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Rating the Pulps: Cemetery Dance

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The last time I picked up an issue of Cemetery Dance it fumed and promised it would be my last one because of a story about how oh so scary and freaky S&M people are. What can I say I hang with a creative crowd? But that was to be my last Cemetery Dance issue I was to by and besides how seriously can you take a horror magazine that does a routine article on Stephen King every month. I grew up after that, all of one year. I realized that one mundane story does not make a horrid periodical. I can get over myself at times.

So I tossed away five bucks in exchange for series of stories of unexpected quality. Real American consumer that’s me. My first reaction after my first reading of the mag was that I liked the articles more then the fiction. Kind of bothersome don’t you think? While the interviews with authors and reviews were exceptional I do believe that the fiction should be the centerpiece of any magazine that deals with fiction.

About those articles. The interview with David Morrell as conducted by Hank Wagner is the must read for this issue. David Morrell is the guy that wrote the Rambo novel that everyone associates with Sylvester Stalone for some god-awful reason. More importantly he’s responsible “Orange is for Anguish, Blue is for Insanity” which by my guts and blood is the most hauntingly delicious short story ever written. Mr. Morell tells what kind of research he does with bodyguards (err, sorry I mean protective agent) and why shooting a car in the gas tank won’t make it go boom boom kabloey. He also touches on why it’s ok for the police and the military to play realistically violent video games but a big no no for the general gaming public.

The other interview of note is with Richard Matherson, which I personally jumped up and down for just because he’s written the most realistic vampire novel in creation I am Legend. Unfortunately he’s gone and little soft and doesn’t want to write horror anymore. He feels that kind of stuff darkens the soul, which may be right and may be wrong but still that’s no reason to give up on the granddaddy of all genre fiction. A decent read that most recaps the work he’s done in the past.

You know I never watched 24, that show about the dude that goes through a day of high action hell. Admittedly I don’t watch much television anymore so why read an article centered on a program I’m never going to see no not in a thousand years? Because it’s bloody entertaining of course. First sentence on in Thomas F. Monteleone’s regular feature The Mothers and Fathers Italian Association I was captured. He’s got bite, he’s got style, and he’s not Harlan Ellison. His wife got him a DVD collection of the 24 series so naturally he has to watch it. He relieves the pressure by lambasting the show in every available way. My favorite line:

“The actor who plays David Palmer’s son is plagued by an arsenal of elements, all of which undermine his ability to make us believe he’s for real. For example: (a) his motivations for doing what he does are thin and illogical when examined closely; (b) the writes have saddled him with clunky dialogue; and finally ( c ) he’s a bad actor.”

Enjoying a skewering of a show that I never watch is granted a little sick. Still Monteleone makes it a sort of healthy fault.

On to fiction. John Wilson is a poetic piece about ghosts, longing, and haircuts. Clifford V. Brooks wrote it and while I didn’t think much about it at first I will say that’s is grown in the back of my head. You know that place where you can’t get rid of a thought or a story? It just sort of haunts you over and over again and you don’t quite know why. That’s the place I reserve for John Wilson.

I hate politics with my art. Hate it. Despise it. Watch me vomit up chunks and chunks of ill written and rancid pieces of Fountainhead. Lawrence C. Connolly just had to commit high aesthetic crime and pour some thick assed politics into Striking Terror. I mean really guys I ask you cant we just leave well enough alone and let people be homicidal maniacs just for the sake of being homicidal maniacs? Blood for Bloods sake that’s my motto. Striking Terror hits you over the head with the political philosophy that being paranoid about terrorists is driving this country down. Thing is I can agree with that. Paranoia is the eighth deadly sin but my god do I have to hit over the head with the fact?

Signal to Noise by Gerard Hoarer has the unfortunate attribute of being lukewarm in quality which means I’ll soon be forgetting about it. Striking Terror? Unfortunately I’m going to be remembering that one till the day I die. Signal to Noise though is just there I’m afraid. It has an interesting idea but the delivery is just off. It has the “You are the main character” gimmick in which the reader is addressed directly in the story. I’m sure it can be done right by someone but not by Mr. Houarner I’m afraid. Pity though, this one actually had some sort of possibility behind it.

Last call, this issue of Cemetery Dance is worth the five bucks if for nothing else then the articles. The fiction left me a bit dry but it wasn’t a total waste. In the very least I got a cool ass decaying skull on the cover that is sure to be a poster someday. Chad Savage did that little green one-eyed booger and a fine job he did.

Contents and quick thoughts:

Fiction:

Hide Witch Hide by Nance Holder
Reading it right now. Nothing memorable, nothing terrible it’s the same fate as Signal to Noise but better written.

Striking Terror by Lawrence C. Connolly
I’m starting a new movement, fear for fear’s sake as a reaction against this story. Thank you.

Hook House by Sherry Decker
Reading this one over again. I like it it’s a thick little story, sort of an atmospheric old style haunted house story. By far the best written story in the mag. Really deserves a longer review on it’s own but it’s not the kind of story you can catch hold of first reading. Horror readers of the traditional bent will love this one.

John Wilson by Clifford V. Brooks
Another strong one. Written in poetry form.

Misdirection by Tony Richards
I don’t know what to think about this one. It was the story that first made me want to pick the mag up. The opening paragraphs were about this creative arts festival in Scotland and me being a bohemian nut had to throw away my five bucks just for that premise alone. Another well written one and a memorable conclusion but it sort of felt gimmicked in the end. As if the writer was thinking “This is a cool idea now lets build a story around it.” I may be too picky about this one. As an added bonus there is a righteous drawing of Shiva the death head juggling instruments of the homicidal maniac variety. Drawn by Julia Morgan-Scott it’s bound to be another poster.

Signal to Noise by Gerard Houarner
The most forgettable one of the magazine. Sorry guy but nice try.

Interviews:

Nancy Holder as interviewed by Hank Wagner
It’s a standard interview with the author piece. Nothing really that stands out there.

David Morrell by Hank Wagner
Cool question in this one. Morrell is a great subject with interesting ideas.

Richard Matherson by William P. Simmons
Mr. Matheson doesn’t want to write horror anymore. Please write him a get well card.

Spotlight on Publishing: Prime Books by Ivy Fehervari
I’m at a loss to review this in any sort of objectionable way since I don’t read a lot of articles about books publishers. Interesting behind the scenes look at an independent though. Sean Wallace seems very honest about the business and openly critiques what he sees as the main problems in the horror industry.

The rest is reviews, editorial, and The Mothers and Fathers Italian Association. Good biting reviews focusing on the independent horror world. And then there’s the Stephen King routine. You know I like Stephen King and eagerly await the end of the Dark Tower come September but is a monthly column really all that necessary?

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About Celestial Dung

  • Celestial Dung

    My early apologies for not indexing or bolding the neccessary areas. Microsoft works won’t carry over them over for some reason or another.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks and welcome CD, we are glad to have you fling your poo here – to get bolds and whatnot, just highlight and use the appropriate icons just above the Movable Type Entry Body box.

  • Sherry Decker

    “Hook House” the best story in the issue? I’m flabbergasted and amazed. Happily so (and I don’t use adverbs). Thanks!

  • Sherry Decker

    “Hook House” the best story in the issue? I’m flabbergasted and amazed. Happily so (and I don’t use adverbs). Thanks!

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