Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lurking Shadows

The new visitor to The Pulp Reader may not realize that this blog started out as a repository for Text to Speech generated audiobooks. If you look at the mission statement at the very bottom of this page you will see where this all started.

As time has gone by there has been some evolution in the content. The Pulp Reader covers pulp, Noir, cliffhanger and classic movie reviews, news of what is going on in video and audio related media and anything else of a general interest to a pulp book, audio and movie fan.

But once in a while I still have a book I'd like to share. And this is somewhat exciting, at least for me, that today I'm experimenting with a new TTS reader. I'm always looking for the latest in technology so that the TTS audiobooks can sound as natural as possible.  I stumbled across a nice British voice that seems to pronounce most words very well without the hitches and sometimes garbled sounds that come with machine driven audio. 

Today's experiment is from the man who is considered the father of the "Hard-Boiled" genre, Carroll John Daly. Though his writing can be a little creaky, it is for the most part a truly pulpy thrill ride that is full of tough good guys and even tougher bad guys.  Outside of my acute admiration for both his Race Williams and Satan Hall stories, there is not much I can tell you that has not been told by more capable hands than mine.

Therefore I leave you with some links for further edification and finally the book Lurking Shadows.  I would be interested in knowing what you think of this new TTS voice. Is it easy to listen to? Is it a better voice than the traditional TTS voice that I use? Let me know.

listen to LURKING SHADOWS at!
Direct Download the zip file here
Play the stream in your media player.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Vincent Cortez is a man on a mission.

And a man of many talents.

Zachary Gossett as The Hush
He is an artist, a writer, a director, a producer. He even mixes his own audio and records Foley in a closet-sized audio studio in his home. Cortez's ingenuity and resourcefulness shows how an indie movie can be brought to life with a budget of $8000 and still compete with anything coming of Hollywood.

Cortez also garners a lot of loyalty and admiration from his actors, co-workers and family.  I found out why when I attended a screening of his haunting, supernatural Noir adventure The HUSH.  For the proof is in the puddin'. Outside of a brief synopsis and the trailer, I didn't know what exactly to expect.  But what I got was an amazing journey into darkness, into a haunted realm of memory, sorrow, loneliness and regret. All are prime elements that go into the making of the best films Noir.

An extra ingredient that is rare in the genre is the supernatural.  It is an ingredient that is well-added and takes this movie far beyond the norms of Noir.

"The Hush" is hit man Freddy Burnett who as a child was indoctrinated into a world of violence and death, making him a hardened one man killing machine. Zachary Gossett plays The Hush with a quiet intensity and verve that is unsettling.  The calm and assured way of dispatching his victims and his opponents lets you know who's side you want him on in a fight. Gossett pulls this vibe off without a hitch.

Melody Gomez and Zachary Gossett
The beginning of the film finds The Hush, who works for a mysterious group known as "The Horsemen", dispatching a local, crooked judge for them.  But as the judge is killed, an unforeseen complication arises when his mistress, Lillian, walks out of a bathroom, witnessing the hit.  A struggle ensues and she is killed. Lillian is played by Melody Gomez, who is appropriately haunting. A spectral presence who's death changes the direction of The Hush's life.  For soon after she is killed her ghost follows her killer around.  Taking an innocent life has changed him and now he has to work towards some type of atonement for his victims.

As the story progresses, another inadvertent death and more ghosts to follow The Hush around. Each with their own story, history and their own mission for The Hush. Each mission a stair step towards redemption.  But doing so will turn his employers against him and he starts to discover the true, dark nature of The Horsemen.  Now The Hush is in a one night race against time and a fight for his own life, and soul.

The Horsemen on The Hush's trail
Cortez has created a moody and feverish nightmare.  A phantasmagoria of death and specters all pushing and pulling against The Hush and against each other.  It is a delirious ride that seats itself in deep introspection and accented with hot blasts of action.

Visually the colors are muted, almost black and white, with shifting fields of focal depth that keep the viewer in a blurred off-balance stupor living in the same night-land of the dead that The Hush is surrounded by.  We are not just viewers, but participants. Watching from the backseat of his car, from under a table in the midst of a firefight or as he runs through a deserted train yard.  To be clear, this is not "cinéma vérité" with shaky cams jostling the viewer around, this is your personal entrance into Morpheus' Underworld.

Jeremiah Turner gets into makeup
Like La Pantera Negra, another indie title I reviewed recently, this is a solid film with solid acting, directing, visual effects, audio and a great soundtrack. It is the sort of story that lovers of Noir, hardcore pulp fiction and lovers of ghost stories will appreciate.  The Hush is being shown locally in the SF Bay Area, but will be hitting DVD and other digital distribution channels in the near future. Find this movie when you can, you won't regret it. Cortez and crew will rock your ghost-haunted world.

Did I mention that Vincent Cortez also composed the background music?

Keep up to date with The Hush at the Mitchell Street website and their facebook page.

UPDATE: The Hush is trying to make its way into the digital media circuit (Hulu, Netflix, etc) and they could use your help at IndieGoGo. Go check it out as it's a project worth backing!