Martin Powell Guest Blog For The Month Of C.H.U.D.


Darkness Dwells is proud to present an interview with Martin Powell regarding C.H.U.D. and his contribution to the C.H.U.D. Lives Tribute anthology.

 Darkness Dwells:  Thank you for talking with us! Do you remember the first time you watched C.H.U.D? If so, how did the movie affect you?

POWELL:  I vividly remember snatching the VHS from the shelf at a local video store, attracted by the box art.  Of course, kids today can’t appreciate how exciting the advent of Home Video was, making it possible to see more movies than ever before.  During that period, slasher films mostly dominated the horror genre which I’m not of fan of, but I’ve always loved monsters, especially the Frankenstein series of Universal Studios.  Movie monsters were rare during those days, but C.H.U.D. certainly had ‘em.  Very cool ones, too.

DD:  How did you approach writing your story for C.H.U.D?

POWELL:  When I started thinking about my story, I knew wanted to portray the creatures in a rather sympathetic way, but still make them terrifying.  The trick was to expand upon the movie itself, without trying to redundantly imitate it.  While I was re-watching my DVD copy of C.H.U.D., it occurred to me that they didn’t really get into the creatures’ heads or explore what the mutation experience would be like, so I went in that direction.

DD:  What was your biggest challenge writing it?

POWELL:  Well, I’m a full-time writer with a seven-days-per-week schedule, so the biggest challenge was just finding the time to write it.  When editor Eric Brown first approached me to be a part of the anthology, I very reluctantly turned him down and immediately I regretted that.  Deciding that sleep is overrated, and I’m an insomniac anyway, I messaged Eric back and said if he’d still have me, I’d be delighted.  Otherwise, I knew I’d be missing out on something very fun. 

DD:  Your story, “Monstrous Me” has an element of body horror to it. Is this something you enjoy writing about?

POWELL:  Well, sort of.  Although I’ve never been a fan of visceral gore for its own sake, but metamorphosis in horror has always fascinated me.  Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a trailblazer in the genre, and Bram Stoker’s poignantly eloquent and ultimately terrifying transformation of Lucy Westenra in DRACULA is brilliantly conceived.  Kafka achieved some very disturbing psychological effects, too.  All of those inspired and influenced me.

DD:  If you ever had the chance to either write for another 80s horror movie tribute anthology, which movie would you choose and why?

POWELL:  Probably American Werewolf in London, because it also deals with metamorphosis.  Also, I’m a big fan of Fred Dekker’s MONSTER SQUAD.

DD:  Man, those are two great movies and would be fun to write in their world. Do you have anything coming out soon that readers can check out?

POWELL:  I write nearly a dozen weekly online comic strips for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., which will be collected as printed volumes by Dark Horse.  My Amazon Author’s Page has zillions of my graphic novels, children’s books, and prose fiction available all the time.  Also, I’m writing a new horror prose novel, The Witch of Cypress Creek, to be released in 2019.

About Martin Powell:

Martin Powell has written hundreds of stories in numerous genres for Disney, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Capstone Books, among others. Nominated for the prestigious Eisner Award for his work with Sherlock Holmes, he has written many of the most popular characters in the industry, including Superman, Batman, Popeye the Sailor, Dracula, Frankenstein, and Tarzan of the Apes. Currently, as the author of almost a dozen different ERB online comic strips, and the critically acclaimed Jungle Tales of Tarzan graphic novel from Dark Horse, Powell has written more Edgar Rice Burroughs characters than any other contemporary writer.  He received the coveted Golden Lion Award from the Burroughs Bibliophiles in 2017 for his on-going contributions to the legacy of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Visit Martin and his work online:









Author Chad Lutzke Visits The Month of C.H.U.D.

Lutzke 2017 Bio photo.jpg

Continuing Darkness Dwells' journey into the Month of C.H.U.D., author Chad Lutzke visits the blog and answers a few questions.  

Darkness Dwells - Do you remember the first time you watched C.H.U.D? If so, how did the movie affect you? 

Lutzke - I don't remember the first time I saw it, but I recall seeing the poster and the trailer and imagined it being much scarier than it was. The film was very popular among my friends at the time, though none of us had seen it yet because it was new. It was almost scarier that way, knowing this movie existed that we knew nothing about, only the idea that something lurked beneath us.  

DD - How did you approach writing your story for C.H.U.D?

Lutzke - I didn't want to use any of the existing characters or make it about the creatures themselves. I wanted to show a human side to the epidemic, with the spotlight on someone who once was and someone who still is--an isolated incident with an everyday joe, not a hero but someone relatable and what they're going through in the midst of it all.

DD - What was your biggest challenge writing it? 

Lutzke - Coming up with something I felt would be original enough to be worthy of people's time. The research part was fun, though. Because I hadn't seen the film since the 80s, I bought the DVD and made a night of it.

DD - Having read an advance copy of your story, Step Ate, interested me because I love stories with addicts in them. Is addiction a theme you like to write about? I’m thinking of Wallflower. 

Lutzke - Not really. Just a coincidence, though I do have a history with substance abuse, did a stint in rehab several years ago and have had my share of 12-step meetings. But I'm very proud to say I haven't touched even so much as a joint in almost 30 years.

DD - If you ever had the chance to either write or edit for another 80s horror movie, which movie would you choose and why? 

Lutzke - Great question! Basket Case would be a fun one, but I'm not sure there's enough to play with to fill a whole book and be entertaining. How about Phantasm?! All kinds of ideas could come from The Tall Man's origin and his little jawa helpers. This needs to happen now!

DD - What do you have out or are coming out soon that readers can check out?  

Lutzke - I just had a brand new novella come out through Bloodshot Books called STIRRING THE SHEETS. It's about an elderly funeral home worker who is dealing with the loss of his wife and runs across a body at work that resembles his late bride in her younger years. He tries to cope, stuff happens. It's about morbid desperation, loneliness, and letting go. Every book I've written is available on Amazon and you can check me out at

About Chad Lutzke:

Chad lives in Battle Creek, MI. with his wife, children.  For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene, offering articles, reviews, and artwork. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance, and scream magazine. His fiction can be found in a few dozen magazines and anthologies including his own 18-story collection NIGHT AS A CATALYST. In the summer of 2016 he released his dark coming-of-age novella OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES which has been praised by authors Jack Ketchum, James Newman, John Boden, and many others.  Later in 2016 Lutzke released his contribution to bestselling author J. Thorn'sAMERICAN DEMON HUNTERS series, and 2017 saw the release of his novella WALLFLOWER. His latest, STIRRING THE SHEETS, was published by Bloodshot Books in spring 2018.





5 Amazing Things To Do With A Superpower

by Kerry Alan Denney aka The Reality Bender, author of

Marionettes, Dreamweavers, Jagannath, and Soulsnatcher

What would you do with a superpower? Well, for starters, let’s pick just one... an unusual one, as far as powers and superheroes go.

For the sake of convenience—and shameless self-promotion on my part—let’s choose the power that David Flint has. David is the protagonist and first-person narrator in my forthcoming supernatural thriller Marionettes (Juju Mojo Publications – May 31, 2016).

David is resuscitated after drowning in a flood, and returns to the land of the living with an uncanny ability: He can “jump” into other people’s bodies and minds, and control their thoughts and actions. In essence, David “becomes” that person, taking over their every voluntary physical function—and leaving his vacated body vulnerable while he controls that person. He can control anyone within a six-mile radius from his own body, basically making anyone he jumps into become his human puppet. Any distance farther than six miles from his temporarily vacated body, David loses control and returns to his own body.

After discovering his new ability, David thinks of himself as the Marionette Man. He reads his human puppets’ minds, knows their every thought, their past experiences, their familiarity with their family, friends, associates, and acquaintances, and is totally in control of their bodies and minds as if he is them until he leaves them and returns to his own body. If he chooses, during the time he’s controlling them, he can let them know they’re being completely co-opted and manipulated—or he can hide his presence from them, leaving them terrified and wondering why they’re doing and thinking things beyond their influence.

Pretty frightening, huh? To totally lose control of your own body and mind, and know that another has taken over your every physical and mental function. Would some people believe it to be a form of demonic possession? Talk about a waking nightmare!

 In DREAMWEAVERS, anything can happen when dreams merge with reality... including murder.

So what could a person do with this awesome power David has? Let’s start with David’s own list of 5 amazing things.

 1: Take the Bad Guys Down

With David’s power, you could infiltrate gangs, cartels, and evil corporations without their knowledge or awareness. If you can’t realistically start from the top, gradually work your way into the upper echelon. From a safe distance, perform covert reconnaissance into the group you wish to destroy, “jump” into the body and mind of any flunky at any level of the group, and climb—or rather body-jump—your way to the top. If you wish, kill the ruthless human detritus as you go. If your puppet is attacked, compromised, or killed, jump into the person who’s disabling your puppet and move on up.

With power-mongering corporations—such as big pharmaceutical companies or Big Oil, for just two examples among many—finagle your way into the top dog and force them to reveal their secrets to the whole world. Make them send out bulk emails containing crucial evidence of their illegal activities and unethical or immoral business procedures to the police, FBI, Homeland Security, and any and all applicable law enforcement agencies. Hell, make them send those emails to the general public, so there would be no way that any corrupt officials within those law enforcement agencies could hide it from us—you and me, my friends. Make those corrupt individuals, gang leaders, mob and drug cartel bosses, and wicked executives hold official publicly announced press conferences in which they lay it all out—with indisputable evidence of their wrongdoings—on camera, a method where they can’t take it back after the deed is done and after you’ve returned control of their bodies and minds to them. Make them post videos of the exclusive reveals on YouTube. Talk about giving the evil subhuman scum among us a dose of their own medicine! The internal conflicts alone that would spring from such an invasion would effectively make them crumble into ruin without our further outside interference. Public accountability would eventually become the norm, impossible to avoid or evade.

The only thing David Flint doesn’t know—and is afraid to find out the hard way—is if his mind will die and not be able to return to his body if he’s killed while controlling one of his human marionettes. So extreme caution is advised in life-or-death situations: Be ready to jump into someone else if you think your current marionette is about to take the eternal celestial dirt nap.

 2: Level the Political Arena

Whether we all admit it to ourselves, to our families, our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues, and even our enemies—or don’t admit it, and continue to hide in pathetic denial—we all know by now that our political leaders are corrupt across the board. They no longer have the best interests of humanity in mind in their continual struggle to achieve more power, more riches, and yes, more control over the masses over which they preside. Because of them, too much killing has been done in the name of deities, power-mongering, the acquisition of territory, and the despicable and barbaric lust to subjugate the masses. There’s that control factor again. These people are the greatest poison to humanity that could ever be imagined. The time has come to turn the tables against them, in the most drastic fashion.

With the expert assistance of a cadre of benevolent and compassionate Marionette Masters, we could invade the minds of our political leaders—both despots and supposed humanitarians—and force them to reveal all their secret agendas to the whole world. Such a global exposition of nefarious vendettas would force even the most ignorant of people’s eyes and minds to open. OPEC and their affiliates need to die the horrible death they so richly deserve so that the brilliant scientists of our world can no longer be stifled or stymied under their autocratic authority, and can work together to develop the clean and ever-replenishing power source that heretofore has lain just beyond our grasp because of a small percentage of the world’s tyrants’ desperate and contemptible desire for dominion.

Of course, if our hypothetical Marionette Masters were corrupt, we could be in for a whole new world of calamity. Therein lies the rub: Humanity, in its oh-so-brief geological infancy, is plagued with the barbaric desires of the worst of our kind. An infusion of collective awareness, through the help of those who could invade, read, and share our very thoughts with our fellow humans, could possibly be the best deterrent to such an unmitigated disaster—and could even prevent our extinction.

Okay, I’m hopping off my lofty pedestal now. I’d just like you, my fellow humans, to know that I trust and have faith in the best of us to bring out the best in us.

 In JAGANNATH, an intelligent shape-shifting alien reads the minds of the humans it absorbs, and transforms into monsters from our darkest nightmares.

3: Cure Terminal Diseases

What an amazing feat it would be for several of our Marionette Masters to hop into the minds of the most accomplished doctors, scientists, and medical research specialists and absorb their vast wealth of knowledge about the human body, diseases, afflictions, and our infinite capacity to heal. Accumulate that knowledge—not just what’s in their journal articles, papers, essays, and other various publications but also their remarkable ability to analyze, diagnose, and prescribe the proper treatment for each affliction, their incredible talent for comprehending biological functions and reactions to various stimuli.

Now gather together all the greatest minds—and the apprentices and trainees too—in various conferences all over the world, and share with each of them, one by one, all that cumulative knowledge. The process would take months, even years, but imagine all the advances possible with such an undertaking. It’s not entirely implausible that many of these specialists, once confronted with such a vast wealth of aggregate knowledge, might have so-called “Eureka!” moments, and discover solutions that were once blocked simply by lacking the awareness of a colleague’s previously unshared expertise.

With a power of this magnitude, working together as a species, who’s to say we wouldn’t eventually cure cancer? Or even better, diminish or even eliminate the effects of aging?

 4: Be the Human Truth Machine

Why not? In Marionettes, David’s partner Dana McGee, who has the same uncanny ability as David, points out how the power could be used this way. In criminal trials, jump into the minds of the accused and determine beyond the shadow of a doubt whether he or she is guilty or innocent. Acquire from their minds the elusive evidence that either incriminates or exonerates them. With the assistance of a Marionette Master, detectives could get inside the heads of their suspects. We could even eliminate once and for all the horrible tragedy of prosecuting and punishing innocent defendants!

Psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and psychologists could examine the minds of the mentally unstable and discover the primary reasons for their distress... and maybe even alleviate their symptoms.

Distrust your neighbors/ colleagues/ employees/ employer? Is your significant other cheating on you? Find out for certain with this amazing power. Just be prepared for the potential devastating truth, and deal with it in a mature and responsible way. We don’t want to start new wars, however limited or significant they may be, do we?

 Bottom line is, this incredible power could either be an emotionally crushing burden or an exhilaratingly liberating gift, a means for either salvation or damnation. The end results would all depend on how conscientiously the power is used.

 In SOULSNATCHER, children with extraordinary psychic powers are being used as pawns in a deadly supernatural war.

 5: Teach Anyone Anything

Yes, this amazing power could be a teaching tool, limited only by the extent of our imaginations. So you want to learn to play the piano? Anyone with this “human marionette” power could just jump into the mind of a piano virtuoso and absorb all their musical knowledge, technical expertise, and cumulative experience and training. Then, armed with all that information, jump into the mind of the eager beginner student and transfer that knowledge to her/ him. Our minds think beyond the speed of light... in fact, our synapses fire at the speed of thought. The brain processes billions of bits of data every moment of every day in nanoseconds, well beyond the capabilities of the most advanced computer humankind has yet created. To be precise, the human mind is the ultimate computer.

Of course, technique, skill, dexterity, and the deft physical application of the acquired knowledge would take time, practice, and self-discipline to learn and perfect. But the basics would all be there for immediate mental retrieval: how to read music, understand music theory, play scales, transpose the written note to the instrument itself, even how to hear a musical composition and determine key, pitch, tempo, and a multitude of other intricate details absorbed from the original virtuoso’s mind.

Want to know everything there is to know about history? Geology? Science? Medicine? How about understand quantum physics? Simple: have the Marionette Master enter the minds of all the experts in each particular field, absorb and accumulate the knowledge from them, and then transfer it to the enthusiastic student.

The potential possibilities are mind-boggling. How many Einsteins-in-the-wing would this astounding ability awaken, how many potential Chopins and Mozarts and Bachs and Teslas and Galileos would discover a propensity for unparalleled excellence? People who might not otherwise ever have the opportunity to learn that all their lives they’ve had an aptitude to excel in a certain discipline, but for whatever reason never got exposed to it, would suddenly arise in an unprecedented worldwide renaissance that could ultimately change our very nature and way of thinking.

You could even jump into a pregnant woman, discover the unique joy and wonder of carrying a developing life inside you, and share it with human males. Who knows? The heretofore unknowable experience could possibly give us all a greater appreciation and love of life, which we (males) couldn’t otherwise fully comprehend.

The sky wouldn’t be the limit; even the stars couldn’t contain the infinite possibilities. A concerted effort of this nature might propel humanity into an evolutionary sea-change that could eventually send us out to galaxies that even the Hubble Telescope hasn’t seen yet, as well as shrink us down to the atomic structure that reveals the nature of existence itself. Time and space would no longer be barriers in our ultimate collective pursuit of knowledge. We could possibly even pierce the veil that separates life and death.

Of course, we all know that knowledge without the application of wisdom can be dangerous, even disastrous. History—as brief as our moments here on this spinning rock hurtling through space have been so far in an astronomical sense—has proven that. As a species, we would either be forced to mature, or devolve into the savage, mindless protoplasmic soup from which we originally emerged. But if we excelled in our efforts, as humans so often do, we could potentially propel ourselves into the next step in our evolution as a species.

I know I’ve always been a Big Dreamer. But in order to make the Big Dreams come true, as I’ve stated before, we must dream big. I for one intend on never stopping, until I gasp out my last breath... and transcend the portal that lies beyond the realm of death. And if I’m able, I plan on dreaming big there, too.


Kerry Alan Denney aka The Reality Bender

photo copyright © 2013 by Reggie Barton

What astounding uses of this outrageous power occur to you? We heartily welcome all your ideas! Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments section below. If anyone comes up with an irresistible idea that I end up using in the sequel to Marionettes (yes, I do plan on writing a sequel), I will list your name in the Acknowledgments page with my thanks for sharing your ideas.

Special thanks to Jason White, Michael Schutz, and Darkness Dwells for allowing me to share my unique madness with the whole world on your blog. I hope to be a guest on your podcast show again soon!

 Cheers and happy reading to you all.

Military Black Ops in Sci-fi and Horror by Toby Tate


Written by Toby Tate

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m former military, or a leftover from my childhood desire to be a spy, but most of my favorite books are thrillers that involve some kind of secret government agency. James Rollins has the Sigma Force, Clive Cussler has NUMA (okay, it’s not a government agency, but it does actually exist, which makes it even cooler), Jonathan Maberry has the Department of Military Services (DMS), Tom Clancy had the CIA and on and on.

I’m not sure how far back this trend goes, but I have read sci-fi books from the 1950s that featured Men in Black doing their best to silence UFO witnesses. The very idea of secret government entities seems to induce visions of strangers dragging family members away in the night, never to be seen again.

I love to use the CIA in my own stories, mainly because everyone has heard of the CIA and know they exist. But most people don’t really know what they do. That gives me a lot of leeway, because I can make my characters do things that most people wouldn’t be able to do, like say, assassinate someone and not only get away with it, but get paid for it. Nobody is going to read that and say, “Hey, they wouldn’t do that!” Because members of the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the reality of such actions.

Sure, there are a lot of books out there about the CIA, and I’ve probably read them all, but former CIA members are pretty hard to get information from. I’ve tried. I don’t know if they thought I was there from the agency to check up on them or what, but they are definitely a paranoid bunch. And then there are the black helicopters that fly over my house, but that’s a different blog post.

Getting info on weapons is fairly easy. They don’t mind talking about that. The web is full of details on every weapon imaginable, which is actually rather alarming. But specifics about operations are another thing.

For my novel LILITH, I used the CIA as well as a sub-group of the CIA called the Special Operations Group, or SOG, which is part of the Special Activities Division or―you guessed it―SAD. The SOG does clandestine military operations, everything from collecting intelligence in hostile countries to toppling regimes. These are the people we all have nightmares about, the ones with the black helicopters. The government recruits these guys from the Navy SEALs, Delta Force, the Green Berets, all the most elite military units. Luckily, they’re not allowed (supposedly) to operate in the U.S. I used the same group (SOG) for my upcoming book, PRIMORDIAL, part 2 of the Lilitu Trilogy.

For part 3, THE CAIN PROPHECY, I’m using a group of civilian contractors, which are pretty much the civilian versions of the SOG. These guys are all former military and all badasses, with the latest in high-tech weaponry and tactics. In a nutshell, my stories pit ancient mythology against modern technology, and what could be more fun than that?

For more on my upcoming releases, check me out on the web at, or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.