FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Tales from the Darkside Season 3

More Scares to be had in Tales from the Darkside Season 3

by Kristin Battestella

The 1986-87 Third Season of Tales from the Darkside features twenty-two more episodes of horror and oddities beginning with “The Circus” premiere written by series producer George Romero. In a series that usually puts the bizarre first, this episode truly feels like a horror tale as Showman William Hickey (Tales from the Crypt) promises mummy and vampire spectacles to a journalist trying to debunk the smoke and mirror ghouls. The bloody feedings and hungry dogs, however, make for some disturbing showmanship – a creepy little parable done with very little, using one setting and power of suggestion scares for a fitting twist. Covered furniture and a murderous history don’t deter a couple from their spooky new home in “Florence Bravo.” This is supposed to be a fresh start, but the wife – who was put in an institution by her husband after a nervous breakdown – isn’t taking her pills as the rocking chair moves by itself and ghostly visions escalate. The haunted house set up is familiar, but she loves their spooky old home and her adulterous husband will pay the price for the house’s evil ideologies with bloody floorboards, gunshots, and killer ghosts. A suspicious dollhouse in “The Geezenstacks” comes complete with the eponymous doll family, and their morbid playtime whispers come true as the cracks begin to show with implied domestic violence and dire real-world consequences. The bemusing bizarre here is less annoying than other kid-centric episodes thanks to creepy toys and that quintessential Tales from the Darkside quirky likewise seen in “Black Widows.” Our homebody knitting mother insists enough company comes to her, like salesmen and ministers knocking on the door. However, visitors who squash and kill a spider in her house will pay the pincer price – even the fiance who’s not good enough for her daughter. He’s too thin and the web-like laundry hangings add to the obvious, but there’s a sardonic wit to the family secret. Unfortunately, the eerie mood escalates for an unscrupulous yuppie art dealer in “Heretic” when the inscriptions on a valuable Inquisition painting would have him learn the error of his ways. The torture and warped religion lead to terrible twists on life imitating art with pain and fiery consequences.

Warnings to behave and not do anything you wouldn’t do on network television accent the homemaker quaint in “A Serpent’s Tooth.” Mom insists she nags because she loves, however her teen daughter and college drop out son’s choices will be over her dead body. She receives the eponymous charm with a warning to be careful what she wishes for – because she may get it. The television, radio, and telephone disappear when she threatens how inconvenient life would be without them, and when she tells an obnoxious kid next door that his face will get stuck that way it does. Talk about a salty lesson! By contrast, a greedy advertising executive sees a New Orleans bakery and its intoxicating cookies as a golden opportunity in “Baker’s Dozen.” The secret ingredients of a thirteenth specialty make for twisted connections between men, dough, and gingerbread in this tasty voodoo turnabout also written by Romero. Of course, the kids in “Seasons of Belief” are at the age where they don’t believe in Santa Claus – but their older, festive parents warn them of a more terrible figure called The Grither. While disbelieving in Saint Nick only makes your presents under the tree disappear, The Grither is the most awful thing in the world, and they’ve called him by saying his name out loud. Tales from the Darkside provides a certain warped amusement here with a holiday episode featuring a deliberate act to scare kids, twisted carols and all. A mannequin trades places with a burglar for “Miss May Dusa,” and creepy shadows accent the seedy subway and what goes on after hours sunglasses at night. Our cursed lady doesn’t remember who she was before, but a jazzy street musician tries to guess, making for an interesting twofer with sadness, despair, and bitter realizations layering a more serious drama on the horror of loneliness. Little Chad Allen (Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman) says if you leave him a note, the milkman will give you presents in “The Milkman Cometh,” and a family in debt that has lost a baby is rewarded with another pregnancy. Was it a response from the ‘While You Were Sleeping Dairy’ or a coincidence? Increasing conflict, financial struggles, and drinking lead to eerie silhouettes and blue lighting making what was once a normal neighborhood visitor totally creepy with bizarre revelations and eponymous winks.

Jeff Conway’s (Grease) typing his latest in “My Ghostwriter – The Vampire,” and he’s happy writing hack vampire tropes for the money – until Dracula shows up on his balcony. He’s there to prove his powers, proposing sanctuary in exchange for his nine hundred years of bloody details. The toothy secrets lead to literary success, and the traditional vampire motifs with eighties spins are great fun. However Dracula wants his share of the spoils, and there’s an underlying ominous thanks to dining in on the maid neck bites and handy silverware. Robert Bloch’s (Psycho) “Everybody Needs a Little Love” starring Jerry Orbach (Law & Order) has noir mood with cigarettes, Truman posters, and vintage pubs. Our barfly friend brings home a mannequin, drinking, dancing, and taking a week off from work to cook dinner and sit ‘Estelle’ at the table. Who needs a nagging broad when you can have a classy dame who just sits there and smiles! He insists she’s no prude, adding to the old fashioned creepy and lively twists with a hint of something more sinister as her look or positioning seems slightly different from glance to glance. An old crone and her young-looking friend reunite for a bitter 1692 anniversary in “Auld Acquaintances” amid talk of burning houses, lightning strikes, poisoned cats, and puritan flashbacks. Evil chants, talismans, chokings, and threats set off the zany performances alongside Salem imagery and some intense 1987 shocking language on whores and devils. The bargains in blood and pacts to live forever are well done in this confined two-hander. More spell books, enchantments, and boils in “The Swap” don’t impress the young wife of a man who can’t compare to his mama – the greatest conjurer Louisiana ever saw. So long as she ‘plays house’ each night, his wife will get all their millions, and she goes upstairs with her revolting husband rather than be poor. Of course, she’s secretly with the hunky handyman, and Tales from the Darkside gets a little saucy with talk of ‘gentlemanly pleasures,’ handcuffs, and bottles forced into a man’s mouth. The twisted little threesome escalates with poison, wills, and stipulations on who the wealthy widow must marry next. By contrast, it’s all idyllic mid-century sophistication in “The Enormous Radio” with martinis, classical music, and period touches raising the unique horrors. Do our eavesdroppers interfere when they adjust the dial and hear their neighbors or is it none of their business? Unfortunately, the addictive gossip gives way to heated arguing, and the sad, depressing strain of hearing the whole building’s troubles ultimately overwhelm our once perfect couple.

Early in Year Three, however, back-to-back kid tales sag Tales from the Darkside thanks to an annoying little girl disliking her engaged sister’s kisses with her jerky fiance in “I Can’t Help Saying Goodbye.” The titular premonitions lead to explosions, funerals, and a whiff of religion versus innocence but the crappy attitudes can’t make a thin script more eerie. “The Bitterest Pill” offers another petulant kid and nasty dad, and the family remains pissy even after they win the lottery. The in your face speed talking over the eponymous drug that provides total recall takes the investments over the top and the fittingly harsh turnabout drags on too long. Southern charm schmoozing over the politician at dinner in “Deliver Us From Goodness” also repeats the be careful what you wish for come ups that were done better several episodes prior, and the religious hypocrisy gets lost in the out of control humor and off the mark obnoxiousness. “My Own Place” may have $285 rent control, however, there’s a semi-mystical roommate that won’t leave – despite the yuppie renter’s curry jokes, Calcutta insults, and racist slurs. Such demeaning isn’t scary, and our jerky new tenant realizes he’s getting what he deserves too late. A stereotypical gold-digging femme fatale widow cut off from the company stock in “Red Leader” adds to the slow, generic corporate talk of cooked books and shady real estate as hellish minions from below debate over the same old evil businessmen tropes. Yawn. Likewise, a greedy young apprentice tries on a pair of magically crafted shoes in “The Social Climber.” He can really go places in this fancy pair, but his shoemaker boss warns him there will be a price. Unfortunately, the magical elements can’t disguise the transparent end, and today some viewers may be completely baffled by what a cobbler even is. A drunk having a heart attack to open “Let the Games Begin” leads to mirrors on the ceiling, hellish shadows, and heavenly echoes arguing over who gets to claim his soul. Both try to entice him by appearing as his angelic best friend and his vixen sister-in-law. However the askew angles, sardonic tricks, and heart beating suspense are too uneven, attempting too much between humor and cynicism in a plain story that gets irritating fast. What is scary are those yuppie styles – plaid sweaters tied over the shoulders, tube socks, and dated feather hair on top of crimped ponytails, neon fashions, and Like a Virgin fishnets. The Tales from the Darkside title card was changed for this season, the menu design on the Season Three DVDs is slightly different, and there are no subtitles. Cramped eighties trailer homes, small sets, and single locations with red lighting and dark dressings may be cheap, however, the claustrophobia is also very effective amid atmospheric thunder and that indelible, chilling Tales from the Darkside theme. Sound effects accent the monster makeup, blood, gothic archways, and older Victorian styles. Retro kitchens, typewriters, and big boob tubes harken a mid-century housewife mood – pink wallpaper, dusty rose doilies, and old bag vacuums contrast the giant eighties portable brick phones and pathetically dated computers. These ladies have to take off a clip earring to use the rotary phone and count the teaspoons to make that old fashioned coffee! While such a long season has its ups and downs thanks to dated or hammy half hours that are weird rather than scary, Tales from the Darkside Season Three once again provides creepy, chilling, and atmospheric parables for a nostalgic horror marathon.

Revisit Tales from the Darkside  Season 1 or Season 2 and read up on our Tales from the Crypt Reviews Seasons 1, 2, or 3, too! 

FRIGHTENING FLIX: Gothic Romance Video Review

Yours Truly Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz discusses Category Romance versus Gothic Literature, Slashers versus Hammer, Penny Dreadful, Mario Bava, Crimson Peak, Tom Hiddleson, and Only Lovers Left Alive as well as Victorian and Gothic Romance Themes and the upcoming HorrorAddicts.net anthology Dark Divinations.

 

Thank you for being part of Horror Addicts.net and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage!

Listen to Our Podcast: http://horroraddicts.net/

Get involved: https://www.facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net

HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference: http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/board/14/writing-horror

Dark Divinations Submission Information: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/current-submission-calls/

To Read Detailed Reviews on Our Subjects Re-visit:

Penny Dreadful  1  2  3

Mario Bava Super Special

Crimson Peak

Only Lovers Left Alive

Revisiting Poe Video Review

Classic Horror Reading Video

Dark Shadows Video Review

Chilling Chat: Episode 171 | Loren Rhoads

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Loren Rhoads served as editor for Bram Stoker Award-nominated Morbid Curiosity magazine as well as the books The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, Death’s Garden:Rhoads Headshots 9-18 FINAL-1782 Relationship with Cemeteries, and Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual. Her short stories have appeared in the books Best New Horror #27, Strange California, Sins of the Sirens: Fourteen Tales of Dark Desire, Fright Mare: Women Write Horror, and most recently in the magazines Weirdbook, Occult Detective Quarterly, and Space & Time. 

Loren is an imaginative and skilled writer. We spoke of inspiration, editing, and cemeteries.

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

LR: My pleasure! I am really looking forward to chatting.

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

LR: I remember catching a glimpse of Barnabas Collins climbing out of his coffin when I was four. I didn’t know what I was seeing at the time, but the music was so deliciously creepy! I was definitely marked for life.

NTK: Is Dark Shadows your favorite horror TV show? What is your favorite?

LR: Wow, it’s hard to choose a favorite. I loved Dark Shadows, Kolchak, and the monster of the week episodes of The X Files. Now I’m loving Legion, which might not seem like horror, because the main character/villain is presented to be so charming. He’s really quite terrifying.

NTK: Do you prefer villains or heroes?

LR: I prefer characters who wander from one side of the equation to the other.

NTK: What do you think makes a character believable?

LR: Self-doubt.

NTK: When you write characters, do they have free will? Or are their actions predetermined?

LR: They definitely have minds of their own. I generally write to find out what I think, rather than the other way around, so I just wind my characters up and watch them go.

NTK:  Lily is a fascinating character in “Still Life with Shattered Glass.” What inspired that story?

LR: I was working at the University of Michigan as the Secretary of the Undergraduate English program. One of the perks was that I got to sit in on any English class I wanted, so I took all the creative writing classes. Students were strongly encouraged to “write what you know” so we read an awful lot of shitty roommate stories. I wanted to write a story where the reader wasn’t sure which roommate was worse. And I wanted to mock all the artistic pretensions that the undergrads were spouting.

NTK: “Still Life” is part of the anthology, Tales for the Camp Fire. Could you tell us what that anthology is about and what inspired it?

LR: Last November, there was a terrible wildfire in Northern California. Some of the power company’s equipment failed in a windstorm and threw sparks that burned for three weeks. The town of Paradise, California was leveled. The smoke from the fire was so bad that it could be seen from space. It drifted 200 miles from Butte County in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to settle in the Bay Area, where I live. For a week, we had the worst air quality in the world. So even if we didn’t lose anything directly in the fire, we were still affected by it.

Tales for the Camp FireThe local chapter of the Horror Writers Association decided to help the survivors. Ben Monroe suggested we put together an anthology that we could use to raise money for survivors. I volunteered to edit. Tomes & Coffee volunteered to publish it. All the stories—even the one by Clark Ashton Smith—are donations. The cover art was donated by Petersen Games. Even the cover designer donated her time.

All of the book’s profits are going to the North Valley Community Foundation, which is a clearinghouse in Butte County that applies funds to the greatest needs.

NTK:  Horror writers are great people. What did you look for in a story, when you edited that anthology?

LR: Because it wasn’t a themed anthology, I wanted to include as wide a spectrum of horror stories as possible: creepy, gross, funny, disturbing, thought-provoking, nightmarish. I wanted something about the story to stick in your mind after you read it, a splinter that would work away at you.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

LR: The one I’ve read the most is Dracula. I find something new in it every time I read it. Other than that, my second favorite changes from day to day.

NTK: You spoke of your inspiration for “Still Life,” what inspires you in general? What gets the creative juices flowing?

LR: I’m just trying to make sense of life on earth. It can be so beautiful and yet so tragic. We don’t seem to make it easy for each other, even though we’re all trapped here. I write to get to the heart of that.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror film?

LR: Alien. The first one. I still find it scary.

NTK: Is it the fear factor, or the fact that people are pulling together to fight a greater evil that attracts you to the story?

LR: I like watching Ripley, who is marginalized and ignored, turn out to be right. She knows what the protocol is supposed to be, but the more-emotional men overrule her and get killed for it. Watching Ripley, who has discounted herself, realize that she’s resourceful enough to survive it is amazing. And the monster still haunts my nightmares all these years later.

NTK: You are a well-known cemetery aficionado and I have been dying to ask you this question, have you ever been to Colma, CA?

LR: Oh so many times!

NTK: What’s it like?

LR: The absolute best. There are 17 cemeteries in town, one right beside the next. They range from Japanese to Chinese to Italian (full of sculpture) to Jewish to Catholic to a former Masonic cemetery to a former potter’s field. There’s even a pet cemetery!

They say 1 million people are buried in Colma but there are only 1,000 live ones.

Wyatt Earp is buried there, and Levi Strauss, and Emperor Norton (the only Emperor of North America and Protector of Mexico). It’s lovely and sad and full of treasures.

I don’t know if you know the history of the graveyards of San Francisco, but in the early 20th century, all of them were dug up and the bodies hauled to Colma. There are several huge mass graves down there. Even so, people keep finding bodies that were missed somehow and weren’t moved.

Several years ago, a woman doing yard work found an iron coffin with a little girl in it, still perfectly preserved, and visible through a glass window into the coffin.

NTK: Do you have any stories set in Colma?

LR: Not yet. I’ve written about it on Cemetery Travel (my cemetery blog) and in 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, but I haven’t set a story there yet.

NTK: I look forward to those stories. Loren, what does the future hold for you? What work do we Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

LR: I’m finishing up a novel that I hope to have out in October, so I can sell it at the199 Cemeteries Horror Addicts table at Sinister Creature Con. It’s the sequel to Lost Angels (which HA gave a super nice review to several years ago). This new one is called Angelus Rose. It continues the story of Lorelei, a succubus who falls for an angel named Azaziel. It’s set in LA—and bits of it take place in Forest Lawn, Westwood Memorial Park (where Marilyn Monroe is buried), and Angelus Rosedale, where Buffy was filmed in its first season. The story skates between erotic horror and urban fantasy romance, lots of sex and death and graveyards.

NTK: Thank you so much for chatting with me, Loren. You’re a terrific guest.

LR: Thank you so much for doing this, Naching! You asked some great questions. It was really fun.

Addicts, you can find Loren on Facebook, Twitter, and at Cemetery Travel.

You can purchase Tales for the Camp Fire: A Charity Anthology on Amazon.

Kill Switch: An Overview

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During the early months of 2018, Emerian Rich and Dan Shaurette began brainstorming the theme of the next HorrorAddicts.net anthology. Dan approached Emz with an interesting idea. He wanted to create an anthology inspired by Tech Horror, something like the NETFLIX television show, Black Mirror. The prospect excited Emz. All they needed was a name.

They came up with several during the coming weeks. Everything from Glitched, to Future Dark to Kernel Panic to Digital Dread. Nothing clicked until January 19, 2018.

Dan: Kill Switch?

Emz: That’s it!

And, Kill Switch was born.

Dan chose the Vampire/Android cover and the submission call went out. Authors responded to the theme and the submissions began to roll in. Everything went smoothly until Father’s Day, 2018. That was the day Dan suffered a medical emergency. He would survive but he wouldn’t finish the anthology.

Emz was torn. She didn’t know whether to shelve the book or not. After weighing the pros and cons, a single thought came to her mind. What would Dan do? The answer was simple. He would press on.

That’s where I came into the picture. I’d joined HorrorAddicts.net as an interviewer, reviewer, and publishing assistant just a few months before. As Emz took over editing the anthology, I stepped in as Head of Publishing. We assembled a submissions team with Laura Perkins and J. Malcolm Stewart (followed later by Kate Nox and Cedar George) and went right to work.

A month passed as the team sifted through manuscripts looking for technical gems to fill the pages of the anthology. In the end, they decided on thirteen stories. The authors were notified and the anthology announced. Phase one was complete.

Several months of formatting and editing followed. We worked hard on every story, cutting and polishing the technical gems until they were perfect diamonds. At last, on May 9, Kill Switch was ready for the world.

And so, with pride and a deep sense of accomplishment, HorrorAddicts.net presents to you… 

KILL SWITCH

Edited by DAN SHAURETTE and EMERIAN RICH

With stories by:

DANA HAMMER / MOW-BOT

Mike’s new Mow-Bot is the answer to his weekend chore dreams until the neighbor’s cat disappears.

TIM O’NEAL / REMS

A doctor eager for publication and fame unethically tests a wound debridement technology with disastrous results.

NACHING T. KASSA / PHANTOM CALLER

An elderly woman enlists the aid of two repairmen when her pest elimination program goes haywire and begins attracting ghosts.

EMERIAN RICH / SOULTAKER 2.0

A game programmer in the final stages of launching a new version of the MMORPG “SoulTaker,” finds a bug even he can’t fix.

DAPHNE STRASERT / IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Daemon is willing to do whatever it takes to get the girl of his dreams and if his Iriz eye implant can help him do that, he doesn’t care what else it does.

GARTH VON BUCHHOLZ  / HAÜS

A five-year-old boy is left home alone while his parents travel overseas, but his smart-house will keep him safe, right?

JERRY J. DAVIS / TRAVELS

In a near future world where viewers are addicted to a television station featuring a hypnotically seductive sphere bouncing on an endless, surreal journey through unspoiled natural environments, Dodd is the only one who is “awake” enough to fight back.

GARRETT ROWLAN / GO GENTLY

In a future world where no one except fake grandparents live past the age of 65, Enid needs to land the job that will save her life, but a trip down memory lane may prove more difficult than she expects.

CHANTAL BOUDREAU / STRANGE MUSIC

An audio-sensitive college student is the only one who can hear the difference in a mechanical birdsong that attacks her little sister.

H.E. ROULO / ANGELS DON’T FEAR HEIGHTS

A man uses technology to control his daughter from beyond the grave, will she ever be free?

BILL DAVIDSON / INTELLIGENIE

A terminally ill woman discovers a frightening secret when she issues a deadly order to her personal robot.

LAUREL ANNE HILL / 13TH MAGGOT

A scientist working with bioengineered medical maggots fails to document her obvious erroneous observation, only to later realize her horrific mistake.

PHILLIP T. STEPHENS / SUBROUTINES

A computer programmer looking for his missing children in a legendary ghost house encounters a malevolent AI.

And, though I’ve stepped in as Head of Publishing, I could never fill Dan’s shoes. With much love, we dedicate this book to you, Dan. Thank you. We hope you enjoy it.

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Kill Switch Chilling Chat with Dana Hammer

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Dana Hammer is the author of several short stories which have been published in various magazines, journals and anthologies. She has never used a lawnmower.Dana Hammer

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

So young I can’t remember the age. I used to stay up late watching Tales from the Darkside and Tales from the Crypt. My family and I used to tell stories about Betsy the Child-Killing Doll. I was like, five at the time. It’s always been a pretty big part of my life, which is a good thing.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

I don’t know. I like to think I have my own style.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Mow-Bot?”

My husband is very in to automation. I am not. He purchased a robot vacuum cleaner, and it was bad news. It kept trying to get my feet with its little flippers. Sometimes it ate electrical cords. Sometimes it didn’t obey me at all. It had an “accident” and now it is gone from my life forever, thank god.

A robotic lawn mower is the logical extension of these kinds of terrifying home automation appliances.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

Of course, they don’t have free will, they’re fictional characters, who I created. I can make them do whatever I want.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

No, music is too distracting. I like it silent when I write. I do like to create playlists that I listen to BEFORE I write, to get me in the mood.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

Same place everyone does.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

That’s a hard one! It, The Hole, The Stand, Hannibal.

KSCoverSmall8.) Favorite horror movie?

Again, so hard to pick! The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, Get Out, The Bad Seed.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

Tales from the Crypt!

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

Right now I’m working on screenplays. My short story, “Spider” was optioned, and turned into a short film, which should be released in October of this year. My screenplay, Red Wings won the Vancouver Badass Film Festival Best Screenplay award, so I’m trying to get that produced. My novels, Dead Viking Rehab and Pazuzu Versus the Fucking Fairies are now available for purchase, so you should purchase them.

 

Kill Switch Chilling Chat with Tim O’Neal

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Tim O’Neal graduated from UC Berkeley. He served ten months in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and is currently working on a dual Masters in nutritionTim O'Neal science and exercise physiology. When he is not studying, he plays guitar or explores California by bicycle. “REMS” is his first short story.

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

I was 15 years old.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Stephen King inspired me to write horror after I read The Shining in high school. I told myself I wanted to write something as well done and scary as that.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “REMS?”

I was bored working at my day job in a gray cubicle beneath the fluorescent lights. I had an idea for remote controlled maggots and how much fun that could be. I scribbled down a few things in a nearby notebook (complete with doodles!). After a few years, those ideas developed into the current story.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

I think the best writing happens when you can hypnotize yourself into a state of creative unconscious. The most believable fiction occurs when you take yourself out of the driver’s seat and ride shotgun, letting your characters do what they wish; however good or bad the result.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I used to listen to music like Green Day while writing. But I outgrew the practice. Now I mostly write in silence. It helps me focus.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration just by letting my unconscious mind turn over different thoughts, ideas, images, visuals, sayings; basically anything that happens to me in a day gets churned up and blended together. Sometimes you get a gem.

KSCoverSmall7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

Ooh, that’s a hard one. I have so many favorite horror novels. The Shining is up there, of course. So is Justin Cronin’s The Passage. As well as Joe Hill’s Heart Shaped Box.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

I normally don’t watch horror movies. I prefer comedies.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

Stranger Things!!

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

I continue to write every day, writing down ideas, editing old stuff, and putting down new ideas. I hope that, in time, more of my stories will find homes with attentive readers.

Kill Switch Origins

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Addicts, have you ever wondered what inspires an author to write a horror story? What event sparked terror in a writer’s brain? Well, wonder no more. Some of our Kill Switch authors have been kind enough to provide us with a peek inside their twisted minds. We hope you enjoy these Kill Switch Origins.


Subroutines: Writing from the Scrap Heap of Memory

I checked through the drafts in my Ulysses app and discovered I wrote the original version of “Subroutines” for an online writers’ group two years ago. I believe the theme of passing through doorways. (The other writers’ doorways led to heaven.)

Most likely I was working on a second story or poem that involved code, and the link from entrapment to endless loop was a natural segue.

I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration to write. I work with scraps and found images I drop into memory and then fish them out at random. Most of my stories begin with an image, dust motes dancing in sunlight, a woman’s hair spreading into the water, a spot of blood on a pillow. It doesn’t matter what image I retrieve, that’s the one I work with.

Once I find it, I fashion the image into a metaphor that represents character flaws, motivations or self-deception. The endless loop in subroutines is a metaphor for the patterns that define our lives. The loop traps us but escaping the loop derails us as often as it resets our course.

Once I fashion the metaphor, I turn it loose in the story’s garden to see where it crops up. Sometimes I get flowers, sometimes I get weeds, which is fine. Weeds and wildflowers cover my lawn (which pisses off the neighbors who like their yards neatly trimmed). I want my mind as messy as my yard.

~Phillip T. Stephens


As regards the origin of my story, “Go Gently,” honestly I can’t recall…it’s been years of rejections and rewrites…all I have is the memory of the preacher Gene Scott—I think that’s his name—asking for Kruggerands on his weekly message. He was the model for Dr. Jack Carl in my story.

~ Garrett Rowlan


My short story, “HAÜS,” was inspired by a discussion I had with a relative who installs digital security systems in homes, commercial buildings, and public facilities. I wondered, “How diabolical would it be to have an advanced security system so effective and deadly that even a small child who was ‘home alone’ for a while would be safe against armed Intruders?”

~ Garth von Buchholz


[“In the Eye of the Beholder”] I worked in the field of User Experience Design for a few years and saw a number of interesting design concepts for augmented reality. Combining the digital world with the real world has been technology’s inevitable direction for a while now. Considering how connected our lives are through social media, this combination is increasingly problematic. What is privacy in a world where everything goes online? What’s happens when our digital selves merge with our actual selves? And what happens when they start to take over?

~ Daphne Strasert


[“Soultaker 2.0”] I always liked the idea of a sinister power claiming parts of us as we play video games. There have been so many studies on how video game playing can affect our bodies and minds while playing. What if the effects were irreversible?

~ Emerian Rich


My story was inspired by a real invention. It’s a small white box which uses ultrasonic sound to repel pests (spiders, mice, etc.) from your residence. My husband and I bought these devices online. You just plug them into any outlet and switch them on.

After a while, (when the device no longer worked. I guess the mice grew accustomed to the sound) I began to wonder about these things. What if they could repel pests, but attracted something else to the house? The idea bumped around in my head until I heard about the Kill Switch submission call. Then the whole idea clicked into place and “Phantom Caller” was born.

~Naching T. Kassa