Friday, 17 August 2012

Chainsaw Love Affair

Tea and biscuits, strawberries and cream, horror and chainsaws. See the connection? It seems that the two go hand-in-hand. And why not? Chainsaws are heavy, loud violent pieces of equipment. They're designed to chew their way through stuff effortlessly. And they're seriously dangerous.

I own a chainsaw. And I admit, here and now, that there's a certain sense of power from grabbing a hold of it and pulling that power cord. And it's not even a very big chainsaw. I can only imagine what it must be like to handle one of the monsters professional loggers use.

The thing is, though, I think there's a problem here. Take, for example, the poster for Rec 3 (below).

Look what we have here, folks! Not just a woman, but a bride, blood-stained, and... CARRYING A CHAINSAW! Well, why not?

I'll tell you why not. A chainsaw is scary. It's brutal. And it's pretty useful when it comes to either felling trees, causing horrific accidents, or slicing someone up who's probably tied down. However, as a weapon? As something you'd choose to grab and run around with, chopping and hacking and ripping and tearing your way to freedom? Er... no.

A chainsaw is heavy and unwieldy. You go swinging one around and you're as likely to slice you're own head off as mash into the chest of your attacker. You might get a lucky hit, sure, but that's the thing here: luck is too much a part of using a chainsaw as a weapon.

There are other problems, too. Chainsaws run out of fuel. And if you happen to stumble upon one, how can you be sure it's got enough to get you through? The blades clog up and stick, which would be rather irritating mid-fight. And, despite the safety features now common to all makes of chainsaw, they're still lethal. Why else do you think the professionals wear helmets, face protection and kevlar? Running around with a chainsaw while wearing a wedding dress might not be your best plan.

A chainsaw looks good on camera. It's a horror icon. It's in too many films to mention (Evil Dead 2, Last House on the Left, and Scarface for example). And I'd like to suggest that we've probably seen enough now. You want to kill zombies? Grab yourself a baseball bat, a spade, something that you can just swing and swing and swing. But leave that chainsaw where it is because you're probably better off without it.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Why I Love Last House On The Left

So, everyone's talking about Shards of Grey. And they are. And why not? It's rocked not just the publishing world, but the world in general. And you know what? Good. It's a book. It's got people reading. It's got people doing ebooks. It's got people buying whips...

Thankfully, Last House On The Left (LHOTL) hasn't got people buying chainsaws (goodness, that's a scene from the original, isn't it?) or microwaves (worst way to end a remake ever). But this film does make me sit up and think, "So, Dave, why DO you love this film so much?"

LHOTL is a relentless movie. It's heartbreaking, violent, terrifying, and (IMO) brilliant. I like the original. But I love the remake. For me, the parents in the remake push me to that point where (i think) horror really does rock: they force me to think, "What would you do, Dave? WHAT?"

I love that.

No spoilers here, but when "that moment" happens, and you know it's going to kick off, you're thinking, "yeah, now what would I do? And what chance would I stand?" Not least because the people they're up against, most notably the "Dad" in the other family, is a hard ass.

We all think we could, at a push, save our families. Take anyone on. Really hammer them. We all have a deep, dark side of us that knows we would take what is ever at hand, sharpen it, and use it to rip the face off anyone who came even CLOSE to getting at our nearest and dearest.

It isn't like that in real life. It can't be. And I know.


Well, our tent was robbed. Sounds rubbish, right? Ooh, a tent! Yeah. But imagine...

You're in a tent, fast asleep. With your family. You wake up and realise someone - ANYONE - has been into your tent, rummaged around, and stolen money. AND NOT ONE OF YOU WOKE UP.


Think what they could've done. Think what they could've taken.

That's scary. I mean, you want to go full on LHOTL on them, right? You want to wake up and really go for it. And by go for it I mean grab them and smash them and rip them to pieces for having the gall to creep into your space and threaten your family. IMAGINE what you would do...


Which is why I LOVE LHOTL. Because it gives me a moment to think, you know what? If someone did that to my family, the people I loved? And in that situation? And if everything was in my favour? Yeah, I would. I'd do that.

And worse.

And that's what the film does. It suggests what you'd do. It suggests what you might consider. And it allows the heroes to get away with it.

That's not what real life does. But, perhaps, by exploring the darker side of what we'd do if the poop really smashed itself into the fan, we all get a better understanding of what really drives us.

And we all know we'd do what they do in that film, don't we? Don't we...


Monday, 13 August 2012

Horror Haiku

Found this today, and had to share it. Why? Because it's completely brilliant.

“Blood is really warm,
it's like drinking hot chocolate
but with more screaming.”

Friday, 10 August 2012

Bava Brilliance

Sometimes, with the way modern horror can excel in the blood 'n' guts theatrics that those new to horror love, I wonder sometimes if many of them are missing out on joy of exploring the routes of the genre, the little lanes and byways and odd paths that all lead to where we are now.

I'm no expert. To be honest, I'm in many ways as new to it as anyone else. I've always loved horror, but growing up in a church-based house (that's not a criticism by the way, just a fact) there wasn't much scope for me bagging a stack of classic darkness and hiding up in my room for most of my teen years. And anyway, I didn't have/wasn't allowed a TV in my room, so there we go.

One thing I've come to love about horror more than anything is atmosphere. It's not so about the severed heads or the machines of torture or the blood-letting or the number of victims. For me, it's that almost comforting sense of being in the room with the creative genius of someone who's clever enough to have me so wrapped up with what's going on, that the world seems to just drift away, and all that's left is me, in a dark room, grinning like a fool, as the the movie sucks me in.

A horror movie doesn't need to have an 18 certificate. Why should it? Fear isn't simply about worrying if you're going to get your head bitten off or find yourself inside a brazen bull. It's about other things, too. Like seeing normality twisted, a shadow where a shadow just shouldn't be, asking questions no one else dare ponder, dealing with darker issues, thinking about forces we either do not believe in or do not understand, and - why not? - a castle on a windswept hill as a horse drawn carriage races towards it. Without a driver.

I did a school visit a few months ago and a lad, probably no older than fourteen, sat down to have me sign his book. Once that was out of the way, all he wanted to do was talk about horror. And his starting gambit wasn't, "I've seen all the SAW movies", it was, "I'm in to all the classics. Old stuff. 70s. I love Psycho and Friday 13th." I nearly jumped out of my seat in joy. For the next ten minutes, I nattered along with someone who didn't "love horror" because he was into all the gory stuff, but someone who understood it, was learning all about it, digging deeper, searching between the lines to find out where horror was from.

And so to Bava. It's a Friday night and I've put on Black Sabbath (also known as I Tre Volti Della Paura - The Three Faces of Fear). It's three movies in one. It's only a 15 certificate. It's dark and twisted. It's clever. It's shocking. It's subtitled. It's beautifully filmed. It leeks atmosphere into the room so thick you have to wade through it to go to bed.

And  so wish I'd seen this when I was 15...


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Film Reviewer Announced!


I have an announcement!

Well, many actually, but I'll stick with TWO.

1. I have Mr Paul Edwards ( down as film reviewer. The man is a God! I mean, what he knows about horror haunts me. What he doesn't know scares me so much I actually - once, in a moment of weakness - watched an entire episode of Family Fortunes. His DVD collection is terrifying. His knowledge of blood-letting unnecessary. And his ability to giggle like a child in front of what the French are doing with horror (and it's all good) is worthy of a big fat bag of gizzards. I love him. And you will, too...

2. Barry Hutchinson ( is (a) being interviewed in issue 1, (b) writing a short and creepy story for issue 1, (c) walking 1000 miles just to punch a stupid zombie/vampire/TV host in its face, and (d) wrestling with a mightily dark entity from the hideous abode I discovered inside my shoes.

More announcements to follow. stay tuned...


Dave "I ate an entire shelf of biologically impossible - and embalmed - beings" Gatward

Friday, 3 August 2012

"JOIN US..."

If you know your horror (and I'm hoping some of you do at least a little) then you'll know that quote is from Evil Dead. A movie I love, nay adore. Indeed, I have been known to argue with myself about which is best, Evil Dead I or II (III doesn't quite count, it's such a different monster). But so what, right? Well, here's the so what:


Yep, it's true. I've never really got the hang of it. I'm not a diarist. I'm not one of those "oooh, read all about what I did today between pints of Red Bull and pens running out" folk. Nope, that's just not me.

So, after much thinking, I've decided to change things a bit. And this is where I need your help. Because without you folk joining in, I can't do what I'm about to tell you that I'm about to do (what a terrible sentence that is).

On Halloween, 2012, I will be . . .

 . . . wait for it . . .


Yep, it's true.

All the school visits I do, folks have been saying they'd love to have somewhere they could get published. I know how difficult this is. You know how difficult this is. Everyone and their neighbour's dog knows how difficult this is.

But I want to change that.

I want to produce a horror magazine (online first, PDF download, looking towards limited run printed editions, collections, and anything else I can think of) where up-and-coming terror freaks can rub shoulders with pro scaremongers, bump into young horror hounds, and scream at teen gore hunters. I want new fiction, scary fiction, blood-and-guts and edge-of-your seat fiction. I want interviews and film reviews and book reviews and music. I want ... well, to hear what you want, actually.

On my Facebook page ( I've put this blog in as a note under: DAVE'S HORROR MAG. All I want you to do is to go in there and add your comments, bunging down any and every idea you have that you'd like to see in the kind of horror/horror fiction mag you'd like to read.

Doesn't matter who you are, where your from, how many shoggoths you've got in the cellar feasting on terrible, screaming things: this is a worldwide thing. So what say you? Are you in? Are you going to join us?

Are you?

Go on, I dare you.

Double dare...

Dave "evil minds that plot destruction" Gatward