Thursday, June 1, 2017

Under a Dim Blue Sun

My novella, UNDER A DIM BLUE SUN will be published as a paperback-double along with Henry Kuttner's LANDS OF THE EARTH QUAKE. Available late June from DMR Books!

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Swords of Steel III Now Available!


Swords of Steel III is now available from DMR Books! This latest volume in the series contains my tale, "Thannhausefeer's Guest", as well as my poem, "A Paean to Mine Wolfen Self". Copies are available from DMR at : http://dmrbooks.storenvy.com/

DMR Books are no longer available through amazon.com, so please go here to place your order:
http://dmrbooks.storenvy.com/

I will be selling signed copies of the book until I run out of them. If you would like a signed copy you can contact me at : wulfhereskullsplitter@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Latest Story

DMR Books
A shipwrecked barbarian awakes on an island ruled by a cruel giant. He's arrived just in time to compete in a tournament of death. Will he slay Donthar the Executioner and sail away in a ship full of treasure, or will he fall and end up on the giant's dinner table? Find out in "Thannhausefeer's Guest" by Howie Bentley, appearing in "Swords of Steel III"!
Illustration by MrZarono.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Swords of Steel III Cover

The cover is in reference to my story,"Thannhausefeer's Guest". Look for my tale and more great stories from my fellow fantasists in SWORDS OF STEEL III. Coming in May from DMR Books!

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Swords of Steel III Coming Soon!

Swords of Steel III is coming soon! The third volume of the fantasy/horror anthology series written by heavy metal musicians will be released at the Legions of Metal festival in Chicago May 19-20. Here's the table of contents:
Introduction by Mark Shelton (Manilla Road)
"Thannhausefeer's Guest" by Howie K. Bentley (Cauldron Born)
"A Paean to Mine Wolfen Self" (poem) by Howie K. Bentley (Briton Rites)
"The Pirate Prince of Terran" by E.C. Hellwell (Hellwell)
"The Key" by Mike Browning (Nocturnus)
"The Chamber of Juleptsu" by Jaron Evil (Battlesworn)
"Eldon" by Chris Shoriak (Ice Sword)
"Stormchaser" by Jeffrey Black (Gatekeeper)
"The Scion at the Gate of Eternity" by Byron A. Roberts (Bal-Sagoth)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Sword and the Sorcerer


Any good sword-and-sorcery tale contains a strong element of horror. The first scene from The Sword and the Sorcerer has horror in spades as it sets the tone for what will follow for the next hour and forty minutes.

Ruthless warlord,Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) has conquered most of the civilized world but cannot seem to take Ehdan. Ehdan is a wealthy kingdom ruled by King Richard (Christopher Cary), and Titus has been defeated by Richard's formidable army four times already. Crowmell and his men land ashore of Tomb Island,bringing with them a witch who worships the demon,Xusia (Richard Moll) The witch summons Xusia and Cromwell makes the deal. There is some nice macabre imagery in this scene, but for me to describe it would somewhat lessen the experience for one who has not yet seen this film.

Xusia makes good on his promise to Cromwell by overcoming King Richard's army and Cromwell rewards the demon by stabbing him and throwing him off a cliff. Cromwell then puts King Richard to the sword. Richard's son, Talon (great name for a sword-and-sorcery hero) was given his father's triple-bladed projectile sword, and asked by Richard to avenge him and save his kingdom if he were to fall to Cromwell. Talon sees Cromwell put his father to death and tries to go to Cromwell and kill him, but  King Richard's advisor Mogullen ( Russ Marin) tells Talon to get to the river and  save his mother before Cromwell can get to her. Talon arrives at the river on horseback, too late to save his mother. Cromwell's men pursue Talon, but he manages to escape from the kingdom and vanish for years.

Next we see Talon (Lee Horsely) eleven years later. He is a seasoned warrior leading a small band of mercenaries. While on a campaign he happens to be passing by Ehdan and decides it is time to fulfill the promise to his father and settle the score with Cromwell. Yet again we see vengeance as the protagonist's motivation, as with John Milius's Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja, and the Beastmaster.

Cromwell is now combing the city searching for Prince Mikah ( Simon McCorkindale ) who some say is the rightful heir to the throne. Prince Mikah is captured by Cromwell , and the tyrant demands as ransom Mikah's sister Alana's (Kathleen Beller ) hand in marriage. Talon saves Alana from being raped by Cromwell's men in an alley,easily defeating the villains. Alana offers herself to Talon for one night if  he will rescue her brother from Cromwell's dungeon. Cromwell has been looking over his shoulder for years, knowing good-and-well that he didn't kill Xusia as easily as stabbing him and throwing him off a cliff. The tyrant is sure the demon walks the kingdom in the guise of a man.

I will say this is a good sword-and-sorcery film with a little thicker plot than Conan the Barbarian, though not even in the same ballpark as John Milius's masterpiece. The Sword and the Sorcerer has all of the elements necessary for good sword-and sorcery storytelling: a sword-slinging anti-hero with a score to settle, an intriguing plot fairly full of treachery, the beautiful princess in a jam, a nasty tyrant, and a relentless demon . Since 1982 I have said this was the only sword-and-sorcery motion picture aside from Conan the Barbarian that was worth a damn. I have added Deathstalker and Fire and Ice to my list in recent years, making four films that I consider to have successfully embodied Howardian blood-and-thunder in the cinematic experience. I will always go to Milius's Conan the Barbarian as the measuring stick by which I gauge these kinds of films, but thirty-five years later I still consider The Sword and the Sorcerer the next best thing. Oh, and there is blood on those swords -- lots of blood!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Beastmaster


The Beastmaster was written and directed by Don Coscarelli, also known for his 1979 horror masterpiece, Phantasm. The Beastmaster -- released in 1982 -- was originally an independent film that MGM picked up for distribution.

The movie opens with the vulturine sorcerer, Maax (Rip Torn) and his Witchwomen looking into their scrying device, watching the pregnant wife (Vanna Bonta) of  King Zed (Rod Loomis) sleeping. The Witchwomen prophesy that Maax will be slain by Zed's first born.

Maax sends one of the Witchwomen with a cow. She casts a spell that binds Zed and his wife motionless in bed while the Witchwoman uses dark magic to extract the baby from the Queen and place it in the cow's stomach. The baby is taken away to a remote location to be ritually branded and killed, but a warrior from another village sees the Witchwoman with her dagger raised above the infant and kills her before she can sacrifice the child.

Flash forward a few years and Zed's son is being taught the sword arts by his adoptive father. A bear comes upon the child and his father, but the boy is able to communicate telepathically with the bear and tell it to leave them alone.

Flash forward yet again about twenty years later and we see the unknown prince as a man. His name is Dar (played by Marc Singer). Shortly thereafter Dar's village is raided by a large marauding horde called the Jun. Dar's people are wiped out, but he is dragged to safety by a village dog and hidden away. When Dar regains consciousness he goes on a mission to seek revenge against the Jun, who conveniently happen to be in cahoots with Maax,the wizard.

On his quest Dar is joined by two ferrets,an eagle, a black tiger, and the beautiful slave girl, Kiri ( Tanya Roberts). We are treated to a good shot of Miss Roberts topless in a bathing scene that left me wondering how the hell this got a PG rating. The director said they managed to get the PG rating because ,despite all of the violence, they never showed any blood on the swords. Never look a gift-horse in the mouth, I say.

 Also joining Dar and Kiri are Seth (John Amos) and Tal (Josh Milrad). Seth is a mighty warrior with a giant Bo Staff who protects Tal, King Zed's young son. The band of allies set out to destroy Maax and free King Zed.

Coscarelli adds a nice weird touch to the movie with some nameless winged men who worship birds and devour their victims by enfolding them in their wings. This would have been right at home in a story from Weird Tales magazine back in the 1930s.

The movie was well received by cable viewers so much that someone on the Tonight Show once joked that HBO stood for, "Hey! Beastmaster's on," due to how frequently the film ran on cable. I missed the cinema release of this one but caught it as soon as the Movie Channel debuted it.

John Milius's Conan the Barbarian was released May of 1982, and The Beastmaster was released in August of the same year. Because of this, critics unfairly branded The Beastmaster a copy of Conan the Barbarian. Both movies are sword-and-sorcery films and the protagonists are both driven by revenge, but aside from the standard elements that make the sword-and-sorcery genre what it is, it is obvious to the viewer that The Beastmaster is not derivative. Coscarelli and co-writer and producer, Paul Pepperman, have both stated that they had not read any of Robert E, Howard's tales prior to making the film and I believe them. Apparently the movie was loosely based on Andre Norton's 1959 science fiction novel, The Beast Master,though her name is not mentioned in the credits. Coscarelli's movie has no science fiction elements as it is pure sword-and-sorcery. The Beastmaster is one of a small handful of sword-and-sorcery films that is worth owning for multiple viewings.