Interviews and Reviews

A Podcast Without A Name S1E3 – C. Derick Miller!

Review: Cocaine Bear

The Gonzo Journals

March 10th, 2023

First of all – while I have everyone’s attention – don’t tag me on social media in posts praising the Goodread’s Review Nazi’s. I have never, nor will I EVER, support these hacks who do nothing but praise the writers who slurp their butts and attempt to cancel those who stand their ground. They show up to cons like their shit doesn’t stink knowing damn good and well they couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper sack if the situation required it. I’m too busy to endure the wait outside their hotel room door requesting that five-star treatment reserved for those who don’t mind getting a few curly Q’s in their teeth. My ten-year-old granddaughter’s literary criticisms make more sense. Thanks!

Now, to business.

Let’s talk about Cocaine Bear!

First of all, I had zero expectations going into this film. The trailer makes clear it’s about a bear who does cocaine and slaughters people. What more do you need?

According to Wikipedia:

Cocaine Bear is a 2023 American comedy horror film directed by Elizabeth Banks and written by Jimmy Warden.[6] It is loosely inspired by the true story of the “Cocaine Bear“, an American black bear that ingested nearly 75 lbs. (34 kg) of lost cocaine. It stars Keri RussellO’Shea Jackson Jr.Christian ConveryAlden EhrenreichBrooklynn PrinceIsiah Whitlock Jr.Margo Martindale, and Ray Liotta. The film is dedicated to Liotta, who died in May 2022.[7]

As much as I hate social media review culture, I can’t help but give my opinion from time to time. Lucky for me, I’ve penned novels, assisted with screenplays, and am even involved in the video game industry now. Some would say my experiences are worth something, but I don’t care. I don’t want to front as a professional reviewer. I like what I like, and I write about it. If you read it, hooray! If not. Meh. Besides, The Gonzo Journals aren’t social media posts. You’ve got to do a lot of fucking clicking to get here!

Also, most times I will only review things I like. As my old newspaper editor told me before she blackmailed me into sexual favors: “There’s enough negativity in the world. Don’t be the person who discourages someone’s creativity. If you don’t like it, don’t review it!” Not a bad quote for a “rapist”, right? The only time I’ll review something I don’t like is if I believe the public is being misled by the above-mentioned social media review Nazi’s.

Some people have shit all over this film but I’m not sure what they expected. Cocaine. Bear. Done. Granted, it does suffer from a bit of Michael Bay syndrome by introducing way too many human characters the viewer gives two poops and a poke about, but it’s fun. I laughed aloud at least a dozen times. I can’t say that for too many films these days.

Elizabeth Banks – aka the director and beautiful actress known for her work in The Hunger Games and Pitch Perfect series – has an obvious love for the 80’s. For me, this is easily relatable. The soundtrack to this film is top freaking notch.

The bear is CGI, but the special effects flaws here and there are forgiven since it’s a movie about a bear who does cocaine. The humor and gore are spot on perfect and normally go hand in hand. Then again, maybe I’m just a twisted bastard who laughs at the fictional misfortune of others. I’ve never rooted for a bear so much in my life. I didn’t care who the human characters were or why they were involved, I just wanted them all to die horrifically. Most of them did.

The scenery in this film is absolutely beautiful but I’m a sucker for trees, rivers, and mountains. The characters are all meh who seemed to phone in their performances. I mean, they were all cast in a movie about a bear who does cocaine. No need for the Oscar clips. Still, none of this matters. We came to see a bear fuck shit up. She does. Yes, the bear is a “she”. Star Wars alumni Alden Ehrenreich lets us know that at one point loud and clear. Also, I believe this was Ray Liotta’s final film. What a way to go.

I have cared about zero Elizabeth Banks directed films in the past but this one may very well be the brainless passion project which makes her skills as a director shine in future films. This is a B movie if there ever was one and thank the powers that be for that. I don’t go to the movies for “the message”. I go for the bears. And the cocaine. And the jokes. This film had an abundance of all three.

If you go into this film looking for realism, you won’t find it. The story is based on actual events but the real bear over dosed and died before reaching Cocaine Bear levels. This film was meant for one thing and one thing only. To appease the psychopath inside all of us by watching a bear ravage a dozen or so people while on drugs. It’s best watched in crowds or slightly under the influence. Several of the theater goers last night seemed to partake in a bit of stimulant themselves before the film even began. Coke heads are always too loud for my taste. Annoying, really. Too expensive for my very minimal involvement in experimental drug culture.

The only thing that would’ve made this film better was if Johnny Depp portrayed Hunter S. Thompson tracking down the bear in a sort of D.B. Cooper scenario. Eventually, Thompson out-cokes the bear and subdues him by biting the bear’s head off. Maybe we’ll get that in a sequel. Or Meth Gator. Or Cocaine Bear vs Meth Gator. Who gives a damn. It’s a bear snorting cocaine and killing people in hilarious ways.

Don’t watch this film because I liked it. Watch it because you want to. You know you do.

4/5 powder covered stars


Review: Violent Night (Spoiler Free)

First of all, I had every intention of watching and reviewing Cocaine Bear, but tornados and idiots were running amok in North Texas the other night. My wife and I planned to see it today instead, but a certain someone had an impromptu “gig” in another city at the last minute. I love how ignorant assholes call DUI court a “gig”. You’re not fooling anyone, your royal poon-ness.

Instead, I purchased and downloaded a copy of Violent Night. Yes, I know I’m a few months behind the power curve on this one, but I had no interest in seeing it in the theater. Luckily, I was right. No need to see this one on the big screen. If you’ve seen one Die Hard clone, you’ve seen them all.

I’m not saying this is a bad film. Not by a long shot! I enjoyed every second of it. Here is the synopsis:

When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas). Here’s the trailer:

That’s all you need to know. Nothing deep. Nothing new. What you do need to know is that you get some brilliant performances from protagonist and Santa Claus David Harbour and villain John Leguizamo. He’s no Hans Gruber, but he’s pretty damn good.

I think that is exactly why I didn’t get in a big hurry to see this film during the holidays. I’m not sure if it’s been said, but I think this was loosely based on the fake holiday movie advertised in Bill Murray’s Scrooged from 1988. If that’s the case, kudos on the nostalgic callback!

This film can be placed within several genres such as dark comedy and action, but I prefer to call it a Christmas movie just like Die Hard. As a matter of fact, there were several references to Die Hard leading me to believe the makers of this film were very self-aware of the potential comparisons. I’m cool with that. Die Hard is a classic and I felt they were paying enough respect to the source material to make it acceptable. What I hate is when films directly rip off their influences and never announce it, preying off the classic film ignorance of modern-day audiences. It makes us older movie junkies feel sticky and used when you take us for granted like that. For reference, check out the currently running second season of Disney’s Star Wars: The Bad Batch. They’ve been ripping off all their other properties all season long like Alien, Pirates of the Carribean, and Indiana Jones. I guess they don’t think we notice. Either that, or they just don’t care. I’m leaning toward the latter.

Violent Night has easily found its place in my holiday rotation schedule. The jokes were laugh out loud funny and the violence was over the top. Not so much Kill Bill or Terrifier 2, but nearing John Wick levels at times. The cast did a brilliant job playing a fake family who hate each other, bordering on what I imagine the Trumps are like. No love there whatsoever. Only lust for money and power. When Santa Claus wasn’t kicking ass, I was rooting for the terrorists to kill each of these rich bastards in turn.

The masters of the Facebook review culture either gave this film extreme high marks or shat all over it during its initial release run around Christmas time. This is mostly because they’re a bunch of extremists who can’t comprehend how to dissect and judge complex media. There are many subtle, gray levels between love and hate, and they can’t seem to grasp it. Attention whores love polarization. Extreme titles give them clicks, views, and likes. I’m going to be the one who leads you somewhere in the middle of this film’s grade.

There’s nothing I can say to spoil this film that you don’t already know from the trailer. Santa is a drunk who hates his life. Terrorists take a rich family hostage. Santa kicks ass. The end. It’s John McClane in a Santa suit. It actually begs the question: is this a Die-Hard spoof, or has every action film since Die Hard intentionally tried to rip off its success?

If you hate traditional Christmas movies and tend to lean more toward films like Die Hard, Krampus, or even Batman Returns, then this film is totally for you. There are lots of holes in the plot which deliver well timed WTF reactions but check your brain at the door. Grab a drink or a special gummy and relax. Laugh at the jokes, applaud at the violence, and know they’re already planning a sequel. They’re going to milk this thing for all it’s worth. Because Hollywood and hate watching go hand in hand. For reference, check out Velma.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Ok, I just rewatched the trailer and got a warm, fuzzy feeling

4 out of 5 stars. Just for the creative, hilarious violence.

Review: Skinamarink

To begin, I don’t think it’s fair for me or anyone else to convince anyone to view or ignore this film. I’m basically doing it to explain my stance on review culture and to point/laugh at those who sniff their own farts in elevators. Sometimes, it’s okay to let them rip privately in a stairwell. Sure, it’s more work, and your legs will be screaming afterward, but you spared the hive your unwanted blast of last night’s Frito Chili Pie. They shall live to breathe another day.

In a world where a large chunk of the participants strives to be Siskel & Ebert rather than Stephen King, I couldn’t wait to see this film. I held off for a month after its release so the horror community had enough time to ingest it, crap it out, eat it again for the sake of popularity within their own imaginary cliques, and then wipe its smelly, greasy ass all over social media. This movie was everything I guessed it would be: an experiment.

The indie horror community sometimes forgets the definition of “indie”. Let me remind them.

Indie: aka independent: “not belonging to or affiliated with a major company.”

Photo by Reynaldo #brigworkz Brigantty on

99% of horror genre contributors ARE indie – even though some of them are convinced they’re Poe rather than just plain old Po’ (that’s a southern term for broke lol) – but spend a large amount of time shitting on fellow indie contributors. Skinamarink IS the purest form of indie, yet other indie artists don’t recognize this due to the image they’re forced to portray on social media and the necessity to “belong”. Trust me, I stopped being in the “cool kid’s club” a couple of years ago. It’s liberating. How do you think mainstream readers reacted to Splatterpunk when it first arrived on the literary scene? It was exactly like this, but internet trolling had yet to be invented. Thank the powers that be for small miracles!

Here is the synopsis according to Wikipedia:

Skinamarink is a 2022 Canadian experimentalhorror film written and directed by Kyle Edward Ball in his feature directorial debut.[4] The film follows two children who wake up during the night to discover that they cannot find their father, and that the windows, doors, and other objects in their house are disappearing.

Yes, this is an experimental film. The experiment? How to turn $15,000 into $2,000,000 (so far). Guess what? The experiment was a success, just like The Blair Witch Project twenty something years ago and the Paranormal Activity franchise a dozen years after that.

Like I said, I knew absolutely nothing about this movie other than the fact people on social media shit their breakfast all over it. That was enough inspiration for me to look forward to a viewing, especially since some of the most vocal in that community couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper sack. There’s only so much talented void you can fill with over the top gore and sex before the readers outside of your circle realize they’re following a dollar store version of AI software wrapped in a flesh, bone, and blood burrito. I’m not saying I’m a god, but at least I have the courage to admit I’ve written some less than stellar tales over the years. I’ll also go ahead and proclaim the fact I’m destined to write some pure crap in the future as well. Admitting your faults is the only way we truly grow as artists unless you’re just content with wallowing in the imaginary graces of mediocrity. You must open your mind to new experiences.

Skinamarink is pretty much shot from the point of view of the two children in the film. All the angles are low, bringing into focus their height and perception. It plays heavily on your own repressed childhood fears of being alone and uninformed during precarious situations. The use of silence, shadows, and low-resolution darkness helps to realize these fears as the film progresses. There are some old cartoons playing in the background and those things are creepy AF anyway! I do want to give the filmmaker props for playing the cartoon used in the eighties Twilight Zone: The Movie rendition of the episode “It’s A Good Life”. It made me smile.

I was immediately brought back to a decade of watching hours of low-resolution video files of empty rooms during my paranormal investigation days. Digital matrixing plays tricks on your eyes and creates disbelief before you can even identify what you think you saw. Also, a few of the segments in Skinamarink remind me of EVP phenomenon. This film has been coined as “Analog Horror”. That’s a new one on me, but the category makes sense.

Do you remember your childhood fears? Of course you don’t, because you’ve spent most of your adult life repressing them and sugar coating your juvenile faults. So put all that aside for a second and hear me out.

Put yourself back into the mindset of a four-year-old. Do you remember coming away from the television to find your parents missing? Not necessarily missing, but you had no clue where they were. Do you remember the shadows playing tricks on you from darkened rooms? Do you remember features from toys or piles of clothes forming into monsters by the irrationalities of your young, impressionable mind? Obviously this director does. He even filmed this movie inside his childhood home, where many of his own fears developed. For all we know, we’re watching him confess his own childhood and the loudest among us won’t shut the fuck up long enough to accept it.

Modern horror relies so much now on “in your face” jump scares that audiences have forgotten the fear which comes along with the unknown: unidentifiable noises from the dark, shadows and lighting trickery, and your own brain running amok as you attempt to decipher what the hell you’re watching. The Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity franchises relied heavily on those things. They obviously worked because they’ve made millions of dollars from horror fans. Sure, people in the industry back then tried to convince the masses they were watching artsy fartsy crap and to avoid it at all costs, but social media wasn’t a luxurious way to preach to the sheeple back then. We were allowed to make up our own minds and, low and behold, we actually enjoyed it. At least when the simpletons among us shut their mouths long enough for us to do so.

Is Skinamarink a good horror film?

No. A film grades its success on audience interpretations rather than how an individual perceives the content. This film solely depends on that individual perception and will split the audience right down the middle. Some will say it scared the shit out of them, while others will say it was the dumbest thing they’ve ever watched. That’s ok, though. Why? Because art is open to individual interpretation. This film is DEFINITELY an art film. Most authors forget we’re creating “art” because they’re so hell bent on obtaining pop culture status or being Tik Tok famous. It’s a sad, sad world we live in.

So, is Skinamarink good art? Yes! The film is open to individual interpretation AND people – whether they liked it or not – won’t shut up about it! Have you ever visited a Hollywood or Manhattan contemporary art museum or gallery? There are entire spaces dedicated to “Creepy Pasta” style clips and collectors pay millions of dollars for a thumb drive and projector set up in their homes. I spent over a decade of my life in the fine art industry and every second of Skinamarink reminded me of a good day working in a Chelsea art gallery, if the art gallery was playing off my childhood fears and sucking my will to live.

I would recommend this film to everyone and no one. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it may not be that same “thing” for you. That is the beauty of art. Open your mind a bit. Take a stroll in a sculpture garden, visit a natural history museum, or watch Skinamarink if you’re so inclined to do so. We don’t think you’re cooler because you hated it and vomited your toxic bile all over Facebook. We never really thought you were that cool to begin with!

$15 of that $2 million came from me. I truly support indie horror, even when it’s something that didn’t blow my mind. Who’s to say that the director’s next film won’t be the one to change the world? This is why I have bookshelves full of indie horror authors I never plan on reading. Support, encouragement, and the pride knowing I actually stand behind what most only pretend to do on “look at me” social media platforms. I SUPPORT INDIE ARTISTS.

I rate this film ? stars to give you a chance to make up your own mind. Do we still have one of those? Our “own” mind?

Don’t fear the experiment. We won’t tell your “fan club”.

Open your eyes. Fuck the hive. Create. Live.

Review: Knock at the Cabin

I have been in love with M. Night Shyamalan since seeing Signs in the theater and then crawling around in a cornfield maze for a few hours. It was late, dark, and abandoned. That movie did a number on my brain, and I was waiting for someone or something to jump out at me. Dreading was more like it. I know no one was there, or did I? I’ve said since then that if I had to be trapped somewhere with one film to watch daily from now until the end of time, it would be Signs.

M. Night Shyamalan is one of those divisive directors I’m glad Hollywood doesn’t encounter often. I enjoy looking forward to his films like it’s some kind of holiday. Are they all brilliant? No, but they each have something interesting to offer the viewer that you won’t get from anywhere else. Anyone who tries is compared to Shyamalan and shunned. I love certain things about each of his films except The Last Airbender. We’ll pretend like that one never happened. Great source material, though, and he made it for his kids. My advice to Dad is that it’s ok to say ‘no’ every now and then.

He appears to be on the up and up again with his latest offerings 2015’s The Visit, 2016’s Split, 2019’s Glass, and 2021’s Old. These films have more than made up for the reception The Happening received in 2008 putting the talented director back on track. So, how does his latest feature rank among his classics like Signs and The Sixth Sense? I’m not sure, and I’d really have to think about it for another week or two. These are the things I think about when I’m all alone.

Like Johnson, Shyamalan creates films to make you ‘think’. The general population may not like them, but the general population are statistically idiots. Have you been on Facebook lately? You can’t logically deny what I just said, and you know it. The dumbest and loudest among us rule the roost nowadays and, for some reason, they’re all big fans of Marvel movies. Don’t get me wrong, I love Spiderman and The Wolverine, but not everyone needs their own cinematic crossover universe. This is why I mostly stick to horror, both slasher and psychological. Indie filmmakers still have a chance to make it in horror, and don’t need a studio full of green screens and millions of dollars in CGI to make it believable. Did you see Terrifier 2? M3GAN? Very low budget films and killed it at the box office. Also, I don’t think we ever have to worry about Art the Clown fighting M3GAN in a battle to the death.

Shyamalan is the closest thing to Alfred Hitchcock I’ll ever experience during my lifetime. Granted his “twists” sometimes miss the mark, but his ability to build suspense and introduce us to characters is something seriously missing from the modern film school curriculum. I don’t need a bunch of flashing colors and blurry robots ripping each other to shreds. Give me a preachy Kevin Smith film instead. I want to feel something when I go to the movies other than adrenaline. Sometimes I want to laugh. Other times I want to cry or be on the edge of my seat in suspense by the noise you hear coming from the dark. The stealthy, unseen monster always wins against the flashy, in your face beast. I hated The Blair Witch Project when it came out. Not because several viewers told me to, but because it scared the crap out of me by playing into my old fears of isolation and abandonment.

M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film is titled Knock at the Cabin. The synopsis on Wikipedia reads:

Knock at the Cabin is a 2023 American apocalyptic psychological horror film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who wrote the screenplay from an initial draft by Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman. It is based on the 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, the first adaptation of one of his works. The film stars Dave BautistaJonathan GroffBen AldridgeNikki Amuka-Bird, Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn and Rupert Grint. In the film, a family of three are vacationing at a remote cabin, but they are suddenly held hostage by four strangers, who demand they sacrifice one of their own to avert the apocalypse.

Now, it’s impossible to review a Shyamalan film without ruining the big twist. Was it his best film? No. That has been and always will be Signs. Was it the Happening or The Last Airbender? No. It falls in the middle of the road regarding his catalog, but the high side of middle. It didn’t give me the creeps like Signs, The Sixth Sense, or Split, but it didn’t make me roll my eyes like the rapping kid in The Visit or Will Smith’s son in After Earth. Nepotism should stay the hell out of Hollywood, especially when it’s related to The Fresh Prince.

It is a great film full of drama and powerful performances. Rupert Grint aka Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter films stands out as well as Dave Bautista. Those two actors were typecast for so long, I was nervous they would fall flat in an M. Night film. I was wrong. Their performances are the best thing about the film. Everyone else could’ve been played by anyone at all and it wouldn’t have made a difference, but Grint and Bautista deserve recognition for their contribution.

We know from the second trailer that the apocalypse mentioned in the film is an actual thing. This is one of Shyamalan’s weaker twists. Not by design, but by delivery. When it’s finally realized, it’s done so in a rather mundane way with no counter argument from the other characters. Lucky for us, the twist we all expect isn’t the best part of the film.

This film is tense from beginning to end with only a few breaths allowed during flashback sequences sprinkled throughout. How would you react if big ass Dave Bautista and three of his friends were standing in your living room with pitchforks telling you to kill a member of your family to prevent humanity’s downfall? You feel every ounce of what I just said. There’s a sense of urgency in Knock at the Cabin. It rarely gives you moments to think about the reality of the doomsday scenario. Are these wackos full of it? Is it a real thing? Will one of them kill the other?

Hell, my writer brain was trying to tell me one of the fathers was probably the anti-christ sent to intercept the saviors of the apocalypse and prevent them from rescuing us all. That’s not the twist, though. My twist is awesome. He can’t have my twist.

In the end, Knock at the Cabin is one of Shyamalan’s top 5. It’s a great mixture of anxiety, love, and fear with a runtime checking in at exactly one hundred minutes. No long commitments there. Get your fix and get out. It’s never going to be “Swing Away, Merrill”, but it sure as hell isn’t “I’m Talking to a Plastic Plant.”


Review: The Banshees of Inisherin

Good morning, everyone and Happy ‘snowed in again’ Friday! I’m exaggerating. The roads melted yesterday and froze over again in the night. That’s what happens when the temperature gets below 32 degrees, and everything is soaking wet. Schools announced reopening yesterday and quickly changed their minds again this morning. Schools. You know, those buildings full of smart people? Yeah. Not so much…

This morning let’s review the 2022 film The Banshees of Inisherin. I saw a trailer for this film before the screening of M3GAN and it looked interesting. I’m a little obsessed with all things ‘Irish’ since it’s rumored my ancestors were potato farmers in Northern Ireland. We incited an insurrection against the local government, were captured, and sold into the American slave market. Somewhere along the line, my people took interest in Native Americans and a whole lot of cross breeding happened. I’m the mixture of two cultures known for alcohol abuse. One is pale and hairy while the other is dark AF and can’t grow a beard if his life depended on it. Basically, the genetic representation of “go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass ‘go’, and do not collect $200”.

From Wikipedia: The Banshees of Inisherin is a 2022 black tragicomedy film directed, written, and co-produced by Martin McDonagh. Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, the film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them; Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan also star. It reunites Farrell and Gleeson, who previously worked together on McDonagh’s directorial debut, In Bruges.

This film takes place on a fictional, small island off the coast of Ireland during the Irish civil war of 1923. The population is scarce on the island, and everyone knows everything about everyone else…except our main character Pádraic Súilleabháin (yes, I copied and pasted that name) who can’t figure out why his lifelong friend Colm Doherty no longer likes him. The breakup happens suddenly and with no explanation. Also, no one on the island knows any details about the civil war taking place on the shore of the mainland. They can see and hear random explosions from time to time, but don’t understand why everyone is fighting. The island thrives on word-of-mouth news.

I’ll just leave it at that.

Life on the island appears to have a very scheduled existence. At 2 o’clock daily, the men meet at the village pub and do the stereotypical things the Irish do in film. They drink pints of warm, dark beer and ramble on about anything and everything. Colm Doherty has come to realize he wants more in life before his is over.

First, let’s get this out of the way. The actors in this film speak with a STRONG Irish dialect and use a bit of Irish slang. I recognized a lot of this from researching dialogue for my novel Far From Home and I smiled at how much I remembered. I couldn’t believe I knew what they were talking about! Keep your Google translate handy, or a web page displaying common Irish slang, and you should be fine.

Once (if) your ears attune to the speech, you’re good to go. That’s a good thing because this film is 95% dialog. Think of a Kevin Smith film with a harsh accent and drier humor. That being said, the dialog is hilarious, personally reminding me a bit of Clint Eastwood’s emotionless wit from Gran Torino. These two men have absolutely nothing in common but have somehow managed to stomach one another for years due to lack of variety.

Also, this film takes a sudden dark turn which had me laughing aloud during several scenes. Granted, my ears had minor problems translating the dialog, but your average southern white dude may find this a bit taxing. If that’s the case, just shut off your brain and enjoy the gorgeous cinematography. The contrast of grey clouds atop blue ocean washing over a field of green is mesmerizing at times, making me want to investigate my family’s rumored homeland before I pass on to the next plane of existence. Beautiful.

No one in my family kept records. Irish or Native American. We’re just here.

Ultimately, I could relate to the two men’s conflict in this tale. Coming from a small town where everyone is in everyone else’s business, and you’re destined to come face to face every Saturday at the local Wal-Mart, I know what it’s like trying to avoid that one person who ‘no longer does it for you’. When the confrontational face to face happens, and it eventually will, it’s never pleasant. The two men rarely speak in loud voices to one another. One of them is officially ‘done’ with little chance of reconciliation, and the other is just plain confused, not realizing he is the type of person others claim him to be. It’s an Irish stalemate between two grumpy men who refuse to budge.

This film, although up for several prestigious awards, is not for everyone. I’m a person who loves films full of heavy dialogue and world building. The Banshees of Inisherin is exactly that, transporting you back to 1920’s Ireland with minimal effort. Technology on the island is rare and everything appears saturated and cold in every scene. It exhibits a feeling of isolation, and the island begins to feel a little claustrophobic as Pádraic’s haters begin to multiply.

If you’re into authentic period pieces with heavy dialogue, this will be a film that’s right up your alley. If you’re into everything Marvel, not so much. I enjoyed most of this film, but I honestly got a little lost toward the end. I’m not sure if the writer didn’t know how to fade to black or if I just need to rewatch it. Good luck either way.



Playing “Catch Up”: Saw 3

The Gonzo Journals

February 1st, 2023

I shut my cable off way back in 2015 and I’ve never returned. The country was knee deep in Donald Trump madness and there’s no way I was going to watch it all while keeping my sanity. I said goodbye to politics and couldn’t care less what happened to our country. I’d deal with it if tanks came rolling down the street.

Four years later…

I married a political enthusiast who encouraged me to stay informed and get involved. Not being a fan of illiterate, disgustingly wealthy psychopaths, I chose the other team and poured everything into it. I lost friends, argued with family, and filled every empty second of my life with YouTube political videos. Needless to say, it was a problem.

Now, I’m done. As a former Republican, I’m disgusted by how polarized the party has become and who they’ve elected to follow. As a current registered Democrat, I’m equally disgusted by their lack of action and “meh” attitudes. Our taxes are paying enormous salaries belonging to hatemongering, lazy politicians who would rather fight one another than solve a single problem facing this country.

So, what am I doing to pass the time every night? Catching up on horror films I’ve ignored over the last couple of decades! In hindsight, this may be a more difficult task than trying to understand what Trump Jr. is saying without recording it and playing it back in slow motion. Some of these films suck.

Last night’s offering was Saw 3. I’m not sure if I was ever a fan of the Saw franchise because I couldn’t make it through the second film back in 2005. Here’s why:

Nah, I’m good.

It was common knowledge that a new SAW film would be released every October during the early 2000’s. Whether this was due to the ease of writing them or a typical low budget is unclear. I just knew they were pumping them out into theaters like they’d purchased them all on sale at a dollar store. Many of my coworkers would gather together and watch them ritualistically. It wasn’t my thing. Horror movies? Yes! People? Not so much.

Here’s the synopsis:

Jeff is an anguished man who grieves and misses his son, who was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident. He has become obsessed with revenge against the drunk driver, judge, and only witness who refused to testify; he has also become neglectful of his daughter. Lynn Denlon is a skilled surgeon that is cheating on her husband and suffering from depression. Both are abducted and brought to Jigsaw’s warehouse, where they must play two separate games: Jeff must choose whether to save or let the people he holds responsible for the death of his son die, while Lynn must keep Jigsaw alive until Jeff completes his tests or face the deadly consequences.

As with the other films in the franchise up until this point, there are quite a few people locked inside fantastic homemade machines with a single purpose: to kill them in the most brutal ways imaginable. Every person involved has a secret and the Jigsaw character has insider tips. I’m sure he managed to gather all this information between chemo appointments. What ensues is a snore-fest of a plot with some cringy gore scenes sprinkled in between.

This film falls into the ‘mad libs’ formula by the third outing making me dread watching the other six films in the franchise. What can I say? I’m a completion-ist, and I’ll be damned if a shitty movie is going to defeat me! Grimy warehouse, dead people, traps, and convenient secrets? Check.

Jigsaw has been slowly dying over three films now and I can’t help but wonder how the bastard survives for half a dozen future films! His voice is so monotone, and he rambles incessantly, damn near putting me to sleep eventually. I kept hitting the remote keys to see how much was left in the film. As with most slasher films, I began sympathizing with the murderer and rooting for the deaths. Although I don’t agree with the Rotten Tomatoes rating system, the coming films are all listed in the “teens” I’m in trouble.

I’m sitting here trying to remember things about the film, but my brain has already crapped it out after morning coffee. The first film in the franchise was and still is a masterpiece, but it only packs that punch the very first time you view it. The second film? A bunch of Hollywood stereotypes are locked together in a room and argue for the entire runtime. The needle scene was enough for me. Part 3 – 9? Is there any way to volunteer for one of Jigsaw’s machines?

Somehow, I traded broken record political bullshit that leads nowhere for broken record slasher film bullshit that leads to the next film. I don’t feel like this is a fair trade. Maybe if there was a way to mix the two, I’d feel more liberated. Can you imagine Marjorie Taylor Green locked up in a shit-covered bathroom with an animal trap padlocked to her face and a timer spelling out her imminent doom with every passing second? Yeah, me too. Maybe if we all wish hard enough…



If you like what you read, please feel free to comment, like, share, subscribe, or all four! Not that my rambling needs an audience, it’s just nice to know someone is listening. Even if it’s by accident…

The REAL Issue with Modern Slasher Films

The Gonzo Journals

January 31st, 2023

Well, it’s our annual snow day here in Dallas. Everything outside is painfully white – just like our state government – and the kids are out of school. My wife is occupying the downstairs office (No, that’s not a sexual pun) while I’m pecking away upstairs (That’s not either) on my newest short story “Fluffy” for the Head Blown TAC 2023 anthology. The birds and squirrels are attacking the feeder, the cats decided to play “Shit Box Festival 2023” while I was sleeping, and my Hognose snake “Ziggy Piggy” immediately flared out his head, hissed at me, and struck the glass.

Nature knows what’s up.

Happy Saturday!

I did the unexpected last week. After writing about how I’d never tarnish my pleasant memories of the original “Scream” film, I decided to watch the additional four films. I’m glad I did!

Scream 2? Not bad.

Scream 3? Out of ideas.

Scream 4? Completely unnecessary.

Scream 5? Wow. I was surprisingly impressed! Just like every other legacy sequel, the cast is completely new (young enough to kickstart a new franchise), and the legacy characters show up to either die, help, or save the day. Somehow, one of the newer characters is always related to one of the old characters and blah, blah, blah. It’s been done and is still being done daily. Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters, you name it. Every film franchise from our younger years is being butchered with this legacy sequel formula. It’s not that Hollywood is out of ideas, it’s just that they don’t want to gamble money on something new. I know a ton of indie authors who’d run circles around modern horror films and could use the money. Myself included.

Still, Scream 5 wasn’t really all that bad. The brutality was kicked up a notch and Jenna Ortega showed off her skills during the opening scene like a classic scream queen. It made enough money to warrant a sixth outing which will be showing in a couple of months. Here’s the trailer below:

Basically, Ghostface Takes Manhattan. Will the franchise crawl away and die like Jason did on Friday the 13th part 8, or will the cast be able to finish out this second trilogy with class? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

When I first introduced my wife to the original Scream film, we discussed how a film like this could never be made today. Everyone has caller ID and a camera in their pocket to instantaneously blast video of the killer all over social media. Scream 5 managed to shit all over our concept because it allowed the “callers” to be anywhere at any given time. They weren’t tied to a landline. Nice move, Scream franchise, but there’s one little problem.

Every slasher film needs a “party” scene and Scream 5 is no different. I mean, there must be some kind of gathering to put all the potential victims in one place at the same time for the slash fest to kick off near the end of the film, right? Teenagers don’t do this type of shit anymore!

Photo by Marcin Dampc on

Scream 5 showed us a house with a hundred kids inside drinking, dancing, and screwing. First, the film was made in 2022 and ALL the kids had a cup in their hand, tipsy and oblivious to everything going on around them. What was missing? Weed! I don’t recall a single joint in sight, and no one was hitting the vape pen. This film is taking place in California where it’s legal! I seriously think alcohol will be a dead industry in the next hundred years. No one likes to vomit anymore, and I don’t blame them. I’m working on ten months sobriety as we speak.

Next, some of the kids were dancing to music. Backing it up a little, NO ONE has ever broken out into a dance at a house party. Never. I’m not sure why Hollywood had attempted for decades to convince us all that an impromptu rave breaks out in the living room when someone’s parents go out of town, but they don’t. Not in the eighties, not now. Plus, music died April 5th, 1994. They were dancing to a song from today’s genre which sounds like a computer having a three way with two chipmunks. Art is doomed, and we’re letting it happen.

Finally, and most importantly, there were people at this party mingling face to face and being intimate with one another. No one does this type of thing anymore either. The party at the end of this film should’ve been an empty, quiet living room, a dude on a laptop with ear buds, and trying to make sense out of a hundred people on a mass Zoom call. The killer wins by turning off the router. The kid lazily shrugs his shoulders, grabs his phone, and locks himself in the bathroom to poop out yesterday’s convenience store sushi.

This is it, folks. This is the end of the slasher film genre. Every masked killer will have to be some kind of track star runner to kill each kid individually. Either that or hook the dude up with a Tesla so he can cat around town all stealthy like. Imagine the jump scares you could film with a Tesla!


A Tesla with an Elon Musk mask attached to the hood. We’re onto something here. We can call the franchise “Poon”.

Enter the busty teen girl in men’s boxer shorts and a half tank top.

Her cellphone rings.

The killer speaks…

“Who’s your favorite pervy billionaire?”

The Tesla quietly prowls up the driveway…

Bill & Frank’s Amorous Adventure

The Gonzo Journals

January 30th, 2023

I knew it was coming. I just knew it. I even held my breath until I witnessed the first social media post because I believed deep down that society wouldn’t let me die. I’m sick and tired of being right all the time.

Last night, HBO Max premiered the third episode of their hit show The Last of Us. The reason it’s such a runaway success is because the source material is golden. They stray from it from time to time, but they always stay fairly true to the story’s roots. Last night was one of those instances…or was it?

We were introduced to doomsday prepper Bill and his “friend” Frank during last night’s showing. I recalled meeting them while playing the video game all the way back in 2013 on the PlayStation 3. Yes, this story has been available for a decade. For those who don’t play video games, information regarding the plot and characters was available through a quick Google or YouTube search. You could even watch someone else play the game! This is the age of information after all.

Attention: Spoiler Territory. Turn around, don’t drown.

The television episode took a bit of a deep dive into Bill and Frank’s personal relationship, becoming one of the most heart wrenching chapters of any show. If you have a heart, that is. Unfortunately, it was a little too much for some people.

The episode went into great detail regarding two burly, bearded men falling in love at the end of society as we knew it. Even though it’s HBO, it didn’t display any extreme nudity or sexual scenes – which is unusual for the home of GOT and HOTD – but the two men did kiss a few times. Sometimes that bothers American simpletons who are secretly confused about their own sexuality, but I found it to be rather tasteful. I’m as heterosexual as they come (hehe), but I wasn’t offended in the slightest. As a matter of fact, it was such a touching episode that my wife and I cried a little bit. Kudos to the show runners for departing a tad from the source material, but did they really? Only when it comes to Frank’s demise.

In the episode, Frank was slowly dying of cancer with no way to turn to doctors. Bill nursed him for who knows how long and pushed him around their “town” daily in his wheelchair. When Frank could take no more, he instructed Bill that today would be his last day on Earth, going out on his own terms rather than letting the disease take him when it may. Bill agreed to this but, rather than live alone in sorrow, decided to overdose on medication right beside Frank so that they wouldn’t have to live without one another. It was heartbreaking.

This strays from the game, leaving the explanation of Bill and Frank’s relationship up to the player. For those who can’t comprehend context clues within the dialogue, there are notes hidden throughout the Bill and Frank level revealing the two men were indeed romantically involved. They’d separated at some point and Frank was living in another house on the opposite side of Bill’s town. Frank committed suicide by hanging himself in a rather ‘less than overwhelmingly emotional’ revelation.

The television show fixed this in a very big way. It’s a tearjerker.

Just as I knew it would, men – aka little boys wearing grown up clothes – vomited on social media because their soap opera strayed from guns and gore and forced them to witness two souls in love. Who cares that they both sported beards and probably made Velcro sounds when they kissed, it was romantic as fuck! Both actors portraying the characters made the most sensical among us feel this emotion unfolding before our eyes. If you weren’t overwhelmed with sadness upon the finale of the episode, then I feel for your significant other, or lack thereof.

The worst reveal of all was when one of my literary colleagues boasted his own disgust with the episode calling it “woke” and inappropriate. To be honest, the source material was readily available for ten years. The word “woke” wasn’t even a thing in 2013, was it? At least not in its current, often misunderstood context. I mean, we are aware, as a society, that there are men and women all over the world who are homosexual and have been falling in love with each other for centuries, right? Why did this suddenly become such a shock to so many at 8pm CST on Sunday January 29th, 2023?

In the end, maybe I just expected more from a fellow author. We are artists, after all, and most of us tend to be a little more open minded than your typical deep south, MAGA flag waving, trailer park patrons who just recently discovered this newfangled invention called “the internet”. It’s great for looking at boobies whenever you want, just as long as Billy Joe Bob isn’t taking up residency on the party line again trying to talk his cousins into a three way.

Yes, Bill & Frank were gay for an entire decade before last night’s outing. Perhaps people should research television shows derived from other sources of media before getting all judgmental. It will make them look like less of a hatemongering idiot if they take the time to peruse a synopsis every now and then. We still all take our phones to the shitter, right? Perfect time for a good read.

Reading. Insert laugh here. Who in the fuck am I kidding?

Review: Orphan – First Kill

The Gonzo Journals

January 29th, 2023

First of all, it is IMPOSSIBLE to review this film without spoilers for the original film. DO NOT read this review unless you want to have the twist totally ruined for you. Trust me, these twists are worth it to the point that M. Night Shyamalan jerks off to these films and calls them “Daddy”. Maybe. I can’t officially back this claim up with eyewitness accounts. Let’s just run with it.

Here is the trailer for the original 2009 film:


You’ve been warned.

The Orphan was one of those films I slept on for an awfully long time. A decade to be exact! Somehow, I managed to avoid spoilers for ten years and watched that film with no ideas regarding the plot. I just knew the thumbnail of the film had a mean looking brat with pig tails. The fact she was a grown woman in disguise freaked me the fuck out, but I’d seen that twist before. There were several Looney Tunes cartoons back in the day which used this plot. I just never imagined a serious writer would use it in a horror film. Kudos to them!

During the original film, it’s touched quite a bit on the premise the main character Esther escaped from a mental institution in Russia and used her “condition” to swindle and murder other families. This back story is where we get Orphan – First Kill, and it’s brilliant!

Here are the synopsis and the trailer:

After orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Esther travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family.

That’s all you need to know.

Sometimes, a film has such an amazing back story that you’d want to see a film made of it rather than the film you got. Not true with the Orphan franchise. You’ll be glad they made both films! No chemical enhancement needed!

The Orphan – First Kill was released last year in 2022 fourteen years after the original. The lead actress, Isabelle Fuhrmann has aged slightly within that decade and a half, but it doesn’t distract from the believability of the film at all. She’s still very youthful looking and replays her Esther character flawlessly.

The premise is as follows: Esther is a total fucking psychopath and has a genetic condition which causes her to look like a ten-year-old forever. Think of the missed opportunity of riches she could’ve been making from priests and politicians alone! Instead, she’s managed to get her tiny ass in trouble in Estonia and is housed inside a creepy mental facility. Why do all these places look the same in movies? I was waiting for Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito to pop up at any moment to bounce little Esther on their knee. Especially DeVito. His essence just oozes with “Pedo”, doesn’t it? Just me? Danny DePedo? Anyone?

Anyway, she seduces a guard by shaking her tiny booty and speaking like an adolescent and escapes. Some may believe this to be farfetched but, I worked in a correctional facility for quite a while, and detention officers got sacked on an average of once every ninety days for “falling in love” with an inmate. One of them I knew was forced to perform a strip search on an inmate who was hung like a donkey. She, being a young, fairly attractive woman, was changed forever at the sudden sight of the elephant trunk this mutant had hanging between his legs. She wound up pregnant and unemployed simultaneously. Dick. It’s what’s for dinner. Dick, the other white meat. I know this is a roundabout way of explaining the commonality of this type of thing, but it’s the best I can do right now. Read and accept it.

“Esther” then searches the internet for missing children who may resemble her physical traits. She manages to find one, tricks local law enforcement into believing she’s been kidnapped and shipped off to Russia and fools the emotionally distraught family into believing her bullshit.

What follows is a plot twist I NEVER saw coming. This sets up a domino effect leading to the events of the original film.

If you’ve been sleeping on this prequel out of fear you’ll be forced to sit through another horrible horror legacy reboot/sequel, don’t be. This one is pulled off masterfully and worth your ninety minutes of attention. I won’t say anything else for fear of ruining the above-mentioned twist. Just know that they’ve managed to top the twist revealed in the first film and cranked it up a notch. This is a rare feat in modern horror. Most of them are CGI bore fests focusing on jump scares rather than character development. This is not the case with the Orphan franchise.

Is there a trilogy in the works here? I hope not. It’s perfect the way it is, and the main character isn’t getting any younger. Another prequel would be out of the question and a sequel to the original wouldn’t work either without Esther using some type of de-aging technology of Lucasfilm proportions. In other words, money.

If you’ve read this far, I’ve already spoiled the plot of the original 2009 film. Still, watch it regardless. Then, enjoy a banger of a prequel which will keep you on the edge of your seat for an hour and a half.

4/5 Stars, easy.


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M3GAN – 2nd Viewing

(Not So Spoiler Free)

The Gonzo Journals

January 26th, 2023

Now that it’s been a couple of weeks and the dust has settled…

Who am I kidding? There are people all over Tik Tok doing the Megan Dance and Saturday Night Live did one of the worst parodies I’ve ever watched. I personally believed they missed the mark completely. It was aimed heavily at the gay community, and I found it offensive. I’m straight! Here is a video of the ‘parody’:

As with most films nowadays, Megan is already available on digital two weeks after its theatrical debut. No, it’s not because the movie sucked and didn’t make any money. It made fucking tons of money, setting records for both horror films and movies released during the month of January. It seems there is no stopping our new favorite slasher doll…but is that what she really is?

Now that I have this movie at home, let’s dive a little deeper into what this film delivers.

First things first, the home version is the PG-13 theatrical release. There are rumors of a rated R director’s cut eventually so I guess these guys will get my money three times. I don’t mind, really. It’s worth it. I have no issue with paying for quality entertainment.

Second, this movie isn’t a “horror” film. It’s a sci-fi dark comedy/drama with horror elements. A small portion of the horror community is shitting on this film because it’s not gory and over the top. I’m not sure how many more times I have to say this, but if you have a relevant story and solid characters – this film has both – you don’t need to distract the audience with gore, gore, gore. (Unless you’re Terrifier 2. They get a pass. That film is a fucking masterpiece IMO)

Megan is a warning to half assed parents who would rather shove a piece of technology into their child’s face instead of paying attention and be a real parent. That’s the target demographic, folks. Every modern-day mother who can’t take their attention away from social media or dating apps long enough to show their own flesh and blood some true love. Was I a perfect parent? Hell no! Far from it. Maybe worse, in some cases. Still, I knew how to interact with my kids and never traded that experience for something that plugs into the wall.

Today’s children are raised by technology because today’s parents were raised by television. In turn, those people who plopped today’s parents down in front of the electronic babysitter were raised on the radio. So, does the blame go back several generations? No. The blame goes to the dawn of society in general. What’s the alternative? Let your mind be bombarded with newspaper articles of classism, fiscal crisis, and war? Since the dawn of the printing press, people have been looking for a distraction from being reminded of life’s daily horrors. Let’s take it a step back even further.

What’s the one thing that’s been shoved into the faces of the young for centuries requiring a distraction to prevent pre-pubescent self-destruction?

The fucking bible. I won’t even bother capitalizing the “B” because fuck you. It’s a mind control device, plain and simple. A statistically successful one at that. Today’s grandparents were forced to attend church every time the goddamn doors were open. Some of them passed the importance of such nonsense onto their children and the weakest minded among them adopted the practice without question. Eventually, a deity’s bullshit rolls downhill and there you have it.

I have managed to link modern day technological dependence to early 1900’s, missionary sex only, what’s a clitoris, bible thumping.

This film is a warning, but I wouldn’t expect mainstream society to see it as such. We have a generation of children being raised by “Megans” already as I write this. They just aren’t as cute and humanoid. Lucky for them, though. A lot of today’s religious fanatics and politicians would be purchasing them for all the wrong reasons. #1 FAQ on Amazon? “Are these dolls waterproof? – Donald T., Mar-A-Lago, FL”. I wonder how many androids are hidden in Eppstein photos…

Solution? Dis-invent smart phones and make video game arcades relevant again. I doubt it will solve any problems involving technology, but it encourages face to face interaction with other human beings while engaging with similar distractions. It’s a meet in the middle solution. Plus, I miss them. There’s nothing like banging away on a Donkey Kong machine while your ears bleed to Motley Crue. You’re welcome, society.


If you liked what you read, please DON’T like, subscribe, or share. Let’s see how this reverse psychology shit works…

Review: M3GAN (Spoiler Free)

OK, so I know I went on this huge rant the other day about review culture and all these fucking book and film know-it-alls on social media, but I’m different. I’ve actually had my own review column in both a print newspaper and a print magazine before. I’m also a reoccurring co-host on the Literary License Podcast. Translation? I’m qualified. Blow.

Also, I don’t like reviewing things I didn’t enjoy. There’s enough hate, negativity, and bullying in the world. If you want that kind of shit, visit Goodreads. You won’t have to dig too deep.

Now, where was I?

M3GAN is a 2023 film directed by Gerard Johnstone and starring Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, and Amie Donald. It was written by Akela Cooper and James Wan with a little team up action from Jason Blum. The names attached to this project are a dream come true for horror fans. Do they deliver?

Everything I’m about to go into is covered in the trailers so there are no spoilers.

M3GAN begins with Cady’s parents dying right before her eyes in a snowplow accident. I swear, fucking Marvel tries to steal every plotline, don’t they? That’s a Jeremy Renner joke. Too soon? She goes to live with her Aunt Gemma who works for an amazing tech toy company. She’s been working on the M3GAN doll behind the scenes and is ironically ready for testing just about the time her sister and brother-in-law pull a Renner. Still too soon?

As you can imagine, all hell breaks loose, and we have a killer doll on our hands. A really cute one with one heck of an attitude. She even dances better than that Wednesday chick on Netflix. Did you guys know that the dance sequence in that show was put together with almost 30 scene cuts in 90 seconds? Either get over this fucking Wednesday dance or raise your standards. Those stats are far from impressive and it’s time to begin jerking off to something else.

Anyway, back to M3GAN…

I remember falling in love with the trailer for this film months ago. I’ve only seen the original Child’s Play movie, so I’m not really versed well when it comes to killer dolls. There was just something about the trailer which led me to believe this would be laugh out loud funny as well as containing horror elements. I couldn’t have been more right.

I don’t recall the last time I was in a packed theater full of laughing patrons and it was a rather joyous occasion. Sure, people are dying or being placed in mortal danger, but it just so happens I find that shit funny. Most times, really. It works because the three main actresses sell this film.

It’s easy to tell that this film was originally shot to have an R rating but Universal made them tone it down for a more acceptable audience. I can see this film being the kind of thing a group of high school kids would go see together or perhaps some horror loving parents allowing their early teen child to cut their teeth on this. Something a little tamer which could open future doors for later, more gory horror films. No, not every parent shoves The Exorcist or The Shining into their child’s face as soon as their eyes are open. Just mine. Not everything needs to be Terrifier 2, and it doesn’t have to be as long as you have a great story and talented performances. This film has both.

Allison Williams does a fantastic job as the Aunt being a fish out of water with no children of her own. Still, I feel as though this role could’ve been played by just about anyone with half a Hollywood resume. Most will remember her from Get Out, and having that film on your record will land you a job anywhere.

Also, the young actress who plays the killer toy M3GAN did a creepy job of bringing the film’s subject matter to life. Combined with the voice of Jenna Davis (a local girl from Plano, Texas!), they make the antagonist of this film out to be a believable danger grounded in modern reality. Still, I feel as though either the voice or the body actor could’ve been substituted for anyone.

The real star of this film is our young Cady played by Violet McGraw. Fellow horror enthusiasts may remember her from the Netflix series Haunting of Hill House or her small role in Doctor Sleep. This kid has mastered the art of acting through facial expressions and there are times in this movie when you swear she’s going to be the true villain. Sometimes, a bad child actor can make or break a film like this, and McGraw shines as the troubled child who rides the fine line between healing and hate.

The only thing preventing this movie from truly being a horror masterpiece is the fact you can tell the editing room floor may be protecting some of the best scenes from the film. It’s common knowledge now that Universal stepped in when they realized how much trailer hype the internet was buzzing with and made the filmmakers cut the film to a PG13 theatrical cut. My only hope is that they will offer an R rated director’s cut when this movie hits streaming, digital, and Blu Ray.

But did this movie live up to my own hype?


This is not some dumb horror movie about a killer doll. This is a deep dive into loss, healing, and attachment. It’s a road map for where our own children and grandchildren are heading with modern technology and the internet taking the place of our parental teachings. Yes, there’s lots of laughs, some killing, and even a little bit of gore here and there, but this film has a message for those of us who are smart enough to recognize it aka my wife with the psychology degree. We actually discussed this film on into the night long after the credits rolled.

The bottom line: this movie is laugh aloud funny and edge of your seat suspenseful, but the gore and violence were toned way down when the studio overstepped into the filmmaker’s creative process. With any luck, this will be remedied with the home release but, in the meantime, I would suggest seeing this in a theatrical setting. A full theatrical setting if you can find one. Preferrable one with a group of screaming, easily frightened cheerleaders who unanimously voted to view this film as a way of sharing an interest with ‘the cool kids’.

I grade this movie a 4 out of 5 discarded ears…

Willow? Will-Not.

The Gonzo Journals

December 1st, 2022

Last night, me and the wife decided to dive into the Lucasfilm playground known as Disney Plus and take a ride on the roulette wheel. I call it this since everything they’ve touched since the Disney aquisition is extremely hit or miss. Yes, it’s nice to see legacy characters in the Star Wars universe being relevent again, but the stories are convoluded garbage the majority of the time. At least the special effects are up to par. I always hated the Sci Fi Channel style cheap FX from television twenty years ago. Total turn off. At least these are movie quality. Money talks.

Of all the Lucasfilm series we’ve watched, Andor was by far our favorite. It was the most un-Star Wars-y Star Wars to ever war with a star. It was well written, character driven, dramatic, and grounded in a certain sense of realism unlike the sequel and prequel trilogy combined. It was more like Rogue One and, if you’ve yet to experience that masterpiece for fear of Rise of Skywalker vibes, I suggest you give it a try. Imagine Saving Private Ryan in the Star Wars universe. It, like the 1978 original, is a war movie. Before all the fucking space wizards took over the story line.

I’d known for about a year now that Lucasfilm was planning on bringing a sort of Willow sequel to Disney Plus and I was slightly excited. Let’s face it. I’m a child of the eighties and every remake and sequel playing off my nostalgia is almost certainly a recipe for a let down, if not a full blown disaster. They’re nostalgic cash grabs that rarely hit the mark. I tread lightly at all times because many of these properties are tied to my upbringing. Then again, my inner child has been murdered so many times that he doesn’t even feel the knife penetrating his skin anymore. Stab me some more, Kathleen Kennedy, and don’t forget to spit in the wound when you’re done!

Willow was a 1988 film written by George Lucas and directed by Ron Howard. It was the most fantastic fantasy we’d had since Dragon Slayer in 1981 (Check that film out if you’ve never had the pleasure. Brutal. Also a Disney film where you get a brief full frontal shot of Peter MacNicol’s peter). Willow starred Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok, Leprachan), Val Kilmer (Top Gun, The Doors), and Joanne Whalley (I don’t know what she’s starred in but she was definitely the sexiest sword wielding red head I’d known at age 15).

The main character Willow is a sort of sorcerer in training with big dreams. He’s tasked with delivering a prophesized baby to the humans to help defeat an evil queen. He meets Val Kilmers character along the way and all kinds of amazing advertures ensue. The special effects were groundbreaking at the time but look a little dated when watching today. Still, it’s a beautiful adventure filled with heart and wonder. What did you expect from Ron Howard and George Lucus in the middle of their ‘we can do no wrong’ period?

Taking this knowledge into account, I decided to take a chance on the new Disney Plus series. This was a mistake. It took everything I had to stomach the first episode.

Let me get this out of the way: I LOVE strong female leads and LOVE how women are taking the reins in modern story telling. It’s kind of a turn on, really. Hell, my novels Extinguished and Far From Home exhibit strong, female leads, but they still exhibit human weaknesses. This is where Kathleen Kennedy’s wishes fall short. Need reference? Check out Rey “Skywalker”. That character was a full blown Jedi bad ass before she even knew what a lightsaber was. It got rediculous after that.

As a matter of fact, Kathleen Kennedy’s ‘message’ is smeared all over the screen from the moment it begins. All the female characters are incredibly OP and flawless while the males are portrayed as bumbling idiots. Within the first few minutes, we see that two of the female lead characters are deeply and secretly in love with each other with zero buildup. I’m a big fan of love, and I don’t care if it’s heterosexual or homosexual, but at least put some depth in your characters, Disney.

(L-R): Graydon (Tony Revolori), Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), Dove (Ellie Bamber), Kit (Ruby Cruz), Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) and Jade (Erin Kellyman) in Lucasfilm’s WILLOW exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

To add insult to ‘in your face woke’ injury. the cinematography, writing, choreography, and acting are total shit. Ron Howard is an executive producer of this show and he clearly phoned it in. I love his films, but this was clearly a paycheck for him. I mean, Disney writes ’em fat, don’t they? I honestly couldn’t tell if I was watching a poor attempt at an unneeded, unwanted fantasy sequel, or a big budget Saved By The Bell episode. I’ve wiped better shit off the bottom of my boots. The editing is choppy as fuck making me think they were trying like hell to save it at the last minute. No such luck.

I won’t go into any plot or character details in case some of you want to watch this and, who knows, some of you may actually enjoy it. My point of view is biased from my own writing career plus the masterpieces known as Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. Comparing it to other fantasy projects, this is Eragon at best, maybe even that horrible Dungeons and Dragons movie we got twenty years ago with one of the Wayans brothers. I wouldn’t even recommend this if you are confined to the couch giving it all you’ve got with your best COVID coughs in quaranteen.

Now, to be fair to modern audiences, this is similar to what the mainstream craves nowadays. Bright colors, loud bangs, and unmemorable characters with no depth whatsoever. How can you care about the story if you’re not invested in the characters? In my books, characters drive the story and not the other way around. I swear, if I have to read one more indie book in which all we know about the characters are a first and last name, I’ll quit. I’ve seen it way too often lately. A great story, but a Mad Libs style fill in the blank outline that offers no reader attachment whatsoever. What’s worse is the legions of fans who five star the fuck out of it on Amazon driving other readers to zombify their expectations and take the journey full circle.

If you really want to see what televised Lucasfilm is capable of, check out Andor instead, along with the Bryce Dallas Howard episodes of The Mandalorian. If you don’t mind animated shows, I would also recommend Star Wars Rebels. These have substance, heart, and characters worth investing in. You’ll look forward to where the story goes rather than wandering off into deep thought about if it would be easier to turn off the show, shoot your television, or hang yourself from the shower curtain rod.

PS – Shower curtain rods don’t support much weight. Just shoot your tv. We all like loud noises, right? Obviously, or you wouldn’t be watching modern day Lucasfilm shows. Save us, Dave Filoni. Save us all…

The Menu

First thing out the gate, there’s something I forgot to tell everyone about that horrendous Disney Plus Willow show. They blatently ripped off a joke from Young Guns II word for word in hopes no one alive would remember. The joke about the Navajo word which makes the horses stop. Remember that one? Yep, totally ripped it off verbatim. This is the kind of shit that’s getting shoved in our faces in the name of quality entertainment. Kill me now. At least by tomorrow. Better yet, next week. I have shit to do this weekend.

Yesterday was a horrible day for future movies. Sequels, sequels, sequels. We were slammed all at once with trailers for the upcoming Indiana Jones, Transformers, and Guardians of the Galaxy franchises. Every single second of it looked like reheated French fries on a prison platter. In case you’re curious, reheated French fries are the worst food in the goddamn world and prison platters get jerked off on by the inmates who work in the kitchen. On a lighter note, there is no lighter note and this kind of Hollywood let down is the new norm. I’m used to it. Fucking Rise of Skywalker…

So, with all that information in the pipe, my wife and I decided to see The Menu last night at our local Alamo Drafthouse and I’m glad we did. It’s the end of the year and I don’t recall seeing much that really stuck with me other than NOPE and Terrifier 2. The Menu may very well be the best film of 2022.

The synopsis is as follows: A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises. This is all you need to know going in. Don’t read Wikipedia! It’s full of spoilers. Even the trailer only gives you a bare bones description of what you will experience in this film.

First of all, this film stars Anya Taylor-Joy. That’s enough of a reason to watch this. Ever since her career boost from The Queen’s Gambit, she has been in EVERYTHING from the VVitch to Last Night in Soho. And why wouldn’t she be? She is an amazing actress and quite possibly one of the most beautiful creatures on this planet. I don’t know much about her or where she comes from because I’m not a spank boy celebrity stalker, but I kind of get Bjork vibes from her as far as her facial features go. She has very almond shaped eyes that are incredibly sensual. She may even be an alien and, if that’s the case, please bring on the inevitable invasion. No wonder Captain Kirk fucked green chicks. Aliens are hot!

Next, it stars Ralph Fiennes. Who doesn’t want to watch the guy who killed it as Lord Voldemort as a world-renowned chef on a private island? This guy demands your total attention every time he walks on screen. His personality is large and haunting, giving you unapproving father vibes whenever he delivers his lines. The plot of this movie centers around him but he is far from the villain of the film. I won’t go into that at all since villains are my favorite parts of films and books. You can’t have a good hero without a good villain, and the villain in this film is very much already established. Trust me, we know it all too well.

The other supporting talent in this film is one hundred percent spot on and shine in their own special ways. The director Mark Mylod, who is also known for directing portions of Game of Thrones, has managed to capture a sense of isolation and hopelessness that spreads throughout the one hour and forty-seven-minute runtime. Also, there is no credits stinger so feel free to go piss as soon as they start rolling.

I could go on forever about this film, but it would dive deep into spoiler territory, and I don’t want to ruin this for anyone. Is this horror? Yes, and it’s my kind of horror. It’s strongly character driven, and you will get to know each and every one of these players on a very personal level before the film wraps. You’ll be able to compare them all to people you know in your own life and, by the time you reach the film’s climax, perhaps you’ll want these people to suffer the same fate.

Some final details: This is a slow burn, but it builds up perfectly. There isn’t a lot of gore but there are some horrific images that may make your butthole clinch a couple of times. The horror here is psychological for the most part but easily relatable. Also, this may bore the fuck out of teenagers or younger adults but that’s okay. Just tell them to keep looking at their phones the whole time. That’s all they were going to do to begin with, right? Damn Tweeting poon generation…

Easily five stars…

Game Trailer For HMT!!!

Book Review: Woom by Duncan Ralston

“Trust me when I say, this is messed up.” – MATT SHAW, author of Sick B*stards.

“I believe pain lingers,” Angel said. “Do I believe in spirits? In the supernatural? Probably not.”

The Lonely Motel holds many dark secrets… and Room 6 just might possess the worst of them all.

Angel knows all about pain. His mother died in this room. He’s researched its history. Today he’s come back to end it, no matter the cost, once and for all.

Shyla, a plus-sized escort, thinks the stories Angel tells her can’t be true. Secrets so vile, you won’t want to let them inside you.

But the Lonely Motel doesn’t forget. It doesn’t forgive. And it always claims its victim.

“This book is a wet dream of abnormal sexual psychology.” – Mort Stone, My Indie Muse

WARNING: Don’t buy this book if you have a weak stomach, if you’re easily disturbed, or if you’re looking for a light horror read. THIS IS NOT THAT BOOK. Seriously. You’ve been warned.

My Review:

I was lucky – or unluck, depending on your point of view and upbringing – enough to be incredibly sexually active as a teen. I met a girl on a blind date at the movies (Ghostbusters II) and she ended up being a freak. I’ve often told everyone who’s come into my life since that they should track the slayer of my virginity down and buy her dinner, otherwise I wouldn’t be responsible for that thing I do with my tongue. Only a couple dozen people know this information and I can guarantee you none of them are reading this book review. Their husbands/boyfriends won’t let them. Good riddance. I should be safe.

She became less of a girlfriend over the years and more of a research subject. Nothing and nowhere was off the table. It was difficult to find and keep friends since most of them couldn’t have gotten laid if they crawled up a chicken’s ass and waited. Thinking that me and my actions were the envy of their ignored boyhood is a disturbing thought in hindsight. Since those days, I’ve battled through failed marriages and went through girlfriends like a cleanly man goes through underwear. My teenage sexual escapades were less pleasurable and more tortured, and it’s taken me over thirty years to come to grips with this.

I recall being barely sixteen, laying in a bed I had no business being in. Her parents were slumbering just across the hallway in the old home and my young conquest was sleeping as though she couldn’t care less about anyone busting in the room at any given moment. All I could do was stare at what little of the ceiling my sight offered and wonder about the composition of the alien fluids stickily drying atop my soon to be manhood. My, how the uninformed mind wanders. Yes, young, promiscuous girls are aliens left here by the earliest of Earth’s visitors as torment. Biblical demons who lead young boys and straying men to their demise via premature exploration or blackmail, considering the age or relationship status of the victim. If there truly is a God, then bless them all.

Duncan Ralston has managed to author a book which executes all those sickly thoughts that clouded my brain as an overly active sexual teenager with no boundaries. I refuse to offer spoilers because every turn of the page needs to reveal these secrets in the way they were meant to be discovered. By the time you’re finished, not only will you have endured the journey placed at your feet by a masterful wordsmith, but all those demented thoughts you had while invading high school era sheets will finally come to fruition.

Think of it as a short story collection glued together by a man’s cryptic confession of pleasure, pain, and finality. Just like those terrorizing teenage romps in barns – I’m from Texas – that ended in exhaustion just before sunrise, it’s a potential shotgun blast full of rock salt to the ass from a pissed off father you won’t soon forget. A reminder that, no matter how sweet and solid the recipient of your current physical involvement may be, those questions still remain, they’ll never go away, and that little Susie Homemaker wouldn’t dare let you perform those types of experiments on her baby maker. How hard? How deep? Exactly how much can a person live through? Will the newspapers have the balls to tell the whole story without stumbling on the grotesque truth?

Remember in school when you could turn to the back of the textbook, flip it upside down, and have all the answers to the quiz? That’s what Ralson has managed to do here, except the book is a chick, and she likes it in the back while flipped upside down. This is what I got out of the book. Your experience may vary depending on your own personal level of sexual experience. The fact that you’re a special kind of twisted will have nothing to do with it.


Book Review: Grandpappy by PC3

Grandpappy is on hospice.
Charles is going mad.
Vile happenings are abound.
You, reader, are not prepared.
This is your lesson in depravity.

WARNING! This is an extreme horror novella. Very few triggers are left unpulled.

Grandpappy by PC3 aka Patrick Harrison III

Purchase on Amazon.

PC3 was my very first glimpse into the Splatterpunk world a few years ago with Inferno Bound and the Hell Hounds. I remember saying aloud “Holy crap! We’re allowed to write stuff like this?”

Since then, I’ve read quite a few offerings from many different authors such as Dead Inside by Chandler Morrison, Full Brutal by Kristopher Triana, and Talia by Daniel Volpe. Neither of these are recommended dinner table reading. Trust me, I’ve tried and damn near failed.

I’ve also tried my hand at writing some Splatterpunk with my short story “Hell Paso” from the pages of the 2020 Splatterpunk anthology of the year “And Hell Followed” as well as the Splatter Western “Starving Zoe”. I’m not quite sure where I fit in this genre, or even if I’m qualified to be considered a Splatterpunk author, but I know one thing for certain. PC3 is a rock star.

I popped this little jewel open on a flight to and from Chicago because reading grotesque things with revealing covers is why we all read on planes in the first place, right? During my airborne four hours, I could hear the groans of the simpletons as they gazed upon the deformed toenails on the cover and read the bolded warnings of the back synopsis. That, my fellow passengers, is what you get for being a nosy patron of the friendly skies. Keep your eyes to yourself and this sort of thing won’t happen!

The best part was when a pre-teen child with exceptional eyes was following me page by page and whispering the words as he read them. With any luck, this kid is scarred for life and having the world’s most uncomfortable dinner conversation with parents who haven’t the slightest of ideas on how to answer the inquiries pouring from his mouth between bites of meatloaf and steamed broccoli. Guaranteed, being a child of North Texas, his parents will drag him kicking and screaming into the closest church for a well-deserved exorcism.

The premise of this book is as follows: Charlie is a regular guy. Plain and simple. His parents want to get away on a quick vacation, but Grandpappy is on his last leg. Charlie, not knowing what he’s getting himself into, accepts the request to watch over the dying man. A hospice nurse and nurse’s aide come twice a day so it shouldn’t be any problem. This is where the fun begins.

As mentioned before, I have read many offerings into the Splatterpunk world and each time they get a little more “out there”. Trust me when I say it will take a damn talented author and a lot of hallucinogens to match what PC3 has done in Grandpappy. If this book doesn’t win Splatterpunk novella of the year at Killercon 2023, I’ll scream “fake news” and storm the Texas state capitol in a pair of Superman panties while covered in chocolate syrup.

There are some who have trashed this book with bad reviews which begs the question “why are you reading extreme horror if you’re not an extreme horror fan?”

For the social media cred? For the chicks? For the social media cred chicks? None of those things are real!

PC3 is an up-and-coming master of this art who won’t soon be forgotten. Not only did Grandpappy surpass all the above-mentioned books, but it even replaced what I considered to be the greatest work of Splatterpunk fiction ever to pour from the fingers of the great Ed Lee. Yes, this made “Header” read like “That Little Engine That Could”. I’m not belittling “Header” in any way. It’s a classical masterpiece. I’m just making a comparison so you’ll understand what you’re getting yourself into.

It’s not just the horror and gore that make it so unforgettable. The humor is on point, if you’re someone who finds such things to be humorous, and the jokes and references come often. It’s a novella so it’s a quick read. Two uncomfortable plane rides later and I was at the end with a mystery QR code staring me in the face. I won’t spoil it, nor should you skip to this point without reading the book.

To boot, this isn’t some gore story without substance. There is a tale here as well as a lesson. This is the unwelcomed picture of the modern American family. We all have metaphorical skeletons in our shed and teeth in a random kitchen drawer, but some of us take these metaphors to literal extremes. Chances are that you know a family like this, and you’ve always wanted to be a fly on their wall to see what’s truly going on behind closed doors. Be careful what you wish for.

To finalize this review, there will never be a Grandpappy movie. Hollywood wouldn’t dare tell this story and, if they did, it wouldn’t be worth watching. They’d cut out all the good parts and probably put a worthless mumble rap song in the end credits making you want to regurgitate the film you just watched. If they ever get the nerve to try, all I ask is that they somehow con Donald Trump into playing Grandpappy. Did you like how I used the words con and Trump in the same sentence?

Bonus: Imagine the characters and voices of Eustace and Muriel from Courage the Cowardly Dog as you read this. You’ll thank me when it’s over.

C. Derick Miller

Rant & Chill Star Wars Episode!

ABC’s 20/20 Episode Commentary

ABC’s 20/20 Brandon Woodruff (on HULU)

Special Interview: Pre-ABC’s 20/20 With American Justice Podcast and Richard Ray

Book Review: Talia by Daniel Volpe

My first taste of indie horror was “The Language of Fear” by Del James. Having just moved back to Texas from Los Angeles, I could relate to the Hollywood horrors portrayed in the anthology. I remember asking myself “Can people really write this way and get away with it?”

I woke up the next morning and wrote my first short story. I was first published a few years later.

That was 2004. It is now 2021. The indie horror fan base has cannibalized itself. I would call it “woke,” but even woke people have nerves. No, not the majority, but the loudest of the vocal minority pretending to be the wimpy majority have made it nearly impossible to speak freely in the pages of modern extreme horror. It’s sad, really, but expected. Literary revolutions are inevitable every decade or so, I just think we’re all moving in the wrong direction. Now, I ask myself “can we still write this way and get away with it?”

Daniel Volpe says “Yes.”


In the early 1990s the rising popularity of the video cassette gave birth to a seedy, underground world of illicit pornography.
Talia, a Midwest dreamer, leaves home in search of fame under the blinding Broadway lights. But nothing could have prepared her for what she finds instead. Savage violence, bottomless depravity, and no way out.

Talia will unapologetically drag you into the foul underbelly of society. A sanity straining journey, full of hot bloodshed and betrayal.

My Review:

That loud, vocal minority I spoke of earlier will hate every sentence in this book. Why? Because it’s real. The type of scenario taking place was an underworld regularity in the 1990’s and, thanks to the internet and the fact that EVERYONE has a recording device in their pockets, it’s even more of an occurrence today! Society wants to pretend this is all fiction and, for the sake of this story, it is. The scenario? Real. Daily. Probably happening this very minute inside a home in our own neighborhoods on month old dirty sheets with an iPhone. Horror seeded in reality is my favorite kind. If you are easily triggered by sex, violence, gore, breathing, etc. (you know who you are), stay away from this book. In fact, stay away from ALL books in this genre. That’s what a synopsis and dedication page are for in indie horror. They’re wimp warnings. Heed them.

I went into this book with no clues. I’ll do the same for you. If you’re a fan of the extreme, this one is definitely for you. Don’t send it to school with your kid, don’t read it out loud on the subway, and don’t leave it sitting on the back of the toilet at church. This is one of the most extreme offerings I’ve read in quite a while, and I can’t wait to read more from this author. I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Volpe has spent a little time behind the camera himself…

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Horror Talk Radio 12/4/20

Literary License Podcast Appearance: Call of the Wild

Carnage, Raw Rage, and Savagery!

by The Voracious Gnome

Splatter Western #5 is a tale about going home. Robert Jack is an orphan who has tried to make the best of what’s been thrown at him. Growing up in the harsh neighborhoods of New England taught him lots of bad habits. But those bad habits gave him the opportunity to meet Zoe. A willing partner in crime, they have adventures together that force them to seek shelter in anonymity. Starving Zoe is a story of love, revenge and hate in 1865 Arizona Territory.

For some of you, some scenes will be shocking. Some scenes will make you feel dirty. And some scenes will make you laugh until you cry. This is not for sensitive readers or those with triggers. It is full of carnage, raw rage, and horrific savagery! It was great! I loved how Robert Jack’s sarcasm is peppered throughout the story. If you love gore with a little splatter here and there, you’ve got to check this one out! – The Voracious Gnome

Starving Zoe

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By C Derick Miller


Compelling. Evocative. Brutal.


To most, 1865 was an eye-opening year. The American Civil War was officially over, and the soldiers fortunate enough to survive the bloody conflict returned home to collect the pieces of their former lives. To young Arizonan, Robert Jack, the fateful desert homecoming marked the end to all he once knew.

Forgiveness is overrated. Death is final. Revenge, however, dances between the fine lines of mortality and eternity. Love always finds a way.


Starving Zoe by C Derick Miller is Book 5 in the Splatter Western series from Death’s Head Press. It’s a Splatter Western. Splatter. Western. You need to know that going in. You need to understand it. Because trashing a splatter western for having horror elements is bad form. So, Splatter Western.

On that note …

I seriously almost puked on page 4.
I almost threw the book across the room when I came upon the horrors at page 23.
A few pages later, I stepped away for a moment to re-evaluate my boundaries in horror fiction. It wasn’t about graphic gore or even content. It was the realism. The horrifying, mind-violating realism of the content and horrors rising from the pages. Intellectually, I knew this spoke to Miller’s superior storytelling, but part of my mind said, “Dude, I don’t like you right now.”

The biggest horror for me? The dark, irreverent, inexcusable humor throughout the story got at least a smirk (and often an outright laugh) from me in spite of how horrified I was by the events in the story. Every time. Every single time. Snake balls. ☹

Starving Zoe is told in first person by the main character, Robert Jack. Much like a real-life friend, Robert is telling you things he himself clearly does not grasp the significance of, inspiring evocative moments of you wanting to say, “Dude, did you even hear what you just said?” out loud. (maybe I did, maybe I didn’t)

Evocative. Yes. Starving Zoe is a shockingly evocative tale. It evokes your gag reflex. It evokes outrage. It evokes horror and frustration both with and at the narrator. It evokes sadness.

It is a twisted masterwork of human authenticity with a supernatural flair, compelling, evocative, brutal. It is ultimately a story about love and all the dark and awful thoughts and emotions that go with it. It stays with you long after you finish it (I read it four days ago). It is also a Splatter Western and not for those with sensitive constitutions.

Fans of the Splatter Western series will love Starving Zoe. Fans of extreme horror in general will love it too.

Get it on Amazon:

About the Author: C. Derick Miller

C. Derick Miller is a dark fiction author, Gonzo journalist, screenwriter, poet, ordained minister, and ASCAP songwriter born in the town of Greenville, Texas. His influences include Hunter S. Thompson, Kevin Smith, Shawn Mullins, and Del James. Currently the Senior Writer/Junior Producer for AtuA Productions, he resides in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas, Texas where he has a price on his head for his short story “Hell Paso” contained in the #1 Best Selling Anthology And Hell Followed. He wishes he were making up that last part but … it is nice to be wanted.

C. Derick Miller on The Literary License Podcast 8.7.20!

Author Christine Morgan’s Honest “Extinguished” Review!

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Title: Extinguished

Author: C. Derick Miller

Publisher: Death’s Head Press


An “aptronym” is what they call it, the term for when your given name suits (however ironically) your chosen profession or role in life. Whether it’s prescience on the part of your parents, or some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s often amusing and sometimes annoying. And easier to get away with / put up with in fiction than the real world.

In this case, the aptronym belongs to Angel Burns, who lost her mother in a tragic house fire, was raised by the fire chief who rescued her, and went on to pursue firefighting as a career. Now a single mom, working for and with a bunch of oinking sexist jerks who make her job a living hell, she has no idea how much an actual “living hell” she’s about to stumble into.

Or, as it turns out, that her first name’s a bit of an aptronym too, when she finds herself caught in a supernatural battle and then recruited into a secret society of demon-hunters. Armed with her trusty fire-axe and a magical family heirloom, Angel’s new mission involves trying to stop the forces of evil from getting their claws on the relics that can be used as weapons against them.

I enjoyed the story, but did find the writing fairly heavy on the “tell” side of things (particularly when it came to referring to her as “the young hunter” or “the girl” or “the hero” and similar stylistic phrasing, though to be fair that is a big-time personal peeve of mine.) And the characterization of Angel struck me kind of bothersome in that crass one-of-the-boys-but-with-sexy-sexy-boobs way.

The energy’s there, though, and the sense of fun. Lots of action scenes and what would be big-budget special effects. Some see-it-coming twists, others surprising. I’d be interested in seeing more.

Werewolves and brutality abound!

Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2020Far From Home is the continuation of book 1 in the series, Taste of Home. The story was more fluid than the first book with more action and brutality. Once the action really picks up, the book was riveting to me. I could not put it down from that point and finished it. One part of the story was predicable to me, but there were a few twists that I did not see coming. Again, Miller shows us the depths of his imagination and undeniable talent with this continuation of the series.

Far From Home takes place 5 years after the events of Taste of Home. Katie Lieberman is a young woman now with an agenda of her own. She makes the decision to face her destiny head on without the support or knowledge of her father. She quickly realizes she has misjudged her opponent and now must survive in the unfamiliar territory of New York City! See how she handles herself in this next installation of the Home Series.

5/5 Stars, The Voracious Gnome Review

Page Turner Till The End!

The story is about Toby Lieberman who works in rural Texas. His home life has been turned upside down, he can do no wrong by his daughter, and he has a tight knit group of family and friends he can trust. Bad things start happening around him and he finds himself trying to survive and avoiding the Law as much as possible. The story picks up and then the real ride continues.

This is one of Miller’s first books published and what a treat! Werewolves in Texas, um yes please! The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars was because there is some repetition throughout the book that made me feel like I had de’ja’ vu moments. I was really enthralled in the story and think this would make a great movie! Miller does an excellent job developing the characters so readers can choose which to love and which to hate. Miller is a promising up and comer and this debut novel shows the unbelievable talent he has still to share with us!

4/5 Stars, The Voracious Gnome Review

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Reviews and Resources for the daring reader

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By C. Derick Miller


A Deep Tale of Humanity and Werewolves


A Curse Beyond Comprehension. A Power Beyond Belief. A Girl Far From Home.

Katie Liberman is your typical eighteen-year-old college student … or at least that’s what her family thinks. Picking up five years after the events of A Taste of Home, Katie has dropped out of school and embarked upon a dangerous quest to find Kurt Jimmerson, the New York City attorney responsible for her family’s werewolf curse. Unknown to her, the attorney’s grip on the ‘City That Never Sleeps’ is tighter than imagined, and she’ll need any and all help available to be victorious.

But … where do you find friends when you’re Far From Home?


Far From Home is book 2 in the Home Series, but it flows a bit differently than the first book, A Taste of Home. Both books combine deep, flowing narrative with vivid, sometimes brutal action sequences, but the flavor of Far From Home is different, the focus is different, ultimately, the story is vastly different. I find this a refreshing surprise in a sequel, and it fits this series in my opinion.

Miller has once again shown his masterful skill at writing female characters who are both strong and realistic. His female characters in Far From Home are diverse, different one from another, yet realistic in their personalities, flaws, strengths. Miller stays outside of stereotypes even while some of his characters represent “that one woman you know” in your head—and perhaps that other one as well.

Far From Home is as much about the human condition as it is werewolves. Decisions born of good intentions but made in ignorance. Greed and corruption. Devotion. Desperation. The foolish ways we perceive ourselves and others. But Miller doesn’t use the standard drama to evoke awareness of these things, they are simply part of the story, part of the characterization, part of the terror.

Far From Home is a deep and violent story about werewolves and beast inside us all.

Get it on Amazon:

About the Author: C Derick Miller

C. Derick Miller is a dark fiction author, Gonzo journalist, freelance A&E journalist, poet, ordained minister, and ASCAP songwriter born in the town of Greenville, Texas. A seasoned paranormal investigator and traveler for the art industry, his influences include Hunter S. Thompson, Kevin Smith, Shawn Mullins, and Del James. He is currently signed with Black Rose Writing and Death’s Head Press. Chad is also an active member of the International Thriller Writers organization, the Horror Writers Association, and the creator of Gonzo Wolf Press. He currently resides in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas, Texas and has a price on his head for his short story “Hell Paso” contained in the #1 Amazon Best Selling Death’s Head Press Anthology “And Hell Followed”.

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The Literary License Podcast: Hereditary & Midsommar

A Taste of Home

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A deep and brutal werewolf tale


Toby Liberman is nearing the end of his rope. After a fateful confrontation with his wife’s lover, he is chased into the woods, only to be discovered by an unidentifiable creature. He is attacked and rendered unconscious. Upon waking at the scene of a gruesome triple homicide, Toby is arrested as the sole suspect and thrown into a jail cell with a strange man who knows way too much about his predicament. The stranger reveals to Toby that he now possesses the curse of the werewolf. Using his new-found strength to flee his captors, Toby begins to discover that things are not what they seem in the sleepy town of Twin Oaks, TX. Now hunted by law enforcement, as well as the town’s gun toting civilians, Toby seeks vengeance against his false accusers and embarks upon a quest to clear his name once and for all.


Werewolves in Texas, y’all.

In A Taste of Home by C. Derick Miller, small town drama and corruption meets the curse of the werewolf. This early work of Miller’s gives a respectful nod to early Stephen King by using character choices and actions as the ultimate horror with the added monster horror as spice and catalyst. Miller’s diverse and vivid characters play upon your emotions as the horrors play upon your guts.

This story alternates between flowing narrative and brutal sequences. The foreshadowing creates titillating suspense, but you are ultimately not prepared for the turn things take. I had a moment of vocal exclamation accompanied by a brief desire to stab the author myself as the tale progressed.

These are not Hollywood movie werewolves! This one will keep you up at night.

A Taste of Home is book 1 in the Home Series, and I can hardly wait to read the next one!

Get it on Amazon:

About the Author: C Derick Miller

C. Derick Miller is a dark fiction author, Gonzo journalist, freelance A&E journalist, poet, ordained minister, and ASCAP songwriter born in the town of Greenville, Texas. A seasoned paranormal investigator and traveler for the art industry, his influences include Hunter S. Thompson, Kevin Smith, Shawn Mullins, and Del James. He is currently signed with Black Rose Writing and Death’s Head Press. Chad is also an active member of the International Thriller Writers organization, the Horror Writers Association, and the creator of Gonzo Wolf Press. He currently resides in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas, Texas and has a price on his head for his short story “Hell Paso” contained in the #1 Amazon Best Selling Death’s Head Press Anthology “And Hell Followed”.

twitter @howlgrowlsnarl

Lambda Weekly Interview 2.23.20

Posted on September 23, 2019 by BIBLIOPHILIA TEMPLUMLeave a comment

By C Derick Miller




Angel Burns—a curvy, small town fire fighter with a mysterious past and a sharp tongue—has far more to worry about than her sexist jerk of a boss; she has a gang of demons out for her head.

After Angel unwittingly stumbles into an ages old battle between good and evil, long dormant powers are awakened within her, and the denizens of Hell want payback. The only way to keep them from unleashing Hell on Earth is to lock each demon inside a Gutenberg Bible. Angel, looking for vengeance of her own, plans to do just that.

And—oh yeah—she has an axe.


C Derick Miller is the new name in supernatural horror and urban horror fantasy.

Somebody call DC and tell them this is how you write a female hero character. Here is the best part about Miller’s female hero, Angel Burns: she has problems and issues, but she deals with them the way a strong woman does instead of remaining a victim of her own neuroses the way many female “hero” characters and lead roles do in today’s literature and cinema. She is fallible and has a stubborn inner strength that both helps and hinders her just like so many real-life women. She is complex and relatable and our story’s hero. THIS! This is how you write a female hero!

That being said, let us discuss the story itself.

It’s amazing.

Don’t be fooled by the simplistic, misleading synopsis blurb. The story has substance, much more substance than the synopsis indicates. I do not like the synopsis. I DO like the book!

Extinguished is entertaining, well-paced, and full of both action and suspense.  And the supernatural elements are brilliant. Time constraints prevented me from reading it in one sitting, but I wanted to. Much like a favorite TV show, I found myself thinking about the story when I wasn’t reading it. I was hooked on it. And now it’s over. And I’m sad. I love the story and the characters.

But wait.

The ending was surprisingly great! It gave excellent closure to the book but also left a teasing possibility for more books in the future. So maybe it is not completely over? More books like this one? Yes please.

Extinguished is a solid, enjoyable read with vivid characters and excellent flow. Five stars to C Derick Miller and five stars to Extinguished. I can’t wait to read more from this talented author.

Shelf worthy and on my shelf!




C. Derick Miller is a dark fiction author, Gonzo journalist, freelance A&E journalist, poet, ordained minister, and ASCAP songwriter born in the town of Greenville, Texas. A seasoned paranormal investigator and traveler for the art industry, his influences include Hunter S. Thompson, Kevin Smith, Shawn Mullins, and Del James. He is currently signed with Black Rose Writing and Death’s Head Press. Chad is also an active member of the International Thriller Writers organization, the Horror Writers Association, and the creator of Gonzo Wolf Press. He currently resides in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas, Texas and has a price on his head for his short story “Hell Paso” contained in the #1 Amazon Best Selling Death’s Head Press Anthology “And Hell Followed”.

twitter @howlgrowlsnarl

Meghan's HAUNTED House of Books

Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: C. Derick Miller

October 26, 2019megHan

Meghan: Hello and welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

C. Derick Miller: I’m a dark fiction author, Gonzo Journalist, freelance A&E journalist, poet, ordained minister, and ASCAP songwriter born in the town of Greenville, Texas. A seasoned paranormal investigator and traveler for the art industry, my influences include Hunter S. ThompsonKevin SmithShawn Mullins, and Del James. I’m currently signed with Black Rose Writing and Death’s Head Press. I’m also an active member of the International Thriller Writers organization, the Horror Writers Association, and the creator of Gonzo Wolf Press. I currently reside in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas, Texas and have a price on his head for my short story “Hell Paso” contained in the #1 Amazon Best Selling Death’s Head Press Anthology And Hell Followed.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

C. Derick Miller: I’m a veteran, prior law enforcement, a father of 4, a grandfather of 2, and related to Lee Harvey Oswald’s widowed wife!

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

C. Derick Miller: Where the Red Fern Grows

Meghan: What are you reading now?

C. Derick Miller: Catfish in The Cradle by Wile E. Young

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

C. Derick Miller: What the Valley Knows by Heather Christie

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

C. Derick Miller: I read a book of short stories by Del James titled The Language of Fear. It contained the story ‘Without You’ which influenced the music video for Guns N Roses November Rain. I woke up the next morning and wrote my first short story. Poetry was always easy for me as a school kid though.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

C. Derick Miller: Nowhere special but loud, 80’s hair metal is a key ingredient.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

C. Derick Miller: I normally write the beginning, then the end, and fill in the blanks in between.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

C. Derick Miller: Writing? No. The publishing industry? Too many to mention.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

C. Derick Miller: My newest novel Extinguished. It’s the only thing I’ve written during complete sobriety. Some say it’s my best work so far.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

C. Derick Miller: I don’t think it’s fair for an author to describe his own style. I try my best not to pull influence from anywhere. I just do my own thing.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

C. Derick Miller: The villain makes the story. Always. You can’t have a good hero without a good villain. Darth Vader, Lord Voldemort, Scar from The Lion King lol.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

C. Derick Miller: Honesty and the acceptance of weakness. I hate overpowered heroes. Disney has a bad habit of this. Not everyone can be a Jedi. Some of us must be Chewbacca.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

C. Derick Miller: Johnny Haynes from the Taste of Home series. Loudmouth, oblivious to the consequences of his actions, and can easily turn anything into a sex joke.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

C. Derick Miller: I don’t mind a bad cover. I despise a bad synopsis. My son has been an internationally published graphic artist since age 15 and he’s designed my covers for the past few years. He’s leaving for the Army soon, so I’m screwed.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

C. Derick Miller: The market is oversaturated with bad writers who possess amazing marketing skills. The same could be said about the music industry as well. Gotta love the internet, right? The best talent is brushed to the wayside far too often.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

C. Derick Miller: There’s a scene in Far from Home where the protagonist is forced to watch his own daughter be sexually assaulted. I have three daughters. You get the picture. I wanted to write a disturbing scene and that was the most disturbing thing I could think of.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

C. Derick Miller: It’s a lot less extreme than most of the indie horror titles floating around out there. I was just contracted for my first ‘extreme’ horror novella. I’m a little nervous about putting those thoughts on paper.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

C. Derick Miller: I feel the title is the bait, not the cover. My upcoming novella was originally titled ‘The Screaming of The Trees’. It was too ‘on the nose’ for the subject matter. I wanted it to be a little more mysterious. One night, my wife reminded me to pick up the cat food because our cat Zoe was going to the veterinarian in the morning. Starving Zoe was exactly the title I was looking for, so I went with it!

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

C. Derick Miller: Novel. Novels are like relationships. Short stories are more like one-night stands. I can knock out a lengthy short story in a matter of hours compared to the months of dedication it takes to complete a novel.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

C. Derick Miller: The ‘Home’ series and Extinguished are dark fiction but I’m beginning to cross the boundary into extreme horror. I don’t necessarily have a target audience, but most of my readers appear to be women! My protagonists are all normal, downtrodden people who rise to the occasion when needed. Now that I think about it, female characters have all been the victors in my fiction novels. For decades, women were the unlikely hero in any fiction. I hated that. I have three strong adult daughters and a strong wife. No victims in this family.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

C. Derick Miller: When A Taste of Home was just a short story, I’d originally written the protagonist’s daughter Katie to die at the hands of her werewolf father, thus the title of the novel. Instead, I kept her alive for a stronger, unexpected ending. She’s the main character in the sequel and it really gave me a chance to flesh her out rather than have her torn to pieces!

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

C. Derick Miller: I have several songs I’ve written just sitting in a file on my computer. Four of them have been recorded over the years but there are tons more. Rather than wait on a needy musician, I’m learning to play the guitar. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll record them instead!

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

C. Derick Miller: I’m part of an upcoming Splatter Western box set from Death’s Head Press. Think Splatterpunk with an old west twist. I also have outlines completed for a Far from Home and Extinguished sequel. My wife and I also have our first children’s book in the works using my story and her illustrations.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

C. Derick Miller: My website is a one stop shop. I blog often and have links to all my social media there. My wife and I also record a weekly podcast called Butterflies Make Me Angry! We discuss books, film, politics, and anything else on our minds. We can be found on Podbean, Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube!

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

C. Derick Miller: Surround yourself with creative people. Encourage each other. Build a family of writers and cling to one another for dear life. In the end, no one else understands us!

Home 1: A Taste of Home

Toby Liberman is nearing the end of his rope. After a fateful confrontation with his wife’s lover, he is chased into the woods only to be discovered by an unidentifiable creature. He is attacked and rendered unconscious. Upon waking at the scene of a gruesome triple homicide, Toby is arrested as the sole suspect and thrown into a jail cell with a strange man that knows way too much about his predicament. The stranger reveals to Toby that he now possesses the curse of the werewolf. Using his new-found strength to flee his captors, Toby begins to discover that things are not what they seem in the sleepy town of Twin Oaks, TX. Now hunted by law enforcement, as well as the town’s gun toting civilians, Toby seeks vengeance against his false accusers and embarks upon a quest to clear his name once and for all.

Home 2: Far from Home

A Curse Beyond Comprehension. A Power Beyond Belief. A Girl Far From Home.Katie Liberman is your typical eighteen-year-old college student…or at least that’s what her family thinks. Picking up five years after the events of A Taste of Home, Katie has dropped out of school and embarked upon a dangerous quest to find Kurt Jimmerson, the New York City attorney responsible for her family’s werewolf curse. Unknown to her, the attorney’s grip on the ‘City That Never Sleeps’ is tighter than imagined and she’ll need any and all help available to be victorious. But… where do you find friends when you’re Far From Home?

Diary of a Gonzo Ghost Hunter

Most people run away from the unknown. Me? I chose to run toward it and never look back. Unaware of the consequences of my actions in small town Texas, I dove deep into paranormal research. It consumed my entire life. Taken from a decade of personal journals and interpreted by Rae Louise, Diary of a Gonzo Ghost Hunter is an extremely honest journey down a road less traveled. What shadows lurk in the darkness outside of bedroom doors? I was determined to find out.

What’s it like to walk in the shoes of a ghost hunter? It’s all here. As someone who lived through what you’re about to experience, it is difficult for me to read. For some, it will be the fuel that drives their curiosity. But for others … let it be a warning. Every step you take toward the dead leads you further from the living.

And Hell Followed: An Anthology

Seventeen authors re-imagine the biblical apocalypse and all the hell that follows in sixteen horrifying tales. What if the prophecies of Revelation hit today? What sort of craziness and evil would ensue? With this list of excellent authors contributing, it’s sure to be a Hell of a read! 

Wrath James White 
Sam West 
The Sisters of Slaughter 
Jeff Strand 
K Trap Jones 
C Derick Miller 
Christine Morgan 
Patrick C. Harrison III 
John Wayne Comunale 
Hyäne Sawbones 
Delphine Quinn 
James Watts 
Wile E. Young 
Chris Miller 
Mark Deloy 
Richard Raven

Dark fiction author to read excerpts of latest novel at Uptown Forum

Greenville-born dark fiction author C. Derick Miller will read excerpts from his newest novel, “Extinguished,” at the Uptown Forum Saturday.

Combining elements of the supernatural horror, adventure and superhero genres, “Extinguished” tells the story of a young woman firefighter, Angel Burns, who comes across a ceremony where its participants are attempting to summon a demon – an experience that reawakens in her both long-repressed memories and long-forgotten supernatural powers. The heroine eventually finds herself on the payroll of the Vatican, and is put on a mission to keep the surviving Gutenberg Bibles out of the clutches demonic forces.

Released on Aug. 1, Miller’s latest book is available for purchase on, Miller’s own website, and his publisher’s page

“Extinguished” is the sixth work of Miller’s that has been published within the two years, following three novels and two short stories that appeared in anthologies.

Planned future projects of Miller’s include a graphic novel adaptation of “Extinguished” and a children’s book, titled “Cherish This Life.”

On Saturday, Miller will both read excerpts from “Extinguished” and sign copies at the Uptown Forum, located at 2610 Lee Street, from noon to 2 p.m.

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At Frightmare
C. Derick Miller attends Dallas Frightmare Weekend in May, where he sold out of copies of his two most recent novels, “A Taste of Home” and “Far From Home.”Courtesy photo


Combining elements of the supernatural horror, adventure and superhero genres, Greenville-born dark fiction author C. Derick Miller’s latest novel, “Extinguished,” is scheduled for release on Aug. 1.

The book tells the story of a young woman firefighter, Angel Burns, who comes across a ceremony where its participants are attempting to summon a demon – an experience that reawakens in her both long-repressed memories and long-forgotten supernatural powers. The heroine later finds herself on the payroll of the Vatican, and is put on a mission in which she has to keep the surviving Gutenberg Bibles out of the clutches demonic forces.

“I wanted to write a novel with a strong female lead and I decided to base it off of a female first responder because I thought it would be a cool idea to turn into a story,” Miller told the Herald-Banner.

Long after deciding to write a novel that featured a firefighter as its main protagonist, Miller – who now lives in Dallas – was moved by how quickly first responders in Greenville rose to the challenge after violent, 85 mph winds and flying debris caused widespread damage in his hometown on June 19.

The tireless work of Greenville’s firefighters, EMTs and police officers after the storm inspired him to offer half of his royalties from pre-orders and the first month of sales after the release of “Extinguished” to first responders in Hunt County. The book’s publishing company, Death’s Head Press, has also agreed to match Miller’s donation dollar for dollar.

“Even though I live in Bishop Arts (in Oak Cliff) now, I watched the news and saw how first responders helped after the storm, so I thought I’d do a little something for them to give something back,” Miller said.

The anticipated start date for pre-orders of “Extinguished” is July 20, when the book should be available for purchase on, Miller’s own website, and

“Extinguished” will be the sixth work of Miller’s to be published in the last year and a half, following three novels and two short stories that appeared in anthologies.

“I’ve been planning on getting some time off soon, but it looks like I’m gonna have to wait,” Miller said of his busy schedule.

One of the projects he has in the works is finding a comic book artist to help him adapt “Extinguished” into a graphic novel.

 “I really want to market it as a super hero story, so I’m looking through graphic novels, looking to find the right artist,” Miller said with a gleam in his eye.

Another upcoming project of Miller’s is his first-ever children’s book, “Cherish This Life,” which he plans to self-publish through his independent company, Gonzo Wolf Press.

“There’s definitely a market for paranormal children’s books,” Miller said. “I was at Texas Frightmare Weekend (in Dallas in May) and sold out of copies of “A Taste of Home” and “Far From Home” (his two most recent novels), but there was another author there selling paranormal children’s books he’d written, and he was selling three for every one of my books.

“He had them set up down low, where the kids could see them as they walked by. It was genius,” Miller said with a smile. “The hardest part of finishing a children’s book is finding an illustrator, because it’s pretty much a poem with pictures.”

Miller is currently working with illustrator Samantha Jean Cloud, and hopes to be able to publish “Cherish This Life” sometime next year.

All published by Black Rose Writing within the last year and a half, Miller’s three already released novels – “Diary of a Gonzo Ghost Hunter” and the first two installments of his “Home” series, “A Taste of Home” and “Far From Home” – are available for purchase off of, his website, and at

Also in recent months, two short stories by Miller – “Hell Paso” and “Nemesis” – appeared in the anthologies, “And Hell Followed” and “Dig Two Graves,” both of which were published by Death’s Head Press. Both anthologies can be bought off of Amazon or his own website, and also

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What The Valley Knows

8 Bore – Remember never being able to touch the radio while riding in your older brother’s car? We’re the ‘live’ version of that. Four Texas musicians that play what we want. From Toto to Zepplin, if you don’t like what you hear…just wait for the next song!

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Review – 3 Blocks Away

Read The Review. Jump ahead to page 30!

P.S. – Sorry about the mix up with the band name near the beginning. Not my fault. An editing mistake by the publisher. I’ve deeply apologized a million times. I still feel like shit about it. – C

38651703_219828155350511_6216025937511710720_o (1)

Just to make up for the mistake, here is my original, unedited review of the band. I feel it has a bit more emotion in it. They deserve it.

The members of the band filed through the doorway of the Corner Street Pub fifteen minutes apart. It gave me a wonderful chance to get to know each of them as individuals before coming together as a unit on stage. Originally mistaken for nervousness, an eagerness to begin the show emanated from their young faces. Nothing I write below this line is worthy of the talent exhibited by these teenage musicians!

Blake Adams pulled the short straw to sit at the interview table first. A thirteen-year-old Bass player from Rockwall, he claims his influences as Kiss, Metallica, Megadeth, and Rush. Blake states that his long-term plans are to ride the music train until the wheels fall off with no current interest in college. He dreams of one day playing a show in Madison Square Garden but refers to himself as ‘the quiet one’.

Guitar player Mateo Young was on the opposite end of the attention spectrum. Born in Guatemala, the fourteen-year-old Rockwall resident claims Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” as his first love. Second love?Skateboarding.  Although he shares Blake’s lack of enthusiasm for continuing his education, he didn’t have a dream venue. He just wants to play. His personal message to young fans? “I eat tortillas every day.” He never stopped smiling.

Next up was Drummer Cale Bragg. Claiming Dream Theater’s Mike Portney as his musical influence, the thirteen-year-old has no other hobbies. Music is his life. He dreams of playing music inside of the American Airlines Center and plans to attend Oklahoma State University for a degree in some type of music related field. He respects the fans of the band more than anything.

Last to the spotlight was fourteen-year-old singer Kenna Denease. She looks to Ariana Grande as one of her biggest vocal influences but claims her Uncle’s love for music led her down this pathway. Her backup plan is to attend Berkley if singing the national anthem at American Airlines Center doesn’t pan out. Kenna also just landed a role in her high school’s upcoming play “Passing Through Annabelle”. She shares in Cale’s appreciation of the fans stating that none of this would be possible without them.

A sudden, heavy rain began to fall outside which erased any chances of performing as planned. Although it would be expected behavior from most professional, well-known musicians, not a single member of 3 Blocks Away frowned or complained. Instead, their incredibly supportive parents jumped into action, transforming the tiny confines of the Corner Street Pub into a concert worthy stage. This young talent from Rockwall’s School Of Rock had already performed at The House Of Blues in Dallas a few times (the main stage!) and a little rain wasn’t going to dampen their spirits.

“We’re 3 Blocks Away…and we just arrived on our ark!” Kenna informed the crowd as the band began the opening notes to “Tonight, Tonight” by The Smashing Pumpkins.

Suddenly, their age no longer meant anything at all. The band’s courteous and humble attitudes melted away into confidence as Cale, Mateo, Blake, and Kenna revealed to all in attendance that it was their stage, their show, their way. The vocals began to open up and the drums found their groove. The guitarist and bassist smiled at each other, trading licks with every strum. By the fourth song, 3 Blocks Away had found their magic with no sign of stopping, but could they endure through the four-hour performance they’d agreed with in order to play the venue? Yes. It actually intensified with each song!

3 Blocks Away took a pub full of crazed patrons on an unforgettable ride from Fleetwood Mac to Guns N’ Roses. On several occasions throughout the night, singer Kenna Denease left the stage with microphone in hand to serenade the band’s new followers from atop a table or nearby bar stool. The sweat and exhaustion that covered their young faces meant absolutely nothing when it came to the music. The Corner Street Pub was overflowing with curious customers out onto the Lee Street sidewalk, so Kenna walked outdoors to sing to them as well. Then, just when I personally thought they could give no more, they obliged their fan’s cries for an encore. THREE of them! The vocalist finally said goodnight to the ecstatic crowd to have a well-deserved rest, but the boys weren’t finished yet. Enter: Anoxik, a heavy metal band formed by the remaining three members.

A growl escaped from Blake Adam’s mouth that would send most parents running to the nearest priest! Mateo Young and Cale Bragg’s faces switched from angelic musicians to metal masters with the unseen flip of a switch. Jaws dropped throughout the place as the boys entertained a more hard-core sound with an original composition plus near perfect renditions of Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy”, “Master of Puppets”, and “One”.

At the height of the mayhem, drummer Cale and guitarist Mateo switched places midway through the song to play each other’s instruments without so much as missing a beat. No one could believe what they were witnessing from a rock band not even old enough to drive a car. The standing room only performance shocked and rocked music fans until long after midnight. One fan’s words to me said it all.

“This is the best show I’ve seen in downtown Greenville,” stated resident Orion Casper “These bars don’t deserve this band!”

“They also do at least two fundraisers a year,” informed band mother Alicia Jordan “They raised over $1100 for Hurricane Harvey relief last year! They’re very humble young people and I’m blessed to be a part of this.”

In summary, the words of Mr. Casper and Mrs. Jordan rattled around in my head as I attempted to put my finger on exactly what I’d witnessed that night at The Corner Street Pub. Talent and humility usually refuse to mix well within the same individual. Multiply that by four and you have a band from Rockwall/Royse City that goes by the name 3 Blocks Away. I would recommend that other local musicians seek out one of their shows at their earliest convenience to see what they’re up against. It may be time to step up the game or move out of the way…because these kids come to school prepared.

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