Welcome to the first installment of This Week In Horror. Every week I’ll be highlighting the best news from the week, as well as bringing you various items in the world of horror that you should check out, from movies and games to music and books and everything in between. 

BEST NEWS- James Franco as Richard Ramirez

I’ll admit to a morbid curiosity with serial killers, aided greatly by the books of John Douglas and dozens of movies on the subject. Ramirez is one of the all-time monsters, a man who broke into dozens of homes and murdered their occupants before finally being caught and beaten by a group of citizens in a failed carjacking. Franco’s shown that he has serious acting chops and it would be fascinating to see him in this role. I hope they manage to talk about all the women that were attracted to him, and how he got married to one of his fans while in jail. Really twisted little end to the tale.

REMAKE- Time Crimes

Cause why not? Everyone enjoys a good time travel yarn, so maybe this can do something different than the excellent original. The original was pretty dark and grim so let’s hope they don’t give it a Hollywood whitewashing.

TRAILER- Rubber.

Forget Scream 4, this week is all about Rubber. Why? Because it’s about a killer tire, that’s why. Shut up with your silly questions and just watch it.

Then read Jacob Hall’s Fantastic Fest review and get even more excited.

READ- Joe R. Lansdale’s The Bottoms, which just recently was re-released and has found its way into ebook formats.

I always get into trouble when trying to describe Lansdale’s work. He’s one of my favorites, someone I consider one of the greatest living authors, but pigeonholing him as simply a horror author doesn’t do him a lick of justice. Case in point- The Bottoms. It might even be wrong to feature this in a horror column because although it does have some absolutely terrifying moments (featuring a serial killer/rapist and a mysterious being known as the Goat Man)  it’s so much more than just another horror novel. Lansdale manages to mash together a coming-of-age story, a slasher film, a ghost story, a look at racial tensions in Texas during the depression and mix it up and spit it out with the voice of an old man looking back on his life, in the way only the “mojo storyteller” himself can do.

The Bottoms won the Edgar Award for best novel and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and even so you have no idea how engrossing of a tale it is.  Originally a novella called Mad Dog Summer which was released in 1999 in Al Sarrantonio’s 999: New Stories of Horror and Suspense (a short story anthology which in my eyes represents the pinnacle of the genre, and deserves a spot in your library), The Bottoms takes that story, a horrifying tale set during the depression about a young white Texan boy finding a dead black woman in the woods, and uses it as the framework in a far larger tale. The atmosphere just oozes out of the book and it’s a really scary and depressing book, mostly because you likely know people just like the ones contained within.

A personal note- I’ve got a seven month old daughter at home and have been reading tons of books to her, everything from A Hitchiker’s Guide to Coraline to King Lear, hoping that she’ll pick up on it later in life. Nothing I’ve read out loud to her as flowed as beautifully as Landsale’s work. Nothing. His stories read like folk tales, bursting with flavor and voice and meaning. Head on over to the man’s website, where you can catch a new free short story every single Thursday.

PLAYDead Rising: Case West

Capcom made a very strange decision when they priced Case West at $10. Part of the reason that Dead Rising: Case Zero (review) was such a success was the fact that it was a mere 5 bucks. Comparing the buddy lists for both games I’m seeing 30 vs 2. Course, that could merely be a sign of gamers who got everything they needed from Case Zero and Dead Rising 2 and needed no more zombie mayhem, but that’d be a shame.

The downloadable Case West, like Case Zero before it, manages to be better than the retail games. This one is the most action-packed of them all, wasting no time at throwing hundreds of zombies and armed guards at you. You’re in a zombie research facility, the place where they manufacture Zombrex, the magical drug that holds off zombification after a bite (although for a mere 12 hours), and of course find out that they’re very much responsible for this whole mess. You need to find proof and make your way out, all the while avoiding the hordes upon hordes of zombies that have broken free of their containment areas.

One thing this has over Case Zero is co-op play, where you can control the protagonists of both Dead Rising games. It’s got new combo weapons, new challenges, and most importantly- the victims that you find in the game? You don’t have to lead them by the hand out of the exit. No, save them or fulfill their requirements and they’ll make their way out by themselves, saving you tons of meaningless and boring backtracking. The other annoying thing about the Dead Rising series, the timed missions, feels more lax this time around and it seems like you are more free to just mess around. Now, if they can just implement this in Dead Rising 3, they might have something there..

LISTEN- On the Rock Band Network Gwar’s Let Us Slay has been released. It’s not the best song they’ve ever done but it’s a blast to scream, and they really not got enough praise for their music.

Don’t mind me, I’m still on a high from seeing them for the first time (I know!) during the blizzard here in NYC a few weeks ago, and watching their amazing performance. You have to love a band that drags out Sarah Palin and cuts her in half and plays with her intestines, spraying the crowd with her blood. Social Commentary AND gore? That’s certainly worth supporting with your 2 bucks, isn’t it?

NYC- (I’m a New Yorker so each week I’ll try to highlight some upcoming horror event to catch, but if something good is happening anywhere else I’ll try and point that out too. But NYC gets precedence!)

Bad Biology is playing Midnight screenings this weekend at the Landmark Sunshine. New Hennenlotter isn’t as good as old Hennenlotter but he’s still more twisted, fucked-up and sexually charged than anyone around. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of R.A. The Rugged Man in the audience…

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more horror goodness.