From The Vault: The Leaf Pile by Emerian Rich

Leaf Pile

by Emerian Rich

Jason said it was safe, so I went ahead and jumped. What harm could a pile of leaves do, right? He said he’d done it before. Loads of times.

I had on my big orange ski coat ‘cause the cold had come early and Mom hadn’t had a chance to get me a new jacket. With that ski coat on, I felt like a wrestler. One of those huge guys with big muscles. Nothin’ could hurt me. Maybe I was more like The Hulk. Yeah. The Hulk in rage mode. Indestructible. Not even Thanos could hurt me.

I zipped up and pulled the hood over my ears. The pile of leaves was a big, orange-brown-red cushion, waiting for me to plow into it and land on the other side. If only I had a mini-trampoline to jump in from higher like I did on the diving board to make a bigger splash.

I ran and jumped as high as I could. Just before I sunk in—expecting the crinkle and crunch of smashed leaves—a deep, dark hole opened up. Mid-air there was nothing I could do. I fell into the damp hole, leaves clinging to my legs and face, forcing me deeper into the mass of foliage.

Now, I’m a part of the pile. I can’t move. The leaves have me tied down in my big orange coat. My legs feel like they’ve been bound by vines, but I can’t move to look down and see. My vision is blurred orange as if I’m behind a stained glass window. It’s hard to breathe and I can’t speak. Leaves have covered my mouth with their thick, earthy stench.

People see my orange ski coat as they walk by, but they just dismiss it for leaves. Even Mom didn’t recognize it when she walked by, calling out my name in a panicked yell.

Soon it will be dark and they’ll give up the search. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to survive, but I feel warm living fur behind me. I just wonder…will it save me? Or eat me?

From The Vault: Three Ways New Authors Sabotage Themselves

Three Ways New Authors Sabotage Themselves
And what to do to stop making the same mistakes

by Emerian Rich

As writers, we have many bad habits that hinder our careers. I am just as guilty as the next author and some of us don’t even know we’re doing it. I’m going to bring to light three self-torturing habits we have, in hopes that we can all help each other stop the madness.

1. We don’t support ourselves.

Sounds weird, but it’s true. We wrote these stories, we love them, but are we going to stand up to the masses and say, “My story is good enough to pay $10 for! Get it now!” Most will back out of this quicker than dodging a trip to the dentist. We are writers and as a rule introverts. We’d rather write the 100 page essay than give the 3-minute oral report. We also sabotage any self-confidence we may have by discounting our gifts. We tend to separate ourselves from “real” authors.

What to do: Stop it. No really, STOP IT!

2. We overuse the word JUST.

I’m not talking editing 101 here, I’m talking about thinking of yourself in JUST terms. I’m JUST self-published. I’m JUST a short story writer. I’ve JUST got one book out. I’m JUST with a small publisher. I’ve JUST sold two short stories. Cut out the JUST! What is the standard you hold yourself to? Stephen King? How many millions of horror authors out there are not Stephen King, but are still living their dream of being respected, valid writers, with something to say that people will listen to? It’s okay to set your sights on the Stephen King ideal, but don’t make it all or nothing.

What to do: Believe in yourself. Believe in your message. Stop JUSTing yourself. Stop discounting your gift. Set your sights high, but reward yourself at every milestone. Keep track of your milestones and look back on them every year. This writing biz goes really fast and you’ll be surprised (if you take baby steps every week) what you can accomplish.

3. We take editor responses, critiques, and reviews too personally.

Yes, our writing is our baby, but the more I’m in this business, the more I realize that it’s all about timing. Most declines have very little to do with the story content. So, what if you’ve submitted your story 57 times and never got a bite? Is it about you? Do the editors not like you? This is true in only the rarest of occasions ie… camping outside their hotel room at Con chanting “Sign me! Sign me!” all night until they give in – probably not a good idea. But to most editors, you are a nameless, faceless number. You’re number 902 in a pile they’ve received to read that month. They are under pressure to get through them all and they are looking for ghost fiction only this year, not zombies. You missed your window. It’s not personal. It’s not even about your writing half the time because they read the title: “Zombie Apocalypse” and because they aren’t buying zombies this year, bam… it’s in the reject pile.

What to do: Make sure your work is as perfect as you can make it so if an editor decides to give you a chance, your writing will stand on its own. As far as reviews go, they are completely subjective. The reviewer could be outside your target audience, against your message, or have religious differences. You may have said MOIST in the first paragraph of your book and from then on they just knew you were trying to gross them out. Every reader takes something different away from your writing. That’s what you want to happen. If you are a self-published author and you didn’t have money for a full edit, expect grammar slams. Expect them to point out errors. Don’t take it to heart. Don’t let yourself get caught up in what you did wrong in the past. And those crazy reviewers that suggest 10 different ways you should kill yourself because they hate you so much? Let it roll off your back. Anyone with that much hate over a book review obviously has emotional issues. Take what reviewers leave with a grain of salt. Try to evaluate it in a removed way, see if there is any truth in it, and then move on. Put out that next book. Do better. Learn from your mistakes and grow as a writer.

Emerian Rich is the author of the Night’s Knights Vampire Series and Sweet Dreams Musical Romance Series. She is the Horror Host for the international podcast and regularly commits author sabotage on herself. To find out more about Emerian, go to her website at

Happy Birthday, Emz. Irish Horror Author : Emerian Rich

emz birthday

Check out this interview we did with Emz back in 2019

Irish Horror Writers Month – Interview with Emerian Rich

Tell us a bit about yourself? Name, State or country?

I am Emerian Rich and I live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. I write Horror, Romance, and ever so often SciFi. I’m the Horror Hostess for and am also an artist, graphic designer, and book designer.

What is your connection to Irish Heritage?

I am 5 generations from the cross-over, but it’s a part of our heritage we’ve kept pretty close with it.

Do you know what part of Ireland your ancestors came from?

County Down in Northern Ireland.

Do you live close to where they lived? Have you visited there?

No and no. It’s one of my life goals to travel there.

How and when did you start writing?

I started writing stories when I was in Middle School. I had received a journal for Christmas. I started writing about my own life, but by half-way through I was so bored of my own life, I decided to write how I wished my life would be. This new me got to go on adventures, solve crime, and experience things I could only dream of. My first novel was when I was 13. 89 pages of big, bubbly cursive in pencil on white, lined notebook paper. However, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until in my 20’s.

Why write Horror?

There’s something special about a story when it can horrify you and make you feel safe at the same time. I enjoy creating stories and characters that people can experience horrific situations through without leaving the comfort of their reading nook. Most people’s lives are nice and safe—which we want them to be—but there isn’t much excitement in living our daily lives. We need to escape every once in a while and dream the impossible. Sometimes the trauma the characters go through can help us work through our own.

What inspires you to write?

Beautiful locations, interesting history facts, and most of all, my dreams. Day dreams of what I wish I could do and sleeping dreams where my subconscious goes off the rails.

Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?

As far as it being part of who I am, it’s all in my writing. My heritage did inspire one particular character most of all. The Irishman, Markham O’Leary, in my Night’s Knights Vampire Series is a direct inspiration from my own family heritage. I patterned him loosely off of my grandfather and his family.

What scares you?

What scares me in a good way is Classic Horror or Horror with a classic slant. Movies like The Woman in Black, Crimson Peak, and Ghostship have the mysterious darkness to them that I have enjoyed all my life.

What scares me in a bad way is the real-life trauma our world is going through right now. Hate crimes, domestic violence, mass murder, and the simple fact that a large part of the population no longer has respect for life in general.

Who is your favorite author?

I can never name just one. Anne Rice has been a favorite for a long time along with Andrew Neiderman and Jane Austen, but recently I’ve been delving into horror classics like The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell, and The Willows by Algernon Blackwood.

What is your creative process like? What happens before you sit down to write?

I generally have so many ideas I can’t possibly write them all down fast enough. My novels are big, enormous ideas that simmer in my head for quite a while before I actually start writing them. If I’m writing a short story, I usually get the email from the publisher or see the call and get inspired by the idea or the cover. Then I think about it for a few days. In a day or two I’ll think of something awesome I want to do. I usually get the beginning and the end and write it down (long hand) as much as I can. When I have a pretty solid first draft, I read it into my phone and email it to myself. Once it’s on my computer I make it pretty, flesh out the descriptive parts, sure up the dialogue and fill in the missing bits. Then it’s ready to send to my betas.

Tell us about your current projects.

I have just finished a modern rewrite of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It’s sort of a Clueless-meets-Lydia Deetz-from-Beetlejuice YA Romance about a Horror Addict who falls in love over winter break in New York City.

I am writing my third vampire novel, Day’s Children, and have a few other short Horror stories coming out in anthologies this year.

What have you written and where can our readers find it?

Readers can find out about my vampire series, Night’s Knights, and all the other fun stuff I do at:

Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. She is the podcast Horror Hostess of You can connect with her at

Happy Birthday, Emz! Haunts and Hellions

emz birthday

Emz was so excited to bring us this Gothic Romance Anthology!

Harkening back to the glory days of gothic romance that had us up reading all night, Press Presents:

Haunts & Hellions edited by Emerian Rich


13 stories of horror, romance, and that perfect moment when the two worlds collide. Vengeful spirits attacking the living, undead lovers revealing their true nature, and supernatural monsters seeking love, await you. Pull the blinds closed, light your candle, and cuddle up in your reading nook for some chilling—and romantic—tales.

With stories by: Emily Blue, Lucy Blue, Kevin Ground, Rowan Hill, Naching T. Kassa, Emmy Z. Madrigal, R.L. Merrill, N.C. Northcott, Emerian Rich, Daniel R. Robichaud, Daphne Strasert, Tara Vanflower, and B.F. Vega.

To read, go to:

Happy Birthday, Emz! Kill Switch, A Tech Horror Anthology

emz birthday

Check out the tech-horror anthology Emz co-edited with Dan Shaurette!

As technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we’ve created? What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future?

Join us as we walk the line between progressive convenience and the nightmares these advancements can breed. From faulty medical nanos and AI gone berserk to ghost-attracting audio-tech and one very ambitious Mow-Bot, we bring you tech horror that will keep you up at night. Will you reach the Kill Switch in time?




Mike’s new Mow-Bot is the answer to his weekend chore dreams until the neighbor’s cat disappears.


A doctor eager for publication and fame unethically tests a wound debridement technology with disastrous results.


An elderly woman enlists the aid of two repairmen when her pest elimination program goes haywire and begins attracting ghosts.


A game programmer in the final stages of launching a new version of the MMORPG “SoulTaker,” finds a bug even he can’t fix.


Daemon is willing to do whatever it takes to get the girl of his dreams and if his Iriz eye implant can help him do that, he doesn’t care what else it does.


A five-year-old boy is left home alone while his parents travel overseas, but his smart-house will keep him safe, right?


In a near future world where viewers are addicted to a television station featuring a hypnotically seductive sphere bouncing on an endless, surreal journey through unspoiled natural environments, Dodd is the only one who is “awake” enough to fight back.


In a future world where no one except fake grandparents live past the age of 65, Enid needs to land the job that will save her life, but a trip down memory lane may prove more difficult than she expects.


An audio-sensitive college student is the only one who can hear the difference in a mechanical birdsong that attacks her little sister.


A man uses technology to control his daughter from beyond the grave, will she ever be free?


A terminally ill woman discovers a frightening secret when she issues a deadly order to her personal robot.


A scientist working with bioengineered medical maggots fails to document her obvious erroneous observation, only to later realize her horrific mistake.


A computer programmer looking for his missing children in a legendary ghost house encounters a malevolent AI.

Available now on Amazon!

Happy Birthday, Emz! Clockwork Wonderland

emz birthday

Check out the Clock-Punk, Alice in Wonderland-themed anthology Emz created!

Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a bloodthirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.

Edited by Emerian Rich
Cover by Carmen Masloski

With Foreword by David Watson

Hatter’s Warning by Emerian Rich

Starting off with a poem from the Mad Hatter who warns us, our time is running out and Alice the queen of Wonderland is after our heads and our souls.

Jabberclocky by Jonathan Fortin

A drunken clock repair shop owner and his abused son receive a visit form the Mad Hatter who has an evil plan to bring a murderous Jaberclock to life. Only the Cheshire Cat can save the day or is he as mad as the Hatter?

Hands of Time by Stephanie Ellis

The Queen of Heart’s executioner and timekeeper are looking for an apprentice and a new set of hands to kill and kill again to run the queen’s clock.

Clockwork Justice by Trinity Adler

With only one day and two clues, a bloody torn card and carrot tarts, Alice fights to prove she’s innocent and avoid losing her head to the Red Queen’s executioner.

My Clockwork Valentine by Sumiko Saulson

Unlike the White Rabbit, Blanche Lapin does not carry her timepiece in her pocket, but in her chest. It’s a Victorian-era clockwork pacemaker and if it’s not wound every forty-eight hours, she will die. When the key is stolen, the thief who has it will let her die if she doesn’t declare her love and stay with him forever.

Blood will Have Blood by James Pyne

There are many Wonderlands and a young woman is trapped in one where she is expected to be the new Alice. It’s a place where the rivers are filled with corpses and that’s not even the worst of it. The only way out is by wearing a clock necklace that needs blood for fuel, but what happens if it runs out?

Midnight Dance by Emerian Rich

Wonderland is being overrun by zombies. Mr. Marsh and The Mad Hatter are in a race against time to jam up the clockmaker’s clock and stop the undead apocalypse. If they can’t the apocalypse will start over and over as the clock strikes one.

A Room for Alice by Ezra Barany

When Alice is locked in a blood-splattered room and poisoned by D, she must behead the Queen of Spades within fifteen minutes in order to get the antidote. Can Tweedle help, or is he part of the problem?

Frayed Ears by H.E. Roulo

Caught in a child’s fever-fueled dream, The White Rabbit, The Scarecrow, and other storybook characters soon discover that story time is coming to an end and maybe so are they.

King of Hearts by Dustin Coffman

A prequel story to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this tale explains how the Queen became mad, and why she hates the name Alice so much, though it has nothing to do with the real one.

Riddle by N. McGuire

A steampunk take on the infamous tea party, with a killer twist.

Tick Tock by Jaap Boekestein

To hear him tell it, a heroic wild card fights against the usurper Alice and puts Mary—the true Queen Of Hearts—on Watch World’s throne. Is that what’s really going on?

Gone a’ Hunting by Laurel Anne Hill

Alease goes rabbit hunting, but she’s the one caught in a place where she will have plenty of time to think about what she’s done.

The Note by Jeremy Megargee

Cheshire Cat tells a story about the changing, horrifying world of Wonderland and why he has to leave it.

Half Past by K.L. Wallis

A woman follows a mysterious man though the subway and travels back in time to the late 1800s, where she finds that instead of the patriarchal norms of the past, she is in a Wonderland where women are the superior sex and moral boundaries cease to exist.

Ticking Heart by Michele Roger

A woman on a train goes to visit Alice in a war-torn steampunk Wonderland, which is very different than the one we know.

To read the full story and more Clock-inspired, Alice Horror, check out Clockwork Wonderland.

Happy Birthday, Emz! Where the Books Began

emz birthday

During the end of May, we’ll be celebrating Emerian Rich’s birthday, coming June 1st!

Now, some of you may not know that Emz did not start out as a podcaster. She actually ran a little San Francisco Bay Area ‘zine called DarkLives in the 90s. All the while she was also writing a vampire novel that would lead her to become a podcaster and start the snowball that would become

Her dreams to be a vampire novelist started about 1991 when she started writing Jespa’s story in her college apartment overlooking the fog-covered streets of Daly City. At that time, Julien, Severina, and Markham were in a different story and only sparks of ideas at that. Soon, she’d move closer to her college and reside in downtown San Francisco, where her love of the city would blossom into an all-consuming passion. And with her love of the city grew the vampires that she would create there. As you may know, if you’ve read Night’s Knights, the city is almost its own character in this book and it would be a late night roaming the deserted alleyways of the financial district that she would decide to combine the Jespa story and the story of the vampires.

About ten years later, as she was shopping her book around, frustrated at the publishing business and hoping for a deal, she would get a real bite from a publisher. It was so exciting! Someone actually wanted to publish her book! She spent months cutting, fine-tuning, and getting the book ready for a publisher that would ultimately close before the deal was done. Depressed, pregnant, and ill, she gave up. Night’s Knights went into the closet. Her pregnancy brain wasn’t working anyway, so she stopped writing for a time.

After the birth of her son, she suffered post-partum cardiomyopathy, which caused her to die and be brought back to life on the ER table. Waking up a week later, unsure if she lived or died, she realized something.

“Life isn’t easy and it’s short. If I sat around waiting for someone to give me the okay to be a writer, I was going to die without any of my stories out there.”

So, she left Night’s Knights in the closet and wrote other things, constantly working on her craft. During this time, Artistic License came to be.  Meanwhile, she would record her books on short little audio snippets and put them together on CDs for her and he husband to listen to.

One day, her husband came home from his commute and said, “Hey, there’s this thing some authors are doing and it’s just like you recording your books for us. Only… they are putting it out on the internet and iTunes for people to listen to. I think they call it podcasting.”

Emerian jumped in head first, but still hoping for a book deal and also leery about people maybe stealing her book ideas from the cast, she didn’t want to use her fresh new book, so she pulled out the closet book, Night’s Knights. Still her baby, the book market at the time was NOT looking for vampire tales. She started podcasting her vampire novel, which gave her an audience who wanted it in book form. She self-published her book when that was not a very cool thing to do and got a lot of flack about it. But her listeners (or Biters as she called them) didn’t mind.

After the publication of Night’s Knights, offers from anthologies started pouring in and she took every single opportunity she could to write for other publishers and get the word out.

If you’d like to check out her first book, you can get it on Amazon in Print and eBook, and the podcast from 2009 is still out on her website at:

night2Night’s Knights (#1)

by Emerian Rich

Buy Night’s Knights in PRINT and Kindle.

Listen to Night’s Knights on iTunes.

Severina is an exotic beauty from the jungles of Brazil whose family is brutally murdered by the same man she later calls lover.

Markham is a simple Irish immigrant striving for the American dream in 1860 when coach robbers cause his untimely death.

Julien is a knight who serves as guardian angel to his family but has no clue about his predestined fate.

Vampires on a quest for knowledge attempt to create the perfect offspring, but from the shadows an even more demonic evil threatens their immortality.

Will a powerful mortal named Jespa be the one to save them all?

“Emerian Rich is the unrivaled queen of podcast horror fiction.” -Mike Bennett, author of One Among The Sleepless

“Night’s Knights gives new meaning to the preconceived notion of vampires. These vamps left me with the taste of blood in my mouth and an unquenchable thirst for more.” -Rhonda R Carpenter, author of The Mark of a Druid

“Never before have I felt so much compassion for a bunch of murderous vampires. Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” -Mark Eller, author of Traitor

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead! Jespa will captivate you and leave you wanting more.” -C. E. Dorsett, author of Shine Like Thunder

Happy Birthday, Emz! Where the Blog Began

emz birthday

The end of May we’ll be celebrating Emerian Rich’s birthday! She is our fearless leader and although she hosts the show, edits most of our anthologies, and runs the publishing end of things here, she doesn’t get much of the attention. In fact, she is usually busy making sure the authors, musicians, staff, and other guests on the show are promoted, featured, and have a good experience while doing so. So, to put Emz front and center, we’ll be talking about what she’s done for the horror community and what great content she’s put out over the 25-ish years she’s been doing this.

First up, Emz tells you in her own words…

Where the Blog Began
by Emerian Rich
Written Jan 9, 2020

When I started, it was just a podcast to keep my listeners and readers interested and engaged in between novels. Little did I know it would become the horror network it is today. With podcasts, Facebook groups, writing competitions, book publishing, and a blog that has survived ten years of ever-changing media coverage, it blows my mind.

Back in the beginning, we just talked to the listeners through the podcast and my own personal Ning forum. At Ning, there were feeds titled Horror Addicts, Wicked Women Writers, Movies, and Writing. Anything the listeners wanted to chat about, we’d just make a new feed. Even though Facebook started in 2004, it wasn’t something my readers or authors really knew about. Myspace was very popular and was another good horror site you could network with Horror Addicts on, but there wasn’t really a place where Horror Addicts could come share and read news, publically. Still, it suited us and everything was running quite smoothly until mid-2009 when Ning announced they were going to start charging for their forums in the new year.

Being a free fan site, I didn’t want my readers to have to pay to play with us. We wanted to geek out on horror stuff the way intended…FREELY and open to everyone. When I voiced my concern to our staff, Sapphire stepped up and suggested we start a blog.  A blog sounded like a bit more than I could spend time on. Already slammed with the career of author and all that entailed, I said I didn’t think I had time to run it, but Sapphire volunteered to be Blog Editor. 

So now, ten years later, it’s Sapphire who we should thank for getting us up and running. She served very long hours for many years with us making sure that our Addicts had what they were looking for on the web. 


Since then, the blog has expanded so far. More than I could’ve ever dreamed of way back in 2009. Today we have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share memories, review things, and geek out in our horror lifestyles with, but the blog is still trucking and feeding information from our hard-working writers to you, the readers. We do this all for you and because our info is gleaned through your eyes, the blog shows the identity of us as a community. We are truly a horror site run by Horror Addicts, for Horror Addicts.

Happy 10iversary Horror Addicts!

To those of you who were with us at the beginning–like Michele Roger who started Wicked Women Writers and Laurel Anne Hill our first interviewed writer– and the rest of you who found us along the way, thank you for your support. We strive to bring you the best in horror movies, music, fiction, and more!

Here’s to ten more years geeking out HORROR-STYLE, together! 221, Amanda Leslie Season 18
Manor of Frights, Episode# 221
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe



221 | Amanda Leslie | Astari Nite | Horrifying Housewives

Find all articles and interviews at:

164 days till Halloween

Theme: #HorrifyingHousewives


Music: “Bowie in Day Dreams” #AstariNite #Bowie

Catchup: @badbadmoms #HorrifyingHousewives #InterviewwiththeVampire #TVSeries #AMC #Vampires #Claudia #Lestat #Louis #TheateroftheVampires 

Historian of Horror: #MarkOrr #NosyGladys #Bewitched #ThePassionateWitch #SamnthaStevens #Karen #KarenAttiah

Dead Mail: #HorrorFan

TANISHA: #MentalHealth #AreYouOkay #Homeless #BestLife #YouHavePassion #PassionisaGoodThing #SelfCompassion #

MARTIN: #PoesCat #LeslieFish 

CLIFF: #VideoGames #GameRant #LayersofFear #StephenKing #TheBoogeyman #TheBlackening #AmnesiaTheBunker #Diablo4 #GameDump #LifeReset #Phantasmagoria

Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc… Also, send show theme ideas!

Nightmare Fuel: #DJPitsiladis #SerialKiller #FemaleSerialKiller #BelleGunnes


#MyLifewiththeThrillKillKult “Monster Man”

#LionelRayGreen #Bigfoot #

#MarkOrr #BoosintheHall
#JesseOrr #ShadowsLove2

#RLMerrill #AstariNite

#KieranJudge #MurderousMothers

#MeganStarrak #TheConjuring

#RussellHolbrook #HappyWifeHappyKnife

#JSOConnor #SpookyLocations #New JerseyPineBarrens

#HorrorCurated #BloodyTea #Bloodthirsty #DaphneStrasert #CrimsonRush #PamelaKKinney


#BayCon Jun-July 2023 #RobertPicardo #StarTrekVoyager

~~End of News~~ 

Feat Author: #AmandaLeslie #TheLivingRoom #1950s

Read by #EmerianRich and #RishOutfield


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Also, send show theme ideas!

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Jesse Orr, Lionel Green, Kieran Judge, Crystal Connor, Nightshade, R.L. Merrill, Mark Orr, DJ Pitsiladis, Russell Holbrook, Renata Pavrey, CM “Spookas” Lucas, JS O’Connor, Megan Starrak.

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Manor of Frights : Amanda Leslie

What is your name and what genre of Horror do you usually write about?

Amanda Leslie. I typically write monster/paranormal horror, but I’ve also dabbled in writing dystopia and slasher horror.

What is the title of your story in Manor of Frights and what is it about?

My story is titled “The Living Room.” It’s about a woman stuck living the same day over and over and over while she slowly loses her mind. I won’t spoil the ending here, but it’s one of my favorite things I’ve written.

What inspired you to write your story for Manor of Frights?

I was inspired by the theme of Manor of Frights! I mostly write Horror that takes place in a single location, but a story taking place in a single room/mostly in one room was a challenge that inspired me.

What is your favorite Horror house story in fiction, movies, or TV and why?

The Hell House LLC series of movies is by far my favorite. Much like this book, it takes place in a single location. I watched the entire series over quarantine, and it quickly became my favorite to the point I recommend it to anyone. It’s just a fun horror movie that I think anyone can enjoy.

What music most inspires you to write Horror?

Post-metal, dark classical, “wonky rock,” and folk punk inspire me the most. My story in this book is particularly inspired by Shayfer James and Miracle Musical — both artists that I would firmly place in the “wonky rock” genre.

Where can readers/listeners find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

I have a blog at where you can get updates on all of my work.



Ep. 221 NIGHTMARE FUEL: Belle Gunnes


BelleGunness-2Hello Addicts,

When someone thinks of a serial killer, you’ll think of people such as Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, or David Berkowitz. We consider female serial killers a relative rarity by today’s standards. This may be due to general differences in aggressiveness, or being better at hiding it, thus allowing them to fly under the radar. This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at a female serial killer who flew under the radar for years and whose crimes make for a great horror movie premise, Belle Gunness.

Belle Gunness, whose original name was Brynhild Paulsdatter Storseth, was born in Selbu, Norway, in 1859. She moved to America in 1881 and changed her name to Belle before settling in Chicago, IL, where she met her first husband, Mads Sorenson. They had four children together, but lost two in their infancy to acute colitis. They also adopted a ten-year-old girl, whom they named Jennie. In 1900, Mads died of what one doctor thought was strychnine poisoning on the same day two of his life insurance policies overlapped. While this may sound suspicious, the family’s doctor concluded that it was simple heart failure, and she never got charged. Shortly after collecting the insurance money from her husband’s death, Belle moved to a farm she purchased in La Porte, IN. This would be the site of her dastardly deeds.

In 1902, Belle married Peter Gunnes, a butcher from Norway she knew previously . Within a week of the ceremony, his infant daughter died of uncertain causes. By the end of the year, Belle would be a widow for a second time when she said that a sausage grinding machine toppled off a top shelf onto Peter’s head. Suspicions followed, but nothing ever stuck.

Belle eventually placed an advertisement in the lovelorn column of large Midwestern newspapers seeking the joining of fortunes. In correspondence with those who answered the ad, she promised romance if they brought money or items of value. Instead of a relationship, she killed a confirmed fourteen people, although people believe the victim number may be over forty. The murderess then buried the bodies or fed them to the farm’s hogs if she was tired.

On April 28, 1908, a fire broke out in the Gunnes home. The police found the charred remains of her three children and an adult woman inside. The woman’s body was first identified as Belle, even though it was missing the head and the body dimensions didn’t match her five foot nine inch, two hundred pound frame. Many believed she staged the scene so she could escape, which was later supported by sightings of her nationwide in the decades that followed.

The story of Belle Gunness is a tragic mystery that remains unsolved today. It is also one that seems made for Hollywood, like ‘Psycho’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, and the Hannibal Lecter movies. You never know if or when her story may come to a theater or bookshelf near you.

Until next time, Addicts.


Horror Curated: The Crimson Rush by Pamela K. Kinney


The Crimson Rush by Pamela K. Kinney

royalteaDelicate fingers tremble

To lift a handle of purest gold

Hold high this Chinese cup

Where blood red bats fly

A porcelain rim

And dance through tangled filigree

Sealed in a painted grave

Sip the scented liquid

Jasmine trapped in amber tea

Chosen flower of the evening

Left upon an altar

Before the setting sun

Read more in Bloody Tea.

Spooky Locations : New Jersey Pine Barrens / J.S. O’Connor

This next spooky location needs no introduction. The Pine Barrens cover one point one million acres in New Jersey. That’s nearly twenty-two percent of the state. It offers many of the amenities that other state forests or preserves offer: hiking, boating, camping, and the Baton Trail, which is nearly fifty miles long through three different state forests. But behind all of this natural beauty is a sinister secret that has even infiltrated pop culture and the inspiration for the name of New Jersey’s hockey team. It is the name of the state’s most infamous demon: the New Jersey Devil.

The Jersey Devil or the Leeds Devil is a piece of folklore that is well-known throughout the United States. In the early 1700s, Mrs. Leeds was giving birth to her thirteenth child. During the birth she cursed the baby and famously said “Let it be the devil!” and thus the devil complied. Immediately after the child was born, it let out a horrifying screech and flew out the window into the wilderness. The Jersey Devil has been said to have the face of a dog or in some accounts the head of a horse, wings like a bat, horns, and a tail. There are countless tales of the Jersey Devil appearing and destroying farms, killing animals, and terrorizing the residents of at least fifty different towns in and around New Jersey. At one point there was even a reward of one hundred thousand dollars to capture the Jersey Devil dead or alive. The creature has been seen by people from all different walks of life, police officers, businessmen, and regular everyday people.

So, the question remains: is there a Jersey Devil prowling the largest forest preserve in New Jersey or is this a bit of slander against Mrs. Leeds?  

Murdering mothers: the overlooked poignant gem of ‘Prevenge’

Some will say that this article is just an excuse to gush over a film which vanished under the radar and should be far more widely seen and appreciated by the film-watching populous. I would argue that they’re absolutely right, in every way. It’s gory, got lashings of black comedy, but also contains much more poignancy and pathos than it might appear on first appearance. Prevenge is an overlooked gem.

Conceived by British independent cinema stalwart Alice Lowe (of Sightseers fame, she’s also Timothy Dalton’s bubble-gum-blowing employee in Hot Fuzz, the one Olivia Colman whacks with a Wet Floor sign near the end), whilst she was several months pregnant, the film follows Ruth, a pregnant mother who’s recently lost her husband on the same day she discovered she was pregnant. Now, obeying her unborn child’s psychopathic, profanity-ridden wishes, she goes out on a killing spree across the city to take revenge on those she feels responsible for her husband’s death.

What makes Prevenge such a work of genius (despite being conceived of and shot in the space of only several months, whilst Lowe, who wrote, directed, and starred was pregnant),  is the multiple generic layers that create it.

On the one hand, it’s very much a slasher film. It’s got the synth score reminiscent of Giallo films, the kind of thing you might expect from Goblin or Fabio Frizzi. There’s enough gore to satisfy, with blood and brains and bodies splattered around the screen to keep the bloodhounds happy. Tension-filled scenes permeate from the opening kill to a seedy flat with DJ Dan, and the score helps to give it the kind of grimy, underground, 42nd Street feel that films of the 70s and 80s had in abundance. In that way, it’s a delight for horror fans because there is a dreamy reminiscence about it.

There are also lashings of biting black comedy pervading throughout. This is prevalent not just from the unborn baby calling the couple in the hotel room next door, “‘selfish b*stards’” with their lively nighttime activities, and calling an insurance woman a ‘“merciless, frigid b*tch,”’ which are, obviously, immensely funny spoken by the high-pitched voice of a baby. It’s also there in the quiet moments, and through the wonderful dialogue Lowe has written for Alice. The interplay between herself and the midwife, with Lowe’s absolute deadpan delivery, makes for some of the best cringe-comedy found in a horror film. And when Lowe manages to break out lines such as ‘“I am a working mother”’ to a woman she’s got a knife-point, and responding to claims the baby can’t hear her with ‘“She’s very articulate,”’ you know there’s a genius behind the lens with an ear for finding humour in evil.

And yet, what makes Prevenge so great is that, behind it all, it is a kind of Shakespearean tragedy. It is a character study of a woman struggling with grief, the loneliness of being abandoned to make her own way in the world at the time when she needs it most. She’s constantly got a photograph of Matt, her husband. When she’s dancing with DJ Dan at the pub, she’s got tears streaming down her face behind his back. When she’s with the midwife, she says to her that ‘“I would swap her to have him back.”’ Partially this wish for the swap is so she wouldn’t have to follow the baby’s instructions and kill people, but mostly because what should be joyful, the discovery of being pregnant has been soured and darkened by tragedy. The baby is the antithesis of her husband, everything she despises, brought together in one entity and tethered to her. The grief, embodied by the baby, controls her. Indeed, she describes it as a ‘“hostile takeover.”’

Prevenge is therefore not, at its heart, about an evil baby, though it is of course about an evil baby. It is not about the terrors of motherhood, though it is of course about the terrors of motherhood. It is, at its heart, about how we rationalise grief and anger and rage at the world. It is about where we place our darkness, how we come to terms with loss, and how, if leaving it unchecked, it can overwhelm us. Whether one chooses to view the film as supernatural or not, Prevenge is an incredible film because it isn’t about being a comedy horror film. It’s not about the guts or the blood. It’s about learning how to deal with grief. With sorrow. Learning how to let go. In many ways, the horror genre, with such a close connection to death, does this better than any other genre, and Prevenge is a remarkable demonstration of such power.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter/Instagram/Blog/etc: kjudgemental

Historian of Horror : The Boos in the Hall

I’m not normally a big fan of recent sitcoms, recent being since The Big Bang Theory shut down, but there are two I currently enjoy: Young Spencer (because how could I not love an ensemble cast in which the hottest actress is older than I am?), and Ghosts, a 2021 series in which a young couple inherits an old house full of spirits she can see but he can’t, with the intention of turning the ancient mausoleum into a Bed & Breakfast. 

In case you haven’t taken the opportunity to watch it, the spooks involved range from the entire history of the house and the land around it. They include Thorfinn, a Viking; Sas, a Native American; Isaac, a formerly-closeted Continental Army officer who has a ghostly redcoat boyfriend; Hetty, the Gilded Age lady of the house; Alberta, a Jazz Age blues diva; Flower, a spaced out hippy chick who expired from trying to hug a bear; various victims of a cholera epidemic, who keep the furnace in operation; Trevor, a Wolf-of-Wall-Streeter with no pants; and Pete, a scoutmaster with an arrow through his neck. The young couple initiate their plans for the house over the objections of the long-term residents, resulting in a variety of paranormal shenanigans.  

Those of you willing to admit to having watched it might not know that Ghosts, like several other television programs of various vintages, is the Americanization of a British version that began in 2019. Same basic set-up, with an older house because everything is older in England, and victims of the plague, rather than cholera. Some of the ghosts back in Old Blighty are reflected in their later, Colonial counterparts, but not all. Instead of a Viking, for example, they have a caveman, although a Viking would be just as appropriate. The Victorian mistress of the manor was murdered by her husband by being chucked out a window, a demise she is spiritually obliged to recreate loudly at three in the morning, to the consternation of the household. A simple resetting of her alarm clock resolves that issue, which is not necessary in the States as Hettie would never do anything so gauche as to launch herself onto the lawn. And the military man in denial is a World War II-era officer in His Majesty’s armed services. There’s also an excessively melancholy Regency poet who moons over the still-living new owner who is one of several who have no real analog to the other side of the Big Pond. 

Much of the cast of the BBC version of Ghosts, by the way, was previously seen in the gruesomely delightful series Horrible Histories, including their own depantsed financier. I recommend seeking out skits from that program on YouTube and gorging yourself on them. I’m particularly fond of the episode about Boudicca

For those of you among the populace who have experienced the pleasures of watching both of these shows, you might not realize that they were inspired by an even earlier BBC series on a similar theme, which ran from 1976 to 1978. The Ghosts of Motley Hall kept the 20th Century at bay for nineteen episodes and a Christmas special over those three short seasons. 

The Hall’s inhabitants included Bodkin, an Elizabethan jester; Fanny, an 18th Century fop, Matt, a Georgian stableboy; Sir George Uproar, an incompetent Victorian-era general; Old Gory, a 15th Century knight who only appears every five years to parade about whilst carrying the head he lost in battle; and the White Lady, who’s been in residence so long she can’t remember how she died. Unlike in the later incarnations, the spirits rarely interact with the living, although the White Lady does occasionally appear to Mr. Gudgin, the caretaker, but only long enough to scare him halfway out of his wits.

Sir George was played by Freddie Jones, one of those splendid English character actors whose horror pedigree is rather impressive. He appeared in several Hammer horror films, as well as the 1974 Harry Nilsson-Ringo Starr horror spoof, Son of Dracula, the 1980s The Elephant Man, and the original 1984 version of Stephen King’s Firestarter

The plots generally involved convincing developers and other prospective buyers to leave them and the Hall alone, something the ghosts in the later shows might have benefited from. Had that been the case, however, the proceedings would be less amusing.

Next time, we take a look at the silent movie output of Paramount Pictures. In the meantime, let’s enjoy a little ditty by the late great King of Calypso, Harry Belafonte, who carries us on wings of song to that most festive of funerary events, the Zombie Jamboree. Harry passed away on April 25, at the age of 96.

So, until we meet again, be afraid…

Be very afraid.

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Astari Nite

When I think of Horrifying Housewives, I’m reminded of Mommy Dearest, Stepford Wives, and even a few in my own life which I won’t name here. I definitely think music has turned many women into negative caricatures, but there are a few memorable scenes from movies where the woman loses it, and manages to make an epic stand. 


“Bowie in DayDreams” by Astari Nite

A lovingly crafted tribute to our beloved David Bowie, Astari Nite has released the track “Bowie in DayDreams,” which shows just how powerful the deceased artist’s influence truly is. From the vocals to the atmospheric sound, the track whisks you away to a damp street at night where the only streetlight illuminates the chameleonic star waiting for you with a cigarette between his lips. Astari Nite’s catalog is worth a listen. You just might find some other gems like “Gloomy Witch” and “Capulet Loves Montague” worth your while. 

Got other recommendations to fit this week’s theme? Feel free to drop them in the comments or email me at rlmerrillauthor at gmail dot com. Here’s the playlist link for this season. And if you’re a horrible housewife, well, we salute you! Stay Tuned for More…

Logbook of Terror : Happy Wife, Happy Knife

It was happening again. Janet shrieked obscenities as she stormed out of the house with Braden’s laptop under her arm.

    “You think I’m going to let you spend all your free time writing that garbage when you should be spending time with me? Huh?” 

     Stomping outside, she threw open the garbage can and slammed the laptop down inside. 

    Janet skulked back into the kitchen and hurled word grenades at her meek husband. “Horror fiction is sick! Only demented losers write that crap! No husband of mine is going to be involved with such filth! Do you know how that makes me look, you publishing that kind of nonsense? Huh, do you?” 

     Breathless, Braden struggled, searching for a reply that was totally lost to him. 

     Janice huffed and stepped past him, adding, “Start making dinner, I don’t want to eat late like we did last night. It’s not healthy to eat late and you’re not going to make me gain back weight after I’ve worked so hard to lose it.” 

Braden’s eyes trailed off, out the glass panes in the kitchen door, to the garbage can. He sighed, turned away, and started cooking their evening meal.




Late that night, Braden rescued his laptop from the garbage can. He sat on the carpeted floor of his darkened office, looking over his instrument. After several minutes, he began to type. With every keystroke his wife’s voice boomed in his head, a constant reminder that he wasn’t good enough, that he would never be a professional writer, that everything he did was worthless. As he struggled to type through the barrage of insults, determined to not let her destroy him, tears began to fall from his eyes. Minutes later he found himself hunched over his laptop, sobbing.. He couldn’t quell the pain any longer. He couldn’t push it down any further. After all the years, it finally bubbled and boiled and spilled over. He gripped the sides of his laptop and wept.

“Please, please help me,” he sobbed. “Anything, anything, just get me out of here!”

Braden’s tears fell onto the laptop keyboard and the small machine drank them in, absorbing every drop.

The laptop rumbled quietly and glowed with an eerie, green light. Braden was crying so hard that he didn’t even notice. It wasn’t long before he was all cried out and was slinking back to bed. 

In the deep gloom, Braden’s laptop rested on his desk beside the Crypt Keeper lamp and his talking Dracula doll. It hummed to life and soft clacking echoed through the room as the machine began to type.  



The next morning, horrid shrieking forced Braden out of sleep and into the harsh, waking world. He stumbled out of bed and wobbled downstairs. Janet was in the kitchen, throwing pots and pans around the room and screeching. She spotted Braden and screamed, “Where do we keep the knives? I need to cut up some meat for breakfast!”

Drool poured out of her twisted, blackened lips. Her eyes were pure, black orbs. Claws had replaced her fingernails.

“Janet?” Braden whispered.

“Yes, honey, it’s me. How do you like my new look?” She threw her head back and cackled. Her laughter ended abruptly. She hissed, “Now, about those knives…”

Braden ran back up the stairs and into his office. He pressed his ear against the closed door, listening for Janet. She’d stopped screaming. The only sounds Braden heard were the boom of his own heartbeat and…typing? He slowly turned around. There, sitting on his desk, was his laptop. The keys moved in a flurry as if a ghost writer were caught up in a creative fever. Braden’s eyes widened. Feet stomped up the stairs. 

“Oh honey, I found the knives!” Janet called out. 

Braden raced to the laptop. The words spread out on the screen in front of him. His eyes watered as he read the new line:

The heavy footfalls echoed down the hall and Braden knew he was going to die. 

And Braden listened to Janet stomp down the hall, faster and faster, and he remembered that he was so terrified that he hadn’t even thought to lock the office door. 

Shadows Love: Episode 4/ Dispatching by Jesse Orr

The metal spike sank sharply through the girl’s eardrum and impaled the cochlea. The sound of popping small bubble wrap leapt unpleasantly to the front of Lastor‘s mind. Fresh blood and other fluids oozed down her face as she screamed hysterically into the gag. The vampire leaned down and kissed her cheek, forcing the ice pick deeper and licking the blood that had dripped down from her ear as he grinned at the audience in his head.

“Enough,” Lastor said.

The vampire jerked up and snatched the ice pick from the hooker’s ravaged ear with a sick squelching sound.  Free of the encumbrance of the vampire, she began madly scrabbling at the gag, breaking her nails on the tight knot. The vampire took no notice.

“Who’s there?” His voice was like gravel. Behind him, the hooker had managed to claw the gag off and vomited red and gray filth on the alley floor. Blood dripped down off her face to pool with her last meal on the alley floor.

“See that? You went too deep! Now she’s going to die, and much too fast for your needs, I’m sure.” Lastor’s voice dripped sarcasm.

“They’re easy enough to find,” sneered the vampire, brandishing his pick threateningly in what he was reasonably sure was the right direction. “Show yourself!”

Lastor materialized out of the gloom to the left of the vampire’s focus. His peripheral was the first to notice and he snapped to the left, raising the pick for a strike. He took in Lastor’s face for a long moment before recognition dawned.

“Hey, you’re Audrey’s husband. Valorian.” 

Lastor’s eyes flashed at the mention of her. “I am. And you are not worthy to think her name, much less utter it.”

“Huh, I could get a lot of money for you,” the vampire grunted, and brandished his ice pick.

“Yes, you could.” Lastor’s face did not move.

“On the other hand I could use you in the entertainment,” the vampire said, pondering. “Or I could just kill you.”

Lastor grinned. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it. “No, you couldn’t. You won’t be allowed to kill me. You are inferior to many who have already tried and failed miserably. Awfully. Horribly. Lots of pain.” 

The vampire may have been thick but he recognized an insult when he heard one. With a roar, he charged at Lastor, ice pick raised. 

Lastor took another quick drag off his cigarette and flicked it in the charging man’s face, sending a shower of sparks into his eyes. Taking advantage of the vampire’s momentary blindness, Lastor ducked under the wrist with the pick and snatched it tightly. He gave a hard twist, sending the vampire over and onto his back on the ground with a thud. Before he knew what was happening, Lastor had pinned him down and slit his throat with one long fingernail. 

Leaving the vampire to gurgle helplessly on the ground and contemplate this latest development, Lastor crouched down and examined the whimpering girl laying in the fetal position. The blood had stopped flowing from her ear but the hooker’s eyes were blurry and unfocused. The damage was done. Lastor could feel her heart gradually slow down as her life ebbed. He touched the hooker’s brow and her eyes turned to him. She tried to speak but was cut off as Lastor dispassionately snapped her neck, ending her suffering forever. 

The alley was quiet and dark once more, with the scent of fresh blood hanging in the air. Lastor seated himself alongside the dead hooker and extracted another cigarette from the pocket housing them. Opening his book of matches, he received an unpleasant surprise – no matches. A book of nothing.

“Well that sucks,” Lastor grumbled, pushing himself back up and going over to the body of the vampire and dug through his pockets. 

“Glkfhaaau,” the vampire bubbled, air hissing out of his slashed throat.

Lastor looked at him in mild surprise as he picked through the meager offerings in the vampire’s pockets. “Still alive, then? You don’t have a lighter or anything do you?”

The vampire gurgled apologetically. Lastor pulled a pack of Marlboro Reds out of the vampire’s pocket and a book of matches with one remaining. Tossing the pack at the vampire’s face, Lastor lit his cigarette with the remaining match and stepped on the vampire’s neck, crushing his mid-cervical vertebrae. The gurgling stopped.

Lastor was still faced with an issue. There were still hours remaining before the wedding and entertainment. He needed matches. And he was getting hungry.

Nothing else for it, he would have to find somewhere to satisfy both. 

Lastor made his way through the alleys, following the distant sound of music. He felt like King Kong, drawn to a gate by drums for a maiden sacrifice. Before long he was peering at the entrance to an artistically run-down club, boarded up windows and dark peeling paint which could only be blood. 

Horror Curated: Bloodthirsty (2020)


BLOODTHIRSTYCurated by Daphne Strasert, Bloodthirsty (2020)

Indie music artist Grey is struggling. Not just with writing her latest album or connecting with her long-time girlfriend, but with her identity. She’s been experiencing hallucinations, frightening images of turning into a violent, uncontrollable animal. Not even the medications her psychiatrist prescribes seem to help.

Read more in Bloody Tea.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Fifty-Eight: A Flash of Beauty: Bigfoot Revealed 

The 2022 film A Flash of Beauty: Bigfoot Revealed is one of the best documentaries about Sasquatch I’ve watched. Yes, it features the obligatory eyewitness accounts and the usual experts, but the film is elevated by director Brett Eichenberger’s thoughtful approach to the subject matter.

Eichenberger, along with co-writers Brian Landon and Jill Remensnyder, manages to keep the feature-length documentary compelling throughout its 90-minute runtime with quality interviews intercut with lingering overhead shots of the forest, always reminding us how vast the wilderness truly is. 

“Less than 30 percent of North America has been actually walked by man,” says Faaruwq Muhammad, a computer scientist/data analyst. “What is in those areas?” 

A Flash of Beauty delves deeper into the Wild Man stories of the indigenous people than most Sasquatch docs and features more than two dozen wide-ranging interviews. Eichenberger leaves no stone unturned as he interviews several credible researchers and experiencers (including one who claims Bigfoot grabbed his head through a tent). He also interviews the creator of the Bigfoot Mapping Project; a crypto linguist; a wildlife biologist; a clinical psychologist; and a certified hypnotherapist. 

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t feature much footage of Bigfoot that we haven’t seen before. Of course, the Patterson-Gimlin film’s most famous shot of a female Sasquatch is shown. There’s a night video of a Sasquatch sitting in briars in southern Missouri as well as a 1988 photo from Washington. A plumber shares a blurry trail cam photo and a picture of what looks like a chimpanzee lounging in a tree. We hear the eerie Sierra Sounds again as Ron Morehead talks about the purported Bigfoot vocalizations that he recorded in 1971. And there are photos of nests and tree structures in the forests that some researchers attribute to Bigfoot. 

Without any exciting video or photographic footage to view, A Flash of Beauty focuses on the stories of Bigfoot. And there’s plenty to tell. 

I thought the 19th-century historical accounts by artist Paul Kane and missionary Elkanah Walker from their interactions with Native Americans were fascinating. 

However, the most captivating interview is with “Kyle,” a former U.S. Army intelligence officer. Kyle said he knew at least four Bigfoot bodies were transported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for autopsies. 

“I do know that the U.S. government has knowledge of the Sasquatch,” says Kyle, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I do know for a fact that the 2nd Ranger (Battalion) have on many occasions had to take out a few Sasquatch for public safety. I personally didn’t go out in the field with them, but I saw the after-action review reports.” 

Another highlight is the interview clips with Peter Byrne, a legendary Bigfoot researcher who spent three years in the Himalayas looking for the Yeti. 

The film’s strength is the director’s ability to effectively convey the sincerity of his interview subjects in expressing how Bigfoot affects their lives. If the documentary’s goal is to justify why people should continue pursuing the elusive Sasquatch, it succeeds.

Bigfoot researcher Sonya Zohar summed it up best. 

“We have a being … in the biological record that is a ten-feet-tall upright walking ape,” says Zohar, referring to Gigantopithecus. “We have thousands of track casts that Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum collects. We have numerous reports from all kinds of people over many years in the United States as well as a complete cultural record of all indigenous cultures.”

A Flash of Beauty: Bigfoot Revealed is available to watch free on the ad-supported streaming service Tubi.

NEXT UP: Chapter Fifty-Nine: Hoax. I review the 2019 horror film directed by Matt Allen.


The Conjouring House

 by Megan Starrak

In 2013, the motion picture The Conjuring, directed by James Wan and starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, hit theaters, and the world of horror was changed forever. Based on a paranormal case that Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated, the movie told the story of a house in Rhode Island and the Perron family. But what percentage of the film happened, and what was fiction?

In 1971, the Perron family consisting of parents Roger and Carolyn and their five daughters Andrea, Christine, Nancy, Cynthia, and April, moved into an old farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. The 3000 square foot 14-room house was built around 1736 and has been known by several names, including the Old Arnold Estate and Old Brook Farm. In a 2021 interview, Andrea Perron told how she and her sisters saw the spirit of a man in the dining room the day the family moved in. Other terrifying events occurred, including beds levitating and the family hearing voices and other strange sounds. 

The Perrons endured the events of the house for ten years. It was a difficult time because of the paranormal events. What made it worse was that Roger Perron said he didn’t believe anything was happening. Only years later, he confessed that he had seen and heard things and felt unable to protect his family. In the same interview, Andrea recounts how her mother went from being young and beautiful to tired looking, frail, and thin. Her mother’s voice also changed, and she started dressing differently. Finally, sometime during their final autumn in the house, Carolyn told her husband that she would not survive another winter there.  

However, regarding The Conjuring, Andrea states that only 5% is actual truth, and the rest is pure fiction. The fiction begins with naming Bathsheba Sherman as the spirit who wreaked havoc on the family. The real Bathsheba Sherman lived about a mile from the farmhouse, and there’s no evidence that she ever lived in the Conjuring House. Andrea does not believe Bathsheba was the spirit tormenting the family. She thinks it was the spirit of Mrs. John Arnold, one of the original homeowners. Andrea feels like Mrs. Arnold felt threatened by Carolyn Perron for some reason and turned her wrath against her. 

Andrea Perron credits the writers of The Conjuring with creating a third story outside the ones regarding Bathsheba Sherman and Mrs. John Arnold. The movie combined the stories of the two women. The most apparent evidence of this melding is the scene where Lorraine, played by Vera Farmiga, sees a body hanging from a tree, and the audience is led to believe it is Bathsheba. However, historically, Mrs. John Arnold hung herself in the barn in 1797 at 93, whereas Bathsheba Sherman died at home following a stroke in 1885.

Another fabrication in the movie is that the Warrens helped the Perrons. It was, in fact, the opposite. Famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren unexpectedly showed up at the Perron house. They had been contacted by people outside the family who knew about the strange activity. During their work, the Warrens performed a séance in the house against the wishes of Roger Perron. During the séance, Carolyn’s chair was said to have risen off the floor and flown into the next room. Andrea Perron remembers believing that her mother had been killed because her head hit the floor so hard. Roger Perron threw the Warrens out of the house, and they never returned. Decades later, Andrea saw Lorraine, and during that encounter, Lorraine admitted that she and Ed had been in over their heads and mistakes had been made.  

The Perron’s time at the farmhouse in Rhode Island spanned a decade, and the horror they experienced there changed their lives forever. But like other infamously haunted locations, the popularity of The Conjuring House has only grown since the movie’s release. When the house was sold in 2022, the final selling price was 27% over the asking price. The latest owner is still offering tours and investigations of the house to people hoping to encounter its ghostly occupants, who seem content to call the property home forever. 220, Lesley Warren Season 18
Manor of Frights, Episode# 220
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe



220 | Lesley Warren | In a Darkened Room | Bad Babies

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178 days till Halloween

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  1. We’re Here: An Anthology of LGBTQ Horror

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~~End of News~~ 

Feat Author: #LesleyWarren #ByeBabyBunting

Read by #EmerianRich and #RishOutfield


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Manor of Frights : Lesley Warren

What is your name and what genre of Horror do you usually write about?
My name is Lesley Warren and I enjoy writing psychological horror stories with unexpected twists. As someone living in a different country from where I was born and raised, I often write about the feeling of “otherness”, and this manifests itself in protagonists who do not quite fit into the boxes in which they are placed by their surroundings.

What is the title of your story in Manor of Frights and what is it about?
My story is called “Bye, Baby Bunting”. Ida Wells, a young and beautiful widow, is left to care for her newborn baby in the grand but eerie manor house she once shared with her recently deceased husband. During the first few months of the child’s life, Ida struggles in vain to bond with baby Minnie; ghastly visions transform her from an innocent infant to a demon, from Ida’s point of view. Is the bereaved and exhausted mother losing her wits, or is there really something strange about the baby, who seems to have her dead father’s eyes?

What inspired you to write your story for Manor of Frights?
I have always enjoyed reading stories and watching films in which things are not as they first appear to be. Some of my friends have embarked on the rewarding but demanding journey of parenthood in the past couple of years, and I get the feeling that it’s something you never quite feel prepared for – I thought it would be interesting to combine the challenges of raising a child with supernatural phenomena in my story. Add a spooky manor house and the age-old question of whether or not the strangeness is real or just happening inside the protagonist’s head, and you’ve got a recipe for a spine-tingling read.   

What is your favorite Horror house story in fiction, movies, or TV, and why?
As an avid watcher of Asian horror movies, the first film that comes to mind when I think of haunted houses is definitely the Korean psychological horror masterpiece “A Tale of Two Sisters”. It’s a perfect example of how the same events shown from two different perspectives can paint an entirely new picture. Without giving too much away, I can say that it manages to be hauntingly beautiful at the same time as shocking you speechless and breaking your heart. No mean feat! 

What music most inspires you to write Horror?
I’m a lifelong gothic rock and metal fan, so it’s never been difficult for me to lean into my darker side. I write best with music as background noise. Usual bands in my rotation are alternative rock band Palaye Royale (the musical equivalent of an espresso shot), rock cellists Apocalyptica (great for conjuring up atmospheric settings), and Viking-esque groups such as Wardruna and Heilung (perfect for tapping into one’s primal instincts – after attending a Heilung concert, my friends are still convinced that I have joined a pagan cult!)

Where can readers/listeners find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

My work has been published in several online and print journals. You can find a couple of my short stories by searching for the “Open Bookcase” anthologies of the Frankfurt Creative Writing Group, readily available on Amazon. In the virtual sphere, you’ll find me enjoying the kind-spirited feedback and camaraderie of my fellow writers at; this is my user page:

Nightmare Fuel: Water Babies


water babiesHello Addicts,

Previously, I shared the legend of the Black-Eyed Children. As the name implies, they are children with completely black eyes who tempt people into letting them enter their homes or other enclosed areas. These are not the only children who use their innocence to lure people to their potential doom. For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at the legend of the Water Babies.

Imagine that you are walking along the shoreline of a lake when you hear a baby or young child’s cries. As with most people, the first instinct is to find the child and see if it is in trouble. When you find them, you want to pick them up and soothe them. When you do, they drag you into the water where you either drown or never seen again. This is but one example of the water babies’ legend.

Water babies come from Native American folklore. Usually described as water spirits or the ghosts of drowned babies, they can appear as a beautiful human child, a merperson, or a reptilian. Their ability to mimic a baby’s cry is used to lure unsuspecting people to their doom, although some believe it is an omen of death like that of an Irish banshee. They will leave you be if you show them respect and make an offering, but most say it is safer to avoid the water babies altogether.

While this is a legend which serves as more of a precautionary tale, there are still reports of water babies in Lake Tahoe and The Great Salt Lake, among other places. The next time you are at a lake and hear a baby’s cries, approach with caution. You never know whether they are a real human child or a water baby luring you to your doom. Attempt to rescue them if you can, but do so cautiously in case they are just luring you into a trap.

Until next time, Addicts.


Horror Curated: The Offering by Trinity Adler


The Offering by Trinity Adler

royalteaDelicate fingers tremble

To lift a handle of purest gold

Hold high this Chinese cup

Where blood red bats fly

A porcelain rim

And dance through tangled filigree

Sealed in a painted grave

Sip the scented liquid

Jasmine trapped in amber tea

Chosen flower of the evening

Left upon an altar

Before the setting sun


The offering to prisoners of the moon

A slender collared throat

Bejeweled to gleam as daylight fades

One last sip from that painted cup…Read more in Bloody Tea.

Logbook of Terror: Baby Fever

Smothered by emotion, Alyssa smiled through the tears that streamed down her face. The baby was so precious! 

     Why can’t I have my own baby? Why can’t I be a mom? She wondered. Why doesn’t anyone want to have a family with me? 

     Alyssa sniffled, pulled a tissue from her purse, and wiped the tears from her face and eyes. Seeing her distress, a passing store clerk stopped and asked if she was alright. 

    “Yes, thank you. I’m fine,” Alyssa said. “It’s just the baby; she’s so beautiful.” 

    The clerk glanced down at the plastic baby doll that sat silent and still in a box on the shelf beside him. “Oh, you mean Chloé?”

Alyssa nodded. 

The clerk shook his head and sighed. “Lady, that doll isn’t beautiful, she’s the sister of that other psycho baby doll that killed all those adults last Halloween. I can’t even believe that it’s on the market but people want it so we sell it. This world, I tell ya…” 

    “I want her but they won’t let me buy her because I’m not attached,” Alyssa said.

    “That’s right, single women aren’t allowed to own one. The manufacturer says it’s too much, what with the responsibility and all,” the clerk said. “Add to that, the danger and  potential for violence.” 

     “It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all!” Alyssa yelped at the employee. 

    “I know,” he said as he put a comforting arm around Alyssa. “It’s not fair at all.” 

     The clerk pulled Alyssa closer. She turned toward him and jammed her knife into his gut. He coughed and sputtered. 

    “I’m going to be a mom and no one is going to stop me!” Alyssa whispered into the dying clerk’s ear. 

     Alyssa withdrew her blade and watched the clerk slump to the floor. 

    The baby’s eyes moved. Her plastic lips curled into a smile. Her tiny plastic hands pressed against the plastic box. She cried out, “Mommy!”

    “Baby Chloé!” Alyssa cried out.

    “Let me out, Mommy! Let us all out!” The Chloé doll said. 

      Let them all out?

       Alyssa knew the manufacturer’s warning, that, once they were activated, the dolls were dangerous in groups of two or more. Wait, was that true, or just a ruse to sell more dolls to more humans since there could only be one Chloé per household? Why were there so many rules? Why would such a potentially harmful thing be allowed to exist? Confusion clouded Alyssa’s mind. Wrinkles creased her brow. She looked into the doll’s eyes, made of glass but somehow full of life. Alyssa had looked into those eyes so many times. It was her job, after all. She installed eyes at the Baby Fever baby manufacturing plant. Maybe that’s why she loved them so much because she’d spent countless hours with them, gazing into those mesmerizing orbs. Oh, how she did love them! 

     Three hours later Alyssa was walking out of the warehouse baby store with thousands of Chloe models strolling along behind her. 

Six hours later the city was in flames and Alyssa wished that her own mother had told the doctors to remove Alyssa’s maternal desire before she was even born. Babies, they just aren’t worth the trouble they cause, she thought to herself seconds before she leaped from the top of the bridge and no one saw her again and once she was gone, the humans forgot that the Alyssa model had ever existed at all. 

Historian of Horror : No One’s Perfect

No One’s Perfect

It was the early 1970s in Nashville. My family lived in a 1927 Tudor Revival-style house in the Green Hills area, an easy bicycle ride away from the brand new local public library. I was a frequent patron.

One book I clearly remember checking out more than once was a collection of classic horror short stories that had been adapted into films. The Ghouls was edited by a gentleman whose ability to track down obscure and wonderful spooky tales proved to be a regular delight for the next few decades, until his passing in 2007 at the age of sixty-seven.

Peter Haining was born in Enfield, Middlesex, England, in 1940. He edited over a hundred horror anthologies from 1965 through the year of his passing and also wrote dozens of non-fiction books on horror, fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, classic films, and other popular culture topics, including five about Doctor Who. And some that he probably ought not have. 

As is not unusual with Haining’s anthologies, The Ghouls contains well-known yarns by major genre writers, mixed with obscurities. Haining had a knack for ferreting out just the right tales from all manner of unexpected quarters and from authors most folks would never think to associate with horror or hadn’t heard of at all. It was that knack that kept me picking up his anthologies whenever I came across one, and that led me to step in the bucket a few years back when I praised Haining’s scholarship in view of a few folks who knew better and were quick to disabuse me of my misapprehension. 

I’m sure the populace will be relieved to learn that Your Friendly Neighborhood Historian of Horror is not infallible, and even more so to know that he is willing to own up to it. I must confess that during the last three decades of the 20th Century, other interests – college, girls, cars, girls; jobs that paid just enough to put gas in my car so I could drive to and from college and go out with girls; getting married, attending to the myriad needs of a series of short humans who appeared at more-or-less regular intervals, all stuff like that there – diverted my attention long enough for Haining to put out not one, but two books on Sweeney Todd that are not held in the esteem one would have wished. These works purported to ‘prove’ that the Demon Barber of Fleet Street was a real person who murdered numerous gentlemen around 1800, rather than the product of the imagination of one or more writers of penny dreadfuls in 19th Century England. The rationale for his assertion was based on evidence that it would be generous to call flimsy, leading to my favorite anthologist being put on display for everyone in the world except apparently, me to see as nowhere near as competent a historian as he was a compiler of spooky yarns.

I’m assuming everyone present has a passing familiarity with the Demon Barber, who slit his customers’ throats before handing them off to Mrs. Lovett to be baked into meat pies. Created in a novel entitled The String of Pearls, which was serialized in eighteen parts in 1846-1847 for a magazine called The People’s Periodical and Family Library, Sweeney Tood became a cultural sensation. His story was adapted to the stage almost immediately and was expanded to ninety-two chapters in 1848. Numerous adaptations in various media have been produced ever since, including the 2007 film version of Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 theatrical musical, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton. The book has been variously attributed to James Malcolm Rymer and/or Thomas Peckett Prest, among others. Rymer and Prest are also credited separately or in concert with writing Varney the Vampire.

Haining claimed that he used his skills as a former journalist to track down sources that supposedly supported his thesis, that Todd was real, Mrs. Lovett was real, and the places where their crimes occurred could be identified. The trouble was, no legitimate historian has ever been able to verify any of the sources he cited, or that Sweeney Todd was anything but a fictional boogeyman.

Haining’s shoddy scholarship has cast doubt on the veracity of his other non-fiction works, including books on the French fictional detective Maigret and the English folk-legend Spring-Heeled Jack. This is all a shame, really, when his contributions to the collecting and preservation of short horror stories should be what he is remembered for. Maybe that will be the case, in time. 

When next we gather together in this place, we shall turn our attention to the spectral antecedents of a currently popular American television sitcom. Until then, my dear patrons of panic-filled putrescence, I bid you, as always, to be afraid…

Be very afraid.

Merrill’s Musical Musings : In a Darkened Room

Bad Babies

This week’s theme is Bad Babies, and there are definitely some memorable bad kids in books and cinema. Rosemary’s Baby, Chucky, Damien, Regan from The Exorcist, and little Danny from The Shining…I still have nightmares about Gage from Pet Sematary. But how about music? Read on for Ro’s Recs for the best music about naughty children. 


In A Darkened Room

Texas-based band In a Darkened Room recently released their album Sorrows, a dark lullaby reminiscent of moody bands like The Church and Type-O Negative. With a fathomless, gloomy collection of songs, Sorrows will touch that darkest place inside you and soothe it for a while. The album woos you with melancholy vocals and down-tuned guitars on tracks like “Final Vows” and “Doom and Gloom.” Then it picks up the pace slightly with ”Sleep Again,” and Hollow.” Fans of The Cure’s Disintegration, and Peter Murphy’s deep vocal stylings will enjoy Sorrows. It’s a great piece for the after-party comedown or as a soundtrack for a dreary day with gray skies. Fall asleep to the album and you might just dream of dark places.


Ro’s Recs

This was a fun list to put together, all those bad kids in rock ‘n’ roll. Here are my recommendations for tunes about naughty kids. Thanks to the Houston Press article and this Music Industry piece for some inspiration.

  1. Skid Row – Youth Gone Wild
  2. Social Distortion – Mommy’s Little Monster
  3. Oingo Boingo – Only A Lad
  4. Pearl Jam – Jeremy
  5. Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall
  6. My Chemical Romance – Teenagers
  7. David Bowie – Because You’re Young
  8. Wheatus – Teenage Dirtbag
  9. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – When A Kid Goes Bad
  10. The Who – The Kids Are Alright
  11. The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright
  12. Rory Gallagher – Messing With The Kid
  13. The Black Keys – Sinister Kid

I know there are many, many more and I’d love to hear your favorites! Hit me up in the comments or email at rlmerrillauthor dot com! Stay Tuned for More…


Shadow’s Love Part 2 : Episode 3 / Hiding

Lastor’s face erupted in the glow of the flame held to the end of the cigarette. He inhaled, and the light vanished as the match was extinguished by the bloodstained dirt of the alley. Only the ember of the cigarette cast a light, smoldering in the darkness like a dying star.

He’d lost count of the hours he had sat, his back in the corner of an alleyway stained with blood and reeking of death. Even the air was still, as still as death, as silent as death, death death death. It was as if the place itself had died. The inky blackness was not penetrated by any of the ambient glow that lit the community. That suited Lastor just fine.

He could feel Audrey nearby, and it was maddening. He kept reminding himself the messenger knew what he was talking about. It was a good plan. He had been right so far, hadn’t he?

But that was the other thing that was bothering him – it had been too easy. Wait until the messenger returned, take Audrey out, sneak back above, and he would have Audrey back, happily ever after?

“Nobody is happy ever after,” Lastor muttered to himself as he extinguished the only light in the alley beneath his foot.

Everybody lies. Who stood to gain the most by lying to him? The messenger stood to gain a wife, the reward for Lastor, as well as having Lastor out of the way, and the elimination of his brother in a rise to power. 

And Audrey…

Lastor was still locked in fierce combat over his feelings for his wife. She had betrayed him and cast aside their years together for manipulative con artists without a second thought. Lastor could still see the hate in her eyes from the night she left. But saving her was… well it was a given. Lastor could not bear to leave her to this fate. But once they were out of danger, assuming the messenger was as he seemed, what then? Would she leave him again the next time she heard answers he could not give?

Someone was coming. 

Lastor pushed himself into a crouching position. It sounded like several people, but as the source rounded the nearest corner, Lastor made out only two shapes in the gloom. One was fighting and thrashing, giving off muffled screams through a gag. The other was significantly taller, with great hulking shoulders and a bald head. 

Lastor remembered what the messenger had said about vampires who used this alley to practice for the entertainment. Sure enough, the vampire stopped in the alley and bashed the captive’s head against the wall, knocking them to the ground. The hulking vampire grunted in apparent satisfaction and unslung a satchel from around his shoulders. Pulling it open, a match sparked and lit a black candle, throwing relief on the whole scene.

The vampire was large and muscular, with a goatee and heavily lidded eyes. He was clad in vinyl pants and a tight-fitting top. His face had a malevolent leer as he reached back into his bag and pulled a long thin ice pick from its depths. He ran his tongue down the length of it, savoring the taste of the dried blood there. 

Lastor could not see the victim; a crate was blocking his view. Taking care to stay out of the yellow glow of the candle, he edged around the crate until he saw a girl, no more than twenty. Her pantyhose were wadded up in her mouth, secured by a length of cord, her eyes rolled back in her head. Blood trickled from the corners of her mouth, her nostrils, and down her neck from a wound on her head. She moaned and looked around dazedly. 

The vampire turned to face her. Her eyes focused with difficulty on the ice pick in his hands and they widened in terror. Her legs began working, desperately attempting to push her into a less submissive position. The vampire let her get halfway up before knocking her feet out from under her with a wild laugh and stabbed the ice pick into her head. The hooker screamed in her throat beneath the gag as the ice pick forced its way through six of the seven millimeters of the frontal plate of her skull. The vampire halted the ice pick’s journey through her head just short of puncturing her brain, sparing it by barely a millimeter. Lastor felt a twinge in his forehead and shuddered.

The vampire shoved her down roughly onto her side and straddled her, pinning her arms to her. Shoving her head into the dirt, he took the ice pick and began slowly and delicately inserting it into the hooker’s ear. She sobbed, breathing raggedly through the gag, and redoubled her efforts to escape, but the vampire’s grip was like iron and held her steady as the pick continued its inexorable penetration of her ear canal. Lastor could hear crying now, sobbing through the gag as the blood began to flow in earnest from her ear. Here the vampire finally encountered some resistance. He left the pick there, balanced on her eardrum under its own weight, pushing gently on it with one finger and releasing the pressure, bouncing it on the eardrum. The hooker screamed, a desperate guttural sound of horrified anticipation.


The vampire seemed dissatisfied and cast about for a suitable rock. He came up with a hefty chunk, at least a pound. Grinning, he held it over the ice pick and dropped it. 

Horror Curated: The Bloody Dead of Night (1945)


DEADOFNIGHTCurated by Mark Orr, The Bloody Dead of Night (1945)

This 1945 masterpiece from Ealing Studios was the first great anthology film, setting five spooky yarns in the middle of an afternoon of tea and crumpets and horrific deaths. An architect played by Mervyn Johns (of 1963’s The Day of the Triffids) arrives at a remote country cottage he’s been hired to renovate just at teatime.

Read more in Bloody Tea.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Fifty-Seven: Devil on the Mountain 

Devil on the Mountain gets its name from the best dialogue in the movie. 

“My old man told me one thing that sure turned out to be true. No matter how hard you try, no matter how high you get in this life, there’s always going to be a devil on the mountain waiting to knock you back into your socks.” 

The devil in this situation is Bigfoot. 

Devil on the Mountain is a low-budget creature feature with enough heart to elevate it to one of the better Bigfoot movies I’ve seen. The film is available to watch free on the ad-supported streaming service Tubi. It was also released in 2006 as Sasquatch Mountain on the TV channel then known as Sci Fi. 

Produced by Curb Entertainment in association with Grizzly Peak Films, Devil on the Mountain is directed by Steven R. Monroe, who helmed the outstanding 2010 remake of I Spit on Your Grave. With a 3.8 rating on IMDb and a 17% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, Devil on the Mountain is not a well-reviewed movie, but I enjoyed it. 

The plot is basically the sheriff and his deputies chasing a band of bank robbers with a hostage into the woods where Bigfoot lives. Unfortunately, Bigfoot doesn’t care what side of the law you’re on, which forces the two groups to work together for survival. 

The cast is filled with familiar faces, including veteran actors Lance Henriksen (Aliens) and Rance Howard (Ron Howard’s father). At one point, Henriksen calls the leader of the bank robbers Pumpkinhead, and that alone made it worth watching the 88-minute film for me. Henriksen, of course, starred in the 1988 cult classic Pumpkinhead

Scream queen and former Yellow Power Ranger Cerina Vincent (Cabin Fever) plays a woman on the run from a bad relationship, and Craig Wasson (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) leads the bank robbers. 

The movie opens with a tragic hit-and-run accident shot in found-footage style that shows us our first glimpse of Bigfoot. Flash forward 12 years later and we’re quickly introduced to the cast of characters: Sheriff Zeff and his deputies, the bank robbers, and out-of-towner Erin. 

The bank robbers steal the money, but the getaway ends with a deputy shot. While speeding away from town, the criminals get into an automobile accident with Erin, who’s packed and leaving behind an abusive relationship. 

Now on foot, the bank robbers decide to take Erin hostage and escape into the woods. Meanwhile, the sheriff, his deputies, and a crusty old tracker named Eli give chase. Twenty-five minutes into the movie, Bigfoot appears for his first attack. 

Eventually, everyone ends up at an old lodge, trying to survive the creature’s attacks. Kudos to costume designer Wade Rikert as he created one of the better versions of Bigfoot on film. Most of the movie only shows glimpses of Bigfoot with quick edits, but at the end, we see Sasquatch in all his glory, and the creature’s impressive. 

The acting is solid with scenes between Henriksen and his daughter ringing true. Wasson as the leader of the bank robbers gets to dig deep about his daddy issues. I personally liked the old-timers getting a chance to play heroes and delivering for the most part. 

The climactic scene with Bigfoot hit me more emotionally than I expected, and the film wraps up a couple of other loose ends after the climax with good-hearted resolutions. In fact, I found the last shot of the movie to be a near-perfect symbol for how humans are more alike even when they think they’re so different.

NEXT UP: Chapter Fifty-Eight: A Flash of Beauty: Bigfoot Revealed. I review the 2022 documentary directed by Brett Eichenberger.


Spooky Locations : The Beast of Bray Road , Wisconsin by J.S. O’Connor

Bray Road, Wisconsin

How do legends start? Well, it all depends on the place and time, but this legend starts in 1936 when a night watchman for a local school witnessed a large wolf-like creature digging into an old Native American burial mound. The next night the watchman returned and witnessed the same thing as the night before, except this time the creature stood up, brandished its long fangs, and growled at the watchman. As far as legends go, that’s a pretty good start.

Just outside of the town of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, stretches Bray Road. This stretch of pavement has become infamous due to sightings of a humanoid figure, described by many as a werewolf or bigfoot-type creature, dating back to the nightwatchman’s first encounter in the 1930s. Frequent sightings occurred as recently as the 1990s, and from these dark late-night encounters, the Legend of the Beast of Bray Road began to spread. 

Perhaps the most famous and the most recent report came from an unnamed 18-year girl, who was driving down Bray Road when she hit something. When the girl stopped the car to investigate, all she could see was a large two-legged wolf-type creature standing on the side of the road. When she went to flee, the wolf creature jumped on the back of her car but fell off as she sped away. Other reported sightings say the creature has been seen in large open fields, either hunting or eating some of the local wildlife. One report says it even tried to break into a home. 

Are these just sightings of mistaken identity or fanciful hoaxes? Or do werewolves really exist? To be honest, I don’t know. All I do know is that if I find myself traveling down Bray Road at night and something hits my car, I won’t be stopping to see what it is. 



Book Review: Keening Country by Seán O’Connor



Reviewed by Emerian Rich

For:  Those who are looking for something different.

Content warning: There is an intense gore story in the mix, but the rest are not as graphic.

Keening Country is a well-written collection of stories by an author I haven’t read before. When I saw that this book was comprised of “experimental horror” I was a little worried, but these stories are different in an exciting way. They’re each unexpected and take different turns than I am used to. 

My favorite story was called “Seven Years Gone,” about a man who’s haunted by his wife who disappeared seven years ago. And yet, it isn’t as straightforward as that. He is a train conductor and nights on the tracks can do funny things to your mind. The reveal was something I could have never predicted and I found it so refreshing that it didn’t follow the expected path. 

Another great story was “Ariel’s” with a sort of Luddite “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” storyline. I really enjoyed how it unfolded before me, frightened of the moment when they would “get me.” 

“Down Below” starts off as a story about a scary spider in the shed and, as I’ve said about the other stories, gives you something else entirely.

There was one terrifying story that was a bit much for me, dealing with cutting and a bit gorier than the rest. Just a warning for those of you who are a bit more queasy, you might want to skip that one. For those of you looking for a bit of gore, it will definitely give you that gross factor you’re looking for.

I encourage you to try these experimental horror stories out. If you’re looking for a horror that’s a little different than the rest, for unexpected paths and resolutions, you won’t be disappointed. I enjoyed them very much. I liked being caught off guard. 219, Daphne Strasert Season 18
Manor of Frights, Episode# 219
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe



219 | Daphne Strasert | Vvmpyre | PredatoryPlants

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192 days till Halloween

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Read by #EmerianRich


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s t a f f

Jesse Orr, Lionel Green, Kieran Judge, Crystal Connor, Nightshade, R.L. Merrill, Mark Orr, DJ Pitsiladis, Russell Holbrook, Renata Pavrey, CM “Spookas” Lucas, JS O’Connor, Megan Starrak.

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Author Interview : Daphne Strasert / Manor of Frights – A Green Thumb

What is your name and what genre of Horror do you usually write about?
Daphne Strasert. Typically, I write supernatural or psychological horror. I avoid blood and gore in favor of creeping terror, possible insanity, and things that go bump in the night. I love to refresh classic horror monsters and make them frightening all over again.

What is the title of your story in Manor of Frights and what is it about?
A Green Thumb is the story of an ambitious Anthophile (plant lover) who breaks into the manor’s conservatory to steal a rare orchid. She finds herself in deep peril when she discovers the secret to the enigmatic flower’s growth.

What inspired you to write your story for Manor of Frights?
I love plants. I have an extensive collection of potted plants (including an orchid!). Every plant is unique and caring for them can be tricky. Plants in the wild naturally feed off the decay of other organisms and some trap animals and insects as a way to fertilize themselves. I took this biological reality and amped it up a bit, combining it with the historical craze over rare orchids to create A Green Thumb.

What is your favorite Horror house story in fiction, movies, or TV, and why?
Thirteen Ghosts. If you haven’t seen this cult classic 90’s movie, make time to watch it. The house itself is a visual delight of glass walls and shining clockwork. It was constructed to be haunted, made from the designs of a madman, and created with the purpose of harnessing restless spirits. The cast of ghosts that inhabit the house have a fascinating lore of their own which has been lovingly documented online. I would love to see this movie remade into a series that goes into even more depth.

What music most inspires you to write Horror?
I write best with instrumental music. Lyrics can get in the way of the flow of words for me. My favorite source is Two Steps from Hell, which makes epic, movie-score-style songs. Their Halloween album is an all-time favorite.

Where can readers/listeners find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

You can find out more about me and read some of my work at


Nightmare Fuel: The nicaraguan Vampire vines


vampire vineHello Addicts,

There are countless numbers of plants in the world, with many still being discovered and identified. Among those are carnivorous plants, such as Venus flytraps and pitcher plants, but those normally trap insects, small arthropods, and small lizards. A question humankind has pondered over the centuries is whether there are plants who eat people. This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at one such rumored plant, the Nicaraguan Vampire Vine.

In fiction, when someone thinks of a man-eating plant, one of the first things that may come to mind is the Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. An article appearing in the September 15, 1891, edition of Lucifer, a London magazine published by famed mystic Helena Blavatsky, told the story of one person’s run in with the vine. A naturalist named Leroy Dunstan said that he was hunting for botanical and entomological specimens in a Nicaraguan swamp when he heard his dog crying out in pain. When he found his pet, it had become ensnared in a network of fine rope-like roots and fibers. The branches resembled those of a weeping willow, but with a dark sticky substance oozing from pores. He tried freeing his dog with a knife, but found the vine trying to grab him as well. His flesh became red and blistered where the vine touched him, while it left dog’s body covered in blood and pucker marks. The canine staggered from weakness and exhaustion but survived. The natives of the area referred to the plant as Devil’s Snare and shared stories of other people not lucky enough to have escaped its deadly grip. Mr. Dunstan tried to bring back one root of the plant, but it died on his return voyage, giving off a smell so foul that he needed to get rid of it.

While there are not many articles about this plant in the time since, it does not mean that there may not be such a plant. There is a vine regarded as a vampire, the Dodder vine. Although it doesn’t drink blood like the Nicaraguan vine, it sucks the nutrients from plants it ensnares, making it a nuisance to farms.

The vampire vine also lives on in fictional worlds. It is a staple in many a role-playing games and stories. Fans of Harry Potter may also recognize the similarities between the Devil’s Snare in the story and the one presented here. This plant will continue to thrive in the minds of all who love peril filled adventures.

Until next time, Addicts.


Horror Curated: Tasseography


royalteaCurated by D.J. Pitsiladis, Tasseography

Have you ever wanted to forecast your future? Nowadays, there are plenty of methods to divine what awaits you, such as tarot cards, palm reading, astrology, or scrying. One still frequently used involves a refreshing beverage and a little meditation. For this issue’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at tasseography. Tasseography is a divination method where someone sees a person’s future, fate, or destiny by reading the dregs of a person’s cup or glass.

Read more in Bloody Tea.

Logbook of Terror : The Haunted Garden

Vera’s eyes scanned slowly across the property until they fell upon an unexpected sight. She pointed and asked the real estate agent, “Is that part of the yard?”

Turning in the direction of Vera’s question, the agent smiled and replied, “Oh, the garden? Why yes, it is, although it sits right on the property’s edge.” 

Vera squinted and gazed into the absurdly unkempt patch of vegetation. “It looks so neglected.”

“Well, the home has been unoccupied for several years and folks in town have just left it alone. It’s actually considered something of a local oddity,” the agent said. “The children say it’s haunted. Can you imagine; a haunted garden?” She giggled to herself and then sighed.  

Vera’s husband, Lon, stepped to his wife’s side. He eyed the sprawling, overgrown garden with curiosity and, for an instant, he thought he heard whispers floating out of the wild green space. He blinked and shook it off. 

“Hey, you okay?” Vera asked him.

“Yeah, I just thought…” Lon trailed off, his gaze again locked onto the garden, watching huge leaves of massive plants sway gently in the breeze. “…Nevermind, it’s nothing.”

Vera smiled and took his hand.   

Pam, the leathery old real estate agent, smiled and said, “Let’s take a look inside. You just won’t believe the miracles that the restoration crew worked with this place.” 

After a lengthy tour of the home, filled with all the questions that nervous first time home buyers ask, Vera and Lon found themselves outside again, gazing into the lush, wild garden. 

“So, what do we think?” Pam, the real estate agent asked as she approached the couple from behind. 

Without turning or taking their eyes off the garden, the couple said, “We’ll take it.” 


One week later, after the house had begun to take on the appearance of being lived in, Vera was awakened late one starless night by a soft voice calling out her name, like a melody floating on the wind. It roused her out of sleep and drew her to the bedroom window. She looked out over the yard to the garden which was bathed in moonlight. As she stared, the plants swayed back and forth, dancing in the breeze. And again, her name drifted to her on the wind. 

Vera’s forehead creased. It didn’t make sense. How could she hear anything through the closed window? How could she be hearing her name? Surely it must have been her imagination. Then, just as the thought had flitted through her mind, she heard her voice again, as if it was in her mind and all around her, everywhere at once. She looked deeper into the garden. A child’s pale face moved out from behind a bundle of wide, green leaves, and grinned up at her with young, girlish features that took on a maniacal glow.  

Vera’s breath caught in her throat. She stumbled back to the bed and shook her husband. He rolled over, his eyes wide and alert. He was already awake, as if he’d been waiting for her. 

“Lon, there’s someone in the garden!” She whispered, her tone shaky and laden with fear. 

He smiled and replied, “Let’s go see.” 

“No, I don’t think–”

“C’mon, honey, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s okay; it’s all okay.” 

Vera’s eyes watered. Her hand trembled. 

Lon stroked her hair and stared deep into Vera’s eyes. Her gaze locked onto his. She nodded slowly, taken in, mesmerized by whatever force had taken root inside of Lon.

“Yes, it is okay,” Vera said.

“That’s right,” Lon said. “They told me everything. They really want to meet you. I told them we would come visit.”


“Them.” Lon beamed. His face glowed in the pale light of the moon as he nodded in the direction of the garden. 

Together they rose from the bed and, hand in hand they left the bedroom and made their way to the garden. 



Pam smiled wide at the young couple. 

“It’s a beautiful old house,” the young woman said. “What happened to the previous owners?”

Pam shrugged and replied, “No one really knows. They just up and disappeared one night.”

The young woman glanced around the yard, her roving gaze stopping at the garden. She laughed. “I can’t believe I didn’t notice that before; it’s huge. That poor garden could use some love.” 

“Sure could,” agreed the husband. “Who would let it get into such bad shape?”

“I’d love to spend some time there,” the young wife said. Her eyes widened. ” Maybe a lot of time.”

“Well, you surely could do that,” Pam said, smiling devilishly. “I bet those old plants would love the company.” 

The wife grabbed onto her husband’s arm. “I love it here.”

“Me, too!” The husband said, still staring at the garden, feeling that it couldn’t be possible, but he could have sworn he heard the plants whispering his name.  

Odds and Dead Ends : ants, zombies, and the revolution of the dead’s origin

Zombies aren’t real. Well, at least in regards to the modern conception of the gangs of undead, flesh-eating cadavers that can only be killed by removing the head or destroying the brain. Their origins as Haitian voodoo mesmeric slaves, as seen for example in White Zombie (1932) or The Serpent and The Rainbow (1988), is a topic that has been discussed several times on Horror Addicts. Those things are hideously close to reality.

However, the human realm doesn’t have the monopoly of spooky, mind-controlling dead creatures. The animal kingdom, and the plant kingdom, are terrifying places to look, should one delve deep enough. And whilst the plants of the deep forests are scary enough, with venus fly traps and pitcher plants trapping and digesting ants and bugs to absorb their nutrients, one plant perhaps takes the blood-dripping cake with regards to utter creepiness.

The Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, a parasitic spore found in the Amazon, has a peculiar life cycle which has given rise to its nickname of ‘the zombie-ant fungus’. Upon its spores being released, it needs to find some way to carry itself somewhere new, so that it might grow and reproduce and spread. To this end, it has formed a rather toxic symbiotic relationship with Camponotini ants on the forest floor, getting them to do its dirty work.

The spores float near the forest floor, where the ants must travel. The spores attach themselves to the outside exoskeletons of the ants and eventually manage to break through the tough armour of the insect and burrow down. When inside, the chemicals of the spores spread through to the ant’s brain and slowly take it over. The ant is helpless. There’s nothing to be done. The spore is now inside its head, and eventually, it paralyses the insect and takes control of its movement.

Moving under control from some unknown force, the ant is forced to find a tree or stem of a plant and climb up and away from the floor. The ant then finds a hanging leaf or thin branch, crawls across to the underside of it, and is forced by the fungus to bite down into the plant and lock down. The mandibles go into a kind of lock-jaw so that the ant cannot move from the spot. Now at the right height and atmospheric conditions, the fungus begins its reproduction.

The ant dies, and the fungus breaks out of the ant corpse’s brain. A small, slender stem rips through the body, breaking forth into the open air. Eventually, the flower atop the stem will open, and new spores will be released, searching out new ants to infect, to begin its life cycle all over again.

Creepy, right? But wait, haven’t we heard about this story before? Isn’t this something we’re aware of, tangentially, in the back of our minds?

Within the space of roughly a year, two stories were released which focused on bringing this fungus to new, terrifying heights. In 2013, the video game The Last of Us was released, with zombies bringing about the apocalypse, and two survivors trying to trek their way through the landscape. The cause of the infection? A relative of the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, managing to infect human beings and spread, bringing about the apocalypse. Of course, the new The Last of Us TV series, starring Pedro Pascal, brought the story to new audiences.

Additionally, in 2014, the novel The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey was released, featuring a zombie apocalypse with zombie children here being the focus. How far into the land of the flesh-eating undead have they gone, and can they be restored to sanity against the pull of the infection. Once again, the unilateralis was the fungus at the heart of it, with both the novel and the 2016 feature film using it, especially near the end, to nihilistic beauty.

It seems that, as the tradition of zombies continues to evolve, their origin stories are continuing to evolve. Writers are searching out new ways to change up these now classic corpses, moving from the religious (Haitian and Christian) into the purely biological. Zombies aren’t controlled by mystics or as a form of armageddon and rapture; they are a rebellion of the natural world against man’s constant campaign for superiority.

Perhaps then, these zombie stories aren’t so much an evolution of the tale, after all. For, to me, they feel very much like the microscopic world taking out the invaders, as seen all the way back in H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. In The Last of Us and The Girl with all The Gifts, mankind is the martian, trying to conquer the world through sheer force of weaponry. Only this time, our own planet is fighting back. 

With that in mind, whether zombie ants or humans not learning from our own warnings to ourselves is more sobering, I’ll leave to your personal contemplation.

Article by Kieran Judge

Twitter/Instagram/Blog – kjudgemental

Historian of Horror : In Which the Sins of the Fathers are Perforce Visited Upon the Son(s)

heartily encourage the populace to seek out and enjoy the 1999 feature film, Topsy-Turvy, which depicts most delightfully the creation of the Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera, The Mikado. Which is not, itself, in any way horror-related, but which does allow me to steer the conversation in the direction of the famed Victorian-era impresarios’ next production, Ruddigore; or, The Witch’s Curse.

Which is. 

Horror-related, that is.

A little context is required. In those days, a decade prior to the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the popular exemplar of the suave noble vampire was Lord Ruthven, the title character of Dr. John Polidori’s 1821 story, The Vampyre. Conceived during the same Swiss idyll during which Mary Shelley came up with Frankenstein, it was initially assumed to be by the much more famous Lord Byron and therefore became a sensation. A number of stage adaptations ensued, including Heinrich Marschner’s 1828 German opera, Der Vampyr. Librettist W.S. Gilbert very loosely based Ruddigore’s protagonist on Polidori’s character, and since he rather obviously called him Sir Ruthven (pronounced Rivven) Murgatroyd, audiences in 1887 no doubt spotted the connection right away.

Historically, the Ruthvens were a Scottish family, Lords of Parliament, which in the Scottish system of nobility was equivalent to an English baron. That is, they were the lowest level of nobility. Sir Ruthven, by contrast, is a baronet, the highest level of commoner in the English feudal system. Essentially, a hereditary knight. A fine distinction, indeed, and not a particularly important one for our purposes here today.

Ruthven is the scion of a family cursed generations before by a witch his ancestor, the First Baronet, was in the process of burning at the stake. Those Murgatroyds in possession of the title are obliged to commit a crime every day or else perish in horrible and agonizing ways. Ruthven had absquatulated years before to avoid the curse, leaving his younger brother Despard, the “Bad Baronet”, to take on the title and, therefore, to deal with the consequences. Which Sir Despard has done with rather more enthusiasm than was called for. Ruthven, meanwhile, has been living locally under the guise of Robin Oakapple, a farmer.

The opera opens with a bevy of professional bridesmaids bemoaning the fact that the eligible young lady to whom they have pledged their services, Rose Maybud, has proven loath to commit to matrimony, leaving them at loose ends. After overcoming a complication straight out of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, Rose and Robin are betrothed. Unfortunately, the dastardly Sir Despard discovers his brother’s subterfuge by the end of the first act, forcing him to accept his duty as reluctant villain.

The newly-minted Sir Ruthven proves to be exceptionally incompetent in his new role, so much so that the ghosts of his villainous ancestors arise to remonstrate with him. By a trick of semantics, Sir Ruthven is able to circumvent the curse. He marries Rose, Despard is absolved of his myriad sins, various couples are reunited, the complications are resolved tidily, and all’s well that ends well. 

The Mikado had no sooner opened in March of 1885 than Gilbert began cannibalizing some earlier works into the next opera’s plot, cobbling it together from various works, his own and Polidori’s, as one does. Composer Sir Arthur Sullivan put off setting it to music until the next year, as he was engaged in other projects. Once he got to it in November of 1886, it went quickly and the opera opened at the Savoy Theatre the following January. It did fairly well, although nothing like the raging success of The Mikado. Gilbert and Sullivan produced four more operas for a total of fourteen before dissolving the partnership and parting ways with some rancor. They resolved their differences before Sullivan’s death in 1900. Gilbert survived until 1911 when he drowned while trying to rescue a young lady he was teaching to swim.

Ruddigore is not one of the more frequently mounted of the Savoy Operas, but there are several performances available on YouTube, including an animated version as well as a 1982 televised production starring the redoubtable Vincent Price as Despard. Alas, that last one is broken up into forty-eight short pieces, which is at the very least annoying.

Do give it a try. Even if Victorian comic opera doesn’t turn out to be your cup of hemlock, you ought to treat yourself by taking a look at the above-mentioned Topsy-Turvy. It stars Jim Broadbent, of Hot Fuzz, and the always entertaining Timothy Spall, currently appearing on Netflix as the superintendent of West Point in The Pale Blue Eye. You’ll thank me the longest day of your life.

Until next time, gourmands of the ghastly, be afraid…

Be very afraid.

Merrill’s Musical Musings : VVmpyre

Predatory Plants

Greetings Horror Addicts! This week’s theme is predatory plants, and what could possibly be more terrifying than meeting your demise at the…leaves? roots? teeth? of one of nature’s children? Of course, we love listening to Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors belt out the tunes, but are there other deadly-yet-irresistible plants out there? Read on for my recs after this week’s review that will have you dressing fancy for a night of dancing.


Hailing from Michigan, goth/darkwave artist VVMPYRE is serving up “dance music for vampires, horror scores for the nightclubs, and shocktronica for the uninitiated.” Their latest offering, Neon Night Fright is the perfect soundtrack for a fang-banging good time at the blood orgy of the season. With heart-pounding beats and terrifyingly tempting vocals, VVMPYRE had my head bobbing from the first beat. “My Love Is A Zombie” is a great intro track to the band, but I highly suggest you head over to Bandcamp and listen to their latest album from the beginning. With alternating guest vocalists, each track has a darkwave dance beat and provides the best goth workout playlist you could hope for. “Offering,” “Freedom Of Death,” and “Sky Falls Down,” are all tracks I’ll be listening to on repeat. I highly recommend checking out VVMPYRE. Buy the album on Bandcamp, stream it on Spotify, but acquaint yourselves with this awesome collection of danceably dark tunes. 

Ro’s Recs

To celebrate Predatory Plants, here are some great tracks that feature Mother Nature’s gifts.


  1. Book Of Love – I Touch Roses
  2. David Bowie – Moss Garden
  3. The Cranberries – Daffodil Lament
  4. Stevie Wonder – Venus Flytrap and The Bug
  5. Nirvana – Marigold
  6. PJ Harvey – Plants and Rags
  7. Troye Sivan — Bloom
  8. Mumford and Sons – Thistle and Weeds
  9. MARINA — Flower
  10. Kate Bush – Flower of the Mountain
  11. Johnny Cash – Wildwood Flower
  12. Avett Brothers – Famous Flower of Manhattan
  13. Eurythmics – Thorn In My Side

Have any favorites you’d like to add? Here’s the playlist link for this season. There are so many, and I’m sure I could have found some spookier ones for my Horror Addicts, but these all had quite a vibe. Hope you get out and enjoy some spring flowers…unless you’re like me and you’re allergic, which means that plants really can be deadly. I’ll see you on the inside, and Stay Tuned For More…


Shadows Love Part 2 : Episode 2 – Flight

Lastor poked his head out of the entrance to the basement of the council hall, eyes taking in everything. There were more vampires Below now. Lastor dropped to his hands and knees, scurrying beneath an ornate table at the side of the main room as feet passed by. Peering over the table, he could see what had to be the head council leader and his entourage heading down the staircase to the dungeon. Throwing caution to the winds, Lastor stood and walked purposefully out the door, heading to the street as if he had every right to be there. 

Outside, Lastor glanced up at the ladder leading down from the tunnel to the underground and saw a steady trickle of vampires descending. It would only be a matter of time before someone recognized him. Already, he could hear the footsteps of the council leader’s entourage making their way to the basement, the sound echoing in the stillness. Hugging the shadows surrounding the council building, Lastor heard a bloodcurdling scream of fury rent the underground air. They had found the death he had left behind in the basement where they kept Audrey.

Adrenaline coursing through him, Lastor darted across the gap between buildings and dove through the partially collapsed door of the nearest structure. He threw himself against the ruined door, jamming it into the doorframe as best he could before blocking it in with some debris. That done, he peered through one of the cracks he had been unable to stifle. 

An hour later, the council guards known as the Pinions had all been slain for allowing the death of the council leader’s son. Their bodies were being draped over the giant boulders standing in front of the council building atop the staircase. Rivulets of blood were dripping down the boulders and trickling down the stairs. The limp bodies now looked only vaguely human. The council leader’s tears stained his cheeks red as he raved, extorting his subjects to find the intruder as he cradled his son’s severed head in his arms. 

Twice, someone had tried to force the door of his hovel open, causing Lastor to throw his weight against what was left of the hovel’s door and prepare for the worst. But twice, someone had yelled to whoever was at the door, calling them away, and he had been left alone.

He looked back out his window and started as he saw the messenger come striding up to the center of the courtyard where his father stood, glaring at the bodies he had just flayed. He looked over and saw his son approaching. 

“Your brother is dead,” the council leader said. “You must marry the girl.”

The messenger’s face was grave. “Why have you murdered the Pinions?”

“They have failed me. They have allowed Lastor Valorian to torture and murder my most beloved son Nicholas.”

The messenger’s face darkened for a second, barely betraying his disgust at the council leader’s blatant favoritism, before returning to a blank. “How can you be so sure it was Valorian?”

In a sudden burst of rage, the council leader hit the messenger across the face. “Idiot! Use your head! Who else would dare enter the dungeon and murder my son? Who else’s wife is chained up in the dungeon?”

The messenger winced slightly as his father hit him, but his voice was steady. “Why would Valorian bother to learn the location of The Land Below, murder Nicholas and two guards, and leave the girl?”

The council leader glared as he reviewed the Pinions, stretched across the bloody rocks. A crowd was gathering, onlooking from a distance. No one was keen to get too close to the bodies, or to the council leader. 

“No one,” the council leader said finally. “No one else would dare. But it matters not You will marry her, and the Entertainment will go forward.”

Throwing himself to the ground inside the hovel, Lastor clutched his head in his hands, squeezing his eyes tightly shut. There was no end to this madness. He sat, wracking his brains in the ruined hovel, trying to think of what he should do next. All he could think of was a bottle of liquor, surely available at the nearest liquor store Above, no questions asked. It would render all of his problems obsolete, at least temporarily. At this point, temporary was all he cared about. 

These thoughts were interrupted as the ruined door slammed open, throwing Lastor aside as it was shoved in from the outside. A shadow darker than the gloom of the underground cavern entered the little hovel. Lastor tried to make himself as invisible as possible but the silhouette turned its head and saw him.

“There you are!” the messenger hissed, pulling the remains of the door into the frame behind him. “What happened? I gave the Pinions the slip and when I got back, they were all slaughtered and my father is carrying Nicholas’s head around.”

“It got messy,” Lastor said, shrugging. 

“If you were wise, you would remain hidden until I come find you, after the marriage. Once we are Above, this entire ordeal should be behind us. I suggest you make your way to the section of the community I was hiding in. Take the path to the right of the council steps and continue onward. Stay to the right. You will find yourself in the alleys used to practice for the entertainment.” The messenger grimaced. “You will know when you find it.”

Peering out of the hovel’s door, Lastor saw to the right of the council steps a path leading to the yawning chasm between the council and the nearest building. Like a breeze, Lastor slipped out and into the shadows. 

Instantly the blackness swallowed him. Leaning against the wall to let his eyes adjust to the gloom, Lastor could feel the oppressive dark crushing down on him. Evil had been here. This alley was thick with the scent of death, decay, and blood. 

Lots of blood.

Horror Curated: The Blood Countess



Curated by Kieran Judge, The Bloody Countess, Elizabeth Bathory

When we hear about serial killers, most of us think of one of two things. It’s either the slasher movie type-Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, Norman Bates-or documentaries and Netflix limited series about the modern monsters like Ed Gein, Jeffery Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy. Some might even go to those mythical killers who have transcended their stories and become myth and legend thanks to their mystery and intrigue like Jack the Ripper, the Zodiacs, or the Texarkana Moonlight Murderer. But perhaps the most prolific real life serial killer of them all, whose name is a true blurring of myth and monster, is Countess Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary.

Read more in Bloody Tea.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Fifty-Six: The Muck Hollow Monster 

Steeped in 1980’s horror, The Muck Hollow Monster is a fast-paced campground tale by Harlan Graves packed with young adults primed to party in a forest inhabited by a legendary monster. 

I previously reviewed three stories in The Beast of Fallow Pines trilogy by Graves. Click the following titles to read those reviews: The Darkness in the Pines, The Beast of Fallow Pines, and Something in the Woods. 

Released in 2022, The Muck Hollow Monster is a creature feature filled with enough 80’s references to make you want to wear a pair of acid wash jeans. From the boom box blasting mixtapes of Guns N’ Roses to girls drinking Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers, the story is a nostalgic ride for those of us who grew up in the decade of hair bands and Molly Ringwald. 

The cast of The Muck Hollow Monster is the typical young adults who only want to get high and get laid. You know the ones in Friday the 13th and countless other horror-in-the-woods movies. They’re back! We have the guys, Billy and JJ, and the girls, Billy’s squeeze Jessica and her friend Cass. Billy tells JJ the three ingredients to a good weekend – beer, weed, and sex – and we’re soon on a rickety pontoon headed down the river to Camp Muck Hollow. The camp is an abandoned spot two hours away from civilization and surrounded by 15,000 acres of forest and swamp. What could go wrong? 

Of course, Camp Muck Hollow is closed because “a couple of kids went missing” in 1970 and only parts of their bodies were ever found. Was it Mucky, the legendary bogeyman of the swamp? Or the gators? Probably the gators … not!

“Mutilated kids and a swamp monster,” Cass said, “this place just got a hell of a lot creepier.” 

Oh, it gets creepier, Cass. And a hell of a lot more dangerous. 

The group’s plan is to wait for Dylan and his sister Mal to arrive with the best weed in the area. In the meantime, we have the obligatory scene where the group discusses the campground’s tragic past by firelight. After the campfire tale, the couples retire to their cabins for the night. Unfortunately, their alone time is interrupted by Mucky … and to paraphrase Quiet Riot, he wants to rock. 

By the time siblings Dylan and Mallory arrive by boat, the campground is eerily quiet with not a soul in sight. Dylan says, “Something feels off,” before grabbing his rifle. At least Captain Obvious is smart enough to bring some firepower. He’s going to need it. Dylan and Mal search for their friends but soon find themselves in their own fight for survival.

The Muck Hollow Monster has 71 ratings on Amazon and boasts a solid 4.1 stars (out of 5). The top reviews praised the fast-paced action but thought the story was too short. It probably could’ve been longer. Maybe have a prologue detailing the original events surrounding the 1970 disappearances to establish a stronger connection to the legend of Mucky. Maybe have a survivor warn or help the main characters. I suspect readers wanted more background because Graves does a fine job of introducing a legendary creature shrouded in mystery.

Overall, while the character development is thin (as it is in most 80’s slashers), Graves does an outstanding job of writing action scenes with breathless intensity. If you like straight-up slashers, just replace Jason Voorhees with Bigfoot, and voilà, you have the gist of The Muck Hollow Monster. It’s definitely worth a read for fans of both slasher and cryptid fiction. And if you were a teen in the 80’s like me, it’ll bring back a memory or two.

NEXT UP: Chapter Fifty-Seven: Devil on the Mountain. I review the 2006 film directed by Steven R. Monroe.


The Crying Boy Paintings: A Mass-Produced Curse? by Megan Starrak

Countless stories have been written about cursed objects, from lockets to Egyptian tombs. Many of those tales pertained to singular items. So, what happens if the cursed object is part of a collection? And what if they are sold around the world? Welcome to the legend of the Crying Boy paintings.

Starting in the 1950s, an Italian painter named Giovanni Bragolin created a series of paintings portraying young boys’ faces with tears running down their cheeks. The images were very popular with the public. This popularity led to Bragolin’s work being mass-produced and sold worldwide. It is estimated that over 50,000 Crying Boy paintings were sold in Great Britain alone. However, that all changed in September 1985.

The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, published an article about the paintings. In the article “Blazing Curse of the Crying Boy,” a reporter interviewed Ron and Mary Hall. The couple had lost nearly everything when their house burned down. The one item that remained virtually untouched by the fire was one of the Crying Boy paintings. The newspaper published several more stories about people who had owned a Crying Boy painting and had survived devastating infernos. In total, the pictures were connected to over 60 house fires. 

Not surprisingly, the articles created a wave of panic among those who owned the artwork. They desperately sought to dispose of the painting before the curse could reach them. As a result, sales of the images rapidly dwindled, and Giovanni Bragolin became the subject of intense scrutiny. And this is where the story takes another strange turn. After an investigation, it was discovered that the paintings were created by a Spanish artist named Bruno Amadio. Unfortunately, he died in 1981, so the backlash regarding the curse never reached its target, and little more is known about him today.  

Since then, the legend about the Crying Boy paintings has come and gone into the public’s consciousness. Do I think it’s a curse? I believe thousands of Crying Boy paintings were sold, and house fires happen all the time. I hope I don’t jinx myself by saying this, but I think the paintings are just paintings. But at the same time, I won’t go on eBay and buy one. Why tempt fate? 





Book Review: Blame it on the Pumpkin



Reviewed by Emerian Rich

For: Readers who dig Halloween and pumpkins.

Content warning: If you are sensitive to bad language, gore, or descriptive killing, you should skip this one.

Blame It on the Pumpkin - Pamela KinneyBlame it on the Pumpkin is definitely unlike any other Halloween anthology I’ve ever read. Although I picked it up for the spooky fiction I might find, I was presented first with a nonfiction piece by Marjory E. Leposky about how pumpkins are grown, harvested, and carved. Even though I’m a Halloween fan, I’ve never even thought about that process much further than carving and roasting the seeds. Starting out the book with an education about where the pumpkins actually come from was refreshing and put me in the right mood to enjoy the pumpkin-inspired fiction.

This is an anthology filled with the oddest stories I’ve seen put together. Unexpected tropes like people turning into ravens and a kid haunted by a compulsion of self-harm were a surprising twist alongside some more common themes of man-eating plants and evil townsfolk.

My favorite story in this book is a sort of Little Shop of Horrors-themed tale by Jennifer Kyrnin called “Vampire Gourd.” Although as a horror reader, you may have seen this type of story before, the way it is written is from a different viewpoint and I like the way the main character becomes so entwined in the lives of the plants. It’s a symbiotic relationship that had me wondering if I might want to grow a little something myself. And then I remembered I’m a total city girl, allergic to most nature stuffs, and shook myself out of it. But the character in this story was really well constructed and had me on his side for much of the story.

Another standout was “Flock of Badb” by S. P. Mount.  It was certainly the weirdest story I’ve ever come across. Based on the concept that all people born on October 31st are cursed (or blessed) to become ravens, the transformation scene and how and the situation around it unfolded was truly bizarre and yet, I couldn’t stop reading. It had me completely intrigued.

You can also enjoy a tale by author, Pamela Kinney, which explores an evil town that lures Halloween addicts to a sinister night like they’ve never experienced. Might give you some nightmares and have you thinking twice about visiting those unknown haunts in the boonies come this October.

All in all, this book is a group of oddball stories that should appeal to pumpkin lovers and Halloween fanatics alike.