Haunts and Hellions now in eBook!

Now in eBook format!
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Haunts & Hellions edited by Emerian Rich

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

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

To read, go to: Amazon.com

Nightmare Fuel: The Rake

Hello Addicts,

Urban legends and creepypastas are the campfire stories of our day and age. The stories they share are ones to frighten, make us question their reality, and fuel our nightmares. To me, the best are the ones that sound plausible enough to hope they are not real. One such tale is regarding The Rake.

The creature known as The Rake stands around six feet tall and hairless with gray, sallow skin and a humanoid or a dog-like appearance. As if not scary enough, the creature also has big black eyes and long talonlike fingers that will throw the bravest into terror. It is patient, preferring to stalk its prey to feed on their sanity via nightmares and fear. After it is satiated, the creature tears its victim apart or infects them in a fashion similar to the face-huggers in the Alien movies. As frightening as it is, the beast is not one to get physical right away when confronted. It will, however, widen its eyes and mouth to drive your fear into overdrive. There are also reports of it speaking at times in a shrill and otherwise indescribable way. Some say that hearing the Rake’s voice means being marked as its next victim.

Tales of interactions with The Rake are few. One of the earliest is a story in a mariner’s log from 1691, where it names the tormentor as The Rake. Other sources are a Spanish journal entry in 1880 and a suicide note from 1964, each reporting the feeling of terror in falling asleep and waking face to horrid face with the beast. A majority of the creature sightings in the U.S. are around New York and Idaho. There are even instances of the creature caught on video and in trail-cam photos. There was even a video taken in 2018 of a Rake stalking a moose in Quebec, Canada.

The popularity of The Rake in storytelling did not take off until after 2006 when a woman posted her terrifying run-in with the creature online. According to the story, she woke one night to find the terrifying creature staring at her from the foot of her bed and promptly woke her husband. His body curled up after spotting the monster and tightened more when it made its way to his side of the bed. In a flash, The Rake took off to their children’s bedroom, where it brutally attacked their daughter before fleeing. To make a tragic story worse, the little girl and her father died while he rushed her to the hospital by accidentally driving into a lake. The tale concluded with the wife claiming to have captured the Rake’s voice with a tape recorder as she slept, intimating that she may become its next victim.

Like any good legend, the truth behind the stories is often hard to prove one way or another. There is visual evidence and written accounts of The Rake seemingly dating back centuries, but none as abundant as UFOs, ghosts, or bigfoot. In the end, the stories may be tales for people to chill the blood of others around a campfire. Just in case, however, I hope none of you ever wake to find yourself face to horrible face with The Rake.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Odds and Dead Ends :The Silly, Slimy Charm of ‘Braindead’

Horror movies sometimes get a bad rap, and one of the reasons it gets this is all the blood and the gore and the violence and the splattered body parts that can make an appearance in some of its roster. And I’ll admit, on occasion you do watch someone pull glass out of their leg in gratuitous detail and have to admit that it was unnecessary to the emotional impact of the story. But some films can go in for gleeful blood and gore, and despite the usual apprehension, get good opinions in both the public consciousness and decent reviews from the critics. The 1992 film Braindead (released as Dead Alive in some territories), an earlier project from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, is one of those films. By embracing an absurd concept and playing up both the scenario, and the execution (in a filmic sense and a killing sense), it makes for a strangely charming, slapstick zombie comedy that’s fully aware of what it’s doing, and manages to survive the usual criticisms of ‘too much gratuitous violence’.

            The basic plot of the film, for those who haven’t seen it (and if you haven’t, spoilers ahead), sounds exactly like a run-of-the-mill zombie movie we’ve now before. A ‘Sumatran Rat-Monkey’ is captured and placed in the local zoo; an animal which used to be used in black magic rituals. Whilst stalking her shy son, Lionel (Timothy Balme), who is on a date with a young woman she disapproves of (Paquita, played by Diana Peñalver), Vera Cosgrove (Elizabeth Moody) gets bitten by the rat-monkey, and over the next few days she succumbs to her infection in gruesome, decomposing fashion. The infection spreads, culminating in a mansion full of rotting corpses spurting blood and other bodily fluids, and a finale with a lawnmower and an awful lot of body parts.

            Films had come before which had reveled in the amount of violence on screen to self-aware effect; the obvious candidate being Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films. And whilst the first film played it straight (to a certain extent), Evil Dead II took such pleasure in killing off deadites in a gleeful manner that it’s hard not to see it as a possible influence on the tone of this film. There’s also the large amount of practical effects, and the relatively low budget natures of the films (Braindead had around $3m in it, Evil Dead II had apparently a $3.5m budget). But even Raimi’s films, which had set new bars for the amount of severed heads and splattered limbs, can’t come close to Jackson’s movie. Reportedly Braindead is, by the quantity of blood used in production, the goriest film ever made, though of course, we’ve no way to properly assess this claim.

            The excess is so absurd that the film manages to give a nodding wink to the audience that it isn’t meant to take the violence seriously (there’s no way the human body can be cut up that easily, and also contain such an amount of blood). This self-aware presentation is also carried out through the regular comedy of the film, from the ridiculous setup to the occasional joke (we have, for example, a wonderful exchange between Lionel and Paquita, the latter of which exclaims ‘“Your mother ate my dog!”’, with Lionel’s immortal reply of ‘“Not all of it,”’ to follow). At points, Jackson manages to blend the disgusting gore with the comedy, to give beautiful gems which couldn’t happen in any other film. You wouldn’t be able to get a close-up of porridge, eaten a second before, squirting out of the neck-wound of a nearly-decapitated zombie, in even something like a Nightmare on Elm St film.

            By blending the black comedy and the excessive violence together, it can get away with elements which would be frowned upon even in a so-bad-it’s-good movie, let alone one that was just offensive to filmmaking. When you’ve got an eccentric, kung-fu priest kicking zombies with comic sound effects shouting the line ‘“I kick ass for the Lord”’, and an eccentric Latvian vet with a ridiculous accent and glasses who takes money from people’s hands with a pair of tweezers, you understand that this isn’t a film which goes for realism. When we have a man taking on a hoard of zombies with a knife and a cleaver, and we cut back to him standing over a foot-high pile of severed limbs without having suffered even a scratch, we know we’re not meant to really believe he’s fought them all off; the film just says he did and we believe it because we’re just going along with it at this point. And that’s even before the giant inflatable zombie-mother in the finale.

            But despite pulling out ribcages and going through an army of zombies with a lawnmower, there’s some good, quality filmmaking in here. Jackson uses several exaggerated crane moves which would become part of his main arsenal in The Lord of the Rings which look glorious, for example in a scene with Lionel and Paquita on Lionel’s balcony. Their first kiss is led up to by a big crane move from the ground up to the balcony, sweeping in on them as they are swept into each other’s arms; a wonderfully romantic camera movement. The lighting in the finale is great, with just the right mix of psychedelic colours and silvery moonlight turning the blood black. The lighting is even worked into a gag with one zombie thrust onto a light fixture, where bright orange light streams out of her eyes and mouth, turning her in effect into a lampshade.

            And one might even say there’s a little touch on class and possibly even immigration in the film’s writing. Vera and Uncle Les, both wealthy individuals, look down on Paquita (Vera because she believes her to be ‘experienced’, and Les because he’s misogynistic and specifically suggests that he goes after Paquita because she’s ‘“Latin”’), and try to get Lionel away from her. Even the strange vet initially thinks that Les is from immigration, claiming to have lost his papers, showing his deepest fear of being deported.

            It’s a silly, purposefully overdone zombie comedy with far too much blood and gore to be taken seriously, but it’s made a connection with audiences and critics. IMDb has it rated at 7.5/10, which, for a film with this amount of churning guts stinking in the open air, is ridiculous. The dialogue isn’t the greatest, and some of the acting isn’t good. But despite this, Braindead has somehow managed to click the right combination of direction, practical effects, comedy, and sheer absurdity, to make it out of the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ category and into genuine horror merit. It’s not the greatest horror movie ever made, but there’s a slippery, stomach-churning charm to the film which has allowed it to remain in the public consciousness for so long and going beyond the other films in the director’s oeuvre. It’s silly, slimy, and charming.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: kjudgemental

Historian of Horror : To Creep or Not to Creep, That is the Question…

To Creep or Not to Creep, That Is the Question…

In most cases, someone has to have had a significant or even seminal impact on some aspect of their field of endeavor to have an award named after them. Hugo Gernsback essentially created science-fiction as its own genre, so the main fan-based award for that branch of literature is known as the Hugo. It looks like the rocket ship from the 1950 film, Destination Moon. Edgar Allan Poe invented the detective story, so the commemorative statuette given out for mysteries is the Edgar. It’s a bust of the author. Bram Stoker’s Dracula has had an enormous effect on the popularity of horror, so the trophy for spooky writing is the Bram Stoker Award, which is in the shape of a haunted house. And so on. And so on.

You would think that a significant award for classic horror might be named for a major figure in the history of our genre. H.P. Lovecraft, perhaps. Until 2016, the World Fantasy Award was a bust of him. Boris Karloff might be another likely candidate. Or Bela Lugosi. Maybe Rod Serling. Surely someone of the stature of any of these gentlemen deserves to have a statuette modeled in their likeness to be given out for meritorious achievement.

So, why is the classic horror award not named for one of them? Why name it for a character actor who appeared in a barely noticeable bit part in one of the great horror films of that great horror film year of 1939, and a short series of performances as essentially the same character in a handful of extremely minor horror entries?

Why the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award?

Because Rondo Hatton was ugly, that’s why. Really, truly, a physically deformed human being. The Man Who Didn’t Need Makeup to Play a Monster! Who better to exemplify the monstrous and horrific?

He didn’t start out that way. He was actually voted the most handsome boy of his high school senior class in 1913, but around the end of the First World War, he began to manifest symptoms of acromegaly, a disorder of the pituitary gland that causes accelerated growth in the bones of the head, face, hands and feet, and in some of the internal organs. Including the heart.  Hatton did serve in the United States Army in France, but despite some reports, did not develop the disease as a result of a German mustard gas attack. It was a natural but extremely unpleasant occurrence. 

It did, however, take him to Hollywood. He began picking up bit parts, including as one of the ‘Ugly Man Contest’ participants in the Charles Laughton version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). Laughton’s Quasimodo won, of course, and Rondo went on to pile up a modest list of very small and rarely credited parts.

Going to backtrack here, a little bit. By the time you see this, you’ll possibly have been able to listen to Episode #195 of the Horror Addicts podcast for this season. In my little section, I stated that it was my intention to take a look in this space at the horror output beyond the main line of the Universal horrors, both at that studio and the others. Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man get the bulk of the press, so I thought I’d explore some of the lesser and less well-known efforts. Like the Inner Sanctum movies starring Lon Chaney, Jr., or the Captive Wild Woman trilogy.

Or The Creeper.

Which brings us back around to Rondo Hatton.

In the last two years of his brief life, Rondo wound up at Universal, where he played an inarticulate brute known variously as the Hoxton Creeper, Mario the Man Monster, or simply The Creeper. Basically the same character, a hideous murderer who crushes his victims in an iron grasp. Apart from the first one, an entry in the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes series, the series was so minor a run it barely registered at the box office. And yet, there’s that pesky award to bestow upon The Creeper a cachet he never enjoyed in his lifetime.

Good for him, I say. Not sure what he would say, though.

His first outing, as the Hoxton Creeper, was in The Pearl of Death, based on the Sherlock Holmes short story, “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”. It was the ninth film of the fourteen in which Rathbone played the great detective, the seventh at Universal. The first two were made by Twentieth-Century Fox, and one of those will be examined when that studio comes under the monstrous microscope in due time.

A pearl of great value has been hidden inside one of six busts of Napoleon sold to six different residents of London. The main villain sends out his henchman, the Hoxton Creeper, to smash each one until he finds the pearl. Of course, the owners of the busts object. Rondo reacts to their remonstrances by crushing their spines. Holmes is called in and figures things out in the requisite sixty-nine minutes allotted to b-movies at the studio in those days.

Evelyn Ankers, the studio’s resident “Queen of the Bs”, co-starred as another of the villain’s accomplices in her second appearance in the Holmes series. She had a long career in Universal horrors, barely escaping dismemberment at the hands of Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Wolf Man in 1941, strangulation by his Frankenstein Monster in Ghost of Frankenstein in 1942, and exsanguination by his Count Alucard in Son of Dracula in 1943. One wonders if Chaney had something against her. 

Spoiler alert – she didn’t always get away from him.

Rondo’s second turn, this time as Mario the Man Monster, came in what is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a sequel to another of the Rathbone Holmes pictures. The deliciously menacing Gale Sondergaard, who deserves a thorough examination in a future entry, played the title character in the 1943 Holmes picture, The Spider Woman. In 1946, she starred in The Spider Woman Strikes Back, which has absolutely no connection to the Holmes movie or her character in that film. Rondo is her lurking henchman as she slowly drains the blood from Brenda Joyce, who survived well enough to continue playing Jane in what was eventually a total of five Tarzan pictures. Mario neglects to crush anyone’s spine this time out, but he adds just a soupçon of that frisson the movie could have really used a lot more of.

Rondo made two more pictures, both as The Creeper, before passing away from a series of acromegaly related heart attacks on February 2, 1946. House of Horrors and The Brute Man were released posthumously, to barely noticeable acclaim. Rondo’s body was flown back east for interment in the American Legion Cemetery in his hometown of Tampa, Florida. He was fifty-one years old.

1945’s House of Horrors starred Martin Kosleck as a sculptor who is The Creeper’s only friend and protector until Rondo turns on him over the affections of the lovely Virginia Grey. Kosleck went on to forge something of a career playing Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. He died in obscurity in 1994.

Grey played in a number of prominent mainstream pictures before and after being menaced by The Creeper, including Another Thin Man in 1939, The Big Store with the Marx Brothers in 1941, and in support of star Lana Turner in 1966’s Madame X., Her last horror film role was Black Zoo in 1963, starring future Batman butler Michael Gough as the naughty zookeeper. Grey kept company for some years with King of Hollywood Clark Gable until he got distracted by and married a British noblewoman in 1949. She passed away in 2004.

Speaking of Batman’s butler, Alan Napier from the 1960s television series and 1966 feature film also appeared in House of Horrors. And the hero is played by Robert Lowery, who portrayed none other than Bruce Wayne himself, as well as his cowled alter ego, in the 1949 Columbia serial, Batman and Robin

Everything leads back to the Caped Crusader eventually, it seems. 

Finally, the least of the entries, The Brute Man, removed the last vestiges of the mild sympathy one might have felt for the poor Creeper and turned him into exactly what the title suggested, a brute hunted relentlessly by the police for going around breaking other human beings. Rondo blames hero Tom Neal for his disfigurement, leading to his antisocial behavior. Not much more plot than that, I’m afraid. In 1945, Neal played the lead in the film noir classic, Detour, directed by legendary horror director, Edgar G. Ulmer. He was convicted of manslaughter in the accidental death by gunshot of his wife in 1965. He served six years in prison and died in 1972.

So. There it is. The entire horror career of the man for whom a respected award is named. Of course, his grim visage has been resurrected often in comic books on both sides of the Big Pond, and as one of the villains in the 1991 film, The Rocketeer. And he has been referenced here and there in novels and television shows since the 1970s. And there’s the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award, which is modeled on the bust of The Creeper created by the Martin Kosleck character in House of Horrors

I like to think he’d approve of all this attention. I’d like to, but I have to wonder how he would feel about his unfortunate situation being exploited so. Would he be grateful to be remembered so long after his death, or embarrassed by the context of that remembrance? 

I don’t suppose we’ll ever know. 

Until next time, fellow fiends…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

And maybe, a tad compassionate.

#HauntsandHellions: In Case You Missed It…

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Did you miss out on our Haunts and Hellions Book Events, Horror Addicts? Well, never fear. Here’s your last chance to see what you missed.

WHAT? WEBSITE
31 Days of #GothicRomance on Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/horroraddicts.netpress/
Press Release for Haunts &Hellionshttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/13/horroraddicts-net-press-presents-haunts-and-hellions/
Haunts & Hellions Inspiration for the Bookhttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/15/haunts-and-hellions-the-backstory/
Chilling Chat: Author Lucy Bluehttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/16/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-lucy-blue/
Excerpt “The House Must Fall”https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com/single-post/haunts-and-hellions-a-gothic-romance-anthology
The Inspiration Behind “Left Behind”https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/17/haunts-hellions-the-inspiration-behind-left-behind/
Excerpt “Hungry Masses”http://www.emmyzmadrigal.com
The Inspiration Behind “The Siren and Bowery Jack”https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/19/haunts-hellions-the-inspiration-behind-the-siren-and-bowery-jack/
Excerpt “Left Behind”emzbox.com
Chilling Chat: Author Emerian Richhttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/21/chilling-chat-episode-194-haunts-hellions-emerian-rich/
HorrorAddict.net #194, Haunts and Hellion Podcasthttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/21/horroraddicts-net-194-haunts-and-hellions/
Excerpt “She Woke at Midnight”https://nachingkassa.wordpress.com/2021/05/23/an-excerpt-from-she-woke-at-midnight/
Chilling Chat: Author B.F. Vegahttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/23/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-b-f-vega/
Chilling Chat: Author N.C. Northcotthttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/24/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-n-c-northcott/
Chilling Chat: Author Kevin Groundhttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/25/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-kevin-ground/
Chilling Chat: Author R.L. Merrillhttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/26/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-r-l-merrill/
Chilling Chat: Author Rowan Hillhttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/27/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-rowan-hill/
Chilling Chat: Author Daniel R. Robichaudhttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/28/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-daniel-r-robichaud/
Excerpt “Companions”http://daphnestrasert.com/write-as-rain-1/2021/5/29/haunts-and-hellions
Chilling Chat: Author Tara Vanflowerhttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/29/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-tara-vanflower/
The Inspiration Behind “She Woke at Midnight”https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/30/haunts-hellions-the-inspiration-behind-she-woke-at-midnight/
Chilling Chat: Author Emily Bluehttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/05/31/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-emily-blue/
Excerpt “With Red Eyes Gleaming”https://consideringstories.wordpress.com/2021/06/01/handh/
The Inspiration Behind “Californio Fog”https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/06/01/haunts-hellions-the-inspiration-behind-californio-fog/
Chilling Chat: Author Daphne Straserthttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/06/02/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-daphne-strasert/
Excerpt “Lady of Graywing Manor”http://blueswriterthoughts.blogspot.com/2021/06/haunts-and-hellions-excerpt.html
The Inspiration Behind “Companions”https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/haunts-hellions-the-inspiration-behind-companions/
Excerpt “Love Never Dies”https://www.writerrowanhill.com/blank-page
Chilling Chat: Author Naching T. Kassahttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/06/06/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-naching-t-kassa/
Excerpt “Maudaleen”https://nachingkassa.wordpress.com/2021/06/18/an-excerpt-from-maudaleen-by-kevin-ground/
The Inspiration Behind “With Red Eyes Gleaming”https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/06/09/haunts-hellions-the-inspiration-behind-with-red-eyes-gleaming/
Excerpt “The Siren and Bowery Jack”https://thetaooftim.wordpress.com/2021/06/17/haunts-hellions-an-excerpt-from-the-gothic-romance-anthology/
Chilling Chat: Author Emmy Z. Madrigalhttps://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/06/11/chilling-chat-haunts-hellions-emmy-z-madrigal/
The Inspiration Behind “The House Must Fall”https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/06/12/haunts-hellions-the-inspiration-behind-the-house-must-fall/
Excerpt “Blood and Dust”http://emzbox.com
The Inspiration Behind “Maudaleen”https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/06/14/haunts-hellions-the-inspiration-behind-maudaleen/
Excerpt “Californio Fog”https://bookhoarding.wordpress.com/2021/06/15/haunts-hellions-excerpt/
The Inspiration Behind “Hungry Masses”https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/06/16/haunts-hellions-the-inspiration-behind-hungry-masses/
Excerpt “My Ain True Love”https://lucybluecastle.wordpress.com/2021/06/17/haunts-and-hellions/

#HauntsandHellions: The Inspiration Behind “Hungry Masses.”

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The Inspiration Behind “Hungry Masses.”

By Emmy Z. Madrigal

SS_WaratahMy story in Haunts and Hellions, “Hungry Masses” was based upon a real ship that was lost at sea. The SS Waratah (named after an Australian flower) was a passenger and cargo ship built in 1908 by the Blue Anchor Line. Its route was from England to Australia, and then back to Europe via Cape Town, South Africa. In July of 1909, it vanished with 211 passengers and crew aboard. It has never been found.

During my research of the SS Waratah, I discovered a lot of history. I combed through passenger lists and descriptions. I looked at the ports it stopped in and what type of people it may have picked up. Where did they come from? Where might they be going? Some of the characters in my story are based (loosely) on characters I read about. Some of the names I used are actual surnames of the passengers and crew. Because it was never found and passengers lists are very light, I had to fill in a lot of the details for myself. I was not on that ship when it met its fate, but then again, no one who was, is alive to tell about it.

I’ve always been interested in the lost ships of history. The Mary Celeste is one I love reading about. In the papers and articles written about the Mary Celeste, they speculate about why it was found, but without its passengers. What happened? Why did the people abandon the ship? Why were they never found, and what was that slimy muck that was found all over the deck? This got me thinking… What kind of creature might have attacked? Did a giant Kraken gobble up the crew and leave behind its slimy trail? Did a disease take hold of the passengers that manifested slime?

Mixing these two disappearing ships, and countless other occurrences like them, I wove a tale. “Hungry Masses” takes place on the SS Waratah and tries to explain what might have happened on that fateful journey. Who were the passengers on the ship really, and what illness might have overtaken them? And why wasn’t the ship ever found? If the boat had been struck by storm or breakdown, wouldn’t remnants have been found? What happened to the boat to make all traces of it cease to exist? Where are the bodies?

What would you do if you were on a ship and a sudden illness broke out? How would you protect yourself? Would you take the hero role and save others first? Or would you hide in your cabin until everyone was gone?

Emmy Z. Madrigal is the author of the Regency novella, Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe.  Her previous works include the

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Sweet Dreams Musical Romance Series and the novelettes Anime Girl and Anime Girl 2.  Emmy has been praised for her realistic portrayal of modern female characters and their will to survive in a world of adversity, prejudice, and economic hardship.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Gaia

Plotline: On a surveillance mission in a primordial forest, a park ranger encounters two survivalists following a post-apocalyptic lifestyle. The boy and his philosophical father seem to have their own religion, and a mysterious relationship to nature. There are many suspicious aspects to their existence, but when the cabin is attacked by strange, post-human beings one night, she learns that there is a greater threat in this emergent wilderness.

Who would like it: Fans of religious horror, eco horror, fans of the occult, suspense, the outdoors, and anyone who love a damn good horror movie

High Points: I really believe this is more of a religious/occult movie more than an eco-horror. With that being said, I loved seeing the parallel between the pagan and religious beliefs and practices

Complaints: The black guy dies 1st

Overall: I loved it!

Stars: 4

Where I watched it: Pre-release screener.

 

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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

From The Vault: Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 10 Drinks to Pair with Horror Movies

From the Editor: Just in time for the hot days of Summer, we rerun this cool ghoul article ~

Sometimes, I like to wind down from the day with a little horror movie and a nice drink to go alongside it. And, hey, did you know there are LOADS of recipes out there for Horror Addicts to try? Sure, you may have heard of The Zombie or The Vampire’s Kiss (and who hasn’t had a Bloody Mary?), but I found ten recipes that are a little off the beaten path.

The Lady in White
1½ oz gin
¾ oz triple sec
½ oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Pair with The Curse of La Llorona (2019)

Moonlight
2 oz apple brandy
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
Shake with ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass.
Pair with The Wolfman (1941)

The Obituary
2 oz gin
¼ oz dry vermouth
¼ absinthe
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Pair with The Invisible Man (2020)

Satan’s Whiskers
¾ oz gin
¾ oz dry vermouth
¾ oz sweet vermouth
½ oz orange liqueur
½ oz orange juice
1 dash orange bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Pair with The Uncanny (1977)

The Victor (Frankenstein)
1½ oz gin
½ oz brandy
½ oz sweet vermouth
Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Pair with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Black Devil
2 oz light rum
½ oz dry vermouth
Garnish: Black olive
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the olive.
Pair with Drag Me to Hell (2009)

El Chupacabra
2 oz blanco tequila
¾ oz grapefruit juice
½ oz lime juice
½ oz Campari
½ oz simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime.
Pair with Indigenous (2014)

Black Magic
1½ oz vodka
¾ oz coffee liqueur
¼ oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into ice filled old fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Pair with The Craft (1996)

The Headless Horseman
2 oz vodka
3 dashes angostura bitters
Ginger Ale
Pour vodka and bitters into a Collins glass, add ice, fill with ginger ale, and stir. Garnish with orange.
Pair with Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Little Devil
¾ oz light rum
¾ oz gin
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz triple sec
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Pair with The Omen (1976)

Do you have any drink recipes you want to share? Or maybe there’s a must watch movie that pairs well with one of these? Be sure to tell us in the comments!

#HauntsandHellions: The Inspiration Behind “Maudaleen.”

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The Inspiration Behind “Maudaleen.”

By Kevin Ground

“Maudaleen” was inspired by news reports of frustrated brides cancelling their weddings, and undertakers struggling to cope with the overwhelming challenges of multiple bereavements and social distancing regulations. All due to the British government’s Covid 19 epidemic lockdown restrictions on large gatherings.

The fusion of both issues led me to think of the scenario of a bride denied happiness, by the untimely death of her groom. Distraught and broken-hearted by circumstances beyond her control. It is entirely likely she would rage at the injustice of it all. Turning her face away from the world while she grieved for a love unfulfilled.

Take this set of circumstances back into the Victorian age. When mourning the death of a loved one followed clearly defined social protocols, and the story of Maudaleen became a reality.

My own experience of regular visits to a wooded Victorian cemetery provided the backdrop against which the story is set. I completed the initial draft of the story with a cold northeast wind driving rain showers against the windows while I worked. The near darkness of a dreary late autumn afternoon setting the mood.

Kevin GroundThird age author and spoken word performer, Kevin Ground specialises in Victorian, Gothic, contemporary horror, and ghost short stories. He actually doesn’t know where his preference for the revolting comes from, other than to say he is always, always turning normal on its head and seeing where his imagination takes him. He rarely knows where a short story is going till it’s finished.         

Book Review — “Made in L.A. Vol. 1: Stories Rooted in the City of Angels”

Hello Addicts,

This month’s book review takes us to Los Angeles, CA. The anthology Made in L.A. Vol. 1: Stories Rooted in the City of Angels contains stories written by Los Angeles based authors which take place in or around the Los Angeles area. The tales range from funny to spooky and many genres in between.

The first in the anthology, “Between Broken Pieces,” is about an actress trying to be what everyone expects her to be, no matter how self-destructive it is. The story, shared from the points of view of the four women most directly tied to her life and career, is the kind of tragic story that can carry the tagline, “ripped from the headlines.”

The second standout for me takes place in the Cecil Hotel, “No Vacancy.” A man travels to the famed haunted hotel with a psychic to help him solve a mystery involving his sister that led to her death.

Another that caught my imagination was “Unquiet Baggage.” The story is told from the perspective of a murdered man as he follows the suitcase carrying his remains wherever his husband goes with them. It very much has a “The Lovely Bones” feel about it.

In truth, any of the ten stories included in the anthology is well worth the read. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good rainy day read.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

#HauntsandHellions: The Inspiration Behind “The House Must Fall.”

HHBannerThe Inspiration Behind “The House Must Fall.”

By R.L. Merrill

“The House Must Fall” was inspired by my love of all things Edgar Allan Poe, specifically the “House of Usher.” I absolutely loved the story and the Vincent Price film. I thought a gay retelling of the tale would be delightful. I strayed a bit from the original, but I’d like to think Eddie would approve. I love local Bay Area history, so when I was looking for a location, I came across the magnificently macabre-looking Millbrae Mansion, which sadly burned down in the mid-1950s. The opening to the story has our hero Sterling Mackey, heir to the Mackey family out of Virginia City, Nevada, traveling across the fog-covered San Francisco Bay and up a steep slope toward a menacing manor cut into the peninsula hillside. Once I had that picture in my mind, the words poured out.

The romance between the doomed Montgomery and the determined Sterling tugged at my heartstrings, and I don’t think I’m done writing about them. I pictured these two university men with more money than they could spend in a lifetime, enjoying the lavish lifestyle provided by California’s Gold Rush…how much mischief—and trouble—they could get into, and yet their love is strong despite the fact society would not approve.

I’m grateful to HorrorAddicts.net Press for giving me the chance to share this tale of longing and dread with you and I can’t wait to dive back into my incredible state’s history to write more horror stories. If you like “The House Must Fall,” be sure to check out the Gone With The Dead anthology for my story “A Piece Of Him,” the Dark Divinations anthology for “Breaking Bread,” as well as my shared-world story “The Fourth Man” in The Banes of Lake’s Crossing collection.

Merrill_RL-HeadshotR.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing contemporary, paranormal, or supernatural, she loves to give readers a shiver with compelling stories that will stay with you long after. You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, writing horror-infused music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.          

Chilling Chat: Episode #195 – Eugen Bacon

Eugen Bacon is an African Australian computer scientist who has mentally re-engineered into creative writing. Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Foreword Book of the Yeareugen bacon - Genni Matty Awards, Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans. Her novella Ivory’s Story was shortlisted in the 2020 British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards. Upcoming: Danged Black Thing, a short story collection by Transit Lounge Publishing (2021) and Mage of Fools, an Afrofuturistic dystopian novel by Meerkat Press (2022). 

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

EB: I was seven or eight and it was night. I was sprawled on a couch in the living room with my mother. She must have forgotten I was there, or perhaps she thought I was asleep. She was watching TV, a British horror I Don’t Want to be Born, sometimes titled Sharon’s Baby, starring Joan Collins, Eileen Atkins and Ralph Bates. The drownings, the stabbings, the hangings, the decapitations.

They stayed with me, that trail of death surrounding a sinister infant whose evil refused to give in to exorcism.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

EB: A few, actually. You never really think of Toni Morrison’s works as horror, as she’s stunningly literary. But BelovedSulaThe Bluest EyeGod Help the Child… Scenes in her stories haunt you, like forever.

I am enamoured with multi-award-winning Australian author Kaaron Warren, who’s mastered the art of shadow existence in her fiction, skilfully personifying conflict, the unknowable or evil in her perturbing text that threatens your very sanity in all things spectral. Read Tide of Stone or Into Bones Like Oil, you’ll get what I mean.

I adore J. Ashley Smith, another Australian author, who writes with solemn beauty and malevolent darkness. His text is poetic and ghoulish—Ariadne, I Love You is his latest offering.

But, ultimately, it’ll have to be Mary Shelley for Frankenstein, right?

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

EB: So, there’s Shelley’s Frankenstein­—we’ve established thata novel ahead of itself with its promethean theme in gothic horror. Its descriptive narrative approach uses letters and first-person perspectives of primary characters like Dr. Frankenstein and the beast he’s created from the dead.

Offering personal insight through this first-person point of view, Shelley shares with the reader her curiosity in the characters she has developed: like Dr. Frankenstein and his clinical attitude but deeply feeling nature; he is a scientist who feels heart and soul, ardent in his pursuit of an experiment that brings to life a monster. Like the creature Frankenstein has created, that is drawn to him but whom he abhors, calling it a daemon. It is shaped in the figure of a man, runs bouncy. It is yellow-eyed, muscles and arteries visible through yellow skin. It is proportionate-limbed, its hair a lustrous black, its lips straight and black. And it too feels, just as deeply, and becomes fiendish when it is miserable. And the doctor’s abhorrence keeps it miserable. The reader understands its solitude, its longing, its repugnance with itself and its deformity.

There’s world-building, aesthetic descriptions of valleys and glaciers and hill summits and vast mountains, precipitous ascents and places of desolation. Frankenstein elicits a mild kind of fear, largely arising from its dealings with a creature resurrected from the dead (paranormal effect), one that the reader can both relate to (in its pining) and loathe (in its manipulations).

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

EB: Blade, Blade, Blade. It can’t be Blade without Wesley Snipes: half-human, half-vampire.

I love all adaptations of Dracula, Frankenstein, and totally Underworld—Kate Beckinsale is my secret crush.

NTK: What is your favorite television show?

EB: Roots—horrific, as it was. I’ll never forget Kunta Kinte—how is this story not a horror. I feel rage each time I think of those days of slavery. Arabs did it too in East Africa, dhows full of famined slaves—scarecrow thin—to Oman.

Sadly, we still have all forms of slavery still happening today, and people who unsee it.

Lovecraft Country took me places, to gloom, hope, and fuck you, Lovecraft, and every friggin’ white supremacist.

NTK: Where do you find inspiration?

EB: Stories are everywhere! I write on a longing, a memory, a trigger. It may be a word, a phrase on TV, at the train station… Ideas float everywhere, and something just strikes, refuses to let go. I feel, I smell, I listen, I see… my mind locks onto something that won’t let go.

NTK: What inspired the story, “Unlimited Data”?

EB: It was a commissioned story for a Cyberfunk anthology. I was walking along the Tan track in Melbourne, when suddenly I remembered seeing this job ad: ‘Must have a smart phone’. It inspired this story of a woman in the village in Old Kampala—she gives all for her family, because her husband’s job needs unlimited data.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience been in the horror community?

EB: I’ve been blessed to be part of a community of writers, on and off social media, for example the Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA), Writers Victoria, Writing NSW—where I sometimes teach, Horror Writers Association (HWA), Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA).

I offer something different as a person of colour in Australia, who is also a migrant. There’s some openness to my writing, but I feel that Australia is not quite there. I have a bigger community of support in the US, UK, and the rest of the world, I think.

There’s a big community of black speculative fiction writers, and a sense of homecoming with the African Speculative Fiction Society that administers the Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans.

NTK: What is your best piece of advice for the new writer, someone who’s just started in the business?

EB: Edit, edit, edit. Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to find voice, to mature.

Join a supporting organisation of writers fascinated with the genre(s) you write, for example Horror Writers Association. See also if there are local writing organisations that offer you valuable resources and a sense of community. You’re not alone.

Rejections are never personal, sometimes they feel like it. One literary agency replied with the line: “Please remove us from your spam list.”

Guess who’s laughing at them now?

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

EB: I have a literary speculative collection, Danged Black Thing, out by Transit Lounge Publishing in November 2021. It has stories with urgency about love and migration, gender and class, patriarchy and womanhood, climate change and bad politics… about women and children in societies where men hold all the power.

I also have an afrofuturistic dystopian novel, Mage of Fools, out by Meerkat Press in March 2022.

In work is a dark, illustrated collection of microfiction—the illustrator Elena Betti is something else! I wrote it during the peak of the pandemic and events surrounding Black Lives Matter. Interesting conversations happening right now, I hope to announce a placement soon.

Addicts, you can find Eugen on her Website and on Twitter.

#HauntsandHellions: The Inspiration Behind “With Red Eyes Gleaming.”

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The Inspiration Behind “With Red Eyes Gleaming.

By Daniel R. Robichaud

When I got a real person job, engineering for one of the big oil and gas companies here in Texas, my wife and I took two big trips to Japan. We went to Okinawa and a couple of the smaller islands far from the mainland first, and then traveled to the mainland after that. My wife speaks Japanese, as do a few of our friends who were living there as part of the JET program, teaching English to young students. I can excuse myself, be polite while requesting help, and say thank you. Our friends gave us crash space and took us around, showed us the sites. Those trips changed my life.

Visiting an old castle in the middle of a rainstorm, participating in a proper tea ceremony, taking dinner at Arucard’s (a restaurant with a Dracula theme), and soaking in the culture and the scene made quite the impression on me. Prior to that, I was an enthusiast of the media from that nation, particularly the fiction of Suzuki Koji and Edogawa Rampo as well as a wide range of films. Those trips intensified my interests.

Flash forward a few years, and when I encountered the idea for this anthology, I realized I very much wanted to blend gothic romance with a Japanese flavor. I got the image of a claustrophobic woman descending a narrow set of stairs into a rocky subterranean world, and the rest came out of that image.

Daniel RobichaudDaniel R. Robichaud lives and writes in east Texas. His work can be found in Hookman and Friends, The Other Side, and Sick Cruising anthologies. His short fiction has been collected in Hauntings & Happenstances, They Shot Zombies, Didn’t They? and Gathered Flowers, Stones, and Bones.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: “House” Horrors

“House” Horrors by Kristin Battestella

These contemporary horrors both foreign and domestic tackle suburban scares, refugee horrors, family vengeance, and home haunts.

His House – Horror follows a Sudanese couple relocating to England in this 2020 Netflix release starring Wunmi Mosaku (Loki), Sope Dirisu (Black Mirror), and Matt Smith (Doctor Who). Perilous refugee boats begat detention, weekly asylum stipulations, and finally a newly assigned address – a dirty tenement they are lucky to have all to themselves. Despite having already been through so much, our couple laughs until they cry over their gratitude, hopeful for a new start before eerie echoes and shadows that move by themselves suggest there is more afoot than faulty electricity, peeling wallpaper, and holes in the plaster. Well done lighting schemes and dim sunlight through small windows create a moody palette for the background apparitions, ominous hands, kitchen oddities, and eyes watching from within the walls. Flashes of past troubles, childhood fears of the night witch coming to get them, and new scary experiences build tension. Husband and wife both have encounters they don’t admit, and tearful conversations with dark door frames in the background put the viewer on edge with our characters. We think we see or hear something rather than having everything given away thanks to flashlights, masks, tool mishaps, and disorienting figures in the dark. Cultures clash amid the horrors as our refugees struggle to be part of the community, reluctant to use tableware and getting lost in the maze of lookalike attached houses. Cruel neighborhood kids shout “Go back to Africa” and a kind but clueless doctor doesn’t know how to listen to the pain of tribal wars, butchered families, and doing what you have to do to survive. Our couple insists they are good people but must remain on guard against deep-seeded racism even in such crappy conditions. Lazy office workers complain that their falling apart house is “bigger than mine” so they shouldn’t be dissatisfied and “biting the hand that feeds them” – forcing the fearful to retract any moving request and hide the truth about apeth witches and ghostly torments. Although the Dinka dialogue is unfortunately not always translated, it’s superb that this is told from the appropriate angle. This isn’t a yuppie white couple choosing to ignore the spooky house warnings just to get out of the city and play unreliable scares with the audience. Eerie visuals, surreal waters, fog, and candlelight visions combine the personal horrors, supernatural, and real world frazzled as the demands to repay what they owe escalates from wet footprints and flickering light switches to monsters in the floor. Deceptive happy moments and psychological experiences take us to other places without leaving the congested house – reliving why with upsetting revelations that can only be put right with blood. This is a tender story about living with your demons; an excellent example of why horror from other perspectives need to be told.

The Housemaid – Covered furniture, candlelight, staircases, slamming doors, and screams get right to the gothic afoot in this 2016 Vietnamese tale. The grand French plantation in disrepair is out of place among the beautiful forests – reeking with a deadly history of cruel overseers, abused workers, shallow graves, and angry spirits. Rumors of mad wives, dead babies, decaying corpses, drownings, and bodies never found provide horror as the titular newcomer obediently does the housework during the day before the power goes out at night. It’s forbidden to speak of the dark family history, and mirrors, lanterns, and dramatic beds infuse the creepy with Jane Eyre mood. Arguments over sending for a distant doctor or using Eastern medicine for the wounded man of the house give way to sheer bed curtains, sunlight streaming through the window, and a touch of Rebecca in the steamy fireside romance. Unfortunately, a snotty, two-faced, racist rival addresses the awkwardness of the help pretending to be the lady of the house amid resentful servants, war intrigue, classism, and the vengeful ghostly Mrs. roaming the halls. The cradle draped in black rocks by itself, but it’s only for effect as jump scare whooshes, flying furniture, roar faces in the mirror, dream fake-outs, old photos research, and visions of the past create an uneven contemporary intrusion when the period atmosphere is enough. Roaming in the scary woods just for the sake of bones and panoramic ghouls is unnecessary when we should never leave the congested house. Indeed, the horrors are superior when anyone trying to leave the manor encounters a terrible but deserving end. Questionable retellings, confusing ghostly revenge, disbelieving interrogations, and flashbacks within flashbacks play loose with point of view, but a not so unforeseen twist clarifies the demented duty over love begggeting the horror. Some viewers may be disappointed that the movie trades one kind of horror for another and has too many endings. This has its faults and uses western horror motifs as needed to appear more a mainstream rather than low budget foreign film. The social statement characterizations are much better than formulaic Hollywood scares, and the throwback Hammer feeling, period accents, and gothic mood combine for unique horror and drama.

Skip It

A Haunted House – I’m not a fan of found footage films, so this 2013 horror comedy parody from Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie) mocking the genre seemed like it would be fun. Plain text warnings of recovered recordings, assorted camera angles, and onscreen timestamps open the winks as the new camera and young couple moving in together don’t mix thanks to his dog, her boxes, his arcade games, and her dad’s ashes. Affection, sass, and bemusing stuffed animal foreplay are ruined by hair in curlers, open bathroom doors, and awful farts in the night – making for refreshingly real relationships and humor. No blind spots in the video coverage mean catching the maid up to some saucy, and racist, voyeuristic security camera guys who want your passwords. Fetishizing friends want to swap, the gay psychic wants to know if they’ve had same-sex encounters – all the white people are envious opportunists and that’s nice to see in a genre so often dominated by such caucasity. Sleepwalk dancing and what happens during the night silliness caught on camera escalates with getting high and mocking the usual sheets, smoky imagery, whooshing, and Ouija boards. Our couple jumps to conclusions about the haunting over noises, misplaced keys, doors moving by themselves, and kitchen mishaps, but neither is a catch and a lot of incidents are more about their own faults and problems. They probably shouldn’t be together horror or not, and some of the not addressing their own issues is too on the nose serious or uneven alongside the humor. The misogyny is akin to women often being haunted and not believed in horror, but nothing is scary because the overtly comedic attempts are out of place against the formulaic encounters. There’s an imaginary friend, pervert ghost, demons, a deal with the devil for Louboutins, and the final act is an old hat exorcism meets Poltergeist parody crowded with male ghost rapacious and more unnecessary homophobic jokes. There’s promise in how the camera brings out the voyeur in us all, changing us once we’re in front of it by revealing our true selves or why we’re weary of the lens. A taut eighty minutes with bemusing commentary on the genre’s flaws could have been a watchable, but the dumb and offensive shtick goes on for far too long – becoming the monotonous horror movie it’s trying to send up thanks to a surprising lack of personality.

For More, Visit:

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Family Haunts and Fears

Classic Horror Summer Reading Video

Horror Movie Cliches I’m Tired of Seeing – A Frightening Flix Editorial

Nightmare Fuel: The White Bluff Screamer

Hello Addicts,

Most people who choose to live in small towns do so for the quiet, peacefulness, and relative safety they offer. Not just for the individual but their family as well. White Bluff, TN, is one such place. There is, however, a dark legend involving the woods and what may reside there — The White Bluff Screamer.

White Bluff, TN, is an idyllic town offering community, Southern hospitality, and beautiful scenery. Those reasons drew a family of nine to build a home and start a new life there in the 1920s. It wasn’t long before wails, cries, and screeches coming from the forest disrupted the night. As you might expect, it frightened the family and, after several days of the bloodcurdling sounds, the father grabbed his gun and went hunting for the source. According to the story, as the man searched his property, he noticed that the volume and quality of the sound improved the further he got from his home. He soon realized that his quarry wasn’t a single creature but multiple ones. He hurried back home, not wanting to face whatever made those noises alone. That’s where he discovered the dismembered remains of his family strewn about the house. Some versions of the tale also claim that the husband witnessed a female leaving the scenes engulfed by a white mist.

Another tale comes from a deer hunter who had strung up a buck he had killed earlier in the day and placed the guts in a washtub. He sat on his porch, strumming away on his guitar, and noticed that the woods had grown suddenly quiet. There was no croaking from the frogs or the buzz of insects. Suddenly, his hunting dogs came running around the corner of his house, where their pen was. They crawled into an opening under the house with their tails firmly tucked beneath them. He placed his guitar down and looked in the direction of the dog’s pen. There stood a creature as tall as a basketball goal with long, stringy white hair and hooves for feet. It let out a piercing scream and headed first for his dogs and then for him. The hunter barely closed the front door before the creature began clawing at it. Unable to access his prey, the beast let out more screams and paced the porch, waiting for him to come back outside. The standoff lasted until after the sun rose when the creature finally left with the deer carcass and washtub. The roof of the pen hung askew opposite of the hole the dogs used to escape, and his guitar lay on the porch covered in a slimy substance. Later, the washtub was found in the woods licked completely clean.

Other stories regarding the identity of the White Bluff Screamer range from a banshee, a werewolf, to an exotic animal that escaped a circus train. There are still reports of screams and wails coming from the forest around the town of White Bluff, with some claiming to have seen the beast. So, the next time you are outside and hear a scream or wail, it might be a good time to call it a night and head inside. You never know what may be looking at you with hungry eyes from the woods.

Until next time,

D.J.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Naching T. Kassa

HHBannerNaching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created short stories, novellas, poems, and co-created three children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter.Nachingwriterpic2019
Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing and Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant and staff writer for Still Water Bay at Crystal Lake Publishing.

Her story, “She Woke at Midnight,” appears in Haunts and Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

NTK: My interest in Gothic Literature began The Hound of the Baskervilles, but my interest in Gothic Romance began with the movie, Jane Eyre, starring George C. Scott and Susannah York. I loved the ambiance of the film: the candlelight, the moan of the wind outside a frosted window, a fireplace whose light keeps back the gloom. It inspired me to read the book by Charlotte Bronte. I love how Jane is torn between doing what is right and her love for Rochester. I also love the supernatural aspects of the story. From the Red Room to the moment when Jane hears the voice of Rochester calling her from miles away.

How do you define “romance”?

NTK: To me, romance is abandoning selfishness and giving your all for another person. It’s riding your bike twelve miles to your loved one’s house just to see them for an hour. It’s giving something to a person and expecting nothing in return. It’s being there for them when they’re at their best AND their worst. My favorite films are about people who fall in love and through that love, become better people. I think true romance is love that brings out the best in us.

What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

NTK: Dracula. It’s the best Gothic horror story ever written.

Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

NTK: Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It’s so dark, and lush, and beautiful. I love the settings, the beautiful costumes, and the plays on light and shadow. It’s the best adaptation of the novel ever made.

Are your characters based on real people?

NTK: When I first started writing, they were. But now, they’ve taken on a life of their own. The best characters do.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

NTK: Definitely by the seat of my pants. I love surprises and an outline is far too rigid and inorganic for me to adhere to.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

NTK: My characters have absolute free will. I gave up trying to decide their fate a long time ago. Their behavior and their path are decided by their actions.

What are you most afraid of?

NTK: Flying sandwiches with vampire teeth.  I was terrified of them as a child.

What is your favorite romance?

NTK: It’s a tie between Groundhog Day and The Family Man.

Who is your favorite horror author?

NTK: Dean Koontz. He has a beautiful style, he scares the heck out of me, and his stories are filled with hope. I like my darkness tempered with light.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

NTK: I’ve written several Sherlock Holmes stories and they’ll be published in the next year. I’m reading my story, “The Darker Side of Grief,” at Stokercon. (The anthology it appears in, Arterial Bloom, has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award ®.) I also write for the fiction series, Still Water Bay, on the Crystal Lake Publishing Patreon page. You’ll find some exciting stories there. Finally, I’m editing a mystery/romance anthology for Meant to Be Press. Look for it in November.

Addicts, you can find Naching on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Odds and Dead Ends: The changing legend of the Tokoloshe

It seems that, even with just a quick look on IMDb, the South African monster of the Tokoloshe (pronounced, as far as I understand it, as toe-kohl-osh) has hit a nerve. There are six films (of varying lengths) with the monster in its name released in the past ten years, and a 1965 film (dir Peter Prowse) to boot. Many might know of the creature from the 2018 film The Tokoloshe (dir Jerome Pikwane), which has already been reviewed on HorrorAddicts.net. However, I’d never gone in and looked at the creature’s origins, myths, and back story. So let me share with you what I’ve learned, and I hope you find it interesting, too.

            The Tokoloshe (or Tikiloshe, Tokolotshe, and various other names), is a small, imp-like creature from Bantu legend, usually dwelling in watery locations such as ponds or lakes. Its size might be similar to a brownie, if you are familiar with that creature from Scottish legend. It’s grey and scrawny, ugly, has long fingers, and because of this, one might put bricks under the feet of a bed to hoist the bed out of reach.

            A tokoloshe are usually creatures summoned in order to wreak havoc, or enact a deliberate revenge on someone, a bit like the plot of Pumpkinhead (1988, dir Stan Winston), but with a much smaller monster. However it typically comes out a fit of jealousy of some kind though, so not exactly the same kind of vengeance. It is most often noted to be summoned by a witch or witch doctor, and has often been linked with ideas of vengeance for infidelity. Part of the summoning involves driving a rod through its head, so it is often depicted with a hole in its skull. It has been said often to like and live with women, and sometimes to sleep with them. A story related in the following article explains how a woman dreams of a white man coming to make love to her, and her friends saying that it is a tokoloshe; ‘jealous people want to derail her good fortunes and this handsome white guy is how they will do it.’ https://www.news24.com/citypress/trending/how-to-get-rid-of-the-tokoloshe-20180827

            If one wishes to expel the monster, typically a shaman or priest from whichever corresponding belief system works for the tormented one, is brought in to perform a ritual, and so drive out the creature and send it back again to where it came from.

            This all sounds very familiar to the kinds of folk stories we all hear, almost regardless of where you come from. These myths and legends have similar traits throughout the world because many of them are designed as morality tales, or ways of explaining the world around us. Urban legends take exactly the same kind of idea; lessons dressed up as stories. ‘Don’t stay out late at night or the ghost with the hooked hand will get you. I know, because it really happened one night…’ Stories telling kids about water monsters are just ways to tell them not to play too near fast-flowing rapids.

            But each legend particular to an area comes with unique cultural connotations and connections. Just as many times a horror movie only works because of the culture it comes from, these myths and legends often manifest unconscious fears within that culture. There’s a reason why Gojira (dir Ishirō Honda, 1954), despite being directly inspired by The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (dir Eugène Lourié, 1953), which was in turn inspired by the Ray Bradbury short story, The Foghorn (1951), had the lizard king spewing atomic breath. It was created as an allegory for Japan’s fears of atomic tests and nuclear weapons. Remember that this isn’t even a decade after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

            Therefore some have theorised that the Tokoloshe’s specifics may come from aspects of South African culture. One site outlines a common theory that its development may be a result of traditional South African homes having central fires and that in the night, carbon dioxide might accumulate and sink to the bottom of the room (being denser than air), killing sleepers. Anyone higher up had a higher chance of survival, hence the bricks under the bed. The link to the site for those interested is here: https://www.astonishinglegends.com/astonishing-legends/2019/2/16/the-tokoloshe.

            Phumlani S Langa, in the article from earlier (link will also be at the end) claims to have spoken with a sangoma (a spiritual healer) on how to get rid of a tokoloshe. What I find interesting in here goes back to the earlier point of it being a ‘white man’ whom the individual speaking mentions. Later Langa says that ‘he assures me that these beings can come for Caucasians too. Maybe you’ll dream of sex with a black person…’

            Attention is drawn to the specifically interracial aspect of the monstrous visitation, coming in the guise of a different race to seduce. I’m not wanting to go too heavy with my speculation, but perhaps this might indicate a lasting influence of Apartheid and other moments in South African history, where racial issues and intolerances controlled every aspect of people’s lives. It’s possible there was this dynamic before, but perhaps it has been reinforced by recent South African history. I think it would be hard to see an attribute this specific in my current home of Wales, for instance. Maybe an English person would dream of someone speaking Welsh, but that’s about it.

            Incidentally, the 2018 Tokoloshe film deals specifically with a black woman and a white male, doubling the impact with gender issues to go with the racial aspects. Could the mythology of the Tokoloshe be morphing over time, aspects of it evolving in response to the changing cultural conditions of its country?

            It’s certainly possible. The article ‘Tokoloshe Tales: Reflections on the Cultural Politics of Journalism in South Africa’ by Lesley Fordred-Green discusses supernatural events that had been described in the country in the 1990’s, and the specific political elements of how they were reported. Fordred-Green mentions in relation to a supposed tokoloshe sighting at a mixed-race school that…

“Anthropological studies of supernatural phenomena argue that they mediate social tensions (see Niehaus 1995 in particular); it is entirely conceivable that the screaming exodus of pupils was manifesting deep-rooted fears that black pupils had brought Zulu spirits with them.” (p.705)

            So we finish up with a monster that isn’t just in the distant past of South African folklore but is actively in the modern day, perhaps changing in cultural significance and specific attributes based on what’s happening in the world at the time. This should come as no surprise to us; the horror genre in fiction and film, for example, has been constantly morphing and mutating based on social issues for the past few hundred years. The tokoloshe is socially and culturally relevant, still in the minds of many, and evolving all the time. It’s interesting, intriguing, and, I think, proof that folklore is far more relevant than many give it credit for.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: kjudgemental

Links to sources and other sites

New Press: Gravestone Press

Gravestone Press is a new press looking for stories. For more information on the calls, CLICK HERE.

Open calls: 

When They Came For You

Open date : 18 / 05 / 2021 Will close when filled

Horror stories on the theme of those who are coming to get you. Think paranoia, think revenge, think ancient nasty traditions and send me your best darkest stories. My need is for 70,000 words, so get writing!

EYES

Open date : 19 / 05 / 2021 Will close when filled

sensitive things, necessary things, how would we cope if our sight was taken from us… explore the blood soaked world of Eyes – and see (ha!) where the story can take you.

Halloween Haunts

Open date : 19 / 05 / 2021 Will close when filled

Halloween is every horror writer’s dream time, so many aspects to this time of the year. Look further than the conventional Trick and Treat ideas, everyone will have used them by now, look beyond that into the festival itself, Samhain, ancient tradition, ancient – see what you can do. If this isn’t filled in time to be published this year, it will be held over for Halloween 2022 – we won’t let your story get away!

Blood Clots

Open date : 19 / 05 / 2021 Will close when filled

short shorts, nothing over 1000 words, shock your reader with your gory and wild imaginations, please! Sometimes these short pieces can be better than long stories, let’s see what you have in your archives or in your mind… sorry, can’t offer payment for these, not until you write me such outstanding stories we all make money and then I will…



Historian of Horror: Busted in Budapest

They say it’s less the things you do that you regret than the things you don’t do when you had the chance.

This is absolutely true. 

You’ve probably seen the commercials, either on television or online, for Viking river cruises. A very long boat putt-putts slowly in front of a large, ornate, white, domed building in the opening scene. That’s the Danube River, which really is blue when seen from above. The building is the Hungarian Parliament. The city is Budapest, pronounced Buda-Pesht by the locals. The Hungarian capital was assembled when the cities Buda, Óbuda, and Pest were united in 1873. Buda is on the western side of the river and is hilly and high-rent. Pest is on the eastern side, flat and less expensive. All that’s left of Óbuda is an island in between. Parliament is on the Pest side. I suspect the film might have been shot from the spire of the 14th Century late Gothic style Matthias Church, on the Buda side, which overlooks Fisherman’s Bastion and several other popular tourist attractions.

In the middle of town is City Park, created for the Hungarian millennial celebration in 1896. There, after passing through the entrance from Heroes’ Square, you will find Gundel Restaurant, home to the most lubriciously delicious crepes you will ever put yourself on the outside of; the zoo and botanical gardens; a shallow lake full of mallard ducks; and Vajdahunyad Castle, a collection of recreations of various historical buildings from around the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

One thing you’ll notice about the older buildings all around Eastern Europe is that there are almost always little niches set into the corners and walls for statues. Most are filled with lovely little sculptures. Saints, dragons, horses, whatever strikes the fancy of the locals at the time. On the corner of one building in Vajdahunyad Castle, a niche was empty in 2003 when a German artist by the name of Hartmut Zech was looking for a spot to place a bust he had made and hoped to give surreptitiously to the city.

He had done this before, in other parts of Europe. Most of his gifts had been removed, but he and his friend were undeterred. They snuck in one night in July of that year with the bust of Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi that Zech had been lugging around. They put it in the empty niche. It was not removed, and is still there.

And I missed it. The one time I was ever likely to be in Budapest, and I did not see that bust. I didn’t even know it was there.

In 2011, my wife and I celebrated our 30th anniversary by spending a few days in London. We spent half of our first full day at the Tower, ogling the Crown Jewels and the headsman’s axe, block and mask, and other artifacts. Then we rode a double-decker bus around Trafalgar Square, stopped in at St. Paul’s Cathedral, toured the Globe Theater, and rode the London Eye, that huge Ferris Wheel on the banks of the Thames opposite to, and taller than, Big Ben. We walked back across Southwark Bridge to Westminster, then on to our hotel.

The next day, we strolled over to Buckingham Palace, but President Obama was scheduled for a state visit the next day and access was restricted. We did watch the changing of the guards and toured the Queen’s Gallery and Mews, ate bangers and mash at a pub, and sacked out early, as we had to leave for Heathrow at 4:30 to catch our flight for Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

We joined a two-week tour of Eastern Europe there, traveling in a very posh Mercedes-Benz bus from Frankfurt to Berlin, then on into Poland. We lunched in Poznan and dined in Warsaw. Then on to Krakow, with a side trip to Auschwitz. That nearly broke me. I stayed on the bus while the others toured its sister camp, Birkenau. I’d had more than enough. Some horrors are just too real.

Then, it was on into Slovakia, a land full of lovely forests and more castles per capita than anywhere else in the world. Not far into the country, we passed by Orava Castle, maybe a mile or two to our right. I took pictures, but from a moving bus in a light rain, it’s hard to make out what they are of. F.W. Murnau filmed part of the classic silent horror film Nosferatu there in 1921. We didn’t stop for a closer look, alas.

We came into Budapest at the end of our first week on the tour. We checked into our hotel and boarded a boat for dinner and drinks on the Danube. At river level, it’s actually more brown than blue, but nobody cared much. The food was good and the champagne flowed freely. Frivolity ensued.

We got up that Monday and went to Heroes’ Square. A military unit was rehearsing for the city’s Memorial Day ceremonies later that day, so we could only look at the square from the perimeter. We went on to tour the Parliament and St. Stevens’ Cathedral, then dinner and drinks and so to bed.

We got into Vajdahunyad Castle the next day and wandered about the buildings, especially admiring the replica of Hunyad Castle, which is in Transylvania and in which Vlad Dracul II was imprisoned in the 15th Century. Transylvania was, in 1896, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s now part of Romania. We stopped in the Romanesque chapel for an organ recital, and then on to Gundel for hedonistic pleasure on a plate. 

Our tour guide was an otherwise exceptional Danish gentleman, but he apparently he didn’t know about the Bela Lugosi bust, or I’m sure he would have pointed it out. I’ve checked and rechecked the myriad photographs I took in Budapest, but Bela is not there. I would definitely have taken a picture of him, had I seen him.

Very disappointing.

We went on to Vienna, where we toured the Kaisergruft, the crypt where the Austro-Hungarian royal family was interred in sometimes grandly ornate sarcophagi, from 1633 until the last member of the Hapsburg dynasty born before the Empire’s dissolution following World War I was placed in the last remaining spot just a couple of months after we were there. I have a future column on that deliciously gruesome place in the plans. Stay tuned.

Then lunch in Brno, a couple of days in the gorgeous city of Prague, a look at the Glockenspiel in the town hall of Rothenburg and back to Frankfurt, then London, then home. A most satisfying trip, for the most part.

For the most part. For all the wonderful things we saw, Alas, I regret missing the only chance I will probably ever had to see the bust of one of the seminal figures of horror movies in its natural environs. I hope some of you, dear friends, have the opportunity to travel to Budapest and will take that opportunity to drop in on Bela. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and worth seeing for many other reasons, but please don’t omit, as I was inadvertently obliged to do, the chance to venerate so important a figure from the history of our genre. You will regret that omission, as do I.

And so, until next time, fellow denizens of the dark…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

#HauntsandHellions Facebook Watch Party

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

Haunts & Hellions

edited by Emerian Rich

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

You are cordially invited to attend a Facebook Watch Party in the honor of

Haunts and Hellions

Where: Facebook

When: Tuesday, June 8th at 6:00 PM PST

Please, join us!

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#HauntsandHellions: The Inspiration Behind “Companions.”

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The Inspiration Behind “Companions.”

By Daphne Strasert

For Haunts and Hellions, I wanted to write a story that featured a doomed romance. Of course, nothing is more doomed than a romance between the living and the dead. From that was born the idea of a man in love with the idea of a woman without really knowing everything about her. In order to hide the twist, I needed to include other obstacles to their romance and a paranormal element—thus Thomas’s ability to see ghosts of the soldiers. The story is reminiscent in some ways of “The Yellow Ribbon,” in which a man’s desire to know his love leads to his horror in the end. I’m a sucker for romance however, and couldn’t resist giving my characters a happy ending of some sort.

DaphneStrasert-1920x1080-1024x577Daphne Strasert is a horror, fantasy, and speculative fiction writer from Houston, Texas. She has published many short stories through HorrorAddicts.net, Dark Water Syndicate, and Crimson Streets. When not writing, she plays board games and knits. Her interests include monsters, murder mysteries, and things that go bump in the night.

THE BIGFOOT FILES / Chapter Twenty-Six: ‘Monsters Among Us’

The third and final episode of Hulu’s true-crime documentary Sasquatch brings its mythic metaphor full circle with the conclusion of an investigation into a 1993 triple homicide allegedly committed by Bigfoot.

If you haven’t read my reviews of the first two episodes, here are the links to EPISODE 1 and EPISODE 2.

Investigative journalist David Holthouse

The finale is titled “Monsters Among Us.” Unfortunately, for us Bigfoot enthusiasts, the monsters are not Sasquatches. They’re cannabis farmers in the Northern California region known as the Emerald Triangle.

Episode 3 continues the murder investigation conducted by journalist David Holthouse, who interviews suspicious cannabis farmers and law enforcement officials. Holthouse discovers hopeful leads and frustrating dead ends in his search for the truth.

When one of the more colorful characters named Ghostdance says he recalls a cannabis farmer nicknamed Bigfoot, I begin to see where the trail is leading. And when a law enforcement official confirms it, saying “that sounds like Bigfoot Gary,” I’m like you have to be kidding me.

Holthouse starts to question himself.

“I was thinking back to that night in the cabin in 1993,” Holthouse said. “And did I hear them say a Bigfoot killed those guys, or did I hear them say Bigfoot killed those guys? Because memory’s tricky like that.”

Holthouse focuses on finding Bigfoot Gary. He also ponders the high rate of missing person cases in the Emerald Triangle region.

“You hang out in these dope towns, and all around you are signs about missing people,” Holthouse said. “I mean, just dozens, hundreds of them. And all those missing person fliers are literally signs that there are monsters among us.”

After hitting another dead end with Bigfoot Gary, Holthouse finally tracks down the man who owned the cannabis farm where Holthouse originally had heard the Bigfoot triple-murder story back in 1993.

The farmer explains what happened, and whether you believe him or not is up to you, but the farmer’s tale is the most interesting part of the documentary. Did the story satisfy me? Not really, but it gave Holthouse some closure.

“There is this elusive truth that I glimpsed through the trees,” Holthouse said. “And it’s like the same obsession that drives Squatchers to spend half their lives in the woods. At least I have a story that I tell myself makes sense now.”

For Sasquatch enthusiasts, though, the story continues.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Seven: Bigfoot in the Bronx. I review the novel by Hunter Shea.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Daphne Strasert

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Daphne Strasert is a horror, fantasy, and speculative fiction writer from Houston, Texas. She has published many short stories through HorrorAddicts.net, Dark Water Syndicate, and Crimson Streets. When not writing, she plays board gamesDaphneStrasert-1920x1080-1024x577 and knits. Her interests include monsters, murder mysteries, and things that go bump in the night. 

Her story, “Companions,” appears in the Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology                                                                                                        

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

DS: I was originally drawn to the aesthetic that was often used in gothic movies: big haunted houses, frail heroines in long skirts, dark corners, and misty moors. From there, I found the works of Poe, the Bronte sisters, Stoker, and Shelley. I liked the slow burn of the horror and the doomed romance that was often featured.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

DS: Romance is the longing to be with another person, to know everything about them and share yourself in turn. Romance means wanting what is best for the other person. The desire to protect your love, whether from physical harm or emotional torment is strong. I believe that true romance can only exist between equals.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

DS: I will always love Dracula. It was the first true gothic horror story I read and remains the only book that ever truly scared me. I appreciate how many variations have come from the original work and the many interpretations that it inspired. But the original still remains as impressive as when it was first published.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

DS: I love Crimson Peak (that may be a common answer to this question). I think it’s an underrated film from Guillermo del Toro. The costumes and set created a fantastic atmosphere. The film mixed horror (both jump scares and situational horror) with romance and tragedy. Most importantly, the story was motivated by a strong female lead.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

DS: No.

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

DS: I always write using an outline. During the initial inspiration phase, I will write scenes as they come to me and keep them in a “sandbox” for later use. Once the story starts to come together, I outline the scenes I need to pace the action and emotional arcs, then fill in the scenes I haven’t written yet.

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

DS: My characters are completely at my mercy. I create them to fit the plot and tone of the piece. If I find that the actions they need to do are out of character for them, then I spend time rethinking their character. I build them so that they will work within the world I want, so I’m rarely surprised.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

DS: I really, really hate zombies. I’ve never liked zombie movies (it doesn’t matter if they’re slow zombies or fast). The idea of society collapsing, leaving nothing that we recognize is terrifying. I don’t want to be part of rebuilding the world from scratch while also running from cannibalistic corpses.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

DS: Jane Eyre stands out as my favorite. Jane is a strong woman who refused to compromise herself for her love (even when that was painful to her). She did not allow herself to be beholden to a man who was more powerful than her. When she found out about Mr. Rochester’s secrets and failings, she did not overlook them, but held him accountable. The romance was only fulfilled when they could truly have an equal partnership.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

DS: Meg Hafdahl. She wrote the Willoughby Chronicles (including Her Dark Inheritance, which I reviewed for HorrorAddicts.net) as well as a number of non-fiction books about the horror industry. She’s a true horror fan herself.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

DS: I am always working on new short stories. My story “Blood and Ivory” will be published in the Sonorous Silence anthology by Pavor Press. I am also drafting a new novel that features a haunted house.

Addicts, you can find Daphne on Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram.

     

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Binding (Il legame)

 

Plotline: While visiting her fiancé’s mother in southern Italy, a woman must fight off a mysterious and malevolent curse intent on claiming her young daughter.

Who would like it: Fans of the occult, magic, witchcraft, curses, and international films

High Points: I love the slow burn of how this movie opens up and sets the scene but in no way is this a slow movies

Complaints: I don’t have any complaints

Overall: I enjoyed the heck out of this!

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Netflix

 

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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

#HauntsandHellions: The Inspiration Behind “Californio Fog.”

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The Inspiration Behind “Californio Fog.”

By B.F. Vega

As Americans, we tend to dwell in the derelict castles of England or the haunted forests of Germany when we want to tell spooky stories. However, California has been inhabited for over 10,000 years. Some of the cultures encountered by the Spanish had been unchanged for much longer than any castle has stood. Our forests are brimming with cryptids and myths. Our deserts are haunted with vindictive spirits and capricious gods. Our lakes and rivers are as hungry and as dangerous as any siren/selkie laden pond, and our entire lives are lived in the blankets of dense daily fog.

Early California is a little studied time that even we, whose families have been here for generations, know virtually nothing about. It was a time of mass genocide, slavery, starvation and revolutions. What then do you write about that is scarier than real life? I knew that the story had to be a foggy coastal ranchero. For the early rancheros, it would have been a common occurrence for there to be shipwrecks and bodies being washed up at the foot of their cliff-side haciendas. Enter the Draugr.

Draugr are sort of a catch-all for “used to be human monster” in Norse mythology. The name actually just means “Burrow Dweller” and refers to anything buried that has risen. I knew that our Californio heroine needed an even more foreign European foil and a Norwegian sailor was the perfect way to add that. In a way, the characters in this story are indicative of California herself. She is a feisty land that both lovers and foes come to. Some are heroes, some are monsters, both are necessary to tell her story.

B.F. VegaB.F. Vega is a writer, poet, and theatrical artist living and working in California’s Bay Area.  Her poetry has been published in The Literary Nest, Sage Cigarettes, Walled Women, and Blood & Bourbon among others. Her first book of poetry, A Saga for the Unrequited, will be published in August of 2021 by Fae Corp Publishing. She is still amazed when people refer to her as a writer, every time.

#HauntsandHellions: The Inspiration Behind “She Woke at Midnight.”

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The Inspiration Behind “She Woke at Midnight.”

By Naching T. Kassa

It was a dark and stormy night. The candles flickered, casting a ghostly glow over the Ouija board. I pressed my fingertips to the planchette and asked my burning question.

“What should I write for the HorrorAddicts.net sub call, Haunts and Hellions?”

Ok, I just made that up. I don’t get my ideas from a Ouija board (well, not usually.) I actually found my inspiration in the movie Jane Eyre starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, directed by Cary Fukunaga.

The film is a feast for the senses, especially the sixth sense. Of all the Jane Eyre films I’ve seen (and I’ve seen many) this is the only one which centers on the supernatural elements of the novel. We have the red room which terrifies Jane as a child. The visions she experiences while wishing for Rochester’s reappearance, and finally, his disembodied voice which calls to her. These elements intertwine with real-life moments, as Jane must contend with the strange mystery of Thornfield Hall. Jane isn’t insane, though her conflict with Rochester threatens to drive her in that direction. No, Jane operates on a higher and more spiritual level. A place on the razor’s edge of sanity.

And that’s where the inspiration for my story, “She Woke at Midnight,” began. Rochester is a strange and brooding character, a man capable of driving women insane. He’s concerned about his reputation because of the secret he keeps locked in the attic of Thornfield. What if the character in my story was like that? What if every woman who loved Lord Richard Jamison lost her sense of reason? Could the heroine of my story, Amelia Fairfax, love such a man and keep her sanity? Or would she learn the most tragic lesson of all?

Love is not for the faint of heart.

Nachingwriterpic2019Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created short stories, novellas, poems, and co-created three children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter.
Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing and Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant and staff writer for Still Water Bay at Crystal Lake Publishing.

Addicts, you can find Naching on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Tara Vanflower

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Tara Vanflower is a vocalist whose music has been described as ambient, experimental, and darkwave.

In October 1994 she became a vocalist for darkwave outfit Lycia. She married fellow band member Mike VanPortfleet.Tara Vanflower

Her debut solo album, This Womb Like Liquid Honey, was released in 1999. This was followed in 2005 with My Little Fire-Filled Heart.

Vanflower appeared on the Type O Negative song, “Halloween in Heaven,” off their 2007 album, Dead Again.

She has also appeared with side projects Black Happy Day with Timothy Renner, Secondary Nerve with Daniele Serra and numerous collaborations including Oneiroid Psychosis, Dirge, Numina, The Unquiet Void, Falling You and Methadrone.   

Her story, “Blood and Dust,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology                                 

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?  

TV:  Watching horror films as a child. 

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

TV: All the complications associated with a relationship between two people that is derived from their love. It’s torturous magic.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

TV: I don’t know. Probably ones that doesn’t exist outside of my mind based on ideas put forth by others.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

TV: I like elements of a lot of films, but nothing is perfect to me. If I was forced to pick a favorite, I think Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Gary Oldman is just too perfect, and the film looks beautiful.  

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

TV: Neither of the characters in the short story I wrote for Haunts and Hellions is based on real- life characters. 

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants? 

TV: I never write an outline. I have a vague idea where I think a story will go but I allow my characters to have the freedom to tell me their story. 

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

TV: They absolutely have free will. They tell me, I don’t tell them what they’re going to do. They often make surprising choices.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

TV: Death. The death of everyone I love and time itself.

NTK: What is your favorite romance? 

TV: I think Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet give me everything I want and need in a romance. But also, Violet and Roman.  

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

TV: I am currently working on new versions of all my print books. They are being redesigned with beautiful interiors and altered covers. I am also working on three other manuscripts. Two are related to my current world, another is a collaboration with Timothy Renner folklore-inspired short stories that he will illustrate.  I also have another big project in the works, but I’m not authorized to spill the beans yet.

Addicts, you can find Tara on Facebook and Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Daniel R. Robichaud

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Daniel R. Robichaud lives and writes in east Texas. His work can be found in Hookman and Friends, The Other Side, and Sick Cruising anthologies. His short fiction has been collected in Hauntings & Happenstances, They Shot Zombies, Didn’tDaniel Robichaud They? and Gathered Flowers, Stones, and Bones.

His story, “With Red Eyes Gleaming,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.                                                                                           

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

DR: From a young age. I got exposure to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and other gothic works thanks to parents who enjoyed the stuff.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

DR: Romance is a fickle thing, a style of fiction that centers on a relationship between characters as much as it does a traditional plot.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

DR: There are so many to choose from! Right now, I think I’ll have to answer The Witch of Ravensworth, an 1808 gothic horror novel from George Brewer, which I bought on a lark and was truly taken with. It introduced me to the Valancourt Books publisher, as well, and I’ve enjoyed reading their works ever since.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

DR: The Whip and the Body from Mario Bava is a terrific film that blends ghostly chills with sexuality in strange ways. A delirious thing that is gorgeously shot (also with a great performance by Christopher Lee).

I found this movie back in the days of DVD, when I was just discovering Mario Bava’s films. It’s beautiful, disturbing, and achingly romantic.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

DR: My characters are originals, though that means they are inspired by the films, fictions, and authentic folks I have known and read about.

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

DR: For this story, I had a single scene of a woman descending into a strange subterranean location. From that, I wrote into the dark without any outline. This is not always the case, but it is the way I work on a majority of my stories.

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

DR: They always have free will. For short fiction, however, their options are far more limited than they might be in a novel.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

DR: I am afraid of loss of my mind, my sense of self.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

DR: I love, love, love Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables: A Romance, Clive Barker’s Galilee: A Romance, and Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

DR: I’d probably have to go with Caitlin R. Kiernan at the moment. They write exquisitely disturbing fiction of the highest caliber.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

DR: I’ve always got a few irons in the fire. My story, “Hodag Hootenanny” just appeared in Cryptid Chronicles. I’m also working on a novel about supernatural possession.

Addicts, you can find Daniel on Amazon and Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Rowan Hill

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Rowan Hill is an author currently living on a volcano in Italy who loves to write across horror and science fiction. She hasRowan Hill an affinity for writing flawed female protagonists who occasionally murder. Her writing credits include Cemetery Gates, Kandisha Press, and Curious Blue Press among others.

Her story, “Love Never Dies,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

RH: I mean it started in my Bachelors with the Greats, isn’t that how everyone gets the fever? Bronte, Shelley, Stoker. Ones on the forefront of the genre and delivered so much tension with simple looks and little to no blood.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

RH: Honestly, I love a good dose of the physical in a guilty romance novel. But we all know romance can be as much as a look and a gasp of breath. The intricacies of ‘showing’ not telling can give a flush to the cheeks more importance than a simple “I love you.” 

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

RH: Is it any surprise if I say Jane Eyre? I mean, it’s my go-to when I need a reset on what makes a good story and how to make more with less. But if I want something to really give me the shivers, I turn to Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. For more modern gothic, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia hit it out of the park and is the first I would recommend.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

RH: Will I sound trite and predictable if I say Coppola’s Bram Stroker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman and Keanu Reeves? Besides having all the classic characters in their intended setting, I adored the side story of Lucy becoming ensnared by Dracula right under everyone’s noises, seeing the lure of the monster while romancing Mina Harker is always masterful.

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

RH: I always know where I want to end up, but yes, absolutely the seat of my pants.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

RH: As a writer? Failure, obscurity, missing an obvious typo. Many of the things I think all writers can agree on. As a normal person living in our current era where people can randomly shoot you? Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is legit my nightmare. If the apocalypse happens, I’m screwed.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

RH: This is taking it old school, but Johanna Lindsey is my OG of romance. Some of her older novels are problematic, but there is no denying that she makes you feel. The Callahan-Warren series, one of her last before her passing in 2019, was so fun and definitely my favorite.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

RH: Oh man, there are so many. Besides the Greats previously mentioned, I am a fan of Riley Sager’s four novels so far and anyone who can do quiet horror well. The indie scene had lots of great talent emerging in the last ten years, and it is impossible to name just one.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

RH: I have several short stories in other anthologies coming out in the next few months and hope to have my first novella creature feature published sometime in the next year. 

Addicts, you can find Rowan on Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – R.L. Merrill

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R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing contemporary, paranormal, or supernatural, she loves to give readers a shiver with compelling stories that willMerrill_RL-Headshot stay with you long after. You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, writing horror-infused music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

Her story, “The House Must Fall,” appears in Haunts and Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.        

 NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

RLM: The moment I learned a woman named Mary Shelley created Frankenstein’s Monster. Or when I watched Vincent Price in the House of Usher. Or when I read a YA mystery (still trying to find this book as I forgot the title) about a young woman determined to learn the dark secrets about the Bronte sisters on the misty moors. Edgar Allan Poe is my literary hero, vampires are real, and someday I will live in a house with a secret passage.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

RLM: Romance has two distinct meanings for me. I write romance novels, which are about the journey between lovers and must have a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happily For Now (HFN) ending. But romance, generally, is about channeling wants and desires and yearning for another. Romance is how we express our love of another, and there are many flavors of romance. I love it all, from the sticky sweet to the creepy dark. It’s what makes the world go round, am I right?

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

RLM: I’d have to say Frankenstein, followed closely by Dracula, but I’m also a huge fan of Poe’s stories such as “Ligeia” and “House of Usher,” not to mention “The Raven,” which is my favorite.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

RLM: The Legacy, 1978. It stars Katherine Ross and Sam Elliot as Americans drawn into the bloody family history of a mysterious man in England. It’s gorgeous—of course I’m talking about the house and the cinematography and not the young real-life couple and Sam Elliot shirtless—and it’s creepy and it will suck you in until the end.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

RLM: Not the human characters, but I modeled Mercer Manor on the real-life Millbrae Mansion, which sadly burned down in the mid-1900s. It was an incredible home, elaborate and mysterious in 1800s California history. Someday, I will at least go to visit the site where it was located. I also did research on the founding of the University of California, Berkeley, and I can’t wait to go back and walk the paths that Montgomery and Sterling would have passed as some of the first students of the new school.

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

RLM: I’m a plotser. I tend to write a synopsis now, but much of the story is organic and comes to me as I write.

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

RLM: It’s interesting you ask this, because I’d say fate plays a huge role in both my contemporary and paranormal romances as well as my horror tales. I’ll let readers be the judge.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

RLM: Kids. My own children in peril, but also elementary-aged kids.

I also have this recurring nightmare. I’m in a dark club and I’m watching a comedian, and for some reason he targets me. And then he’s coming down off the stage and he’s saying horrible, awful things about me, to me, and he keeps getting closer and closer, and the rest of the crowd joins in laughing at me until they’re all crowded around me, sucking all of the oxygen out of the room, and they’re pressing in on me and laughing while I scream and tuck into a ball and then they’ve devoured me.

And zombies.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

RLM: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, which I’d describe as a gothic romance. Rowan and Michael have a love for the ages. Also, in contemporary, Then the Stars Fall by Brandon Witt is incredibly beautiful. I’d also have to include the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I recently watched the show and remembered how much I loved their romance.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

RLM: I cut my teeth on Stephen King and then discovered Anne Rice. Their stories changed my life and when I decided to start writing, I kept their stories and the feelings I got from them in the back of my mind and I tell myself someday I want to write books that leave readers with similar feelings.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

RLM: June will bring a contemporary LGBTQ romance as part of the Love Is All charity anthology. August will see the release of my M/F contemporary romance, More Than a Spanish Tour, which is based on my 2018 trip to Spain. In September, I will release the follow-up to last year’s supernatural suspense Healer, called Connection. Horror Addicts just might dig this series because while there’s romance, there’s also a boarding school full of child victims of trauma who have been gifted with unimaginable powers and an evil megalomaniac hell-bent on revenge. I’ve got a revenge tale as part of the Wicked Intentions anthology in October as well as a new funny paranormal romance tale in the Magic and Mayhem Universe. So yeah, the rest of this year will be super busy, but I can’t wait to get these stories into the hands of readers!

Addicts, you can find R.L. on Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – B.F. Vega

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B.F. Vega is a writer, poet, and theatrical artist living and working in California’s Bay Area.  Her poetry has been published in The Literary Nest, Sage Cigarettes, Walled Women, and Blood & Bourbon among others. Her first book of poetry, AB.F. Vega Saga for the Unrequited, will be published in August of 2021 by Fae Corp Publishing. She is still amazed when people refer to her as a writer, every time.

Her story, “Californio Fog,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

B.F.V: That is quite the rabbit hole. It probably started with “The Egypt Game” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder which I read in the third grade. It sparked my love of Egyptology, which led eventually to Conan Doyle and H. Rider Haggard, and that of course led to Victorian and Edwardian literature as a whole which got me to Poe, Stoker, Gilman and Shelley.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

B.F.V: I read this question to my ex and he laughed for a good five minutes. I like stories of two equally strong-willed people finding each other. Romance as a literary term gets a bad rap, because everyone automatically thinks Harlequins (which if that’s your thing cool), but as a historian, I actually have to remind myself that it doesn’t refer to a specific period of art history. When I hear romance I immediately want to find a building with flying buttresses so I can read a Rossetti poem while drinking an aperitif and listening to Chopin.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

B.F.V: The Last Man by Mary Shelley hands down.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

B.F.V: Bram Stokers Dracula was foundational for me when it came to how you can reinterpret classic horror and make it relevant to the present time. Plus the costuming, my god, the costuming is gorgeous.

However, I think Guermillo De Toro’s early works are often overlooked as either magical realism or supernatural horror, but all of them have strong gothic and romantic era elements to them. He really has an eye for the beauty of the strange and macabre. If you enjoyed Pans Labyrinth I highly recommend The Devils Backbone.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

B.F.V: I’m pretty sure that I’m not allowed to answer this. They are not based on any singular historical figure no, although the historical figures named in the story are real people.

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

B.F.V: It really depends. Sometimes I know how a story will end before I know anything else about it. When that happens then I generally do an outline to make sure it gets there. Also, if I am working on longer pieces like novellas or full books I will outline to remind myself of the plot. For short stories, I tend to start with a general idea of characters and setting, when that happens I free-write.

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

B.F.V: Again it really depends. Some characters absolutely do whatever the hell they want regardless of what I think they should be doing. Other characters I have to poke with a sharp stick to get them to move at all. Oddly, I usually have one of each type of character in my longer works.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

B.F.V: Considering I have both a Canadian and an American Arch-nemesis, I probably shouldn’t answer this.   In terms of horror though, isolation is the thing that gets to me more so than jump scares or slashers or anything else. It’s the fog in The Others or the ocean in Jaws and Ghost Ship. It’s the lack of contact with the outside world in Night of the Living Dead. What is terrifying to me, and I think a lot of people, is that place where you are utterly reliant on yourself and nobody can save you.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

B.F.V: Thornyhold by Mary Stewart followed closely by Jane Eyre.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

B.F.V: Ugh, I have to pick?! Well, I choose Bram Stoker because he and I share a birthday so I feel an affinity to him.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

B.F.V: My story, “Jezebels and Harlots,” about cousins fighting a Bokor in Kentucky, was just released as part of the Good Southern Witches anthology by Clear Blue Press. I have numerous shorts and drabbles in both the Drabbles of Dread series and the Dark Holidays series by Macabre Ladies Publishing including my favorite drabble I have written which is “Mallard Lake.” It’s about a ghost in San Francisco that haunts that other lake in Golden Gate Park. Not horror, but my chapbook, A Saga for the Unrequited, is being released by Fae Corp Press at the end of August 2021 and, as you can guess, is heavily influenced by my early love of Poe and Christina Rossetti.

Addicts, to keep up with her lunacy, follow her author page on Facebook or on Instagram.

#HauntsandHellions Facebook Party

Haunts and Hellions

Week-long Facebook Group Party

FacbookEvent

In honor of the release of our #HauntsandHellions anthology,
we’ll be having a fun event in our group from May24th-May28th.

Join the group and answer questions to be entered into prize drawings!

Great prizes to be won!

One lucky winner will get the Special Edition Prize Pack including,
Signed book, wax-sealed letter, and skeleton key.
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Chilling Chat: Episode #194 – Haunts & Hellions – Emerian Rich

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Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. Emerian is aemz2 podcast horror hostess with an international audience and a vehicle with which to promote, HorrorAddicts.net.

She is the editor of Haunts and Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology and author of the story, “Left Behind.”

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

ER: As a child, I found gothic romance in the thrift store I was allowed to borrow from. I fell in love with the lighthouses and ghosts!

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

ER: A love story at its most basic level. I can’t really enjoy a story, even a horror story, without a little romance involved.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

ER: Funnily enough, my favorite Gothic horror does not truly have a love story involved. It is The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is the story of a woman married to a despicable man, only unlike Jane Eyre, he does not have any redeemable qualities. In this story, it is more about a true friendship between a wife and a servant who protect each other under horrible circumstances. Sometimes the bond of friendship can be a truer love than a romantic relationship.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

ER: I really love Crimson Peak. Even though she loses her love in the end, I like the fact that despite his sister, the guy ultimately chooses true love over a twisted relationship. I also love all the gothic settings and costumes.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

ER: Not in this story. It all came from my imagination. I did study the polio epidemic quite extensively, though.

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

ER: Seat of my pants, always. (Laughs.)

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

ER: My characters usually choose their own way. I don’t really have any say about it.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

ER: You’ll laugh… Monkeys.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

ER: Something with an edge of danger or excitement to it. 

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

ER: Anne Rice. I love how she threads love through her stories. Even when they are blood-thirsty vampires, her characters are always seeking and sometimes discovering love.

NTK: Which do you like better, editing or writing?

ER: Most definitely writing. However, it was loads of fun reading all the submissions and picking which ones fit my ideal.

NTK: What inspired Haunts and Hellions? Why did you want to edit such a book?

ER: Gothic romances were the first sort of fantastical fiction I read as a child. When I saw a cover with a windswept gal by a haunted lighthouse, I fell in love with the genre. I wanted to collect a group of stories, written by authors of today, that have that spooky, gothic feel.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

ER: I’m working on my third novel in the Night’s Knights series, Day’s Children. I really want to get this puppy done. It’s been a long time coming.

Addicts, for news on Day’s Children and other works, visit Emerian’s website. You can find her on Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram.      

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Dissonance

Greetings HorrorAddicts. This month we’re listening to the Dark Wave artist Dissonance. Cat Hall has a new maxi-single that’s perfect for fans of bands like GARBAGE, NINE INCH NAILS & INFORMATION SOCIETY. Precipice is a techno-moody piece that is very personal to Hall. Music helps us heal from the tragedies in our lives, and for Hall, it’s been a form of catharsis. After a serious health battle, she’s come out on the other side to share her emotional experience in these three pieces. With remixes by Joe Haze, Diverje, Junior Kain, and Machines with Human Skin all add layers to the composition. Reminiscent of Tubular Bells or early Depeche Mode, Precipice is music to sit with and contemplate. Each element woven together, whether it be effects or harmonies, all evoke feelings of loss and yet are ultimately hopeful. 

Thank you for joining me this month. I hope you and yours are well. I’d love to hear what kind of music is getting you through this tumultuous time. If you want to hear what I’ve been listening to, you can check out my #SpotifyWrapped. If you’re not on Spotify yet, you might want to change that in 2021. Getting a report on your listening habits can be…creepy, but also a great trip down memory lane. Stay Tuned for more Ro’s Recs and Merrill’s Musical Musings… 

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R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. You can also find her at www.queeromanceink.com writing about Hope, Love and Queeromance. 

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Kindred the Embraced

What Could Have Been with Kindred: The Embraced

by Kristin Battestella

Based partly on the Vampire: The Masquerade role playing game, Fox’s 1996 Kindred: The Embraced is an eight episode miniseries cut short despite enticing vampires and gothic atmosphere. Ventrue vampire Julian Luna (Mark Frankel) is prince of San Francisco and ruler of the Kindred clans – a precarious alliance between Lillie Langtry (Stacy Haiduk) a Toreador nightclub patron, underground Nosferatu Daedalus (Jeff Kober), and Brujah mobster Eddie Fiori (Brian Thompson). Their masquerade to live among humans is threatened by detective Frank Kohanek (C.Thomas Howell) and reporter Caitlin Byrne (Kelly Rutherford) – who falls for Julian, further complicating the interconnected love triangles and vampire peace.

Rooftop chases at dawn open the hour-plus premiere “The Original Saga” alongside quick detective exposition and gunshots intercut with ledge leaping culprits, stakings, and victims set on fire in the sunlight. It’s a very nineties, busy start crowded with back and forth cop and vampire perspectives. The charred body is enough to start the investigation without the cheap action, and you need a flow chart to figure out who everyone is thanks to the world building and clan intrigue dropped in the dialogue – who belongs to the Gangrel gangs or Brujah mobsters, who are moving in on another Kindred’s territory, which ones abide by the masquerade rules to hide from humans, which clans are loyal to whom. Fortunately, the steamy vampire dinner date with steak very, very rare leads to one drop of blood on the white dress, sneaky scalpels, morgue drawers, and chilling kills. One-on-one conversations and hypnosis add to the tasty and sensuous, invoking the gothic atmosphere amid graveside vigils, moody mirrors, and shaving mishap temptations. In its early hours, however, Kindred: The Embraced is dominated by guests of the week and newly embraced vampires when the main Phantom of the Opera forbidden romance in the third episode “Nightstalker” is a much nicer bittersweet. Uneven A/B plotting and sagging police arguments hamper the superior Kindred stories as vampire killers are held for psychiatric evaluation. There’s a fine line between schizophrenia, blood lust, enchantments, and predators. Saucy shadows reveal our Kindred ills and charms as precarious clan war talk escalates to action halfway through the series – finally turning Kindred: The Embraced where it needs to go with guns drawn, vampire standoffs, and mob strong arming that should have come much sooner than the sixth episode, “The Rise and Fall of Eddie Fiori.” The Kindred front at the Dock Workers Union seems pedestrian and this arc was made to wait as if it were less important than the police plots, but clan peace is bringing down the business for Brian Thompson’s (Cobra) Brujah leader Eddie Fiori. The Brujah clan prefers carnage to reason, and Eddie sets up crimes only to act like the Kindred would be safer if he were in charge. Shapeshifting killers, head choppings, decoys, stabbings, and assassination attempts caught on camera provide enough gothic horror without resorting to more of that intrusive cop drama. A vampire using a private investigator is unnecessary in a blood feud, but it’s superb when the rival ladies get to sit face to face as the Kindred point fingers over who has blackmail photos or is sleeping with a journalist. Council meetings and swords resolve any broken vampire rules – damage the peace and you will pay.

Ironically, the wire tapes, moles, and crazy cops in the second episode of Kindred: The Embraced “Prince of the City” contradicts the pilot movie. You wouldn’t know this show was about vampires as enemies suddenly become friends over a cup of coffee and traitors are discovered or forgotten from one scene to the next. It’s a terrible entry and probably deterred a lot of viewers from continuing with the series week to week. “Live Hard, Die Young, and Leave a Good Looking Corpse” is also a great title, but an anonymous, obnoxious Kindred is embracing groupies and leaving them in the streets, again wasting time when the regular players have so little. Kindred: The Embraced could have opened with a newly turned against her will vampire learning the ropes point of view, but debates that could delve further into such assault parallels somehow end up boring and repetitive here. Police dismissing the monster stole my baby claims in the second to last hour “Bad Moon Rising” are unnecessary, too, as evil and ugly Nosferatu vampires abducting babies for blood sacrifices and Druid rituals are terrifying enough. Our vampires fear this banished Kindred wishing to return the clans to a more primitive sewer dwelling state no masquerade needed. Why demand vampires wear suits and drink blood in wine glasses when they can take it all? Kindred explaining their own rules to a sneering cop every single hour gets old fast compared to female Nosferatu, Carmilla references, chains, and ceremonial blades. “I only drink red” quips and garlic braids in the kitchen winks add to the Kindred: The Embraced mythos – some vampires can feed and go out in the sun while others gain more powers under the full moon. Direct questions about who’s making love or poisoning whom lead to tender moments among humans and vampires waxing on whether it’s them or us who are the real monsters. Suave Kindred fang out for both moonlit showdowns and juicy fireside passion as rivals try to exploit the clan war opportunities while the prince is away at the vineyard in “Cabin in the Woods.” Angry Brujah are determined to put bodies in the empty family cemetery plots while hooting owls, creepy forests, and eerie fog accent fiery flashbacks, attacks in the woods, white wolves, and Kindred truths too fantastic to believe. Past betrayals coming to light and vendettas are revealed, but only the precious healing blood can save the sacrifices and sad choices. Here at its end is where Kindred: The Embraced finds how it should have always been.

Of course, the series should have never strayed from it’s true and unfortunately gone too soon star Mark Frankel (Leon the Pig Farmer) and his Kindred prince Julian Luna. He keeps a tenuous peace between the clans, but Julian’s conflicted about being their judge, jury, and executioner. Despite his slick widow’s peak and cool control, it’s easy to see what gets to him, as Julian continually protects humans and associates with the descendants of his family from before he was embraced. He makes others toe the line about the masquerade yet Julian is sentimental himself, often going with banishment or failed punishments that force more finite, deadly resolutions. Although everyone tells him otherwise, Julian thinks we all can coexist, and he actually might not be that great a leader if his rivals can push his buttons with personal vendettas in hopes of inciting a full out clan war. Fortunately, Julian is nothing if not shrewd. He commands loyalty and respect, orchestrating ploys against his enemies that leave them out in the sunlight and begging to get into his trunk. No matter the pain or peril to himself, Julian does what he has to do to keep the peace above all else. He admits he was a violent henchman in the past, but his loves and human attachments make Julian want to be a better man. Journalist Kelly Rutherford (Melrose Place, but with whom I always confuse Ally Walker from Profiler, and also with Amanda Wyss briefly on Highlander: The Series. Nineties genre blondes, man!) is writing an article about Julian being a mysterious and powerful businessman, but he never gives interviews. He buys the newspaper and makes Caitlin editor, but she doesn’t sit behind the desk, seeking out the hot cases herself and dismissing the spooky connections that lead back to Julian. Caitlin struggles to listen to her conscience when he’s around, foolishly more curious despite how little she knows. The relationship is stagnant at times, never really advancing until the finale, but the chemistry forgives the blinded by love stupidity as truths and tearful revelations make for well done human versus vampire emotions. Stacy Haiduk (SeaQuest DSV) as Toreador leader and Haven club owner Lillie makes loose alliances as needed, using her allure for power, jealousy, and to support the arts. Her club is a sanctuary and Lillie saves a young musician with her embrace, but rock stars aren’t super discreet. She protects the wrong vampires and Julian insists they are no longer lovers but she makes her presence known by spying on Caitlin when not biting, flirting, and having her dalliances, too. Ultimately, Lillie still loves Julian and dislikes when he lies, expecting the truth after what they’ve been through together. This is a complex character – Lillie will stab a person in the back and do it with a smile and we don’t blame her. She deserved more time and Haiduk’s eyes are fittingly enchanting I must say.

Detective C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders) is top billed on Kindred: The Embraced, but Frank Kohanek is a terribly over the top eighties does forties cum nineties, generic copper. The edgy delivery and angry scene chewing jars with everything else, and point blank the series would have been better without him. Frank starts so full of hate and thinks all vampires are monsters even as he is helped and protected by Kindred, but turns a vampire killer over to Julian because his law can’t handle them. His entire police element is unnecessary since the Ventrue already has Erik King (Dexter) as their inside cop Sonny, but he isn’t featured half as much. Sonny’s reveals happen way too soon, leaving him to ride shotgun with Frank as the stereotypical Black cop partner, and Kate Vernon’s (Falcon Crest) seductive Alexandra also has her melodrama cut short when Kindred: The Embraced sets up her supposedly great romance with Frank but then tears it apart in one episode. Channon Roe (Bio-Dome) as perpetually scowling Gangrel biker Cash doesn’t think being embraced is all it’s cracked up to be, and he’s actually not that good of a bodyguard because he’s always making moon eyes with leather jacket bad girl Brigid Walsh (Army Wives) as Sasha. Although the motorcycle double entendres are cliché, Julian doesn’t want his last human descendant to be embraced, forbidding the romance between Sasha and Cash. She doesn’t believe the hear tell monstrous, but Sasha is quickly caught between the love of one clan and the hate of another. We know what to expect from an episode named “Romeo and Juliet,” but the secret rendezvous, gang killings, and family payback does what it says on the tin in fitting vampire style and shows what Kindred: The Embraced can do. Jeff Kober (China Beach) is immediately excellent as the Nosferatu leader Daedalus, decrepit and living underground but suave in a smoking jacket as he does Julian’s dirty work. Daedalus loyally does the series’ scary with a calm and quiet chill but falls in love with a beautiful singer. The “Nightstalker” hour should have been devoted to him, and we notice his absence in weaker episodes. Kober isn’t made up to be that much of an ogre, but Daedalus is ashamed of his own clan and dabbles in alchemy to enchant and change his appearance, for who would love him? He disposes of a nasty vampire doctor for hurting children and befriends an ill boy who asks if he is a monster. Daedalus wants to embrace him, but it is of course against the rules. It’s another fascinating dilemma that deserved more time on Kindred: The Embraced but c’est la vie.

Although there are no subtitles on the two-disc DVD edition of Kindred: The Embrace and the full-screen picture is flat; unlike today’s overly saturated digital grading, the nighttime scenes aren’t uber dark thanks to practical lighting and ambiance. Some shaky cam zooms and herky-jerky handheld aren’t so smooth now, but contrived police action is brief and choice dolly zoom horrors and great vampire eyes forgive poor fire effects. Picturesque Golden Gate Bridge scenery and San Francisco skylines at dusk contrast charred bodies, morgue toe tags, lunar motifs, and wolf overlays. Lavish wallpapers, draperies, artwork, water fountains, and grand staircases make up for that then luxurious nineties pink marble while creepy underground lairs, candelabras, and scary paintings create an edgy industrial. Red silk, purple satin, crushed velvet, and suave men’s suits provide allure; women’s fashions are both nineties runway sheer and flowing old fashioned with tantalizing slips and camisoles rather than then taboo nudity. Beheadings, skulls in the incinerator, heartbeats, and flexing jugulars provide chills while brooding nineties music invokes a sexy, classy simmer. Stained glass ruins, graves, greenery, and roses create a sensuous, romantic melancholy as Kindred: The Embraced remains a fine mix of modern debonair and gothic mood. That beeper though, with the fake giant screen and super easy to read analog text…lol. With eight different writers and six different directors, obviously, no one thought of having one cohesive narrative back then. Maybe twenty-five years ago cross-medium interactive content was unfathomable, but today such a franchise with books, games, official social media, and RPGs would be massive. Kindred: The Embraced was caught in the middle – a series that didn’t stand on its own but nor did it satisfy the built-in audience of Vampire: The Masquerade. Having gaming source material may have even contributed to viewer confusion as Fox shuffled the airings around and potentially out-of-order episodes seemed lacking in information. Of course, had Kindred: The Embraced stuck to its roots instead of wasting time with nineties cop show intrusions, the vampire love triangles, and intriguing clan wars wouldn’t have been so crowded. Revelations that could take several seasons happen in the first hour, and it’s tough not to shout at the what-ifs and ponder what Kindred: The Embraced could have been. Fortunately, Kindred: The Embrace is easy to marathon, remaining entertaining as a fun introductory piece for younger horror lite audiences as well as vampire fans and nostalgic viewers looking for gothic panache.

Want More Vampires and Gothic Romance?

Dracula (2020)

Gothic Romance Video Review

Mexican and Spanish Vampires

Dark Shadows Video Review

 

#HauntsandHellions Special Edition Gift Pack


Harkening back to the glory days of gothic romance that had us up reading all night,
HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents: Haunts & Hellions

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

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

$20.00 USD
SPECIAL EDITION PACKAGE INCLUDES:
signed book + wax-sealed letter + skeleton key

$20.00 USD

**Includes shipping and handling in the US.**
**For international shipping, please email first.***
***Books ordered by May 31st will be mailed by June 13th***
Questions? Email: horroraddicts@gmail.com

Free Fiction : The Letter by J.S. Occonor

The Letter

I sit here at my desk writing my final words for I fear that I shall not live to see the sunrise. The evil that has lurked in my home has become increasingly bold and the scratching on my bedroom door just last night tells me that it is my time.

 But before I get ahead of myself, a brief introduction should be in order as to how this all may have happened. I am Emmitt Newgate, a professor at the local university – a professor of anthropology and archeology, which fate would have it, would be my own downfall. As is one of the boons of my chosen field, I had taken a trip six months ago during the summer for academic fieldwork. Myself, a few colleges in the department, and three of our most successful students found ourselves granted an opportunity to travel to South America to study a number of ancient ruins. 

The trip itself was not unique, and I have been to places far more dangerous and more exotic. But this location was unique in that in my long history of study, there have been none that we brought more from. The number of relics and artifacts that were discovered exceeded all expectations. The last number that was reported to me was one hundred thirty-three thousand forty-two. A number that has no doubt continued to rise and bring about the undoing and death of all who were and still are involved. How unfortunate that a once-in-a-lifetime discovery would result in the death of so many.

The first death was two weeks after we had returned from our trip. The victim was another professor by the name of Edgar Washington. He was an elderly man but despite his age, he was healthy and fit. Edgar was found in his home, laying in his bedroom his face frozen in agony. And as I write, his cause of death yet remains unknown. The second death worth mentioning was Sidney Davis, the only female student who we brought along with us. She too was found in her bedroom with a similar agonizing look on her face and once again, her cause of death is unknown. Over the next six months, the remaining members of the expedition would die, all in a similar fashion, leaving just myself remaining.

The most recent death happened twenty-seven days ago. Why I know this is because it was a favorite student of mine, Michael Seymore, and his death may have revealed a clue. Or rather what he wrote. Michael Seymore was found in his bedroom in the same fashion as the others that I have mentioned, but he was clutching a journal to his chest. A journal that has come into my possession by means which are not entirely legal, I admit. And while I wish for my reputation to remain as unsullied as possible after the discovery of this letter, I needed to know what Michael had written. It concerns my own death, you see, and a man should know what fate awaits him. The first third of the journal was what you would expect of a man with a sound mind. However, as I turned the pages the words of Michael Seymore become less and less coherent until there was nothing but the ramblings of a lone mad man. The last third of the journal was nothing more than a single phrase written over and over again: “It comes from the darkness, look to the shadows.” A phrase in which the meaning remains lost to me and the limited amount of time I have remaining means that I shall never discover its true meaning. And an unknown fate still awaits me.

After the death of Michael Seymore, the evil turned its attention to me, the last member of our expedition. I had been aware of the deaths since the death of Edgar Washington. However, I did not notice the similarities until the death of Joseph Linkletter, who was the third to die. Had I discovered the link earlier, I might have been able to alter the course or to keep the deaths from happening. When I knew it was my turn, I immediately noticed it following me, but any and all research led me to dead ends.

The first time I saw it was late at night, three days after the death of Michael Seymore. From the corner of my eye, I saw a shadowy shape standing across the street from my residence. It would remain there every night for the next two weeks. Was it watching me? I believe it was. 

The first night it entered my house was a week ago, and I have not left my room since, with the exception of a daily visit to my kitchen, as the activity is minimal during the day. Maybe it does not like light. I have fired the house staff, in hopes to keep them safe, and I have formally resigned from the university to distance myself from everyone. It is my hope that I will be the last to suffer such a fate, but if I am not the last, I hope that this letter may help the next person who is being stalked by this evil being. I know nothing of this being – if it was released from our expedition, then I do not know-how. It may be tied to one of the relics that we returned with but again I cannot be certain. Along with this letter are our expedition notes, books on ancient civilizations, as well as books on evil, books that make mention of dark figures, and the last piece that I leave is the journal of Michael Seymore. I leave these things behind for the next person.

Soon the sun will perish and my candle will burn out leaving me in darkness. I have failed in this life and if I am responsible for this evil, then know that I am truly sorry for what we have unleashed. I will know my fate soon enough. 

My final words,

Emmitt Newgate    


 

J.S. O’Connor currently lives in Bettendorf Iowa where he writes in his free time.

 

 

 

#HauntsandHellions: The Inspiration Behind “Left Behind.”

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The Inspiration Behind “Left Behind.”

By Emerian Rich

needleMy story “Left Behind” is set during the polio epidemic in New York City, 1916. A girl who is supposed to be dancing at cotillions and being courted by handsome young bucks, has been struck by this illness. Her mother keeps the house dark and ancient as the vibrant city around her installs electricity and revels in the happiness of progress.

While researching for this story, I learned a lot about polio. Over the course of a year, more than two-thousand cases ended in death in New York City. Although mostly in Brooklyn and in children under the age of five, there were rare outliers. Glorianna’s story is such a tale. She is older than most. She is from a prosperous family. She is ill much longer than others.

Studying this epidemic during a pandemic was quite an experience. Like COVID-19, polio caused widespread panic and thousands fled the city to nearby mountain resorts; movie theaters were closed, meetings were canceled, public gatherings were almost nonexistent, and children were warned not to drink from water fountains, and told to avoid amusement parks, swimming pools, and beaches. Sound familiar?

In the absence of proven treatments, a number of odd and potentially dangerous polio treatments were suggested. Internal use of caffeine, dry muriate of quinine, elixir of cinchone, radium water, chloride of gold, liquor calcis, and wine of pepsin were used.

In “Left Behind,” Glorianna’s mother uses a “tonic” to help cure her. It is described as acidic and acrid and we do not know what is in it. I left it up to the reader to decide what horrible concoction her mother might try to save her child’s life. Did she mix up metallic ingredients, herbals, or both?

We can look back and awe at the stupidity of using such cures, but in reality, what would you do to cure your child? We live in an age of information. Mother’s back then did not have such information at their fingertips, and yet… even today, if we heard that taking a spoonful of cinchona a day would stop COVID and was proven to work, who of us wouldn’t start feeding our family chicken cinchona cacciatore?

I hope you enjoy Glorianna’s story and the creature it inspires.

emz2Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. Emerian is a podcast horror hostess at HorrorAddicts.net.

Nightmare Fuel: Loveland Frogmen

Hello Addicts,

This week’s Nightmare Fuel takes us to the Loveland, OH area, where reports of bipedal lizards or frogs have frightened businesspeople and police officers alike over the decades. These are the aptly named Loveland Frogmen.

The creatures stand about three to four feet tall, weighing approximately fifty to seventy-five pounds, and can use sticks as tools and possibly electrical weapons. They are covered with leathery skin and have webbed hands and feet, much like typical frogs. What is most distinguishing is their frog-like heads with wrinkles in place of hair.

The first reported sighting of these creatures was in 1955 when a businessman ran across three as he drove along a dark stretch of road. He managed to watch them for a couple of minutes before one noticed him and waved a stick above its head like a wand, complete with shooting sparks.

The next run-in with the frogmen was in 1972 when Officer Ray Shockey stopped his car for what he perceived was an injured dog laying on the side of the road. When he stopped and exited the patrol car, the creature got to his feet and looked back at the policeman. Its eyes glowed as it reflected the light from the headlights before it turned and leaped over the guardrail and slipped into the Little Miami River. When Officer Shockey and Officer Mark Matthews returned to the scene, they found only scrape marks leading to the river. The same Officer Matthews would later have his run-in with one of the amphibious creatures.

On March 17, 1972, Officer Matthews was driving a different stretch of road outside of Loveland, OH, when he found a dead animal in the middle of the road. Just as in the previous experience, the frogman got up into a crouched position and walked to the guardrail with his eyes focused on Officer Matthews. This time, the police officer managed to fire a couple of shots at the creature before it vanished into the dark.

In the years since, Officer Matthews has retracted his reported sighting, claiming that what he saw was simply a large-sized lizard that escaped its owner. Perhaps his change of heart on the sighting was a case of mistaken identity or ridicule from fellow officers. There is plenty of reason to question the existence of the frogmen. Firstly, frogs are not known to walk on hind legs. Secondly, the part of Ohio where the sightings took place was a heavily populated area without any Native American lore to back them up.

While the legend of the Loveland Frogmen may indeed be a result of active imaginations, mistaken identity, and the dark, it does make for some compelling fodder for story ideas. There is always the possibility that the creatures exist. Until it is proven, however, the legends make for some great storytelling.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Lucy Blue

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Lucy Blue lives in a decrepit old house in a small town in South Carolina with her husband, artist and game designer Justin Glanville, and her dog, preternaturally brilliant and adorable Jack Russell terrier, Luke. Formerly a historical andLucy Blue reading paranormal romance writer for Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, she is now a writer and managing editor for Falstaff Crush, the romance line from Falstaff Books.

Her story, “My Ain True Love,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

LB: My grandmother had a set of leatherbound “classics” in her bookcase when I was a kid, and one was the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe. She read me “The Raven,” and I liked it, so I went back and read the whole book – I think I was about eight. Scared the living shit out of me, but I adored it. And I’ve been an addict ever since.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

LB: As a literary genre or a concept? For me, romance values feeling over facts, a willingness on the part of the characters, the creator, and the audience to let themselves go to the point of being ridiculous to feel, for real or vicariously, a connection that goes beyond empathy or sex.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

LB: It changes, but I’ve always loved Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” – talk about a creepy romance!

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

LB: I love Ken Russell’s “Gothic,” with Gabriel Byrne and Julian Sands as Byron and Shelley and Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley. It’s completely over-the-top and extremely grotesque, but the actors are all amazing, and it captures that over the top ecstasy of a gothic romance.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

LB: Very much not.

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

LB: I use an outline but deviate from it a lot in the actual writing.

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

LB: Since they’re imaginary, no, I’m deciding their fate for them. I don’t subscribe to that “oh, my characters went their own way and told me what they wanted” approach to writing—I tend to think of that as a first draft that probably needs a lot of work. I don’t trust my subconscious quite that much.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

LB: Being buried alive.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

LB: Either Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, or Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, depending on the day. I also really like Possession by A.S. Byatt.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

LB: Stephen King or Anne Rice.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

LB: My next publication after this will probably be a horror novel called The Devil Makes Three, coming out later this year from Falstaff Books. And I have a collection of horror/romance short stories featuring witch heroines called Eat the Peach out now.

Addicts, you can find Lucy on her website.

Haunts and Hellions, The Backstory

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I remember the first gothic romance cover I ever saw. Tealish-gray in color, it showed a lady in a clinging gown and cape, running in horror from a towering lighthouse being bombarded by the stormy sea. I had never seen anything so beautiful and that first inspiring cover opened up a whole new world of fiction to me.

You see, I was a minister’s daughter, and anything perceived as horror or evil was outlawed. Also on ban were romance books that suggested anything sexual might be happening inside, like the cheesy Fabio covers of the 80s, with a half-clothed damsel clinging to his bare chest.

HHCoverPromoGothic romances were a perfect fit for me. They only featured a lone lady—fully clothed in layers and often a cloak—with a house or castle behind her. These were acceptable visualizations in my home. With non-descript titles like Darksham’s Tower, Mistress of the Moor, or The Silent Place, it was easy to bring them into the house without a raised brow.

Through these fantastic books, I traversed stormy estates, explored hidden passageways, and fell in love with the ghosts behind the paintings, all without leaving the comfort of my nightly reading nook. I was the archeologist deciphering ancient script and falling under the mummy’s curse. I helped the handsome spirit in the tower avenge his death and find his lost love. I broke the spell holding the vampire in his crypt and became his progeny.

For a sheltered child, gothic romance books were an escape I never would have survived without. If you loved them too, you will enjoy the stories collected in this tome.

Harkening back to the glory days of those great tales that kept me up reading all night, I present, Haunts and Hellions

13 stories of horror, romance, and that perfect moment when the two worlds collide. Vengeful spirits attacking the living, undead lovers revealing their true nature, and supernatural monsters seeking love, await you.

So, pull the blinds closed, light your candle, and cuddle up in your reading nook for some chilling—and romantic—tales.

~Emerian Rich

Historian of Horror : Forbidden Sinister Dark Mansion-House of Secret Haunted Love

Forbidden Sinister Dark Mansion-House of Secret Haunted Love

I never read any of them that I remember, but my mother had a handful of paperback novels by folks like Phyllis A. Whitney and Victoria Holt, gothic romances with paintings of willowy maidens fleeing spooky houses on the covers. Not really my cup of hemlock as a child, although I did read several of the very similar Dark Shadows novels of the same period written by Dan Ross under his pseudonym of Marilyn Ross. Still have them, somewhere in this hodge-podge of occult literature and arcane artifacts that is my office. Dark Shadows was the only soap opera I was ever interested in, so of course I was drawn to whatever subsidiary relics it spawned. I even had a plastic model of Barnabas Collins. I think some of the pieces occupy a box within a few feet of where I am sitting at the moment, although Cthulhu alone knows which of the myriad containers that might be.

C’est la vie. C’est la mort. C’est l’horreur.

My long-time online friend, Melanie Jackson, currently writes several series of cozy mysteries, but when we first encountered each other whilst hanging out in some now-deceased horror message board twenty years ago, she was doing pretty well scribing paranormal romances for the late and unlamented Leisure Books. Or would have been doing pretty well, had Leisure paid their bills. Which is why there is no longer such a thing as Leisure Books, or so I’ve been told by more than one of their former stable of authors. Anyhow, Melanie assured me that Dan Ross was not alone in hiding his Y chromosome behind a female name in order to sell romance novels. Many romance novels are still being written by men under female noms-de-plume, or were when she told me that.

That didn’t stop DC Comics from declining to hide their male contributors behind petticoats in 1971, when they jumped into that genre with a pair of titles that only lasted four issues each. One might wonder if Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love and Sinister House of Secret Love could have survived longer had a fiction of feminine creatorship been maintained. 

Probably not, to be honest. The genre of love comics was on its last legs, anyhow. Of all the comic book publishers that had flooded the drugstore spinner racks of America with four-color romances since 1947, only DC, its main rival, Marvel, and perpetual also-ran Charlton were still in the game. In fact, other than those three, only Harvey Publications, Archie, and Fawcett were even still in the comic book business.

Harvey had gone completely over to kiddie books like Casper the Friendly Ghost and Wendy the Little Witch and Little Dot the, uh, girl obsessed with polka dots, while Archie was only occasionally trying something not associated with its namesake character, usually under its Red Circle sub-brand. After being sued out of business by DC for their flagstaff super-hero, Captain Marvel, being considered too much a copy of Superman, Fawcett was left with its paperback book line and a license to publish a myriad of Dennis the Menace comics. DC eventually hoovered up the moribund Captain Marvel, but only after Marvel had reclaimed the name for the first in a string of their own characters, which is why the original is now called Shazam. Clear as mud?

The first publisher of romance comics, Prize Publications, switched over to joke and cartoon magazines in the 1960s until it quietly petered out in 1978. ACG (American Comics Group) was reduced to putting out industry advertising comics after 1967. St. John closed its doors altogether in 1958. Quality sold off its remaining titles to DC in 1956 and shut down production. And so on, and on, and on. Even the love comics Marvel and DC still published in 1971 were sputtering along on fumes. Not exactly an auspicious time to start up a new variation on a dying genre.

And yet, there they were. Two rather attractive bimonthly titles with covers painted by veterans of the paperback industry George Ziel and Victor Kalin. They were edited by long-time DC employee Dorothy Woolfolk, who was one of the folks credited with coming up with kryptonite in the various Superman comics. Dark Mansion led with a first issue dated September-October, 1971, with Sinister House #1 being dated October-November of the same year. 

Both titles were fifty-two page comic books selling for twenty-five cents. The standard for most comics had been thirty-six pages for twelve cents since the very early 1960s, when the price went up from ten cents. Twenty-five cents would, in those halcyon days of my mis-spent youth, buy an eighty-page giant special issue, usually a reprint collection or annual, or the occasional regular series like the bulk of Tower Comics’s run in the mid-sixties. Later in the decade, that quarter of a dollar got you sixty-eight pages, then down to fifty-two by 1970. For a brief period, Marvel had jumped up its page count and cost for a single month on all its titles, often using reprints to flesh out the issues. DC followed suit for a year or so, not realizing that their chief rival had tricked them into following an expensive trend that was financially untenable. The readers benefitted, however, by being exposed to the treasures of the past that filled the back pages of those issues, helping to create the demand for Golden Age comics that led to major changes in distribution as well as collecting. Comics went from a drugstore item to being almost exclusively procured in specialty comic book stores, with a concurrent escalation of the value of older issues that led to the first appearance of Superman recently bringing in three-and-a-quarter million dollars.

Yeah, I wish I’d kept everything I ever owned, too. Oh, well.

Anyhow, Dark Mansion #1. The cover says, “The Secret of the Missing Bride”. The splash page says, “The Mystery of the Missing Bride”. Under either title, it was the first comic book written by Mary Skrenes, who went on to have a moderately successful career in both comics and television. She was also supposedly the inspiration for Howard the Duck’s human companion (and maybe girlfriend? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. I will refrain from giving in to the temptation of stooping so law as to make the obvious naughty suggestion about the role played in their relationship by that portion of a duck’s plumage that is sometimes used to stuff pillows with), Beverly Switzler. The story, which filled the entire issue, was drawn by Tony DeZuniga, one of a cadre of artists DC recruited from the Philippines about that time. DeZuniga was also the initial artist on the long-running outre western character Jonah Hex when he first appeared the next year. 

Sinister House #1 has two stories, neither reprints. Nor were they credited, either for the first story, which was clearly drawn by comics stalwart Don Heck, nor for the second, which was obviously at least inked by Vince Colletta. The art styles of each are quite distinctive. “The Curse of the MacIntyres” which according to the Grand Comics Database was also written by Mary Skrenes, occupies the bulk of the issue, while “A Night to Remember… A Day to Forget” was penciled by John Calnan, with the writer not known. It seems to me rather reminiscent of many stories from ACG titles like Adventures into the Unknown, in which romance and the supernatural overlapped from time to time. 

And so it went for another three issues for each title. Almost entirely the one long story with only one other backup tale, mostly drawn by DeZuniga or Heck. One story had Colletta inks over pencils by Ernie Chua, another Filipino import. Sinister House #3 was penciled by comics legend, Alex Toth, who co-created Space Ghost for Saturday morning television in the 1960s, and inked by Frank Giacoia and Doug Wildey, who created Jonny Quest. Mary Skrenes wrote one more story. Editor Dorothy Woolfolk is credited with another, as is Tony DeZuniga’s wife, Mary.

Some of the one or two page text pieces that the post office requires be included in each issue for comic books to be considered enough of a literary medium to justify third-rate shipping rates, by the way, were written by none other than later legendary horror movie director, Wes Craven. Betcha didn’t see THAT coming!

Both were retitled with the fifth issues and switched over to standard horror format. Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love became Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion, while Sinister House of Secret Love morphed into Secrets of Sinister House. Very nearly the same, but without all the love. No more gothic romance, just the usual ‘ghoulies and ghosties and lang-legged beasties and things that gae bump in tha nacht’. And aside from one 1982 issue of DC Blue Ribbon Digest that reprinted a few of the yarns from these titles, that was it.

Well, almost. Remember that also-ran publisher I mentioned above? Charlton? The one that only kept going at all into the 1980s because they happened to own the printing presses they used to pump out their second-tier comic books? They managed to have the last laugh when their own gothic romance title, Haunted Love, premiered in 1973. It lasted eleven issues over the next two years, with Tom Sutton handling a significant portion of the artistic labors. The first story in the first story, however, was drawn by Joe Staton, who has been drawing the Dick Tracy newspaper comic strip for just over a decade now. I met Joe back in the late 80s, when he visited the comic book store I managed briefly but much too long. Nice guy.

I have to confess that, until I sat down to write this entry, I had never read any of these comic books. Gothic romance simply isn’t my thing, but it does fill a significant niche in the history of our genre. If it is your thing, scans of all these issues can maybe possibly be found online to be read or even downloaded, given a diligent search in the right places. Not that I’d ever encourage anything even remotely resembling copyright infringement, though. Let your own conscience be your guide. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

And so, until next time, fellow fiends…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

#HauntsandHellions Book Event Calendar

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Welcome Horror Addicts, to the Haunts and Hellions Book Event Calendar. We have many delightful events planned for your enjoyment and edification. Be sure to join us for interviews, tales of inspiration, excerpts, and parties galore! We would be most honored by your presence.

DATE WHAT? WHEN? WHERE?
MAY 2021 PST WEBSITE
1 31 Days of #GothicRomance on Instagram 1-31 https://www.instagram.com/horroraddicts.netpress/
13 Press Release for Haunts &Hellions 1:13p horroraddicts.net
14 Haunts & Hellions Book Event Calendar 1:13p horroraddicts.net
15 Haunts & Hellions Inspiration for the Book 1:13p horroraddicts.net
16 Chilling Chat: Author Lucy Blue 1:13p horroraddicts.net
16 Excerpt “The House Must Fall” all day https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com/rocknromanceblog
17 The Inspiration Behind “Left Behind” 1:13p horroraddicts.net
18 Excerpt “Hungry Masses” all day http://www.emmyzmadrigal.com
19 The Inspiration Behind “The Siren and Bowery Jack” 1:13p horroraddicts.net
20 Excerpt “Left Behind” all day emzbox.com
21 Chilling Chat: Author Emerian Rich 1:13p horroraddicts.net
22 HorrorAddict.net #194, Haunts and Hellion Podcast 1:13p horroraddicts.net
22 Facebook Party Announced 1:13p horroraddicts.net
23 Excerpt “She Woke at Midnight” all day https://nachingkassa.wordpress.com/
23 Chilling Chat: Author B.F. Vega 8:13a horroraddicts.net
24 Chilling Chat: Author N.C. Northcott 8:13a horroraddicts.net
24 Facebook Party, Day one 8a-8p
25 Chilling Chat: Author Kevin Ground 8:13a horroraddicts.net
25 Facebook Party, Day two 8a-8p
26 Chilling Chat: Author R.L. Merrill 8:13a horroraddicts.net
26 Facebook Party, Day three 8a-8p
27 Chilling Chat: Author Rowan Hill 8:13a horroraddicts.net
27 Facebook Party, Day four 8a-8p
28 Chilling Chat: Author Daniel R. Robichaud 8:13a horroraddicts.net
28 Facebook Party, Day five, winners announced 3:00p
29 Excerpt “Companions” all day http://www.daphnestrasert.com
29 Chilling Chat: Author Tara Vanflower 8:13a horroraddicts.net
30 The Inspiration Behind “She Woke at Midnight” 1:13P horroraddicts.net
31 Chilling Chat: Author Emily Blue 1:13P horroraddicts.net
JUNE
1 Excerpt “With Red Eyes Gleaming” all day https://consideringstories.wordpress.com/
1 The Inspiration Behind “Californio Fog” 1:13P horroraddicts.net
2 Chilling Chat: Author Daphne Strasert 1:13P horroraddicts.net
3 Excerpt “Lady of Graywing Manor” all day http://blueswriterthoughts.blogspot.com/
3 The Inspiration Behind “Companions” 1:13P horroraddicts.net
4 Watch Party Announced 1:13P horroraddicts.net
5 Excerpt “Love Never Dies” all day http://writerrowanhill.com/
6 Chilling Chat: Author Naching T. Kassa 1:13P horroraddicts.net
7 Watch Party Reminder 1:13P horroraddicts.net
8 Excerpt “Maudaleen” all day http://www.kevinground.com/
8 Watch Party 6pm, Facebook 6:00p https://www.facebook.com/events/271539928045528
9 The Inspiration Behind “With Red Eyes Gleaming” 1:13P horroraddicts.net
10 Excerpt “The Siren and Bowery Jack” all day www.TheTaoOfTim.com
11 Chilling Chat: Author Emmy Z. Madrigal 1:13P horroraddicts.net
12 The Inspiration Behind “The House Must Fall” 1:13P horroraddicts.net
13 Excerpt “Blood and Dust” all day http://emzbox.com
13 Haunts and Hellions released on Kindle 1:13P horroraddicts.net
14 The Inspiration Behind “Maudaleen” 1:13P horroraddicts.net
15 Excerpt “Californio Fog” all day https://bookhoarding.wordpress.com/
16 The Inspiration Behind “Hungry Masses” 1:13P horroraddicts.net
17 Excerpt “My Ain True Love” all day https://lucybluecastle.wordpress.com/

HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents: Haunts and Hellions

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

Haunts & Hellions edited by Emerian Rich

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

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

To read, go to: Amazon.com

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Koko-di Koko-da

 

 

Plotline: A case of food poisoning derails a family’s holiday and forever alters the course of their lives. Years later, the couple go camping again, looking for one last chance to go back to the way things used to be. But what once was is lost, and they instead find themselves having to relive the same nightmarish events, as that day and the horrors it brings repeat themselves infinitely. Together, they must overcome their trauma, reconcile with the past and fight for their lives — over and over again.

Who would like it: Fans of camping horror, cosmic horror, WTF, international films, myths and fairytales

High Points: I really love how told in two different media’s

Complaints: None

Overall: I really enjoyed this super creepy little movie!

Stars: 3 1/2

Where I watched it: Sling

 

 

Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 5 Insect Horror Novels

I don’t like bugs. Cockroaches, spiders, centipedes… if it’s creepy or crawly, I’m sure to stay far away. But a Horror Addict asked me to create a list of good horror books involving insects. So, from spine-tingling terror to science fiction frights to the absolutely bonkers, here are my top five suggestions for horror that will make you bug out.

Eight by W.W. Mortensen

When entomologist Rebecca Riley receives stunning photographs of a new discovery, she finds herself on the next flight to Brazil, heading down to join the team of scientists assembling there.

What she uncovers is beyond imagination: strange statues in the jungle… a ruined city built by the refugees of a lost Pacific continent… and a terrifying new species. It is an ancient enemy, one whose very existence has implications for all of humankind… and the planet itself.

Prey by Michael Crichton

In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles—micro-robots—has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.

It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour.

And we are the prey.

Slither by Edward Lee

When Nora and her research team arrived on the deserted tropical island, she was expecting a routine zoological expedition, but it didn’t take long to realize they’re not alone. Now members of her own team are disappearing, and when they return, they’ve changed.

Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon

Six high school students have survived nuclear war in a high-tech bomb shelter, but they are not alone. Mutated insects are hungry and the human survivors are the only prey.

Texas Chainsaw Mantis by Kevin Strange

After wiping out humanity years ago, Praying Mantises have evolved into the dominant species on Earth, taking over our buildings, our jobs, and our lives.

Matthew is a high school history teacher. He does his best to educate the young mantises and tame the savage side of their nature, until the day he comes home to find his wife ready to mate. Anyone who knows anything about Mantises knows that mating is a death sentence for males of the species. But when Matthew’s wife partially decapitates him during sex, he crawls out to the woodshed to die, only to find an old haunted chainsaw, possessed by the spirit of his home’s dead human owner, who just happens to be an occult sorcerer and serial killer known as The Growler’s Phantom. Now resurrected, Matthew vows revenge on his murderous wife, and her new husband Nicko as well as anyone else who gets in his path.

There you have it! Five books to make your skin crawl. Do you know any horror books that feature insects? Want to see another list of recommendations? Leave a comment!

Free Fiction: Undone by P J Curtis

Undone by P.J. Curtis

I lost something in the woods. It hurts my head every time I try to remember what exactly I lost, but there’s an emptiness that must be filled before it’s too late. I am not getting any younger and these trees are only growing taller. 

I would’ve driven through these woods considering how wide the path was, but at its entrance, I decided to leave my car. I wouldn’t be needing it any longer. I don’t need any protection for what I’m doing today. However, when I exited my car, I looked at the sky and noticed how dark it had gotten despite it being early in the day. The once welcoming pink sky has transformed into a coal-stained canvas, just ready to be presented by its maker. At first, it alarmed me how sudden the change was, but I didn’t think too much about it since I needed to find what I lost. 

As I walked down the dirt path filled with moss-ridden stones and rotten bark, my legs began to tremble. It felt like hours since I started my journey to find what I’ve lost but something in my chest was pulling me forward. I figured it was strong conviction but another, deeper part of me, felt as if something was truly pulling me. 

The path seemed endless and less of the already dying light from the sky was sinking through the trees. In fact, I could hardly see the sky. I couldn’t stop and fully take in what had become of my surroundings but it felt as if the trees were closing in on me. Almost as if they were forming a tunnel, the trees began to bend like fingers trying to touch the palm of a hand. There was barely any light but no matter how dark the tunnel of trees made my venture, I knew I would find what I needed.

I kept trudging along the dark path with a shortness of breath. I desired to keep going but my lungs were burning so hot, I thought they would burst from my chest. Even my legs had given up and my knees finally buckled. I figured I would collapse completely but as I fell, I realized my chest hadn’t hit the path. Almost as if I were begging, only my knees kissed the ground. My upper body was completely erect and my chest began to protrude outwards. The pulling sensation had only grown stronger as I was dragged along the path with no visible force tugging at my chest. 

I was dragged for hours. The knee part of my pants has disintegrated and had been matted with blood and mud. I felt weaker the farther I went down the tunnel. I could barely keep my eyes open but an unusual clutter of small voices prevented me from going completely adrift. The deeper I delved into the dark path, the clearer the voices sounded. I could make out what they were saying and frankly, it was nothing special. All I heard were average conversations layered on yet more average conversations. It was incessant but comforting. 

Eventually, the speed at which I was being dragged had come to a halt as I entered a different part of the woods. The tunnel had opened in a circular fashion above me as if the trees morphed into a colosseum. With this newfound exposure to the sky, the moon shone light on something I had never seen before. 

Before my eyes, I saw an old woman in worn rags sewing herself what appeared to be a red scarf. The old woman looked grotesquely thin and feeble yet she used her needle as if it were a mighty sword when she struck the yarn. It was a beautiful stitch, a work of art to say the least. I began to wonder why she wore such hideous and worn rags but I was interrupted by her gruesome gaze. 

She did not say a single word. The old woman stopped sewing for a moment as she brushed her matted wisps of hair over her shoulder. She then pointed at my chest and that’s when I saw it. A long strand of red yarn had come out of my chest and had been linked to her soon-to-be scarf. My eyes widened as she fiddled with the string with her long nail as if it were a banjo. Before I could process what was happening, her eyes rolled back into her skull and her twisted smile grew as she continued sewing. With every passing stroke of her needle, I began to unravel. Her scarf grew longer as my body began to diminish into nothingness. I couldn’t tell if I made a single noise because the conversations only grew louder as I became more scarf than human. 

The process was extremely painful, as my skin was being ripped off but I have to say…it was worth it. I feel warmed not only by the fabric I’ve become but also by the voices I am surrounded by. I can now intermingle with whomever I’m woven with. 

I finally found what I have lost. 


Author Bio: 

P.J. Curtis is a fan of fiction that disturbs readers to the core. Whether he is reading or writing it, Curtis believes we all should take a moment to appreciate what lurks in the shadows. Being primarily inspired by the works of Junji Ito and Franz Kafka, Curtis delves deep into the brink of human absurdity through the exploration of the unexplainable. Right now, Curtis is studying at Montclair State University to become a high school English teacher, but that has never stopped him from exploring what makes us scream.

 

Book Review : Aleister Blake by Valentina Cano

Review by Matt Morovich

An admission before I begin: I’m not that much of a fan of the romance genre.

It’s not for particularly any negative reason, the previous statement isn’t an indictment of the genre, it’s just not a genre that I have had much experience with. Admittedly, it also not one I have a preference for; if I’m going to pick up a book, it’s much more likely going to be horror, science fiction, or fantasy.  Maybe a more accurate statement would be that I don’t have enough experience with the genre to say if I’m a fan or not. 

That said, this book, Aleister Blake

Here I thought it was going to be a horror novel and yet it’s a sneaky, stealthy horror romance.

And that is not a bad thing in the slightest.

Aleister Blake is the story of Nora, a young woman living in Victorian London with her brother Peter. Decidedly working class, the pair work as rat catchers for a man named Sharpe, clearing the homes of wealthier citizens of vermin. Having grown up as orphans on the city streets, the siblings are incredibly close and Peter has done everything he could to keep his sister safe. That said, they are still products of their environment which expresses itself in Nora’s suspicion and dislike for the upper class and her penchant for nicking objects to pawn from the homes of their clients when her brother, the moral compass of the two, isn’t able to stop her. Due to her smaller size and figure, Nora is the quick and nimble one, crawling beneath floors and between walls to catch the rats while Peter helps manage their working relationships to get more clients.

While not a comfortable life, the two of them get by with their work, making a mostly honest living, and things go well until Peter makes the mistake of placing too large a bet on a dog during a rat-baiting when a tip doesn’t pan out. When it is revealed he doesn’t have the money to cover the wager, Peter is stabbed and mortally wounded while his sister watches. Crying for help in a filthy London alley, Nora’s prayers are answered when a stranger appears out of the night to offer her a devil’s bargain: Nora could agree to work for the stranger on a project that he needed her assistance with and he would save Peter. The additional drawback would be that Nora would become invisible to everyone who had previously known her, excising her from her previous life, but, facing living in a world without her brother, she’d rather go on knowing he was alive and unable to see her than for him to be dead, so she agrees. 

And that is how we are introduced to the mysterious Aleister Blake.

The horror of Aleister Blake comes from the same-named character, who, right from the go, is clearly more than he appears. Able to heal mortal wounds with a wave of a hand, he lives in a Tardis-like home that is far larger on the inside than it is on the outside and is staffed with misshapen shadow creatures that flit about silently on the edges of your vision. Over the course of the book, we learn Aleister’s secrets as Nora uncovers more about her mysterious benefactor and business partner and the unsettling nature of his house.

The romance portion of this novel is, you probably could have guessed, the growing relationship between Nora and Aleister. Over the course of the book, the two come to an understanding of each other and gain mutual respect, leading to Nora acknowledging she has feelings for him. To go too much more into either the romance or horror aspect of the novel would be to give too many spoilers, but, to my unfamiliar experience with the romance genre, the relationship seemed to grow organically and realistically.

I’m happy to say that, as opposed to the last two books I reviewed, I enjoyed Aleister Blake quite a bit. Written from Nora’s perspective, she’s an entertaining and realistically written character who I enjoyed getting to be a part of. Her interactions with her brother, Aleister, and others felt real and unlike other female protagonists whose name rhymes with “Smella”, she is competent and realistically flawed. She has a sense of humor, her own fears, and desires, and the end of the novel was refreshing in how it turned out. I particularly enjoyed how Cano wrote the dialogue, it flowed well and sounded like how people actually talk; additionally, the way that Nora and Aleister speak with each other also really emphasized the changing nature of their relationship, becoming more familiar and humorful as they grow closer. 

The only thing that made me frown at the book was, once again, the main threat came down to sexual violence around women, specifically women who had been kidnapped to be trafficked. I will say that there are no graphic depictions of any abuse, only implications of it, but again that was being used as a trope made me roll my eyes a bit. What saved it for me was how little it was part of the plot; it existed, and dealing with the kidnapping was part of Nora’s motivation, but it wasn’t the singular facet of the story nor was it over-emphasized. Part of me wishes Cano had found a different reason for Nora to care about Aleister’s schemes, because of how overdone this sort of thing feels to me, but I could look past that opinion for how much I enjoyed the rest of the book.

I will say that I was hoping that the book would have had more horror. While what was there was well written, I felt like this skewed a bit more toward the romance side of the hyphenated genre than the horror side. The horror had a decidedly PG-13 feel to it, which isn’t necessarily bad, I was just hoping for more. 

If you’re looking for a horror-romance book with an interesting and entertaining female protagonist, I would definitely recommend Aleister Blake.

Chilling Chat: Episode #193 – Angela Yuriko Smith

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Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award. Her novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018AYSmith 2019 - Angela Yuriko Smith Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. In 2019 she won the SFPA’s poetry contest in the dwarf form category and has been nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize for poetry. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine, a 54-year-old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction.

Angela is a kind and intelligent person. We spoke of poetry, prose, and publishing.

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

AYS: Thank you for having me, Naching! It’s a pleasure to be here.

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

AYS: Far too young, probably. My first experience with horror was watching the first Friday the 13th at a dive-in theater with my parents. I was sitting in the back seat of an old International Scout and I was positive a knife was going to drive up through the seat and kill me. The end of that, the moment when Jason comes out of the water… probably ended any enjoyment I would ever have for lakes and oceans.

So, I was probably…5?

NTK: Is Friday the 13th your favorite horror movie? If not, what is?

AYS: No, and I’m terrible for watching movies. In horror especially I’m usually disappointed. The two I’ve loved recently though were Midsommar and Parasite…. though Parasite wasn’t too horrible…but I loved it.

NTK: Do you watch horror TV shows? If so, do you have a favorite?

AYS:  I do have a list of horror TV shows I want to watch if I can ever find the time. The Haunting of Hill House is one. I should say, if it counts, my favorite horror is black comedy. Does that count? In that case, I could say Rocky Horror Picture Show (LOVE) What We Do in the Shadows… anything like that I adore.

NTK: (Laughs.) It does count. Do these sorts of shows inspire your writing? What inspires you?

AYS: I always have such a tough time with questions like this. It’s never one thing. It’s more like a story exists already and I get to find it. Somethings in the news will be clues, a word someone says… something I witness. But the story already sits there waiting for me to find it. Then the news item, etc. is the key that unlocks it. Terrible way to try to describe it, I know. I often think of it as being a medium working a Ouija board to communicate with something outside. The keyboard is the Ouija board, the mouse is the planchette and I’m just sitting at the computer listening for the voices to tell me what to say.

… and that’s when someone considers if I need to be committed. I’m harmless, I swear!

NTK: (Laughs.) That is a terrific way to describe it! Reminds me of how Michelangelo described his process of creating art! Who is your favorite horror author?

AYS: Oh, so many. Neil Gaiman is my all-time favorite everything author. Peter Straub, Edgar Allan Poe of course! Ray Bradbury—I just finally read Something Wicked This Way Comes. My favorite horror books though, were those Alfred Hitchcock anthologies of short stories. My favorite story of all of those is by Theodore Sturgeon called “Shadow, Shadow on the Wall” in Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum. These books had such a huge influence on me that when I happened across Hitchcock’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame I burst into unexpected tears. I didn’t cry for anyone else, but those stories he shared meant everything to me growing up. That’s probably why I still gravitate toward the short story as a form, and enjoy publishing other people’s short stories. Somewhere, a dark, twisted little child needs these… or just that dark, twisted little child in each of us.

NTK: You, yourself, are a publisher now. How did you become the publisher of Space and Time Magazine?

AYS: By accident. I’ve been self-publishing since I started fiction in 2011 and that has gone well for me, but a few years ago I noticed I was creating a stagnant vacuum for myself. I decided to start submitting to magazines and I started looking for where my friends were publishing. I saw Christina Sng had just published in a magazine called Space and Time, so I went to the website. There, instead of submission guidelines, I found a letter from current publisher Hildy Silverman about how the magazine needed to close after over 50 years of consecutive publishing. It began in 1966 with Gordon Linzner. I probably would have just paged on to look for a different market, but at the end of her letter, she mentioned it would be great if someone else could keep publishing Space and Time. I couldn’t get that out of my head. I had published a local arts news ezine a few years before and had learned layout from my last newspaper job. There was no reason I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to put in all the work and time a magazine requires so I gave it a lot of thought. I had finally made the move to quit the day job and be a full-time fiction writer and poet. I really just wanted to focus on my own writing. But here was this piece of history needing a home… all these authors, like myself, needing a place to publish. Poets, artists… I felt like if I just walked away it would be a really selfish act on my part. My husband and I had a big discussion about it and agreed to take it on, if only to keep it going until someone better came along. So, I emailed Hildy. About two issues into it I absolutely fell in love and went from “keeping it alive until someone else came along” to “this is my baby and I love it.” Adopted baby, but the love is real. Interesting side note, Hildy and I made it official on my 50th birthday completely by coincidence. We also bought our house on the same day. I’m not sure what gifts could top a house and a magazine after that.

NTK: That’s terrific. Thank you for keeping Space and Time going. What do you look for in stories you publish? What makes a story a Space and Time story?

AYS: Well, not to cop-out, but I do the same thing to find fiction I love as I do to write it. I’m really going to sound addled, but I feel like the current issue already knows what it wants to be, so I get all the stories Gerard (Hourner) has from our first readers. I print them all and as I pick them up. They will just feel right, before reading them. I probably shouldn’t reveal too much of my eccentricities, but I do feel like there is a click before I even read it. Those go into one pile. Then I read everything. Inevitably, the ones that clicked will all work together perfectly. Then my co-publisher and husband (Ryan Aussie Smith) reads them all without me telling him which ones I liked, and he almost always makes exactly the same selections. Then comes the painful part… fitting what we want into the budget. There’s always at least two stories that break my heart because we just don’t have the budget and room for them. As far as what we look for, aside from the mysterious click, anything that breaks the rules will always be my favorite. Experimental, new combinations, unexpected new uses for old tropes, calls to break down the status quo and begin something new… theoretically, I like the idea of anarchy, and while I don’t see it working in reality (unless we evolve) I do love it in literature.

It is almost supernatural though how the perfect stories, art and poetry will all come together with a theme, but completely unrelated to each other until they are in print.

NTK: That is a cool process. So organic! You’ve mentioned your background in journalism. Do you think it has influenced the way you write short stories?

AYS: Yes, absolutely. The very first publisher and editor I ever worked for (Jason Pippin, Community News, Browns Mills, NJ) gave me some of the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten. He asked me what reading level should I be writing for. I think I answered a college reading level. He told me no, I should always write for an 8th-grade reading level. He said the idea isn’t to dumb down, but to be concise and clear. The purpose of publishing anything is to communicate something to the widest possible audience as clearly as possible. I believe Hemingway also said something similar. One of my personal achievements is writing for the same newspaper Hemingway did (Kansas City Star). Other things newspaper writing taught me is to write fast and accurately, grab a reader fast and let the nut graph set up the rest… oh, and never wait on the muse. She is selfish and will let a writer starve to death before she speaks. Honestly, fiction and nonfiction are two sides of the same coin. You have to make nonfiction glow with a creative interpretation, or you get a dry as dust account. But if your fiction doesn’t have some kind of reliable root in what the reader can understand, the story has nothing to grab on to. But ultimately, fiction or nonfiction, the point of it is to communicate. That’s the same.

NTK: Such great advice! Let’s talk about characters. Do your characters have free will? Or do you direct their every move?

AYS: No, all my characters absolutely have free will. They never listen to me. I often argue with them and try to control them, but they will do continue to do what they want. After I learned to accept that things have gone much better. I’m a lazy writer. I sit down, let my mind wander and they do whatever they want. Often, I’m amazed at how they wrap things up. They are much better at creating stories than I am.

NTK:  You write both poetry and prose. Do you feel you have to switch your brain up when writing the two? Or do both come from the same place?

AYS: They both come from the same place, but the difference is like speaking two different dialects. I speak differently when I’m talking to a group, when I’m talking to teenagers, other writers and the cashier in the grocery store. I might say the same thing but in completely different ways for each of them. That’s also how I think of poetry and prose… and I think it even holds true between genres. Because of this, I recycle ideas a lot. One of these is the idea of being dead as being “post-consumer.” It turned up as a line in a poem I wrote, was put in a story later, showed up again as a line in a poem, had an appearance in a non-fiction piece I did and is the theme of the collection of poetry I’m working on now. Expanded of course, but the idea of things we use up (animals, people, friends, products) and the waste that creates (homelessness, abandonment, betrayal, global warming). Same idea, different ways to communicate.

NTK: As a person of Okinawan descent, how has the horror community treated you?

AYS: I would say the horror community has treated me very well. As you have also probably experienced, horror writers are some of the most loving, nonbiased people I know. Of course, we all have bias naturally, but as a whole, I think the horror community keeps an open mind, and heart, more than any other group I could associate with. As far as my place as a writer of mixed Asian heritage, the support was overwhelming. It was Bryan Thao Worra, my first HWA mentor, that asked why none of my work reflected my Asian experience. My answer was that I didn’t feel Asian enough. I don’t belong to either world. He suggested I let that experience of “otherness” show up in my work instead of suppressing it. That first story was “Vanilla Rice” and it was my break-out piece. That was sold to Where the Stars Shine which won Alberta Best Speculative Book of the Year (I think for 2019). It’s been reprinted in Black Cranes, a Bram Stoker finalist this year (crossing fingers!) along with an original story of mine. That story really began Bitter Suites, also a Bram Stoker finalist. I think that just speaks to the credit of the horror community for the amazing inclusiveness they share.

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

AYS: I’ve got a few stories and poems coming out in different anthologies. One of which is Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas. I’m about to release my poetry collection (Krakan Fever) for this year, written with my daughter Kyra Starr. It will be her first poetry book. I have released a paranormal romance called Soft Deadlines to the brand new Kindle Vella program, I’m wrapping up the third and final novella to the Bitter Suites series to be released by the end of the year, writing a book on manuscript submission (Mark My Words) with Lee Murray to be released next month in conjunction with a Horror University class (“Manuscript Magic”) we will be teaching on the same topic, a sequel to The Christmas Spiders (children’s book), working on my next poetry book (Post Consumer) which I am so, so, so excited about and of course, we have three more issues of the magazine for this year. Oh, and we’ve done a collaboration with DreamForge Magazine and Uproar Books for Worlds of Light and Darkness, an anthology of some of our favorites that we’ve published. Then there’s always the fun stuff we get to do with the magazine: Iron Writers Competition, Flash Battles, the Exquisite Corpse, a brand new open mic event on third Fridays and in June we will be announcing all the details for our own awards called The Linzners (for Space and Time founder Gordon Linzner).

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Angela! It’s been a pleasure!

AYS: Absolutely! It’s an honor being here. HorrorAddicts is one of those wonderful, loving and all-inclusive things that are part of what makes our community so great.

Addicts, you can find more information about Angela on her website.

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Static – X

 

Greetings HorrorAddicts. This month’s review has one helluva backstory. There’s a rock band, a romance, a drug problem, and a resurrection of sorts. I had to do a deep dive to give the album a full critique and what I found was a story that tragically has a lot in common with so many bands who have lost frontmen to the excesses of rock ‘n’ roll, however, the surviving members of Static-X are determined to make their own way back in an unusual but compelling way. 

Static-X celebrated the 20th anniversary of their album Wisconsin Death Trip in 2019. The original lineup toured to commemorate the album…with a singer dubbed Xer0. Because Wayne Static died in 2014 of a deadly combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. News came out that the band was recording a new album using some of Wayne’s demos and compositions, a guest spot from Al Jourgenson of Ministry, and would feature this new, unknown, masked singer, which has been a controversial move for some of their fans. The band, on the other hand, maintains that Wayne would have found it hilarious. (https://www.loudersound.com/features/static-x-the-story-behind-that-controversial-wayne-static-death-mask).

And man is this album amazing. What a testament to Wayne and a reminder of the magic the original line-up had together. 

For those new to Static-X, their hit song “Push-It” has been a staple of the industrial rock/metal scene for years. On this new album, Project Regeneration, Volume I, there’s that same electronic-tinged in-your-face feel of their early work, but the melodic atmosphere of powerhouse bands like Korn, Rammstein, or even Rob Zombie can be heard in the mix. “Worth Dyin’ For” has a hooky chorus, and “Terminator Oscillator” is a hard-hitting tune with a chanting rhyme that is the metal fan’s version of INXS’s “Mediate.” My favorite track on the album so far—and that changes each time I listen because they’re all great—is “Something Of My Own,” a powerful, emotional jam that resonates with its lyrics about opportunities missed due to the loss of Wayne. 

The hard rock/metal scene these days has matured from the days of nu-metal when Static-X first set up shop, but Project Regeneration, Volume I fits in nicely with today’s sound. The album is a great tribute to a band that obviously has a lot more to offer, and it’s one I will be jamming to for quite some time. 

That’s it for this month. Stay Tuned for Ro’s Recs…

R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. You can also find her hope-filled posts at www.queeromanceink.com.