Alive in Shape and Color available for pre-order

If you haven’t read Lawrence Block’s fantastic anthology In Sunlight or in Shadow, stories based on the art of Edward Hopper, you are missing out. Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Michael Connolly, Warren Moore, Jonathan Santlofer, Craig Ferguson, Megan Abbott, and LB himself among others, all contribute to a great collection of stories that run the gamut of genres and tones. And the art is beautifully reproduced in the hardcover edition (can’t speak for the paperback).

unnamed (1)So I’m tickled pink to have a story in his follow-up to this blockbuster, which expands the influence to artists of all kinds. He calls it Alive in Shape and Color, and it includes my story “Truth Comes Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind” inspired by the painting of the same name by Jean-Léon Gérôme. I’m honored to be among fellow contributors Sarah Weinman, Joyce Carol Oates, David Morrell, S.J. Rozan, Michael Connolly, Warren Moore, Jeffery Deaver, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Joe R. Lansdale, Craig Fergusion, Justin Scott, Lee Child, Nicholas Christopher, Gail Levin, and Jill D. Block. The art chosen ranges from Rodin, Balthus, Art Frahm, Clifford Still, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Hieronymous Bosch, Hokusai, Norman Rockwell, and the cave paintings at Lascaux.

You’re not going to want to miss this one. It’s available for pre-order now.

 

The Only Writing Advice You’ll Ever Need

write.

oh, and you should read a lot, too.

Just write, really. If you need encouragement, business advice, or criticism of your work, that’s something else entirely. I’m only being somewhat facetious here. If you write, you’re a “real writer.” You’re not going to find magic on a blog or a Twitter account. And why take advice from someone like me who’s been in the biz for only a few years? It makes no sense. How about a pro who knows both traditional, “indie” and hybrid?

For practical writing advice and some business advice, I usually recommend Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block, but he recently updated Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel (the original didn’t have the pixels). LB began sending out stories, then wrote speedily under pseudonyms, then wrote stand-alones under his own name, then wrote series, improving all the while, until his series characters kicked off. He certainly was born with innate talent and has spent years honing his skill, so don’t expect to emulate his success; but you can emulate his hard work, and that often bears tasty fruit. (In fact, he may have written Tasty Fruit under a pseudonym. He keeps finding erotic books he wrote back when). The point is, LB has been out on the cutting edge of the writing scene for at least fifty years. His advice is up to date and practical.

If you don’t write as much as you’d like, or if you feel daunted, I might suggest Stephen King’s On Writing. But he began 50 years ago and hit it big on his first try, so his business acumen is not relevant to most of us. His writing advice however, is spot on.

If you find yourself “blocked” often, I won’t judge. You don’t have to write every day. You know who told me that? LB. On his Write For Your Life audio mp3. The book is worthwhile, too. If you want strong exercises that will break blocks and keep them from recurring, Jerrold Mundis literally wrote the book on it: Break Writers Block Now!

I get stressed when  I think that I have to write or edit every day. It is counterproductive. But if I don’t think about it, I usually write or edit every evening after dinner and before I allow myself time to read or watch television. That works for me. The thing is, there’s no one way. Anyone who tells you different is selling you their books on how to write.

the awesomeness of Stranger Things – and recommended reading

header-stranger-things-80s-movies
dunt dunna dunt dunt … my Winona

I loved the NetFlix original series Stranger Things. It’s only 8 episodes long, but never feels rushed. The Duffer Brothers did a great job, giving us characters we care about and a monster that truly terrified me. It’s set in the early ’80s and begins with four young kids playing a Dungeons & Dragons game. After the game ends one never makes it home. The cast is excellent, the police are not jerks or incompetent, and even the bullies have depth. It’s not perfect but it’s very close. And it doesn’t have a smarmy facade of nostalgia, the early ’80s were good and bad. A little anachronistic in behavior, but that’s expected.

strangerthangs copy

I recently read a list of “you might like…” books and wasn’t satisfied. It had the usual literary-friendly pre-genre picks like Arthur Machen and some other great books like Megan Abbott’s Dare Me, but … they really aren’t anything like the show. Stranger Things owes a lot to the following sources: Firestarter by Stephen King, also It and  Carrie and its clone The Fury, and Stand by Me. The works of H.P. Lovecraft. PoltergeistAkira, and the video game Silent Hill. There are nods to Aliens and the nerdy kids who all ring perfectly true reference things they love like The Hobbit and the Star Wars movies. And their favorite teacher is a clueless science nerd, who shows his date The Thing on VHS.

Here are some books I’ve read that reminded me of Stranger Things in a good way:

Summer of Night by Dan Simmons. There are scenes in this novel that still haunt me. It’s similar to It, but so much more concise and darker. Four young kids growing up in a town haunted by the evil of its past, which they must confront to save their lives.

Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale. Not quite as perfect as his masterpiece The Bottoms, but when a local girl goes missing, her oddball friends go on a Huck Finn-like adventure to find her, while avoiding the evil Skunk who haunts the swamps of the Sabine River. The Bottoms has young Harry witnessing a murder and trying to save a black friend from being lynched for it, and is possibly Lansdale’s best.

In the Woods, by Tana French. The first one by the master crime writer is darker and more haunting. Before Rob Ryan was police, as a young boy he was found tied to a tree in the woods near an ancient altar. The other two boys were never found. Now the land is about to be razed for developments and he goes seeking answers, as he remembers nothing of that night.

The stories of Laird Barron. The Children of Old Leech are even worse than the otherworldly Thing in Stranger Things and they also love to hide in the boles of trees. Start with The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All.

The Loney, by Andrew Michael Hurley. Another creepy childhood tale of a family’s yearly visit to an old Christian shrine in the hopes of healing their learning disabled youngest boy. The miracle occurs, but the source is something far more sinister.

My own short novella The Summer of Blind Joe Death is a weird tale set in ’20s Appalachia, where two young boys face the greatest evil there is.

And if you want to read a Megan Abbott novel about a missing child that will haunt you, it’s The End of Everything you want. One of my favorites.

Have you watched the series? What did you think? And what books or series would you recommend, to those who loved it?

 

 

 

Hunting Yabbits

elmer_fudd_a_wild_hareA friend on Twitter suggested that I write a book on writing. I think that’s a bit premature, as there is a plethora of writers giving advice out there. But I try to make a habit of distilling the essence of an idea and filtering out the bullshit. So here goes.

Writing is a muscle. You must flex it. You must use it. Does this mean “write every day?” For me, it does. For you, maybe not. Whatever works. But to find out what works, you need to try a lot of things, which involves writing.

In weightlifting everyone wants answers. The articles are a lot like articles on writing- the same stuff, then some new radical idea that everyone tries a while because this one person saw amazing results, and everyone talks about it a while, then it fades away, and then maybe a few years later it gets rediscovered when someone has a deadline. What works is lifting heavy things. You want a better bench press? Do a lot of bench presses with proper form, adding a little more weight each cycle, no more than you can do with proper form.

Part of this came to mind from Steve Weddle saying that some story writers should build a set of stairs before they try to build an escalator, or a Wonkavator for that matter. I think those are two totally different fields of construction, but I see the point. Before you can write a complex story, you should write a straightforward one. And write some more.

This is where the yabbits come in.

Yeah, but Tarantino’s first movie was non-linear and stuff. Yeah, but David Foster Wallace. Yeah, but this bro at the gym with thunder guns said… Yeah, but. Yabbit, yabbit, yabbit.

Write. Don’t agonize over it. Just write it. I still agonize, way too often. I don’t trust my voice all the time. I worry about building the roof when I’m putting in the basement. I want to take the elevator when I haven’t built the stairs. We all do it. It takes discipline not to do it, and discipline falters now and then, but we don’t tear the house down or abandon it, we go back and build the damn stairs.

Six metaphors later, I get to the point. My writing advice is simple. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. Does every story have to be great? Certainly not. I have a few turds in my pocket I’ll never share. (Unless you approach me nicely and say, “Tommy, can I hold the the dessicated turd you keep in your pocket?” Then I’ll gladly let you fondle it.) This also doesn’t mean you need to construct the perfect, master carpenter spiral staircase before you let your imagination run free. Just be aware that the tough, complex stories will take a lot of work. Sometimes you need to build them later, after you’ve tackled stuff that’s a little easier and more fun.

Because no matter what people say, writing should be fun. It can be tedious, brain-racking work. But so is working out, or building a set of stairs. You can learn to enjoy it, but it’s always work. It’s the results that are the fun part, when you’re proud of what you’ve done, when you read it yourself and don’t cringe, or when everyone wants to squeeze your biceps like Brad Pitt’s booty, those are great moments. Like riding the Wonkavator. But before you get there, build the damn stairs. And climb them a few times. Writing is sedentary. You don’t want to die of heart disease before you finish your bullet train escalator novel, do you?

To distill this…
How I Write.
1. Daydream often. You need ideas. Daydream in the shower. On the train. In the car. Try not to daydream while other people are talking.
2. Read everything. News, books by authors you love, books by authors you’ve heard are great but aren’t “your thing,” old books, new books.
3. Sit down to write regularly. To quote Jack London, “you can’t wait for inspiration. You have to chase it down with a club.” Talk yourself into writing for five minutes.

For real advice, I recommend these books.
Telling Lies for Fun and Profit, by Lawrence Block. The one book that I read first. LB is funny, tolerates no bullshit, and is one of the greatest short story writers working today. Let him be your Writer’s Block. Haw haw.

On Writing, by Stephen King. Half memoir- which made me like the man even more- and half no-BS writing talk. He eschews notes, which I disagree with. I use Evernote to take notes on my phone. But solid advice.

Break Writer’s Block Now! by Jerrold Mundis. This is the advice you’ll say YABBIT about. But it works. Whether you want to begin writing, write regularly, or break a dry spell this book is a must. Some sounds like bullshit- relaxing before you write? WTF? but it makes sense once you actually think about it, and try it. Anxiety is the root of most blocks.

And when you quit being a yabbit and start writing the big ponderous novel, I recommend Scrivener. It helps keep me organized, lets me write the scene I want to write, no matter where in the book it is, and keep things sensible. You can compile in Standard Manuscript format, Screenplay, as an e-book, paperback templates… truly a powerful tool, and great for taming that wild imagination:

Get Scrivener 2 for Mac
Get Scrivener for PC

And Steve Weddle’s debut novel COUNTRY HARDBALL is available for pre-order. Steve is a fine writer, and I’m sure these stairs won’t creak or send you plummeting to the basement.

Hail to the King

In honor of Halloween and scaring the hell out of each other, let me talk about Stephen King.

He wasn’t the first to scare the crap out of me. That goes to Alien, which still gives me bizarre nightmares. Then The Thing, Poltergeist and An American Werewolf in London came along. In 6th grade I started reading bullshit paperback collections that put forth old ghost stories and weird tales like “Gef the mongoose” as true, unexplained phenomena.

And then my mother let me read Stephen King. She’s a big fan of The Stand, but I’m not sure that was first. I think I chose Salem’s Lot, because I flipped it open and saw the word “fart.” I twelve or thirteen, living at my grandmother’s house, where the enormous oak rapped against my window at night like the tree from Poltergeist about to swallow me up and spit out my Hulk wristwatch. I was ripe to be terrified, and Mr. King did not disappoint.

I read The Stand, Cujo, Firestarter. I plowed through his voluminous collections of short fiction, still some of the best shocker and switcheroos and utterly crazy-imaginative tales I’ve read. And then came It, which upped the ante, by bringing horror to kids my age. I sat on the couch reading that book until I fell asleep, then fought nightmares of electric trees and rampaging Tyrannosaurs and undead creeps who could turn the floor into glue as I tried to escape. No clowns, though. Clowns never bothered me. Perhaps thanks to Alien and The Thing, my brain-beasties were always skinned and toothy four-legged monsters that looked like slabs of quartered chicken tied to bloody animal skeletons. (And don’t worry, that novel will be written soon enough.)

King is difficult to explain, except that he is a fantastic storyteller. People apologize for him. They call him a guilty pleasure. I haven’t read any of his books since From a Buick 8, but I loved that story. I also dug The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I was disappointed with the Dark Tower’s resolution, but I respected it. Those novels are as raw and unfiltered a journey through a very imaginative storyteller’s brain as we’re likely to get. I’ll forgive the indulgences, because he bared it all.

Like any big name, he probably should be edited more now that his very name is all that’s required to sell a book. But has he changed, or have we? I’m inclined to think the latter. I’m glad he’s still writing, and I’m glad that the “front of the house is for the fans,” but I still couldn’t step out of my car as we passed through Bangor. He gave me enough back when I first read his work. Maybe some of us have lost patience for moody character tales that descend into hometown horror, but I’m glad he’s still writing and that his books still resonate with millions of readers, including me.

A jealous redhead with a big set of headlights

Christine, Carpenter and King’s disturbing tribute to the American mystique with the automobile, came out in the perfect year. In the late 70’s, EPA regulations and piss poor engineering coupled to bring us the most emasculated cars from Detroit, but by ’83 the Mustang and Camaro were nearing 200 horsepower again; there was no official Corvette that year, but in ’84 it came back with a vengeance. The Fury was long gone by then and Plymouth was mostly re-badging other cars, but the 1958 Fury was perhaps their most iconic model, other than the Road Runner Superbird. The early ’80s was also the beginning of ’50s nostalgia, culminating with Michael Mann’s excellent Crime Story TV series. The car was the perfect choice, with its massive shark fins. Only the ’57 Chrysler 300C and the ’59 Cadillacs were more impressive. The chugging hemi engine that rumbles over the credits and serves as the monster’s roar before it crushes its victims is the throaty song of the American muscle car. The car of Christine’s enemy Dennis is a 1968 Dodge Charger, the most memorable of the Dodge-Chrysler-Plymouth muscle cars at the time.
They did an excellent job in making a horror movie about a killer car, with effects that still stand up today, and a classic tale of a nerd who finds brief glory with a devil’s bargain, before it destroys him. Set in 1978, the last production year of the Plymouth Fury, we meet nerdy Arnie as he leaves his domineering parents for a ride to school with football jock and good guy Dennis, his only friend. Everything gets set up in the first few minutes as we meet the New Girl, Leigh, and the Douche Trio of switchblade bully Buddy, and his toadies Fat Fuck and The Pompadour Guy (or Pompadouche for short). Dennis, and later Arnie, have eyes for Leigh while Buddy and crew torment Arnie in auto shop. Dennis comes to the rescue but it’s three on one, and Fat Fuck grabs his nuts in a particularly brutal scene. The shop teacher catches them, and they get expelled… vowing revenge.
Dennis is played by John Stockwell, who’d show up in the underrated ’80s flick My Science Project; he’s kind of a low rent Kevin Bacon, but he’s very likeable. Just a bit bland. Leigh is future “Baywatch” beauty Alexandra Paul, and Keith Gordon, who plays Arnie, would go on to direct Mother Night, A Midnight Clear, and many episodes of the TV series “Dexter.” The real standout is Robert Prosky, who plays Darnell the junkyard owner. In a role completely different from his excellent mobster in Michael Mann’s Thief, he’s a cigar-chewing slobbish force of nature here who practically steals the show.
When Arnie and Dennis are driving home from school, nerdy boy sees a wreck parked in a field with a For Sale sign, and is immediately captivated. It turns out to be a faded red 1958 Plymouth, banged up and in need of serious repair. A scrawny, hunched-over old man like a troll from a fairy tale sits on the porch, staring into the big nothing, as Arnie starts drooling over the car. Dennis tries to talk him out of buying it, but he insists. The man says the car was his brother’s, who bought it new. He tells him the car’s name is Christine, and Arnie takes it home.

“My asshole brother bought her back in September ’57. That’s when you got your new model year, in September. Brand-new, she was. She had the smell of a brand-new car. That’s just about the finest smell in the world, ‘cept maybe for pussy.”

His parents aren’t too happy with his decision, as they make all the decisions for him; but Arnie has finally grown a pair of balls, and drives it to a local junkyard and self repair auto shop, run by Mr. Darnell. In his grimy suit and perpetual scowl, Darnell gets most of the good lines; as Arnie begins work on restoring the banged-up road monster, he mutters, “You can’t polish a turd.” Slowly the restoration project takes all of Arnie’s time; Dennis tries for a date with Leigh and is rebuffed, and spends his time playing football. One night we see Arnie go off in a blue ’76 Eldorado. Who’s driving the blue Cadillac? Does he sell his soul to the Devil? In the novel, he’s smuggling cigarettes with Darnell the auto shop owner. This subplot was left out of the film and for good reason. It’s left a mystery how Arnie first repairs Christine, which would cost a fortune, because when the car first repairs itself after the vandalism, it’s a surprise to him. We later find out it’s Darnell’s Caddy, but it’s mysterious and makes us wonder what’s happening to Arnie as much as Dennis does. I like to think Christine was slowly repairing herself as Arnie bungled his way through the job, until he was fully under her spell.
Arnie talks to the car much like many of us do when confronted with a piece of machinery that’s not working. Whether it’s Han Solo whispering to the Millennium Falcon, or Michael Bolton cursing out the printer in Office Space, we personify machines. He loses his glasses and gains confidence, and attitude. His Mom asks Dennis for help, because he’s obsessed with the car, and he senses something is off. He visits the old man who sold them the car, and finds out that the previous owner had the same obsession.

Probably the only thing my brother ever loved in his whole rotten life was that car. No shitter ever came between him and Christine, if they did… watch out! He had a five-year-old daughter choke to death in her… he wouldn’t get rid of her. He just rode around with the radio blaring, not a care in the world except for Christine.” Even Darnell remembers, “I knew a guy had a car like that once. Fuckin’ bastard killed himself in it. Son of a bitch was so mean, you could’ve poured boiling water down his throat and he would’ve pissed ice cubes!

Before Dennis can do anything, we see him at a football game. Buddy and his crew are in the bleachers, booing the home team. Dennis is running long for a pass when he sees Arnie pull up in a fully restored Christine, with the hot new girl Leigh coming out of the passenger side… and while he’s distracted, he’s slammed by a tackle and put in the hospital. Nearly paralyzed, he’s taken out of commission while Christine cements her hold on Arnie. Buddy and crew decide to get revenge on Arnie by trashing the car, and we see them sneak into Darnell’s that night to smash up Arnie’s baby. Now I’m a car enthusiast, and I tell you it hurt more watching them smash that car than any of the death scenes in this movie; and that’s what King and Carpenter are getting at with this movie. Either you’re a car person or you’re not. If you drive a Toyota, you’re probably not. Though Prius drivers get enthused in their own way. If a car’s just transportation, you won’t ever understand.
When Arnie finds his car vandalized beyond belief- it is mentioned that someone shit on the dashboard- he is of course devastated. All that work, lost. But it’s more than that. He identifies himself through his car, like many young men; it is a personal injury. A car becomes sort of a home on wheels, and invasion of it is unsettling, even if only a thin sheen of safety glass separates the inside from the rest of the world. Keith Gordon’s portrayal in this scene is perhaps the best, as the new hard-ass Arnie crumbles back to his apoplectic geek self. And his soul becomes irrevocably sold later that evening, when he looks at the wreckage with knowing eyes and murmurs, “Show me.” To the haunting sax of “Harlem Nocturne,” Christine rebuilds herself. Fenders reform, the tires inflate, crushed metal pops back to shape. Other than the incredible scenes of the car repairing itself, which were performed with plastic replicas and hydraulic pumps- the most memorable visual has to be the demonic marauding vehicle ablaze at the gas station.
Vengeance is first delivered on Fatty, who runs into a repair bay where the car can’t fit. The windshield is dark, so we don’t know if Arnie is behind the wheel, or if Christine is prowling on her own. Amazingly, the car pushes itself into the narrow alleyway, fenders crumpling as the tires squeal with demonic fury. Later, a detective tells Arnie, “they have to scrape his legs off the wall with a shovel.” But Arnie only replies, “Isn’t that what you do with shit? Scrape it up with a little shovel?” Detective Junkins drives the last year of Fury, the 1978 cop model, a nice touch. He’s played by the always dependable Harry Dean Stanton, but his cop skills aren’t all that great. I know it’s the ’70s, but you could match the paint from Christine’s fender to the corpse. Let’s just assume that possessed demon cars don’t leave forensic evidence.
The best scene is when Christine kills off the last of the two shitters- this time literally, they shit on her dash- by playing a night time game of chicken. Buddy’s driving in his ’67 Camaro when a tailgater is blinding him. He stomps on the brakes, goes in reverse, but can’t touch the car. So he races them to a gas station, pulls over and takes out his tire iron… only to see Christine plow into his ride and T-bone it into scrap metal. Before he can react, the cars, now locked together, are smashing through the service station and crushing his pals. Soon the whole place is ablaze, Christine has real flames on her fenders and is coursing after him like a living inferno.
After Leigh dumps Arnie because she nearly chokes to death in the car at a drive-in (on a sandwich, ya perv), she teams up with Dennis to try to free him from Christine’s clutches. But Arnie’s obsession is complete. As they drive the highway, he plays chicken for no reason, throws beer cans out the window, and has become the mean sonofabitch who can eat lava and piss ice cubes. Dennis lures him to Darnell’s by carving a challenge into Christine’s hood, and going there to hot wire a bulldozer. And the final duel between a demonic land yacht and a Tonka toy is something to behold, with Christine able to repair herself between clashes.
With an absolutely fantastic soundtrack that varies from whimsical to macabre, including the now famous “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers, “Pledging my Love” by Johnny Ace, “Keep a Knockin'” by Little Richard, and especially “Boney Maroni” playing while Christine crushes one of her victims, the movie manages to wink at us just enough so we’ll swallow a killer car from the ’50s. Things to notice. Arnie’s clothes slowly revert to ’50s era, including a red jacket like James Dean wore in Rebel Without a Cause. His hair and manner resemble a “greaser.” And Christine’s mileage counter goes backward through the film, as if it’s sucking the life out of Arnie. It finally rolls over to zeroes during the final battle.

I love this shot which makes it seem like the car is watching this guy.

Is Christine a horror film? Of course, but a different one. I’m eager to read the book. The movie shows the car being “born” on the assembly line, a lone custom Ford Red among the other beige models. She kills a worker who gets cigar ashes on her seats, and chomps her hood closed on someone’s hand, too. I like this addition, because it lends an urban legend feel to it, and makes us wonder if we’ll get one of these “bad luck” or worse, evil cars. Well, perhaps back in the ’80s, when cars were less electronic, and seemed possessed by gremlins. But as the final shot warns, Christine may still be out there, prowling the roads, looking for a new driver.

12. A Return to Salem’s Lot

Schlocktoberfest #12: A Return to Salem’s Lot

Following his nosedive into ’80s cheese, Larry Cohen of blaxploitation classic Black Caesar and offbeat horror like It’s Alive! changed his tone. He got campy and sarcastic, and began using B-movie slummer Michael Moriarty (Who’ll Stop the Rain) in everything. The third It’s Alive! entry was pretty bad, and I think it was made at the same time as this- some of the punk kid victims look the same!
Anyway, Moriarty plays Joe, an asshole anthropologist dragged home by court order to take care of his asshole kid, and they head to the family mansion, in cozy Jerusalem’s Lot. Immediately the townsfolk give him the stinkeye, the sheriff warns him off, and when a car full of teenagers is stopped by the cops and set upon by hungry vampires, we find out the whole town is a vampire haven. When the surviving punk hides in Joe’s house, he takes her to see the judge and straighten things out, but the aged folks at the judge’s house just drag her into a room and suck her blood. Joe and his kid get to live because of their heritage- they are meant to be Drones, vampire servants, and Joe agrees to write the history of the vampires for the judge.



We learn that alongside the Puritans on the Mayflower, another ship came to America in 1620- the Speedwell, carrying a host of vampires. They settled in the little town of Jerusalem’s Lot up in Maine, and vampires in a small town is about all this has in common with the Salem’s Lot movie based on Stephen King’s novel. However, despite a tedious start it has its own charms- director Samuel Fuller- who made such classics as The Big Red One and Pickup on South Street– shows up and steals the show.

The first symptom of vampirism is a gay-ass open shirt.


Joe’s jerky kid goes off to play with a young girl and apparently they played Vampire Doctor because he starts to change. Joe tries to escape with his son before he is enslaved by the vampires, but they have the drones to stop him by day, and their own powers to trap him by night. Just when I’m thinking this is a steaming vampire turd, Samuel Fuller shows up as a nasty old man who’s lost. Joe tries to send him out of town to save him, but he keeps coming back- it turns out he’s a Nazi Hunter, and he doesn’t bring them to trial! He’s looking for a Nazi vampire, and he’s encountered the beasts before. Sure, it’s deus ex machina, but Fuller is so entertaining as the crabby old Jewish bad-ass that the movie suddenly becomes entertaining.

First we slay vampires, then we get Danish!

He turns the tide and helps Joe fight the vampire horde and their slaves. If the entire movie had been called Sam Fuller the Nazi Hunter vs. The Vampire Horde it would be fucking epic and a deserving cult classic, but the first two acts are pretty painful to get through. Fast forward until Sam Fuller and his snow-white Jew-fro show up waving stakes and a Luger, and you’ve got a fun campy vampire huntin’ yarn with coffins on fire, holy water burning faces off, and they even use a flagpole with Old Glory on it to send a vampire back to Hell. Half a great trash film, and half is just trash. Worth seeing if you like Sam Fuller or like vampire cheese.

Commie pinko vampires burning the flag!