Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Writing Updates

BUSY BUSY BUSY! It's always good to be busy. On my writing front:

- Closing in on the ending to my second novel LOVERS, which is the heartwarming tale of an Emergency Medical Technician who becomes fascinated with a young woman who dies while in his care...

- Have started a top secret bizarro novel with a co-author (who shall not be named as of yet). We're intending to aim for the fence with this one.

- 2017 will see the release of my 4th exploitation novella from Dynatox Ministries. I have so far dealt with Nunsploitation, Cannibalsploitation, and Blaxsploitation, and now throw my hat into the rape/revenge subgenre. DEATH WITCH is basically DEATH WISH meets THE CRAFT on the set of MS. 45. Had a blast writing this and it will first be released as a limited edition, then as an unlimited trade paperback with a different cover. More news soon...

- I have three (count 'em) short stories coming out in new anthologies this year, the first titled THE DWELLERS in what promises to be a fun book full of stories written in tribute to the 1984 cult classic C.H.U.D. The second (brace yourself here) is titled THE SMALL INTESTINES OF LOWER MANHATTAN (OR, HOW THE REVEREND HAROLD'S LAUNDROMAT WAS ALMOST ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY) and will be featured in Bizarro Pulp Press' latest antho MORE BIZARRO THAN BIZARRO, and finally, I'm thrilled to be included in an antho to be released through Cemetery Dance. My tale, LOVE THY NEIGHBOR, looks at why an abandoned ice cream truck has become haunted.

- My first non fiction film book SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE (a collection of my columns from Cinema Knife Fight along with some all new interviews) is rolling along. Hope to post an official announcement from the publisher soon.

- My return to the fanzine world, THE MIDNIGHT GRIND, didn't sell as well as we hoped (and by WE I mean myself and the several writers who contributed to the debut issue). We had fun and tested the waters, but a second issue is doubtful at this point. You can still get the debut issue via paypal. Email NickYak@aol.com for details.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Retro Screenings

I'm fortunate enough to live near several theaters that often feature retro screenings, and more often than not, the screenings are from actual film prints. Here are the 12 I saw in 2016:

-THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999). Screened in 35mm at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in February, it's the first time I sat through the film in its entirety since seeing it in 1999. I still think the documentary CURSE OF THE BLAIR WITCH is better, but I did enjoy the main film after all these years, and for some reason didn't get dizzy this time.

-MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973). Screened in 35mm at the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. Such a great, underrated film with latent Lovecraftian undertones. I missed its early 80s re-release as DEAD PEOPLE so was happy to finally catch it on the big screen. As a bonus, legendary Times Square film distributor Terry Levene stopped by for an informative q&a session.

-DERANGED (1974) Screened in 35mm at the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. It was a cut print as the infamous "skull/brain scoop" scene was missing, but the wonderfully scratchy celluloid was still a treat, and with this audience, some parts I never found funny became hilarious.

-GINGER SNAPS (2000) Screened in 35mm at the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. It was my first time seeing this highly praised werewolf film and I loved it. No idea how I've been missing it all these years.

-I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (1970) Screened digitally from a 4K restoration at the Landmark Sunshine in NYC. Maybe I'm getting old but I didn't see the difference between this version and the DVD edition Fangoria had released several years ago, but it was still nice to see this splatter classic on the Sunshine's big screen.

-HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986) Screened digitally from a 4K restoration at the Landmark Sunshine in NYC. This "30th Anniversary Screening" looked and sounded great, but those of us who attended the second night were promised an appearance by the director, yet he bailed and claimed he had only agreed to a q&a the first night (although his own Facebook page said otherwise). Still a great film but a shitty move by the director.

-LOVE ME DEADLY (1972) Screened digitally at the Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn. Everything about this film is just so insane you have to love it, even in this tiny 35-seat theater with only 6 of us in attendance. Years before Germany assaulted the world with NEKROMANTIK, this American necrophilia epic, while nowhere near as graphic, is three times as crazy on several levels.

-HAWK JONES (1986) Screened from VHS at the Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn. Who would've thought an 80s kid's video would make a great midnight movie? Hawk Jones is basically a kiddie blaxploitation film, full of laughs and countless unintentionally inappropriate situations.

-CAGED HEAT (1974) Screened in 35mm at the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. Director Jonathan Demme's debut feature isn't as graphic as the flood of women in prison films to come, but it's one of the best. Demme even dropped by for a q&a session.

-FASCINATION (1979) Screened digitally at the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. I was thrilled to finally see a Jean Rollin film in a theater, and star Brigitte LaHaie looked even more beautiful on the big screen. A fantastic take on the vampire mythos, with blood addicted socialites dealing with criminals who invade their secluded mansion. It's as classy as it sounds...

-CANNIBAL FEROX (1981) Screened in 35mm at the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. With Eli Roth's THE GREEN INFERNO still fresh in everyone's minds, we were all blown away while revisiting CANNIBAL FEROX: it seems Roth not only paid homage to third world cannibal films, but completely ripped this one off! A gut-munching good time.

-BLOOD FEAST (1963) In 35mm at both the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn and The International House in Philadelphia. I had the absolute privilege of seeing the world's first gore film twice this year, first at an HG Lewis marathon in Philly (unfortunately I couldn't stay for the other 4 films that screened, but I met Lewis for the second time, and just a short while before he passed away), and again at the Nitehawk in Brooklyn. 70 minutes of pure, genre-changing mayhem that never gets old...

Saturday, December 17, 2016

My Top 6 Horror Books of 2016

I only managed to read 37 books this year (I usually average 65 or more), but a busier than usual writing schedule kept my reading in check. I had a hard time with a top 10, as I found a lot of "ties," so here are my 6 faves from 2016:

1- THE LAST DAYS OF JACK SPARKS by Jason Arnopp: A perfect blend of horror and humor, paranormal and possession, with guest appearances from real life film directors and footnotes from the protagonist's brother, at times this feels like serious non fiction. Arnopp's novel was the most difficult for me to put down this year. So. Damn. Good.

2- A LONG DECEMBER by Richard Chizmar: Question: How many collections of this size (35 tales) can feature so many consistently solid stories? Answer: very few. A fantastic career-spanning door-stopper of a book you'll surely be revisiting.

3- STRANDED by Bracken Macleod: Arguably the scariest read of the year, MacLeod's arctic chiller brings both THE THING and SURVIVE! to mind yet has plenty of weird tricks up its sleeve. A genuine page turner highlighted by some spectacular prose.

4-THE SADIST'S BIBLE by Nicole Cushing: After blowing my mind last year with her incredible novel MR. SUICIDE, Cushing's follow up novella is every bit as disturbing, thought provoking, and eerie as you'd expect. Excellent.

5- BLISTER by Jeff Strand: Easily my favorite Strand novel since his 2006 thriller PRESSURE, this quirky creeper dealing with a man on a forced vacation who meets a hideously disfigured girl is as charming as it is bizarre. Wow. First time I ever referred to a horror novel as charming, but, hey...

6 -RETURN OF THE OLD ONES: APOCALYPTIC LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR edited by Brian M. Sammons: I'm as tired of the "Lovecraftian" subgenre as I am of zombies, but editor Sammons has assembled a fantastic collection here, sectioned into three eras (before, during, and after the Old Ones return). One of the finest anthologies of the year regardless of your feeling toward the HPL Mythos trend. A great blend of veteran and newer authors.

I also read a lot of non fiction this year, most as research material for my novel in progress, and I found myself reading an alarming amount of rock music biographies. The one that has stuck with me the longest is:

STICK IT! MY LIFE OF SEX, DRUMS, AND ROCK 'N' ROLL by Carmine Appice (with Ian Gittins): From his time with Vanilla Fudge and proto-grunge band Cactus, to his breakout rock stardom playing with Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne, Carmine's bio is full of some legendary stories you may have heard rumors of, and a lot of new stories shared here for the first time about his upbringing in Brooklyn, NY. Carmine partied as hard if not harder than the best of them, yet never let the booze and weed affect his drumming skills or overall professionalism. His fame caused him to get kicked off Ozzy's Bark at the Moon tour, yet he bounced back with several other projects. One of the more intriguing bios of any musician out there.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Writing Updates

I was invited to be part of an anthology that will pay tribute to the 1984 horror film C.H.U.D. It is to be edited by Eric S. Brown (of BIGFOOT WARS fame) and already has an impressive roster of authors. It's also open for submissions if you're a fan of this cult classic: Crystal Lake Pub

It's kind of surreal something like this is actually happening. I saw the film the night it opened way back in 1984, and could've never imagine something like this, let alone being a part of it. Pretty cool. Naturally I recently re-watched it and I've come up with a prequel story...


My novel LOVERS is now around 55K and is mentally kicking my ass. Can't wait to finish the first draft, let it sit for a short while, then hit my second draft before firing it off to my editor.


My first non fiction film book, tentatively titled NICK CATO'S SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE, is slated for a late 2017/early 2018 release. I recently landed a nifty interview with one of the stars of the trash classic BLOOD TIDE (1982) and it's looking really good. More news and publisher reveal soon.


A couple of novellas I had started a while back, CHEW TOYS and CHANNEL 79, are both haunting me to finish them. I plan to have them both done by the end of January, 2017.


My 4th exploitation novella for Dynatox Ministries, DEATH WITCH, is slated for a 2017 release. It's basically DEATH WISH meets THE CRAFT. Be scared...


A new short bizarro story, REVOLT INTO STYLE, is nearing completion. It deals with a gangster who hijacks a new, suped-up popemobile. I'm having an absolute blast with it and hope to begin shopping it around soon.


Anxiously waiting word back on two short story submissions...


I've also edited an old school cult film fanzine titled THE MIDNIGHT GRIND, featuring all new articles from several fanzine legends and a couple of new comers. Release date in a couple of weeks. This is my first print-zine since 2003, and my first print film zine since 1991. I'll have ordering info here shortly...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Comic Geek Update

I haven't done a "Comic Geek Update" in over 2 years (!) but a recent title caught my eye and the first two issues were simply fantastic.

Dark Horse Comics begins a fresh Conan saga with CONAN THE SLAYER, written by Cullen Bunn (of X-Men and Deadpool fame) with artwork by Sergio Davila (Red Sonja, Green Lantern). We catch up with Conan in the first issue as he is chased across the desert by a couple of assassins who he quickly turns to chop meat, although one of them manages to spear our favorite Cimmerian in the side. Conan barely makes it to a small village, where he is taken in an nursed back to health. The camp is run by Mykylo, who has two sons (Taraslan, who is overlooked by a strong warrior woman named Oksana, and Kyrylo, who is mad his father has accepted Conan into their tribe). A trio of Turanian hunters comes to the camp looking for Conan, and Kyrylo can't understand why his father didn't turn the barbarian over to them. He is convinced his father is no longer fit to be their leader.

The stage is set for some family schism, and this first issue features classic, brutal barbarian action. Lee Bermejo's beautiful cover art is also the most METAL comic book cover of the new millennium! (Crank up some MANOWAR or AMON AMARTH as you read these issues for maximum affect!).

The second issue begins with Kyrylo making a deal with a zombie-looking mystical being, then back at camp, Conan shows young Taraslan that he has much to learn about being a warrior. After some of the camp's scouts go missing, Mykylo sends Conan off to find them with Taraslan and Oksana and a couple of soldiers, but they run into a Turanian hit squad in a brutal sword / bow and arrow battle near the seashore. The issue ends when two huge monsters rise from the deep after knocking Conan out cold.

So far, Cullen Bunn's script has been a fine blend of classic Conan barbarian goodness and a supernatural subplot. And while I'm enjoying Sergio Davila's artwork, it seems at times he puts more into the side characters and villains than he does Conan...but that's a small complaint and not really a complaint at all (just the thoughts of an anal retentive life-long Conan fan).

Great stuff and I'm eagerly awaiting the 3rd issue, that features this amazing cover by Admira Wijaya:

Friday, August 12, 2016

78th "Suburban Grindhouse Memory" Now LIVE...

The 78th column in my SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES series takes a look at a screening of Abel Ferrara's 1981 classic MS .45. Check it out here: MS .45