Visit The Kretcher Motel In The Horror Anthology ‘Forever Vacancy’!

In literature, the horror anthology is one of my favorite things. In particular I enjoy the buffet like quality that a horror anthology can offer. Case in point, Forever Darkness where we are introduced to The Kretcher Motel. A seedy type of establishment that one would do well to avoid when visiting Atlanta . Certainly there are those who are drawn to the special…amenities…that the Kretcher Motel offers. Those lost souls down on their luck or those seeking souls as a matter of fact.

The Kretcher offers cheap rates because the motel has a unique hunger. As does its proprietor, the beautiful and equally dangerous Sybline Kretcher. Quick to lend a helpful hand as well as manipulating guests, letting them find their deserved punishments. Moreover the proprietor in some cases even offers redemption. Yes, indeed, Sybline has been tending to the motel since the early 1960’s…but she has been around for a lot longer than that. A lot longer than you might imagine.
Horror Anthology - Sybline Kretcher

Sybline Kretcher as well as the Kretcher Motel are the two constants in the new horror anthology from Colors in Darkness. Forever Vacancy collects 13 diverse stories, ranging from hauntings to the wickedly humorous. All manner of characters find their way to the run down Kretcher Motel and their tales are the perfect fit for an anthology. Having said that I will add that I’m rather fond of the format in general. In addition to books I have similarly thrilled to those horror anthology in film and TV format however few they might be in number. A few of my favorites being 1972’s Tales from the Crypt, 1982’s Creepshow, and 2007’s Trick ‘r Treat of course.

Are you a fan of Creepshow? You might want to take a moment and listen to when we covered it on the Saturday Frights podcast!

With 13 different styles of stories presented in Forever Vacancy a few naturally stand out. While it all comes down to a matter of taste, I found Karma Suture by Tawanna Sullivan, The Honeymoon Suite: Jacob’s Reunion by Sumiko Saulson, and A Devil Of A Deal by David O’Hanlon to really shine amongst the other fine stories presented.

With Karma Suture, we are introduced to a location scout named Stephanie. Actually she has desires to be an actress but has taken a position with her ex-boyfriend, helping him on a film he is producing. For Stephanie the Kretcher Motel offers a bit of comeuppance for those that have wronged her…or she feels have wronged her.

A Devil Of A Deal I found to be the most fun. David O’Hanlon has crafted a rowdy as well as bawdy leading man. Or fallen angel in the case of Mr. Scratch. A raconteur who finds himself mixed up with a young woman who is being extorted by an unsavory character. There are all manner of surprises for Mr. Scratch and the reader. By the time you finish the story you just might find you have Sympathy for the Devil…or devils in this case.

[Via] The Rolling Stones HQ

The Honeymoon Suite: Jacob’s Reunion is hands down the most moving of the stories. In it we learn of the grief of Jess whose love Jacob was killed in a train-car collision. Deep feelings of survivor’s guilt due to not joining Jacob to attend his class reunion haunt Jess. But can forgiveness be found in a place like the Kretcher Motel?

While this anthology collection from Colors in Darkness is the first to feature Sybline Kretcher and her motel. I can only hope that we will be given new chances to…temporarily…visit that establishment. The setting is absolutely perfect and if you too are a fan of the horror anthology I highly suggest you pick it up. You can grab your copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble in addition to the Colors in Darkness website.

I would also like to thank author David O’Hanlon. As he was the one who contacted me on the Saturday Frights Facebook page, asking if I would be interested in reviewing Forever Vacancy. Furthermore we were both delighted to learn that we had something in common beyond our love of horror. As a result of providing my mailing address we learned that we live in the same neck of the woods, a mere ten minutes away from each other in fact!

With Forever Vacancy being such a great horror anthology. Is it too much to hope for a television adaptation in the near future?


Additionally I believe I have fond the perfect actress to play the role of Sybline Kretcher!
Horror Anthology

Apt Pupil - Novel

Remember The 1987 Apt Pupil Film…Wait, What?!

At first you might be thinking I’m joking about an Apt Pupil movie from 1987. In this case though I certainly am not. While there was of course the 1998 feature film by Bryan Singer. Starring the late Brad Renfro as well as Sir Ian McKellen. The fact of the matter is we came very close to a 1987 adaptation of Stephen King’s Apt Pupil.
Apt Pupil

Apt Pupil was a 1982 novella by King. Published in Different Seasons. The story concerns a young man named Todd Bowden, who has realized the terrible secret of Arthur Denker. This secret turns out to be that Arthur is in fact a Nazi war criminal known as Kurt Dussander. Soon Kurt and Todd’s friendship results in murder.

Both unknown to the other are stalking the homeless community in an attempt to rid themselves of nightmares. Things spiral out of control for both Todd and Kurt, thanks to not just the homicide but the web of lies and distrust the two spin.

Bryan Singer’s film in my opinion does a remarkable job of capturing the feel of the novella. The darkness of Kurt’s past of course as well as Todd’s acceptance and desire to feel the same. Some critics even made note that Singer’s adaptation managed to make King’s story even more darker by changing the ending. Having said that, I am in the camp that feels the ending doesn’t live up to the source material.

I was working at the Razorback Theatre back when Apt Pupil was released. I can tell you that it played to mostly empty auditoriums. It seems to have been mirrored in it’s theatrical run elsewhere as well. Regardless, as I’ve already mentioned in spite of the ending, I do like the film.

So imagine to my great surprise yesterday when I learned that there was a 1987 film adaptation. As much as I wish I could point you to a finished product at the present time there is none. Bear in mind, Apt Pupil wasn’t scuttled in the pre-production phase. Quite the contrary, as Director Alan Bridges had already been filming for ten weeks. I have read that nearly 40 minutes of footage had been shot.

So I’m guessing at this point you must be wondering why the film was never finished. It turns out the production company ran out of finances. And when after a year had passed Apt Pupil was ready to resume production, the actor who was chosen as Todd had aged too much to match the previous footage. Now who might you ask was the young man who becomes seduced by Kurt’s evil? Would you believe me if I told you it was Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons?

I tell you it’s all true, friends. Now what about the role of Kurt Dussander? Before production began Apt Pupil had an embarrassment of riches in regards to the actors approached to the play the part. Salem’s Lot James Mason was asked to play the role but passed away from a heart attack before filming. Then you had the likes of Richard Burton, who I believe would have been amazing, but he died from a cerebral hemorrhage before signing on.

The actor who in fact played the role of the escaped Nazi war criminal was Nicol Williamson. Who I bet you film fans know best from his role as Merlin in 1981’s Excalibur!

So I will leave you with this. That 40 minutes of footage is of course not readily available. Although it has been said that Stephen King once saw the footage and thought highly of it. Perhaps in the future we shall be lucky enough to see what was filmed for 1987’s Apt Pupil?

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing The Truth

Before I get into the new book Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth, edited by Dr. Travis Langley and Mara Wood. I felt I should take a moment and share my thoughts on the character herself as well as my first introduction. Like many of you that visit The Retroist I’m willing to bet the first time you learned of Wonder Woman was thanks to the long running Super Friends TV series.

[Via] THX1968

Of course a few years after that the popular live action Wonder Woman TV series debuted on ABC. Starring the talented Lynda Carter, the first season took place in the 1940s. Afterwards the show jumped ship to CBS and was placed in the current day. In addition to becoming The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman

All thanks to the Wonder Woman TV show in fact, I would pick up the DC comics. To this day when I think of the power and beauty of the character. It is the illustration of the legendary José Luis García-López that comes to mind. To say nothing of the impact that George Perez had on Wonder Woman!
Wonder Woman

With a film version set to hit theaters on June 2nd. It is a great time to take a closer look at the origins of the character as well as her creator, William Moulton Marston. Hard to overlook the fact that the man who invented the polygraph machine bestowed his creation a lasso of truth, right?

Except for he didn’t create the lie detector test as the book points out. Although he did in fact create the systolic blood pressure test. Which is used in polygraph tests. Furthermore there are some that cite it was his Wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, who helped in the research of said test. Fitting as she was the one to suggest the gender of William’s creation for All -American Comics!

“…one who would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love. “Fine,” said Elizabeth. “But make her a woman.””

I have shared the pop culture psychology books by Langley before. And Sterling Publishing was kind enough to send me Travis and Wood’s latest for review. Right off the bat, Dr. Langley cuts to the truth by challenging the reader. To not get hung up on certain elements of Marston’s creation. Like “bondage” for example. Not without understanding what William was intending readers to understand.

There are 20 essays included in Wonder Woman Pyschology: Lassoing the Truth. Featuring not just a foreword by Trina Robbins but the likes of Chris and Caitlin Yogerst, Laura Vecchiolla, Mike Madrid, and Rebecca M. Langley. As well as Tim Hanley, Martin Lloyd, Wind Goodfriend, Annamaria Formichella-Elsden. In addition to Janina Scarlet, Lara and Nina Kester, Erin Currie, Eric D. Wesselman, J. Scott Jordan, J.C. Lobato, Jenna Busch, E. Paul Zehr, Jeff Pisciotta, and Alan Kistler.

The essays cover such topics as Feminist Psychology: Teaching How to Be Wonderful by Mara Wood. Balancing the Warrior and the Peace Ambassador by Eric D. Wesselman. It’s a Man’s World: Wonder Woman and Attitudes Toward Gender Roles by Erin Currie. And another favorite Snapping Necks and Wearing Pants by Travis Langley.

Wonder Woman Psychology is available for purchase tomorrow at most book dealers.

Fan Transforms 1958 Stereo Unit Into Derry From Stephen King’s It

1986’s It wasn’t my first brush with Stephen King’s work. That honor of course went to a few film adaptations like 1980’s The Shining as well as 1983’s The Dead Zone. Having said that however, It was one of the first books I read of Stephen King. The first two being his early short story collections Night Shift and Skeleton Crew. I recall vividly in fact my Junior High School teacher praising It and finding the paperback for sale that very afternoon, at a local supermarket.
It - Stephen King

For the next three days I could NOT put the book down. Not during class nor for that matter on the way home on the bus. Furthermore even eating dinner, you could find my nose planted firmly in the engrossing novel. While I am and always shall be a Stephen King fan – no book has captured my attention so much so like It. Until the publication of 2013’s Joyland that is!

Read: Check out my review of Joyland

When I was growing up – almost to the point of High School. We weren’t fortunate enough to have a bathroom with a shower. So for most of my young life I washed my hair in the bathroom sink. An act that I admit I was quite hesitant to do after reading King’s book…for fear of looking into the drain and finding something looking back at me!

Read: Speaking of fear – check out this vintage American Express commercial to see what scared Stephen King

Imagine my surprise and delight when the other day I stumbled across the lavish work of Kassiopeya. Who took it upon herself to craft a magnificent piece of artwork entitled Welcome to Derry. This was done by converting a 1958 stereo unit into the facade of the bright and sunlit town of Derry. As well as when the cabinet doors are opened, presenting the dark and festering domain of Pennywise.

It - Welcome to Derry

All images courtesy of Kassiopeya.


To say that Kassiopeya lovingly included scores of detail from the 1986 novel itself is an understatement. I’ve rarely seen such a work of art that has taken my very breath away as Welcome to Derry has. Don’t take my word for it – gaze on this small sampling yourself.


As I’ve already mentioned, the artist made sure to include the dangers below Derry.


Of the project itself, Kassiopeya has said of it:
“My Derry – including its underground world of the sewers – is now integrated in that furniture. The novel, with all its references to Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fifties has merged into a whole with that furniture, and has become part of it. The surface represents the romantic sight of a Derry street bathed in the golden light of a late summer day. Only when you flip open the cabinet door you do see what is underneath: The sewage pipes way down below… in the green glowing light of the deadlights.”

I implore you fans of It to immediately follow the link to Kassiopeya’s website – there you will find so many more photos of Welcome to Derry. Now if you will excuse me I believe I must revisit Derry myself by rereading the book once again!

On the other hand I suppose I could go ahead and watch the 1990 miniseries for It

Someday, My (Space)ship Or Space Shuttle Will Sail

The year: 1981. Pac-Man fever has incurably spread across the country. Both Mork and Mindy are still on the air. There are still pitched Battles of the Network Stars being fought on a yearly basis. The Sony Walkman has been on the market for a little under two years.

Oh, and Space Shuttle Columbia just blasted off for the very first time a couple of days ago, and is going to land very soon.

Now nearly six years since the last Space Shuttle lifted off, it’s almost unimaginable that a TV network would devote 3+ hours of wall-to-wall coverage to a perfectly ordinary Shuttle landing…except that this was the first time that a Shuttle returning from orbit ever came in for a landing. Every American space mission before this sunny April day in 1981 had ended with a splashdown in an ocean. But not this one.
[Via] Golden Pacific Media

It’s a slice of history, like a time machine: the first manned American space flight in six years was a big deal. And while it had taken longer to get the Space Shuttle airborne – on a scale of years – due to technical delays on the bleeding edge of new technologies, it had finally taken to the sky, something that looked more like a space fighter from a movie than it looked like a metal can with windows.

And perhaps most bittersweet of all, it had yet to let anyone down. The promises, made throughout the ‘70s ever since the Nixon administration had signed off on the Shuttle’s basic design, of routine, weekly flights to orbit, of a massive space station built by the 1990s that would be a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system…none of them had been broken yet. The reality of getting Columbia ready for her second flight hadn’t set in yet.

Nobody knew how difficult or costly it would be…or, just a few years later, how dangerous, as NASA tried to fly its fleet of Shuttles more and more frequently.

I remember watching the landing coverage at a friend’s house, the site of a spring break sleepover. He was ready to fire up the Atari, or go outside and kick a ball, and I wasn’t ready to budge. Like other budding space geeks who had grown up in a decade during which American astronauts had simply stopped going to space for years on end, it had all been building up to this – the lovingly illustrated National Geographic issue devoted to telling us what would happen “when the Space Shuttle finally flies”, the fleet of die-cast metal Space Shuttles that circled above the surface of the Earth (in my pockets), the plastic model kits of a non-fictional spacecraft that had never gotten around to flying…
Space Shuttle
(And yes, each one is actually a specific shuttle, in the order that I got them as a kid, and as such is sitting next to its name. The one with the tail cover is the Enterprise.)

For just a moment, the future was bright.

As of March 2017, we are now in a longer gap between spaceflights launched from American soil than the gap between the final Apollo mission (1975’s international Apollo-Soyuz Test Project flight) and the first Shuttle launch. When the next crew of astronauts blasts off from the U.S., whether they’re aboard NASA’s Orion, or SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, or something else, here’s hoping that my kids get that same sense of wonder – even if it’s a similar kind of naïve, momentary wonder – as I got from watching this: a moment where, in the future, anything could happen.