FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: SWEET RECENT SCARES

 

Sweet Recent Scares

by Kristin Battestella

 

Ghosts, vampires, and cults, oh my! This trio of recent tales get the scares right!

 

I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in The House – Ruth Wilson (Luther, The Affair) stars in this 2016 Netflix original written and directed by Oz Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter). Poetic voiceovers tell of a house being borrowed by the living while dark screens and period silhouettes come in and out of focus, creating an aged feeling for our colonial house, ailing horror author, and her jilted live in nurse Lily – who must always wear white, can’t be touched, and slaps her own hand for snooping. Certainly there are obvious implications with repeated phrases, solitary scenes, one side phone calls, whispering voices, and no outdoor perspectives to disrupt our attention from the suspect footsteps and undisturbed décor. Old music with ironic lyrics, cassettes, rotary phones, typewriters, static TV antennas, and Grateful Dead shirts also invoke a trapped in the past mood implying that the thin veil between life and death is soon to be broken. Shadowed, almost black and white shots and doorways framed in darkness make the audience question which side of the looking glass we are on – slow zooms peer into the dark frames or blacked out night time windows. There are shock moments, but the one woman play design is intense without being loud or in your face. Blindfolds, old fashioned dresses, mirrors, musty papers, and mysterious boxes increase amid moldy walls and suspicious characters from our author’s 1960 novel The Lady in the Walls – creating slow burn literary flashbacks, parallel self-awareness, ghostly uncertainty, and feminine duality on wilted old age blooms versus forever beautiful flowers. Is this a linear story or are the past, present, living, and dead blending together? Again, the answers are apparent with book titles and name hints hidden in plain sight. No one eats, sleeps, or bathrooms yet this ghostly rot and repetition may take multiple viewings for full discussion, interpretation, and analysis. Although there are some pretentious arty for the sake of it moments – not the papa Anthony Perkins scenes on the TV! – knocking on the walls, a flipped up rug, buzzing flies, and a will requesting another woman writer come to chronicle this “House of Stories” are atmosphere enough without run of the mill wham bam effects. This individual horror experience remains can’t look away intriguing for old school horror fans not expecting thrills a minute and those who enjoy a seventies, no concept of time mood.

 

Midnight Son – An aversion to sunlight, skin conditions, and the need for human blood make for a deadly quarter life crisis in this 2011 indie gem from Scott Leberecht (Life After Pi). There’s not much dialogue early – and the DVD has deleted scenes, interviews, and commentaries but no subtitles – yet the visual storytelling doesn’t need anything uber talkative. Interesting schemes denote the false night time light with yellow lamps, neon accents, string bulbs, blue kitchen designs, and choice reds as the doctor diagnoses anemia, jaundice, and malnourishment. Rare steak isn’t doing the trick, but the sight of blood on a bandage at the ho hum night security job gets the heart racing for something tasty. Early Google research moments get out of the way in favor of painting memories of the sun, solitary vampire movie watching, checking for fangs, testing for a reaction to crosses, and having a laugh at the clichés. Loneliness, street peddlers, deadbeats, and debt – life’s already down on its luck so what’s a little vampirism? The vampire vis-a-vis for drug use and life sucks may be trite today, but this allegory has an older, working protagonist stopping in the corner butcher for some blood by the pint to hide in his coffee cup. Companionship and fantastic possibilities can be found in unlikely places, and it’s neat to see just how many things a basement dwelling vampire can really do at night. Although I like his bed with the blackout curtains, this is a potential turned bleak world – the natural awkwardness is understandable and casually realistic. Jacob’s smart, talented, and just hampered by his…health problems…and an ER opportunist is willing to trade blood for a price. Rather than shock horror exploitative, we have an intimate, invested view for the increasing slurps, bloody makeouts, and desperateness. Quick camera flashes leave room for suggestion as bodily changes, night vision, infections, and love bites interfere with potential relationships, murder investigations, gallery possibilities, and you know, trying to get somewhere in life. Can you be a good and normal vampire or is amoral violence the only answer? Though plain to some with nothing super unexpected, the simple constructs echo the mature progression, honest drama, and self-aware focus without the need for horror spectacle. This is a fine story with a small but well rounded, multi-ethnic cast, and it’s one of the best same writer/director pictures I’ve seen in a very long while.

 

Sacrifice – Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black), Rupert Graves (Sherlock), and David Robb (Downton Abbey) star in this 2016 adaptation of Sharon Bolton’s novel beginning with brisk New York pregnancy emergencies before moving to Scotland’s great mountains, rocky coasts, and end of the world island isolation for an adoption. Standing stones, jokes about mistaking “runes” for “ruins”, and talk of Druids, Normans, and ritual sacrifice pepper the scene setting job interviews, hospital tours, and dinner with the wealthy, well-connected, but secretive in-laws. A dead animal on the property reveals a buried body, and our lady obstetrician butts into the police investigation of this bog discovery, studying creepy photos and x-rays of the corpse to suggest the victim had recently given birth before her insides were excised. Quality science, Tollund Man references, and flood clues jar against trow myths, unique folklore, and inscription evidence. The authorities don’t want to hear any of that old sacrificial talk, but these mothers and lady cops are intelligent women talking about history and murder rather than men or gossip. While the well-paced, multilayered investigations may build the spooky versus facts with suspicions and tense cloak and dagger, this is not an overt horror picture. The story here feels caught in the middle when it should have been either a straight crime drama or gone with all out fantastics. There are some plot confusions as well – who is who and all the details aren’t totally clear, leaving an abrupt end with serious unanswered questions. Fortunately, surveillance, shadows, chases in the dark office at night, and lights going out add suspense. Late wives, a clinic full of pregnant but anonymous women – who doesn’t want this medical mystery solved and why? This is a small island, and not being in on its secrets can prove fatal with dangerous bridges or fiery car accidents. Body switches, clandestine interviews, identifying tattoos, hidden passages, and bagpipes tossed in for good measure seemingly tidy the case, and a likable, mature cast anchors the maternal fears and cult demands of this unique little thriller.

 

But Skip

White Settlers – A city couple moves to a too good to be true Scottish fixer upper on a medieval battle site in this 2014 British snoozer also called The Blood Lands. After the usual cool opening credits, are we there yet driving to the horrors, a somewhat shady estate agent, no phone signals, and a move in montage; the very unprepared wife realizes she’s afraid of being in an isolated handyman house without power. Of course, her jerk husband makes Scottish jokes, refusing to let up on his bullshit attitude even when there’s a scary break in and unseen attackers. The outdoor saucy, surprisingly immature and incompatible couple, and nighttime suspicious are typical clichés, and the divine scenery, historical references, and great house are never used to their full potential. When the description refers to ancient battles, one sort of expects something wild like ghosts or cults and past meets present horror – not guys in pig masks angry at the new neighbors. It’s tough to feel any of the supposed English versus Scottish subtext because the horror is so substandard. Eden Lake had better us versus them twists, and I swear I just saw this terrorizing hooligans in animal masks trope in at least three other horror house siege movies. Although flashlights and fog make it difficult to see much of anything here, and our wife has to apologize to her asshole husband for her being afraid even while she’s the superior fighter. Maybe this isn’t that bad on its own, but it’s certainly disappointing if you are expecting anything more than Brits chasing some other Brits through the woods in the dark. Nothing here is horror sentient – people go back to check the still body, bads talk rather than act to create a contrived victim escape, and who trusts the creepy little boy for help? Hello, McFly. If you didn’t want any English buying your Scottish property, why not blame the real estate lady who sold it to them? Or the bank that made the price so high? How is unrealistically terrorizing and ridiculously kicking out the new owners so you can move in going to get rid of any of the real world consequences?

Book Review: Barnabas, Quentin, and the Sea Ghost by Marilyn Ross

Dark Shadows is a classic for Horror Addicts everywhere, so when I saw a row of 1970 paperbacks based on the Dark Shadows theme at a thrift store, I couldn’t pass them up. My only regret is that I didn’t buy all of them.

Barnabas, Quentin, and the Sea Ghost by Marilyn Ross were a combination of everything we love. A vampire, a werewolf, and what seems like a pirate ghost, Jenny Swift.

Nora and her father have come to Collinwood to head a salvage project deep under the sea. They’ve been told of the curses of the Jenny Swift including the death of the wife of the last salvage expert. But those warnings fall on deaf ears as Nora and her father are skeptics. As soon as Nora arrives, she encounters a midnight visitor and then shortly after meets Barnabas Collins who she falls in love with.

Despite the rumors of the curse of the Jenny Swift, the salvage operation goes forward. But when accidents start to arise and Nora finds seaweed in her bed, she thinks there might be something to it. On a scary night in the fog, she sees the apparition of Jenny Swift, the beautiful side of her face calling her to the ship and the horrid, mutilated side of her face scaring Nora to the bone. But when Nora is attacked in the cemetery—only to be saved by Barnabas—the Collinwood family wonders if there’s more going on. Could the mysterious Quentin Collins be the one attacking villagers and Nora? Adding a fortune hunter claiming to have rights to the treasure and you’ve got quite a story.

I really enjoyed the story and the descriptions especially of the cemetery and of the apparition Jenny Swift. Some leniency can be given to the quality of writing because of the time and because of the writing style being very script-like. If you can get your hands on this book, I say buy! And if you see any others, buy them up! Or, call me so I can go get them! For lovers of Dark Shadows, these are must-reads and for us regular Addicts it’s a pretty damn good waste of an evening.

The Scarlett Dahlia : Mornings by Jesse Orr

 

The hour was late the morning after Ruth drank the Dahlia’s water. Birds had long been awake and busy. The slaves had risen with the birds and took great pains not to make more noise than was necessary as they went about their morning tasks. They knew a slave named Ruth from the pens by the creek had been brought to the Dahlia. Nobody had seen her since.

Charles, laden with a silver breakfast tray, padded with care up to the side of the hallway leading to the Dahlia’s room, stepping over the boards he knew had a creak. He had delivered this tray to his mistress times innumerable and never knew exactly what lay on the other side of the door. His heartbeat increased as he grew closer, and his palms dampened with nervous sweat. Running out of the hallway, he tapped the Dahlia’s door with his leather shoe.

“Enter,” came the voice at once. Charles jumped a little at its suddenness and fumbled for the doorknob. Unbidden, it opened.

“Good mornin, Miss Dahlia,” Charles said, maneuvering through the door and closing it behind him with his foot. His eyes fell upon her first. She was sitting on the bed, clad in a red filmy gown, sunlight cascading around her. Not for the first time, he thought she was beautiful.

His eye shifted and he became aware that the gown had not started the night as any color but white. Moving further, his eye observed the crimson sheets were soaked with a darker stain. It was hard to tell, for laying on the bloody sheets was Ruth, her now-sightless eyes frozen forever in terror.

“Good morning, Charles,” the Dahlia said and turned to smile at him. Her eyes pierced his, and for that instant, it took every fiber of his being not to obey his instinct to run. “How are you today?”

“Good, missus,” he said, averting his eyes and placing the tray on the table which stood at the foot of the enormous bed. He saw that blood had splattered all the way across the bed to the table. His heart fluttered.

“I am delighted to hear it.” She returned her attention to the window. “I may have exsanguinated this one, I’m afraid. You may try if you like.”

“’Das all right, missus, plenny mo’ where ‘dey come from,” said Charles, and picked up a large steel syringe, normally used for livestock. He rounded the bed to the side opposite the Dahlia and stopped, surveying what remained of Ruth. She lay on her back, her head pulled back, and her throat cut deep enough for Charles to see her spine. She was nude, and her skin was a pale blueish color.

Charles had learned any blood the Dahlia left would collect at the lowest points of her victims, and using the needle, he pierced the bottom of Ruth’s stomach, where the skin seemed darker. The bed heaved and there was a rustling sound. He looked up as the Dahlia rose to her feet, leaving her robe on the bed. There was nothing beneath it but blood.

Charles tore his eyes away with an effort, horrified at the thought of what would happen if she saw him looking. He dug the needle still deeper into the dead woman and pulled at the plunger. A dark sludgy liquid made its way with reluctance into the syringe, filling it halfway. Charles pulled the needle out and stabbed it into another low place on the body, yanking at the plunger.

“When you are done, please remove this one and everything with a stain. You know what to do,” the Dahlia said, pausing at the door to the room which held her bathing tub. She flashed Charles a smile he was too afraid to see. “I would like another tonight.” The door closed behind her and Charles released a breath he was not aware he had been holding.

He went on milking the body for any liquid the Dahlia had left behind. He had developed a technique over the many slaves the Dahlia had used. He worked his way all around the body where it met the bed, inserting the needle every three or four inches, and by the time he had circled the body, there was nothing more coming into the syringe.

Returning the needle to the silver tray, the rest of the routine came easy. The bedsheets were bundled around what remained of Ruth. Tying the corners, Charles went to the door and whistled, long and high. After a moment, a pair of dark hooded eyes showed at the door. Mary the slave girl entered and without a sound she and Charles lifted the blanket off the bed and out the door. They deposited their bundle in the small staging room off the black and white tiled ballroom. Without a word, Charles picked up the bucket of water and followed Mary and the mop back to the Dahlia’s chamber. By the time the Dahlia emerged from her bathing room, the bed was once again spotless and the servants and silver tray with its syringes were nowhere to be seen.

Back in the staging room, Charles handed one of the syringes to Mary. Expressionless, she upended the syringe over her mouth and pressed the plunger. Dark sticky blood dripped into her mouth, and she closed her eyes, her normally downcast lips turning upward in a smile. She sighed, savoring the taste, as a shudder ran through her. Charles felt his pulse quicken again as he followed suit with his own syringe. Before he was through ingesting its contents, he felt himself stiffening into a regular railspike. This was not lost upon Mary, who fell to her knees before him. Charles reflected as she undid his trousers that there was only one syringe left, then even that was gone from his mind as she took him into her mouth.

Ghastly Games Review: Ouija Board

 

The Ouija board is a timeless board game that has been scaring people for decades.  It is a classic board game that has been portrayed in movies, books, short stories, and countless horror tales that have been passed down through the generations.  When people think of Ouija boards, they think of demons, ghosts, haunting, and a scary experience overall.  Some people absolutely refuse to have this game in their house or be in the same location as it.  This review will go over how to play it, the lore, and my personal review of the game.  Get ready to be scared.

Ouija is a very simple game to learn how to play.  You need to start off with at least two players.  NEVER play by yourself.  Playing by yourself can open yourself up to possession and other terrible outcomes.  Also, it works more efficiently if you play when it is dark outside or if it’s midnight with candles lit. To start the game, you pull the board out as well as the seeing eyeglass.  You place the board on a flat, hard surface and place the glass in the middle of the board.  The board is covered in the alphabet, numbers, YES, NO, HELLO, and GOODBYE.  From there, each player places two fingers onto the glass and move it around in circles slowly, “waking” the Ouija up.  Then you proceed to ask questions.  The object of the game is to communicate with the “other side” i.e., spirits and demons.  You ask questions and the glass will move, either spelling out answers or giving yes and no answers.  It works best if you ask simple questions as to not confuse the spirits

The lore behind the game is that basically, the religious community believes that it is the gateway to hell and has dismissed the game for decades.  They believe that playing with the game awakens malevolent spirits and opens the players up for a hunting or being possessed.  The game is being kept alive by teenagers and young adults who play it.

My take on the game: It really depends on what you believe if you get something out of the game.  If you do not believe in the Ouija board or the afterlife, or heck, spirits in general, you may find the game boring and pointless.  But, if you do believe in it, it can impact you for the rest of your life.  I, personally, do believes in ghosts as well as demons.  I have played this game numerous times but nothing has happened to me yet.  It could be a number of factors as in there are no spirits present or the people I’m playing with don’t believe so the spirits keep away.

 

All in all, I rate this game an 8/10 just because of the lore, controversy, and creepiness of it all.

 

Until next time my games, stay scared.

Nightmare Fuel — Baron Kriminel

Hello Addicts,

Last season I gave a little glimpse at one of the four Barons of Voodoo with Baron Samedi. For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, I thought we’d take a peek at the muscle of the Ghede family, Baron Kriminel.

According to legend, Baron Kriminel was a murderer condemned to death and is invoked to pronounce swift judgment on criminals and those who still owe his family for services rendered. Those possessed by this particular Baron shout obscenities and spit on or stab anyone within reach. If he is served food he doesn’t like, he will torture his host body by biting chunks of flesh from his or her arms. Baron Kriminel’s cruelty isn’t just limited to people. This cruel Loa may demand a black chicken be doused in gasoline and lit on fire, for no other reason than to hear the shrieks from the poor animal.

This Baron is believed to be either an aspect of Baron Samedi, although his fashion sense favors black, purple, white, and deep blood-red. Out of all the famed Voodoo Barons, this is one you never want to appear at your doorstep. The end results may just be the worst pain and torture you can imagine.

Until next time Addicts,

D.J. Pitsiladis

By The Fire Edpisode 141: Challenge 5: Horror Romance poems

Hey Horror addicts, we just had our fourth challenge in the horroraddicts.net Next Great Horror Writer Challenge. The challenge for this episode was to write a 650 to 700-word horror poem. The poem could be rhyming or free form. Writers needed to know how to convey a romantic situation and will be judged on sexiness, style and creating a horror romance theme.

Combining romance and horror in a poem can be even harder than writing on one topic or the other, but if you think about it romance and horror are topics that go hand in hand. For instance, if someone loves someone and that person doesn’t love them back it could be considered horror. Also, the idea of losing someone you love to death is a topic that scares everyone. One good example of a horror romance poem that I can think of is a song by Alice Cooper called This House Is Haunted. This song reads like a poem and it’s about a man living in a house haunted by his dead lover. Though if you look at the lyrics they could be interpreted as something different in someone else’s eyes and that’s what makes poetry complicated.

The Next Great  Writer Challenge is really putting the participants to the test. The whole point of this competition is to get writers to flex their literary muscles and this challenge does just that. In my opinion writing, poetry can be harder than writing a short story or even a novel. Poems are all about emotion and expressing emotion isn’t always easy. I think it’s hard to get your message across in a poem and then there is a whole other aspect to it which is getting your audience to understand what you’re trying to say.

A reader can interpret a poem that you wrote in lots of different ways. You may have written it but the reader might not get your message and instead get a completely different idea from what your work. You have to have a certain mindset to write poetry and a certain mindset to understand it. I have to admit that I usually have a hard time understanding poetry but there are some out there that I enjoy.

My favorite poem is Death by Emily Dickenson. This is a short poem but there is so much meaning here and so much is being said that to me it comes across as brilliant. I always thought the main idea she was trying to get across was her fear of death and how she wishes she was immortal. Though if you could talk to her about it, she might say that she had something completely different in mind. Emily Dickenson may not have been considered a horror poet but to me, that one is pretty scary.

When most people think of horror poets they think of Edgar Allen Poe or Lord Byron, but there is a lot more out there if you are willing to look. Do you have a favorite horror romance poem or just a favorite poem in general? Have you written some poetry that you want to share? Let us know in the comments and while you’re at it, let us know what you thought of the poems in episode 141.

#NGHW Winner of the Poetry Challenge!

This is just a taste of Jonathan’s poem that will be featured in an
upcoming issue of Sirens Call Magazine.

A Warning on Wings by Jonathan Fortin

His prayer was drawn in blood, the circle like a door

He sat beside the threshold, book open on the floor

This will never work, to himself he sighed

But he was so lonely that every night he cried

He was a somber man, not blessed with good looks

Hated by his village, he found solace in books

Tonight he stripped naked, legs crossed, arms spread

He whispered the words that from the pages bled:

“For you I’d be the greatest that I could ever be

I would do it all, anything you ask of me.”

The circle was no prison; he did not seek a slave

Nor mindless copulation, which would bore him to the grave

No, he sought the thing that was most beyond his reach:

A love felt too deeply to be bought or breached.



Listen to the contestants battle for points this season on HorrorAddicts.net