Crafting Horror: Theatre of the Mind by H.R. Boldwood

Crafting Horror: Theatre of the Mind

by H.R. Boldwood

How do you define theatre of the mind? In its broadest sense, theatre of the mind uses sensation to evoke a person’s perception and imagination.

Some folks might think of the old-time radio programs of the 30’s and 40’s when fascinating stories played over the airwaves and transported people to another place and time. In 1938, Orson Well’s radio broadcast of War of the Worlds managed to spawn national panic by convincing us the Earth was under attack by Martians!

And he did it using primitive sound effects that pandered to the listener’s ear.

Baby boomers might picture a more high-tech version of the theatre of the mind. Take, for example, the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter attraction at Disney World (circa 1995 -2003). In an effort to entertain and heighten the anticipation of the line-weary crowd, Disney broadcast a brilliantly crafted preshow infomercial from the intergalactic company, XS Tech, which boasted, “If something can’t be done with XS, it shouldn’t be done at all.”

The crowd chuckled. Surely, disaster awaited.

Once the program began, the Chairman of XS Tech, an alien named L.C. Clench, announced that he would travel to Earth via the teleportation tube in the center of the auditorium.

But something went horribly wrong. Suddenly, lights strobed, steam hissed, and alarms sounded. The audience saw just enough to know that it wasn’t L.C. Clench who had arrived in the teleportation tube, but a hideous winged alien instead. Oh no!

The tube slowly cracked, then burst wide open. The alien escaped! And just when it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, the power in the auditorium went out. The audience was thrust into darkness. A technician rushed to fix the problem, but by the sound of it, he’d been savagely killed by the extraterrestrial beast. The audience was trapped, harnessed into their seats in the pitch-black auditorium with a vicious alien on the loose!

The floor shook as the alien tromped around the room. The audience heard his tortured breathing, felt his hot breath down the backs of their necks. They twitched as his tail skittered across the backs of their calves and screamed as saliva dripped down on them from above.

Miraculously, the power was restored, the lights came back on, and the monster was captured just in the nick of time.

Whew! That was a close one! And what a delight to the senses.

Both War of the Worlds and Alien Encounter are perfect examples of theatre of the mind.

But what about what we do — we horror writers? Aren’t we providing our readers with theatre of the mind?

We should be.

We ask our readers to suspend their disbelief hoping we can take them on a ride just long enough to tell them our tales. If we have any hope of achieving that goal, it’s going to be by making those readers actually live our stories.

We’ve been lectured to death to ‘show not tell.’ In essence, we are being told to engage our reader’s senses.

I read a David Farland writing tip recently wherein he quoted the words of the poet, Leslie Norris. “When it rains in your story, your readers should get wet.”

It’s that simple.

Perceptions and imagination are evoked through the senses. Ergo, if we manage our readers’ perceptions and awaken their imaginations, we can create an alternate reality for them.

We can put them in the jungles of Viet Nam, the furthest reaches of space, a haunted house, or even the bowels of Hell. And we do it by evoking their senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

Here’s another outstanding nugget I’ve gleaned from David Farland’s tips: Not all people experience the world in the same way — much like we all don’t learn the same way. Some people learn by doing, others by watching, still others by listening.

It’s similar to the way people process what they’ve read. A person who learns by doing leans heavily on their sense of touch. That individual might prefer reading descriptions that are very tactile in nature. A person who prefers to watch and learn might prefer highly visual descriptions, while the person that learns by listening might prefer reading about the sounds of a setting.

That makes perfect sense – no pun intended. It also suggests that we need to incorporate all the senses into our stories, as often as possible. Including the senses artfully and in tandem helps create settings that transport our readers to the worlds we’ve created.

While we’re at it, are we letting our readers know what’s going on inside our characters’ heads? How they’re feeling? An internal dialog is a useful tool in this regard. My good friend, Killion Slade, introduced me to another dynamite tool, the Emotion Thesaurus, written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This book lists common emotions and their physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, as well as cues of their acute or long term duration and cues of their being suppressed. It’s become one of my favorite resources and it makes it easier than ever to create three-dimensional characters to star in my theatre of the mind productions.

No, there isn’t anything new and groundbreaking about writing descriptors, whether they’re painting a vivid setting or our characters’ emotions. This stuff has been drilled into us for years.

But if it’s really all that rudimentary, why don’t we each look back at one of our stories to see how frequently we actually do it. According to Farland and other successful writers, we should be hitting all of the senses on just about every page. That’s a whole lot of seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling, and touching going on. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start focusing on this a bit more.

I wonder how my characters will feel about that.

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  • David Farland is an award-winning, bestselling international fantasy author, widely known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series, The Runelords. Interested people can sign up to receive David’s e-mailed writing tips at www.davidfarland.com.

 

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H.R. Boldwood is a writer of horror and speculative fiction. In another incarnation, Boldwood is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was awarded the 2009 Bilbo Award for creative writing by Thomas More College. Publication credits include, “Killing it Softly”, “Short Story America”, “Bete Noir”, “Everyday Fiction”, “Toys in the Attic”, “Floppy Shoes Apocalypse II”, “Pilcrow and Dagger”, “Quickfic”, and “Sirens Call”. Boldwood’s story, ‘In the Shadow of Fire’ will be appearing in the anthology “Saturalia,” published by Hyperion and Theia in late 2017.

Boldwood’s characters are often disreputable and not to be trusted. They are kicked to the curb at every conceivable opportunity. No responsibility is taken by this author for the dastardly and sometimes criminal acts committed by this ragtag group of miscreants.

H.R. Boldwood can sometimes be found writing as Mary Ann Back, whose collection of short stories “Dead Reckoning”, published by Grey Wolfe Publishing, is available at www.amazon.com.

Amazon Author Central address: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01LWY22MD

Press Release: Holy Terror

57cf40af81587f91801602bcea55The riveting first official teaser trailer for the new supernatural horror film HOLY TERROR was just released. This film is in post production via Cineridge Entertainment from the award-winning team who previously brought us SAMURAI COP 2: DEADLY VENGEANCE.

Written and directed by Rich Mallery (SOCIOPATHIA) and executive-produced by Gregory Hatanaka (who helmed SAMURAI COP 2 from a script co-written by Mallery), HOLY TERROR stars MEATBALLS’ Kristine DeBell, Bruce Lee’s GAME OF DEATH’s Mel Novak, Lisa London  (H.O.T.S., PRIVATE RESORT), Kelly Reiter (The Z Virus), Jesse Hlubik (MAY, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE), Nicole Olson, Scott Butler (WIENER DOG INTERNATIONALS), and Vida Ghaffari (THE MINDY PROJECT, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE).

Believing the strange disturbances in their home are their deceased son reaching out from the other side, Molly [Reiter] and Tom [Hlubik] ask a medium [London] to make contact. But instead of their child, the three accidentally invite a vengeful demon to cross over. After the demon violently possesses Molly’s younger sister [Olson], the couple enlists the help of a disgraced priest [Butler] and his mentor Sister Catherine [DeBell] to attempt a dangerous exorcism.

“There has been a resurgence of exorcism/possession-type movies, so it’s a little challenging to give audiences something they haven’t seen before. But we have a few tricks up our sleeve that are going to make HOLY TERROR stand apart from the crowd. Plus, we’re going for a real late-’70s/early-’80s feel. Films like THE CHANGELING, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and of course the original EXORCIST are huge influences on this project,” said Mallery.

“I’m really excited to be partnering with Gregory Hatanaka again; this is the fourth film we’ve worked on together,” Mallery continues. “It’s a little strange this time around, since usually he’s directing and I’m the writer/AD, and this time I’m directing and he’s the DP, but we’re totally in sync when it comes to the vision, so we’re like a well-oiled machine. We’ve brought back a lot of the cast of SAMURAI COP 2—Jesse Hlubik, Lisa London, Mel Novak, Kristine DeBell and Nicole Olson—and although this is a completely different type of film, it’s great to have a lot of familiar faces who are used to the way Gregory and I work. We’re both slightly insane, so it’s amazing to be surrounded by people who support our vision.”

“As Rich and I are both rabid fans of 70s AIP and New World horror pics,” Hatanaka adds, “it was only a matter of time before we teamed up to do a film in that tradition. HOLY TERROR works on deep psychological levels, and has an otherworldly, TWILIGHT ZONE-ish kind of feel.”

Holy Terror will be premiering this April on Amazon Prime.

More info at:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5924114/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

Please join their facebook fan page for updates:

https://www.facebook.com/holyterrormovie/

Kidnapped Guest Blog: DARK DREAMERS BY MARK SLADE

DARK DREAMERS

BY MARK SLADE

DARK DREAMS LINK: http://www.lulu.com/shop/rogue-planet-press/dark-dreams/paperback/product-22931027.html

Dark dreams began a few years ago as a podcast. I wanted to give other writers a chance to be heard, as well as myself. I also wanted to gather as many of my favorite stories by writers I liked. I was able to have stories read by Richard Christian Matheson, G. Wayne Miller and Joe R. Lansdale. My narrations were not very good, but E.S. Wynn was a master of it. He had a flare for the dramatic and the right timing for comedy, and a voice to die for. That podcast bit the dust after two or three years. Funny story (not so funny at the time) but a name writer took offense when I asked if his story could be read. He didn’t like my website, claimed I was stealing writer’s stories and vowed he would get the Horror Writers Association to sue me. I thought I was going to have to shut things down when another writer told me to ignore it, and it would go away. Well, nothing happened except he drew more people to the podcast for a week or so. A few years went by and an 80 or so episodes went by before I closed the podcast.

A few months ago I was listening to the Twilight Zone podcast, http://thetwilightzonepodcast.com/, hosted by Tom Elliot. He said (I think) that he believed the Twilight Zone all characters were connected somehow, and that the reason for the Twilight Zone’s existence was because of that connection. I loved that reasoning of the show and I got to thinking of bringing the title Dark Dreams back and doing an anthology. So I asked each writer to write a story using a minor or major character from the last story entry. Or if they already had a story to modify a character’s name. I’ve asked the contributors to explain their inspirations for their story. I also asked Artist Cameron Hampton about her paintings and drawings that make up the cover. To me the cover shows, in a dreamlike state, four different images that sums up the book. Loneliness and isolation, sex, murder and a horrific consequences of an evil act (or) acts.

dark-dreams-cover

BOOK COVER AND ART BY CAMERON HAMPTON

Cameron:

The painting on the left is a self-portrait of me Skyping with my boyfriend. It’s called Long Distance. The pictures on the top right were for another writers work, ‘Nothing there’ by G. Wayne Miller. The painting on the bottom right (the green one) is for an Edgar Allan Poe story, The Cask of Amontillado.”

DREAM GURU BY MARK SLADE

I think it’s safe to say almost everyone who contributed to this book is a huge Rod Serling fan, whether it’s the Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, those influence weigh heavy on all involved in this project. This story was originally published in Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers volume II. I had an idea about a man who had so many gambling debts that he was willing to do anything to rid himself of the problem. I also wanted to write a story about self-help gurus and how obsessed society is with “self”. Improving yourself is fine, but wouldn’t it be better if the improvement was how you treated people and your loved ones, not paying loads of money to satisfy the “inner self”? Maybe helping out with, or giving to charities?

I imagined this to be an episode of Tales from the darkside. I imagined the main character as a young (1980’s) John Goodman and the girlfriend Cathy Moriarty of raging Bull fame. The dream guru character was named after friend and writer T. Fox Dunham.

BEYOND THE MINDS EYE BY THOMAS M. MALAFARINA

Tom’s story was perfect follow up to mine. Definitely a shock to the system with that ending.

Tom:

My inspiration for “Beyond the Mind’s Eye” was to create a horror/sci-fi type of story that combined several different elements. I wanted to show something about the power of creativity and how an imagination is so incredibly powerful. I also wanted to touch on how technology, originally developed with the greater good in mind could become corrupted by human greed. And of course I wanted to throw in some good old fashioned gore. The original inspiration was a work of art by Nunzio Barbera of the same title. https://www.saatchiart.com/art/-Beyond-the-Mind-s-Eye/166157/94820/view. This story was part of my collection “Gallery Of Horror” no longer in print. I took 10 of Nunzio’s works and wrote stories around them with the same title. The purpose of this was to simulate in print the old Rod Serling show “Night Gallery”. If the story has a bit of a “Twilight Zone” feel, that’s why.”

PSYCHOSIS BY D.S. SCOTT

D.S.’s story kept me guessing where it was going. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I came to the end because I didn’t see it coming.

D.S.:

Well, the idea for my story came from my experiences with doctors and nurses. Although I’ve never been placed in a mental institution before, I have visited one and seen what it’s like. I also have physical health problems, so I’ve had to deal with more than my fair share of doctors. I’ve wondered what it’s like to have that job. I guess my inspiration came from thinking to myself, what if a mentally ill person was the one taking care of other mentally ill people and what kind of outcome that could produce. There are killers that blend in with everyone else in society, so why wouldn’t there be some that blend in as doctors or nurses, too?

I think I watched an episode of the show Dexter, about the serial killer who kills other killers. If I recall correctly, I think his first human kill was the nurse who tried to overdose his step father in the hospital. I’m not sure if that’s in the book series by Jeff Lindsay though. But now that I think about it, that probably helped inspire me with the story.”

Jacqui sent this story to me quickly after I asked her to join in on the anthology. I believe it only took her two weeks. But what a satisfying little gem it is and fits perfectly as an intro to the next story by Emerian. Funny how so many writers can end up on the same wave length.

BEAUTIFUL ANGEL BY JOHN C. ADAMS

Jacqui:

I love the novelty of linking the story together. It felt really fresh and innovative.

My inspiration came from the previous story, where a nurse was called a ‘beautiful angel’. As a horror writer I went ahead and took that literally. She meets a horrible end but comes back as a guardian angel, a sort of psychic detective from another realm.

Writer’s that inspired me were HP Lovecraft always and Stephen King. Read a lot of James Herbert as a kid. All of them influenced me a lot. I wouldn’t say any of them were in mind when I wrote the story – probably subconscious, as these things always are.”

This is the second time I’ve been able work with Emerian for an anthology. Happily, it was not what I was expecting from her. I couldn’t help but have that feeling of claustrophobia when I read her story, or maybe anxiety of dread is more appropriate.

VAMPIRE THERAPY BY EMERIAN RICH

Emerian:

Actually a dream- which is where a lot of my ideas come from. I woke one night in the middle of the night breathing hard and felt like someone was stealing my breath. I also had the very real impression that my husband had died in a terrorist attack. He hadn’t…thankfully he was still by my side. But in the darkness I saw a form that looked like a vampire face. I turned on the light – it was just a white shirt hanging in the closet. So yes, all imagined, but creeped me out enough to write about it.”

Jason Norton sent me a few stories for the now defunct mag I was doing for Horrified Press Nightmare Illustrated. I think we share the same philosophy when it comes to writing stories. Try to hook the reader from the get-go foreshadow the ending (or in our case surprise ending) of the story.

6 BY JASON NORTON

Jason:

The majority of my short stories (including this one) have been inspired by two sources: Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone. I always try to catch the reader off-guard with some sort of twist or unexpected plot thread. And I love a good redemption story, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to take a shot at writing one. This story had its origins in an idea I had nearly 20 years ago, but never completed. The original idea was that this hard-luck criminal who had lost nearly everything ends up at this mysterious roadside hotel where all these lost objects–and lost travelers–turn up. The watch I use in “6” came directly from that original story concept. I tweaked the updated version, adding a few horror elements and a new ending and I think it made for a more enjoyable narrative–but of course, I’m pretty biased.”

P.J. is a fellow column writer for Horror Metal Sounds as I am with my column From the Grave. I was reading one of his columns about movies and decided to ask him along for the ride. I most certainly had no regrets. He produced a fine, interesting story. I hope to see more from him.

CLUMSY IS THE CROW BY P.J. GRIFFIN

P.J.:

I wanted to create a story that had the feeling of a genuine nightmare. Nightmares are often so scary because not only do they tap into our personal fears but they are also quite disconnected from reality. It’s as if nightmares are all the terror without any safety net.

The initial concept of the story was the tangible feeling of being alone in the woods, suddenly feeling like you’ve made a mistake. The character knows that staying home was probably a better choice but he’s gone too far and he is simultaneously afraid of being exposed. However, little by little, the narrator distances himself from what the reader might see as acceptable response to his situation and surroundings. Suddenly the reader loses the narrator as their one connection to the safety of reality. It’s a frightening thing to realize that a tour guide is no longer a stable figure.

Additionally, I wanted to explore the nature of losing oneself. I feel that our emotions and how they align with the majority of others is a comfort that can be especially disturbing when lost. The horrific becomes comedic, the senseless suddenly makes sense.

Nightmares often become so upsetting because it’s as if we are in a strange world to which we feel inexplicably feel connected. Getting lost in the chaos, venturing out into uncharted territory and having your own feelings betray you. That’s what the heart of the story is.”

By far the most bizarre story I’ve had in any of my anthologies. Not for the faint of heart. By the way, Mr. Deadman runs his own online zine Deadman’s Tome, along with a podcast of the same name.

CYNTHIA’S GARDEN BY MR. DEADMAN

Mr. Deadman:

Inspiration: my goal with Cynthia’s Garden was to write something absolutely disgusting, perverted, and bizarre. The subtext, however, played with the idea of a strong female character that kills people for simply slut shaming her. The twist at the end with the talking heads was from a concept I’ve been playing with for a while: a garden of bodies.”

I might be wrong, but I think Joe has been in almost every anthology I have put together. He was one of the original writers for the podcast Blackout City and he is in my anthology Wicked Gardens a book of stories about an apartment building.

MANIK BY DAVID LUDFORD

David:

I guess my inspiration was something I’ve relied on for a number of stories- man’s interaction with strange, supernatural creatures and the endless possibilities this presents. Significantly with ‘Manik’ it wasn’t an ordinary man who caused the demon’s downfall but a supernatural power even higher than itself. I wondered what a battle- albeit a brief one- between evil forces would look like.”

PENANCE BY JOSEPH PATCHEN

Joe:

Dreams. I get everything from letting my mind go and the dream or nightmare enters. I don’t write anything. I’m the vessel for whatever enters and develops in my unconscious and subconscious state.”

Next up is a very unsettling story by Mark Tompkins, a writer who has been involved with many projects published by Horrified Press and Rogue Planet press.

PHASE BOUNDRY BY MARK TOMPKINS

MARK:

Phase Boundary was inspired by pondering shadows and different states of matter. The idea came to me one lazy weekend day when I was sitting outside watching the shadows through the trees. My wife and I had been discussing parallel universes and other theoretical stuff earlier in the day and the story just popped into my head.”

The book was just about finished, but it seemed to need something else. I noticed that E.S. Wynn wasn’t in the book. Earl is another writer that has been in every project I’ve been tied to. Initially he turned me down, having too many things on his plate. But I pleaded and finally he caved in. Without his contribution, the book would have felt unfinished.

FEAST OF FLESH BY E.S. WYNN

Earl:

My biggest inspiration for Feast of Flesh was H.P. Lovecraft. I wanted to bring forth elements of his style and of the kinds of stories he wrote and put them together into something uniquely my own. I wanted to write a rainy nightmare about cats and rats that leaves the reader wondering who the bad guy really is.”

I’ve seen Shawn’s name pop up all over the place and decided to take a chance, ask him to be in the book. A wallop of a story. Packs a lot of power.

THE OLD MAN BY SHAWN CLAY

Shawn:

I wanted a departure from the zombie genre. I got the idea from wondering what it would be like for the reaper when it was time for him to come and take someone. I wanted to personify him as both caring and cruel at the same time. Relief and struggle can be opposite spectrums of the reaper’s calling.”

Thankfully Gavin Chappell, my co-editor on this book and the others, asked Kevin to finish it up. I wanted Gavin to write the last story, but running an imprint, two magazines, editing a lot of anthologies and writing, I wonder if the man ever sleeps. He asked Kevin to step in and he did a great job. I also asked Gavin what he thought of the book after it was completed.

Gavin:

An ambitious project. The various authors’ skillful ability to bring together all those disparate strands and continuing the themes and characters through so many changes of scene was what impressed me most.”

DRIFT BY KEVIN REES

Kevin:

First, I was contacted by Gavin who asked if I could do a ‘wrap up’ story that encompassed the other stories. Also I was briefed that a minor character from the previous story would appear in the following story. That sort of didn’t happen, however the quality of the stories as standalone’s, and the fact they were supposed to be dreams gave me the idea of taking several of the characters and placing them in the nightmare world of Drift. When I write a story images tend to come to mind and then words. The word Drift wouldn’t go away and I wanted it to stand for something, an acronym. It worked because it’s linked to drifting off to sleep and the anthology dealt with dreams. I enjoyed writing the story and hope it did justice to the anthology.”

It would be fun to produce another volume. Who knows, maybe even have the same writers and none of the stories link until the last story to recap and link them together. Or maybe just have one object pop up in each story that could be the link. It could happen if everyone has time to put energy into the project.

Guest Blog: Disheveled Dreams: Happiness and Other Diseases by Sumiko Saulson

guestblog2 
For the month of March, Sumiko shared an excerpt of her series, Happiness and Other Diseases.  
Sumiko says,
“It deals with the Demos Oneiroi, which is the Greco-Roman land of dreams. The book is titled Somnalia after Somnuts (Sleep Party).
In this specific series, his foil is his twin brother, Thanatos, the god of peaceful death (not to be confused with the god of War, Ares).
It’s a horror story with a paranormal romance at it’s center: Charlotte “Happiness” Metaxas, heir apparent to the throne of the kindgom of erotic nightmares, is in a constant struggle with relatives who want wrest control from her. Her dad, the classic philandering Greek God Brash, ran the kingdom like a really cool night club for kinksters. He reincarnates and leaves her to run things. to turn her paranormal romance kingdom. Her uncle, Phobetor, the god of Nightmares, thinks she doesn’t know how to run things, and tries to take over, accidentally turning paranormal eroticaville into the land of torture porn. Her sister, Mercy, doesn’t like being trapped in the world of dreams, and wants to creep into the real world like Freddy Krueger and take things over with her sidekick, sister Sympathy, the queen of hentai.
 
A comic-book spin off “Dreamworlds” is a Cool World-like take on the series, where the dream world attempts to seep into the real world through this author in particular.”
Read an excerpt from Happiness and Other Diseases by Sumiko Saulson Act I: The Arrival of Happiness Nightmares
It was the same dream he’d had every night for the past year, but every time it haunted him, little details changed. Minor changes in setting and action were not the only differences in his bedtime story. Each time he had the dream, things went a little bit further than the last. The last couple of dreams had taken place in a powder gray office chair behind the plain white Formica-coated IKEA computer desk in his cubicle at work. He was tired of staring at the navy blue cubicle tiles. Four mismatched pushpins secured a print out of the company’s phone directory. He was more than a little relieved for the change of scenery. This time he was sitting on a barstool at Murphy’s Tavern. A half dozen co-workers from the call center were seated around the bar, sucking down shots of tequila and pint glasses of domestic beer poured out in abundance from the various ten-dollar pitchers purchased for the party.
Richard and Cindy from accounting were on stage, belting out their drunken rendition of “Summer Lovin’” from the musical Grease. Richard hammed it up with gratuitous hip gyrations, winking and serenading the secretaries seated in the front row. By contrast, Cindy failed to make eye contact with anyone, keeping her doe-eyed gaze fixed firmly on the karaoke monitor. Flynn remembered that part of the dream from last October. It was a going-away party for someone from the constantly rotating administrative pool temporary staff. He couldn’t remember the girl’s name, but he remembered her suits. She was in her late twenties or early thirties, yet she wore these tailored pink and powder blue designer suits that put him in mind of Nancy Reagan, of all things. They seemed very incongruous for a woman of her age and economics. He had always wondered if they were hand-me-downs from a formerly fashionable maiden aunt.
Richard and Cindy finished their song right after he finished his beer. Four drunken, obnoxious dudes from the IT department were half way through their voluminous and off-key rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” when that thing finally showed up. Just like in every previous nightmare, it materialized suddenly, out of thin air. One moment he was looking at his own dog-tired mug in the mirror on the bar back, the next he was staring into the gaping maw of whatever it was that terrorized his dreams. It rarely took the same form twice. This time, it was shadowy and semi-translucent. It had withered legs and arms resembling the gnarled branches of a lightning-struck tree. They were almost humanoid, yet woefully emaciated. The creature was straddling his lap, facing him, with its talons resting on either side of his shoulders. Flynn gasped as he felt its claws sliding effortlessly into the flesh of his right shoulder. He felt a hot gush of blood flow out of his wounds and then slowly trickle down the back of his white t-shirt.
He would have screamed, but he knew from experience no one in the bar would hear him. His breath came in ragged, gasping pants as he struggled to maintain his composure. That creature knew it was hurting him, but Flynn didn’t want it to see him sweat.
“So,” he hissed under his breath, “The last time you showed up as a foxy-looking redhead. You aren’t bothering with pretenses this time I see?”
“This isn’t my true form, either,” the thing cooed back, leaning over and licking the side of his face with its wide, green tongue.
In the mirror, Flynn could see a thick trail of snail-like goo on his face where its saliva touched him. Its breath was mossy and tepid, but not entirely unpleasant. It smelled like the inside of a cave on a camping trip he remembered from childhood. Without wanting to, he found himself relaxing into the short leather back of the barstool. He felt warm and a little dizzy, but he knew it wasn’t the alcohol.
“I thought I would see if you like it rough this time,” the creature whispered in his ear.
Flynn turned away and lifted a hand in front of his face. “Don’t, please don’t,” he begged to know before the words left his lips that all of his pleas would be in vain.
A slender tendril of quivering flesh extended from a spot in its forehead, above and between where its eyes would have been. Instead of eyes, it had a row of five vacant dimples, each a shallow, empty socket lined with a membranous gel that breathed in and out like the gills of a fish. The appendage was as thick around as a large earthworm and lengthened rapidly, engorged until the throbbing tip touched his skin. He could feel it writhing its way up his cheek. Although he knew what to expect by now, his body convulsed involuntarily. He felt the tendril wind its way up to his nose. It thrust itself into his nostril, sliding in deeper until it penetrated his brain. In this incarnation, the creature’s mouth was as wide as his own head. Behind the series of fleshy polyps that jiggled, dangling from its moist lips, its hideous jaws were lined with sharp, jagged teeth. Its voice was wet and sucking, the sound a puddle of hot shit in a clogged up bar toilet would probably make if it started to speak.
Flynn hated its voice. “I can do whatever I want to you,” it cruelly purred.
“I can even make you like it.” A mucilaginous blue fluid pulsated through the fleshy appendage, and Flynn watched helplessly as the drug traveled through the tendril and entered his bloodstream, headed directly for his brain.
Wave after wave of chemical stimulation hit his nervous system and as he succumbed to the intoxicant, his fear gradually gave way to intense, almost painful arousal. The air molecules surrounding the creature’s form trembled slightly, in a way only Flynn could see. He watched as its form slowly shifted, reverting to the familiar freckle-faced buxom bar girl with the rust-colored hair. Over her shoulder, he could see his face in the bar-back mirror. He could feel something foreign invading his flesh, throbbing under his skin in perfect counterpoint to his heartbeat. As each fresh wave of euphoria hit him, he observed a strange, orange glow pulsating in the veins that were pounding out a rhythm in his temples. When the girl bent over and bit his neck, he whimpered. “I don’t know what you’re doing to me,” he mumbled, “but I don’t really want you to stop.”
It laughed at him. “But you should want me to stop,” the woman told him.
“I am a parasite and I’m feeding off you. I will gradually drain the life out of you, and leave you a dead and empty husk. And you would like that, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes,” Flynn muttered compliantly.
“Yes, you should eat all of me until there is nothing left.” His reflection stared back at him, slack jawed and vacant.
The whites of his eyes were clouded by bubbling peach-colored swirls of viscous alien matter, like tiny ocular lava lamps. There was even a slightly pink tinge to the tear that was sliding down his cheek. Cindy and Richard were standing on either side of him now, watching the scene unfold in eager anticipation. Four drunkards from the information technologies department joined the telemarketing team. The whole group was riveted by the theatrics. The secretarial pool held him in its hungry gaze as the temp with the pastel Bill Blass suit pulled out a pair of orange-handled office scissors and slit open the front of his t-shirt.
“I love playing with my food!” the monster shrilly announced to its admiring sycophants.
The crowd oohed and aahed appreciatively as she used her razor sharp fingernails to shred the rest of his t-shirt before removing it from his body. It was white cotton, the perfect medium for absorbing the blood that had been expressed from the many little abrasions she’d clumsily left on his torso while removing the garment. When the creature bent down to bite his nipple, Flynn threw his arms around its neck and arched his back to make it easier for the thing to completely devour him. His labored breathing gave way to moaning and trembling with anticipation as he resolved to give himself over to this monster completely. Then he woke up.
“Fuck you, bitch!” he screamed at no one in the room.
“I want to live!” “Fuck you, too!” his neighbor screamed back from the apartment above, punctuating the exclamation with a stomp on the floor.
A stream of further expletives followed. They were laced with creative suggestions for what kinds of objects Flynn, and the whore the old man upstairs imagined he must have been banging last night, could unceremoniously shove up their collective ass. Flynn jumped up from the soiled beige frameless futon mattress he called a bed, and ran into the cramped little closet-like bathroom of his tiny apartment. He barely reached the toilet in time to grasp the sides of it and lean his head forward in order to evacuate his meager stomach contents into the bowl. Waves of unrelenting nausea caused him to vomit repeatedly until his stomach was empty. After all of the food was gone, he sat on the floor for another half an hour feeling his throat burn as he dry heaved and spat up stomach acid. He was sick like this a lot lately. Flynn stood up and turned to face the sink. There was no walking necessary… it was about two feet away from the toilet.
The room was so small he could extend his arm and touch the plastic curtain of the claustrophobic, coffin-sized shower. He looked into the mirror in the medicine cabinet. It was about three feet high and two feet wide, bordered with a thin strip of discolored chrome, covered in a film of soap scum, and occasionally dotted with random drops of toothpaste and dried dirty bathwater. He didn’t look so hot. Under his eyes were bags deep enough for a weekend shopping spree. His solemn brown eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed. His once golden skin was now sallow and jaundiced. His cheeks were the gaunt, his eyes were sunken. He decided he looked like a junkie.
“This shit is killing me,” he told his reflection.
He could still feel pain in his shoulder blade where the witch had impaled his flesh with her claws in the dream. His body hurt in other places, but that was the worst. He lifted his hand and touched the side of his neck. When he pulled away his fingers, they were covered in blood. He stood back from the mirror and observed a dozen tiny lines on his chest, minuscule scabs where she barely grazed the skin, and the blood had already dried. His nipple was still bleeding a little bit, and it was sore when he touched it. Flynn sharply sucked in his breath. He was very shaken up. He was afraid he was going to burst into tears. Pulling himself together, he stumbled into the nearby shower and stripped off his boxer briefs. He tossed them out past the slightly moldy plastic shower curtain with the gaudy tropical fish and seahorses painted on it.sumikodreamcover
They landed inside out, and he shook his head a little when he noticed the stain from last night’s involuntary emission. He turned on the shower and enjoyed the hot water coursing down over his aching flesh. He was exhausted, but he knew he had a doctor’s appointment that morning. He didn’t want to walk into Dr. Lester’s office smelling like jizz, sweat, and shame. He tried not to think about his night terrors, but the harder he tried to forget about them, the more persistently they prodded at his waking mind. Soon, he found himself with a raging boner. It was hard to deny that he did like it rough. Still… that was not something he wanted that nightmare succubus to know and he most certainly had no desire to be eaten alive. Of course, there was a very good chance this succubus creature did not exist.
Flynn had begun to doubt his sanity sometime last summer, about a month after the dreams began. His therapist had assured him this monster did not, could not, actually exist. He must be hurting himself somehow in his sleep. The exhaustion must be a sign of his depression. Lots of depressed people felt tired. He would feel better soon, when the medications started working. Dr. Lester had an explanation for everything. She even told him he should not be ashamed of his fantasies, no matter how perverse he might deem them to be. They were only fantasies, and everyone has fantasies. In fact, his fantasies weren’t even all that uncommon. There was no need to be embarrassed by them. With that in mind, he decided it would be very therapeutic to beat off in the shower. Commentary Nyx was impatiently waiting for an answer.
“Plot and scheme?” her son Thanatos, the god of death protested.
“We would never.” “Settle down, brother,” Somnus interrupted.
“Mother, it is not his fault. I know what you speak of. It is the work of my son, Brash, and his children.
They’ve grown unusually bloodthirsty as of late. “I apologize for their behavior.”
“Aaahhh,” his mother said. “I am aware of what you speak of and I appreciate your honesty in this matter. It seems Brash and several of his children have been dissatisfied with their rightful place in the underworld in the Demos Oneiroi and have instead decided to enter the mortal realm and inflict themselves upon the living like some plague or disease.”
“I will speak with them,” Somnus reassured her.
“It has gone beyond that,” Nyx warned.
“They threaten to disrupt the natural order of things and to cause war between myself and those of greater power than even myself. I have decided they must be tested, and punished if necessary.”
“How will you test them?” Somnus asked.
Nyx lifted a burdensome scroll to the table and partially unfurled it, revealing a spot in the middle. It was a map of the Demos Oneiroi, the Greco-Roman mythological realm of dreams. She pointed to a tiny spot on the map with the very tip of her slim, tapered finger.
“Do you see that young man there?” she asked, tapping the spot twice.
“Look closely, and you will see him. He is the one begging your granddaughter Mercy for his life.”
“I see him,” Somnus responded.
“The fate of the entire line of Brash lies with him.” she said.
“Let’s say that mortal is able to persevere. Let’s say he is able to survive for the short span these fragile creatures are intended to live. Perhaps he will become the progenitor of a bloodline, for offspring are the closest any mortal being comes to immortality. If he is able to thrive, then they shall as well. If not…”
“If not?” Thanatos asked a little too eagerly.
Being the god of death, he had a pleasant feeling about where this might be going.
“If not, then as they so envy the mortals, let them be mortal. Let their endless lives, with which they have become so bored and tired, come to an end,” Nyx ordered. “Let them die, like all the rest.”
“He is my son,” Somnus protested.
“Surely, you will at least allow me to call forth a champion, to protect this mortal upon whose fragile shoulders you place such a heavy burden?”
“Very well,” Nyx relented, after a moment of silent consideration.
“You may, but you must call forth a champion from your own line. More specifically, this champion should be one of Brash’s progeny. To the best of my knowledge they are cruel, brutal and irredeemable, but if you have one with whom you might trust such a charge, name him.”
“Her,” Somnus corrected.
“Happiness. I name her. She will protect him.” Nyx furrowed her brow. “I have not heard this name before. Who is she?”
“She is a demigoddess,” Somnus explained.
“She is the offspring of the most recent dalliance between Brash and a mortal mistress.” Nyx laughed.
“You mean a demisomnali? To be a demigoddess, she would need to be the child of a god, and surely we are not elevating your wayward son Brash to the same status as you or your brother?”
“Very well,” Somnus conceded, not wishing to offend his mother.
Certain among his thousand sons the Oneiroi were considered gods. Morpheus was the god of dreams, and Phobetor the god of nightmares, for example. Brash would have been the god of erotic nightmares, but he was obscure and had no worshippers.
“A demisomnali, as you say. I name her.”
“For their sakes, I hope she’s a great deal gentler than her sisters,” Thanatos remarked. “They’ve sent many a mortal my way.”
“I am a parasite and I’m feeding off you. I will gradually drain the life out of you, and leave you a dead and empty husk. And you would like that, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes,” Flynn muttered compliantly.
“Yes, you should eat all of me until there is nothing left.” His reflection stared back at him, slack jawed and vacant.
The whites of his eyes were clouded by bubbling peach-colored swirls of viscous alien matter, like tiny ocular lava lamps. There was even a slightly pink tinge to the tear that was sliding down his cheek. Cindy and Richard were standing on either side of him now, watching the scene unfold in eager anticipation. Four drunkards from the information technologies department joined the telemarketing team. The whole group was riveted by the theatrics. The secretarial pool held him in its hungry gaze as the temp with the pastel Bill Blass suit pulled out a pair of orange-handled office scissors and slit open the front of his t-shirt.
“I love playing with my food!” the monster shrilly announced to its admiring sycophants.
The crowd oohed and aahed appreciatively as she used her razor sharp fingernails to shred the rest of his t-shirt before removing it from his body. It was white cotton, the perfect medium for absorbing the blood that had been expressed from the many little abrasions she’d clumsily left on his torso while removing the garment.
When the creature bent down to bite his nipple, Flynn threw his arms around its neck and arched his back to make it easier for the thing to completely devour him. His labored breathing gave way to moaning and trembling with anticipation as he resolved to give himself over to this monster completely. Then he woke up. “Fuck you, bitch!” he screamed at no one in the room.
“I want to live!” “Fuck you, too!” his neighbor screamed back from the apartment above, punctuating the exclamation with a stomp on the floor.
A stream of further expletives followed. They were laced with creative suggestions for what kinds of objects Flynn, and the whore the old man upstairs imagined he must have been banging last night, could unceremoniously shove up their collective ass. Flynn jumped up from the soiled beige frameless futon mattress he called a bed, and ran into the cramped little closet-like bathroom of his tiny apartment. He barely reached the toilet in time to grasp the sides of it and lean his head forward in order to evacuate his meager stomach contents into the bowl. Waves of unrelenting nausea caused him to vomit repeatedly until his stomach was empty. After all of the food was gone, he sat on the floor for another half an hour feeling his throat burn as he dry heaved and spat up stomach acid. He was sick like this a lot lately. Flynn stood up and turned to face the sink. There was no walking necessary… it was about two feet away from the toilet. The room was so small he could extend his arm and touch the plastic curtain of the claustrophobic, coffin-sized shower.
He looked into the mirror in the medicine cabinet. It was about three feet high and two feet wide, bordered with a thin strip of discolored chrome, covered in a film of soap scum, and occasionally dotted with random drops of toothpaste and dried dirty bathwater. He didn’t look so hot. Under his eyes were bags deep enough for a weekend shopping spree. His solemn brown eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed. His once golden skin was now sallow and jaundiced. His cheeks were the gaunt, his eyes were sunken. He decided he looked like a junkie.
“This shit is killing me,” he told his reflection.
He could still feel pain in his shoulder blade where the witch had impaled his flesh with her claws in the dream. His body hurt in other places, but that was the worst. He lifted his hand and touched the side of his neck. When he pulled away his fingers, they were covered in blood. He stood back from the mirror and observed a dozen tiny lines on his chest, minuscule scabs where she barely grazed the skin, and the blood had already dried. His nipple was still bleeding a little bit, and it was sore when he touched it. Flynn sharply sucked in his breath. He was very shaken up. He was afraid he was going to burst into tears. Pulling himself together, he stumbled into the nearby shower and stripped off his boxer briefs. He tossed them out past the slightly moldy plastic shower curtain with the gaudy tropical fish and seahorses painted on it. They landed inside out, and he shook his head a little when he noticed the stain from last night’s involuntary emission. He turned on the shower and enjoyed the hot water coursing down over his aching flesh. He was exhausted, but he knew he had a doctor’s appointment that morning. He didn’t want to walk into Dr. Lester’s office smelling like jizz, sweat and shame. He tried not to think about his night terrors, but the harder he tried to forget about them, the more persistently they prodded at his waking mind.
Soon, he found himself with a raging boner. It was hard to deny that he did like it rough. Still… that was not something he wanted that nightmare succubus to know and he most certainly had no desire to be eaten alive. Of course, there was a very good chance this succubus creature did not exist. Flynn had begun to doubt his sanity sometime last summer, about a month after the dreams began. His therapist had assured him this monster did not, could not, actually exist. He must be hurting himself somehow in his sleep. The exhaustion must be a sign of his depression. Lots of depressed people felt tired. He would feel better soon, when the medications started working. Dr. Lester had an explanation for everything. She even told him he should not be ashamed of his fantasies, no matter how perverse he might deem them to be. They were only fantasies, and everyone has fantasies. In fact, his fantasies weren’t even all that uncommon. There was no need to be embarrassed by them. With that in mind, he decided it would be very therapeutic to beat off in the shower. Commentary Nyx was impatiently waiting for an answer.
“Plot and scheme?” her son Thanatos, the god of death protested. “We would never.”
“Settle down, brother,” Somnus interrupted. “Mother, it is not his fault. I know what you speak of. It is the work of my son, Brash, and his children. They’ve grown unusually bloodthirsty as of late. I apologize for their behavior.”
“Aaahhh,” his mother said. “I am aware of what you speak of and I appreciate your honesty in this matter. It seems Brash and several of his children have been dissatisfied with their rightful place in the underworld in the Demos Oneiroi and have instead decided to enter the mortal realm and inflict themselves upon the living like some plague or disease.”
“I will speak with them,” Somnus reassured her.
“It has gone beyond that,” Nyx warned.
“They threaten to disrupt the natural order of things and to cause war between myself and those of greater power than even myself. I have decided they must be tested, and punished if necessary.”
“How will you test them?” Somnus asked. Nyx lifted a burdensome scroll to the table and partially unfurled it, revealing a spot in the middle.
It was a map of the Demos Oneiroi, the Greco-Roman mythological realm of dreams. She pointed to a tiny spot on the map with the very tip of her slim, tapered finger. “Do you see that young man there?” she asked, tapping the spot twice.
“Look closely, and you will see him. He is the one begging your granddaughter Mercy for his life.”
“I see him,” Somnus responded. “The fate of the entire line of Brash lies with him.” she said.
“Let’s say that mortal is able to persevere. Let’s say he is able to survive for the short span these fragile creatures are intended to live. Perhaps he will become the progenitor of a bloodline, for offspring are the closest any mortal being comes to immortality. If he is able to thrive, then they shall as well. If not…”
“If not?” Thanatos asked a little too eagerly.
Being the god of death, he had a pleasant feeling about where this might be going. “If not, then as they so envy the mortals, let them be mortal. Let their endless lives, with which they have become so bored and tired, come to an end,” Nyx ordered.
“Let them die, like all the rest.”
“He is my son,” Somnus protested.
“Surely, you will at least allow me to call forth a champion, to protect this mortal upon whose fragile shoulders you place such a heavy burden?”
“Very well,” Nyx relented, after a moment of silent consideration.
“You may, but you must call forth a champion from your own line. More specifically, this champion should be one of Brash’s progeny. To the best of my knowledge they are cruel, brutal and irredeemable, but if you have one with whom you might trust such a charge, name him.”
“Her,” Somnus corrected.
“Happiness. I name her. She will protect him.” Nyx furrowed her brow.
“I have not heard this name before. Who is she?”
“She is a demigoddess,” Somnus explained.
“She is the offspring of the most recent dalliance between Brash and a mortal mistress.” Nyx laughed.
“You mean a demisomnali? To be a demigoddess, she would need to be the child of a god, and surely we are not elevating your wayward son Brash to the same status as you or your brother?”
“Very well,” Somnus conceded, not wishing to offend his mother.
Certain among his thousand sons the Oneiroi were considered gods. Morpheus was the god of dreams, and Phobetor the god of nightmares, for example. Brash would have been the god of erotic nightmares, but he was obscure and had no worshippers. “A demisomnali, as you say. I name her.”
“For their sakes, I hope she’s a great deal gentler than her sisters,” Thanatos remarked.
“They’ve sent many a mortal my way.”

Guest Press Release : OdditiesBizarre

Author: Kirin Johnson
Kirin Johnson is co-owner and writer for OdditiesBizarre.com. She is also a CNA and caregiver for adults with disabilities. She is currently pursuing a nursing career. Kirin enjoys expressing her knowledge on odd topics through blogging. Her favorite topic to write about is weird insects and animals.kirin-johnson
How I Got Into Creating Horror Dioramas
When I was a little girl, I used to collect bugs and create make-believe homes for them.The only problem was, they didn’t live very long. While they were alive, I enjoyed seeing them crawl and utilize my own creations. Unfortunately, I couldn’t show them off for very long.
In addition to make-believe homes (which were made mostly out of mini cereal boxes), for some scenes, I also added various objects. For example, when I was about 8-years-old, I made an ant farm. However, this was not your typical ant farm. It contained many red ants, a farm that was made out of 3 mini cereal boxes, and a little Freddy Krueger toy. I called the farm “Freddy’s Farm Of Victims.” The red ants were the souls of Krueger’s bloody victims.
My Inspiration: The TV Show Oddities
It wasn’t until I became a big fan of the TV Show Oddities that I realized I should get back into my childhood hobby. After watching an episode which involved Mike Zohn on a mission to find bugs for his customer’s diorama project, I got interested in making my own dioramas.
The big difference from back when I was a child is that today I am able to go online and find real dried insects. I no longer have to have living insects that die on the diorama forcing me to start all over again. I could now create dioramas I can keep for the rest of my life. With the many available resources online, I knew I can create scenes using virtually anything I wanted. Not only that, I could show off my horror art to my friends and family through social media.
Before I share one of my favorite art projects, I must mention that with all my dioramas (including taxidermy), all died from natural causes. They were purchased from well-known websites.
Zombie Insect Dioramainsect-zombie-diorama
If you love horror art, why not create a scary diorama? When I say “diorama,” I mean a scene using real dried insects. With an insect diorama, you can make a scene with the creepiest and funniest-looking characters. Fortunately, you can get these little guys for very little money.
This is a diorama I created using several real insects. The scene is called Flying Insect Zombie Attack. Read the story below, as well as the materials I used to complete the odd art project.
The Story
In a distant planet called Planet Lizzylick, there lived an evil dictator named Brainzilla. After murdering thousands, brave and very angry rebels kicked him straight out of his planet. His dismissal left him homeless and without any food or liquids. At this point, Brainzilla had no choice but to find a planet that provided all of the right resources for his survival. After flying through the Universe for three days straight without any nourishment, he finally found what he was looking for. The small-sized planet was called Planet Castle. Luckily for Brainzilla, it wasn’t that far away from the planet he once ruled. Plus, it had plenty of food to help satisfy his massive appetite. Colorful beings of small and medium sizes populated the entire planet. Sadly for these little guys, all of them combined were no match for Brainzilla. For food, he would eat the brains of around 50 heads. He survived by also drinking their blood.
What this mean beast didn’t realize after eating his last meal is that he probably will never eat again. That is, because the next planet nearest to Planet Castle was 20,000 light-years away!
The Characterszombie-2
Brainzilla: A flying lizard from Indonesia.
Tiny Colorful Beings: Three Sagra longicollis from Thailand.
Medium-Sized Colorful Beings: Two Sagra buqueti from Malaysia.
How To Make Your Own Horror Insect Diorama
Below is information on how you can design your own unique horror diorama.
Pick A Type Of Scene
Whether you choose a scene from your favorite horror movie, or create your own original scene, you have plenty of ideas out there. Once you figure out what type of scene you want to go with, it’s time to come up with a plan. You will need to think of everything you are going to need to make it all come to life. This includes the scenery and the characters (which in this case, would be the insects you are using). Of course, if you are putting your own scene together, you will also want to spend some additional time thinking of the story behind it.zombie-3
Think About Your Characters & There Specific Roles
Once you know what you are going to need for your bug diorama, envision what you would want the characters in the scene to look like. Since most bugs already look ugly and scary, it shouldn’t be at all difficult to find some evil-looking characters for a spooky horror scene. You can find a friendly-looking character as well. There are so many different types of insects (including non-insects such as those creepy spiders) you can find online for very low prices.
Basic Materials Needed
If you have an interest in creating a diorama using insects from around the world, I have great news for you: The project is extremely affordable. Plus, the materials are quite easy to find.
⦁ Basic necessities such as wood glue, a glue gun, paint and paint brush.
zombie-5⦁ The main materials for your chosen scene. You can find the perfect stuff for almost any horror scene at stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels. For example, you can make a small scene with a small cardboard box and a moon in the background, or a larger one with actual wooden make-believe castles. Your options are virtually endless.
⦁ Additions to the scene. This includes items such as fake blood (for example, acrylic paint), toy weapons, background scenery and any other necessary accessories.
⦁ Insects (or non-insects, depending on the type of diorama), which are going to be the characters in the scene. You can find insects of many kinds through well-known retailers such as eBay and Etsy. You can also find some actual insect stores on Google.
For dioramas using animals (such as squirrels and mice), you can also find them on the websites I previously mentioned. Always check your state laws before purchasing.
That’s It!
Now you have the basic materials and a good strategy for designing your own insect dioramas. Just remember to be extremely careful handling them as they can be very fragile.

Guest Blog: Vile Vacations 7 Chilling Museums By Courtney Lynn Mroch

Jaunt to These 7 Chilling Museums…If You Dare

If you’re a fan of horror, the supernatural or anything else macabre, here are seven must-see museums you’ll want to check out:

  1. International Cryptozoology Museum

This museum in Portland, Maine, houses artifacts from American cryptozoologist Loren Coleman’s collection. “The world’s only cryptozoology museum,” is not just about Bigfoot and Nessie, however. Although, their collection does contain samples of hair thought to belong to Abominable Snowmen, Bigfoot, Yeti, Yowie, and Orang Pendek, and yes they do have a Lake Monster exhibition. However, they also display crypto-inspired artwork, newspaper articles, and movie props. One fan even created a Sasquatch baby for the museum made from a “reborn” doll.

The museum is closed on Tuesdays, but welcomes visitors the rest of the days of the week.

Website: http://cryptozoologymuseum.com

  1. Mothman Museum

Located in Point Pleasant, West Virginia (the “Home of the Mothman”), this museum is dedicated to the famous Mothman sightings and encounters that happened there from 1966 to 1967. They have original press clippings and video footage, handwritten police reports from the original eyewitnesses, and props from the Mothman Prophecies movie. If you want to delve deeper into this creepy mystery, this is the best place to do it.

Their hours vary depending on the day of the week, but they’re open 7 days of week, excluding major holidays.

Website: http://www.mothmanmuseum.com/

  1. Museum of Death

This museum has two locations, one in Hollywood, California, and the other in New Orleans, Louisiana. The California location was originally opened by JD Healy and Cathee Shultz, who “realized the void in the death education in this country and decided to make death their life’s work.” In addition to the largest collection of serial murderer artwork, you’ll also be able to see things like original photos from the Charles Manson and Black Dahlia murders, a coffin and body bag collection, and replicas of full-sized execution devices. They also play a lot of videos of autopsies and serial killer interviews. There is no age limit to enter the museum, but they do suggest it’s more suitable for more mature audiences.

The New Orleans location is open 7 days a week from 10 am – 7 pm. The Hollywood location is also open 7 days a week, but their hours vary depending on the day.

Website: http://www.museumofdeath.net/

  1. Salem Witch Museum

The creepiest thing about this museum located in Salem, Massachusetts, is how ignorance and fear can lead people to commit heinous acts against each other. Twenty people lost their lives during the Witch Trials of 1692. This museum brings their stories to life. A combination of stage sets and live guides educates visitors about what was happening during that point of history that facilitated the witch-hunts. They also discuss witch stereotypes and explain witchcraft today.

The museum is open 10 am – 5 pm daily (and until 7 pm July and August). They’re also open year-round except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, with extended hours in October.

Website: https://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/

Ghosts in the empty town. Against the background of a Gothic castle

  1. The Hollywood Horror Museum

This museum hasn’t officially opened in its physical location (it’s due to in 2019), but it is also a traveling museum that will begin its “World Tour” in 2017. (Likely around October.) It will have two different sections, “Classic Horror” and “Modern Horror.” Classic Horror will be suitable for all ages. Modern Horror will deal with gore and sexuality so it will be more appropriate for teens and adults. Exhibits will include classic movie scenes, props, costumes and replica sets. If you are a fan of horror in any of is guises (books, movies, or TV), this will be a definite must-see museum as soon as it opens!

Website: http://www.hollywoodhorror.org/

  1. The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult

It bills itself as the “only paranormal museum where you can actually hold real haunted objects.” If you’d be brave enough to do that. But that’s just it. Greg Newkirk and Dana Matthews, the museum’s curators, want the curious to hold, photograph, and even test their haunted and cursed objects. This museum doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location, but it can be experienced in two ways. The first is online, where they have pictures and descriptions of all of their artifacts. It can also be seen at many popular convention and events, such as ScareFest, Strange Escapes, and at some Nick Groff Tour appearances. They even have a live webcam where they rotate haunted objects and encourage people to email them if they notice anything unusual.

Website: http://paramuseum.com/

  1. Willow Creek – China Flat Museum

This museum preserves history pertinent to the eastern part of Humboldt County and the western portion of Trinity County in California. This includes pioneer, mining and Native American artifacts as well as their very popular Bigfoot exhibit. You see, Humboldt County is where the famous Patterson-Gimlin movie was taken. If you’re not familiar with it, the movie was shot in 1967 and created (still creates) quite a stir because of the alleged real-life Bigfoot caught on film.  You can see print casts, photos, and maps in the museum. There’s even a Bigfoot research center there. Definitely a must-see for Bigfoot fans.

The museum is closed November through April. From May through October, the days and hours that they are open vary. This is one it’s advisable to plan your visit ahead.

Website: http://bigfootcountry.net/

*********

Courtney Lynn Mroch is the Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism for Haunt Jaunts, a travel site for restless spirits, which she created while battling cancer. Her novels include Beneath the Morvan Moon and The Ghost of Laurie Floyd, and she’s a four-time contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul publications. She also writes horror as C. Le Mroch. Under that nom de plume she edited an anthology called Shadow People and Cursed Objects: 13 Tales of Terror Based on True Stories…or are they? 

 

When she’s not exploring haunted places or writing, it’s a safe bet you’ll find her on a tennis court or a yoga mat somewhere. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and their cats, Tigger and Tabby.

For more about Courtney Lynn Mroch, visit her site at:  http://www.hauntjaunts.net

 

Guest Blog : Black Zombie: Hollywood and the 80’s Voodoo Revival by J. Malcom Stewart

guestblog2

Black Zombie: Hollywood and the 80’s Voodoo Revival

In the beginning, there was the Zoumbie.

What began as a mixture of the ancient spirituality, chemical sciences and social control practices of West and Central Africa ended up stranded in the former home of the Arawak and the Carib by way of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Just as water wears down stone, what started as historical reality became whittled into mythology. And where there were deep roots, the stalk that grew from that dark, fertile soil became forever altered by the gaze of the European Other.

The legendary flesh-and-blood inspiration for the modern cinematic motif arose and walked through the jungles of Haiti and other Caribbean islands in those days, allegedly bringing terror and destruction to those not wise enough to avoid the paths of voodoo, the false cognate for the misunderstood, syncretic systems of religion alternatively called Vodou, Vodun, Vaudou or Santeria.

So, naturally, someone had to make a movie about it.

In 1932, Hollywood came a’ knocking and our beloved Zoumbie left his sun kissed isle to star alongside Bela Lugosi in the black-and-white Golden Age horror classic, White Zombie. A title truly intentional in its contradiction as Lugosi plays a white Haitian landowner who discovers from his black peonage the secret of Zoumbie creation through a process of hypnosis and drugs.

Lugosi then, of course, uses his powers to cement his control over the black populace while subsequently terrorizing his white neighbors, kidnapping a visiting American co-ed and daring her beau to brave the terrors of his plantation to save her.

The strange, occult powers of his character are almost of secondary concern to our heroes given his over-familiarity with the way of “natives,” causing the boyfriend character to exclaim that if the damsel-in-distress were to accidentally fall into the hands of the black workers “it would be a fate worse than could be imagined!” His comrade-in-arms admonishes him strongly not to even consider such a horror.

Never fear… The movie going audience of 1932 was spared the threat of racial miscegenation when the aforementioned boyfriend confronts Lugosi and breaks the spell of the Zombie. All was again right in the world. Except it started a bit of a craze for more cinematic distortion of the Zoumbie tradition, the biggest of which was the mispronounced cultural appropriation of the Zoumbie name.

For a while, our hero held sway in the imagination of filmmakers wanting to explore the field of culturally incorrect exotica. He had regular work in those days, showing up in such forgotten gems as I Walked with a Zombie (1943) Voodoo Man (1944) and the Plague of the Zombies (1966).

Then came George Romero. And like a lot things in the 60’s, there was a changing of the guard.

With Night of the Living Dead, the (pseudo) Scientific Zombie became the king of the block and our hero was forced back into semi-obscurity, through perhaps Romero gave a slight nod of sympathy by casting Duane Jones as a protagonist who shared some heritage with our ancient hero. But mostly, the original item ended sitting around the house, downing bottle-after-bottle of Red Stripe, waiting for his next close up.

Thankfully for him, the 80’s came along. And with it, a “real-life” novel length account from Harvard researcher Wade Davis called The Serpent and the Rainbow. Davis’ book, presented as his actual experiences with so-called “zombie masters” in Haiti during the final years of the Duvalier dictatorship. And with its publication came the most pointed scholarly disagreement among anthropologists since Carlos Castaneda’s “Don Juan” thesis that stole the 70’s.

How could it not help but start a new, focused sensation about the Zoumbie and the Voodoo system?

First up in March of 1987 was Angel Heart. The all-star cast of Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet was steeped in both anticipation and controversy. It brought together two of the most respected “Method” actors of the era, one of whom (DeNiro) had already won his Oscar and the other (Rourke) was an odds-on favorite to be the next “great American actor.” It also was greeted with tabloid buzz as Bonet was on thin ice with her TV dad and employer, Bill Cosby, due to the erotic nature of the film. Angel Heart was nearly slapped with the emerging NC-17 rating before some compromising cuts were made.

The film itself was an atmospheric exploration of the “Hoodoo” belief system, a American near cousin to Voudon and Santeria. The Hoodoo concept and practice, prevalent in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, sets the background for the New Orleans location for Angel Heart, as Rourke is a noir-cut detective tasked with finding a semi-famous singer who doesn’t want to be found. The set up, while simple sounding, is a complete misdirection for twists and turns, including bizarre symbolism, weird sex and DeNiro as a Brill Cream infused version of the Devil.

The film, which got a fairly favorable critical reception, was less than a box office sensation, perhaps weighed down by all the expectations of fireworks between Rourke and DeNiro and the gossipy infighting over Bonet’s role. Angel Heart has grown in prominence in the decades since, with many fans citing it as a conversation piece for unconventional horror. However, the really frightening thing maybe what happened to Rourke and Bonet’s careers after the film.

Hot on the heels of Angel Heart came The Believers. The May 1987 Martin Sheen vehicle attempted to explore the dangerous side of Santeria, the Spanish Speaking cousin of Vodun, as Sheen plays a skeptical psychologist who is drawn into the world of Caribbean mysticism when his son is threatened by a group of evil Santeru.

While The Believers brought some big budget production values to the subject, the script and direction fell back into some dominant culture stereotypes as the ultimate group of villains revealed had only a flimsy link to the actual Santeria tradition. Apparently, Hollywood hadn’t found much new material for practitioners of African traditional spiritualism in the intervening 55 years between it and White Zombie.

Fortunately for traditional zombie fans, the next year of 1988 contained a much more positive development as one of the decade’s legendary “Three C’s” took on adapting Wade Davis’ book. Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow brought the spotlight back to the place where it all began for our beloved friend, Haiti

Released in Feb. 1988, Serpent took advantage of Hollywood’s renewed interest in voodoo. Craven, then at the height of his powers and popularity, dove into the trend by giving us the most “naturalistic” Hollywood zombie movie to that date.
Set on the island in the early 1980’s, our hero (played by Bill Pullman) is a biologist/ anthropologist /chemist (the script is never sure which) who comes to the island nation in order to find the ancient, narcotic powder used by voodoo masters to put their victims into a state of living death.

For Pullman’s trouble, he is kicked, beaten, buried alive and has a nail driven through his scrotum. But for his tribulations, he manages to do something thought impossible. Bring the undead back to life a second time.

Shot on location around Hispaniola in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Serpent still stands as a glorious, although slower-paced, exploration of the Haitian “voodoo” culture. The film takes considerable time to explain the theology and worldview of the Zombie Makers while also delving into the culture and politics of the proud yet troubled nation.

Freaky undead doings abound, making for some killer scenes. Zombie hands in pea soup, crazy chicks eating glass, a corpse-bride with a python tongue The topper of an undead Paul Garfield pulling off his own head to throw it at a freshly returned Bill Pullman was one of my personal favorite horror moments of the 80’ . And while it wasn’t a big hit for Craven, it’s remembered fondly by many fans as one of his most unique films, despite its over-the-top ending.

Despite the flurry of interest at the end of the Reagan years, Hollywood quickly returned to the modern Zombie model, pushing out the Romero clones with frightening efficiency during  the last 30 years. There haven’t been a ton of films Hollywood exploring the flavors of the voodoo belief (2005’s The Skeleton Key comes to mind), but that’s not to say our hero’s time won’t come again.

In 2017, you can’t go anywhere in the horror genre without finding a Romero style cliche showing it.