On free ebook

Hey gang, a quick post here to let you know that during the month of November, my LGBT YA horror ebook Camp Carnage is available completely free over at Amazon.

Camp Carnage front coverBlurb: In the summer of 1986, Billy Collins is sent to his own personal Hell – summer camp. The remote Camp Genesis offers desperate parents a place to “straighten” out their gay teenagers with the help of the puritanical Katherine Creevey.

Besides the typical horsing around, campfire tales and summer games, the Genesis program forces gay and questioning teens into humiliating gender-based lessons. While Billy wants nothing more than to escape Camp Genesis, he can’t help worrying that something even more sinister is hiding just out of sight.

Unknown to Billy, two campers were murdered three years ago. Just days after Billy and the new campers arrive, people start to go missing, and it’s up to Billy and his new friend Jem to find out what’s really going on. Is a maniac on the loose? Is history repeating itself? One thing’s for sure – at Camp Genesis, you have to fight to survive…

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy reading.

On Inkshares Horror Novel

Have you guys heard about this? I recently heard about a crowdfunding site called Inkshares. It’s basically Kickstarter or Indiegogo crossbred with Createspace or Lulu. It looks like a site where you can crowdfund a novel that will have an ebook and physical presence in bookstores. Unlike Kikstarter or Indiegogo where you give them thousands of dollars and then the writer keeps a percentage and has to then hire editors and distributors, Inkshares does all of that. So if a project is successfully funded at Inshares, it includes a professional manuscript editor and distributor.

I had no idea how any of this works, so I figured I’d dive in and take a look see with my current manuscript. I’m working on a 90 thousand word novel about three strangers entering the witness protection program when they accidentally thwart a serial killer. They’re relocated to a new state, but their new home brings them into contact with horrors beyond imagination.

You can find the Inkshares page, along with fun FAQs and whatnot, and back this project here are: https://www.inkshares.com/projects/horror-novel

Thanks so much for your support!

This is Elliot Arthur Cross eternally grateful for your support. For any questions about the project, please email me at elliotarthurcross@gmail.com. Thank you and happy reading.

On Oculus film review

I recently caught Oculus, a spooky film about traumatized siblings dealing with a haunted mirror.

Cons: I would have loved more backstory. There’s plenty of ‘scary things happened to owners of the mirror’ but nothing about why or how this started. If they’re planning a sequel or prequel, cool, if not, it feels a little incomplete. I love ambiguity and all, but there’s perhaps a little too much. I’m sure if you show this to three people, you’re going to get three different explanations, and they’re probably equally valid.

Pros: The lightbulb scene. You’ll know it when you see it. This movie is a prime example of mining independent filmmakers for big budget productions. This was a short film shot in one room with one actor, then writer/director Mike Flanagan was given a bigger playground to explore and he turned out a wonderful film. And how about that Karen Gillan? Dr. Who fans already know her as Amy Pond, and Marvel fans will soon see her in Guardians of the Galaxy, and she absolutely killed it in this movie. The whole concept in itself is awesome – we finally have someone completely prepared to take on a haunting. Gillan sets up cameras, thermostats, plants, alarms to change batteries/eat/drink, a kill switch, and an outsider to check in periodically. As much fun as cheesy slashers with stupid characters are, I really appreciate intelligent protagonists.

Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Great pacing, acting, and scares. Recommended to any horror fan.

On Evidence film review

I recently caught Evidence on Netflix. The is a combo found footage/traditional film following a forensics team investigating brutal murders by hobbling together footage from two cameras and victims’ cell phones.

Cons: The whole a small group of friends on a trip in the desert are stranded with four other strangers while a masked killer picks them off one at a time certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Nolan Gerard Funk was underused. Yeah, I know, I know, but I could have used some more Funk action. While some pieces really work, there’s a lot of standard paint-by-numbers action going on.

Pros: Good cast. True Blood’s Stephen Moyer plays the lead investigator (he’s troubled, but he wants back on the job before his supervisor is sure he’s ready… for some reason). I never cared for Billy on True Blood, but I’ve always liked Moyer. Characters are fleshed out enough. The ending was ambitious. The framing narrative works as a whodunnit and is ambitious enough that it works overall. I didn’t see the twist coming.

Overall: Decent slasher flick. Since I have a soft spot for the subgenre, I’ll go 3.75 out of 5 stars, but I’m probably being nice.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.

On Mr. Jones review

I caught this found footage horror flick on Netflix. I was a teen when Blair Witch hit, and I loved it. There have been imitators and cheap-rip offs since then. And btw, Blair Witch was not the first horror mockumentary, but it was the earliest smash success in the sub genre. Mr. Jones follows a couple of artists (he’s a filmmaker, she’s a photographer) who move to a remote cabin the woods for a year to work on their relationship and make a nature documentary. After a few weeks, they discover their only neighbor is the elusive Mr. Jones, who’s been sending random strangers scarecrow figures since the 1970s. All Hell breaks loose.

Cons: What the Hell did I just watch? I’m all about finishing a movie and having enough ‘well it could mean this’ theories to discuss with fellow viewers, but it was far too abstract. This is the type of movie that you show to twelve people, and you’ll get twelve different explanations. I feel like the found footage angle wasn’t needed; this story could have been told in a standard narrative without losing much, and possibly gain a lot.

Pros: Natural cast that really sold it. Super strong opening, decent middle, and then weak ending. But that shouldn’t take away from the first 2/3’s. Unlike Blair Witch, then went backstory, backstory, backstory, random woods stuff, slow scares, this movie goes intro, scare, backstory, scare, backstory, scare, random shit. It feels refreshing, it feels reel, and it works more often than it doesn’t. So often, with ‘found footage’ movies, it’s hard to justify the shots, and here the in-universe filmmaker creates a camera that shoots in two directions at once to capture his documentary, which really pays off later in the film when they’re using the same camera to learn more about the elusive Mr. Jones.  Star Jon Foster is a hottie, and talented. There’s an early montage of ‘nature is beautiful, everything is wonderful, wait it’s been two weeks now I hate it all’ that is perfectly shot and acted, it immediately won me over.

Overall: There’s so much going for this movie in the first two acts that I’m so frustrated by the weak finale. Three out of five stars. Give it a watch with a friend, and then spend a half hour discussing your theories to what it all means.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.

On Saint Nick review

I feel like I’ve mentioned that I like horror movies, and foreign ones are fantastic. My favorite is probably Suspiria, but I’m always up for one. Thanks to Netflix, I caught Saint Nick, a Dutch Christmas themed horror originally titled Sint.

I love learning about other cultures, and part of the joy from this is seeing how the Dutch celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, which is apparently a European holiday around Santa Claus’ birthday, which is in the beginning of December. Through the movie, I learned that high school (I assume) students give gifts to each other in class after reading funny cards, and many of the gifts are sex toys. And instead of elves, Santa has black people. I guess that’s not racist. So apparently the Dutch dress up like Santa on Saint Nicholas Day, but other people put on old timey black face as Black Peter (yep, that part’s definitely racist) and they give gifts on December 5th or 6th. The plot of this movie is every time there’s a full moon on Saint Nicholas Day, then Evil Santa murders tons of people, and the government covers it up. Note that there’s a comedic element here, so it’s less cheesy than it reads.

Cons: I can’t really think of much. There was some stilted dialogue, but that’s to be expected with translations. Usually I see several aspects I’d change, but I really didn’t here.

Pros: The film looks glossy, there are funny moments, and the evil Santa actually works. I went in thinking it would be horrible, but it’s well handled. And I jumped once! I can’t think of the last time I jumped from a jump scare. The sub-plot with the government pays off, and I think it’s a fun movie.

Overall: I’m going with 3.75 out of 5 stars. Fun horror movie with a few scares that’ll teach American viewers a little about European Christmas. Check it out.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.

On House at the End of the Street

For some reason I skipped over this one when it came out, but caught it the other night on Netflix, and I’m glad I did. House on the End of the Street (why’d they dropped the ‘The’ from the front?) is about a blonde teen moving into a new home with her single mother and discovering shenanigans next door, where a few brutal murders were committed four years before.

Cons: The secondary characters weren’t utilized very well. Could have had a higher body count. The ending comes a little from left field, but is too reminiscent of Sleepaway Camp. I wanted to see Max Theriot decked out. What was up with the main character’s dad? Was he abusive, just absent, dead? Mentioned a few times but I didn’t really get it.

Pros: The cast is wonderful. Jennifer Lawrence is going to be one of the biggest superstars in the world. X-Men and Hunger Games? She’s fantastic. And of course Max Theriot, who I adore from Bates Motel, turned in a tour de force performance here. I cared about the characters, rooted for some even. There were some fun surprises and twists. Nolan Gerard Funk (seen recently on Glee) appears as the perfect boy next door/asshole rapist and demonstrates fine abs.

So overall, it didn’t reinvent the wheel, but it was a fine horror film with some fun moments and great characters. Not highly recommended, but recommended.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross playing PS3 instead of writing. Why must I keep distracting myself from work?