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By lydia in events, horror, typicalbooks, writing

To anyone, three men sitting around a restaurant discussing the books in hand may not be so striking. To know they are preparing for readings and selecting passages may pique the interest of a student of horror. What they are choosing are bits that they know are either striking to their readers, or portions that they really feel embody the highlights of that particular work or as a hologram of their craft as a whole.

~DSC_6017smNone of them wear ‘scary’ like a uniform. Horror is in books and film and in their imaginations. It’s not sitting down for a meal or spending the day on the lake with the kids, let alone getting to meet and talk with the public. So, seeing them all with their books going over the evenings reading selections and chatting about their work and the tour remains as “business casual” as anyone would suspect. They were fresh off the Dark Side Tour launch the night before in Toronto and this, the second date on the tour in Ottawa, was the gateway to Montreal and Quebec City.

‘Paperback Writer’ by The Beatles drifted over the restaurant sound system and conversation veered in and out of the craft of writing, their current work, beginnings, forensic pathology, the current tour and their tremendous support they receive from the sponsors. Such regular conversation to start, you barely notice the quick dips from mundane to taboo without the bat of an eyelash.

Andrew Pyper “We are externalizing a very internal process. Like, every question is about this thing I do inside of my head, alone, at four o’clock in the morning… it’s like explaining skateboarding. Try explaining skateboarding to somebody.”

Without focusing on beginnings such as school and earliest memories of writing, I asked how their publishing journey was. Had they had a long arc with small presses or short story sales, or hit large publishers right off the bat.

AP: I was very lucky. I had a book that came out of a small press, The Porcupines Quill. Then I went away and wrote a novel. I had an agent based on essentially that she thought I was going to write a novel. So she took it out and it was picked up in Canada first with Harper Collins, then in the US, UK and elsewhere. There was a movement from small press to big but without the process of rejection or multiple novels having to be written before you take that next step.”

Robert Pobi: I had a longer, weirder experience. I sold my first novel when I was 23. I was in Mexico waiting for the galleys to be sent to me, and the publisher was bought out twelve days before the publisher went into production. Presidio Press. Afterward, I went out a few query letters, didn’t have any luck. I mean I had been picked up to the first one I sent the book to and got a contract so I thought this was easy. I tried for six or seven months, sent out seven or eight letters and they all said, ‘thank you, but no thank you’. So I was just writing in a vacuum for the next twenty years. I didn’t show my work to anybody. When I came out of the box, five or six years ago now, Simon & Schuster were the first people to pick me up. I got picked up by Random House in the UK and things just went. I got lucky right off the bat, I guess, but after paying my dues in private for twenty years.”

Nick Cutter: It’s been a roller-coaster for me too. I wrote my first horror book under a different pseudonym. I think I was 25 or 26. And then I started writing literary stuff and tried to sell short stories to journals. If I were masochistic I could have filled a pillowcase with rejection slips. I cobbled some stores together and it feels like when the floodgates opened, they opened suddenly. Like boom. Then boom-boom-boom you got a bunch of acceptances. Maybe I had pre-loaded. Like just had to get better and better so then you just hit this nice slipstream. ‘Rust and Bone’ came out, then ‘The Fighter’, but no one wanted anything to do with me after ‘The Fighter’, my second novel. So I was down again. Didn’t know what i was going to do, then ChiZine, who I’ve been friends with published my book ‘Sarah Court’ and that sort of helped me get back on track toward writing ‘Cataract City’ which is my over book under Craig Davidson, then ‘The Troop’ and ‘The Deep’. So yes, it’s been a roller coaster but I think a lot of writers follow that same course.”

Horror, as a genre, could be seen as paying rent to live in the basement of a building it used to own. A sad state on one hand. On another, the mother ship could be seen as buried under the new civilizations that are thriller, urban fantasy and dark literature. I asked their take on that idea and being fit into the horror genre.

RP: ‘Eye Of The Storm’ I thought was a horror novel. ‘Harvest’ I didn’t, but the next one coming out, ‘Mannheim Rex’, that’s a horror novel. I just write fun stories and see where they go–I guess children having their feet sawed off qualifies as horror–I didn’t approach Harvest as horror. I would have worked on the heat a little more, the atmosphere in the city a little bit more. Probably dealt my main character a couple more blows emotionally. I would have handled it a little bit differently. I had sold ‘Bloodman’ to Random House UK which I had written as a horror book and they said it was a great thriller and said ‘we’ll take it if you sell us a second police novel’. So they saw it as a strict police book. In France I’m on the shelf with literature. French translations of Poe; then me. In the UK it’s in the take-away at Sainsbury’s next to the fried chicken.

AP: I wouldn’t say I’m uncomfortable with the term horror to describe my work, because it is. Within the genre, I think something like psychological horror or supernatural thriller would probably in my case be simply more accurate. I don’t care whether it’s more savory, just that it’s more accurate. It’s at the end of the spectrum where it kind of crosses over into suspense or literary, or even to an extent crime. These nuances are interesting to think about as the more nuanced it gets the more helpful it gets at marketing books. Whether it is the UK or here. To market it as horror? I’m fine with that. That’s just a decision of the rack, but as a matter of aesthetics, I would probably be more comfortable with supernatural thriller.

NC: I grew up in the 80s and 90s reading books that were clearly marked horror on the spine. So, if I could fall in with that lineage I’m fine with that. I think things have splintered since that time and it gets broken down into elements of what a book could be slotted as. It’s more of a decision of the publishers and what they see things as, but for me personally, if I have horror stamped on the spine of my books that’s fine.

Huge thanks to Amy Jacobsen and Loretta Eldridge from Simon & Schuster, who did an excellent job of managing the tour. Alongside sponsors from Beaus Brewing, and Elle Canada, they worked with hosts ChiSeries, Maxwell’s and Perfect Books to make for one very cool evening. Seeing everyone from ChiZine, Can-Con, Maple Books, Geek Inked, Postscripts to Darkness and Lackington’s was a veritable who’s who of dark literature here, and that’s just who I had a chance to visit with.
The readings were intense. Stark. The selections had lines that toyed along the edge of good taste and taboo, as those familiar with these books could guess. Pobi had even those that had read his work squirming and the crowd reactions to all were priceless. You can hear and watch over at Geek Inked!


The question and answer segment was new to Ottawa ChiSeries but flowed like a mini panel on the mind of a horror writer. Gone were industry questions on how to get an agent and what writing is like. The crowd wanted blood or at least meatier input. How their minds work. How research influences them and how they can lay their morbid thoughts to rest and have headspace to share among the living and loved ones. One of the questions that arose was how do they reign it in. Have editors ever stopped them from including passages that may be too scary, too gory, or too insane?

RP: Going too far. It’s something I worried about when doing this full time and my standard response is ‘Do you know Ed Gein?’ what ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ is based on? When they arrested him, he was wearing under his clothes a belt made out of human nipples and had a vagina that wasn’t his in his pants. What can I do that’s gonna top that? Edmond Kemper is another one… you look at the news what ISIS is doing, there is so much badness in the world…truth is stranger than fiction.

NC: In ‘Danse Macabre’, Stephen King talked about the three levels of fear. He said, first I’ll try to terrify you, and if that won’t work then I’ll try and horrify you and if I can’t do that, try to gross you out. Sometimes I skip terrify and horrify and go straight for the gross out. Andrew works on a different register where he terrifies… but Rob and I have to deal with the question of do you turn it up to the next level or do you not? I have given up on trying to write by trying to assay peoples tastes. It’s a hard thing because what doesn’t even get close to ‘your’ terror register as a horror fan is way over ‘their’ taste level. You can get frozen inertia by staying where your supposed readers tolerance is and then you don’t do anything. You have to have fun with this if it’s what you want to do, so you have to be able to do whatever you want.”

The question of research and how it influences their writing ranged from profiling crime to spirituality. This is one area where I think many authors tend to understate the amount of research that goes into fiction. That or it is largely unnoticed as Pobi pointed out, since it may take a stack of books to influence or validate a line or two in a chapter.

AP: My research tends toward the specific or going places like Detroit in the case of ‘The Damned’. Or more mythological research. There is a typically a classic text that forms the basis for the recent books. There is the ghost of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ in ‘The Damned’ or Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ in ‘The Demonologist’, so there is a kind of fact based research, but for me it’s understanding the pre-existing myth and what I’m going to do with it.”
Hopefully we will see another round of the Dark Side Tour.


So, what will we see on the shelves next?

Andrew Pyper: Probably the most ambitious project I’ve ever undertaken as it requires quite a lot of research. It has historical aspects to it and conceptually it’s the most ambitious book too. I’ve never been as excited by a book and as scared as I am of blowing it with this book.

Robert Pobi: My next book is called ‘Deselected’. It’s about evolutionary mechanics and the beliefs in place in the religious right in the States and when scientific threats start coming down on humanity beliefs begin crumbling in domino effect. It’s about this narcissistic navel gazing and us being the centre of the universe.

Nick Cutter: My next book with ChiZine is called ‘The Acolyte’. It’s about this society also ruled by a religious right and the acolytes job is to stamp out any faiths that are not in line with the traditional state. It follows a couple of these acolytes and what is going on when they begin to fight against this system that is in place.


January 6, 2015
By lydia in extras, Uncategorized

You can read an excerpt of Nightface thanks to the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature.

By lydia in anime, Dead Air, Dead Cells, horror, podcast, ReAnimeTion

Today on Dead Cells we are going to talk about Deadman Wonderland.

This one is from from Manglobe, who also worked on Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic, and Samurai Champloo. This was a one season, twelve episode anime aired in spring 2011. Right now, you can catch it on Netflix, Funimation and sometimes The Cartoon Network.

I loved the first episode and while I liked the season, it never quite lived up to that level of carnage. if you are just idly checking this out for the gore, the first episode is totally worth it. by the last two episodes it comes around again with a lot of really brutal kills and madness galore, but I felt I was wading through the storyline for the sake of characters that would be introduced just to be killed off which is essentially what happened –  though the lingering death scene in episode 9 was pretty cool.

A summary from the Deadman Wonderland wikia reads: “Deadman Wonderland is about Ganta Igarashi being sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. He is sent to the privately run prison Deadman Wonderland, where he meets his lost childhood friend, Shiro. He soon figures out he isn’t like any normal prisoner, but that he’s a Deadman, someone who has a Branch of Sin. This means he can control his blood freely. He is sent to G Ward and meets all the other Deadmen. They discover a plot set up by the Chief Warden Tamaki that has to do with the Red Man, the man who has framed Ganta into Deadman Wonderland.”

29 kills in the first episode alone. no wonder I fell for this off the bat. The Red Man is the mysterious antagonist that slaughters Gantas class before his very eyes. this is the crime he is framed for. during that first massacre, he is infected with a parasite that appeared during a devastating quake that produced the Red Hole, which is almost all that is left of Tokyo afterward. Ganta barely recalls the quake that killed his family, and it seems the families of most of his classmates and many of his future prisoner friends also perished in this tragedy.

It seems i liked nearly every character except the lead role. The simpering emo whining of Ganta drives me berserk. I get it. he’s human. he’s fifteen. he’s in jail and all of his friends and family are dead. sure. but wow. can it! if he doesn’t trip, fall down, whine, or doubt himself to hell in back every episode, it’s a miracle. Sometimes he is like the Caillou of anime.

Crow, or Senji, is pretty bad ass. The thirteenth bonus episode is devoted to his backstory, which just leads me to think he could have been expanded upon within the series proper, or adding to a second season. His relationship with Ganta eventually develops into what saves the storyline and Ganta entirely in my opinion, as teacher and student.

Ganta reminisces on how he knew Shiro when they were kids, and it is kind of touching and also introduces the Visco Elastic Soldier Aceman. This is a fictional show that Ganta was a fan of as a kid. I don’t know about you, but I certainly had a fixation on Gatchaman and maybe even HeMan when I was a kid, so chibi Gantas fixation on Aceman is totally relatable if not straight up adorable.

Shiro is another beast altogether. skin tight lycra outfit aside she is super fun and just a perma kid. since I have a huge amount of permakid wriggling inside me I really related to her. From what I read on wikipedia you can unlock her costume after playing through Lollipop Chainsaw, but even that doesn’t tempt me to play that game. i like her as a female character that is not yet hypersexualized and retains her childlike exuberance for adventure and sweets even though she can kick major ass and is pretty much immune to all the things going on around her precisely because of those two things.

Chang and en are fascinating and two of the three albinos in the story, Shiro being the other. They are the Directors bodyguards and though we see very little of them are quite striking in their look and limited backstory. These twins are in fact named after the famous and at one time longest living Siamese twins, Chang and Eng. being a fan of oddities, I noticed this hommage right away. always drawn to twins, I wish they’d played a larger role.

The chief warden makina is a super cool character that remains far too underdeveloped. its okay if you don’t relate to or get attached to anyone in the group of rebels she is fighting for that matter since they get wiped out almost as fast as you get used to them being around. She is around until the end, and though interesting her character remains very surface level.

It seemed so much storyline was wasted in this freedom fight thing :/ although it did introduce you to the gestapo style Undertakers, a breed of guard that is pitted against the deadmen when the prison is at a loss to control them.

One of the few showcased female Deadmen, Minatsuki aka hummingbird seems to be there as fan service. the psycho nymph type. with Shiro flaunting her lovely hair and perfect though fully clothed body, I suppose it is needed for some who come for the flesh to be sated. I found her boring and cliche, though a really good vehicle for brutal language and distressing adult themes.

Mockingbird however, is none of those things as a bisexual-ish and androgynous blood tasting type, he is the strongest deadman and can absorb powers not unlike the X-Men rogue. we only get to meet the coolest deadman, mockingbird, at the end and that is a real shame, though on the other hand, another point of redemption within the last four episodes. I probably like him best since not only is he super crazy strong, has a really cool way of coming about in the anime, but is also a male version of Shiro.

Throughout the series, their weapons get increasingly bloody, and that is what I stayed for. The Branch of Sin as it is called, is blood from the Deadmens bodies that has solidified and can be melded by their will. They were infected by the Nameless Worm during the Great Tokyo Earthquake where many lost their lives. Upon rebuilding, Deadman Wonderland was built at the epicentre as a massive prison reminiscent of The Running Man, the film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the novel by Stephen King. Those that enjoyed that movie and shows like The Hunger Games and Battle Royale will love the game show atmosphere. I sure did.  Then again, I am also a huge fan of horror anime and Most Extreme Elimination Challenge so you can see why I love this blend so much… or well, wanted to love it. it’s not without it’s faults for sure. what this falls prey to is late introduction of too many characters stealing stage from the three or four that have been developed and you actually care or wonder about.

There could have easily been two seasons with what material there is regarding Shiro, The Red Man, the Deadmen, the Branch of Sin… all of that is sort of dulled for the sake of some kind of military and political intrigue. I found a lot of the drama quite boring  – and that is not just the horror hound in me howling, it really was that boring. The game show atmosphere, the fights, the relationships between Ganta, the two girls and Crow were ten times more fascinating. This is one where it may do well to read the manga which is getting a North American release as we speak thanks to Viz media who have picked up the series..

The opening theme song is pretty brilliant. Typical japan-american-fusion-metal from Fade but for once the song actually has something to do with the story. Pretty catchy song and nice and heavy which fits the theme well. Within incidental music, I hear some twin peaks Laura’s theme and beautiful people by Marilyn Manson type riffs.

There were rumors of a second season and I really hope there will be one. it would be good timing as there is an extra boon to gory horror action anime since streaming and pay services have been popularized more and more with the great titles coming out and accessibility of these services.

I may sound like I’m on the fence and maybe I am. while I liked the basic story, I could have done without the embellishment of freedom fighting and delved more into the histories of the inmates and the warden, the promoter and the director, let alone all of the initial deadmen we meet. the end was a bit of a tease as the audience is privy to things ganta isn’t. had he not hinted in the last three minutes that he would continue his quest to have his questions about the death of his classmates answered, there would be no need for a second season really. it could have ended with one line… a line you will know when you hear it, right before the very last scene.

Also, for the lack of sex I don’t think anyone even kisses, don’t think it is without very brutal adult themes. some of the words that are used will be intensely offensive to some delicate little flowers out there. as will two scenes of animal violence. i wouldn’t say the animal deaths are gratuitous at all, and they are both intrinsic to the plot. I’m personally okay with their use here but some draw a hard line with that so be warned.

Next, I’d like to talk about Hell Girl. I’ve watched this off and on and since it isn’t entirely linear, and not a splatter horror i think it would be a nice break from all this blood. We can get into a little more psychological and social horror in the vein of Death Note with a little X Files and Final Destination. Thank you for listening and if you have anything that you think I need to watch for Dead Cells, let me know here, on twitter, tumblr, instagram or wherever you hang out online.

By lydia in anime, Dead Air, Dead Cells, horror, podcast, ReAnimeTion

Hi there. This is typicallydia on Dead Cells, part of You may notice an abrupt shift from the Dead As Hell Horror podcast, where this show was once known as ReAnimeTion. Here we are now alongside my other home Dead Air with Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe, and I must say it’s nice to be here. The commute was killing me.

So. Dead Cells. Today we are going to talk about Wicked City. One of the seminal ‘japanimation’ from a time where bootleg VHS reigned at parties and in highschoolers basements in the mid-late 90s. I say ‘one of’ since Legend of the Overfiend was beyond seminal, and one that I may or may not talk about on the show. I’ll think about that one.

Wicked City is a 1987 standalone OVA directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri who also brought us Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust – two titles that are certainly on the Dead Cells list, alongside Demon City Shinjuku, another one of those that we watched stoned on sugar and Jolt Cola on VHS back in the day. Before I was aware, I was watching his work on Gatachaman, or Battle of the Planets, which it was known in syndication. I urge you to perv his extensive credits online with no doubt you have watched something he’s had a hand in.

Unlike many anime, I prefer watching the english dub. The voice acting is actually not bad. Both versions are equally entertaining and not much of the storyline is filtered. It is also the first way I watched it, so it has a special place in my tiny cartoon heart. Specifically, the voice and lines of Giuseppi Mayart who has got to be a bizarro 21st century Yoda if there ever was one.

He is filthy though, be warned. Worse than the oversexed type with no filter that will say any dirty thing that comes to mind and is eternally trying to get laid. But then, the show does start with a sex scene less than five minutes in, so… there’s that. By the end, his power far outweighs his clammy perverted old man exterior. Somehow, even before the final fight where he is truly awesome, his personality’s rubbed off on you. Take that thought straight to the gutter..

Mayart is a 200 year old spiritualist and magi who is sent to Tokyo to assist in signing a new peace treaty between humans and the demonic “Black World” that exists alongside ours. The treaty is renewed every few hundred years, but this time the Radicals, demon types who are not interested in peace, want to stop it. Enlisted to protect Mayart are special agents of the Black Guard. Renzaburō Taki is the human male and a damn good and honorable Black Guard when called upon. His only real weapon other than agility and strength is his gun. He is a salesman by day- a fine job for a single Japanese man who wiles his days away playing MahJong and entertaining female friends –  as his counterpart’s cover job is modelling. Equally fitting as Makie is an ultra beautiful, super tough woman from the Black World who lucky for us is more interested in peace. Her power, other than being super sarcastic, agile and crazy tough are demon fingernails that can grow, lance-like and pierce her enemies. Picture red adamantium with what appears to be unlimited length and you get the picture.

I came for the demonic story line, but i stayed for the monsters. While awfully misogynistic, recall this is a time when this art was not necessarily intended for north american audiences, nor was it intended for women. While the Spider Woman may strike a special fear into the hearts of men and boys, I dig the hell out of her and mourn her very insectile death. That said, the treatment of women may appear terribly brutal but there is a sense of gentleness and beauty even in the most horrific scenes. There is an awkward adoration of the female in the form of vagina dentata, giant pussies grown into chests of female monsters that engulf male prey, a succubus type that engulfs Mayart into her flesh as if she were made of melting wax. While Makie is raped by a demon as punishment for betraying her Black World brothers and sisters, there is only the suggestion of a penis as she is bound by tentacles. Fairly typical of cock-phobic anime that didn’t want to be branded pornography. While the treatment she receives orally is quite brutal, the resulting rape scene is more erotic than traumatic. Recall, she is being punished and to see her being treated poorly spurs Taki into rescuing her and calls his developing feelings for her to the forefront. If her kind had walled her up or simply killed her, he may well have walked away.

There is little blood to be seen. Most of the gore is in the form of bewildering transformations, sexual violence, saliva, jizz, tears and spider web type vaginal secretions. There are a few scenes of gutting and punching through enemies, but even there, visceral goo is largely absent. That is not to say there is any lack of gore. It is almost as if you are tricked into thinking you have seen blood when in fact you saw a body ripped in two, light or smoke, spit or something else entirely. Not unsatisfying for the gorehound, though you will have been cheated.

The music is very typically 80’s with ominous syth melodies and occasional incidental music woven in. The animation style is in line with other Madhouse releases, notably Demon City, Street Fighter and Ninja Scroll. Fans of those, and the near motion comic style cutscenes used in action will enjoy the variety. The colour palette veers into blues and blacks, which makes sense given it’s dark and futuristic bent. In the film noir flavour, many of the scenes are meant to be dimly lit or overly bright and the colour schemes change to adapt to ambient light. This is a change from contemporary horror anime which tends toward reds and browns, and more visceral colours.

I really enjoyed this one when i first watched it and must say it has aged wonderfully. I bought my DVD from CDUniverse about eight years ago and certainly rewatch it every few years. There is a version on YouTube at the moment, but it is well worth the money.

Fans of Bladerunner, Pitch Black and Aliens will see definite parallels, and if you like a nice fast-paced crime action type feel to your occult horror, this is the ticket.

Next, we get back into the 21st century and talk about Deadman Wonderland because the first episode sold me. I am catching up on Parasyte too, so some input will be forthcoming.

If there is something you want me to watch, leave a note on the site or soundcloud.  This is Dead Cells, and I am typicallydia – you can find me on twitter, tumblr, instagram, or wherever you hang out online.

By lydia in events, horror, writing

Good news, everyone! Sean Moreland and I will be haunting the Horror Writers Association table at Ottawa PopExpo this year. Not only will we be on hand to answer questions about the HWA, writing, horror and all that dark stuff, 20 per cent of any sales are donated to the HWA Hardship Fund as well. I’ll have my camera handy as those in the know know how much I like chasing down Pyramid Head and other horror characters in cosplay.

ottawapop-hwa-2014We will also be on hand for a panel on Saturday at noon. “Scared Into Our Wits: Writing, Horror and the Horror Writers Association” will take place in Meeting Room C. For those who are shy to ask us at the table, or just love panels, come by and we will be talking about writing, the changing face of horror and what groups like the HWA offer authors.

Check out our guest information and learn more at the PopExpo site. Read about me here and Sean here. Looking forward to this weekend, and we hope you are too!

There is always a horror presence at conventions like this. Whether we are grouped together, as at FanExpo, or have to carve out a corner ourselves, there is always huge support from one another and fellow creators and fans in the crowd. Thanks to Steve Villeneuve of Montreal HorrorFest and Montreal ComicCon for the invite. Thanks to Postscripts To Darkness (yes, you Sean) and everywhere else I’ve published; Ottawa Horror and for letting me imbibe your sweet workahol on convention floors; and wow, special thank you to the HWA founders and members – especially the Ontario Chapter – for trudging along in the snow for decades before us ~ let’s have a haunted weekend, shall we?

By lydia in anime, Dead Air, Dead Cells, horror, podcast, ReAnimeTion

Hi there, I am typicallydia and welcome to Reanimation on the dead as hell horror podcast. today we are going to descend into hell with Berserk. Because this is such a sprawling and involved franchise, i am going to kind of blend my review and concern the series and ovas as one body of work to save time.

The original series ran from October 1997 to march 1998. The OVAs, known as Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I, II, and III is a retelling of that series. The Egg of the King came out in February 2012, followed by The Battle for Doldrey in June 2012, and The Advent, which I will certainly focus on since that is the most horrific of the group, came out in February 2013. They were done by Studio 4 degrees celsius, or studio 4c, who you may know from Steamboy, some Batman: Gotham Knight, and Detroit Metal City. Due to a clash of taste between purists and style fans, there is a lot of criticism of the animation and cg styles used in the recent feature length series, but really, it doesn’t look to bad. Characters having robotic features is the main complaint, but there are way worse examples of this in many other anime. It is not hitting motion comic levels of static cells, so i can’t complain.

the animation of the original series is smooth as could be attained at the time. colours are medium, neither too bright or too muted, and very pleasing overall. the level of detail is middling as well. These were done by Oriental Light and Magic, famed for the Pokemon series as well as the Wedding Peach and a Guyver installation. All those are very indicative of their anime style.

At 25 episodes it is a good marathon watch and while not streaming officially, you can check YouTube or Viz or order the “Box of War” boxed set from AnimeWorks.

Berserk reminds me of the kind of 80s animation that would give me a wicked headache in grade school. as rough as the title song is, I loved it, as again it reminds me of the garage bands that gave me headaches in the 80s too, that would be ‘tell me why’ by the penpals. The closing theme ‘waiting so long’ by silver Fins, is much better with a slow calm acoustic dirge coupled with swelling cellos. beautiful stuff that serves as a balm for the violence you’ve just been given over too. exactly what an end theme is supposed to do!

I can’t recall the songs from the OVA, but they were not as oddly remarkable as the music used to the original series. However, the sound design for the contemporary feature length installations is far better.

the first episode is a good introduction to the main character, Guts, a rogue mercenary. it works well to plunge you into the mystery surrounding Guts, his skills as well as his alliances. it also takes away from the relative yawn of the first half of the second episode which serves to build back story and shows us a young Guts operating in much the same way as the older Guts we first met with only shorter hair on top, and a much smaller sword.

the second bit of the second episode contains some classic underworld and horrific imagery with Guts being pinned in a pile of skulls.

Basically, the whole anime arc opens with Guts having a really really big sword made and donning the armour of the Black Swordsman he has become, then we fall into the story of how he came to be the black Swordsman.

As a young sword fighter, he was noticed by the leader of the Band of the Hawks, Griffith. Within time, he came to serve Griffith and was paired up with his commander Cazca. This is the basic love-hate triangle of the story, if there is one to be had.

Guts becomes Griffiths right hand and as he climbs the social ladder, he pisses off pretty much anyone that comes in contact with him, from demons to the monarchy. After he and the Hawks have reached their pinnacle of success – i.e killing anyone they come across – Guts leaves the band. He’s helped Griffith is whatever way he felt he owed them and his service tenure is closed, simple as that. After a bit of pissing and moaning, he leaves.

Griffith finally pisses of everyone that is left alive and is thrown in prison and tortured impossibly for what seems like eternity. He is stuck in a kind of Chateau D’If place goverened by a Martin Lomax type guy, so fans of the Count of Monte Cristo and Human Centipede 2 can have those worlds collide. Meanwhile, Guts has it out with Cazca in some of the strangest fugitive naked cave dwelling shit ever. He then not only returns to rescue Griffith, but returns to restore the Hawks to the former glory as an army.

This all backfired horribly as not only has Griffiths mind deteriorated terribly under torture, he’s always been a complete snake anyway – not to mention, he is imbued with supernatural powers of The God Hand. These are five angel demon types that make up the Hand of God, but once the series ends up in hell proper, you see there is no god there as we know it.

I found it wasn’t made entirely clear in the anime nor in the OVA and i suspect, like some anime, they rely on the success of the manga to filling the blanks.

from the Berserk wiki, we have the cheat sheet of the God Hand

“God Hand are a powerful group of five reality warping angels (or demons), each corresponding to a finger or thumb, directly below the Idea of Evil in power and authority. All of them were originally humans who were chosen by the Idea of Evil to serve its purpose of giving reason for humanity’s suffering. They each possessed and used a Crimson Behelit like the one Griffith used (The Egg of the Emperor) in order to transcend their humanity. It is unknown whether there are five Crimson Behelits or whether the same one came to each of them in turn.

The God Hand using corpses to manifest into the world during the Incarnation Ceremony

The God Hand can’t take corporeal form in the mortal plane. If they do appear there, it is a construct, formed by whatever is at hand. They can also appear when summoned by a Behelit for the purpose of creating Apostles or during the Eclipse which happens only once every 216 years and marks the birth of a new God Hand, wherein there is an area that acts as a junction in between the astral realm and the human realm. After the World Transformation they can now manifest in the physical plane without the need of a constructed avatar.“

For what purpose? Destroying the world I suppose. Having Hell On Earth. Gathering souls and carcasses with which to construct face mountains and more god hands maybe, i’m not that sure.

Having the five angels summoned by amulets is similar to Lamarchand’s box. the entrance of the cenobites is pale in comparison to the entrance of the God Hand, The God Hand however, relies on astrophysical occurrences, involves an eclipse, and a massive inescapable rift between hell and reality. The Cenobites are free agents in comparison. There are many Clive Barker type comparisons, Hellraiser, Tortured Souls, In the Hills The Cities, and more if you watch close.

this series is a good example of how horror elements can exist in action, sci fi and drama. just like other modes of delivery, film, comic, games and books, horror fans can look in the dark alley of any genre and find a little grue to grind on. this is the sword and religious action anime angle of that. if you can enjoy that sort of story you will enjoy Berserk. while not horror at all, it does have some occult, supernatural angels. guts and glory with emphasis on the guts.

if you were to fast forward to the final episode for the visual payoff alone it’s worth it. scenes of hell straight from an Escher and Clive Barker inspired land of wall to wall death and blood serve as a backdrop for desperation that our heroes have succumbed to. amazing monsters and a slick kind of perfection to the end of this story works waiting through 25 episodes… though you’d have to be pretty into the story.

it is steeped in male warriors fighting, it’s not fueled on 100 per cent sausage power. apparently the rapes and disemboweling were tame when compared to the manga, and I wish it hadn’t been, as that should have been more interesting than the control triangle happening between the three main characters, Guts, Griffith and Cazca. while Berserk may of not enjoyed such a wide appreciation,  it would have been another entry for horror fans of action such as Fist of the North Star and Ninja Scroll.

Now the movies set out to do it all over again but in the shorter delivery with less censorship constraints. The third installation is really the siren song for horror fans.

Berserk: Golden Age Arc III: The Advent  The third act of the third ova is where it all gets really really good. Griffith has a moment that sparks a cataclysmic eclipse and plunges his estranged army including Guts and Cazca into hell.

Comparing it to the original run, it’s hard to pick a favourite as the original vision of hell, while not a visual or visceral, held a deeper terror. one contained in the mind and unseen, where everything in the OVA is spattered on screen. Some of the highlights of the OVA are the vast amounts of blood. It’s really over the top and i loved every minute of that. The vision of Guts falling down a cliffside made of the gore drenched faces of the souls of the damned was kind of amazing, then he stabs in with his blade to slow his descent much like a pirate riding down a sail from the crows nest. ripping through face after face as he goes – and not too long after he takes another knife ride down the face hill, splitting thousands of them in half all over again. so gory. You get to see more of that in the OVAs than you do in the series as the fight scenes are on a much larger scale and the amount of blood spilled, limbs and torsos flying increased tenfold.

even from the beginning of The Descent, images of the emaciated and nearly dead Griffith are the stuff of nightmares. If you are creeped out by Zelda in Pet Semetery or the starved man in se7en you will get squicked out by Griffith.

Once Griffith is imbued with the power of the Hand of God, he changes back into the strong, rapey, vicious type, hell-bent of destroying Guts mind then his body. Jealous rage much? Guts’ sword has always been bigger. There is even a scene of a naked Guts holding his massive sword like a giant cock in case you didn’t quite get the parallel.

All in all, while not horror proper, Berserk is a classic hell ride. In between an epic saga with huge morally driven battles, you get rapey vile back-stories, then blood blood and more blood. I make it sound alright, but honestly, I had to really reach to enjoy this entirely. Just not my thing. the story was just too rich yet the characters were not very compelling. Guts is too gruff, Cazca is too girly and Griffith… well, i liked Griffith.

If this sounds like your thing, start with the anime which lets the story really sit with you as it unravels. If you would rather get straight to the spatter, skip off to the third OVA and let it fly.

If there is something bloodier out there you think i should watch, let me know on twitter at typicallydia, or tumblr, reddit, instagram, wherever you hang out online. This has been reanimation, where we have such sights to show you.


By lydia in Dead Air, horror, music, podcast

image Last night and this week has held some of the most fun halloweek shenanigans. After winning an amazing prize pack at the Wonder Geeks Activate! Treehouse of Terror burlesque night for my Wednesday Addams costume, I ended up at Swizzles where they were spinning some industrial tunes once again. Quel suprise!

[Note: last day to get a free copy of Pray Lied Eve!]

Last night was Zombie Strippers at Babylon, with maniacal musical guests Patron Saint of Plagues. Rubber Steve was there in his darlingly deviant Stabby the Clown gear you may recall from zombie walk (check Ottawa Horror for photos)  where we did the time warp again and he won a super prize for his costume too! Award winning costumes, right here, baby. Eat your heart out. At the WGA show, I won eyeball salt and pepper shakers, a massive zombie shirt that I will be sewing into a cute dress and bottle opener from Ottawa Horror and with a load of  Hello Horror art by my favourite artist Adam Tupper. So, as Halloween proper begins, I’m  enjoying the hell out of my cheap-ass kitty ears over breakfast.Yup. That’s a no make-up selfie taken moments ago. We wake up early here at… then it’s  Nightmare Before Christmas until the sun sets. Can’t  wait to creep on all the photos that will be posted over the next week, as this is truly ghouly the most wonderful time of the year :) For now, I am pleased to urge you to check out today’s episode of Dead Air, where Wes tells the tale of how the show came to be. Happy Halloween, everybloody!




Ten Albums

October 25, 2014
By lydia in music

I was nominated on facebook to post ten albums that shaped me in some way. As I thought on it, I figured i would post it here as well. Music is woven so deep into my life, daily activities and childhood, it is hard to pick ten since albums released this year continue to shape me. So, here are ten that I have bought and re-bought or at least know every note of.

1.  killer – alice cooper

My parents had this on vinyl. It was already worn to hell by the time I got to it, and I am lucky they weren’t sick of it by then. Even my grandmother liked this one, but her favorite was ‘The Ballad of Dwight Frye” off Love It To Death while i was a “Dead Babies” fan.

2. the wall – pink floyd

When my uncle saw I was enthralled with this pick from his vinyl collection, he had me read all the lyrics. Then, he made it clear that if i had any questions that I should ask. The subject matter wasn’t something that should fester in a ten year old girls mind, so he made himself available as a sounding board. This was the first album he acted as mentor with, for which I am eternally grateful. I only wish more kids had gatekeepers like this. The kind that leave the gates wide open.

3. The land of rape and honey – ministry

This was the first CD I bought. My father had picked up an amp, speakers, a cassette component and CD player so I would leave his stereo alone and keep my noise in my room. My mom took us out, and bought me a few CDs. After getting a few things I had on cassette and vinyl, I bought this–my first industrial band–which i still love.

4. vital idol – billy idol

This would likely rank as my parent’s guilty pleasure. They have really great taste in music, and this somehow felt like bubble gum pop in our house. Pretty damn good selection for pop! The video for White Wedding was played over and over, and this cassette found a home in the family car as a perfect ‘best of’ album.

5. bad habits – the monks

This was the first album of my parents I wanted to have as my own. I asked for it but was denied. It featured the most interesting cover and ridiculous lyrics, and in hindsight was just ridiculous music. I was singing ‘Drugs in my Pocket’ in grade four and a teacher heard. He got a real big kick out of me that day.

6. master of puppets – metallica

This was the first album pushed on me by a boy. I became an instant fan and bought a copy for myself. This also was the beginning of music being pushed on me by boys. Why do they do that? No idea, but i suppose it is nice to have something in common, something to share. Welcome Home (Sanitarium) still runs through my head as often as Battery.

7. feed us a fetus – dayglo abortions

I heard this through my friend Kim who in turn had heard it through her older brother. It made me wish I had an older brother, since they never pushed music on you but just had it around for the taking. My parents hated it, hell, everyone’s parents hated it I guess. Years later, I find out one of my uncles is a big fan when he expressed slight jealousy that i finally got to see them play.

8. the downward spiral – nine inch nails

is this not on nearly every list? it had a profound effect on how i thought about music, and how quickly the underground could rise up and consume the thoughts of even the most staunch jock. after seeing a black tape ribbon encased trent do “Wish” on muchmusic, i was intrigued, but i had no idea how attached i would get to his music with TDS. broken and fixed were already in heavy rotation and, well, the downward spiral matched my personality better by the time it came out.

9. eliminator – zz top

yup. billy gibbons. i heard this album so many times, i think every note was etched on my brain. close friends covered nearly every song to near perfection and it was pretty much on the radio non stop. still is, if you listen to that kind of radio still.

10. who made who – ac/dc

stephen king and hard rock? yes please! by the time this album came out i was already well on my way to being some kind of deviant, so watching Maximum Overdrive with this as the soundtrack was some kind of dark heaven for me. Still is, really, thought it’s not an album I own anymore. DT is my favourite song, mostly because of the images from the film.



By lydia in Dead Air, horror, podcast, ReAnimeTion, writing

PrayLiedEve-FrontCover-200Every day may be Halloween, but when it comes to horror art, every Halloween is so very different.

Sure, I am giving away Pray Lied Eve again this year. Seeing as so many downloaded the three-story collection and raved about it, just as many missed out. So, my stories will be free on Kindle from October 27 to midnight on All Hallows Eve. Of course, if you want them now there are e-books and paperback on Amazon.

There is a Halloween themed story too!

“Kaia is haunted by fingerprints marring the basement door. No matter how hard she scrubs, they return day after day. The only things in the cellar are old Halloween decorations, and she double checks, everyday.” – of ‘Everyday’ featured in Pray Lied Eve.

Now we get to the different part. Last year I was featured on The Wicked Library and again this year, but as a standalone story. As mentioned in the previous post, ‘Tapestry’ will be read by the extra wicked Nelson Pyles. The show was pushed back a week, but that is okay by me, wanna know why?

Triple Shot! Not only will I be on The Wicked Library, there will be a new Dead As Hell Horror Podcast coming, and from what I gather, the episode after that is a special for the season. I pre-taped a nice little extra for that show about a topic and author very dear to me, so wait and listen for that. Also, Wes and I have shows in the can, and as part of the regular Dead Air horror podcast weekly special right now, one of those sexy beasts is being unleashed.  Rawr.

Three podcasts. All Lydia. Can you dig it like a deep, deep grave?!  I can. Check out Dead Air. In the most recent issue, we talk about ‘Macabre’ which I suspect only half of you have seen. It was spotted on the Netflix, so add it to your 30 Days Of Horror viewing ~

By lydia in horror, podcast, writing

Tapestry – Rob Thompson

This coming Friday, I will have a story featured on the creepy cool podcast The Wicked Library! It will mark the fourth appearance of my work, and third season I’ve been included on. Pretty Exciting if you ask me. The last few stories have been exceptional. Not that every story that makes the cut there isn’t, just lately the picks have had my rapt attention and actually creeped me out. Notably, the sci-fi-horror “Cutting the Cord” by Joseph Williams and “Dog Days” by Mae March. Really solid scares there.

The Librarian will be reading “Tapestry” which was published last year in Postscripts To Darkness 4. It was paired with artwork by Rob Thompson, which I am still insanely flattered over.

Anyhow, until the episode artwork is unveiled and the show on the road, here are some of the previous seasons I’ve been on. Follow them on twitter @WickedLibrary, facebook or check their website for more linkage. Thank you, Nelson (and hey, buy his book of which I am a superfan) and Maddie Von Stark. You two do a stellar job bringing the fear for everyone to hear ~

Thicker Than – Episode 401 – originally published in For When The Veil Drops

Bad Shepherd – Special Episode and Episode 206 – originally published in Pray Lied Eve

Someday – Halloween Special – web exclusive story!


Once the episode is up I will update here. So excited to hear Nelson’s voice over new equipment reading my stuff again, and ever so grateful I can be part of your Wicked Library experience.