Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Back to the Empty Places

A while back I wrote a one-shot horror short story called The Smell of Empty Places, that was translated in Italian by horror maestro Samuel Marolla, and became part of the anthology Dark Italy, by Acheron Books, thus making me an Italian writer that is published in translation in his own country.

While we wait for the English edition of Dark Italy to come out, I chanced upon an open call from an English-language publisher, that looked tailor made for my story, and has a ten-days deadline. But of course I can’t sell them my old story, because it belongs to Acheron Books.

But, I thought, what about revisiting the same universe, telling a different story in the same setting? 

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The (Japanese) Black Cat

Let’s get back to our usual topics – strange stories and the East and adventure and flashing swords.
I’ve been spending a lot of time, this weekend, doing some background research for my current “mainstream” project – basically listening to music and watching documentaries about Japan, to catch a sense of place, because my story will have a Japanese side.
As it usually happens, research is changing and stretching the original concepts, and writing will be a fine game of balancing the original plot and the new elements.
It’s going to be fun, hopefully.

But all this also caused me to think back at the strange connection there is between my generation, here in Italy, and Japan. We were the ones that were in their early teens when the big anime invasion began (with stuff like captain Harlock and Mazinger Z), but I always thought there’s something deeper.
Samurai movies, and old documentaries.
For instance – I was in primary school when I caught on the telly Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko – the movie had been presented a few years before at the Cannes Movie Festival before it was cancelled because of the 1968 riots, and was being used to test the video walls in Turin during the Technology Fair.

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Basically, if you lived in Turin in the early 1970s, during the Fair you caught extra movies in the morning, movies that were broadcast locally. Continue reading


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Insomnia Movies: The Stone Tape

Yesterday my friend Lucy did a great post about Quatermass and the Pit (the article is in Italian, but you can use Google Translate) so I decided I’d like to watch it again. To me Quatermass and the Pit in color is always a strange experience because I first saw it on the telly, when I was a kid, and it was in black and white and I still remember it in black and white.

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But anyway, I was not able to find my copy, that lies buried somewhere. So, as I was going through a bout of insomnia and I was in a Quatermass kind of mood, I picked up another thing by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale, and I re-watched The Stone Tape. And then I thought I’d do a post about it.
Here we go. Continue reading


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Insomnia movie: Dead of Night (1945)

Who doesn’t like a good scary movie once in a while?
What better way to go through a bout of insomnia?
And this is the season for scary movies and creepy stories, so I went and finally watched an old movie that’s been on my list forever, and that only recently I got in the restored version. Because it’s a film from 1945, and it’s baffling and disquieting and a beauty to behold.
It’s called Dead of Night and you should really check it out.

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The Watchers, a review

Halloween is creeping closer, and it’s a good opportunity to roll out a few reviews of books I read over the last few months.
51abGQJhjoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Like, for instance, William Meikle’s The Watchers trilogy.
Meikle is one of the most reliable authors in the supernatural horror/thriller genre, with a side of sword & sorcery, and one of the first writers I started reading when I got my Kindle reader.
William Meikle got some absolutely undeserved bad press last year, when a noted critic singled him out during a rant review of an anthology. It was unfair, wrong-headed and inelegant, but that’s critics for you, I guess.
For this writer, William Meikle is good.

Case in point, The Watchers, a work that dos not only underscore the skills and imagination of the author, but represent a perfect read for those who are tired of a certain type of horror and want to try something different. Continue reading


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The Hound of ’59

vMy friend Lucy published today a nice lengthy piece about the 1939 adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
You can find the post here, and read it through the usual Google Translate thingy. It’s excellent, and it raises an interesting question, by noting that The Hound of the Baskervilles is treated as a proper Gothic story, an old dark house film.
This got me thinking about the connection between the Canon and the Horror genre, and so while clouds gathered and the storm approached, heralded by thunder and lightning, I brew myself a cup of hot tea, and I took a look at the other Hound, the one that was unleashed on the moors, in the full shocking splendor of Technicolor, by Terence Fisher, with the assistance of the fine gentlemen of Hammer Films.
The first Holmes movie in color.
Another Gothic adaptation, featuring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
It was, if you recall, the year 1959. Continue reading