Christopher Lee Dies Aged 93

As a lifelong Hammer fan, I was terribly shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Sir Christopher Lee today.

Having grown up watching all his movies, especially the Hammer ones in which he played Dracula, I developed such a strong affection and liking for the great man that I feel as I have just lost one of my dearest friends. And I am sure I speak for the vast majority of horror fans when I say that nobody could play Count Dracula quite like him. He brought an awesomely grand yet terrifying aspect to the role – exhibiting the vampire’s dark, booding sexuality brilliantly – and one that no other actor who has ever played Stoker’s immortal creation has come even close to emulating. In fact, Christopher Lee was the only screen Dracula who managed to scare me witless as a kid.

But of course it wasn’t just horror movies that Sir Christopher Lee was so famous for, because he played many other kinds of roles in various other movie genres, from pirates to Sherlock Holmes to Bond villain Scaramanga – and, more recently, Lord Saruman in Lord of the Rings. No matter what part he played, he undoubtedly brought to it his own special charm, brilliance and style. Lee worked with more Hollywood greats and appeared in more films than any other actor alive.

Sir Christopher Lee was also a fine singer, having made many albums and appeared on various TV shows over the years, entertaining viewers with his deep, strong vocal ability. He was indeed a man of many talents.

RIP Sir Christopher Lee. You have left us a wonderful legacy, and – like all the other great actors who have gone before you – you will never, ever be forgotten. We will all be eternally grateful to you for all the pleasure you gave us over many, many years with your wonderful movies.

Alan Toner
Author of Hammer Horror Remembered (Updated Edition): Updated Edition

Tanith Lee RIP

I was very saddened to hear of the death of horror, science fiction and fantasy author Tanith Lee. Having read many of her stories over the years, I deemed her to be a fine writer who certainly knew how to keep a reader gripped.

She had a long and prolific writing career, having published 300 short stories and over 90 books. In addition, she wrote a few poems, four BBC radio plays, and two episodes of the science fiction TV series Blake’s 7.

In 1980, she was the first woman to win the British Fantasy Society’s August Derleth Award for her book Death’s Master, as well as the World Fantasy Awards for Best Short Story in 1983 and 1984. She also won the Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the World Fantasy Convention in 2013 and the Horror Writers Association in 2015.

The literary world has lost another true master of the craft.

RIP Tanith Lee

Alan Toner


True Witchcraft – My Latest Kindle Book

I just want to say a few words about my latest Kindle book, True Witchcraft

True Witchcraft takes a look at all aspects of the practice of witchcraft through the ages, from its very beginnings as a pagan religion to its modern day form known as Wicca. The subjects covered include Matthew Hopkins (the notorious Witchfinder General), the Pendle Witches, symbols and tools of witchcraft, Aleister Crowley, the Salem Witch Trials and many more. As well as covering the history of witchcraft, the book also sets out to clear up any unfavourable misconceptions people may have about witchcraft in general. If you are fascinated by witchcraft and want a good overview of the subject, then you are sure to find this book highly fascinating and informative.

You can buy True Witchcraft from Amazon by clicking on the image link below.

My Top 10 Vincent Price Movies

I have always loved the work of the late, great Vincent Price, and being an ardent fan of the macabre, I naturally enjoyed his horror movies the most. Vincent Price made so many excellent horror films in his time, and so it was some task picking out those which I deemed the best of the lot. Anyway, for the record, here are my own personal Top 10 Vincent Price movies;

1. Theatre of Blood (1973)
2. The Fly (1958)
3. The Abominable Dr Phibes (1971)
4. Witchfinder General (1968)
5. Madhouse (1974)
6. The Pit And The Pendulum (1961)
7. The Monster Club (1981)
8. House of Wax (1953)
9. The House on Haunted Hill (1959)
10. The Haunted Palace (1963)

What are YOUR favourite Vincent Price movies?

Alan Toner

The Enfield Haunting

In May 2015, SKY Living is showing a three-part dramatisation of the terrifying case of The Enfield Haunting, which occurred in 1977 and which made newspaper headlines all over the UK. The movie will star Timothy Spall as Maurice Grosse, the paranormal researcher who investigated the haunting, and Juliet Stevenson CBE, who plays his wife.

The following is an account of the true case of The Enfield Haunting as it unfolded all those years ago in that rented council house in that ordinary suburban street in 1977.

In 1977, a family who lived in a rented council house in Enfield UK, began a terrifying ordeal when a Poltergeist took over their lives. The family consisted of divorcee Margaret (Peggy) Hodgson and her four children: Margaret aged 12, Janet 11, Johnny 10 and Billy 7.

Pheneomena started when the two girls were in bed and a chest of drawers started shuffling forwards. Their Mother went upstairs to see what the commotion was. The girls were told to get back into bed and stop messing about. With that, the chest of drawers suddenly lurched forwards. The Mother pushed it back in place only for the chest to immediately move forwards again! The family were kept awake all night long with strange noises and knockings. The following morning, exhausted, the family went into the neighbour’s house and described the nights events. Vic Nottingham the neighbour went into the house to see if he could fathom what was going on. He too heard the noises, and says that the knocking followed him from room to room. This was the beginning of a year long period in which during the early stages, the family experienced more knocking on the walls, lego bricks and marbles being thrown around aggressively, and more movement of furniture. It was later to take an even more terrifying turn, when a cast iron fireplace would be torn from the wall, fires would ignite and extinguish themselves spontaneously, and Janet would be thrown out of bed, and made to levitate. One of these incidents were witnessed by two passers by, who stopped in amazement to watch Janet levitating horizontally in her bedroom window, whilst toys were swirling around in the air behind her!

They were frightened out of their wits and the Mother was at such a loss of what to do that she called the police. When they arrived on the scene they witnessed a chair lift up in the air, which as it came to rest shot 4ft forward across the floor! The police even wrote a statement to this effect. The Newspapers were called and a senior reporter for the Daily Mirror went to interview the family. She also witnessed strange events. It was then suggested that paranormal investigators should be brought in. And so began an intensive study that was to last for many months with paranormal researchers, Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair.

Maurice Grosse stated that the terror within the family was completely apparent. Desperate to help them, he would visit the family on an almost daily basis in order to offer support and to investigate the phenomena. During the latter months of this haunting, the phenomena took an unexpected twist when one day the family were in the living room and suddenly a dog started barking … they didn’t have a dog! Maurice decided that if the entity was able to produce a bark, perhaps it could be coaxed into speaking. He began asking questions and to his amazement the entity answered! The voice was strange, deep and guttural, and very much sounded like that of an old man. But the voice came from Janet! Examination showed that to produce such a sound, the voice would have to come from the false vocal cords situated deep in the throat. However, to speak in this way is painful anddamaging, and to speak in this way for any length of time is said to be medically impossible. The voice was recorded on many occasions, and the girl who was seemingly possessed was made to take a sip of water and have her mouth taped up. After the voice was heard and recorded, she would be un-taped and would spit out the water. Interestingly, the voice claimed to be that of a man called Billwho said that he was the previous occupier of the house, and stated that he had died of a brain hemorrhage in an armchair in the living room. This was confirmed to be true, and when the tape was played to the man’s son, the son was adamant that the voice was that of his Father.

There was a brief period where the two girls were thought to be hoaxing the phenomena. Indeed they did admit to playing some tricks on Maurice. They state that they
used to get fed up with being constantly tested like guinea pigs and wanted to see if he could catch them out, which he did every time! There is an extremely interesting film, titled ‘Interview with a poltergeist’, which reconstructs these events. And many of the witnesses, including Maurice Grosse, the Daily Mirror reporter, the Police, and the two daughters are interviewed. It’s interesting to note the girls accounts from their perspectives as adults. They are clearly still affected by what they went through. Their testaments leave very little doubt that their experiences were genuine.

To watch the documentaries and listen to the recordings of the case, please click on the link below.

(The Webmaster wishes to thank Patty from for her kind permission to use this article.)

Buy the book THIS HOUSE IS HAUNTED: THE ENFIELD POLTERGEIST by Guy Lyon Playfair by clicking on the link below:



Frankenstein vs The Mummy – Great Universal Monster Homage

Being an ardent fan of the old Universal monster movies – especially of the ones that featured all the monsters in one movie (e.g. House of Frankenstein) – I was naturally quite excited to come across a new DVD release this week that seemed to be a little homage to all those wonderful films I used to stay up late to watch as a kid. The DVD I am speaking about is FRANKENSTEIN vs THE MUMMY.

I have just watched this movie and thought it was brilliant. Both monsters were presented wonderfully, if a little different to the way Universal used to depict them, and the storyline was really thrilling and engrossing. Also, the supporting cast were fantastic, and I loved the apparent homage to Peter Cushing in the form of the Cushing-lookalike mad doctor who was presiding over the resurrection of the mummy. And if you love your blood and gore, then you certainly won’t be disappointed here, as there are some real gruesome killings in this movie. And the special efffects certainly enhance the general enjoyment of this story.

So if you love Universal-style monster teamups as much as I do, then I would highly recommend you check out FRANKENSTEIN vs THE MUMMY. Believe me, it’s one that you will certainly want to add to your collection.

Read the full review HERE

You can buy FRANKENSTEIN vs THE MUMMY by clicking on the image link below.


10 Tips for Kindle Book Authors

As a published Kindle book author myself, I thought I would offer these 10 tips for anybody who aspires to publish their own books on the Amazon Kindle Store. I am sure you will find them very useful.

1. Enrol in Amazon Kindle Select. The advantage of this is that you can accrue higher royalties and earn your share of the KDP Select Global Fund amount when readers borrow your books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. In addition, you can earn 70% royalty for sales to customers in Japan, India and Brazil. Make your book free to readers worldwide for a limited time The Promotions Manager tool is very good, as it allows you to directly schedule and control the promotion of free books. You can accrue sales on all the other Amazon international sites too (e.g.

2. Post messages about your work in as many forums as possible relating to your specific genre. To avoid running the risk of spamming, though, it might be a good idea to place the url leading to your Amazon Author Central Page in your forum signature. This is a very good way of getting traffic to your page without conveying the impression that you are just “plugging” your book. Another good tip is to post guest blogs in as many high traffic blogs as possible.

3. Interact with as many other self-published authors, editors, writing experts etc. as much as you can. This way, you will gain a good knowledge of the self publishing industry – and you never know, you might even gain some valuable contacts!

4. If you are formatting your ebooks yourself, Calbre is the best programme to use when converting your saved Word document (in HTML form). It is free from I use it all the time, and it does a fantastic job in converting a book to the MOBI format, which is the one you should use to upload all Kindle books to Amazon.

5. Get the free SMASHWORDS GUIDE to formatting and producing ebooks at: . It really is the Bible of ebook creation. I was referred to it by an experienced ebook author, and it tells you everything you need to know about getting formatting (always a fiddly task) right for your ebook. I wouldn’t be without it.

6. Regarding pricing of your books, well, that really is up to you. You can either put your books on at the lowest price of 99p to generate some extra interest, or you can set it at the higher price of £1.99. Some authors, when they are first starting off, tend to keep their books at the low price until they get established, which is a very good idea. But as I say, it really is your decision.

7. Always set your book so that people can preview it on its Amazon page (this is done through the CLICK TO LOOK INSIDE feature). It’s usually a good idea to have as less introductory content at the front of your book as possible, as you need to get people straight to reading a sample of your story without having to wade through pages and pages of front matter.

8. Download the Amazon Kindle Reader. It’s great for people who haven’t got a Kindle, as they can read their book on their PC or laptop.

9. Keep up to date with latest news on Amazon regarding Kindle publishing.

10. Finally – and I can’t stress this enough – promote, promote and promote more. It is the only way to get word out about your book to a worldwide audience. There is always something you can do to spread the word around, and if I hear of any more useful methods for book promotion, I shall certainly pass them on to you.

Best of luck with your books.

Alan Toner

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

I am currently reading Mr Mercedes by Stephen King, and I think it is one of the best books he has ever written.

Mr Mercedes tells the story of twisted killer Brady Hartsfield, who mercilessly taunts a retired homicide detective, Bill Hodges, with menacing letters and messages. Hartsfield is responsible for the pre-dawn mowing down and injuring a crowd of people queuing up for a jobs fair

BBC Writers Room

Thinking about writing for television? Fancy yourself as the next John Sullivan? Then you could do no worse than to check out the BBC Writers Room.

The BBC Writers Room offers great opportunities for any budding scriptwriter to get their work read – and, if you’re lucky, adapted for a TV play or series. From their bases in London and Salford, the production team at the Writers’ Room actively seek out and develop writers, working in partnerships both inside and outside the BBC.

Their Script Room offers an open door for unrepresented writers all over the UK to submit scripts with the assurance that at least the first ten pages will be read. New writers with obvious potential are then offered development opportunities to jump-start their careers.

They also offer many writing events, workshops, masterclasses, Q&A sessions, and residential courses. There are a wealth of online resources in the Writers’ Lab, a Script Library, Industry Opportunities, and the Blog with news and features on the latest BBC programmes, plus help and advice.

The site really is a TV writer’s dream, and I would strongly advise anybody with a strong ambition to get their script commissioned for television to check out the BBC Writers’ Room now at:

Alan Toner

The Babadook

Watched the new Australian psychological horror movie The Babadook the other night, and thought it was quite a good film. It had many layers, good characterisation and an original, entertaining plot – all of the essential qualities which, for me, go to make the perfect horror flick.

Basically, The Babadook tells the story of a young mother – plagued by the violent death of her husband – and her son who are persecuted in their new home by an imaginary monster right out of a child’s pop-up picture book, which they stumble upon in the house. Shades of The Shining and The Exorcist are noticeable here and there, as the malevolent, seemingly demonic force that is The Babadook begins to exert its terrifying influence on the residents in various unpleasant, terrifying ways. But does this Babadook monster really exist? Well, you will have to make up your own minds about that.

The Babadook is a movie that really has you thinking about its true meaning. Although it does purport to feature a rather creepy monster, the emphasis is not really on a living, solid creature that persistently pops out of a kids’ story book to scare its victims half to death. Instead, its multi-level storyline concentrates more on the psychological side of the turbulent mother-and-son relationship. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that The Babadook is the kind of movie that will still have you thinking about it long after you have watched it. You can interpret it in so many ways, especially in regard to what really happened to the mother and son.

The Babadook was produced by Causeway Films and is based on the short film Monster (2005), also written and directed by Kent. The movie received much critical acclaim at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

If you like your horror movies with many layers, and which give you plenty of food for thought, then I  strongly suggest you treat yourself to a copy of The Babadook (you can buy it by clicking on the image link below). I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Alan Toner