Book Anniversary : HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents – eHorror Bites 4: Requiem in Frost

RFBANNER

On this day of Mabon, HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present the next book in their eHorror Bites series. eHorror Bites 4: Requiem in Frost is the newest work of Next Great RFJFHorror Writer Contest winner, Jonathan Fortin.

BLACK METAL LIVES!

Located in the deep frostbitten woods of Norway, Ingrid’s new home is old, spooky, and possibly haunted. Guttural screams wake Ingrid and her mother nightly. When they discover the shrieks belong to deceased former occupant and extreme metal musician, Skansi Oppegård, Ingrid investigates the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. Hoping to exorcise Skansi’s ghost, she talks her mom into being part of a metal band. Oppegård’s last musical creation awakens forces beyond Ingrid’s understanding and causes Skansi’s murderer to resurface. In the battle between a madman and zombies, metal may be the only weapon she has.

A Peek Inside

REQUIEM IN FROST

When I opened my eyes, it was still dark—probably after midnight. When I took off my headphones, I didn’t hear screaming. However, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

Someone was standing in the corner of my room.

He was tall and muscular, with long, ragged hair. Smeared skeletal makeup covered his face, mingling with open scars. His torso was splashed with a fresh coat of crimson, dripping all over the floor, but drippiest of all was the huge axe in his hand. As I considered the growing red pool at his feet, I found myself wondering where all that blood had come from…

Is Mom all right?

The thought hit me with the force of a speeding train. If the ghost had hurt Mom, he could hurt me, too. Perhaps it should have been obvious, but I’d never felt threatened until that moment. My heart stopped as I lay there, paralyzed in bed, fearing he would kill me, and that he’d killed Mom already.

The spirit approached my bed, his huge axe dripping a river onto the floor. I tried to muster up the courage to run, but my legs were frozen in place. All too quickly, he was right beside me, raising his axe high.

“Skansi…” It came out before I could stop it, the squeak of a girl much younger than myself.

The spirit halted, surprise in his bulging eyes. Perhaps he hadn’t expected me to know his name.

“Someone killed you, didn’t they?” I asked, my throat dry.

The spirit continued to stare, but he did not lower his axe.

JonathanFortinAuthorPhoto_SepiaJonathan Fortin is the author of Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus (coming December 2019 from Crystal Lake Publishing) and Nightmarescape (Mocha Memoirs Press). An unashamed lover of spooky Gothic stories, Jonathan was named the “Next Great Horror Writer” in 2017 by HorrorAddicts.net. He attended the Clarion Writing Program in 2012, one year after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program. When not writing, Jonathan enjoys voice acting, dressing like a Victorian gentleman, and indulging in all things odd and macabre in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow him on Twitter.

You can also find Jonathan in HorrorAddicts.net’s Clockwork Wonderland and eHorror Bites 3: #NGHW Editor Picks.

 

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #188 – Jason LaVelle

chillingchat

Jason LaVelle is an author and photographer from West Michigan. When he’s not spending time with his beautiful wife and four children, LaVelle works at a veterinary clinic, helping Jason LaVelleanimals of all kinds. With his two pugs, Dragon and Mr. Sparkles, his Chihuahua, Mari, and his annoying dachshund, Lady, LaVelle pretty much lives in a zoo. After he’s done playing with the dogs and tucking the kids into bed, LaVelle ventures down into the basement, where his cat, Leah whispers in his ear like a demonic muse, forcing him to explore the paranormal world inside his mind.

Jason is a wonderful writer with a sharp mind. We spoke of writing, podcasts, and Stephen King. 

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Jason! Thank you for joining me today. 

JL: Thank you for having me, I’m very glad to be here.

NTK: How old were you when you first discovered horror? 

JL: Oh goodness, probably too young. My dad read a lot of King, Koontz, and Barker, and by the time I was in 6th-7th grade, I was pilfering books from his shelf.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror writer?

JL: Good question, I think Stephen King was always my favorite growing up, but now the lines between horror, dark fantasy, and psych thrillers are being blurred. I would still say King, but some of my favorite authors (Pierce Brown and VE Schwab) write fantasy with many horrific elements.

NTK: Did King influence your writing? Why did you become a writer?

JL: I think King has certainly influenced me, but not necessarily in the types of stories I tell, but how emotion and fear can be used to create horror without necessarily needing blood and gore. I started writing in 8th grade, just trying to let out creative energy, I was a hyper kid and writing let me channel some of that extra energy.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

JL: Wow, I do not know. I can tell you which one has affected me most profoundly recently. Duma Key, a King novel, I read it a few years back, and the climactic scenes in that book really shook me to the core, stayed with me a long time.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

JL: I don’t actually watch much horror, my wife doesn’t like it and we are quite joined at the hip. I enjoy movies like I Am Legend, Bird Box, and A Quiet Place, but most of the time we watch WW2 documentaries or Brooklyn 99!

NTK:  What inspires your writing?

JL: Ah, the old question we all fear! It’s life though, that inspires me. I hear stories from family and friends, I see things in the world, and I use those experiences to build the foundations of my stories. So at their core, everything I write has truth.

NTK: What inspired “Teddy Bear Picnic?”

JL: Ha! Actually a dream my wife had, she told me about it and I decided it would make a cute story.

NTK: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

JL: Mostly a pantser, but I’ve been plotting my current WIP. That said, it’s not going well, (Laughs) so I’m not sure if plotting is going to work well for me. I like to keep the plot in my head, if that makes sense.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their every movement?

JL: Eh, people talk about characters doing their own thing, but really it’s all me. Sometimes I wish they’d take over and do a little writing for me, but they’ve been reluctant so far.

NTK: (Laughs.) Who is your favorite monster?

JL: Hannibal Lecter.

NTK: Do you enjoy realistic horror as opposed to supernatural horror?

JL: I do, and that’s what I like to write. I enjoy realism with a touch of the paranormal, just enough to scare me, but not so much that it isn’t believable.

NTK: You mentioned Dean Koontz earlier. He’s famous for the inclusion of dogs in his books. You’re an animal lover, do animals play a part in any of your books and stories?

JL: Oh yes, I love including animals. They are a wonderful and enriching part of our world, and I like including them in fiction. I have a whole story, “The Life of Pets,” which deals with the treatment of animals in our society, consent, and ethical care.

NTK: You have a podcast, don’t you?

JL: I run two, Spilling Ink, which is an author roundtable type show every Saturday night, and Unafraid, an audio podcast sharing stories from the LGBTQ+ community.

NTK: Is it difficult running a podcast?

JL: Ha! No, running a podcast is actually pretty easy nowadays, and fun. Talking to new people every week, learning their stories, and enriching our lives with them, that’s good, that’s fun. But there are a lot of podcasts, so getting mine in front of people who will enjoy it is the tough part. Without a large advertising budget, podcasts like mine rely on word of mouth growth.

NTK: Who is your favorite guest? Your best interview?

JL: Ha! I’ve had many wonderful guests. My favorites are usually authors, because they really know how to tell a great story. On the Unafraid podcast, Amanda Jette Knox joined me, and she gave a fabulous interview. On Spilling Ink, I hosted Ellen Hopkins, and the conversation with her was just brilliant.

NTK: What is your favorite curse word?

JL: Definitely fuck.

NTK: (Laughs.) And what is your favorite curse?

JL: Hm, that one’s a bit tough, never really thought about it. In my current WIP, one character is a Romani woman, and she uses a curse. I actually learned quite a bit about Romani curses. She says “May I suffer, may I suffer if I can’t protect you.” It was an emotional scene, and I like that. But most Romani curses are like that, they aren’t something that’s flung onto someone else, they are usually about the user.

NTK:  What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

JL: Sometime next year I’ll be releasing a novel co-authored with Rebekah Jonesy. This will be a paranormal thriller based on actual events. It’s very dark, very cool, I think you’ll love it.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Jason! You’re a great guest!

JL: Thank you for the interview, that was nice.

Addicts, you can find Jason on Facebook and Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terror Trax: #188 Biomechanimal

Biomechanimal

Matthew L. Simpson (Production, Vocals),
Keith Kamholz (Electro Axe, Live Production),
Lex Liebert (Live Guitars),
Kekko Stefano (Live Drums)

Website 

https://biomechanimal.bandcamp.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/biomechanimal
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BiomechanimalMain/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/biomechanimal/

 


What album, tour, or song are you excited about now? 

Someone else: Swarm – Eat Me Alive EP // Us: Waves Single

What singers or bands inspired you growing up? 

Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Skrillex, Rob Swire, Wednesday 13, Deathstars

Who are your favorite artists today? 

In Flames

What non-musical things inspire your music? 

Love of Cosmic Horror

Is there a place where you go to be inspired? 

Other peoples shows, or nature

What’s been the greatest achievement of your band? 

Playing in Australia

Where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most? 

Underground basement of a punk venue. No stage, just a circle of people and 3 enormous amp stacks

What are your favorite horror movies? 

The VVitch, A Quiet Place, The Martyr

What was the scariest night of your life? 

Car broke down in a forest in a place we didn’t know. 2 AM, no phone signal, no other cars, and the battery in the car began to go.

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band? 

Cemetery of Fontanelle, Bring back Type O Negative while we’re at it.

What are you working on now for future release? 

A Midtempo Bass music single called Haksal (학살)

Logbook of Terror : Mr Punctuality

By Russell Holbrook 

Robbie flung open the door to Warrington’s Curiosity Shop and ducked in to escape the gray, weeping sky. His eyes roved across the store. He was amazed: It was just as he remembered it. The ceilings were high, the lighting was dim, and the wooden floors wore a well-traveled sheen. The shop was crammed full of every odd and end imaginable, and the air was thick with the scent of age. Robbie reached the counter and rang the silver bell that sat next to the antique register. The bright chime reverberated through the shadowy haze. 

“Hey,” a voice said from behind. Robbie started and spun around. “Can I help you?” The clerk asked.

This wasn’t who Robbie was expecting to see. This man was young and pale and, according to the tag on his shirt, was named Kirk. Robbie’s brow bunched up. “Where’s the old man?”

The clerk fixed Robbie with a blank stare and said flatly, “He died.” Then he sighed and said, “I guess you haven’t been in lately?”

Robbie replied, “No, not since I was a kid really. Who are you?”

“I’m the grandson, Neal.”

“But your name tag says Kirk.”

The clerk chuckled. “Oh yeah, I found this in the back and thought it’d be funny to wear it.” He grinned and exposed a rotted row of teeth. Robbie’s skin crawled. A dark chill swept over him, and it wasn’t due to the cold rainwater that clung to his clothes.  

Robbie paused. A silence fell between them, then Robbie said, “I need a watch; one that will make sure I’m always on time.” 

“You have a problem with tardiness?” Neal said with a chuckle. 

Robbie nodded. “Yes, a big one. No matter how hard I try, I’m always late. It’s like I’m… cursed.” 

Neal’s left eyebrow rose to a peak. For a brief moment he stared at Robbie, then abruptly said, “Okay, man, c’mon,” and slouched over to a short glass case that sat along the left wall of the long, narrow building. 

Robbie followed the clerk to the case, where three shelves full of antique pocket watches rested on burgundy, crushed velvet. Robbie hunched over and peered into the case. Rain beat down on the roof, cold wind whipped around the building, and behind the case, Neal waited. After several minutes, Robbie pointed to a burnished silver watch in the left hand corner of the bottom shelf and said, “That one.”

Neal bent low, slid the case’s door open, and brought out the watch. He smiled. “Oh yeah, this one’s a beauty. You’ll never be late with this one, no way. With this watch, man, you’ll always be right on schedule.” 

Robbie returned the clerk’s smile. “I was hoping you’d say that.” 

***

Robbie sat at the bus stop, gazing into the face of the timepiece, watching the second hand make slow loops. His eyes felt dry and he noticed that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d blinked. He heard a shuffle next to him. A woman was shaking water off an umbrella beneath the covered bus stop. She looked at Robbie.

“Hey, neat, a pocket watch,” she said. “I haven’t seen one of those in ages.” 

Robbie smiled at the woman and said, “It’s almost your time.” 

The woman’s mouth twisted down on one corner. “Pardon me?” 

With a dazed look on his face, Robbie repeated himself and then added, “I’m sorry.” 

The woman’s eyebrows knitted. She backed away from Robbie, out into the rain, into the path of a cyclist barreling down the sidewalk. 

“On your left!” The cyclist yelled.

Alarmed, the woman spun to the right. Her foot snagged on a piece of uneven concrete and she twirled out into the busy street. A car blared its horn and swerved around her. She gained her balance and rushed back toward the sidewalk. Raindrops stung her eyes. She tripped over the edge of the sidewalk and stumbled to a stop a few feet in front of Robbie. The woman heaved, desperately trying to catch her breath, her eyes wide with terror. 

“Oh my God!” She screamed. “I almost–”

The speeding truck seemed to come out of nowhere. It hopped the curb and plowed into the woman. Her body bounced into the street and rolled under the wheels of the oncoming traffic. 

Tires squealed and slid across the wet, slick pavement. The hurtling mass of machines pulled left and right to avoid hitting the woman. Several vehicles slid into the opposite lanes, colliding head-on with the rushing automobiles. A cacophony of bending metal and shattering glass roared into the sky. Screams echoed from cars and trucks and vans. 

And Robbie stared at the watch, his eyes fixed on the languid movement of the spinning second hand. 

A massive city bus, its horn screaming, slammed into the pile-up. The enormous crunch of the impact snapped Robbie out of his trance. He jumped up. A man in a business suit was staggering out of the wreckage, holding his side, with blood pouring from a wide gash on his forehead.

“Help me!” The man shouted to Robbie. 

Robbie froze, clutching the watch. The second, minute,  and hour hands spun at a frantic pace. 

A lone garbage truck swerved away from the growing crash, spilled over sideways, and fell on top of the shuffling businessman. Blood flowed out from under the truck and mixed with the rain. 

Laughter boomed in Robbie’s head. He looked around to see where it was coming from and then realized that it was his own voice he heard ringing in his head. He lurched out into the rain, howling like a maniac, and ran into the deepening evening as emergency response vehicles appeared on the horizon.  

***

Robbie woke up in his bed. He was soaking wet and his head was throbbing. He squinted and glanced around the darkroom. The cell phone on the bedside table let out a shrill ring. Robbie rolled over and answered. 

“Hello,” he mumbled. 

“You bastard!” A woman’s voice screamed from the other end, sharpening and focusing the agony in his head. “You couldn’t even make it to your own son’s birthday party! Where were you, huh? Where the hell were you?!”  

“I, uh, what?” Robbie sputtered. 

“You were drunk again, weren’t you?!” 

Robbie’s heart raced. He tried to swallow although his mouth and throat were a desert. He sat up. The room spun. He gripped the mattress with one hand and held on. “But I,” he began. “I got a watch so I could be on time.”

“Your cell phone tells time, you moron!”

“But, Sheila, this is a special watch, one that tells the real time, the true time. The man said I’d never be late again. And I thought that once I had it, I wouldn’t miss anything ever again. I’d always be there, on time, always.” 

The woman on the other end sobbed and her sobbing became weeping. “Well, it doesn’t matter now, it’s too late!” She shouted. “The party was the day before yesterday, and you missed it. And then–” Sheila’s voice broke off. She drew in a long breath. “—and then, yesterday, when Nana was driving him home from pre-school, they were in a sixteen car pile-up and—and–”

Robbie gasped. Shelia wailed into the phone and hung up. Robbie’s stomach turned. He fell to his knees and threw up on the floor. He shuddered. I need a drink, he thought. He wondered what time it was. He’d need to get to the liquor store before it closed. 

That was when he realized he was gripping a cold, metal object in his right hand. Robbie opened his hand and clicked open the pocket watch. In the gloom, he watched the second hand make its slow rotation and it all came back to him.

He’d been hammered drunk, staggering back to his efficiency apartment in the late afternoon when the sky turned angry and a storm erupted. He’d taken refuge in the old curiosity shop that he’d loved as a child. He hadn’t been there in decades and he couldn’t believe it was still in operation. After relating his woes of tardiness and missed appointments at length to the patient employee, he’d bought a watch. Yes, this watch, he thought. And then what had happened? Had he blacked out again? He needed to know.

***

Robbie struggled to his feet. He felt like he was wading through molasses as he stumbled through his studio apartment and out into the dim evening. A light mist fell lazily from the slate-gray sky. The streetlights blinked on. Robbie hugged his jacket tight around his body and hurried to the antique district, his favorite cut through to avoid the beat cops that liked to arrest the drunks and vagrants that crowded Main Street. The mist turned to a full-on rain when Robbie came out of an alley, turned the corner, and stopped in front of the tattered awning emblazoned with the name, Warrington’s Curiosity Shop, across the front. Robbie’s eyes bulged. 

The front display windows were filthy, covered in spider webs and years of accumulated dust and grime. The rubber Halloween masks still sat on their displays, their colors cracked and faded. The dust jackets of the books on magic and decorating were yellowed with age and eaten away at the edges. The eyes of the spooky dolls and stuffed monkeys with their brass cymbals had all been gouged out. A gust of stale air, reeking of age and neglect, rushed over Robbie. He looked for its source and saw that the tall glass panes in the front door had been kicked in. Shattered glass littered the doorway. 

An old man sat in the shadows near the entrance, dressed in rags and clutching a liquor bottle in a brown paper bag. He looked up at Robbie. “Hey man, how’s the watch workin’ for ya?” He said.

Robbie shifted, as if noticing the old man for the first time. 

The old man arched his left eyebrow. “Well?” 

Robbie looked intently at the old man and noticed he wore a name tag on his jacket that read “Kirk” in faded blue letters.

Robbie’s heart raced. He felt his eyes water and his bottom lip quiver. “Where’s Neal?” He asked. 

The old man grinned wide, revealing a mouth full of rotted teeth. “He’s dead.” 

Robbie’s mouth fell open. The old man cackled. Robbie stumbled back, away from the old man. “He’s dead!” The old man shouted as his cackling turned into roaring laughter. 

 Robbie ran into the street.  A moving truck plowed into him, crushing him beneath its monstrous tires. 

The driver slammed on the brakes and slid to a stop. He cursed to himself. He knew he shouldn’t have been speeding, especially not in the rain, especially not after those six whiskeys he’d had with lunch. But he was running behind. And his boss had said that if he was late one more time he’d lose his job. He just wanted to be on time. He couldn’t understand why he was always late. He tried so hard. It wasn’t fair; it made him feel like he was cursed.  

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Death Becomes Her

Deliciously Dark Death Becomes Her gets Better with Age

by Kristin Battestella

Mad?”

Hel!”

Writer Helen Sharp’s (Goldie Hawn) plastic surgeon fiance Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis) thinks Helen’s childhood friend Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) is an amazing starlet. Madeline has stolen Helen’s beaus previously and does so again, but fourteen years later, Helen achieves her revenge by looking stunning and wooing Ernest into her killer plans. Madeline will do whatever she can to compete – including visiting the mysterious Lisle von Rhoman (Isabella Rosselini) for a youthful elixir. Unfortunately, the costly potion leads to bodily disasters if you don’t take care of your beauty, and unlike these desperate ladies trying to stay forever young, the 1992 dark comedy Death Becomes Her only gets better with age.

Director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) and writers Martin Donovan (Apartment Zero) and David Koepp (War of the Worlds) open the surprisingly PG-13 Death Becomes Her with 1978 not so well received ritzy as Playbills are tossed aside and stage glory turns sour thanks to show within in a show awkward performances, bad choreography, caricatures on youth, and phony songs about you. Flirtatious winks, polite shade, through the teeth comebacks, and backhanded compliments are played straight as your frienemy steals your man, and Death Becomes Her wastes no time with backstabbing wedding bells and revenge decades in the planning leading to book party invitations and who’s looking swell versus who’s looking worse for the wear changes. The man looming above the frame is reflected in the mirror behind the woman – reverse revealing the personal disconnect as each says things they don’t mean alongside more symbolism and aggressive gestures. Hellish characters and murderous plans are both deliberate and measured yet flippant and off the cuff, as our plastic surgeon is dismissed as a ghoul for not healing but indulging vanity even in death. More quirky visuals layer the Hollywood commentary – what’s with that guy upside on the wheel at the spa? – and reflective camera shots create viewer double take. What if we did look twice and really paid attention beyond face value then what would we see? Death Becomes Her winks at the secret opportunities available to the elite behind closed doors amid insular they know that we know that they know that we know flattery. Confidence only comes with beauty, and the camera’s distorted angles and askew perceptions reiterate this frame of mind as wide shots have the face in the center but the subject at hand in the background. With such in camera staging, one need not resort to fast-paced editing later to compensate and piece together wit or tension because the bags full of makeup, screams overseeing oneself in the mirror without said makeup, and fake tears sprayed in the eyes while practicing crocodile speeches – in the mirror framed by defaced pictures of her obsession – speak for themselves. One woman equals sex while another demeans flaccid, and cuckold phrases reiterate the servile men and obedient dogs as demented one liners, frantic questions, and disturbing calm lead to top of the stairs teetering and the not so dead rising behind one’s back. Formaldehyde is bought in bulk on top of jokes on doing something “funny” with a dead wife and “It’s alive” homages. Eternal youth potions await in a scary, humbling castle where newcomers tiptoe so their heels don’t echo on the floor before sampling this hush-hush, ageless elixir to prove its price. Snake charmers admit the forever young will look suspicious if they don’t disappear, and Death Becomes Her is likewise self-aware of how lacking in self-awareness its desperate characters are when not heeding knives or warnings to preserve the facade. Women who for decades purposely inflict pain without actually harming each other let all the violence out and apologize – tag teaming the man they were fighting over because they need him to maintain their seemingly miraculous vitality forever. Twisted dream sequences, wide lenses, and zooms accentuate the preposterously clever scheme of tranquilizers on the wine glass and finishing dinner before planting the body in a car going off Mulholland Drive as quips about divorce in California, never seeing a neighbor in Los Angeles, and those with no talent for poverty orchestrating murder escalate the satire with handy hardware, bloody bodies in the lily pond, and a hole in the stomach big enough to right see through you.

Everything has to be taut and perfect for Madeline Ashton, and only Meryl Streep (She-Devil) can play a bad actress obsessed with wrinkles without winking and scene chewing for the camera. Madeline strikes the right pose, plumps the bosom, and remains pampered even if she hasn’t worked in some time and is no longer the breadwinner. In order to hide her impoverished past, she must show up Helen at all times and mere makeup won’t do. Despite her fame and wealth, Madeline’s ugliness shows in her mistreatment of the maid or any pretty supple ingenue. When rejected by her younger lover for not considering how he feels, she blames him for making her feel cheap. Even if the spa refuses to do a traumatic plasma treatment, Madeline demands the procedure money is no object because she fears younger women must be laughing at her. She’s shocked at Helen’s transformation and makes excuses about feeling terrible at having happiness at Helen’s expense, but Madeline doesn’t feel that terrible and she’s not really happy. Fortunately, her shady zingers return with her beauty, but Madeline says what she shouldn’t, leading to scary body bags and uncomfortable realizations – although she enjoys having no pulse because nobody can play dead better than she can. Goldie Hawn’s (Overboard) Helen is initially a shy and quiet writer compared to her old school rival Madeline, dowdy and twisting her handkerchief rather than expressing her anger. She warns Ernest that Madeline only wants him because she has him. Madeline has stolen men from Helen before and she wants Ernest to pass her Madeline Ashton test, but when he does not, Helen becomes a gluttonous cat lady obsessed with rewinding Madeline’s onscreen strangulation. Upon eviction, she ruins her therapy group by talking about Madeline before overcoming her outlook by vowing revenge and looking dynamite while doing it. Literary success follows, and Helen lies to Madeline’s face about never blaming her, kissing her cheek as she pits Madeline and Ernest against each other. Now a vivacious vixen, Helen claims sisterhood while plotting with her man – embodying the shade, deception, and fierce competition of the woman scorned even if she doesn’t really want Ernest anymore. She just wants to take him from Madeline and use him for her fatal revenge, and both ladies willingly become a Hollywood type of vampire, consuming the essence of a man for their own youthful survival. What does their undead beauty contest get them? Each other, stuck forever in an “I paint your ass, you paint mine” begrudging.

Ernest Menville was once a famous plastic surgeon, but now Bruce Willis’ (Color of Night) doctor is a postmortem fixer for the Hollywood dead between breakfast bloody marys. Life with Madeline hasn’t worked out, and she’s reviled by his bottom feeder, drinking himself to death existence. When complimented for his mortuary work, Ernest admits the secret weapon for coloring dead skin is spray paint, but he knows it isn’t real work and would sell his soul to really operate again. He argues with Madeline about who ruined whom and won’t take jokes about his clients being stiffer. Though unhappy, wishing to divorce, and easily swept up when Helen comes on to him with sexy words, Ernest is reluctant to go along with her plans, for he takes the change in Madeline’s temperature, pulse, and hair – because that’s what men notice – as a miracle. Ernest gains confidence despite his fear over what he has done, wanting to make Madeline his masterpiece, painting her and carefully mixing the turpentine. He won’t be rushed when her eyes must have artistic balance! Ernest will fix them and then go, but when the ladies need touch-ups, his sudden backbone becomes a problem. Death Becomes Her’s few daylight scenes are about Ernest realizing what took him so long to leave. He was willing to keep his marital promise in spite of the suffering and humiliation, but his obligations are fulfilled in her death do us part. The camera at the not all that it seems spa has to be switched off before Isabella Rosellini’s (Merlin) Lisle von Rhoman can be mentioned, but the million dollar price tag for her mysterious potion is relative to such elite clientele. Her stunning beauty and barely there clothes make it easy to soft sell her elixir – Lisle is sweet when charming a guest, telling them to follow spring and summer but avoid autumn and winters however she’s sassy when ordering her Tom, Dick, and Harry henchmen and intimating with her deceptions. She knows why her clients come to see her, for they are scared of themselves, their bodies, the lengths they go to in maintaining their secrets, and their inevitable failure. Life is cruel, taking away vitality only to replace it with decay, so we want to believe her sweet talking promise to defy natural and endorse the check despite her dominance. The camera heightens Lisle’s look fair and feei  foul with carefully orchestrated poses and frames. She’s centered perfectly in each shot with daggers, Dobermans, and amulets. Lisle crosses her legs in her throne chair and says “thank you” when someone exclaims about God, but her seductive wraps and high collared, witchy robes suggest an underlying evil. After imploring our plastic surgeon to now take the youth and beauty he gave to others for himself, Lisle’s full menace is revealed when he questions her on the nightmarish consequences of immortality. Of course, there’s a wink to Rosellini’s casting because she looks so much like her mother, and bemusing not so dead cameos include James Dean, Jim Morrison, Elvis, and Marilyn alongside appearances by Mrs. Zemeckis Mary Ellen Trainor (Tales from the Crypt) and poor doctor with a heart condition Sydney Pollock (Three Days of the Condor).

The naughty but sinister, frenetic strings of Alan Silvestri’s (Predator) theme set the mood for Death Becomes Her amid a dash of jazz, disco beats, and campy cues. Boas and colorful stage backdrops in the opening sequence establish an over the top, garish, tacky and lamé atmosphere before static on the old television, retro patterns, and poor clutter contrast the massive Beverly Hill mansion with gated entries, a grand staircase, hefty doors, and heaps of marble. The made to look ugly, old, and desperate makeup and bodily transformations are well done amid tears and soggy rain making a woman look worse before bemusing good skin versus bad skin comparisons and boob lifts. That pretty left hand with the giant rock ring is always prominently displayed! Subtle nudity is also reflected through windows and doors as supple butt shots provide curves to the sagging and wrinkles. The square nineties blazers and low buttons add masculine angles for the women, however low cut cleavage, deep blouses, and lace invoke feminine symbolism along with thigh-high slits, Egyptian life giving motifs, and our glowing pink potion. Death Becomes Her abounds with mirrors everywhere – frames within frames via television screens, snapshots, and gold portraits pepper every scene. Clever reflections, shadows, and silhouettes do double duty while red stands for passion, black for suspicion, and white for innocence as dramatic overhead drops, balcony dangles, thunder, and shotgun blasts apply terror in the killing scenes. Neck snaps, stairway rolls, holes in the gut, and backwards results are as disturbing as the decision to kill. Sure, some of the bumbling bodies and squashed heads may look poor now, but that also keeps them funny, and there are more intriguing or random visual gags to catch our eye – the doctor throwing away his stethoscope when he can’t get a heartbeat, the yuppie tennis couple with the bruised elbows, those weird ass gliding nuns. The pink pastels and green palm trees in the eighties upscale buildings are perfectly gaudy now, but the blue lighting, black marble, and arrows pointing to the morgue mirror how the characters are inevitably walking towards death. Michelangelo motifs and pools of water could be symbolic life renewals as one tries to escape the locked doors, gilded elevators, grand arches, maze like spires, and those ever present mirrors but Death Becomes Her’s beauty goes from svelte to garish with vampire pale, white out eyes, pasty skin, and gross peeling.

One may love or hate Death Becomes Her but there is no in between and it takes multiple viewings to study the dual nuances, comedic layers, and dark subtleties. Questions on immortality – or at least looking immortal – deepen the commentary on beauty and why women compete to look so enchanting even if it kills them. Today’s dark comedies often feel crass or too disturbing, but the great cast keeps Death Becomes Her mature with a tongue in cheek that doesn’t have to berate the obvious. While not in your face horror, the choice macabre moments and increasingly bleak palette illume our dread and fear of old age. We can laugh at the sardonic winks even as Death Becomes Her calls out Hollywood then and hello look at us on the ‘gram now, remaining delicious because its satire is unfortunately more applicable than ever.

Do you remember where you parked the car?”

For more Horror Comedies, revisit:

The Addams Family Season 1

The Munsters Season 1

Bell, Book, and Candle

Book Anniversary : Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Originally posted – 10/3/2017

HorrorAddicts.net Press is happy to announce the new vampire publication, Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:

“All hail, the queen of Night’s Knights has returned! Emerian Rich’s unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shaurette, Lilith’s Love

or“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won’t be able to put down.” ~David Watson, The All Night Library

Praise for Night’s Knights:

“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder

Available now at Amazon.com in print and eBook


Emerian Rich is an artist, horror host, and author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights. She is the hostess of the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net. Under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal, she writes the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and she’s the Editorial Director for the Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

Kbatz Kraft: Drab to Glam Lampshades

After picking up some sweet candelabra lamps at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for $15 each – as seen in my Dark Shadows Inspired Studio videosthe search began for retro shades to match. Unfortunately, big barrel shades of yore are few, far between, and expensive. Modern cut shades are too small, but two contemporary barrel shades from Goodwill for $5 almost fit the scale, and with some glam doctoring, these swanky lamps can once again zing!

These pure white shades aren’t old school mood, but painting the canvas would dim bright task use, so trimmings must handle the transformation. Compared to goth black ribbon or heavy brown elements often seen on mid-century shades, here golden swag matches the candelabra’s leafy metalwork and vintage glow – marrying the present shade with the classic warmth. A $2 roll of yellow ribbon with delicate scroll edging softens and elongates the top of the shades when hot glued around the perimeter. Unlike an oversize vintage barrel, these contemporary cuts are slightly short, however a delicious gold fringe at $8 for enough yardage can be glued along the bottom edge for maximum length dangle, oh yes.

Even without pandemic lockdowns, it takes a little luck perusing local thrift haunts to find the right classic lamps or shades to match as well as shopping online or at the craft store for the right trims and accessories to fit one’s sophisticated aesthetic. Fortunately, an illuminating hunt and a few hours’ glue gun cost far less the expensive made to look old lamps. Rather than considering how such a common object can make a statement – I myself kept delaying this glam because it was something decorative and unnecessary compared to other larger projects – we often accept lighting for it’s cheap, plain, and utilitarian musts. However, for $40 these dynamic pieces shine in personality and purpose. How many bland, generic lamps in your home could use a little embellishment? Go wild, child!

For More Before and After Photos, visit Kbatz Krafts on Facebook!

Try More Kbatz Krafts:

Goth Parasol Upgrade

DIY Flower Pens

Masquerade Masks

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Giants on the Horizon

Merrill’s Musical Musings – Giant Monsters on the Horizon 

We’ve made it through August, Horror Addicts, and I hope this post does not find you in pieces. I’m preparing to transition into a new teaching job while supporting a high schooler and a new college student through uncertain educational times. It’s wild out there, so take a minute to sink into the slick sounds of this month’s new-to-me artist. 

Giant Monsters on the Horizon, a duo out of St. Louis,  recently released a new album of dark-wave deliciousness, Live from Night City. The album was written during a dark time for the band and elements of despair can be experienced in their sound for sure. There’s an emptiness in tracks like “Oxygen,” and “Android Hellscape” that clearly resonates with all of us still sheltering in place. Through the synthesizers and soothing low-key vocals, you can find a welcome place to zone out. Night City, the setting of this collection of songs, is a stark and drastic place, but GMOTH does an admirable job of filling that space with energizing songs that make you recall why we need and crave music in our lives. 

“Tetra Chroma” and “Del Ctrl & Esc” are standout tracks that will engage your attention and have you up and dancing. The band has a Xymox feel with a side of Camouflage and the moody feel of current alternative bands like PVRIS. I’ll definitely be following them on Spotify for more. It was nice to see on their social media a strong activist presence including participation in fundraisers through Bandcamp. Live From Night City is an excellent collection of songs that fans of electronica and dark-wave will definitely dig. I wish them well with this latest release and their future endeavors. 

That’s it for this edition of Merrill’s Musical Musings. Feel free to check out my Rock ‘n’ Romance blog for more about my books and adventures. I also host other author guests talking about their novels in a feature called Music Behind The Story. Stay creepy, Horror Addicts! 

Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 5 Cult Horror Films to Suck You In

Mega monsters are scary. So are supernatural serial killers. And so are otherworldly entities beyond our understanding.

But you know what’s scariest of all? People.

People are especially terrifying when they get together in large groups and their ideas start to get a little… murderous. So, check out my list below of movies to watch starring CULTS.

The Lodge (2019)

Grace is the only survivor of a cult that committed mass suicide. Years later, on a trip with her future step-children, strange things begin to happen around her that make her question her sanity and whether the cult is really behind her. The Lodge explores the lasting trauma left on even those who leave cults.

Them That Follow (2019)

Mara is part of a small community that practices religious snake handling. As dark secrets emerge, they tear families apart and the church’s practices serve a darker purpose.

Apostle (2018)

A major theme of many cult stories is the lies told to the members to keep them in line. The Apostle explores a world in which the cult is correct. Thomas, a priest who has lost his faith, goes to rescue his sister from an island cult and discovers their secrets in the process.

The Void (2016)

Just because I said the people of cults are scary doesn’t mean I don’t love some otherworldly dangers too! The Void mixes cult mystery with Lovecraftian horror when a hospital is dragged surrounded by cultists bent on bringing Hellish creatures to Earth.

Red State (2011)

Three boys are kidnapped by a fundamentalist Christian cult and must fight their way out during an invasion of the compound by federal agents. Half Waco siege, half Westboro Baptist church, Red State asks what happens when religious isolation and fanaticism is taken to the very extreme.

What’s your favorite cult film? Is there one coming out that you’re excited about? Let us know in the comments!

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: For We Are Many

Plotline: Horror Anthology produced by from filmmakers from around the world, which explores the subject of Demons, with inspiration from Ancient Mythology, Religion and the Cosmological Horror of H. P. Lovecraft.

Who would like it: Fans of anthologies. 

High Points: The variety of the stories. 

Complaints: Not really so much as a complaint but like with a lot of collections there will be some stories that a person might like over the others. 

Overall: I liked the concept of this anthology

Stars: 3.5

Where I watched it: VOD

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Frightening Flix meets Kbatz Krafts: Decorating Like Dark Shadows Results!

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz puts together the finishing touches in the Dark Shadows inspired basement including draperies, vintage artwork, and sconces with a focus on the multi purpose desk, workspace, and mobile sewing area. Bonus jewelry making storage, sewing machine tips, and notion organization!

 

With a creepy lenticular gallery, medieval tapestry switcharoo, glam lampshades, illuminating accessories, and an unimpressed cat, Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz completes the Dark Shadows redecoration journey with a little gothic fortitude and a new appreciation for tackling large room projects during a pandemic.

Revisit More Frightening Flix and Kbatz Krafts:

Decorating Like Dark Shadows Part 1

Dark Shadows Gothic Sconces

All Things Dracula Video Review

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

For MANY more Project Photos, Follow Kbatz Krafts on Facebook  and THANK YOU for being part of Horror Addicts.net and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage!

Chilling Chat: Episode #187 — MJ Preston

chillingchat

MJ Preston is a horror author and artist living in Canada. He has written about everything from native monsters hunting in modern-day, with his straight horror, The Equinox, to MJHeadshotmind-controlling, bone-eating aliens, in the epic, Acadia Event, and now he’s taking you into the mind of the darkest monster of them all. The serial killer, in his latest project, The Highwayman Series. From book One, the titular Highwayman, and now, Book Two, titled Four, MJ Preston pulls no punches as he introduces us to serial murder as it really is, dark, ugly, horrific, and deadly.

MJ is an intelligent man with great taste in horror. We spoke of writing, real-life horror, and unique curses.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, MJ. Thank you for joining me today.

MJP: Thank you for having me.

NTK: How old were you when you first discovered horror?

MJP: I think that would be around four. I’m not sure how I heard about Frankenstein and Dracula, just as long as I’d been cognizant of my surroundings, I’ve gravitated toward everything horror and monster related. I loved the old horror comics and even sent away for the six-foot real life Frankenstein monster which turned out to be a poster. I joined the club early on.

NTK: Is Frankenstein’s Monster your favorite monster? What monster do you think is the scariest?

MJP: Frankenstein’s monster was definitely my favorite. Frankenstein was the first real book I tackled while reading as a preteen. I identified with these creatures in that they were outsiders, which at times I found myself in different peer groups. And how can you not love the monster? He is a metaphor for our failings and even today we don’t heed the message. Scariest monster for me would be the Devil himself. Raised in an Irish Catholic family, I have family members who really believe in Prince of Darkness. He’s most frightening for me, because he comes with a smile, and has haunted my dreams for over four decades.

NTK: What is your favorite horror film?

MJP: I would have to say that John Carpenter’s adaption of The Thing. I went to that movie in 1982 with a bunch of buddies in British Columbia. We lived out in the burbs and had a small cinema, so all five of us piled into a car and drove to Vancouver to see it. All the way there I listened to them harangue me, THIS BETTER BE GOOD. Three hours later we walked out in awe. John Carpenter’s masterpiece of psychological terror. Kurt Russel’s finest hour. 

NTK:  What is your favorite horror TV show?

MJP: Now I am going to date myself. I still love Kolchak: The Night Stalker. And all the kids are saying, “Who?” To which I reply, “Greatest creature a week show ever!” They had robots, vampires, Wendigos and how could you not love Darren McGavin as Kolchak, in his cheap straw newsman hat, slightly off white suit and sneakers. It was a great show, but I was sucker for them all, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, even then there was so much great writing.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

MJP: My favorite horror novel is the apocalyptic Swan Song by the brilliant, Robert R. McCammon. It was the second novel, I discovered by this author, who I think is a rare gem in the world of horror. McCammon tells a different version of the apocalypse, substituting nuclear holocaust for Pandemic and I think that resonated with me more that King’s The Stand, which I also loved but not as much. Sorry, Steve.

NTK: (Laughs.) Is McCammon your favorite author? Which author has influenced you most?

MJP: I’m what they call a reader with a wandering eye. I’d say at the moment John Sandford is my favorite author, but McCammon would be my favorite horror author, because he’s a southern boy with a big imagination that include anything from three-arm mutant P.I.s to Vampire Bikers. As to what author has influenced me most, I can’t say that any one writer has influenced me. Every book I read leaves some sort of an impression and I’d need a long list to fill that order. King, McCammon, Sandford, Steel, Connelly, Shelley, Stoker, etc. They all influence me.

NTK: What inspires you to write?

MJP: It’s a sickness really. I am a voyeur of sorts. You won’t catch me peeking in people’s windows at night, because I can’t run worth a spit. I kid… I think writers are at their core, voyeurs of this nutty world that surrounds us. I will study the faintest smile or grimace in a stranger and store it somewhere in the filing cabinet in the back of my mind for later use. Does that sound pompous? Okay. Here’s what inspires me. A simple question. “What if?”

NTK: (Laughs.) Do you allow your characters free will? Or do you plan their every move?

MJP: You mean I get a say? Up until recent publication of The Highwayman Series, I never wrote a recurring character and therefore never got comfortable with where they were going until we got there. I don’t outline, I write by the seat of my pants and when I take on a project I just keep going until it’s over. I don’t preplan anything, which can be frustrating, but a bonus of that is this: I get to be the first one at the scene of the crime and it is as new to me as it will be to you. And that’s cool.

NTK: That is cool! Do you have a favorite character among those you’ve written?

MJP: Yeah, I probably got fifteen, but I’ll narrow it down. The Equinox – Old Jake Toomey, Chocktee Elder, Veteran, scare of nothing. Acadia Event – Big Garney Wilson, based a real character from my Ice Trucking Days. The Highwayman Series Book 1 & 2. Detective Lonnie Perkins. (Perk) A skinny drink of water from Louisville, Kentucky. I’ll leave it there or I will go on all night and there will be restraining orders. (Laughs.)

NTK: Did any of your real life experiences make it into your books?

MJP: Well, my second book, Acadia Event was largely autobiographical minus the Irish gangsters and bone eating aliens. I drove the north as an ice trucker just south of the arctic circle for three seasons. Everything I saw there, twisting curtains of the northern lights to a giant white wolf stalking the tundra found its way into Acadia Event. My fears and trepidation about driving a loaded fuel truck up some of the most dangerous roads in the world went into the book. Protagonist, Marty Croft, is pretty much me, when he’s not being muscled by gangsters or saving the world from bone eating aliens. Lucky Bastard.

NTK: Any strange stories from your years as a soldier?

MJP: I think there has always been a soldier’s presence. In Equinox, one of the local cops, nicknamed Oddball, is an Afghanistan Veteran. In Acadia Event, two central characters are soldiers and some of the story reaches back to those days. Even in Highwayman, there is a soldier. My family has served in the military all the way back to my Irish roots in the 1200’s. My great-great-great (not sure how many greats) grandfather was Jenico Preston. Check Wiki. He put down the Irish Rebellion. My son is a soldier, my nephew was, my brother. My family has always served. Someday, I hope that service is no longer needed, and peace becomes achievable. So, yeah, they get the nod, and experiences always find their way in whether through personal reflection or other sources.

NTK: What is your favorite curse word?

MJP: Favorite curse word? Hmmm. I was a soldier for 12 years, drove a truck for over 20 years. Somewhere in that cesspool of poetry, I’ve been threatened with someone using my eye socket as device of sexual pleasure. I’ve been told where the best part of me ran down. I’ve heard stuff that would make truckers cringe. My favorite curse word is the one that starts a fight. But I’m a grandfather, so I’ll keep it clean, and besides, I got nothing left for the swear jar. If that isn’t good enough read my books. But honest, I’m outta dough.

NTK: (Laughs.) Do you have a favorite curse?

MJP: Well the curse of Wendigo sickness is a favorite. Wendigo sickness or madness comes upon a people when they indulge in the practice of cannibalism. The stories from the indigenous people of North America are absolutely enthralling. Roughly 35 miles from where I am giving this interview, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, a native guide and trapper named Swift Runner was hung in the late 1800’s after he butchered his entire family and ate them. His defense was Wendigo madness. Stories like this inspired my first novel, The Equinox and another horror story called “Black Mountain Harvest.”

NTK: That’s awesome! What does the future hold for you, MJ? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

MJP: A new Highwayman book will be coming. After that, I’m going back and writing a juicy horror novel chock full of monsters. Titles are TBA. Whether I’m writing about mythical monsters, invading aliens or the most terrifying monsters of all, serial killers, I will always be immersed in the darkness. Its where all the cool readers and writers and filmmakers hang.

NTK: MJ, you’re a really fun interview. Thank you for chatting with me.

MJP: Thank you for having me.

Addicts, you can find MJ on Facebook and Twitter.

Terror Trax: #187 Reality’s Despair

Reality’s Despair

DemarcatioN

Website 

https://realitysdespair.bandcamp.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DespairReality
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/realitysdespair/

 


What album, tour, or song are you excited about now? 

Melancholic Disposition

 

What singers or bands inspired you growing up? 

The Cure, Joy Division, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb

Who are your favorite artists today? 

Cygnosic, A Projection

What non-musical things inspire your music? 

occultism

Is there a place where you go to be inspired? 

My inner self, the world

What’s been the greatest achievement of your band? 

To stay a truly independent diy band

What are your favorite horror movies? 

The Blair Witch

What was the scariest night of your life? 

Sleeping in an old and scary house while hearing noises and seeing a white shape

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band? 

Antwerp, opened by Cygnosic

What are you working on now for future release? 

Just started work on a new album to be released early 2021

Final thoughts / Anything you want to tell the listeners?

The band is a one man’s project, writing, recording, mixing and mastering is done by one person

Logbook of Terror : Peggy’s Flower Basket

Peggy’s Flower Basket by Russell Holbrook

The bell attached to the front door jingled, making its cheery announcement that another customer had entered the store. Peggy looked up from the flower arrangement she was working on and smiled. Resting her shears on the table, she scurried to the front counter. 

“Good morning,” Peggy said. “How can I help you?”

The young man’s eyes darted around the flower shop. “Um, yeah, I, uh, need some flowers in a vase. It’s for my friend. He’s getting married.”

“Oh, I see,” Peggy replied. “Well, let me…”

“He’s my best friend,” the man said, interrupting. “And he’s marrying the only girl I ever loved. And he knows I still love her. He’s always known and he doesn’t care and she knows and she doesn’t care either.” 

Tears welled in his eyes. Peggy’s brow crinkled. The man sniffled. Silently, Peggy waited. 

After a moment, the man went on. “I don’t want them to be happy. That’s what I told them. I told my aunt Emerian about it too. I can tell her anything, cause, um, she always listens. Anyway, she, uh, she sent me here. She said you could help. She said you can, uh… do things.” 

Peggy’s eyes sparkled. “Well, I have been known to do a thing from time to time.” She smiled and walked out from behind the counter. “Now, just come with me and we’ll see what we can dig up.” 

The young man turned and followed Peggy as she led him to a room in the back of the store. Beams of bright, mid-morning sun streamed in through large windows, filling the space with warm, natural light. Cameron entered the room and stopped in the center. Peggy walked to the back wall and began looking through the vases, of which there seemed to be every shape and size and type, sitting on ornate shelves that ran five high across every wall. Peggy’s high, blond bob bounced as her head moved back and forth, her eyes scanning the vases until they settled on one in particular. She reached up.

“Ah, here we go,” Peggy said, “I think this one is just what you’re looking for.”

Peggy held the container out for Cameron to examine. He peered down at the vase, a seafoam green ceramic piece with faded etchings running along its round base. 

“This will, uh, help me?” Cameron asked. 

“I think you’ll find that it will,” Peggy replied, her eyes and lips radiating optimism and joy. 

Cameron sighed morosely and said, “Great, I’ll take it.” 

“Wonderful!” Peggy chirped. “And what kind of flowers would you like to go in your beautiful new vase?”

“Succulents, please. They’re her favorite. The, uh, the bride’s favorite, I mean.” 

Peggy smiled her tender and winning smile. “Oh, of course. And what a lovely choice.” 

Cameron shrugged. Peggy left the room. Cameron listened as her shoes clonked across the hardwood floor, creating an echo that sang through the quiet store as she made her way back to the front. The sad young man looked around at all the unique and ornate vases and thought of how pointless and absurd they were. Just like life, just like everything. He hung his head and shuffled back to the front of the store where he found Peggy the flower lady filling the vase with fresh, aromatic flowers. 

***

The phone was ringing. Peggy answered on the third ring. 

“Peggy’s Flower Basket, how may I help you?” She said in her bright tone. She paused, listening, and then said, “Why yes, Emerian, he just left.”

Another pause, then, “Yes, I did. I made sure he got that exact one, just as you asked.” She smiled wide. “Yes, I’m sure that it will. The bride and groom are sure to have a wedding that they will never, ever forget.” She tossed back her head and let out a loud cackle, causing her hair to jiggle and crow’s feet to sprout on the corners of her eyes. And howls of laughter rang out through the little shop of flowers.  

***

Cameron held the vase up and examined the stamp on the base. A-Pox Designs, made in Transylvania. Cameron’s eyes narrowed. He huffed and sat the flower holder down on the kitchen table. He brushed his fingers over the soft tops of the flowers and mumbled, “Stupid vase. Stupid flowers. Stupid wedding.” 

Suddenly, the hall clock chimed, letting him know it was time to go. Cameron grabbed the vase and headed out the door. 

***

The wedding was boring. The reception was depressing. Cameron sat alone with the vase, watching the guests and the happy couple drinking and dancing. Envying their joy and hating their love, he cursed them in his heart and wished death on them all. No one that happy deserves to live, he scowled. 

As Cameron’s thoughts turned in his mind, his eyes fell on the bride. He would never love another woman the way he’d loved his dear Abigail, and now she was gone forever, into the arms of another man. 

Abigail twirled, her wedding dress spinning out wide, her face beaming with bright joy. She danced across the floor until she reached the table where Cameron sat. She stopped in front of him and smiled. “Cameron, Brian and I are so glad that you’re here. Really, we are. I know it’s weird but…” She trailed off, the vase catching her attention. She pointed. “Are those flowers for me?”

“Yeah,” Cameron said sheepishly. “I wanted to give them to you myself. I was just, um, you know, waiting for, uh, a good time.” 

Abigail picked up the vase. “Succulents! My favorite! And in such a beautiful vase!” The bride’s eyes widened, watered, and glazed over. She didn’t blink. 

Cameron smiled. “Yeah, I’m uh, glad that you like it.” 

“Oh Cameron, I love it! I love it, love it, love it!” Abigail exclaimed. Brian, the groom, and several of the guests turned in her direction, following her voice. 

Abigail twirled around again, holding the vase high. Cameron watched as the guests left the dance floor and formed a circle around the bride. Abigail shouted, “Hear me now: this vase is above all vases, and is the gift above all gifts!” 

The groom and the guests cheered and clapped. Abigail took the flowers out of the vase, one at a time, giving one to each guest and saying, “This is my body, eat it in remembrance of me.” And the guests smiled and ate the flowers. 

When Abigail got to Brian she held the vase out to him. “Dear husband,” she said, “Drink this holy water. It is my blood, which fed my flesh. Drink this in remembrance of me.” And Brian smiled and drank the water from the vase. Abigail took the vase from him and they shared a long, passionate kiss that made Cameron want to slit his wrists, and that’s when the screaming began. 

It was Abigail’s grandmother. Black roses were growing out of her eyes, their thorns tearing through the soft vitreous body. Vines grew out of her ears and wound around her neck, choking her while moss blossomed on her protruding tongue. 

Succulents sprouted from the bridesmaids’ eyes. The groom’s best man threw up bloody mud while the hairs on his head all turned to long, brown weeds. All the guests clutched at their eyes and mouths and throats, falling on the floor, writhing and suffocating as vegetation fed on them and grew out of their flesh. 

Abigail and Brian were slow dancing in the center of the chaos when Abigail started shrieking and convulsing. The flawless skin on her perfect forehead expanded, cracked, and burst. The red tip of a massive earthworm pushed out of the crevice in her head. Her body went limp and swayed as the worm continued to crawl out of her head, peeling back skin and flesh and bone in its wake. 

Brian held tight to Abigail’s deflating body, smiling radiantly as if he was unaware of anything that was happening around him. The giant worm opened its enormous mouth, revealing rows of unnatural, jagged teeth. It hovered over Brian for a brief moment, and then slammed down on him, engulfing the top half of his body and sucking it in. The worm, Abigail’s empty husk, and Brian’s lower half all crashed to the floor with a wet thud. 

Cameron watched the worm eat Brian, its long body expanding as it ingested the groom. He blinked and noticed that he was standing, breathing heavy,  and that the vase was back in his hands. He took one last, longing look at Abigail and thought about how he wished he could have touched her in all her special places. Then the screams of the wedding guests registered in his ears again, and he ran. 

***

The bell on the front door of Peggy’s Flower Basket rang, announcing the arrival of another customer. Peggy looked up from the arrangement she was working on to see a young, teary eyed woman walking toward her. 

“Good morning, dear,” Peggy said. “What can I help you with?”

The woman sniffled. “My friend Cameron, he said you sell…” Her voice dropped. “…cursed objects.” 

Peggy smiled. “And just what kind of object are you looking for.”

“I need a vase,” the young woman said. “A vase that will hurt… someone.”

“And would you like some flowers too? Maybe some… special flowers?”

The woman nodded.

Peggy’s smile widened. She said, “Well, I think I might have just what you’re looking for. Come with me.” 

“Okay. Thank you,” the woman said, her words slipping out on an undercurrent of grief. And she followed Peggy and they walked to the back room where all the most special vases were kept. 

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Tales from the Crypt Season 4

Tales from the Crypt Season 4 Continues the Scary Quality

by Kristin Battestella

Summer of 92’s fourteen episode Season Four of Tales from the Crypt once again sources the titular comics alongside Crime Suspense Stories, Haunt of Fear, and Vault of Horror for more choice frights, spooky guests, and cheeky thrills.

Director Tom Hanks cameos along with fellow The ‘burbs alum Henry Gibson and boxer cum grave digger Sugar Ray Leonard in the “None but the Lonely Heart” premiere as Treat Williams (Everwood) endures the old lady lipstick before a little poison and another funeral. Killing rich dames is good business, but he needs one more gal to make his fortune before his past comes back to haunt him. Unfortunately, anyone wise to the fatal gigolo might have his head smashed into the television or tie stuck in the paper shredder. Our Crypt Keeper host, meanwhile, is a ‘boo it yourselfer’ hitting his thumb with the hammer and building a swing set so he can ‘hang around’ for “This’ll Kill Ya” with scientists Dylan McDermott (Olympus Has Fallen) and Sonia Braga (The Rookie). Medicine bottles, insulin injections, long legs, and dead bodies in the trunk don’t mix! These radical experiments aren’t ready for human trials, but love triangles and mixing business with pleasure make for unreliable antidotes, erroneous injections, and steamy bad habits. Zooms, neon flashes, and rapid montages add to the virus paranoia, patient delirium, boils, and oozing skin. Although the initial edgy music and badass language fall flat to start director William Friedkin’s (The Exorcist) “On a Deadman’s Chest,” C.K. does his Elvis impersonation amid the heavy metal arguing and groupies in leather. Tia Carrere (Wayne’s World) is the new bride coming between the band, but freaky snake tattoos lead to a magical artist who says he can solve our musician’s problems. There’s more graphic sex and nudity this half-hour, and the old fashioned needling and talk of putting what’s on the inside on the flesh set off the voodoo-esque parlor as the music tensions spiral out of control with fatal bathtubs and gory skin peels. I dare say, there are also some slightly homoerotic themes, too, with mesmerizing snakes, a woman coming between men, a man unable to escape who he really is, and body dysmorphia horror. Likewise, older actress Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps) is being replaced by her younger, willing roommate Kathy Ireland (Alien from L.A.) for the behind the scenes meta of “Beauty Rest” with ‘Ball Buster’ perfume commercials and little creaky push-ups from the Crypt Keeper. The seductive, sassy start turns into pageant rivalries and poisoned cookies as the ladies argue whether sleeping to the top or killing to get ahead is worse – but the unusual contest questions and the secret winnings remind the ladies that it’s really what’s inside that counts. Shady landlord rocker Meatloaf pressures restaurant owner Christopher Reeve (Somewhere in Time) in “What’s Cookin’,” however bus boy Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club) has some new barbecue recipes for the bodies hanging in the freezer. Local cop Art LaFleur (House Hunting) also develops a taste for flame broiled flesh at the booming steakhouse, and the superior turnabout is set off with red lighting, sizzling grills, and all the expected puns from our host.

Bad ratings and the threat of cancellation thanks to shock jock Robert Patrick (Terminator 2) leads shrink radio host David Warner (Wallander) to make an on-air visit with frequent caller Zelda Rubenstein (Teen Witch) in “The New Arrival.” His The Art of Ignoring Your Child book, however, doesn’t help the screaming girl thanks to the masks and booby traps in this spooky manor with dark stairs and a dangerous attic. Not to mention the attacker points of view, deadly twists, and ceiling fan mishaps. C. Keep is looking for a home on ‘derange’ marked ‘souled’ in “Maniac at Large,” but meek Blythe Danner (Huff) doesn’t feel safe in her library thanks to trouble causing ruffians and newspaper reports of a serial killer on the loose. Creepy music by Bill Conti (North and South) adds to the unease as late night cataloging and book piles in the basement build paranoia. Suspense editing and strategic lighting escalate the alarms, knives, vandalism, and possible intruders as the headline hype spirals out of control. Producer Joel Silver directs the memorable “Split Personality” as Joe Pesci (Goodfellas) romances twins by pretending he is also a set of twins where one always has to be away on business. Split-screen camera work and intercut conversations accent the double talk, but these possessive ladies are not to be taken advantage of by anyone. Everything has to be fifty-fifty, and despite swanky tunes and casino style, the luck is going to run out on this con thanks to Tales from the Crypt’s unforgettable brand of saucy, graphic, and cheeky. The Crypt Keeper has some therapy on the rack to open “Strung Along” because he’s ‘a little stiff every day,’ but recovering puppeteer Donald O’Connor (There’s No Business Like Show Business) is nostalgic for his old black and white kids show. Heart attacks and sentiment, unfortunately, clash with his younger, bikini clad wife. His creepy clown marionette also seems to have a life of his own, and increasingly dark designs set off the affairs, love letters, and shocking betrayals before the full moon of “Werewolf Concerto.” Chanting music and infrared animal perspectives add to the chases, howls, and hairy attackers as sexy guest Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Vacation) is trapped in a hotel with wolf hunter Timothy Dalton (Penny Dreadful) amid piano compositions, double-crosses, and gunpoint standoffs. The werewolf revelations and race to beat the moonrise are superb, surprises again combining for some of Tales from the Crypt’s best winks, scares, and star power. The wilderness solitude for Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and the late Margot Kidder (Black Christmas) in the “Curiosity Killed” finale only acerbates the marital insults. However, their fellow campers have a special tonic that might curb the catty aging. Excellent interplay and fountain of youth sympathy build to the inevitable topper with night-blooming jasmine, bugs, graves, moonlight madness, disturbing gore, and all the irony to match.

Unfortunately, Tales from the Crypt does briefly sag midseason with the double-dealings, blackmail, and swindling resets of “Seance.” The candles, incantations, and Old World atmosphere of the psychic parlor are just a smokescreen for mid-century hustles and colloquial put-ons with Ben Cross (Dark Shadows) and even Crypt Keeper Investigations doing a Sam Spade spoof with ‘No headstone left unturned.’ The noir aesthetic looks great, but this is another typical crime plot with lawyers, money, and a tacked on supernatural bookend. Our Keeper’s wearing adorable little chaps and a cowboy hat as Tales from the Crypt producer Richard Donner directs “Showdown.” Sunsets, haze, bleak shadows, and dry orange vistas add a surreal, hellish look to the horses and gunslingers. There are quickdraws, snake oil tonics, and ghosts in the saloon, but this non-linear tale is dark and tough to see with a distorted passage of time and too much confusion about what should be an interesting question on who’s dead or alive. The pace both drags over nothing yet maybe it’s also a story worthy of more than a half-hour. Star power is also surprisingly lacking, however, the next episode “King of the Road” has Brad Pitt (The Counselor), hot rods, and disturbing street racing collisions yet also misses the mark. Even the Keeper is too busy doing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Scream’ instead. Both these episodes come from original scripts with loose ties to a Two-Fisted Tales movie adaptation, and the hooking up with the cop’s daughter, blackmail, kidnapping, and spiders in the mailbox are pointless torment. Cool veneer, music montage filler – it’s scarier that there are no English subtitles on the bare bones Season Four DVD set!

Thankfully, the full opening intro once again plays with each Tales from the Crypt episode, and macabre soul that I am, I love studying it for home décor ideas. Word processors, big old retro televisions, vintage cameras, video dating services, and VHS stuck in the VCR add to the mod eighties style, all-white designs, and old lady mauve. Older blue nighttime lighting invokes the cemetery mood, and purple hues or Art Deco black and white tones create flavor with very little. Forties styles, long stem cigarettes, and big hats go far while fire, candles, and thunderstorms provide atmosphere regardless of setting. Bright luxuries contrast the dark dated nineties clubs, but there are still high-waisted jeans and the occasional shoulder pads on the ladies alongside the lingering one giant earring trend and big blowout hairstyles. The language and gore are also a little tame to start the season – perhaps the producers were already thinking of the future syndication reruns beyond HBO. However, black lingerie, thongs, nudity, and further saucy actions are still somewhat risque. Jump cuts and repeat zooms both cover production corners as well as build onscreen intense while heart pulsing rhythms and sound effects accent the bloody prosthetics and horror makeup. Several practical monster effects remain surprisingly good, and creepy old homes, dangerous antiques, and spooky staircases join the slimy recently deceased or skeletons from the grave.

There are a few slip-ups in this short but otherwise choice season. However, once again Tales from the Crypt turns out a fun little marathon with Season Four’s campy chills and scary stars making for some of the series’ best.

Revisit more Horror Television:

Tales from the Crypt Season 3

Tales from the Darkside Season 1

Dark Shadows Video Review

Book Anniversary : HorrorAddicts.net Presents ~ Horror Bites: Alice’s Scars by Adam L. Bealby

Celebrating the Anniversary of HorrorAddicts.net launches our Horror Bites series with an
Alice-inspired story by Adam L. Bealby.

 

When he met Alice, he wasn’t prepared to go down the rabbit hole. His love for her pushes him into the uncomfortable realization she might be mad. He wants to keep her safe, but what if that’s not what Alice wants?

 

“Adam Bealby has written a mini masterpiece that explores mental illness, drug addiction, and real life horror.”

~David Watson, The All-Night Library

Horror Bites: Alice’s Scars

BY ADAM L. BEALBY

Just 99 cents at Amazon.com


A look inside…

Alice’s Scars

BY ADAM L. BEALBY

When I first met her she was Katie, soon to be Alice. It was her first day at Uni, my second, and her scars intrigued me. They lined her cheeks like tribal markings and the way she caked her face in foundation, you could tell they were forever on her mind. It helped, of course, that she was a beautiful Goth girl. I wanted to save her, share her pain, kiss her, and fuck her, too. I asked her what she kept in the drawstring purse around her neck.

“Money,” she said dismissively, turning away to talk to someone else at the bar.

She disappeared soon after. I only found out later how drunk she got, how she spent the rest of the night over a toilet bowl with Jackie holding her hair clear of her mouth. Her first and last run-in with alcohol. Alice had too much else going on in her life to get any more screwed up.

I dogged her all through freshers’ week. Instead of dorms, she’d been accommodated in a little house just off campus. A new friend I met lived there too, so it was an easy thing to fall in with her motley crew, drawn together by circumstance as we were. I became a regular in their kitchen, smoking weed and trying too hard—as we all did—to be quirky and cool.

We struck up conversation over a jar of pesto. I didn’t know what it was and she couldn’t believe it. I strung it out, made it appear I was more ignorant than I actually was, and I got her laughing. When I said her pesto looked like rabbit food she blushed, right through all that paint and powder.

“You don’t know the first thing about rabbits,” she said, and she showed me what was in her drawstring purse. It was a tiny white rabbit’s foot. It freaked me out and yet I felt even more attracted to her. It was my in, a secret shared. Looking at the severed foot I felt myself getting hard and I had to sit down for fear she’d notice.

She ran away that evening. We were all stoned and a bit drunk, talking about our parents, being glib, critical, or overly generous. She burst into tears and ran out of the kitchen and into the night, not even bothering to put her shoes on. We made an extravagant show of hunting for her, shouting her name up and down the street. Pete the Poet, as we later christened him, came out to help from next door. The way John shouted Katie’s name in his Irish accent, Pete thought we’d lost a cat. We had a good laugh about that.

But it wasn’t funny when we found Katie. She was hunkered down by the bushes on a bit of common area at the end of the row.

“Katie? What are you looking for?” I asked as we gathered round in a concerned hub.

“He was here,” she muttered. She’d been pawing at the dirt. Her fingers were black. “I saw him, but he got away from me.”

“Who was here, Katie?”

She looked up. The glare from a passing car lent her eyes a lustrous sheen.

“Alice. Call me Alice from now on, okay? Do you know what time it is? The days all seem to blur into one.”


Adam L. Bealby writes fantasy, horror and weird fiction for both adults and children. His short stories and comic work have been published in numerous anthologies, including Spooked (Bridge House Publishing), Pagan (Zimbell House Publishing), Darkness Abound (Migla Press), Once Upon a Scream (HorrorAddicts.net), Sirens (World Weaver Press), World Unknown Review Vol. 2, rEvolution (MiFiWriters) and Murky Depths magazine. He lives in Worcestershire, UK with his wife and three children, and a harried imagination. Catch up with his latest ravings at @adamskilad.

Once Upon a Scream, featuring “The Other Daughter” by Adam L. Bealby

Once Upon a Scream…there was a tradition of telling tales with elements of the fantastic along with the frightful. Adults and children alike took heed not to go into the deep, dark woods, treat a stranger poorly, or make a deal with someone or something-without regard for the consequences. Be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it. From wish-granting trolls, to plague curses, and evil enchantresses, these tales will have you hiding under the covers in hopes they don’t find you. So lock your doors, shutter your windows, and get ready to SCREAM.

HorrorAddicts.net

for Horror Addicts, by Horror Addicts

Listen to the HorrorAddicts.net podcast for the latest in horror news, reviews, music, and fiction.

HorrorAddicts.net Press

www.horroraddicts.net

My Darling Dead : Bastards Episode 10 / Milk and Honey

A small room on the ground floor was filled with the sound of drugged snoring. Two wooden cages sat at either end of the room, made of the firmest wood known to the kingdom, lashed together with dried sinews. Inside one cage was Barris, on his back, snoring with such enthusiasm that his lips and cheeks flapped together. In the other cage was Orteg, not snoring quite as loudly but making his best showing. 

With a snap, the bolt to the door was drawn back. The hinges groaned in harmony with Orteg as he sat up, wincing at the noise. Barris jerked awake, drool dripping from his chins as he struggled into a sitting position.

Zavier swept into the room and knelt between the two cages, grinning. “You pathetic inferior fools! Did you really expect to deceive me?”

Orteg was terrified but had never backed down from a fight. He managed to adopt a scornful tone, even from his position on the floor. “Do you expect us to be so terrified of you that we don’t even try?”

Zavier’s face grew red. With an invisible quickness, a dagger appeared from within his sleeve. He tapped it on the bars of Orteg’s cage. “Orteg, I can do horrible things with this blade. Would you like to see?” He rapped the cage of Barris. “I can show you on this piece of offal,” he said, and swung the blade to point at Orteg. “Or I can show you on yourself. Maybe once you see how many pieces into which you can be divided, you will wish you had held your tongue.”

“Please,” Barris said, his voice quavering. “If you have to, kill him. Torture him. Not me. Just…not me.”

“You spineless worm!” Orteg spat. 

Zavier laughed. “For once, I agree with you,” he said, returning his dagger to whence it came with one quick movement. “For that astonishing display of cowardice, Barris, you shall be the first to die. And you—” Zavier said, spinning from the former’s horrified face to spear Orteg’s expression of relief. “—will watch him. You shall be there, hale and hearty, for every step of his death. Who knows, if it goes well, perhaps I shall dispose of you in the same fashion, Orteg. If not, I have an entire tome of excruciating dispatches at my disposal.”

The cage of Barris was opened and he was dragged, screaming, from its interior, pleading that he would comply with whatever was asked, even as he was taken to a nearby swamp and put into the hollowed-out shell of a log which resembled a canoe. It was only then that his cries ceased, only because the torturer’s head was swollen with drink from the night before and insisted upon a gag for the screaming condemned before proceeding. 

Once the man had been gagged, an identical but smaller canoe-shaped log was placed atop him. The torturer’s assistants guided the unfortunate’s arms and legs through the holes which had been bored in the smaller log shell while Barris tried to yell, plea and bargain through the gag. Large stones were piled atop the smaller shell, pinning the man neatly between the two. The torturer pushed at the smaller log shell and felt a little give. 

“Can yeh breathe?” he asked, and yanked the gag free, holding it ready should the fool resume his racket.

Barris’s chest hurt, but he could breathe, and he answered “I have money. Gold coins, buried in a swamp. I’ll take you there. You can have it all. Please…”

“’e can breathe,” grunted the torturer, and signaled. Two of his assistants hurried forward, each carrying a large ceramic amphora. The first handed it to the torturer, who took it and tilted the mouth of the amphora toward Barris. 

“Drink,” he said, and tipped. Barris was drenched in a tide of thick, sweet liquid. He sputtered and gasped, turning his head this way and that, spitting and wheezing. 

“’ere,” said the torturer, lowering the amphora and gazing at Barris threateningly. “Either you drink it, or we ‘old your gob open an’ you drink that way. Now, drink.”

The torturer poured. Barris drank. It was sweet and cold, fresh milk with a taste of honey. For a moment, Barris’s qualms were forgotten and he drank greedily. The torturer tipped the amphora up still further and Barris’s eyes widened. There was a lot left. He tried to speak, but the thick sweet milk slopped into his mouth and down his chin. He choked, spraying the torturer with white drops. The man frowned, lowering the amphora. “’ere…that’s fuckin disgusting. You do it again, it’ll be the worse for you.”

“I can’t,” gasped Barris. “I can’t drink anymore.”

“You’ll drink it,” the torturer said grimly. “Or it’ll be worse still.”

An hour later found Barris sobbing as his mouth was held open, a sixth amphora of honeyed milk being tipped, overflowing, into his yawning mouth. One torturer held his nose, forcing him to swallow. Pinned between the two hollowed out logs, his stomach bulged, distended with gallons of milk. His stomach groaned as he swallowed yet another mouthful, excess trickling down the sides of his head into his ears, sticky and wet. He sobbed, gasping in air as the amphora mouth withdrew, only to sputter and gasp as it was upended over his face, the thick milky honey coagulated at the bottom of the amphora splattering like excrement all over him.

“That does it for now,” the torturer said, turning away and tossing an amphora to the side with indifference. “Good ‘nuff for a start, leastways.” His assistants snickered as they followed, pausing only to pick up the amphoras. As their footsteps faded, the only sound left was that of Barris’s ragged breathing as he labored to catch his breath. Orteg had watched with revulsion, neither moving nor speaking in his cage lest he draw the attention of the torturers. 

Barris’s face was red and sweating beneath the drying glaze of milk and honey. He licked his lips and gasped “Water…my entire soul…for some… water…”

Orteg said nothing, and wondered, if he could get it for Barris…would he?

A fly settled on Barris’s face and he blew a puff of air up his face, dislodging it, but only for a moment. It returned, bringing one of its brethren. Another joined. Barris’s breath refused to move them this time. “Curse these…flies…” he grunted. His face screwed up in agony and the sound of diarrhetic voiding echoed from the interior of the two logs. In a moment, the smell reached Orteg.

“By the gods…”

“I can’t help it!” Barris moaned over the sound of more voiding. “All that milk…an’ honey…I didn’t want it, but they kept—”

Orteg turned away, raising his jerkin over his face and replacing the smell of sick feces with his own spicy aroma. Behind him, Barris’s body continued its purge. Glancing back, Orteg could see Barris’s face speckled with more and more flies as the smell attracted them. Averting his eyes once again, Orteg breathed as lightly as possible into his makeshift mask, hoping the night would bring relief. 

By the time dark had fallen completely, Orteg had begun to wish half-heartedly for death, for both of them. Barris’s innards had not ceased in their efforts and every quarter hour or so another explosion would come from beneath the log, bringing with it another wave of ghastly stench. Barris moaned and sobbed, treating Orteg to a litany of complaints, so detailed that Orteg felt as though he were being tortured as well. 

So the night went, until the wee hours of the morning, when Barris’s lamentations had ceased and only snoring came from that part of the swamp. Orteg lay down in his cage, thanking the gods for this brief respite, and shut his eyes. 

“Orteg! Orteg!”

Orteg heard his name being screamed as though from afar and forced his eyelids to open. He squinted at the sun. Nearly up. Already it was warm. 

“ORTEG!”

The panic in the voice brought him to his senses as quickly as a slap to the face. Wrenching his face from the sky, he looked at the cage opposite his own.

“Barris? What is it? What’s—”

His voice stopped, his mouth frozen in horror. Barris had completely disappeared under a seething black mask of insects, crawling and buzzing and every one dedicated to obtaining the sticky residue completely covering him. 

“By the gods!” breathed Orteg, his flesh crawling. 

“Orteg! Help me!” Barris was hysterical. “They’ll eat my face and I can feel them crawling down! Help me! Help meeeeee!” His voice atrophied into a pleading mewl, completely forgetting that they were both imprisoned and no help was to come. Not to them, not to anyone. Orteg could only look on in horror as the black mask moved and shifted over the features of the wretched man. 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ro’s Recs for August

Ro’s Recs – Musical Departures

Greetings from Sweaty California! As I’m writing this I’m in major danger of melting. I hope you’re hanging in there and listening to some great music. Today I want to talk about bands that go rogue…and it works. I was a huge fan of MTV Unplugged from way back, and I admire when bands step away from their usual sound and take a chance, whether it’s a remix or a brand new sound. This pandemic has brought out a decidedly experimental side of many of my favorite artists. They’ve released songs that are outside their usual wheelhouse, and they are wickedly entertaining. Check out this list of recs and open your mind to some experimental sounds.

  1. Motionless in White released new versions of two of their songs. “Eternally Yours” and “Another Life” were two outstanding tracks from Disguise and these melodic versions are incredibly beautiful. Chris Motionless’s vocals are so vulnerable and ethereal. I love the songs in their original arrangements, but the fact that the band stepped out of their comfort zone and showed a different side to their music makes me love the songs even more. 
  2. Metallica was one of the first metal bands to perform with a symphony, which when you think about it, there’s not too much of a stretch between metal and symphonic music. There’s a similar passion and frenetic energy in both performances. So when Metallica joined the San Francisco Symphony again this year and released this version of expectations were high. I love the balance of quiet musings followed by growly declarations from Hetfield. It’s a moody tune that is expertly crafted by the masters of metal. We trust them to carry us through, and so when they diverge from their usual heavy path, we know they’re going to deliver the goods. The album comes out August 28th and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the album.
  3. Korn is no stranger to cover songs. One of my favorites they’ve done was “Word Up” from the 80s band Cameo. But this summer they blew me away with a cover of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” featuring one of my absolute favorite artists, Yelawolf. The single was posted on Bandcamp as a fundraiser for AwakeningYouth.org—an organization that supports youth who have lost a parent to addiction or suicide—and a way to celebrate the life of the original singer, Charlie Daniels. You gotta give this classic tune a listen. Yelawolf and Jonathan Davis trading vocals on this tune gave me so many feels! And when you’re done, definitely take a deep dive into the music catalog from both Korn and Yelawolf, especially his video for “Shadows.” The song itself is a haunting childhood nightmare, but it’s also filmed at his childhood home. He had to trespass in the now-abandoned house to film.  You won’t be disappointed. 
  4. Corey Taylor, frontman of the legendary Slipknot and the hard-rocking Stone Sour, has released two singles from his upcoming solo album. The first two songs are complete departures from his previous music. “CMFT Must Be Stopped” is a rap-rock tune with guests Tech N9ne, who Taylor has previously collaborated with, and Kid Bookie, a London rapper who I’ll definitely be checking out more from. And for those who like to watch videos, you will be entertained by Corey’s wife’s dance troop (they like to play with fire) and several cameos from Corey’s friends. It’s a fun tune about his big mouth and bigger attitude. The tune “Black Eyes Blue” is a straight pop-rocker with a catchy riff and a feel-good melody. 
  5. Marilyn Manson has put out some incredible music over the past few years, but this new track, “We Are Chaos” is surprisingly full of 70s glam goodness along with Manson’s trademark dark lyrics. I’m looking forward to the rest of this album, which comes out later this year. 

That’s it for this month’s Ro’s Recs. I hope you find a new jam in this collection to help lift your spirits. Dark times are upon us and we need all of the mood boosters we can get. I’m happy to be your guide on a musical journey. If you love music and stories about music, my upcoming novel Brains, and Brawn: Summer of Hush Book Two is out August 24th and it’s my love letter to the years of Warped Tour music festivals. Check it out on Amazon if you’re looking for a pick-me-up romance. Take care of you and yours, comment and share some of your favorite musical departures from your favorite artists, and Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings and Ro’s Recs. 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Antrum Deadliest Film Ever Made

Plotline: Said to be a cursed film from the late 1970s, Antrum examines the horrifying power of storytelling.

Who would like it: Fans of found footage, demonic possession, WTF, Throwback films, fans of magic and the occult 

High Points: The trailer, loved the hype but the movie was really good. 

Complaints

Overall: I usually don’t like found footage films but I really liked this one

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: A streaming link

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Book Review: 324 Abercorn Street by Mark Allan Gunnells

 

Review by Stephanie Ellis

Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: ‘Brad Storm doesn’t believe in ghosts, but moving into the house at 324 Abercorn just may change his mind.

Best-selling author Bradley Storm finally has enough money to buy and restore his dream home. Despite 324 Abercorn’s reputation as one of the most haunted houses in America, Bradley isn’t worried. He doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Then strange things begin to happen. Objects no longer where he left them. Phantom noises heard from empty rooms. Shadows glimpsed from the corner of his eye.

Is his house truly haunted, or is there something more sinister happening on the property?

With the help of Bradley’s new boyfriend and a few friends who are just as intrigued with the seemingly inexplicable occurrences surrounding the infamous house, they set out to find the truth of what stalks the halls at 324 Abercorn.

A feel-good haunted house story. Can there be such a thing? I never thought so until Crystal Lake Publishing produced this little gem.

When novelist Bradley Storm hits the big time, he finally buys his dream home, the reputedly haunted 324 Abercorn in Savannah. With a strong disbelief in the supernatural, he dismisses the little occurrences going on around him. Television turned on, door open – all can be explained away by logic. The ‘haunted’ element of his house is easily pushed to the back of his mind as he embarks on a relationship with artist and student, Tobias.

As their relationship develops against the warm Savannah backdrop, it feels nothing bad can happen – until it does. Strange visions start to affect him, changing his mind about the supernatural and causing him to doubt his own sanity. Yet he has good friends around him and they join in his search for the truth behind the house.

And this was where the story fell down a little for me. There was no tension between any of the main characters. The quartet of Brad, Tobias, Neisha from the Heritage Centre and Howard, Tobias’s housemate was a perfect circle of friendship, no undercurrent of conflict or hints at a hidden agenda. The reveal was clearly sign-posted very early on and the wrap-up at the end was too swift. This created a lack of tension and weakened any sense of horror, there was no sense of dread. It was this missing chill factor, which made it feel more like a romance with a touch of horror thrown in, that stopped me giving it the full 5 stars.

For me, this was very much a feel-good story, one to be read on a warm summer evening, sat on a terrace with a glass of wine in hand.

New Book: A new wave of horror in Sacrifices Incarnate

Sacrifices Incarnate is an horror anthology, and author Christopher M. Fink’s first publication.

His early years of writing were nothing short of what you’d expect from a seven-year-old; much of those stories read today like bullet points for a developing concept. In those days, they were untouchable gems of literature (at least in his eyes, as well as his grandparents)! Their support was genuine, but the skills needed work, and so began the journey of honing the craft, and molding it into something much more terrifying! Interestingly enough, one of those very gems entitled “The Evil Leprechaun”—yes, it is every bit as corny as you’re thinking—became the basis for one of the very shorts contained in this book.

This much anticipated anthology is more than a simple book, but the vessel which fear is held and guarded. For those brave enough to venture, it is sure to excite the demons in us all! Sacrifices Incarnate is the culmination of many years, and many fumbling’s of several short stories that manifested themselves simply from a number of captivating locations seen in his travels. The first story created is one entitled “No Fracking”, which was based on an old rundown nameless motel in upstate New York he had visited some years back. It was nothing remarkable, but the seclusion and relative dilapidation of the place had its own unique haunting kitsch that was ripe for a tale of terror!

Other story elements have developed into full elaborations of some genuine fears; many of which most others share. From being buried alive, to confrontations with unseen creatures (Restless, “untitled” & The Quiet Ones respectively), and unassuming relationships (Pen Pal). This book is to grant people the chance to face those fears from the comfort of their own homes, knowing that they can’t be hurt in any way. But if these things did happen upon you, how would it make you feel? That’s the question that begs to be answered!

“I love my craft, and even more, the process by which I create the world and the characters therein. There is nothing more engaging and rewarding! And, like many authors, I suspect, we would all like to be able to make even half a living on our work. Regardless, I will never stop writing. It has become, in many ways, a salvation for me, and a vacation I look forward to everyday!”

“It has since become more than my first publication. It is a tremendous milestone in my career, and has afforded me the privilege of meeting some amazing people in the process.”

If you want to enjoy some genuine terror this Halloween season, as we know our plans and events may very well be up in the air, then look no further! No one said we can’t share a scare, so pick up your copy of Sacrifices Incarnate, now available on Amazon!

As always, I want to thank all my readers, and especially the staff here at Horror Addicts! It’s been so much fun thus far, and I’m looking forward to all that the future holds! From The Horror Seeker, happy reading, and if it gets to be too much, just remember, they’re only stories. None of it is… real.

Right?

PRESS RELEASE, SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire

The publishers of Black Magic Women are set to release another groundbreaking compendium – SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire. The eagerly anticipated anthology will be the first of its kind: a compilation of vampire tales celebrating vampires of the African diaspora.

After a difficult deliberation, the final stories have been chosen and contracts sent to authors. The list of authors whose works will appear in SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire is as follows:

Authors (in order of appearance):
Sheree Renee Thomas
Craig L. Gidney
Danielle Little
Milton Davis
Jessica Cage
Michele Tracy Berger
Alicia McCalla
Jeff Carroll
Steven Van Patten
Penelope Flynn
Lynette Hoag
Steve Van Samson
Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald
Balogun Ojetade
Valjeanne Jeffers
Samantha Bryant
Vonnie Winslow Crist
Miranda J. Riley
K.R.S. McEntire
Alledria Hurt
Kai Leakes
John Linwood Grant
Sumiko Saulson
Dicey Grenor
Lisa Woods
LH Moore
Delizhia D. Jenkins
Colin Cloud Dance
V.G. Harrision

The anthology will be available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. eBook copies are available for pre-order at: https://amzn.to/2XMTsJF

Kbatz Kraft: A Gothic Gallery How-To

Ever wanted to create a spooky gothic gallery wall but held back over fears of it looking terrible and wrecking your walls in the attempt? Kbatz is here to help you organize and assemble an affordably morose statement piece!

1. Pick a unifying theme. Look at what you have or conceptualize what you have in mind and how your frames and accessories go together. Make a list or drawing or digital template with photos of your intended space. Be it all black frames, all-round frames, bats everywhere, black and white portraits, horror movie posters, decorative shelving for spooky knickknacks, or in my case, a lenticular photo series – something in either subject, style, or structure must visually glue the collection together. Without a purpose to the series, the gallery can get messy or cluttered, feeling catch-all rather than eye-catching. These are pieces that you have accumulated over time to display, not just things that have been put on the wall as they happen. The gallery can’t be so busy that the eye has nowhere to relax. These lentiuclars are a common subject in dark frames anchoring the visual flow.

2. Although that doesn’t mean everything has to be the same. Once you have a foundation to follow, then you can shake up your gallery with some personality. I have dark frames – mostly black, but a few dark brown and some with metallic trims. The shapes and sizes also vary between larger plain portraits and smaller ornate frames with accessories between each. When you succeed in having a soothing overall scheme, adding a few spots of something similar but different within the cohesive theme gives the eye a place to focus. Rather than a mental puzzle, witty standouts let guests notice the entire thing as well as the special composition of the whole, and an usual sconce or accessories that match make for fun and inviting conversation pieces even if they are slightly scary objects!

3. Groupings maximize both the overall and the statements. Even in a series of commonalities, items hung and displayed without rhyme or reason can be overwhelming. Make sure the scale of your items matches the space and place sets within the series. You don’t want items that look too big for the wall or pieces so small they are ignored. However, a lot of small together can make one grouping to balance a solo large accessory. Hanging like items together or creating invisible lines among the frames – such as making sure the tops or bottoms of frames are level across the wall – trick the mind into pleasing organization even if artwork is scattered high or low as in a stairwell for example. My gallery has three or four items in groups with a break between the vignettes so one can take in a section, visually rest, continue the set, and let the eye flow with the larger traffic pattern into the room.

4. Practice your layout. What if that painting should be higher or your straight row of accessories ends up crooked? You can’t wreck your walls with a lot of unsightly holes as well as making more work for yourself with the subsequent touch-ups and corrections – especially if you are a renter or can’t fix the paint. Physically test your vision by tracing the shapes of your items on newspaper or another handy scrap like cardboard or packing paper and use these placeholders to adjust your arrangement. Find out what pieces don’t fit, which go together, and what to place where. Be sure you have enough space and start in the center rather than an outside end. You don’t want to run out of room! When you are ready to hang your gallery, make sure you have the right tools on hand – the proper wall anchors for heavy medieval armor, adhesive strips for smaller frames, the right size nails for your structure. Hammers and levels go a long way, too!

5. Galleries don’t have to be expensive to look great. Black frames can be pricey or tough to find, so I had to find smaller frames from the dollar store, old fashioned thrift pictures for under five dollars, and unused frames from family members spray-painted black or touched up with dark acrylics. Consider your style and project time in what your budget allows and remember to calculate any tools or supply costs. Maybe you can buy all new matching frames or can have a special piece custom framed. If you are artistic or in no rush, you can browse thrift stores or yard sales for some alternative do it yourself materials. You aren’t being cheap by being resourceful – you decide where to compromise your vision or hold out for the style you want in accordance with what’s affordable to you. A formal family portrait gallery in my stairwell cost forty dollars, but my lenticulars cost less than ten and they certainly make people take notice!

These days many may not have the extra space or means for elaborate artwork, formal accessories, or large focal point displays. However, by carefully assembling a spooky wall gallery with themed, affordable finds and an eye for detail, any dark heart can find a blank spot to make your own.

Revisit more Gothic Crafts:

Decorating Like Dark Shadows

DIY Flower Pens

Re-Purposed Black Topiaries

For more Step by Step Gallery Photos, Follow Kbatz Krafts on Facebook

Terror Trax: #186 The Dark Silence of Death

The Dark Silence of Death

Current lineup:
Javier “Javo” Monzon – Vocals
Miguel “Vader” Paz – Bass
Jesus “Viejo Macabro” Osuna – Guitar
Juan Carlos “JC” Delgado – Drums

What album, tour, or song are you excited about now? 

We’re currently working on a new album titled “The Unliving”

 

What singers or bands inspired you growing up? 

Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, ACDC, Mecano, Hombres G and a lot of punk rock

Who are your favorite artists today? 

Cannibal Corpse, Mercyful Fate, Misfits, Behemoth, Ghost, Carnifex, Rob Zombie, Venomous Maximus

What non-musical things inspire your music? 

All things Horror… Stephen King, Alan Moore -Javo specifies-

Is there a place where you go to be inspired? 

The movies or the bar, or wherever watching movies and drinking is possible

What’s been the greatest achievement of your band? 

Releasing our first album and combining efforts to keep a steady pace collaborating and creating

Where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most? 

Opening for Phillip H Anselmo & The Illegals at Cafe Iguana here in Monterrey

What are your favorite horror movies? 

El libro de piedra, Hasta el viento tiene miedo, Shadow of the Vampire, Altered, Martyrs, Inside, The Exorcist, Suspiria, Inferno, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, Night of the Living Dead and all of Romero’s stuff, all of the Evil Dead stuff including TV series

What was the scariest night of your life? 

I guess any night being a child after having seen horror movies or TV series that I wasn’t supposed to watch. My mind would play tricks on me seeing things in the dark, hearing noises outside the window… -Viejo Macabro- A nightmare once about a scientist dressed up as a nazi tortured friends and family and when he took off the doctor mask it was me -Javo Monzon-

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band? 

We would love to do the European festival tour, Wacken, Copenhell, Hellfest, you know… About an opening band, wouldn’t know… but given the festival run fantasy, it’s more of sharing stage than who goes when… Since last year we started scratching a lot of doors to see if any of the festivals having Mercyful Fate this year would book us, lol that would be great curriculum.

What are you working on now for future release? 

A new album titled “The Unliving”. I guess we’re going full Romero / Fulci on this one

Final thoughts / Anything you want to tell the listeners?

Go check our Bandcamp site, our debut album is only $1USD in digital format and stay tuned for our new material coming soon!

Logbook of Terror: Miss Unsinkable

Miss Unsinkable by Russell Holbrook

The old man staggered forward, pointing at the couple. “You’re doomed if you get on that boat!” He shouted. 

Morgan wrinkled her nose at the man’s stench and winced at his volume. 

Brady smirked and laughed. “A harbinger… classic!”

Morgan shot her boyfriend an amused look. Their mutual love of horror and the paranormal had bonded them from the beginning. 

The elderly vagrant swayed and waved a finger at the cruise ship. “It’s got a curse on it! The Lord showed me! He told me to warn ya! I had a vision!”

This time Morgan laughed and said, “I think it was the vodka that gave you a vision, not the Lord.”

Brady giggled. He reached out to Morgan to put an arm over her shoulder. The harbinger leaped at Brady, curling bony fingers tight around Brady’s shirt, pulling the young man close. 

“You fool!” The old man shouted in Brady’s face. “You’ll die if you get on that boat!” 

Brady held up his hands as if in surrender. He spoke in a soft, soothing tone. “Hey, hey, man, it’s alright, everything’s okay here. You don’t have to get upset.”

Standing by Brady, Morgan rested a caring hand on the wizened man’s arm. He turned to Morgan. She nodded and said, “You’re okay.” 

Tears welled in the corners of the ancient man’s eyes. His fingers uncoiled. His hands slid down the front of Brady’s shirt. He stepped back and began to sob. “It’s not alright. It never will be, not while she’s on board. Ya gotta know-”

Two police officers appeared at the old man’s side, each taking hold of an arm, abruptly ending his warning. 

“C’mon, Ralph, let’s go,” the officer to Ralph’s left said. They gently began to pull the old man away.

“I’m so sorry he bothered you, Miss. Ralph does this sometimes,” the officer on the right said to Morgan. 

Morgan shook her head. “No, no, it’s okay, he wasn’t-”

“She’s still on there!” Ralph howled. “She’ll kill ya all! She won’t stop! Ne’er!” 

A small crowd of passengers on their way to board the ocean liner had stopped to observe the commotion. They stared intently at the harbinger. With wild, bulging eyes he surveyed the gathered throng. “You’re all doomed! Doomed! Dooooomed!” 

The old man’s screams faded as the police officers led Ralph away and quietly slipped him into the back of their cruiser. The travelers whispered among themselves, scattering, moving onward toward the ship. Morgan turned to Brady. She smiled and said, “Incredible!” 

“I know!” Brady replied, his own smile beaming from his lips. 

“I do hope Ralph is okay, though,” Morgan said, her eyebrows scrunching.

Brady wrapped an arm around Morgan’s waist and kissed her softly on the forehead. “I’m sure he’s fine. Those officers were pretty nice. They’ll probably just take him home, or, somewhere to sleep it off.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right,” Morgan said.

Arm in arm, the young couple fell in line and shuffled toward the boat with the other passengers.

“You know, he really seemed like a true believer,” Brady said. 

“Definitely,” Morgan agreed. She looked up at the boat. Looming just ahead in all her tattered glory was Miss Unsinkable, the last of the great cruise liners from the 1980s. Morgan whispered in awe, “There she is, the most tragic, haunted ship in America.” 

“Wow,” Brady said.

“Do you ever wonder why she’s still in use, you know, after all the murders and disappearances?”

Brady shrugged and said with a wry grin, “Probably because people like us keep buying tickets.” 

Morgan laughed softly. “So true, so true.” 

And as the glow of the morning sun began to give way to the summer afternoon’s harsh glare, the last of the passengers boarded Miss Unsinkable and the captain and crew prepared to set sail. 

***

Morgan clutched her stomach. “Oh no, I think something on that buffet didn’t agree with me. How do you feel?” 

“I’m good, actually,” Brady said with a characteristic shrug. 

Morgan groaned and bent low.

“Why don’t we go to the infirmary and get you something?” 

“I’ll go,” Morgan said, slowly rising off the bed, “you stay here and finish getting the equipment ready. We’re still exploring below deck tonight, no matter what.” 

“Eww, you mean where Violent Violet chopped up the teenage couple, Barry and Lisa, when she walked in on them gettin’ busy?” 

“Nothing says coitus interruptus like an ax to the groin,” Morgan chimed with a giggle that morphed into another moan of pain. 

“I’ll never, ever understand why anyone would kill their own daughter like that,” Brady said as he removed an EVP recorder and an EMF detector from a sturdy case. 

“It was the 80s, that’s why,” Morgan replied. She kissed Brady on the cheek and moved to the cabin door. “Be back in a jiff.” 

“Love you bunches,” Brady said without looking up from the equipment he was setting out on the bed. 

“Love you mega bunches,” Morgan said before she hobbled out the door and disappeared into the hall. 

***

The medical center was deserted. Morgan peeped around and called out. After a moment, an attractive woman with long, flowing brown hair, wearing pastel pink scrubs, appeared from the medical supply closet. She smiled warmly and greeted Morgan. After Morgan described her symptoms, the nurse went back into the closet and quickly returned with a small cardboard box. 

The nurse held the box out to Morgan. “Here,” she said, “this should take care of your troubles.”

Morgan reached out to take the box of tablets. A jolt like a knife twisting in her gut assaulted her with fierce and sudden agony. She cried out and doubled over. The nurse caught Morgan and led her to a nearby bed. 

“Something’s really wrong,” Morgan said through the pain. 

“There, there, you’re going to be fine,” the nurse said. “I’ll get you something a little bit stronger.”

The nurse reached down under the bed and pulled out a bright red emergency ax. She frowned. “Dirty girls like you need strong medicine. Those little pills weren’t gonna cut it.” 

Morgan’s eyes bulged and watered. Her lips trembled. The nurse raised the ax. 

Morgan screamed, “Wait! You’re – you’re- I didn’t know! I didn’t-”

The nurse buried the ax blade in Morgan’s gaping mouth. 

“Fan girls…” Nurse Violet said, blowing a stray lock of hair off her face. “When will they ever learn?” 

***

Just as Brady was beginning to wonder what might be taking Morgan so long at the infirmary and hoping that she would be bringing enough medicine for them both since his stomach had begun to hurt as well, a loud metallic banging echoed off their cabin door. He hurried to the door and flung it open. 

“Room service!” Nurse Violet said. 

Brady’s eyes narrowed and then ballooned with recognition. “No way!” He exclaimed. 

“Yes, way!”

Violet swung the ax, swift and steady, slamming the blade into Brady’s forehead where it sunk in deep and split his skull in half. His expression fell blank and he plummeted to the floor. 

“Well, at least he recognized me right away,” Nurse Violet quipped. She looked at Brady’s lifeless body, lying prone in the doorway. She heard music blaring from the main deck. Feet were shuffling. People were laughing. She guessed a conga line might have started. She sighed, shoved Brady’s body into the cabin, and shut the door.

Violet strolled past the row of closed cabin doors, making her way to the upper deck, smiling as she imagined the laughter of the passengers turning to screams of terror. Poisoning the ship’s food supply was already making her work go that much smoother; killing that first couple had almost been too easy. Still, she was grateful her boss had suggested it. He always did have the best ideas, and even after so many years, she never tired of their work together. She rounded a corner and came to the steps that led to the upper deck. She could already sense the growing of sickness and fear. It was intoxicating. 

How wonderful it is to be at sea, Violet thought, and she knew that there was no place in the world she would rather be. 

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Scary Waters!

Ahoy, Scary Waters Ahead! By Kristin Battestella

Grab the life jackets for this damp list of warped psychology, island mayhem, and beastly sea life…

Seance on a Wet Afternoon – Oscar nominated medium Kim Stanley (The Right Stuff) and her husband Richard Attenborough (The Great Escape) star in this moody black and white 1964 British two hours based on the Mark McShane novel. Shadows, candles, weeping ladies in pearls, and whispering circles set the tone immediately alongside classy contemporary touches such as driving goggles, sidecars, phonographs, and old fashioned, cluttered interiors – it’s sixties, but with a faux Victorian mysticism. The lady of the house is domineering, claiming her plans have the blessing to do what needs to be done, yet she wishes she were normal instead of channeling sorrow and makes her weak, complacent husband do the dirty work. Is she crazy or is something paranormal at work? Talk of a mysterious, maybe ghostly, maybe imagined “Arthur,” peepholes, boarded up windows, school bells, and gaslighting actions make the audience take notice. There is a lot of talking set in the few rooms of a creepy, oppressive house, however, the unreliable mindset hooks the audience without insulting us. Dangerous drives, escalating music, and camera zooms accent any slip-up and or the chance for things go wrong while the editing of a ransom note is almost humorous in its casual word choices and disturbing calculations on this “borrowing” plan. Viewers both understand and like these perpetrators – they are at one strong enough to pull this off yet incredibly vulnerable and taking tremendous risks. However, we are also disgusted by their hospital ruses and psychic ploys even if we feel sorry for the villains, victims, and agree with a rightfully skeptical father and suspicious law enforcement. Tensions escalate along with the crimes – what was once such a perfect plan orchestrated by an unstable wife is now we, we, we intense and ready to snap with the heat showing as sweat on everyone’s brow. Layered tours and intercut chases up the nail-biting twists as one séance too many might unravel this chance to be famous by solving your own crime. Well acted intensity and warped grief make this taut little thriller perfect for a rainy day.

Triangle– Black Death director Christopher Smith creates a great mind-bending and smartly head-scratching ride in this watery 2009 Bermuda triangle thriller.  There are a few scares, but the within-storytelling and multi-level camera work develop more of a thinking viewer’s Twilight Zone heavy before full-on gore or modern slasher horror.  A decrepit and sinister ship, carefully placed mirrors, dual appearances and deceptions, and altered audience perceptions layer the plotting and paths for desperate mother Melissa George (Turistas). Though it boy Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) is iffy, his role is relatively small. Hefty concepts, time twists, and intelligent debate outshine any small scale productions here, too.  I’d like to say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything!

Writers Retreat Novelists face their fears in more ways than one at this 2015 island workshop with high tide isolation and no internet or cell phones. Awkward book signings, contract deadlines, angry agents, dead vermin, and highway mishaps assure this meeting is off on the wrong foot for our introverted strangers. There’s one emergency landline, and the ice breaker exercises, manuscript focus, and writing discussions are more like therapy for this diverse group. Writers are weird by nature, however some are more pretentious than others, rolling their eyes and creating tension over what they consider hack manuscripts if the wounded amateur is upset by their critique. Staring at the blank laptop screen, long hand journaling, inspirational photography, and subjects going off by themselves provide withdrawn writing routines but the notebooks, clicking keys, and angelic, panning montages make it seem like we’re witnessing something mystical in action when writing is a lot more complicated than that. Brief sentences read aloud reveal much about these characters in need of validation, for a few aren’t even writing at all before sudden disappearances, red herrings, and inside/outside, voyeuristic camera framing to match the lurking men, misogynistic threats, and gory evidence. Private moments away from the workshop make the viewer pay attention to the individual prejudices, flirtations, preferences, drinking, history, and self-harm. Everyone has their issues, but is anyone willing to kill for the ‘write what you know’ experience? Mysteries and relative truths escalate into horror with hammers to the head, stabbings, and rap tap tapping on the windows let in for some slicing and dicing. Vomiting, blood, pointing fingers, and power outages accent the writing angles and slasher styles as deliberate reveals, torture instruments laid out in the kitchen, eyeballs on the platter, and a glass of wine provide scene-chewing villainy. Unfortunately, the intriguing, sophisticated start does devolve in one fell swoop with haphazard running around, dead body shocks, and knockouts or tie-ups that happen too easy. There’s no one by one crafty kill or time for our intelligent writers to piece the crimes together – or not reveal what they know because that nugget would be a great piece for their manuscript. Creative corkscrew uses, torture porn, and one on one gruesome go on too long, unraveling with loud boo crescendos for every hit, stab, and plunge making an injury seem so severe before the victim inexplicably comes back for more. Although the final act and the predictable bookends deserved more polish, this is worth the late-night look for both writers and horror fans.

And Some More Terribly Wet Fun

Creature from the Haunted Sea – Oh, Roger Corman, you’re killing me with this 1961 horror comedy remake of Beast from Haunted Cave! The black and white Beatnik opening chase looks like the Beastie Boys “Sabotage” music video.  The sound, music, bad narration, iffy Spanish, and worse dialogue are very poorly mixed. The poor acting, over the top spy and noir spoof vibes come off all wrong, and the animated credits are downright corny.  I think I get what Corman was trying to do, but the confusing Cuban plot with Beetles and Winnebagos on the chase is too low budget college-kids-with-a-camera. Who’s in charge on this boating escapade- military Cubans? Gold digging Americans? Monsters? Murderers? The singing, crappy spies, a guy who speaks in animal sounds- this is just a really surprising mess. I mean, somebody gets hit with a fish!

Phantom from 10,000 Leagues – Yes, the titular beasty from this 1955 proto-AIP science fiction feature looks completely hokey. It’s tough to tell who is who at the start, and slow talking scenes with poor acting and wooden romances damage the entertaining pace and humor from the action sequences. The weak, simplistic science is also laughable today, and they even pronounce it Mu-tant with a long A! Nighttime footage is tough to see, and the hour and twenty here seems too long. How many times can the same guy go diving for this monster? Fortunately, the drowning scenes and underwater photography look decent with good music and suspense pacing to match.  One can enjoy both the period expectation and/or guffaw over the corny at the same time. This one feels good for a fun night in theme with other sea creature features, but perhaps it is just too flawed to completely enjoy on its own. 

More Nature Viewing Perils include:

Witches and Bayous

Summer Vampires

Island of Doctor Moreau

Did I Meet Millicent Washburn Shinn? By Kate Nox

Millicent Washburn Shinn was the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D from the University of California at Berkeley.  She was an author and poet who took over editorship of Bret Harte’s Overland Monthly, a magazine about California. She also won renown as a psychologist in publishing her Biography of a Baby, from her research on the systematic development of an infant.

And she died of heart failure on August 13, 1940, 12 years and six days before I was born.

So how, you ask, might I have made her acquaintance?

As a program director and chaperone for a group of senior citizens, I made a lot of trips to interesting places. But the day I believe I met Millicent was one I will never forget.

This visit to the historical Shinn home in Fremont, California started like any other. The docent greeted us at the door and led us on a tour of the 1870 Victorian style house. Having finished the tour of the main floor, the docent led us up a narrow stairway to the second floor.

As was my practice, I allowed all the seniors to precede up the stairs and into the room because I was younger and more able to hear the docent’s spiel from outside the room. I then let the seniors exit the room and entered myself to see what they had just viewed and heard about.

The first room at the top of the stairs was your average farmhouse room, pretty stark and nothing very remarkable, except for some clothing hanging on the inside of an open closet door. Because I often work with costumes, I take every opportunity to educate myself on the correctness of what people wore in any time period.

I approached the closet and as I rounded the end of the bed, I got the impression someone was following me. My heart lept inside my chest. In my mind I viewed a young woman in a black dress. I knew when I turned around she would be there, but there was no one.

I shrugged my shoulders and continued forward thinking to examine the buttons on the first dress. Suddenly, I could not breathe. Not outloud, but in my brain I heard a female voice shouting emphatically,  “Get out! Get out! Get out!”  I left the bedroom quickly without looking back, knowing I would be in danger if I did not.

I didn’t want to frighten the members of the tour group, so I fell in behind them and waited until the tour guide had invited them to explore the upstairs library on their own. I then took her aside and asked if there had been unusual occurrences in the house?

She smiled and asked me if I felt something. I relayed to her that I felt a presence warning me to leave the closet area. She then told me she knew I would feel something when she saw me coming up the stairs.

“Some people are just more sensitive, I could see it in your face.”  She went on to say, workers preparing the house for viewing had several experiences of hearing someone upstairs while they were all working downstairs, but when they went up to check, they found no one there.

One day, after locking up the house, some of the workmen were walking to the parking lot together and heard pounding. Looking up at the window on the second floor, they saw a young girl inside the house. Deciding a child had gotten into the house, two of the workers went back into the house to get her out and send her home before leaving for the night. They spent quite a bit of time calling out and looking into every closet and room but found no child in the house. They felt it was the ghost of a small girl who had fallen from an attic window and died.

Others had felt something in that front bedroom–though not necessarily a young woman’s presence as I had felt and many photographers had found strange orb-like figures in their pictures of the house and grounds.

The docent showed me a clock on a shelf in the front hall near the door. The clock was one which needed wound with a key kept on a shelf inside its cabinet. She said that every day as they left the house, staff made sure to wind the clock, check the time, and latch the cabinet. On numerous mornings when coming back into the house, they found the cabinet standing open and the time changed on the clock.

Needless to say, none of her stories made me feel very comfortable or gave me the desire to return, but I have often wondered who the woman whose presence I felt so frighteningly might have been.

Recently, I decided to write about my experience and visited several websites to reacquaint myself with the layout of the house and remember the significance of the family who had lived there. It was then that I learned about Millicent.

After having pursued her education, worked with early childhood development, and the magazine, she returned home and — as the only female child, took on the societal norms of the times. She bore responsibility to take care of her invalid mother, the household, and to help care for her brother’s children.

Some writers I found espoused the opinion that she did so grudgingly, and may have felt trapped, leaving me to wonder if that was the reason for the anger when I wandered too far into the room?

In the actual history of the family, there are no reports of her begrudging her life on the family farm. I imagine she felt protective over her mother, the children, and the house. Did she see me as one of the children foraging too far into the room and become afraid I might wake her ailing mother? Or had she simply grown tired of people poking about the place and, since I was alone, decided to make her point?

Whatever the reason, and whether or not it was indeed Millicent, or another woman of the past, the message was quite clear and I made up my mind then and there never to visit again for fear of further frightening encounters that might not end well for me!

____________________________________________________________________________

If you would like to take your chance at an encounter,  you may visit the Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum

1251 Peralta Blvd (28.80 mi) Fremont, CA 94536.

Odds and Dead Ends: Why we only remember the opening of ‘When A Stranger Calls’

The question posed by this article’s title, by default, raises many questions. The film, When A Stranger Calls has passed into horror legend, had a sequel and then been remade in the classic 21st century tradition, and seems to be put in with the canon of horror greats, like so many others. And yet what people remember it for occurs in the opening act, and the rest of the film bares such a lack of resemblance to the actual phone calls that one would be mistaken for thinking that there had been a mix-up in the editing room. So why is it, that when we think of When A Stranger Calls, all we think about is the babysitter being asked if she’s checked the children?

The first point I’d raise is the obvious one; the title of the film. It’s like hearing a Harry Potter title and not thinking of Harry Potter. This immediate drawing of our attention to the singular opening means that our entire connection to the film is dominated by this link of the title to the opening scene. We associate the whole film with the title, and the title with the opening act, so we’re essentially being taught to summarise the film by its relation to the first twenty minutes.

We also have the obvious call-back to Black Christmas (dir Bob Clarke, 1974), with the phone call coming from inside the house. The film wasn’t as well known then, but the influence is undeniable. Additionally, there is the fact that it’s obviously based off the fairly standard urban legend; the legend had already been worked into the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. When you also factor in that the opening is essentially a larger-budget version of a short film based off the legend that director/writer duo Fred Walton and Steve Feke made, called The Sitter, you realise that the basic premise is well known and already recognisable before the feature film. This means that the repetition of the basic storyline makes its way into our memories through an already-established pattern.

After the first twenty minutes go by, the film becomes a strange, police-procedural-cum-Giallo-cum-slasher, the kind of film you’d eventually see with films like Maniac (1980), and some of Fulci’s American films, such as The New York Ripper (1982). That the rest of the film is fairly slow and nowhere near as thrilling as its opener shows how a brilliant start doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole film can hold up. Having to find a route onwards, the filmmakers choosing to follow both the killer (as a fully reasoning and functional – to a certain extent – adult) and the police, is a bold move, but works only if the cat-and-mouse can be sustained. Even if it can (and it’s questionable as to how effective it is in the final cut), it’s so different from the opening act as to only be, from a certain point of view, tangentially linked.

This also doesn’t even mention that the first twenty minutes are, by comparison, a superbly directed piece of suspenseful filmmaking. The direction is taut, the feeling of isolation and claustrophobia wonderful, and the nihilistic ending caps it all off to create one of the most tense openers in film. That our prior knowledge (or most people’s prior knowledge) of the outcome, thanks to our knowledge of the urban legend, doesn’t change the fact that we’re looking for every shadow to move and growing more and more fearful with each frame that passes. With cinematography from an Oscar-nominated cinematographer to boot, it rightly deserves its place in the great halls of horror film canon. It’s just one of those oddities that we can turn off at the 20/21 minute mark and be perfectly happy with walking away from.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: @kjudgemental

-Having mentioned Fulci in this article, if you want to read up some more on him, I wrote an article a few years ago as a brief introduction to his work: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/odds-and-dead-ends-lucio-fulci-italys-godfather-of-gore/

-And if you’re interested in learning more about Giallo, the Italian violent thrillers, that Fulci made, I’ve got you covered there as well: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2019/08/05/odds-and-dead-ends-an-introduction-to-the-giallo/

My Darling Dead : Bastards Episode 9 / Conscious Acts

The king’s chamber was filled with snores, loud enough for Zavier the wizard to hear from the other end of the corridor leading to the door from behind which they emanated. The wizard wore a smile as he strode its length, not pausing as the door flew open before him. Orteg lay spread-eagled on his bed, head hanging off one side, drool dripping from one lip. As Zavier watched, Orteg let out another mighty snore, severing the line of drool and sending it to splatter into a sizable pool. 

Zaiver pointed at the prostrate king and snapped his fingers. At once, Orteg was yanked into a sitting position in mid-snore, his eyes flying open with a startled grunt. 

“Uh! Wha—who—what happened?” Orteg’s hand went to his head, his eyes clenching back shut against the pounding of his temples. “Where am I?”

“The king’s chambers, sire,” Zavier said, his smile turned down to a lower wattage. 

“What happened last night?” Orteg asked, his face scrunched up as he massaged his aching head. 

The wizard’s smile widened. Pulling his staff from beneath his robe, he swirled it before him, plunging the room into darkness, despite the bright sun streaming through the windows. In the middle of the room, a large silver ball appeared. It grew transparent, then figures appeared, solidifying into Orteg watching his children arrive via the guards Barris had sent out. 

Orteg’s mouth dropped open as he watched his confrontation with Antion and Barris, his fury so great that the ache in his head was completely forgotten. “How dare—how dare they—” he spluttered, unable to articulate his rage. 

The real Orteg watched with growing horror as his past self entered the bedroom to which Barris and Agathas had taken his children. Watched as he pushed past Agathas and knelt to strangle them. When he snapped the last child’s neck, the real Orteg vomited, a great red glut reeking of sour grapes and bile. 

“You—” the real Orteg screamed, before being cut off by another retch that brought up nothing but pink gruel. He was screaming at nothing though. The room was empty. 

Hearing a sound, he looked around, just in time to see the coupling of Barris and Agathas before the figures blurred, the ball grew silvery once more before vanishing. Cheerful sunlight streamed in through the windows once more. 

***

Orteg kicked open the door to Barris’ chambers and strode into the room, his teeth clenched, stomach churning with rage and the horror of what he had seen. Barris looked up from his well-laid breakfast table, his fat features frozen in surprise, a ham falling from between his jaws. “Highness?”

Orteg decked the man, his fist sinking into the flesh surrounding Barris’ face before connecting with bone. With a howl, Barris hit the floor as Orteg continued pummeling him. 

“You fat shit, why would you put forth that condition?” Orteg howled, kicking Barris repeatedly as the latter curled up on his side trying to avoid the blows. “I would have left and returned to the forest, never to set foot forth again, rather than harm my children. Even for the crown!” he screamed, planting one foot squarely in Barris’ gut. The huge man wheezed. “The wizard would not have it and bewitched me. Did you honestly think I could do what you saw?”

“For the crown—” choked Barris. 

Orteg’s face was nothing but disgust as he withdrew his foot. “I am glad you and your disgusting sister enjoyed watching me murder my children, for your time to pay for it has come. That is, if you do not want the entire kingdom to know of your incestuous proclivities and you wish to have a prayer of returning things to the way they were before that miserable wizard showed up in my tavern with talk of royalty and riches and ruined my life!” His voice had risen to a scream. “Are you ready to listen?” He punctuated this last with another kick at Barris’ ample stomach, nearly losing his balance as his foot sunk into the big man’s gut. 

“Yes! Yes!” sobbed Barris, gasping for air. “Your Majesty, I crave your pardon!”

Orteg stopped his assault, breathing heavily. “You are, Barris, without a doubt, the most repulsive individual I have ever laid eyes on. If I didn’t need you, I would have no hesitation in sharing your secrets with everybody I met so they would have no choice but to murder you for me, just on general principles.”

Barris said nothing, busily attempting to regain his own breath. He hurt all over from the beating he had taken but did not feel anything was damaged. His ample padding had absorbed every blow with ease. His ego had taken the hardest hit. For the first time, he felt small and inferior in the face of the king. 

“The wizard,” Orteg said, walking back and forth in front of Barris’ prone form. “It’s the wizard. He made me murder my children. I don’t know what he wants but that cannot be allowed to stand. But he is powerful. I will need your help, Barris. If I do not get it, a tar and feather party will be the best thing you can look forward to.”

“My liege,” Barris wheezed, the kowtowing tone in his voice making him sick to his considerable stomach. “I live to serve.”

“Yes, yes,” said Orteg impatiently. “What resources have you to bring the wizard to heel?”

“You are the king, Sire, you have but to command the guards and the wizard shall be clapped in irons.” Barris said, keeping his tone respectful lest more kicks fly. 

“Idiot!” spat Orteg. “You have seen evidence of the wizard’s power, three times as I murdered my own children without a second thought. You think he would hesitate to use it on the castle guards?”

“You are speaking then of subterfuge, Sire,” Barris said, righting the toppled chair and collapsing into it with a grateful sigh. 

“Obviously,” Orteg said. “It must be done on the sly or the wizard will see it coming.”

“Poison, it would seem, would be the logical choice, Sire,” said Barris. “The wizard does enjoy his drink.”

Orteg could find nothing wrong with this suggestion. “How?”

“I will summon him to my chamber,” Barris said. As he expounded, back into the familiar territory of deception, his breathing steadied, his many chins ceasing their tremble. “I will offer him a full-time position at court. He will accept, and I will pour him a glass of wine. He will drink it, and cease to be a problem. I have done it before, many times.” He tapped a ring on one chubby finger. “This contains enough shredded blackbane to kill a reindeer. Half the amount would put paid to the wizard easily.”

“Are you certain?” Orteg asked, his voice firm. “What if he does not accept? Do not underestimate the wizard, Prefect.”

“He will accept. You will see. He is nothing I have not faced. Power-hungry men always grab before they think.” Barris levered himself with difficulty out of the chair. “You should depart, Sire. I will summon you when the deed is done.”

“You will summon me? You forget to whom you speak, I think.” Orteg’s voice held a hint of cruel amusement. “You will come to me, the moment the deed is done, or I shall have your head.”

“Of course, my liege.” Barris bent a knee as far as he was able, dropping his eyes. Orteg snorted and walked out, slamming the door behind him. Barris stood where he was for a moment, breathing heavily as he weighed his options. He crossed to the door and bolted it, checking first to see if the corridor was deserted. 

Going to his bar, Barris brought out a bottle of fine wine, a burgundy so dark it was almost black. Two silver goblets were set on a tray beside the bottle of wine. Extending the ring on his smallest sausage finger, Barris carefully levered open the ring’s red gem to reveal a blood red powder the consistency of sand. He upended the ring over the left goblet, tapping the back of his finger. A slight wisp of smoke rose into the air from the grains rubbing against each other as the sand whispered into the goblet. Barris held his breath until it dissipated. It would not do to breathe the smoke. 

Without warning, the bolt to the chamber door shot back with a bang. Barris whirled, his heart in his throat as the door swung open. Zavier stood framed in the doorway, his hood down, a smile of good cheer on his face. He raised a hand with awful casualness.

“Honorable Prefect Barris, how finds thee this evening?” Zavier beamed as he stepped over the threshold into the room. Behind him, the door slammed shut and bolted itself. 

Barris forced a practiced smile onto his fat features. “The very man I wished to see, delivered unto me in the flesh!” He clapped his pudgy hands. 

Zavier made a little bow. “As I sat, deep in meditation, it came to me that my presence was needed, Prefect. Naturally I hastened to your side at once.”

Despite his unease, Barris felt his ego expand at the wizard’s subservience. “That’s mighty fine. Yes, the very man, yes indeed. You know, the kingdom has been without a wizard at court since time out of mind and if you would see fit to join us here, it would be a privilege to have you.” He dropped a huge wink. “I daresay the council can find another seat at the table.” A wide smile pasted to his blubbery lips, Barris waited, trying to ignore the crawling sensation in his stomach. 

Zavier stood for a moment, speechless, before dropping to one knee and bowing his head. “My talents are at your disposal, and that of the kingdom, Honorable Prefect.”

“Excellent news!” Barris cried. “Come, a toast to your appointment!”

“You are too kind, Prefect.”

Barris did his best to conceal the shaking of his hands as he removed the cork, keeping his body between the goblets and the eyes of the wizard. As he poured wine into the poisoned goblet, the little wisp of smoke rose once again. Once again, Barris held his breath. 

“Honorable Prefect, what became of Orteg?” Zavier asked. 

Barris let his breath out slowly as he poured into the other goblet. “I have not seen him this day. Perhaps he is abed still.”

“Perhaps.”

Barris turned, holding tightly to the harmless goblet on the right. He held the left goblet out to Zavier, who took it. Barris raised his glass. 

“To the kingdom!”

“To the kingdom,” Zavier agreed. 

Barris felt his fingers twitch as he drunk deep from his own goblet but he was so intent upon Zavier that he scarcely noticed. Zavier downed his glass in one mighty swallow and hurled the glass against the wall where it vanished in an explosion of fire. Barris sputtered, spraying wine every which way. Zavier roared with laughter as Barris wheezed, wiping wine from the crevices of his fleshy face. 

“Just a little trick of the trade, my dear Prefect,” said Zavier, the smile falling from his face as though by magic. Barris felt his heart sink like a dead sparrow. The poison should have been enough to decimate a full-grown man within seconds. He was positive he had given Zavier the correct goblet. But then why did he feel so…

“Much like the simple matter switching spell I performed as you drank from your goblet. You were in fact drinking the wine from my goblet as I drank the wine from yours.” Zavier smiled at him. “Simple but useful. Most of my spells are that way. Like the one which allows me to see what is happening in any room at any given time. It appears Orteg and I are both using the perversions of you and your sister against you. It is most thoughtful of you to have provided us with such a large and useful bit of leverage.”

Barris felt his stomach dropping further and further, the awful realization that this was the end growing larger along with the darkness which enveloped his vision. He crumpled to the floor, twitching. Zavier produced his staff and tapped Barris on the head. Immediately his twitching ceased and his breathing evened out. 

“You’ll live,” Zavier said, a mad light in his eye. “But you’ll wish you hadn’t.”

Orteg paced the king’s chambers, the overwhelming gold décor in the room disturbing his eye. He had never liked gold, but now that he was king, he supposed it was de rigueur. Still, the yellow light reminded him of the color of baby excrement. 

A knock at the door jerked his head around. “Enter!” Orteg called, striding toward the door. 

The door swung open, framing Zavier in the light emanating from the corridor. 

“Wizard!” Orteg exclaimed. Dread and hatred shot through him. Barris should have disposed of him by now. “What brings you here?”

“Lies, my King,” Zavier said, striding forward. Orteg instinctively recoiled from him. Zavier’s eyes were wild and his nostrils were flared.

“Lies?” Orteg ventured. 

“Lies!” Zavier screamed, bringing his staff forward and down onto the ground with a mighty crash. There was an explosion of darkness from Zavier’s staff, rushing at Orteg like a hurricane. Before he could react, there was nothing but blackness.

Kbatz Kraft: Unfinished Regency Sewing

Are you understandably unmotivated with your hobbies and style these days?

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz discusses the pros and cons of commercial and altered patterns in tackling this purple Regency meets seventies styled empire dress in progress alongside sewing for yourself versus sewing for others, sewing properly instead of just winging it, adding choice color to a black wardrobe, the lack of motivation to complete seasonal goals during the pandemic, unfinished projects placed on the back burner, and future ideas for accessories to match.

 

 

For more Gothic Sewing revisit:

Gothic Parasol Upgrade

Gothic Thrift Alterations

Victorian Bonnets and Capes

To see more unfinished in progress pictures visit Kbatz Krafts on Facebook

Thank you for being part of Horror Addicts.net and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage!

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ice Nine Kills

Greetings and salutations HorrorAddicts! I know it’s been a wild and crazy summer and we’ve all just wanted to get away. Well, today’s review is a special treat. I’ve mentioned the band Ice Nine Kills before, but they just put out a killer EP called Undead and Unplugged: Live From The Overlook Hotel. This is, like, a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to go to the hotel, I’m a sucker for acoustic sets, and I absolutely love that all of these songs are about our favorite horror flicks! 

Ice Nine Kills is a Boston-based band founded by Spencer Charnas, Justin DeBlieck, and Justin Morrow. Frontman Spencer is a horror fanatic from back in his Blockbuster Movie rental days and even recorded some of the vocals on The Silver Scream from famous locations including the houses used for A Nightmare on Elm Street and the original Halloween. I’ve watched his Instagram live broadcasts including one where Spencer and Jose Mangin from SiriusXM Octane go to visit the Nightmare house. Spencer truly knows his horror, which is part of what makes The Silver Scream so delectable. 

The new EP, which you can stream on Spotify, features acoustic versions of songs from the Merrill’s Musical Musings July 2020

ir album The Silver Scream, which originally came out in 2018 and includes the following tracks:

Savages: Inspired by Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Thank God It’s Friday: Inspired by Friday the 13th

A Grave Mistake: Inspired by The Crow

Love Bites: Inspired by An American Werewolf in London

Enjoy Your Slay: Inspired by The Shining (Live video from The Stanley Hotel)

Someday I will visit The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. There have been a few romance book conventions there and sadly, they never quite worked out for me to attend. But someday! I’d love to hear from you what are some of the horror-inspired places you’ve been or want to go to or share with me your favorite acoustic sets from bands. I hope you Enjoyed Your Slay today on Merrill’s Musical Musings and Stay Tuned for Ro’s Recs coming later this month…

Chilling Chat Special: Nancy Kilpatrick

chillingchat

Award-winning author Nancy Kilpatrick has published 22 novels, over 220 short stories, seven story collections, and has edited 15 anthologies, plus graphic novels and one non-Nancy Kilpatrick 1fiction book.

She is a wonderful lady and a legendary writer. We spoke of her new book, audio narration, and Dracula.

NTK: Welcome back to Chilling Chat, Nancy! Thank you for joining me today.

NK: My pleasure!

NTK: Nancy, you’ve been busy since last we spoke. Can you tell the Addicts about your new book?

NK: Yes, of course. There two new novels. One is Book Six in Thrones of Blood. Book Six should be the end of the series, although originally I’d viewed it as a seven-book series. There are things I need to tie up so I’ll see how it goes. The other book is a sci-fi/Horror novel and I’m close to the end and have been for some time now. It’s absolutely frustrating working in the real world with a fantastical story because this one is partially set in space and every bloody day, things up there change so I have to change the story to coincide with what is actually known. Still, I’m on it! Aside from that, I’ve recently revised and updated my Power of the Blood series and it’s now out fresh and new in eBook. That was enjoyable to do. It led to me doing some audio readings for that series and two novellas.

NTK: How did you like recording audio? Was it easy or difficult for you?

NK: VERY difficult. I hate reading my own work, or I should use the past tense because I’ve changed a bit. I haven’t done live readings at events for maybe fifteen years. I never feel as if I can convey the reality of the stories that live inside me in a way that gets that across orally. I began with a little piece to test myself with the audio. I wrote, “Black Knight Blue Queen,” and kind of dark fantasy and recorded it under ten minutes. It took forever to do that. It’s not the best but I did get better. Then I tackled the two novellas Vampyre Theatre and Wild Hunt. They are about two-three minutes each. Again, a lot of reading aloud and then recording and re-recording. Finally, I did the four books in the Power of the Blood series and again, maybe twenty readings aloud for each book and ten recordings for each until I felt okay about them. Those are two-three minutes each but for Book Four which is 3.5 minutes because I wanted the entire scene in. Now I’m tackling the five existing books in the Thrones of Blood series. Again, hoping for two-three minutes each. We shall see. But, I have become fond of the process. I can’t say I love it when I screw up reading or slur words or my throat gets so dry the words come out as if from a hell demon instead of a human being. But, there’s something I like about this process so I’m continuing, imperfectly. All of the readings are on my website.

NTK: If you could have anyone record the reading for you, who would it be?

NK: I’ve never thought about someone recording my work. I have four audiobooks out that the publisher did through Audible. Four different actors read. Some I like better than others but they’re all good. And in truth, I don’t listen to audiobooks. I always think of those as something you’d listen to in a car.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror actor?

NK: I don’t know that I have one favorite. I like Julian Sands from the past in films, like, Boxing Helena and Gothic and Tale of a Vampire and others. I loved Alan Rickman in several films. I like Claes Bang in the BBC Dracula. Tom Hiddleston in Highrise, Crimson Peak, Only Lovers Left Alive. And I’ve liked Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd and Edward Scissorhands and others. It’s kind of like that. It depends on the film.

Of course, when you say ‘actor’ you probably mean male and female and etc. I have female actresses I like. Barbara Steele, for example. Nicole Kidman has done some good ghost films. Eva Green is a favorite in Penny Dreadful (the original series) and movies. Ingrid Pitt, but of course she’s gone.

NTK: You’ve written several books about vampires. What makes them so interesting to you?

NK: The vampire is eternally fascinating. They are perhaps the closest of the supernaturals to humans. They were human. I know a lot of people like werewolves and I guess the concept is interesting. But I also guess I haven’t known many or any men or women who become animal-like so it’s hard for me to get that Jekyll/Hyde change on the full moon. Vampires, you can play around with a lot because you can manipulate the supernatural elements and make them current. Wolves, not so much. The vampire has a lot of intriguing traits, from extended lifetime, power, sexual appeal, and they only put on a pretense when they want something and then quickly revert to their real state or even personality when they get what they want. They are dangerous and finding a way to write about them that keeps them dangerous is fun. I hate stories where the vampire is dispatched easily. That’s such a letdown. They are also, usually, attractive these days and not the hideous resuscitated corpses of the past—we leave that to zombies now, the brain-dead flesh eaters. That’s another aspect, the super attractive creature that can mesmerize you. Charmed to death.

NTK: Your Thrones of Blood series was optioned for TV and film. Any word on how that is going and has the Corona Pandemic affected it?

NK: Well, since people aren’t meeting more than 6-feet from one another, no movies are happening, or at least few are and it must be hard to shoot a film these days. Hopefully, that will change. So no, nothing yet. I hope COVID won’t run too long. Makes a lot of things hard.

NTK: Have you seen the new Netflix version of Dracula? If so, what did you think of it?

NK: I love it. I know it’s contentious, even on HorrorAddicts! I’ve watched it four times because I think it’s brilliant and everything in it hangs together. I know there are people who are purists and want to see a movie that replicates a book. I think that rarely happens. Dracula has been adapted hundreds of times to film and personally, I find the BBC version refreshing. I love, for example, that Episode One tackles Harker in the religious hospital. That’s skimmed over in the book in a sentence of two. I also like the action in Episode Two on the Demeter. Again, not in the book, just referred to as the ship that hit the rocks with the captain dead and tied to the wheel. I thought that was a clever approach. I also liked—and I have to say Episode Three was a little difficult the first time I saw it but since I’ve watched the BBC Dracula so much now, I ‘ve come really enjoy Episode Three. I know people who know Moffat and Gattis, who think they were too clever by half. But, I don’t care. I think it’s brilliant, including the casting. Bang makes a multi-faceted Dracula and Wells is so good in the dual roles she plays, with wonderful lines and so perfectly delivered, I now want to see both of those actors in other roles. It’s in my favorites list of Dracula films.

I think with Gattiss and Moffat you’re going to get creative. Anyone who has watched Sherlock should not be shocked or surprised by Dracula. That’s what those two guys do best. You either like their style or you don’t.

NTK: Who are your favorite Draculas? What actors have played him best?

NK: My Favorite Actors who have played Dracula. I may or may not like the film or TV show but I like how the actor plays the role of Dracula. In Alphabetical order: Bela Lugosi, Christoper Lee, Claes Bang, Frank Langella, Gary Oldman, Gerard Butler, Jack Palance, John Carradine, Keith-Lee Castle, Klaus Kinski, Louis Jordan, Luke Evans, Max Schreck, Rutger Hauer, Udo Kier, and William Marshall.

NTK:  Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

NK: Curse? Well, as someone with a black cloud over her head, I tend to think of a curse as something one has to work though in life.

NTK: Do you have a favorite curse word?

NK: Fuck. Said three times when facing a mirror.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What work do HorrorAddicts have to look forward to?

NK: Definitely Book Six in Thrones of Blood: Imperliment of the Hybrids. Also, I really want to finish the Sci-Fi/Horror book. It’s one of those stories that can be seen either way. Like the movie Alien and it’s sequels. But it’s not that story or even like that. It’s the idea that it is seen as Sci-Fi by some and Horror by others, depending on your view. That’s what I’m going for.

Oh, and more audio readings!

Short fiction-wise, I have an original story called “Trogs” in Apostles of the Weird, edited by S.T. Joshi for PS Publications and that will likely be in paperback from a different publisher. I’m in The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors 2 with my original story “The Promise.” And I have a story in Lovecraft Mythos called “Always a Castle?” coming out soon from Flametree Publishing.. There are others, but that should do it for now.

NTK: Thank you so much for chatting with me Nancy, you’re a wonderful guest, as always!

NK: You’re kind. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Naching. I appreciate it.

Addicts, you can find Nancy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Blogspot.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: She Dies Tomorrow

Plotline: After waking up convinced that she is going to die tomorrow, Amy’s carefully mended life begins to unravel. As her delusions of certain death become contagious to those around her, Amy and her friends’ lives spiral out of control in a tantalizing descent into madness.

Who would like it: Fans of Dark Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy

High Points: This movie is surreal and thought provoking 

Complaints: I don’t have any

Overall: I enjoyed it

Stars: 3

Where I watched it: Screener

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Book Review: Rabid by Kris Rimmer

A Review of Rabid by Kris Rimmer by Patricia Watson

Kris Rimmer’s Rabid is set in modern Mississippi. It opens with a violent, gruesome death that brings two brothers back together for a funeral. Their widowed mom sends her two city boys camping to share grief and renew their brotherly bonds.

Mortal dangers are everywhere during their trip. Adam, home for the funeral on college break, and Toy, not yet in high school, must rely only on childhood memories of their abusive alcoholic dad to survive. Plenty of bad luck, apparitions, and horrible events complicate every step of their adventure. A run-in with rabid creatures is only a part of their troubles.

The funeral, the wildlife encounters, and cave scenes gave a good creepy feel to the work. Mr. Rimmer has said in book blurbs he is a fan of Stephen King. His admiration for King shows in the American boyhood adventure turned bad aspects of this book and the internal monsters that haunt the characters.

The author did keep me turning pages with fingers crossed. His story had regular disastrous surprises, with nice dollops of gore to add to the misery. I would have enjoyed a bit more of the native humidity, and perhaps a few mosquitoes for local flavor. It is the deep South after all. This book is a short, easy read. I finished it one run. It’s an entertaining book to stow in your beach bag.

Submission Call: Haunts and Hellions, A Gothic Romance Anthology

Haunts & Hellions
a gothic romance anthology
edited by Emerian Rich

GOTHIC ROMANCES of old featured a female protagonist dealing with a terrifying ordeal while struggling to be with her true love. Set against dark backgrounds of medieval ruins or haunted castles, the love interest was either a brooding handsome gentleman or a supernatural monster disguised as a gentleman. Following the example of such works as Northanger Abbey, Phantom of the Opera, The Grey Woman, Dracula, The Woman in White, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Witch House and the like, we want your darkest, creepiest horror love story. 

Although we crave gothic romance style, don’t feel the need to paint a damsel in distress. The woman may certainly be the one who saves the day. We are also open to LBGTQ love stories. The main plot should be horror and romance. We don’t like stories written specifically with social or political agendas. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes horror. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy.

Stories MUST contain: 

  1. An overwhelming sense of menace and dread. Horror must be just as much a part of the story as romance. 
  2. Inclement weather.  ie…fog, rain, snow, hurricane. 
  3. A supernatural horror being or entity. ie…ghost, monster, vampire, werewolf. Being can be the hero, anti-hero, or the being they are battling against. Just remember the editor likes horror. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy.
  4. Set in a spooky location. ie…ghostly gatehouse, haunted lighthouse, dilapidated abbey, crumbling cathedral, terrifying tower, cursed castle, decaying plantation.
  5. Time period 1700-1940. We are looking for the classic gothic romance feeling in whatever time period you choose. Also, if writing a diverse character, please set to time period standards. Know your world, what the political/social rules were and if you break them, make sure it’s plausible. If it’s an alt-history world, make sure our readers understand how it became that way without writing an encyclopedia on the subject.  

Look below for examples of books & movies that have the feeling we are looking for.
No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.
We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.
Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:
*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.
*Double spaced.
*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.
*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**
*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:
https://forms.gle/KKb39vo7Go9FFqGZ6

 

Deadline: October 31st, 2020, 11:59pm PST
Length: 2,000-5,000 words
Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/20). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to: ha.netpress@gmail.com


FURTHER EXAMPLES OF THE GOTHIC ROMANCE FEEL WE ARE LOOKING FOR TO INSPIRE YOUR WRITING: 

Movies: The Hearse, Crimson Peak, Vampire Journals, Dragonwyck, Sleepy Hollow, The Woman in Black, Gingersnaps Back, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Byzantium, Suspiria, Corpse Bride, Mary Riley, Dark City, Kill, Baby…Kill

Books: Northanger Abbey, The Grey Woman, Dracula, The Woman in White, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Witch House, The Yellow Wallpaper

Music: Midnight Syndicate, Valentine Wolfe, Destini Beard, Goblin, Mazzy Star

Musicals: The Phantom of the Opera, Sweeny Todd, Love Never Dies, Corpse Bride

TV Series: Dracula (2013), Penny Dreadful, Dark Shadows (1991), Twin Peaks 

Horror Seeker: Remembering John Saxon

We here at the Horror Seeker would like to take some time to remember the life and career of legendary actor/martial artist, John Saxon who passed away July 25, 2020. It came as a shock, not only to the horror community but to the film industry in general, as Saxon was indeed one of the all-time greats in the business.

John Saxon: 1935-2020 | Tributes | Roger Ebert

On his twitter account, Robert Englund is quoted as saying, “John was my link to Hollywood’s Golden age.” True story. And, speaking of which, when I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Englund about five years ago, the one thing we gushed over was John Saxon! I had mentioned how I’d love to meet him, sadly never got the chance. However, Robert had nothing but nice things to say, and we discussed the amazing accolades of Saxon’s career. From his involvement on the first Nightmare film, as well as Dream Warriors, and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, to his working with some of Hollywood’s biggest names. These include, but are not limited to, Jimmy Stewart, Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood, and Bruce Lee! Just saying that alone, puts Saxon on a whole other level.
Yes, Saxon was a decorated Martial Artist, having been trained in Judo, Shotokan, and studied Jeet Kune Do under Bruce Lee himself! I can imagine he was not the sort of man you’d want to cross. By all accounts, however, Saxon was reported to be the nicest man to be around. As I’ve mentioned discussing his career with Englund, so too did I share a few good memories with Heather Langenkamp during a similar time of meeting her. See below one of my prized pieces.

It was a gift from a friend some years ago, that Heather Langenkamp had signed, as well!

Watching his films (Enter the Dragon, A Nightmare on Elm Street, TV’s Falcon Crest, and Black Christmas) it is clear to see the warm, but rough edges of such a performer who has amassed a near 200 credits throughout his career. HIs career had begun by the time he was twenty (1954), switching in and out of small roles in both TV and film. Those familiar with his work may notice a pattern in his characters, as Saxon was often depicted as a hard-edged cop. Such was his character in Nightmare 1 & 3 as Lt. Thompson. Many modern fans will remember Saxon for his part in A Nightmare on Elm Street, or even Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon, and rightly so. Like all the upcoming slasher films of the early eighties, they were all working on shoestring budgets, and with what cast they could pull together.

While the three titans of 80’s slasher (Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street) had numerous stars such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Bacon, Lawrence  Fishburn, Johnny Depp, etc. they all seemed to have one thing in common. Each franchise started with a single heavy-hitting actor that each series respectfully was lucky to acquire. Halloween; Donald Pleasance – Friday the 13th; Betsy Palmer – and Nightmare got John Saxon. Each actor carried with them the class and strength of old-time Hollywood into an otherwise unproven genre.

Hey! Perhaps this is what slasher horror is missing today. I’ve always asked myself why the genre seems to have died out or at least lost the magic touch it once had. Hmm… food for thought. But, I digress.

While I have not seen all of Saxon’s work, for the films I have watched, Saxon definitely brings a boldness, and confidence to every performance that never comes off as artificial. I don’t see someone portraying a role, I see these characters as they would be. Saxon has been nominated, and won several independent awards, with his crowning achievement being a Golden Globe win in 1958 for This Happy Feeling as Most Promising Newcomer. And yes, he is noted as a “teen heartthrob”. I don’t know ladies, what do you think? Does his rugged persona hold up today?

In any event, John Saxon was an icon of his day, and his loss has been felt by everyone. As if this year wasn’t bad enough; we must say goodbye to a great actor, and a great man. From all of us with The Horror Seeker, we say thank you, John Saxon. Our hearts go out to the Saxon family, and all friends who have felt the impact of his loss. Rest in Peace, 1935 – 2020.

Chilling Chat: Episode #185 – Kathrin Hutson

chillingchat

International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson has been writing Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and LGBTQ Speculative Fiction since 2000. With her wildly messed-up heroes, excruciating Kathrin Hutsoncircumstances, impossible decisions, and Happily Never Afters, she’s a firm believer in piling on the intense action, showing a little character skin, and never skimping on violent means to bloody ends. Kathrin is an active member of SFWA and HWA and lives in Colorado with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. 

Kathrin is a lady of incredible strength and humor. We discussed characters, inner demons, and real-life horror.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Kathrin! Thank you for joining me today.

KH: Thanks for having me, Naching!

NTK: How old were you when you became interested in the darker side of things?

KH: I was ten. It probably started before that, but I’m not sure I can remember much before then.

NTK: What got you interested?

KH: I think the interest first came about as a way to process and orient myself within some fairly heavy changes in my life at the time. When I started reading and writing dark fiction and horror, my parents were going through a divorce that… well, we’ll just say it wasn’t exactly pretty. I’d just moved up to a log cabin in Pine Junction, Colorado, which was where my dad lived for years after that. I was isolated from friends (the few I had) and far removed from school and really any other kids. I don’t know if I can say exactly why, but going through my own darkness and “ten-year-old horror” made me turn not to the happier, fluffier side of fiction but to the complete opposite. I also went to a Catholic elementary school at the time, which also wasn’t very pretty. And I managed to sneak It by Stephen King into the school in my backpack and read that thing every chance I got.

I think it was more of an escape from my own life at the time and all the things I didn’t want to think about as a ten-year-old. A lot of the time, reading dark fiction and horror makes the scariest parts of real-life seem pretty okay in comparison.

NTK: Is Stephen King your favorite author? Who has influenced you in your writing?

KH: He is definitely on my list of favorites. Come on, it’s impossible to just pick one, right? His Dark Tower series is definitely my all-time favorite series. It would have to be since I’m reading it through for the 10th time right now. And I can definitely admit that his writing has seriously influenced my own. Beyond Stephen King, I’ve gotten a lot of influence (content more than style) from H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, and Jacqueline Carey. I definitely include those authors on my favorites list as well.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

KH: When I’m thinking about my “favorite” horror novels, I end up going straight for the ones that creeped me out the most! Which, oddly enough, are books that I’ve then set aside and said, “Okay, I made it through. What a ride! Probably won’t pick that one up again.” The first favorite in that regard – and still a favorite horror novel all around, if we’re not mashing genres – would probably still be It. And coming in at a close second is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. That one made me feel so gross when I finished it – in the best way, of course – that I considered giving it away immediately lol! Yet it remains on my bookshelf. Maybe I’ll work my way up to revisiting it one day. Who knows? I also really, really loved Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, which I know is a lot different than either of the others. That book was definitely my first foray into psychological horror where I actually very much rooted for the main character, despite him being the “horror”. The same thing goes for You by Caroline Kepnes. Yes, I read it before it became a show. No, I haven’t seen the show. But I love an author’s ability to show the insanely dark side of a main character, of a villain, and make the reader enjoy, appreciate, and feel empathy for them even when knowing how awful they are. That’s also something I try to emulate in my own work with morally gray – or completely blacked-out – characters of my own.

See? It’s way too hard to just pick one!

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror movie?

KH: For the longest time, my favorite horror movie was The Ring. I saw that when I was ten or eleven. I remember walking around the gym during PE class and trying to tell my best friend about it. I got goosebumps, and my eyes started watering, and I just couldn’t shut up about it. Which I’m sure she really appreciated…

I honestly don’t watch horror movies – or movies in general – nearly as much as I read. But more recently, I really fell in love with this year’s remake of Invisible Man. Thankfully, I watched it at home with my husband, because I was shouting so loud at the screen that the movie theater would’ve been an awful experience for everyone else around me. That might take the prize for favorite horror movie. I thought it was fantastic.

NTK: (Laughs.)  Do you have a favorite television show?

KH: Oh, yeah! Come to think of it, I actually do watch way more shows than movies. Maybe it’s the 45-50 minutes that I can handle one at a time and still have more to look forward to!

I just finished watching the Netflix Original Dark. Oooohhh. That was incredible. Very creepy and dark and nihilistic in so many ways. And right up there with it is Amazon’s War of the Worlds. I know that’s more commonly considered Sci-Fi, but it has a lot of horror elements too. And then, of course, because I’m also a huge fan of Dark Fantasy – and I mean Grimdark dark bordering on Horror, or maybe just Horror in fantasy worlds – Netflix’s Witcher just got me on every level. I’ve read those books as well and played the videogames and I binge-watched that series like I haven’t watched anything in a very long time.

I also have to give props to Castle Rock and The Outsider. Stephen King’s just hard to get away from, right? By why would you want to? 

NTK: Indeed! (Laughs.) What inspires you? And what inspired you to write Sleepwater Beat and the series it originates from?

KH: What inspires me? A little bit of everything. Not really an answer though, right? I just love the places that dark fiction allows me to explore – or enjoy when I’m reading and watching shows. There’s that sense of taboo, of wondering how far I can really go in putting vivid characters first, fantastic story second, and then all the horror, despair, blood and gore, surprise, and chaos I can fit into one book. It’s a balancing act, which is super fun.

I guess I can say I’m inspired to write into such dark places by the fact that I’ve lived through my fair share of them personally. My parents’ divorce was just the start, but it eventually stretched down a long road that can to a head with heroin addiction and almost not making it out of that one. I know what it’s like to struggle with internal demons. I know what hopelessness and terror feel like on a very real level. And I draw from that in everything I write, no matter what level of horror the story contains. It’s usually quite a bit

The Blue Helix series, Sleepwater Beat and Sleepwater Static so far – there will be more – came from a desire to expose some of the darker, less-explored, marginalized communities in our world through a fictional lens and a noir, Dystopian flavor. That’s especially important with Dystopian Sci-Fi as a genre, and this series went to a place I never expected when both books released with incredibly eerie timeliness – when our reality was already so closely reflecting what I’d written months beforehand in each book. And these books are only set 11 years in the future! I can’t take credit for what happens in our real-world But I wanted to shed light on the fears, struggles, pain, and injustices faced by so many marginalized communities, hopefully, to open up more discussion about these things. In a way, I’m writing about what may seem “scary” to others in order to show that it isn’t actually as scary as they may think. At least not in the way they think it is.

And there’s plenty of psychological horror in this series, fistfights, explosions, creepy interactions, and chaos. My favorite combo 

NTK: It’s amazing how those things formed and shaped you and your writing. Since your stories are character-driven, do you allow your characters free will? Or do you plan their every move?

KH: (Laughs.) I’ve given up on trying to plan my own every move. My characters wouldn’t make it very far if I tried to hold them in an iron grip. They have as much free will as I can offer them while keeping on the general path of the story. Sometimes they learn their lessons quickly. Other times, I have to bash them over the head repeatedly. And even then, it takes a lot for them to climb back out of the pits I throw them into. Some of them never do. Or they make it out again and are completely changed, not always for the better. My characters are always surprising me, and that’s part of the fun. I rarely outline books, and even then, it’s a loose few thousand words from beginning to end. I definitely don’t sketch out my characters before I write them. That’s just my own best method for letting them grow organically, and it keeps things interesting. I get bored fairly easily if I already know exactly what’s going to happen.

NTK: You’ve talked about many of the real-life horrors which have shaped your life. Do you believe in curses? And if so, which is your favorite?

KH: That’s definitely one of the coolest questions! As far as whether or not I believe in curses, I’ll say that the only curses we truly live through are the ones we cast on ourselves. Knowingly or unknowingly. Just like with any curse, it takes a lot of work and dedication to “remove” said curse. I guess I’m living proof that it can be done.

And then that might be my favorite kind of curse to write or read/watch, too. The kind where the character’s greatest strength is also their greatest downfall. Where their own personal “hero” is also their “villain”. The scariest demons to face are the ones that have always been a part of us.

Okay, and there’s also Murphy’s Law lol! That feels like a curse, and when done the right way, it’s just so much fun.

NTK: Do you have a favorite curse word?

KH: Fuck. Always and forever, FUCK.

NTK: Kathrin, what does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

KH: This is super exciting. I have at least one more book in the Blue Helix series coming down the pipeline. Book 3 will be a wild ride and probably the most violent out of all of them, if I’m being honest.

I’m also working on a new LGBTQ+ Dark Fantasy series, Vessel Broken, that is way darker and bloodier than any of my other fantasy to date with an insane occult influence. I’m aiming to have the first book, Imlach Fractured, out in November 2020, so there’s not much longer to wait. I’m so thrilled with this series, though. It’s brutal. I mean, the first chapter is a demonic ritual turned epic bloodbath, and everybody dies! Except for the main character. I swear that’s not a spoiler And I’m so excited to keep going deeper and darker and really let it take over with this series.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Kathrin! You’ve been a wonderful guest.

KH: Thanks so much for having me! This was a lot of fun.

Addicts, you can find Kathrin on Facebook, Twitter, Her Author Site, Her Author Facebook, and LinkedIn.

For updates on new releases, exclusive deals, and dark surprises you won’t find anywhere else, sign up to Kathrin’s Newsletter.

Terror Trax: #185 Another Day Dawns

Another Day Dawns

Members/ What instruments they play.

Dakota McGeehan: vocals

Tyler Ritter: guitar

Nick McGeehan: drums

Jerome Betz: bass


Website 

Album/Song/Tour we are excited about right now.

Our next tour is gonna be with Adelitas Way from March into April, we’re really excited for that because it’s almost all new markets for us. It’s our first tour since release our new album ‘Stranger’ so it’s not just new markets, but all new material as well, so it’s almost like a fresh start for us which is exciting.

 

What singers or bands inspired you growing up?

Tyler: AC/DC, Judas Priest, and a lot of the classics are what got me on a roll with guitar and pushed me to better myself as a musician. I take a lot of different influence when it comes to songwriting though, a lot of bands like Moving Mountains, Tame Impala, Nine Inch Nails, etc., I love artists that can create huge, atmospheric songs that are bigger than just a riff or melody.

Who are your favorite artists today?

Tyler: it’s been a lot of hip-hop recently to be honest. I saw BROCKHAMPTON a few months back and it felt really eye-opening to me. I’ve always listened to a lot of music that’s vastly different from ours, but they taught me how to take inspiration from artists completely out of your field.

What non-musical things inspire your music?

Tyler: lots of video games from me. While I do take inspiration from certain soundtracks, it’s mostly the stories and ambiance that inspire me. Games like Bloodborne, Resident Evil, Dark Souls have such dark, expansive lore it feels very natural to write heavy, powerful songs about them.

Is there a place where you go to be inspired?

Tyler: not specifically, I just try to adjust my surroundings to the best of my liking. Bringing my acoustic out on my roof to write never fails though.

What’s been the greatest achievement of your band?

I think we’re currently gaining on it right now, and it’s hitting 100K views on our new video.  As an unsigned band it’ll be huge for us to organically reach that.  We’re getting pretty close so give it a watch and help us get there!

Where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most?

I think the coolest place venue-wise would be The Machine Shop in Flint, MI. It’s so well run it takes away the natural stress of being on a big bill.

However we generally enjoy the West Coast a lot more, we always have a blast in LA

What are your favorite horror movies?

Tyler: The Evil Dead has to be my favorite. It might be cheating, but I wish horror-comedy was a more popular genre. It’s understandable why it isn’t big though, it’s difficult to organically get as many laughs as thrills in a movie, but it’s obvious Sam Raimi was the perfect person to make one. Other favorites recently have been Midsommar, Hereditary, and Get Out.  Ari Aster and Jordan Peele are doing great things for horror.

What was the scariest night of your life?

For a little bit in high school I dated a girl who was very into the paranormal, but definitely not in a respectful way.  She and her friends brought me to a graveyard one night where I found there was a grave they had already started digging up.  We weren’t even there for 5 minutes before we all heard a very high-pitched, scream-like noise.  Even after leaving right away plenty of strange things happened, her friend had a random panic attack later, objects were falling for seemingly no reason, and we both got nosebleeds.  Needless to say that was our last “date” and I’ve remained very paranoid since.

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band?

I think Wembley Arena is a common dream venue for each of us.  And as huge Office fanatics we’ve always made jokes about getting Kevin’s band “Scrantonicity” to open up for us.

What are you working on now for future release? 

We’ve got another video in the works right now, not sure if I’m allowed to say which song it’s for though.  But I think horror fans will be pleased, it’s looking to be darker than our current “Taste of Heaven” video.

Logbook of Terror: Jessie, Don’t You Loose That Number

Russell Holbrook

Jess sat in his car, watching the windshield wipers in their futile battle against the torrential rain, irritation seeping through his pores. He hated this. He didn’t want to change his number. But Clara wouldn’t stop calling, so it seemed he had no other choice. He was baffled.

They’d broken up a week ago, why couldn’t she leave him alone? What did she want? As he thought of her as if in an act of clairvoyance, Jess’s phone rang. Clara’s name flashed across the screen. Jess cursed under his breath and swiped to decline the call. The stoplight flashed green. Jess crossed the intersection and turned into the Metro Phone parking lot.

The rain pounded on the roof as Jess entered the empty store. A lone clerk, young and disheveled, sat behind the counter scrolling on his phone. He looked up and smiled. 

“Hi, welcome to Metro Phone, how can I help you?” The clerk asked. 

“Uh, yeah, I need to, um, change my number,” Jess replied.

The clerk chuckled. “You coulda done that online. You didn’t have to come into the store.”

Jess frowned. These fucking kids. “You can do it online, you can do it online.” He jeered in his mind. 

“I still prefer to do things in person,” Jess said, and impulsively added, “and I, uh, I want to get a new phone too.” His expression tightened. Why did I say that? Jess wondered. I like the phone I have just fine.

“Ahh,” the clerk said, brightening, “new number, new phone, new you!” 

Eased by the clerk’s cheerful demeanor, Jess smiled and said, “Yeah, exactly.” 

“I think I have just the one.” The clerk walked to the end of the counter and removed a bright, silver phone from the glass display. He held the phone out to Jess. “It’s the new Nebula9000.” 

Light bounced off the phone’s shiny surface, startling Jess. He suppressed a gasp.

“Go on, check it out,” the clerk said.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder Remains Whodunit Expertise

by Kristin Battestella

Alfred Hitchcock (The Birds) directs the 1954 murder mystery Dial M for Murder featuring Ray Milland as an obsessive husband plotting to kill his adulterous wife Grace Kelly. Yes indeed, despite whimsical music, morning newspapers, and stereotypical bliss, our lady is kissing two men as daytime white robes give way to scandalous red dresses and evening cocktails. The reunited lovers catch up on blackmail, anonymous threats, and whether to tell her husband, but the British accents feel a little put on amid heaps of exposition. Fortunately, the pip-pip cheerio phone manner adds to the fronts presented, and banter about buying a car with his money or hers and who gave up one’s career for whom reveal more than what’s really being said. Dial M for Murder has a lot of laden dialogue, past tense tellings written by Frederick Knott from his stage play, and for some audiences, the meticulous talking about comings and goings we didn’t get to see may be too stiff. However, viewers also need to be informed of each recognition, supposedly coincidental encounter, and unaware pretense as the eponymous request drops so casually. Who’s pulling the wool or has one over the barrel and who’s going to blink first? Devious two-handers elaborately orchestrate the perfect crime via untraceable cash, switched keys, and fatally timed phone calls that can’t prove who really did what. The first half-hour of Dial M for Murder tells you who’s going to be killed, when, where, and why with strategic placements, police scenarios, and assumed deductions. The only person who knows different will be dead, but the victim isn’t where she’s supposed to be, leading to suspenseful slip-ups and costly mistakes. Stag party alibis, nightgowns, behind the curtain veils, roughness over the desk, risque strangulation, and penetrating scissors make for an interesting sexual, even cuckold or homoerotic symbolism. Our husband lets another man enter the home sanctity and do to his wife what he cannot – orchestrating the coughing, gasping, purple bruises, and rough aftermath as an over the phone voyeur. A brief intermission gives the audience some relief before locks, shoes, mud, handbags, and thefts leave holes in the revisionist history. What’s been touched, misplaced, planted, burned? No forced entry and suspicious stockings escalate to lawyers, nightmarish trial montages, and an ominous sentencing. However preposterous or unproven, could there another perpetrator? Jolly good men pour drinks and ponder what if, winking at writing a detective novel and putting oneself in the criminal’s shoes. “Just one more thing” deduction a la Columbo wears down the suspect with crunching numbers and attache cases suspense. Viewers must recall how the chess meets Clue really happened as each tries to outwit and reveal the truth.

 

Former tennis star now working man Ray Milland (The Premature Burial) is so doting he even sends his wife to dinner and the theater with another man when he’s working late. Unfortunately, Tony Wendice is clearly up to something, lying on the phone and faking knee injuries amid arguments about why he gave up sports and what he would do if his wife ever left him. Of course he knew about the affair – blackmailing Margot with her stolen letter in hopes the ended correspondence meant they would live happily again. His being the charming husband, however, only serves to hide his obsessive plotting on how to kill his missus. Tony is so suave about it, yet the detailed character focus reveals how crazy he really is – excited and pleased with his guaranteed calculations. He calls the police about this ghastly accident before serving them tea, planting evidence, and telling Margot to corroborate what lies he told. Tony speaks for her, too, using her shock for oh yes, but you see explanations and tidy answers. The debonair tall tales, however, only lead to more questions he cannot escape. Likewise sophisticated Grace Kelly (Rear Window) has ended her romance for her husband, contented at home even if she doesn’t like listening to radio thrillers alone and seems like a kept little girl doing what her husband tells her. Margot robotically repeats what Tony says, confused by police and breaking down at the disturbing, intimate attack. Despite being the female victim held, used, attacked, and judged by men, Margot does have one moment of impaling power that disrupts her husband’s plans. She’s both numb and overwhelmed, not recalling his face but the horrible eyes and shamefully embarrassed for the adulterous truth to come out in her official statement. After all, scandalous women with secrets are unsympathetic to a jury. Mrs. Wendice lied about her lover, so why should anyone believe her now? Robert Cummings (Saboteur) as suave American writer Mark Halliday is here to be our lady’s holiday fancy, using his literary perspective to help Margot though he can’t quite put the pieces together thanks to carefully worded hypotheticals and holes poked in his theories. Shady criminal Anthony Dawson meanwhile – who appeared in the stage production with our Chief Inspector John Williams – is the swarthy, rough, killer womanizer able to do what our husband can’t. Fortunately, our inspector knows more than he’s saying, pursuing unnerving evidence and paperwork with jolly good deduction to counter every seemingly airtight explanation. He has a slick mustache, too!

Originally Dial M for Murder was designed for then vogue 3-D showings – evident now with obvious outdoor backdrops and exaggerated foreground objects. In hindsight, it makes no sense to have such a talkative piece presented in 3-D anyway, and if I could choose, perhaps Hitchcock’s surreal Spellbound would have been a more interesting visual candidate. Bar carts in the forefront, moving silhouettes on the wall, cameras following the cast toward the screen, and filming through doorways also lend depth, but those are more about Hitchcock’s voyeuristic audience rather than three-dimensional staging. Exceptional lighting schemes, flickering firelight, and strategic lamps also spotlight areas or divide the frame for players with opposite motives. Keys and staircases play their usual Hitchcockian part amid retro rotary phones, giant receivers, vintage cars, fedoras, furs, cigars, and cigarettes. Dial M for Murder relies on a small two-room set cluttered with furniture and objects to consider in the fatal orchestration – mirroring Dial M for Murder itself as the film tells you the plan then leaves viewers to wonder who gets away with it via panning cameras, overhead angles, killer point of view, and giallo mood. Frenetic notes match the violence as well as the internal simmering from our seemingly so cool characters, and when we do have action, it’s claustrophobic, intimate, and scandalous. His and hers separate beds are moved out of the bedroom while the illicit couple is seen sitting on one bed, filmed through the headboard during conversations about which man has her key. While the DVD has a brief behind the scenes chat about the fifties 3-D craze, a twenty-minute retrospective with contemporary directors breaking down Hitchcock’s suspense whets the appetite for more. Of course, there are similar plots to a Dial M for Murder like A Perfect Murder that makes audiences these days more aware of the outcome. The slow, talky nature may bother some, yet that hoodwink, who’s bluffing dialogue helps the suspense. Thanks to contemporary in your face and special effects, there’s also a certain appreciation in how Dial M for Murder doesn’t need elaborate set pieces thanks to deceptive performances, in-camera assaults, and crime complications. In plain sight sleight of hand, nail-biting clues, charming criminals, and reverse whodunit lies remain entertaining shout at the screen excellence for mystery writers, fans of the cast, and Hitchcock enthusiasts.

For more Alfred Hitchcock Suspense, revisit more Frightening Flix including:

Alfred Hitchcock Video Starter

The Birds

Early Alfred Hitchcock

 

Need a break from the New Normal? Offerings from A. Craig Newman

From the Author:

I am declaring August 3 to August 10 to be a week-long “Horrific Break From Reality”.

From August 3 to August 7, two of my books will be available for free download from Amazon.com.

Wages of Sin” – The story of two women punished for the crime of loving each other. One is forced to grow extra limbs she can’t control. She was the lucky one.

Burn – A man’s pain sets the world around him on fire.  Taking the wrong drug makes everything freeze to ice.  The pain never goes away.  After committing murder, his pain only grows stronger.

Also available on Amazon.com, “Modern Myths and Fairy Tales” will be on sale for $0.99 from August 3 until August 10, before returning to its normal price of $2.99.

On August 8 at 7 PM, I will be hosting Serial Killer Trivia: Fact and Fiction. There will be 3 fun yet creepy rounds of questions and answers with the highest scoring player of the night winning a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Have a drink, enjoy a little dark humor, investigate some of the lurking monsters who look like your next-door neighbor. Visit Yaymaker.com to purchase tickets for $10

The following excerpt is from my story “Communion Day”.  I hope you enjoy my story.

The doors at the rear of the sanctuary opened. Two large men entered with Monty between them, ankles shackled together, and wrists bound to his waist.  The larger men walked with a slow but steady gait, dragging him between them. 

“What’s going on?” he screamed. “What the hell is wrong with you people?” 

“There is no hope for us without sacrifice,” the pastor said and closed his book. 

“A sacrifice of blood. A sacrifice of flesh,” the congregation responded, finishing the Recounting. 

“What?” Monty screamed.  “Let me go! Let me go!”  He saw Celeste seated in her pew as he passed by.  “Celeste? Celeste! Help me!” The trio stopped at the front of the sanctuary before the pulpit and the great statue.  “Celeste!” Monty called over his shoulder. “Celeste!” 

“Celeste,” the pastor said, “your husband calls to you.” 

“Yes, pastor,” Celeste said before struggling to her feet. She waddled over to Monty and his guards. “Yes, honey?” she asked when she stood before him, her back to the statue. 

“What-what-what the hell is going on? What is this place? Who are these people?” 

“It’s Communion Day,” she said in the calm, even tone of a teacher.  “This is my church and this is my family.” 

“Church?” he repeated. “Like God and stuff, right?” 

“No,” Celeste said. “The Father and The Son,” she said, gesturing to the icons behind her. 

Monty’s face clouded with confusion. “What are you talking about? That’s not God! And that’s not Jesus! Why is he upside down?” 

“That’s The Son. And that was how he was sacrificed.” 

Monty shivered as if he were cold. He looked about quickly. “Honey-honey, what’s going on? Get me out of here. We’ve got to get out of here.” 

“It’s Communion Day,” she said, placing a hand on his cheek.  She kissed him. “We must all make sacrifices,” she said after their lips parted. “You are mine.” 

Ushers came to the front and moved the pulpit out of the way.  A pneumatic lift whirled to life and the great statue of Father started to rise.  Beneath it was a grate and a basin. The grate slid out towards Monty.  His guards carefully lifted his struggling figure and laid him on the grate, attaching his binds to it.  The grate slid back under the statue.  While the bulk of his body was under the statue, his head stuck out to one side. 

“Celeste! Celeste!” he screamed repeatedly. 

She moved to be closer to him, placing a hand on his cheek and kissing him again.  The pneumatic lift whirled to life again and the statue lowered.  Celeste kept her lips to his as the statue made contact and began to press on his body.  His screams into her mouth could be heard in the first rows as the statue continued its slow descent.  His screams turned to choking noises.  When she broke her kiss with Monty, he atomized blood, spraying it over his face and hers.  Monty watched Celeste wipe some of his blood from her face and lick her fingers clean before his pupils dilated and he stopped moving. 

The ushers unlocked and removed a panel at the front of the statue.  The congregation could see the filling basin.  An usher opened a spout and let the blood flow into a goblet.  Pastor Johnson held the cup and ushers stood on either side of him holding loaves of bread.  Approaching in lines, each member of the congregation tore a piece of bread from a loaf and dipped in the goblet of blood held by the pastor. 

“There is no hope without sacrifice,” the minister said to each member. “May your harvest be plentiful.”  They then ate the bread, crossed themselves, and returned to their seats for quiet meditation.

The complete text for “Communion Day” and a selection of my work can be found at www.acraignewman.com.

Merrill’s Musical Musings – Ro’s Recs July 2020

Ro’s Recs July 2020

Greetings and salutations HorrorAddicts! I want to talk about the end of the world today, but in the best sort of way…through music. Many artists over the years have written dystopian tunes and despite the morbidity, we all seem to love them. How many of us danced our high school days away singing “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M.? I think one of the things that makes us brothers and sisters in horror is that we love flirting with that edge of the unknown. So here are some of the best “the world is ending, so let’s rock” songs.

The first song on the list today actually inspired this post. Bring Me The Horizon is one of the most chameleon-esque bands in hard rock/metal today, and they’ve been hard at work during this shelter-in-place. You can follow their antics on their Instagram. The first single they’ve released is Parasite Eve and MAN is it creepy!

In the End by Black Veil Brides asks the question “Who will tell the story of our lives?” The album it comes from has a very apocalyptic aesthetic and is really one of their best pieces of work to date.

The End by the Doors: Because Jim Morrison is the Lizard King, he can do anything, and this song has haunted me since I first heard it as a teen. The Doors were really onto something back then and their music definitely inspires me. 

Everything Ends by Slipknot  Actually, a Slipknot concert would really be my choice of venues for the end of the world. There’s nothing more satisfying than a phenomenal metal show, and Slipknot are the masters. By the way, this song is the perfect antidote to your morning coffee on a day you really don’t want to go to work. Just saying.

This Is The End by The Ghost of Paul Revere I love this “Have a drink and a smoke and say fuck it all” kind of tune. I’ll definitely be checking out more music from this artist as I really dig the vibe. This is an apocalypse in a country dive bar someplace where it’s the last call and you’re nursing your whiskey because you don’t want it to end before the song is over.

The End of the World by The Cure It’s not doom and gloom without The Cure. Period. 

The End Begins by Korn Because Jonathan Davis is the perfect madman to lead us into the ether. 

Who Wants To Live Forever by Queen This song will forever make me cry because of The Highlander and because of Freddy. If you don’t cry listening to this…well…you might not have a heart. 

Ivy by The Amity Affliction. Because nothing says I love you like “we can watch the world burn.” This band is a huge inspiration for me, especially for my Warped Tour-themed Summer of Hush series—which will be re-releasing soon with a brand new novel, Brains, and Brawn—and I love the romance of equating doomsday with love. 

The End Of The World by Billie Eilish.  Billie Eilish has a horror addict streak in her, you can tell by her album cover. This song is eerie and so beautiful. Where would you choose to be?

It’s The End of the World by Islander https://youtu.be/AB-MjdvNK_c I know you’ve all heard the R.E.M. version, but I love Islander and I think everyone should love them too. Listen to “Darkness” and you’ll understand why. 

Preaching The End Of The World by Chris Cornell This song breaks my heart. I miss Chris. I hate it that he felt this way so long ago…but I also love the sentiment of sharing the end of the world with someone special.

To The End of the World by Alestorm  https://youtu.be/lBoFQ0yRSXc We need a pick me up at the end of this list and because you have to end an end of the world playlist with pirate metal, right? 

Here’s a Spotify playlist with all the songs for your listening pleasure. 

No, it’s not really the end of the world, but I know my fellow HorrorAddicts will agree that having the right soundtrack would make it pretty spectacular! So grab your favorite beverage, hug your loved ones, and hunker down with a great horror movie or horror read. If you’re into weird French SciFi, why not check out Blood Machines on Shudder? The music is pretty cool and it, uh, has some interesting visuals. That’s all I’ll say. Well, and apparently it was inspired by a French music group. I’m just saying, it’s out there, and not just outer space out there. And if you’ve got a favorite End Of The World song, be sure to send me your recs. 

Hugs and smoochies and Stay Tuned for More Merrill’s Musical Musings and Ro’s Recs… 

(Sidebar: We will make it through this. I have absolute faith and hope. If you’re feeling less than hopeful, then please reach out to someone, or if necessary, call someone 1-800-273-8255).

The Unforgettable Serena Toxicat

The Unforgettable Serena Toxicat
by Sumiko Saulson

I was so fortunate as to have Serena in my life for twenty-five long years, but honestly, it wasn’t enough. I had always imagined that we would grow to a ripe old age, making art in the Bay Area as so many folks around here do.  Serena’s multiple talents took her around the globe, however. She was a singer/songwriter in multiple projects, ranging from her personal project, the catwave band Protea, to performing with Apocalypse Theater, Stagefright, Starchasm, Manul Override, and others. A fashion designer, professional model, painter, and author, she performed burlesque with the Black Widows, and Scry of Lust. For nearly eight years, she lived in Paris, and she traveled to Egypt, where she recorded vocals in the King’s Chamber.

When I interviewed her in 2019, she said this of her writing:

“I’ve often viewed writing as my first real discipline, even though I was already painting. It is a calling, I suppose–unless what I answered was just somebody in the next room blowing their nose. It started out with a play I wrote in iambic pentameter, a 5-heartbeat/10-syllable-per-line rhythm, and staged at Bannam Place Theater in North Beach with the NOMA troupe we put together. I also won a poetry contest at my school. This is was [sic] when I was 17, and that was when saying “groovy,” “keen,” and “grass” was only barely ironic. I’m not sure why I love writing so much. Authors bring friends, rivals and all manner of events into being through the living power of thought. That’s certainly a part of it. Writing has an emotionally and energetically regulating quality, too. It tunes my mood, turns my switch, and makes me feel like a badass witch!”

Her novels included Evangeline and the Drama Wheel, a cosmic sci-fantasy about a cat-human hybrid named Evangeline in a cybergoth band, and Ghosts in Bones, a touchingly candid fictionalized account of a woman who struggled with anorexia nervosa that often mirrored Serena’s battle with the disorder.  Her poetry chapbooks included, You Send Forth Constellations, Paper Wings, and Consciousness Is a Catfish: stealthily grim, subtly spiritual poems. She had short stories in Wickedly Abled, Scry of Lust 1, and Scry of Lust 2.

DeTraci Regular, a friend and colleague, speaks highly of Serena:

“What I’d like to mention is her incredible generosity. She would do all the work of setting up an event and then invite others to essentially just show up. I’d never done a poetry reading before she invited me, despite having written for literally decades. She was so gracious and beautiful at these events, serving as the ‘hostess’ and making sure others got attention while also participating. In all the times I saw her, I never saw her be mean or petty with anyone, and I also saw her be especially gentle with those who really needed it. This was in juxtaposition to her amazing sharp-edged, intensely truthful writing and her many other talents, all of which pulled no punches. And of course she was wonderful with our ocelots and other cats. They trusted her and she trusted them. She was a true original, unlike anyone else I’ve ever known, and I’m grateful for her presence in our lives.”

Serena was an adoptee, and thrilled when she reconnected with her birth family about five years before she passed away. She is survived by her adoptive mother and her brother, Marc Rovetti.

She loved all things feline: cat ears, cat plushies, cat beanie babies, Hello Kitty, and Grumpy Cat.

Serena was very close to her cats and was predeceased by two of them: Isis and Selket. Selket passed away in February, just before shelter-in-place. Her loving concern for her elderly cat, who had feline leukemia, touched many people’s hearts, as seen by their support for the many fundraisers to support Selket. She also raised money for manuls, also known as Pallas Cats, a pet cause of hers. A vegetarian and an avid animal lover, she raised even more money for Isis Oasis, an animal sanctuary in Forestville, CA. Her 2015 event, ManulFest, a day-long music festival at Isis Oasis featuring Gitane Demone, held a special pride for her. It raised money for manuls in Southern California, as well as for Isis Oasis, which is home to ocelots, bobcats, alpacas, and other exotic animal rescues.

Serena’s Cat-Themed Fashion Show on CatSynth TV:

She has left behind an incredible body of work, which includes her books, also available on Lulu, her music on ReverbNation (Protea and Starchasm), and Bandcamp (old Protea and super recent Protea), and her latest on Bandcamp.

With wholesome, girl-next-door pin-up model looks, Serena enjoyed a substantial modeling career. including work in fashion, fetish, and commercial modeling. In fact, if you buy wigs from Spirit Halloween Store in October, you might see her smiling face modeling a Cleopatra haircut wig. Her many eye-catching tattoos, which covered most of her arms and legs, and often equally colorful hair made her a popular alternative fashion model. They contrasted with her. Serena turned 52 five months before she died. At 52, she was still a stunner and highly sought after as a professional model.

Serena was the founder of the Oakland Temple of Bast, where she served as its priestess among colorful murals depicting the cat goddess Bastet and other members of the Egyptian pantheon. Her service to them also led her to become a priestess at Isis Oasis. She worked as a life coach, and many of her self-help videos can still be found on her YouTube Channel, along with videos of her book readings, and musical performances.

As a visual artist, she not only painted, but also created unique fashions adorned with her feline artwork. She even published a Tarot deck featuring feline images.

Another friend and colleague of Serena’s, Bram Stoker Award-Winning horror author Rain Graves, had this to say of her:

“She sang beautifully, and was in a lot of different groups throughout the years. Ephemeral Orchestra, Apocalypse Theater, Stagefright (Sumiko’s band), and Protea were among her many projects and collaborations. She loved collaboration of any sort. It was fun for her to create with others. It helped her inward shyness, which was hidden by the ruse of extrovert. She was more introvert than many knew. Even when she modeled. She knew how to find the light.

When I was starting out as a writer of dark fiction and poetry, around the same time we met, she had written a few things already. They were very esoteric, brilliantly cerebral, and fluid. Evangeline and the Drama Wheel was among these, a little bit later. It was intelligent and stream of consciousness; ahead of its time. A lot of people didn’t know what to make of it, except other writers.

It was also autobiographical. Almost everything she created was, though tweaked and fictionalized to protect her friends and those she modeled characters after. “

French ‘Mau Bast’ Excerpt 2 – Chapel of the Chimes ‘Garden of Memory’ 2019 – -Manul Override

Film Review: Amulet

Review by Emerian Rich

Part love story, monster movie, creepy house terror, convalescent horror, and goddess/demon damnation story, Amulet is a masterpiece from an unlikely source: Period piece actress, Romola Garai.

Perhaps only Romola could’ve written such a strange mashup of romance, terror, and gothic horror. Being cast in period productions as the spoiled Gwendolyn Harleth in Daniel Deronda, the naïve sister in Nickolas Nickleby, and Miss Woodhouse in Emma, you might think she’s just a sweet, pretty face. She plays the innocent lamb quite well—check out Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights—but this fascinating, twisted script proves she’s got more skillz than simply looking great in a corset. As her first full-length directorial debut, Amulet is sure to put her on the radar as one of the great horror directors of the future. Courageously tackling several timely but taboo subjects under one umbrella, she weaves a story of revenge that I didn’t see coming.

**~spoilers ahead~**

This flick opens on what appears to be an outpost in the deep woods, manned by just one military gentleman. At this point, the viewer is not certain what time period, war, or location he is in. A woman runs into the net of his border patrol and he takes mercy on her, allowing her food and shelter when it is implied that his duty is to shoot her on sight.

Sometime later we join the soldier again. He is homeless and destitute in a city where a nun tries to help by setting him up in a house with a poor woman who needs some handiwork done. When entering the house, you are led to believe you are witnessing the real-time back-story of Nell in The Haunting. A homely girl without many resources is forced to live in squalor to take care of her ailing mother who lives in a locked room upstairs. But the noises and camera work leads you to believe there is something else going on up there.

Romola’s directorial style keeps the atmosphere uncomfortable and suspenseful as she jumps back and forth in time, with mixed steady and unsteady camera shots, leaving the viewer not quite sure where the plot is leading. The last twenty minutes had me on an emotional roller coaster experiencing a mix of shock, terror, revelation, and disgust that I have never experienced watching a film, ever. It left me sitting back stunned as I sewed all the pieces back together long into the end credits rolling.

This film is for the true horror fan. Someone who isn’t faint of heart, isn’t bothered by grotesque figures, and is craving a unique viewing experience. What I like most about this film is that it sets up a rather normal setting where the viewer believes they understand what’s going to occur, until you don’t. And then you REALLY DON’T.

The end of this movie has whispers of the surreal like you’ve stepped into a Dali painting or you’re trapped in the dream sequences from The Cell, 2000. It’s shot with a low-budget feel, but it delivers on so many levels, you’ll still be trying to piece the puzzles together days later.

An outstanding first-time venture, I am excited to see what else Romola has in that not just beautiful but supremely talented, head of hers.

Book Review: Punk Facation ‘Zine

Punk Faction by David Gamage 

Review by VooDo Lynn

Punk Faction was a self-published ‘zine in the 90’s for the hardcore scene in the UK. This book is a compilation of those original ‘zines. Back then, ‘zines were the internet for people, before the internet took off. It provided you with a plethora of important and varied information in your genre, by people who were living it. These books compiled things like reviews of albums and movie directors, letters to the editor, poems, opinion pieces, road journals, and last but not least, articles ranging from vegetarianism, political pieces, the environment, and more.

This publication is from the UK and I am located in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, USA, so there were a lot of bands mentioned that I never heard of, but that’s ok. I enjoyed learning about new music. I read album reviews and interviews with bands ranging from the local Jailcell Recipes, Goober Patrol (which included a recipe for Goober Straws, in case you were interested in the cuisine at the time) and Funbug to the Ramones, Garbage, Mr. T Experience, Rancid, and Green Day.

I read poetry by Steven Jesse Bernstein and “On a Cold Winter’s Morning” by Steve Gamage which painted a very vivid sense of solitude. There were random quotes printed throughout the publication including Milton and Gandhi. Brat Pack director, John Hughes, had a review of his better-known films and Quintin Tarantino had an overview of his success and strategic abandonment of co-creators he left in the wake of said success. There are one-page blurbs on skating, the use of mercury in dentistry, animals in circuses, and my favorite titled one- “I’m Too Sexy for a Job.”

We now come to my favorite part of the book, the articles. Wow, were there some good ones in here. Some of the topics are what you would expect from this type of publication and were not discussed or accepted as it is now, such as cannabis (which isn’t what you would think it’s about), self-publishing, factory farming, and the aforementioned vegetarianism. And then there were the surprises. Topics that were completely unexpected and frankly, those were the things that drew my attention the most.

I read an article on sleeping well and the link (or lack of) between pornography and sexual violence. I learned about hunt saboteurs–something I never even knew existed before now. There was a surprisingly comprehensive and condensed history of the origins of comic books given in an article titled “In Defense of Comic Books.”

My favorite article is “On Dreams.” It starts off on a philosophical note by talking about what dreams are and what their purpose is, if any. The article is well-cited and I read quotes from Cicero, Hildebrandt, and of course, you cannot have a discussion about dreams without mentioning Jung. It then moves into dream interpretation.  I was particularly interested in reading about a scientist that dreamed up an experiment to prove a theory of his, that he then replicated, which ended up working, ultimately winning him a Nobel Prize. Unfortunately, there is no author given, which is sadly the case with many of the articles and blurbs in this book.

I learned a lot from this book. It was kind of fun traveling back in time and reading all this. The only complaint I have is that because of the format of this book–which is basically reproductions of the already photocopied material–I found certain pages to be hard, if not impossible to read. And that’s ok. It is to be expected and what I consider to be an integral part of the ‘zine experience.

Thanks to the internet and YouTube, I was able to enjoy some of the music from previously unknown bands. I read great interviews with bands, including some of the snark I’ve come to expect and appreciate with these types of interviews. I learned some new things about the world and most importantly, I was made to think. This was a great read for me. I love learning about new things, I love art, and I love the DIY attitude and philosophy. If you are feeling like doing a little time travel, you’re into hardcore music, or you are a fan of DIY publications, then this is the book for you.

And remember “…think globally, but act locally…”

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Amulet

Plotline: An ex-soldier, living homeless in London, is offered a place to stay at a decaying house inhabited by a young woman and her dying mother. As he starts to fall for her, he cannot ignore his suspicion that something sinister is going on.

Who would like it: Those who enjoy slow-burning films that stick with you after you turn the lights back on

High Points: My favorite part is how unsettled I felt during all the scenes involving the nun, and then when we find out who it was I was sent into orbit! 

Complaints: None

Overall: I really liked this movie and I’ve watched it twice

Stars: 4 1/2

Where I watched it: Provided a screener Magnolia Pictures

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Chilling Chat: Episode #184 – Shannon Lawrence

chillingchat

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over forty anthologies and Shannon Lawrence 1magazines, and she has two horror collections out: Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations and Bruised Souls & Other Torments. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there’s always a place to hide a body or birth a monster.

Shannon is a wonderful writer and a terrific guest. We spoke of characters, writing, and cheesy horror comedies.

NTK: Welcome back to Chilling Chat, Shannon! Let’s talk about your collection of short stories called, Bruised Souls and Other Torments. How did you come up with the title for this collection?

SL: “Bruised Souls” was inspired by a Shakespeare quote from The Comedy of Errors.

“A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,

We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;

But were we burdened with light weight of pain,

As much or more we should ourselves complain.”

My dad died last year, along with a laundry list of other rough events, and “bruised souls” really spoke to me. In my first collection, I used the title of one of the stories (Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations), and I’d intended to do that this time, but I kept returning to those two words. There were so many bruised souls in the book that it seemed pertinent. Since I’d already broken my established way of naming a collection, I figured I’d keep the same idea for the second part, and “Torments” fit so well.

NTK: Which story in the collection is your most favorite and what inspired it? 

SL: Such a hard question! I think the opening story, “Stuck With Me,” is my favorite story in the collection. It’s much quieter than my usual horror (as are several of the other stories), and it sprang from a real-life incident that horrified me to think of. (I can’t say what that incident was, because it would give away the twist.) Part of why I look at it fondly is because I got to read it to a crowd at a Women in Horror Month event, and people reacted at the right parts. When the twist comes, I not only heard it in the form of gasps, but I FELT the change in the room in people’s movements. It was such a cool moment!

NTK: Are you a pantser or a plotter?  

SL: I’m a bonafide pantser. I’ve tried to plot, really I have, but the story only flows for me when I’m actively writing it as I go.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you plan their every move?

SL: My characters pretty much have free will. Sometimes I really really really need them to do something in order for something else I thought of to happen, so I have to rough them up a bit. Sometimes they still resist, and I just have to go with it and let them lead me somewhere else. 

NTK: Are any of your characters based on a real person?  

SL: Sometimes, though rarely. I usually think of the character and develop them as I go. A couple have been inspired by someone real, such as the characters in “Stuck With Me,” who are loosely based on real-life historical figures. “Your Mother’s Eyes” is based off my mom caring for my dad through his 6 1/2 years with ALS, though the story is flipped (the father is the caretaker), and it’s not ALS. So while the characters aren’t at all based on real people, a smidgen of the real caretaking situation (one’s dedication to their loved one) is based on something real. To be very clear, the rest of the story isn’t, and I wrote it while my dad was still alive. (I feel like people will understand my needing to make a disclaimer if they read the story.) 

NTK: What inspired the story, “Dearest?” 

SL: I was on a weird kick of twisting love in my stories for some reason. I decided it would be fun to write a love letter with a twist that people [hopefully] didn’t see coming right away. I wanted it to be a gradual realization, and then for it to get consistently worse. A lot of the stories in this collection were experiments of various types. I wanted to try different sorts of stories, but also different styles of writing. 

NTK: What’s your favorite cheesy horror comedy? 

SL: Oh my goodness, I love cheesy horror comedies! My favorite would probably change, depending on the day, but a recent funny discovery was Hell Baby. I don’t remember ever seeing trailers for it, but it popped up on Shudder under horror comedies, so I gave it a try. Worth it. All the actors are funny, but the two who stand out are actually side characters: Keegan-Michael Key and Kumail Nanjiani (his character doesn’t even have a name, just “Cable Guy,” but I laughed so hard at one of his scenes, and actually start laughing in preparation for the scene on each subsequent viewing.) It’s basically a comedy version of Rosemary’s Baby (without the scheming friends/family).

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror actor? If so, who and why? 

SL: Oh, so many! I’ve recently become enamored of Tom Savini. Before then, he’d just been Sex Machine from From Dusk Til Dawn, but then I started noticing him in other roles. Finally, the big epiphany: he was the mastermind behind so many low budget horror special effects in movies. The more I learn about him, the more fascinating he is. Shudder briefly had a documentary about him called Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini, which I recommend to anyone interested in special effects and horror.

Having said that, Robert Englund and Tony Todd will always be favorites. I adore them, and love that they still pop into various horror films with bit parts and cameos. Sometimes just voices, but I know those voices the moment I hear them. And ever since discovering her in Ginger Snaps and American Mary, I’ll watch anything Katharine Isabelle is in. Ginger Snaps led the way in coming-of-age horror tales for females (something mainstream films rarely touched on), and she was a big part of that. Plus, snarky wins me over every time.

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

SL: Depends on which language. In English, it will always be the F-bomb. It has the best impact when I need it, and can be cathartic to say. But in French and Spanish it’s shit, because they’re so much fun to say. Especially an angry sounding “merde,” which absolutely must be said with a heavy French accent. The Spanish “mierda” is almost as fun, but it’s not as sneery as merde, when said correctly.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?  

SL: I’m doing a chapbook on dark love with fellow Denver HWA members, without an official release date right now. I’m also putting together a solo collection of winter holiday-themed horror stories, with the intention of having that out in late October, just in time for the holidays. The first story written for it is titled “Deck the Halls with Guts & Madness.” Tra lalalala-lala-la-la. And I’ll have a story in a bundle that’s dark fantasy instead of horror, but I mixed fairy mythology with Native American folklore in an experiment that was fun to try out, and touches on two parts of my ancestry (though the main character is not the same tribe as me–it’s set in pioneer days in Colorado, so she is Ute.)

For non-writing stuff, I’m in the process of putting together an author interview series that will be available on video and as a podcast, plus an unsolved mysteries-type podcast with a partner. Lots of exciting stuff on the horizon!

NTK: It’s been a pleasure chatting with you, Shannon.

SL: Thank you.

Addicts, you can find Shannon on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terror Trax: #184 Sharone

Sharone

Sharone – vocals, piano, synths, composition

Website
Twitter: @sharone-music
Facebook.com/sharone.official
Instagram: @sharone_official


Album/Song/Tour we are excited about right now.

I released my new album ‘Reflection’ back in December. I’m also hitting the studio once I return to track a brand new single.

Insert one YouTube Video link:

 

What singers or bands inspired you growing up?

Amy Lee / Evanescence, Lzzy Hale / Halestorm, My Chemical Romance, and P!nk.

Who are your favorite artists today?

All of the artists listed above as well as In This Moment, New Years Day, Meg Myers, and Badflower.

What non-musical things inspire your music?

My life… haha

Is there a place where you go to be inspired?

Whenever I feel like writing music I have to isolate myself. I find that whenever I try writing with other people the product is rarely as genuine or personal as something I pour all of my emotion into when I’m in my own bubble.

What’s been the greatest achievement of your band?

2019 was my biggest year yet. I opened for five or six different nationals throughout the year, went on two tours, and released #Reflection, which is an album I am so, so proud of. I think that album alone is my greatest achievement thus far.

Where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most?

I played in Salt Lake City in March at a venue called The Underground. That was my favorite show we played outside of Colorado all year. The space was small but every band on the bill was incredible talented as well as kind, the crowd was engaged and energetic, and my bandmates slayed. I hope to go back there soon.

What are your favorite horror movies?

As far as the classics, I love Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist, Psycho, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. From a more modern stance, I loved Saw, The Babadook, Halloween (2018), and Doctor Sleep.

What was the scariest night of your life?

I recently started using backing tracks for my life shows to incorporate the strings, choirs, harmonies, etc. and give myself the ability to move around and perform during certain parts of songs that require piano. The first show that I was using them at was opening for Puddle of Mudd in Golden, CO the first weekend of November. There were a good few hundred people at the show. It was a good crowd. My team and I were just figuring the whole system out and only got one smooth run through with the tracks the morning of the show. We decided to go for it anyway. We had a couple hiccups, but we still pulled it off. The show went great, but I still have never been more nervous/terrified in my life.

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band?

 I will play at Red Rocks before I die. My opening band…I think I’d rather coheadline the show with Evanescence. That’s the ultimate dream.

What are you working on now for future release?

I’m working on a lot of new music, and I’m heading into the studio when I get back from tour in April to record a new single.

Final thoughts / Anything you want to tell the listeners?

Make sure you check out my new album #Reflection. And follow me on Instagram, Spotify, Twitter, etc. to be the first to get sneak peaks of my new releases and upcoming shows!

Merrill’s Musical Musings: My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult

Welcome to Merrill’s Musical Musings. It’s June, people, and that means it’s about time for us to celebrate the Summer Solstice. For some of us, this means hiding from sun and allergies and finding some new horror films or darker music to listen to, and since many of us are still sheltering-in-place, this month’s review comes at a great time. I know I’m getting a little bored with my current playlists. So, join me for something new from some old friends, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. 

TKK are back with a super groovy offering that had me vibing from the get-go. There’s a little bit of everything here, and fans of industrial, lounge, and quirky throw-back music will all dig their latest album. Sinister Whisperz III is a series of unreleased remixes from their years (1997-2017) on the Rykodisc label.  

I recall the band’s early days and love that they were inspired from the start by those old VHS films us 80s kids rented from the corner store (in my case, daily). The band’s name was meant to be the title of a planned film project, but when their employers at Wax Trax records heard the tunes, they realized they’d found their calling in music. While my Mod friends and I were listening to Front 242 and Ministry, TKK was developing their own unique sound. Listening to them now takes me back to those nights we spent in local underaged clubs, as well as the times we were stuck hanging out at high school dances cringing at the terrible music they played. 

“Girl Without a Planet” and “Freaky Fever” are both smooth tunes that have a real 80s dance feel to them and they’re interspersed with harder tracks like “4 Blondes with Lobotomy Eyes” and “Fangs of Love” that remind me a bit of bands like Love and Rockets and Jene Loves Jezebel. I love the bits of dialogue from B-movies sprinkled on top of funky keyboards and synthesizers with an infectious dance beat. “Flesh Star” is a tune that would get any dance floor moving and I couldn’t sit still while listening to “Dirty Little Secrets.” There are plenty of other tracks on the album to get you out of your chair and having a good time. Just throw on your black club clothes with some Dr. Martens and slink around the house looking bored. You’ll feel so much better! 

Check out the latest from My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and indulge in a bit of musical nostalgia, maybe work off some of that quarantine weight on an improvised dance floor while you’re at it. I know I need to get moving. Stay Tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings and Ro’s Recs!