Fitz’s Toy Chest…of HORRORS! #1

Greetings from the Abyss…

With Halloween soon upon us, it is time to open, for the first and possibly only time, The Toy Chest of Horrors!

Inside it you will witness the most disturbing tales imaginable. True tales of terror so macabre, so shocking, that pregnant women or those with underlying medical conditions should turn back now. The author accepts no responsibility for any damage done by what you are about to see.

For the rest of you, come with me now into the Mouth Of Madness and enjoy these 4 spine tingling tales of murder, betrayal, and the supernatural.

Our first tale begins on a bright summer day somewhere between 1978 and 1980. It was a day destined to end in a horrifying tragedy.

The prior day was spent sending my Battlestar Galactica figures out on adventures in the back yard. Cylons battled Ovions for control of the back corner of the yard. It was a glorious time. The details of who won or lost that battle are irrelevant, but it was the Ovion that would lose the war.

The Ovion were a 4 armed grasshopper like alien race, and as such they could perfectly camouflage themselves in the weeds and grass on the battlefield.

Their ability to hide would prove to be their undoing.

As I awoke the next morning excited to continue the adventure, I suddenly felt an icy stab of fear in my gut as I realized my Ovion figure was not with the others. Where could it be?

Slowly the answer came. I had left it outside, hidden in the grass.

I raced outside to retrieve the figure and was stopped cold by a sight I will never forget. I could only watch in horror as my dad put our lawnmower back in the shed, having just finished mowing the grass.

Frantically I searched the area where I had played the day before. But it was no use. The Ovion was nowhere to be found.

The mower had vaporized it. Not even a scrap of plastic remained.

(Thunder rolls)

One day in 1980, I discovered my original Kenner Chewbacca figure had been attacked by some sort of supernatural hell beast.

He was discovered mauled about the head and face, all paint removed from his mouth and eyes. Giant fang marks circled his head and one foot was gnawed almost completely off.

The damage was so severe that a replacement had to be purchased immediately.

The culprit was never apprehended.

Believe it. Or not.

Ok it was our dog. The same little bitch that shredded my treasury edition Empire Strikes Back comic. Asshole.

(Thunder rolls)

In 5th grade, for my birthday I received the Decepticon Soundwave. It was beautiful.

Not long after, against my better judgment, I allowed a classmate to borrow the Buzzsaw cassette that came with Soundwave. Why? I ask myself that question every day. What happened next is truly the stuff of nightmares and crippled my ability to trust anyone with my stuff to this day.

The agreement was to borrow it overnight. He would return it the next day he said. No. He swore.

But the next day there was no Buzzsaw to be found.

Nor the next day.

Or the next.

After an eternity spent reminding and reminding him. Finally. He promised that he would return it the next day.

When I arrived on the playground before school began, one of my friends raced up to me pleading with me to follow him. Something terrible had happened.

I ran with him to the other side of the playground where the kid, let’s call him Mark, who borrowed my Buzzsaw stood.

My friend demanded Mark turn it over but intentionally blocked my view of the exchange.

When my friend turned around and gently presented Buzzsaw to me, he only said 4 solemn words that I still hear echo through my soul to this very day.

“Your Buzzsaw, lies dead”

I looked down into his cupped hands and saw the remains of what had been a glorious golden Transformer. Now all I saw was a broken and mangled mess. Its wings had been snapped off, paint scraped and scuffed, stickers stripped in spots, and what looked like tire tread marks all over it.

I was in shock.

There was a half hearted apology and some bullshit story about a younger sibling tossing it out of the family car and it being run over. But the bottom line was Buzzsaw had been destroyed.

I kept the remains for a long time before finally giving it a burial at dumpster.

Some time later, I heard rumblings from people who knew Mark and who had been to his house, and the true story of my Buzzsaw’s fate was even more disturbing than I had originally been led to believe.

They had seen it, they said. My Buzzsaw. At Mark’s house. Very much mint and intact.

It seems the story he fed me had a shred of truth. His brother had thrown a Buzzsaw out of a moving car’s window. But it was not mine. It was Mark’s!

(THUNDER CLAP!)

He had borrowed mine in an elaborate ruse to swap his destroyed Buzzsaw with mine.

Truly diabolical.

I was never able to replace it.

I never forgave Mark. And even seeing him decades later (he was wearing a jean jacket emblazoned with sharpie on the back reading “FUQ IRAQ”), I cursed him and his descendants for generations.

Thiiiinnner….

(Thunder rolls)

Finally, I will leave you with a tale so hideous that it will haunt your every waking moment and turn all your dreams into the blackest nightmares.

We return again to the world of Battlestar Galactica. The Toy Gods were not kind to me when it came to BSG.

Once again it was late 78/79 and I accompanied my mother and grandmother on one of their many weekly shopping trips (the length and boringness of which merit their own anthology of terror).

Our normal destination would be Venture or even K-Mart when they were desperate enough.

But not this day.

This day would be a rare treat. A trip to Target where the well to do did their shopping.

After enduring hours of hellish wandering and waiting as they tried on clothes and touched every piece of merchandise in the store, we reached the toy section at the back of the store.

There on an end cap was an entire display of BSG figures. More than I had ever seen anywhere else. I could not believe my eyes, or my luck as my mom enthusiastically agreed to buy one.

I spied my holy grail.

Lt. Starbuck.

My favorite character on the show. And there he was.

I excitedly snatched him from the peg and deposited him into the cart. The deal was done. He was mine!

But fate can be cruel, and I would soon learn just how cruel.

As we neared the checkout line. Disaster fell upon me like the grill of a runaway truck on a busy Maine highway.

The lines were long. So. So incredibly long.

I immediately began to hyperventilate and beads of sweat covered my face and neck.

I knew all to well what this might mean.

Please move fast, please, I begged the lines. But they moved like the walking dead, barely even a shamble.

I felt an icy shadow slowly envelop us, the end was near. Why? Why did this have to happen? And then…

“Oh well, PISS ON THIS!”

The words spilled out of my mom’s mouth in a curse that crushed my moment of triumph.

The dream was now a nightmare as she drug me away from the cart she was now abandoning in the line. My mother and her mother before her would not suffer slow lines.

Please no, don’t do this, I begged her. But it was no use. Her wrath had been invoked. There was no turning back now.

I watched as Starbuck gazed back at me through the wire bars of the cart. Heartbroken and scarred.

Starbuck was never seen again

(Thunder rolls, mournful wind howls)

And so with that I will close the lid on the Toy Chest of Horrors until next year when perhaps we will be brave enough to peer once more into the void. What secrets does the Chest still contain? What depraved acts and spine tingling tales will be unleashed next time? We will have to wait and see.

Until then, piss on this.

Centralia: Epicenter Review

Centralia, chances are you’ve heard of that city, town, or tiny little speck on a map somewhere.
It’s almost like the slightly less famous little brother of the name Springfield, there’s at least 12 of the bastards spread across this country.
But…what if there’s more to it than just a random and overused name?
What if, like, some new shit has come to light, man?

Those are the questions raised here, that maybe these towns are connected by some darkness…some underlying evil…

Though I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible, just to cover myself, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Probably the creepiest of the stories for me was the first, Grandma’s Eyes by Heath Amodio.
A young girl, Jenna, stricken blind in a freak car accident develops a condition that forces her to avoid her grandma or suffer painful headaches.
Cut ahead a few years and the girl and her Mom get a call from Granny, she’s nearing death.
So, as most folks would, Jenna and her Mom make the trip to see Grandma and say their goodbyes.

A Certain Kind Of Forest Sound by Adam Cesare, when you boil it all down, is a disturbing tale of the call of the wild.
A hiker spends a summer day doing what hikers do, when a sound grabs her attention and draws her into gory mayhem.

The overwhelming majority of short stories and novels make it feel like a story is being told at you, not to you.
They have a stiff delivery that almost feels cold, but not these two!
Both of these stories, but especially the first, have some of the most naturalistic dialogue I’ve ever read, and it is beyond refreshing.

Let’s get this out of the way right now so it doesn’t distract or taint (hahaha, I said taint!) what’s to come.
Yes, I listen to the Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave podcast.
Yes, I’ve seen Impractical Jokers, some of the show and the movie.
So this is your, apparently, prerequisite “Oh my god, it’s Colonel Q!
Let’s all dog pile on the rabbit!”
Good, that’s taken care of.

Now let’s all be honest here, if you look at the many reviews I’ve written or if you’ve heard me talk over the years, you know I am a sucker for an off-kilter detective story.
If you need proof of that then scroll up to the search bar and type in “Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.” or “MONK” and it’ll be laid bare for the world to see.
The title alone tells you this is going to be an untraditional detective: G.B. Bolt And The Case Of The Grabbed Ghost by Brian Quinn.
A fuckin’ robo man spends his many years investigating supernatural occurrences!
Yeah, I’m in!

But as easy a sell as that is for me, I do have two issues here.
The first is an issue that A Certain Kind Of Forest Sound also has.
Both, while delivering information that is important to building the worlds of their respective stories, have a certain distracted circuitousness in them that is…slightly frustrating.
It’s sort of like the narration of both has an almost folksy charm in them when talking about history and then they need a smack in the back of the head to get back on course.
Not an issue major enough to impact enjoying either story, but something that definitely stuck out for me.
Now my other issue is something that plagues the final story as well.

The Grasp Of Wraiths by Cullen Bunn and G.B. Bolt And The Case Of The Grabbed Ghost both feature the most criminal of offenses, the worst of all possible atrocities!
Both end with a glimmer of hope that these characters could possibly appear again some day, but we don’t know when!
*dramatic music plays*
But, some how, even worse, both hint at numerous possible prequels that just do not exist!
*even more dramatic music plays*
It’s an act of unforgivable pure evil from both of them.

In The Grasp Of Wraiths, a mysterious figure is called by an unlikely ally to investigate a series of gruesome murders that may or may not have deep roots that tie it to a Civil War era massacre.
That’s right, gang, we have another Supernatural detective on our hands, and I am happier than a pig in shit.
This one has a damn spooky and well drawn word picture of a dude who spends a good amount of his time dealing with the world between worlds and the critters what inhabit it.

This collection includes two other stories, Sundown by Michael Patrick Hicks and The Valley Of The Yunwi Tsunsdi by Brian Keene, that I haven’t even touched on, but I have to leave something for you to discover on your own.

Before reading this, I’ve not read anything from any of these six writers.
But that’s something I’m willing to change now.
All know how to do the words good like and such, and build a great sense of dread that’s fitting for the season.

Centralia: Epicenter is available on Halloween, you can pre-order it now on Amazon!

Let us know what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.
And you never know, I may yet have another Halloween themed review up my sleeve.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

And for more great Nerd Blitz content (including Horror like this), head over to Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod or TSDJAProductions.bandcamp.com

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #118

The leaves are falling, the weather is growing colder, that all means spooky season is in full effect.
Grab your candy, throw on a costume, and prepare for the tricky treat that is the one hundred and eighteenth installment of The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week!

As the most horrific time of year is upon us, time to talk about horror movies!
A mad man bursts through your front door covered in blood, bone, and gore.
He puts a gleaming sharp scythe under your chin, as you stand petrified in to silence and trapped like a rat in a cage, he whispers in a raspy voice this week’s question: What Do You Think Is The Greatest Horror Movie Sequel Of All-Time?

Leave your creepy answer down in the comments below or tweet it to us over on the spooky Tweety times @NerdBlitzPod or by using the incredibly well thought out and scary hashtag #TNBQotW.

Special thanks goes out to the good and ghastly sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified logo for this here unsettling weekly segment known as The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week.

And for more great Nerd Blitz content, head over to Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod or TSDJAProductions.bandcamp.com

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #117

Once again, we are back for some nerdish questionings.
What will this week bring? Knowing us…*let’s out a slow breath*…can anybody really guess?

Imagine, a smoke filled cinderblock room, a single naked bulb hangs overhead.
Two detectives walk in wearing suits & fedoras, lit cigerettes hanging from their mouths.
They slap a stack of files and photos on the cold metal table you are cuffed to, both stare intently at you as the bulb swings above.
One pulls a chair back from the table, he sits down, and offers you a smoke.
The second comes around and sits on the table, he pulls a file closer, opens it up, and asks you… With Season Two Of The Mandalorian Right Around The Corner, What Do You Think The Child’s, Colloquially Known As Baby Yoda, Name Will Be?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it to us over on the Tweety times @NerdBlitzPod or by using the incredibly well thought out hashtag #TNBQotW.

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified logo for this here weekly segment known as The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week.

And for more great Nerd Blitz content, head over to Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod or TSDJAProductions.bandcamp.com

Goosebumps: Egg Monsters From Mars Review

My first encounter with a Goosebumps book, while not particularly what I would consider horror, went surprisingly well (read all about it HERE).
That left me more than ready to dive in and read another almost immediately.
So was this one able to go in a more horrific direction?
Was the good experience I had in the previous book indicative of the entire series and will it hold steady or was it a fluke that took a nose dive in the very next installment?
The time has come to find out, gang!

As I’m sure you know by now, this is your ever present ***SPOILER ALERT***, so everybody act accordingly.

When his bratty sister, Brandy, requests an egg hunt for her birthday party, aspiring scientist Dana Johnson finds one that is beyond belief.
Giving off heat, covered in pulsing veins, he takes it to his room to study it more closely.
When it hatches, he takes it to a local research lab and the shit hits every fan you can possibly imagine!

First off, R.L. Stine must have had or wanted a bratty little sister, because this is the second book in a row where one is a key character.
Second and most important and possibly interesting or inspiring, this book came out one month after Bad Hare Day.
That was completely insane to me so I looked ahead and found that all of the four I have came out in four consecutive months.
While this books aren’t the most challenging, his level of output is incredibly impressive and respectable beyond my ability to articulate.
Bravo, sir!

I’ve been trying my damnedest to find something about this book that I didn’t like and I’m coming up empty.
This one had the horror vibe I felt the last one was lacking, which is a huge plus.
It’s pretty damn disturbing what happens when he heads to the lab.
It didn’t feel like it was lacking any depth like Bad Hare Day did either, in fact I loved the economical way he told this story and how it really dives in and deals with Dana’s reaction to the horrific and traumatic situation he finds himself in.
With the way he conveys that fear and panic of being captured, I can see why kids would find this scary.
Nothing at all here felt like it was missing or went unexplored like the previous story.

It really does make me a little bit sad that I missed the boat on these books when I was a wee lad.
I think it would have been a great way to embrace another aspect of horror at such a young age.
And with that fact alone I can totally understand why this series still persists to this day.
These first two experiences I’ve had with this series have gotten progressively better with each installment and that makes me excited to read the next two books next October.
But return to this franchise I most definitely will!

Let us know what you think of this special Halloween review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for this year’s final themed review in the next week or so.

Special thanks, as always, to @ACFerrell1976 for her continuing editorial assistance.

And for more great Nerd Blitz content, head over to Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod or TSDJAProductions.bandcamp.com