The Embryo Hunts in Secret (Japan, 1966)
Directed by Koji Wakamatsu

Runtime 72 minutes


Koji Wakamatsu is the undisputed Godfather of Pinku. While at Nikkatsu from 1963 to 1965, he directed over twenty pink films before quitting and starting his own company, Wakamatsu Productions in 1966. Pinku films are exploitation films that mixed sex and extreme violence with political and social messages. It is a very lose genre with few rules and can run the gamut from yakuza to horror. Most early Pinku films, while low-budget, have received critical acclaim for the topics they tackled. Wakamatsu also produced the controversial film In the Realm of the Senses (1976) by director Nagisa Oshima. The Embryo Hunts in Secret was the first film released by Wakamatsu Productions.
While many of Wakamatsu’s films were based on famous crimes, Embryo was not, though it is a familiar subject. A manager of a shop invites a young and attractive employee to his apartment following a night of drinking and partying. She is drunk and expecting a good time, but the man has other plans. He drugs her, ties her up, and proceeds to torture her—viciously whipping her and cutting her with a straight razor. He withholds food and water until she does what he demands, telling her he will make her what he wishes and she will become his wife. Through flashbacks we discover that his wife died in childbirth—with a child he never wanted—and that the girl looks strikingly similar to his dead wife.
With is use of low light, still shots, and a set consisting of two small rooms and a hallway, the film is highly claustrophobic and emphasizes the trappings of modern (1966) thinking of the two subjects—she is a modern woman who is free to do what she chooses with her body and he is grappling with the James Bond-like ideal of male sexuality. In the wake of his wife having gotten pregnant by artificial insemination, the man feels emasculated and his oedipal complex surfaces. He longs for the sexless safety of the womb, before the exposure to a miserable and anxiety-filled life (he is the embryo in the film’s title), and a woman like his mother. The scene in which his wife actually shows him the test tube in all its phallic glory, complete with leftover sperm, is one of the most powerful in the film and goes a long way to explaining the man’s psychosexual fantasies. He lost control of his wife so he wants control of the young woman. There is no love or romance involved, just raw sadism on his part and the illusion of control. At one point he bathes her tenderly and then applies makeup and brushes her hair as though she were a doll. The gentleness of this scene is shattered when she attempts to alert a visitor of her predicament and the man becomes so enraged he says he’s going to kill her. Just as he loses control, the young woman gains the upper hand, though in the end, she has also lost something of herself due to the brutality of her experience. There is no happy ending and both lives are destroyed. There is a beautiful fantasy sequence that foreshadows the final scene in which the girl calmly takes an axe to her captor.
For fans of Pinku films, The Embryo Hunts in Secret is a staple film that embodies the stripped-down violence of the early genre’s films. For those who have never seen a Pinku film, this is a great place to start.

World splinters
Past illusions crumble
To ashes
Pain explodes
As shock waves of blinding light
Love and hate
Collide in a sinister swirl of reds and blacks
Seeps into consciousness
Turns to enmity
You are the center
Brings me to my knees


He prays for forgiveness and redemption

She is his sacrificial lamb

She is his willing victim

With her crimson hair and flowing robes she kneels before him

The dagger in his hands poised to strike

He cannot do it alone

She raises a hand to aid him

A desirous participant in her own destruction

For his salvation

For his love

Devotion in her eyes and her very soul

Heart swelling with emotion

His gaze drifts; her eyes follow

There is another

Another sacrificial lamb

Another victim; is she as acquiescent?

A glint in his eye tells the lamb all she needs to know

She knows his betrayal and turns the dagger

He now becomes the sacrifice

She prays for forgiveness, salvation

It is granted for all her pain and suffering

Inflicted by the one she loved; by the one she still loves.


Carnage Road by Gregory Lamberson

Print is Dead 2012 (an imprint of Creeping Hemlock Press)

The zombie apocalypse has begun.  The Floating Dragons motorcycle gang has hung on as long as possible.  Now Boone and Walker are the only ones left and they have decided to hit the road and head to Hollywood.  It is a long and dangerous road that takes them to an enclave of right-wing fascists, an abandoned movie theater where the zombies are also enjoying the film, and an eerily familiar last stand in Texas.

Gregory Lamberson’s first foray into zombie lit has proven to be a good one.  Carnage Road holds up extremely well in the sub-genre with a well-written and interesting story.  Even though Boone and Walker are from an outlaw gang, they are very likeable characters.  The ending has quite the “wow” factor and was anything but predictable.  Carnage Road is like Easy Rider (1969) meets Night of the Living Dead (1968).  It’s a very cool read.

Contains gore, violence, adult language and sex


Permuted Press 2011

Erik Tragger is ex-military, divorced and living in a small Oregon town when the dead start to rise.  Erik gathers up some supplies from his home and decides to ride out the end of the world in a secluded cabin in the mountains.  After months of isolation and hearing no news from the world Erik decides to try to make it back to his town and see about getting more supplies, which are beginning to run dangerously low.

What he finds upon his return is not what Erik expected.  It seems there are more than just your run of the mill zombies to contend with.  Saved from certain death by a group of survivors in an abandoned Walmart, Erik discovers that the ghouls he encountered were humans who fed on the flesh of zombies.  At first it was out of desperation but it has quickly become apparent that these ghouls want to make more of their kind—a freakish zombie/human hybrid.

After helping the group from the super store get away so they can head to Portland, Erik ends up back at the cabin with Katherine, another survivor.  After some months they are attacked and forced back to the town they originally fled from.  What ultimately awaits Erik in this new and dangerous world is beyond anything he could have imagined. 

BEYOND THE BARRIERS is another book that attempts to take the zombie sub-genre in a new direction and Long succeeds in that effort.  BARRIERS sets up a very frightening scenario for the end of the world and it is a book that I could not put down.  Characters are well-developed and have a depth that enables the reader to connect to them.  The ending is rather unexpected and left intentionally vague….I’m hoping that means a sequel?  Anyway, having seen a glut of zombies in the horror genre, I am pleased to see writers like Timothy Long taking risks and their zombies into new directions.  Get this book.

Available paperback and Kindle at


The Gabriel Virus, released by religious fanatics brought civilization to its knees.  Two distinct cultures have arisen out of the ashes which despise and fear each other.  There are the Settlers, or the clear skins, those that are uninfected and the People or the Spewers, who carry the virus and are made sick but who do not die from it. 

Each culture has their own historical perspective on how the remnants of humanity came to be this way.  Each mythology is different and each culture demonizes the other.  The novella focuses on two main characters—Tanner, a Sweeper for the settlements of the uninfected and Lila, a hunter for the infected clans.  Both Tanner and Lila view each other as an enemy that must be destroyed.  Unfortunately the hatred held for each other will lead to an inevitable and deadly conclusion.

Apocalyptic Organ Grinder is a psychological study of human nature and the inherent nature of distrust and fear of what is different or unknown.  Instead of attempting to live separately and in relative peace, these two cultures inevitably wish to destroy each other.  Whose version of history is accurate?  It ultimately doesn’t matter because that history has been ingrained in the generations since the Gabriel Virus took its toll.  It is a bloody and heartbreaking story that I loved reading.  It is a quick and entertaining read, and can be had for free courtesy of William Todd Rose.  He is a wonderful writer and you should be reading him.

Contains violence and gore

Available FREE at

Favorite Books of 2011

Okay, I didn’t do this list last year but I guess it’s time I did.  I read 97 books last year and most of them were really good.  Then there were a few that I didn’t like at all…but I won’t mention them here because the reviews panning them were enough.  This list is just straight up what I liked the best in no particular order.

BONE MARROW STEW by Tim Curran—Tim is easily one of my favorite authors and I thought this collection of his short stories was amazing. 

ZOMBIE BITCHES FROM HELL by Zoot Campbell—this was a fun pulp-like novel about a zombie virus that only affected women.  Very entertaining.

FEAR ME by Tim Curran—I did mention he’s one of my favorite authors, right?

ETERNAL UNREST by Lorne Dixon—A fantastic mummy story that should be the start of something wonderful for the mummy in horror.

A PACK OF WOLVES by Eric S. Brown—Western/horror with a guerrilla style that grabs you at the start and doesn’t let go until the ride is over.

SKULLS by Tim Marquitz—I’ve always shied away from Young Adult titles but this doesn’t read like it’s for kids.  Adults will love it.

SUBJECT SEVEN by James A. Moore—Yet another Young Adult title that read more like it was for adults…I loved it.

VICIOUS ROMANTIC by Wrath James White—I loved this collection of extreme horror poetry so much I read it three times.

TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT by Mark Allan Gunnells—Collections are usually hit or miss but in this case every short story is a hit.

JASMINE & GARLIC by Monica O’Rourke—This extreme short story give new meaning to a trip to the gynecologist. <shudder>

There it is….my favorite reads from last year.  This was a difficult one to do because I’m a Gemini and I want to make everyone happy.



Time moves on


Your heart beats next to mine


The world stops as darkness envelops us


Shadows play while you sleep


Your breathing comforts me
Your arms keep the ghosts at bay
Bodies entwined, a cocoon keeping us safe
Time moves on

Writer's Block: If I could find my way
If you could turn back time, how far back would you go?

I would go back to when I was seventeen years old and tell something to someone that I should have said then.

Someone To Love

     SOMEONE TO LOVE (1987) a movie written and directed by Henry Jaglom is about a man looking for the reasons that people are alone. Danny (Jaglom) is a filmmaker who doesn’t understand why his girlfriend of six months Helen (Andrea Marcovicci) won’t let him spend the night at her apartment and won’t stay the night at his. In his quest for answers to his questions about relationships Danny invites friends and strangers alike to an old theater on Valentine’s Day if they are going to be alone. They think it’s for a party—and there is food and drink—but when they arrive they find Danny has a film crew with him. Danny begins asking them why they are alone and wants answers on camera. 
     Just before Danny sets up this little get-together, he finds out from his brother Mickey that they now own some property but the sale of that property will go through in ten days time. Mickey takes Danny to see the property which includes the theater that will be torn down to make way for a strip mall. Danny decides to host his gathering at the theater before it is sold and gone. It is a beautiful old theater and plenty are sad to see it go. One of the invitees is actress Edith Helm (played by Sally Kellerman) who has recently separated from her husband. Danny manages to get just about everyone there to talk on camera about why they think they are alone and if they are happy. At some point Danny plans to put the footage together in a film.
     Maybe it’s just me and the fact that I don’t like chick flicks. I just did not like this film as a whole. There is an endless parade of people telling the camera why they are alone and if it bothers them or not. What bookends the movie is the relationship between Danny and Helen. Danny obviously wants to be living with Helen and maybe get married. Helen is perfectly comfortable on her own and wants to keep things that way for a while. Why not do the whole movie about Danny and Helen? Maybe Helen has some legitimate reasons for wanting to take things slow….we don’t know. What is Danny’s purpose for gathering all of these people together? Maybe Henry Jaglom’s purpose was an altruistic one but Danny comes across as selfish and manipulative. He puts people on the spot with a camera in their faces. Later in the movie there’s a scene where Danny and Helen are dancing together and he is being very sweet and charming. When Helen succumbs to his charms Danny turns to the cameraman and asks if he got that. Helen is horrified and angry and storms off. All Danny reacts to is the fact that they’ve now run out of film and need to put more in the camera. He shows no concern for Helen or her feelings; he doesn’t even go after her. 
     While I didn’t like SOMEONE TO LOVE as a whole there were aspects of the movie I did like…a lot. I really liked Helen and wanted to know more about her. Andrea Marcovicci played the character with depth and a sincerity that made me want to defend Helen against Danny’s pushing for more from her. I felt he was being selfish and if he really loved her he would give her the space she asked for. Another character I really wanted to see more of was Edith Helm. She comes to the theater because she has separated from her husband. After speaking with Helen and listening to the others talk Edith’s façade of the cool chick crumbles. Why didn’t Jaglom go anywhere with this storyline? I would have loved to see more of Sally Kellerman’s cool, laid back presence. I also loved Yelena played by Oja Kodar. She goes to the theater with a friend and reluctantly gives her feelings on the subject of why she is alone. She is beautiful and smart and quite engaging. Again, I wanted to see more of Yelena. I felt as though I could relate to her on some level. 
     Finally, I absolutely love Orson Wells. We are only told that he is a friend of Danny’s. Sitting in the back row of the theater, he observes what’s going on and then gives his take on things.   He delivers a soliloquy on why Danny’s generation seems to struggle with relationships that is delivered with such sincerity that I wonder if he were truly speaking from experience and not just reading lines. Wells was charming and funny and his smile and laugh were infectious. Wells was like a wise old sage doling out his knowledge to whom ever would listen. Compared to Orson Wells, all of the probably scripted snatches of “why I am alone” from the strangers seemed frivolous and unnecessary. On a technical point, the editing at points was terrible and seemed to be done as an afterthought. Give me an hour and forty-five minutes with Helen, Edith, Yelena and Orson and I may have been much happier with the finished product. If you are a fan of the chick flick then maybe this movie is for you. Otherwise I say fast forward through the crap and just enjoy the only four characters with any redeeming qualities.


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