DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Friday, October 14, 2022

Matt has been waiting for these VISITORS (review) and Owen Knight

The Visitors

Owen W Knight (@OwenKnightUK)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“We have considered your report and accept many of your recommendations. We thank you for alerting us to the possibility that the Visitors might have negative intentions towards us as a species. You questioned the benefits to us, the human race. We believe these are self-evident and will assist us in creating a better world.”

You join us at a time that will be known as ‘The Great Reset’. An alien race has made contact with us and frankly, things will never be the same again. The main protagonists here include Peter (who actually saved the world fourteen years ago – but that is another story) and his sister Emily. These two bright young things are key, along with some other strangers who cross their paths due to oddly coded invitations – potentially to the future of the human race.

This group must travel to the hidden village of Templewood, home to the Sect, a secretive organisation intent on global power, who see themselves as ‘God’s Authority on Earth’ no less.  

As the clock ticks and the stakes get ever higher, can the fact that the Sect have infiltrated many Governments and are actively collaborating with the will of the Visitors lead to the promise of a glorious future – or something far more sinister?

I’m a big fan of speculative fiction and very much enjoyed Knight’s last book The Green Man. We he tackles the well-worn plot of alien invaders bringing gifts of advanced scientific and genetic discoveries. It put me in mind of the fun ‘80s TV show ‘V’ starring Marc Singer on the side of the humans and Jane Badler as the untrustworthy visitor Diana (below)… 

Anyway, the problem with aliens with superior technology is often the price that they’ll ask for sharing it with us. And whilst in The Visitors the gifts they bring will potentially provide enormous benefits for humanity, the plot deals with the fallout for us in terms of how they will also facilitate the Sect's bid for global power.

Can the Visitors be trusted? Why are the ‘borrowing’ humans to do we know not what with before sending them back? Will the Sect blindly follow the Visitors’ wishes or usurp them for their own ends and if so, how can Peter, Emily and the crew possibly save us from what might happen next?

This is a thinking person’s sci-fi, where politics and ramifications of decisions are explored more through discussion than laser gun action. There is something wonderfully British about this book with the heroes often stopping for cups of tea and the like.

I can heartily recommend this allegorical tale – which feels very timely – and look forward to what wonders Knight might bring us in the future!

As Abba once sang: ‘And now they've come to take me, come to break me, and yet it isn't unexpected. I have been waiting for these visitors…’

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(5 - This time it's not war, but it's fascinating!)

Get your copy of The Visitors - Buy Link 

I asked Owen some questions so you can get a glimpse into his mind - here are his answers (i'm at least 80% sure he hasn't been taken over by an alien...)

Matt: If scientists ever managed to create a giant mecha version of you – who or what would be your nemesis?

Owen: Rust caused by red wine.

Matt: What is the most disturbing fictional scene you’ve ever read or watched in a book/film of any genre?

Owen: The sense of threat in the scene where Frank (Dennis Hopper) inhales amyl nitrite through a mask to enhance his pleasure from violence in David Lynch’s film Blue Velvet.

Matt: If aliens took over your body - how would people realise?

Owen: My eyes would turn amber (read The Visitors).

Matt: You’re in a strange town with £100,000 that you have to spend in a single evening – talk me through what you get up to…

Owen: I’d spend the evening booking a year away in exotic places where I can meet local people and get insights into their lives.

'the mind behind the Visitors'

Matt: Who inspires you most (can be living or dead)?

Owen: So many… Arthur Rimbaud, J.G. Ballard, David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, B. S. Johnson. Alasdair Gray, Andrew Michael Hurley…

Matt: There’s a masked assailant with a gun to your head, who is most likely to be under the mask?

Owen: Someone I have mistreated in one of my books. An anonymous alien, perhaps, or the Green Man.

Matt: What is truth?

Owen: I continue to seek the answer.

Matt: What was the best gift you’ve ever been given?

Owen: The gift of insight. To be able to build a story from by linking unconnected ideas.

Matt: If you could have a sidekick robot – what would it be able to do for you?

Owen: Randomly generate heterogeneous ideas that I could link and use in my next novel. Rather like a tennis ball machine.

Matt: What would you like written on your tombstone?

Owen: ‘I have found the portal to the real world and could be gone a while.’

Matt: Any final words you like to add...

Owen: Football clubs are now investing in how to speed up players’ thought processes and reaction times. I can think of few greater gifts to a writer than to be able to think, analyse and make connections faster. If The Visitors bring me a gift, I hope it is a quantum algorithm process to do just this.

>>> Imagine a world where the earth is becoming hell?

Click below to find out in my dark sci-fi novel...


Friday, October 07, 2022

10 Visions of Hell: HELLRAISER Films 1-10

10 Visions of Hell: HELLRAISER Films 1-10

Reaction from Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

As the US gets the new Hellraiser reboot (but we UK types have to wait as the powers of darkness deem us worthy to also receive it) – here is a Darkmatters ranking of the existing films from the original and best – down to some sent from the pits of ‘straight to video’ hell itself…

So Matt’s personal ranking from best to worst is thus:

Hellraiser (1987) Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

Dir. Clive ‘I wrote the book’ Barker  (you might also know him from Nightbreed 1990) 

This is the OG, a sexually deviant tale of life, love and inadvertently opening a portal to hell… Thrill seeker Frank (Sean Chapman) is the human who summons the Cenobites and kicks off a deliciously twisted ‘chain’ of events. The main protagonist is Frank’s sister-in-law / illicit lover Julia (Clare Higgins) and then there’s poor innocent Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), who tries to stand against the tide of evil. Hellraiser changed the game when it was released – not just unleashing one of the most iconic horror icons of all time in Pinhead but also delivering a superbly grotesque (and rather British) film, which hasn’t been matched by any of the 9 sequels.

Will the 2022 Hellraiser meet the challenge – it’ll have to be pretty epic… 

Reason to watch: The sexual charge between Frank and Julia is electric, the lengths of darkness it inspires are horrific!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) Rotten Tomatoes: 50%

Dir. Tony Randel (you might know him from Dinocroc vs Supergator 2010) 

Following on pretty much immediately from the excellent original, Hellbound sees young Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) now in a mental institution. The Channard institute to be precise and its dodgy director Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham), who is fascinated by the whole demonic S&M potential of the puzzle box. Kirsty and fellow patient Tiffany (Imogen Boorman) get dragged to hell with a Cenobite Channard and undead Julia all piling in for a chain-snapping hellish battle-royale showdown.

Reason to watch: There is some excellent stop-motion monster work that whilst a little dated is absolutely bonkers to watch.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


Hellraiser Judgement (2018) Rotten Tomatoes: 36%

Dir. Gary J. Tunnicliffe (you might know him from Hansel & Gretel 2002) 

This is a highly controversial placing on the list as opinion on Hellraiser Judgement is very mixed. But there’s not accounting for taste and this one I liked because it actually expands on the Cenobite lore using The Scarlet Gospels and the Hellraiser comics to bring more heavenly / hellish workings of Leviathan and introducing the Auditor who has dominion over the recently deceased. Caught up in this bizarre afterlife bureaucracy are detectives Sean and David Carter plus Christine Egerton who are tracking a grisly serial killer. Things get hellish when the Cenobites get caught up in their affairs.

Reason to watch: At one point an angel and Pinhead have a confrontation.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


Hellraiser: Deader (2005) Rotten Tomatoes: 13%

Dir. Rick Bota (you might know from his much worse 2 other Hellraiser films)

I’m a fan of actress Kari Wuhrer so having her in the lead here as a journalist investigating a nasty cult that can somehow resurrect the dead means this one is very watchable. Deader would have worked as a weird standalone horror (which it was gonna be before it got ‘Hellraisered-up’ to make a vehicle to clunkily include Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his Ceno-pals). It’s grim in a kind of Se7en or The Cell kind of vibe and definitely worth seeking out if a fan of that kind of stuff.  

Reason to watch: The Budapest underground train here has a fetish carriage where you can get drugs, a lap dance and generally hang out with the city’s weirdo element.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) Rotten Tomatoes: 24%

Dirs. Kevin Yagher, Joe Chappelle (you might know him from Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers 1995)

This was the final Hellraiser to get a cinema release (and even then not over here in the UK). It’s an odd mix of Cenobites in 2127 in SPACE, 18th-century French mischief with toymaker Paul L'Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) whose claim to fame is being the creator of the Lemarchand Configuration itself and 1990’s weirdness – remember that building from the end of Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth – yeah that is back with John Merchant (also Bruce Ramsay). Then, centuries later, in SPACE Phillip Merchant (yep Ramsay again) prepares a trap for the Cenobites.

Reason to watch: This one at least has plenty of Cenobite action, and a Cenodog!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992) Rotten Tomatoes: 40%

Dir. Anthony Hickox (you might know him from Waxwork 1988)

I can vividly remember seeing this on the big screen in ’92 with pals and us all being very disappointed by this effort which radically changes direction from the first two – and makes the Cenobites into almost horror comedy oddball slashers. Having rewatched it for this post, there are some fun bits and Pinhead gets some Freddy Krueger style lines but whoever came up with CD Head and Video Camera Face Cenobites deserves to suffer for their flippancy. Most rankings (including Rotten Tomatoes) put this one higher up the list but I just can’t…

Reason to watch: Possibly one of the most iconic Pinhead scenes see him spout ‘I am the way’ in a church with a stained glass window. It should have been the cover!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


Hellraiser: Inferno (2006) Rotten Tomatoes: 17%

Dir. Scott Derrickson (you might know him from Doctor Strange)

Here we are in Los Angeles where some detective (Craig Sheffer) might be in hell. Pinhead (Doug Bradley) taunts him as ritual murders pile up. Who is the oddly named Engineer? Does anyone actually care?

Reason to watch: At one point two policemen get their heads morphed together to become a kind of chuckle brothers of the Cenobite world.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) Rotten Tomatoes: 0%

Dir. Rick Bota (you might know from his much better ‘Hellraiser: Deader’ 2005)

So, there’s this pretty dodgy guy who’s married Kirsty from the first Hellraiser film – they have a car crash almost as soon as the film starts and after that spooky things happen… Trudging along rehashing a ‘is he really an amnesiac or faking it’ plot borrowed from every daytime TV detective show – he sees fairly horrible visions every now and then – sometimes they even have Cenobites in them. 

Reason to watch: The main guy is a wrongun who wouldn’t be out of place in an Irvine Welsh book – and his comeuppance when it finally comes is the best 10 seconds of the film.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005) Rotten Tomatoes: 0%

Dir. Rick Bota (you might know him from other Hellraiser films and ‘Damaged’ 2014)

As a huge gamer, fan of both Henry Cavill and Lance Henriksen – hopes were set a bit too high for this sequel. It features the fun notion of there being a Hellraiser online game in which if you win – by virtually opening the lament configuration – you win tickets to an IRL Hellraiser party!? Alas the plot is off-the-peg slasher, the Cenobites are limited to small cameos and it just gets unforgivably dull. I’d still play a PS5 Hellraiser game tho!!

Reason to watch: There are some Hellraiser easter eggs scattered throughout and Henriksen is always great to watch even in a rubbish film.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


Hellraiser: Revelations (2011) Rotten Tomatoes: 0%

Dir. Víctor García (you might know him from ‘The Damned’ 2013)

If you’re still reading – it’s probably either that you’re extremely Hellraiser-curious or you were somebody involved in making this cheap knockoff for Dimension films so they could keep the rights to the franchise.

This is the tale of how two college friends unwittingly release Pinhead’s retarded brother – sorry I’m being told it is supposed to be the actual Pinhead (this time played by Stephan Smith Collins) and a couple of other hell minions. Hookers get murdered, people wear each other’s skin, family violence happens as infidelities are revealed – and Hellraiser fans everywhere weep… Like so many of the sequels – there is something almost watchable in there somewhere but it's fumbled badly.

Reason to watch: Pinhead seems to hit on one of the mothers as he creepily applauds ‘dark sexual desires’ in front of her kids - classy guy.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


That's all folks...

>>> Imagine a world where the earth is becoming hell?

Click below to find out in my dark sci-fi novel...


Saturday, October 01, 2022

Matt teams up with the Exiles (review)



Daniel Blythe (@danblythewriter) 


Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)


“ She could smell burning flesh. She didn’t know if it was her own.

She was screaming inside. Beth knew the scene from a thousand safety visuals.

In her mind she saw the ship, a vast slab covered in twinkling lights, a flying mega-

city, now in flames. Burning itself to death.… ”

Strap in for launch - we’re off to a distant galaxy where young Bethany Aurelia Kane, Sister in the Chapter of Continual Progress, Citizen of the Galactic Collective, has cheated death. Now, the fun begins as she has to fight for her life.

Crash landing on The Edge (a penal colony - not the guy from U2) in an escape pod launched from a great starship, Beth finds herself stranded on a planet light years from civilisation - but she isn’t alone. 

Here, in a kind of YA nod to Alien 3 are a group of young prisoners who have converted a scientific base into a makeshift home. These delinquents have survived against the odds by planting crops, sourcing fresh water, and establishing electrical power – aided by a contingent of mechanised Drones.

So far, so good - but The Edge isn’t a hospitable place and storms, power failures, illness and death are just a few of the challenges the teenage exiles battle. As Beth accustoms herself to her new life on The Edge, she has to overcome her fears, learn new skills and earn the respect of leader Zach, the arrogant Colm, the resentful Mia and the others. But when a terrible, violent event shatters the colony’s existence, it seems nothing will ever be the same. Who among them is a killer? And just how isolated are they really?…

As the clock ticks towards a final revelation, Beth needs all her new skills and resourcefulness to stop The Edge from plunging into anarchy. And she has her own secret too – one which will prove decisive in the battle for survival…

Modestly describing itself as ‘A stunning YA dystopian novel’ on amazon Exiles is a fun read which should appeal to sci-fi fans of all ages. Blythe brings a host of great ideas to this murdery space mystery and it you’ll soon be lapping up the intrigue that befalls the characters. Beth is a wickedly cool heroine who gets some great lines - my personal fav being the short but sweet message ‘for you and all creatures like you’ she gives when confronting an unexpected enemy.

The tension between the convicts and Beth is well worked. Suspicion and danger that feels like a tribute to Lord of the Flies or Lost - Blythe mines the dark recesses of human fear and anger to bring things to a suitably exciting climax.

Exiles is great, bordering on the ‘stunning’ but certainly an easy book to recommend without hesitation! Let’s hope Blythe returns to this universe at some future point!!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4.5 - Exiles is a full-on murder-in-space adventure - jump in...)

Get your copy of Exiles - Buy Link 


Daniel Blythe was born in Maidstone and attended Maidstone Grammar School and St John's College, Oxford, then Christ Church University, Canterbury. As well as being a writer he has worked as a tour guide, a languages tutor, a translator, a Lifelong Learning development worker and a tutor of Creative Writing.

He is the author of several novels for children and adults, as well as a writer of non-fiction on subjects as diverse as popular music, politics, collecting gadgets and games, parenting and the history of robotics. He has written several of the official Doctor Who books licensed by the BBC, including Autonomy. Daniel's first book with a teenage narrator was The Cut, which was followed by further novels Losing Faith and This is the Day. In 2012 his first supernatural fantasy novel for young readers, Shadow Runners, was published. Emerald Greene and the Witch Stones (for age 9-12) was published in 2015 and a sequel Emerald Greene: Instruments of Darkness in 2017. He has written shorter 'reluctant reader' books called New Dawn, I Spy (nominated for the Leicester Reading Rampage Award 2018), Fascination, Kill Order, Hope and Truth and Kiss the Sky.

Daniel has worked as a visiting author in over 400 schools, and has taught on the MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. He now mentors, advises and edits writers of all ages through Cornerstones UK and the Faber Academy and is a regular judge on the Novel Slam for the 'Off The Shelf' festival. Daniel lives in the Peak District, with his wife and their two student children.



Follow him at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danielblythewriter/

Twitter : https://twitter.com/danblythewriter

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/danblythewriter/

This review is part of the most excellent ZOOLOOBOOKTOURSCREW...

>>> Imagine a world where the earth is becoming hell?

Click below to find out in my dark sci-fi novel...