Terror Trax: Sinthetik Messiah

Sinthetik Messiah

The following is a real interview with a real band. It does, however, take place in a fictitious world.

It was raining again on Tuesday, which made me happy as usual, because I could sit at my kitchen window and watch the Unclass peasants, who can’t afford to install the weather predictor app on their portable life-line telephones, being melted into the sidewalk by the sudden and fierce onslaughts of toxic rain plummeting from the rusted sky. Watching an elderly man fall to the pavement screaming, clawing at his melting face and pulling his cheeks loose from their bones, I chuckled and took a sip of my coffee, thinking about how thankful I was for my tiny hovel’s triple titanium reinforced roof and siding. The old man’s legs melted off and my phone rang, alerting me of an incoming call. I answered on the second ring. It was Bug Gigabyte. He said he was ready to do his interview for Horror Addicts. Delighted, I screamed aloud an ancient curse of joy and threw my cup of coffee across the room, smashing it against the wall and sending porcelain bits raining down on the cold, tile kitchen floor. Sensing the excitement in my voice, Bug asked if I could meet him at Café Metroid in twenty minutes.

“You’re goddamn right I can”, I replied. After saying our mutually cordial goodbyes, I hung up and raced into my clothing container booth to put on my chemical rain and toxicity resistant cloak. Five minutes later, with my trusty journalist’s satchel slung over my shoulder, I was hopping over melting peasant corpses, rushing toward my destination.

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Stepping over the remains of several peasants that were splattered near the front entrance, I entered Café Metroid. I pulled back the hood of my protective cloak. My eyes scanned the room, searching for Bug Gigabyte’s signature black mowhawk. My stomach rumbled. I needed a quadruple ghost pepper infused espresso shot to calm my excited nerves. I stepped into the line that led to the counter. Suddenly, the café’s front door exploded open. I calmly looked over my shoulder to see who or what had burst through the entrance. A Seeker tore past me, brandishing an inert particle reverser in her trembling hands, a determined fire in her eyes. My eyes trailed her, watching her disappear through the swinging kitchen doors, admiring her athletic form held inside her tight leather pants. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned. It was Bug. He smiled at me, held up what looked like an old-fashioned TV remote, and pressed a blue button in the center. All the patrons waiting in line ahead of us disintegrated, turning into pale dust. A café employee appeared with a broom and dustpan and swept them up while Bug and I strolled up to the counter and placed our orders. Moments later we were seated in a cozy window booth.

I took a sip of my piping hot drink and asked Bug how he’d recognized me in the line.

“Because of your official Horror Addicts toxicity and chemical rain resistant cloak,” he replied.

I then remembered that my black cloak has the words HORROR ADDICTS STAFF emblazoned in huge red letters across the back.

“Oh, yeah, that makes sense,” I said with a chuckle.

The rain intensified, pelting the layered safety glass of the café. Another Seeker sped by on a hyper bike. The sight of two of them in such a short time rattled my nerves. I looked at Bug. “We better get started.”

He nodded. “Alright, then…”

After retrieving my digital recorder and a pad and pen from my satchel, I hit the record button and set out to learn the dark secrets of this most elusive creator of dismal worlds of sound.

I cleared my throat and began. “According to your Bandcamp bio, the albums Revelations of the Nintendo Generation (Vol. 1 & 2) were created using the KORG DS-10 program, which is the same software used to create music for the Nintendo DS. Could you please explain a bit of this seemingly mystical process to the uninitiated?

Bug shrugged and answered. “The DS-10, which is the name of the program, was developed by a software company called Xseed games and it’s a digital model of the KORG MS-10. It gives you creation leeway to where it gives you two synthesizers, 4 drum sounds, and a pattern editor to compose the sounds into a musical form. Technically it is a video game, but it is made so well that is a watered down version of a modern day DAW (Digital audio workstation). I created 9 songs on the Nintendo Game alone, and then I imported each instrument into my studio and added guitars, drums, vocals, and extra effects. It is great for beginners as it is a tool to help them learn how an analogue synthesis works. When you sign up for a VIP membership on my Bandcamp, you actually get the original files that came from the DS before I manipulated everything in my main computer.”

“Very intriguing technique”, I said.

Bug took a sip of his soda. An explosion echoed from the third floor of the City Records building across the street. The toxic rain fueled the flames and caused them to leap high into the sky.

“Looks like it’s happening again,” Bug remarked.

I nodded in silent agreement and scribbled a note to myself to check my will if I made it home later that afternoon.

Bug squirmed against the imitation leather seat of the booth. “Next question please, um… what did you say your name was.”

I frowned. “I didn’t, and I won’t; it’s part of my mystique as a distinguished Horror Addicts journalist and I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t ask me again.”

I felt my fingers gripping my cup tight. I could feel the rage building inside.

Bug grinned. “Just kidding, man, I used to write for The Dark Prints. I know all about the mystique.”

I laughed and a female scream tore through the air outside, perfectly complimenting the harmonious atmosphere that Bug and I were cultivating in our café booth. I cleared my throat, took another sip of my espresso, and began again.

“What inspired you to create dark industrial music using the same equipment that was used to create music for Nintendo DS games?”

“I always thought to myself that, for my first big release, I wanted it to be something interesting where not just fans, but industry as well would look at it and think, ‘What did he do with it? What? A Nintendo DS…?’ I always felt that the story behind the way the sounds are made is more interesting than what is on top of them or comes what after that, and I wanted to capture that element with those albums,” Bug explained.

He seemed so fixated on this Nintendo, an antiquated video game system, one of a handful played by our old-world ancestors that I was vaguely familiar with. Considering his class status as a Neo-Tech, I didn’t quite understand how this obsolete game system seemed to inform his identity. I needed to know more.

“Who is the Nintendo generation and what are their revelations?” I inquired.

Bug fixed me with a serious, contemplative glare. “Throughout history, there has always been this gentleman complex in society as far back as the 1800 to about the 1960s, and scraping by on the 70s. By the time the 80s hit, life was more culturalized because we were becoming more connected by technology and the average man had a lot more different complexes due to the social down turn of society and what was going on throughout the global community. With that in mind, the Nintendo generation is made up of kids that grew up with the original Nintendo, playing games like Mario, where you are always the hero trying to save the princess. It is the hero complex within us -where all that is wrong- we want to change. It is embedded into our subconscious through the video games. That was my revelation.”

Fascinating! An entire philosophy gleamed from a gray and black electronic box. Maybe there were ghosts inside the primitive circuitry that subconsciously communicated these messages to the young artist? I scratched these ponderings onto my notepad while Bug graciously awaited my next question. Outside, the rain poured down even harder. I was beginning to feel nervous.

I looked up at my subject. “Bug, what is the inspiration behind SINthetik Messiah? Is there a meaning behind the band name?”

“SINthetik Messiah, to me, is an avant-garde art project that started out in 1996 and it was based on the theory of using gorilla tactic promotional ideas in the art community to help inspire others to strive better in their art form. I would describe Gorilla Tactic promotion as promotional material that involves stationary positions in society where it can be seen clear as day. Sometimes put there illegally such as graffiti. Then years later, I fell in love with music and it kind of just evolved after that,” Bug explained.

“A philosophy, a visual statement, and all leading up to an auditory exploration…?” I pondered out loud, my words trailing off.

My interviewee offered no response as he stared out the window, riveted by the raging fire across the street. He trained his eyes upward. “The sky’s turning purple,” he whispered. “I wonder if the Seekers will make it in time.”

Seeing Bug’s expression turn dour, I quickly made my best effort to turn the conversation back to the subject at hand.

“Tell me, please,” I began. “Are there any key influences on SINthetik Messiah, musical or otherwise?”

Bug turned back to me, a slight smile across his face. “In the beginning, it was acts like Portishead, Nine Inch Nails, Wumpscut, and many other acts in those experimental genres that really helped the sound I had always wanted or felt that I needed to create myself. But as of lately, playing with a lot of local Louisiana acts has influenced me in a sense of what kind of musical direction I want to get into for the time being, that being Southern Rock. I just picked up a new guitarist, Mr. Suede Wilson, who has been helping me implement southern rock for the past 9 months into our current style. It blends really well musically when we play with rock/metal based acts. The next major album we release I will be featuring him on the album.”

I made a mental note to remind myself that, if I was alive tomorrow, to ask Bug what Southern Rock actually is, and proceeded straight into the next question. “Do you have an all-time favorite Nintendo game?”

“My favorite Nintendo game has to be BattleToads because they were the first punk rockers/goth looking characters in the Nintendo franchise,” Bug said.

As I brought my demitasse espresso cup to my lips, an eardrum shattering explosion rocked the street, shaking the café and causing me to spill the last of my drink down the front of my favorite sweater. Cursing, I reached for a napkin. Another explosion rumbled somewhere in the distance. A café employee appeared at our table and, with terror-filled eyes and a shaky voice, informed us that things didn’t seem to be working out that well on this particular afternoon and that The Metroid would be closing early and that we should probably continue our conversation elsewhere.

I noticed the dreaded red light begin to shine down from the sky, seeping in through the windows, and Bug and I found ourselves agreeing with the frightened food service worker. After gathering our personal items and throwing on our protective cloaks, Bug and I headed out the door. I still had an interview to finish, however, and I wasn’t giving up anytime soon.

“What kind of function do you see electronic-based music performing within horror culture?” I asked.

He skipped over the half-melted body of an Unclass sanitation worker, still in uniform, and replied thoughtfully, “Considering the fact that when Bob Moog first made the full functioning polyphonic synthesizer, musicians weren’t picking it up, due to price and not understanding what can actually be done with it. It was the film industry that was using synthesizers to create sound effects because they could afford it and by that it helped further advance sound design as a whole.  So I feel it has even a bigger role now days because most of the sounds on a film are more recreated than actual sounds.”

Having witnessed first-hand the influence that film has had on our culture, I didn’t press the issue any further. Besides, there was a gang of What-Nots approaching fast on their motor machines, all thirteen of them crowding the width of the street. We ducked into an alley just before the group sped past, toxic rain bouncing off their armor, their shouts rising into the air. Seeming a good time to take the questioning in a darker direction, I asked, “What is the best type of curse?”

Bug laughed out loud. “Being that you guys are a horror program, the ones that make you bleed from your eyeholes and your assholes until the person who is cursed completes what needs to be done in favor of the one who cast it.”

Another explosion tore through the city. I looked at Bug. He wore concern across his face.

“I don’t think the Seekers are gonna make it,” he lamented.

“They’ve failed in their quest on their last three tries,” I added with a sigh.

“And the city will burn down, again…”

“Well, it’s not forever,” I said with a smile. “When the Seekers start a new quest, everything will be bright and new once again, and the Unclass will be melting in the streets and we’ll be smiling and having our coffee and it will be a brand new day.”

Bug grinned, appreciating my optimism. “Yeah, you’re right. But still, that’s what sucks about life as a video game extra; your day could just end at any moment, even when you’re right in the middle of something cool, like an interview for Horror Addicts.”

Upon hearing Bug’s soliloquy, I was gripped by a deep and sudden urgency. I had to finish the interview before our world came to an end.

The sirens started to wail. The countdown had begun.

“What’s it like being a socially conscious Goth in the Deep South?” I shouted, holding my recorder out to Bug.

Raising his voice, he replied. “Given the fact that a lot of the people I work with aren’t Goth at all, I’ve learned to get out of my shell and be more open to people who really aren’t on the same level as me as far as style goes, and I can certainly appreciate the cultural differences. Those differences show up in my work quite often. Sometimes it can be really hard though, because most of population in the south has that Christian judgement thing going on, and sometimes it is not so positive. I like to prove them wrong though, how’s the saying go? Kill them with kindness? Haha…!”

The pavement cracked and dark red blood bubbled up at our feet. This was the sign that the Seekers were on their last remaining lives, and that their life force was terminally low; time for one last question.

“How has your benefit work been received?  Does anyone ever express the attitude of, “Hey, you’re this dark band, what in the eff are you doing benefit work for? Aren’t all you people supposed to be existential, nihilistic, misanthropes?”

Bug shook his head, knowing the stereotype all too well. “It’s been received quite well since I’ve gotten quite a few articles about me on the internet and in newspapers of my band doing benefit work. I never really got negative attention from anybody about that. However, I’m not the only one that is doing benefit work in the Goth scene. I have come across 50-100 bands in the goth/industrial scene alone, but I don’t think they put in as much time and effort as I do in helping their own community even if it’s not Goth. There is a lot of stuff about benefit work I do that I do not put in the public, why? Because it’s not about press to me, it is about helping the ones in need, the best way we can without going broke. That is just my personal opinion on the subject. Also, if there is someone that did hate on my act or any other act that does benefit work, I would personally tell them they can go suck a dick, they are a terrible person and should just stay inside and keep their opinion to themselves.”

The red sky above us began to glow.

“Any closing words or news on upcoming plans or releases,” I asked as the ground shook beneath my feet.

Cyberpunks of New Tokyo is a book/album/animation that im working on that’s set to be released sometime 2019. I had to push the date back because there are like two/three other albums I wanna put out before that one is released,” Bug said. “And… Thank you, much love and respect.”

I smiled. “Thank you, Bug, and-

I never finished my sentence. The sky exploded and we both disappeared, an obvious sign that the Seekers had failed in their quest once again. When I regained consciousness, I was seated at my kitchen table, watching the toxic rain fall from the sky, waiting for my next writing assignment to arrive in the mail.

https://sinthetikmessiah.bandcamp.com/

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FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Full Eclipse versus The Howling II

Bad, Bad Dog: Full Eclipse and Howling II: Your Sister is A Werewolf

By Kristin Battestella

Somehow, I managed to stumble upon not one, but two questionable tales of wolfdom- the 1985 sequel Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf and the 1993 HBO original movie Full Eclipse. Ruh-roh!

LA detective Max Dire (Mario Van Peebles) loses his wife and his partner and can’t quite deal. Fortunately, new special officer Adam Garou (Bruce Payne) invites Max to join his exclusive criminal task force- composed of other quality, but struggling cops like Casey Spencer (Patsy Kensit) who take the law into their own hands. The team injects themselves with a special serum designed by Garou, giving them superior prowess against the crime on the street…and a few werewolf tendencies.

Director Anthony Hickox (Waxwork) and writers Michael Reaves (Gargoyles, Smurfs) and Richard Christian Matheson’s (The A-Team, and yes, son of Richard Matheson) standard, undeveloped cop story has its share of script issues as it weakly deals with all the typical detective traumas like alcohol, empty marriages, and corruption. More repeating clichés and meandering plots waste far too much time for a 90-minute movie. Worse still, Full Eclipse never decides whether it’s a cop movie or a horror film- this wolf unit is supposed to be so total justice and badass, but the entire idea is just too preposterous even for fantasy. The dark realism attempt comes across as totally hokey, and a lot of the poor design work is too dark and tough to see anyway. Though dated by the nineties fashions, the lingering low budget feelings and mismashed plots are worse than any of the old motifs. ‘Looks old’ you can forgive if the tale holds up, but this nineties badass isn’t really that badass at all thanks to too much useless, bad action and slow motion police work. And all this is before all the cheesy werewolf mess! There’s simply not enough mystery or scares to accept the crappy effects, wolverine like wolf claws, and cops suited up like cannibal superheroes.

Fans of Mario Van Peebles, thankfully, can find a few things to enjoy in Full Eclipse. Granted, Peebles (Damages, All My Children, New Jack City, Heartbreak Ridge, Posse, Solo, I’ll stop) is kind of just being himself as always, but it’s juicy, cocky, and fun to watch as expected. Likewise, Bruce Payne (Highlander: Endgame) is freaky fun. The script and goofy wolf serum plot don’t serve him well, but some might enjoy his violent creepy, disturbing as that it is. Unfortunately, it’s Patsy Kensit (Emmerdale, Lethal Weapon 2, music chick and rocker wife) who drops the ball most in Full Eclipse. Yes, there’s plenty of nineties rowdy English rose pretty, but she’s also pretty obvious and absolutely unbelievable as a cop- much less an action hero with hairy secrets or a meaty attitude. Actually, there’s no chemistry among the cast, and Full Eclipse isn’t nearly as sexy as it could have been. And that ‘love scene’ between Kensit and MVP is just pathetic. I’ve never seen people bump and grind whilst being so far away from each other!

Likewise, fans of that horror titan himself, Christopher Lee, can attempt the badly bizarre novelty of Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf. But of course, Sir Christopher’s voice is great as always- and I do so love the way he insistently repeats that subtitle! He certainly looks the classy werewolf hunter, or excuse me, the ‘occult investigator’. Big C always comes to play even in a bad, bad movie such as this, but the classy older Lee going for those funky white sunglasses and red leather jacket for some undercover eighties clubbing is just….no. In some scenes, it’s like there’s Christopher Lee, and then there’s everyone else- and to top it off, he has the Holy Grail in his wolf arsenal. I kid you not. Lee’s Occult expert Stefan must convince reporter Jenny (Annie McEnroe) and Ben White (Reb Brown, Captain America) that his sister- the reporter Karen White from the 1981 film The Howling– is now a werewolf needing to be staked in her crypt. To stop all the virile werewolves from rising with the full moon, the trio must travel to Transylvania and destroy the ancient wolf queen Stirba (Sybil Danning) before she makes hairy werewolf love in a spectacular eighties light show. I repeat, I kid you not.

Truly, this cast is so, so bad (I made a mistake when I typed my notes and wrote ‘sos’ bad, as in ‘S.O.S’, wow!) Annie McEnroe (Beetlejuice) is a totally unrealistic and mousy reporter with pathetic delivery. In her scenes with Lee, it feels like he would have been better off talking to a wall because it is that one-sided of a conversation. None of it sounds right, especially the bad howling during the weird wolf sex. While I love the idea of a sexy and badass black wolf chick stealing the show, Marsha Hunt (Dracula A.D. 1972) isn’t given the proper treatment. Her makeup and over the top wolf plots are too eighties to be sexy, and the full doggy getup ends up looking more like a drag queen. It’s an utter injustice for what could have been hot hot hot. Thankfully, Sybil Danning (Amazon Women on the Moon) is totally fetching despite that scary and violent leather bodysuit. The incredibly weak script gives her nothing to say but growls and gibberish- was that aged 10 millennia did you say, really? Danning looks perfectly perky and kinky in her prime, but if only we could have seen more of her and Lee together in something more Hammer juicy. Alas, instead we get the very disturbing Little Person Werewolf Hunter Jiri Krytinar (Amadeus), who unfortunately gets his brain imploded by Stirba before turning Don’t Look Now. Ouch.

 

This utterly preposterous story from director Phillippe Mora (A Breed Apart) twists source novelist Gary Brandner’s mythos and also goes by Howling II: Stirba- Werewolf Bitch. Well, I may as well stop reviewing right there, for there isn’t anything major wolfy or bitchy here. This 1985 sequel is a far cry from its cult treat predecessor, with nasty werewolf implications that don’t go far enough and awkward, reaching ties to the original film. Too many changes to the werewolf essentials almost turn Howling II into a vampire move. These Transylvania wolves are immune to silver and can only be stopped by titanium stakes through the heart. Every eighties horror shtick possible is used – fire magic wolves get their powers binded by Big Christopher in what is a completely random and unfulfilling attempt at sexy horror and wolf comedy. Everything about Howling II is mistaken, from the bad, unnecessary eighties music over taking everything to the low of the lowest budget 1985 design. The punk teen Euro wolfy fashions, horrible lycan effects, awful zooms, and disastrous attempts at what you don’t see horror- really; these werewolves toss crates to ensnare their victims! Likewise, they themselves are caught in some bad action scenes and get captured with fishing nets!

I’m harsh, yes, but Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf and Full Eclipse can be entertaining believe it or not- if you really, really like bad wolfy movies or are seriously jonesing over the leading men. It’s ironic because Mario Van Peebles and Christopher Lee are probably as far from each other in the leading man spectrum as you could get, but both deserve to be in a quality wolf horror movie. Nonetheless, their fans can still have fun here. However, if you are a highbrow fright connoisseur and expect some sense of credibility or logic in your lycan films, then move along doggie.

The Writing Chamber: An Introduction to the Art of Writing Horror

As a writer, I can tell you that the creation of a story and putting it into words for an audience to read is an art form. Just like any other art (like music, dance, or theater), becoming a successful writer is not about talent but instead, it’s about learning the craft to obtain the skill. Yes, writing a good story takes a skill that you’re not born with. Instead, you learn it.

This article will tell you all you need to know when writing a horror story, but take everything I say with a grain of salt because writing, like any other art form, is derived from artistic freedom. As the writer, you can take your artistry in any path, in any form, that you wish. That being said, it is important to note that literary genres have structures and techniques used to execute this art form, and writing horror is not different. As you may well know, the literary genre of horror has sub-genres. Through a marketing eye horror is one genre, but as a writer, you know that there are sub-genres underneath the branch of horror. As the writer, you can make the choice to mix and match these sub-genres or you can pick one to stick with for a story whether it be a poem, short story, or novel.

Let’s go over these sub-genres so as the writer you know what is available to you when writing in horror. First, there’s the thriller. This genre describes what readers will be experiencing while investing themselves in your story. Thrillers thrill the audience, giving suspense to the reader. Questions are often prompted by this genre such as:

Will she survive?

Does he know he’s being followed?

Forcing your reader to ask these types of questions is what makes your story a thriller.

Now that you know what a thriller is, there’s a technique you can use to ensure that your horror contains the thrill. The technique is called Dramatic Irony, which means that within your story you reader knows information that your character does not. Using Dramatic Irony places suspense in your story and puts your reader on edge as they are anticipating the moment when the character finally knows what the reader already knows. An example of this in the 1993 film Jurassic Park when Dennis Nedry deactivates the security system in order to escape with the stolen embryos. The audience now knows that the dinosaurs are free and they are in suspense until the characters are made aware. This example of dramatic irony only lasts a few moments within the story, but as the writer you can make the choice to leave the readers in suspense for as long as you want.

The next horror sub-genre is gore. The genre is pretty self-explanatory. Gore involves the bloody, gruesome, and morbid bits of a horror story. However, this genre has another sub-genre that branches off of it which is the slasher. An example of this classic horror genre is Friday the 13th. A slasher is essentially a story that derives from a mass murder. As the writer, you have the choice to make the murders as gory as you want. If you are struggling with deciding how morbid, bloody, gross, etc. you want your gore/slasher story to be a writer’s technique you can use is what I call the Reader Reaction. While writing your story think about how you want your reader to react. How do you imagine your reader responding while they are reading your story? Do you want them to want to vomit, to sit uncomfortably, or to simply say, “Ew.” Knowing how you want your reader to react will help you hone in on how much gore is in your horror.

The third sub-genre is the supernatural/paranormal. Although these two are very different, I have branched them together because the strategies and techniques used for executing these genres are very similar. In case you don’t know, the supernatural genre involves the use of mythical beings such as vampires and mermaids. The paranormal genre uses ghosts, demons, and any other spiritual being. Both of these genres have the story revolve around entities that question reality. With the supernatural/paranormal, it is easy to write the clichés to create another typical horror story, but as the writer you want to play on the uniqueness of your story. Give your readers something that they haven’t read before. A technique you can use to avoid writing the clichés is the Reverse and Opposite. Take a story and make changes to create something new. Some examples could be reversing gender roles, making your protagonist do the exact opposite, etc. Reverse and Opposite involves reversing aspects of your and making things the opposite from the original. Playing around with this technique will create interesting and new ideas that you probably wouldn’t have originally thought of. When using the Reverse and Opposite with the supernatural/paranormal, it opens your horror story to be more than just a story about a ghost or vampire because the horror plays with the unexpected, which can be truly scary.

The last horror sub-genre is mystery. A mystery is a story that involves the readers questioning aspects of your story, wondering what the answers are. This genre is mainly known as the classic murder mystery, but as a horror writer you probably want to go darker and more morbid than the cliché Agatha Christie detective story. To ensure that your mystery is as horror-like as you wish, use the techniques and strategies of the other sub-genres and go to town to make your story a true horror story. Going back to what I said earlier, the sub-genres of horror can be mixed and matched in whatever what you wish. You can write a gore mystery, or a paranormal one. Either way, there are so many options and techniques you can use when writing your horror story.

As the writer you have the artistic freedom to take your horror story in any direction that you want, using any techniques that you choose. The sky is the limit when it comes to writing. Now that you know the basics of writing horror, knowing the sub-genres and how to execute them, you can go to the drawing board to craft your horror story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Odds and DEAD ends: The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden’s cursed album

If any album deserves, by outward appearances, to be labeled cursed, it’s Iron Maiden’s 1982 album The Number of the Beast. The title track was inspired by a nightmare bassist Steve Harris had after watching The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976), and the matching album artwork, was enough to convince the general public that Iron Maiden was a satanic band. The album was subject to much controversy, with public burnings of the records country-wide. Some people even refrained from burning the albums for fear they would inhale the evil from the toxic fumes being released from the cursed vinyl and instead smashed them with hammers.

Never mind that the only the title song references the devil and that the lyrics are about a dream of a cult much like in H. P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu (1926). The song’s protagonist even says ‘this can’t go on, I must inform the law’, which sounds to me as anti-satanic as you can get. Nevertheless, it was enough to warrant protests from more conservative groups, with leaflets being handed to concert goers outside the venues, and there are even reports of giant crucifixes being carried and erected nearby. And this is just after the album was released.

So it’s not surprising that, given all this controversy, even the guys behind the scenes think there may have been more to the album than meets the ear.

The production was apparently plagued by technical breakdowns and disasters. Most of this involves technical glitches during the recording process, such as electrical faults, and equipment breaking down. It’s amusing to remember that The Exorcist is reported to have had similar issues during its production. Coincidence? Occasionally, I’ve heard, there were one or two moments of coldness in the booths and production rooms during the recording.

But this all pales in comparison to the infamous van-full-of-nuns incident involving the album’s producer, Martin Birch.

The story, so it goes, is that it’s a Sunday, and Birch is driving home from the studio after working on the track The Number of the Beast itself, by a strange coincidence. In the dark and the rain, Birch’s car collides with a van, causing serious damage to Birch’s Range Rover.

Getting out of the car, Birch walks to the van and peers through the windows. To his surprise, he sees half a dozen nuns in the back of the van.

Out of the front comes the driver, shaken up and very lucky to have not been seriously injured, or even killed, in the incident. The man drops to his knees in the middle of the road and begins to pray for a bemused Martin Birch, thanking God for sparing them from further harm.

Perhaps there was some kind of divine intervention there, a tragedy to be inflicted by the beast having been thwarted at the last moment by the worshipers of God. The tale, however, doesn’t end here. A day or two after the incident, Birch takes his Range Rover to the garage to get repairs done. The mechanic eventually comes back with a figure. The total at the bottom of the receipt?

£666.

Reportedly Birch asked for the price to be changed, even increased by a few pounds, as long as he didn’t pay that specific number. The album, it seems, had apparently followed him a little too closely.

Cursed productions and media are, of course, nothing new. As well as the aforementioned Exorcist, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is also rumoured to be cursed; witches that lived near Shakespeare’s old home in Stratford having cursed the play after he stole their words for the famous cauldron scenes. And although the curse of Iron Maiden’s album has done nothing to prevent it from being one of the most influential rock and metal albums of all time, it’s definitely interesting to think that, perhaps, they were channeling something a little more sinister than just musical talents and showmanship.

 

Bibliography

Lovecraft, H. P., 1926. The Call of Cthulhu. s.l.:Weird Tales.

Maiden, I., 1982. The Number of the Beast. [Sound Recording] (EMI).

The Exorcist. 1973. [Film] Directed by William Friedkin. USA: Hoya Productions.

The Omen. 1976. [Film] Directed by Richard Donner. UK, USA: 20th Century Fox.

 

-Article by Kieran Judge for HorrorAddicts.net

 

 

The Other Woman by Jesse Orr Episode 7: Cast Die

Episode 7: Cast Die

The following is an excerpt from the diary of the individual known as Daniel Dasham:

Missy almost killed herself tonight. If I hadn’t shown up when I did, she would have. When I arrived, she had just dropped an empty bottle of pills on the counter. When she became aware of my presence, she froze, then snarled and grabbed for the already bloody scalpel on the counter. With some effort, I managed to get her to drop it.

“Let me go!” she screamed, yanking her arm from my grasp and lunging for the scalpel on the floor. “I’ve had enough, I’m going to be done with that cunt if it kills me!”

I snatched the blade up and threw it across the room, out of reach. Grabbing her by the shoulders, I drug her, kicking and screaming into the bathroom, where I forced her to her knees and slid two fingers down the back of her throat as far as I could.

Her vomit was explosive, blue from the barely digested bottle of pills she had swallowed and reeked of alcohol. It went on for some time as I held her hair and listened to her sob in between heaves about how she had just wanted a romantic weekend away from Princess and thought by coming here, things would be different, and the guy she had been seeing could maybe get to know who she really was, but then Princess had brutalized him and someone else and she was fucked if she was going to let Princess kill anybody else for her own sick fucking pleasure, and why the fuck did I stop her?

“Because,” I said when she had tapered off to ragged breathing, “if you kill yourself, she wins.” I reached over her and flipped the handle, flushing her mess away. Once she calmed down some and was smoking a cigarette, I picked up the scalpel and returned it to her. “If you change your mind, it’s your business,” I said, and left her staring at it as I checked out the bodies.

They were in pretty rough shape. If there were no “visible identification markings”, to use the nomenclature, they were going to need dental records to ID these two. One’s face had been mostly removed and I didn’t find it anywhere in the room. I have a nasty suspicion that Princess consumed it, but if Missy hasn’t drawn that conclusion I certainly don’t want to put that idea in her head. The other guy’s head was nearly off and his face was there, just cut in so many different places it resembled hamburger. I felt a nasty thrill coupled with a sick feeling in my stomach. Princess fascinates me with her savagery. Where did she come from?

That was when there was a knock at the door.

“Room service!” a voice called.

Missy’s face was a smoldering mask of dread and incredulity. “That total bitch ordered room service?”

There was another knock.

With the feeling of a child watching a flame he had started grow from humble matchstick to national forest, I called, “Come in!”

The bellboy, a red-vested kid of no more than twenty summers pushed the door open with the hand not holding the tray on his shoulder. The tray was loaded with what looked like strawberries, whipped cream and champagne. Princess clearly thought she was being clever. The forest fire grew brighter within me as he moved through the suite. I was relieved to see Missy had doused the lights in the part of the suite which contained the bodies, but the switch for the lights nearest the door were out of reach for both of us.

Missy intercepted the bellboy and steered him toward the coffee table in the second room of the suite before his eyes adjusted to the dimmer light. She had found an unstained sheet to wrap around herself, covering the worst of the bloodstains on what clothing she wore. “Thank you so much,” she cooed as the bellboy set the tray on the table and straightened up. “Would you be a dear and open that bottle for us?” Honey dripped from every syllable.

“Certainly, ma’am,” he said, tearing his eyes away from the front of her sheet which was showing more skin than was truly necessary. As he leaned over to take the bottle from its bed of ice, the scalpel appeared in her hand and in the blink of an eye it was thrust into the side of his neck.

His shriek was awful and it only became worse as she withdrew the scalpel only to plunge it back into his neck again, and again, until the sound of his voice had become a gurgling sound as he lay upon the rapidly staining carpet, hands locked around the blade which was buried three quarters of the way into his throat.

Princess(for it was she), plucked the champagne from its bucket and with a deft twist of her wrist, popped the cork from the bottle and took a long drink.

“Thank fuck,” she said, and burped. “I thought I was going to die of thirst before this got here. All the puking and crying and smoking that mopey bitch did leaves me parched.”

“Hello, Princess,” I said, and sighed. “I’m sorry to see you.”

She rolled her eyes and took another long drink. “Sorry to see you too. Want a strawberry?” She dipped one into a generous portion of whipped cream and popped it into her mouth.

“You’ve really fucked up this time,” I said, my voice conversational as I too selected a strawberry and doused it in cream. “Don’t you think they’ll be looking for this fellow soon?”

“Like they’ll come in here,” she scoffed. “They wouldn’t dare.”

“Are you willing to bet your life on that?” I took a bite of the strawberry. It was good, but not as good as one right off the vine. Princess’s face seemed frozen.

“Don’t you see?” I said, and chewed. “You already have. Missy’s too. Even mine, since I’m here.”

Princess took another deep pull from the champagne bottle. Her eyes darted around the room, reminding me of a caged animal as she took in the blood that had spread far and wide, the two dead and mutilated bodies on the bed, the indelible stain becoming more so every minute the hapless bellboy bled out onto the carpet. I had never seen her appreciate the consequences of her actions and it was most enjoyable. Still, it was Missy’s ass too.

“If you get out of here now, you’ll have some time to put some distance between you and this place.” I chose another strawberry, anointed it in cream and consumed it. “I think you may have really done it this time though. Did you use your name—I mean Missy’s to book the room?”

She looked at me like I was an idiot and smirked. “No. She used your name, Daniel.

That’s all for now.

Interview with Book Cover Designer Fiona Jayde

Fiona Jayde is the owner, art director, and award-winning designer of Fiona Jayde Media, a company that offers book cover design, editorial, and marketing services to authors.

Book cover designer Fiona Jayde creates images for all genres, including horror. Jayde said her cover for William W. Johnstone’s Carnival “creeped the heck out of me.”

Jayde won 2013 RONE Awards for Fantasy and Best Contemporary Romance covers, melding her creativity with a business-like marketing approach to create beautiful book covers.

Jayde agreed to a fun and in-depth email interview with HorrorAddicts.net.

We started off with a quick ten-question lightning round before jumping into the real ten-question interview.

THE LIGHTNING ROUND

  1. A favorite movie? The Cutting Edge (from the 90s)
  1. Favorite binge-watching series on Netflix? Hmm … Tough question. I rewatch Dick Van Dyke, Star Trek TNG, and Star Trek Voyager on a regular basis.
  1. A favorite author? Nalini Singh and JR Ward
  1. A favorite book? Three Musketeers
  1. A favorite visual artist? Boris Vallejo, Michael Whelan, Luis Royo
  1. A favorite musical artist? Evanescence, Lindsey Stirling, Etta James
  1. Any song stuck your head? At the moment? “It’s always best to match your tea and cake. Look at all the colors. What matches can you make.” I bet you can’t get that out of your head either.
  1. A favorite website? Lifehacker.com
  1. Pet peeve? When people use “i” or “u” when emailing. Texting I can live with although I don’t like it, but in an email? Also, spitting in public. Gross.
  1. You have one last meal. What do you want to see on that plate? Ukrainian Potato Salad, Hubs oven-baked chicken, and Grandma’s Napoleon cake.

    Fiona Jayde’s book cover design for William W. Johnstone’s The Uninvited buzzes with a nightmarish insect motif.

THE REAL INTERVIEW

Q1: Where are you from and where did your artistic eye and talent originate? Any artists, books, or movies inspire your style?

FJ: I’m originally from Old Europe, the part of Romania that was annexed by Soviet Union. My artistic journey started when I discovered internet in college and spent hours browsing through fantasy artwork. This is how I fell in love with fantasy artists like Luis Royo, Michael Whelan, and Boris Vallejo. The funny part is I couldn’t draw – and still really can’t, despite going to art school. Somehow, I always had a knack for all things digital and when I learned Photoshop, it was love at first sight. (Okay second sight, because it took me a bit to figure out that sucker.)

Q2: You’ve been a book cover designer for 10 years. What compelled you to start your own business in this field?

FJ: Funny story there: just like many writers who start out by throwing a poorly written book at a wall and declaring “I can do better”, I started out as an author who got a truly … shall we say … remarkable book cover and swore I could do better. Now, anybody with rudimentary skills in image editing can say that, but it took me years to figure out just knowing Photoshop isn’t going to cut it. What you see – the end product – is the execution. The unseen underlying factors fuse together marketing studies with compositional and graphic design to create a mouthwatering product package. (How’s that for a mouthful?)

I hadn’t planned on this being my career. I was working as a full-time web developer/project manager and doing covers on the side, but when I came back from maternity leave, my company laid me off. Best kick in the pants ever. I went into cover design and packaging design full time and haven’t looked back.

Q3: In the age of Amazon and ebook readers, are book covers as important in this digital age as they were in the days when hardcovers and paperbacks ruled? If so, why?

FJ: Book covers are just as important, but a much more “faster” scale.  People browse the same digitally and physically: a book cover catches their eye, they pick up or click on the book to see it close up, then read the blurb/cover copy. In the digital age, that process is a hundred times faster – instead of walking past books that may or may not catch your eye, you’re scrolling past tens and hundreds of books, and clicking on a select few that pop. The importance of the cover is the same, but the ratio of “what gets attention” is that much smaller now due to the sheer volume of things competing for that attention. It’s that much more vital to connect to your audience and make the best use of the tiny thumbnail you’re afforded when readers are browsing.

Q4: You use a “go big or go home marketing approach” for your book cover designs. How may this marketing approach differ from the author’s vision?

Fiona Jayde’s book cover design for William W. Johnstone’s A Crying Shame inserts the mysterious image of a bloody body amid the haunting mist of a secluded swamp.

FJ: For the most part, it’s literally about making the most marketable aspect of the cover as big as possible, and reminding the authors that readers haven’t read the book. For example, an author I recently worked with had a series where the heroine could throw blue fire. Marketable? HUGE! The heroine also happened to turn that fire into blue flaming raccoons. The author LOVES raccoons. Cute? Yes. Marketable? Not for the genre she was targeting. Therefore, Chick with Blue Fire=Big. Raccoons got 86ed.

Q5: You do book cover design for all genres, including horror and fantasy. Do you have a favorite genre? If so, why?

FJ: I don’t know if I have a favorite genre, since most of the work I do all boils down to “pop” factor. As long as I can add “pop” somewhere, I’m happy, regardless of genre. Plus multiple genres ensure I don’t “phone it in” and get too comfortable. This way I can offer fresh takes on existing genre visual “tropes.”

Q6: What’s the key in a successful collaboration with authors in creating book cover designs? Do most authors have a specific cover in mind or do they give you a lot of latitude in your design?

FJ: Successful collaboration works best with clear communication, zero ego and the same goal: a marketable book cover. I like to fuse together an author’s unique premise with what is marketable, and as long as the author works from the “readers haven’t read the book yet” we work exceptionally well together.

For example, an author can request their name to be huge on the cover. That request could be a marketing thing if they have a lot of followers and their name alone can draw a reader. On the other hand, if they are just starting out, a huge name will be an “empty” focal point, covering up something that could be much more marketable for the genre. And if we go back to that small thumbnail, a reader who sees a giant name that they don’t recognize will easily move on to a book with a smaller just as unrecognizable name with a huge visual que for the genre. As long as both the author and I communicate on that level – cold hard marketing being the goal, we will collaborate beautifully and produce a marketable cover.

Q7: Which book was the easiest to create a cover for and why? Which book was the most difficult and why? Or do all covers take about the same amount of time and creative energy?

FJ: The easiest covers boil down to how visual/descriptive and “grounded” an author’s world is. For example, I just had completed a series where the heroine is a witch and had very specific objects/symbols prevalent in each book. That series flowed very well visually because all those symbols existed already, we just needed to “bring them out.” On the other hand, I had a recent horror book with a very existential/internal theme and the author and I had several in-depth discussions about the book and symbols depicted there.

Q8: You won 2013 RONE Awards for Best Fantasy and Best Contemporary Romance covers. How important were those awards to your business and to you personally?

FJ: I’m going to sound like a jaded know-it-all, but in reality, the awards – while great for my ego – don’t really mean that much since the authors of those books didn’t exactly rake in accolades and royalties. Cover design awards aren’t considering the most important function of a book cover – to get click-throughs and sales. I didn’t learn to draw in art school, but the one concept I always carry with me is “function before aesthetics.”  If a cover doesn’t get sales, no matter how beautiful, it’s a fail. And a beautiful cover can easily be a fail if it doesn’t communicate to the target market – aka, the reader of that genre.

Q9: Since this interview is for HorrorAddicts.net, I wanted to ask about your horror covers. They are impressive, particularly the ones for The Uninvited, Carnival, and A Crying Shame, all authored by William W. Johnstone. What inspires you to create such unsettling yet beautiful horror book covers?

FJ: Thank you! That clown in Carnival creeped the heck out of me 🙂 Horror is a chance to play for me because the job here is to BE unbalanced and unsettled, to convey that feeling. Most covers are about white space and balance of elements, but horror puts those rules on their ears. Plus, it’s an opportunity for me to bust out the photoshop blood brushes.

Q10: What scares you?

FJ: Although I’m not a writer anymore, I have an incredibly active imagination and ability to spin a plot from the most minute events. Then I end up scaring myself building scenarios in the sand. But in terms of less existential and more real answer, I am terrified of getting lost. I have a terrible time following directions – with GPS no less – and regardless of logically knowing I have a cellphone and can stop for directions, I have an irrational fear of getting lost when trying to drive someplace new.


Check out Fiona Jayde’s book cover designs and services for authors on her website: http://fionajaydemedia.com/

Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: Enchanted in the Moonlight

Game Review: Enchanted in the Moonlight

Monsters are big business right now. I mean, they’ve always been the stars of horror, but recently audience sympathy has shifted in favor of what were, traditionally, the villains. Wanting a little monstrous romance is more common than it’s ever been (Academy Award Winner for Best Picture The Shape of Water, anyone?). So, in the world of games, romance and horror, there must be an intersection somewhere for those looking for a little action.

Look no more. Today, I will review Enchanted in the Moonlight, a dating simulator game for iPhone and Android where you become romantically involved with a monster.

Enchanted in the Moonlight draws inspiration from traditional Japanese mythology and includes ayakashi, creatures that are similar to monsters (and will be familiar to fans of anime). You, as the main character, have a special power that is coveted by the ayakashi. As a result, you have your pick of supernatural suitors. Choose a suitor, then sit back and enjoy the story.

Game Play

Dating sims have been huge in Japan for a while, so otakus are probably already familiar with the concept. Only in recent years have they made their way into the mainstream minds of Western consumers.

If you haven’t encountered the concept, dating sims work like an electronic Choose Your Own Adventure, plus romance. You play the sim on your phone by downloading the app. The game follows a story and gives you, as the main character, choices throughout that effect what happens next.

Most games are free, but you must purchase stories in the app to play through more than the first chapter. Once you choose which character to pursue, you can then follow the story, choosing what you do and say along the way and hopefully bring about a happy ending.

Enchanted in the Moonlight offers six possible love interests: a kitsune (fox), tengu (black bird), werewolf, oni (demon), yukibito (snow spirit), and house spirit.

Game Experience

I’m not going to lie, I’m a sucker for storytelling games. And the stories included here were addicting. The supernatural premise adds an element of drama that I really enjoyed. I’ve bought all the different character arcs at this point, none of which are repetitive in the slightest.

That said, your choices as a character don’t really hold that much weight. There are really only a handful of endings waiting for you, so you won’t do much more than deviate the events in a minor way. I found myself sometimes wishing that I could respond in ways that weren’t offered, maybe smacking a little sense into characters that tended toward the misogynistic. If you’re looking for something complex, there are better dating sim options. However, if you’re looking for some mindless fun and romance, this is for you.

The showcase of the games is the art. There are lovely anime-style images used throughout, with special pictures for important parts of the story. Most games let you save these in a special gallery to admire later.

Bottom line: the premise is a little contrived, the prologue is rushed, the main character is kind of a pushover, and the writing isn’t the greatest. BUT, it’s fun. It’s silly and ridiculous and romantic.

Final Thoughts

Dating sims aren’t for everyone, but they can be a fun escape. If you’re looking for a story game you can play in your downtime, this is a great option. If you want something mindless to enjoy, I recommend it wholeheartedly. I mean, I always wanted to date a werewolf.