FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Family Haunts and Fears

Family Haunts and Fears 

by Kristin Battestella

These families are less than comforting for each other when it comes to ghosts, cults, and suburban frights.

Before I Wake – Mike Flanagan (Oculus) directs Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush), Thomas Jane (Dreamcatcher), Annabeth Gish (The X-Files), and Jacob Tremblay (Room) in this 2016 Netflix dark fantasy drama. In spite of the never working, always home in their mansion rich blonde white people, we hope for the couple who lost a child now making a fresh start by adopting a very special but sleepless eight year old. Group therapy’s been helping our fellow insomniac mom cope – getting the psychological metaphors out of the way while showing how our husband and wife have reacted differently to such grief. Their new son, sadly, takes out his books and flashlight to stay up all night, sneaking some serious sugar because he fears the man who eats people when he sleeps. Strange images increase about the house, and instead of the typical jerky husband, it’s nice to have a trying to be helpful doctor. The therapist, however, dismisses mom’s encounters with creaking doors, breaking glass, and ghostly figures as lucid dreams or sleep deprived waking hallucinations. Our couple is always in front of the television not talking about how they can inexplicably see and touch their late son in tender moments giving and taking away before he disappears in their arms. Naturally, they take advantage of this gift, putting on the coffee to stay up while their current dreams come true son sleeps. He can help them heal, and with such fanciful graphics, one almost forgets how they are deluding themselves by using his dreams to fix their reality. When mom drugs his milk and cake with child sleeping pills, we know why. Dad may bond with the boy, but it’s unique to see a multi-layered woman both experiencing the horror and contributing almost as a villain who thinks she’s right. The monster may not be super scary for audiences accustomed to terrifying effects, but this is about kids fearing unconscious ghouls and waking nightmares not scaring viewers. Previous foster parents are committed after talking of demons when the boy’s dreams come true, but he doesn’t know what he’s doing – unlike the adults who realize, do it anyway, then justify their response as mercy. If he can’t wake up, they can’t defeat the black vomit and flesh consuming monsters. Unfortunately, convenient hospital connections provide old records and birth mother details while the caseworker never notices the ongoing file is lifted by the subject. Confining the boy leads to a house of horrors with moths in the stairwell, cocoons, creepy kids, gouged eyes, and bathtub bizarre – which are all fine individually. However, the story backs itself into a corner by resorting to a state of mind scary at the expense of the personal fantasy, unraveling with explaining journals and a parent sugarcoating someone else’s memories so obvious Freudian questions can do the trick. With this thick case file, how did no child psychologist figure this out sooner – especially with such legalese and real-world missing persons? Rather than essentially letting mom get away with sacrificing people to overcome her grief, the finale explanation should have been at the beginning to further appreciate the boy’s torment. Despite a kind of, sort of happy non-ending, the parents dealing with a child dreamer plot makes for a mature reverse Elm Street mixing family horrors and fantastics.

Death at Love House – Couple Robert Wagner (Hart to Hart) and Kate Jackson (Dark Shadowsare writing a book on Lorna Love and stay at the Old Hollywood starlet’s creepy manor in this 1976 television movie. Gothic gates, winding drives, old fountains, and broken statues accent the past torrid and vintage bus tours, and there’s a freaky shrine, too – the preserved corpse of our beauty lying in a glass coffin. Of course this print is obviously poor, but the retro Hollywood scenery, Golden cinema looks, and seventies California style make up any difference. I wish we could see the arches and wrought iron better, but the VHS quality kind of adds a dimly lit ominous to the Mediterranean villa as retro commercials provide a vintage patina. Housekeeper Silvia Sydney (Beetlejuiceisn’t very forthcoming about enchanting portraits of the starlet, and newsreels of her funeral show a man in a cape with a black cat among the mourners. Malleus Maleficarum spell books on the shelf, sacrificial daggers, and crusty director John Carradine (Blood of Dracula’s Castle) suggest Lorna was more evil than lovely, and talk of mirrors, souls, passion, and rivals like Dorothy Lamour (Road to Bali) add to the character unto herself à la RebeccaWithout over the top visuals or in your face action for the audience’s benefit, the performances here carry the scandalous scares – jumping at the horrors as thunder punctuates terrifying encounters in the dark. Apparent heart attack victims, destroyed pictures, and warnings to leave Love House lead to locked doors, gas mishaps, and steamy showers while phonographs provide chilling music as Lorna seems to be looking out from the silver screen film reels with her hypnotic power. Bewitching dreams relive the past and wax on eternal youth as the ghostly obsessions grow. At times, the spiral stairs, red accents, and swanky are more romantic, but phantom ladies at the window and rumors of fiery rituals create sinister. Our husband is said to be going through the scrapbooks but he’s not getting any work done, remaining in denial about the basement tunnels, cult altars, pentagrams, and mystical symbols. Although the Mrs. seems calm somehow once the truth comes out, too, the creepy masks and wild reveals make for a flaming finish. There are too many tongue in cheek winks for this to be full-on horror nor can one expect proper glam and glory in such a brisk seventy-four-minute network pace. However, this is good fun for a late-night Hollywood ghost story full of meta vintage.

Kill List– Financial arguments, unemployment, and stressed parents shouting open British director Ben Wheatley’s (High-Rise) 2011 slow burn while fade ins and outs create a disconnected passage of time amid his mundane routine, tearful phone calls in her native Swedish, and brief playtime with their son. Clearly they are trying to keep it together just for him, but recession talk and conversations about their military past make dinner with friends more awkward. Despite some wine, laughter, and music; tensions remain alongside bloody tissues, mirrors, and creepy occult symbols. Foreboding rainbows, eerie skies, and contracts signed in blood lead to fancy hotels, mysterious clients, guns, and stacks of cash. This sardonic, violent lifestyle is normal to our hit men – want a hot tub, put on a nice suit and kill a few people to make money for your family! Things should be looking up, but past mistakes, religious conflicts, and hits gone wrong interfere with the fine dining, friendly chatter, stakeouts, and casually executed executions. The deliberate pace may be slow to some, however full moons, hallway zooms, and binocular views set off the lying in wait preparations, silencers, and worship regalia. Thumping body bags miss the dumpster and victims aren’t surprised their time has come, but off screen implications disturb both our hardened hit men. They are the righteous torturers breaking knee caps and bashing hands! Dead animals, blood splatter, off list hits, dirty crimes, and graphic skull work are not for the faint of heart as the kills become messy and out of control. Ominous women in white, blood stains, infected cuts – this violence is going far beyond their normal work but there’s no getting out here. Nothing good can come from this dreary potboiler as the kills increase from ironic to curious and ultimately brutal in a final act providing throwback shocks and a sense of realism straying into unreliability. Night gear observations at a fancy estate begat torches, chanting, robes, and masks. If you’ve seen enough cult horror, the ritual foreshadowing is apparent, however there’s a warped cleansing to the rain, drumbeats, and sacrifice. Gunfire, tunnels, knife attacks, screams, and unknowns make for gruesome turnabouts that bring the consequences home in a silent, disturbing, grim end.

Voice from the Stone – It’s post-war Tuscany and dilapidated castles for nurse Emilia Clark (Game of Thrones) in this 2017 tale opening with church bells, toppled statues, and autumn leaves. Letters of recommendation and voiceovers about previous goodbyes are unnecessary – everything up until she knocks on the door is redundant when the Italian dialogue explaining the situation is enough. Her charge hasn’t spoken in the seven months since his mother’s death, and sculptor dad Marton Csokas (Lord of the Ringsis frazzled, too. Our nurse is strict about moving on from a family, and although her unflinching English decorum feels like you can see her acting, this may be part of the character fronting when she wonders if she is qualified for the case. The mute son is likewise an obedient boy if by default because it takes speaking to object, and he listens to the walls to hear his dead mother. Period furnishings, vintage photos, mirrors, and candles enchant the interiors, but the stone and stucco are spooky thanks to taxidermy, strange old ladies, creaking doors, winding stairs, and broken tiles atop the towers. Wooded paths, overgrown gardens, and old bridges lead to exploring the flooded quarry, cliffs, family crypts, and stone effigies. This estate has been in the late wife’s family for over a thousand years, and forty generations are buried beneath the rocks. Noises in the night provide chases and dead animal pranks as our nurse listens to the walls to prove it’s just the settling house, rattling winds, or bubbling pipes talking. Progress with the boy takes time while billowing curtains and melancholy phonographs linger over somber scenes as she grows too attached in wearing our late mother’s clothes. Unlike her, our nurse sits docile and silent when posing for his sculpture before fantasizing some saucy as he carves. She can care for father and son – talking to portraits of the Mrs. and listening to tombs to further ingratiate herself into this family. Desperate, she hears her now, too, in eerie interludes and spooky dreams that add aesthetics yet feel like weird seventies horror movies nonsensical. Wet perils and violent slaps begat illness, but questions on whether this fever is real or psychological unravel with fog, wheezing, heartbeats, and buried alive visions face to face with the dead. Although some may dislike the ambiguous nonanswers and stilted style or find the derivative Rebecca or Jane Eyre mood and outcome obvious, the slow burn period setting makes this an interesting piece for gothic fans not looking for outright horror a minute.

 

For more Frightening Flix, revisit our Horror Viewing Lists including:

Haunting Ladies

Witches and Bayous, Oh My!

Mirrors and Superstitions

PR: Mocha Memoirs, Hollow Men

PRESS RELEASE: Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC released Todd Sullivan’s Korean dark fantasy adventure story, Hollow Men. The story follows a group of individuals seeking heroic status. Much like Roland’s ka-tet in Stephen King’s Dark Tower or JRR Tolkien’s fellowship in Lord of the Rings, these individuals are brought together to solve a problem.

Men from South Hanguk undertake quests to gain social standing, to stand above their peers, to make names for themselves. 
To become heroes.
Few ever return.
Ha Jun, sixteen years old, possesses a glyph sword crafted in foreign lands. Alongside a soldier, a knight, and a monk, he travels across the country to destroy a demon lurking beyond the running trees of Naganeupseong Fortress. Accompanying them is the dark elf, Windshine, who emigrated to South Hanguk from her own war-torn country centuries ago.
Distrusted by the people of South Hanguk, Windshine has the Emperor’s protection and is tasked with recording the valiant acts of quest groups battling creatures born from nightmares. Ha Jun becomes drawn to Windshine as they near Naganeupseong Fortress, but when he discovers the blood connection between the demon and the dark elf, he will either succumb to his fear, or rise up and become a hero.

 

About the author: Todd Sullivan studied in Korean language at Sogang University and currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan. He’s fast at work on the next adventure.

Hollow Men is available at the Mocha Memoirs Press website and Amazon. You can also order the paperback from brick and mortar bookstores.

Chilling Chat: Episode 170 | Tim Reynolds

chillingchat

Tim Reynolds grew up in Toronto, Ontario, but has called Calgary, Alberta home since 1999. He lives a quiet, peaceful, cluttered life with his dog, two cats, and a collection of Tim Reynoldsmusical instruments he has neither the talent nor the self-discipline to play. 

An internationally-published writer/photographer/artist he writes his stories “from the character on up”.

Tim is an intelligent man with a terrific sense of humor. We spoke of writing, inspiration, and night terrors.

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

TR: Thank you, Naching! It’s wonderful to be here!

NTK: How old were you when you first became interested in horror and dark fantasy?

TR: I was going to say I was 12 when I saw the chillingly bizarre movie The Other but then I remembered that I was much younger, probably less than seven, when I was sick in bed and Mom had moved the TV into my room but not checked what was on the channel. It was The Incredible Shrinking Man. She caught me watching it right about the time he was being chased by the giant— to him—spider. As for reading the literature, I was probably 17 or 18, after I discovered The Lord of the Rings in English class. It was much darker than the detective stuff I’d been reading leading up to then.

NTK: Did Tolkien influence your writing? Who is your favorite horror writer?

TR: He did have a huge influence because I’m pretty sure every fantasy author I read after him was influenced by him, so it was inescapable. This is going to sound strange, but I had to stop reading horror. I got night terrors as a kid and still get episodes as an adult, and what I read or watch has a big influence on my very vivid dreams and nightmares. That said, I was once a voracious Stephen King reader, as well as Dean Koontz. King would be my favourite, though, because his stories can terrify without full-on horror.

NTK: I’m sorry to hear about your night terrors. Do they keep you from watching horror movies and TV shows?

TR: They do, for the most part. I do try to watch the critically acclaimed ones like Bird Box, where it’s more about suspense than pop-up scares.

I also don’t mind the occasional zombie one—World War Z is my favourite—or vampire one— 30 Days of Night.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

TR: I’d have to say that Black Mirror is the only one I’ll watch, and while many wouldn’t call it horror, I believe that its view of where we are headed as a species with tech is truly horrifying.

NTK: Have your night terrors inspired your writing? Where do you find inspiration?

Waking AnastasiaTR: They certainly have. My most recent fantasy novel The Sisterhood of the Black Dragonfly has a couple of monster-popping-up fight scenes and the creatures in it have a similarity to some of the ones I fled from in my childhood dreams. But sometimes my dreams inspire more than a scene. My previous novel Waking Anastasia about a young man who awakens the ghost of Anastasia Romanova came from a dream. My inspiration can literally come from anywhere. A figurine in a shop, a challenge from a friend, a smile and a wave from a complete stranger…

NTK: Do you have any advice for people suffering from night terrors?

TR: Yes, actually! Avoid dairy before bed! Especially pizza. There’s something in it that makes my dreams go off in a wild direction like I heard acid trips of the 60s do. And vitamin B complex before bed—or any time—can lessen anxiety somewhat.

NTK: Let’s talk about characters. Do your characters have free will? Or do you dictate their every move?

TR: They very much have free will. Once I create a “whole person,” meaning one in which I know their back story and motivations, I let them roll with the scene. I control what needs to happen in the scene, but I let the conversations and quite often the actions be completely organic, in other words, flowing forward from what was just said or done.

That said, I’m having trouble with my latest one because the two characters are very much based on real people, one of which is me. I keep second-guessing myself if that makes sense. And the horror, in this case, isn’t in the story, it’s the writing because it’s a romantic comedy.

Also, I recently wrote a horror short from the point of view of Jack the Ripper. However, because it was very fact-based, I couldn’t give him too much leeway.

NTK: Do you outline and plot the story?

TR: I do now, but I’m also very flexible once I start writing. RomComs are very structured, so I have to hit certain story beats near a certain page, but I usually have a loose structure/outline with everything to make sure that I put the clues where they need to be. I’m becoming much more methodical in my writing as I mature as a writer because while it’s lovely to just go off and write whatever the freak I feel like, if I want bigger publishers to notice my work and make offers, I need to use outlines to keep me on track and not let me write madly off all directions.

NTK: Going back to the works of Stephen King, which is your favorite?

TR: Oooohhhh… Tough question. I haven’t read any in a while, but I loved Hearts in Atlantis, The Stand, and the four novellas of Different Seasons. My stand-out King novel is an odd choice but I love it for its simplicity: Gerald’s Game.

NTK: Aside from the RomCom, what does the future hold for you? What do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

TR: As a reply to writing the RomCom inspired by my life experiences, I’m writing a dark, bloody, nasty 19th century urban vigilante novel in which I will kill off the types of villains that I feel are plaguing us now—child sexual abusers, rapists, one-percenters who think the rest of us are simply here for their profit or use…. or I will write the sequel to my unpublished semi-cozy detective novel that my agent is currently trying to sell forSisterhood of the Black Dragonfly me.

NTK: Awesome! Looking forward to them!

TR:  Thank you! I try to write stories that are as much fun to read as they are to write, even if they scare the bejeesus out of me and the reader. Joy isn’t all about laughs, as every horror writer/reader knows.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Tim!

TR: Thank you, Naching! It’s been fun, and I appreciate you making me think on a Friday morning when the weekend and non-thinking is so close I can taste it.

Addicts, you can find Tim at his Blog and on Twitter.

 

 

Book Review: This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle

This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle is a fascinating tome of narrative poetry and a cornucopia of dark treats. The author, Frank Coffman, is an accomplished poet, and the tales woven throughout the verse are wondrous.

This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle

Coffman’s work begins with the description of a book, one of great power. It is, like Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, bound in human skin and inked in blood. The difference is, this volume is authored by a sorcerer and augmented through the ages by seven others.

The first part of This Ae Nighte, details the sorcerer’s creation of the book and his quest to cheat the devil. (He aims to keep his soul though it is bound for Hell.) The second part concerns individual stories contained within the book. Here, you’ll find vampires, werewolves, and other horrific monsters familiar to those who enjoy dark fantasy.

 

I also enjoyed “The Killing Man,” “Convert,” and “The Strigoi.” These poems spark the imagination. I could almost see the monsters, the forests, the blood, and the hang rope in my mind’s eye.

I loved this book. Coffman’s verse is beautiful, precise, and captivating. My favorite poems involved the sorcerer’s transformation into a Lich (a creature animated by the soul of a dead sorcerer.) He is all-powerful in this form and in control of terrifying monsters. No one can stop him, save one. And, believe me, this hero isn’t what you’d expect.

Frank Coffman

As a novice poet, I appreciated Coffman’s introduction to each poem. (I didn’t know a sonnet from a strophe until I’d read this book.) For those eager to learn about poetry, he provides a “poem glossary” at the back of the book. For the more advanced reader, he’s supplied a new and interesting style.

I highly recommend This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle. Not only is it a great read for dark fantasy fans, it will also appeal to the Horror Addict in everyone.

Submission Call for Guest Blog

This is a site FOR HorrorAddicts, BY HorrorAddicts.

Deadline: Ongoing

Guest Blog is your chance to share just a little bit of your work with the HorrorAddicts.net readers.

*200-1000 words flash
*Must be horror or fit in one of our **Approved Themes below.
*This is for free posting on our HorrorAddicts.net blog, exposure only, with link back to your work.
*At the end of the submission, please include your bio (100 word max), url, and attach a cover pic or author pic.
*Send all submissions to: horroraddicts@gmail.com, SUBJ: Guest Blog

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**APPROVED THEMES: Dark Fantasy, Monster, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Clockpunk, Alternative, Goth, Metal, Industrial, Avant-garde themes. Erotica only if it tastefully falls into horror / goth / fetish culture. If your submission is in the Science Fiction / Fantasy / Thriller / Suspense or any other genre, please email before submitting with a 2-3 line query. If it seems like it fits, we might make an exception.

For full submission requirements, go to: SUBMISSIONS

Penny Dreadful’s Sembene: The Stereotypical Death  

Penny Dreadful’s Sembene: The Stereotypical Death  By Alicia McCalla

 

          One of my favorite shows to watch is the dark, suspenseful Penny Dreadful. The show fills me with foreboding—sometimes my stomach lurches with the twisty tentacles of fear and trepidation. The heroine, Vanessa Isles, is a dark fantasy protagonist at it’s best—the tortured soul with ambiguous morals, shades of gray, that make you think about the decision, is it right or evil? Watching her descent into Hell just creeps me out but like the kid who peeks through open fingers, you’ve just got to keep watching the train wreck. 

         Penny Dreadful is so marvelous, though, because all of the main characters sit on the edge. The monsters’ point of view gives rise to all sorts of questions that we REALLY don’t want to think about. Frankenstein and his monster, the uncontrollable Werewolf, the Hunter, and then there’s Sembene.  For the most part, he is a moral compass. He takes care of the monsters, gives them advice, and is always ready for the supernatural battle.  At some point, we find out that he was previously a slaver and sold his own people into slavery but we never go to much into who he really is… Penny_dreadful_sembene_01

        Herein lies the problem. With such depth and character development of the others, why don’t we learn more about Sembene, for most of the first episodes, I assumed that he was a powerful Okomfo, Shaman, or Witch Doctor but that idea never quite materialized. Then, I thought he was perhaps and ancient warrior or hunter who was the mystical teacher or mentor of Sir Malcolm Murray, in one episode his voice calls and returns the man from being lost in the valley of death but that story line didn’t develop either.        

    Finally, I just became aggravated when at the end of the last season, Sembene had been mentoring Mr. Chandler who in the end, eats him and well, Sembene graciously accepts his death. 

      What? I screamed at the TV screen.  Of all the characters that I’d connected with, Sembene’s character had been the most intriguing to me and then he was gone. Disappointment. Why do Black folks always have to die like this in horror shows?  

      Stereotypical. Sigh. 

Well, for a little while I had high hopes.  

If you enjoy Dark Fantasy stories with People of Color as the protagonist, come check out my work.  I try to keep the tension high and unexpected characters get murdered, too.

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Alicia McCalla RiseAlicia McCalla is a native of Detroit, Michigan, who currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She works as a school librarian and enjoys traveling as well as spending time with her husband and son. Visit Alicia at: www.aliciamccalla.com to receive your free eBook boxed set and sign-up for e-updates, giveaways, and sneak peeks of her upcoming novels. Alicia McCalla

 

SUBMISSION CALL: ONCE UPON A SCREAM – LAST CHANCE!

SUBMISSION CALL: ONCE UPON A SCREAM
OUS

“Happily ever after” is for children. This book prefers to evoke the grim warnings of our oldest fables. We are seeking frightening fairytales, fables, and folklore. We want to feature your own new tales or new takes on old classics. Stories of seelie and unseelie alike. Are the things that go bump in the night there to help or harm us?

Submitted stories should deal with fairies or fairy tale settings, and must also be considered horror, evoking a classic fear and dread reminiscent of the fables of old. If you are submitting a new take on a classic fairy tale, the original story and characters must be in the public domain. The setting can be our world in the past, present, or future, or a fictional setting, or the exploration of both. Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Gaslamp Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

Manuscripts Format:

  1. Font either Courier or Times New Roman.
  2. Double spaced, font size 11 or 12 point.
  3. Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF format.
  4. 1st page header to state: author name, mailing address, email address, and word count.
  5. Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.
  6. In the body of the email, give us:
    1. 100 words or less bio about you.
    2. One sentence explaining the story attached. Your elevator pitch.
  7. In the subject of the email state: ONCE UPON A SCREAM/Author Name/Story Title
  8. Send to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

Deadline: October 31st, 2015, 11:59pm PST
Length: 2,000-8,000 words, ideal length 5,000
Payment:$5.00 USD + digital contributor copy
Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/15). You should expect a return within 3 months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

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