Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wolves of a Different Color: Chaney vs del Toro

The Wolfman of my youth:
Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot
When I was growing up, I had two favorite Universal monsters. The first was the Creature of the Black Lagoon. The second was the Wolfman. So when I heard that Universal was putting out the remake of THE WOLFMAN, I was filled with both excitement and trepidation. After all, to take such a time-tested horror classic and remake it using modern special effects (namely CGI), as well as the expanded freedom of an R rating, could either be a huge positive or negative, depending on how well such resources were used.
My doubts grew even more when the film reviews were mostly bad and the posts on the horror message boards on the internet gave less than glowing endorsements of the new film. I almost decided not to go see it... to just wait until the DVD was released and watch it then. But since my oldest daughter had been wanting to see it, I decided that we would take in a matinee showing last Sunday. And I'm glad we did. It just goes to show that you shouldn't put much stock in other folks opinions. It's better to see it for yourself and make up your own mind on whether it's good or bad.

Benico del Toro as The Wolfman

The new version of THE WOLFMAN was a welcome surprise. It was a rip-roaring period piece, set in England of the late 1800's, with lavish sets and creepy nocturnal landscapes. The movie used many of the same characters from the original 1941 film -- Lawrence Talbot, Sir John, Gwen Conliffe,and the gypsy woman, Maleva -- but their motivations in the storyline were changed somewhat for the new film. Also two new characters, Scotland Yard detective Francis Alberline and Sir John's Indian servant, Singh, were added. Other differences from the earlier Wolfman was Talbot's occupation as a Shakespearean actor, Talbot's torturous time in a London asylum (and his horrifying transformation in a medical gallery in front of dozens of physicians) and his final confrontation with Sir John toward the end of the film.

The 2010 film was extremely gory, with much beheadings, dismemberments, and disembowelments; something I personally believe could have been toned down a bit. Much criticism has been leveled toward the amount of computer generated imagery that was used in this movie, but it didn't seem to take away from the flow of the film, in my opinion. There was a CGI bear and deer that seemed somewhat lame, which caused me to wonder why they couldn't have used real animals in these two brief scenes. It seems that today's movie directors would rather cut costs by using as much CGI as possible during the course of a film, rather than go the extra mile and go for the realism that non-CGI effects would provide.

So how did the performance of del Toro differ from that of Chaney Jr.? Both actors conveyed the angst of being cursed with lycanthropy, but I would have to prefer Chaney's Lawrence Talbot over del Toro's. I reckon I've grown up with Chaney's torturous fear and torment, not only in the original WOLFMAN, but in the movies that followed (FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HOUSE OF DRACULA, and even ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEETS FRANKENSTEIN). One thing that is similar about both Chaney and del Toro is their physical attributes. Neither one are overly handsome men and their facial features seem to perfectly convey the agony a human might suffer if inflicted with a monsterous curse.

One thing I always yearned for when I was a kid was to see more of the Wolfman, which only appeared two or three times during the course of a film. The Wolfman's appearance was plentiful in the 2010 version. But whereas Chaney's werewolf attacked one victim at a time, del Toro's was a whirling-dervish of bloody destruction, slaughtering multiple victims at a time.

So which movie do I prefer? I'd still have to go with the original 1941 version of THE WOLFMAN. Yes, it was much more restrained than the remake, but, in my opinion, it was the actors and actresses of the early film that made it number one in my book. Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Raines, Bela Lugosi, and Maria Ouspenskaya... all were excellent in their characterizations and set the stage for the moody black & white film that has become a staple of monster movie watching for decades. Also the old version is a safe introduction to the Wolfman for children to watch. Given the amount of violence and gore in the new version, I wouldn't let a child under the age of twelve experience it until they were old enough to handle it.

So, although I thoroughly enjoyed the new version of THE WOLFMAN, I still think Chaney's version wins, hands-down. As Lon Chaney Jr. liked to say "The Wolfman was my baby." And I think that's still true. He infused a humanity in the character of Lawrence Talbot that lives on. Whether del Toro's Talbot will live on in the minds of moviegoers, only time will tell.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


By now you're probably saying "Ron's gone e-book crazy!" Well, in a way I have. This new venue for offering Southern-fried Horror to the reading public has really won me over after a long, stubborn streak of thumbing my nose at digital books. Well, like the Monkees used to sing... I'm a believer.
This fourth release from Macabre Ink Digital is the e-book version of my Grammy-nominated audio collection, DARK DIXIE: TALES OF SOUTHERN HORROR, originally released by Spine-Tingling Press way back in 1992. This new version includes the five original stories -- Yea, Though I Drive, Miss Abigail's Delicate Condition, The Cistern, Papa's Exile, and Black Harvest -- along with three others, The Hatchling, Uncle Cyrus, and Forever Angels. Incidently, this will be the first time Uncle Cyrus has been available to horror readers since it was first published in Noctulpa: Journal of Horror back in 1988. Also Zach McCain has crafted a brand-new cover for the collection. Given that one of my more popular stories, Miss Abigail's Delicate Condition, appears in this book, you should have know there would be some creepy ol' snakes on the cover.
You can order DARK DIXIE: TALES OF SOUTHERN HORROR now from Macabre Ink -- -- along with my other digital books CUMBERLAND FURNACE & OTHER FEAR-FORGED FABLES, FLESH WELDER, and THE SICK STUFF. It'll also be available through the Amazon Kindle store and Horror Mall in a day or two.
Around June or July of this year, Macabre Ink will be offering four more of my digital books, including TWILIGHT HANKERINGS (tales of vampires, werewolves, and other things that go bite in the night), UNHINGED (tales of mass murderers, serial killers, and just plain nasty folks), TWISTED LIBIDO (tales of love and desire gone horribly wrong) and Volume Two of DARK DIXIE, with even more tales of Southern horror.
And while you're over at Macabre Ink check out excellent offerings by David Niall Wilson and Steve and Melanie Tem. Like I've said before, don't worry... I haven't abandoned real, hands-on books. That's my bread and butter... or gravy and biscuits if your're from the South. I'm just taking advantage of other mediums to further the cause of Southern-fried Horror and digital publishing seems to be an exciting new frontier to explore.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

THE SICK STUFF... Now Available from Macabre Ink Digital!

The digital version of my collection of extreme horror tales, THE SICK STUFF, is now available for purchase from Macabre Ink Digital. To order yours head on over to
THE SICK STUFF is availble in PDF, Kindle, E-Pub, and PRC formats. It contains the original seven stories included in the 2009 Thunderstorm edition, an introduction by James Newman, and an afterword by yours truly. And take a gander at the new cover Zach McCain cooked up. Enough to make you squirm, ain't it?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Southern-Fried Horror... Now in Digital Format!

Yes, I know... I said I'd never do it. You know Ol' Ron... old school, set in his ways, an old dog much too ornery to learn new tricks. Well, things have changed. Hey, a horror writer has a right to change his mind every now and then, doesn't he?

I'm pleased to announce that, thanks fo David Niall Wilson and his Macabre Ink Digital, much of my short fiction will now be available in digital book format, both for your home computer and Kindle, if you happen to own one of those new-fangled devices. So far, we have two releases to offer you folks:

Cumberland Furnace & Other Fear Forged Fables

This seven story collection of newer short stories (from my 2006 comeback to now) features such tales as Cumberland Furnace, Grandma's Favorite Recipe, The Thing at the Side of the Road, The Final Feature, Mister Mack & the Monster Mobile, The Peddler's Journey, and Tanglewood. It features an incredible cover (see above) by Zach McCain.

Flesh Welder

The sold-out 2007 chapbook by Croatoan Publishing is now available in digital format. This contains the original story, the original Zach McCain cover, and Mark Hickerson's exclusive interview "Not Just Whistling Dixie"... which, in my opinion, is the best and most complete interview I've done since returning to the horror genre.

You can order both Cumberland Furnace and Flesh Welder directly from Macabre Ink at . You can also get them at the Amazon Kindle store, the Horror Mall, or Horror Drive Thru.

In the coming weeks, we will be releasing more digital books, including the extreme horror collection, The Sick Stuff, and the digital version of the Grammy nominated Dark Dixie: Tales of Southern Horror. Also in the works are more collections of my short fiction, both previously-published and unpublished. Keep an eye open here at Southern-Fried & Horrorfied for further details.

Just so you know... I haven't gone and given up on real, hands-on books. I just figured this would give a broader audience easier access to my work, at a much faster pace than regular publishing venues can manage. I'm still looking forward to seeing shelves of my books in print during the next few years. But this latest venture into the world of digital publishing will, hopefully, satisfy the needs of my fans, as well as net me a few more in the process.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Back In The Saddle Again... with a Word from Publisher X

As you probably know, I haven't blogged for awhile. Alot of it had to do with the holidays. Some had to do with sickness (both the kids and myself suffered a nasty stomach virus). And then there were a couple of big snows down here in my neck of the woods in Tennessee.

A big part of my inactivity on Southern-Fried & Horrified during the past couple of weeks was mostly due to the meltdown of Full Moon Press at the end of January. Considering that I had twelve projects in the works with FMP, their sudden collapse meant that more than half of my upcoming publications were suddenly left homeless. Much of my time since FMP's demise has been devoted to damage control; assuring my fans that all was not lost and trying to find a home for those derailed projects.

Although I haven't yet found a home for my Southern horror anthology, Somewhere South of Hell, I have found a new publisher for the Essential Ronald Kelly Collection, which will offer all eight Zebra novels (plus a previously unpublished sequel to Hindsight). Who is this mystery publisher, you might ask? Well, unfortunately, I can't reveal that fact just yet. In the small press, timing and discretion can be a big plus in the success of an upcoming publication. It also has to do with "doing the right thing" when other authors with unannounced projects are involved.

But I do want to share a statement that "Publisher X" has issued to explain a few things. Here it is:

"Dear Ronald Kelly Fans,

Although I am going to remain nameless for now, Ron and I have begun talking about publishing the entire collection of Essential novels. Rest assured these are in good hands and if everyone can be patient while the details are worked out and the tremendous amount of work that is required has begun, it would be greatly appreciated. I know many of you are curious to not only know who will be publishing the Essentials, but how and when as well. The primary reason this is going to remain confidential for now is that I have numerous other projects lined up to be published before starting on the Essentials and it is only fair to the authors and fans of these other works to have each of those official announcements be released to the public beforehand. Plus, as a nice change of pace, the Kelly books will ship soon after their announcement.

Publisher X"

So, as you can see, things aren't as grim and gloomy as they could have been, given the circumstances. Publisher X and I have some great plans for the Essential collection. Sure there is alot of hard work involved, but I think the eventual outcome will be well worth it.

As for my thoughts and reflections on the disasterous Full Moon Press incident, I'll be exploring it in a future blog, so keep an eye open for it.

Right now, I'm just glad to be back in the saddle again... both with blogging and peparing my work for publication. And, of course, a huge thanks to all of you fans and fellow writers out there who have provided me with encouragement and support during the last few weeks. I truly appreciate your helping me through this chaotic and confusing time. Now it's back to business, as usual...