"Run-of-the-mill" seems like a modestly accurate way to describe myself in terms of horror fandom. In certain respects I find that valuable, since ideally I can make an appeal to those like myself, to those who may be testing the waters, and hopefully to the hardcore horror fans as well. (And I sincerely encourage feedback, especially from the latter.) It wasn't until several years ago, the present time of this writing being December of '09 to give perspective, that the genre genuinely appealed to me and I owe all that to the film adaptation of Stephen King's 'IT'. After that, it was a slow and steady progression that grew into watching more Stephen King film adaptations, then into watching general horror films. In more recent years it's branched from solely films into different mediums, namely: comics (comic books, manga, graphic novels, webcomics, etc.), purely written literature, and different games.

But let's get to the point, shall we? The Darkley Niche is something I've constructed after the comic-in-progress that a friend and myself plan on self-publishing, an anthology of short horror stories much in the same vein as 'Tales from the Crypt' and similar titles. The series centers around a faceless persona we've affectionately dubbed Alan Darkley, the Niche's namesake, and a cast of storytellers whose tales fall within particular subgenres and sister genres of horror. This site is the drawing board, if you will, where everything posted is either a form of research or a roughing out of ideas. It's all relevant in some fashion. By exploring these different horror stories and their mediums a better understanding and influence of the genre, as well as inspiration, can be put into the comic. Even if you have no personal interest in the project, perhaps you can glean something from the reviews and the like. And if nothing else, the Niche will work to serve my own purposes.

Be sure to browse over the column of banners below if you're looking for posts on a particular topic. (And at the very bottom of the blog, if you would like to consult the complete listing of post labels.) Otherwise, scroll down past them to get to the most recent articles. Likewise, refer to the right side for our latest tweets.

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

About Myself

My photo
Well, here's yours truly. The name's Drew, in case you were wondering. The Niche is my personal site, while the comic-in-progress is a partnered effort with Don, a lifelong friend of mine. We collaborate on the stories, but my partner's the writer in the outfit while I am the illustrator. This is currently little more than a side project, but we hope to make something of it.

artwork by yours truly

artwork and artist features

movies, short films, TV, webisodes, etc.

frightful films for your year-round festivities

book reviews: consult the niche's necronomicon

comic-related news and reviews

zed in the head randomness

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter at the Niche, part II

Here's the continuation of "Easter at the Niche". To read the previous post, click here.

'Night of the Lepus'

Likewise, 'Night of the Lepus' (1972) is another film that I haven't seen. For some reason, though, I am familiar with the running giant rabbits scene. Seems like it was playing in the background at some point during 'The Matrix', though I can't say for certain. Maybe it's a subtle play on the Alice in Wonderland theme in the movie. Hard to say.

The premise is that the rabbit population has grown out of control in a small Arizona town, so an experimental hormonal serum is used in the hopes of causing birth defects and thus dwindle down the populace. This, of course, does not go according to plan. Instead, the serum creates a horde of huge, carnivorous rabbits.

Cheesy? Most likely. But '[...] Lepus' just might be what you're looking for if mutant rabbits sounds appealing.


Perhaps just as obscure as 'Night of the Lepus', 'Resurrection' (1999) is a murder mystery thriller that I haven't even heard of up until now. Here's an IMDB plot summary:
"Detective John Prudhomme, a Cajun transplanted to Chicago, is assigned to investigate the savage murder of a man who has bled to death from a severed arm. A message, "He Is Coming", written in blood on the victim's window is a dark, forboding clue of his task. After two more victims with missing body parts are discovered, Prudhomme realizes he is on the trail of a serial killer who is using the missing body parts to reconstruct the body of Christ...just in time for Easter. As Prudhomme struggles to catch the zealot-murderer, he is haunted by the death of his son, his continued estrangement from his wife, and his wavering faith in God."
Of all the Easter related examples listed, this is perhaps the one that might offend Christians most. As far as I see it, however, it boils down to the dillusions of a psychotically disturbed person. I would argue that the premise is on a similar par with stories like Frankenstein, except that these victims were still alive. (Mind you, that isn't a reflection on the quality of the stories, only that their themes are similar. I sincerely doubt that 'Resurrection' comes anywhere within the league of Frankenstein.) So instead of graverobbing we have murder, and instead of creating life we have an attempt at resurrection. Different, but still similar.

30-Second Bunnies

A Flash-based cartoon series, "30-Second Bunnies" parodies popular films and replaces the actors with bunnies, occasionally even pinning bunny ears on random animals and objects for added humor. As the series title suggests, the episode shorts take thirty seconds to summarize the content of the original movies. Ever wonder what 'Night of the Living Dead', 'The Shining', or 'Freddy vs. Jason' would be like as an animated skit? Well, wonder no more. Watch these and others on the "30-Second Bunnies" horror channel at their website. It may not be outright Easter horror, but it does have bunnies and it does have horror.

'Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit'

More comedy than actual horror, 'Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' takes a playful jab at mad scientists, werewolves, and typical plot devices found in classic horror. While silver bullet are effective against werewolves, they apparently prove useless against were-rabbits. So what is, then? 24-karat gold, according to the town reverend. Yes, an obvious pun on the word "carrot".

While '[...] Were-Rabbit' is not a holiday horror film, like "30-Second Bunnies", it does feature the long-eared animals linked to the Easter-time season. Consider this movie if you're looking for something more light-hearted.

'Alien' films

Of course what would Easter be without the eggs? Unlike Easter eggs, though, these aren't the kind that you want to find around the house.

'Alien' and the films to follow are infamous for the "facehuggers", which are responsible for laying Xenomorph eggs inside of its victims. But even then these creatures come from eggs of their own. Maybe as a game, watch the 'Alien' movies and see how many facehugger eggs you can count. If you want to include 'Alien vs. Predator' and 'Alien vs. Predator: Requiem', that's your call.

Easter at the Niche, part I

In the mood for some seasonal horror with an Easter theme? While the selection is limited, the Niche will list several examples to help satisfy your craving. Not all of these are directly Easter related, per se (or necessarily "horror", for that matter). However, there are relevant tie-ins with themes of the holiday (ex: rabbits, eggs, etc.). Our only stipulation here is excluding explicitly religious subject matter, which might be deemed offensive. It may have religious themes tied to Easter, but nothing that directly involves Christ. If you were expecting something in regards to "zombie Jesus", it's not happening.

FEWDIO's Easter Bunny

We touched briefly on this short video in a previous post. FEWDIO, creator of the short "The Easter Bunny is Eating My Candy", is a production team currently consisting of seven individuals with a simple objective that is effectively summed up in a single sentence: "We create nightmares." Indeed, they do. Just a personal recommendation, if you watch "Easter Bunny" or the other shorts do it alone and in the dark. It's a surefire way to frighten you awake.

Also, a brief thanks to Paul of FEWDIO for the kind words about the aforementioned post.

creepy Easter Bunny costume

A traditional Halloween costume of a frightening rabbit ("Peter Rottentail", example seen left) would also work well to scare the lil' tikes during Easter time. We're sure that those out there with a dark sense of humor could concoct something creative. Just be sure to do it in good fun, alight? There's a significant difference between a playful scare and terrifying a child to tears. Remember to use a little discretion and common sense.


'Donnie Darko'

Speaking of costumes, we're sure that most of you are familiar with Frank the rabbit from 'Donnie Darko'. While the film is more science fiction/psychological thriller than horror, they don't come much creepier than Frank. The macabre, skull-like grin and whispering voice alone are enough to make anyone shiver. It doesn't get better when Frank unmasks himself, either.

As an Easter egg to horror fans, notice that 'The Evil Dead' plays on screen while Frank and Donnie converse in the dimly lit movie theater. Even before this, take note of the double feature sign outside the theater, which advertises 'Halloween' and 'Frightmare'. If you want to give it another Easter tie-in, you'll see that 'The Last Temptation of Christ' was also showing as Donnie leaves the theater.

Švankmajer's 'Alice'

Czech artist Jan Švankmajer masterfully creates a dark retelling of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland in this 1988 Surrealist fantasy film. Wonderland itself is made mostly of a succession of dilapidated, cryptic rooms and baiting Alice along the way is the iconic White Rabbit. However, with its false glass eyes and a visceral tear across its stomach that constantly spills sawdust, this White Rabbit is an actual taxidermied animal brought to life by stop-motion animation. It initially escapes its display after biting through the nails in its paws. Rather unsettling, to say the least.

Watch a sample of Švankmajer's 'Alice' here.

'Critters 2: The Main Course'

Now, I haven't watched this particular film franchise yet. However, I've come to learn that the sequel is set in a small town during the holiday festivities. In fact, the Crites even attack a man dressed in costume as the Easter Bunny. Is that incentive enough to watch? I think so, yes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

postcard zombie prints: NotLD's Karen Cooper

Here's the fourth postcard-sized print in my series of cinematic zombies, Karen Cooper (Kyra Schon) from Romero and Russo's 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968).

Aside from the gruesome discovery of young Karen devouring her father's remains, the most memorable bit of this sequence was the stabbing of her mother with a bricklayer's trowel. In some respects, the "ghouls" of 'Night of the Living Dead' were more revolutionary than their modern, shambling (or in some cases running) counterparts. After all, these were tool-users. Additionally, unlike Romero's later adaptations, these zombies seemed to have an immediate grasp of the concept. In films like 'Day of the Dead' and 'Land of the Dead' it was a gradually learned process, whereas in this first film it was instinctive. Personally, that notion instills a greater sense of dread. I wanted to convey this in Karen, capturing her with the trowel raised in hand menacingly.

These prints are for sale, so send me an e-mail if you are interested in purchasing. My current asking price is $2.50 USD each ($8 for four prints), plus an additional $2 for mailing costs. Prints will include my personal signature as well. There will also be no watermark, as seen here.

NOTICE: The background is the original poster artwork from the film. It's a filler and gives recognition to the movie from which the depicted character is derived from.

Previous postcard zombie prints:
*Trash from 'The Return of the Living Dead'
*Tarman from 'The Return of the Living Dead'
*Cemetery Zombie from 'Night of the Living Dead'

FEWDIO's Easter Bunny

Easter is drawing near with the passing of Palm Sunday yesterday, so in anticipation of this holiday enjoy one of the few Easter-themed horror videos out there, made by FEWDIO. Their videos are legitimately creepy, so if you're curious for more explore their website. Otherwise, expect to see more FEWDIO videos featured in the Niche later on. (WARNING: this video is not for those sensitive to gore or animal violence)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

five-dollar bin finds

Today I took a page from Rhonny Reaper's book, owner of the Dollar Bin Horror blog, and did a little bin diving of my own. Most Walmart stores have a five-dollar movie bin that circulates its selection from time to time. Usually it's compiled with clutter, namely mainstream flops and independent unknowns, but every so often there is a gem or two to be found. Case in point this time around, 'Night of the Living Dead' (1990 remake) and 'Dawn of the Dead' (2004 remake).

Now, some might argue otherwise, as remakes tend to be rather controversial at any rate. It's probably safe to say that the latter has received a better overall reception than the former, though it seems rather odd since 'Night [...]' was more true to the original film. Personally, I find both films to be rather good. But I digress.

There were several other discounted DVDs that I did find awfully tempting (ex: 'The Skeleton Key' and 'Land of the Dead'*), but working on a very limited income keeps me mindful. These two were necessary. And it is necessary since reference material is crucial to my current illustration project, the postcard zombie prints series. Granted, I have and will be renting many of the other movies and it would have been cheaper to rent these two. However, it only cost a few dollars more to own them, so I splurged a little.

I can't say with any real certainty that I will use these specific remakes in my illustrated series before the comic convention in mid-May. There are a plethora of original zombie films that I plan to make headway on, so the remakes will have to take a backseat. Eventually, though, I would like to get to these.

In the meantime, I can still enjoy re-watching these two Romero remakes. If you haven't seen either, I suggest that you watch the originals first. As far as 'Day of the Dead' (2008 remake) goes, well, in my opinion you aren't missing much if it gets stepped over. It does have its moments, I will give it that.

*'Land of the Dead' will be included in the illustrated zombies series, however I have already rented this video. Otherwise, I might have been inclined to purchase this one as well.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

postcard zombie prints: NotLD's Cemetery Zombie

Here's the third postcard-sized print in my series of cinematic zombies, the Cemetery Zombie (Bill Hinzman) from Romero and Russo's 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968).

Hinzman's zombie appears at various points throughout the film, but the scene most memorable to myself is his attack on Barbra (Judith O'Dea), when she is trapped inside her brother's car. Something about the way he slammed his palms against the windows made it intense, so it seemed to me that it would make a dynamic pose in this print.

These prints are for sale, so send me an e-mail if you are interested in purchasing. My current asking price is $2.50 USD each ($8 for four prints), plus an additional $2 for mailing costs. Prints will include my personal signature as well. There will also be no watermark, as seen here.

NOTICE: The background is the original poster artwork from the film. It's a filler and gives recognition to the movie from which the depicted character is derived from.

Previous postcard zombie prints:
*Trash from 'The Return of the Living Dead'
*Tarman from 'The Return of the Living Dead'

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quirk Books trailers

Likely you have at least heard mention of one or more of the titles published by Quirk Books in the past two years, such as: 'Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters', 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies', or the most recent, 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls'. ('Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' was written by Seth Grahame-Smith, author of 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies', but released instead through Grand Central Publishing. It doesn't fit the theme of the other books, so this makes some sense.) Aside from their unique twist on the classic literature of English novelist Jane Austen, these released horror-injected remakes included their own film trailers. I'm no bibliophile by any means, but it seems rather rare for such a thing in the world of books. So here are the trailers to two of the aforementioned novels.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

postcard zombie prints: RotLD's Tarman

Here's the second postcard-sized print in my series of cinematic zombies, the Tarman (Allan Trautman) from 'The Return of the Living Dead' (1985). There's also a cameo of Tarman in 'The Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave' (2005), which did an awesome rendition of the zombie, but I decided to opt for the original version instead. These prints are for sale, so send me an e-mail if you are interested in purchasing. My current asking price is $2.50 USD each ($8 for four prints), plus an additional $2 for mailing costs. Prints will include my personal signature as well. There will also be no watermark, as seen here.

This takes care of my current objective for 'The Return of the Living Dead' zombies, but I may be inclined to revisit it later to create a couple more prints, like the Yellow Cadaver zombie. In the meantime it's on to George A. Romero's movies, starting with the 1968 classic, 'Night of the Living Dead'. Expect to see the Cemetery Zombie (Bill Hinzman) sometime next week.

NOTICE: The background is the original poster artwork from the film. It's a filler and gives recognition to the movie from which the depicted character is derived from.

Previous postcard zombie prints:
*Trash from 'The Return of the Living Dead'

Thursday, March 18, 2010

postcard zombie prints: RotLD's Trash

While it's not affiliated with the Darkley comic project, it seems appropriate to post this here at the Niche. For an upcoming comic convention in May, I'm illustrating a series of postcard-sized prints of zombies (including infected types, like '28 Days Later'), specifically those from movies. The agenda is to finish one print per week, two if I'm feeling adventurous. These are also for sale online, so send me an e-mail if you are interested in purchasing. My current asking price is $2.50 USD each ($8 for four prints), plus an additional $2 for mailing costs. Prints will include my personal signature as well.

So this week we have that infamous pink-haired punk rocker, Trash (Linnea Quigley), from Dan O'Bannon's 'The Return of the Living Dead' (1985). As an added bonus the Tarman zombie is also included in this illustration, who appears to be rather smitten by her. Next on the agenda is the Tarman zombie, himself. Then it's on to Romero's zombies.

NOTICE: The background is the original poster artwork from the film. It's a filler and gives recognition to the movie from which the depicted character is derived from.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rotting Hills

The Canadians were definitely onto something with children's horror cartoons. Nelvana, a Canadian entertainment company established in 1971, is responsible for the humorous "Gruesomestein's Monsters" (2005) shorts as well as this ghoulish little gem, a miniseries called 'Rotting Hills' (2005). It's a cute show, and I'm sad to see that it came to be only five episodes long.

'Rotting Hills' centers on young Clark (Shannon Perreault), whose father (Dwayne Hill) has moved the family out into the country where things are supposedly simpler than in the city. Too bad it happened to be Rotting Hills (formerly known as Restful Hills), a township where the locals are zombies. However, it's not all bad. The neighbors are quite friendly, regardless of being dead, and Clark slowly becomes friends with a zombie girl named Zoe (Julie Lemieux) and her pet dog Buddy, which also happens to be dead.

Normally a miniseries doesn't warrant a rating here at the Darkley Niche, but I have to give 'Rotting Hills' five out of five Zoe zombies. Watch the first episode for yourself to see why. The rest of the episodes are also on YouTube.

randomness: TLC's Cake Boss goes zombie

let them eat cake... and braaaiiinnns

Monday, March 15, 2010

randomness: What To Do In A Zombie Attack

oh, it was a simpler time

Travis Pitts' Scooby-Doo tee

"We've Got Some Work To Do Now"

I've seen this image circulating on a couple of horror blogs, and I can see why. Travis Pitts takes the classic cartoon 'Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!' and adds a dose of semi-realism with a more modern horror movie perspective. Here's what the artist had to say about the conceptual process behind his Threadless tee design:
"Sticking with my favorite theme of heroic girls (see: Robot Derby Girl, Diodes are a Girl's Best Friend) and injecting realism or plausibilty to silly pop culture icons (ex: Madness of Mission 6 = PAC-MAN), I knew I wanted to make a certain teen detective her canine companion into the sole survivors of a Monsterpocalypse for the threadless loves Horror contest.

Everyone knows that it's always the timid, quiet, second-string female character that gets the dramatic arc and has the wits and skill to survive most horror movies. I struggled for days trying to come up with a semi-realistic interpretation of this toughened, nerdy survivor-type gal- until I remembered I was dating one, and asked her to model for it. She agreed -took a series of pics herself and h
eld an umbrella in place of the shotgun. She wasn't sure about any of them but as soon as I saw the 3rd or 4th one I knew i had my pose."
Travis Pitts, modeling his tee

presumably Pitts' aforementioned girlfriend, modeling his tee

Travis Pitts' Scooby-Doo tee, "We've Got Some Work To Do Now", comes in sizes small to extra large for men and women on slate gray shirts at eighteen dollars each. Shirts are available for purchase here. If you liked this, then be sure to check out the rest of Travis' work at his Threadless account and blog site, ZOM-BOT Labs.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Goosebumps: The Girl Who Cried Monster

The previous post makes for a good transition into the latest 'Goosebumps' review. Presenting the eighth, on-going installment of the Niche's R.L. Stine series reviews, here's 'The Girl Who Cried Monster'. (WARNING: spoilers ahead)

Lucy Dark is a twelve-year-old girl with straight black hair and eyes, a rounded face, very fair skin, and is short for her age, much like her younger brother, Randy. Her favorite pastime is giving him a fright, claiming to see "toe-biters" and other monsters around nearly every corner in their hometown of Timberland Falls. Even her parents and best friend Aaron Messer, a lanky boy with curly red hair and freckles, have heard more than enough of her tall tales. These tales are especially exasperating to Lucy's mother. Scaring Randy, particularly, puts Mrs. Dark in a foul mood with her daughter. So it comes as no surprise that when Lucy does find an actual monster nobody believes her. Of course, most probably drew this conclusion simply from the novella's title.

Enrolled in the town library's summer reading program, the "Reading Rangers", Lucy arrives for her weekly meet with Mr. Mortman the librarian to give a synopsis of her latest assigned book, Huckleberry Finn. Mr. Mortman is an overall friendly man, bald and plump with small eyes that seem even smaller when he smiles. However his hands that are always sopping wet, likely from handling his pet turtles, which are kept on his desk in a pan of shallow water. So while Mr. Mortman is a generally warm person, certain characteristics such as these give Lucy the creeps. When Lucy returns to the library later to retrieve her forgotten rollerblades, she is given a legitimate reason to be uneasy. Hidden behind the bookcases and shadow of onset dusk during the closed hours, she secretly witnesses a disturbing transformation.
"His head floated up from his turtleneck and started to expand, like a balloon being inflated [...] his eyes bulged out as if on stems, poking straight up like insect antennae [...] And then his mouth began to twist and grow. It opened wide, like a gaping black hole [...]"
Adding to Lucy's horror, the thing that once was Mr. Mortman begins to consume a jar full of living flies by the handful, which were assumed to be food for the turtles. She makes a blind run for it and hastily leaves the library. When she regains her wits, Lucy realizes that the rollerblades are still inside the library and returns, even after what she witnessed, to retrieve them. This time, however, she decides to make her presence very obvious. After all, if Mr. Mortman hears someone coming inside, he won't let himself be seen as a monster. At least that is her reasoning, at any rate. But the library's front door is locked, so Lucy walks back home. Telling her family about Mr. Mortman, they don't pay her much mind and Lucy wonders herself if it was just her imagination.

At her next Reading Rangers meeting, Lucy gives Mr. Mortman her brief report on 'Frankenstein'; a rather appropriate read for her, really. She tries to bait him a little with a few questions to see if she can get a reaction, even something subtle, but gets nothing. At least nothing certain. So for her own peace of mind, Lucy decides to hide out in the library before closing, folding herself up in a low, empty bookshelf. After all the patrons have left and Mr. Mortman has locked up, she leaves the shelf to stand and secretly watch within a nearby aisle. All appears normal with the librarian, who hums to himself as he routinely straightens his desk. But then out comes the jar of living flies. Just like before, Mr. Mortman's head begins to bloat, his eyes stem outward, and his smile twists into a ghastly, gaping maw. "Dinnertime, my timid friends," says the monster in Mr. Mortman's scratchy voice. After feasting on the flies for a while, he turns his attention to the pet turtles. As it turns out they aren't pets after all, but more food for the monster.

The sound of shells cracking is enough to make Lucy turn tail. Not caring if he hears, she flees for the door, only to have forgotten that it has been locked. She was trapped, trapped with the monster. And rapid footsteps were close behind her. But her wits come back in time to open the door and race across the front lawn and cut through a hedge. "Hey, is someone out there?" Mr. Mortman calls. Apparently he hadn't seen her, but it isn't certain. So she runs over to Aaron's house to tell him what had happened at the library. But the conversation goes unsuccessfully, assuming that it is another of Lucy's fanciful fabrications. It's bad enough that her family doesn't believe her, but for her best friend not to is very upsetting for the girl. You can't blame their disbelief, really. So she leaves in a huff and returns home, only to get two scares. The first is from Randy, who leaves a papier-mâché monster in her bed for a cheap startle (she had it coming). The second, Mr. Mortman shows up soon after at their front door.

Turns out that Lucy had left her backpack behind at the library and Mr. Mortman came by to return it. Was there an ulterior motive to this visit? Probably, since he mentions someone sneaking in the library after closing, added to the fact that he lives in the other direction. He seems like a friendly guy, but I don't know if he's that nice. In any case, Mr. Mortman leaves as Lucy's parents return home. Again, she tries to convince them that Mr. Mortman is a monster, which simply aggravates her mother more. Just an excuse to get out of the Reading Rangers program, Mrs. Dark says. So of course this steels her resolve even more to prove it. Lucy arranges the next afternoon to spy on Mr. Mortman with Aaron, who is a no-show due to a coinciding dental appointment. That dirty traitor, she mutters mentally. Regardless, she discreetly enters the library and hides past closing time.

This time Lucy comes prepared with a camera. Funny thing, she forgets about the flash. When she snaps a picture of the monster it startles him and angrily gives chase. However, Mr. Mortman is hindered by the temporary blindness caused by the flash and Lucy escapes, apparently unseen. That same evening, the Dark family go out for Chinese food at the mall, which also has a one-hour photo developer. Lucy drops off the roll of film before they have dinner, then returns for the photos, after. Eagerly she flips through the photographs for the one snapshot. Strangely, though, the picture is perfectly clear. The desk is there, the tray and turtles are there, but no monster. It would seem that Mr. Mortman, at least in his monster form, cannot be captured of film. Lucy makes this case to her parents, but an empty picture is very flimsy evidence.

Lucy's ace in the hole becomes Aaron, a no-nonsense sort of person, who can serve as a witness and knows her parents will believe. Instead of hiding in the library again, this time the two children follow Mr. Mortman to his house after closing time. The first floor windows are too tall, so Aaron fetches a nearby wheelbarrow for Lucy to stand on as he keeps it steady for her. She has a close call, but luckily an aquarium of exotic fish obscure the window well. In case you haven't guessed by now, these fish are as much pets as Mr. Mortman's turtles. Turning into the monster again, he reaches into the tank and helps himself to a few of his "timid friends". Suddenly, seeing that Aaron isn't steadying the wheelbarrow, Lucy falls. The commotion is enough to get Mr. Mortman's attention, who comes outside, human, and grabs her before fleeing. She makes a weak excuse and quickly runs away. "You shouldn't have come all this way!" he calls after her, but lets Lucy go. Aaron finds her soon afterward, having hidden himself during the earlier ordeal. And of course he didn't see a thing.

Eventually Lucy's next Reading Rangers meet rolls around. Despite her protests, Mrs. Dark forces her to go. It's a miserable, rainy day, which makes the tread toward the library even more dreadful. Mr. Mortman greets her kindly as he usually would, and there are other patrons around in the library, so this puts Lucy a little at ease. As she waits for her meet, though, the patrons dwindle until it leaves Mr. Mortman and herself. Alone. And before seeing to Lucy, he locks the door. "I'm sorry, but I can't let you leave, Lucy. I can't let you leave the library," Mr. Mortman growls. (On a side note, he growls this in her ear, which seems a borderline pedo creepy, if you ask me.) It was only a matter of time before he deduced this, really, especially after her repeated attempts. Mr. Mortman becomes the monster and means to do her harm. Fortunately for Lucy, he has his priorities out of order. She accidentally knocks over the library card catalog and escapes while the monster attends to the scattered cards. And as an added gesture of Lady Luck smiling on Lucy, Aaron catches up to her. Turns out that he was hiding in the library and saw the entire event unfold.

At the Dark homestead, Lucy and Aaron repeat what had transpired at the library. Aaron's testimony is key to the story's credibility, as the parents would have dismissed it otherwise. So what do two grown adults do when confronted with a situation such as this? Why, they invite the monster in question over for dinner, of course! ... Yeah. Didn't see that coming. A few evenings later, Mr. Mortman arrives in answer to their invitation. Neither Mr. Mortman nor Lucy can seem to make heads or tails of this awkward position that they find themselves in. What's Mr. and Mrs. Dark's game? The adults chat for a while, serving iced tea as they make small talk. Gradually the conversation shifts over to supper. "What's for dinner?" asks Mr. Mortman, beginning to relax. "You are," replies Lucy's father. Mr. Mortman nervously asks again, feigning that he misheard, and Mr. Dark simply reiterates. Without any hesitation, Lucy's parents pounce on the librarian, baring fangs and devour him, bones and all. Lucy narrates, "My brother and I haven't gotten our fangs yet. That's why we couldn't join in."

Why were Lucy's parents skeptical about her seeing a monster when they were, themselves, monsters? Turns out that Mr. Mortman was the first monster in nearly twenty years to come to Timberland Falls. As for why they devoured him, besides protecting Lucy, was to protect themselves. Her mother explains to the children.
"You both understand why we had to do that, don't you? We can't allow any other monsters in town. It would frighten the whole community. And we don't want people to get frightened and chase us away. We like it here!"
Apparently Aaron doesn't know, then. Poor kid. Probably better that he doesn't find out. And so the 'The Girl Who Cried Monster' ends with Lucy telling her little brother another scary story before bed, actually retelling what happened earlier at the library, and gets a scolding from her mother. No more monster stories, Lucy.

While the majority of the story was pretty predictable, the ending was a pleasant twist. And one that made sense, too. (I'm talking about you, 'Say Cheese and Die!' *wags finger at*) Also, there was no annoying family pet dog and the younger brother wasn't irritable in the slightest, though we know that he acts as six-year-old siblings typically do. It was a simple story, sure, but I liked it overall. Perhaps it's partly the summer reading program, which brings back good memories. I give it three-and-a-half out of five 'Goosebumps' Gs.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Pet Monster

Maybe you remember this furry blue guy growing up, like I do. Now, I never saw the cartoon, movie, or children's books. Heck, I didn't even think that this plush plaything had a franchise until I learned about it recently. (Funny what you can accidentally stumble across on YouTube.) All I recall is seeing this guy among my friend Don's collection of toys when we were younger. It's a shame that he doesn't have it anymore. Would have been nice to include a photo in the post, for nostalgia's sake. I'll make due with an anonymous picture, instead.

And a little fan art made by James Groman of a more, well, monstrous rendition of My Pet Monster. Might want to keep the kiddies away from this version.

For those who aren't in the know, you're likely wondering exactly what is My Pet Monster. The toy was created by American Greetings, as in the card company, back in 1986 and since then came to grow in popularity with children during the following years, spawning a live-action direct-to-video film (1986), the animated thirteen-episode series (1986-87), and related merchandise. The video and series vary significantly in plot, but share common characteristics. The former is about a boy named Max, who is changed by an ancient, magical statue into the "pet" monster in Hulk-like transformations whenever he gets hungry. (That sounds rather familiar.) The latter follows the misadventures of Max, Chuckie, and Melanie, a circle of kids who have befriended the monster that turns into a doll with magical shackles. On an amusing side note, apparently a number of the voice actors later went on to work in another children's horror cartoon series, namely 'Beetlejuice' (1989-91).

Watch the movie, as well as episodes from the animated series, at YouTube.

memorial: Corey Haim (Dec 1971 - Mar 2010)

Corey Haim as Sam Emerson ('The Lost Boys')

There seems to be a sense of nostalgia with the eighties-born generation surrounding the passing of Corey Haim. Living a rather sheltered childhood, I find myself outside the loop and cannot express the same sentiment. However, I have seen Haim's performance later on when I was older in 'The Lost Boys' and after that in King's 'Silver Bullet'. Though I had no particular interest in his personal life, which is why I haven't watched 'The Two Coreys' television series. From what I can gather, Haim has struggled for years with substance abuse and seems to be partly the cause of his early death, dying at only age thirty-eight. Most can agree that it wasn't the best life choice, and that there is a degree of personal responsibility to account for, but addiction is one hell of a beast to leave behind. Even those that can move on know how easy it can be to backslide, the beast always never too far behind. To that extent, I can sympathize for Corey Haim. Addiction, added to the early pressures of childhood stardom, especially during the eighties, is a hard road. Hopefully Haim has found the rest that has eluded him.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gruesomestein's Monsters

Learned about these comical cartoon shorts from Frankensteinia and felt like sharing three of the total six episodes. I'll let the videos and Pierre Fournier's post do the speaking.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

randomness: zombie fish punch

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, prelude

From the author of 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies', which will soon be followed by 'Dawn of the Dreadfuls'* (release date of March 23rd), a prequel to the former, comes another historical fiction/horror novel. 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' follows the sixteenth U.S. American President's lifelong vendetta against nineteenth century vampires.

It sounds good in theory, but the premise seems to reverberate somewhat with that of 'The Washingtonians'. Granted, the latter has cannibals, not vampires. But I couldn't help drawing a parallel, at least in my own mind. (The axe used in the Lincoln trailer didn't help, either. Yes, I recall that Lincoln was known to be handy with an axe, but Washington has garnered an association as well, even if it is a myth.) Still, I'm sure that this novel will make for an interesting read.

Besides, how can you not give it a try after watching the trailer? How many books even have trailers for that matter? And while we're on the subject of film, apparently Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, according to The Hollywood Reporter, are teaming together to make a movie adaptation of said book. If Tim Burton is on board with the story then I'm certainly willing to give it a read.

Here's's review:
"Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call 'Milk Sickness.'

'My baby boy...' she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, 'henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose...' Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation..."

Also, in the recent light of stories the likes of 'Twilight', Lord knows vampires need some redemption. Each contribution to help regain the genre's more dignified status quo is welcome in my book. 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' is doing just that, while making use of the period to add some additional flavor to the story.

On a side note, this is the Darkley Niche's fiftieth post. In the grand scheme of things it's a small milestone, but a milestone nonetheless. I'm sure that the Darkley storytellers would celebrate if they were able. Well, perhaps only Vicki. The other storytellers aren't as keen on computers.

*Read The Zed Word's recent post about this upcoming novel for how to enter to win an advanced copy of 'Dawn of the Dreadfuls' through Quirk Books.