Terror Trax: I-Def-I

by Russell Holbrook

Buzzing guitars slash across your soul. Pounding drums pummel your brain. Wildly fluctuating vocals tunnel through your flesh and into your heart.  You feel your spirit move. You aren’t sure what to do. You might destroy something. Take heart- You are not having a break down; you are listening to an I-DEF-I record.

Hailing from Manchester, England and formed at Salford University in November 2001 by Tom Clements and Kev Gaffney, I-DEF-I brought their horror infused noise to the underground’s attention in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium with the release of an EP, one full-length, and one mini-LP, before calling it a day near the end of the decade. However, the band’s music and legend have gone on, continuing to receive airplay and gain fans around the world. This has led the band to re-release their mini-LP, Bloodlust Casualty, and their full-length, In The Light of a New Day. To my recent delight I was able to shoot out a few questions to Tom, Paul, and Kev in regards to what the band is up to these days. Here’s what they had to say.

How important do you consider music to be to the horror culture and community? What role does it play?

It’s very important. I think you could culturally draw comparisons between the metal community and the horror fan community – often seen as outsiders, against the norm or whatever, at least in past decades when society was less diverse as a whole. Both heavy music and horror culture often touch on and cover ‘taboo’ subjects, the darker side of life and society and the darker side of fantasy situations. They go hand in hand a lot of the time with music providing the soundtrack to films, music being used to enhance tension and emotions in film and so on and forth.

What do you love about dark music? What attracts you to it?

As with the previous question, dark music often touches on subjects that aren’t as mainstream as some others, or subjects that are taboo, against the grain, graphic, violent, sexual, more for an ‘adult’ audience and such like. It attracts ourselves as we are all fascinated with the darker side of life and big fans of genres such as horror, thriller and zombie films. Dark music fits well with any kid of dystopian or apocalyptic imagery and a love for each one can help enhance the other. It also often contains the best riffs, drum beats and bass lines coupled with addictive breakdowns.

How do you respond to the prevalent belief that listening to this type of music is unhealthy?

Is it still prevalent? I know in the past that metal was oft maligned by mainstream society but I think over the last decade a lot has changed. Here in Manchester it is now officially a hate crime to verbally or physically abuse someone for being of ‘metal/emo/goth’ culture and society as a whole seems to be more tolerant after tragic incidents like the murder of Sophie Lancaster. I guess people just assume, on a surface level at least, that the dark lyrics and image can translate to a real world association with these things, but music 90% of the time, with the odd exception like say, Burzum or something, is mostly just entertainment and some sort of marketing package designed to shock and even exploit these stereotypes and reputations – Lordi, Cradle Of Filth whoever. I think people are more aware of that nowadays and a bit of face paint, some piercings and tatts etc get less of a ‘second glance’ than in years gone by.

What inspires you to create?

General life. Relationships. The news. Things we’ve experienced in the past, both recently and in years gone by. The music industry. ‘Normal jobs’. We like to absorb as much as we can and elements of all of it are squeezed in to our sound.

What is your favorite type of horror media?

Film, definitely. We all grew up on the first few Halloween films with stuff like H20 coming out in our late teens and early twenties, early Jason Vorhees, early Freddie, Critters, Arnie movies like Raw Deal and Predator, early Die Hard and Lethal Weapon (granted those are action not horror but still….), Blair Witch, Candyman, Jacobs Ladder, IKWYDLS, Event Horizon…..The Exorcist and Amityville being passed down to us by friends a few years older…all the great original stuff. Our Manager Noz likes a lot of old vampire stuff and western stuff too. In more recent times we’ve loved the Resident Evil franchise and tv shows like The Walking Dead.

What are your goals as a band? As individuals?

As a band is a tough one to say as we actually split in 2008. Since then we’ve re-released a few things digitally and still get fresh radio play and coverage – a few ‘Track of the Week’ awards in 2013 from places like Amazing Radio and in late 2017/early 2018 we’ve had a few news pieces, reviews and interviews published. We lived in each others back pockets for most of our career, management included so we tend to re-emerge on to social media and digital retailers every few years, have some drama or other kicked off by some comment or other after a few weeks of peace, then go back underground again.

People ask about reunion shows, not in the hordes, we’re realistic, literally a few here and there, we got offered a couple of gigs in Switzerland circa Xmas 2017, but to be honest we exist primarily as a cult, underground, nostalgia, I guess ‘archive’ act for a handful of loyal die hard fans nowadays.  Jobs, kids, life changed etc.

We covered a lot of goals in our time – a slot at Download Festival in 2006, tours and gigs with Stone Sour, Fear Factory, Mindless Self Indulgence, Breed 77, Viking Skull, One Minute Silence, Dry Kill Logic and many more. Recorded a BBC Maida Vale live Rock Show session in 2005. Had interest from a few major labels and A&R’s. Had the fastest selling and something like 3rd or 6th biggest selling releases on Copro/Casket with ‘Bloodlust Casualty’  – first thousand copies flew out, although Forever Never, Panic Cell, Vacant Stare and a couple more did more units over time on the label.

I guess the one thing we didn’t follow through on fully which we would’ve liked to would be more touring in Europe and touring in the USA or Australia.

We played in France in 2008 and had some good press and radio there, but split before we “fully” pushed it out there. Always had good press in Italy, Germany, Holland and more too. Had some interest from festivals like ‘Rock En Seine’ but by the time we called it quits in November 2008 only really a major label deal would’ve saved it, if that even. We were tired and it was time to move on in life. Had a blast 2001 – 2008 though and it’s wicked to still hear tracks on new podcasts in Spring 2018 – shouts to Horror Addicts, Heavy Metal Horrorcast and more!!!

Do you consider I-DEF-I a horror metal band? If not, how would you classify yourselves, if at all?

I’d say more ‘horror influenced’ – tracks like ‘Red Light On The Murder’ which was is hugely influenced by Saw and movies of that ilk. Not sure if we’re a ‘horror band’, overall though, I’d put that tag more on bands like Wednesday 13, Gwar, Green Jelly, Marilyn Manson or that kind of thing. Our image and fashion is more urban/street even though we use a lot of gothic fonts and very styled artwork and logos etc, we’re not really a face paint and blood kind of band.  Necro, Insane Clown Posse, Twizted, Gravediggaz and hip hop stuff gets called ‘horrorcore’ too but again, lyrically we generally move in a different way to those kinds of bands, much as we probably share some fans. Our lyrics tend to be more personal / reflective than gore orientated. We have a song called ‘The Horror’ but that’s more about the industry and stuff, a similar vibe to that Chimaira concept – ‘The Dehumanizing Process’. I’d say we’re just contemporary / modern alternative metal that could crossover to audiences of stuff like Horror, wrestling, true crime, 1%-ers, whatever.

Was Mrs. Voorhees a model single mother?

Not really but was she any worse than Mrs Myers? Tough question. She definitely shouldn’t be supervising kids swimming classes any time and doesn’t like she knew the value of a well balanced, nourishing diet. Or being strict about homework before play time.

Would you rather have coffee with Slayer or tea with King Diamond?

DEAD SKIN MASK. Gotta be Slayer. One of the ‘big 4’ and we love a bit of South Of Heaven and ‘Reign In Blood’.

Where do you see the band headed in the future?

For the moment just YouTube lol There are a few historical clips of us on Tom’s personal channel – acoustic at National Record Store day in 2008 and a few more, currently no plans for shows but that may or may not change, but right now we have some very recent newborns to deal with. It’s humbling and great to still get interview requests and we had a few news pieces from different webzines in all of UK, USA, Canada, Italy, Australia and France in 2017 which was wicked. Some old stuff is out there if you search though – fan recorded tracks from gigs, Angel Of Metal interviews and other bits.

Tom, Paul, and Kev- Thank You so much for talking with me and answering a few questions for the fans and readers!

Many thanks for your time and questions Russell and huge thanks to HORROR ADDICTS!!

 

 

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Chilling Chat Episode 151: Tara Vanflower

 

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

In October 1994 she became a vocalist for darkwave outfit Lycia. She married fellow band member Mike VanPortfleet.
Her debut solo album, This Womb Like Liquid Honey, was released in 1999. This was followed in 2005 with My Little Fire-Filled Heart.

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

She has also appeared with side projects Black Happy Day with Timothy Renner, Secondary Nerve with Daniele Serra and numerous collaborations including Oneiroid Psychosis, Numina, The Unquiet Void, Falling You, and Methadrone. The majority of her creative energy is spent these days writing. She has released Lives of Ilya and Violent Violet Part One and Two and will continue the Violet Series with several installments in the future as well as several other series that are still unfinished.

Tara is a fascinating woman and was kind enough to sit down me recently. We discussed the past, her writing, relatable fears, vampires, and her favorite curse.

NTK: Hello, Tara, thank you for chatting with me today.

TVF: Thank YOU!

NTK: You have a background in music. Do you feel it inspires your writing?

TVF: Yes. Though I also think that writing has inspired music. When I work with Lycia, I am generally given a piece of music to write to, so sometimes the music itself inspires the lyrics. But when I do solo music a lot of times, I take something I’ve written and build the sound around that.

I will say, other people’s music is an integral part of my writing though. I generally have a soundtrack of music in my head that sets a mood within the story.

NTK: What band do you listen to the most?

TVF: Wow, as of late I would say Chelsea Wolfe and Soft Kill. I listen to Drab Majesty and Black Mare as well. A lot of the music that inspires me is played by the same bands I’ve been listening to for decades now.

NTK: Did music get you interested in horror?

TVF: Not really. As a child, for some reason, my parents let me watch stuff on television that I probably shouldn’t have been watching so young…seeing as how it scared me a lot! But, I was always drawn to the old vampire films and The Omen…scared me to death but I was drawn to it.

NTK: Is The Omen your favorite horror movie? If not, what is?

TVF: I had a lot of detailed dreams when I was young about the apocalypse. I can still see some of the images in my head when I think about them. So, The Omen REALLY scared me. It’s definitely one of my favorite films. But, my all-time favorite movie is The Shining. Everything about that movie is perfect to me.

NTK: Is it the dream-like quality of The Shining which attracts you?

TVF: I love that aspect of it. I also love the lighting, the score, the absolute desolation. My favorite scene in the film is where Wendy finds Jack’s manuscript…pages and pages and pages of the same line over and over and over…and you realize right then he had been gone for a very, very long time. To me, that notion is absolutely terrifying. That this whole time she thinks he’s been more or less normal but THAT was going on behind her back. For me, one of the scariest things is the idea of losing touch with reality. It’s probably why I suffer from anxiety so much. (laughs)

NTK: You’ve spoken of your fears regarding writing and have said, “I rarely talk in detail about my editing because, truthfully, I’m insecure about it. Music I know and I’m comfortable with, for the most part. Writing? It’s like opening a diary. I am always fearful of people drawing conclusions and assuming things about what’s in the story. It’s hard to let go. It’s hard to put yourself out there to be cut down.” This statement resonates. It’s like Jack’s typewritten pages in The Shining. His writing bares all. How do you use your fear and anxiety to frighten others?

TVF: That is all something I really struggle with and it’s hard because I have a pretty supportive base for my music. So, venturing off into writing has been scary, but also rewarding obviously. I think there’s a lot of moments in my books where the characters have to confront things about themselves, their situations, etc., that most of us either get to avoid or are forced to deal with and do so poorly. I think I write a lot of my own insecurities into characters (fear of death, getting older, physical insecurities, etc.) probably as a way to deal with it myself. I don’t know if I’m scaring others or scaring myself! Most of my horror, I would say, is almost more internal. That whole, “losing touch with reality,” thing I mentioned earlier…afraid you’re going to lose yourself and never come back from it. I also have moments where actual monsters are confronted, but I think the characters’ bigger horror moments involve confronting their own fears and realities. There are moments in a couple stories I actually went through, though amplified. I hope people relate to those types of fears.

NTK: Speaking of relatable fears, what’s your favorite horror television show and what’s your favorite horror novel?

TVF: Oh man, my favorite horror novel? Is it too cheesy to say I really just like dorky vampire books? (laughs) I just love it. I don’t care if it’s “good” writing or bad. Same for films. I’ll literally watch anything vampire related and find something enjoyable about it. As for good horror shows, I really enjoyed The Leftovers, which to me is horror. I like Carnivale a lot. I don’t know, to me, “horror” is a bit like being detached from reality rather than blood and gore and such. The Walking Dead, for example, was great but has gotten…um…not as great the past few seasons.

NTK: Are vampires your favorite monsters? Do you admire the way they deal with the types of fear you’ve spoken of?

TVF: Vampires are definitely my favorite monster and have been since I was pretty little. I guess because I’ve always had a fear of time passing.  I can remember being very small and sitting in my bedroom thinking about how everyone was getting older and going to die, and I made myself cry. Geez, cheery little kid. But for me, vampires have always represented absolute power. No fear of death. No health problems. Control of their environment. I’ve always sort of been jealous of that, I guess, because those are my biggest fears. I’ve always seen them as more of a sympathetic character, at least a lot of them. Some of the ways they’re portrayed are obviously more “evil” and less “human,” but I’ve always preferred the more human vampires, at least those are the kind I identify with. I envy their power and timelessness but also see the angst all that would cause, which I also relate to being the Gloomy Gus I am.

NTK: Do you bring “human” quality to the vampires you write about?

TVF: I do. To me, it’s just more interesting trying to figure out how a being with limitless time and a whole lot of power would deal with the same sort of human emotions and frailties we have. They have to have the same questions…why am I here, what is my purpose, where do I belong, etc., and to me, it’s interesting thinking about that. What would a being think who has killed countless humans, seen more years than any human gets to see—how would they react to change? What would be new or surprising to them? It’s all fascinating to me. A being that’s jaded and yet still discovering something new through someone else’s eyes unexpectedly. It’s all interesting. Of course, they would have the same types of existential questions humans have. Or, they would be deluded that they are all powerful. Or, varying degrees of both. It’s interesting to consider it all. I try really hard to make my characters react like people actually react. I try to put myself in their shoes and react the way which seems logical and natural to them.

NTK: Essentially, you’re creating a vampire philosophy. So many people ignore that aspect when creating vampire characters. I have to ask—what did you think of Twilight?

TVF: What did I think of Twilight? (laughs) Well, I actually read the books and thought they were entertaining enough. There are many holes and aspects that are illogical and cheesy to me, however, they were “fun.” The movies are great cheese! And, anytime I’m surfing the channels and they’re on, I stop if I can. Do I take it seriously? No, but I applaud Stephenie Meyer for doing her thing and getting hers. The bottom line is, I’m not one of those snobs that has to only like things that are “cool.” So, I can appreciate all levels of awesomeness, from Only Lovers Left Alive to Twilight.

NTK: You have a real appreciation for vampires. Let’s talk about some of your own. Earlier, you spoke of dreams. Violent Violet came from a dream. Can you describe the creative process from dream to printed page?

TVF: Dreams have a major impact on my life. I have really detailed dreams like movies all the time. So, a lot of times, I’ll tuck them away for future use. I had a dream one night that my friends and I were hanging out and this ominous stranger was around and vampires were running amuck. It was so detailed, again, I can “see” the places in my head still, and when I woke up, I started recalling it to my husband. About halfway through, I just said, “Man, I’m just going to write this.” It was too cool to let go. Parts of Violet Misery were also from a dream, i.e. the creepy pumpkin farm out in the middle of nowhere. I draw tons of inspiration from dreams.

NTK: You spoke of apocalyptic dreams. Do you plan to write an apocalyptic story or book of your own?

TVF: I haven’t really thought about writing in that sort of style yet. I think it might be too bleak for me at the moment. (laughs) It’s something I seriously dread, especially now that I have a kid. I don’t like thinking about being in scenarios like that. I just get panicked thinking about keeping my child safe anyway, let alone imagining what I’d have to do during a zombie apocalypse. (laughs) That having been said, who knows! Everything I write from music to lyrics to books are all about love and death.

NTK: What do you have planned for the future? Any new books, stories, or music?

TVF: We are halfway through the next Lycia recording and I have a couple solo songs coming out on comps and I contributed some vocals for some other bands. I have three books currently in the editing process which I plan to release at the same time because they’re related. And, then a couple after that to release. I have some vague ideas for future books but have been sort of avoiding them because I know they’re going to be complicated with interwoven characters and timelines to figure out. All of my books are interconnected with characters so it can be confusing trying to put them all in the right place at the right time. (laughs) I’ve got a full plate!

NTK: As you know, Season 13 of HorrorAddicts.net is CURSED! Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

TVF: Oh boy! I don’t personally believe in curses! Is that bad? However, my husband has teased me in the past that someone cursed him because, back in the 90s, I made these ragdolls and stuffed them with all his hair he shaved off. That sounds super creepy now, but I didn’t think so then for some reason! Anyway, people bought these things and in the course of a couple years, tons of really bad things happened. Life altering things. The joke has been that someone took one of those dolls and cursed us.

NTK: Tara, thank you for chatting with me and putting yourself out there with your writing. It’s been a pleasure.

TVF: THANK YOU! This has been exciting for me because it is my first interview about writing. I’m so thrilled to be included.

Terror Trax: Sarah Black of Valentine Wolfe

Valentine Wolfe is an accomplished and talented band. The self-described Victorian Chamber Metal Duo, consisting of Sarah Black and Braxton Ballew, resides in Greenville, South Carolina. They are married, have been making music since 2006, and have accomplished much during the past eleven years. Valentine Wolfe has produced albums, played conventions, and scored Shakespeare plays. They were HorrorAddicts.net’s Official Theme Band for seasons 10-12 and won Season 11’s Best Band contest. This honor was awarded during the finale of Season 12.

Recently, I discussed the award and various points of interest with Sarah Black. She is a gracious lady and provided many insights into the world of Valentine Wolfe.

NTK: Hello, Sarah! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

SB: Sure thing!

NTK: Valentine Wolfe was the winner of Best Band for Season 11. How do you feel about this award?

SB: I am very excited and honored by it.

NTK: Did you and your husband expect this win?

SB: I did not expect it at all! But, we do both love horror. I love reading horror fiction, and I love horror movies, and my favorite TV show is Hannibal. So, maybe, this love of horror comes through in some of our music.

NTK: What kind of horror fiction influences you? Do you have a favorite author?

SB: Right now, I am really liking Neal Stephenson, although he may not be considered horror. I also really like Stephen King. I also really love Mary Shelley and I am looking forward to reading Frankenstein again soon.

NTK: Which of King’s book or stories is your favorite?

SB: I really enjoyed Salem’s Lot and also, Mr. Mercedes.

NTK: Did you enjoy the film adaptations of his books? What horror movies are your favorites?

SB: I have not seen any film adaptations of his movies but I am excited to try some. I do love the Frankenstein movies! I also love Crimson Peak. That one has great music and great costumes, and it just looks so good.

NTK: Do those films inspire your music when you compose?

SB: Absolutely! And, since next year will be the 20th Anniversary of Frankenstein, we are going to try to do something with it. We’ve done programs at schools in the past for our Edgar Allan Poe music and had great success with that, so for this year, I think we’ll try to work up a program about Mary Shelley.

Sterling School, in Greenville, has been super receptive to us coming out and playing our Poe songs for the kids during the month of October, when they study him. So, we want to have some meetings with the teachers and coordinate something about Mary Shelley.

NTK: Will you make a new album in the vein of Once Upon a Midnight, your Poe-themed CD?

SB: We want to meet with the teachers first and let them help guide the focus of the project to see what will be the best fit. But, yes, we probably will have an album similar to Once Upon a Midnight.

NTK: Do the kids show a lot of interest in your programs? Do you get a lot of questions after your performances for them?

SB: Yes! The kids love it! They are encouraged to sit still and be very polite but then Braxton will tell them that since we are playing Metal that they can get a little crazy. It’s so cute to watch!

The teachers have tried to keep the question and answer section after our performance more related to Poe questions but the kids are interested in us as musicians as well. It is so nice for us to show kids that making their own stories and playing music that they like is a viable lifestyle choice.

We performed for Sterling School’s month of “Poetober” in previous years. The school wanted to have their own little convention and we played at that as well. The kids all did their own panels and it was pretty impressive.

NTK: Speaking of conventions, have you played any lately?

SB: The last one we played was the Atlanta Steampunk Expo. It just started up this year. We had such a great time there. We performed a live and improvised score of the film Nosferatu. The next one will be Marscon.

NTK: You’ve mentioned in the past that you’d like to score a silent film. How was the scoring of Nosferatu received?

SB: Everyone said they really enjoyed it! And, we were so happy to get such a great opportunity.

We scored The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari earlier this year at a convention called Monsterama and then we also did Nosferatu at the Main Library here in Greenville, SC.

NTK: How is scoring a film different from composing an original song?

SB: It is very different for me! I have been used to writing songs out and then practicing them and then performing them. Improvising live is a bit exhilarating and terrifying! I love both experiences and I hope to be able to continue to do both in the future.

NTK: Valentine Wolfe has provided the theme song for the last three seasons of HorrorAddicts.net’s podcast. How did it feel to hear your song, “Broken Pieces,” as their theme song?

SB: That was so cool! I am very excited about that!

NTK: Now that your time as the main theme song is up, will you submit a new song to the Band Contest?

SB: We just might! I love that the theme is, “This Place is Cursed.” It has inspired me to start writing a song with those lyrics and if I finish the song in time, I will certainly submit it! I don’t want to take up space that could go to a different group and I wouldn’t want anyone to get sick of us, but I do love this theme so I was inspired to get writing. We’ll see what comes out of it.

NTK: Do you have any other future projects to share with our readers?

SB: We are still in the planning stages, but hopefully we will have some kind of Mary Shelley project for next year. I’m not sure yet if it will be an EP or a full-length album yet. We did an album in 2015 called “The Ghosts of Christmas Past.” I have been super excited about the idea of playing a Haunted Dickens Christmas Show or maybe doing something similar to that. So, I would also like to get more holiday music together for next year.

NTK: Sarah, I could talk to you all day. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Good luck on your future endeavors and congratulations on your Best Band of Season 11 win.

SB: Thank you so much.

HorrorAddicts.net 122, Dario Ciriello

ha-tag

Horror Addicts Episode# 122

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

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dario ciriello | glass android | mario bava

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

27 days till halloween

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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.

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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?

Guest Blog: Touched by a Ghost by Loren Rhoads

Touched by a Ghost

by Loren Rhoads

            After I paid for the first Haunted Mansion retreat, I worried what I’d do if the mansion really was haunted.  I wouldn’t be able to drive to Mount Tamalpais for the long weekend, since I couldn’t leave my family without a car.  If I caught a ride with a stranger, I would be trapped at the mansion.  What if things got really bad and I was afraid to sleep?  I wouldn’t be able to slink out to my car and sleep in it.

            HMP2coveritunesI also couldn’t call my husband — assuming the isolated mansion got cell reception — to come and get me in the middle of the night.  No way could I ask him to get our seven-year-old up, put her in the car seat, drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and rescue me from the ghosts.  If I went, I had to stick it out.

Probably, I told myself, if it got that bad, someone else would have the sense to want to leave.  I could ride back to the ferry or a bus stop with them.

Of course, I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t face an all-out Poltergeist-style freak out.  As I packed for the weekend, my new worry became that I’d spent a couple hundred dollars to write for a weekend in a haunted mansion — and nothing would happen.  The ghosts would ignore us, or they’d prowl around downstairs while we were all upstairs asleep.  How disappointing would that be?

See, I have a healthy respect for ghosts.  I’ve seen their shadows since I was a kid.  Generally, they don’t do anything more than make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  I feel cold and slightly jittery.  Most of the ghosts I’ve seen were people I knew, or at least people I recognized.  They weren’t trying to scare me.  My body’s reaction to them was scarier than anything they ever did.

Rain hadn’t told us much about the ghosts that she’d encountered in the mansion.  She wanted us to have our own experiences, to form our own opinions.  So I went into it blind, knowing no one other than her.

I met Scott and Eunice for the ride over to Mount Tam.  Eunice had come up from Southern California; Scott would drive the two of us from San Francisco’s Marina District across the Golden Gate.  I was relieved to find them your typical very nice horror writers.  They made me feel comfortable, like I wasn’t making a terrible mistake going away with strangers to a haunted house for the weekend.

We arrived at the Haunted Mansion in the middle of Thursday afternoon. As we carried our bags into the mansion, Rain was standing in the grand staircase.  She offered to give us a tour, so we could pick our rooms for the weekend.  We hurried to move our luggage into the first-floor parlor and followed her up the stairs.

The second floor was a maze of interconnecting rooms that encircled the stairway.  Almost everyone else had come with a friend with whom they planned to share a room.  Since I was solo, I wavered between asking to share someone else’s room or taking a room of my own.  Would the ghosts be more or less likely to mess with me if I slept alone?

There were only eight of us there that first night, rattling around in a house that seemed able to sleep a hundred.  Rain said we would all stay on the second floor, even though that was where she’d had the most intense of her ghostly encounters.  Most of the second-floor rooms were pass-throughs:  each dormitory-style room connecting to the next.  I don’t sleep well at the best of times, so I wasn’t eager to choose a room where people might walk through in the night to use the bathroom.  Since I wander a fair amount when I can’t sleep, I also didn’t want to wake anyone else.

Rain’s tour paused outside a little blue room tucked between a suite — reserved for the one married couple among us — and dead space.  I’m not sure what lay on the other side of the wall: maybe a linen closet?  It wasn’t another guest room, anyway.

The blue room felt very restful to me, very welcoming.  It helped that it only had one door, which faced the bed, and a window that looked out on Mount Tam.  The energy felt inviting.  When I stepped inside and saw the artwork hanging above the vanity — a piece of white silk featuring a bright Chinese phoenix — I had to have that room.  I wear a phoenix tattoo on my left arm.  The room and I shared a kinship.

*

            My little room proved to be a great haven, especially after I set my suitcase in front of the closet.  Not that I thought anything was going to come through there — or that I felt the suitcase provided much of a barricade — but I’ve seen Poltergeist too many times.  You never know with big empty spaces.

I settled into the double bed, feeling safe in a way I wouldn’t have in a room with more doors.  I closed my eyes, exhausted and slightly drunk from Rain’s good Argentinean wine.

Sleep wouldn’t come.

I thought I heard whispering voices, then a man speaking, but Yvonne and Weston had the suite that shared the minuscule balcony outside my spider-guarded window.  I gladly put on my headphones to block the voices out.

As I lay there in the dark, trying to sleep, the light in my room kept changing.  Smudges and smears of light flashed through the well of shadow that lay between the bed and the vanity.  The sliver of light coming in around the door grew wider toward morning, as if the door was inching open, but it wasn’t.  Even so, I didn’t turn my back toward the center of the room.

Finally, about 4:30, I told myself that I really needed to get some sleep.  I rolled onto my stomach, clutched the pillow, felt myself relax.  Sleep was washing over me when someone touched my hair.

Someone touched my hair.  Electricity thrilled through me.  I knew I was still alone in the room, but opened my eyes anyway.  The room remained silent and empty, holding its breath to see what I would do.

It occurred to me that a spider might have fallen from the ceiling on to me. However, the sensation of being touched hadn’t felt like something practically weightless dancing across my head. My hair is just not that sensitive.  Something the size of a hand compressed the hair on the right side of my head.  Without a doubt, someone touched me.

“Hello,” I whispered softly.  “It will be dawn soon.  I’d really like to get some sleep before then.  Can we talk in the morning?”

I waited, but nothing more happened.  Sleep was remarkably easy to find.

 ***

 CIMG0977-headshotThis is an excerpt from an essay I wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One, published by Damnation Books in 2013.  I served as editor for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, published by Damnation Books in 2014.  Both books in the series collect fiction and poetry inspired by our retreats at the mansion.  They also include reports of the hauntings we experienced and evidence reports by the GhostGirls.

The third Haunted Mansion Writers Retreat is in the planning stages for September 2015.  You can see the details and register for it here: http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/

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.

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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?