S.M. Douglas

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Tag: Horror (page 2 of 3)

Diabolique Magazine Praises Apex Predator in New Review

My new horror novel Apex Predator  just landed it’s first formal editorial review and endorsement!

I am happy to say Diabolique Magazine has just published its review, offering the following praise: “More than just Lycanthropes vs. Wolves of Wall Street, the novel is an ambitious examination of corporate corruption—with carnage that feels cathartic…shapeshifters have definite horror appeal…guaranteed to amuse horror aficionados.”

For those of that don’t know, Diabolique Magazine is like the NY Times or Vogue of horror publications.  It’s a lavishly illustrated print and digital magazine exploring every aspect of horror film, literature and art. Since its inception in 2011, Diabolique and its writers and artists have been nominated for 17 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, including Best Magazine, Best Article, Best Interview, Best Cover, Best Theme Issue, and Best Overall Issue. In 2015, the magazine won the Rondo for Best Overall Issue. Past issues have included contributions from such horror luminaries as Jonathan Rigby, David Del Valle, David Huckvale, Paul Murray, and Elizabeth Miller.

Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled that the magazine has endorsed my work. For more of the review see here –


The Super Moon

Early this morning we had the “super-moon”.  What’s that? Because it’s come so close to Earth, the full moon looks bigger than an average full moon and it is much brighter. In fact, it’s the biggest and best full moon in half a century.

The distance between Earth and its moon is measured from their respective centers, and that distance dropped to 221,524 miles early this morning. January 26, 1948 was the last time the moon edged this close, and it won’t do so again until November 25, 2034. But if you missed it, don’t sweat it.

That’s because even though the moon technically turned full this morning (at that point the moon came closest to the earth) because of the timing of fullness, the moon will appear full on both Sunday and Monday nights—though the exact moment of fullness technically falls right between the two. Obviously, for werewolf fans this is all quite fun. For me, it’s more fun yet.

That’s because my new werewolf book Apex Predator actually gets into some of the nuts and bolts of the NASA lunar tables. This occurs during a scene where the book’s heroes are coming to terms with the thought that they may be fighting for survival against our favorite monster. Something else to think about when you are standing outside tonight staring up at the fullest of full moons!






Apex Predator is Available for Purchase

I am thrilled to say that my novel, Apex Predator is available for purchase in both softcover or electronic formats. Thank you to everyone who has inquired as to when it would be made available. I hope you enjoy it!

The Horror Writer’s Journey Part Two: Juxtaposed Against Lessons from Recent DC Comics Film Disasters

Two months ago I published part one of this insider look at the final pre-publication stages of the writing process. Since then, I have been a busy little bee. So busy, I wasn’t going to publish anything new for at least another week as I wrap up my final round of proof reading before my manuscript is submitted for distribution.  However, the recent mistakes made by the DC Comics film franchise almost demand a response if for no other reason than the lessons they can provide for the aspiring novelist. As encapsulated by perhaps the most awkwardly long blog post title I have ever written.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad are our key reference points in this discussion. Though the latter’s foibles are all over the internet, let’s start with Batman v Superman. First off, I’m a huge fan of the Christoper Nolan Batman films and am one of the few people who thought Man of Steel was a good Superman movie. Minus the fact Superman kills Zod and lays waste to Metropolis in the process – two huge no-no’s that played a key role in the film’s lukewarm reception.

Nevertheless, and though I like it dark, Batman v Superman manages the dubious task of attempting to be so grim it sucks the entertainment value right out of the equation. If this weren’t bad enough Batman v Superman also tries to do way too much. This is done via introducing a slew of iconic DC characters to the big screen in a rushed and botched manner that fails to build the anticipation that otherwise accompany, say, Wonder Woman getting her own first-time feature length film.

This isn’t an essay on all that is wrong with the DC film universe. That said, stuffing Wonder Woman into a Superman movie that already has Batman levered into it was a huge mistake, and this is notwithstanding Wonder Woman being one of film’s highlights. And don’t get me started on this being a co-Batman/Superman movie. Little about Batman v Superman even remotely feels like the Christoper Nolan batman films that include what is arguably the greatest comic book movie of all time – The Dark Knight. No, Batman v Superman is a Zach Snyder Superman movie all the way. However, let’s get back to the trying to do to much mistake. Because that’s also a key problem with Suicide Squad, another movie of enormous promise squandered.

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad is problematic on a number of levels. Even so, it’s biggest issues are related to the basic fact that that film does not know what it is and in the manner in which it tries, once again, to do to much. Both of these are related. The issues surrounding the characters, some of whom just magically appear while others vanish from the film without explanation are part and parcel of the film’s larger identity problems.


For instance, Suicide Squad‘s tone is all over the map. At one time it was being marketed as an almost comedic light hearted action film, yet there are many scenes that are undoubtedly dark.  This is a product of the studio’s decision to take David Ayer’s grim looking original cut and meld it with the studio’s own contemporaneously produced cut that test audiences seemed to approve of – all of which led to extensive last minute re-shooting which when coupled with the rush of characters introduced and in some cases forgotten results in the film’s disjointed feel. This is a process only exacerbated by Suicide Squad’s  awkward treatment of one of the greatest comic book villains of all time: The Joker.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to go back and completely revamp my manuscript over the past two months following its return from my editor. My delays are more over my obsession with getting the words right as well as last minute struggles nailing down the logistics of publication. Which as a writer is where you want to be in the weeks before the release of your work. This is where Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad offer their greatest lessons.

Creating a product that is grim is a perfectly acceptable form of entertainment. One need look no further than the superb Showtime series Penny Dreadful for a prime example of this simple truth. The key however, is to remember the entertainment component. The other key is in knowing how important it is to have a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish with your work and how much the story will drive everything else. Both of the DC films discussed here missed those important points.

In failing to find and establish an identity Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad not only didn’t entertain, but ended up compensating by stuffing into their respective running lengths all sorts of characters that they couldn’t possibly do justice. Trying to do too much is almost laudable if done for the right reasons. That wasn’t the case here. Knowing what we know about big Hollywood studios the right reasons, like actually trying to make a film the audience will love without rushing to duplicate what the Marvel franchise spent nearly a decade doing, was not part of the equation in the case of these films. This offers another key point, too many studios or writers are in a hurry to set up a franchise of bankable movies or books when they need to slow down and get it right the first time. The life of a writer is a journey. Done right, everything else will follow.

Humanizing The Monsters

My daughter is of an age where questions are commonplace, especially following a movie. I have tried to avoid the Disney trap, but it seems virtually inescapable.  Thus, I have resigned myself to the fact that my daughter now watches Tangled, Frozen, Little Mermaid, and all the other “princess” movies. And don’t get me started on Frozen – I don’t know how they did it, but somehow the writers at Disney engineered a kind of princess crack cocaine for kids. Even the music from that cursed movie fills my house at all hours of the day.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t set on excluding princesses from her life – after all Princess Leia is a great independent, strong, female role model for a young girl. And thank god my daughter does like Princess Leia – and the Star Wars universe in general! It’s just that she also likes Elsa, Ariel, and all the rest of them. Such is life.

Nevertheless, over the last six months, and in the course of watching seventy odd years worth of Disney “princess” movies, what surprises me the most is that one of the many questions my daughter has asked following each of these viewings is always the same: “Why is “insert the villain’s name here” a bad person?”

Now in discussing the nature of “bad” with a preschool age child there is only so far you should go. Suffice it to say my answer generally revolves around a variant of: “Because she (invariably in a Disney movie the evildoer is a “she”) was trying to get Ariel, Rapunzel, etc… to do things that were against her own interest and which would hurt her or the people she cares about.”

You and I know exactly what these “bad” things were, and why they were being done. Characters like Ursula (Little Mermaid), or Mother Gothel (Tangled/Rapunzel) are sociopaths quite willing to do anything to further their own selfish goals. They are monsters. And like any monster some of them are quite horrible. Even scary. Don’t believe me. Watch Little Mermaid again. Ursula is downright creepy. And as she should be, given that she is basically an ocean witch.

It goes without saying that monsters should be scary. And for most of the past half-century or so the monsters populating our movies, books, graphic novels, comics, and so on are creatures out to devour or destroy humanity. The lone exception for much of this time was Godzilla, who went from ravishing Japanese cities to something of a folk hero staving off the assaults of other Kaiju type creatures.

But in recent years we have seen many other of the most famous monsters humanized. This is true to such an extant that if it were possible to bring Bram Stoker back from the grave he likely would be shocked to see the rendition of vampire’s in such popular films as Twilight.


This picture was the scariest version of Edward “the vampire” I could find anywhere on the internet, and that was only by doing a search for “angry Edward images”. You try it. That’s a vampire at his meanest? Good grief.

We have even seen T-Rex go from monster in Jurassic Park….


…..to a Godzilla like hero in Jurassic World.


And woe to Jurassic World’s producers had T-Rex met the same ignominious fate he suffered in Jurassic Park III – with T-Rex’s unlikely death at the hands of the longer but less massively muscled fish eating Spinosaurus one of the key reasons the third installment in the franchise is widely regarded as the worst.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a large and active backlash against cutesy versions of vampires, werewolves, and other such creatures:

Werewolves Vampires yesterday vs today

And thankfully, there are plenty of films and books that do everything possible to put the horror in horror. But given the larger role monsters often play as a means for understanding our place on this planet what does it say about our society that some of today’s greatest heroes are the same creatures that are ostensibly out to feed on us?

Perhaps inverting our heroes in such a way means we are learning that the worst monsters aren’t vampires, werewolves, or even Ursula the sea-witch. Perhaps it means the worst monsters are those that walk among us. You know who they are. Those respectable looking very serious individuals we are taught to listen to, but who in turn have done what for most of us in return?

Perhaps there is a reason horror is more popular than ever.

Perhaps it is because those bad people my daughter asks about, dare I say monsters, are all around us.


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