Tag Archives: Salem

It’s only the haunted VHS that doesn’t get eaten by the VCR. They’re in league.

29. Ring – Koji Suzuki

In the interest of full disclosure, despite my long term horror movie fan status, the US version of this movie scared me. I do not like the idea of some wet dead child violating my TV. So essentially when reading this I was overjoyed to find out that doesn’t happen.

It was still scary and the beginning was tense and creepy and totally made me think that truly terrifying crawling out of the TV deal was still going to be a thing, but, no. It was much better plotted (no surprise, really, since it’s the original, but I had to work backwards because I didn’t know it was a book till 2009) and I have to say I enjoyed the extra medical and research-based angles instead of being given too much opportunity to worry about the survival of the kid and his creepy little proclamations like in the US movie. Sometimes, I worry about how often children are used as pawns and shortcuts to emotions in movies…and in real life. However, I did really like the reveal of what the “child” really was in this book.

Salem is still a bit of a skittish pig, so he would not be up for The Ring or Ringu without several protective blankets and maybe smashing the TV so no wet dead kids could climb out of it.

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Under pressure

98. The Keeper of Lost Causes – Jussi Adler-Olsen

Some people’s careers do not go easily. You can have all the skills in the world and not suck at speaking to people and it can still go badly or be vastly more unimpressive than you intended. Or…you can get shoved in a basement (or working in a basement ends up ruining your career, there’s also that) like Carl Morck. We’re promoting you! To the basement in a new, made up department to get us more money by pretending to give it to you! Department Q for you instead of light duty. Here’s some old, possibly unsolvable cases and a dude you don’t know because your officer friends are either dead now or disabled and you lived – and we don’t particularly like you, even if you’re a good detective.

Ironically, for this sort of story and mysteries from this area of the world in general (Department Q is in Denmark), The Keeper of Lost Causes is quite funny at times. The secondary and tertiary characters are great and Carl is…Carl. His assistant Assad is awesome, and has a background to hopefully be much elaborated on in the other books because he has some skills that seem like the kind that get you demoted to the basement or forced to leave your home country for being too good at certain kinds of things.

The central mystery of The Keeper of Lost Causes involves a kidnapping, some serious pressure, and an absolutely terrifying abscess situation in the usual bleak vein I expect from Scandinavian and Nordic mystery series, so that’s all there too. The gloom is just not all encompassing, which was an unexpected surprise. It can’t rain all the time.

Salem knows quite a bit about having a haunted past, being easily startled, and being unexpectedly funny. He’s never going in a basement though.

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Area teenagers repeatedly make bad choices, this time in abandoned subway tunnels.

66. Survive the Night – Danielle Vega

There were a lot of dirty feet in this book. The main character gets paint on her feet after she almost loses a “leather ballet flat” (being that specific happened a few too many times) climbing down; later she loses her shoes entirely in some seriously disgusting water. One of the group takes off her shoes and walks barefoot through the streets of NYC before also occasionally not wearing shoes at the underground rave. If she wasn’t being targeted by a monster she’d have tetanus. A homeless kid with plastic bags on his feet seemed to be the most prepared for the underground rave in disused subway tunnels. Good work, Lawrence.

Casey just got out of rehab for Oxy (familiar) and as soon as she goes to the clean girls’ sleepover and tries to get on with the sober life her past comes rumbling up in an old Buick to whisk her away to the sewers. Her “best friend” Shana takes her to trigger-central- her ex-boyfriend’s band’s show, and when she makes it through that unscathed, they hunt down the underground rave…where she drugs her drink. What a best friend!! What a homecoming!

In the two books of Vega’s I’ve read the narrators could be swapped. They’re good girls for the most part, trying to be- at least, and they get in over their heads with shitty female friends and supernatural elements. They feel hollow and rush into make outs- although, point to Survive the Night, it’s her ex-boyfriend so it’s earned. But – It’s basically a blessing when the tentacle monster shows up.

Salem is waiting by his personalized plastic pumpkin for the tentacle monster to give it a high-four and return its shoes.

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I always thought when you mix Satan and wizards you get Electric Wizard albums.

60. You Should Have Left – Daniel Kehlmann

A mere 111 pages- You Should Have Left is written as though you’re reading the notebook of a screenwriter trying to work on his latest project while in a vacation house with his wife who makes him feel inadequate and his daughter Esther who is very young and loves television.

It’s a weird conceit, being a notebook; but it works pretty well in this story. There’s one scene with the general store proprietor that could have been outside the notebook and of course that’s the scene in which we get the most information. There’s also a phone call with the general store proprietor that’s similar. Why does the main character get a little plastic triangle ruler? Because the angles don’t match up.

Apparently Satan and a wizard argued over the land where the vacation house now stands. Satan built a tower, the wizard didn’t like the tower because he was not a Satanist wizard…highjinks ensue every time something else is built on that land.

This book manages to feel complete and not at the same time, which is quite a feat to me.

Salem’s checking out all the angles. He’s prepared for anything.

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“Shattering! Shivering! Shocking!”

37. Fan Mail – Nicole Davidson

Acting! Rivalry! Obsession! This was a fun read, if you ignore the descriptions of Randi and a few other things. Chris, the not at all stuck up actress and her plump, plain, supportive best friend Randi (see), get to hang out sometimes – but Chris has always been focused on her career and Randi’s always been able to accept and understand that. Now if only she could get a boyfriend. It’ll be hard now that she’s the lead in a horror film shooting in her hometown. She’s the lead, and her rival with a stage mother from hell isn’t.

And there is this one guy who has a bunch of pictures of her in his locker – pictures he took, pictures he cut out of the newspaper, but he’s not obsessive or anything, he has to wrestling championships to think about. If only those creepily obsessive photographs could lead to something… Well, they will, a misunderstanding of epic proportions and more creepy behavior. I’m in this tree outside your window, Chris, it’s totally normal and I’ll help you find the person trying to scare you with answering machine messages, blood on your mirror, and not drilling holes in that coffin you have to stay in for long enough to hyperventilate.

I’m beginning to find movie sets a very suspect location for teenagers. Some of them just can’t be professional and assume threats are just a PR stunt.

Salem has his best friend the T-Rex to protect him, so, he’d be cool on film. Hire him, the 90s.


1. Young Pros – Bass Drum of Death
2. Out of Line – The Bravery
3. I Am the Sun – Swans
4. You Don’t Know Me – The Butthole Surfers
5. LA Venice Bitch 80s – Carpenter Brut
6. Venom – Dance with the Dead
7. Posed to Death – The Faint
8. Grey Areas – Electric Six
9. Super Goo – The Cramps
10. Leave Me Alone – The Butthole Surfers
11. Evil La Girls – The Raveonettes
12. Rival – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
13. Turbo Killer – Carpenter Brut
14. High School Roaches – Bass Drum of Death
15. Scrape – Chelsea Wolfe
16. Night Walks – Black Mountain
17. Close Your Eyes – Edward Bear
18. Forever the End – Burning Tapes

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“Hey, there’s some strange stuff going on around here.”

67. Children of the Dark – Jonathan Janz

An escaped serial killer, a different kind of wendigo than I’m used to, teenagers of both the complete asshole and not variety, little kids, and a shitty town that doesn’t care about the “undesirables.” That’s what we’re dealing with in Children of the Dark.

At the start, all I could think about was Richard Laymon and how annoyed I got reading the endless clothing changes and teen erections of The Traveling Vampire Show. Thankfully, that didn’t stay. Janz did not make the characters continuously change clothing and I didn’t have to sit through too much of teen boys being teen boys slowing down the overall plot. Although, he did basically replace the teen boy erections with monster erections and that was both funny and irrelevant. They’re monsters, do they have to be discussed as rape threats as well? Is that really necessary? Most women have to deal with the possibility of rape as a consistent threat anyway, especially when they make the mistake of walking somewhere, standing somewhere, just existing, alone, so it’s pretty unnecessary to make a monster that easily kills also a rape threat. For example, I was once threatened with rape while walking through the reference area of the library I worked in, so, it happens all the damn time. Let the monsters just be threatening because they’re monsters.

Children of the Dark ended in a completely different place than I expected it to and that was nice. It’s a bit Richard Laymon and a bit Stephen King with the ensemble of town folk and the kids taking on the lion’s share of dealing with the threats, and a little bit H.P. Lovecraft. The world of monster-threats was expanded widely at the very end and that was great. That said, I am not sure if this has a sequel. I stumbled across Janz and then sorted out that this one was at the library. I have to research whether or not this has a sequel or an adjoining story or anything, but I do hope it does.

Sometimes just big pointy teeth can be intimidating enough. Or I guess not at all if you’re my little Salem.

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Tomorrow, I will be at Walker Stalker in Chicago! Tomorrow.

And this time, I am also planning on showing how my book cover parodies have become far more plentiful than they used to be. In the beginning, it was just Danger Crumples transforming Christopher Pike’s 1990s YA output, as seen here –

I do think with Danger Crumples I may actually have parodied these covers into being more coherent stories. Oops.

However, now that most of these are only available as postcards and I had more plays on piggie names in mind – more pigs have gotten their own book series and three of the paintings will be on display for the first time and also possibly the last time, I tend to make new things for every show that I do because I have a lot of ideas and very inspiring piglets.

Peregrine, crime boss and queen of my herd, finally got her own book series – Prey Street. And once again she meets with her most frightening enemy – the phone. This time she let Merricat pick it up, as if that would help.


Finny got a series too! Finnybumps, it’s very specific and allows him to intimidate Salem, just as he tries to from across the room every day.


This is my favorite new book cover parody. Ozma’s 80s horror paperback. There’s always been something ominous and yet flashy about how cute she is, which could only be expressed by painting her while drinking a lot of Tab.


Walker Stalker! Tomorrow! I know I’m no Jerry, who I won’t be able to see because I’ll be at my table, and I’m clearly not King Ezekiel, who I won’t be able to mention Hellraiser: Hellworld to (um, that movie has Khary Payton, future apparent (I haven’t seen it) downer Superman Henry Cavill, and the best but somewhat -to put it lightly – misused person on Vikings, Katheryn Winnick all in it, what a strange world we live in), but I hope someone comes and sees me anyway because I have a very wide range of stickers this time.

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Dead things, Mikey.

I am once again venturing out into the public to show my artwork and potentially sell a thing or two. This time I’ll be at Walker Stalker/Heroes & Villains Fan Fest in Chicago April 19, 20, &21 – I’m on the Walker Stalker side where my insistence on printing skulls and irreparably altering the world of horror to make it more guinea piggy makes more sense.

And now, a preview of  some of the new stuff I’m bringing:

I’m not bringing Finny. He’ll be too busy riding his actual Big Wheel down haunted hallways.


Oh look, it’s the whole parody series of The Finning featuring Finny, Horace, and Mortemer- ready for you to stare at forever and ever. And ever.


I did finish this painting and I’m totally bringing it as long as nothing catastrophic happens at the scanning place I just took it to… As I’m on the zombie side of the convention, I continued my Romero parodying works with Peegshow. It really is finished though.


Night of the Living Ozma. She’s got her trowel, she’s black and whiteish and ready to eat someone controversially.


Stay tuned to this same guinea pig channel for a preview of the new book parodies. Yes, this time I will have much more evidence that my booth name Guinea Pigs and Books makes logical sense!




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“There’s been a murder almost everywhere in this house.”

75. Anna Dressed in Blood – Kendare Blake

It took me a bit to realize the head I was in was male. I’m so used to YA books with supernatural elements being told from female perspectives that it was a bit of a shock to figure out this was a young guy’s head. Also, he didn’t constantly think about boobs and changing his clothes, so how was I supposed to know? Anyway, the head belongs to Cas (Theseus Cassio) and his father was killed by a ghost. Now he and his mom follow other ghosts and kill them, along with their cat, Tybalt. Somebody likes Shakespeare. The titular ghost is up in Thunder Bay, Canada, and she is a doozy. She’s sixteen and she’s killed a lot of people. A lot. Pretty much anyone who comes in her house.

I didn’t expect this to be as good as it was. It was very teen and yet involved pop culture references that would probably work better for people in their 30s, so that worked for me; but it was just better than it seemed like it should be. The characters seemed natural, the gory parts were gory, and one of the characters attempted to stop library vandalism – good. The one thing that was pretty off-putting was the design choice of printing the book in dried-blood-brown ink. It makes sense, but it hurt my eyes a little to read it all the same. And it really wasn’t necessary for such a compelling narrative to have that kind of gimmick.

Salem’s ready for some in your face ghost hunting too.

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“Thou art to be hanged and then burned over a basket of living cats.” (Warlock)

34. Witchfinder General: The Biography of Matthew Hopkins – Craig Cabell

It took me a very long time to finish this because it includes full representations of pamphlets from the time period which are extremely hard to get through. So little punctuation, so many block paragraphs…I will be forever grateful for the invention of indentation. One of those pamphlets, the short one, is by the subject, who is listed in the Dramatis Personae (yep, that’s how he put it) as “Matthew Hopkins, Son of James Hopkins: shipping clerk and witchfinder.” Nice dig, Cabell.

The longest pamphlet is by Hopkins’ assistant John Stearne and it is all about teats. Seriously. Teats- it could have a protrusion, but it could not have too much of one, or there could be a dark circle in it or a pinprick, but it might not be too obvious because they can like suck them back in after their Imps suck blood out of them and it might have a darker circle around it and it could be anywhere – anywhere – on their body. His pamphlet was endless and the reason why I put the book down for months at a time. All block paragraphs, half-teat coverage, half half-assed justification and confessions. He’s like the toady of the head dickface who wants you to think he’s a nice guy (TM) while he cops a feel checking for “teats.” If fedoras had existed in that time, he’d have been wearing one. Matthew was wearing the most ostentatious hat, after all, like Mystery on the Pick Up Artist reality show formerly on VH1.

The weirdest element of the witchfinder situation to me is that he only worked for a few years – 1645-7 – and he “sent over 200 people, mainly women, to their death for the crime of witchcraft.” That’s a hell of an impact. By the way, only one was burned. One. Her name was Mary Lakeland, of Ipswich, and apparently she was also a Royalist agent.

He also died at age 28, of consumption, which is the most inaccurate part of the film starring Vincent Price. Apparently the whole depiction of “accusation, torture, and forced confession” is pretty accurate; also, the film was shot in the original locations. It definitely added more authority to have Vincent Price as opposed to your average peacocking 26 year old “wallowing in his own self-glorification” for a fee. Thankfully he did get to experience at least one of his own torture methods before he died – the “swim test,” he was proven to be a witch based on his own ideas about water and witches. Why there’s no statue of him in his home town that’s just labeled “Total dick” for people to spit on I will never know. It might help future generations as we go backward through time morally.

Yes, Pere and Merri, we would all be hanged as witches if we lived then…fun. Hopefully before we had to hear a witchfinder say the word “fleshie,” which was an overused teat-description in the pamphlets.


Salem’s version is a lot cuter and maybe more sassy too.

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