All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


“Old Weird Harold and I - Old Weird Harold, we called him that because he was six feet nine and weighed 50 pounds - we used to go to every horror picture in the world. I'm telling you right now, we would go and we would see Frankenstein. We'd walk 100 miles to see Frankenstein. And mind you, we never saw the monster once, never saw him once, 'cause we were too scared to look at him!”
~ Bill Cosby
‘Old Weird Harold’

When I was a kid, my friend Old Weird Eric (he was six feet nine and weighed 50 pounds) and I LOVED the old Horror movies. We used to stay at each other’s houses on weekends and watch the scary movies they showed late at night on TV. We lost track of how many times we saw ‘War Of The Worlds’.

As I got older, I mostly lost interest in the Horror genre. Today, there are only a small handful of scary movies that really appeal to me – but I will say that the ones I still dig, I pretty much LOVE. ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ (1990), the original ‘The Wicker Man’ (1973), John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ (1982), the wrongly maligned ‘Ghost Story’ (1981), and even [*gulp*] ‘The Sentinel’ (1977) all have a common denominator: the horror is more psychological than gruesome. What makes them scary is that the viewer is as confused as the characters in the stories; there’s that constant worry, that constant fear due to the fact that we aren’t really sure what’s happening; we’re out of our “comfort zone” and into the “twilight zone”.

Movies where some madman is running amok with a chainsaw, or some dude is slicing and dicing with fingers made of knife blades – those seem more silly than scary to me. (The best parts of ‘The Shining’ are those psychologically disturbing moments that occur before the whole thing culminates in just plain “craziness” and “Here’s Johnny!”)

I did 97% of my fiction reading in my teen years and my early twenties. I’ve remained a book junkie but since that time I have concentrated almost exclusively on nonfiction. However, I recently read the book THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT by BRYAN PEDAS and BRANDON MEYERS. And, coincidentally, I read the book while working “graveyard” shifts at a retirement home where the average resident age is 86 and rarely does a week go by without some resident dying. ‘GRAVEYARD SHIFT’ meet “Graveyard Shift”!

There are some people and some things that seem to complement each other so perfectly that you have to suspect God created them (or made their development possible) so that they would ultimately work together to become something very unique, very special, very popular – maybe achieving more together than they would have apart from each other. Below is a partial list of classic companions:

CHEECH Y CHONG (“We’re just here together and, uh – I mean, like, we’re not TOGETHER, you know, like, THAT way!” ~Cheech Marin)
PEAS & CARROTS (Uhm... nah. Scratch that one off.)
SALTED AVOCADO & BUTTERED WHITE TOAST (You don’t think so? Try it just once and see!)
DAVID & DAVID (They released one brilliant Rock album, 'Boomtown', in 1986 and then went their separate ways forever.)
BOB & RAY (Genius radio comedians well ahead of their time.)

To that list I have no hesitation in adding...

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they were born and raised in the same area and met each other at a very young age. I believe God had a plan and there is a very specific reason why “they’re here together and, uh – I mean, like, they’re not TOGETHER, you know, like, THAT way!”

BRYAN & BRANDON make a great writing team, and I was fully convinced of that even before I had finished reading ‘THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT’.

Bear in mind that I rarely read fiction to begin with, and I’m not a natural fan of the ‘Horror’ genre on top of that. Nevertheless, I HIGHLY recommend ‘THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT’ - it’s filled with psychological horror and surprisingly sharp (don’t cut yourself!) plot twists. If these stories could appeal to me – far from the ideal reader of this sort of book – then it’s going to knock you right out of your SOCKS & SHOES if you’re a fan of fiction and Horror to begin with.

The book begins on a rainy night when Leonard, a gravedigger with a grave to dig, decides to wait out the storm in the caretaker’s shed. He happens to discover an old, dark brown leather, blood-spattered book on a shelf. Leonard blows a thick layer of dust off the book, cracks the book open and cracks open a can of Hamm’s beer (Hamm’s beer – in my opinion, that’s where the horror in this book really begins to manifest) and Leonard begins to drink and read.

The ensuing chapters in the book that Leonard reads (and we with him) are separate stories of psychological horror, and if you think you know where these stories are headed... you have clearly lost your head, because there are some fantastic plot twists ahead. You think you’re reading the map correctly and driving down a straight desert floor highway at night and the next thing you know, you’ve come upon a hairpin turn at 75 miles per hour and YOU & YOUR CAR go flying off some Rocky Mountain way.

If I had to name one short story in this collection as my favorite, it might be ‘AN AXE THROUGH BONE’; it’s highly imaginative and contains moments of black comedy (which I’m a huge fan of). Here are a few selected quotations 
from it:

“Clutching my axe to my chest like a prom queen clutching a bouquet of flowers.”

“The only difference between an axe murderer and a gardener is employment.”

“If people choose to remarry when their spouse dies, fine. I don’t care. But that’s not for me. My wife was not a dog – one dies, you just buy another. I will wait for her, and I will be with her again.”

Under no circumstances would I wish to spoil it for you, so I will merely state that the last thing Robb says to Officer Brody is absolutely CLASSIC!

The story ‘THESE WALLS’ lends new meaning to the expression “a haunted house”. It’s positively creepy how the 'B BOYS' manage to infiltrate the “mind” of Eastlake Manor, a Victorian mansion, and share with us its increasingly irritated thoughts and emotions.

There was only one story in the entire book that I essentially foresaw how it would likely end. I don’t know why I saw this one coming; maybe it wasn’t cloaked enough, or maybe I’ve seen some similar plot in an old ‘Twilight Zone’, ‘Outer Limits’, or ‘Night Gallery’ episode. I don’t know why I knew. But regardless, the writing was still excellent, so I didn’t feel disappointed that the plot twist at the end did not really send me flying off some Rocky Mountain way at 75 miles per hour.

I couldn’t help noticing that a character in one of the stories is named CARMELITA. Hmmm... a nod to Warren “Werewolves Of London” Zevon perhaps? Another one of my favorite artists with a dark comedy side to him. (‘Carmelita’ also happens to be one of my Top Ten favorite Zevon zongs; I can personally relate to it.)

BRYAN PEDUS & BRANDON MEYERS are extremely imaginative and talented, and they make an exceptional writing team. I suggest you buy and read this book, hitching your wagon to these rising literary stars, so that in the future you will be able to honestly say, “I was a Bryan and Brandon fan even before they were routinely being mentioned in the same sentences with Poe, Serling, Hitchcock, and King.”

THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT’ ends with gravedigger Leonard closing the old, blood-spattered leather book and leaving the caretaker’s shed, heading out into the wet cemetary to dig that grave after having finished his fourth can of Hamm’s beer. But... this story is not quite finished yet...

Leonard drank FOUR cans of Hamm’s?
That might actually be the most 
horrifying thing in the entire book!

“Vow, kids, vasn’t it SCARY vhen Leonard the gravedigger killed off those four cans of Hamm’s beer?”
~ Count Floyd
‘Monster Chiller Horror Theater’

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.


  1. I tried a Hamms once. Thank God I didn't pay for it. Threw it out the car window (not the driver, BTW) after about the third sip. That is horror!

      Ha! Just imagine how bad Hamm's would be if it WASN'T "from the land of sky-blue waters"!

      Those Beer Brothers sure do know how to "up the horror factor to... [wait for it...] ...ELEVEN!"

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'
      (aka "The Land Of Poop-Brown L.A. Skies")

  2. Did I turn you on to Ghost Story-I remember lending you the film but forget if that was the first time you'd seen it.

    Great film either way.

    I downloaded a few of the ABFTS guys' books a while back but am so far behind on reading (always am) and always opt for the paper over reading the electronic books.

    I did read "Dating Guide For The Homeless" and loved it.

    Sorry Brandon and Bryan-I will read the rest-I promise!

    1. DISCBRO ~
      Ha! No, you definitely did not turn me onto the movie 'Ghost Story', because I saw it in an L.A. movie theatre the year it was released - which according to my 2004 Mick Martin & Marsha Porter 'DVD & VIDEO GUIDE', was 1981 - over a decade before I (disastrously) moved from California to Airheadzona.

      Did I borrow a DVD copy of it from you at one point? I don't remember that, but it's certainly possible. (Probably a result of one of our many late-night discussions in the parking lot at... "The Grave".)

      The DVD & Video guide I mentioned above grades the movie a "Turkey" - in other words, even worse than 'One Star'. That is... FREAKIN' RIDICULOUS!

      I don't understand why it's rated so low; I think the Americonned Sheeple must have listened to the Americonned Movie Reviewers and took their word for it without seeing for themselves.

      The movie stars John Houseman, Douglas Fairbanks, Melvyn Douglas, Fred Astaire, and Patricia Neal. And it's a damned suspenseful Horror movie!

      I've seen plenty of highly regarded (but bad) Horror movies, and 'Ghost Story' is better than most of them by a long shot!

      Just another nail in the Americonned reputation.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

  3. Ah Hamm's, the ghost of a beer that never was. If that isn't horrifying, I don't know what is.

    The big man upstairs definitely did bring the two of us together, didn't he? Look at us, both from the same tiny cow town (population 5,000 when we were born), both the exact same age, and both having known each other since we were 6 years old. And we're not just writers, but pretty good ones at that, who can work so well together that 9 times out of 10 people can't even tell 2 different people wrote the thing.

    I don't even want to try to calculate the odds of that being a pure coincidence.

    Thanks again for the killer review, man. It warms me black heart. BTW, you're going to laugh when you see Monday's upcoming post, because Cheech and Chong are very much a part of it.



      >>... The big man upstairs definitely did bring the two of us together...

      Why do you religious freaks ALWAYS have to introduce God into the mix? Can't we just ONE TIME have an incident of less than .01% probability without one of you Jesus freaks mentioning "The Big Man Upstairs"?!

      Hot Damn, we're getting sick & tired of hearing about this Big Man Upstairs who---

      It was I who mentioned God first?!

      Hmmm... well then... god has spoken. Far be it from me to contradict meself.

      >>... you're going to laugh when you see Monday's upcoming post, because Cheech and Chong are very much a part of it.

      First of all, it's NEVER "Cheech and Chong". It should ALWAYS be "Cheech Y Chong". If you don't believe me, White Boy, go axe yer wife! (Uhm... wait, unemployed Gardener Boy! I don’t think that came out right.)

      I have no idea what you plan to post, but I can tell you that Nappy and I are longtime Cheech Y Chong fans. In fact, check out the following blog bit when you have time:

      When he came home from work tonight, I told Brother Nappy to read my latest post at F-FFF. I knew he would laugh out loud when he got to that Cheech Y Chong quote in which their “sexual status” was clearly stated. And, of course, he did laugh. (That bit was so good that I had to use it a second time for you and Brandon.)

      And before going to bed, I want to be honest and openly state that my own personal favorite part of this ‘The Graveyard Shift’ book review was not really my idea at all.

      While I was composing that segment about the “classic companions”, I was listening to the compact disc ‘MUTINEER’ by Warren Zevon. The title track (which reminds FAE of me) was playing while I was writing things like:

      DAVID & DAVID (They released one brilliant Rock album, 'Boomtown', in 1986 and then went their separate ways forever.)
      BOB & RAY (Genius radio comedians well ahead of their time.)

      And just then, Warren Zevon sang: “YO HO HO AND A BOTTLE OF RUM”.

      I almost fell outta my chair! I thought: That’s DRUNKENLY PERFECT!

      And that’s the true story of how “YO HO HO & A BOTTLE OF RUM” wound up on that list and made it A-List GREAT! (Of course, my own idea of “BEER & BEER” wasn’t too bad either.)

      Yeah, 6-B, there’s no question that God is extending at least one Hand to us in our lives.

      You and Brandon; me and “YO HO HO & A BOTTLE OF RUM”... God is great (and definitely has an A-List Sense O’ Humor!)

      ~ D-FensDogg
      ‘Loyal American Underground’

      POSTSCRIPT: Was I right about “Carmelita”?
      (I’m sure you noticed the inclusion of Simon & Garfunkel, and ‘Me & Julio...’)

      POST-POSTSCRIPT: Thanks, FAE, for the assist.

  4. I really enjoy their blog. So much that I wish they blogged more than once a week and totally understand why they don't. I haven't read this book... mostly because I am not a fan of horror... but I might try setting it aside for these guys. I enjoy their writing so much. So, you have pushed me just a little bit closer to giving their scary books a try.

    Two different guys write that blog (and books)??? Amazing. Actually, I can never tell who wrote what... so I think they share the same brain. Now that is SCARY.

    1. ROBIN ~
      Well, as I stated in the review, now in my so-called "adult years" I wouldn't label myself as a "fan of Horror" generally. But when psychological Horror is done really, really well, I can appreciate it and even love it.

      Bryan and Brandon (yep, there's really two blokes working together) do it exceedingly well in 'THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT'. As a fan of good writing, well-crafted stories, I can't believe you wouldn't enjoy this collection of stories. Fine writing, well drawn characters, and wonderful plot twists. The book deserves a big following for sure.

      It truly does get an A-list recommendation from me, because I was being entirely genuine in what I wrote.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

  5. This is what I have to say to Nappy:

    I used to put that basketball under my pillow
    Maybe that's why I can't sleep at night

    -B. B. Jones

    1. Ha!

      "No, he don't sell popcorn."

      "My record?! Why'd you wanna bring that up for? I DID my time; I paid my debt to society."

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

  6. I used to read (and enjoy) a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz books, but haven't read any for a while. I don't usually read short story collections, either, but in this case, I'll make an exception. Thanks for the recommendation. Sold!

    1. SUSAN ~
      I'm sure The Beer Boys will appreciate your support, and I'm sure you will appreciate the plot twists.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

  7. Excellent review. I agree that the psychological horror is the most unsettling kind of all. And a dash of dark humor is good for the breaks of nervous laughter.

    Not sure if I've ever drank a Hamm's beer, but now that commercial jingle is running through my head--
    From the land of sky blue waters....

    They used to play that on TV all the time back when I lived near Chicago.

    Tossing It Out

    1. Thanks, LEE!

      And, yeah, I had that damned jingle locked into my brain MANY YEARS before I was even old enough to drink a Hamm's beer.

      We're really giving our ages away when we admit that we remember beer and cigarette ads on TV, eh?

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

  8. Hi, Stephen, I am visiting your blog from Robin's "Here's to You" Thursday. However, I realize that I know you from my classic film blog (which I barely write on anymore). You have been a regular visitor of that blog and, in fact, just today left me a comment about the sudden passing of your blog friend LindaAnnie. Thank you for your condolences and your understanding about the loss of my friend Paco Malo.

    Anyhow, about this post...horror is a film genre I cannot do. I have had 3 majorly traumatic experiences with it..."The House of Usher" at about age 8, "The Exorcist" at 13, and "The Shining at 19." Those experiences scarred me for life!

    Have a wonderful day,

    1. Howdy, PATTI ~
      Thanks for visiting.

      Horror definitely isn't my genre of choice, but when it's done really well I certainly appreciate it.

      But if it's going to be Horror of a Spiritual nature, I definitely insist that Good triumphs over Evil in the end.

      However, one man drinking four cans of Hamm's beer is toeing the line of "too much Horror for me".

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'


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