Kbatz Krafts: Another Halloween Dress!

 

Yes, it’s November, Thanksgiving, Christmas! 🎃🦃🎄 However after my Halloween Mystery Project turned out to be such a delicious costume, I decided to repeat the process and make a more streamlined seasonal dress. Using leftover black materials from my stash and a thrifted $4 Halloween panel, materials that were once curtains and slipcovers can become an ensemble with sophistication and whimsy! Despite a few late hiccups, adjustments, and design changes on the fly – I won’t call them mistakes! – this unique ensemble came together quickly, is basically free, and feels good!

 

 

For more in progress project photos, visit Kbatz Krafts on Instagram or Facebook

 

Revisit More Kbatz Krafts:

Halloween Mystery Sewing

Halloween Scene Setters Every Day

Memento Mori Sewing

Carving and Baking with Real Pumpkin

 

 

 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Mute

 

 

 

Plotline: The chilling short explores the complication of middle-aged marriage and the mental distortion resulting from sins and confessions. MUTE delves into the territory of somber human behavior, making the story a fascinating psychological thriller.

Who would like it: Fans who love Stephen King, short stories, tight thrillers, and book to movie adaptations.

High Points: Its very close to the original story.

Complaints: N/A

Overall: Love it!

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Private screener

 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red-ram.jpg

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

Historian of Horror: And Just a Pinch of Cyanide

I don’t think it would be accurate to say that my wife gave up a sparkling career in the theatre to tie herself down to me, but our first date did occur when she invited me to come to the closing performance of the play she was appearing in at the time, Noël Coward’s Hay Fever. She insisted I come along to the cast party afterward, which turned out to be an entire night of revelry in a variety of venues all around Nashville. Three weeks later, after the consumption of far too many Long Island Teas, we became engaged. The wedding was nine months after that, and despite valiant efforts on both of our parts, we are still married forty years later.

Hay Fever was the last stage production she was in, but far from the first. Before we met, she had won some sort of award that used to hang on a wall in our first apartment for playing Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire. I had a vague idea of some of the other plays she’d been in, but the details have faded with the years, as they are oftentimes wont to do with advanced age.

Friday before last as I write this, Landra and I loaded way more than we needed to take with us into my Kia Sorento and motorvated on down to damn near the farthest away part it is possible to reach via a combustion engine driven vehicle of the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, where we have a timeshare. We hopped the Key West Express for a couple of days in Hemingway Country, and the bulk of six more lolling about on the pristine white sand beach a brisk three-minute walk from our condo on Marco Island. Many adult beverages were consumed during that just-over-a-week, let me tell you, along with much seafood of invariably exceptional quality. Two words: conch fritters. Yum!

At some point, late in the week as I recall, I mentioned that I was going to write my next column for this space on Joseph Kesselring’s 1939 play, Arsenic and Old Lace, and its various adaptations into other mediums. She reminded me that she herself had played one of the aunts in a production several years before we became an item, and opined that if we ever did tread the boards again, I would make an excellent Teddy as her co-star. I agreed as I have been well trained to do. And also because I’ve long thought it might be fun to essay a performance of the harmlessly delusional Brewster brother. I haven’t done any acting on stage since, oh, 1976 – the year, not the musical – so maybe we should pay attention to opportunities to indulge that old impulse to inflict ourselves on the theatre patrons of the 21st Century.

Or maybe not. 

The play opened on Broadway on January 10, 1941, and ran for 1444 performances through 1944. It ran almost as many in the West End in London. Naturally, a film version had to be made. And so it was, as well as broadcasts on radio and, later, television, as late as 1969 in the United States. I am aware of televised broadcasts in Europe in 1971 and 2002, and there are probably more. It is a popular play for amateur revivals anywhere those are apt to occur, and if anyone does deign to produce it in my area, well, maybe Teddy is calling me, after all. 

The story unfolds on Halloween, in Brooklyn. Mortimer Brewster has just married Elaine Harper, daughter of the snooty reverend next door. As they are trying to sneak away to Niagara Falls, Mortimer finds out that his dear, sweet aunts, Abby and Martha, have been engaging in the impromptu euthanasia of lonely old men by the surreptitious administration of arsenic, strychnine, and a pinch of cyanide in their homemade elderberry wine. As their prospective lodgers fall victim to what they’ve been telling their loopy nephew, who believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt, is yellow fever, he removes the remains to the basement. There he will proceed to dig a new lock in his own personal Panama Canal, in which the newly deceased is interred.

Mortimer discovers the latest victim before Teddy can plant him, and decides that it’s time for all concerned to be ensconced in a chuckles emporium. As he’s trying to arrange this, his long-lost brother, career criminal and psychopathic murderer Jonathan Brewster, comes back to his childhood home, accompanied by the inebriated medico who performs periodic plastic surgeries to hide Jonathan’s identity from the long arm of the law. The most recent operation had been performed after Dr. Einstein had watched a horror film, with rather unfortunate consequences for one gentleman whom Jonathan had killed because, and I quote, “He said I look like Boris Karloff”.

Given that Karloff created the role on Broadway, that line pretty much brought the house down every night.

Eventually, Jonathan is caught, Dr. Einstein slips away unnoticed, Teddy and his aunts receive a group rate admission to the Happydale Sanitarium, and Mortimer and Elaine finally take off for their honeymoon.

When three-time-Oscar winning director Frank Capra adapted Arsenic and Old Lace for the silver screen in late 1941, he retained Jean Adair as Aunt Martha, Josephine Hull as Aunt Abby, and John Alexander as Teddy, borrowing them from Broadway for the eight-week shooting schedule. Alan Joslyn was replaced with Cary Grant as Mortimer, full-time Warner Bros. Studios creepy character actor Peter Lorre became the new Dr. Einstein, and various Hollywood stalwarts took the places of the New York crowd. Alas, Karloff was still playing Jonathan on Broadway and was thus unavailable as he was the show’s main draw, so Capra cast Canadian actor Raymond Massey in his stead. Massey was more than adequate in the role. Because the various contracts specified the film had to wait to be released until the play ended its run, it was not released until 1944. By which time Karloff would have been available to play Jonathan.

Oh, well.

It’s a delightfully warped film, very watchable even after seventy-seven years. It appears regularly on Turner Classic Movies and other old movie channels, is available on DVD, and is currently streaming on Amazon Instant. So, you have no excuse for not seeing it. Get to it. Now!

Or as soon as you finish reading this. I have a couple more things to say about Arsenic and Old Lace.

There were several productions done for the radio during the 1940s and into the 1950s, often with Karloff as Jonathan. Karloff reprised the role for television in 1955, but the broadcast has not survived. The only existing filmed version with Karloff appearing as Jonathan is a 1962 performance done on television’s Hallmark Hall of Fame. Tony Randall co-stars as Mortimer. 

In 1969, shortly after Karloff’s passing, former Herman Munster Fred Gwynne starred as Jonathan in a television movie of the play. A proposed theatrical remake planned for Richard Pryor in the 1970s never happened, so that’s pretty much the end of that. Except for my wife’s performance, which was no doubt one of the best ever. Sorry, dear. THE best.

Apropos of nothing I have said heretofore, I will leave you now with one of my infamous lagnappes, a bit of sonic spookiness that popped up on my playlist this morning. Recorded by Jack and Jim in 1959, here is The Midnight Monsters Hop. Hope it meets the populace’s approval.

And so, until next time, nabobs of necrophilia…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Kbatz Krafts: Using Halloween Scene Setters Everyday? 🎃

 

In true Poe fashion, when we moved to our a new home, our cat jumped behind the dry wall in the basement. Although the walls are finished, the ceiling is not, so he climbed inside the top and we bashed some holes in the wall and removed the sheet rock to free the totally nonchalant little devil!

I’ve since rearranged my Decorating Like Dark Shadows basement craft space and put metal storage shelves under this ruined soffit. Once this year’s Christmas presents started piling up there, too, I wondered if there was a better way to conceal this problem area? Instead of cropping photos or shooting around everything, why not make complete use of the odd overhang and storage inlet? Hanging curtains to hide the tucked away shelving could be expensive for the right hardware, and so much fabric near the plumbing above could be an issue. Enclosing the area entirely in some kind of sliding panels or folding door system would likewise be costly and more intensive than a simple aesthetic fix to ideally match my Gothic Cardboard Window Backdrop. Fortunately, in perusing the Dollar Tree website (as one often does once their Halloween merchandise rolls out) I discovered Halloween “wall murals” in an “eerie stone wall” design. These sheets are about three feet by six feet, similar to printed plastic tablecloths, and probably only meant for one or two brief uses. Similar castle stone scene setters online looked smaller for twice as much money with negative reviews on their poor quality.

Before

Could decorative plastic be hung on a long-term basis? For $1 a sheet, I began hunting at several local dollar stores until I found the stone wall motif – the graveyard, cat, and cauldron, and skeleton styles also available weren’t the ones I wanted, as their designs couldn’t be taped together for one running pattern like stone could. Besides, it matched my Dark Shadows panache! To cover my problem wall, I calculated needing about six sheets, so when I finally found the stone version, I bought all nine in stock! Opening several and laying them out on the floor, I could see they had the width, but about two and a half were needed to cover the wall height. I taped them together and then taped the top across the soffit, letting the plastic drape all the way down to the floor. It looked so gosh darn spooky cute, I decide to continue with a sheet above my Cardboard Window backdrop and down over another ugly metal shelf. Here, however, there was no drywall but wood beams above, so I simply used thumb tacks and made sure there was enough slack for the slightly longer drape. I can lift up any part to access the storage, but by doing the entire area, it looks like I just happen to have a Halloween scene setter on my wall. You can’t tell there is a hidden space with tools, Christmas baking supplies, and holiday gifts – but no peeking!

After

It’s been over a month since putting up my “eerie stone wall” and there have been no problems yet. If the sheeting does begin to fall, fresh tape and thumbtacks should keep it secure – unless as my husband put it bluntly, the cat decides to do something about it! Thankfully, I only used five sheets, leaving four extra for any rips or replacements. Unless the camera catches a glare from the fluorescent lights, you can’t immediately tell this is just plastic. Was this $9 plus tax the absolutely cheapest way to cover a wall? Yep. Do I expect this to actually last long term? Probably not. Certainly, there are better, proper solutions for this odd soffit, but for a few months of multi-tasking decoration and secret storage, why the heck not?

Visit our Kbatz Krafts Instagram or Facebook for more photos!

See more Kbatz Krafts:

Gothic Gallery How-To

Halloween Cat Shelter

Cardboard Tombstones

DIY Halloween Candle Clusters

 

Kbatz Krafts: Halloween Sewing Vlog 5 Reveal 🎃🧵

 

It’s time to put on the curtains – yes curtains! – beads, tulle, draping, tassels, and bells together to accessorize the Halloween Mystery project! Find out why Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz has been calling this a mystery as the final product is revealed! Not that there isn’t some doubt, mistakes, and craft regrets. Only $7.50 for new ribbon and trim went into this project, which still comes in under $55 in legacy stash and prior thrift finds. When forced to think outside the box and dig deep in your craft closet for patchwork surprises on Halloween, something magical is possible! Roller skates are also involved in full disclosure. Thank you for Watching!

 

Visit Kbatz Krafts on Facebook and Instagram for more project photos, and don’t forget to show us YOUR Halloween DIY on our Horror Addicts Facebook Group!

Check out More Kbatz Krafts:

Halloween Candle Clusters

Upgrading Masquerade Masks

Pumpkin Cat House

DIY Cardboard Coffin

Spider Ball Topiaries

Halloween Canvas Art

Halloween Pillows

Pumpkin Ottomans

Dark Hallway by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/?keywords=Hallway&Search=Search Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Hot Swing by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100202 Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Spooky Ride by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Source: http://www.twinmusicom.org/song/250/spooky-ride Artist: http://www.twinmusicom.org

Kbatz Krafts: Halloween Sewing Vlog 4 🎃🧵

 

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz peruses a thrifted Halloween Costume Pattern Book for ideas on the extra bells and whistles for the Halloween mystery sewing project! Unfortunately, both welcomed four-legged guests and another unwelcome guest interfere with the construction, accessories, ribbons, and bat trim. Are there too many embellishments? Experimenting with hot glue and lighting surprises may or may not work, too. I’m getting a little sick of sewing, but the mystery’s all coming together wonderfully! Did you guess what it was?

 

Thank You for Watching! Visit Kbatz Krafts on Instagram and Facebook for more in-progress photos!

If you’re interested in Sewing Supply Hacks, check out my latest Thrift Haul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-WBcm6DL3o

See More Kbatz Krafts:

Halloween Haul 2021

Mock Dark Shadows Sconces

How to Make Stuffed Pumpkins

Spider Ball Topiaries

Mystical Orbs

DIY Cardboard Coffin

Cardboard Window Backdrop

Halloween Canvas Art

Der Kleber Sting by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100612 Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Hot Swing by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100202 Artist: http://incompetech.com/

I Like Peanuts by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Artist: http://audionautix.com/

Kbatz Krafts: Halloween Sewing Vlog 3 🎃🧵

It’s seams, more seams, and seam some more before ruffles, ruffles, and more ruffles as the tulle hem comes together on the striped orange panels! It’s almost time to find out what this mystery sewing project is thanks to heaps of gathering, questions about making do with short trim or spending for embellishments, and draped Halloween scarves! There are cats involved, too.

 

For more project photos, follow Kbatz Krafts on Instagram and Facebook!

Revisit More Kbatz Krafts:

Halloween Canvas Art

Mystical Spooky Orbs

Pumpkin Cat House

Yogurt Ghost Candlesticks

Thank you for Watching!

Cinematic (Sting) by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Artist: http://www.twinmusicom.org/

Danse Macabre – Busy Strings by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100556 Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Bad Ideas Distressed by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100488 Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Kbatz Krafts: Halloween Sewing Vlog 2 🎃🧵

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz continues to utilize every inch of Halloween printed scraps and remnants, sewing some finite areas by hand before a lot and did I say a lot of ironing on the lengthy striped orange panels. Basting, measuring, and math actually lead to a surplus of materials, but a leaky iron and daunting, fraying seams are making a lot more work! Any ideas yet what will this mystery sewing will be?

For In Progress Photos, visit Kbatz Krafts on Facebook or Instagram!

Visit more Kbatz Krafts:

Halloween Mystery Sewing Vlog 1

Halloween Pillows

Skeleton Love Wreath

How NOT to make Mystical Orbs

Amazing Plan – Distressed by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100738 Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Thank you for watching!

Chilling Chat: Episode #204 – Comika Hartford

chillingchat

Comika began her career writing and performing at the historic LORRAINE HANSBERRY THEATER in her hometown of San Francisco with Rhodessa Jones’ award-winning company Cultural Odyssey beforeComika Hartford graduating from Emerson College in Boston. She’s a co-producer of the LGBTQ series DYKE CENTRAL *available on Amazon Prime* the horror/sci-fi podcast DOMESTICATED and is co-founder of DOPE SISTA magazine out of Atlanta. As a life-long fan of cutting edge episodic television she went on to win the IndieFEST Award for Excellence, The Independent Shorts Awards Platinum Award, Top Shorts Best Web Series and the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival Best New Media Award for her original web series THE GREY AREA as well as Best Plot Twist from The Horror Bowl Awards and best horror short at the Phoenix Monthly Film Festival for her thriller anthology pilot HINTERLAND ZOO, Episode 1.

 NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Comika! When did you first discover horror and what got you interested in it?

CH: Well, it was actually an accident, I got my mom’s friend to let me watch Jaws when I was five and I was so traumatized that I could only take shallow baths for months! Years later, I was fascinated by the bts shots of the production, once I saw it was all pretend the drama and power of the storytelling had me. Been a horror weirdo ever since!

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie and why? 

CH: I’ll always love Alien and not just because I share a birthday with our queen Sigourney Weaver, but I’m loving the psychological gutting of Squid Game. (I know it’s not a movie…but it kinda is!)

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show and why? 

CH: I’m loving Two Sentence Horror series, Melody Cooper is killing it! 

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why? 

CH: Oooh… Gonna have to go with Le Fanu’s Carmilla, it’s so deliciously bisexual.

NTK: How is acting in horror different from acting in a drama?  

CH: It isn’t. By that I mean it’s still making the unreal feel real. However, the supernatural elements create stakes that are radically different than other genres and that’s why we all love heavy hitters like Toni Colette or Colman Domingo. They bring their bloody guts and soul to the work.

NTK: Which do you enjoy most? Producing, directing, acting, or writing? 

CH: Ah, I’m really just a creepy writer lurking by a shrubbery. In a Michael Myers mask. 

NTK: Love it! As an LGBTQ woman of color, what do you enjoy most about the horror community? 

CH: Elvira. *smiles in fangirl*

NTK: As a fan of The Twilight Zone, what do you think of the new reboot with Jordan Peele? 

CH: Ah-Mazing! I think Serling would be proud, he was all about social commentary. His screenplay Seven Days in May is very timely after the Capitol riot. 

NTK: What is the one question you wish an interviewer to ask you? And what is the answer to that question?

CH: Q: Are you really a witch, or are you just joking?

        A: *quietly strokes the toad in my purse*

NTK: (Laughs.) That’s great. When you’re writing and you create a character, does that character have free will? Or do you control everything they do? 

CH: They literally lead me around. I’m just following their footsteps to the ending.

NTK: What piece of advice do you have for the up-and-coming horror creative?

CH: Write that shit. Edit later. Nothing comes out perfect. So. Write. That. Shit. 

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

CH: My micro episode horror series The Interview will be on the Rizzle App later this year & my award-winning web series The Grey Area is on the Paraflixx platform. I have some larger things coming up in 2022 that I can’t share yet… But soon. Sooooon! *pets toad again witchily*

NTK: Thank you for chatting with us, Comika!

CH: Thank you!

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: On Location: The 26th Annual H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival!

 

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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

Chilling Chat: Episode #204 – Geneve Flynn

chillingchat

Geneve Flynn is an award-winning speculative fiction editor and author. She has two psychology degrees and only uses them for nefarious purposes.Geneve Flynn-Author-Editor

She co-edited Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women with celebrated New Zealand author and editor Lee Murray. The anthology won the 2020 Bram Stoker Award® and the 2020 Shirley Jackson Award for best anthology. It has also been shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award, Aurealis Award, and Australian Shadows Award. Black Cranes is listed on Tor Nightfire’s Works of Feminist Horror and Locus magazine’s 2020 Recommended Reading List.

Geneve was assistant editor for Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins, a speculative fiction anthology that features authors such as Neil Gaiman, Ken Liu, Robert Silverberg, James (SA) Corey, Lee Murray, Mark Lawrence, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Angela Slatter. The anthology is the legacy of Australian fantasy author Aiki Flinthart, and is in support of the Flinthart Writing Residency with the Queensland Writers Centre.

Geneve’s short stories have been published in various markets, including Flame Tree Publishing, Things in the Well, and PseudoPod. She loves tales that unsettle, all things writerly, and B-grade action movies. If that sounds like you, check out her website. 

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Geneve! How old were you when you discovered horror and what got you interested in it?

GF: Although I read a lot as a kid, I didn’t really have much access to real horror. I always felt like I wanted something more, but I wasn’t sure what. I found a book in my school library called Where’s My Toe? It was a picture book based on an Appalachian ghost story. An old woman finds a big toe in her garden, and decides, for some unknown reason, to eat it. Then the owner of the toe comes looking for it, groaning, “Where’s my toe?” After creeping closer and closer, the owner takes the old woman’s toe. The thought of eating a toe—ugh. What do you do with the toenail? How did the owner take the old lady’s toe off? Why did they leave their toe in the garden? It scared the crap out of me and I can still remember the illustrations. That was probably my first memorable encounter with horror. But it wasn’t until a friend handed me a copy of Stephen King’s It when I was in high school that the lightbulb in my head really blazed to life.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie and why?

GF: The Lost Boys, although it’s a blend of horror and comedy. Everything about that movie is just plain fun. The music, the dialogue, the action. I recently wrote a story called, “The Yellow Peril,” as an homage to it and it was pure joy. I also love the Blade trilogy. The movies are over-the-top and ridiculous, but I will rewatch them forever and ever. I grew up reading comics and that aesthetic is what I want when I settle in with my popcorn.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show and why?

GF: I loved the X-Files. Although most of the focus was on aliens and such, there were some fantastically dark episodes, such as “Home” and “Tooms,” that have stayed with me to this day. The X-Files gave the grotesque a scientific legitimacy that made the horrific seem utterly plausible.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why?

GF: Oh, this one’s tough. This changes all the time, particularly after I’ve finished reading a new book. Can I list a couple? Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones is tender in the roughest, hairiest way. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist explores loneliness and friendship, and leaves you slicked in blood. The Talisman, co-written by Stephen King and Peter Straub, is about a boy’s journey through dark and terrible terrain as he tries to save his mother. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.

NTK: Which do you enjoy most? Editing or writing?

GF: I really enjoy both. They employ different parts of my brain, and it can be nice to switch from one to the other to give myself a mental break. Both practices inform each other. Developing my skills as an editor improves my writing, and being a writer means I’m sympathetic to the challenges in the revision process. If I’m honest though, my first love will always be writing. That moment when it all comes together and you surprise yourself with a story is magic.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you control everything they do?

GF: They’re like cats. I can try to get them to do what I want, but they ignore me. I try to plot out my stories and predict what my characters will do, but they often take over and shape the story into something else entirely. It’s always fun to watch that play out. My stories where I let them loose usually turn out pretty good.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

GF: There’s the pedestrian but constant fear of something bad happening to my children. I guess most parents have that; it’s how we as a species have survived this long despite lacking sharp teeth, claws, and venom. But for something a little more specific to me: swimming in open water. I watched Jaws when I was way too young. I think I was seven or eight. Living in Australia where we have great whites, tiger sharks, and bull sharks is a little unfortunate. There’s an inland golf course about fifteen minutes away from me that has six bull sharks in the water hazard. It’s believed they got into the lake during an extreme flood in 1996. I went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef once, and I was proud of myself for keeping a level head about it. Then I saw a shark below me. It was only a meter long, but I got out of the water pretty quickly after that.

NTK: How did Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women come about? 

GF: Celebrated New Zealand author and editor Lee Murray and I were attending GenreCon, a speculative fiction convention in Brisbane in 2019. We’d known of each other through the Australian Horror Writers Association and on Facebook, but we’d never actually met. Being conscientious Asians, we had both turned up for an event far too early.

We started chatting and discovered that we were the “black sheep” of the writing community: we wrote horror, we were Asian, and we were women. We wondered at the lack of stories in English that reflected our experiences and Lee suggested that we should put together an anthology to showcase writers like us. Of course, I said yes.

Lee approached Kate Jones from Omnium Gatherum and secured them as our publisher. We sought out Southeast Asian authors and invited them to contribute. We signed up Nadia Bulkin, Grace Chan, Rin Chupeco, Elaine Cuyegkeng, Gabriela Lee, Rena Mason, Angela Yuriko Smith, and Christina Sng. Greg Chapman came on board as our cover artist, and Alma Katsu wrote a gorgeous and powerful foreword. The book was published in 2020, and things have just continued to snowball from there.

NTK: What has your experience been like as an Asian woman who writes and edits horror?

GF: When I first started writing, I didn’t even consider writing Asian, female characters and themes. I had read mostly white, male characters and it didn’t even occur to me to write stories based on Chinese and Malaysian mythologies. Once I sat into my own experiences, my work has become a lot more resonant, and I’ve managed to connect with readers. The reception has been terrific; I think there’s a growing hunger for diversity in publishing nowadays. The editing side of things seems to be less impacted by my ethnicity and gender. Authors just want to know that you’re on their side, and that you know what you’re doing.

NTK: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you? And what is the answer to that question?

GF: What’s one weird thing that you’re afraid of? I watched an interview with Mark Ruffalo when he was on the Graham Norton Show and he said he had an irrational fear of being chased by someone with poop on a stick. I like finding out those odd details about people.

I have a thing about electronic marionettes. I can’t even look at pictures of the Thunderbirds. I think it’s the uncanny valley. My husband keeps trying to get me to watch Team America: World Police. I’d rather take my chances with the poop on the stick. I also don’t like the sensation of someone’s foot on me. Strange, I know.

NTK: (Laughs.) I completely sympathize with you. What was it like to win a Bram Stoker and a Shirley Jackson Award?

GF: Surreal and thrilling and wonderful! The Bram Stoker Award ceremony was online due to the pandemic. Both Lee and I had a laugh as we recorded our acceptance speeches, thinking they would never be played. We were both delighted simply to be shortlisted. Lee was also a nominee for her collection of stories, Grotesque: Monster Stories.

When the awards ceremony played, it was announced that Lee had won for her collection. I promptly burst into tears and I could hardly type congratulations to her. I was so overwhelmed, I almost missed the announcement when Black Cranes won. Thank goodness for pre-recorded speeches!

The Shirley Jackson Award was also pre-recorded, and again, we needed to pretend weeks before the actual ceremony that we were delighted to accept the honour. It was wonderful to have won, and the cheer and support we’ve had from the writing community in response has been really lovely. Plus, owning a working replica of an antique nautical compass is pretty neat.

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

GF: I’ve recently completed fifteen poems for Tortured Willows, a collaborative collection of horror poetry with Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray, and Christina Sng. The collection is an expansion on the conversation on otherness and gender launched with Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women. The collection was released on National Dark Poetry Day, 7th October 2021. I’m equally excited and terrified. These are my first attempts at poetry and it’s an honour to share a table of contents with such talented poets.

My short story “They Call Me Mother” will also appear in Classic Monsters Unleashed. The anthology is edited by James Aquilone and features horror giants such as Jonathan Maberry, Ramsey Campbell, Seanan McGuire, and Tim Waggoner. It will be published by Black Spot Books and Crystal Lake Publishing in July 2022.

Along with a few short story and poetry invitations, I’m also planning out a horror novel based on the life of Ching Shih, one of the most successful pirates in history.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with us, Geneve! 

Addicts, you can find Tortured Willows on Amazon.

CoverSep Tortured Willows

Free Fiction : Hungry by Alan Moskowitz

 

Other than a bottle of curdled milk, there was nothing left in the refrigerator.  Desperate, Reynolds grabbed the bottle with a skeletal hand and drank the brutally smelling mess down, hoping for a least some nutrition.  It only took a few moments for his stomach to give it back.   His wasted lungs screamed for air as he coughed up the remains of the milk and sucked in the fetid air.  He threw the offending bottle against the kitchen wall, taking some little pleasure in watching it smash to bits.  He staggered over to the cupboard, his stick-thin legs and exhausted muscles forcing him to maintain his balance by grabbing the edge of the rotting counter as he opened the door. 

Bugs scattered, too fast for his weakened fingers.  He swept the inside of the cabinet, hoping beyond hope that one full precious can of anything may have been missed.  All he felt were the brittle carcasses of dead insects. He moaned in disappointment.

The pain of trying to use his emaciated limbs became too much to bear.  He collapsed onto the floor, surrendering finally to the knowledge that there was no more food, the planet was barren and sterile, and he, like the rest of humanity before him, would starve to death.   He smashed his fists into the floor, raging at the horror of mankind’s stupidity. 

Reynolds woke up screaming, jerking up from the bed, heart pounding in terror.  He looked over at Maria, curled up, peacefully asleep, blonde hair cascading over the blanket.  A dream, only a dream, and a nasty one at that. He took in several breaths, lay back, calming himself.  He gently pulled the cover from her and gagged;  Marie’s rotting skull stared back at him, her once vibrant body withered and emaciated, her wasted flesh sloughed off into puddles of ichors on the blanket.  He moaned in terror, too weak to scream, his vocal cords ravaged.  He looked down at his own devastated body, felt his cold gaunt face.  He tried to cry, but he had no tears left.  

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Alan Moskowitz is a retired screen and TV writer living in Colorado enjoying creating genre fiction.

 

To find more of his work see: mosko13@aol.com

Orion from Thought Beings on Finale!

Check out our season finale, #204, coming October 23rd, for an audio interview with Orion from the band Thought Beings!

Thought Beings is a Synthpop / Retrowave / Esoteric Funk / Darkwave band.

Their new album, Strange Matter is a mix of 80s Horror movie soundtrack, throwback beats, and a new 2021 sound. 

For more information, and to download music, go to: thoughtbeingsmusic.com

Historian of Horror: In Memoriam July – September, 2021

In Memoriam, July through September 2021

This stretch of 2021 does not seem to have been as fatal for horror creators as 2020 or the earlier quarters of this year. That’s a good thing. 

July

Philece Sampler (July 16, 1953 – July 1, 2021) American film, television, and voice actress. She voiced roles in the 2020 horror video game Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise, as well as others, and in numerous animated and anime productions beginning in 1977.https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0192291/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 

Desmond Davis (24 May 1926 – 3 July 2021) British camera operator, The Crawling Eye (1958), The Giant Behemoth (1959), Scream of Fear (1961), and director, Clash of the Titans (1981).

Raffaella Carrà (18 June 1943 – 5 July 2021) Italian singer (A far l’amore comincia tu), and actress in several genre-peripheral peplum (sword and sandal) pictures in the 1960s, including Atlas in the Land of the Cyclops and Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules (both 1961).

Roger Cudney (June 22, 1936 – July 5, 2021) American actor, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975), The Bees (1978), Amityville II: The Possession (1982), and Ghost Fever (1986).

Richard Donner (April 24, 1930 – July 5, 2021) American film and television director on six episodes of The Twilight Zone in 1963 and 1964; one episode of The Sixth Sense, the spin-off from Night Gallery (“The House that Cried Murder”, Season 1, Episode 4, aired February 5, 1972); one episode of Ghost Story/Circle of Fear (“The Concrete Captain”, Season 1, Episode 2, aired September 22, 1972); the feature films The Omen(1976) and Scrooged (1988); and three episodes of Tales from the Crypt (1989-1992). And the first two Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, but since they aren’t horror, I won’t mention them.

Vladimir Menshov (17 September 1939 – 5 July 2021) Russian director and actor, appeared in Night Watch (2004) and Day Watch (2006).

William Smith (March 24, 1933 – July 5, 2021) Ridiculously prolific American tough-guy actor who appeared in a huge array of delightfully cheesy horror pictures and a handful of borderline classics, including The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942); Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961); Crowhaven Farm (1970); Grave of the Vampire (as the first dhampyr in film history, 1972); The Thing with Two Heads (1972); Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973); Conan the Barbarian (as Ahnuld’s daddy, 1982); Moon in Scorpio (1987); Maniac Cop (1988); Evil Altar (1988); Memorial Valley Massacre (1989); Feast (1992); The Evil Ones (1994); Manosaurus (1994); Interview with a Zombie (1997); Debbie Does Damnation (1999); The Vampire Hunters Club (2001); The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula (2001); Zombiegeddon (2003); Voices from the Graves (2006); Rapturious (2007); the first section of The Boneyard Collection (“Her Morbid Desires”, 2008); and Island of Witches (2014); and in one episode each of Kraft Suspense Theatre (“My Enemy, This Town”, Season 1, Episode 15, aired February 6, 1964); The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (“The McGregor Affair”, Season 3, Episode 7, aired November 23, 1964), Kolchak: The Night Stalker (“The Energy Eater”, Season 1, Episode 10, aired December 13, 1974); and the 1985 revival of The Twilight Zone (“Shadow Play”, Season 1, Episode 23, aired April 4, 1986). He also played the Frankenstein Monster on Fantasy Island (“The Lady and the Monster”, Season 5, Episode 4, aired October 31, 1981).

Robert Downey, Sr. (June 24, 1936 – July 7, 2021) American actor, director, writer, producer, and Iron Man’s daddy. Acted in one episode of the 1985 revival of The Twilight Zone (“Wordplay”, Season 1, Episode 2, aired October 4, 1985) and directed three others.

Chick Vennera (March 27, 1947 – July 7, 2021) American actor, The Terror Within II (1991).

Brian Osborne (26 March 1940 – 8 July 2021) English actor in the feature film Haunters of the Deep (1984) and one episode of Tales of the Unexpected (“Never Speak Ill of the Dead”, Season 4, Episode 8, aired May 24, 1981).

Kumar Ramsey (1936 – July 8, 2021) Indian scriptwriter on Darwaza (1978), Aur Kaun? (1979), Saboot (1980), Guest House (1980), Dahshat (1981), Hotel (1981), Ghungroo Ki Awaaz (1981), Purana Mandir (1984), 3D Saamri (1985), Om (1986), Dak Bangla (1987), and Saaya (1989).

Ladislav Potměšil (2 September 1945 – 12 July 2021) Czech actor, Velká neznámá (The Great Unknown, 1970).

Don Jurwich (January 1, 1934 – July 14, 2021) American animator on Wacky Races (1968-1969), in which one of the competitor vehicles was the Creepy Coupe, driven by the Gruesomes, as well as producer on several incarnations of the Scooby-Doo Saturday morning franchise from 1977 to 1981.

William F. Nolan (March 6, 1928 – July 15, 2021) Prolific American science fiction, fantasy, crime, and horror author best known for Logan’s Run and its sequels. His horror writings include several collections of his own short stories and the 1991 novel, Helltracks. He also edited a few horror anthologies. http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?838  Nolan wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for the feature film Burnt Offerings (1976) and the television movies The Norliss Tapes (1973), The Turn of the Screw (1974), Trilogy of Terror (1975), and Trilogy of Terror II (1996).

Iván Noel (1968 – July 19, 2021) French-Argentine film director and producer, Vuelve (2103), Children of the Night (2014),  Ellos Volvieron (They Returned, 2015), La Tutora (The Tutor, 2016).

Françoise Arnoul (3 June 1931 – 20 July 2021) French actress, Testament of Orpheus (1960), The Devil and the Ten Commandments (1962), and one episode of Treize contes de Maupassant (Thirteen Tales of de Maupassant; “Les Tombales”, AKA “The Tombs”, aired March 7. 1964).

Mike Mitchell (1955 – July 23, 2021) Scottish actor, Zombie Massacre (2013), Dark Highlands (2018), Dragon Kingdom (2018), and the not-yet-released Blood Curse and Alien Zombie Cell.

Alfie Scopp (15 September 1919 – 24 July 2021) English-born Canadian actor in the feature film, The Mask (1961), and voice actor on the 1966 Saturday morning cartoon show, King Kong (see also the entry on Paul Soles in the previous quarter’s In Memoriam post).

Rick Aiello (September 21, 1955 – July 26, 2021) American actor in the feature film Silent Madness (1984) and one episode of Tales from the Crypt (“This’ll Kill Ya”, Season 4, Episode 2, aired June 27, 1992).

David Von Ancken (December 5, 1964 – July 26, 2021) American television director on three episodes of The Vampire Diaries from 2010 to 2013, five episodes of Salem in 2014, one episode of Ghost Wars (“Death’s Door”, Season 1, Episode 1, aired October 5, 2017), one episode of The Purge (“The Urge to Purge”, Season 1, Episode 3, aired September 18, 2018) and three episodes of The Order (2019-2020). He was also a producer on Salem, Ghost Wars and The Order.

Orlando Drummond (October 18, 1919 – July 27, 2021) Brazilian actor in Um Lobisomem na Amazônia (2005) and voice actor for the Portuguese-language versions of all the various series of Scooby-Doo from 1969 to 2010.

Saginaw Grant (July 20, 1936 – July 27, 2021) Native American character actor, Legend of the Phantom Rider (2002), Maneater (2009), the as-yet-unreleased Ghostkiller, and one episode of American Horror Story (“Birth”, Season 1, Episode 11, aired December 14, 2011)

Orestes Ojeda (January 3, 1956 − July 27, 2021) Filipino film and television actor, Kambal sa Uma (1979) and two episodes of the horror anthology series, Regal Shocker (1988).

Jean-François Stévenin (23 April 1944 – 27 July 2021) French actor in Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001).

Gérard Zingg (7 June 1942 – 27 July 2021) French screenwriter and director, Yéti, l’Homme Sauvage (2016).

Clive Scott (4 July 1937 – 28 July 2021) South African actor in a two-part adaptation of “The Masque of the Red Death” on Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Season 1, Episodes 11 and 12, aired November 17 and 24, 1995).

Jay Pickett (February 10, 1961 – July 30, 2021) American actor, Rumpelstiltskin (1995) and Inspired to Kill (2016).

Mark Tarlov (1952 – July 31, 2021) American film producer, Christine (1983) and Cecil B. Demented (2000).

Thea White (June 16, 1940- July 31, 2021) American voice actress, Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantasaur (2011).

August

Lilia Aragón (22 September 1936 – 2 August 2021) Mexican actress, Morgana (2012).

Jørgen Langhelle (18 August 1965 – 3 August 2021) Norwegian actor, The Thing (2011), Juleblod (Christmas Blood, 2017).

Reg Gorman (2 August 1932 – 5 August 2021) Australia actor, Inn of the Damned (1975) and The Pawn (2010).

Brad Allan (14 February 1973 – 7 August 2021) Australian action choreographer and stuntman on the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, as well as Pacific Rim (2013), Wolves (2014), Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015), and Sinister 2 (2015).

Markie Post (November 4, 1950 – August 7, 2021) American actress, the second co-star from the 1980s-1990s television sitcom Night Court to expire this summer, after Charles Robinson’s passing on July 11. She appeared in the television movies Visitors of the Night (1995) and I’ve Been Waiting for You (1998), one episode of Ghost Whisperer (“The Woman of His Dreams”, Season 2, Episode 6, aired October 27, 2006) and the 2018 short film, Keep the Gaslight Burning.

Anupam Shyam (20 September 1957 – 8 August, 2021) Indian actor, Sangharsh (1999), The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb (2006) and 706 (2019).

Alex Cord (May 3, 1933 – August 9, 2021) American actor, The Tell-Tale Heart (short film, 1971), The Dead Are Alive (1972), Chosen Survivors (1974), Inn of the Damned (1975), and Uninvited (1987), and one episode each of Night Gallery (“Keep in Touch – We’ll Think of Something”, Season 2, Episode 10, aired November 24, 1971), War of the Worlds (“The Good Samaritan”, Season 1, Episode 10, aired December 26, 1988), Monsters (“Rouse Him Not”, Season 1, Episode 11, aired December 31, 1988) and Freddy’s Nightmares (“Memory Overload”, Season 2, Episode 5, aired November 5, 1989).

Pat Hitchcock (7 July 1928 – 9 August 2021), English actress and only child of Alfred Hitchcock. Appeared in several of her father’s films including Strangers on a Train (1951) and Psycho (1960), and in ten episodes of his television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1960). 

Ken Hutchison (24 November 1948 – 9 August 2021) Scottish actor, Wuthering Heights (1978 BBC mini-series).

Sabina Ajrula (April 17, 1946 – August 10, 2021) North Macedonian-Turkish actress, Senki (Shadows, 2007).

Don Jones (1938 – August 10, 2021, aged 83) American sound engineer on The Psycho Lover (1970) and Blood of the Iron Maiden (1970); key grip on The Astro-Zombies (1968); lighting director on The Mighty Gorga (1969); director of The Love Butcher (1975), The Forest (1982) and Molly and the Ghost (1991); and director of photography on The House of Seven Corpses (1974).

Dilys Watling (5 May 1943 – 10 August 2021) English actress, Theatre of Death (1967).

Paulo José (20 March 1937 – 11 August 2021) Brazilian actor in the 1991-1992 television series, Vamp.

Una Stubbs (1 May 1937 – 12 August 2021) English actress probably best known to American audiences as Mrs. Hudson to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes in the BBC series, Sherlock. Appeared in the BBC2 adaptation of the M.R. James short ghost story, “The Tractate Middoth” as part of the occasional series, A Ghost Story for Christmas, aired December 25, 2013.

Piera Degli Esposti (12 March 1938 – 14 August 2021) Italian actress, Ghosts – Italian Style (1968), Medea (1969) and the yet-to-be-released Building Horror.

Thierry Liagre (1 January 1953 – 17 August 2021) French actor in the 1982 biopic of the French ghost-story writer, Guy de Maupassant.

Sonny Chiba (22 January 1939 – 19 August 2021) Japanese actor and martial artist best known to modern audiences for playing Hanzo Hattori in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004). His horror films were Terror Beneath the Sea (1966) and Wolf Guy (1975).

Masanari Nihei (9 December 1940 – 21 August 2021) Japanese actor, Mosura (Mothra, 1961), 

Marilyn Eastman (December 17, 1933 – August 22, 2021) American actress, played the mother killed with a trowel by her zombie daughter in Night of the Living Dead (1968). Also appeared in Santa Claws (1996).

Brick Bronsky (April 18, 1964 – August 23, 2021) American actor in the Troma films Class of Nuke ‘Em High Part 2: Subhumanoid Meltdown (1991), Class of Nuke ‘Em High Part 3: The Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid (1994) and Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 (2013); and actor, director and producer on Masked Mutilator (2019).

Michael Nader (February 18, 1945 – August 23, 2021) American actor in the TV movie Nick Knight (1989), which was later remade as the first two episodes of the Forever Knight series (1992-1996), about a vampire detective. 

Rosita Quintana (July 16, 1925 – August 23, 2021) Argentine-Mexican actress, El Demonio en la Sangre (Demon in the Blood, 1964).

Anestis Vlahos (February 7, 1934 – August 24, 2021) Greek actor, The Devil’s Men (AKA Land of the Minotaur, 1976), Passi di morte perduti nel buio (Death Steps in the Dark, 1977).

Zdenka Procházková (4 April 1926 – 25 August 2021) Czech actress, Upir z Feratu (Ferat Vampire, 1982) and Lady Dracula (1977).

Sompote Sands (May 24, 1941 – August 26, 2021) Thai film director, Tah Tien (1973), Crocodile (1979), Kraithong (1980), Phra Rot-Meri (1981), Magic Lizard (1985), and Kraithong 2 (1985).

Roman Gromadsky (December 18, 1940 – August 28, 2021) Russian actor, Tsirk sgorel, i klouny razbezhalis (The Circus Burned Down and the Clowns Ran Away, 1998)

Ed Asner (November 15, 1929 – August 29, 2021) Seven-time Emmy Award-winning American actor, five of those wins for the same character in two different shows, one a comedy (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and the other a drama (Lou Grant). Perhaps best known to modern audiences as the voice of Carl Fredrickson in Up (2009). Along with virtually every American television series for the past sixty-plus years, Asner made appearances in one episode each of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“What Frightened You, Fred?”, Season 7, Episode 30, aired May 1, 1962), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (“To Catch a Butterfly”, Season 1, Episode 19, aired February 1, 1963), and The Outer Limits (“It Crawled Out of the Woodwork”, Season 1, Episode 11, aired December 9, 1963), as well as the made-for-television movie Daughter of the Mind (1969).

Peggy Farrell (June 2, 1932 – August 29, 2021) American costume designer, The Stepford Wives (1975), The Sentinel (1977), and the pilot for the 1995-1998 television series, American Gothic.

September

Mikis Theodorakis (29 July 1925 – 2 September 2021) Greek composer of the score for Shadow of the Cat (1961).

Donald Meyers (c1935 – September 5, 2021) American actor, Zombiez!! (2007), Horror Host (2008), Blood Therapy (2010), At Stake: Vampire Solutions (2012) and the as-yet-unreleased I Filmed Your Death.

Tony Selby (26 February 1938 – 5 September 2021) English actor, Witchfinder General (1968), the no-longer-existing first two seasons of the BBC supernatural adventure show, Ace of Wands (1970-1971), and one episode of the British TV series, Thriller (“I’m the Girl He Wants to Kill”, Season 3, Episode 2, aired March 18, 1974).

Nino Castelnuovo (28 October 1936 – 6 September 2021) Italian actor in the 1975 Giallo film, Strip Nude for Your Killer.

Michael K. Williams (November 22, 1966 – September 6, 2021) American actor in Tell-Tale (2009), You’re Nobody ‘til Somebody Kills You (2012), The Purge: Anarchy (2014), Ghostbusters (2016), and Lovecraft Country (2020), and as His Satanic Majesty Himself in the 2013 short film, The Devil Goes Down

Eiichi Yamamoto (22 November 1940 – 7 September 2021) Japanese anime writer and director, Kanashimi no Belladonna (Belladonna of Sadness, 1973).

Art Metrano (September 22, 1936 – September 8, 2021) American actor, one episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (“Chopper”, Season 1, Episode 15, aired January 31, 1975).

Wiesław Gołas (9 October 1930 – 9 September 2021) Polish actor, Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie (The Saragossa Manuscript, 1965).

Carlo Alighiero (February 2, 1927 – September 11, 2021) Italian actor in the Giallo films The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971), The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971), and Torso (1973)

Fran Bennett (August 14, 1937 – September 12, 2021) American actress, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994).

Ben Best (September 13, 1974 – September 12, 2021) American actor, Land of the Lost (2009).

Joel Rapp (May 22, 1934 – September 15, 2021) American writer on the supernatural sitcoms Topper (“The Package”, Season 1, Episode 32, aired May 14, 1954) and Bewitched (“Samantha and the Troll”, Season 7, Episode 19, aired February 18, 1971).

Ronald Roose (died September 15, 2021) American film editor, My Demon Lover (1987).

Avril Elgar (1 April 1932 – 17 September 2021) English actress, The Medusa Touch (1978) and two episodes of Tales of the Unexpected (1981-1982).

Jimmy Garrett (September 23, 1954 – September 17, 2012) American actor, had bit parts in one episode of The Twilight Zone (“The Night of the Meek”, Season 2, Episode 11, aired December 23, 1960) and in Munster, Go Home! (1966).

Basil Hoffman (January 18, 1938 – September 17, 2021) American actor, one episode of the revival of The Twilight Zone (“Button, Button”, Season 1, Episode 20, aired March 7, 1986) and The Elvira show (1993)

Shukhrat Irgashev (June 19, 1945 – September 17, 2021) Uzbekistani actor, Day Watch (2006).

John Challis (16 August 1942 – 19 September 2021) English actor, Dan Curtis’ Dracula (1974) and one episode of the British show Thriller (“Sleepwalker”, Season 6, Episode 1, aired April 10, 1976).

Tim Donnelly (September 3, 1944 – September 19, 2021) American actor, The Toolbox Murders (1978) and The Clonus Horror (1979).

Morris Perry (28 March 1925 – 19 September 2021) English actor in one episode of the British miniseries Haunted (“The Chinese Butterfly”, Season 1, Episode 5, aired September 16, 1967), the feature film Nothing but the Night (1973), and the BBC miniseries, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982), starring The Fourth Doctor Tom Baker as Sherlock Holmes.

Petter Vennerød (25 September 1948 – 19 September 2021) Norwegian filmmaker, 1732 Høtten (Bloody Angels, 1998).

Willie Garson (February 20, 1964 – September 21, 2021) American actor, Brain Dead (1990), Repossessed (1990), Mars Attacks! (1996), Monster Heroes (2010), and one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“Killed by Death”, Season 2, Episode 18, aired March 3, 1998).

Peter Palmer (September 20, 1931 – September 21, 2021) American actor, Deep Space (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), one episode of the Bewitched spin-off series, Tabitha (“Tabitha’s Weighty Problem”, Season 1, Episode 2, aired September 10, 1977), and two episodes of Swamp Thing (“The Watchers”, Season 1, Episode 18, aired March 1, 1991, and “Judgment Day”, Season 3, Episode 22, aired December 19, 1992).

Melvin Van Peebles (August 21, 1932 – September 21, 2021) American actor and filmmaker, appeared in Jaws: The Revenge (1987) and as Dick Halloran in the 1997 mini-series version of The Shining.

Robert Fyfe (June 19, 1925 – September 22, 2021) Scottish actor, Xtro (1982), Burke & Hare (2010), and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016).

Jay Sandrich (February 24, 1932 – September 22, 2021) American television director on six episodes of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1969-1970).

Giulia Mafai (January 13, 1930 – September 26, 2021)) Italian costume designer on the peplum film Goliath and the Dragon (1960), the giallo film Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso (Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, 1972), and the horror films Tutti i colori del buio (All the Colors of the Dark, 1972) and Baba Yaga (1973).

Tommy Kirk (December 10, 1941 – September 28, 2021) American actor, best known for a string of Disney live-action films, including Old Yeller (1957), Swiss Family Robinson (1960) and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964), one of the earliest movies I recall having seen in a theater. His supernatural and horror performances were in The Shaggy Dog (1959), Village of the Giants (1964), The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966), Blood of Ghastly Horror (AKA The Man with the Synthetic Brain, 1967), It’s Alive! (1969), Streets of Death (1988), Billy Frankenstein (1998), Club Dead (2000), and The Education of a Vampire (2001). 

Carlisle Floyd (June 11, 1926 – September 30, 2021) American opera composer, Wuthering Heights (1958), Markheim (1966), and Bilby’s Doll (1976).

Ravil Isyanov (20 August 1962 – 30 September 2021[3]) Russian actor, Hamlet (1996), Octopus (2000), Arachnid (2001), No Escape (2020), and one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“No Place Like Home”, Season 5, Episode 5, aired October 24, 2000).

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Five: The Darkness in the Pines

 

The Darkness in the Pines by Harlan Graves is a creature-feature novella about a grieving Vietnam veteran named Howard Ward. Released in May, the story is Book 1 of 3 in a series titled The Beast of Fallow Pines. The Fallow Pines is a mysterious place with a history of missing lumberjacks and miners from the 1900s.

The first sentence – “Howard Ward had seen some shit” – is a perfect opener because it implies Howard is about to see more that he hadn’t seen before. And boy, does he ever.

Howard is an aging former soldier who lives in an isolated cabin amid a primeval forest known as Fallow Pines. Still bitter about the tragic death of his wife, Howard lives a loner’s survivalist life.

The story begins with Howard’s discovery of a decapitated bear soon followed by chickens with their heads torn off, then the inevitable footprint we suspect is Bigfoot’s.

The author Graves incorporates Howard’s Vietnam experience through past memories and dreams without killing the suspense in the present. Graves’ writing conveys the foreboding sense of walking through the woods alone, using the snap of a twig or the silence to effectively heighten the tension.

“The wind hissed through the pines, the branches rasping like dry bones. It carried with it the faint scent of decay.”

Howard’s first encounter with the Beast is watching “a huge black shape” drag away one of his deer kills.

When Howard visits a surplus store to buy a bear trap, the proprietor Tom warns him.

“Careful up there, Howard,” Tom said. “I overheard on my scanner just a week ago how a camper out Fallow Creek way was mauled in his sleeping bag. … Bear ate him like a burrito.”

Of course, Howard is stubborn, at one point telling the darkness, “These are MY woods.”

However, Bigfoot disagrees.

The Darkness in the Pines delivers not one but two epic one-on-one battles between Howard and the Beast. Howard seems to channel Arnold Schwarzenegger from the 1987 film Predator, using his soldier skills to try and kill the Beast.

The three titles in The Beast of Fallow Pines series have generated more than 220 reviews on Amazon averaging 4.2 stars out of 5. I enjoyed Book 1 enough to read the rest of the series. I think fans of cryptid horror will enjoy it, too.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Six: The Beast of Fallow Pines. I review the 2021 novella by Harlan Graves.

Kbatz Krafts: Halloween Haul 2021! 🎃🛒

 

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz is ringing in “Haulloween 2021” with a collection of dollar store raids, Goodwill shopping, and thrift hauls! Costumes? Check! Skeletons? Check! French maid accessories and potential for a laurel wreath tiara? Why the heck not?! Put on your spiderweb hats for everyday wear and dive in to these seasonal finds!

 

 

For those interested in more Dollar Store Craft Finds and Thrift Sewing Hacks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5RzvL23iv

Don’t be shy about shopping cheap or letting people know your wish list wants and gift card needs! Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz shares some discount craft supplies and Dollar Store finds alongside sewing-related gifts and making good use of a hobby store gift card. What a haul!

Revisit More Kbatz Krafts:

Love Skeleton Wreath

DIY Cardboard Backdrop

Jewelry Making Basics

Halloween Haul 2020

Follow Kbatz Krafts on Instagram and Facebook for more Halloween Sewing, Crafts, and DIY or share your holiday escapades by joining Our Horror Addicts.net Facebook Group!

WWW All-stars Judges

We want to give a big THANK YOU out to our Wicked Women Writer’s All-Star judges!

FIRST JUDGING PANEL

Michele Roger, Rhonda Carpenter, H.E. Roulo, and Killion Slade

michelerrcheadshotsmallHE ROULO 1killion

SECOND JUDGING PANEL

YOU! The listeners and readers of HorrorAddicts.net!

THIRD (tie-breaking)  JUDGING PANEL

L. Marie Wood, A.F. Stewart, Shannon Lawrence, Laurel Anne Hill, and Courtney Mroch

L. Marie WoodafShannon Lawrence 1Laurel Anne Hill Promotional 2015court

THANK YOU ALL FOR MAKING THIS
WICKED WOMEN WRITER’S ALL-STAR Contest
a success!

Chilling Chat: Episode #203 – Valjeanne Jeffers

chillingchatValjeanne Jeffers

Valjeanne Jeffers is a speculative fiction writer, a Spelman College graduate, a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Carolina African America Writers’ Collective. She is the author of ten books, including her Immortal and her Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective series. Valjeanne has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk!:The Ringing Ear, Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures, Sycorax’s Daughters, Black Magic Women, The Bright Empire, and, most recently, All the Songs We Sing, Bledrotica Volume I, and Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire.

Valjeanne is a talented and fascinating woman. We spoke of werewolves, vampires, and a special reveal for her readers.

NTK: Welcome back to Chilling Chat, Valjeanne! Thank you for joining us.

VJ: Thank you for having me.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

VJ: Oh, wow. Tales from the Hood I.

NTK:  What do you like best about that movie?

VJ: The storyline was fantastic, as was the acting, casting. David Allen Grier for example, who is usually known for comedic work did an excellent job portraying a violent abuser (“Monster.”)

Spike Lee placed a message in each story.

Also, Time After Time. It’s an outstanding portrayal of a battle between HG Wells and Jack the Ripper no less! Another wonderful movie about time travel—I’m kind of partial to it.

NTK: Oh, I love that movie! And Malcolm McDowell was terrific as Wells! What is your favorite horror TV show?

VJ: The Dragon Prince (Netflix). It’s billed as a fantasy show, but it definitely can also be described as horror. The Animation and storyline are excellent, and it has a diverse cast of both human and nonhuman characters.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why?

VJ: I have so many! I’d like to pick two. The Talisman (Stephen King) is one of my early favorites. The way King flips between two timelines, and the journey and mission of the hero just reeled me in. And I know it inspired me to write about time travel. The second is Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul Book I by Dicey Grenor. This book is sexy, supernatural, and filled with creatures of the night—of all varieties.

NTK: The Talisman inspired you to write about Time Travel, where do you usually find inspiration?

VJ: From other authors, movies, TV shows. I don’t try to imitate anyone, but other authors, etc. inspire me. And of course, as writers, we’re always asking what if…

NTK: Tell us about your book Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. How did that book come about?

VJ: I’d been reading SF/Fantasy and horror for years, and werewolves were always one of my favorite supernatural breeds. And of course, watching movies, etc. werewolves were always one of my favorite types of supernatural beings. The idea kind of crept into my head of shifting timelines and a battle between good and evil werewolves who could be revolutionaries.

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

VJ: Pretty good actually. Mind you when I first started writing I didn’t think of myself as a horror writer. Then, I met Sumiko Saulson who interviewed me for 100+Black Women in Horror because of my Immortal series! I was blown away…and very honored. That was the beginning of my Mona Livelong series.

NTK: Do you think more could be done in the horror community to embrace people of color?

VJ: I think that thus far the horror community has been very welcoming. The Horror Writers Association is a wonderful group, as is HorrorAddicts.net. I can only speak from my experience.

NTK: Glad to hear it! You mentioned Mona Livelong, who is a paranormal detective. What kind of research did you do for Mona?

VJ: I did a lot of research on Steampunk/Steamfunk. And actually, one of the authors who inspired me was Brandon Massey. I also did some research on Haitian Creole and the Cajun language and ways of speaking.

NTK: How has the pandemic affected your work? Have you been more productive? Less productive?

VJ: Pretty much the same, except I’ve decided that there won’t be any more in-person events until Covid-19 is behind us. 

NTK: That is a very wise decision. You were one of the writers who contributed to SLAY. What was that experience like?

VJ: I loved it! It was the first time I set out to write a story about a traditional vampire who drinks blood. The vampires I usually write about are time vampires.

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

VJ: I just started working on Mona Livelong IV and it will be a crossover novel between Immortal and Mona Livelong! Yes, I let the cat out of the bag!

NTK: Oh, awesome! Thank you for revealing that on Chilling Chat! And thank you for chatting with me today. Valjeanne! As always, you are a terrific guest!

VJ: Thank you! And you’re welcome!

Addicts, you can find Valjeanne’s work on Amazon.

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Elle Noir 

Welcome to another round of Merrill’s Musical Musings. I am your creepy hostess Ro and this month I’m delighted to share with you a new-to-me artist. Talk about hauntingly beautiful… this month’s artist has a moody, atmospheric vibe that I adored. Elle Noir is a dark wave artist that channels the deepest, darkest truths and turns them into something beautiful. Her hauntingly elegant voice will put you in a trance if you’re not careful. There’s a theatrical quality to her music that reminded me of one of my favorite places, the Haunted Mansion at that Mouse Place… The floating crystal ball lady? Yeah, Elle Noir is like her if she recorded an EP. She’s put out a collection of singles over the past year that you can find on Spotify. “Like A Black Doll” and “Welcome to My Hell” are perfect tracks to play as background music or to get you into that mellow, relaxed state you might prefer before you start creating, or maybe even after a long day at work. Come inside, take a seat, here’s a glass of dark red wine. Enjoy the candlelight, let the music surround you, and enjoy a tune like Elle Noir’s cover of “Spiders” by System of A Down.”

Thanks to Elle Noir for sharing her craft with us. Have pleasant dreams.

That’s it for this month’s Merrill’s Musical Musings. Be sure to hit me up on the socials or leave a comment and share with me your favorite dark wave artists. Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings… 

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

Free Fiction : El Dorado by Tawana Watson

I didn’t sleep well last night.  I have so much on my mind that turning off my thoughts was impossible, so another sleepless night. 

I can’t believe how bad my insomnia has gotten over the past few weeks and there is not a medication that my doctor has given me that works, it seems sleep for me is a distant memory.  I turn and look at my clock that is sitting on my bedside table, I have to squint to see the time, just like I feared it was time to get up.

Every day is the same thing. I get up, get dressed for work, and leave the house forgetting my breakfast.  However, today, as I drove down the street something inside me, told me that today was not going to be a typical day.

I got to the office with two minutes to spare, I sat at my desk in my small cubicle, and as my computer powered on the word El Dorado appeared on the screen.  I stood up and quickly looked around at my coworkers as they did their morning routine and nothing seemed out of place so I sat back in my seat.  

The word El Dorado glared back at me, so I started pressing keys to try to remove it from the screen but nothing worked. It just stayed there.  After unsuccessfully trying to remove the word with my keyboard skills, I ducked down under my desk and unplugged my computer.  The computer turned off and after I counted 20 I plugged the computer backup and turned it back on.  Unplugging it did the trick and I got to work on my everyday task list.

My day was dull and boring, I thought as I sat at the traffic light heading home. My whole life is dull and boring I thought as the light turned green and I continued on my way.  As I pulled into my yard I noticed a package at my front door, it was strange because I was not expecting anything. So before pulling completely into my yard I put my car in park, got out, and went to retrieve the package.  As I bent down to pick the package up I noticed in red bold letters someone wrote across the top of the package the word El Dorado.

Once in my house, I dropped everything except the package at the back door.  I went into the dining room, sitting the package on the table before going back into the kitchen to get a knife so that I could open it.  At first, I had a strong urge not to open the package, to just throw it away but curiosity got the best of me.  I took the knife and opened the package. 

The only thing I found was a folded piece of paper.  I  took the paper and opened it.  What was written on it gave me chills, it read;

Once you start this journey you can never turn back. There’s much more to life than the things you can see, and to have a glorious life all you have to do is find El Dorado

There are those words again; El Dorado. 

I dropped the paper and before it hit the floor it was consumed with fire.  I stood there in awe for a second or two but then shook it off and remembered I haven’t slept and I could be in the middle of a dream.  So I pulled myself together and continued with my evening.

I turned my bed down and prepared myself for another sleepless night. My cell phone which I left downstairs began to ring. I hesitated about going downstairs to get it but every time it stopped ringing, it would start again so I went to get it.  

When I reached my phone, I saw that the caller id didn’t show a valid number but a weird number of all 6s.  I pushed the talk button, holding the phone to my ear, and before I said hello I heard a voice  in a low whisper say, 

“You can’t turn back, you have to find El Dorado.” 

I dropped the phone and as the phone hit the floor it started ringing again. I cautiously picked the phone back up and held it so gently, taking the phone into the kitchen, then putting the phone in the sink. As I ran water on it, the ringing faded until it completely stopped. 

I started back to my room and as I went up the stairs I had a sense that I was no longer alone. As I reached my room, I saw a sight that I didn’t expect. 

There I was laying in the bed, and my wrist had been cut. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at and as I stood there trying to figure out what was going on, a hand touched my shoulder and a voice said in a whisper, 

“It’s time. I am here to take you to  El Dorado.”

Nightmare Fuel: Tagus, ND

 

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tagus

Hello Addicts,

Earlier this season, I told you about a haunted location right here in North Dakota, White Lady Lane in Walhalla. This week, I want to tell you about another haunted spot in the Peace Garden State rumored to be one of the many Gateways to Hell. Join me on a Nightmare Fueled trip to Tagus, ND.

North Dakota has its fair share of ghost towns. One such town is Tagus, located forty miles west of one of the larger cities in the state — Minot. Founded in 1900, Tagus hit its peak population of 140 in 1940 but has since declined to only a handful of people living there and no open businesses. In 2001, the sole remaining church burned down, possibly due to vandalism. A plaque stands where the building once stood.

It is inside this church that the rumored gateway is. According to the stories, the church was home to Satanic rituals and sacrifices, both human and animal. The stories chronicle bestiality, cannibalism, an upside-down cross on the door, and a stairway that led to the bowels of Hell itself. After the fire, the stairs became filled with dirt to hide their location, but if you stand quietly in the right spot, you can still hear the screams of pain from the tortured souls. Other stories document hellhounds lying in wait to tear your heart out, a phantom train running through town, and a glowing tombstone. The town’s abandoned homes are not spared from the legends either, with people reporting weeping, wailing, and the cry of an infant off in the distance.

All of this sounds like it comes from horror movies or the scariest of books. There may be something to the stories, or they could be urban legends shared to scare around a campfire. Based on pictures of the town, there is a creepy vibe given off. If and when I can make a trip to Tagus, I will certainly share anything that happens there. Until then, the legends of the town will have to tide us over.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Free Fiction : It Came To The Window by J.S. O’Connor

“I’ve seen it, Jim. I swear to God, I’ve seen it. Get me a drink to settle my nerves. I would prefer whiskey, but I’ll settle for anything strong and keep them coming. What’s that? I don’t know what ‘it’ was or is, but I’ve seen it just outside my window and I don’t think this is the first time it came to the house, but this is the first time I saw it. Another please, no ice this time and I’ll tell you the story. 

“It was nearly a week back when I first saw the tracks walking my property after work. I guess you could describe them as a large chicken with talons the size of a pocketknife. They were up near the tree line in some mud. Didn’t think anything of it. See a lot of tracks living that close to the woods. I believe that was a Monday. Tuesday the tracks were by the garage, but I still didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until I heard it. That’s when I thought something strange was happening.  

“Give me another Jim. Nothing like a good whiskey to settle the nerves. I’ll tell you what I heard. 

“It must have been Wednesday night. It was a hard day of work up at the factory and when I got home, I soon found myself at the bottom of a bottle. I’m not proud to say, but the bottom of the bottle is where I find myself most nights. Well for the last two years … but I don’t need to tell you that story. I reckon the entire town knows about it. But it’s the truth. Sitting by the fire in my chair, I remember it being pretty cold and I fell asleep. Don’t know what time Kirby started barking, must have been close to eleven-thirty or midnight and the dog is just sitting there going crazy at the screen door. 

“Got to admit something Jim, I had a funny feeling that night but I played it off that I had too much to drink. I got up from my chair and stumbled to the back door. That damn dog shot off into the night barking. Didn’t think nothing of the dog running off, it’s what he does, and he comes back when he’s good and ready. But that’s when I heard it. I swear, Jim, I don’t know how to describe it. But I heard it. Now I know what you’re thinking, but I have heard every animal from those woods. The sound echoed through the darkness. It’s been three days and I still haven’t seen Kirby. Didn’t sleep the rest of the night. Just sat by the fire with my rifle. 

“Next morning before work I went looking for Kirby. Nothing. No trace. It was like the damn dog just disappeared. No dog tracks. No weird chicken tracks. It was like the night before never happened. When I got home, I picked up where I left off looking for that dog. Still nothing. Didn’t sleep that night and had no bottle and no strange sounds. Everything was silent. 

“Sorry  I’m shaking. No more Jim I think that was my last tonight. Four is enough. 

“Last night was when I saw it. It was at my window, Jim. I sit here not wanting to believe it myself. I had my bottle and my rifle, and I sat myself by the fire. The night was getting late, and my eyes were getting heavy. I must admit that the whiskey kept me from sleep’s grasp and that’s when I saw it. It was looking through my window. Its eyes were a pale blue, I don’t know how else to describe them. Its face was a light grey, but it had no mouth or nose it was just blank. 

“I jumped from my chair, the bottle broke on the floor, and I fired at it. My aim was off and the glass shattered just above its head. But I scared it off, and I ran towards the window. I could see it clearly even though it was pitch black. It ran on all fours like some damn animal, but it wasn’t no animal. Its body was the same color, that light grey, but the body looked more human than the face. I watched it until it got to the tree line and there it stopped and looked back at me.  

“You must think I’m crazy for telling you this and if you don’t, then what I’ll say next will make you think I’m crazy. It spoke to me. How? I don’t know the thing had no mouth, but I heard it. Or maybe it was all in my head, but I heard the word inside enter my brain. I don’t know what it means and I don’t think I do. Then it disappeared off into the woods, and I didn’t stay long either. Got in the truck and drove away, stayed the rest of the night at the motel – most of today too, now that I think about it. Been thinking long and hard about what it told me last night and I got me a feeling that when I get home it will be waiting for me inside my home. 

“Here’s the money for the drinks, Jim. Thanks for listening to an old drunk ramble. Be seeing you soon, maybe.”  

Historian of Horror : The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization

Except for those living under a rock somewhere, everyone has at least heard of the Big Two comic book companies, if only peripherally. Marvel, with its Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the rest of the Avengers, and DC, with its Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and their associated Justice Leaguers. In those halcyon days of my misspent youth in the 1960s, during what comics fans now refer to as the Silver Age of Comics, there were several other purveyors of four-color delights of equal importance to me and my peers, publishers long vanished and forgotten by all but the most die-hard connoisseurs of the medium. There was the American Comics Group, publisher of the very first horror comic in the late 1940s, Adventures into the Unknown, and of the most powerful comic book character ever created, the redoubtable Herbie Popnecker. There was Charlton, home to a cluster of third-tier super-heroes and several not-altogether-terrible horror comics. Archie was still putting out the occasional super-hero comics starring the Mighty Crusaders, comprised of characters left over from their Golden Age titles of the 1940s, along with the supernatural adventures of Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch. Dell had a few speculative fiction titles coming out, as well as the first comic book to acknowledge the developing war in Southeast Asia that would soon divide the country. Etc., etc., etc.

My favorite, however, was Gold Key, especially their horror titles – Twilight Zone, Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery, Ripley’s Believe it or Not True Ghost Stories. They also had the monopoly – inherited from Dell Comics in 1962 – on Disney and Warner Brothers cartoon characters and the various Tarzan titles, as well as television adaptations, including The Munsters, Bewitched, Dark Shadows, and Scooby-Doo. And Turok, Son of Stone, great fun with Native Americans vs. dinosaurs in a lost valley.

What a wonderful time it was to be a kid – and all for twelve cents a copy! I don’t even want to know what a comic book would cost these days.

Gold Key was the comic imprint of K.K. Publications, located in the exotically named Poughkeepsie, New York. K.K., in turn, as I only discovered years later, was owned by Western Publishing. Hence, the title of this piece. Although Western survived as a corporate entity until 2001, it had even by then long since been reduced by the vicissitudes of time and the vagaries of the publishing world to but a shadow of its former glory. At least, in so far as this child of the ‘Sixties is concerned. Its last surviving brand, the Little Golden Books, has been taken over by Penguin Random House. Gold Key itself went belly up in 1984.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Late in the story of Gold Key, its titles began to appear under an alternative imprint, Whitman. Whitman is actually still around, but only puts out coin and stamp collecting materials. In its heyday, though, under the steady guidance of Western Publishing, Whitman was a major disseminator of multi-media publications. Big Little Books, small, boxy things about popular movie, radio, and comic strip characters, with alternative pages of simple drawings and simpler text, for example. Some of these are worth a fortune today. I have one of the early Lone Ranger editions I got for the relatively low price of $35 some years ago. Yeah, go ahead. Put a hand on it. You’re apt to draw back a nub.

Popular culture characters also appeared in a series of standard-sized hardbound books, also primitively illustrated. I have several based on comic strips that only lack dust jackets to be worthy of funding my retirement, Blondie and Red Ryder among them. There was also a series of mysteries featuring popular female movie stars of the time, including Judy Garland, Deanna Durbin, Shirley Temple, even Gene Tierney, and Dorothy Lamour. And so on.

But all that was well before my time. In my decade, the 1960s, Whitman revived the Big Little Books with fewer pages and more contemporary characters such as the Man from U.N.C.L.E, Major Matt Mason, and the Fantastic Four. They also put out a couple of horror anthologies I still own, books that have gone a long way towards shaping my interest in all things spooky.

Those titles, Tales to Tremble By and More Tales to Tremble By, both edited by Stephen P. Sutton, came out in 1966 and 1968, respectively. I acquired the second one first, in 1968, around my tenth birthday, under circumstances of which I have no recollection. The first one, according to a note I obligingly scribbled inside the front cover at the time for the benefit of my future self, I bought in Texas. That would be over the Thanksgiving holiday of 1969, when my Uncle Allen married my Aunt Jeannie in Plainview, not far from the New Mexico border. That was at the time the longest trip I had ever been on. I’ve since gone farther than that. Don’t recall picking up anything as cool as Tales to Tremble By in St. Petersburg, Russia, though. I did get my wife a replica Fabergé egg for her birthday. She seemed to like it.

Anyhow, the books. By sometime in the 1950s, Whitman had done way with paper dust jackets and started putting out their books with laminated painted covers. I have a couple of Tarzans from that period. The practice continued for the rest of the company’s run. For all I know, their numismatic stuff comes the same way. Not being a numismatist, I have no idea. I only collect coins up until the point that it’s time to convert them into folding green to be spent upon trivialities like food, clothing, and shelter. And books. Lots and lots of books.

More Tales to Tremble By was not the first scary anthology I had read. My elementary school library had a volume of short stories I’d devoured at least a year before. All I remember of it was that it was a hardback book and old even then, probably from the 1930s or 1940s. Alas, the school has long since been sold off by the City of Nashville and absorbed into the David Lipscomb University system. I drive by every so often and experience sadness. 

I miss that book.

Anyhow. THIS book. The table of contents is like a Hall of Fame of short horror tales and writers of the same. To whit — 

“The Red Lodge” by H. Russell Wakefield.

Sredni Vashtar” by Saki (H.H. Munro)

Thurnley Abbey” by Perceval Landon

God Grante That She Lye Still” by Lady Cynthia Asquith

The Voice in the Night” by William Hope Hodgson

The Extra Passenger” by August Derleth

Casting the Runes” by M.R. James

The Book” by Margaret Irwin

 

“Casting the Runes”, by the way, was the basis for one of the greatest horror films of all time, 1957’s Curse of the Demon (entitled Night of the Demon in England). 

Every yarn here is a certified classic. The other one, the book from Texas, is likewise:

The Hand”, Guy de Maupassant

The Middle Toe of the Right Foot”, Ambrose Bierce

No. 1 Branch Line, The Signalman” (AKA “The Signal-Man”), Charles Dickens

Adventure of the German Student”, Washington Irving

“The Sutor of Selkirk”, Anonymous

The Upper Berth”, F. Marion Crawford

The Judge’s House”, Bram Stoker

Names to conjure with, surely. I anticipate that I shall devote a future column to each of the authors listed here in the future. Except of course for that Anonymous fellow. Can’t find a blessed thing about him. But the others, for sure.

I hope I live that long, anyhow.

There was at least one more horror anthology from Whitman, Ten Tales Calculated to Give You Shudders, edited by Ross R. Olney. It came out in 1972. My copy was originally owned by someone named Cindy, who seemed to enjoy writing her name out as it appears half a dozen times in various places. She also claimed to have been in love with Huey. I think I acquired it in an antique store when I was in college, but I’m not positive. Great stories in it, as well:

Sweets to the Sweet”, by Robert Bloch

The Waxwork”, by A.M. Burrage

Used Car”, by H. Russell Wakefield

The Inexperienced Ghost”, by H.G. Wells

The Whistling Room”, by William Hope Hodgson

The Last Drive”, by Carl Jacobi

The Monkey’s Paw”, by W.W. Jacobs

“Second Night Out”, by Frank Belknap Long

The Hills Beyond Furcy, by Robert G. Anderson

Floral Tribute”, by Robert Bloch. HIM again.

It’s a good book. I enjoy it. But, you know, it’s just not the same as the others. Not a treasured artifact of my childhood. I guess some things just remain more precious because of the context of their acquisition.

Anyhow. If it hasn’t happened before now, I encourage the populace to track down and read these tales. They are among the foundation stones of our genre, historically important, and wonderfully entertaining. Go, seek. You’ll be glad you did.

And so, until next time, mavens of the macabre…

Be afraid. 

Be very afraid.

Kbatz Krafts: Halloween Sewing Vlog 1 🎃🧵

What are YOU sewing for Halloween? Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz is putting some old, worn, and miscellany Halloween pants, fabrics, ribbons, scarves, and more to good use in a mystery sewing project! To start, beloved Halloween pajama pants must be salvaged and seam ripped, making the most of every inch of usable material while trying to placate two cats and use the pieces to pattern new pajama bottoms. Every scrap will be saved!

Stay tuned for more sewing vlogs and follow progress photos on our Kbatz Krafts Instagram and Facebook!

Revisit More Halloween Kbatz Krafts:

Pumpkin Ottomans

Mini Bone Wreath

Mr. and Mrs. Skeleton Frames

Halloween Pillows

Chilling Chat: Interview with Naching T. Kassa

Naching T. Kassa Interview  with R. L. Merrill

Greetings and Salutations, Horror Addicts. I am honored to have been given the task of interviewing the illustrious Naching T. Kassa this week. Naching wears many hats beyond 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.

I challenged Naching to face the World’s Most Dangerous Interview, 2021 Edition, and here were the results:

RLM : Name a childhood fear and tell us whether or not it still scares you.

NTK: As a child, I was terrified of flying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They used to swoop over my bed with their batwings. Thank goodness I am no longer afraid of them. Creeping BLTs are much scarier. (As are spiders and other creepy crawlies—Shudder!!)

RLM: Give us three bizarre habits you’ve developed during the pandemic.

NTK: I was a terrible germaphobe before the pandemic, and it seems to have intensified that feeling. I have the habit of washing my hands every time I touch something from outside the home, and until most of my family was vaccinated, I used to spray everyone with Lysol when they went out and came home. My other habit is using aloe vera hand sanitizer. Vitamin E sanitizer is too smelly.

RLM: Name the first book you read as a young person that has stayed with you.

NTK: The first book that really stayed with me was Watership Down by Richard Adams. I read it when I was eight or nine years old after I watched the cartoon. I just loved the story about the rabbits and their search for a new home. And some of the incidents in the story are really quite frightening. Also, I like the fact that Fiver, one of the youngest rabbits, has precognition. 

RLM: What is the most fascinating/creepy/disgusting thing you’ve discovered because of writing?

NTK: Vampire moths are a real thing. They really suck blood and can do it for as long as 50 minutes.

RLM: Which characters from books do you most admire/adore/abhor?

NTK: If we’re talking specifics, I really admire Sherlock Holmes. I love his intelligence and thirst for justice. As to characters I abhor, I really dislike narcissists and Dean Koontz is extremely adept at creating them.

RLM: Name a book that made you say, “yes, I want to be a writer.”

NTK: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I read the chapter written from the turtle’s point of view—when the Joads were headed down the road—and that was the moment I wanted to be a writer.

RLM: If you had to choose a movie or book to live in, what would it be?

NTK: Though I wouldn’t want to live in the real Victorian Era, I have always wanted to live in the world of Sherlock Holmes. That world is just so fascinating and mysterious. I’d love to walk the foggy streets of London in 1895.

RLM: Name your author superpower and how does it come out in your writing?

NTK: My author superpower is my leaning toward prose poetry. I enjoy turning a good phrase.

RLM: Which book do you wish you’d written?

NTK: Jane Eyre. I love that book. There’s a supernatural aspect in the story that many people miss or ignore.

RLM: Which musical/horror film describes your life?

NTK: Salem’s Lot (1979) I live near a small town full of vampires. Hahhah!

RLM: Ever get caught reading/writing sexy times in an awkward place/time/situation? 

NTK: No. But I have ghostwritten erotica and that always feels awkward.

RLM: Thank you so much Naching for daring to face the World’s Most Dangerous Interview. I’m still fascinated by these moths and will have to check them out. I also don’t recall the turtle from Grapes of Wrath and now I feel the need to go back and re-read it! 

RLM: Where can we find your work?

My story “The Case of the Broken Needle,” was recently published in The Meeting of the Minds: The Cases of Sherlock Holmes and Solar Pons 1. I also write and edit for the Crystal Lake Publishing series, Still Water Bay. New episodes are published around the 15th of every month on the Crystal Lake Patreon page. https://www.patreon.com/CLP/posts?filters[tag]=Still%20Water%20Bay

You can find my story “The Darker Side of Grief”, in Crystal Lake Publishing’s Arterial Bloom, an artful juxtaposition of the magnificence and macabre that exist within mankind. Each tale in this collection is resplendent with beauty, teeth, and heart.

You can find me on Twitter @nachingkassa and on my website. https://nachingkassa.wordpress.com/

Merrill’s Musical Musings : In Chasms Deep

 

In Chasms Deep

Greetings HorrorAddicts! I hope these musings find you dim, dismal, and dissolute. Not really. I hope you and yours are doing well and that your life has returned to some sense of normalcy. But since we are going to be discussing black metal today, I thought I’d get you into the right headspace. For those of you, like me, who are new to the subgenre, black metal is characterized by screaming vocals, atmospheric sounds that don’t necessarily follow a typical song structure and pagan and/or satanic themes. The subgenre has received criticism due to the actions of some members of the community, but as with all music, it is unfair to judge all participants by the actions of the few. Metal music has healing properties and many of us turn to metal of all types to get us through the difficult times in our lives. 

In Chasms Deep is a one-man black metal project from the United States who has been making music since 2011. Their latest release, The Wind and Her Lament, draws the listener into a melodic journey from the beginning track. The pieces flow from hauntingly inviting to explosive rainbows of sonic power. The album draws on the four elements to give the listener an immersive experience. Tracks like “A Suicide in Paradise” build from melancholy piano to dream-like guitar sequence to thundering, furious shredding before sinking back into pensive strumming and those haunting piano notes once more. It’s probably my favorite track on the album. “Abyssgazer” piqued my interest with the organ parts in the beginning as well. 

If you’re new to black metal, I’d recommend giving The Wind and Her Lament a listen. The artist has created a landscape of beauty in darkness, which is a place many of us HorrorAddicts love to dwell. I’ll definitely be checking out some of their earlier work on Spotify. 

How about you? Have any black metal recommendations? As a bona fide metalhead, I’m always down to check out new music, so send me an email, rlmerrillauthor at gmail dot com or leave a comment. Thanks for joining me on this musical journey. Stay Tuned for more Musical Musings…

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. 

Nightmare Fuel: Annaliese Michel

Hello Addicts,

Possession movies, when done right, are some of the scariest ones to watch. The level of acting and grueling physical work makes for very intense entertainment. What adds to the spook factor is when the story is based on true events. Some that come to mind are “The Exorcist” and the movies in “The Conjuring” universe. Another that comes to mind is the 2005 flick, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” Today’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the story of the real Emily Rose… Anneliese Michel.

Anneliese Michel was born September 21, 1952, in Leiblfing, Bavaria, West Germany, and grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family. At age sixteen, she suffered a severe convulsion and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. Even with this, she managed to graduate and attended the University of Wurzburg. She had been prescribed anti-convulsion medications, such as Dilantin, but shortly after she started reporting seeing the faces of devils. She was then prescribed Aolept, a medication used to treat various psychoses including schizophrenia. It didn’t seem to help as she fell into depression and began hallucinating while praying. She’d also begin hearing voices telling her that she was damned and going to rot in hell. Around the same time, she began showing signs of intolerance to sacred Christian objects and places. It was on a pilgrimage to San Damiano that she was deemed possessed by her escort because of her inability to walk past a crucifix and not drinking from a holy spring. This was followed by the first requests for exorcism approval from the Catholic Church. The Church has fairly strict criteria that they follow before granting permission to perform an exorcism. They recommended that Anneliese continue her medical treatment.

By this point, Anneliese’s condition began showing further progression. She’d eat insects, drink her urine, act out aggressively, and injure herself on purpose. She was prescribed stronger medication, but it didn’t help. She eventually began reporting seeing demons, growling, and throwing things about. Throughout her life, Anneliese would do things that made her uncomfortable, thinking that it was her way to atone for the sins of other youth. This thought process only increased as her condition worsened, and she began seeing herself as dying to atone for the sins of all wayward youth and the apostate priests of the modern church. She refused to eat, and her parents became convinced that the medical community wasn’t helping their daughter. The Michel family turned exclusively to exorcism, thinking this was the only way to help her. Adding to this was Father Ernst Alt, a priest who also viewed Anneliese as possessed because he thought that she didn’t look like an epileptic or having seizures. Over ten months, sixty-seven exorcisms were performed.

Anneliese Michel died in 1976. Her official cause of death is listed as malnutrition and dehydration. When she died, she weighed only 68 pounds (30 kg). Her parents, Father Alt, and Father Arnold Renz, who performed the exorcisms, were all charged with negligent homicide. They were found guilty, and each sentenced to six months in prison, which was suspended for three years. Amongst the evidence provided in the trial were recordings said to be the demons possessing Anneliese: Lucifer, Cain, Judas Iscariot, Legion, Belial, Nero, and Hitler. While they argued during the possession, the demons said that they freed the young woman before her passing. Anneliese’s gravesite has since become a pilgrimage site for Christians.

I remember watching the movie in the theater and thinking of how terrifying it was. Perhaps it was the story, or perhaps watching it in a theater added to the terror. Upon leaving the theater, I heard some bigger and stronger guys saying how they didn’t think they were going to be sleeping well that night. It remains one of my favorite possession movies. Knowing the story behind the script only adds to the horror.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Black Horror Movies

This is our list of Af Am, African, and Black movies from around the world either produced, directed, or main character acting by people of African descent. If you have any suggestions, please add them in the comments and we’ll add them to our list.

Anaconda

Angelheart

Antebellum

Attack the Block

Bad Hair

Beloved

Blackenstein

Blacula 1

Blacula 2

Blade movies

Bones

Candyman, 1992 (review by Kieran Judge)

Candyman, 2021 (review by Crystal Connor)

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (review by Eden Royce)

Dawn of the Dead

Def by Temptation

Dracula 3000

Eve’s Bayou

Fallen

Ganja & Hess (review by Eden Royce)

Get Out (review by Kenzie Kordic)

Gothika

Heks (review by Crystal Connor)

His House (review by Kbatz)

Hood of the Living Dead

House on Haunted Hill

House on Willow Street

I Am Legend

Last Ones Out

Leprechaun 5: In the Hood

Lost Boys: The Thirst

Ma

Missing Angel (Nigerian)

Night of the Living Dead (article on Tony Todd by Sumiko Saulson)

Queen of the Damned

Serpent and the Rainbow

Strange Days

Sugar Hill (review by Valjenne Jeffers)

Surviving Evil

Synchronic

Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight

Tales from the Hood

Tales from the Hood 2

The First Purge

The Green Mile

The House Next Door

The Mangler

The People under the Stairs

The Scary Movie franchise

The Soul Collector 8

The Tokoloshe (about Tokoloshe by Kieran Judge)

The Unforgiving

Thriller

Us

Vamp (with Grace Jones)

Vampire in Brooklyn (review by Kbatz)

Vampires in the Bronx (review by Kbatz)

If you have any suggestions, please add them in the comments and we’ll add them to our list.

Chilling Chat: Episode #201 – Crystal Connor

Crystal Connor grew up telling spooky little campfire-style stories at slumber parties. Living on a steady literary diet of Stephen King, Robin Cook, Dean R. Koontz and healthy doses of cinema masterpieces such as The Birds, Friday the 13th,Wordsmith Crystal Connor Hellraiser, The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone; along with writing short stories specializing in the Science Fiction & Horror genres since before Jr. high School, it surprised no one that she ended up writing horror novels! 

Crystal is a fascinating person and a thought-provoking author. We spoke of writing, her influences, and her literary father. 

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

CC: Thank you so much for having me.

NTK: What got you into horror and how old were you?

CC: Gosh, that’s such a good question. I’ve always told really good horror stories. When I was little, I was invited to all the slumber parties because I told her really good horror stories. (Laughs.) It’s something that I’ve always done. I didn’t grow up thinking that I was going to be a horror author—it just happened by happenstance, so yeah.

NTK: Did you watch horror movies at the slumber parties? What is your favorite horror movie?

CC: I don’t remember watching horror movies at slumber parties, unless I was the one hosting them. Horror is something that’s always been in the peripherals of my life. I grew up watching the black-and-white Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Dark Shadows, Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone, Hellraiser, Stephen King, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. You know, horror’s always been a part of my life, and I always like things—you know—darker around the edges.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

CC: I think my favorite TV shows growing up was a tie between The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. I believe science fiction and horror are fraternal twins and there’s a lot of stuff in those two series that are just like downright unsettling. So, growing up—ya there would be a tie.

NTK:  Do you have a favorite horror novel?

CC: Ok, so people actually raise their eyebrows when they hear me say this, but my favorite horror novel of all time is the Book of Revelations in the King James Bible. Now, I grew up in a Christian household and I’m a Godfearing person. I don’t think I’m a Christian because, of course, I’m not living according to the scriptures. But the book of revelations has shaped my writing and me as a person. From a very young age that was the first story that I read from start to finish without stopping, and it’s just so terrifying. I mean, I was just like terrified, right, ‘cause I think I might have been like 10 or 11 years old and I’m super seduced by images and that book is so visually terrifying that it stuck with me. The visuals and the things that were prophesized that are going to come to pass if we don’t change our ways of living—so, yeah, it’s the Book of Revelations that has shaped me as an individual in my personal life and in my writing life as well.

NTK: So, do you have a favorite horror author?

CC: My favorite horror writer, besides myself, hands down has to be Stephen King. I didn’t take any writing classes and when I write, I just kind of dislike writing everything down as it comes to me. But Stephen King is the person who taught me how to write. He is my mentor even though he doesn’t know it. So, when I’m working on a scene and I’m struggling through it, I usually just read a book from Stephen King to see how he did it, and then, I kind of copy that style to get me out of whatever hole I’m in. Whatever I’m like struggling to get by. The very first King novel that I read was Pet Sematary and of course, I’ve read everything that he’s written after that. He’s my favorite horror writer because he’s my literary dad. (Laughs.)

But there are so many amazing horror authors now, that there’s no way that I would be able to name them all. Some women who have been influential in my career would be like Linda Addison, Eden Royce, and Sumiko Saulson. There’re so many of us, and that’s a really good thing.

NTK: That’s great! As a person of color, what has your experience in the horror community been like? Good? Bad? Both?

CC: It’s been a combination of all three. With my first novel, The Darkness, the editor working on it suggested that people would not connect to my two main characters which are both strong black women leads but don’t fit the stereotypical idea of a black woman in the media, you know. So, that was really shocking to hear as a first-time writer coming up. But luckily, I didn’t take her advice and I stayed true to my story. And then, six months after it was published, I was the recipient of two international book awards. It’s been amazing because I’ve had people come up to me saying that they didn’t know that there are black people writing horror.

I think my favorite part of being a black horror writer, is meeting other people of color who are creating horror content. This has just been so incredible. But it’s a double-edged sword, because the assumption is black people are unable to write really good horror, but it is a compliment and because I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit. I’ll take the compliments where I can. (Laughs.)

But it’s incredible to see how people are now recognizing our work and also enjoying our work. Last night, I went to see a private screening of Candyman, and it just brought me to tears to see people of color creating stories of horror that are mainstream. So yeah, this is just incredible.

NTK: You often review movies and books, what did you think of Candyman? Had you seen the original?

CC: Yup. I saw the original and the new movie blew me away. It is not a reboot. It is not a sequel. It is a continuation of the story, and it was so amazing, that I left the theater just numb. My advice to everybody is just to go see the movie, but keep in mind that it’s told from a different point of view. So, the first Candyman was produced by, you know, a white crew, white writers, and predominantly white actors. But this time around, we’re telling our side of this story. So, for me, it was more horrific than the first one. But it is every bit the type of movie we have grown accustomed to and get excited about.

When the movie has Jordan Peele’s name attached to it, it’s just hands down incredible. It was beautiful, and it was frightening, and even the kill scenes were almost elegant. I hope you get to see this movie.

NTK: What inspires your writing? What inspired you to write My First Nightmare?

CC: Oh my God, what inspired me to write My First Nightmare was when my fans would come up to me at conventions and ask me to write a children’s novel. I don’t write for children so for the first two years I absolutely refused to do it. But it did start growing in the back of my mind and when I reached out to an artist, and explained what I wanted to do, the numbers he came back with is what really propelled me to write the book. It could afford the artwork that’s in that book.

The idea for My First Nightmare was to introduce children to the horror genre through the stories of urban legends, myths, and monsters from actual cultures from all the way around the world.

But not from cultures that we are heavily bombarded with. So, there’re no Egyptian monsters, there’re no Norse monsters, I really spent a whole entire year researching the monsters that I wanted to be presented in this book so that it’s truly a diverse horror novel for children and even adults who want to, like, put their toe into the waters of horror.

NTK: So, when you write your characters, do they have free will? Or do you direct their every move?

CC: I think this might be true for all writers but there comes a time in the story where the characters take over. I usually just start writing with an idea and about a third of the way through, I’m just hanging on for the ride. With my Spectrum Trilogy, I was not expecting that to be a trilogy. That was just gonna be a medical thriller/science fiction/ horror book about a child that was created in the lab. But because I didn’t let myself stay in a box, I ended up with a complete trilogy with the genres of time traveling, sorcery, and military thriller. It’s just people who read that series are blown away that I wrote it in the first place, and then the second thing they always ask is how I kept everything straight. And the answer is—I have no idea. (Laughs.)

NTK: (Laughs.) That is cool! What advice do you have for other authors?

CC: My advice would be to always have fun and don’t beat yourself up when you don’t feel like writing that day, or if you have writer’s block. And I’m also gonna share a cheat code: watching movies counts as research!

NTK: (Laughs.) That’s great! What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

CC: I’m currently working on two books. They’re both standalone. One is YA. The other book I’m working on is a straight adult horror novel called The Family.

And, as far as HorrorAddicts is concerned, whatever they throw my way. I have been able to prescreen and review some of the most amazing horror movies that are out there, and that’s one of the things that I love so much about working for HorrorAddicts. It’s my tribe. That’s my tribe.

NTK: That’s wonderful! Thank you for joining me today!

CC: This was really fun. Thanks for interviewing me.

Ghastly Games: Top Five Horror Related Video Games By CM Lucas

Top Five Horror Related Video Games  by CM Lucas 

Since the beginning of the modern video game revolution (or generation 1), the genre of horror has always been present to varying degrees. Unlike its Hollywood counterparts, horror within the gaming industry has been met with acclaim and admiration. From the early days of the Atari 2600 to the powerhouses that are modern consoles and computers alike, horror video games have captured the imaginations and instilled fear in a way film is simply incapable of doing. From the slight jump scares to the titles that delve into the dark void of the subconscious, here are the top 5 horror video games of all time. 

Silent Hill 1 (PS1) 

Emerging from the foreboding shadow left by Resident Evil, Silent Hill cast off the shackles of its predecessor and took players into a visceral, psychological direction. Harry Mason searches for his daughter within the endless mist of Silent Hill. As his search progresses, the town begins to transform into a twisted version of itself. 

At the center of the chaos, a demonic cult wishing to bring about the birth of “God” with the sacrifice of Harry’s eight-year-old daughter. 

With crucified, mangled bodies adorning walls, and demonic apparitions on your heels, this nightmare come to life will leave you with an uneasiness hours after you’ve finished playing. 

Limbo (PS4, Xbox, PC, Nintendo Switch, ios)

Set within a child’s nightmare, we follow a nameless boy as he travels through a silhouetted forest en route to finding his sister. The terror comes from empathy with the nameless child. The terrified but brave boy is forced to endure the hellish landscape filled with frightening imagery, dangerous pitfalls, and a giant spider, all while trying to find his sister, makes for a horrific and somber experience. 

Uninvited (NES, Macintosh, Commodore 64) 

Perhaps one of the best examples of music and atmosphere compensating for limited graphical capability. The oldest entry on this list, Uninvited, places the player in immediate danger as you wake up within a mangled wreck, seconds from erupting in flames. After exiting the wreck, the player finds themselves at the doorstep of a Victorian mansion. Upon entry, the atmosphere is thick with impending doom, as the empty foyer hints at the house’s evil secrets. 

Immersing the player deeper into the experience by placing you in first-person perspective. Adding to the uneasy nature is the game’s limited, point and click controls; there is no free roaming, giving the player a feeling of helplessness when encountering one of many hair-raising specters. Although visually antiquated, Uninvited has the ability to frighten by setting mood and instilling “nail-biting” dread as you prepare to enter a room or speak to a proper southern belle, waiting within a cavernous hallway. 

P.T. (PS4)

Impending, palpable dread is the immediate feeling you get within the opening moments of this 2014 classic. Appearing mysteriously on the PlayStation Network, P.T. was an enigmatic demo that had players scratching their heads as well as sweating profusely (is sweating the right word?) Much like Uninvited, P.T. places the player in first-person, allowing for a more immersive experience. 

The player wakes within a darkened room, focusing on a face peering in from a slightly opened door. We then enter a sprawling hallway that sets the player in a never-ending-ending loop. As the player traverses the loop, your interaction with the environment brings you closer to solving the puzzle. With haunting audio, foreboding atmosphere, and the feeling that there’s always something behind you, the tension rises as you turn the corner upon each consecutive loop until the inevitable and unwelcome encounter with the ghoulish “Lisa.” 

Silent Hill 2 (PS2, Xbox, PC) 

Not only one of the most psychologically scarring experiences in gaming, but in any medium. Silent Hill 2 is an unsettling journey into subconscious self-torment brought to life. James Sunderland is a man who finds himself in the unenviable position of being in the foggy, desolate town of Silent Hill. After receiving a letter from his late wife, James searches for answers, encountering subtextual creatures hell-bent on him suffer. 

As James traverses the small town, he plunges deeper into the nonsensical, nightmarish underbelly of Silent Hill. Coming face to face with issues of incestuous rape, sexual frustration, bullying, and euthanasia; Sunderland must come to grips with his past sins or suffer in a self-imposed purgatory

________________________________________________________________________________________

CM “Spokkas” Lucas is a freelance writer who enjoys writing Horror/Science Fiction and works as a freelance writerof articles and reviews. He watches movies and plays video games of the horror genre. Look for more articles to come from hin here on HorrorAddicts.net

Nightmare Fuel: Peggy The Doll

Hello Addicts,

A staple of most childhoods is the doll. Whether they are action figures, Barbie, or whatever you called them, practically all of us played with a doll in some fashion growing up. As Hollywood and paranormal shows have shown us, spirits can inhabit them. More often than not, they can be less than pleasant or downright evil. Many believe that dolls are not just toys but also used in education, rituals, and messengers or effigies of gods and goddesses. Some believe that the creation of dolls was to house spirits of the dead. Such is the case with Peggy the Doll.

Peggy is a three-foot cutie with blonde hair and blue eyes. It looks like the typical child’s companion, but that only seems to hide the ghostly abilities attributed to her. A previous owner reported being unable to sleep after purchasing the doll. She lived alone but heard footsteps around the house and the clicking of the bathroom light turning off and on at night. It spooked her to the point of wrapping the doll in a rug and placing her in a shed. From there, the doll, who was unnamed at the time, passed on to paranormal investigator Jayne Harris.

Within days of taking the doll home, Jayne began feeling fatigued, to the point of being unable to get out of bed. When she allowed a friend to take the doll away for a couple of days, she began feeling like her old self again. The strangeness became more evident after she posted a picture of the still-unnamed doll to her Facebook page without any details. Overnight, people sent messages detailing strange things that happened after just seeing the picture. The complaints included headaches, chest pains, lightbulbs burning out, footsteps, and dogs spinning in circles and barking. One message came from a psychic medium, who claimed that the spirit inhabiting the doll was a restless and frustrated woman named Peggy.

Currently, Peggy has a room in the Zak Bagans Haunted Museum in Las Vegas, NV, where cameras watch her 24/7. Before being allowed to see her, visitors sign a waiver in case of any strange occurrences that may follow.

Whether Peggy actually can affect the people in the ways described is left up to the individual. As for me, she has inspired a short story of my own involving a haunted doll. I hope to visit the museum someday and get to meet her face to face.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

FRIGHT TRAIN : An anthology of spooky tales set around the railways

FRIGHT TRAIN

An anthology of spooky tales set around the railways reviewed by Renata Parvey

Editors: Switch House Gang

“Anyone who has ever been awakened late at night by a distant train whistle knows there is no lonelier sound. It is a mournful howl from a soulless traveler on a night journey to destinations unknown.”

Halloween arrived early this year with a spooky collection of tales based on the railways. Editors Charles R. Rutledge and Tony Tremblay came up with the concept of horror stories set around trains, and were rewarded with an assortment of stories ranging from Victorian-era ghostly yarns to contemporary thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction, ranging from creepy and humorous to atmospheric and downright gory. Fright Train comprises a mixture of contemporary authors with classic writers and a plethora of suspenseful, horror, and chilling stories set on or around train journeys. I particularly liked the concept of train travel and picked up the collection curious to see how each writer interpreted the narrow theme. The anthology is a ticket in itself to travel to unknown lands with shady co-passengers in suspicious cabins. Switch House Gang has reserved a seat for the reader and the ride awaits!

The collection includes classics like Charles Dickens’ The Signalman and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost Special which have spooked us for over a century. And there are also newer stories about ghost trains, train accidents, missing trains, invisible rails, piercing whistles, vampire and zombie passengers, peculiar drivers, specials that give a whole new meaning to ‘special’, and a host of wonderful short stories that keep you on edge as you ride along with the characters. Themes include broken marriages, dead children, grieving parents, retrospecting the past, seeing the future, predicting alternative realities, journeys to and from hell.

It’s hard to pick a favorite because every story is outstanding in its own way and deserves its own review. They’re so different from each other, while simultaneously adhering to the narrow theme. The haunting tale of motherhood in Amanda DeWees’ A Traveler Between Eternities, as an unborn child takes a train ride; the dystopian rail route of Stephen Mark Rainey’s Country of the Snake; Errick Nunnally’s gore-fest Lust for Life that keeps you guessing till the end who the real killer is; past demons catching up with the present in James Moore’s The Midnight Train; the pandemic world of Scott Goudsward’s Plague Train; the haunted joyride of Elizabeth Massie’s Tunnel Vision; Jeff Strand’s Devil-powered Death Train of Doom that questions parental behavior and its influence on the actions of children; Tony Tremblay’s Pépère’s Halloween Train that focuses on the grandparent-grandchild relationship; Charles Rutledge’s twist on Dracula in The Habit of Long Years; Lee Murray’s cultural fest of Maori traditions and seers, spirit-guides and goddesses assisting a search-and-rescue in Weeping Waters; Mercedes Yardley’s The Rhythm of Grief that navigates the rail crossings between the living and the dead; Bracken MacLeod’s Weightless Before She Falls that distinguishes real monsters from imaginary ones, Christopher Golden’s All Aboard and its eerie 3:18 special. The contemporary writers even make up thirteen in number, to go with the horror theme of the book!

A special mention needs to be made of Lee Murray and Christopher Golden whose stories follow Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle respectively. Fright Train is a spectacular collection in itself, and to be placed next to classic writers is a formidable task. Murray and Golden are absolutely stellar with their standout creations, Weeping Waters and All Aboard. The sounds of the fantail and the shrill whistle of the 3:18 stay with you long after finishing the book.

Some quotes:

-The 3:18 was a ghost in and of itself, ridden by phantoms.

-The night air seemed to ripple, to have texture, just a hint of substance.

-Resentment and blame hung in the air like static building before a thunderstorm.

-An engine, a tender, two carriages, a van, five human beings – and all lost on a straight line of railway! Does a train vanish in broad daylight?

-The fog lay like a thick mist so that people appeared to be dissolving at the ankles.

-The sharp scream of the whistle slashed his eardrums.

-The desert sun pummeled his face like a hot iron fist.

-Does his intention define his evil nature, even if his actions harm nobody?

-You are trapped in the quandary of welcoming the tourist potential of Stoker’s work, but still wishing to change the national image of Romania.

-Pihanga’s tears rolled down the mountainside and onto the plateau.

-There were too many vampires on the train. Inspector Godina rolled his eyes at the motley assortment of Halloween revelers.

-That was the trouble with his gift – it was a feast or a famine – either everything spoke to you, or nothing at all.

-The slow touch of a frozen finger tracing out my spine.

-The stars themselves were weeping, hurling themselves from the heavens.

-They fill their ears and minds and souls with noise, because it’s easier than listening to the quiet.

-This is a train for the dead, and you’re still very much alive.

-He wasn’t a cosmic spiderclown in the sewers. He was a real monster.

The old-world charm of the cover is extremely striking too – it reminds me of those classic spooky movies that showed so much in so little. Atmospheric horror at its best! A good time to revisit Horror Express (1972).

My rating: 5/5 

Historian of Horror : Whatever Happened to Baron von Emmelmann?

Whatever Happened to Baron von Emmelmann?

My devoted followers may recall that last time out, I briefly discussed the career of one Theodore Sturgeon, and his early story, “It”. The tale, which was published in the August 1940 issue of the fantasy and horror pulp magazine, Unknown, concerned the layers of naturally occurring compost that had formed around the lost skeleton of one Roger Kirk. Many years after Kirk’s passing, this was caused by some unknown mechanism the spontaneous generation of a sort of liveliness that resulted in death and destruction until the monster was dissolved in running water. A simple tale well told.

So, who the heck is Baron von Emmelmann?

For the answer to that question, we’ll need to fast forward a few years. The Golden Age of Comics was already in full flower by 1940, but it rapidly exploded into a riotous garden of four-color blooms once the United States joined the Second World War. Even before, as various patriotic-themed superheroes made their appearances even prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Captain America himself punched Adolf Hitler on the cover of the first issue of his own title in March of that year, and he wasn’t the first denizen of the new medium to take on the Nazi menace.

In the context of the times, comic book publishers proliferated, spewing out myriad characters ready, willing, and able to face the fascist threat and sell War Bonds, a large number of them heroic aviators. One of the smaller publishers, Hillman Publications, quickly assembled the first issue of an anthology title, Air Fighters Comics, that sold poorly. It was retooled a year later with an all-new line-up, including a young flyer with an almost sentient plane named Birdy. Airboy was so popular that the book was renamed after him a couple of years later, and ran until 1953.

In the eleven years between, a fair number of backup characters passed through the title’s pages, including a second-rate, gimmicky rip-off of Quality Publications aviation hero, Blackhawk. Sky Wolf hung around for a few years, and was featured in the Eclipse Comics’ Airboy revival of the 1980s. Honestly, though, his one real contribution to comic book history occurred in his second appearance, Air Fighters Comics volume 2, issue 3, with a cover date of December 1942.

In a brief flash-back to the First World War, German fighter pilot Baron Eric von Emmelmann was shot down over a swamp in Poland. His corpse festered and percolated there in the miasmic bog, accumulating layer upon layer of muck and mire. Eventually, the Heap emerged, like the creature in “It”, and began breaking things and mangling living beings. And, as in the Sturgeon tale, it resembled a huge, shambling mound with no discernable human features other than arms and legs.

Not long afterward von Emmelmann’s rebirth as the Heap, German pilot Colonel von Tundra was shot down over the same swamp. He survived and encountered the newly born muck-monster, who responded favorably to being yelled at in the native language of his former self. The Heap appeared in three more Sky Wolf stories as an ally of the Nazis before graduating to his own feature, beginning with Airboy Comics volume 3, number 9, October, 1946. By then, he was only vaguely aware of his origins, and less a villain and more of an elemental force for good. His adventures all over the world continued through the final issue in 1953. The character was parodied in an early issue of the Mad comic book, and revived briefly by Skywald Publications in the early 1970s, and a couple of times by Image in their Spawn comic book series. And of course, he was a prominent feature of the Eclipse run of Airboy previously mentioned.

Much more human-looking was DC Comics’ Solomon Grundy, who has never been anything but a villain, or at best an anti-hero. Originating as an opponent of the Golden Age Green Lantern in All-American Comics 61, October 1944, he has continued popping up in various titles and television shows, both animated and live-action, ever since. In his case, the swamp muck formed around the corpse of murder victim Cyrus Gold. 

The Golden age of Comics began to wind down at the end of World War II. Super-heroes gradually gave way to other genres, including war, western, crime, romance, funny animals, amusing teenagers, and horror. Captain America’s publisher, Timely Comics, morphed into Atlas, and like so many other houses concentrated on these new genres, with only a brief revival of its old heroes in the mid-fifties. After the institution of the Comics Code Authority in 1955, Atlas’s horror output was rendered as bland and toothless as all the other publishers, but unlike so many of them, the company survived. Barely.

As the decade wound down, the primary creative force at Atlas, Stan Lee, shifted his focus from ghosts, alien invaders and the like to gargantuan monsters, remnants of ancient times like Chinese dragon Fin Fang Foom, or colossal mummies, or giant statues animated by lightning strikes. One of these was “Monstrum! The Dweller in the Black Swamp”, from Tales to Astonish #11, September 1960. As was not unusual in a Stan Lee tale, Monstrum was more clumsy than malicious, being a refugee from a far planet whose spaceship was trapped in the Black Swamp. Rejected by the humans he sought assistance from, he returned to the swamp to await the evolution of a more compassionate population.

Fortunately for all concerned, not long afterward Lee revived the super-hero genre at his company, renamed it Marvel, and revolutionized the industry. Without the use of any more swamp critters, at least for a while.

The next significant muck monster made his appearance in DC’s horror title, House of Secrets, in issue 92, July 1971. Swamp Thing was created by writer Len Wien and legendary artist, the late and very much lamented, Berni Wrightson. Alex Olsen was an early 20th Century scientist developing a plant-growth formula. When his laboratory was sabotaged, Olsen got mixed up with the formula and the essence of the swamp in which he was located. He returned as the sentient but mute Swamp Thing to get his revenge. 

Under a new alter ego, Alex Holland, he was given a contemporary origin not long afterward in his own title that ran a mere dozen issues. A highly acclaimed series from writer Alan Moore followed in the 1980s, along with a pair of so-so theatrical films, two live-action TV shows and an animated TV mini-series.

Swamp Thing was no paragon of masculine pulchritude, but he was more-or-less sort of kind of human-shaped if you turned your head to one side and squinted. Marvel Comic’s Man-Thing was not. His original artist, Gray Morrow, returned to the source material, creating a shambling mound of insensate gunk and goo with a carrot-nose and beady eyes, much closer to the Heap than to his DC predecessors. First appearing in the black-and-white magazine format Savage Tales #1 in May of 1971, Man-Thing languished for a year before popping up again in a variety of Marvel super-hero titles. He attained his own series in January 1974. Man-Thing’s gimmick was that he was an empath. He responded well to the kindness of strangers, but not to their fear. His touch would burn anyone who was afraid of him, which fortunately turned out to usually be bad people. Man-Thing sold well enough that a second title was added, the unfortunately named Giant-Size Man-Thing. Go ahead, giggle. I won’t judge you. G-S M-T featured as a backup strip some of the earliest adventures of Howard the Duck, along with reprints from those old Atlas comics of the 1950s.

I honestly have no idea if Ted Sturgeon ever knew about the comic book characters that were inspired by his original creation. It never occurred to me to ask him, back in those halcyon days of my mis-spent youth. I’m sure he never received a dime in recompense from Hillman or DC or Marvel or any of the other comics publishers that made use of his concept. I’m not sure that would have bothered him. I hope not. My memories of Ted Sturgeon have no room for rancor, because I only remember him as genial and warm, and wickedly funny. Read, if you can find it, his 1972 short story, “Pruzy’s Pot”, about a living and very accommodating toilet. I heard him read that aloud in 1978, when he was the guest of honor at the Nashville science fiction convention for that year, Kubla Khan Ate. A room full of fen laughed uproariously at that one. There is a place for potty humor, indeed. It all winds up in the swamp, anyhow.

And so, until next time, connoisseurs of chills…

Be afraid. 

Be very afraid.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Tales from the Crypt Season 5

Star Studded Tales from the Crypt Season 5 remains Memorable.

by Kristin Battestella

The Fall 1993 Fifth Season of Tales from the Crypt is a star-studded season full of familiar faces and frights to remember beginning with Tim Curry (Clue) and Ed Begley, Jr. (She-Devil) in “Death of Some Salesmen.” Our unscrupulous cemetery plot salesman snoops in the obituaries, preying on old widows like Yvonne De Carlo (The Munsters) with a rural, door to door con as the humorous winks, overalls, and southern gentility contrast the risque sex, bloody secrets, and murderous traps. Headless revelations offer a quirky, if disturbing grain of truth on swindling salesmen getting what they deserve, but the revolting comeuppance had both me and my husband gagging and laughing at the same time. Our Crypt Keeper host is taking calls on KDOA Radio as Hector Elizondo (Chicago Hope) suspects young wife Patsy Kensit (Full Eclipse) of having an affair in director Kyle Maclachlan’s (Twin Peaks) “As Ye Sow.” Unfortunately, Adam West’s (Batman) upscale surveillance firm says she does nothing but go to church everyday – to a controversial priest tossed from his last parish. Debates on the church as living organ, throbbing with his flock in his arms provide juicy winks as the power of suggestion has our paranoid husband fearing betrayal and jumping to the wrong conclusion. An unreliable point of view imaging what’s going on in the confessional makes for a controversial mix of sacrilegious horror, but it’s cheaper to hire hit men than get a divorce. War photographers Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) and Roger Daltry (Highlander: The Series) likewise fight over Lysette Anthony (Dracula: Dead and Loving It) in “Forever Ambergris” while The Keeper himself shoots for Vicghoulia’s Secret. Anything can happen during this Central America assignment, and villages contaminated with germ warfare create an elevated dramatic mood amid macho guns versus the camera, mercenaries, and screaming convulsions. Bubbling flesh, oozing blood, squishing eyeballs – what’s a little imbued chemicals once you steal the award winning photographs and get the girl?

In “Two for the Show” bored, adulterous wife Traci Lords (Cry Baby) wants more passion. However, her husband is worried her leaving will make him look bad at the corporate banquet, leading to strangulation, scissors, knife play, and stuffing the body into a bedside chest even if it just won’t fit. Suspicious cops, dismemberment, and a heavy suitcase provide suspense with shades of Hitchcock in the overhead parallels and two shots of men on a train hypothetically debating about killing their wives. The crime has already been committed, yet there’s a classy, potboiler tense to the garbage disposal twists. Of course, the audience is on trial with the barrister wig wearing ‘Honorable Judge Crypt Keeper’ presiding over “House of Horror” as Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Kevin Dillon (Entourage), Brian Krause (Sleepwalkers), and more eighties teens are all grown up and trying to join the fraternity with paddles, humiliation, kneeling, and scrubbing dog poo with a toothbrush. The sister house is here for their final initiation at a haunted fraternity house with a murderous past, and one by one the plebs must make it to the attic with all the tricks, gags, screams, chainsaws, and turnabouts along the way. Assistant Maryam d’Abo (Bond Girls Are Forever) is unhappy when magician Billy Zane’s (Dead Calm) show isn’t a success in “Well Cooked Hams.” While The Crypt Keeper is taking French lessons for his trip to ‘gay Scaree,’ the turn of the century magic scene is cutthroat and our magician will kill to get ahead when not stealing the Box of Death trick from fellow hunchback illusionist Martin Sheen (The West Wing). Inserted knives, sulfuric acid, burning ropes, and handcuffs add to the magic rivalry and period mood as the disguises, reflections, and smoke and mirrors leave the audience screaming. The difference, you see, is in not when the crowd is aware of the ruse but when they actually believe it. Slick Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club) tries to outwit the mummy legends and sacrificed princesses in “Creep Course,” however his attempt to steal the mid-term answers leads to statues, tombs, torches, and a sarcophagus from the professor’s private collection – courtesy of some grave robbing family history. The jocks versus academia double crossing twists provide gross embalming techniques, through the nose icky, and projectile vomiting for a fun atmosphere with good old fashioned wrappings in contemporary mummy spins.

Big CK is a flight attendant on Tales from the Crypt Scarelines for “Came the Dawn,” but the bimbo in the bathroom and the bloody ax murderer have other dismembering ideas. Good thing suave in his Porsche Perry King (Melrose Place) picks up broke down Brooke Shields (The Blue Lagoon), taking her to his cabin on a stormy night – after stopping for oysters and champagne, of course. Medieval décor with executioner artifacts and weapons accent opera, fireside candlelit dinners, and jewels. Unfortunately, tales of adultery begat black stockings bondage interrupted by an ex-girlfriend shouting at the door. Wise Tales from the Crypt viewers will figure out what’s happening easily thanks to taxidermy and ladies clothing in the closet. However, that obvious doesn’t make the revealing attacks any less chilling. Con artist couple Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba) and Priscilla Presley (Dallas) dig up their buried alive cohort and the money with him in “Oil’s Well That Ends Well” – a fellow con who happens to be the man behind the Crypt Keeper John Kassir in his only onscreen Tales from the Crypt appearance. She wants another con and shows her authority at the rowdy bar, taking on the nasty boys with a great speech on how strong women are called bitches, screwed, fucked, and screwed again. Oil claims help swindle the local rednecks into drilling under the graveyard, with explosions and self-referential quips setting off the who’s screwing whom. More bemusing dialogue mixed with suspense and surreal shootouts elevate “Till Death Do We Part.” Although this is another crime drama and love triangle more about violence than horror, gigolo John Stamos (Full House) and mob dame Eileen Brennan (Clue) provide diamonds, dice, jazz clubs, and saucy betrayals – leading to limos in the woods with guns, bodies in the trunk, rubber aprons, and axes. Crook Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager) is just so polite in making the vomiting, fainting lady stand up and watch the quartering! Our KRPT sportscaster Crypt Keeper, meanwhile, is on the radio with the World Scaries featuring the Fright Sox versus the Boo Jays. Which team will keep their winning shriek alive?

This is a short, mostly solid season, however, there are a few less than stellar episodes of Tales from the Crypt such as Ernie Hudson’s (Ghostbusters) “Food for Thought” with its carnival warped, saucy dessert metaphors, and perverted quid pro quo abuses between a mind reading couple. The racial implications among the freaks, conjoined twin ladies naked in the shower, illicit fire eater romance, and a jealous girl gorilla make for fiery consequences, yet the revenge is thin, with most of the circus designs just for show. The fourth and ghoul Crypt Keeper quarterback also can’t save the uneven crimes in director Russell Mulcahy’s (Highlander) “People Who Live in Brass Hearses.” Violent ex-con Bill Paxton (Aliens) and simpleton younger brother Brad Dourif (Child’s Play) are out for revenge, harassing the suspicious ice cream truck driver before bloody hooks, murderous mishaps, gory gunshots, and safe cracking gone awry. There are some twists, but the sardonic humor and quirky characters can’t carry the heist amid unenjoyable outbursts and obnoxiousness. Ghoulish bodies, morgue drawers, and colorful goo open “Half-Way Horrible” and the Keeper is shrinking heads in the dryer at his scare salon while a detective asks Clancy Brown (Highlander) about his chemical company’s proprietary ingredients. These rare herbs were of course stolen in the jungle amid tribal drums, native secrets, and zombie rituals. Voodoo dolls come back to haunt the corrupt chemist, and once again it’s just rich white guys learning the err of their appropriating ways – told from the sympathetic point of view of said rich white guys. It’s not surprising and doesn’t make us feel bad when he gets his due. As The Keeper says, ‘he needed to learn rot from wrong a little fester.’

Fortunately, old fashioned kitchens, cameo jewelry, and country strings accent the rural settings of these tales again based on Haunt of Fear, Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Shock SuspenStories, and Crime SuspenStories. Cha-ching money sounds, stormy nights, and other audio bells and whistles set off the vintage video, VCRs, old televisions, giant tape reels, transistor radios, huge ass car phones, and hi tech nineties corporate contrasting the old school noir, file folders, and black and white photographs. Warped camera angles, dark lighting, shadow schemes, and colorful touches keep the on location production values top notch amid effective jungle horrors, gross make up, blood, and disturbing gore. Downtrodden circus tents and lanterns provide golden Victorian patinas while haunted houses and cobwebs create congested scares. Train tensions begat outdoor ominous and penultimate zombie gross, and though front loaded with juicy nudity, later in the season the steamy lingerie isn’t as important as the swanky bling, period costumes, or Egyptian motifs. Tales from the Crypt’s horror prosthetics really allow the cast per episode to sink their teeth into the role or multiple roles whether playing to or against type. Tales from the Crypt Season Five starts strong with some of the series’ finest humor and horror with sardonic sexiness and star studded scares. This shorter year shines with relatively few poor outings – a precursor to today’s brief, quickly digestible fall horror and anthology seasons. Tales from the Crypt Season Five is a creepy, fast marathon for Halloween or anytime of year.

For More Horror Television check out:

Tales from the Crypt 1 2 3 4

Tales from the Darkside 1 2 3 4

Kindred: The Embraced

Dracula (2020)

Claustrophobia Revisited : By Loren Rhoads

Claustrophobia Revisited by Loren Rhoads

The first time I went away to sleepaway camp, I was a junior in high school. Michigan Tech, a university five hundred miles north of my home, was hosting a weeklong writing program. I dragged my typewriter into my assigned dorm room and waved goodbye to my parents, excited to be a real writer for a week.

Almost immediately I met another high school girl there for the program. I really liked her at first. She seemed sunny and competitive and dramatic. I thought we’d provide a good challenge for each other. I looked forward to reading her stories.

I’m not sure what set her off. She and some of the guys from the program were hanging around in my room when I went into the large walk-in closet to demonstrate how big it was. Once I was inside, Nicole slammed the door behind me.

I heard giggling. Nicole enlisted the guys to help her shove the dresser in front of the door so I couldn’t get out. They talked loudly about going to dinner while I was trapped. They slammed the dorm room’s door behind them on their way out.

I didn’t have a flashlight. I didn’t know where the light switch was. With the dresser blocking the door, the closet was very dark inside. This was long before cell phones were a gleam in some engineer’s eye. My parents wouldn’t be back for a week. I wasn’t due in class until morning. No one would even know I was missing until then.

I sank down onto the floor of the closet, tears burning at the edges of my eyes. What if there was a fire? What if I needed to pee? If I screamed, would anyone hear me? Were there people on the floors above or below me? Would my tormentors only laugh at me more if I begged to be let out?

I decided to tell myself I was too angry to cry. I tried to figure out what had happened, what I’d done to be tormented like this. I’d only just met Nicole. I’d even admired her. I’d thought she seemed like fun, that we might be friends. Why would anyone be so mean to a total stranger?

I never realized I was claustrophobic until I found myself barricaded in that closet. As I sat there in the blackness, I felt the walls shooting away from me into space. I felt them contract toward me with every panicked breath. I couldn’t hear anything but my blood pounding in my ears. My body flushed with heat, then iced with fear. I understood why people went crazy when locked up alone in the dark. I wondered how long that would take.

This essay was initially published on Horror Addicts the year my space opera trilogy came out. (https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/claustrophobia-and-the-dangerous-type/) It’s now part of This Morbid Life, a collection of my confessional essays, which came out August 22 from Automatism Press.


Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She was the editor of Morbid Curiosity magazine and the book Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual. Her most recent book is This Morbid Life, a memoir comprised of 45 death-positive essays.

What others have called an obsession with death is really a desperate romance with life. Guided by curiosity, compassion, and a truly strange sense of humor, this particular morbid life is detailed through a death-positive collection of 45 confessional essays. Along the way, author Loren Rhoads takes prom pictures in a cemetery, spends a couple of days in a cadaver lab, eats bugs, survives the AIDS epidemic, chases ghosts, and publishes a little magazine called Morbid Curiosity.

Originally written for zines from Cyber-Psychos AOD to Zine World and online magazines from Gothic.Net to Scoutie Girl, these emotionally charged essays showcase the morbid curiosity and dark humor that transformed Rhoads into a leading voice of the curious and creepy.

“Witty, touching, beautifully written, and haunting — in every sense of the word — This Morbid Life is an absolute must-read for anyone looking for an unusually bright and revealing journey into the darkest of corners. Highly recommended!” — M.Christian, author of Welcome To Weirdsville

The paperback is up for sale at Amazon now: https://amzn.to/3mhZajO

The ebook will be live on Sunday. It’s available for pre-order now: https://amzn.to/3kcFlrP

Get signed copies from: https://lorenrhoads.com/product/this-morbid-life-autographed-1st-edition/

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Dark Shadows 1897

Revisiting Dark Shadows’ 1897 Storyline by Kristin Battestella

Let’s celebrate with Dark Shadows as we are so often wont to do! Though arriving in the middle of the macabre sixties soap opera, the 1897 storyline is the series’ longest time travel jaunt at 183 episodes. Its Victorian turn of the century vampires, werewolves, and panache make this plot the perfect place to sample what the eerie endurance of Dark Shadows is about as our company stock becomes all new characters for the period mayhem. Thanks to video releases and streaming options broken down into forty-episode seasonal Collections, viewers new or old can easily jump into this Dark Shadows breadth. Here’s a recap of said Collections covering the 1897 ghosts, secrets, and curses.

Collection 13

When the Ghost of Quentin Collins (David Selby) drives the entire Collins family from Collingwood, governess Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott) and her two possessed charges (David Henesy and Denise Nickerson) flee to the Old House as Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) and Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) search for answers to rid them of the poltergeist and stop Chris Jennings’ (Don Briscoe) werewolf transformations. When Barnabas and Professor Stokes (Thayer David) discover Quentin’s I Ching wands, Barnabas uses them to will himself to the year 1897. Once in the past, he introduces himself to Judith Collins (Joan Bennett) and investigates Quentin’s secrets. Unfortunately, Barnabas harbors a secret of his own – he has been unchained from his coffin and is once again a vampire.

Collection 13 begins with Episode 696 from February 1969, just before the nineteenth-century switch, and concludes with a wallop for Number 735. Opening narrations get the viewer up to speed on the scandals and ancestral players after the Episode 701 transition, and the paranormal tricks work well with the soap opera mysteries. We’re like the newly arrived vampire Barnabas indeed – at the mercy of unfolding mysticism, scheming gypsies, heirs at each other’s throats, and missing wills. Why is the maid Beth Chavez still on at Collingwood if her mistress Jenny Collins has left? Where is Edward Collin’s wife Laura and what does she have to do with Quentin’s banishment? Why does governess Rachel Drummond see lights in the empty Tower room? Borrowing from classic literature on Dark Shadows is apparent with this Jane Eyre symbolism, yet the familiar gothic tropes anchor the spooky changeover. Iconic Dark Shadows music accentuates the shockers, and Robert Cobert’s morose motifs and creepy cues help build character suspense. Scary shadows, fake cobwebs, spotlights, darkness, and candle effects invoke careful mood and ominous set design even as Dark Shadows remains notorious for its fly-by-night production cheapness. Thankfully, the antiques, colorful frocks, microphone shadows, and set bloopers alike set off the quality storytelling keeping us on the edge of our seats with illicit twists, fiery whodunits, and Martinique zombies. Episode 705 has a sweet, fatal climax, and plenty of red herrings and tower mysteries makes for some great undead kickers and fainting frights – especially Episode 723.

Collection 14

The mysterious Laura Collins (Diana Millay) returns to Collinwood determined to take her children Jamison (David Henesy) and Nora (Denise Nickerson) away from Reverend Trask’s (Jerry Lacey) strict boarding school. Her former lover Quentin Collins, however, has other occult plans for her. Barnabas Collins also battles Laura with the help of gypsies Magda (Grayson Hall) and Sandor (Thayer David). Unfortunately, his unraveling of Quentin’s secrets has deadly consequences, and Barnabas must help family matriarch Judith in the 1897 past to save the Collins’ 1969 future.

Dark Shadows adds even more supernatural elan with children in peril in Episode 736 and wolfy foreplay thru 775. The 1897 action interweaves bizarre dreams and eerie prophecies as the ensemble tackles several well balanced plots at once. Unlike slow soaps, something happens each episode with real-time half-hour pacing. First time viewers are treated to surprise connections and cliffhangers regarding the murders, blackmail, and poisons. Certainly, there are melodramatic hysterics, but the lycanthrope suspense, meddling witches, and phoenix – yes a phoenix – storylines remain unique. The impish Quentin is oh so suave, calculating, and full of love to hate charm as he causes trouble in every way possible. Paranormal layers populate Dark Shadows with bats, doppelgangers, Egyptian motifs, and psychic torment. Cool crypts, wolf howls, and chilling knocks at the door invoke atmosphere while the wobbly Styrofoam tombstones and visible boom mikes are drinking game-worthy. Poor Barnabas Collins, stuck in a foreign time and dealing with ghosts, wolf investigations, and vampire victims all at the same time. His flub, “My cousin, Uncle Jeremiah…” is certainly understandable! We can laugh and forgive such same day tape mistakes because Dark Shadows comes together so effectively – creating intense, ambitious daytime action with complex characters to match.

Collection 15

While werewolf Quentin Collins and Magda the gypsy who cursed him seek a cure for his lycanthropy, time-traveling cousin and vampire Barnabas Collins tries to keep their paranormal secrets from fellow family members Edward (Louis Edmunds) and the newly married Judith Collins Trask. Corrupt Reverend Trask has all but taken over the Collinwood estate and soon seeks to cleanse the family of its evils once the mysterious Count Petofi (Thayer David) and his magical cohorts come to town.

After nearing over 100 hundred episodes in the 1897 storyline, Dark Shadows lends itself a hand by adding even more vengeful ghosts, gypsy curses, and freaky talismans to the gothic storytelling. 1969 names and plots are mentioned to remind the audience of this 1897 excursion’s original purpose, but the time travel troubles, shockingly bloody vampires, and expanding werewolf yarns lead to a zany off-screen shootout and elaborate action sequences. Character shakeups and spooky developments keep the paranormal fresh; no player is superfluous as each wrench contributes to the complex immediacy amid witches, zombies, and disembodied hands. Steamy dream sequences, psychics, and undead secrets come to a head as disposable policemen, jailed werewolves, and possessions provide tension and suspense. Manipulated wives mix with supernatural causes, and the infamously inaccurate Collins Family History book means anything can happen. The Picture of Dorian Gray twists delight along with a crazy finale in Episode 816. Of course, that monkey’s paw style hand leads to some wildly bad makeup and pasty skin effects that are actually ghoulishly fitting, and the black and white kinescope versions of Episodes 797 and 813 are more disturbing thanks to chilling séances and ghostly overlays. When the panning cameras, zooms, booming screams, coffin creaks, slamming doors, fog machines, and lights out cooperate, it’s the exclamation on all the fearful gothic mood. Certainly, the gypsy material here is stereotypical and cliché. For some audiences, Dark Shadows may seem comical in its juicy horror camp. However, today many shows seem to easily unravel with less material over shorter amounts of time. There’s even been a small Victorian cum steampunk resurgence onscreen, but Dark Shadows has been doing this kind of entertainment all along.

Collection 16

Vampire Barnabas Collins is re-entombed in his coffin by the warlock Count Petofi who is intent on escaping 1897 by traveling to the future with werewolf Quentin Collins. Unfortunately, the witch Angelique (Lara Parker) has marital plans for Quentin, leaving the possessed Charity Trask (Nancy Barrett), jealous maid Beth Chavez (Terry Crawford), and painter Charles Delaware Tate’s (Roger Davis) perfect woman come to life Amanda Harris (Donna McKechnie) with brokenhearted, violent, and trigger happy threats.

1969 time travel goals lay the 1897 exit groundwork as skeletons, full moons, gunpoint confrontations, and confessions spearhead the intersecting supernatural tangents, unreliable I Ching attempts, and astral projections gone awry. The vampires, vendettas, paradoxes, and possessions are no longer secret thanks to prophetic harbingers and fatal deadlines. Hooded executioners provide suspense and vicious murders push the daytime television envelope while deceptive visions create an eerie mix of who is who, past or present, and living or dead. Vampires can’t help against unique spells during daylight nor is the werewolf available during the full moon. Characters learn of their own suicides from their future ghosts as villainous malice and emotional anchors swell with sword-wielding terror. Spectral toppers, paranormal visuals, and dark romanticism balance the traditional two-shot soap opera conversations. Although the performances are sincere and earnest, the cast tries not to laugh over crazy dialogue, infamous flubs, and teleprompter glances. Enemies sit together over brandy, waiting for who will blink first before the witch hypnotizes a man to put the pistol to his temple. That’s Twisted! Hidden letters written in 1897 are read in 1969 just in the nick of time – bringing the ominous facts full circle with bloody bright red flashbacks, cyanide, and jealous women. Redemptions and rejections lead to dying for love morose, and mystical bargains trap the afflicted via voodoo effigies, shackles, or black magic. Episode 839 would seem to resolve this fatal past with all is well second chances but the lycanthrope troubles and bodily possessions then and now linger. Stolen portraits, magic rings, late messages, and all aboard whistles add to the diabolical in Episode 850, and unknown prices must be paid. On Dark Shadows, most characters accept the fantastic rather than balk. However, no one ever really escapes from Collinsport.

Collection 17

Barnabas Collins travels from 1897 back to 1796 with Countess Kitty Soames, the reincarnation of his beloved Josette DuPres (Kathryn Leigh Scott) after seemingly defeating the vile Count Petofi – who has switched bodies with the now immortal Quentin Collins in order to travel to 1969. Unfortunately, ancient Leviathan interference and an evil antique shop run by the enthralled Megan Todd (Marcia Wallace) upset numerous events past and present for Dr. Julia Hoffman and the rest of Collinsport.

Body swaps, mistaken identity, and abused I Ching hexagrams open Episode 858 amid bitter marriages, magical portraits, and blackmail. Enemies become allies as characters must prove who they are thanks to skeleton keys, psychic visions, and mystical ruses. Inner monologues matching the real person in the wrong body curb confusion as well as garner sympathy while buried alive threats and haunted punishments result in kidnappings and failed rituals. Dubious lawyers and lookalike vampire encounters ramp up the scares in Episode 868 as suspicious relatives and antagonizing ministers plot with buried suitcases and decoy burglaries. Will power over evil, cliffside desperation, and deadly shockers in Episode 876 up the intensity before 879 adds double-crosses, stranglers, poison, and fresh cement. Climatic scandals keep the paranoia and graveyard chases on track as victims must stay awake lest spells overtake them. Green screen mistakes and innate camera flaws may make the magentas look garish, however, the distorted hues are terribly effective for gaslight ambiance and ghostly overlays. Cursed people are packing, gold diggers are making plans – there’s a sense that 1897 is a wrap and 1969 is imminent thanks to psychedelic dreams, astral interference, and time travel technicalities. Unfortunately, the fiery 1897 finale fumbles thanks to a shoehorned in 1796 detour before the much maligned leviathan storyline with its naga lockets and necronomicons. After three odd colonial episodes, the vampire brides and meddling witches are also left hanging for torches and snake altars before the return to 1969 in Episode 888. It’s a big WTF that today would have audiences immediately tuning out and complaining on Twitter. If Dark Shadows had directly taken the I Ching back to 1969 and then revealed the unusual Lovecraft-inspired leviathan abstracts as a subplot to what happens with our 1897 immortals; the ancient rituals and cult incantations might have been received differently. A lot happens on Collection 17, but Dark Shadows has plenty of juicy left to come, and the 1897 escapade remains perfect for a spooky marathon.

Want more horror like Dark Shadows?

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For even more Dark Shadows reviews, visit my detailed analysis at I Think, Therefore I Review!

Wicked Women Writer’s All-star Competition: Jaq D. Hawkins

wwwbannerStory Title: Naga People
by: Jaq D. Hawkins
Object: Circuit Board
Cultural Influence: East Indian

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

Naga People

Music

Sound of underground train

Kat: Excuse me, can I sit with you?

Hamima: Is someone bothering you? There’s not a lot of people on the trains this time of night.

Kat: You could say that. See that guy in the front of the car, the one with sunglasses?

Hamima: Yeah, sunglasses on the Underground is pretty weird. Is he the creepy guy?

Kat: Not just a creepy guy… um, what’s your name?

Hamima: Hamima.

Kat: Indian, huh? I’m Kat.

Hamima: My family is from India. I was born here.

Kat: Hey, no offence.

Hamima: So what do you mean by not just a creepy guy?

Kat (loud whisper): Aliens.

Hamima: Oh crumbs. Look, whatever you’re on, don’t involve me. I’m getting off at Piccadilly anyway, the next stop.

Kat: Here, take this with you. Please!

Hamima: A circuit board? But it’s so small! How could this…

Kat: It’s what he’s following me for. It’s a key for… look, I know it sounds crazy, but they’re planning to totally eliminate humans from the planet. Without this, the machine won’t work. Just take it! Put it in cement and drop it off a pier somewhere. You don’t have to believe me, just do it anyway.

Hamima: So won’t he follow me then?

Kat: Not if he doesn’t know you’ve got it. Just say what you’re thinking when you get off at the stop, call me a crazy woman. You can even mean it. Then get rid of the thing where no one can find it.

hesitate (music)

Hamima: So… will you be alright?

Kat: I’ll get off at Piccadilly too and lead them up where there’s lots of people. They won’t dare do anything in a crowd. I can lose them.

 Hamima: This is crazy…

Kat: Look, just when we go into the tunnel. The light changes so you can see through his sunglass lenses.

Hamima: Oh my god!

Kat: Do you believe me now?

Hamima: His eyes!

Kat: Like a snake. I know.

Hamima: My grandmother told me a story about Naga People.

Kat: This is no story. Now take the circuit board!

Sound of trains stopping, then running footsteps and a distant scream.

Walking footsteps

Hamima (frustrated): How do I get myself into these things.

Man with Sunglasses: Excuse me, Miss.

Hamima: What are you doing? Let go of my arm!

Man with Sunglasses: If you come with me quietly, there’s no need to make a scene.

Hamima: Come with you where? Who are you?

Man with Sunglasses: You have something of mine.

Hamima: I don’t…

Man with Sunglasses: What did she give you? Do you know who that woman you were sitting with is?

Hamima: Some crazy woman…

Man with Sunglasses: That’s right. She’s a terrorist. She’s tricked you into carrying the key to an explosive device.

Hamima: That’s crazy. She tried to give me a circuit board, but I refused.

Man with Sunglasses: She still has it?

Hamima: It’s just a circuit board. Why don’t you just make another if it’s so important?

Man with Sunglasses: You don’t understand. The sequence on it can’t be duplicated. The plans were destroyed.

Hamima: Then you should be happy if you’re stopping a terrorist.

Man with Sunglasses: You think you’re clever, do you?

Hamima: Clever enough not to accept things from crazy people on the tube.

Man with Sunglasses: Let’s not play games. We know you have it. She has already been searched… thoroughly.

Hamima: How… how do you know she didn’t hide it on the train?

Man with Sunglasses: Stop prevaricating. I can have you dissected if necessary.

Hamima: Is that what you did to her? Is that what that scream was?

Man with Sunglasses: How do you know it was her you heard scream?

Hamima: You said you didn’t want to play games.

Man with Sunglasses: I don’t. Give me the circuit board. Now!

Hamima: Al… alright.

Sound of shuffling in handbag.

Hamima: I… I can’t find it!

Man with Sunglasses: Stop stalling!

Hamima: Let go of my arm! We’re on CCTV you know… why are you smiling?

Man with Sunglasses: We thought of that. We’re being observed by my people. No one is coming to help you.

Hamima: Where are you taking me? Let me go!

Man with Sunglasses: This corridor is unused. We can search you here.

Hamima: Wait! Shouldn’t we go back and look to see if it dropped somewhere?

Man with Sunglasses: Our people are doing that now.

Hamima: I don’t have it, I swear!

Man with Sunglasses: We will find it.

Door opening.

Hamima: Oh thank gods! Security, this man is forcing me to go with him against my will! Please make him let go of my arm!

Security Officer: Empty her bag on the desk.

Hamima: Wait! Let go of my bag. Umg!

Sound of handbag contents clattering on desk.

Hamima: (outraged) You can’t do this! That’s my personal property!

Sound of rummaging.

Hamima: What kind of guard are you? You’re supposed to protect me!

Security Officer: On the contrary, miss, my job is to destroy you and all of your people.

Hamima: Oh my god, your eyes…

Man with Sunglasses: Now you begin to understand. We are everywhere. Here it is!

Security Officer: The key…

Hamima: You mean… that woman… she wasn’t crazy? This really is…

Man with Sunglasses: The end of your kind. This planet is ours now.

Hamima: (hyperventilates, moans)

Sound of fast steps trying to run.

Security Officer: Grab her! Don’t let her get away!

Hamima: (muffled scream)

Man with Sunglasses: What shall I do with her?

Security Officer: Take her through to the break room. Some of us haven’t had our lunch yet.

Hamima: (panicked muffled screams)

Sounds of scuffle and door opening then closing.

Distant scream.

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*

*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*


To vote for this story in the 2021 Wicked Women’s Writing All-star Challenge, CLICK HERE
Voting ends: September 15th, 2021

An Introduction to Deathly Fog

largeaddfWhen Jacob and his brothers discover the ability to capture fog from the marsh behind their house, they bring it back with them. The fun game turns to danger as they realize perhaps something else accompanied them home. Is it too late to escape the Deathly Fog?

Available now on Amazon Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Horror-Bites-Deathly-Adam-Breckenridge-ebook/dp/B09BP5L3Z8

 *****EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT BELOW*****

Introduction

“There it is, fog, atmospheric moisture still uncertain in destination, not quite weather and not altogether mood, yet partaking of both.” – Hal Borland.

Fog. John Carpenter terrorized us with it, Charles Dickens used it as a metaphor for corruption, and Carl Sandburg spoke of its fleeting nature. Fog’s a common weather effect that still manages to awe us when it occurs.  Basically a cloud that touches the ground, it occurs when water droplets suspend in the air near the Earth’s surface. And yet, it baffles, intimidates, and brings a mood with it that can’t be shaken easily.

Whether it was the fog that surrounded me, blocking out the landscape as I walked to school or that trip I took with my cousin when all we could see was a car length in front of us and she had me talk to her the whole time to calm her nerves, fog has always fascinated me. The feeling of being surrounded by tangible air and yet also so completely alone can chill you to the bone. For a horror addict, it can also thrill you into fantastical imaginings of what might be lurking in the fog.

When “Deathly Fog” crossed my desk, I knew we had to publish it. Adam’s story grabbed hold of me and threatened to pull me into the computer screen. As I read his words, I felt like I was right there with the boys, exploring the marsh. As they breathed in the visible air, I breathed it in and well… What happens next, I won’t spoil for the world.

I hope you enjoy this work as much as I did,

Emerian Rich, Publisher

Read Deathly Fog.

**************************************

Adam Brekenridge is a traveling professor for the US military who goes around the world teaching US soldiers stationed overseas. He has eighteen short story publications and most recently his work has appeared in Visions Magazine, Mystery Weekly, and Clockwork, Curses and Coal from Worldweaver Press.
He’s currently based in Seoul.

**************************************

Horror Bites Series

Horror eBites

Volume 1: Alice’s Scars by Adam L. Bealby

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

Volume 2: Campfire Tales

Dear Reader,

You’ve been invited to a very special night of Campfire Tales, hosted by HorrorAddicts.net. Meet us at Old Bear Creek, just past Dead Man’s Curve. Dress warm. We’ll be waiting.

Four scary tales told by Next Great Horror Writer finalists and woven together by a trek through the woods you’ll never forget.

Volume 3: #NGHW Editor’s Pick

HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present our top 14 contestants in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. The stories, scripts, and poems are the result of the hard work and dedication these fine writers put forth to win a book contract. We hope you enjoy the writing as much as we did.

Volume 4: #NGHW Winner

Requiem in Frost by Jonathan Fortin

BLACK METAL LIVES! When Ingrid and her mother move into a home in the deep frostbitten woods of Norway, they are haunted by extreme metal musician, Skansi Oppegård. Hoping to exorcise Skansi’s ghost, she talks her mom into being part of a metal band. Oppegård’s last musical creation awakens forces beyond Ingrid’s understanding and causes Skansi’s murderer to resurface. In the battle between a madman and zombies, metal may be the only weapon she has.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Spiral (Not that one)

 

Plotline: A same-sex couple moves to a small town to enjoy a better quality of life and raise their daughter with strong social values. But when neighbors throw a very strange party, nothing is as it seems in their picturesque neighborhood.

Who would like it: Fans of cults, secret societies, diversity, nail bitters, and religious horror

High Points: How the director used the current social climate to tell this movie and how he centered the only black character in the movie

Complaints: Absolutely nothing!

Overall: I LOVED this movie

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Shudder

 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red-ram.jpg

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

“Deathly Fog” Facebook Party Begins Today!

DFBannerFInal2

Deathly Fog
by Adam Breckenridge

When Jacob and his brothers discover the ability to capture fog from the marsh behind their house, they bring it back with them. The fun game turns to danger as they realize perhaps something else accompanied them home. Is it too late to escape the Deathly Fog?

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

Deathly Fog

Where: Facebook

When: Today, August 17th – Thursday, August 19th

Please, join us for trivia, fun and prizes! Winners will be announced Friday, August 20th.

dfphone

Free Fiction: An Excerpt of Deathly Fog

DFBannerFInal2When Jacob and his brothers discover the ability to capture fog from the marsh behind their house, they bring it back with them. The fun game turns to danger as they realize perhaps something else accompanied them home. Is it too late to escape the Deathly Fog?

Available now on Amazon Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Horror-Bites-Deathly-Adam-Breckenridge-ebook/dp/B09BP5L3Z8

 *****EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT BELOW*****

Deathly Fog

by Adam Breckenridge

Not long after Jacob released the fog into the house, he started dating a girl named Jenny who soon became a regular presence in our lives. In fact, she was at the house so often, I sometimes wondered why her parents were okay with it. She was a slender, silver-haired girl with pale skin and green eyes. Beautiful and mischievous, she would mock us endlessly for our anxiety over the marsh and the fog we released into the house.

“You guys are so stupid,” she’d say. “What, do you think? The fog has evil powers or something?”

That was actually what we had thought, but none of us were going to say it out loud.

Releasing the fog into the house had killed a lot of our passion for the marsh. We didn’t go out there much anymore but at Jenny’s insistence we visited it again. The three of us hoped to try to instill some sense of the place’s dread in her but she had no fear of it. We watched with some horror as she walked straight into the marsh, deeper into it than any of us had ever been willing to go. She walked until the fog enveloped her and she was gone from our sight.

All three of us were terrified but none of us were willing to show it. Jacob in particular was struggling to maintain his poise. I tried to emulate him but felt sick at the thought of her disappearance. None of us were ever willing to go past the visible edge of the marsh, even as a trio. Mattie was too youthful to try to play it cool like Jacob and I were.

“She has to come back.” He was near to tears and started crying. “It’s too dangerous to go out there.”

Her laughter echoed all around us.

“It’s beautiful so deep in here,” she said.

I couldn’t place the direction her voice was coming from. She emerged from a place different from where she went in, the fog curling over her shoulders. She held up a finger to tell us to wait a moment and then she unleashed a long, fog-filled breath, blowing it from her lungs like smoke.

“I heard once that in a lot of languages ‘breath’ and ‘soul’ are the same word,” she said. “Isn’t it stupid that’s not true in English, too? We should call our souls breaths or when we’re breathing we should call it souling. That’d be a lot better.”

“You breathed the fog in?” I asked, shuddering at the thought.

“I souled it in,” she said. “You guys are all wrong about this place. There’s no death in there. In fact, it’s more alive than anywhere I’ve ever been.”

It took some coaxing to get her to go back to the house. She wanted Jacob to teach her how to cup the fog in her hands as he had done. He claimed not to remember the secret to the trick anymore. All the same, she grasped at fistfuls of the fog, trying to stuff it in her pockets. When that proved ineffective, she tried breathing it in again.

“I want to bring as much of it back to the house with me as I can,” she said between breaths.

“But why?” I asked.

“Don’t you see? You didn’t bring the marsh’s death into the house. You brought its life.”

Read more of Deathly Fog.

**************************************

Adam Brekenridge is a traveling professor for the US military who goes around the world teaching US soldiers stationed overseas. He has eighteen short story publications and most recently his work has appeared in Visions Magazine, Mystery Weekly, and Clockwork, Curses and Coal from Worldweaver Press.
He’s currently based in Seoul.

**************************************

Horror Bites Series

Horror eBites

Volume 1: Alice’s Scars by Adam L. Bealby

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

Volume 2: Campfire Tales

Dear Reader,

You’ve been invited to a very special night of Campfire Tales, hosted by HorrorAddicts.net. Meet us at Old Bear Creek, just past Dead Man’s Curve. Dress warm. We’ll be waiting.

Four scary tales told by Next Great Horror Writer finalists and woven together by a trek through the woods you’ll never forget.

Volume 3: #NGHW Editor’s Pick

HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present our top 14 contestants in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. The stories, scripts, and poems are the result of the hard work and dedication these fine writers put forth to win a book contract. We hope you enjoy the writing as much as we did.

Volume 4: #NGHW Winner

Requiem in Frost by Jonathan Fortin

BLACK METAL LIVES! When Ingrid and her mother move into a home in the deep frostbitten woods of Norway, they are haunted by extreme metal musician, Skansi Oppegård. Hoping to exorcise Skansi’s ghost, she talks her mom into being part of a metal band. Oppegård’s last musical creation awakens forces beyond Ingrid’s understanding and causes Skansi’s murderer to resurface. In the battle between a madman and zombies, metal may be the only weapon she has.

Deathly Fog: Book Event Calendar

DFBannerFInal2

HorrorAddicts.net proudly presents Book 5 in our Horror Bites series, Deathly Fog by Adam Breckenridge. Please, help us celebrate our newest release by attending the following online events:

August
13 PR Press Release horroraddicts.net
14 BE Calendar Book Events horroraddicts.net
14 Excerpt A.F. Stewart http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/
15 Inspiration Adam Breckenridge horroraddicts.net
16 Interview Chilling Chat horroraddicts.net
16 Excerpt Deathly Fog horroraddicts.net
17 Announcement Facebook Party horroraddicts.net
17 Facebook Party Facebook Party https://www.facebook.com/groups/208379245861499
18 Intro Introduction emzbox.com
18 Facebook Party Facebook Party https://www.facebook.com/groups/208379245861499
19 Intro Introduction horroraddicts.net
19 Facebook Party Facebook Party https://www.facebook.com/groups/208379245861499
20 Announcement Announce FB Winners horroraddicts.net
20 Excerpt Deathly Fog www.rlmerrillauthor.com/blog
September
7 Excerpt Deathly Fog https://lorenrhoads.com/blog
7 BE Calendar Book Event Recap horroraddicts.net

Deathly Fog
by Adam Breckenridge

When Jacob and his brothers discover the ability to capture fog from the marsh behind their house, they bring it back with them. The fun game turns to danger as they realize perhaps something else accompanied them home. Is it too late to escape the Deathly Fog?

New Horror Bite: Deathly Fog by Adam Breckenridge

HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present our newest Horror Bite…
dfphone

Deathly Fog
by Adam Breckenridge

When Jacob and his brothers discover the ability to capture fog from the marsh behind their house, they bring it back with them. The fun game turns to danger as they realize perhaps something else accompanied them home. Is it too late to escape the Deathly Fog?

Chilling Chat: Episode #199 – Sandra Becerril

chillingchat

Sandra Becerril was born in Mexico City and is a writer, author and director. Her books include The Street of the Witches (2004 ), Blue Whisper (2007 ), The Name of the Clouds ( 2011),  Before Me, After (2012 ), The Night Pirates (2013 ), Whosandra3 - Sandra Becerril Are You Thinking of Killing (2014 ), Love Me More (2015), the thriller bestseller Valley of Fire (2018) with Random House Mondadori, (winner of the international Best Noir Novel in Spain), Your Corpse in the Snow (2019), and The Silence of All Dead—which has been translated into more than 10 languages—(2021).

Sandra is the translator and anthologist of Nightmares (in Spanish 2019) and the first Mexican to write for Masters of Horror in Hollywood. She directed the films, The Hideout, They are Here, and the documentary War and Compassion. She has written several documentaries and TV series and has directed and written dramas of terror. She is recognized as the most prolific and important Mexican horror writer of her generation.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror? What got you involved in it?

SB: I was five-six years old. My parents told me not to see The Exorcist, so, of course, I saw it. And they were right. I got traumatized but enchanted with the story. I discovered that I wanted to take the sleep of people as The Exorcist did to me. I started to write stories since then.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

SB: Everything inspires me. I love scaring people; I love writing stories. And I write all the time.

Maybe it’s because I find the dark side of everything, but I’m inspired by atmospheres, people, certain situations, everything.

NTK: What inspired El Silencio de Todos Los Muertos (The Silence of All the Dead)?

SB: During my childhood, I lived in a house that terrified me. And not just me, it scared children and adults so much that people stopped visiting us.

I had to take that inspiration and create a novel.

The voices of the characters are from the point of view of when they are children because under that gaze, we believe that everything can be true, we see terror with innocence, we do not seek further explanation.

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

SB: They have a will of their own as long as they are within the world that creates them.

I try to model them well, to know them better than anyone else so that they act with logic in the midst of the situations they are experiencing.

I try not to help them.

I like to make them suffer and see what they will do next, what they are made of.

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

SB: As a Latina, it has suddenly been difficult to open the doors of my own country to get out of there with my stories to the outside world.

Once outside it is easier.

The first time that a producer in Spain or the United States trusted my stories, it was easier. The complicated thing is the first time.

And yet, I have suffered discrimination, for being a woman, for being a Latina, for being a single mother, even for writing terror, and for not dedicating myself to a more “serious” genre.

So, I would say that it has been a good experience and sometimes a bad one. It all depends on how you look at it. Everything is learning to move forward.

NTK: Are any of your stories based on personal experience?

SB: I am not my characters although many think I am.
However, the construction of my stories and the characters that act in them are based on real places, or on situations (not mine) that I have heard or investigated. This is because I like people to believe that this can happen, it is the magic of terror, breaking the barrier of credulity. And for that, you need to feel that they can be real, even if they are fantasy.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

SB: Nosferatu (1922) and Macario (1960).

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

SB: I Am Legend.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

SB: It used to be The Twilight Zone and now also Dexter.

NTK: You are the first Mexican to write for Masters of Horror. Could you tell us about that experience?

SB: It was wonderful.

Writing for directors who scared me when I was little is a great experience and every day, I learned something new.

There are a couple of them who are the men from my nightmares (they know it).
That showed me that any dream can come true, no matter if it’s about creating monsters and scaring people. Any dream is valid.

I also felt nervous, that is, those figures of terror that I admire so much were reading and directing my stories.

It was something surprising that I didn’t quite believe until I went to the set and said: this is true.

NTK: You’re also a director. Tell us a bit about your films. Do you enjoy directing? How is it different from writing? How is it the same?

I started directing for fun. First, it was a feature film that I did not love how it turned out, but it was in festivals. Then another feature film (They’re Here), where I already had more experience and also knew the story very well, and then several television series. In each experience I have learned a lot, everything I should do and not do. And they have been wonderful experiences.

I really like directing but I like writing more. This is because directing takes a lot of time, a lot of patience. And in that time, let’s say two years when you prepare a project, I can write maybe six scripts. I feel like writing is a more personal job. A film does not only belong to the director or the scriptwriter, it belongs to a whole team, the art team, the costumes, the makeup, the casting, etc. It’s very different. Writing is lonely and your story is only your responsibility.

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

SB: My new novel, The Loneliness of the Birds, will be released in Spain in September. It is a horror-thriller.

Also in September, the anthology Nightmares will be available in the US by Gauntlet Press, where I brought together Mick Garris, Richard Christian Matheson and Lawrence Connelly. The cover is by David Slade and also includes a text of mine with a foreword by John Skipp. The anthology is collectible, signed, and for horror collectors. This same anthology will be translated into Italian by the Independent Legions and will be out in January and it will be in Spain in February.

I’m also writing a thriller series for HBO and adapting The Silence of All the Dead into a feature film; it’s almost going into pre-production.

I am a jury member of several international festivals such as Feratum and Espanto, so I have to see many films.

NTK: Thank you, Sandra!

SB: This was fun! Thank you!

Addicts, you can find Sandra on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Odds and Dead Ends : Cultural Touchstones in Candyman

Clive Barker was one of those names (and still is) to give Stephen King a run for his money. When he burst onto the scene with his short story collections, Books of Blood Vol I – VI, he didn’t hold a single thing back. People getting faces ripped off like balaclavas, all the hands of the population becoming murderously sentient, a secret subway station piled high with carcasses; they never stopped for a second to think of people’s sensibilities. Barker’s tales just went for it.

            One of those stories is called ‘The Forbidden’, published in Vol 5. It follows Helen, wandering around the poorer, less-well policed neighbourhoods of the aptly named Spector Street Estate, looking for ideas for her thesis on urban graffiti. After stumbling upon a local legend of a man with a hooked hand murdering people in the recent past, and finding the figure’s murals on the walls, her explorations and curiosity lead her to discover the mythical figure himself: Candyman, embodiment of urban legend, kept alive by the rumours and fears of the local people. Needless to say, it doesn’t end well for Helen.

            After Barker had become one of the new voices in horror, film adaptations of his stories began to follow. The Hellbound Heart was made into Hellraiser, which truly established his name. Cabal became Nightbreed, Rawhead Rex from Vol 3 was made into a film in ’86. It would take until 1992 for ‘The Forbidden’ to become Candyman, and when it did, it made the journey across the pond from the UK to the USA, with some cultural changes.

            In the original short story, Barker focused on the issues of class in British society as the major cause for the dilapidation and poverty in the estate. There is, perhaps, a little similarity to a folk-horror setup, that the ‘locals’, portrayed normally in those films as less educated and less technologically advanced, but have a connection to the area or land, and therefore the past. This gives them a greater connection to whatever supernatural occurrences may come through in the course of the story/film, with the modern, upper-class, wealthier city-folk unable to embrace the past and therefore perishing as a result. Here, despite the narrative taking place within an urban area, there seems to be a similar concept. Those who have not had their minds polluted by education and wealth of the upper echelons of society are much more of-the-moment, of the now, connected to the primal nature of things, including the supernatural.

            In terms of narrative, not much changed when the story went across the pond, but the class element went away, presumably because class is much more of a concern and talking point in British society (blame our aristocratic, pompous background which we’ve never quite shed). Instead, the issues of racial inequality in ethnic minority communities were brought in, especially in black communities. Spector Street Estate became Cabrini-Green, a real housing estate in Chicago which had, since its creation, fallen into a reputation of crime and poor living conditions.

Cabrini-Green had, over the years, numerous incidents leading to its reputation. Gang warfare in 1970 saw the death of two police officers, gang killings claimed the lives of 11 in the early 80s, and other incidents besides these – including rapes, poisonings, sniper killings, and more, even in the years after Candyman – meant that Cabrini-Green was already a location with its own monsters and dark history. Bringing this darkness and animosity in the shape of a mythical evil presence could be seen to be personifying the violent myth of Cabrini-Green itself, allowing a community and a nation to see a specific entity, and therefore rationalise the violence. After all, that’s sort of what urban legends are; easily digestible, concrete tales and embodiments of fears and social taboos which can teach us life lessons. Here, we can see all of the issues and problems within a certain portion of society brought together and embodied in a single figure of the Candyman.

            Speaking of which, it should also be acknowledged that it’s a rare thing to have a black, now-franchised, horror villain. Casting Tony Todd is an inspired move, bringing a slow, imposing malice to the role in a similar (but different) way to Doug Bradley’s Pinhead from Hellraiser (considering both are Barker stories, not too surprising). Barker wanted something menacing for Pinhead, specifically harking back to Dracula for inspiration. It’s not hard to see that Dracula’s grand, somewhat regal appearance, might have even influenced Candyman. With the gentleman vampire now bleeding into popular culture (thanks to people like Bram Stoker and John Poldori), it might be possible to say that there’s a deliberate drawing on this same set of influences for the portrayal of the lord of urban myth himself. There is an education about him, knowledge and learning, which is at odds with the portrayals of almost all other characters of colour in the film (with a few exceptions including Kasi Lemmons’s Bernadette), further making him different and ‘other’. He straddles the worlds of the student and the studied, the haves and the have-nots. He is outside reference, and yet a reference for all.

            I could mention the influence of actual urban legends such as the hook-man leaving his hook in the side of the car, but I’m fairly sure are discussed in the film anyway. The film, nonetheless, is a compilation, a merging, of various aspects of the real world and of popular culture, culminating in one of the most memorable franchises in horror (and perhaps one of the most unique). With the new film being released shortly, it will be interesting to see how the film story is once again updated to bring in new influences and elements. It’s a superb cultural touchstone, purely of the time, yet applicable to all times.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: kjudgemental

Historian of Horror : The Good Girl vs The Greatest Villain of Them all

The Good Girl Artist vs the Greatest Villain of Them All

Let’s look at the second half of that title first, shall we? Who is the greatest comic book villain of them all?

Lex Luthor? Not even close.

Thanos? Amateur.

Galactus? What a piker.

Darkseid? Can’t even remember which planet he left his Mother Boxes on.

Green Goblin? Red Skull? Purple Pantywaist?

Nope, nope and nope.

The greatest villain in the history of comic books was a Vienna-born American psychiatrist who studied under Sigmund Freud and specialized in the treatment and understanding of violent behavior. His name was Fredric Wertham, M.D.

Like most villains, he was the hero of his own narrative. And, truth be told, he was not otherwise a horrible person. He never slaughtered half the life in the universe. He didn’t eat inhabited planets or reduce them to cinders. He didn’t kill Spider-Man’s girlfriend. His research was even put before the Supreme Court as evidence in the Brown vs Board of Education case that overturned racial segregation in American public schools in 1954. No, all he did was virtually shut down an entertainment medium on the verge of expanding out of its cultural ghetto into near respectability. Would the Pulitzer committee have had to wait until 1992 to award the first and only prize to a graphic novel without his baleful influence? Maybe, but we’ll never know, will we?

Wertham never set out to destroy the comics industry. He simply wanted to stop juvenile delinquency, using the false notion that, because naughty kids read comic books in the 1940s and early 1950s, then obviously, quad erat demonstratum, comic books caused childhood misbehavior. Of course, he had to falsify his data (i.e., make it up out of thin air) to prove his point, given that virtually every child in America read comic books in the period before television absorbed American popular culture into its unblinking cyclopean eye. 

Along the way, he facilitated the forced shutdown of vast swaths of the comic book publishers of the time. The number of markets for comics creators dwindled from dozens to a handful. There were other factors, of course, and other decriers of the latest medium to draw the ire of concerned parents, but it was Wertham’s 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, that slew the so many of the giants of the field and made his name anathema to generations of comic book fans.

Notice I used ‘fans’, there. ‘Fen’ is only the plural of ‘fan’ in science fiction fandom, or was when I was active in both, way, way back in the Cultural Pleistocene Era. 

Anyhow.

Wertham didn’t manage to kill the industry off completely, nor was that his aim. He simply wanted parents to know what their children were reading, and give them tools to help them head off the behaviors he found so problematic. Like that has ever worked. Right, Tipper?

He didn’t even kill off the worst offenders among the super-heroes, Batman with his ‘homosexual’s dream’ relationship with Robin or the ‘lesbian ideal’, Wonder Woman. They, along with Superman, were too big to succumb to the general dying off of the rest of the super-hero genre. 

Wertham did, however, inflict a fatal blow to other genres, particularly crime and horror. A Comics Code Authority was cobbled together by the remaining publishers to address Wertham’s concerns, led by the president of Archie Comics, John L. Goldwater. Werewolves and vampires were banned, as were the very words ‘horror’ or ‘terror’ in the titles of the magazines. Refusal to conform would cost the recalcitrant publisher access to distribution, unless that publisher was the acknowledged curator of wholesome sequential art content, Dell Comics. Those specific restrictions alone wiped out entire companies, most particularly E.C., which had drawn the ire of the Code hierarchy with a merciless and nearly libelous lampooning of Goldwater’s main money-maker, Archie Andrews, in Mad #12. E.C. publisher William M. Gaines soon switched over from putting out titles like Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror and Haunt of Fear to dumping all his yeggs into a single basket, a magazine format continuation of E.C.’s ground-breaking parody comic book, MAD, that was beyond the reach of the Comics Code Authority.

Didn’t see that one coming did you, Goldwater?

Among Wertham’s other targets for opprobrium were the ‘headlight’ comics, those that prominently featured female, er, prominences. One of the illustrations included in Seduction of the Innocent was a specific example of such, the cover of Fox Publications’ Phantom Lady #17 from 1948, an illustration in which the title character was bound with ropes to what looks like a dock piling in such a posture as to accentuate her, um, pulchritudinous assets. 

Oh, my.

The artist who drew that cover was the subject of the first part of the title above. Bet you were wondering when I’d get around to that. His name was Matt Baker, and he was the first significant African-American comic book artist. And from this point on, he is the focus of our tale, for he was the dominant, so to speak, ‘Good Girl Artist’ of his day.

That’s as in artist who drew girls good. The morality of the females involved was not necessarily their salient feature. Or features, as it were.

Anyhow.

Clarence Matthew Baker was born in Forsythe County, North Carolina, on December 10, 1921. His family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania circa 1924, where Matt graduated from high school in 1940 with the stated ambition of being an artist and photographer.

Due to a heart condition, possibly due to having had rheumatic fever as a child, Matt was not eligible for military service during World War II. He did some sort of job for the Navy Department until moving to Brooklyn in 1943 with his brother and working for the National War Labor Board while studying art at Cooper Union in New York. He stayed at that school for only one term before taking a job with the Iger Studio.

Jerry Iger had started a studio that supplied content for the burgeoning comic book markets with his partner Will Eisner, but when Eisner’s creation, The Spirit, gained lucrative newspaper syndication, Iger carried on without him. Through Iger, Baker churned out mass quantities of work for the aforementioned Fox, as well as Fiction House, St. John Publications and myriad smaller houses. He drew mostly jungle hero and heroine stories for Fox and Fiction House, even going so far as to create the first obviously black hero in a mainstream comic book. Voodah ran in Crown Comics, published by a very minor house called McCombs, for the magazine’s entire nineteen-issue run from 1945 to 1949. Alas, Voodah was only dark-skinned in the first few issues before he miraculously transformed into a garden-variety Caucasian jungle hero.

Baker’s work for St. John was mostly in the romance genre, a field in which he excelled. Few artists of his day drew women so beautifully. There are those who claim his attention to the details of feminine beauty was due to him being quite the ladies’ man. There are those who claim the opposite and even speculate on the nature of his relationship with Archer St. John, his primary publisher. Either way, he turned in some great comics stories in those days, along with the first graphic novel, It Rhymes with Lust, published in 1950 by St. John, and a short-lived syndicated newspaper comic strip, Flamingo.

Baker did do horror tales for St. John, as well as for other, lesser publishers. Alas, in the wake of Wertham’s attack on his medium, Baker lost his most reliable markets. Fox and Fiction House were defunct by 1955. St. John held on until 1958, but just barely. Baker spent the rest of the decade working for the less prestigious houses Charlton and Atlas, the latter being the forerunner of the modern-day Marvel Comics. The titles he contributed to for those houses are a litany of defanged spookiness – Out of This World, Tales of the Mysterious Traveler and Strange Suspense Stories for Charlton; Journey into Mystery, Tales to Astonish, and World of Fantasy for Atlas. None of them with the frissons he created in his earlier horror work, but they paid the bills for the remainder of his short life.

Baker passed away from his life-long heart condition on August 11, 1959, at the much too young age of thirty-eight. Had he survived another decade, he would likely have been a major player in Marvel’s ascendancy in the 1960s. But that was not to be.

I doubt that Wertham took note of Baker’s passing. He wrote more books, even managing one last dig at the baleful effect of comics on American youth in his 1968 tome, A Sign for Cain. His last book was a generally favorable examination of the phenomenon of fanzines, those amateur paeans to various fandoms that proliferated in the days before the internet made everyone a pundit on whatever topic took their fancy. Present company included. 

Wertham died in 1981, if not reviled by comics fans, at least regarded with ye olde legendary jaundiced eye. Comics writer Mark Evanier wrote a not entirely condemnatory article that was reprinted in his 2003 book, Wertham Was Right! I won’t go so far as to say that Wertham’s reputation was fully reformed by Evanier’s essay, but it does put his actions, however questionable, into a context that is more favorable than he enjoyed in earlier days.

Baker’s reputation, in the meantime, has remained high and even grown. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2009, and numerous artists of the last several decades cite him as a major influence on their own work. Given the comparative legacies of the Good Girl Artist and the Greatest Villain of Them All, I’d settle for Baker’s over Wertham’s any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

In addition to my well-worn copy of Seduction of the Innocent and the Evanier volume mentioned above, I would like to commend to the populace two other essential works on the relevant history of the period covered herein. To whit, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America by David Hadju, and Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books by Ken Quattro. Both are available from Amazon.

And, so, until next time —

Be afraid. Be very afraid.