“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
What Scares you?
Fellow horror readers, film fanatics, ghost-tour regulars, and costume-crazed badasses, when was the last time a book or film genuinely scared you? So much so that you had to put the book down or turn away from the screen?
I seriously can’t remember my last time. And it’s not because I’m so big and brave and tough, but because I’ve experienced it all before. Today’s Hollywood settles for cringe-worthy and a multitude of jump scares. Yeah, a film might make me wince or suck in a breath, but the moment passes as soon as the scene does, and I’m left feeling disappointed. That’s it, Hollywood? That’s all you got for me?
Books are a bit better since my horror is only limited by what I can imagine. An author sometimes receives the benefit of readers’ minds painting the scene in perhaps a more horrifying manner than even the author might have pictured it. Still, books are loaded with tropes and formulas that tell us the twist to come on page one. Boring and predictable.
So, I like horror books and movies for other reasons: their delivery, creativity, quality, and entertainment value, without regard to whether I have to sleep with the light on later. There’s still a chance atmosphere could creep me out, but it’s so rare. In books, the last one to achieve that level of eeriness for me was Dead Sea by Tim Curran. Movies almost never get there, with a single second hitting it in I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (though I’m not sure I’d recommend the movie).
I long for a time when I can be scared again by entertainment. I remember the first time I read It—chills crawling up and down my spine as I check under my covers for things unwanted, the desire to kick every clown I saw thereafter in the balls and run. The movie, Jaws, still comes to mind every time I step in the ocean or hear about Great Whites off the Massachusetts coast.
What happened to books and movies like It and Jaws? Are they still being made? I’d have to say yes, but too much horror has desensitized me to them. Every shark movie since seems like a cheap rip-off, though I’m anxious to see what kind of punch the It film due out this year will pack.
What about you, Zakk? Zakk’s readers? Are there any recent books or films you’d recommend to me as “guaranteed to keep me up at night”? I’d love to hear your thoughts and take your recommendations. – Jason Parent, A Life Removed tour 2017
Thank you very much, Mr. Parent, stopping by and dropping some ruminations on fear. And thank you, friends, for popping in to read this. I look forward to reading some responses to the question posed by Jason at the end of his piece.
As for my answers, I haven’t been moved by a film (scared, anyway) in a very long time. I actually don’t recall anything scaring me like The Shining, John Carpenter’s Halloween, or Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre did, and still do to this day. I do have high hopes for IT, as the latest trailer has already managed to raise my hackles. The art of fear has been lost to modern film-making techniques, replaced by gore. Gore doesn’t always equate to fear, CGI never does.
As for books, here are the books that have recently caught me, gave me tingles, made me check the locks on doors and windows, and in general made me excited to be a reader. **Note, these are in no particular order.
- Stranded by Bracken Macleod
- The Sound of Broken Ribs by Edward Lorn
- We Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea
- Bone White and Little Girls, both by Ronald Malfi
- Blood and Rain by Glenn Rolfe
- Woom by Duncan Ralston
Sound off friends! Let Jason and I know what has tickled your fancy!
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
290 pages published by Red Adept Publishing, 2017.
Detectives Bruce Marklin and Jocelyn Beaudette have put plenty of criminals behind bars. But a new terror is stalking their city. The killer’s violent crimes are ritualistic but seemingly indiscriminate. As the death toll rises, the detectives must track a murderer without motive. The next kill could be anyone… maybe even one of their own. Officer Aaron Pimental sees no hope for himself or humanity. His girlfriend is pulling away, and his best friend has found religion. When Aaron is thrust into the heart of the investigation, he must choose who he will become, the hero or the villain. If Aaron doesn’t decide soon, the choice will be made for him.
Jason Parent, Biography
In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. Formerly from the Southeastern Massachusetts region, he recently moved to Rhode Island to be near his work.
In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it’s harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he’s back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that’s another story.
And while you’re here, check out The Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, stop by and say hello.