feature in QUALIA NOUS.

“Cataldo’s Copy” to feature in QUALIA NOUS.

Editor Michael Bailey has accepted three more stories for the upcoming sci-fi/horror anthology, QUALIA NOUS: William F. Nolan‘s “A New Man”, Max Booth III‘s “The Neighborhood Has a Barbecue”, and Jason V. Brock‘s novelette, “Simulacrum”.

Nolan, who co-authored LOGAN’S RUN with George Clayton Johnson as part of a long and prolific career, was named an Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2006 and given a lifetime achievement award from the Horror Writers Association in 2010. Last month, Nolan won a Bram Stoker Award® for his non-fiction collection NOLAN ON BRADBURY.

Booth is the author of two novels: TOXICITY (April 2014) and THE MIND IS A RAZORBLADE (September 2014). He has also written two story collections: THEY MIGHT BE DEMONS and TRUE STORIES TOLD BY A LIAR (now out of print). He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.

Brock is an award-winning documentarian of CHARLES BEAUMONT: THE SHORT LIFE OF THE TWILIGHT ZONE’S MAGIC MAN and THE ACKERMAN CHRONICLES! and the author of the novella, MILTON’S CHILDREN. His upcoming non-fiction book, DISORDERS OF MAGNITUDE is due August 1st from Rowman & Littlefield.

Here is the working table of contents for QUALIA NOUS, ordered by alpha:

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QUALIA NOUS will be available later this year in paperback from Written Backwards.

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

Printers Row XXX recap: NSFW

Posted in News on June 9, 2014 by Christian
(L-R: Joseph Matulich, Cynthia Pelayo, me, Max Booth III, Michael Matula, and Brian Dobbins)

(L-R: Joseph Matulich, Cynthia Pelayo, me, Max Booth III, Michael Matula, and Brian Dobbins)

Now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.

Now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.

Oooh, baby. I mean day-ummm. There was some hawt eye-on-book action at Printers Row XXX in Chicago. A full-frontal literary event, you might say. If you were looking for writers, publishers, and booksellers workin’ it, then baby, Printers Row XXX was the place to be this weekend.

I was there signing copies of LOSING TOUCH with Post Mortem Press, alongside my fellow authors Max Booth III (TOXICITY), Brian Dobbins (WITCH’S CARTEL), Cynthia Pelayo (SANTA MUERTE), Michael Matula (TRY NOT TO BURN), and Josef Matulich (CAMP ARCANUM), and some of us even brought our wives (or husband, as the case may be). The whole thing was like a Christina Aguilera video, really.

With all the drop-dead sexiness happening all around us, Max and I decided to play to our strengths and stage a bum fight between the two of us, but when push came to shove, we both fell down. How the signs ended up in our laps, I don’t know. And I don’t think I wanna know. And I think I’m safe not knowing, because what happens at Printers Row Lit Fest … stays at Printers Row Lit Fest.

We're almost ready to be eaten by a bath salt zombie.

We’re almost ready to be eaten by bath salt zombies.

If you missed Printers Row XXX, you will not want to miss next year. Just be sure to bring a bunch of singles, and leave your black lights at home, m’kay?

Printers Row XXX: Day II–today!

Posted in News on June 8, 2014 by Christian
Now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.

Now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.

Couldn’t make it to Printers Row yesterday? That’s fine. Post Mortem Press has got a whole ‘nother day racked up for you with authors signing books, including Max Booth III (TOXICITY), Michael Matula (TRY NOT TO BURN), and Brian Dobbins (WITCH’S CARTEL). And yes, I’ll be personalizing copies of LOSING TOUCH, too.

If you missed yesterday, you missed an appearance by the owners of Burial Day Books, Cynthia and Gerardo PelayoJosef Matulich‘s (CAMP ARCANUM) wife, Kit, cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West so loud it bounced off the buildings across the street, and Booth guilting people in to buying his book with one of the most unique sales pitches I have ever seen:

"I am poor and there is a big lizard in my backyard. Please buy my book so I can feed it."

“I am poor and there is a big lizard in my backyard. Please buy my book so I can feed it.”

You’ll find the Post Mortem Press table at 537 S. Dearborn Street, right across from the Mystery Writer’s of America and the Chicago Writer’s Association.

There are puh-lenty of things to do today when you come down to Printers Row, like readings, panel discussions, music, food, and kids’ programming, and it’s the perfect size outdoor street festival for you to enjoy a little bit of downtown without being mobbed by a bunch of college-age drunks. We’re older than that.

LOSING TOUCH is “unique and fun”

Posted in Book Reviews, News on June 7, 2014 by Christian

Ohio reader “Big Al” has written a four-star review of my novel LOSING TOUCH, which features a foreword by New York Times bestseller Piers Anthony:

Now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.

Now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.

This book sneaks up on you.

Imaginative, pretty well paced after you get into it, and the characterization is more than the description would lead you to expect.

Great story about a man at the end of his rope after being unemployed. Not really horror, not really sci-fi, not really superhero stuff. Its own genre.

Larsen has a deft stroke with language, and I look forward to more from him. Some slow spots … but a very good book. You haven’t read one like it before.

If you don’t own a copy of LOSING TOUCH yet, order it in paperback, Kindle, or Nook, or visit me this weekend at the Post Mortem Press table at Printer’s Row Lit Fest. I’ll be there with signing with fellow Post Mortem Press authors Josef Matulich (CAMP ARCANUM),  Brian Dobbins (WITCH’S CARTEL), Michael Matula (TRY NOT TO BURN), Cynthia Pelayo (SANTA MUERTE), and Max Booth III (TOXICITY).

You’ll find the lit fest on Dearborn Street between Congress Parkway and Polk Street. If you’re taking the ‘L’, the Harrison Street stop on the Red Line will be closed for construction this weekend. Your best bet is to get off at the Jackson Street stop and walk to the festival. We’ll be there 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Hope to see you there!