::Literate Blather::
Friday, October 31, 2008
Halloween Terror: The Babysitter - Part 3

(Read the FIRST and SECOND parts of our 3-part serial.
Then read the horrifying conclusion in Part 3 of our Halloween Day Terror Fest.)

Alone and Afraid! Strange Noises! A Blood Stained Knife!


"The Babysitter"

Part 3

The world closed in on Amber. Her knees felt weak and she grabbed the banister to prevent herself from falling down the stairs. Someone was inside the house. Someone had the children.

“Amber!” a faint voice called.

She gripped the kitchen knife tighter and with a deep breath headed down the stairs. Halfway down there was a giggle. Joey? Was that little Joey? She froze.
A small figure darted across her line of vision. She caught a glimpse of blond hair and small feet in booted pajamas. More giggles.

“Joey!” she shouted.

And a moment later, the sheepish face of six-year-old Joey Curtain peeked around the entrance to the living room.

“Did we scare you?” Joey asked.

Amber’s face flustered. She wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake him, but when the fear suddenly lifted, all she could do was grin. Grin like an idiot.
She trotted the rest of the way down the stairs, casually hiding the butcher knife behind her back.

“You’re supposed to be in bed,” she said. “Where is your sister?”


“Hiding? From what?”

“From this.”

Joey stuck a steak knife into her thigh. The blade nicked her bone and she staggered back, blood splashing on the carpet. She thought: Mr. and Mrs. Curtain are going to kill me for this mess. Joey tried to tear the knife free and she shoved him. The little boy went flying and bumped his head against the wall.

Knife protruding from her thigh, she limped across the foyer and into the hallway leading to the front door. Joey screamed behind her and she heard his padded feet coming for her. He was crazy!

The pain in her thigh was intense. Blood covered her lower leg and she left a thick trail of gore behind her. She sobbed, reaching for the door, just as Joey’s hands grabbed the back of her blouse. She swapped back and her fist caught him in the temple. He cried out and fell on his back.

The door opened and a laughing Mr. and Mrs. Curtain stepped into the house. Their cheeks were flush from alcohol and good humor. A shawl was draped across Mrs. Curtain’s shoulders.

“Thank God!” Amber shouted.

“Amber!” Mrs. Curtain cried. “Amber, what is it?”

Amber sobbed again and pointed at Joey. The little boy was seated on the floor, cross-legged, rubbing the top of his head and wailing. Snot and tears glistened on his cheeks and chin.

“What have you done?” Mrs. Curtain said, rushing to her son, kneeling down next to him.

“My God,” Mr. Curtain said, staring at the blade buried deeply in Amber’s thigh. “She’s bleeding.”

“Joanie!” Mrs. Curtain shouted. “Joanie!”

The little girl appeared down the hall. A look of terror etched on her features.

“Damn it, Joey!” Mr. Curtain screamed, pushing Amber’s groping hands away from him. “How many times do I have to tell you!” He whirled and plunged a compact hunting knife into Amber’s belly. Blood exploded onto the floor. “Always kill with the first blow!”

Then he ripped the blade upward, cleaving Amber open from belly button to rib cage. Intestines and part of Amber’s stomach tumbled to the floor with a sickening plop. Amber’s eyes widened with horror and she collapsed – dead.

“Oh, honey,” Mrs. Curtain said. “The floor! I just polished the floor yesterday!”

“Sorry, dear.” He kicked Amber with the toe of his shoe and glared at his son, who was sniffling. “Didn’t we tell you not to kill this one? Christ, in the house!”

Joey hesitated and then nodded.

“Goddamn it, Joey, now I got to dump this one, too. Didn’t we tell you we had a wait at least month or two after Marybeth Kincaid? What am I going to tell her parents. Shit!”

“Honey,” Mrs. Curtain said. “Watch you tongue around the children! We’ll sort this out in the morning. Now come on, let’s all go to bed.”

“What about this?” Mr. Curtain said, gesturing at Amber’s body.

“Oh, we’ll clean it up later.”

And then the Curtain family headed upstairs and went to bed.

THE END (or is it!)

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Halloween Terror: The Babysitter - Part 2

(Read the first part of our 3-part serial
HERE. Then plunge right in to Part 2 of our Halloween Day Terror Fest.)

A Dark House! A Killer on the Loose! A Babysitter all Alone!


"The Babysitter"

Part 2

“Did you see the news?” Andrew said. “The dude stabbed her like 20 times!”

“Yeah,” Amber said into her mobile phone. “The news alert scared the children to death. You should have seen little Joanie. She was inconsolable. I just got them to bed.”

“Creepy. I was just on Marybeth Kincaid’s Facebook page. She was a babysitter, you know.”

“Stop it, Andrew.”

“You sure you don’t want me to come over? I could protect you from the boogey man!”

“Ha, ha. And who is going to protect me from you?”

“Hey, I resemble that remark.”

“Listen, I’ve got to go because my battery is getting low.”

Hasta la vista, baby!”

Amber rolled her eyes as she hung up. She peeked into the children’s bedrooms. Joanie muttered in her sleep and rolled over, the blankets spilling to the floor. Amber tip-toed into the dark room and tucked her in. A damp sweat covered Joanie’s forehead. Poor thing!

In his bedroom, Joey slept soundly, snoring a little. His hands were folded across his chest. Impulsively, Amber reached out and flicked some of his blond hair off his forehead. His eyes popped open and she nearly screamed.

Joey looked up at her. “I thought you were a good babysitter.”

She smiled at him. “Go back to sleep.”

Amber tucked him in, turned out the lights, and returned to the living room downstairs. The house felt big and empty. She pulled schoolbooks out of her knapsack. If only Andrew could see her now. After an hour of studying Spanish verb tenses, she wandered into the kitchen for the bag of chips Mrs. Curtain had offered. She ate a few handfuls with the Pepsi, staring at her dark reflection in the sliding glass door that opened onto an expansive deck.

When she got back to the living room, the lights were out. Amber didn’t remember turning them off. She found the lamp and clicked it on. The room brightened. It was empty. She sat down on the couch and went to work on her Algebra II homework.

At 10:15, she heard a scrapping noise from below – then a bang. The basement. She walked to the cellar door and made sure it was locked and then pressed her ear against it. The only sound was the thump of her heart. She was being silly.

She wandered to the middle of the living room, found the remote, and turned on the TV. CNN was reporting some dire economic news, but Amber wasn’t listening. She heard another loud noise from the basement. Now she was frightened.

Rushing into the kitchen, she pulled a butcher’s knife from a wooden holder.
The knife made her feel safer and she crept toward the basement door. Unfastening the lock, she turned the handle and eased open the door. Cool, stale air washed over her. Her hands patted the wall until she found the light switch. A dim bulb revealed a steep wooden staircase that led down to a finished den.

“Hello?” she called.

Her voice echoed back. Holding the knife in front of her, Amber walked down the carpeted stairs, her mind reeling with images of “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” movies. Wasn’t it always stupid to be checking out strange noises? Was she walking into a trap set by the killer of Marybeth Kincaid?

Her feet barely made a sound as she descended. The den was decorated with old German beer signs and rows of beer steins. It smelled of must. There was an old leather couch, a console TV, and a painted toy chest. The den was otherwise devoid of life.

Oh, brother was she being ridiculous!

Walking back up the stairs, she heard the television. The station was tuned to the Cartoon Network. Bugs Bunny skipped across the screen with a sardonic grin. The wide-eyed bunny stared out at her and growled; “What’s up, Doc?” Amber pressed the off button and the house plunged into a tomb-like silence.

“Is there someone here?” she called. “Andrew? Andrew, this isn’t funny.”

A horrible thought hit her. The children! The thought of them startled her. She had completely forgotten about them. She hurried up the stairs to Joey’s bedroom. She flicked on the light. His bed was empty.

“Oh my God!”

With her fear mounting, she darted down the hall to little Joanie’s bedroom. She was missing as well.

What the hell was going on?

She pulled her mobile phone out of her pocket and dialed her parents. But the phone was dead – the battery used up. She nearly cried out in frustration. She stood at the top of the stairs, breathless, and paralyzed by indecision.

And that’s when the voice called out to her.

Stay tuned today for Part 3 -- the Horrifying Conclusion to "The Babysitter!"

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Halloween Terror: The Babysitter - Part 1
(What's better on Halloween than a scary story? DaRK PaRTY presents our pulp horror, soon-to-be-a-classic tale of unimaginable terror. Welcome to the world of "The Babysitter!" Today we'll be running the three part serial to give you all the chills, spills, and thrills that you need to get through Halloween Day.)

Feel the Horror! Experience the Terror! Don't Leave Her Alone With the Children!


"The Babysitter"

Part 1

Mrs. Curtain slipped on a hoop earring. “Joanie should be in bed by 7:30 and Joey no later than 8:00.” Her heels clacked the tile floor. She paused and studied her reflection in the hallway mirror. Smiling, she gave her head a quick shake.

“We should be home before midnight.” Mr. Curtain, wearing a dark gray suit and red tie, glanced at his watch and frowned. “Honey, we’re late.”

“One moment, dear,” Mrs. Curtain said. “There’s Pepsi-Cola in the fridge and I think there’s an unopened bag of chips on top of the breadbox. Please feel free to help yourself.”

Amber nodded. She had to admit that Mrs. Curtain looked gorgeous in her red satin dress. The neckline plunged low and her breasts looked on the verge of springing free. She knew that men probably liked that and wondered if she’d ever have a body like Mrs. Curtain.

“Thank you, Mrs. Curtain,” she said. “Just have a good time and don’t worry about a thing.”

Mrs. Curtain smiled. “Isn’t she great?” she said to her husband. She turned back to the babysitter. “I know I seem like a nervous wreck, but I’m always this way with someone new.”

“Honey,” Mr. Curtain said.

“Everything will be fine,” Amber said.

“I’ve spoken to Joey,” Mrs. Curtain said. “Don’t let him hurt you. He can play rough for a six-year-old.”

Amber laughed and walked the Curtains to the door. Mrs. Curtain squeezed Amber’s arm and then the couple hurried out to their BMW. Amber watched Mr. Curtain back down the driveway, the headlights washing over the house, and then the car drove off. Amber wandered to the living room entrance. Joanie and Joey lay on the floor watching a “Dora the Explorer” video.

Amber’s mobile phone vibrated in her jeans pocket. She smirked, walked back to the hallway, and flipped open the phone.

“Are they gone?”

“Yes, Andrew, finally.”

“What are they like?”

“She’s a Barbie doll and he’s anal retentive.”

Andrew laughed. “What time will the Stepford Family be back?”


“Hootchie Mama! I’ll be over in 10 minutes.”

Amber rolled her eyes. “I’m not in the mood to have you dry hump my leg. Listen, I have to go. Okay?”

“Hey, I just called!”


“I can dry hump either leg you know… all right, all right. I’ll buzz you later.”

Amber returned to the living room. The children stared up at her. Joey licked his lips. He was a cute kid. His blond hair was nearly white and his eyes crinkled merrily when he smiled. His sister was two years younger; also a blond, but her hair darker and her body chubbier. Cute, but not quite in Joey’s league.

“So what’re you guys doing?” Amber asked.

Both children looked down at the carpet. Joanie’s face flushed. Amber knew they were nervous.

“Nothing,” Joey finally mumbled.

Amber clasped her hands. “How would you guys like some…”

They both looked up at her.

“Like some…”

Joey climbed to his feet. “Some what?”

“Yeah, what!” Joanie shouted.

“Some… POPCORN!”

They shrieked with excitement.

Later, all three of them sat on the couch munching popcorn and drinking soda. They watched TV when the children’s show they were watching was interrupted by a news flash. A somber anchorwoman stared out at them.

“This just in,” she said. “Police have found the body of a missing teenage girl at Quaker’s Quarry. According to police sources, Marybeth Kincaid, age 16, was found with multiple stab wounds in the chest and belly.”

Amber grabbed for the remote and shut off the television as the news flashed to police and emergency workers walking out of the quarry woods lugging a plastic body bag.

The room went quiet, except for the snap of the television. Joanie dropped a handful of popcorn on the couch, tears flooding her eyes, and ran out of the room with a sharp cry.

“Joanie!” Amber shouted.

“She’ll be all right,” Joey said. “She just doesn’t like all the blood.”

Read Part 2 of the Terror-Filled "The Babysitter!"

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tony Hillerman and the Power of Setting

How Tony Hillerman Captured the Essence of the American Southwest

We rolled out of Farmington, New Mexico on Route 64 west toward Shiprock. I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge on the rental car. The sun – a blazing smear of yellow overhead – was torching the highway. Ripples of heat swept up off the asphalt like transparent ghosts. The air conditioner felt like the warm breath of a large mammal.

Halfway to Shiprock, we pulled over on a desolate stretch of lonely highway. I stepped out of the car and the sun bore down on me like a weight. My shoulders actually sagged and I felt my sweat turn to vapor as soon as it squeezed out of my pores. The high desert stretched out before me in all directions.

I had never seen so much sky. So much space. I was a New England native – from a region cramped with various topographies within short spans: rocky coasts, sand dunes, lakes, pine forests, swamps, mountains, rolling hills, apple orchards, valleys, and rivers. A land filled with indecision.

Not here.

Sandy, rutted mesas and plateaus seemed as expansive as the moon. There were dips and divots, rock formations, and a long, low flatness. And everything – except the blue, blue sky – was a dullish, dun color.

I stood and looked around. It was just as I imagined. It was just as Tony Hillerman had been telling me for years in his Leaphorn and Chee detective novels. I was in the Four Corners because of Hillerman. His prose – his telling, detailed descriptions of the Four Corners – had brought me here on vacation.

He made me want to see it for myself.

Tony Hillerman, the acclaimed mystery writer, died of pulmonary failure on Sunday, October 26. He was 83. There have been a lot of tributes to Hillerman lately – mostly about how his 18 novels about Navajo Police Officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee broke through cultural barriers of mystery fiction. Very true.

Hillerman was a natural storyteller – and his two protagonists opened the eyes of many Americans to the rich culture and history of the Navajo people. As the Chicago Sun-Times noted:

“Each [novel] is characterized by an unadorned writing style, intricate plotting, memorable characterization and vivid descriptions of Indian rituals and of the vast plateau of the Navajo reservation in the Four Corners region of the Southwest. The most acclaimed of them, including "Talking God" and "The Coyote Waits," are subtle explorations of human nature and the conflict between cultural assimilation and the pull of the old ways.”

The New York Times wrote:

“In the world of mystery fiction, Mr. Hillerman was that rare figure: a best-selling author who was adored by fans, admired by fellow authors and respected by critics. Though the themes of his books were not overtly political, he wrote with an avowed purpose: to instill in his readers a respect for Native American culture.”

But one aspect of Hillerman’s novels that often gets overlooked was his command of setting. The Four Corners region of the American Southwest became a major character in his fiction. Many other detective writers are associated with a setting (Robert B. Parker with Boston, Michael Connolly with L.A.), but none of them captured place with the power of Hillerman.

One could argue that without setting, Hillerman’s mysteries would simply be run of the mill trade paperbacks. It was the sense of place – it was the Navajo part of America – that made his books special. You could smell the hot dust, feel the sand beneath your toes, see the rock formations on the horizon. Hillerman cared deeply about the Southwest – understood it – and really saw it. And he was talented enough to make his readers feel and see it with him.

And that’s why, almost 10 years ago now, I traveled to the Four Corners. I wanted to experience the setting of “Talking God” (1989), “Coyote Waits” (1990), and “A Thief of Time” (1988). I wanted to feel the desert.

Hillerman will be missed – and the American Southwest will never be described the same way again.

Fiction and the Catholic Church

Movie vs. Book -- 10 Movies Adaptations That Are Better than Fiction

Fiction: Everyone is Dead

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Sunday, October 26, 2008
DP's Magical Mystery Tour #4

(Culling the very best from the DaRK PaRTY NeTWORK)

  • David Wellington may be one of the most prolific horror writers in the business these days (we interviewed him about horror fiction not long ago). He's fearless when it comes to using the Web as a channel for him. He's one of the few authors that you really believe doesn't care about publishing books -- he just wants to tell scary stories. How's that for refreshing? He loves serialization (hello, Dickens) and one of his most ambitious novels is called Frostbite -- a horror story about werewolves in the Arctic Circle. If you like horror -- you really can't go wrong.
  • Raych over at Books I Done Read gets a little too sexual with her copy of Nick Hornby's completely overrated "About a Boy."
  • Emma Larkins wants to be a published writer -- and she started an interested blog about the difficulty emerging writers have in, well, getting published. She has writing tips, interviews, and thoughtful analysis of the writing business through the eyes of a novice. The blog his called (drumroll please) Emerging Emma.
  • Over at Tomb It May Concern, they dug up a really cool looking house ad for Marvel Comics that features a retro Spidey, Ironman, Thor, and Human Torch (remember when Human Torch was one of the most popular Marvel superheroes? Wasn't that back in the 70s?).
  • Remember: When you need a laugh head over to Pop Sensation. It's a freakin' howl.
  • The Toasted Scrimtar wonders why there is a lack of yodelers in Fantasy Fiction? With all the damn bards and singers - you'd think there would be at least one yodeler. Alas!
  • When the Dead Walk the Earth writes about the guilty pleasure of watching cheesy horror movies in his youth -- and give a great remove of the B-movie classic "The Rats" as well.
  • Speaking of cheesy horror movies -- why haven't you entered our "easy as pie" contest to win 50 Horror Movie Classics?
  • The Sunset Gun has one of the best tributes to Paul Newman that I've read. I wanted to write a blog post about Newman -- but I just couldn't find the words. Sunset Gun didn't have that problem.
  • Lone Justice was one of our favorite bands from the 1980s -- and "Shelter" is their best song.
  • Cracked Magazine -- a staple from my childhood -- has a fantastic parody of Halloween -- with a look at Michael Myers in the deleted scenes of the classic horror movie. Laugh out loud funny.

(Would you like to be a hit at parties? Then you should be part of the DaRK PaRTY NeTWORK -- where dreams come true! If you scribble nonsense about culture, literature, books, movies, poetry, music or writing then why not exchange links with us? We don’t bite and we’re relatively clean on non-weekend days. Drop us a note at darkpartyreview(AT)gmail(DOT)com or leave us a comment.)

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Friday, October 24, 2008
The Greatest Cinematic Serial Killers of All Time

A Killer List of Popular Movie Slashers

The U.S. is obsessed with serial killers. We read about them, we develop TV shows about them. And we make movies about them. Here is our list of the greatest (most popular and well-known) cinematic slashers of all time.

Freddy Krueger

The Child Molester and Dream Demon

First Appearance: Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

No. of Film Appearances: 8

Created By: Wes Craven

Actor: Robert Englund

Description: Freddy’s face is a mutilated, fire ravaged visage covered by smooth, bumpy scars. His teeth are rotting and jagged. He’s fond of wearing a dark fedora and a red-and-black striped shirt. He rarely goes anywhere without his clawed glove.

Backstory: Freddy’s mother was a nun who was tortured and raped by more than 100 pyschos while she was trapped in a prison for the criminally insane. His mother nearly died in childbirth and Freddy found a home with a violent alcoholic who abused him both physically and mentally. Freddy later murdered his adoptive father. Freddy grew up, got married, and fathered a daughter. He worked at a power plant and developed a fondness for kidnapping and murdering children. The police called him the Springwood Slasher. After Freddy was captured, law enforcement bungling forced them to release him. The parents of Freddy’s victims hunted him down and burned him to death. But before death took him, Freddy was approached by three evil dream demons who gave him the power to turn dreams into reality. Now Freddy returns to hunt victims in the night.

Method of Murder: Freddy wears a metallic glove with razor sharp claws at the end. He likes to torture his teenage victims, by manipulating their dreams. He generally kills them while they sleep – the wounds materializing in real-life after he slays them in slumber land.

Killer Quote: One, two, Freddy's coming for you/ Three, four, better lock your door/ Five, six, grab your crucifix/ Seven, eight, gonna stay up late/ Nine, ten, never sleep again.”

Random Pop Reference: Freddy has appeared in three episodes of “The Simpsons” Halloween specials.

Honors: AFI ranked Freddy number 40 on its list of greatest Heroes and Villains list.

Jason Voorhees

The Hockey Mask and Machette-welding Mass Murderer

First Appearance: Friday the 13th (1980)

No. of Film Appearances: 12

Created By: Victor Miller, Ron Kurtz, Sean S. Cunningham, Tom Savini

Actors: Many actors have portrayed Jason including Ari Lehman, Warrington Gillette, Steve Daskewisz, Richard Booker, Ted White, Tom Morga, C.J. Graham, Dan Bradley, Kane Hodder, and Ken Kirzinger

Description: A gigantic, mammoth man with a distorted, ugly face usually clad tattered dark clothes. Jason rarely speaks. He wears an old 1950s style Detroit Red Wings goalie mask and carries a machete.

Backstory: Jason was not the primary killer in the first “Friday the 13th” movie – his mother was. Jason was the motivation behind her murders – because he died from a drowning while camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake fooled around. Jason – the mass murdering adult – didn’t come until the 1981 sequel. Not much is known about Jason. He was a mentally challenged child who grew up with an abusive mother. Creators re-engineered his drowning so that he didn’t die, just washed up on shore and lived in the forest. It is speculated that he continues to kill to please his dead mother. His creators have called him a “psycho-savant” with a high tolerance for pain.

Method of Murder: Jason is quite fond of using sharp object to poke, dismember, and slaughter his victims. That’s why he really enjoys using his rusty, blood-splattered machete.

Killer Quote: “He (Jason) doesn't have any personality. He's like a great white shark. You can't really defeat him. All you can hope for is to survive.”

Random Pop Reference: Jason has become a cultural icon – from comic books to parodies to appearances in pop songs. Musicians from Alice Cooper to Tupac Shakur have sang about him.

Honors: Jason received a lifetime achievement award from MTV in 1992 – one of only three fictional characters to ever get the award.

Michael Myers

The Supernatural Babysitter Butcher of Illinois

First Appearance: Halloween (1978)

No. of Film Appearances: 9

Created By: John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Actors: Many actors have played Michael including Nick Castle, Tony Moran, Will Sandin, Dick Warlock, George P. Wilbur, Don Shanks, Chris Durand, Brad Loree, Tyler Mane, and Daeg Faerch

Description: A hulking man in soiled gray overalls wearing a rubber William Shatner mask backwards and often carrying a butcher knife. He is obsessed with teenage girls and often follows them around before murdering them and their friends.

Backstory: The character, according to creator John Carpenter, was based on Yul Brenner’s killer robot in the film “Westword.” At six years old, Michael murders his sister with a butcher knife on Halloween night. The boy was sent to a hospital for the criminally insane. He escapes as an adult and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois to continue murdering teenagers. It is likely that Michael is supernatural or possessed by some supernatural evil spirit – because he cannot be killed (by bullets, knifes, etc.).

Method of Murder: Michael enjoys killing with knives – but he’s very resourceful when he needs to be.

Killer Quote: “(I wanted to) raise this Michael Myers character up to a mythic status; make him human, yes, but almost like a force. A force that will never stop, that can't be denied."

Random Pop Reference: Michael made his debut in video games in a 1983 Halloween game released by Atari. He’s been the subject of novels, comic books, toys, dolls, etc. Another icon of the horror movie slasher genre.

Honors: The Halloween series has grossed more than $328 million worldwide.


Got Chainsaw?

First Appearance: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

No. of Film Appearances: 6

Created By: Tobe Hooper

Actors: Leatherface has been portrayed by actors Gunnar Hansen, Bill Johnson, R.A. Mihailoff, Robert Jacks, and Andrew Bryniarski

Description: A big, chubby man who is mentally retarded. He wears old clothes and likes to stalk around wearing the peeled off facial skin of his victims. He enjoys lugging around a gas-powered chainsaw.

Backstory: Leatherface’s real name is Bubba Sawyer. He is one of four brothers who live with their grandparents and great-grandmother in an old house in Texas. The family members are cannibals – and Leatherface the primary cook. In the new series of movies, Leatherface’s real name is Thomas Brown Hewitt. His mother dies in childbirth and he is tossed in a Dumpster where a woman finds him and takes him home. The creators noted he’s treated more like a pet than a son.

Method of Murder: Leatherface uses a chainsaw to dismember his victims and then carves up the meat for storage in a meat locker – so his family can dine on the remains later. He’s also been known to use a sledgehammer.

Killer Quote: “Leatherface is completely under the control of his family. He'll do whatever they tell him to do. He's a little bit afraid of them.”

Random Pop Reference: Leatherface has been the main character is a series by Wildstorm Comics.

Hannibal Lecter

Psychiatrist and Cannibalistic Serial Murderer

First Appearance: Manhunter (1986)

No. of Film Appearances: 5

Created By: Thomas Harris

Actors: Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins, Gaspard Ulliel and Aaran Thomas

Description: A short, thin man with great physical strength for his size. He has a sixth digit on his left hand (two middle fingers). He had wispy black hair which he slicks back over his head and small than average teeth. He also has a calm, creepy demeanor and an uncomfortable stare. He’s extremely sophisticated and quite an elegant talker.

Backstory: Lecter is the son of Lithuanian aristocrats and is orphaned with his sister during World War II. The siblings are captured by Nazis – who murder his sister and eat her – in front of him. Later escaping, Lecter is raised in an orphanage until adopted by his uncle. He has an affair with his uncle’s wife after his death. His obsession with catching his sister’s killers overcomes him and hunts down, kills, and eats each of them. He is a brilliant man and graduated from the John Hopkins Medical Center to become a world renowned psychiatrist. He continues to kill – mostly patients and those connected to his patients until he is arrested by the FBI and imprisoned.

Method of Murder: He murders in various methods, but usually eats his victims by cooking them up gourmet style.

Killer Quote: “(Lecter) is standing at rest - like a savage animal confident of the brutality coiled up inside him. His speaking voice has the precision of a man so arrogant he can barely be bothered to address the sloppy intelligence of the ordinary person.”

Random Pop Reference: Lecter has been parodied on “South Park” and in the movie “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.”

Honors: “Silence of the Lambs” won the Oscar for best movie in 1991.


Want to Play a Game?

First Appearance: Saw (2004)

No. of Film Appearances: 5

Created By: James Wan and Leigh Whannell

Actor: Tobin Bell

Description: A balding middle aged man with a hang-dog, expressionless face. He is paunchy and average sized, but very cunning, patient, and willing to do what it takes to succeed.

Backstory: Jigsaw is Jonathan Kramer, a civil engineer who is dying from an inoperable frontal lobe tumor as a result of colon cancer. He is divorced from his wife, a drug counselor, after their unborn child dies in an attack by one of his wife’s patients. The event makes Jigsaw angry and detached. Once he learns of his cancer, Jigsaw devises intricate traps and places flawed people into them in order for them to see the error of their ways. Those who survive, Jigsaw believes, will be better people. Oddly, Jigsaw doesn’t see himself as a murderer, but someone who helps people. He wants his surviving victims to appreciate their lives.

Method of Murder: Jigsaw sets up deadly traps to see how far his victims will go in saving their own lives. If they die he cuts a jigsaw puzzle shaped section of their flesh – as a symbol that they where missing a part of themselves needed to survive the traps.

Killer Quote: "He's not Jason or Freddy. He's not even Hannibal Lecter. He's a person with extreme beliefs and he really thinks he's making a difference. He's a vigilante if anything. He thinks he's making a difference."

Random Pop Reference: Jigsaw action figures are now available.

Honors: The Saw movie series has earned more than $555 million worldwide.

Patrick Bateman

The Boy Next Door

First Appearance: American Pyscho (2000)

No. of Film Appearances: 3

Created By: Bret Easton Ellis

Actors: Christian Bale, Dechen Thurman, and Michael Krembo

Description: A sophisticated, well-educated young investment banker. He’s handsome, but intense and very competitive. He’s fond of wearing expensive designer clothing – especially suits. He is arrogant and seems full of self loathing.

Backstory: Bateman is the oldest son of wealthy Long Island parents. His parents are divorced and his mother lives in a sanatorium. Bateman attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard University, and Harvard Business School. He lives in Manhattan on the Upper Wide Side and works in investment banking. He’s the ultimate yuppie, except that Bateman leads a double life and enjoys murdering people in a variety of ways – including torture and cannibalism.

Method of Murder: Various – but he likes to torture or have sexual liaisons with his victims before killing them.

Killer Quote: "I like to dissect girls; do you know I'm utterly insane?"

Random Pop Reference: In the Showtime serial killer series “Dexter,” the main character uses Patrick Bateman as an alias.

Honors: “American Psycho” has become a cult hit.


This Doll is Your Worst Nightmare

First Appearance: Child’s Play (1988)

No. of Film Appearances: 5

Created By: Don Mancini, John Lafia, and Tom Holland

Actor: Voiced by Brad Dourif

Description: A two-foot tall plastic “Good Guy” doll. The doll has red hair and big, blue eyes and wears cute overalls.

Backstory: A serial killer called the Lakeshore Strangler is shot by police. The mortally wounded killer, Charles Lee Ray, breaks into a toy store and falls on top of pile of “Good Guy” dolls. Just before he dies, he chants a voodoo spell to place his soul into one of the dolls. The toy store burns to the ground, but the doll lives.

Method of Murder: Chucky kills with various methods, but generally like to use hammers, knives, and hatchets to do away with his victims.

Killer Quote: “This is certainly not "Pinocchio" or "Babes in Toyland," and it may not do much for the sale of large boy dolls between now and Christmas.”

Random Pop Reference: Chucky was parodied on “Robot Chicken,” and voiced by Mark Hamill.

Honors: The Child Play series has gross more than $175 million worldwide.

7 Obscure Serial Killer Flicks Worth a Look

Halloween: 30 Years Later

10 Bizarre Serial Killers in History

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Thursday, October 23, 2008
5 Questions About: Ed Gorman

An Interview with Prolific Crime and Western Novelist Ed Gorman

(If you’re a fan of crime fiction and haven’t read Ed Gorman – well shame on you. Ed has been penning some incredible fiction (crime noir, mysteries, and westerns) since the early 1980s – when skinny ties and parachute pants were in style (although we have a difficult time picturing Ed wearing either). His book “The Poker Club” (1990) has been made into a film – which should hit theaters in 2009. Ed, a former advertising executive, has written more than 40 books and writes a prolific blog on pulp fiction that is a must-read. Ed was kind enough to stop writing about murders, shoot-outs, and dead bodies in order to answer some questions for us.)

DaRK PaRTY: What have been the biggest changes in crime fiction since you first started publishing in the 1980s?

Ed: I'm no expert but I'd say that the Eighties and Nineties saw the long overdue recognition of female writers in all sub-genres from the private-eye as with Muller, Grafton, Paretsky and the more serious kind of cozy-traditional with Nancy Pickard and Carolyn Hart

In this new century noir and hard-boiled, by men and women alike, have found new popularity and new respectability. This is seen across the board in popular culture.

To me this is the true Golden Age of crime fiction. There are so many good writers-and more coming along every week-that it is impossible to keep up. And that's a nice problem to have.

DP: What are the elements of a good crime story that most novice writers get wrong?

Ed: I'm not smart enough to answer that. What I look for in a good story of any kind is intelligent entertainment, as the late science fiction writer Algis Budrys used to say. To me this means a strong storyline and characters, whether they're good or bad, I can believe in. Style and theme matter of course, too, but if I don't buy the story or the characters I probably won't finish the book.

DP: You have featured many series characters in your fiction-- fro
m Jack Dwyer to Robert Payne. Which one of your characters do you like the best and why? Which one did you struggle with the most?

Ed: My most difficult series character was my latest one, Dev Conrad, the political operative. I wrote several chapters before he sounded right to me. Then I pitched them and started over. To make “Sleeping Dogs” work he had to be cynical without being nihilistic. The corrupt political system is the only one we've got and it's unlikely it's going to change. So Dev has to be able to see the slime for what it is but work for his ideals anyway. I'm not much for protagonists who don't look at life realistically--or, on the other extreme, nihilism can get really boring. Even the darkest of writers such as the brilliant Derek Raymond forego absolute nihilism most of the time.

DP: What crime writers have been your biggest influences and why?

Ed: So many writers I couldn't possibly list them. I do tend to absorb the styles of other people but somehow most of the time my stories come out pretty much me. Probably my biggest single i
nfluence, and oddly enough more in his non-87th novels, is Evan Hunter-Ed McBain.

DP: What Ed Gorman novel would you recommend to a reader who has never read you before? And why would you recommend it?

Ed: I'd say “Blood Moon.” It's one of my more ambitious books. John D. MacDonald used to rank his books by per-centages-a novel of his was 80 percent successful or sixty per cent successful. That was the measure he used to see how close it came to doing what he'd set out to accomplish. “Blood Moon” is one of those books that almost never makes me wince when I thumb through it, which I had to do when it was optioned for a movie a few years back. There are some of my books of course that make me wish one of those alien spaceships would sweep down and take me to a galaxy far, far away.

An Interview with Crime Writer Ken Bruen

An Interview with "The Good Thief" Author Hannah Tinti

10 Things John Wayne Would Never Do

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Halloween Contest Winners!

Did You Win the DaRK PaRTY Halloween Horror Movie Giveaway?

Thanks to everyone who entered. These three winners will soon be receiving the 12 DVD set “Horror Classics” featuring 50 of the best classic horror movies of all time:

  • Lee Windener of Portland, OR -- favorite horror flick: "Bride of Frankenstein"
  • Keith Rawsom of Gilbert, AZ -- favorite horror flick: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
  • Tim Ahern of Winslow, ME -- favorite horror flick: "Saw"

Stay tuned to more contests and giveaways at your favorite place for literate blather the DaRK PaRTY ReVIEW

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Monday, October 20, 2008
Apocalypse Now: End of the World Movies

10 Movies About the Apocalypse

“There is a rumor that they are evacuating Moscow. There are people even leaving Kansas City because of the missile base. Now I ask you: To where does one go from Kansas City? The Yukon? Tahiti? We are not talking about Hiroshima anymore. Hiroshima was... was peanuts!”

That’s a quote from the doomsday movie “The Day After,” which aired on ABC-TV in 1983 and scared the shit out of, well, everybody. ABC set up 1-800 hotlines the day of the broadcast so distressed viewers could talk to a counselor.

Maybe CNN should consider the same tactics for its coverage of the financial meltdown.

As we prepared for the end of the world as we know it, DaRK PaRTY gives you our favorite post-apocalyptic movies:

12 Monkeys

Year: 1995

Director: Terry Gilliam

Starring: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Jon Seda

Plot in a Nutshell: A convict from the future is sent back in time to try and gather information about a plague that has killed off most of the human race. He’s sent to a mental institution after he discovers that he’s been sent too far back. He discovers a group of radicals called “12 Monkeys” who are responsible and tries to stop them.

Best Quote: “You are a total nutcase, completely deranged, delusional, paranoid. Your thought process is all fucked up. Your information train is jammed, man!”

How the World Ends: A lethal virus spreads across the planet and kills five billion people. The survivors are forced to live underground.

Best Part of the Movie: The performance of Brad Pitt as Jeffry Goines, the deranged, machine-gun talking radical (see video below).

Cool Factoid: Terry Gilliam wanted Jeff Bridges for the lead, but the studio made him get a bigger star. He chose Willis because he thought he showed a sensitive side in the movie “Die Hard.”

Planet of the Apes

Year: 1968

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner

Starring: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans

Plot in a Nutshell: An astronaut crash lands on a planet where the humans are dumb beasts and ape and gorillas have evolved into the dominate species. The astronaut tries to escape the planet, but learns he is really Earth in the distant future.

Best Quote: “It's a mad house. A mad house.”

How the World Ends: Human beings blew up the world with nuclear weapons.

Best Part of the Movie: Charlton Heston’s over-the-top performance as George Taylor. It’s classic Heston.

Cool Factoid: The movie was an adaptation of a novel by Pierre Boulle. In the novel, the apes are advanced and live in cities and have modern machines of the 20th century. But the movie made the apes less advanced because of budget reasons.

Strange Days

Year: 1995

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Vincent D’Onofrio

Plot in a Nutshell: An ex-cop sells dreams to people on disc – taken straight from the cerebral cortex. One day, he discovers a disc from a murderer who killed a prostitute and begins an investigation that goes very wrong.

Best Quote: “Look everyone needs to take a walk to the dark end of the street sometimes, it's what we are.”

How the World Ends: The world hasn’t ended per se, but its spiraled into chaos with gangs ruling the streets and the rich are protected with bodyguards from the population – who likes to jack in and get high off of other people’s experiences.

Best Part of the Movie: The music

Cool Factoid: The movie is named after the Doors album of the same name and a cover version of the song opens the film.


Year: 1995

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Starring: Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jack Black, Dennis Hopper

Plot in a Nutshell: A drifter gets involved with a woman and her child and protects them from a gang of criminals.

Best Quote: “Dry land is not just our destination, it is our destiny!”

How the World Ends: The polar ice caps have melted and the world is completely flooded by ocean water. People live on boats and rafts and in floating villages.

Best Part of the Movie: Kevin Costner’s understated performance as the Mariner. This movie is unfairly maligned and, other than the terrible acting job by Dennis Hopper, is an above average sci-fi flick.

Cool Factoid: The ship that Dennis Hopper and the bad guys live on is the Exxox Valdez, the oil tankers than spilled millions of gallons of crude oil off the coast of Alaska.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Year: 1985

Director: George Miller and George Ogilvie

Starring: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Bruce Spence

Plot in a Nutshell: With all of his possessions stolen, Mad Max ends up in Bartertown, a village on the outskirts of a desert. He gets involved in a power struggle in the city before helping a group of lost children who were the survivors of a plane crash.

Best Quote: “Two men enter, one man leave!”

How the World Ends: Nuclear war

Best Part of the Movie: Tina Turner’s amazing performance as Auntie Entity – the leader of Bartertown and the battle between Blaster and Max (see video above).

Cool Factoid: When Max is introduced to the crowd when he’s going to fight Master Blaster in Thunderdome, Dr. Dealgood calls him “The Man with No Name” – a reference to the Clint Eastwood characters in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns.

I am Legend

Year: 2007

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Willow Smith, James Michael McCauley

Plot in a Nutshell: The lone survivor of a world epidemic tries to live his life in a deserted city – but he is hounded by the dead victims of the plague who have been transformed into vampires.

Best Quote: “I can help. I can save you. I can save everybody.”

How the World Ends: A cancer prevention drug has deadly side effects and turns people into blood-sucking vampires. The epidemic spreads and kills nearly everyone on earth.

Best Part of the Movie: The setting in a deserted New York, crumbling under the weight of Nature returning. The scene were Will Smith hunts a herd of deer is special effects at its best.

Cool Factoid: The artwork in Will Smith’s residence belong to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Children of Men

Year: 2006

Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Starring: Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Julianne Moore, Charlie Hunnam, Michael Klesic

Plot in a Nutshell: An ex-bureaucrat living in 2027 helps a group of radicals who have discovered the earth’s first pregnant woman in the last 18 years. They try and get her to safety through a war-torn London on the brink of civil collapse.

Best Quote: “Everything is a mythical, cosmic battle between faith and chance.”

How the World Ends: When women can no longer get pregnant and the human race comes face-to-face with the reality of its own extinction – war, crime and revolt flourish.

Best Part of the Movie: The battle scene at the end of the movie is masterfully done. And, of course, Clive Owen’s performance rocks per usual.

Cool Factoid: Michael Caine said that he based his performance of the hippie political cartoonist on John Lennon.

28 Days Later

Year: 2002

Director: Danny Boyle

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Noah Huntley, Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris

Plot in a Nutshell: A plague called Rage rips through the world and turns people in flesh-eating zombies. A handful of people try to survive in the new world.

Best Quote: “Well, I think Bill's got a point. If you look at the whole life of the planet, we... you know, man, has only been around for a few blinks of an eye. So if the infection wipes us all out, that is a return to normality.”

How the World Ends: Zombies, baby, zombies

Best Part of the Movie: The movie is filled with great scenes, but the best one may be when Jim wakes up from a coma in a hospital and finds the hospital and London completely deserted of human life.

Cool Factoid: Stephen King was so excited about the movie that he bought an entire showing of the film in New York City.

Dawn of the Dead

Year: 1978

Director: George A. Romero

Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, Gaylen Ross

Plot in a Nutshell: A group of survivors from a zombie plague end up at a mall. They turn the mall into a paradise, but the zombies manage to break in and all hell breaks loose.

Best Quote: “This isn't the Republicans versus the Democrats, where we're in a hole economically or... or we're in another war. This is more crucial than that. This is down to the line, folks, this is down to the line. There can be no more divisions among the living!”

How the World Ends: The dead have come to life to feed on the living.

Best Part of the Movie: When the motorcycle gang breaks into the mall and starts to kill the zombies.

Cool Factoid: Many of the actors playing zombies were actual amputees

Terminator II – Judgment Day

Year: 1991

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

Plot in a Nutshell: In a future, machines have taken over. They send a cyborg back in time to kill the leader of the human resistance, but the resistance sends back its own reprogrammed cyborg to protect the leader.

Best Quote: “Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines.”

How the World Ends: Nuclear holocaust

Best Part of the Movie: Arnold reprising the role that made him famous.

Cool Factoid: The Terminator line: “I need a vacation” is a line from Arnold’s movie “Kindergarten Cop” and was ad-libbed by the Governor.

Fantastically Bad Cinema: From Dusk Till Dawn

7 Obscure Serial Killer Movies Worth a Watch

Ode to Fight Club

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