Horror Curated: Books in Review

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There is No Death There are No Dead

Edited by Aaron J. French &
Jess Landry
Crystal Lake Press

The spirits of the dead exist and they want to communicate.

Spiritualism—the belief that the soul continues on after death and that those souls try to communicate with the living—originated in the 1800s. It reached a fever pitch with mediums traveling all over the world, practicing their craft.

There is No Death, There are No Dead is an anthology of horror stories focused on spiritualism. Whether telling the story of a spirit, a medium, a haunting, or a hoax, communication with the dead takes center stage in each of these tales.

The stories are diverse and unique, but with a carefully crafted thread that connects them into a cohesive collection. The author might explore the origins of spiritualism in the foggy streets of Victorian London or a modern-day medium wrestling with hauntings that are all too human…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Book Review: Cursed by Richard Schiver

 

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Reviewed by Emerian Rich

For:  Those who enjoy small-town horror stories and mysteries.

Content warning: Suicide, child abuse, child abduction, addiction, prostitution, murder, hanging.

Cursed-Amazon-Kindle - Richard SchiverIn Cursed by Richard Schiver, Susan and her daughter are trying to rebuild their lives after her husband’s death. His absence has left them alone and grasping for a new sense of normal despite their grief. Local contractor and Susan’s possibly new guy, Eric, wants to be part of their world, but can he?

Meanwhile, little kids are being drawn away from their homes by a ghost girl and a supposed witch. This is a curse that’s been infecting the small community of Porter Mines for decades. They are led to a pond and can fall into the pond or into crevices and tunnels that are around it.

Susan’s daughter, Christine, is drawn away and her bunny–that was a last gift from her deceased father–falls into a crevice. Thankfully, Christine is saved by her mom and Eric, but the bunny is lost in the crevice. The Porter Mines witch has struck again!

As the missing children count goes up, the sheriff strives to investigate. The sheriff was just a rookie when the first disappearances happened 30 years ago and he’s been ruminating over them ever since, but now it’s happening again. He hopes he can stop it this time. But when a guy from town returns to exact revenge on those who he feels wronged him, will he mess up the investigation by killing the sheriff? Or is he involved in the decades-long curse?

Although the witch is blamed, it seems pretty clear that she is not what is taking the kids, but who is? Is it a human drawn to the allure of children and reenacting a supposed urban legend? Or is it something supernatural? And when Christine disappears again, the time clock speeds up for Susan and Eric to find her and put an end to this crazy curse.

This novel was a fun read. It unwinds slowly and gives you pieces of different stories and layers of information that have you always wondering if the villain is a supernatural or a human monster. I enjoyed the different storylines and felt like even though we were getting closer and closer to the truth, the other storylines had just as much importance to the tale as the main thread of child abduction. 

Although the main character is Susan, I felt also drawn into the lives of the sheriff and the poor little girl (Twila) who had to put up with an addicted mother. One strange thing that I don’t know was intentional was the similarities between the characters. Although Susan and Twila never really interact, their backgrounds are so similar, it feels like the author is showing us an unspoken camaraderie they carry for one another. Can the abused sense the abused, even without saying a word? Are we seeing a child and then a grown-up version of the same child? Or perhaps the author is showing us that everyone–from the little school girl to the sheriff–have troubles in their lives that are never spoken of, that they are not proud of, that haunt them…and we are all not so different after all. You’ll have to read the book to discover which message he is trying to convey.

This is a great book for readers who enjoy small-town horror like Stephen King’s The Storm of the Century or Koontz’s Phantoms and is available at Amazon.com.

Horror Curated: Lynne Hansen

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Multimedia artist Lynne Hansen specializes in horror book covers for some of today’s most popular authors and publishers in the genre. Inspired by the horror novels she reads, Hansen seeks to tell a story with a single image, hoping to convey the symbolic heart of a character or novel like early twentieth-century surrealists M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, and more modern iconic artists like Alan Clark and Jill Bauman. Hansen tries to capture the beauty in even the most twisted nightmare images.

A resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hansen is married to Bram Stoker Award-winning horror author Jeff Strand. In her interview with Horror Curated, Hansen explains how she collaborates with authors and shares her favorite ghostly encounter…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

From the Vault: Bizarre Deaths/ Edgar Allan Poe

Bizarre Deaths
by Guy Portman

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

(January 19th 1809 – October 7th 1849) 

Notable works: The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, Tamerlan and Other Poems

Poe was an author, poet, editor and literary critic, whose tales of mystery and the macabre are still widely read to this day.  One of the earliest American practitioners of the short story, Poe is also widely considered as being the inventor of the detective fiction genre.  Evidence of the writer’s enduring popularity is the fact that an original copy of Poe’s Tamerlane and Other Poems sold at Christie’s in New York for $662,500, a record price for a work of American literature.

The bizarre events surrounding Poe’s death were as mysterious as the nature of his writing.  On October 3rd, 1849 Mr. Joseph Walker found Poe wandering the streets of Baltimore in a delirious state.  The writer was taken to hospital but was unable to give an accurate account of what had occurred before his demise four days later.

There has been much speculation surrounding Poe’s sudden deterioration and death.  Due to the fact that he was found wearing someone else’s clothes, it has been argued that he was the victim of cooping, a practice in which citizens were attacked, absconded, plied with alcohol, and forced to vote for a political candidate.  His sudden deterioration and demise have also been attributed to alcoholism, TB, epilepsy, diabetes, and even rabies.

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Guy Portman is a writer currently residing in London, the city of his birth.  Guy’s next book, Necropolis, is a work of dark fiction about a psychopath, who is employed at his local council’s Burials and Cemeteries department.  Necropolis is due for release in late April 2014. For more info on Guy, go to: www.guyportman.com

Historian of Horror : A Haunted House in The Wild Wild West


A week or so before my birthday several years ago, my wife called me up and asked if I preferred The Wild Wild West or Gunsmoke. A strange request, I thought at the time, since we had not recently discussed any western television programs from the 1960s, but I answered honestly that The Wild Wild West was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid, I still liked it, and my family rarely watched Gunsmoke back in the day because there was probably something on another channel that my dad liked better. Ergo, I never developed any particular fondness for the latter program. I certainly did for the former.

Imagine my very pleasant surprise upon opening my gift on the 25th of that month to find within the festive wrapping paper a DVD set of all four seasons of The Wild Wild West. I binged it right away, and still return to it on occasion. To this day, I find it the most re-watchable of the shows I loved as a child. 

And the populace rises up in unison to issue a resounding, “So what? It’s a western. We’re here to celebrate all things horror. Wrong genre, doofus!”

Ah, but it’s not so far away on the genre spectrum as one might think. To begin with, The Wild Wild West was the progenitor of all things steampunk. Coming as it did in the midst of the secret agent craze, sparked by James Bond and fueled by myriad secondary spies of all shapes and sizes and colors, outfitting a pair of 1870s Secret Service agents with gadgets secreted within cowboy boots and gun belts and hat bands was a natural. While the various gewgaws and thingamajigs dashing hero James West (Robert Conrad) and his not-quite-as-dashing but dazzlingly brilliant sidekick Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) used in their never-ending war on the foes of the United States during the Grant administration were theoretically possible for the period, there were also frequent excursions into the realm of science-fictional fantasies. And at least one episode that could be considered to be horror.

So it was that, a few days ago, I popped the pertinent disc into the player and reviewed with great pleasure the 12th episode of the second season, “The Night of the Man-Eating House”.

All 104 episodes had titles that started with “The Night…”, by the way. In case you were wondering.

The mission James and Artie were tasked with in that broadcast of December 2, 1966, required them to return an escaped prisoner, played by Hurd Hatfield (star of The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1945), to jail. They were accompanied by a sheriff played by William Talman, best known as District Attorney Hamilton Burger on the Perry Mason TV show. The prisoner, Liston Lawrence Day, had spent thirty years in solitary confinement for treason. He broke away from his captors and found his way to his former home, a plantation house so thoroughly infused with the spirit of his late mother that injury to the structure caused her to cry out in pain. She held the good guys hostage and tried to kill them so as to enable her son to escape. Meanwhile, Day was somehow restored to his youthful appearance and vigor. Thus rejuvenated, he conspired with the ghostly mansion to bedevil our heroes. 

A most unusual episode, in several ways. As far as I can recall, it’s the only one with a supernatural element. It’s one of the few, if not the only one without a lovely young miss in a feathered bonnet and a hoop skirt for James West to suck face with in between fistfights. And it is the least violent episode I think I ever saw, as there was no one for our fearless hero to punch but one old/young man. The violence that permeated the program’s entire history inevitably attracted the attention of a variety of parents’ groups resolved to force the networks to tone down the bloodletting and fisticuffs, which eventually resulted in the show’s demise.

It all came to an end on April 11, 1969, without any additional expeditions into the outré. There were two subsequent television movies before Martin suffered a fatal heart attack while playing tennis in 1981, and a 1999 feature film that was not well-received, for very good reason. Conrad passed away in 2020, and that was it for The Wild Wild West.

But for just one night, one singular evening when I was eight years old, the best adventure-espionage-western-science-fiction program of its time was also a horror show. And that is still pretty darn groovy, even sixty-six years later.

So as always, true believers in televised terrors, I bid you to be afraid.

Be very afraid.

 

Review: Edgar Allan Poe’s Entrancing Berenice

Review by Megan Starrak

 

Once upon a midnight dreary

I came upon something eerie

A rather gruesome tale of woe,

Written by the hand of Poe.

 

This article was going to be a very abbreviated look at the writings of Edgar Allan Poe in honor of his birthday on January 19th. Then I came across a short story I had never heard of called Berenice. It was published in 1835, and readers were appalled by the story’s content. Reading it, I discovered that the imagery contained within is some of Poe’s darkest.

Berenice is about a man named Egaeus who is engaged to marry his cousin Berenice. Early in the story, Berenice falls ill and begins to wither away physically. At the same time, Egaeus begins suffering from what he calls monomania, in which he becomes obsessed with objects and will stare at them trance-like for hours. One trance begins when Berenice goes to speak with him, and he fixates on her teeth, which are the only part of her body not affected by her illness. Egaeus spends at least a day wholly lost in his obsession with her teeth. He is drawn out of his deep thought when the maid informs him that Berenice has died.

During the story’s final act, Egaeus goes into another one of his trances. Poe does not detail what Egaeus does during this last trance; the reader only witnesses the aftermath as Egaeus becomes aware of it himself. A servant comes to Egaeus and tells him that Berenice was found alive after someone dug up her grave. The servant points to scratches on Egaeus’s hand and there is a shovel leaning against the wall. There is also a box sitting on the table, and with growing horror, Egaeus grabs it, and it falls to the floor. In Poe’s words, “…there rolled out some instruments of dentistry, intermingled with thirty-two small, white and ivory looking substances that were scattered to and from about the floor.”

As with many of Poe’s works, the theme of death and dying is prevalent in Berenice. But is it also a glimpse into Poe’s future? A year after this story was published, Poe married his cousin Virginia. The marriage raised some eyebrows because Poe was 27, and Virginia was 13. But the couple reportedly had a very happy marriage for several years. Then Virginia contracted tuberculosis and passed away in 1847 when she was just 24. 

Poe’s mental health declined during her illness, and, in a letter, he wrote, “Each time I felt all the agonies of her death –and at each accession of the disorder I loved her more dearly & clung to her life with more desperate pertinacity. But I am constitutionally sensitive, nervous in a very unusual degree. I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”

During this emotional upheaval, I wonder if Poe ever thought back to Berenice. Did the words, “Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are, have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been,” come back to him in the darkest moments of Virginia’s illness or after her death? 

Being a writer can lead to a connection with something beyond ourselves. Poe would not be the first to write scenes that would come true years, maybe decades later. Many of Poe’s stories touched on supernatural aspects of our world. Maybe all the loss he had suffered during his life put him closer to that realm than the rest of us. Poe could have taken a different writing path, but he was drawn toward the darker side of the universe, and classic literature is a more macabre place because of it.   

Horror Curated: Midnight Syndicate

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Midnight SyndicateIt’s impossible to say you haven’t heard the music of brilliant composers, Midnight Syndicate. Even if you don’t know them by name, you’ve heard them pumped through ratty speakers in pop-up Halloween stores, haunted attractions, or amusement parks during the spooky season.

Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been composing and producing music together since the late nineties. They have 20+ albums, have been featured on film soundtracks, and even host a live show at Cedar Point, an amusement park in Ohio.

Edward has a background in film and theatre and has always had a strong love of instrumental music and sound effects because of their ability to transport the listener to a world or movie of their own creation. Gavin, on the other hand, grew up playing keyboards and drums in various rock and pop bands, but began studying music in a much more formal way when he was accepted into a Conservatory of Music during college. There, he learned the basics of orchestration as well as structured composition.

The combination of musical sounds from these two gentlemen can only be described as magical. From their first collaboration on the album Born of the Night, to their newest release—a 25th-anniversary celebration album called Legions of the Night—these guys are truly the real deal when it comes to atmospheric and gothic soundtracks to our soul…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Book Review: Daughters of Darkness II

 

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Reviewed by Emerian Rich

For: Readers who enjoy horror stories written by women, religious conspiracy, spirits, and demon possession.

Content warning: infant death, hate crime, murder, abuse

Daughters of Darkness II is a set of horror stories by women, curated by two awesome horror writers themselves, Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Faye.

Daughters of Darkness - Alyson RhodesMy favorite of these stories is by Lynn Love called, “A Light in the Darkness.” Occupying a large part of the middle of this volume, it takes place in three parts during three different parts of a young girl’s life. Starting out as a melancholy tale about her mother losing multiple children, the story transforms into a story about an evil spirit and the love between a sister and brother. Patricia is a girl who isn’t quite sure of her purpose until she is told a secret hidden in the family Bible. This story is fabulously crafted and left secrets that even I didn’t pick up until the end. It’s got a dark, dismal sort of atmosphere from the start leads the reader on a beautiful road of destiny. Just as I thought I knew what was going on, something else unraveled, leading me down another path. The ending went so fast, I kept looking for more to read! I supremely enjoyed this tale and the story is intriguing enough to launch a series. It very much reminded me of Anne Rice’s Lasher books.

Another great tale is “Hummingbird” by T.C. Parker. Told in two parts, this will excite anyone who likes stories about cults, religious conspiracy, or fanatical religious groups. Although I’ll give a warning, it may be triggering for members of the LGBTQ community, especially if you have ever been treated unkindly by a fanatical religion or members of a church group. Jodie is a lesbian and one of Connor’s moms. A religious group is picketing Connor’s school, warning of the dangers of families that don’t have the cookie-cutter mom and dad they believe is God’s gold standard. As a pretty meek and kind gal, Jodie tries to ignore the madness, but when she’s forced into the drama by one of the more aggressive church members, she has no choice but to become involved. Without support from her partner, she turns to a fellow mom who has a secret of her own. In part two, we get a bigger look into the religious side of things and man…I wouldn’t spoil the reveal for all the world.

If you’re looking for an anthology with longer stories by some great women horror writers, this should be right up your alley.

Horror Curated: Winter Tale author Cliff Biggers

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CliffThe creators of A Winter’s Tale, Cliff Biggers, Charles R. Rutledge, and James R. Tuck, were inspired to create their anthology of Yuletide Horror because they enjoyed reading the super Valancourt collections of Victorian Christmas ghost stories. They called on some of the talented writers they know to contribute and bring the tradition back. I got to discuss the book, his favorite horror esthetic, and Edgar Allan Poe with Cliff, one of the editors and the author of our featured story this month, “Who Wouldn’t Go.”

Cliff Biggers has been a writer of comics, Fantasy, Horror, and nonfiction for almost fifty years, beginning with his work with Jim Steranko’s Mediascene in the 1970s. His Horror fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines.

Why should readers pick up A Winter’s Tale?

We have outstanding stories from so many writers, each of them in a different style, evoking a different mood. Just like the Victorian Christmas ghost stories that inspired us, these stories aren’t all built around a holiday theme, so this is more than just a Christmas collection. Our book design and cover artist, Lynne Hansen, conveys that feeling perfectly with her cover image, which is a cold, lonely, somber piece that has no Christmas cheer anywhere to be seen, but it conveys the cold of the season as well as the chill of the ghostly tales.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic?

I am much more a fan of the disquieting, evocative Horror tale than the in-your-face splatterpunk Horror approach. I want a good Horror tale to haunt, not to shock…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Historian of Horror: Hide the WD-40!

When you have a medium reliant entirely on sound, which sonic effects are used has an impact that sometimes transcends all the other elements. Three radio shows spanning fifty years of that medium’s history were notable for sharing the same sound.

Radio impresario Himan Brown told the tale, years after the fact, of an ominously creaking door in the basement of a radio studio he once worked in, which inspired him to use that noise during the opening and closing of a program he created in 1941, and another one three decades later.

The Inner Sanctum Mysteries was loosely associated with a similarly-named series of mystery novels published by Simon & Schuster. It premiered on the NBC Blue Network on January 7, 1941, switched to CBS in September 1943, moved to the Blue Network’s successor, ABC, in 1950 for one year, then popped up briefly in 1952, again on CBS. That sort of network perambulation wasn’t uncommon back then.

By the way, NBC’s Red Network is the one that continues on today. Blue was sold off after World War II to become ABC because the Federal Communications Commission didn’t approve of two parallel networks from one company. My, how times have changed.

Anyhow, Inner Sanctum introduced the notion of the humorous host, Raymond, whose descendants include the Tales from the Crypt’s Crypt Keeper and his ilk. Radio show hosts had previously played it mostly straight and generally did subsequently. Neither The Mysterious Traveler nor The Whistler joked around quite like Raymond, whose full name was Raymond Edward Johnson. He drawled a snarky introduction, made some bad puns, insulted the sponsors, then let the murder and mayhem fly over the airwaves. Regular guest stars in those early years included movie boogymen Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. 

Raymond left in 1945, replaced by Paul McGrath. The stories became campier, and the big-name guest stars more infrequently heard, but the program limped on for another six years, plus three months. There was one year of a television version on NBC during the 1953-1954 season, running thirty-nine episodes. In addition, there was a six-film series starring Lon Chaney made by Universal Studios in the mid-1940s, and a 1948 feature film, neither of which were associated with the radio show. Their inspiration came from the novel series. 

The age of Old Time Radio in the United States ended in 1962, but in 1973, Himan Brown decided the medium deserved another chance. The CBS Radio Mystery Theater ran in syndication from January 6, 1974, to December 31, 1982, five and sometimes six nights a week for 1399 original episodes. It was hosted by E.G. Marshall, whom some may remember as the entomophobic businessman in the final segment of the first Creepshow, in 1982. The program featured original stories, as well as adaptations of classic tales, including “The Horla” by Guy de Maupassant, Edgar Allen Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher”, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Marie Belloc Lowndes’ novel that was loosely based on Jack the Ripper,  The Lodger. The show starred popular television actors, but none who were big names at the time. Sarah Jessica Parker did have an early credit in “The Child Cat’s Paw”, aired on May 17, 1977, and John Lithgow starred in “The Deserter” on February 6, 1980, but few others of the featured guests would be familiar to most folks these days. Alas. Their loss.

Except for a brief revival of reruns in 1998, the creaking door finally closed for the last time. However, there was one more manifestation of its rusty hinges on the air during the years between Himan Brown’s bookend programs, in a far off land where radio didn’t die out quite so soon as it did in America.

Television wasn’t permitted in the Republic of South Africa until the mid-1970s, so audiences there had no other recourse but to be entertained by radio. So it was that, in 1964, the squeaky old portal was revived by Springbok Radio for at least forty-two episodes aired over the next year or so. Information on the exact number and their broadcast dates has thus far eluded scholars of the medium, but those forty-two episodes of The Creaking Door have been making the rounds among collectors for years, and are not at all bad. Definitely worth a listen.

Many thanks to John Dunning’s hefty tome, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, as well as Jim Harmon’s classic book, The Great Radio Heroes, for the information presented here. I hope to provide many more fascinating facts regarding our favorite genre in the coming year and wish for each of the populace a happy, prosperous, and delightfully frightening 2023. As always, my Merry Miscreants…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Horror Curated: The Bloody Brilliance of Lady Snowblood

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Japan is not known for holding back when it comes to throwing around buckets of blood on screen. Not just limited to horror, the country’s samurai and revenge films are some of the bloodiest on record, and because there are often swords involved, it’s not just limited to splashes of red from bullet-wounds either. Lady Snowblood (Toshya Fujita) is a perfect example of this, featuring copious amounts of the red stuff gushing in geysers from slashes and stabs. But the film is much more than just a blood-fest, and is an interesting window onto Japanese society in the beginning of the Meiji Era, when the country was beginning to examine western ideas, moving from the feudalistic, pre-industrial country of old, into a nation that had changed almost indescribably by the era’s end.

The story is one that has been told times before. Yuki, born in the first years of the Meiji Era, is raised to be an assassin who will one day track down her mother’s four abusers. The film follows the now named “Lady Snowblood,” as she follows the four trails, taking out each one in turn, until the final bloody climax. Based off a manga of the same name, it spawned a sequel, a spinoff, and had its legacy largely cemented in western culture when Quentin Tarantino used it as primary inspiration for Kill Bill (2003). It’s a kind of narrative we’re still seeing today, with a female assassin raised from birth for the sole purpose of murder, and anyone who hasn’t seen the

stylish 2017 film The Villainess (Jung Byung-gil, South Korea), which in turn was inspired by the Luc Besson film La Femme Nikita (France, 1990), would do well to check it out for a fun, modern example of the narrative.

Lady Snowblood has enough filmmaking technique going for it to make it a good watch on its own, and attention to the use of color as part of its thematic expression is just part of it. Red is obviously a large feature in the film, and not just because of the severed hands and blood-splattered faces. After several flashbacks to Yuki’s birth, red light spills into the night, coloring the snow crimson. The women in the prison at her birth are all dressed in red, the floor of the palace in the finale is red, the kimono of the daughter of one of her targets is red; the symbolism is obvious. She is born to blood, which is said as much “poor child, you were born to vengeance,” and it is in red where the story ends. She can never escape it…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Ro’s Recs : Review Cabinet of Curiosities Episodes 3-5

Greetings Horror Addicts! I’m back with my review of episodes 3-5 in Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, now showing on Netflix. These three are the strongest so far, but I have yet to watch the final two. Read on for the titillating details…

Episode 3: Autopsy

This episode plays with time a bit, just enough to make the viewer discombobulated, which is exactly where the director wants you. I don’t want to go too deeply into this one because the twist at the end made it my favorite so far. It’s gory, it’s gruesome (like the title indicates, you see pretty much the entire autopsy process), it’s heartbreaking, and it’s so good. From the night sky in the opening shots to the walls of the mine, to the relationship between the coroner and sheriff…every single shot, every frame, is crucial to the story, and the less you know going in, the better. F. Murray Abraham and Glynn Turman are the crotchety old professionals you want leading you on the journey. “This is one of those nightmare specials. The kind you never get to the bottom of.” Because that bottom is…well, you just watch it. The story was written by Michael Shea and adapted by David S. Goyer, who brought us The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, and that same feeling of helplessness, as if no matter what course you take you’ll never win, is present in this story in droves. It was directed by David Prior.

Episode 4: The Outside

This segment examines one of my most prevalent nightmares: the pressure women put on themselves to be youthful and beautiful forever. I gave up the chase for youth and beauty years ago, but our heroine, Stacey, longs so desperately to fit in that she begins to be manipulated by a sinister force…or does she? Is it her own desire to be accepted by the attractive, popular women at work that leads her down a path toward self-destruction? Or is there truly a being tempting her from her very own TV screen. Actress Kate Micucci is stellar as misfit Stacey, and Martin Starr is the partner most folks would be grateful for. After watching this episode, you’ll want to turn off the TV and say “no, thank you” to that body lotion gift set your aunt tries to pawn off on you this holiday season. There is a particularly painful scene where poor Stacey attempts to fit in only to fail epically which makes us sympathetic to her plight, but that sympathy doesn’t last…The ending is manic, and the episode leaves me pondering misogyny, vanity, and the line between self-love and self-hate.

Episode 5: Pickman’s Model

This episode is based on a story from H.P. Lovecraft. It is visually stunning, deliciously tense, and it will have you gasping and yelling at your screen “no! No! Don’t do it! Don’t look!” An art student becomes disturbed by a classmate’s creations, and this sets off a chain of events that will eventually lead to destruction, loss, and madness. I was particularly excited to see Crispin Glover portraying yet another creepy character. I swear he never ages, and I’m not just referring to the aging in this particular story. Glover is truly gifted in roles such as this. But actor Ben Barnes as William Thurber has our utmost sympathy as he sees what others ignore. This episode also has me wondering who was responsible for the sets in this series because some of the houses are absolutely incredible, this one included! 

I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on the remainder of the episodes. I must add, as your musical guide here at Horror Addicts, that there is a soundtrack that has some particularly groovy tunes on it. Here’s a link for you to check out. Any favorites? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the show as well as the musical choices. For now, Stay Tuned…

The Walking Dead: A Finale but Not the End of the Road: Review by Megan Starrak

 

On November 20, 2022, The Walking Dead aired its finale and shuffled off into television history. The show was based on a successful comic book series authored by Robert Kirkman. Kirkman’s inspiration for creating the comics was director/filmmaker George A. Romero who directed The Night of the Living Dead movies that focused on a zombie apocalypse. 

During The Walking Dead’s 177 episodes, viewers followed the lives of an ever-expanding and shrinking group of survivors during a zombie apocalypse. Anchored by talented actors, including Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, and many others, the show proved to be much more than walkers (i.e., zombies) killing and being killed. At its core, The Walking Dead was an incredibly human story. 

Many storylines illustrated the lengths the characters were willing to go to find ways to connect and just survive somehow while surrounded by desolation and danger. This feeling of danger was heightened when fans quickly learned that only a few of the characters were safe. Over the years, fans watched as dozens of characters they either loved or hated met their end, some of the deaths being more gruesome than others. 

One storyline that pulled at viewers’ heartstrings was during season two when Carol’s daughter Sophia disappeared. The group spent a good part of the season looking for her, always hoping that the child would be found alive. But they were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and when Sophia was found, she had become a walker. So, for viewers, seeing Sophia as a walker and Carol helplessly looking on as her daughter was destroyed was an incredibly heartbreaking scene. 

The look of the undead was created by special effects artist and sometimes director of the show, Greg Nicotero, and his team of prosthetic and make-up artists. They worked tirelessly creating and refining the look of the walkers as the show went on, ensuring that they looked more decayed and desiccated as the years unfolded. Fans were equally enthralled and disgusted by just how detailed the walkers were. And when the walkers attacked the living, the special effects crew made sure that their bloody end looked as accurate as possible. 

However, just because The Walking Dead has reached its bloody end, it doesn’t mean fans will have to go without their favorite nightmare-inducing stories. Robert Kirkman’s world of walkers has expanded into what is being called The Walking Dead Universe. Multiple spin-off shows, including Fear the Walking Dead, which will air its eighth season in 2023, Walking Dead: Dead City, and Tales of the Walking Dead, will keep the dead walking for years to come.  

Horror Curated: When Hell Freezes Over, Blutgletscher

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When horror fans think of movies set in Hell frozen over here on earth, one of the movies that will make most lists is John Carpenter’s iconic movie, The Thing, and all the other movies that have been inspired by it. 

Tom Shankland’s 2008 The Children and Mark A. Lewis’s 2009 Thaw—starring Val Kilmer—are a couple movies that nod to Carpenter that I love, but my all-time favorite movie that took its cue from The Thing is Marvin Kren’s 2013 Blutgletscher (Blood Glacier).

While R.J. MacReady and his team were in Antarctica, Janek and his team are in the Austrian Alps studying global warming. Blutgletscher is set sometime in the future as the melt rate in the movie is much further than it is today.

Blutgletscher allows us to assume that the extremely hostile shape-shifting extraterrestrial organism that terrorized in The Thing not only survived but migrated 9,743 miles to where this movie is set.

But more about that in a second.

Janek and his dog Tinni, unlike MacReady in Antarctica, are long-term residents of the station in the Alps.

He is employed as a technician to keep all the equipment running and he has seen his fair share of scientific teams and quite frankly doesn’t really care for them. I didn’t blame him, the members of the current team are pretentious and treat him like shit despite the fact they wouldn’t be able to conduct research up there if it weren’t for him, which is highlighted in the opening scene…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Horror Curated: ‘Twas the Night Before Creepmas by Nivek Tek

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‘Twas the Night Before Creepmas by Nivek Tek

‘Twas the night before Creepmas, and all through the tomb,
Not a creature was stirring, to seal your doom.
The corpses were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that the Krampus, soon would be there.
The ghouls were all nestled snug in their caskets.
They dreamt of severed heads in bright-colored baskets.
Cobwebs and dust covered the room,
And added a sparkle to the impending doom.
 When out in the graveyard arose such a clatter,
Awoken by screams and incessant chatter,
I climbed from my coffin upset and dismayed,
And thought to myself, “There’s hell to be paid.”
The moon shone brightly on freshly fallen snow,
Which was good, because I had just lost a toe.
When what to my eyes should suddenly appear,
But a big fat old man and a couple of deer.
 
READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Historian of Horror : The Best Scrooge

Too often we confuse ‘best’ with ‘favorite’. And vice versa. I contend frequently with folks on social media who insist that their favorite movie (or song or book) is the best ever, despite the probability that they’ve never experienced any of the recognized classics that routinely top the lists compiled by prestigious bodies such as the American Film Institute, and therefore have no reasonable basis for comparison. I mean, really. The Shawshank Redemption is a very good film, true, but is it actually better than Citizen Kane? Lawrence of Arabia? Tokyo Story? Le Grande Illusion?

Pardon me while I laugh myself into a terminal case of hiccups. 

Likewise, everyone seems to have their own personal favorite film version of Charles Dickens’ classic novella, A Christmas Carol. Okay, so Muppets are all very nice, and musicals, as well, and certainly Mr. Magoo’s interpretation of Ebenezer Scrooge cannot be discounted. Legitimate favorites, all, but let’s be serious about this. None are THE best. 

A Christmas Carol is first and foremost a ghost story; a horror tale that, properly presented, chills the blood as much as it warms the cockles of the heart. It is also a commentary on the depraved heartlessness of unrestrained capitalism, and it is the combination of all these aspects that makes the version starring Alastair Sim far and away the best interpretation ever captured on celluloid.

I will fight you on this.

I have to admit that the 1962 telefilm, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, is my personal favorite and has been since I was a small child, but no, it is not the best. The acme, the absolute pinnacle of cinematic scroogismus, is the 1951 British film, Scrooge

Firstly, it’s in glorious black & white. I know we have entire generations suffering under the delusion that movies must be in color, but color is the enemy of filmcraft in so many ways. There is no special effect so overused as color. 

You simply cannot create the required deep shadows and existential angst needed to tell this story perfectly without high contrast blacks and whites. With them, Scrooge drips with nigh unto film noir levels of expressionism. I’ve never seen a color version that truly brought out the painful darkness of Scrooge’s soul, and this interpretation does it better than any other black & white version. It benefits greatly from being made in the midst of the Age of Noir, drawing heavily upon the stylistic and thematic tropes of that genre. Until the moment of Scrooge’s redemption, just as is the case of George Bailey in that other great holiday film noir, It’s a Wonderful Life, the object of the narrative is a lost and desperate man, sunken into a despair that is palpable. The tragedy here is that it is of his own making and that he knows it.

Sim shows this better than any other actor. His wonderfully expressive eyes and staccato yet graceful physical reactions show that the Scrooge he was at the beginning of that Christmas Eve wasn’t gratuitously mean or cruel. He was a deeply wounded man, disappointed in the turns he felt compelled to take along his pathway to wealth. Sim’s Scrooge isn’t a villain. He’s a victim of his own designs. Sim plays that so much better than any other movie Scrooge. And I’ve seen damn near all of them.

The kicker for me is the scene at the end of the Spirit of Christmas Present’s time when he opens his robes and shows the twin children of hopelessness, both society’s and Scrooge’s:

“This boy is Ignorance, this girl is Want,” he tells the nearly repentant miser. “Beware them both, but most of all, beware this boy!”

“But have they no refuge, no resource?” Scrooge asks.

The Spirit throws Scrooge’s words from early in the story back at him: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

Bam! With that, he accuses Scrooge, and us, of depraved indifference to the suffering of our fellow beings. Following that indictment, the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come seals the deal, and Ebenezer Scrooge awakens on Christmas Day fully “Woke”. 

There. I said, and I meant it. 

The supporting cast is also excellent, with Michael Hordern smarmily excellent as Marley. Mervyn Johns as Cratchett, Hermoine Baddeley as his good wife, and Ernest Thesiger as the undertaker are all outstanding, as is the rest of the stellar cast.

Scrooge is available on YouTube year-round, and will no doubt be shown on Turner Classics and other movie channels, or streaming all over the bandwidth, during the Christmas season. I urge the populace to indulge in its pleasures, and its agonies, wherever possible. You’ll thank me the longest day of your life.

Until we meet again, my Yuletide Yetis, as always, be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Horror Curated: Nightmare Fuel, Krampus

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I’m sure that everyone in the world is familiar with Santa Claus. He is the embodiment of the giving nature of the holidays. As some of you may also know from pop culture, there is an opposite to the jolly old elf. For this issue’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at the anti-Santa Claus, Krampus.

According to central European legend, Krampus is a half-goat and half-demon with a long tongue who carries a switch or whip and a basket on his back. He whips the wicked children, sometimes carrying them away in his basket for more punishment or to be eaten later.

Some depictions have him wearing lederhosen, but is usually naked except for his fur or wearing chains. Sometimes he accompanies Santa, other times he makes the run before him. One thing included in any description is how evil and scary the Christmas demon looks.

The roots of Krampus’ legend stretch back to 12th Century pagan celebrations in Germany and Austria…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Horror Curated: The Ghost of Father Christmas by Dean Farnell

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The Ghost of Father Christmas by Dean Farnell

Santa Claus is just a ghost I’ve waited every year.

I stay up every Christmas Eve and shed a little tear.

He never comes to our house, I’d know if he had been.

I see him in my mind sometimes it must have been a dream.

The spirits placed my presents around the Christmas tree,

Or it’s my imagination playing tricks on me.

READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Free Fiction: The Surgeon of the Forest Floor by Ronnie L. Roberts II

A hike would clear his mind. 

The early Spring air released a bearable yet unsettling frigid feel as the strong breeze swept across the forest floor. Birds chatted in singsong tones while dead leaves shattered under Edward Canty’s worn-out boots. About a mile in and off the trail a clearing of trees revealed stumps in a large but otherwise empty plain. 

One tree remained.

The leaves on the tree were thin crepe sheet cuts, yet to wander off from the summer scorch. The tree, shorter than the surrounding others, remained dead, its leaves whistling and crackling, mimicking the sound of a smooth waterfall. The colors stuck out against the greenery beginning to emerge bottom-up throughout the forest. A short step ladder was flipped open and hidden behind its trunk. Edward walked off the trail through glossy spider webs and outstretched branches. The tree grabbed his attention, its branches flailing wondrously, almost calling to him. 

Scrap piles of rope collected in a scattered pattern underneath the tree. Its base was beginning to rot. The branches reached out just over Edward’s head as he stood in awe and reached for a leaf. He rubbed its surface between his index finger and thumb, carefully caressing it back and forth. 

The leaf was a crispy leather, rough like tree bark, and in some spots as smooth as a green leaf trading his touch with an oily substance sticking to his fingers. Various shades of leaves covered the branches of the tree. Some were light brown, dark brown, and multiple shades of tan. The leaves were tied to the tips of the branches secured by small ties of rope. The leaves danced with the force of the wind, singing in harmony with the crunch of death surrounding it. 

He placed the ladder close enough to reach one particular leaf. He extended his arm for the thicker and heavier one that was causing the tip of the branch to sag. A dark red liquid formed a droplet at the bottom edge. Edward pressed his trembling fingers on the leaf, instantly pulling them back. He studied the liquid. 

Stepping down the ladder, he wiped his hand on the cool forest floor. A distinct rust smell rushed up his nose. The wind continued to cut through the dead tree limbs, branches, and leaves, heaving them into a chiming whirlwind. Edward forced himself closer. One of the leaves had a design on it done in faded black ink. It was stretched and distorted. A tribal design, one you’d pick off the wall at a tattoo parlor. 

The wind died as Edward quickly backed down the ladder and turned around to make his way out of the forest. A thick tree stood straight ahead off the trail, hosting an entanglement of vines twirling themselves up and around its thick trunk. Edward came to a full stop.

A face peeked out from behind it.

It was missing an eye. It’s good one stared at him for a second. Its half-smile crept from behind its half-sewn mouth fastened with thick black string. Its long, white, greasy hair fell down like wet dangling seaweed. The face was neither male nor female. It was pale and eel-like, missing pigments of color riddled with gray splotches.  A fishbone of an arm emerged from behind the tree. It gripped a long scalpel.

Edward’s heart rate soared. The sun hovered high above the forest, warming the back of his head, pushing down on his chest. The face behind the thick tree swiveled like a snakehead towards the trail. The fishbone arms fully emerged pulling the rest of the thin-wiry frame along with it. A hiss spit from behind its sewn-shut lips. 

The thin cable-like limbs and pointed extremities unfolded from the body like a Swiss army knife, each yielding a different shape and jagged edge. The face smiled harder, ripping some of the stitches as a drool of blood crawled down the chin. 

“It bleeds,” The thing said, whispering, smiling, twisting, and turning. It moved like a glitch. Its head seemed to misbehave pulling in the opposite direction of its sharp and pointed body. 

The pale rail-thin figure of a human now stood still. Its motionless arms pulsed and flexed bright blue veins. The half-smile sagged to a frown. A drop of blood flowed from its missing eye.

The creature blinked and lifted his frown to a slight half-smile again. The thin slits on each side of its head pulsated. Its mouth peeled open releasing a mist of exploding energy. 

“Skin,” the thing said. Overweight and beyond petrified, Edward grasped at his meaty chest and released a shriek of pain. The thing studied him, scanning his body for the best cuts, the most robust slabs, the finest decorations for his next tree. Edward collapsed face-first on the dirt path. 

Years of food abuse and cigarettes mixed with sheer terror left him drooling and disordered on the forest floor. 

The thing glitched wildly over to his body, its legs striking the path like wild bolts of lightning. Edward silently endured the sting and pressure that came down on him. First, his forearms, and next his thighs. Then he could feel the agonizing pressure in his back. The thing flipped him over, tearing his shirt open with the razor-sharp scalpel. His stomach ballooned, pushing out and up at the thing. It was smooth and plump. After a few concentrated cuts and drags, the thing had what it wanted. It took only a few minutes for Edward to drop the weight his doctor had pressured him to lose for so long. 

He was now well over his goal. 

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R.L. Roberts II lives with his wife and two kids in Southern Maryland. He enjoys life in general! Mondays are better than Fridays and thinking outside the box is the key to happiness. Accept what is and keep moving forward. https://www.instagram.com/rl_roberts2/

Horror Curated: Nikolette Jones, Ornament Maker

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Horror Ornament Maker, Nikolette Jones

by Emerian Rich

nicoHaunted ornament maker Nikolette Jones is an artist, illustrator, and educator who uses all sorts of media to create all sorts of art pieces that range from cute to scary. She alternates from making actual things like ornaments and bookmarks, to painting on massive canvases, to illustrating and designing book covers for various authors. Her day job is being a French immersion and art teacher. If it’s fun and creative, she’s all in.

I was introduced to Nikolette by a good friend (thanks Tim) who said we’d hit it off because we, “Have the same dark humor.” When I heard she was reimagining old dolls into undead babies and repurposing dollhouses into haunted houses, I knew I had to share her awesome work with you fine adorers of all that’s spooky and macabre.

dollfixedNikolette says she’s been a maker as far back as she can remember. “I was constantly reworking my toys or hoarding weird supplies to make more toys or scenes for my toys. This progressed and I added painting and drawing to the mix.  I honestly can’t remember a time where I wasn’t making something or thinking about making something.”

Her art is inspired by everything around her. Pop Culture, music, literature, the macabre, everyday life, and found objects, she always has a project going on in her head before they see the light of day.

“Lately I’ve been watching a lot of horror movies from the past and the present and have been inspired to mix my love for pop culture with my love for the scary and macabre to create interesting pieces.”  READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Book Review: Midnight in the Chapel of Love by Matthew R. Davis

reviewedfixed

Reviewed by Emerian Rich

For: Readers who enjoy real-life mysteries, music, and self-discovery. This is a slow-burn read with an amazing payoff.

Content warning: sexual content, drug use, some murder-spree description.

Jonny Trotter has spent the last fifteen years running from tragic memories of the country town where he grew up but the black envelopes pushed under his door won’t let him forget, and now that his father has died, he can run no more. Before he can move on to a future with his girlfriend, Jonny must first face the terrible truth of his past and if he can’t bring it out into the light at last, it might just pull him and everything he loves down into the dark, forever.

midnightinthech

Midnight in the Chapel of Love is a slow-burn novel with an interesting payoff in the end. I wouldn’t call this a horror novel per se. It’s more of a mystery with horrifyingly dark paths. During a series of reveals, the reader will try to piece together all the strands of an intricate puzzle. Some lead to dangerous truths and others lead down broken routes with no way out.

Beginning with a glimpse into the past with a Natural Born Killers sort of murder spree, the story quickly switches focus to Jonno, an Aussie man going back to his hometown to attend his father’s funeral. Like most, he’s dealing with ghosts of his past in a town with enemies, friends, and lovers. But as the story weaves on, the reader gets a feeling maybe his secrets are a bit more dangerous than the average homecoming. Through his return home and a series of flashbacks to his youth, the love story between Jonno and his high school girlfriend, Jessica, unfolds as well as a possibly magical cave, the legend of a toxic love affair, envelopes from the grave, and haunted visions.

The love story between Jonno and Jessica is intoxicating. I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of the Natural Born Killers trope, so the first part could have killed it for me right there (no pun intended). I’m glad I stuck with this book long enough to get to Jonno and allow his story to grab me. There is a lot more to Jonno’s story than the love affair, but it’s integral and wild and really pulled me into the story.

Although the story centers on Jonno, it also unwinds a mystery town folk have been wondering about for years. Where is the Chapel? Does it really exist? Does it really test true love?  Has anyone lived to tell the truth about it? Or is it a death trap waiting to part lovers forever?

Is Jonno broken because of the strange occurrence that caused him to flee in the first place? Or did it start younger, with the death of his mom? What do his visions of a bloodthirsty Bonnie and Clyde have to do with his truth and will going home complete him or rip him to shreds?

While I enjoyed the book and found the ending quite something I wasn’t expecting, it is a slow burn and may not appeal to everyone. Be prepared for the long haul, as it unfolds in such a way that you’ll be in a quandary for much of the read. But if you like snapshots in time (late 90s) and alternative/new wave music (there’s a soundtrack in the back that’s to die for) you will enjoy living vicariously through the out-of-control, and uninhabited mind of Jessica. And if you like Jonno (or just like watching someone’s life implode) you’ll become invested pretty quickly.

Historian of Horror : Dead? and Buried

I have mentioned before that my wife and I enjoy traveling, both here at home and abroad. Our favorite American destination is the lovely, and very haunted, Savannah, Georgia. The time has come to share yet another of the many delights of that fabled city by the sea.

On our last excursion thence, we took a tour of Bonaventure Cemetery. Among the notables buried there is American song-writer par excellence Johnny Mercer and poet Conrad Aiken, whose childhood home is one of the most haunted in Savannah due to his father having murdered his mother and then killing himself when poor Conrad was just a lad. His daughter Joan wrote a number of ghost stories and supernatural novels, but as she spent her life in the United Kingdom, her estate preferred that she be buried on the other side of the Big Pond when she passed at the age of seventy-nine in 2004.

Oh, well. I guess another trip to Old Blighty is called for.

Well-heeled Savannahns have enjoyed eternal rest in Bonaventure since 1846, including 

one Charles F. Mills, whose tomb has all the bells and whistles. Literally. 

When Mills died in 1876, he had a grave alarm installed in case he needed to alert passers-by that he’d been buried alive. It is still in working condition, but Mills has yet to avail himself of its continued functionality.

We have spent time in the places of interment of other folks than the denizens of Savannah. During our 30th Anniversary tour of Eastern Europe in 2011, we arrived on an unprepossessing street in the lovely and very musical capital of Austria, Vienna. On our left was the house in which Ludwig van Beethoven gave his first public performance. On our right, the Cistercian monastery that was home to the final resting place of the Hapsburgs, the ruling family of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the early 17th Century until the collapse of the empire following the end of the First World War, die Kaisergruft.

The Imperial Crypt is filled with row upon row of elaborately decorated sarcophagi, each containing the remains of some royal or other. The most spectacular one houses Empress Maria Therese, mother of Marie Antoinette, and her husband. Unlike her daughter, she died with her head still attached.The final member of the imperial family born prior to the dissolution of the empire who was still alive during our time in Vienna passed away a few months later and was interred in the final available resting place within the Kaisergruft. Resquiat in Pace

For my wife’s sixtieth birthday celebration in 2017, we took a cruise around the Baltic Sea, from Copenhagen to St. Petersburg, with stops along the way in Helsinki, Finland; Tallinn, Estonia; Stockholm, Sweden; and a variety of historical and culturally significant places in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in northern Germany. On her actual birthday, we found ourselves being escorted around the region of Rostok, Germany by a gentleman who goes by the moniker of Taxi Harry, and if you are ever in those environs, I hope you are fortunate enough to find yourselves in his vehicle. He was even kind enough to compliment me on my very limited German.

One place he showed us was the Doberaner Münster (Doberan Abbey) in Bad Doberan. It was a Cistercian monastery for hundreds of years, and came fully equipped with a charnel house behind it into which the monks were placed upon their demise. No home should be without a bone silo in the backyard. I’m seriously considering installing one sometime in the next few years. Whatever will the neighbors think!

Just this past September, we traveled through Scotland and Ireland, including stops at the Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness, the Robert Burns birthplace, The Giant’s Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher, the Guinness Brewery, and many other sites of interest. Our most recent visit to the eternal homes of the dead was on the Emerald Island at the burial place of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Yeats is interred in the churchyard of St. Columba’s Church in Drumcliffe, County Sligo, in the shadow of Ben Bulben, where he wanted to be lain.

Is my Irish showing a bit too much there? So be it, for ‘tis Irish I am, and Irish I evermore shall be. Erin go bragh, O’Donnell Abu and cead mile failte!

I must note as our lagniappe for this edition the passing of comic book artist Vic Carrabotta, 93 years old, on November 22. He illustrated numerous horror stories for Marvel Comics’ predecessor, Atlas Comics, in the 1950s, including a story in the first issue of Journey into Mystery. R.I.P.

Until next time, my dear effendi of ectoplasm, I bid you all to be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Free Fiction : Hallowed Cliff By Dylan Thomas Lewis

The archway stood firm under the shroud of night, its heart spelled in dripping letters: Hallowed Cliff Cemetery. He could still discern the entrance atop the sodden hill despite the starless sky, through the rain and sweeping winds. The image had been blistered into his unconscious. He marched on through the marshy soil as if he could rid himself of it by way of physical exertion, or perhaps cleanse his spirit with heaven’s baptismal waters. He dared not stop for fear of sinking through the earth and residing himself to an unceremonious yet eternal tomb. Though the world would not make it easy. Several times he lost his footing and slid upon the mud before slamming the shovel head into the ground and forcing himself up, carrying on with stubborn consternation. 

He wiped the muck on his pants as he passed under the arch and trudged forward among the aisles. Over the fresh and dying roses, the pink and purple larkspurs. Past endless processions of graves. Stones of granite. Stones of marble. Sandstone and slate. Some brandishing themselves to the eye, almost arrogant in their novelty. Others having been neglected for centuries, their texts gone as if washed away by Mother Nature for some unutterable slight against her. He eyed the years as he went, capricious, interchangeable; like philosophical tauntings from beyond, calling to him, demanding he decipher their unanswerable ponderings. 

The shovel struck into the ground as he removed a pewter flask from the inside of his shirt, then took a swig and stepped to the grave before him. He looked upon the head with bloodshot eyes, compelled to take in the marking over and over again by the light of Zeus and Selene; inconstant; uncertain. 

Eva Meridian Mara

February 21st, 1981 — July 8th, 2021

A Mother 

A Friend

A Person

Rest in Peace

Could’ve thought of better

He drank, then replaced the flask and stepped to the grave opposite. He unbuckled his belt and pissed into the sloshy soil. 

“Apologies, miss — errr — mister.”

He flicked his member clean and redid the front of his jeans, then took the shovel in hand and returned to the opposite grave. With a last look at the stone, he stabbed the shovelhead into the mud and lifted a mound of green and black muck from the earth, tossing it to the side and splattering little balls on the opposing marker. Shovelful after shovelful. Foot after foot. He spent an hour laboring deeper and deeper into the earth, stopping at several points to pour water from his shoes. Finally, he was done, breath unsteady, a salty sweat amongst the rain on his brow. 

A great hole sat before him, four by eight in dimension with a depth of six feet, the lid of a dark red casket peeking out the bottom. He lowered himself in and dug along the side until he found the latch. A light hiss escaped as he undid it, like a snake warning him from its burrow. It drew his thoughts toward the darkness within. Toward the all-knowing nothing entrapping the poor soul inside. It struck him with what he felt was an unnatural reverence. A connection and understanding unique to him and him alone. 

He’d always found an allure to such things. A morbid, yet uncompromising curiousness for the shadows — of both sight and mind. For the implications they presented. The universal and contradictory lessons that fed him without frame left him frozen in place, unable to comprehend what lay before him, regardless of what his conscious mind would admit. The horror. The humor. The eternal void just below the surface of all. 

He lifted the lid by a foot and shined his phone inside. He saw an arm veiled by a wispy white dress, stiff and pale like a cheap manikin. Spitting onto the earth wall opposite, he slid his phone in and let the lid drop, removing the flask and downing what remained. He washed what mud he could from his hands, limbs, and torso, then rubbed his hands across his face and put his head back to run them through his hair. With a final breath, he gave a glance toward the waning moon in the east and crawled inside.

He set the still shining phone on the cadaver’s stomach and burrowed his way next to it, snuggling close with his arm under the neck. His hands grasped the rigor, the penetrating cold. His eyes traced up and down the ghostly vessel. He imagined her origins, physical and ethereal. Tried to unweave the mysteries and intricacies of her being as well as those who’ve come before and will come long after. The marks of his existence and what it all amounted to. The incalculable sum rendered indistinguishable from its antecedents. 

Rubbing his fingers across her cheek, he stared at the unflinching eyelids, decorated with red and black eyeshadow. At the plush raven hair, the light reflecting off it like stars in the vacuum of space, ever-expanding, shifting further and further away. His body began to shake. He smashed his eyes shut and swallowed the snot creeping down the back of his throat. Tears of regret leaked onto his cheeks. A great breath entered his lungs and returned as if unsure of the vitality of its own purpose. 

He reopened his gaze to the eyelids. He reached with trembling hands and placed them directly under. He moved to lift the lids from their perch, but shot back upon touch, reeling as if scorched by some invisible spark. His head hung, he cried harder than he’d ever done. His eyes, half drowned in tears, stared past the light into the darkness and beyond. It stared back. He clutched the body close, burying his head into the bosom as his weeps filled the tomb, echoing back into his shattered sense of self. 

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Dylan Thomas Lewis was born in Kirksville, Missouri. He graduated from Central Methodist University after serving as co-editor of Inscape magazine for two years. He writes short stories, screenplays, and music; and is the guitarist for the Electronic Rock band Secular Era.

Horror Curated: Have a Haunted, Jolly Christmas

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Have a Haunted, Jolly Christmas

by Mark Orr

I’d be amazed if there is anyone reading this expository essay who is unfamiliar with the 1843 Charles Dickens novella, A Christmas Carol. The classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and that memorable Christmas Eve when he was visited by a series of ectoplasmic entities in order to adjust his attitude toward a more compassionate perspective has permeated the culture, having been adapted to stage, screen, radio, television, and other media hundreds of times over the past almost one hundred and eighty years since publication. It is by far the ghost story of any kind that has been the most adapted, with the runner-up, Aleksandr Pushkins’ “Queen of Hearts,” coming across the finish line as a distant second.

While I am resolute in my insistence that the best film version is the 1951 production starring Alastair Sim, I have to say that my favorite is, even after sixty years, the first one I saw—Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.  The very first animated Christmas special, it aired on NBC in 1962, and for many years afterwards. I still sing along with all the songs whenever I watch it. The Christmas pleasures of one’s childhood never quite lose their sparkle. Christmas is all about watching Mr. Magoo as Scrooge and imbibing numerous tall glasses of homemade eggnog heavily laced with intoxicating liquors for this Auld Phart at Christmas time. And yeah, the grandchildren, of course. Sure, them, too.

One might think that Mr. Dickens would have been satisfied with a single great and grand Christmas ghost story. One would be mistaken. Legendary British anthologist and editor Peter Haining’s 1992 collection, Charles Dickens’ Christmas Ghost Stories, contains no fewer than ten, including the aforementioned novella. Nor was Dickens alone in his fervor to link the Holy Ghost with more earthly spirits. Once he opened the floodgates, the entire Victorian spooky story writing community jumped all over the notion as if it were a loose football in the end zone. To list them all would eat up my allotted word count pretty quickly. READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Review : Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiousities / Episodes 1 & 2

Review by R L Merrill

Greetings Horror Addicts! I feel like this spooky season has been packed chock-a-block full of excellent horror offerings. I am nearly done with The Midnight Club, I fiendishly binged The Watcher, and I’m completely enamored of Interview With The Vampire, which I’m on my second viewing at this time. But there was one series I knew I could get my non-horror-tolerating husband to watch, and I’m excited to share my reactions with you. 

Like most fans of Guillermo Del Toro, I was anxious to check out Netflix’s Cabinet of Curiosities. There are eight episodes, which are all introduced by the man himself, and I’ll be posting reviews of them here on the blog. The episodes are directed by folks he handpicked, they seem to all be period pieces spanning the past 150 years, and two are from his original stories. The collection has a Twilight Zone vibe—if directed by Sam Raimi. The actors are folks you’ve seen before, including some beloved actors like F. Murray Abraham, Crispin Glover, and Andrew Lincoln, and the characters are put through the proverbial ringer in each episode. The cinematography and attention to minute details is unbelievably well done. No corners were cut for this limited series. 

Lot 36, starring Tim Blake Nelson, explores the world of storage unit auctions. If you’ve ever seen this phenomenon—bidders are shown the unit briefly, then they are asked to pay, sometimes thousands, for who knows what—you know you’ve always wondered just what hell might be hidden behind old dressers and gaudy lamps. In this episode, you find out just what hell can be lurking in the darkness. This episode also teaches you that karma is real and will keep you locked in with the baddy when you scoff at its power.

I thought Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift, both the story and the film, had made me terrified of rats. Uh uh. Graveyard Rats introduces us to the world of grave robbing, which in this case is done as an inside job by a habitual gambler named Masson. This episode had me simultaneously thinking genius and holy shit, don’t ever bury your loved ones with valuables. Including their gold teeth. Shudder. Masson discovers a horrific world under the cemetery where huge rats are chewing through coffins and dragging the freshly buried bodies deep into the bowels of the earth. Being the desperate man he is, he follows. Definite trigger warning if you have issues with tight spaces. Or rats. Or…well, you get the picture. Also by episode two, you’ll realize that nudity is a part of the series in bizarre and disturbing ways. Just saying.

I’ll be back with the next two episodes, and I’d love to hear from folks who have watched. What did you think? Which stories were your favorites? Stay Tuned For More…

 

Spooky Locations: Big Ridge State Park, Maynardville Tennessee by J. S. O’connor

It’s getting cold outside and if you are looking for one last outdoor excursion, you might want to skip Big Ridge State Park in Tennessee – or just the Ghost Trail, Indian Rock Trail, and Old Mill Trail. 

Big Ridge State Park is a 3,687-acre park near the Appalachian Ridge, full of heavily forested areas, beautiful campsites, and miles of hiking trails. 

One trail called the Ghost Trail is a 1.2-mile loop with a few sinister legends. The first is that of the Hutchinson family home and cemetery. One such story is that of Mary, the daughter of the Hutchinson family. It’s said that in the mid-1800s, Mary died of tuberculosis and her screams still echo from her room in the Hutchinson home. There are also stories of people hearing the sound of a panting dog charging in their direction near the house. Other stories are of Matson Hutchinson, the father of Mary, still walking through the woods in search of something.

And of course, there is the Norton Cemetery, which is said to be haunted. People claim to have captured dark, sinister figures while taking pictures near the cemetery.  

There are also reports of Indian Rock Trail and Old Mill Trail being haunted as well. Indian Rock Trail is the spot where a man named Peter Graves was ambushed and scalped by Native Americans. It’s said that he still walks around the area. Old Mill Trail is said to be haunted by a young girl who was hung by her father after being accused of witchcraft.

If you were to decide to venture off the trail, be warned that you may meet a middle-aged man who simply appears and vanishes without a word.

Big Ridge State Park is a beautiful park, no doubt filled with some great trails and camping spots. But behind everything beautiful, there is always something ugly. In this case, it is a few trails that are witness to some horrific events. 

Guest Blog : Finding the Holiday Spirit at the Winchester Mystery House by Megan Starrak

In San Jose, California, there is a mansion with a spooky history. It is the infamous Winchester Mystery House. It was built by Sarah Winchester, who was married to William Wirt Winchester. He was the heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. After his untimely death in 1881, Sarah inherited a fortune and 50% of business ownership. Soon after William’s death, she visited a medium and was reportedly able to contact her late husband. The advice her husband gave her was to move to California and build a house for the spirits of those killed by Winchester-brand guns. 

She followed this recommendation and bought a small farmhouse in San Jose in 1884, and the building began. Construction would continue 24 hours a day until Sarah died in 1922. By then, the house had grown into a seven-story mansion with 161 rooms. Other statistics on the place are that it contains 10,000 panes of glass, 47 fireplaces, and an unknown number of ghosts. 

The house is open year-round to the public. But for those who want to get into the holiday spirit, the house transforms into a Victorian Christmas showcase from late November until early January. One unique tour that will be given during the 2022 holiday season on December 3rd, 10th, and 17th at 5:30 is the Holidays with the Historian Tour. Led by historian Janan Boehme, it is a two-hour tour through the house with a focus on Victorian holiday traditions, caroling, and a special snack in the dining room. Guests participating in this tour are encouraged to dress in Victorian attire for their visit. 

Another event at the Winchester Mystery House on the weekend of December 3rd and 4th is the 4th Annual Menagerie Holiday Oddities & Curiosities Market. Over the weekend, vendors will sell unusual collectibles, antiques, and handmade items. So, if you or anyone on your Christmas list are a fan of taxidermy, medical specimens, or dark artworks and live near San Jose, you should make plans to attend. 

The Winchester Mystery House is an excellent attraction for those interested in the paranormal or life in the Victorian era. But for holiday season enthusiasts, it offers many special tours and events to bring the holiday spirit to life. 

 

Horror Curated: Spooky Locations with Christmas Names

HCHHBanner

NOW AVAILABLE!
Issue #1: Haunted Holidays

Spooky Locations with Christmas Names

by Courtney Mroch

Evergreen Cemetery * Owego, NY

In this cemetery, you’ll find the grave of Sa-Sa-Na Loft, a Mohawk Indian maiden who was killed in a train crash in the area. During her life, she had converted to Christianity and enthusiastically spread the gospel in the area. The people were so saddened by her tragic death that they raised the money for her obelisk, wanting to not only erect something in her honor and memory but also to bury her in their cemetery. However, Sa-Sa-Na’s family wanted to bring her home with them. But the people of Owego won out and Sa-Sa-Na was buried there. Some said that shortly after her internment, soft voices chanting Mohawk songs floated out from the woods. Was it her ancestors come to comfort her, or family members quietly grieving unseen and sheltered by the trees? READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Book Review: The Fisherman by John Langan

 

Review by Hana Noel

“I’ve been fishing for a long time now, and as you might guess, I know a story or two. That’s what fishermen are, right? Storytellers.”

The Fisherman by John Langan is composed of 3 parts. The first part is about our main character Abe, his love of fishing, and the grief he feels after his wife succumbs to cancer. It also entails his unlikely friendship with his coworker Dan (who also lost his wife and kids) and how they started to fish together. Part one is excruciatingly descriptive and slow in my opinion. It sets out to build up character development with Abe and Dan and the whole tone of the novel, but the pacing is painfully sedated.

The second part starts to pick up a bit. Dan and Abe are heading to a new fishing spot, Dutchman’s Creek. They stop at a diner on the way and are told by Howard a very long story about the history of the town, the river, and why it isn’t a place to frequent. The story Howard tells spans a majority of the book and what starts as a history lesson quickly morphs into a Lovecraftian tale, one with a dead woman walking around, bones broken, whispering people’s secrets, another about a house with a whole black ocean in it.

“Splashed by the water the man vomited for his trouble, the brother said that the water was full of tadpoles. Only, they were such tadpoles as no one among them had ever seen before, black strips of flesh one or two inches long, every one capped by a single, bulbous blue eye, so it seemed as if the fellow who’d thrown them up had swallowed a bucketful of eyeballs.”

The third part is the best in my opinion. They get to the Dutchman’s Creek despite Howard’s warnings and, as they’re fishing, pull something horrific out of the water. This leads to what can only be called a haunting, both men seeing things that aren’t there, that aren’t quite right.

I chose to reread this book as it’s been a long time since I last visited it. I hailed it as one of my favorites. Though the second time reading it I found more faults within its pages.

Langan is a fantastic storyteller, there’s no doubt about that. My qualm is that this work is overly descriptive, to the point where I found myself skimming. It absolutely drags on about things that don’t seem pivotal to the story. Quite a bit of it feels like filler, in-depth descriptions of trees and telling rather than showing. By this I mean, writing every single action down that happens. Rather than just showing the reader, it spells things out.

Another issue I have with this book is the pacing. It is unhurried, almost technical. The second part, the little history lesson on Dutchman’s Creek, though interesting, takes up a majority of the book. It is told at a snail’s pace, with a few exciting and spooky encounters sprinkled throughout yes, but not enough to truly redeem it.

The story itself is good. You understand, as you finish the book, that the history lesson and the agonizing world building and character study did actually serve a purpose in some ways. That doesn’t make it any less boring though.

Like I said, this is a re-read of a previous favorite book. Originally I rated it 5 out of 5 stars. I’d say now I rate 3 out of 5.

If you can make it through the dry descriptions and the heft of the prose, the overall tone and message of this book can be thoroughly enjoyed.

Historian of Horror : Magus of the Magazines

I feel fairly certain that everyone reading this has at least heard of Charles Dickens (1812-1870). The demographics of those present incline me to suspect that his 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is known amongst the populace if nothing else he wrote is. As if that wasn’t enough, he was also a magazine editor.

In 1836, Richard Bentley asked Dickens to edit his new magazine, Bentley’s Miscellany. Dickens left the post after three years due to a disagreement with his publisher. Along the way, he serialized his second novel, Oliver Twist, and published several ghost stories by Thomas Ingoldsby, a nom de plume for the English clergyman Richard Harris Barham. The Ingoldsby Legends as they became known were quite popular, later being collected in several volumes. The periodical continued on without Dickens, lasting until 1868. All six volumes from his stint are available in the Internet Archives. Wikipedia reports that the magazine published several stories by Edgar Allan Poe, but I can find no trace of them in those first six volumes. Perhaps Dickens’ successor as editor acquired them.

Shortly thereafter, Dickens lasted a mere ten weeks as editor of the progressive newspaper, London’s Daily News, before a disagreement with one of the co-owners put an end to that gig. In 1850, he began his own magazine, Household Words, which ran for nine years until Dickens had a dispute with his publishers. 

Are we starting to detect a pattern here?

Charlotte Brontë biographer and occasional ghost story writer Elizabeth Gaskell was a frequent contributor to Household Words. Her short gothic ghost story, “The Poor Clare”, for example, was serialized over three issues in 1856. Wilkie Collins also appeared often, although his early gothic work tended towards happier endings than our preferred genre requires.

Both authors were even more regularly seen in Dickens’ subsequent magazine, All the Year Round, which debuted even before the last issue of Household Words went to press. They each contributed a chapter to the round-robin story, The Haunted House, in the Christmas, 1859 issue. Collins’s gothic novel The Woman in White and seminal mystery book The Moonstone also ran in All the Year Round, as did the five stories that were combined into Gaskell’s collection, Lois the Witch (1861), along with half-a-dozen tales by Carmilla author J. Sheridan le Fanu. Dickens himself contributed A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.

Dickens’ tenure on All the Year Round ended with his death in 1870, but his son, Charles Dickens, Jr., continued editing the magazine until at least 1888. His involvement with the issues published from 1889 to 1895 is unclear, but the title definitely ended in that latter year. 

Like the bulk of Dickens’ work, the various periodicals he edited were tilted towards the social issues that concerned him, with a sprinkling of ghost yarns and gothic tales mixed in. A more careful examination of each volume would be necessary to root out all the spooky tales, as so many were published anonymously. I have provided links to the relevant sites within the Internet Archives, but if a better source is desired, I have recently obtained high quality PDF scans of both Household Words and All the Year Round that were made from well-preserved bound copies found in a medical school library in London in the not-too-distant past. I plan to spend as much time as is available to me in combing through the indices for each magazine to find whatever scary tales might be lurking. By available time, I mean the precious few moments afforded me by my constantly demanding children who seem to assume that my current condition of being retired allows them to make myriad demands on me and my time, given that I am not obliged to spend those precious hours at anything as mundane as a job. 

In other words, don’t hold your breath. Not if I’m doing it on my own, anyhow.

Any volunteers?

 

Our lagniappe this time out is one of those great old tunes I learned by careful repeated listening to the Dr. Demento Show back in the mid-1970s on WKDF-FM in Nashville, leaning in towards the muted radio on a Sunday night so my parents wouldn’t hear what degenerate Satanic music I dared to pollute their God-fearing home with on the Lord’s Day. If there is any song that should be the national anthem of Horror Addicts, or indeed any horror fan organization, my vote is for this one – Rose and the Arrangement’s 1974 classic, “The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati”. Some of my younger readers may need to look up a couple of references, but overall I feel the piece speaks for itself. No disrespect intended towards the Queen City. 

As always, my fellow gourmands of the Grand-Guignol…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Free Fiction : Everything Moved Two Inches by HeavyRadio

The discovery was first made on June 2nd, 2015 by a man named Jaylen Walker, a man plagued with severe OCD. According to him, he noticed the change when the steps to get from his house to the nearby gas station were slightly less than the usual 1,374. Alarmed by this since Jaylen always made sure to retrace his steps. He did so twenty more times until he was positive that it now took 1,373 steps. After police were called into the gas station to perform a wellness check on the man, Jaylen insisted that the city check their census records and that once they did they would see he was correct. One week later, after receiving a hundred calls reporting similar circumstances in their neighborhoods, the city planner Rachel Hennley decided to look into the rumors in order to put the public’s mind at ease. However once doing so, Mrs. Hennely was floored to find that the city did indeed move two inches south since 2012.

Thinking that this could be a result of a major water line rupturing, a small crew was tasked to investigate the source of the movement. Led by Mrs. Hennely, it would take nearly a week for the crews to find anything out of the ordinary. Then on June 16th, one of the contractors named Jackson Lee found a small fissure roughly 2 inches in size roughly a half mile from the initial sighting. It is reported that once Mr.Lee had found the fissure, he had shined his flashlight down the fissure. We do not know this for sure, as shortly after finding the source, Mr.Lee would become inconsolable. After several days, he finally was able to say a single sentence.

“Close… the… gap…”

Unfortunately, Mr.Lee would go on to commit suicide after being released from the hospital. 

Curious as to what had made Mr.Lee so distraught, Rachel Hennely and local geology professor Dr.Neil Gallaghar decided to investigate the fissure further. Once down there, they discovered that the fissure had separated by over a foot since Mr. Lee’s report. Wanting to investigate further, Rachel decided to repel down into the fissure while reporting everything she saw to Dr. Gallagher. As she descended, she noted that the fissure seemed to go down almost indefinitely and would become incredibly spacious. After she reached the end of her rope, Rachel reported that she could no longer see the walls of the fissure and that she was above a massive open space. After pulling out her camera and taking several photos, a scream could be heard echoing from the chasm. Quickly looking at his computer, Dr.Gallagher’s eyes widened. It was a massive, perfectly symmetrical face. He scrolled to the next photo, but before he could look at it, his walkie-talkie exploded with sound.

“IT JUST BLINKED”

He looked back at his computer and screamed. The face was now staring directly at him, and to his horror began to smile. 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

HeavyRadio is a horror writer out of Boston. Currently, in a Master’s program,

I write all my stories in my free time.

I am most inspired by Clive Barker, H.P Lovecraft, and Stephen King.

Historian of Horror : Sutch a Bother

I have previously admitted in this space to there being at least one area of popular culture in which I enjoy no expertise, that being heavy metal music. Following an enlightening conversation with our very own Ro Merrill (all praise and laudation be unto her name), I have been granted the gift of a brief introduction, albeit not necessarily an indoctrination, into the mysteries of the several genres that comprise such endeavors. I’ve been listening to a fair amount, not only of the form as currently practiced but to its forebears and influences. Along the way, it occurred to me that there was at least one performer whose active period began prior to anything recognizable as heavy metal who has not of late received his due attention. 

And so, I went digging into my nearly half-a-terabyte of genre related music and found the subject of our Essai du jour, the English musician and failed parliamentarian, founder of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, Screaming Lord Sutch.

Before Arthur Brown, before Iggy Pop, before Ozzie Osborne, before Alice Cooper, decades before any of the growling, snarling death metal performers of recent years, there was Sutch. Born David Edward Sutch in 1940, he took on the stage name as above, with the title amended thereunto of 3rd Earl of Harrow. You will find no sutch (sic) listing in Burke’s Peerage. The first part of his nom de scène was inspired by the 1950s novelty performer, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. The second was made up out of whole cloth.

His 1963 novelty song “Jack the Ripper” is the prototype for a great many of the tropes common to heavy metal, and made a sufficient splash in his home country that a short documentary was made about him and his band, The Savages, which concluded with a full version of the song including the simulated disembowelment of a mannikin.

Sutch’s tune, by the way, bears no relation to the surf guitar standard composed by Link Wray that same year. In case anyone was wondering. “Jack the Ripper” a la Sutch bears a more than passing similarity, structurally and musically, to the Hollywood Argyles’ 1960 hit, Alley Oop, based on the American comic strip. Thematically, however… 

Yeah. Not a thing like it.

The putative 3rd Earl of Harrow ran for Parliament nearly forty times, with what can be charitably characterized as limited success. He did garner more votes on occasion than actual, legitimate political parties, including in 1990 when the Social Democratic Party responded to losing to him by disbanding. There’s at least one modern political entity that might want to take note and follow this example. 

Later in the decade, Sutch performed on stage and on vinyl with a variety of major rock ‘n’ roll musicians, including the Who’s drummer Keith Moon, Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, and several members of Led Zeppelin. The album he recorded with the Zeppelinists, Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends, was declared in a 1998 poll conducted by the BBC as being the worst album of all time. Not a high watermark in the legendary band’s repertoire.

Despite his exuberant stage presence, Sutch battled depression in later years. He committed suicide by hanging in his late mother’s house on June 16, 1999. He was fifty-eight years old.

A word about His Lordship’s inspiration, the aforementioned Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, seems relevant at this point in the proceedings. Hawkins was born in 1929. Inspired by both operatic and blues singers, he began performing his piano act in the early 1950s, during which period took to wearing leopard skins and red leather, and other outrageous costumes. His most influential recording was his 1956 hit, “I Put a Spell on You”, a performance of which is in the link above. The piece has since been covered numerous times, including by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Nina Simone, Carlos Santana, and Marilyn Manson, and by Bette Midler et alii in the 1993 film, Hocus Pocus. He passed away in 2000 at the age of seventy. 

Arthur Brown, Screaming Lord Scutch’s first significant follower down that dark, flamboyant musical path was born in 1942 in Whitby, England, the very town in which the Demeter ran aground in the novel and several film versions of Dracula, precipitating the Vampire Lord onto British soil. Brown still performs his wild and crazy act at the age of eighty, although perhaps a bit less frenetically in these latter days. 

Our lagniappe this time is from one of my favorite groups of the 1970s, English folk-rockers Steeleye Span. A few days late for Halloween, but you are welcome to put “The Twelve Witches” aside for next year. Just don’t forget where you stashed it.

And so, until next time…

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Author Interview : John James Minster

What is your name and what are you known for? 

John James Minster, author of horror stories.

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it.

The Undertaker’s Daughter

A Novel of Supernatural Horror

Don’t play with dead things.

Anna Dingel is an introverted, socially inept 18-year-old raised in the family funeral home. And for some reason, her classmate Timmy—the one in the band—likes her too.

After a makeover from her best friend Naomi, Anna breaks away to see him perform live, but the leader of a bad school clique attempts to assault Anna in the parking lot. Once the leader is released from jail, so begins an ever-widening maelstrom of cruel retribution, turning Anna and Timmy’s summer of love into a nightmare.

In an attempt to frighten the bullies into peace, Anna and Naomi experiment with recently revealed old Jewish magic. But this ancient Abrahamic ritual doesn’t go as planned. The eldritch power Anna has unleashed takes dark and unexpected turns, endangering those she loves and forcing her to decide who she is and who she wants to be.

This spine-tingling supernatural horror story is about love, forgiveness, and consequences. Expect surprise twists throughout, as children learn not to play with dead things.

What places or things inspire your writing?

Supernatural beings described in The Old and The New Testaments.

What music do you listen to while creating?

Downtempo electronic and melodic deep house beats.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? 

Animated decomposing corpses.

Who is your favorite horror icon?

Edgar Allan Poe.

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed?

My infant son getting wheeled into surgery.

If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring?

Edgar Allan Poe: matcha green tea, a bamboo whisk, and two porcelain mixing bowls (no, not brandy: I would never do anything to contribute to his untimely death of which alcohol likely played a part.)

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?)

A movie I saw in a drive-in theater when it first got released (the year I got my driver’s license.) Two friends of mine and our dates watched it. Our girlfriends were terrified. I absolutely loved it. Lucio Fulci’s Italian film Zombi 2 (also known as Zombie, Zombie Flesh Eaters, and Woodoo) is a 1979 Italian zombie horror film directed by Lucio Fulci working from a screenplay by Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti. Probably the best-known of Fulci’s many genre films and it made him a horror icon. When the film was released in 1979 it was condemned for its extremely bloody content, notably by the UK’s Conservative government. It grossed the Euro equivalent of nearly $3 billion dollars, yet of all the many people I ask, not one has seen it. Please do.

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost?

Not personally. But I did help an old man solve his house haunting.

What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict?

Every horror book published by Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman (contemporary), and Peter Straub; travels back in time to H.P. Lovecraft, the entire works of Edgar Allan Poe, and Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.

What are you working on now? 

Polishing up three complete new works: The Vengeful Dead, The Hand of Hubal, and Rise of The Golgoths.

Where can readers find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

Bookstores took a major hit in the pandemic and desperately need some love. I would buy or order The Undertaker’s Daughter from your local bookseller. You can order it directly from the publisher, Hellbender Books. Then of course the usual online sellers. The number one URL to get inside my haunted head or to communicate with me is my aggregated links site: https://linktr.ee/johnjamesminster

Free Fiction : Death Job Cover Letter by Bob Gielow

 

November 19, 2021

Lord Hades, God of Death

4 Everlasting Ave

Camden NJ  08104

Dear Lord Hades,

Please accept this cover letter and accompanying resume as my application to become Intern for the Assistant to Death, North America – Region 14.  I learned of this position from a posting I found online at HellJobs.com.  

In addition to being dead myself (obviously), I have significant experience caring for and supporting those who are dying.  After earning a Master’s Degree in gerontological nursing, I spent 18 years offering palliative and hospice care to dying patients at three different homes for the elderly.  At Visiting Angels Senior Home Care in Las Vegas, I was selected “Caring Nurse of the Month,” by staff and families, eight times.  At Elder Care of Bemidji, Minnesota, I was selected to train and lead a group of between 15 and 22 hospice volunteers who spent countless hours with our patients and their families.  At Compassionate Care Senior Services in Conway, South Carolina, I was asked by the Director to inform families whenever their loved one died because I “had such a good rapport with families and always knew the right thing to say that would bring them comfort.”  

Although the job description for this Intern position said very little about the qualities for which you are looking, I believe the work in which you are engaged requires a calm demeanor (to help avoid any hysteria from the pre-dead), a facility with language (to clearly explain what is happening), a confident decision-maker (to act, when necessary, without having to always check in with a supervisor), and an ability to look “death in the eye” (if you don’t mind my using this phrase).  I believe that I possess all of the qualities listed above .  

Although it may or may not be smart for me to admit this, I feel I should acknowledge that I also have experience moving the death process along more quickly than would have been the case otherwise.  As you may know if you can access my life records, I was occasionally suspected but never charged by law enforcement for helping terminally ill patients “slip away” more quickly than they might have otherwise.  Over many years of practice, I became adept at applying a combination of increased pain medication (usually Darvon or Demerol) and/or holding my hands/fingers over the person’s mouth and nose to kill folks who were more than ready for their suffering to end.  If an Intern for the Assistant to Death, North America – Region 14 needs to periodically expedite the death process for a human, which I assume will occur for a variety of reasons, then I am your gal.  

Lastly, I think I am qualified for this work because of my recent death experience.  When I tested positive for COVID-19, at home last week, I was told by my doctor to not come into their offices or visit the Emergency Room unless I “was having difficulty breathing.”  I was breathing OK at the time, but respiratory symptoms escalated very quickly overnight.  I woke before dawn the next morning coughing and sputtering, and remembered that my phone was charging downstairs.  I had given up a phone landline several years ago and was trying to not look at my phone screen right before bed or right when I woke up.  Those decisions became fatal when I started coughing halfway down the stairs and fell down so hard I was knocked out.  I must have broken several bones because when I awoke, I could not move my body enough to reach my cell phone.  At one point, my cat Skittles just looked at me lying there and walked away.  I eventually died in pain, not being able to breathe properly, and feeling very alone.  If I am able to, as Intern for the Assistant to Death, I’d like to bring some amount of comfort to those who are experiencing death without any support from a living human.  

Thank you for considering my candidacy for this position.  I look forward to hearing back from you and the hiring committee.  

 

Claire Mortja

claire.mortja@hellmail.com 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A college administrator by day, Bob Gielow (he/him) spins tales in formats we all use when communicating with each other: text messages, emails, fictional Wikipedia posts, and diary entries all allow him to be clinical and thorough in describing his characters, their thinking and actions … without diminishing his ability to explore the resulting human emotions. Bob utilizes these epistolary styles, and others, to tell tales that frequently explore the most common of human experiences, death.  https://twitter.com/bob_gielow

Author Interview with Nick Roberts


What is your name and what are you known for? 

My name is Nick Roberts, and I’m known for my novels, The Exorcist’s House and Anathema. I’ve also had several short stories featured in anthologies from Sinister Smile Press, J. Ellington Ashton Press, and Dead Sea Press and literary publications such as The Fiction Pool, The Blue Mountain Review, Falling Star Magazine, Stonecrop Magazine, and Haunted MTL.

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it.

My novel, The Exorcist’s House, was released by Crystal Lake Publishing in May 2022 and is available now in paperback, hardback, Kindle/KU, and Audible. It has since become Crystal Lake Publishing’s best-selling novel to date. Here is the official synopsis: 

In the summer of 1994, psychologist Daniel Hill buys a rustic farmhouse nestled in the rolling hills of West Virginia.

“Along with his wife and teenage daughter, the family uproots their lives in Ohio and moves south. They are initially seduced by the natural beauty of the country setting. That soon changes when they discover a hidden room in the basement with a well, boarded shut and adorned with crucifixes.

“Local legends about the previous owner being an exorcist come to light, but by then, all Hell has broken loose.

“This 1990s horror novel is perfect for fans of family thriller books, stories of demonic possession, exorcism fiction, the occult, or thrillers like The Exorcist, A Head Full of Ghosts, and The Amityville Horror.

What places or things inspire your writing?

Both of my novels take place in West Virginia, and many of my short stories do as well. It’s the perfect setting for a spooky situation. The terrain is so versatile; there are cities, suburbs, rolling hills, woodland areas, and much more. I prefer my horror to be remote, so I veer toward the rural countryside. 

What music do you listen to while creating?

I live with my wife, two young kids, and a bunch of animals. Noise-canceling AirPods are essential. Any music with lyrics distracts me, so I tend to listen to classical music, instrumentals, and movie scores. I’m currently listening to the soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream if that gives you any indication about the tone of my next novel. 

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? 

I love creepy chamber pieces. Give me a cabin in the woods or an abandoned mental institution or a haunted hotel room. As far as films go, I love what Jason Blum and James Wan are doing. Movies like The Conjuring, Sinister, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Saw are all brilliantly inventive in their minimalism. Both of my novels have one major setting for the most part. I love to settle into one location and get cozy. 

Who is your favorite horror icon?

Leatherface. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a perfect film and has the most shocking introduction to the big baddie. When Leatherface jerks open that sliding metal door and thwacks a dude on the head with the mallet sending him into violent spasms gets me every time. The icing on the violent cake is when he drags the body in, slams the door, and that GONNNNG sound effect kicks in. I love his different ideations throughout the years, but the central concept of a human face for a mask and a chainsaw is the definition of iconic. 

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed?

When I was around twelve years old, I watched The Exorcist for the first time. It traumatized me, of course, but the real horror happened a few nights later. 

I have twin sisters who had seizures when they were younger. One night, I woke up to use the restroom. I was creeping down the hallway when I heard a bed shaking. I looked into my sisters’ bedroom and they were each in their beds violently spasming in unison. It was Regan MacNeil times two, and I’ve never fully recovered from it. 

If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring?

Jordan Peele. Not only is he a brilliant director, but he’s a horror fanboy. It would be fantastic to discuss his films, and geek out over classic horror movies. I would bring Cuban cigars. I have no idea if he likes them but puffing on a stogie and going on deep dives into obscure horror subgenres is my fantasy.

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?)

The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales by Ruth Ann Musick is a childhood favorite of mine. It’s packed full of spooky stories that not only showcase the ghostly side of West Virginia, but it also contains some haunting illustrations. 

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost?

I’ve never witnessed anything paranormal. I’m a skeptic, but I want to believe. 

What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict?

The following books should be in the library of every horror addict:

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

The Shining by Stephen King

The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

Books of Blood by Clive Barker

What are you working on now? 

I’m currently working on my third novel. It has nothing to do with the previous two, but it is similar in tone and structure. Although I can’t reveal much about the plot at this point, I will say that it is supernatural horror that I know will make readers lock their doors at night.

Where can readers find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

You can follow my future exploits and purchase signed copies of my books at www.nickrobertsauthor.com.

I’m also on the following social media platforms: Facebook @spookywv, Twitter @nroberts9859, Instagram @spookywv, and TikTok @spookywv.

Free Halloween Fiction : Circle of Trust By Ravyn Storm

“Jamie…Jamie, if you are present, please, give us a sign…we miss you so much!” My best friend, Becca said, circling the Planchette around the Quiji board.

“Yes, girl, we miss you, queen. Show us a sign!!!” My other BFF, Robert chimed in, eyes closed.

I grinned. I was there. It was Saturday night and Halloween. The one night a spirit or entity could choose to walk and be “among the living”. This being my first Halloween on the other side, I was only recently deceased…I was murdered in June. However, the actual ruling on my death was “accidental overdose”.

My friends Becca (cellist, salutatorian), Robert (drum major, top-ten of our class, and “totally gay”), were joined by Demarcus (my once boyfriend, football captain) and Heather (track teammate of mine, fellow cheerleader, honor student, and current girlfriend to Demarcus). In life, I bridged the social gap between Jamie and Robert, and Heather and Demarcus. We were all in the same honor courses at our prestigious high school. Other than that, our group was a two-by-two sandwich with me in the middle.

My “Jamie Sandwich” posse’ was gathered in Heather’s luxurious bedroom. Honestly, her room was similar to a studio apartment. Her parents were wealthy and owned multiple properties in Texas, Florida, and New York. Heather’s room featured a walk-in closet large to house her expansive wardrobe full of everything from Lululemon to Gucci, as well as a small refrigerator (where she hid vodka in water bottles), and a bottle caddy cradling a few bottles of red wine. She had a perfectly made queen sized bed with Vera Wang bedding, a 50inch flat screen smart TV (complete with every streaming service available to mankind), and a small, round table with four cushioned high-back chairs around it.

My friends each occupied a seat at the candle-lit table with their glasses of wine. Each had a hand on the Planchette of the Quiji board. However, Becca would be the voice in charge of asking the questions. Robert was to Becca’s left, Demarcus on her right, with Heather directly in front of Becca. Perfect set-up.

Invisible, I stood between Becca and Demarcus. I began to move the Planchette.

                 H. I. G. U. Y. S.

Robert’s eyes widened as he wrote down the letters. “Hi, guys!” he exclaimed to our friends.

Following proper procedure like always, Becca asked, “Is this you, Jamie???”

I moved the Planchette, “Yes”.

“Stop moving the thing, Robert!” Heather demanded.

“Child, that is NOT me. I do not mess with spirits,” Robert defended, peeking his eyes in her direction.

Heather cut her eyes over to “her boyfriend” Demarcus.

“Babe, don’t even look at me. You know where my hands like to go,” Demarcus said as his non-Planchette hand rubbed Staci’s thigh under the table headed ever so slightly north.

I rolled my eyes. I bit my lip, resisting the urge to grab Demarcus’s “tool” and twist until it came off. I had to be patient. This was making my plan anxiously all the easier.

“Shhhh…” Becca scolded, her eyes remained closed, but she was clearly annoyed by Demarcus’s comment. “Jamie, if this is you, what is the name of your dog?”

“Toby.” I spelled.

“Ooohhhh…” Robert said excitedly, realizing it was me. Robert had a tendency to be dramatic and emotional, I adored him for it. He wore his heart on his sleeve and always spoke his mind.

“Jamie, were you unhappy?” Becca asked with a crack in her voice. I knew where her anxiety originated. There was speculation my “overdose” was a suicide. Deeply empathetic, Becca would never forgive herself if she missed the warning signs.

“No.” I pointed the Planchette. I wanted to reveal myself to her. Give her a hug. She was struggling more than the others without me. But, I had to wait. Wait for the right moment to exact my revenge.

“Why would you overdose, Jamie? It was so scary to watch you die and I will never get over it,” Heather said with fake sadness. She had no idea. I was going to make sure she would never “get over it”.

I started to spell, “F. U. C. K. Y. O. U.”

Robert, writing down the letters, stopped. “Why would she say that to you, Heather?” He asked slowly, staring at the paper, lifting his glaze to her.

Demarcus was now staring at Heather with morbid curiosity. This was playing out perfectly.

“I-I-I don’t know. I loved you, Jamie!” Heather stated, with a wide-eyed look. By now, all eyes were on Heather, just as she preferred. She was always an attention whore.

“We were best friends, since Ms. Gold’s third-grade class. I held your hand as you died! I was there…I was there!” Heather exclaimed with fake tears. She always was such a great actress. Too bad, she’d never get to use her talents after tonight.

“Tell them.” I spelled out. I was angry. Still cloaked in chosen invisibility, I threw Robert’s glass of red wine onto the carpet. Oh well. This was going down. And I was going to enjoy it.

Robert gasped as the glass flew past him, Demarcus’s eyes widened.

“Tell us what, Heather?” Becca demanded, tears in her eyes.

“This isn’t funny!” Heather screamed.

“Did you do something, Heather?” Demarcus withdrew his non-Planchette hand away from her.

“Bitch,” I spelled, moving the Planchette fast with scary speed. I was burning with anger. I could feel my anger translating into the unworldly strength of the undead. It was almost time.

They would find Fentanyl in Heather’s room. She used it to drug me. Slipped it in my vodka soda during our “girl’s night” after summer cheer practice that fateful night. She would later tell authorities I was depressed and dealing with too much stress, but “had no idea I was taking drugs”.  Heather was full of shit.

Heather had been there when I passed out. There, when I could not be revived. There when I died. She called 911 only after she was positive I was dead. She wanted me out of her way. With me gone, she could have cheer captain, track captain, an easy-made route to any college since her “bestie” died (and her parents could afford any school), but most of all, she wanted Demarcus.

That’s it, it was time to reveal myself. Since the Quiji board was actually unnecessary on Halloween to conjure spirits, I started by violently flipping the board and Planchette off the circle table. It all landed with a deafening thud on the hardwood floor. Next, I wanted a more dramatic entrance. I had the candles shoot their flames up to the extended ceiling of Heather’s massive room. As the flames disappeared, and the candles were once again lit in a more normal manner, I appeared.

“Hi, guys,” I said. Then, turning to Heather, my eyes filled with malice, “Hey, bitch”, I said with stone-cold hatred for my murderer, arching my left eyebrow, I said, “I know.” I gave a slight nod toward her accompanied by a little smirking giggle.

Everyone gasped. Becca grabbed Robert’s hand as tears streamed down her face. I felt bad for the next part, but I did what I had to do. With all the invisible force of the undead, I shoved Jamie and Robert back into Heather’s expansive closet slamming the French double doors behind them. I telepathically threw one of the table’s large chairs at the door, locking them inside. They tried in vain to open the doors.

I turned my attention to a now petrified and crying Demarcus and Heather.

“Jamie, baby, what are you doing?” Demarcus stammered. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because she took my life…and now I am taking it back,” I said, with a strange calmness to my tone.

As if on cue, Demarcus started to fall to his knees. His breathing was heavy as he fought to stay upright and awake. And then, just as I had, he succumbed to the lethal amount of Fentanyl placed in his drink.

Heather knelt down beside his body, screaming his name. Demarcus and I would be reunited in death. I grinned a small, evil grin of satisfaction.

We could hear Robert talking to a 911 operator on his cell phone while locked in the closet. Excellent, I thought.

“Familiar sight, huh, Heather?” I calmly inquired.

“Go to hell!” Heather screamed.

“Awe, where do you think I’ve been?” I chuckled, then continued, “By the way, the cops will find your stash of drugs. You might want to get your story straight. I don’t think they’ll believe you twice.”

“So? I’ll tell them-“ Heather started.

“Tell them what, Heather?! Tell them your dead friend came from beyond the grave and murdered your boyfriend while you happen to have massive amounts of Fentanyl in your bedroom? While Robert and Becca will both testify that you murdered us both? Try it.” I invited her.

“Fuck you!” Heather cried in a scream.

I laughed at her. We could hear the sounds of sirens coming closer. I retreated back to my deadly world, out of sight.

A year later, Becca and Robert along with their Quiji board were in Robert’s room sitting on the floor.

Becca, circling the board with the Planchette, began, “Are there any spirits in this room?”

Demarcus and I chuckled as we held hands. With my free hand, I moved the Planchette to “Yes”.

Robert sucked in air and slowly let it out. He said, “Jamie, girl, you know I’ve been in therapy twice a week over your dead ass…but damn, I hope this is you.”

Becca, her eyes closed, giggled.

“LOL. Hi, guys,” I spelled.

We had a good time, the four of us. Before the end of the night, I had another visit to make.

I found myself in Heather’s new, much smaller room. She was now a permanent resident in the Psych Ward of the State Penitentiary. Even daddy’s money could not save her. You know her as “The Fentanyl Killer”. I simply refer to her as “My Bitch”.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ravyn Storm is a lifelong reader and avid horror fan, however, growing up in a small town in the piney woods of East Texas, she found herself feeling strange, unusual, and never fit in with the locals. After attending college, Ravyn became a schoolteacher. In 2017, she left teaching to pursue a career in personal training and competed as a national-level bodybuilder. However, her love of the horror genre never changed. Ravyn resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and two fur babies, Oscar and Louis.

IG Account- Ravyn_Storm

Submission Call! Manor of Frights LAST DAY

LAST DAY to enter!
Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

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

From The Vault: Odds and Dead Ends: Scene Analysis – Michael’s escape in ‘Halloween’ (1978)

Most of us have probably seen 1978’s Halloween a million times. When we think of the film’s beginning, we think either of the opening credits, with the long track into the pumpkin’s eye, or the famous long-take opening scene. However, the murder of Judith Myers is just back-story for the film as a whole. The story really begins with Michael Myers, now twenty-one, escaping from Smith’s Grove Hospital. This is the scene I want to examine, taking it step by step, shot by shot, and looking at how Carpenter constructs this famous, if often overlooked, scene.

First to notice is the weather. This isn’t necessary for the scene from a storytelling standpoint, but it adds to the atmosphere, if in a slightly clichéd fashion. It’s an additional air of menace. It’s not up to King Lear levels of pathetic fallacy, but it’s still there, ever present throughout the scene. It also adds some visual interest, in much the same way that Ridley Scott would do four years later, with the shimmering water on the walls of the Tyrell building in Blade Runner. Of final note for the weather, compare the slashing of the windscreen wipers in the rain as a visual foreshadowing for Michael’s slashing knife, with a similar shot in Psycho of Marion Crane driving through the rain, with her windscreen wipers foreshadowing Norman Bates’ knife slashing through the shower. Remember that Psycho is a movie which obviously had a profound influence on Halloween and the budding slasher subgenre.

In the car, we are introduced to Loomis, Michael’s doctor. Pleasance plays him as a brooding and serious, if superstitious, man, bordering on obsession. Alongside we have Marion, who is not only dismissive of the patients she looks after but woefully underprepared, having done “only minimum security” before. This conversation between them not only brings us up to speed as to Michael’s condition, “he hasn’t spoken a word for fifteen years,” but also sets up a motif that will play throughout the movie. Those that don’t take Loomis and Myers seriously, end up attacked and often dead. Loomis says for Marion to “try to understand what we’re dealing with here. Do not underestimate it.”

The line “Do not underestimate it” is one of the most important lines in the scene, and perhaps the entire film, and the following remarks of “Don’t you think we could refer to ‘it’ as ‘him’?” “If you say so,” is crucial to our understanding of Myers. He is not so much a man as a manifestation of evil inhabiting the body. Before we even see the old Myers, he has been taken to a realm beyond the human, back into the land of something much older and more terrifying. Loomis wants Myers trapped forever, but the law, thinking that he is still ‘him’, wants him moved. In later scenes, Loomis shouts that he warned everyone about Myers but nobody listened. Only Loomis, who truly understands what Myers is, knows to keep him locked up. The dialogue between Loomis and Marion is expertly written to give exposition, build character, and raise tension, all in small, economical snippets, and all at the same time. This exchange should be studied further by any screenwriting student to see just how brilliant it is.

Then the headlights illuminate the patients in the white robes walking around in the rain, an eerie sight in itself. The music kicks in, the famous piano and synth combo, which warns of impending danger. We’ve had the build-up, our fears raised, and now the film begins to play on them. When Loomis gets out of the car to open the main gate, a figure clambers onto the roof. Myers strikes when Loomis is out of the way. This begins the cat-and-mouse that the two will play throughout the film. That the rear lights paint Myers in a blood-red glow as he climbs onto the car is symbolic of his intent. He means murder.

What is interesting about this scene is that we begin to see Myers’ method of killing. He isn’t just a hulking mass, but he is quiet, methodical, and will only use brute force if he needs to. When Marion first rolls the window down to see who is on the roof, he brings his hand down to attack her. Only after she drives the car into the ditch, closes the window, and scurries to the other side, does he take to smashing the window. He is like a cobra, striking when he needs to but holding back otherwise.

When Myers does smash the window, it’s interesting to see how Carpenter constructs the scare. He uses Hitchcock’s theory of suspense (affectionately known as his ‘bomb theory’), in that he alerts us to the looming threat of Myers smashing the window before Marion is alerted to him. His hand appears in shot, giving the audience a moment of ‘he’s behind you!’ before it disappears for a few seconds. The tension is raised as we wonder exactly when the attack will be, and then a second or two later, the payoff. This simple, few-seconds scare, is a full construction, methodically thought out in all its beats, has rises and falls in its narrative, and is light-years apart from the false scares of many horror movies.

In horror movies today, one might expect Michael to kill the nurse before escaping. However, this original Michael doesn’t need to kill Marion, because his goal is the car. He attacked Marion when she was inside the vehicle, but now that she’s fled, he doesn’t need to pursue her. She isn’t a threat. This is something that the new movie, Halloween 2018, also subtly picks up on, in that Myers doesn’t just kill indiscriminately; he specifically targets. Evil has its own agenda, and it is perhaps something which makes Michael scarier. If he was just a killing machine, you could deal with it. But there is thought behind his eyes, calculated thought, and death is just one part of it.

In the final moments of the scene, we have Loomis’ line, “the evil has gone”. Described as ‘evil’ for the first time, we have Loomis’ superstitions on full display, and our understanding of the scene catches up. That was Myers, as we feared, and not just a random patient, and the sinking feeling in our stomachs ramps up as it drops another notch. All the precautions Loomis asked for, all the connotations of a silent, deadly mass of inhumanity, that we were given in the car,  has all come to fruition. So awful is this realisation that Loomis doesn’t stay around for much more than “are you alright?” to Marion, before rushing off. Once he knows she’s not in danger, she is disregarded. The evil must be stopped at all costs.

This is a perfect example of a well-constructed scene, with its personal rises and falls, and specific story construction. Attention is paid in all areas to ensuring that the filmmaking and storytelling come together in a beautiful composition with every subtlety pulling its weight. Carpenter has created a wonderful scene that sets loose upon the film a carnage that will terrify us long after the credits have stopped rolling.

-Article by Kieran Judge -Follow him on Twitter: KJudgeMental

Bibliography

Blade Runner. 1982. [Film] Directed by Ridley Scott. United States of America: The Ladd Company.

Halloween. 1978. [Film] Directed by John Carpenter. United States of America: Falcon International Productions.

Halloween. 2018. [Film] Directed by David Gordon Green. USA: Blumhouse.

Psycho. 1960. [Film] Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. United States of America: Shamley Productions.

Shakespeare, W., 2000. King Lear. Second ed. UK: Heinemann.

Submission Call! Manor of Frights 3 days left

Only 3 days left to enter!
Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

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

A Halloween Listicle: SINISTER STORIES FOR THE SPOOKY SEASON

 by Renata Pavrey

The days leading up to Halloween are filled with costumes to prepare, décor to get ready, and treats to bake. The final week of October is a culmination of all the spooky excitement building up throughout the month. Yes! We love our horror movies, can’t have enough of eerie podcasts, and then there are books that thrill and chill. Sometimes it’s just so much to take in, with all that’s happening in a horror fan’s favorite time of the year. Here’s a list of Halloween-themed short story collections, so you can dip in your toes when time runs short on Hallows Eve.

~Halloween Horrors by Alan Ryan – A vintage collection for a night of evil. 13 sinister stories of madness and mayhem that show us a side of Halloween far removed from pumpkin lanterns and hot spiced drinks.

~Ghosts, Goblins, Murder and Madness by Rebecca Rowland – 20 tales of Halloween that showcase the wide expanse of the holiday season – dressing up in costume, playing practical jokes, haunted houses, cursed artifacts, the thin line between the earth and spirit worlds.

~Season of the Witch by RJ Roles and Jason Myers – Witches are not just about brooms and pointy hats; cackling as they fly over the moon on Halloween. This anthology from Crimson Pinnacle Press brings together 19 tales about witches and autumn, providing fresh perspectives to cliches and stereotypes associated with the season.

~Literally Dead by Gaby Triana – Hauntings that go beyond ghosts, spirits who want to help the living, festive greetings that travel through time and space, candy that refuses to be digested – an old school anthology from Alienhead Press that presents common Halloween tropes in spooky new avatars by some of the most terrifying names in contemporary horror.

~Halloween Frights by Brandi Hicks and Shelly Jarvis – If short stories take up too much of your reading time, why not sink your teeth into bite-sized drabbles? Spooky ghost kids, zombie trick-or-treaters, suspicious treats, and decorations coming alive – let’s turn to face the darker side of this autumn holiday.

~Forest of Fear (Books 1, 2 and 3) by Zoey Xolton – There are 3 books in the Fright Night Fiction series from Blood Song Books, that present a delectable collection of Halloween horror drabbles.

~Nom Nom by Ben Thomas and D. Kershaw – Another drabble collection that treats us to a smorgasbord of vampires, djinns, werewolves, jack-o-lanterns, clowns, candies, and everything the festival has to offer in 100-word bits of gore from Black Hare Press.

Submission Call! Manor of Frights 5 days left

Only 5 days left to enter!
Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

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

Free Fiction : Eternally by Michael Tennant


He sat calmly, peacefully, on the tree branch. It seemed quite sturdy. It would have to be; it was about to experience a heck of a force. Over a thousand pounds, if his memory wasn’t mistaken. He couldn’t recall which page he’d seen that number on. Maybe it was the rope that would be subjected to that strain. Whatever the case, he was confident that both the branch and the rope were up to the task.

He looked at the knot securing the rope to the branch and hoped he’d tied it well enough. He didn’t subscribe to a belief in a higher power, so he wasn’t worried about an afterlife. Likewise, he gave no credence to the metaphysical, and was thus unconcerned about being cursed to haunt the living with any sort of unfinished business – not that he could imagine what business that might be. He’d prepared a will, had his signature witnessed and notarized, listed his life insurance information, and made sure his passwords and PINs were documented. It wasn’t stories about after death that gave him pause; it was dread for the idea that he might screw this up, as he’d been so good at screwing up in life. Being a statistic, he could handle, as long as that statistic didn’t include the word “attempted.” Failing at life was par for the course; failing at death would be the final push to drive him fully mad.

He checked the knot one last time and felt reassured that it would hold. He slipped the loop over his head, positioned the hangman’s knot beneath the left side of his jaw, and snugged the noose against his throat. The apprehension he’d felt for so long slipped away, and he felt relief, knowing that the end he’d craved for decades was finally upon him. He took a deep breath, let it out, and slid forward off the branch.

Almost too quickly to notice, he’d fallen the five feet and six inches that he’d measured out for the drop. As the knot was pulled violently upward beneath his chin, it snapped his head up, back, and slightly to the right. There was an imperceptibly brief flash of pain as vertebrae separated and his spine was crushed and severed, and then he felt no more, but simply hung there, open eyes turned to the sky. He didn’t feel his lungs expel their last breath, nor did he take notice of his heart’s final beat. He simply watched a dew drop grow fat as it neared the point at which it would drip from a leaf just above him, as he awaited the unconsciousness that should overtake him. But the blissful sleep did not come for him, and the dew didn’t drip.

There was no blackness to envelop him, no light for him to go toward. A hundred, a thousand, a million ideas humans had about what happens after death, but none of them had prepared him for the horror of staring up at that dew drop hanging from the tip of that leaf, eternally.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Michael Tenant I was an enthusiastic fiction writer and poet in high school, and utterly failed to pursue it in any fashion. I’m now trying to rediscover my imagination and creativity, 30 years later.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Haunted Trail

 

 

 

Plotline: A group of college friends receive the surprise of their lives when they discover there is an actual killer on the scene of a local haunted trail.

Who would like it: I think everyone! This movie was so super fun. I had a blast watching this and you will too!

High Points: I loved the super diverse cast of characters and that this movie takes place in a haunted venue

Complaints: Absolutely none!

Overall: I LOVED this movie!

Stars: 5

 

 

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

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Book Review: “Netherkind” by Greg Chapman

Hello Addicts,

In the horror genre, the consumption of human flesh and blood is a fairly regular thing. There are plenty of stories about cannibals and flesh-eating zombies, so it is refreshing to see a story that handles things differently. Greg Chapman offers a flesh-eating tale that falls somewhere between the extremes of the living and the dead in his novel “Netherkind.

Thomas leads a solitary life of torment. He has no memories of life before waking in the apartment he calls home, but that isn’t the most disturbing thing in his life. He has a condition where his body decays painfully if he doesn’t eat human flesh every day. It is an uncontrollable need he fights daily, but never wins. He doesn’t know how it started or whether there are others out there with his same condition. That all changes the day he meets his new neighbor, StephanieNetherkind 2

Stephanie is just moving into the apartment building Thomas lives in and does her best to spend time with him. After spending one night together, he learns some horrifying truths about her. She is like him, a consumer of human flesh. When he awakes, he finds the doors to all the apartments on their floor bashed in and the occupants stripped clean to the bone. His new neighbor, who he just had sex with, reveals that she is like Thomas and that there are more like them hiding in the world. She’d been stalking him for weeks, watching him live and kill, just for the chance to meet and get impregnated by him. With those tasks accomplished, she wounds him and leaves him to die.

Rather than succumb to his injuries, Thomas survives and begins hunting for Stephanie. His travels bring him close frequently, but never close enough. Eventually, he discovers another of their kind, referred to collectively as Fleshers. The Flesher,  named Nero and leads Thomas to their kingdom under the city. He discovers they are one of five tribes, each different in their mindset, physical conditions, and abilities.

Thomas’ clan refers to themselves as Phagun. Another group is called Lepers, whose skin is sickly looking and sloughing off, but whose touch is acidic. A third tribe is the spiritual Stygma, followers of a god named Okin. The fourth group of Fleshers are shapeshifters named Skiift, with humans making up the last group. The Skiift, the Stygma, and the Phagun have waged a centuries-long religious war between, partially fueled by the Phagun’s desire to treat humans as food.

There are a lot of twists and turns in the story, which develops into a chosen one tale. What is Thomas’ history and how does it fit into what needs to be done? How does Stephanie fit into the entire picture? The book answers these questions and more.

I liked the story, but found it a little confusing at certain points, particularly when following who was speaking. That aside, I thought Greg Chapman did a good job with this story, particularly with the sensory descriptions. I recommend this book for anyone needing a rainy day or late-night read. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Historian of Horror : Monsters to Marvel At!

I’ve written before in this space about the Comics Code Authority, and how it forbade depictions of vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghouls and myriad other creatures of darkness in the comic books approved for consumption by the tender, innocent minds of American youth, beginning in the mid-1950s. This puritanical restriction lasted until the early 1970s, which by a happy coincidence happens to be the time when my most active period of collecting began.

What is most significant about that time as it relates to our favorite genre is that Marvel Comics in particular went absolutely batty over the new freedom, more so than any of their four-color competitors. And it all began at the end of 1971, with the second issue of a title called Marvel Spotlight.

Marvel Spotlight was one of those titles intended to showcase new characters not yet deemed ready for their own series. The first issue featured a Native American Western character called Red Wolf. Not bad, but he went nowhere fast. The second issue, on the other hand…

The cover was by comics legend Neal Adams, inked by another great, Tom Palmer. The interior was drawn by an artist new to me at the time, but one I now acknowledge as a true genius of the art form – Mike Ploog – and written by the equally iconic Roy Thomas. It was called Werewolf By Night.

Oh, frabjous day, calloo, callay! Our long sequential art nightmare was over! There was an actual, bloody-fanged freaking werewolf in a Marvel comic book! And it was available for purchase for only a quarter of a dollar!

Marvel comics dated that February of 1971 were all fifty-two pages for twenty-five cents. It was a brief experiment in a longer format for all the Marvel titles. To flesh out the issue, a story of the Greek goddess Venus from a 1948 issue of her eponymous title, published back when Marvel was still called Timely Comics, was included. It was drawn by Bill Everett, who had in 1939 created the Sub-Mariner, Marvel’s first superhero. 

Werewolf By Night told the tale of Jack Russell, who inherited the curse of the full moon from his father’s side of the family. His adventures continued for another two issues of Marvel Spotlight, both written by Gerry Conway, before a new character, Ghost Rider, took over and Jack’s story transferred to his own title. Werewolf By Night ran for forty-three issues, drawn first by Ploog and later by Don Perlin, an artist I never really warmed to. 

Two months after that issue of Marvel Spotlight came out, a new title appeared, featuring a different monster formerly forbidden by the Comics Code. Tomb of Dracula ran for seventy issues, each one drawn by comic giant Gene Colan, and inked by the aforementioned Tom Palmer. A black and white magazine by the same title ensued, as well as one called Dracula Lives! Neither lasted very long. Nor did the fifty-two pagers Giant-Size Dracula or Giant-Size Werewolf. But they were fun, and I bought them all. 

And there were titles with zombies and mummies and Frankenstein’s Monster and Son of Satan and all manner of spooky critters that had been for so long verboten in the medium. It was a wonderful time to be thirteen and have access to a working lawnmower to make a few bucks to finance a hobby that was not yet priced out of your reach. 

I mowed a lot of lawns in those days. And collected coke bottles, and babysat, and did whatever odd jobs were available. Comic collecting wasn’t nearly as expensive as it became in the late 1980s, but it did take some effort to keep up with. 

And here we are, decades later, living in an age of comic-based movies. One of which I watched just yesterday on Disney+, a live-action television movie based on Werewolf By Night. It also co-stars another Marvel monster of the period, one also intimately associated with artist Mike Plogg at one point in its history. No spoilers here, but I definitely hope the populace will make an effort to seek out and enjoy Werewolf By Night.

I loved it. I recommend it very highly. 

I have mentioned before the passing of Neal Adams. Sadly, Tom Palmer, possibly the greatest inker the medium ever employed, also passed away recently. He died August 18 of this year, at the age of 81. 

For our lagniappe this time out, I tried to find a decent copy of the animated version of Mussourgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” from my favorite Disney movie, Fantasia. Alas, YouTube doesn’t have one worth sharing. Instead, enjoy this 1938 animated version from France. Very unusual, very dark and dreary, and delightfully dour.

And as always, my darling demoniacs…

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

BOOK BIRTHDAY! Campfire Tales from HorrorAddicts.net Press

BookbirthdayHorror Bites: Campfire Tales

Dear Reader,

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

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

“Cabin Twelve” by Daphne Strasert
When a camp counselor goes on patrol, she finds an extra cabin in the woods that no one knows about…or do they?

“The Face” by Naching T. Kassa
An ailing mother and her daughter are terrorized by a disembodied face.

“When the Wind Leaves a Whisper” by Jess Landry
Girl Scouts in the 40s experience a frightening occurrence in the woods.

“Goose Meadows” by Harry Husbands
Two friends out drinking at night discover the real horrors of Goose Meadows.

Free Fiction : Till Death Do Us Part – by C M Lucas

A posh café bathed in the dwindling sunlight as blue skies gave way to brilliant orange and red. La Fin du Soleil: an outlier in this small rural and very American town, was not only a tourist destination but a bit of a local hot spot. This quaint little café was a spot where potential lovers gazed into each other’s eyes, waxed poetically, and fell head over heels for the stranger sitting directly in front of them. Strangers like Linda and James. 

One Year Ago 

Linda Muller loved La Fin Soleil. A talented artist and self-described creative spirit, Linda would often find herself sipping a café Late while dreaming up her latest piece. Typically, while sipping her late, Linda would glance at the café’s patrons, often making quick sketches of them while they enjoyed their coffee. On one fateful Tuesday, Linda happened to meet the gaze of a ruggedly handsome, down-on-his-luck somber soul. Ordinarily, James wouldn’t give the French café a second look, however, on that Tuesday, James felt almost obliged to enter La Fin Soleil. Upon entering the small café, James ordered a regular dark roast with double cream and took a seat at the far end of the café beside a large window. Linda glanced at James as he continuously stirred his coffee while peering out the window. Linda observed as James’ pale blue eyes seemed to express sadness. Shaking her head softly before running her fingers through her hair, Linda got up from her chair and, with coffee in hand, made her way over to the somber man. 

“Penny for your thoughts,” Linda whispered. James glanced up at the petite woman. The sunlight bathed Lina from behind; her auburn hair looked as if it were ablaze as a large smirk formed on her face.

“I’m sorry?” James said, squinting. 

“Look, I know that’s cliché, but I, you know, I’ve never seen you in here before. You kind of stand out; you don’t look like the type of guy to stop in here, you know,” Linda explained, “and… I don’t know, you look… Is everything alright?” James continued to glance at Linda, furrowing his brow. 

“Am I alright? Uh, I… Yea, I guess. I’m sorry, what is this?” James asked. “I don’t know, you just have this sadness about, you know? I just thought that if I don’t come over and save this guy from whatever-” James shook his head before meeting Linda’s gaze. “Uh, ok, I gotta say, this is a little weird. I mean, I’ve never had anyone come up to me and ask me if I was ok,” James explained, “I mean, what are you, like the nicest woman on the planet?” 

“Yes, but only during the day. At night, I fight crime. They call me The Auburn Altruist,” Linda said with a smirk. James furrowed his brow before chuckling and shaking his head. “That was really corny. I can’t believe I laughed at that,” James said. 

“I can,” Linda said before the pair busted out laughing. 

“Thank you. I, uh, I needed that,” James admitted. 

“I know. I’m Linda,” Linda said, extending her hand. 

“James,” James said as the pair shook hands. 

“Care to sit?” 

The Present. 

Inside Las Fin Soleil, the dusty, undisturbed tables and chairs sat quietly as a small beam of sunlight shone through a crack in the plywood nailed to the window. In the far corner, sat James. Sitting almost motionless, James glanced out the tiny crack between the boards across the

window as the sun shined against his pale blue eyes. A rhythmic sequence of knocking at the boarded-up front door snapped James out of his daze before he headed toward the door. James grabbed a hammer from the floor before removing the boards from the door. James opened the door with a quivering smirk. 

“A regular knock would’ve been fine,” James said before Linda stuck out her tongue. Linda and James embraced before the pair boarded the front door. They made their way over to the far end table as James retrieved two coffee cups and placed them on the table. Linda smiled as she took a seat. James scurried over behind the counter and pulled out two candles. Lighting the candles as he made his way over, James placed the candles in a makeshift holder. “Care to sit?” Linda asked. 

One Year Ago. 

Inside La Fin Soleil, James and Linda laughed and smiled, while drinking their coffee. Minutes turned to hours as the pair continued to delight one another with conversation. “No, I’m serious. She actually said, ‘hit the bricks.’ It’s funny now, but at the time, it didn’t register, I guess. But, yea. ‘Hit the bricks.’And just like that, I was fired after, what? Nine years?” James explained as the pair continued to laugh. 

“Well, It’s great to see you laugh at the situation. I don’t know, It’s like they say, ‘If you don’t laugh, you cry,’ right?” Linda asked. James smiled before shaking his head. “You’re a walking book of clichés, aren’t you,” James asked while smirking. Linda nodded before finishing her late. James and Linda shared a moment of silence while gazing into each other’s eyes. 

“Can I buy you another coffee?” James asked.

“I’d like that,” Linda answered with a smile. As James attempts to get the waitresses’ attention, both James and Linda notice most of the café patrons are distracted by the events on the TV. 

“What the hell?” 

The Present. 

Within the La Fin Soleil, Linda and James both run their hands along the boards fixed to the café’s loan window. 

“Ready?” Linda asked. James nodded before beads of sweat began to form on his brow. The pair pried at the boards with hammers before the boards gave way, crashing to the dusty tiled floor. The dwindling sunlight burst into the café, illuminating everything. 

“Alright, Ms. Muller. After you,” James said before Linda once again took a seat. James smiled before passing in front of the window. Where once one could view the town’s quaint brilliance, rows of charred, dilapidated shops and houses now stand. The partially devoured bodies of the townsfolk lie scattered and still, as bodily fluids filled the streets. One Year Ago. 

“Everybody, quiet,” the waitress shouted before turning the volume up on the TV. Linda, James, and the rest of the patrons watched in horror as the live news broadcast displayed hordes of the undead filling the streets. The reporter began to run for his life before being consumed by the horde. The patrons within La Fin Soleil frantically began to rush toward the exit. Linda 

grasped James’ hand tight as the pair sat still with shock. 

The Present.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw the light hit your hair. It looked like your head was on fire, but in an angelic way,” James mused. Linda smiled before taking James’ hands into hers. The pair gazed out the window as the last rays of sunlight peaked from behind the clouds. 

“Here’s to the end. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” Linda said with a quivering smirk. James lowered his head as a deep sadness washed over his face. Linda peered over at the saddened James. 

“Hey, come on. It’s… Look, I… I don’t know, I’m a fool sometimes. But, you love me for it,” Linda said, winking. James continued to hang his head before Linda gently touched his dimpled chin, lifting his head to meet her gaze. A tear began to stream down James’ cheeks. Linda tried in vain to keep her emotions hidden, but as she glanced into James’ eyes, her golden amber eyes began to well up with tears. 

“They’ll be coming,” James said. 

“… I know,” Linda answered. James gazed deeply into Linda’s eyes, grasping her hands tight. 

“I love you, Ms. Muller,” James said, weeping. 

“I-I-I know. H-How could you not?” Linda said before weeping. 

The pair tightly embraced. James ran his hands along Linda’s back, caressing and softly touching every inch. Linda closed her eyes tightly as tears streamed down her cheeks. Intense pounding on the entrance door echoed through the small café, as Linda and James continued to embrace. The boards began to give way before the café door flew open. 

Linda began to loosen her grip before grasping James with an intense grip. James closed his eyes as Linda began to twitch and flail. Linda’s eyes became vacant and bloodshot as all the colour began to drain from her face.

“Shoot it!” 

Linda lifted her head as frothy mucus spewed from her mouth. James closed his eyes before pressing a small revolver to Linda’s temple. As he fired the revolver, Linda fell to the ground. Linda’s lifeless body lay at the feet of the surviving townsfolk. Each member of the mob stood silent, brandishing weapons and assorted body parts displayed in trophy fashion. James stood trembling in front of Linda. His tears continued to stream down his face as he made his way toward Linda’s lifeless body. Retrieving a wilted daisy from his pant pocket, James reached down and placed the daisy beside Linda’s arm. A wilted peddle fell along a large bite mark that ran along the length of her arm before falling to the floor. James rose from the floor before pushing his way through the mob. 

One Year Ago. 

“What’s her problem? Damn waitress just lost her tip-” James abruptly stopped upon peering over at Lindaas he noticed her attention was elsewhere. 

“Wow. First the waitress and now the very woman who rid me of the blues?” James joked. 

“Huh? Oh, I’m sorry. Do you see those?” Linda asked. 

“The Daisies?” James asked. 

“Yes, I… I don’t know, I have a thing for daisies. They always bring me to a special place, you know? I, uh, yeah, I love them,” Linda said, a slight smile forming on her face before the waitress began to alert the patrons of La Fin Soleil.

HorrorAddicts.net 217, Loren Rhoads, Cemetery

217FinaleHorror Addicts Episode #217 | SEASON 17, Season Finale
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich & H.E. Roulo
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

217 | Loren Rhoads | Death’s Garden Revisited | Robbie Quine | Cemeteries

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

16 days till Halloween

#HalloweenChat

Theme: #Cemeteries

#JimmyHendrix #cemetery #

Music: “Mummified” #RobbieQuine

https://veglam.com/2022/07/25/robbie-quine-glitter-hole

Drinking word: Cemetery or Cemeteries

Craft: Pop-Up Tombstone Greeting Card

Catchup: Run down of missing people on the finale: Ro, Cam, Ari. #FavoriteHalloweenActivity #Pumpkins #DecorateHalloween #Spiders #Tombstones #CaramelApples #BakedApples #FairTreats 

13:30

Historian of Horror: #MarkOrr #Nessie #LochNess

Craft: Making the card

17:00

BEST BAND ANNOUNCED!

Dead Mail: #HorrorFan

MARTIN: #QuirkyMuseums #AddamsFamilyOdditiesMuseum

https://youtu.be/Ecua0Icj1qo

TIMOTHY: #InterviewTVSeries #AnneRice #vampires #FeastofallSaints #LouisLestat #

GEORGIA: #WritingAdvice #

Season 12 is all about writing! Check out the episodes here: 

https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/02/22/how-con-writers-learn-what-the-nghw-challengers-learned/

Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc… Also, send show theme ideas!

horroraddicts@gmail.com

30:13

BEST IN BLOOD ANNOUNCED!

https://lmariewood.com

41:15

Craft: Making the tombstone.

44:29

New Movie List! 

51:42

Nightmare Fuel: #DJPitsiladis #ByeByeMan #UrbanLegend

53:52
NEWS: 

#Krate #TheNeedle

#ManorofFrights #SubmissionCall

https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2022/06/29/submission-call-manor-of-frights/

#JesseOrr #ShadowsLove

#MarkOrr #TistehSeasontobeHorrid

#LionelRayGreen #Bigfoot #TheWoodsmen

#CrystalConnor #ExorcismofGod

#Renata #LiterallyDead #GabyTriana

#RussellHolbrook #HorrorAddictsLament

#Interviews #PaulDeBlassieIII #GwendolynNix

#FromtheVault CemeteryBells #JonOBergh

#Events 

#SinisterCreatureCon #Sacarmento Oct 22

https://www.sinistercreaturecon.com/

#NevadaCity #MinersFoundry Nov 5th

https://www.themenagerieodditiesmarket.com/

November 25-27 E.M. Markoff and L.S. Johnson will be at Fan Expo San Francisco

https://fanexpohq.com/fanexposanfrancisco/

BayCon Jun-July 2023

Http://www.baycon.org

57:41
Craft: Putting the tombstone in the card.

1:00:00

Feat Author: #ChillingChat #NachingTKassa

#LorenRhoads #DeathsGardenRevisited 

#Cemeteries #PersonalRelationships #Death #Burial #FamousDeath #FamousBurials

#CemeteryPerspectives #

http://www.CemeteryTravel.com

http://www.LorenRhoads.com

Death’s Garden Revisited https://www.blurb.com/b/11281469-death-s-garden-revisited

Cemtery Songs https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6nn6JH4533x55efCpmjblk?si=7998eed0125f4801

Readings from the book by:

1:20:06 #EmerianRich #StStephens

1:22:34 #Francesca Maria #MountainviewOakland

1:24:59 #Brian Thomas #HotelResurrection

1:27:45  #EMMarkoff #SnowPrague

H.E. Roulo 

http://heatherroulo.com

————————————-

h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

b l o g  e d i t o r

Kate Nox

r e v i e w  c o o r d i n a t o r 

Daphne Strasert

s t a f f

Naching T. Kassa, Jesse Orr, Lionel Green, Kieran Judge, Crystal Connor, Nightshade, R.L. Merrill, Mark Orr, DJ Pitsiladis, Russell Holbrook, Renata Pavrey, CM “Spookas” Lucas, JS O’Connor
————————————-

Want to be a part of the HA staff? Email horroraddicts@gmail.com

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Author Interview: Gwendolyn N. Nix

What is your name and what are you known for? 

My name is Gwendolyn N. Nix. I’m known for my science fiction and fantasy writing, particularly my new release, I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, which is a weird west horror likened to Clive Barker’s Imagica and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. I’m also an editor with Aconyte Books where we create world-expanding fiction, notably for Marvel, Ubisoft, and Arkham Horror – to name but a few! 

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it.

I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come is a weird west dark fantasy horror about fate versus freedom, about no-good brothers, and what it means to sacrifice all you have for power and love. When a demon bounty hunter comes calling, Domino, a witch surviving in the depths of Hell, pairs up with his mother, who died too young and carries the witch lineage in her veins, to survive. Soon the two of them are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid running from whatever torture awaits them and whoever wants to harvest their magic. At the same time, Domino discovers his brother, Wicasah, has concocted an ill-fated deal with an ancient being of lightning and thunder that will take both his sanity and soul.

 

Overall, I consider my work to slipstream in a way, borrowing pieces across genres and melding them into one big story. I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come is an amalgamation of horror, alternative history, dark fantasy, and weird western, which can really cause havoc when trying to pin down where it exactly fits on the shelf… and to me, that is some of the best kind of fiction out there. The best example of what this book comes from a fellow reviewer, “like Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy teaming up to reboot Dante’s Inferno as a Western.” However, it also brings that wide-sweeping epic feeling with prose that will stir the heart and is rooted in Americana horror where demons are cowboys and the landscape has a revenge of its own to enact on those who have abused it. All of that ticks off boxes that draw me to certain books and stories and I hope it will do the same for you.

`What places or things inspire your writing?

I consider myself a magpie writer. I take my inspiration aka “shinies” from everywhere – conversations I’ve privy to, lore and culture, traveling, and exploring the natural world. This novel was heavily inspired by the national parks that I’ve visited and the old stories associated with them, in particular, the Badlands in the Dakotas, alongside the flat plains and dinosaur history native to my home state. I’m heavily inspired by experience and require getting out and experiencing the world to create my unique settings and characters. I hoard these “shinies” and soon enough, the pile of inspiration grows so large that I have to excavate them to make space for the new… resulting in a genre-bending novel. I love exploring historical sites, but sometimes the natural world is the best source of inspiration, overall.

What music do you listen to while creating?

Crafting a playlist about the novel I’m writing is, in itself, a work in progress. It usually starts with a song that has one line of lyrics that catapults my imagination into a new realm. Genre-wise, it can be anything, but I tend to generate mood music, symphonic/orchestra pieces around it. Right now, I’m heavily inspired by The Amazing Devil and have something in the works while listening to that. While I was writing I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, I had a lot of Southern Gothic music playing in the background – Delta Rae, The Brothers Bright, The Civil Wars, a lil’ Johnny Cash.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? 

I love creeping horror, cosmic horror, weird horror, and folklore horror. Essentially, I look for that creeping dread and unusual twisting of the known that only the absolute unknown can create. I love monsters emerging from the woodwork that stalk their prey, perhaps opening up an entrance into a cosmic otherworld. I really enjoy historical horror, too – I’d love to read a book about pilgrims landing in a strange, unknown world that’s full of horrific things.

Who is your favorite horror icon?

I have a great love of Ash Williams from the Evil Dead franchise. He’s raunchy and weird and just totally oblivious, but he exudes this confidence that somehow lets him slay Deadites in a bumbling hilarious way. I also love The Gentlemen from The Buffy Vampire Hunter episode “Hush.” Such a unique way to present a monster to the audience and the exact type of creeping monsters that intrigue me.

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed?

The scariest thing I’ve witnessed happened while I was in Belize conducting shark conservation research. I had an afternoon off and took a swim in the bright blue ocean waters. While I was there, I noticed a barracuda swimming close, but paid it no mind. However, I soon noticed it was swimming closer and closer. I raised a fist – as if a punch would stop the snaggle-toothed fish – when I soon realized I was surrounded by a whole school of barracuda, all of them slowly making a tight circle around me. I swam for the dock and got out of the water as soon as I could, but that hunted feeling was terrifying. 

If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring?

This one is difficult! I’d love to have dinner with Mary Shelley and ask her to take me on a graveyard walk where I’d bring pencil and paper and make gravestone markings for fun. I’d want to know everything she had going on in her head and future stories that she was mulling over. I’d want to ask her about genre and understand the intimate details of her work and imagination. 

Realistically, I desperately want to meet Jonathan Sims! He’s part of The Rusty Quill, which created one of my favorite podcasts of all time, The Magnus Archives. 

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?)

An amazing horror gem I don’t hear about enough is this wonderful indie film called Pontypool, which has a unique take on zombie media. It’s black and white and takes place at a radio station in winter. The reveal is so unique and there is a hidden ending that makes you rethink the meaning of language.

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost?

Not too long ago I would’ve said no! I’ve always considered myself a supernatural dead zone. However, while I was on a ghost hunt in Butte, Montana, we were exploring an old tin shop that had also a house of ill repute in the 1800s. And, while I was upstairs listening to our guide, I heard someone climbing the stairs with what sounded like steel-toe boots with spurs. Of course, there was no one there as we were the only tour that night! And, my friend heard it too, so I knew it wasn’t part of my imagination.

What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict?

Ooo this is a good question. I like my horror with a good dose of fantasy or science fiction. Some of my cherished books are The Fisherman by John Langan, The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, Bunny by Mona Awad, and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. However, I really love supporting short story outlets and have found some of my favorite scary stories within their pages. These stories are both inspirational, shooting for what I want to create with my own work, and they also give me chills! Check out “Bride Before You” by Stephanie Malia Morris and “Leviathan Sings To Me in the Deep” by Nibedita Sen.

What are you working on now? 

Currently, I’m working on the third and final installment in my Celestial Scripts series. But because I have way too many ideas and not enough time, I’m also writing a standalone book about a city made from the bones of a dead god of magic.

Where can readers find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

You can find my work anywhere online, but check out my website for direct links to my books, ongoing projects, book reviews, and general thoughts and musings on writing: https://gwendolynnix.com/books-projects/