FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Evil and Creepy Kids!

Evil and Creepy Children

by Kristin Battestella

What is it about evil offspring, freaky toys, and creepy family dramas that make them so disturbing?

Annabelle: Creation – Anthony LaPaglia (Innocent Blood) and Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings) star in director David F. Sanberg’s (Lights Out2017 prequel opening with 1943 rural quaint, grand farmhouses, period records, church bells, and one of a kind handcrafted dolls before highway perils and screams intrude on the country charm. By 1955, the home is dusty and unkempt; there are no more smiles or laughter greeting the displaced young nun and her orphan charges taken in by the reclusive doll maker and his invalid wife. The girls explore the big house with all its nooks and crannies, but the older snobs hog the best stuff while younger BFFs making packs to stay together are divided by the farm freedom thanks to one girl’s polio injuries. The others are off playing while she’s left behind with doors closing by themselves, locked rooms, creepy doll parts, dumbwaiters, and maybe/maybe not phantoms glimpsed down the dark hallway. Choice horror distortions, gothic architecture, and crosses everywhere accent the weird scarecrows, secret crawlspace, locked closets, and hidden playroom with tea party ready toys and an ominous dollhouse. Buzzing lights, footsteps, and creaking hinges disturb the antiques and old fashioned nostalgia – the relatable characters, setting, and mood are entirely different than the horror cliches in the first AnnabelleDistorted music, demonic-looking shadows, and The Nun in the background of the convent picture set off scary claws, growling, and chilling but disbelieved encounters. Our Annabelle sure gets about, and the reflections, mirrors, masks, lanterns, and lighting schemes are well done amid haunted house or possession revelations. Evil seeking souls preys on the smallest and the weakest, and scary stories under the sheets lead to flickering flashlights and black footprints going underneath the bunk bed. Of course, some girls have more screen time than others, with lookalike brunettes and two really there for no reason – one being a black girl who isn’t even worthy of receiving an individual fright. The runaway wheelchair or the doll sitting at the dinner table could also be laughable if not for the cracking bones, glowing demon eyes, and paralysis. Fortunately, fearful orphans with an innocuous pop gun reeling in more than its tethered ball strike at the sacred under the covers safety while invasive takeovers and black goo mar those in little white nightgowns. Yeah, if you have all these creepy toy secrets and evil house problems, maybe you shouldn’t sign up to shelter orphans, FYI. Mistaken adults realize the consequences too late, and an exposition flashback with exorcisms and rooms lined with Bible passages to contain the evil within should have been shown at the beginning. Such two halves of the story would have been fine, for once we get the traditional tell-all, the gory shocks, prayers, and screams devolve into intrusive, modern whooshes across the screen, swooping pans calling attention to themselves, flying objects, and more padding cliches including the car not starting and monsters crawling on the ceiling. Although we’ve seen what this evil can do, the consequences are minimal because, after all, there’s a franchise to consider. With such religious characters, the spiritual answers versus demons are never fully embraced, and the police are apparently content with priests blessing the house while evil moves on for a coda from the first movie – which doesn’t quite match up with what has already been shown in The Conjuring universe. This unravels, in the end, to make room for more sequels, however, the atmospheric chills make for an entertaining watch even if you haven’t seen the companion films.

The Hole in the Ground – Not all is as it seems for a young mother and son in this 2019 Irish/international ninety minutes. Funhouse mirrors and creepy carnivals lead to upside-down eerie, distorted car scares, and freaky ass hooded figures in the road. House repairs, rules to follow, locked basements, spiders, footsteps, and flickering lights contrast the warm lamplight safety, and there’s an innocence to a child’s questions on why the two moved without the most likely abusive dad. He doesn’t fit in at school and she’s the fifth wheel at dinner parties, but running off into the spooky forest is not the answer thanks to lookalike trees, darkness, and the titular ravine. Although the accents may be tough for some and night scenes are difficult to see at times, viewers are meant to only see what the flashlight catches in its spotlight and hear the frantic shouts of a mother calling out for the son who isn’t safe in his bed. Stories of crazy neighbors, noises in the dark, and doors slamming by themselves add to the whereabouts unknown panic, emergency calls, and child claiming to be where he wasn’t. An old lady in white walking toward your vehicle to say this is not your son is chilling in its simplicity, yet we aren’t sure when the spooky switch may have been made. Our family is new in town, unfamiliar and surrounded by crows, dead bodies, and wakes with the coffin laid out in the living room and all the mirrors covered. Little changes that only a mother would know escalate to spying under the door, crawling on the floor, and toys near the crater where the ground rumbles and moves. Now mummy is fearful of her son, running through school corridors as creepy songs referring to our eponymous hole have other parents and doctors questioning what’s wrong. There’s no immediate Ring surveillance or instant video easy, but vintage camera evidence is upsetting to those refusing to believe. Mirrors are needed to tell the truth as what we’re seeing becomes increasingly weirder. Changes in favorite foods and not knowing their family code games lead to heavy breathing, violent confrontations, surprising strength, bodies in the basement, and heads buried in the ground. Some of the action is a little laughable, but the audience is trapped in this freaky world thanks to sinkholes, scary roots, caverns, and bones. The disturbing revelations may be too slow or merely abstract metaphors for viewers expecting shocks a minute, but the finale gets physical with monster doppelgangers and rescues from the folklore for an entertaining shout at the television disturbia.

 

The Silence – Kiernan Shipka and Miranda Otto reunite alongside Stanley Tucci (Road to Perdition) in this 2019 Netflix original. Gas masks and point of view cameras in a Pennsylvania cave unleash screeching and splatter before unnecessary credits montaging evolution and modern destruction. The tablet conversations with boys, soccer mom literally seen with soccer balls, hip grandma in the kitchen, little brother playing video games, and narration from our deaf teen likewise contribute to a very cliché start. Opening in media res with mom silently waking the deaf for breaking news would make more impact, and although the hearing impairments seem superficial, Sign Language, high pitched ringing, and helicopters better set the scene as initial television news about the cave release and device alerts are ignored. Cities are quickly infested – under attack with few details beyond viral videos warning people not to make noise as fireplaces are blocked and the emergency system sounds. Our family packs up in several vehicles to flee the city, but viewers needlessly break our deaf protagonist’s viewpoint for subway passengers tossing out a mother and her crying baby, o_O. Radio reports, police sirens, traffic jams, and short cuts lead to gas station gun violence, fleeing animals, and car accidents. There’s macho – dad wasn’t a hands-on guy and now he has to be – but tough family decisions get made once these pterosaur vesps surround the van and slam the cracking windows. Dogs alert one to danger, however barking can be a problem, and leaving the vehicle to find shelter includes injuries, infection, and rattlesnakes. After the first half-hour, it’s mostly innate sounds with very little dialogue – viewers have to pay attention to all the non-verbal reactions. Risky treks to a nearby small town lead to empty streets, mauled corpses, monster eggs, and cults cutting out tongues before raids, abductions, and sacrifices required. The internet is spotty, but news about the creatures disliking snow comes amid dying batteries, handwritten notes, and creepy confrontations. The performances make the twistedness and rage while thunder, lightning, and decoys create a stir alongside cell phone beeps and music. Unfortunately, rather than major social commentaries or down deep emotions, the angst resorts to physical altercations – because it’s only been a few days yet all the weirdos are afoot. Why don’t they ask where they’re going when they have the chance? How can the unprepared do better than the armed and knowledgeable? Such derivatives rely on stupidity, conveniences, and the smart teenager before a tidy, abrupt end where nobody ever actually fights back against the swarm. Hush was better, but fans of the cast can enjoy the suspense here – which was surely Netflix’s intention to maximize the bang for the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina buck with an alternative to Bird BoxWe like this family and want to see them survive because not making it through an ordeal together is the scariest thing.


You Make the Call, Addicts!

The Lodgers – Dark lakes, Loftus Hall locales, heartbeats, and racing to beat the midnight clock chimes open this 1920 set 2017 Irish production. Torn wallpaper, water in the woodwork, trap doors, boarded windows, and shabby furnishings intrude on the once-grand staircase, and there’s a sadness to these orphaned twins, their meager meals, and their fear of the very thing that keeps them together. Dirty mirrors, covered furniture, dusty birdcages, and more turn of the century than post-war clothing add to the old fashioned atmosphere alongside a creepy nursery rhyme that reminds the siblings of the house rules. Our sister, however, takes more risks than her sickly, skeletal looking brother – she’s ready to leave as their eighteenth birthday promises only more bleakness with suspect letters, nosy lawyers, family curses, and apparitions in the water. Hooded capes, lockets, ravens, a prohibited gate, and overgrown ruins in the woods likewise provide a morose fairy tale feeling against the underlining interwar versus at-home issues, tense village, and local hooligans. Their finances have run out but selling the house is not an option thanks to nude shadows, whispering entities, whirlpools, and phallic eels in the bathtub. Dim lanterns, bridal beds, velvet curtains, and virginal white satin accent the obviously icky suggestions and forbidden fruits growing in the family cemetery, and locked in scares create chills because of the invasive, no privacy nature of the manor. Our brother is regressing while his sister takes charge, and this all feels very similar to Crimson Peak – complete with a watery ceiling instead of snow, nature seeping up to the surface, and stabbings in the front doorway. This, however, is bitter rather than colorful, a mix of supernatural versus psychological with a young lady’s innate fears over the one thing a man wants. Touching the local soldier’s amputation injury is just as intimate as sexual relations, and if there is not sex according to the family needs, there will still be killer motivations, stabbing penetrations, and blood. Viewers feel the shameful secrets and sinful oppression, but sometimes logic does intrude. All that dampness and mold in the house would surely make them ill and shouldn’t four generations of incest make them deformed? The atmosphere here is heavy, however, the tale never goes far enough with the housebound horror or mental torment answers. Are the men gaslighting the women to accept rape and incest? The ambiguity doesn’t explain the supernatural phenomena and laughable dream sequences with naked floating hold back the moody metaphors. Thankfully, stormy action, sickly pallor, and an eerie family parade complete the gothic dread and distorted environs in the finale, and although there’s little repeat value, this is watchable if you don’t expect frights a minute and can enjoy a creepy sense of period unease.

Check out our Past Reviews for more Creepy Families:

Crimson Peak

The Addams Family Season 1

Demented Dolls

 

Odds and Dead Ends: The danger of the future in ‘A Warning to the Curious’ by M. R. James

“May I ask what you intend to do with it next?”

“I’m going to put it back.”

The 1972 Christmas adaptation of the classic M. R. James ghost story, A Warning to the Curious, perfectly captured the unique terror of the story, a terror that was at the heart of most of James’ classics. In the tale, an amateur archaeologist finds himself on the trail of an ancient Anglian crown said to protect the ancient kingdom from invasion, but is pursued by its ghostly protector intent on keeping it hidden. What drives the story is that the past should remain in the past, admired from a distance but never defiled for personal gain, lest destruction be wrought on more than just the individual.

For note, I’m going to discuss the story in detail, so, spoilers ahead. Just a little warning to the curious.

The idea of a ghostly companion isn’t something new; for one such example, Sheridan Le Fanu used a disturbing rendition of a demonic presence in Green Tea, about a man who had his third eye opened to a demon, which takes the shape of a monkey with glowing red eyes that haunts his every waking moment. As James was a great admirer of Le Fanu’s work, and helped compile several volumes of his stories, he would have obviously been aware of this story, and the ghostly companion idea.

For James, however, he uses this device for more than just scaring people. James in his personal life was most at home in the old libraries of Cambridge and Eton, as a medievalist and scholar. He was, for all intents and purposes, very much afraid of radical changes of life, especially through technology and social upheaval. The First World War is said to have affected him tremendously, to hear and know of his students, and friends, dying in the trenches abroad. All of this helps us understand where James comes from when his story puts so much emphasis on maintenance of a status quo, of letting the past lie.

It’s interesting to me that in both the original short story and the BBC adaptation, the main character, Paxton, is going through a period of personal lifestyle change. In the short story he is in the process of moving to Sweden, and spending a last few weeks in England before he follows his belongings abroad. In the BBC version, Paxton has been a clerk for twelve years before his company folded the week before, and he decided to follow up on the story of the Anglian crown as a result of nothing else to do, and nothing left to lose; a chance of making a name for himself. The curiosity in finding an ancient relic, and using it to begin a new life (economically and socially on the screen, as a metaphorical omen of good luck for a new beginning in the original), morphs into Paxton’s eventual undoing.

Even the title spells out the intended meaning of the text; don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. And that in both versions of the text, the re-burial of the crown doesn’t deter the spirit from pursuing Paxton, is further proof that the uncovering of the artifact is not simply a physical defiling of the past, but an endangerment on a larger scale. By removing the crown, there is danger of the shores being invaded, bringing about that social upheaval and radical change that James feared so much. To deter others from doing likewise, and having knock-on effects which negatively influences the wider world, the guardian of the crown must end Paxton’s life. This punishment for curiosity is famously central to H. P. Lovecraft’s stories. Lovecraft would have had the protagonist end up insane, or gods breaking through into our dimension in some way. Lovecraft himself wrote of M R James in many letters and articles, praising him as a master of weird fiction, so the connection between the two writers is certainly there.

In our own days of great social change, with the world going through unprecedented times, the antiquated verse of James’ ghost stories might seem a little stilted. Yet he seemed to express that fear in all of us with the best, that the change overcoming the world might contain some ghosts to be feared. How we choose to take his warning for the world, is up to us, but it seems chilling nonetheless that James was putting into fiction exactly what many people fear will happen if one kicks the hornet’s nest of the past. For an old-fashioned Victorian like James, he wanted the comfort of his history. For any change to happen, we must be prepared to face whatever consequences we unleash.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-If you want more M. R. James, here’s a link to an article I did a few years ago, comparing the device of very literal ‘deadlines’ in James’ Casting The Runes and Koji Suzuki’s novel, Ring: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/odds-and-dead-ends-analysis-of-casting-the-runes-and-ring/

Odds and Dead Ends : Gothic influences in Wes Craven’s Shocker

When people think of Wes Craven and supernatural slasher films, they think of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Perfectly justified, of course, as Freddy is one of the biggest icons of horror cinema. However, often overlooked however is his 1989 film Shocker, for some justifiable reasons including awful 80s CGI and an incredibly messy second half with little regard for laws of its own unreality. But at its core, and especially for the first third of the film, the gothic elements of the story are undeniable, and it’s a genuinely interesting case of a modern ghost story in the urban gothic vein.

There are gothic influences all over the film, but what tipped me off was the police invasion of Pinker’s TV shop. We head past the initial lobby of televisions playing visions of war and death and enter a dimly lit series of dusty hallways, hardware packed into the shelves on either side. We’ve dispensed with the creaky castle library and entered a modern equivalent of television sets. Noises in the dark. Turn around. Nobody there. We feel a presence nearby but can’t see them. This is classic haunted house stuff going on here.

And then we get the big tip-off as to the influence. We get a POV shot, very Hitchcockian (thinking especially of Norman Bates peering through the peephole into Marion’s room in Psycho), of Pinker’s eye up to a gap in the shelf, peering into the shop. The monster’s hiding in the walls. A policeman stands guard nearby. Nothing. And then hands shoot through the shelves, catches him. He’s pulled back against the shelves, and the whole thing pivots in on a hinge. The cop is dragged inside and the shelf snaps back in line, never to be considered again.

A few minutes later Jonathan (the MC) and his father appear, none the wiser save for a smoking cigarette on the floor. And then they discover the horrible truth when they see blood pooling out from underneath the shelf, like those ghostly legends of old mansions where the walls drip red. Breaking their way in they find cats flayed and dead-on hooks, red lighting from the cinematography department reinforcing the demonic aspect. And then there’s the body in the middle of the room, throat cut, blood on the floor.

This is classic gothic stuff. The secret passageway in the walls is complete Scooby-Doo, Agatha Christie, even some Sherlock Holmes (I’m thinking here of The Musgrave Ritual in particular). The Cat and the Canary did it as well. We’re in the middle of a slasher movie, and we’ve got secret panels and hiding places? We might even claim that these secret passages go even further back, to the origins of the gothic, in Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, the story we take the term ‘gothic’ from in its now traditional literary application.

And yet somehow it doesn’t feel out of place, doesn’t feel corny, because we can understand that Craven is deliberately drawing upon these influences to create a gothic atmosphere. This is important, as it subtly clues us into the paranormal parts of the film that come into play when he is electrocuted in the chair, turned into a horror version of the Phantom Virus from Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (those movies were great, Cyber Chase an underappreciated meta gem of Scooby-Doo lore for the final third act).      If the ghost aspect had come out of nowhere, we might have complained that it was too much of a shift from straight serial killer to paranormal horror, but here these elements help to ease the transition over. Not much, because it’s still a jolt switching subgenres, but it helps nonetheless. I’m not sure how the blood pooled all the way from the chair to spread under the shelf because it’s a hell of a long way. Perhaps this is faintly paranormal in origin, the cop’s spirit doing what it needs to do to alert the living to its final resting place in a bid to stop his killer? Most likely it’s a goof and I’m reading way too much into it, but it’s certainly a possible reading if you wanted to go that far.

Let’s also remember that, even after the electrocution, the film is in essence a ghost story. Whereas in centuries before a spirit might have inhabited a suit of armor, or roamed the walls of the courtyard in which they were executed, here we have a modern updating, inhabiting the electricity that we have harnessed for our own ends. This criticism of our device-ridden society which wasn’t as prevalent when the film came out, but certainly on the rise, was inherent in genre storytelling of the time. Cyberpunk arose as a subgenre a few years before to question our reliance on technology.

And a few years after Shocker, we see the influx of films from Asia that combined a malevolent spirit and technology to demonstrate new fears of a society rapidly flying into the future. Films like Ringu, One Missed Call, Shutter, Noroi, even The Eye to a certain extent (the elevator scene is my example here, with the apparition not appearing on the security camera), would be films that take this concept and run with it, infusing into their tales a very gender-based morality tale of using a stereotypically male industry (technology) and using it as a vehicle for the classic avenging female spirit of folklore.

Could one orient Shocker as a modern gothic gateway to these tales? I suspect most would argue against it, but as has been critiqued in countless essays, articles, and books, there is not one film history, but multiple readings of film histories. As it stands, the genre itself is also fluid and a very pliable concept in itself. I’m not using any of these arguments to state that Shocker is a great film, because although fun, it’s most certainly hovering just in the ‘mediocre’ range of horror films. However, that these more traditional elements find their way into divisive and forgotten films might go some way to showing that it’s not just the revered masterpieces of regarded canon that have interesting literary facets to their makeup.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: KJudgeMental

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

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Haunting Ladies!

Haunting Ladies Good and Bad by Kristin Battestella

Despite some of the famous names involved, these household horrors and haunting dames are good, bad, and ugly…

House Hunting – A low priced, seventy-acre foreclosure is too good to be true for two families in this 2013 mind-bender starring Marc Singer (The Beastmaster). Rather than a scenic credits montage, the obligatory drive to the horrors is a claustrophobic car conversation between a young wife and the unheard step-daughter. Shrewd editing places the divided family each in their own frame, and our second trio also argue over a teen son on crutches and a grumpy dad rightfully asking what the catch is on this dream property with automated sales pitches in every room. Surprise accidents, hidden guns, tongues cut out, crazy people on the road, and disappearing figures in the woods pack seven different characters into the SUV, but all the country drives lead back to this house. What choice do they have but to stay inside by the ready fireplace? Flashlights, hooded shadows in the corners, just enough canned food for all – the families stick together in one room but cigarette smoking, hooting owls outside, and chills in the air add tense while a bloody ax and a straight razor foreshadow worse. The men take watches but one woman wants to get to work on Monday while the other is almost happy to be there and clean the house. Can they wait for help to arrive? Instead of any transition, the screen simply moves to “One Month Later” with piled cans, smelly clothes, and nobody sleeping. Household papers reveal those responsible for the foreclosure are closer than they think, but they’re trapped in this routine, strained by violent visions and hazy apparitions. Is it really ghosts or cabin fever? If one family stays, will the house let the others leave? Finger-pointing, blame, and distrust mount amid suicides and new assaults. Of course, the metaphors on being trapped by one’s own consequences and reliving past mistakes aren’t super deep and the atmosphere falls apart in real-world logic. Why does no one do what the real estate recordings say? Have they no pen or paper to recount events? Why don’t they hunt for more food? This is a little weird with some trite points, unexplained red herrings, and an unclear frame – problems from a lone writer/director with no secondary eye to see the personal family connections through without changing the rules for the finale. Fortunately, the supernatural elements aren’t flashy, in your face shocks, and the plain fade-ins mirror the monotony, freeing the eerie to develop with meta jigsaw puzzles, doppelgangers, us versus them threats, injuries, and standoffs. Are they getting what they deserve? Will the house let them apologize and escape? The clues are there, but selfish bitterness and vengeance prevent one and all from seeing the answers. While slow for those expecting a formulaic slasher, this festival find remains unusual and thought provoking.  I Didn’t Think it was *that* Bad

Cold Creek Manor – New York skylines, business flights, morning rushes, and scary accidents lead to a perilous country renovation for Dennis Quaid (Innerspace), Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct), Kristen Stewart (Twilight), Stephen Dorff (Blade), Juliette Lewis (Strange Days), and Christopher Plummer (Somewhere in Time) in this 2003 thriller from director Mike Figgis (Stormy Monday). The prologue, drive to the scares, and less than friendly redneck rest stops are just a few of the usual horror staples for our pretty rich white city folk. However, there is a high-end style with a great brick manor, overgrown charm, and unusual slaughter tools amid the spiderwebs, children’s clothes left behind, vintage family portraits, and saucy Polaroids. Older cell phones and flip cameras feel more rural than dated, and overhead camera angles, closeup shots, in and out of focus usage, slow zooms, and pans in the stairwell add chills. Intercut conversations also build community tension with chats in a booth versus whispers at the bar revealing the small town connections as uncouth relatives insist there are no hard feelings over the foreclosure sale. The trailer park naughty, shirtless handyman steamy, and mano y mano contests, however, are weak try hards alongside several unnecessary characters compromising what should be taut isolation. Snakes – and I do mean snakes for those terrified of them – nursing home nasty old men, skull bashing and devil’s throat dialogue, and tavern violence accent the backwoods car chases, animals in peril, and buried evidence as storms approach. Rather than in your face hectic loudness, the most frightening scenes here are the quiet chills, but of course, nobody pays attention to the son who’s holding all the information needed and being upfront about the real estate deal would have saved everyone a lot of trouble. The evasive camera and poor editing are used to distract from confusing logistics, and drinking or affairs contrivances are planted to deflect from the wealthy people claiming they have no resources to leave before the weak rooftop standoff. This tries to be sophisticated and had the pieces to be better but fails in putting together a steamy, fatal, cerebral thriller. Ironically this derivative is better than the recent trite scares shilled out, and if you go in expecting the standard house horrors, this can still be bemusing.  But Skip

House of Bones – The 1951 baseball nostalgia opening this 2010 ghost hunters yarn starring Charisma Carpenter (Buffy) is totally The Sandlot complete with a chubby redhead hitting dad’s Babe Ruth autographed baseball over the ominous fence. Technicalities drag the arrivals as dude bros in a van with the latest gear are sure to announce themselves as the cameraman, the host, and the producer. Slow-motion strobe and in your face television credits for the internal paranormal program parody such series while playing into all they do with annoying crescendos, false jumps, and cheesy bumpers. Every horror moment has to be a bad effect – a glance at gross apple worms has to be some herky-jerky strobe when exploring the cluttered old house, skulls behind the plaster, roaches, suspicious ectoplasm, and disappearing assistants better build the eerie atmosphere. Black and white camera screens, creepy radios, and EVPs accent the attic artifacts and bloody toes yet the modern filming is too fast with no time for the haunted house mood or psychic sensations. The unlikable crew remain jerks trying to turn throwing up hair, shadows caught on camera, disturbing phone calls, and impaled police into a reality show angle rather than taking the danger seriously. Trying to be both a debunking paranormal show and a horror movie at the same time doesn’t quite succeed when the out of place humor and handheld camera sarcasm jar with the scary glass mishaps and arms coming through the walls. The television production asinine should have been dropped sooner so all can fear this alive house that feeds on blood and plays psychological tricks with vintage visuals, power outages, mirror images, and gear hazards. However, the find the blueprints plan of action is silly – an overly serious and contrived resolution meandering with a thin script and useless psychic before running out of steam. While fine for a late night millennial audience, this ultimately has very little haunted house merit.  And Avoid

Winchester – Hammering sounds, lantern light, staircases, tolling bells, and dark corridors accent this 2018 tale of the famed mystery mansion starring Helen Mirren (The Tempest) as Sarah Winchester. Period patinas, maze-like designs, carriages, and cluttered libraries add mood, however creepy kid warnings and opium stupors contribute to an unnecessary opening twenty minutes. The Winchester company lawyer wants a doctor to assess the titular widow’s state of mind – an unwelcoming, typical start with men hiring other men to outwit a woman in a superfluous modern script that does everything but focus on the eponymous subject. Jump scares and crescendos compromise subtle winds and ghostly movements, and the bright picture and special effects editing feel too contemporary. One and all talk about the construction oddities, spiritualism, and the reclusive Widow Winchester’s grief, but it’s too much telling instead of seeing her unreliability and the potentially paranormal. Eerie sounds from the call pipe system are an excuse for ill-advised exploring, dreams, and more disjointed flashes. Quiet overhead scene transitions and meandering tours of the house have no room to create atmosphere because there must be a back and forth mirror fake out – it’s a bathroom scare at the ye olde washstand! One can tell this was written and directed by men, for even as a trio there are no checks or balance on how to tell a women’s horror story. We don’t know her internal or external torment over this spiritual construction as the creepy veils, automatic writing, and supernaturally received architectural plans are too few and far between, and the audience remains at arms length through the keyhole rather than inside with the ghostly connections. Why isn’t the possessed kid with the potato sack on his head who’s jumping off the roof and shooting at the old lady removed from the house? Why should the spirits leave her family alone when the Mrs. begs them to when the script hasn’t given them or us any reason to listen to her? The backward perspective here puts viewers in a skeptical, debunking mindset, leaving the picture with something to prove and audiences looking for the fright around the corner – creating predictable haunts rather than period simmer. Though capable of a one-woman show, Mirren is a mere MacGuffin as old newspapers, flashback splices, and physical bullets bring down one disgruntled ghost as if that’s supposed to stop the silly whooshes, earthquake rattling, and exaggerated construction destruction. Maybe the ghostly shocks and turn of the century accents are fine for a spooky midnight movie. However, the historically diverging and problematic constructs here shift a unique, one of a kind women’s story in an amazing setting into a pedestrian, nonsensical copycat horror movie about a man facing his own ghosts. Good grief.

Odds and Dead Ends: Scary Shadows | Analysis of H G Wells’ ‘The Red Room’

 

H. G. Wells might be more known for his science-fiction novels, such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, but some of his short stories might as well have been written by H. P. Lovecraft. The Red Room is a straight up ghost story in the same vein as M. R. James. It’s a little gem of a story, and I’d like to share some of my thoughts as to what makes it such a delight.

The Red Room details the protagonist taking up a challenge of sorts to stay in a cursed castle bedroom overnight. The opening sets this up nicely in what might now seem a cliché. The opening line that ‘“I can assure you,” said I, “that it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me,”’ is reminiscent of Jack Torrance in Kubrick’s The Shining saying ‘“That’s not going to happen to me”’ when Ullman speaks of the previous caretaker going insane.

This single line perfectly sets up the beginning of the character’s arc (from skeptic to believer), tells us the genre of story (supernatural), and the character of the protagonist. His skepticism is reinforced when he says that ‘I half suspected the old people were trying to enhance the spiritual terrors of their house’. He is ‘abbreviated and broadened to an impossible sturdiness in the queer old mirror at the end of the room.’ He sees himself as a rock, immovable against anything that passes his way. However, the mirror has changed his appearance, and just as he sees himself to be a rock in a storm, his faith is soon to be changed.

The protagonist’s disbelief in ghosts is due to a fear of age and dying. It is said that he is ‘“eight-and-twenty”’, which is twenty-eight for those who don’t speak century old English, making him a young man. This is in contrast to the three elderly people who apparently live in the castle. This fear of their age presents itself when the protagonist remarks that ‘There is, to my mind, something inhuman in senility.’ Age removes human qualities, and so something very old is to be seen as disgusting, or feared. Spirits, dead for many years, must be terrifying to him.

As the protagonist leaves the group for the room, they are described as ‘dark against the firelight’, which is one of the many allusions to shadows peppered throughout the opening. This further links them to the spirits that will eventually come to haunt our protagonist. Just a little later the protagonist himself expands on this idea, even remarking that ‘their very existence, thought I, is spectral.’

Along with this is the line ‘“It’s your own choosing.”’ This line is repeated like a mantra throughout the opening, and though it may be a bit overdone, the message is clear. By disobeying the warnings given, he brings the doom upon himself. This cliché also gets played up in The Cabin in the Woods, when the group ignore the warnings not to go up to the cabin. You get what’s coming to you.

Soon, even before we enter the room itself, Wells drops the recurrent image that will pervade the remainder of the piece, that of moving, sentient shadows fighting against the candlelight. There’s something very primal about this opposition, very simply a play of light against dark, of good against evil. ‘My candle flared and made the shadows cover and quiver.’ That the shadows are anthropomorphised, being said to have ‘came sweeping up behind me, and another fled before me into the darkness overhead’ is disturbing. Light has to be controlled by man, dependent on him, but the dark can move as it wishes.

The repetition and enhancing of this play of ghostly shadows is what drives the remainder of the piece. ‘The door of the Red Room and the steps up to it were in a shadowy corner.’ The protagonist must move into the realm of darkness if he is to attempt to hold out against it. The room itself is a ‘huge shadowy room with its black window bays,’ full of dust and ‘black corners, its germinating darkness.’ And against all this the candlelight has very little effect, ‘a little tongue of light in the vast chamber; its rays failed to pierce to the opposite end of the room.’

Despite being disturbed by ‘some impalpable quality of that ancient room,’ the protagonist tries to ‘preserve my scientific attitude of mind,’ and examines the room ‘systematically.’ He lights several candles throughout the room, illuminating all that he can, but despite this he still puts his revolver ‘ready to hand.’ Have all his efforts been in vain? He tries to maintain that he is in control of his emotions and that his ‘precise examination had done me a little good,’ and yet ‘I still found the remoter darkness of the place and its perfect stillness too stimulating for the imagination.’ All the build up at the beginning of the story begins to pay off, as our anticipation for ghosts and ghouls overrides the common sense saying that there is nothing there. Every mention of a black spot, a shadow in the rafters, is somewhere we search for ghosts in between the lines, looking for subtext. We are literally jumping at shadows.

A draught enters the room, and soon the candle in the alcove begins to flicker, which ‘kept the shadows and penumbra perpetually shifting and stirring in a noiseless flighty dance.’ An attempt to light more candles gives us his humorous remark that ‘when the ghost came I could warn him not to trip over them.’ Though this line is obviously a joke to himself, he’s brought ghosts into his everyday vocabulary, thinking of them as existing in his world. He’s begun a path away from disbelief into acknowledgement.

And then the candles start to go out.

Now that Wells has ratcheted up the tension by implication alone, he brings on the scares. The alcove, where the deepest shadow has been, is suddenly in darkness again. A candle has gone out. When trying to relight it, two more go out. The shadows do not give him time to bring back the light, and immediately move in for the kill. Again the comparison of the darkness to calculated activity is drawn, as ‘the flames vanished as if the wick had been suddenly nipped between a finger and thumb.’ The protagonist moves closer and closer to hysteria, and ‘a queer high note getting into my voice somehow.’

The protagonist, hysterical, again breaches into the realms of ghostly belief by exclaiming that ‘“those candles are wanted… for the mantel candlesticks.”’ He begins to fight against the shadows’ continuous extinguishing of the candles, ‘the shadows I feared and fought against returned, and crept in on me, first a step gained on this side of me, then on that.’ It is a fight that he can only lose because as was said many times at the beginning, it was a fate of his own choosing.

And yet the ambiguity is still maintained, because the draught was never initially shown to be ghostly in nature, and when he picks up another candle, ‘abruptly this was blown out as I swung it off the table by the wind of my sudden movement.’ Wells continually holds the reader in suspense of wanting to see something overtly supernatural, so that we voraciously follow the protagonist’s stumbling with our own clumsy speed, running headlong through the pages. It is Wells at his finest.

His escape from the room is even deliberately non-supernatural, battering himself up by his own stumbling in desperation and anxiety. And in the end, the final revelation of the nature of the malevolence in the room is a beautiful touch. ‘“Fear that will not have light nor sound, that will not bear with reason, that deafens and darkens and overwhelms.”’ It is described as being a supernatural force, but it is entirely possible to view it as a kind of mass hysteria. Somewhere creepy that instills fear that causes people to essentially, accidentally kill themselves in terror. The disorientation of a sudden acceptance of the possibility of spirits, of the loss of a guiding light, combined with his fear of age and decay, all fuel a Todorovian fantastic story. It’s a wonderful touch to end the piece.

In conclusion, The Red Room is a masterfully crafted ghost story that should be remembered with the best. A great build up to a frantic fight of the rational vs. the irrational part of the brain, with memorable descriptions of the sentient shadows, in a spooky gothic castle. It’s inspired my own work[1], and I hope that you’ll find something delightfully spooky from it as well.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: KJudgeMental

Bibliography

King, S., 1977. The Shining. United States: Doubleday.

The Cabin in the Woods. 2012. [Film] Directed by Drew Goddard. USA: Mutant Enemy.

Todorov, T., 1975. The Fantastic. New York: Cornell University.

Wells, H. G., 1896. The Red Room. [Online]
Available at: https://repositorio.ufsc.br/bitstream/handle/123456789/157356/The%20Red%20Room%20-%20H.G.%20Wells.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
[Accessed 23 06 2019].

Wells, H. G., 1897. The War Of The Worlds. United Kingdom: Pearson’s Magazine.

Wells, H. G., 1931. The Time Machine. New York: Random House.

[1] For those interested, the piece in question, The Voice-Snatcher, will be released in The Sirens Call #45 at the end of June/beginning of July.

David’s Haunted Library: Sleep Savannah Sleep


 

Jason Crandall needed to make a new start, he worked in Los Angeles as a Marketing executive for years. Sadly his wife died leaving him as a widower with an 18-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. He decided to start his new life in Shadow Springs by becoming a massage therapist. Shadow Springs seems like a nice little town but before long before cracks start to form in the town’s illusion of normalcy and secrets come to light.

First Jason has to deal with a jealous husband of one of his clients but life gets more complicated as the beautiful Savannah Sturgess goes missing. Jason starts to have horrible visions that make him doubt his sanity and some people are looking at him as a suspect in the disappearance.  Everyone in town has their own set of secrets, but the biggest secret is what happened to Savannah and why won’t the dead rest in peace?

Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross is a book that works on several levels. It’s a murder mystery, horror novel and ghost story with the perfect setting of a small mysterious town.  The first half of the book takes its time making us feel empathy for the characters. By the time strange things happen in the second half you’re totally hooked and wanting to see what happens next.

The detail put into each character makes them come to life and while they are shown one way, to begin with you see other sides to them as the story moves along. Savannah, in the beginning, is seen as the town whore but when we get into why she is the way she is, she becomes a sympathetic character. Also, Flynn Garvey who is Savannah’s boyfriend has no personality in the beginning, but later we dig a little deeper and find he has a secret and there is more depth to him than we thought. Even the character of Tabitha Cooper who is not in the story much is someone you feel for. She is seen as a crazy old witch, but in reality is very different than others see her. All of the characters present an image to the outside world but if you scratch the surface a little they show another side. You care about these people because you can relate to them and that makes things even scarier when odd things start to happen.

The best part of this book was when Jason is questioning his sanity. You see him as just a guy dealing with the loss of his wife and trying to raise his kids to the best of his abilities but as he is having visions that make no sense his life quickly unravels. The feeling of losing your mind when you know people are dependent on you is the worst kind of fear and Jason is also dealing with ghosts from his past. In Sleep Savannah Sleep the horror doesn’t come from what you see, it comes from what you don’t see. This is an old school horror novel that preys on your emotions rather than showing you horrific imagery, though it does that too. Alistair Cross shows that he is a master storyteller by giving us memorable characters and a twist ending that you’ll never see coming.

 

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: SWEET RECENT SCARES

 

Sweet Recent Scares

by Kristin Battestella

 

Ghosts, vampires, and cults, oh my! This trio of recent tales get the scares right!

 

I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in The House – Ruth Wilson (Luther, The Affair) stars in this 2016 Netflix original written and directed by Oz Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter). Poetic voiceovers tell of a house being borrowed by the living while dark screens and period silhouettes come in and out of focus, creating an aged feeling for our colonial house, ailing horror author, and her jilted live in nurse Lily – who must always wear white, can’t be touched, and slaps her own hand for snooping. Certainly there are obvious implications with repeated phrases, solitary scenes, one side phone calls, whispering voices, and no outdoor perspectives to disrupt our attention from the suspect footsteps and undisturbed décor. Old music with ironic lyrics, cassettes, rotary phones, typewriters, static TV antennas, and Grateful Dead shirts also invoke a trapped in the past mood implying that the thin veil between life and death is soon to be broken. Shadowed, almost black and white shots and doorways framed in darkness make the audience question which side of the looking glass we are on – slow zooms peer into the dark frames or blacked out night time windows. There are shock moments, but the one woman play design is intense without being loud or in your face. Blindfolds, old fashioned dresses, mirrors, musty papers, and mysterious boxes increase amid moldy walls and suspicious characters from our author’s 1960 novel The Lady in the Walls – creating slow burn literary flashbacks, parallel self-awareness, ghostly uncertainty, and feminine duality on wilted old age blooms versus forever beautiful flowers. Is this a linear story or are the past, present, living, and dead blending together? Again, the answers are apparent with book titles and name hints hidden in plain sight. No one eats, sleeps, or bathrooms yet this ghostly rot and repetition may take multiple viewings for full discussion, interpretation, and analysis. Although there are some pretentious arty for the sake of it moments – not the papa Anthony Perkins scenes on the TV! – knocking on the walls, a flipped up rug, buzzing flies, and a will requesting another woman writer come to chronicle this “House of Stories” are atmosphere enough without run of the mill wham bam effects. This individual horror experience remains can’t look away intriguing for old school horror fans not expecting thrills a minute and those who enjoy a seventies, no concept of time mood.

 

Midnight Son – An aversion to sunlight, skin conditions, and the need for human blood make for a deadly quarter life crisis in this 2011 indie gem from Scott Leberecht (Life After Pi). There’s not much dialogue early – and the DVD has deleted scenes, interviews, and commentaries but no subtitles – yet the visual storytelling doesn’t need anything uber talkative. Interesting schemes denote the false night time light with yellow lamps, neon accents, string bulbs, blue kitchen designs, and choice reds as the doctor diagnoses anemia, jaundice, and malnourishment. Rare steak isn’t doing the trick, but the sight of blood on a bandage at the ho hum night security job gets the heart racing for something tasty. Early Google research moments get out of the way in favor of painting memories of the sun, solitary vampire movie watching, checking for fangs, testing for a reaction to crosses, and having a laugh at the clichés. Loneliness, street peddlers, deadbeats, and debt – life’s already down on its luck so what’s a little vampirism? The vampire vis-a-vis for drug use and life sucks may be trite today, but this allegory has an older, working protagonist stopping in the corner butcher for some blood by the pint to hide in his coffee cup. Companionship and fantastic possibilities can be found in unlikely places, and it’s neat to see just how many things a basement dwelling vampire can really do at night. Although I like his bed with the blackout curtains, this is a potential turned bleak world – the natural awkwardness is understandable and casually realistic. Jacob’s smart, talented, and just hampered by his…health problems…and an ER opportunist is willing to trade blood for a price. Rather than shock horror exploitative, we have an intimate, invested view for the increasing slurps, bloody makeouts, and desperateness. Quick camera flashes leave room for suggestion as bodily changes, night vision, infections, and love bites interfere with potential relationships, murder investigations, gallery possibilities, and you know, trying to get somewhere in life. Can you be a good and normal vampire or is amoral violence the only answer? Though plain to some with nothing super unexpected, the simple constructs echo the mature progression, honest drama, and self-aware focus without the need for horror spectacle. This is a fine story with a small but well rounded, multi-ethnic cast, and it’s one of the best same writer/director pictures I’ve seen in a very long while.

 

Sacrifice – Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black), Rupert Graves (Sherlock), and David Robb (Downton Abbey) star in this 2016 adaptation of Sharon Bolton’s novel beginning with brisk New York pregnancy emergencies before moving to Scotland’s great mountains, rocky coasts, and end of the world island isolation for an adoption. Standing stones, jokes about mistaking “runes” for “ruins”, and talk of Druids, Normans, and ritual sacrifice pepper the scene setting job interviews, hospital tours, and dinner with the wealthy, well-connected, but secretive in-laws. A dead animal on the property reveals a buried body, and our lady obstetrician butts into the police investigation of this bog discovery, studying creepy photos and x-rays of the corpse to suggest the victim had recently given birth before her insides were excised. Quality science, Tollund Man references, and flood clues jar against trow myths, unique folklore, and inscription evidence. The authorities don’t want to hear any of that old sacrificial talk, but these mothers and lady cops are intelligent women talking about history and murder rather than men or gossip. While the well-paced, multilayered investigations may build the spooky versus facts with suspicions and tense cloak and dagger, this is not an overt horror picture. The story here feels caught in the middle when it should have been either a straight crime drama or gone with all out fantastics. There are some plot confusions as well – who is who and all the details aren’t totally clear, leaving an abrupt end with serious unanswered questions. Fortunately, surveillance, shadows, chases in the dark office at night, and lights going out add suspense. Late wives, a clinic full of pregnant but anonymous women – who doesn’t want this medical mystery solved and why? This is a small island, and not being in on its secrets can prove fatal with dangerous bridges or fiery car accidents. Body switches, clandestine interviews, identifying tattoos, hidden passages, and bagpipes tossed in for good measure seemingly tidy the case, and a likable, mature cast anchors the maternal fears and cult demands of this unique little thriller.

 

But Skip

White Settlers – A city couple moves to a too good to be true Scottish fixer upper on a medieval battle site in this 2014 British snoozer also called The Blood Lands. After the usual cool opening credits, are we there yet driving to the horrors, a somewhat shady estate agent, no phone signals, and a move in montage; the very unprepared wife realizes she’s afraid of being in an isolated handyman house without power. Of course, her jerk husband makes Scottish jokes, refusing to let up on his bullshit attitude even when there’s a scary break in and unseen attackers. The outdoor saucy, surprisingly immature and incompatible couple, and nighttime suspicious are typical clichés, and the divine scenery, historical references, and great house are never used to their full potential. When the description refers to ancient battles, one sort of expects something wild like ghosts or cults and past meets present horror – not guys in pig masks angry at the new neighbors. It’s tough to feel any of the supposed English versus Scottish subtext because the horror is so substandard. Eden Lake had better us versus them twists, and I swear I just saw this terrorizing hooligans in animal masks trope in at least three other horror house siege movies. Although flashlights and fog make it difficult to see much of anything here, and our wife has to apologize to her asshole husband for her being afraid even while she’s the superior fighter. Maybe this isn’t that bad on its own, but it’s certainly disappointing if you are expecting anything more than Brits chasing some other Brits through the woods in the dark. Nothing here is horror sentient – people go back to check the still body, bads talk rather than act to create a contrived victim escape, and who trusts the creepy little boy for help? Hello, McFly. If you didn’t want any English buying your Scottish property, why not blame the real estate lady who sold it to them? Or the bank that made the price so high? How is unrealistically terrorizing and ridiculously kicking out the new owners so you can move in going to get rid of any of the real world consequences?

David’s Haunted Library: Dead Over Heels

David's Haunted Library

33115353Veronica is looking for true love, it hasn’t been easy and now she thinks using a little magic may help. It works in the form of Sebastian and they hit it off instantly. Their first date is in a haunted restaurant and as luck would have it their romantic dinner is the scene of a supernatural encounter. They notice a young couple dining, but no one else does, and Veronica along with an apprehensive Sebastian decides to investigate further. They discover that they have a connection to the couple in question and they may be the only ones who can set the ghosts free.

Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun is a paranormal love story with  elements of horror and mystery. There is a lot going on in this book in a short period, and I loved how the story begins with a little foreshadowing to let you know this love affair is not your average affair. Everything was described in great detail from the characters emotions to the various settings.

I enjoyed how the couple’s relationship developed from the description of their first date to the point of when they realize that something strange is going on in the restaurant. My favorite part was when Veronica sees a couple very much in love and wishes that someday she can have something like that, not knowing what’s coming to her. There was also a scene where Veronica compares being abandoned to putting on a worn pair of jeans. With this line, I felt fully invested in this character and was hoping for a happy ending.

I loved how the author got you to like the two main characters before anything bad happened. During the second part of the book you get to witness the two changed by a paranormal revelation and they realize nothing will ever be the same. My one problem with the story is how it ended, without giving much away, it felt like there was no closure.  With that said, the writing was very good and I like how what happens in the past affects what happens in the future, showing that some things and people are connected. This is a good little ghost story and I would love to read some longer works from Theresa Braun.

 

Strange Happenings in Wisconsin

August_the_beast_of_bray_road_by_pyro_helfier-d7v0mcyA fan of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, Jeff Eickelberg recently sent us an email saying that one topic he would love to see us talk about was unexplained occurrences in Wisconsin. Specifically he asked about Great Lakes ghosts, cryptids, haunted farmhouses or anything else that could be considered ghoulish. Being that I live in Wisconsin I was more than happy to research strange happenings in Wisconsin. Probably the first thing people think about when they think of Wisconsin is The Beast Of Bray Road. The Beast is a werewolf that has been spotted several times in Southeastern Wisconsin. There have been at least two books written about the beast and a couple of paranormal TV shows covered the subject. There was also a movie that was released in 2005. If you want to hear more about The Beast Of Bray Road check out D.J. Pitsiladis article on the topic here.

Haunchyville

h2My favorite weird story from Wisconsin is about a small village of murderous dwarfs in the woods near Muskego. The village is called Haunchyville and is protected by an old albino man. The dwarfs live in small houses built to scale and don’t like trespassers. If you are unlucky enough to meet them they will cut your legs off at the knee and force you to live as one of them. Legend has it that the town was created when a group of dwarfs ran away from  the circus because the circus’ ringmaster abused them. When the albino man was a boy he got lost in the woods and found Haunchyville by accident. The dwarfs took pity on him and raised him, the albino re-payed the favor by using a shotgun to keep people away from Haunchyville.

I had heard of Haunchyville from a book called Weird Wisconsin by Linda Godfrey and Richard Hendricks and I was fascinated by the idea of a small village of killer dwarfs. As I was doing research to write this, I didn’t find any record of anyone seeing the dwarfs but in the woods where Haunchyville is said to be located you will find three buildings that look like they could be dwarf homes. Most people believe that the legend of Haunchyville was started by high school kids in Muskego in order to scare younger kids.

http://slpmode.com/a-v-club-milwaukee-dont-go-back-to-haunchyville/

 

Summerwind

20140127-003206Every state has more than its fair share of haunted houses and the most haunted house in Wisconsin was a place called Summerwind. Located in Northeast Wisconsin on West Bay Lake this mansion was built in 1916 by Robert Lamont. The hauntings began when Robert Lamont thought he saw an intruder one evening and tried to shoot him, the bullet passed through him and the intruder faded away. Upon the death of Mr. Lamont the house was sold to Arnold Hinshaw and his wife Ginger who were only able to stay in the house for six months. The couple saw vague shapes and shadows passing through the home. Also lights would turn on and off along with windows and doors opening and closing by themselves. What was most disturbing though was a ghost of a woman who would appear above the dining room table. Over a short period of time, the couple started to question their sanity. Late at night Arnold would play an organ because the demons in his head said he had to. One night after finding a corpse in the home(which they never reported to the authorities) Ginger tried to commit suicide and the couple decided it was time to move on.

People doubted that Hinshaw’s story really happened but then the next owners had trouble. The new owner was Raymond Bober and he claimed he knew the house was haunted and even knew the ghost’s name. The ghost was an eighteenth century British explorer and the land was given to him by the Sioux Indians. He wrote a book about his experiences in 1979 called The Carver Effect. Bober had nothing but bad luck in the house and abandoned it after a couple of years. The house then remained vacant until 1988 when it burned to the ground after being struck by lightning. Some people still believe that the land where the house stood is still haunted.

https://www.prairieghosts.com/summer.html

Boy Scout Lane

BoyScoutLaneWisconsin has more haunted roads then most states and one of those is called Boy Scout Lane. Located near Stevens Point, a Scout troop was killed on the road sometime in the 1950’s or 60’s. Stories vary on what happened, some say the troop was killed by their scoutmaster and another story says that the scouts dropped a lantern which caused a fire and killed the whole troop. It is said that the scouts are haunting the area and if you are there you will hear them hiking through the woods. People that have visited the area have said they had the feeling they were being watched and have seen floating lights that look like lanterns. No one has ever been able to prove that a group of scouts died in this area but the ghost sighting are still happening.

http://www.yourghoststories.com/real-ghost-story.php?story=601

Witch Road

witch_road3Boy Scout road isn’t the only haunted lane in Wisconsin, Near the town of Rosendale lies Witch Road. Legend has it that 60 years ago a witch lived on Witch road and when she died the road became haunted. Some of the people who have traveled the road say that parts of the road are unusually dark and cold and you can hear the sound of trickling water even though there is no stream near by. Others have witnessed white lights in the trees and a ghost of a young girl. The witches abandoned home can still be seen near the street, along with a tree that looks a lot like a witch.  Several people go to witch road because they were dared and even when they don’t see a ghost they still say it’s a very creepy place to visit.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/files_spectrology/witch_road.html

 

Dartford Cemetery

dartford-indian-chiefMany people think cemeteries are haunted but in reality most cemeteries are not haunted but are a beautiful memorial to those that have passed before us. But there is one graveyard that may be haunted in Green Lake called Dartford Cemetery. According to the locals there are several ghosts that wander Dartford at night. Graves here date back to the 1800’s and some of the ghosts include civil war soldiers, kids who died of polio and an Indian Chief whose headstone appears to glow in the light of the moon.

Several stories have been told about this place, One of them is if you sit on one of the mausoleums, a ghost will come and push you off. Some people who are brave enough to enter the cemetery after dark have seen tombstones that vanish and reappear. They have also seen shadows and orbs in the trees and have had the sensation of being watched.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/media/a_haunting_featuring_the_dartford_cemetery.html

Bloody Bride Bridge

c202126003ca8c4cfc617571c5d1f5d0Out on County Highway 66 near Stevens Point, lies a concrete bridge that crosses the Plover River. Though no one has ever been able to confirm the story it is said that years ago a bride and groom were driving home after their wedding in a thunderstorm. As they crossed the bridge the car spun out of control and the couple died in the crash. Since then people have spotted the bride standing on the bridge with blood covering her dress. It is also said that if you stop your car on the bridge the dead bride and groom will appear in the backseat of your car.

http://www.washingtoncountyparanormal.com/blog/the-mysterious-stacked-stones-of-bloody-bride-bridge-stevens-point-wi/

Hotel Hell

maribel-caves-hotel-photoEveryone has had a bad stay at a hotel but there is one hotel out there that some think contains a portal to hell. Built in 1900, Hotel Hell in Maribel was originally called the Maribel Caves Hotel. It had a rough history, it caught fire three times on the same date. One of the fires in the 1930’s killed all the hotel guests while they slept. These were not the only deaths that took place there, one night one of the hotel guests went crazy and killed some of the guests with a knife.

Though no one can say when it happened it was believed that a group of black witches who were attracted to the spiritual activity that went on there did a ritual and opened a portal to hell that released demons into the hotel. Luckily for the future guests a white witch came to the rescue and sealed the portal. The hotel has been abandoned since a fire gutted the inside in 1985. Since then many people have entered the hotel illegally and said that they heard disembodied voices and saw blood on the walls.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/files_spectrology/maribel_hotel_hell.html

Wisconsin Lizard Man

manbatWisconsin also has its fair share of cryptids, including a lizard man who was spotted at different times in the 1990’s on route 13 south of Medford. People who saw the creature say that it was covered in green scales and had large leathery wings.  The first person who spotted it said it was standing in the middle of the road and then shot up into the sky when the car got close. Shortly after that another person spotted it in the same area and said it was staring right at him but when the car got close he flew off into the trees.

About 10 years later in 2006, a creature that fit the same description was spotted near LaCrosse. A father and son spotted the lizard man flying straight at there car while screaming. They thought it was going to collide with them but at the last second the creature darted up into the sky. The picture to the left is an artist’s rendition of how the creature was described.

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/topic/81821-reptilian-sighted-in-wisconsin-by-man-son/

Pepie The Lake Monster

d3f36250d229c4a3623ade43e64569ebSo now you know Wisconsin has lizard men, werewolves and ghosts. But that’s not all we have, we also have our own lake monster. He lives in Lake Pepin which is along the Mississippi River about 40 miles from Eau Claire. His name is Pepie and he goes way back to when the native Americans lived there. Legend has it they would not take their canoes on Lake Pepin because they feared the giant lake monster would tip it over.

Back in 1871 some explorers said they spotted the creature and it looked like a cross between a rhino and an elephant. Since then there have been sightings and even some pictures of the creature, but no hard evidence has been presented saying the creature exists. People keep trying though, in 2008 there was an expedition to find it that came up empty-handed and currently there is a $50,000 reward for proof that Pepie exists. Pepie is so popular in Wisconsin that he even has his own website.

http://pepie.net/

Green Bay’s Griffon

article-2343642-1A5FD37C000005DC-129_634x518The last thing I want to talk about is The Griffon. If you are going to talk about ghosts in Wisconsin you have to talk about The Great Lakes. Ships have been crossing the lakes for centuries and up until the last 50 years or so, it wasn’t safe. Several books have been written on shipwrecks on The Great Lakes and where there are wrecks there are ghosts.

The Griffon’s home port was in Green Bay, in August of 1679 the ship was headed back to Green Bay from Niagara when it mysteriously disappeared. It wasn’t gone forever though. Throughout the years in the fog people have claimed to spot a ghostly three-masted ship that looked like it belonged to a different era. Could The Griffon still be trying to find its way home after 300 years? I guess we will never know for sure.

http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/04/the-ghost-fleet-of-the-great-lakes/

Do you have a favorite ghost story from your area you want to share? Please leave a comment or send us an email at horroraddicts@gmail.com.

David’s Haunted Library: Shadow People And Cursed Objects and Wicked Gardens

David's Haunted Library

28810445I have two anthologies that I want to talk about and they have one thing in common. They both include a story from Horror Addicts hostess Emerian Rich. The First book is Shadow People and Cursed Objects edited by C. Le Mroch. There may be a lot of ghost anthologies out there but what makes make this one different is that it challenges you to guess if each ghostly tale is based on a true story or not. At the end of the book  is a section that gives background info on each story and tells you if its true or the author’s imagination.

Shadow People and Cursed Objects has thirteen tales that are well written and delightfully spooky. The first story is The Busby Chair by Alice J. Black. In this one, a boy is dared by his classmates to sit in a cursed chair in a museum. According to legend, a ghost will come and kill you if you sit in his chair. I loved the atmosphere here and how it includes an old legend and kids doing something dumb due to a dare. This was the perfect set up for the rest of the anthology.

It’s hard to pick favorites, but one of mine was Bye Bye Blackbird by Emerian Rich. Set in 1926, it focuses on a shy woman who spots a raven necklace that she must have. Despite the shopkeeper refusing to sell, she ends up with the necklace after a series of events and wishes she hadn’t. What I love about it is how the twenties comes to life with references to flappers and the descriptions of the outfits they wear. I liked that despite the main characters getting warned about the necklace, they seem to think that the warning means something different and the woman with the necklace becomes a target. I loved the concept of a cursed object causing so much destruction.

Another story that stood out for me here is Doomsday Every Night At Five by Evan Dicken. The story looks at a simpler time where a young girl keeps seeing stories of the apocalypse on an old TV every night at 5. After awhile she comes to the conclusion that the people in the TV are watching her as she is watching them and there are things happening that she can’t control. There is only one way to end how she feels, I love the ending to this one.  I also enjoyed the next story in the anthology which again deals with a kid taking a dare. Fatty And The Nothing Man by Sean Ealy follows a boy named Fatty who decides to venture into a haunted house in order to impress his so called friends. Inside he meets the old woman who owns the house and finds that there is only one way to leave the house. What I liked here was how the woman talks Fatty into what she wants him to do and then Fatty makes a big revelation of his own. Does anything good ever come from a dare?

Another great one here is Pedro by the book’s editor C. Le Mroch. Did you ever have an invisible sibling that your parents talked about being perfect in every way? We’ll Peter had that, his name was Pedro and now Peter is an adult and Pedro is getting Peter’s son into trouble. How do you stop a ghost from causing trouble? Peter will find out that there is only one way to do it. This was an excellent story with a good message to it. There are no bad stories in Shadow People and Cursed Objects. The editor did an excellent job of picking the best of the best and the concept of deciding what is real or what isn’t also makes this book a must read. This is one book that you shouldn’t pass up.

The other anthology is Wicked Gardens Edited by Mark Slade and Gavin Chappell. This book is differentCfc5tMWWwAAYs7a than most books out there. In this collection, we have several stories that range from the bizarre to the horrific and they all have to do with an apartment building and a garden. Anything goes in this anthology and if I had to describe it in two words I would say it’s oddly original. I’m no stranger to Mark Slade’s work. When you read a book that has him involved you just need to check your brain at the door and enjoy the ride, and I did just that.

One of my favorite stories here was from Emerian Rich called The Garden. Belinda went to live with her Gram after her dad died and mom ran off. She feels lonely sometimes but the roses in Gram’s garden are always there when no one else is. I love the foreshadowing in the beginning of this story with Belinda being compared to the flowers that her grandma grows. There is also a good message about how your loved ones never really abandon you and you are strong enough to survive anything.

Another good one is Giving Up The Ghost by Mark Slade. This one has to do with an unhappy couple, a trapped spirit and a man who doesn’t want to give up his old apartment. I loved the idea of a spirit being kept against its will.

If you like strange, there is one tale in this book that really fits the bill. Apartment 6-A by L.A. Sykes is about a serial killer stuck in an apartment after the apocalypse. One word to describe this one is bleak. There is no light and no living people, just one man alone with the memories of his past killings and some dead bodies which he has conversations with. This was one deranged story.

This may be an odd little book but it’s not one that you should pass up. All of the stories and poems here show a lot of imagination and you have to love a book where anything goes. Wicked Gardens is the kind of book you read when you want to try something totally different because this book will remind you how creative horror writers can be.

 

Movie Review: The Phantom Carriage

MoviePosterPCby A.D. Vick

Three or four months ago, I had just discovered the Russian funeral-doom band known as Ankhagram. As is customary at such times, I listened to a selection of the group’s musical offerings on YouTube. At some point I chose a video entitled Song to Say Goodbye. As the mournful music began, a scene from what could only have been a silent film appeared on my computer screen.

A man sits at his desk smoking a cigarette pensively. Without warning, he opens a desk draw and removes a pistol. The scene changes and a ghostly figure wearing a hood and long robe appears. The figure walks through the solid doors and gazes upon the lifeless body of the suicide victim lying on the floor. The sorrowful figure lifts the dead man’s spirit out of his body and carries it outside, where he places it in the back of a phantasmal carriage led by a horse. Thus began my interest in a 1921 Swedish film called The Phantom Carriage.

The production, which both starred and was directed by Victor Sjostrom, opens with Syster Edit (Astrid Holm), a Salvation Army worker, lying in her death bed. She makes one final request of her friend and co-worker, Syster Maria (Lisa Lundholm), asking that she attempt to find a certain David Holm (Victor Sjostrom) and bring him to her one last time.

Meanwhile, Mr. Holm is sitting in the darkness of a nearby cemetery getting drunk with a couple of friends. It’s New Year’s Eve and as the midnight hour approaches, Holm decides to tell his companions a ghost story about a former friend named Georges, who had imparted some valuable information one New Year’s Eve.

On that night Georges had told his companions that whoever dies on New Year’s Eve must drive the cart of death, a task for which the driver would be greeted only by sorrow and despair. “The last soul to die each year,” Georges had told him, “the one to give up the ghost, at the stroke of midnight, is destined to be death’s driver during the coming year.” Georges himself, Holm added, had passed from this world on the previous New Year’s Eve.

As Holm finishes his story, Gustafsson, another associate of Syster Edit, discovers him in the cemetery. The drunk man refuses to accompany Gustafsson back to Syster Edit’s death bed and the gentleman has no choice but to leave without him. Holm’s companions however, attempt to convince him that he must go to honor the dying lady. Holm’s reluctance continues and a fight ensues. The struggle ends when one of the men strikes a blow to the defiant man’s head with a bottle. Holm falls to the ground—his body limp. The men gaze upward to see that the hands a nearby clock have just arrived at 12:00 midnight. Horrified, the two scatter. Shortly after, the ghost of David Holm rises from his limp body only to confront the death cart and it’s driver, his old friend Georges.

The Phantom Carriage is a film about selfishness and redemption. Through the use of flashback, a narrative style almost unused at the time, David Holm is revealed as a man of vile character, a rude drunkard who has exposed the kindhearted Syster Edit as well as his own wife to the ravages of consumption (tuberculosis) without a care. In a style somewhat reminiscent of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Georges attempts to show Holm, who must now relieve him as the driver of the carriage, the error of his ways. When the ghostly drunkard sees his distraught wife, Anna, preparing to take her own life as well as those of their children, he pleads with Georges to intervene. The death cart driver sadly informs him that he has no power over the living.

The Phantom Carriage, which was based on a novel entitled Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness by the Nobel Prize winning author Selma Lagerlof, is regarded as a vital piece of the Swedish film legacy. The production is highly regarded for its special effects and its unique style of narration. It is also an early example in the evolution of horror films.

For those who would like to watch the movie, it’s available on YouTube, as is an official trailer. That said, the Ankhagram video that first attracted this reviewer to the film serves as an excellent trailer in and of itself. And, if you enjoy doom metal, you’ll be in for a real treat.

Nightmare Fuel: The Watcher of Westfield

Hello Addicts,

For the season finale, I thought we might go house hunting in Westfield, NJ, where one home has garnered a lot of attention over the past year. It’s a house with everything a young family might want, including it’s very own stalker.

A family of five closed on the $1.3 million house in 2014 and were excited to move in, but within three days their happiness turned into terror.  A letter left at their front door claimed that the house had been watched since 1920’s by people known as The Watchers, with the latest member of their clan doing so for the past twenty years.  The current Watcher boasted about roaming around the house and imagining living with the rich occupants.  As if that alone wasn’t creepy enough, The Watcher claimed to have told the previous owners to fill the house with young blood so he could learn their names and call them to him. He also claimed control of the house later letters to the homeowners, asking them which room each family member would get so he could plan better.  He even hinted at something hidden within the walls of the home..

Although it is still an ongoing investigation, skeptics have hypothesized that the entire affair was made up by the new homeowners as a way to back out of the completed sale. Another possibility is that they wanted to create something to grab attention and give them their fifteen minutes of fame, and, if so, it seems to be working.  Movie studios, such as Blumhouse Productions and New Line Cinema, are already rushing to secure the story rights for a potential movie.  All of this may come as little relief to the current owners of the home as they refuse to move into the house and are unable to sell the home because of the ever vigilant Watcher.

Until next season Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

HorrorAddicts.net 122, Dario Ciriello

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Horror Addicts Episode# 122

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

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dario ciriello | glass android | mario bava

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David’s Haunted Library: The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B

23183676Kat and Marie Bench are not like other girls, they may be interested in make-up and boys but they are also obsessed with ghosts. They love telling ghost stories, they read all the books about ghosts that they can find, they watch movies about ghosts and TV shows about ghost hunters. They even have a blog called the ghost sisters and hope to become ghost hunters and see one someday.

The ghost girls along with their divorced mom have just moved to Pueblo Colorado and will start school at Apache Middle School. Starting at a new school can be hard and classes at Apache are even harder because the ghost of a young girl haunts the hallways. She opens lockers and slams them shut, makes the lights flicker, leaves mysterious messages around school and can be heard crying and shrieking. Kat and Marie’s dreams of seeing a ghost are about to come true and their career as ghost hunters are just beginning. Hopefully they can find out why the ghost is there and save the school from any further damage.

The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B by Patricia Santos Marcantonio may be a Y.A. novel that is meant for kids but it’s a story that adults will like also. Despite me not being the intended audience for this book, I really enjoyed it because a good story is a good story and I like anything that has to do with the supernatural. I also liked the ghost sisters and wanted to see how they dealt with a real ghost. Kids will love this book because they will be able to relate to the problems that these middle school kids are dealing with.  I liked that the girls have to deal with going to a new school because of a divorce which is something lots of kids deal with. These girls deal with it well though thanks to a passion for ghosts.

There was a lot to like about this book, in particular I liked when we first meed the ghost sisters and they talk about their love of the supernatural. Though I have to say my favorite part of The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B was the message on how bullying affects kids. In the book Kat and Marie have a friend named Trini who has to deal with bullying.  I liked that Trini doesn’t want to tell adults about the bullying because she is embarrassed about it. Its pretty normal for a kid to not want to admit to being bullied and I liked seeing how Kat, Marie and the adults in their lives deal with the problem.

The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B is everything you would want a YA novel to be, there is a good mystery to it, some scenes with ghosts that kids will really like and some good humor. One of the funniest parts was when one of the sisters says that 10 years was so long ago and the other sister says “In adult time that’s not very long.” Patricia seems to really know how young kids think. I hope this is the beginning of a series so we can have more adventures with The Ghost Sisters.

David’s Haunted Library: Containment

20563870Life is different in the late 22nd century. We’ve had wars, drones watch all of our movements and ghosts are used as a power source. When someone dies their spirit is taken to a containment unit where for eternity their energy is used in place of fossil fuels to light up the city of Charlotte. One of the workers at the Spectral power containment facility is a devil-human hybrid named Feast. Feast is a rare breed and different form most people in the city. He has had his run ins with the city and the dead seem to be more attracted to him than anyone else.

Feast doesn’t necessarily agree with the way the city is run but goes along with it because he appreciates the benefits he gets from working for the city. All of that changes when Feast has to help bring down a powerful entity that has the ability to make you see your worst fears or your greatest desires. Feast starts to see that he is more than he thought he was, but it might not be enough to keep him from becoming a ghost trapped in the containment unit.

Containment by Eden Royce is a book that hooked me right away. The concept of ghosts being used as a power source in the future is an original idea unlike anything I’ve read before. I also love how the book starts off, Eden makes you feel compassion for Feast as you hear what he thinks about the ghosts trapped in the Containment unit. Feast has a sense of hopelessness, he sees what happens to spirits when they die and knows everyone ends up in the same horrible space. You also sees how he lives in a society where there is little freedom.

Despite what looks like a bleak existence for  Feast he is still grateful for many things, he likes the benefits from his job and he talks with the ghosts in the containment unit despite being a little freaked out by them. He may not like how things are but he doesn’t see everything as bad either. One of my favorite parts of this book was when Feast tells how he thinks we should live life and later says that the ghosts in the containment unit are not the only ghosts there are. Feast is a fascinating character and the descriptions of the world he lives in are equally as interesting.

Another thing I like about this book is how the story is told. In the beginning the story seems deceptively simple. As the plot moves along its like Eden is adding more layers to the story. There is a lot going on in this book which leads me to my one complaint, its short. From reading Containment you get the impression that it is part of a much bigger story and there are unanswered questions. On a positive note there is a sequel to Containment available so I’m hoping that this becomes a series. Containment is a beautifully written story that shows that there are a lot of original story ideas out there.

 

Suicide Forest and Shadeylight

23570089It’s hard to explain the human mind. Why are we drawn to places that have a history of death and that people say is cursed. Why would anyone want to go camping in a place called Suicide Forest? Perhaps it’s for a thrill or just to see a place that most people are terrified to go to. Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates is a psychological horror story that looks at people’s fascination with death, why people commit suicide, the hardships of life, friendship and love.

The story is fairly simple, it follows a group of five people on their way to climb Mount Fuji in Japan. Their trip gets rained out, they meet two other hikers and decide to camp in Suicide Forest instead. Suicide Forest is a real place where hundreds of Japanese citizens go each year to commit suicide. The forest has a dark history, the area is considered cursed and is associated with demons in Japanese mythology. The place contains rocky caverns, trees twisted into strange formations and is absent of wildlife. The seven campers are hoping to see a ghost or perhaps a body but they get far more than they bargained for.

The thing I admired about Suicide Forest was that this is a book that didn’t have a lot of action until the end but still managed to keep me interested. I found the characters so intriguing that I couldn’t put it down. Even the characters that aren’t in the book long have fascinating back stories. This is a psychological horror story which explores some deep subjects in a horrific setting. As dark as it is it actually has some funny moments as well, such as when the campers talk about the quickest ways to die. It’s a heavy topic but even in a hard situation I felt this scene added realism because even in a life threatening situation you would make light of it to deal with the horror all around you.

This book is light on action but big on suspense. The reader is constantly left with a feeling of unease because you’re not quite sure what’s happening until the end. The only thing you know for sure is that entering the forest was a bad idea and all the characters seem to turn on each other at one point. This book made me think of The Blair Witch Project with the exception being that this takes place in what is believed to be a real haunted setting.

There were several things I loved about this book.  I liked how it looks at Japanese culture and how the setting is described. From reading this book I felt like I had visited the Suicide Forest myself. I also liked the discussions in this book on why people commit suicide, with some saying they understand it and others saying they don’t. I also loved when one of the minor characters makes a revelation about death that’s hard to disagree with. This is also reflected well in the end of the book when you see that two of the main characters are forever changed by the experience they had with one feeling one way and the other being at the opposite end of the spectrum. If you want to know what I mean read the book and find out, you won’t be disappointed.

24549934Another book I want to talk about is Shadeylight:Vella The Virgin Vegan Vampire by J.K. Elemenopy  with a little help from Kimberly Steele. This book answers the question of what would happen if 50 Shades Of Grey and Twilight were able to mate and have a love child. Shadeylight is the answer to that question and a very good parody of both best-selling books. This is a story that’s all told from a first person viewpoint of a self obsessed college age girl who wants nothing more than to protect her no no and promote the vegan lifestyle.

Vella is a proud virgin and the subject of many men’s fantasies. She attends the local community college and wants to be a writer. Everything changes when she meets billionaire Xavier Cash who just happens to be part unicorn/part vampire. Vella is not your average girl though, she has a secret that she is not fully aware of and also has split personalities. Vella constantly has to deal with her perverted inner goddess and overbearing vegan subconscious. To make matters even more complicated she has another man who is interested in her named  Jean-Pierre La Fine.

This is the kind of book that you don’t get because the story looks good, this is the kind of book you get because you think that with a title like that it has to be entertaining. Shadeylight is a pretty funny read and this is coming from a person who would never dream of reading Twilight or 50 Shades Of Grey. Despite not knowing the source material, I’ve heard enough about both books where I got all the references and all the gags.

Nothing is off-limits in this book, it makes fun of everything including a scene where one of the characters makes fun of the author of the book. It makes fun of self obsessed writers, bad writing and it looks at how hypocritical people can be. My favorite scene was when Vella and Xavier go to a  Hotties Anonymous meeting. Who knew that people who are beautiful get discriminated against because of the chronic condition of being hot. Shadeylight also has some strange sex scenes that would make 50 Shades Of Grey look like a G rated movie.

Shadeylight is more than just a goofy parody though. This is a story that is using humor to put forth a message about going vegan while showing how silly some books that are considered popular can be. At the same time it still doesn’t take itself seriously. Who can resist a book that has Bacon trolls, sex with Cthulu and a vampire with serious mommy issues. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Shadeylight is one bizarre read that you don’t want to miss.

 

February DARK LOVE Month

hellraiser
Dark Love: What is your definition?

For many of us Horror Addicts, we’ve been led down a dark and cynical path that calls for anti-Valentine’s Day parties and biological heart jello molds. So what are you planning for the big day?

February 14th for seven very unlucky gangsters in 1929, meant death. It’s also the day many wars were started, countries were liberated, and Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead fame) was born. So what does this day, and the subsequent bleeding out into the rest of the month, mean to you?

For me, I have to confess, I think of Morticia and Gomez. My own dark romance has caused this day to be full of thoughts of my husband. It’s so great to be able to share the same tastes, dark sense of humor, and sense of macabre beauty that we both love. Even as we become more “elder-goth” than our once youthful selves, we still enjoy the darker things in life.

mortgom

 

I know some of you are gagging at that thought of spending the rest of your days with the same person, but for you I say, embrace your individuality and enjoy your quick hookups! Valentine’s brings many latex-covered delights. If you are in Florida, you may attend the Valentine’s Fetish Ball, or in British Colombia, the Sin City: Valentine’s Ball, or Toronto, the Opera House Fetish Ball. Maybe your tastes fall a little less fetish and a little more dark and sinister? You might want to check out the Endless Night Vampire Ball in NYC, or the Robotic Valentines Vampire Underwear Party in Oklahoma (Robots+Underwear+Vamps? Yeah, that might be weirder than the fetish balls. Hhhehe).  Maybe you just want to get your aggression out? Try the San Francisco Valentine’s Day Public Pillow Fight, which happens annually. maybe you’d just like to stay home, watch a good murder movie, or read a good book? Whatever your choice this month, let your love of horror and dark love… flourish.

phantom

When I recently asked in our Facebook group, what you, the addicts thought of Dark Love, Horror Addict A.D. Vick said, “Ah, you pose an interesting question. To me, dark romance involves feelings and desires that go beyond anything that a person would ordinarily talk about in mixed mainstream company. These things often lie within our psyches, but are forbidden. How about the eroticism that may exist between a vampire and his/her victim? Imaging desiring such a being and relishing in being the willing victim who is willing to offer life’s essence to the blood drinker who is not only seductive, but has the power to mesmerize? How about relationships between the living and the deceased, who have somehow broken between the dimensional barriers of the living and the dead. A witch who has strong powers of seduction might come to mind. I would even call a romantic encounter that begins at a metal show dark. Anyway, those are just a few things that I would consider dark love.”

Kbatz said, “Wuthering Heights perhaps is a good example for me. It is just so twisted and demented and endearing or sentimental yet it is almost a touch too from the grave hehe. Probably why I prefer it to Jane Eyre.”

Mimielle said, “Secret things, hidden desires…the things that make us stir but that we don’t talk about except maybe long after midnight in whispers, by candlelight. And maybe chocolate.”

What is your definition of Dark Love? What are the unique ways you express it? What are some desires you find titillating that “norms” don’t, but we, your fellow addicts understand?

Haunting Memories by Doug Rinaldi

Haunting Memories – A True Story

by Doug Rinaldi

 What you have before you is a true tale of the unexpected and the bewildering, an account that, over the years, I have never truly forgotten . . . my first experience with something well beyond the reach of rational explanation.  My incidents have always been in the back of my mind, stewing and churning.  I purposely call them my incidents because of the profound and personal affect they had left on me still to this day.  While others around me at that time had had a sense of something strange, it seemed as if the mysterious presence only singled me out.

Back in 1997, I had returned home from college.  My first job once I had returned was at a bookstore in Connecticut.  At the time, my nights consisted of working part-time as the warehouse clerk on the closing shift.  One night I was going about my usual routine when I heard one of my female coworkers call out my name for help.  The warehouse, shaped like a backwards “L,” made it impossible for me to see her from my vantage point.  So I called back to her that I’d be right there and stopped what I was doing, hurrying on over.  I rounded the corner, almost tripping to my death on some boxes, expecting her to be right there waiting for me.  Not a soul to be found; the warehouse was vacant.  Maybe she’s hiding behind a cart, I thought, playing some kind of lame joke.

Nope.  Empty.

Now I understand audio matrixing and that it is possible to hear one thing and mistake it for something else, but the fact that I actually answered back reinforces the evidence that I really did hear my name.  That’s how certain I was someone called for help.  Moreover, it sounded just like my coworker’s voice.  After opening the warehouse door to the sales floor, I peeked around.

No one there either.

I ventured out further, finding my coworker across the store on a stepladder with a stack of books in her hand as she restocked a shelf.  I asked her if she had come back to the warehouse looking for me.  As I figured, she hadn’t.  The probability that she could have gotten that far and that involved in her task in the time it took me to cross the back room seemed next to nil.  With the facts stacked against me and with what had happened tweaking me out a bit, I went back to my duties until the end of my shift.

Incident number two happened about a week later.  Again, standing at my station receiving boxes full of books, I had my back to anyone that would’ve come into the warehouse.  Everything was silent and still, save for the sound of ripping cardboard, until I suddenly heard a faint giggle-like sound.  I whirled around; nothing there or, so, I initially thought.  However, as I turned back to my work, my peripheral vision caught something.  I stood transfixed.  The figure of a small boy stood in front of some metal shelving against the back wall.  His skin was ashen, with a deadpan, almost mournful, expression across his face.

Those details were the only things to register in my startled mind.  In that three-second interaction, my skin rippled with crawling gooseflesh.  My heartbeat raced.  The fight or flight response kicked in; I felt it in the back of my throat.  Without haste, I proceeded to exit the warehouse, doing my utmost best to avoid the area where I saw the image of the boy.  Not once did I take my eyes off that spot as I stumbled over boxes in my retreat, finally making it to the sales floor.  A little bit later, after I had calmed down, I pulled my friend into the warehouse and told her what I saw, despite knowing how crazy I sounded.  Of course, I spooked her out in the process.  To this day, my memory is still seared with the image of the sad ghostly boy.

The third of these most vivid incidents happened one night some time after that “visit.”  I remember being in the humor section helping with closing duties.  I was straightening the shelves when I heard my name in a whisper.  I turned around to nothing but another bookshelf full of product.  At this point, I was honestly kind of enjoying the attention it was giving me.  A few minutes had passed.  As I continued fixing up the isles, it felt like someone had blown on the back of my neck.  Again, crawling skin covered my body in a cold wave.  After I spun around, I looked up.  Though I saw no one, I noticed no vents or air ducts overhead that could’ve kicked on and spit out some air.

That night before we left I brought it up again to some coworkers.  Come to find out, I wasn’t the only one that was having weird experiences.  They kept quiet about it for fear of sounding out of their minds but once I brought up my three big incidents, they all agreed something was not right in the building.  Though I was happy not to be the only one, I anxiously waited for another one of these occurrences but, alas, it seemed whatever might have been dwelling in my store packed up and shipped out.

Soon after, the location closed up and the store moved to a new location.  At first, strange things happened to me there, too.  The instances were very subtle, almost dismissive, this time.  I brought up my concerns anyway to my friend whom also had strange feelings at the old location and she still agreed that something was still off.

Funny thing is that the old location still remains empty almost as if the land it occupies is sour and unusable.  I do find it sad knowing that it’s not possible for me to venture back into that strange yet familiar territory to see if whatever force had so desperately tried to make contact is still there.  Waiting.

In closing, as insane as it all sounds—and believe me, I still get those looks from people—those three very unexpected and life-altering situations have stuck with me over these past fourteen years.  Even though I now live in another city in another state, the memories of that place and the things I had experienced within its walls still haunt me to this day—and probably will . . . forever.

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

DougPolaroidDoug was born and raised in the bowels of Connecticut. Spending his younger years exploring the woods near home, Doug envisioned otherworldly scenarios that ignited his imagination. Art was life. Throughout adolescence, he created, inventing horrifying tales about devious lunch ladies and world-eating monsters. In 1995, he received his art degree in Computer Animation and Special Effects for stage and screen. However, writing dark fiction was his true calling. At the turn of the millennium, he joyously bid Connecticut a final farewell and relocated to Boston, Massachusetts where he’s been continuing to hone his writing and artistic skills ever since. Find out more at:  www.facebook.com/DeviatedTruths

Mimielle’s Monday a la Mode: Ghostly Beauty and the Yuki Onna

8899_460788850657987_2067578517_nGama Gaeru and Minori

Whether is is a ghostly pallor you seek or perhaps dress of diaphanous white or grey, heavy swirls of velvet and bits of lace, wintertime needn’t be dark and dismal. It can be evocative of the light as well as the dark with some hauntingly beautiful hints from our ghostly companions.

”shironuri” (白塗り) literally means ”painted in white”. It refers to the white traditional makeup worn by geishas and stage actors.

Minori is the most well-known shironuri artist in the west and I have been a fan of she and Gama, Tsunoshit and several others for several years now. It is fascinating to watch Minori and I hope to get a chance to meet her at Anime Matsuri next year!

You can also watch Minori’s makeup tutorial below for a hands on demonstration of a shironuri makeup and styling from start to finish.

Rooted in Kabuki and Angura Kei, (Underground culture) this look can range from ghostly to downright scary as the artist only known as N.96 shows us!

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Read more about this fascinating fashion trend and it’s origins and the Monster Parties at Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi or more in-depth at Pop Kakumei

The Yuki Onna ( 雪女 or ゆきおんな )

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Shirahime-Syo: Snow Goddess Tales – CLAMP

TRANSLATION: snow woman

HABITAT: mountain passes; anywhere there is snow
DIET: life energy; can also eat ordinary food

APPEARANCE: Yuki-onna prey on travelers lost in the heavy snowstorms that blanket the Japanese Alps in winter.

They have an otherworldly beauty, with long black hair and piercing eyes colored deep violet. Their skin is ageless and as white as snow.

Their bodies are as cold as ice, and a mere touch is enough to give a human a deep, unshakable chill.

She feeds on human life force, sucking it from their mouths into hers with an icy breath that often freezes her victims solid.

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Vita’s Boudoir

Even Second Life creators are getting frosty!

Don’t let them haunt your dreams!

Stay Beautiful, Addicts

~Mimielle

Photo credits:  Minori’s website, Facebook or the articles referenced above, at Pop KakumeiKawaii Kakkoii Sugoi, a Japanese culture online magazine, Yokai.com

Review: Dark Souls by Paula Morris

darksoulsDark Souls by Paula Morris is one of the best YA ghost stories I have ever read. The characters were real and believable, the heartthrob was mysterious, the ghosts were haunting. I would recommend this book for anyone 13- older.

Not only does the author do a great job of telling a story, she really gets inside a teen girls head who is dealing with grief. Even though the girl is dealing with the death of a close friend, this isn’t as depressing and dramatic as some teen books can get. She seems to want to get on with her life, but still remembers her friend fondly.

I also like the quirky but strangely loving relationship the brother and sister have. The treks with the strange guy in the coat are interesting and the story does a good job of keeping you guessing till the end… who is a ghost… who isn’t?

It also has the added bonus of being an American thrust into UK surroundings premise. Spooky haunted village. Big English manor… all the sorts of things teen girls into gothic romance dream about.

Oh! And I mustn’t forget the ghostly figure of a man in the window across from her. Who is he really?

 

Press Release: How To Live With That Creepy Shadowy Ghost in your Home

product_thumbnail (3)Living with the non-living.  Every writer in his or her creative writing class are taught the golden rule of writing: To write about what you know.

Horror writer Don Wright practices this golden rule in his new Book: How to live with that Creepy Shadowy Ghost in your Home.   This is a shocking DIY ghost busting testimonial.  Don Wright grew up living with numerous ghosts as a young child, He lived in several apartments and houses with some nice spirits and some not so nice.

It’s been estimated that countless individuals share their homes with ghosts. Don Wright’s DIY Book is the first non-technical common sense approach on how to deal with the Paranormal. If you think you might be sharing your home with a ghost then this book is a must have.

Available at lulu.com

For more information on Don Wright go to:  http://www.donwright250.blogspot.com

 

Curse Of The Shadow People

S3010061-600x450I’m going to start this post off by saying that I don’t believe in ghosts. While I find ghost stories entertaining I don’t believe them. I like hearing tales about aliens, bigfoot and the supernatural but I look at them more as entertainment than reality. I don’t watch ghost hunting shows because I don’t believe they will ever find proof, that being said I like the shows where they give the history of a place and talk about the ghosts that haunt it.

About 10 years ago I heard about a place close to where I live where there is a Science Fiction cafe(the place is still in business so I don’t want to give the real name.)and they have a guided tour of the haunted woods that are near the location. Supposedly this section of the woods is home to ghosts, strange vortexes that lead to other dimensions, fairies and other supernatural happenings. When I heard about this I wanted to take the tour so my wife, son and I took a road trip to the haunted woods.

S3010024-740x558When we got there my wife was skeptical, she thought it would be a sham and a waste of money. I told her that I agreed that it’s a sham but it will also be a lot of fun, at the most it will be a nice walk through the woods at night and maybe they will tell us some cool ghost stories. She reluctantly gave in and we paid for the haunted tour. There weren’t many people there, it was August and the tour guide who is an author of several books on the paranormal explained that they don’t get busy until late September. Before we went we saw pictures on the wall of strange lights that have been seen in that area.

When we arrived at the location the tour guide and her two assistants started to take pictures and flashes were going off constantly. They showed us the pictures they took before our tour and sure enough we saw some odd-looking lights and they told us that the spirits were active tonight. We started walking and our three guides never stopped taking pictures. The flashes were going off so often it was hard to see anything. I just kept looking down because of the constant flashing and I happened to glance over and noticed that one of the tour guides was holding a small mirror in his hand. I wasn’t sure what it was for but later I would find out.

S4027381-729x549We walked for a while and our guide gave us candy and told us to leave it out for the faeries. Eventually we came to a clearing and sat on some logs. One lantern was lit and slowly our eyes recovered from the camera flashes. I saw a lot of spots but it wasn’t anything supernatural. As we sat there our guides talked about the haunted forest while showing us some pictures and sure enough there were strange lights and what looked like tunnels to other dimensions.

I was thinking to myself that I would have preferred a walk through the woods with a lantern while hearing ghost stories but that’s when I noticed something peculiar. Moving along the clearing that we were in was a dark figure. It had arms, legs and a head but no face and it was solid black. It crept along the opening with its back to the trees and walked around the open space where we were. I watched this thinking it was probably a guy in a suit and any moment one of our guides would point to it and say “look a spirit.” They never said a word and I never mentioned it because I thought if I did our guides would just say they saw it and say there is your proof these woods are haunted.

shadow21We walked back to the cafe, we saw the pictures from the trip and there were quite a few odd lights in the pictures which I think were made by the mirror that I saw. Probably because we were such a small group, the guide treated us to drinks and food and then told us about the machine they built that makes crop circles. As we were leaving the person in charge said to us “at the least you should look at this experience as a fun trip through the woods.” She was right it was a fun walk in the woods but I still wondered what I witnessed and why no one else saw it.

I did some research and found out that what I saw was a shadow person and many people believe that they are extra-dimensional inhabitants of another universe. Honestly I’m still not sure if I saw evidence of the paranormal or if it was just a side effect of the flashing lights but it was a cool experience that I won’t forget. Maybe some ghost stories are real and maybe there are things in the universe that we just can’t explain.

www.shadowpeople.org

 

December HAUNTINGS Month

mansion-header (1)December is HAUNTINGS month here at HorrorAddicts.net. Have you ever seen a ghost? What about hearing footsteps when no one is there? Possibly you’ve just FELT like someone was there when you were the only one in the house?

This month we will be exploring HAUNTINGS, both true and fictional. We’ll be talking to Paranormal Investigators and about Haunted Locations you can visit. Please send any haunting stories you would like to share to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

I’ve seen and felt many things during my life, but the one location that sticks with me the most is a church we used to go to in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As the child of a minister, I spent many hours hanging out in the halls of various churches. This particular church I spent more time in because we were the blizzard shelter for the area. I even had my own little hide out in the office area with sleeping bag, pillows, and my trusty stuffed seal named Softy. Me and Softy used to curl up and sleep to the sounds of people being fed and sheltered a couple of doors away.

I’m not sure of the church history, I was only 6 at the time, but the place had more “creepy” energy than any other place I’ve ever been. Sure, I was young so some of that came with the fear of being alone in a large building when my parents were doing other things, but I witnessed several hauntings.

woman-in-black-6Once, when they were decorating the stage for a play, I watched as several of the church men set up a large wooden set with holes cut out at varying heights. In the play, actors would stick their heads out of the holes and say jokes or sing (kinda like Laugh-in). After the sets were all up, the actors tried it out, popping in and out of the holes like they would later during the play. I laid on one of the pews and watched. When I woke up in the same position a hour later, everyone was gone. The stage was still lit, but all the adults had gone home. My mother called me and said I had five minutes till we would leave. I sat up, grabbed Softy, and started for the foyer. Hearing something behind me, I looked back and saw a couple of kids playing with the sets. They were sticking their heads in and out of the different holes and making funny faces. Mom called from the door and said we were locking up.

“But what about the kids playing on stage?” I asked.

“What kids? Everyone is gone,” she said.

I looked back and there were no kids. Mom and I investigated the stage, but still found no one around.

That wasn’t the last time I saw kids in the church and the most terrifying one was a girl in a yellow dress that had a red bloody ring around her neck. I was never really frightened by the ghosts in the church, but remembering the happy girl motioning for me to follow sends chills up my spine today. I’m sure my parents thought I was just being an imaginative six-year-old, but as I got older and have experienced other occurrences of the supernatural, I realize that church was definitely haunted.

the-grady-twins

But what are hauntings? Are they ghosts trapped between the worlds? Are they simply imprints of previous events? Are they demons or evil creatures playing with our minds? What do you think?

Submission Call: DECEMBER HAUNTED MONTH

Subject: DECEMBER HAUNTED MONTH

Deadline is November 28th, 2014.
December at HorrorAddicts.net is HAUNTED month. Looking for true stories of hauntings, reviews of haunted places, book reviews of haunted tales, or ghost investigator reports. Also need a few pieces of flash fiction and poetry in this subject matter.
*For articles, reviews, real ghost tales… word count 500-3000
*For Flash Fiction or poetry… word count 300-1000
*At the end of the post, please include your bio, url, and attach a cover pic and author pic.
*Payment: exposure / linkability

About us: HorrorAddicts.net is a podcast, blog, and publisher run by horror addicts, for horror addicts. Our main goal is to promote horror authors, musicians, artists, and entertainers for our listeners entertainment.
Send all submissions to: horroraddicts@gmail.com with the appropriate BOLDED subject line.
All submissions are unpaid unless otherwise noted.

For other submission calls, go to: Current Submission Calls

Press Release: The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B

unnamedMeet the ghost sisters in new YA paranormal novel

Two sisters who love the supernatural investigate a ghost haunting their middle school in a new young adult paranormal novel.

Sunbury Press has released The Ghost Sisters and the Girl in Hallway B by Patricia Santos Marcantonio.

Meet the Ghost Sisters: Kat and Marie Bench.

They love anything to do with ghosts and the supernatural. When their divorced mom moves them to her hometown in Pueblo, Colorado, the sisters discover a real ghost haunts their school—that of a young girl who cries, slams lockers, and leaves mysterious messages as floors writhe, walls weep, and a terrible accident is replayed. Armed with resourcefulness and ghost-hunting tricks they picked up from books and TV, the sisters set out to find the identity of the student apparition. Meanwhile, one of their friends is being bullied. Kat and Marie will need bravery and determination to help their friend and solve the mystery of the girl in Hallway B.

Marcantonio is an award-winning author. Her other books include “The Weeping Woman” and “Red Ridin’ in the Hood and Other Cuentos.” She also is co-author of “Voices From the Snake River Plain,” an anthology of award-winning stories.

http://patriciasantosmarcantonio.com/

http://www.sunburypressstore.com/The-Ghost-Sisters-and-the-Girl-in-Hallway-B-9781620064733.htm

 

 

Movie Quiz: The Woman in Black, 2012

Movie for Episode #85 of HorrorAddicts.net
The Woman in Black

Can you answer these questions?

1. Why is the road to Eel Marsh House dangerous to travel on?

2. What kind of people does the ghost prey on?

3. Who is Arthur Kipps (played by Daniel Radcliffe) mourning?

4. What does Arthur Kipps pull out of the swamp?

5. True or false. The woman in black was a remake?

Listen to Episode #85, airing March 30th, 2013 for answers.

The Haunted

On top of a hill in a forest surrounded by tall trees that look like green soldiers was a beautiful old house with a dark past. A long gravel driveway leads to the house and occasionally people drove down the highway to admire the home’s beautiful architecture. They didn’t stay long though because the house had a sinister feel to it and the people in town were afraid of it. The house had a for sale sign in front of it for a long time but one day the sign came down and a young couple expecting a child moved in.

This is the opening to Michaelbrent Collings The Haunted. The young couple’s names are Sarah and Cap. As they move in they experience strange occurences that they can’t explain, such as radios turning on and off, a truck turning itsself on and objects moving on their own. On the second night an all out assault begins and the couple is attacked by a legion of homicidal ghosts who want them dead. Among the army of spirits that try to enter the house is one with a noose around its neck, one with a slashed throat, and one in a long hooded robe that seems to be the most evil of all. The couple tries to escape but there is nowhere to run; the only help they receive is from the local preacher who may be in over his head.

There are a lot of horror novels out there that can be considered a roller coaster ride but The Haunted is more like a freight train out of control. The opening reminded me of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and did an excellent job of creating a mood of spookiness and impending doom. Right from the start before anything happened I found myself hoping Sarah and Cap would leave the forest and not look back. Ounce the mood is set, The Haunted kicks into a terror filled thrill ride and never lets up, leaving the reader breathless and fearing for Cap and Sarah.

While the plot unfolds you learn more about Cap and Sarah, the author gets inside their heads and makes you feel what they’re  feeling. I love the way Michaelbrent Collings presents his characters. you know their fears, their weaknesses and what there thinking at all times. You fear for them because you relate to them and you know you would probably be thinking the same if you were in their situation.

The only things I didn’t like about The Haunted was that the story was a little confusing and I was able to predict the ending. Despite this, The Haunted is still an excellent horror novel. This is the second book I’ve read by Michaelbrent Collings and in both cases I found myself thinking that this book would make a great scary movie. Michaelbrent’s writing paints a horrific picture and his characters are always memorable. This book has plenty of frights, the descriptions of the ghosts are terrifying and one ghost in particular is scary enough to keep you from sleeping for a night. So if you like a good ghost story then check out the works of Michaelbrent Collings.

Apparition and The Void

The featured author for  episode 80 of Horror Addicts is Michaelbrent Collings and at the end of the podcast you can hear the first chapter of his latest book Appartition. Apparition is a hard core supernatural horror novel that is going to scare the hell out of you. I don’t even need to say to much about this book because when you hear the first chapter your going to want to buy it.

This book has everything that you would want in a horror novel, a spooky house, ghosts and an evil entity that possesses parents and makes them kill their children. The story is about a a father named Shane and his two kids trying to build a new life after Shane’s wife Kari tries to kill their two kids. The family moves into a new home that has a dark past. Shane and the kids start to hear footsteps and see hings that shouldn’t be there. Then Shane starts to have feelings about killing his children that he has a hard time controlling.

Apparition is well written and extremely scary. Each chapter starts off with a diary entry about someone that killed their children which adds some realism to the book. This is the thing that made the book hard to read for me the concept of killing your own children is a hard one to deal with and I found myself cringing quite a bit while reading it.

If you look at horror as something that is supposed to make you look at the dark side of life and make you deal with it then you will really enjoy this book.  Also at the end there is an afterword by the author that explains what he was thinking when he wrote it and and why he wrote it which really helped me to understand the main idea of the book.

Some of the things I really enjoyed in this book was the opening chapters when you know whats going through Kari’s mind as she contemplates killing her children. I also liked finding out how the rest of the family deals with it. There is also a great scene with a Ouija board that was absolutely chilling. Just when you think its not going to get scarier there is a scene at an insane asylum that out does it. From there it is a roller coaster ride right up to a shocking ending.

My favorite part of this book wasn’t the scenes with the ghosts in it, it was reading about how the family deals with what they’re going through. I like hearing how Shane feels he doesn’t deserve a good family or a loving wife. Despite his feelings he does the best he can for his family. He also talks about how after the effects of the first two chapters he sees his wife as being a better person then she really was and since he sees her that way he is forgetting how she really was as a person. I was really hoping Shane would get a happy ending. I also liked how his daughter acts like she hates everyone but then thinks to herself: “why do I act this way, I don’t hate my family,” but she cant tell them that. Despite their circumstances you see they love each other and they just want to get back to the normal life they had before the events of the first chapter.

The next book I want to talk about is The Void by Brett J. Talley and it has a very different setting. The year is 2169 and Aiden Conner has just woken up on a space ship he is not familiar with and he doesn’t remember how he got there. Aiden was working on a transport ship that had a mysterious accident while traveling at warp speed.

In the future, man has mastered space travel, but when their ship goes to warp all crew members have to go into a sleep chamber and sleep until the ship comes out of warp. The downside of this is while sleeping the crew dreams and for some people on a ship the dreams are enough to drive them insane. While sleeping through warp, the crew sees the same dream every time. Some dreams tell of the future, some of the past, some are terrifying and a few people actually enjoy their dreams.

After the accident Aiden finds he can’t get a job on any other ship. That is until Captain Caroline Gravely comes along and hires him to work upon her ship, The Chronos. Caroline has waited a long time to command her own ship and she has assembled a six person crew with very diverse backgrounds. She also has her own problems with the dream state during warp drive. The rest of the crew also has their own issues and none of them are looking forward to what will happen when they enter warp. To make matters worse when they drop out of warp they are surrounded by black holes and find a long lost abandoned ship.

I loved the concept for The Void.  This is a good horror story with a science fiction background. Brett J. Talley does a great job giving a scientific explanation to how the space ships travel, how gravity is created for a ship and what is happening when a ship travels at warp speed. I also liked how all the crew member’s dreams were described and how there was a little mystery to what all of their dreams mean and how the dreams effect each person. It was a nice touch how all the dreams we’re very different and despite the fact that everyone fears the dream state not all of the dreams were bad.

I found myself thinking The Void would make a great movie that could satisfy both horror and science fiction fans. Brett J. Talley has done an excellent job bridging two genres. Brett has one another novel from Journalstone press called That Which Should Not Be which will make Lovecraft fans very happy.

Ghost Sighting: Resurrection Mary

Since the last episode of horror addicts was on the 1930’s, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about my favorite ghost story: Resurrection Mary.   The story of Resurrection Mary takes place near Chicago Illinois in a town called Justice. Mary is a ghost that haunts Archer Avenue between the Willowbrook Ballroom and the Resurrection cemetery.

Mary was first spotted in the 1930’s. People have described her as a young woman with blond hair, wearing  a white party dress with a shawl and carrying a purse. Men have reported picking her up hitchhiking near the Willowbrook ballroom, sometimes she asks to be taken to the cemetery. She  gets into the car and disappears before the driver reaches their destination. Many people have claimed to have seen Mary. Sometimes she just appears in front of cars driving down Archer Avenue and sometimes she appears in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle and slowly fades away.

Mary’s early appearances started when several motorists who drove past the Resurrection cemetery kept claiming that there was a young woman who kept trying to jump onto the running boards of their automobiles. The story changed after that, some people  say that they met Mary at the Willowbrook Ballroom which at that time was called the O’ Henry Ballroom. People said that they would dance with the girl and then she would then ask for a ride home. The directions she gave would lead to the cemetery, she did not speak when she got into the car and then mysteriously vanished when they got to the cemetery.

Many people have also claimed that they have seen Mary walking along Archer Avenue and when they ask her if she wants a ride she disappears. The strangest thing about Mary was that most people who saw her in the 30’s all described her as looking the same from her blond hair, blue eyes, and party dress to her shawl and the small purse that she carried.

Other descriptions of Mary were much more terrifying than a vanishing ghost. Some drivers have said they were driving along when a young woman bolted out in front of their car and screamed. Then the driver heard a sickening thud followed by the woman being thrown through the air and striking the pavement. When the driver would go out to check on the girl, they found no trace of a body. The Justice police department has had several reports of people coming in and crying that they had struck and killed a woman but could not find the body.

No one knows for sure who Mary was in real life but the story that most people believe is that in the winter of 1930 there was a young woman dancing at the O’ Henry Ballroom with her boyfriend. At some point in the evening they got into a fight and Mary stormed out of the ballroom and started to walk home along Archer Drive. She was then struck by a hit and run driver and left to die in the road. She was buried by her grieving parents at the Resurrection Cemetery.

Most appearances of Mary happen in the winter and most of the sightings of her were in the 30’s and 40’s but reports of Mary have never stopped. Mary has become a legend and is considered to be Chicago’s most popular ghost.  There have been books written about her and even a movie was released about her a couple of years ago but it didn’t do Mary justice. The only way to really find out about Resurrection Mary is to take a drive along Archer avenue and maybe you will find Mary walking along the road  by herself, trying to get back to the cemetery.

Do you have any favorite ghost stories that you want to share with us,  leave a comment and let us know.

13 Questions with M.J. Hahn

Horror Addicts episode 40: Ghosts’ featured author is M.J. Hahn. A man who’s profession is a bit surprising for a horror author. “I’ve been a hair stylist for almost 20 years. Yipes!! It’s still a fun gig because I get to be creative at work.”

But don’t let Hahn’s profession fool you; the man loves the horror genre. “It’s a lifestyle baby! I’ve been dressing in black since I could pick my own clothes! Any fiction I produce in the future will likely have some sort of supernatural aspect. It’s just how my brain works.”

M.J. was excited to be the featured author of this week’s HA episode. “It feels great! I’m honored to be included in season 4. Especially for the ‘Ghost’ episode. I started listening to Horror Addicts around season 2. I love it! I try to never miss an episode.”

“[T]his is my first time. I suppose there is a teensy bit of trepidation involved with the process of putting my work out there. But, it’s all good.”

The story he has written for all you Horror Addicts is titled The Black House. “[It] is a cautionary tale about the evils of Homeowner Move-in Eviction (which was especially rampant during the dot.com boom years here in San Fran.) Cindy & Chase Burnham are a yuppie couple who think they’ve found their dream home. The place seems perfect, except for the tenant living on the first floor. Cindy wants him out, and steps are taken. Then spooky things start to happen.”

Hahn went for “an old time radio mystery feel.” He admitted that “[t]he drama is, admittedly, a little “pulpy.” [But it] was a lot of fun to write.”

Readers beware that the extra details of The Black House, provided by M.J., contain spoilers.

The Black House. A real location in San Francisco that used to occupy 6114 California Street (same address in the story…although they no longer use that number now). It was notorious!”

“The home of Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan. After LaVey’s death in ’97, his finances were a mess. LaVey’s family fought to keep the house, but the City finally had it condemned. It was torn down in 2000. And a HIDEOUS modern condo was built in its place.”

“That was my jumping off point. How would Anton feel about what had been built in place of his former house? Not to mention that it was occupied by Yuppies!! (he was famous for his views on yuppies! lol)”

*fun fact*

“Anton LaVey spent his formative years working in Carnivals as a lion tamer, and Burlesque houses as an accompanist on the organ. In the course of the story, Cindy is tormented day and night by the downstairs tenant’s keyboard playing. I’ve included actually recordings of LaVey’s musical stylings to set just the right mood. He was also reported to have kept a young male lion named “Niro” on the premises. I’ve included him in the story as well.

I asked Hahn what it was that inspired him to write The Black House. “When Emz gave me ‘ghosts’ as a topic, I had the kernel for the story in mind. Then, as I continued to research, the details about Anton LaVey’s life and character shaped where the story went from there. I enjoy this kind of organic process of writing. Keeping as much as I can anchored in truth seems to make those scary bits all the more effective.”

M.J. admits to believing in ghosts, “[t]here have been times when I’ve had that weird feeling that something was hanging around.”  He shared with me the story of moving into his house. “My present house is over 120 yrs. old. We moved in on Halloween night and had an unusual housewarming. There was a definite cold spot in one of the bedrooms, and the windows in the back of the house would not stay shut!”

Other than The Black House, he also talked about The Bellefaire Podcast.
“A 15 episode serialized version of [his] first novel:
Yuki O’Malley & the Bellefaire is a horror drama aimed at the Harry Potter crowd. Yuki, the biracial, semi-psychic, anime-esque teen heroine and her phantasmic ass-kicking sidekick, Tina, face villains who wreak of greed and vanity at a spooky salon for women of a certain age. Did I mention that this all happens on the streets of San Francisco?
The sequel:
Crowley Golden & the Isis Heart is almost ready to go. Crowley is the “boy next door” who keeps his nose in old musty books full of arcane knowledge. He had a supporting part in Bellefaire, now Crowley takes center stage in an adventure that will have a more steampunk flavor.
I’ll be starting new episodes in May.”

I was curious about the strange skull logo Hahn has. He explained to me that it’s a “sort of a coat of arms for the villains in the story. There are injections of arcane compounds to extend life and preserve youth. The screwdriver and screws on the skull relate to one character who’s opted for a more invasive beauty procedure. mwahahaha!”

Fans of M.J. Hahn keep an eye out for future episodes of the sequel of Bellefaire. Which “will begin in early summer this year!” Also be on the look out for “The Isis Heart Podcast…more Victorian spooky goodness w/ a steampunky flavor!”

For more information on M.J. Hahn be sure to check out these websites:

The Bellefaire Podcast – http://bellefairepodcast.com/

The Bellefaire Podcast on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bellefaire-Podcast/81640676817?ref=nf