Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Heks

 

Plotline: A grieving woman discovers that her mother’s murder has ties to a South African witch doctor’s curse.

Who would like it:

High Points:

Complaints: Too many to list.

Overall: IMO this movie isn’t very good, the plot is weak, there was no research on the subject matter, there is no back story or character development and it doesn’t make much sense.

Stars: 1

Where I watched it:

 

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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

Ro’ Recs : Vision Video’s Upcoming Album

Greetings and Salutations! I’ve got a great rec for you this month and it all started with a bloody video. Like most 80s kids, I loved my MTV…so much that I got a job just so I could convince my mom we needed cable and that I’d pay for it so I could watch videos 24-7. It really “chaps my hide” when I think about how good kids have it today with YouTube and the like putting all this great music at their fingertips, rather than having to keep their fingertips on the pause and record buttons of their tape decks. But I digress. 

I received an email with a link to Vision Video’s new clip for “Comfort In The Grave” and I clicked it while preparing for a day of educating America’s youth. And whoa. It was an imaginative short film with gore and a great soundtrack. Score! I hit the sender back and replied, “send me more,” and much to my delight, I received an early promo copy of the band’s upcoming album Inked In Red. Fellow former and current goth friends, when I tell you you’re gonna love it, I mean you’re gonna love it. 

With jangly guitars, bouncy bass lines, and silky synthesizers reminiscent of Joy Division, New Order, and The Smiths, Vision Video has created an album full of delicious tracks. The Athens, Georgia quartet delivers a solid album that HorrorAddicts will love, especially after watching the killer video for “Comfort In The Grave.” Keyboardist Emily Fredock does a fantastic job with this moody track, taking the listener with her on a homicidal journey. Vocals from frontman Dusty Gannon give me a modern Killers-esque vibe and the lyrics are inventive and poetic in a refreshing way. Tracks “Static Drone,” “Run,” and “In My Side” are some of my favorites on first listen, but all of the tracks have the potential for repeat plays. While heavy topics like trauma and terror are covered in the tunes, there’s also a danceability and hopefulness that makes this album special. It’s a rare band that can bring nostalgia along with that fresh feeling of finding a new favorite. 

Discovering new music and other expressions of art during the pandemic has been so important. We need art to keep us motivated and determined to keep putting one foot in front of the other, now more than ever. I’m so glad I found Vision Video in my inbox. I am looking forward to watching this band grow and expand their reach and I hope all of my HorrorAddicts.net pals will join me in celebrating the release of Inked in Red with them. Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings and Ro’s Recs…

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R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. 

 

Nightmare Fuel: The Conjure Box

Hello Addicts,

There are plenty of different means of contacting those on the other side. There are ouija boards, spirit boards, tarot cards, tape recorders, and any number of other different ways used by mediums, psychics, and paranormal investigators. For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, I wanted to look into one of the more extreme methods: The Conjure Box.

Before I share any details on the box and the procedure, I must ask listeners and readers not to try this game unless you and your partner are strong-willed. It is said that people who enter the box change due to opening themselves to possible demon-like entities.

What you’ll need to build a Conjure Box are:

  1. Six metal sheets. Five should be no taller than the person who will enter the box with their hands raised, and the sixth should be slightly taller than the rest as it will be the lid.
  2. Six mirrors the same size as the metal sheets. All should be as flawless as possible.
  3. A battery-operated or crank-charging light source capable of emitting bright yellow or white light. Do not use a light requiring outlets since there can be no gaps in the box. Also, do not use candles for health safety reasons. (Carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide)
  4. Two or three alarm clocks, synchronized.
  5. Two ladders.
  6. Blankets.
  7. Water.
  8. First aid kit.

Construct the box so that the metal is on the outside and the mirrors attached inside facing each other. One ladder should remain outside the box, and the other placed inside when the witness enters or exits. There should be absolutely no outside light visible inside. Set all of the alarm clocks for ten minutes after the witness plans to enter the box. The witness should only take the light source, which should remain turned off until the lid is closed, and one alarm clock. Before closing up the box, the partner remaining outside needs to confirm they are ready to begin. If confirmation is not received, do not proceed.

After that, it is a waiting game for both people until either the witness signals they want out or once the alarm clock goes off. When either happens, the partner should open the box and lower the ladder for the witness to climb out. They should not remain in the box beyond ten minutes, no matter what is said. The blankets, water, and first aid administered if needed. It is important to only enter and exit by the lid and not dismantle the box until after the witness is outside of it.

If all of this seems too much or too silly to attempt, there is a smaller and safer version. The box construction is scaled-down and involves either metal or wood, with mirrors facing each other inside. However, instead of someone entering the box, you place a recording device inside before sealing it up for ten minutes. Demonic growls emanate from the speakers upon playback when there is no cause in the box. Either version of the game carries the danger of allowing something through, so always play with caution and respect.

Until next time Addicts,

D.J.

Historian of Horror: In Memoriam April ~ June, 2021

In Memoriam, April through June 2021

We are met again to celebrate those who made contributions to the horror genre and who passed

away during the second quarter of the year.

April

William “Biff” McGuire (October 25, 1926 – April 1, 2021) American actor in one episode of Kraft Theatre (season 6, episode 13, “A Christmas Carol”, aired December 24, 1952), four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1956 to 1958, and The Werewolf of Washington  (1974). 

Mark Elliott (September 24, 1939 – April 3, 2021) American actor in Edge of Sanity (1989).

John Paragon (December 9, 1954 – April 3, 2021) American actor, appeared in the feature films Eating Raoul (1982), Pandemonium (1982), Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), and Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001); and on television in Elvira’s Movie Macabre, Elvira’s MTV Halloween Party, The Elvira Show and 13 Nights of Elvira from 1981 to 2011.

Giuseppe Pinori (September 15, 1928 – April 3, 2021) Italian cinematographer on the 1984 giallo, Murderrock: Uccide a Passo di Danza (English title – Murder-Rock: Dancing Death), as well as the horror films Contamination (1980) and l’Apocalisse della Schimmie (2012).

Francisco Haghenbeck (1965 – April 4, 2021) Mexican comic book writer, novelist and screenwriter. His 2011 novel El Diablo me obligó was the basis for the Netflix supernatural television series Diablero

Zygmunt Malanowicz (4 February 1938 – 4 April 2021) Polish film actor, The Lure (2015).

Phil Eason (May 5, 1960 – April 5, 2012) British actor and puppeteer, Labyrinth (1986) and Little Shop of Horrors (1986).

Robert Fletcher (August 23, 1922 – April 5, 2021) American costume and set designer, The Scarecrow (TV movie, 1972) and Fright Night (1985)

Paul Ritter (5 March 1967 – 5 April 2021) English actor in Nostradamus (2006), Hannibal Rising (2007), The Limehouse Golem (2016) and all four episodes of the English television mini-series, Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories (2016). He also played Bram Stoker in one episode of the 2016 mini-series, Houdini and Doyle.

Grischa Huber (18 September 1944 – 6 April 2021) German actress, Vampira (1971).

Walter Olkewicz (November 14, 1948 – April 6, 2021) American character actor in Comedy of Horrors (1981) and the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” episode of Tall Tales & Legends (season 1, episode 1, aired September 25, 1985). He also had a recurring role as Jean-Michel Renault in the various incarnations of Twin Peaks (1990-2017).

James Hampton (July 9, 1936 – April 7, 2021) American actor who played the lycanthropic dad in Teen Wolf (1985) and Teen Wolf Too (1987), as well as the Teen Wolf television series (1986-1987).

Olga Pashkova (2 January 1966 – 7 April 2021) Russian actress, Burial of the Rats (1995).

Earl Simmons (AKA DMX, December 18, 1970 – April 9, 2021) American rapper, songwriter, and actor in The Bleeding (2009).

Edwin L. Aguilar (August 16, 1974 – April 10, 2021) Salvadoran-born American animator on The Simpsons, including several of the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes.

Giannetto De Rossi (8 August 1942 – 11 April 2021) Italian makeup artist on Doctor Faustus (1967), Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974), Zombi 2 (1979), Cannibals in the Streets (1980), The Beyond (1981), The House by the Cemetery (1981), King Kong Lives (1988), and Killer Crocodile (1989).

Enzo Sciotti (September 24, 1944 – April 11, 2021) Italian illustrator, noted for producing more than 3000 movie posters including those for the horror films The Beyond (1981), Manhattan Baby (1982), Demons (1985), Phenomena (1985), Neon Maniacs (1986), Girlfriend from Hell (1989), A Cat in the Brain (1990), and Two Evil Eyes (1990).

Zoran Simjanović (11 May 1946 – 11 April 2021) Serbian composer on film scores for Variola Vera (1982), Već viđeno (1987 AKA Reflections and Deja Vu) and Sabirni Centar (1989, The Meeting Point).

John C. Pelan (July 19, 1957 – April 12, 2021) American horror and science fiction author, editor and small-press publisher.

Siboney Lo (31 October 1978 – 13 April 2021) Chilean actress, Fragmentos Urbanos (2002), Get Pony Boy (2007), Hidden in the Woods (2012), and Road Kill (2014).

Amedeo Tommasi (1 December 1935 – 13 April 2021) Italian film music composer on the horror films Balsamus, l’uomo di Satana (1970), Thomas and the Bewitched (1970), Hanno cambiato facia (They Have Changed Their Face 1971), Off Season (1980), and Il signor Diavolo (2019); on two gialli, The House with Laughing Windows (1976) and Sleepless (2001); and on the giallo spoof, Tutti Defunti… Tranne i Morti (1977).

Patricio Castillo (December 29, 1939 – April 15, 2021) Chilean-born Mexican actor, Violencia a Sangre Fria (1989)

Ira Keeler (July 22, 1940 – April 15, 2021) British visual effects artist on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Jurassic Park (1993), Congo (1995), Mars Attacks (1996), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Men in Black (1997), The Mummy (1999), and Jurassic Park III (2001)

Helen McCrory (17 August 1968 – 16 April 2021) English actress, appeared in the feature films Interview with the Vampire (1994), The Woman in Black: Angel of Death (2015), and as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series. On television, she appeared in the 2007 British version of Frankenstein, “The Vampires of Venice” episode of Doctor Who (Season 5, Episode 6, aired May 8, 2010), and as Evelyn Poole (AKA Madame Kali) in the first two seasons of Penny Dreadful (2014-2015). On stage, she played Lady Macbeth in 1994 at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, for which she won the Richard Burton Award for Most Promising Newcomer, and starred in Medea at the Royal National Theatre, for which she won the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award in 2015. Wonder how Edward Lionheart would have felt about that?

Abu Bakar Omar (1949 – April 16, 2021) Malaysian actor, Rahsia (1987).

Anthony Powell (2 June 1935 – 16 April 2021) Oscar, BAFTA and Tony Award-winning English costume designer on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and The Ninth Gate (1999).

Liam Scarlett (8 April 1986 – 16 April 2021) British choreographer who was associated with a number of ballet companies worldwide, including as artist-in-residence at The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, London. He choreographed several genre-related ballets, including Frankenstein, Queen of Spades, and Die Toteninsel.

Felix Silla (January 11, 1937 – April 16, 2021) Italian-born American film and television actor and stuntman, played Cousin Itt on The Addams Family series in the 1960s and in the 1977 television movie, Halloween with the New Addams Family. Also played the Polka Dotted Horse and other roles in H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-1970) and the related 1970 film, Pufnstuf; a goblin in a 1967 episode of Bewitched and a troll in a 1971 episode of the same show; Colonel Poom on Lidsville (1971-1972); and Baby New Year in “The Diary” segment of the November 10, 1971 episode of Night Gallery (season 2, episode 8). He acted in the feature films She Freak (1967), Sssssss (1973), Demon Seed (1977), The Manitou (1978), The Brood (1979), The Dungeonmaster (1984), and House (1985), and the 1973 television movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. He performed stunts in Poltergeist (1982), The Monster Squad (1987) and Phantasm II (1988).

Jim Steinman (November 1, 1947 – April 19, 2021) American composer, songwriter, record producer and playwright. Wrote the music and lyrics for Meat Loaf’s debut album, Bat Out of Hell, as well as Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell; also wrote the music for the 1997 stage musical Tanz der Vampires, first performed in Vienna (hence the German title) which was based on the 1967 Roman Polanski film The Fearless Vampire Killers.

Monte Hellman (July 12, 1929 – April 20, 2021) American film director, producer, writer, and editor. Directed The Beast from Haunted Cave (1959); was location director on Roger Corman’s The Terror (1963), starring Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson; and wrote, directed, edited and had an uncredited cameo in the 1989 slasher film, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!.

Wiesława Mazurkiewicz (25 March 1926 – 20 April 2021) Polish actress, Lokis. Rekopis profesora Wittembacha (Lokis, the Manuscript of Professor Wittembach, 1970).

Tempest Storm (born Annie Blanche Banks, February 29, 1928 – April 20, 2021), “The Queen of Exotic Dancers,” American burlesque star who was one of the most famous strippers of her generation. Her handful of movie appearances included Mundo Depravados (1967), written and directed by her husband, Herb Jeffries, who had his own unique film career as the pre-eminent African-American western movie star of the 1930s.

Charles Fries (September 30, 1928 – April 22, 2021) American film producer or executive producer on She Waits (1972), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Norliss Tapes (1973), The Vault of Horror (1973), Scream of the Wolf (1974), The Strange and Deadly Occurrence (1974), The Spell (1977), Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977), Night Cries (1978), The Initiation of Sarah (1978), Are You in the House Alone? (1978), Cat People (1982), Terror at London Bridge (1985), Flowers in the Attic (1987), Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1988), Deathstone (1990), Screamers (1995), The Initiation of Sarah (2006), Screamers: The Hunting (2009), Flowers in the Attic (2014), Petals on the Wind (2014), If There Be Thorns (2015), and Seeds of Yesterday (2015).

Amit Mistry (January 12, 1974 – April 23, 2021) Indian actor, Bhoot Police (2021).

Yves Rénier (29 September 1942 – 23 April 2021) French actor, director, screenwriter and voice actor. Appeared in the television mini-series Belphegor, or Phantom of the Louvre (1965). Dubbed the voice of James Woods in the French-language release of John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998).

Shunsuke Kikuchi (1 November 1931 – 24 April 2021) Japanese film and television music composer, Kaidan semushi otoko (House of Terrors, 1965), Kaitei daisensô (The Terror Beneath the Sea, 1966), Kaidan hebi-onna (Snake Woman’s Curse, 1968), Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968), Gamera vs Guiron (1969), Gamera vs Jiger (1970), Gamera vs Zigra (1971), and Gamera: Super Monster (1980).

Charles Beeson (10 May, 1957 – 26 April 2021) British television producer and director on the 2015 American mini-series The Whispers, and director on one episode of The Vampire Diaries (Season 2, Episode 7, “Masquerade”, aired October 28, 2010), five episodes of Fringe (2010-2012) and fourteen episodes of Supernatural from 2007 to 2020.

Johnny Crawford (March 26, 1946 – April 29, 2021) American actor, one of the original Mousketeers in the 1950s and prolific child star on American television into the 1960s. Best known for his role as the son of Chuck Connors in the classic western TV series, The Rifleman (1958-1963). He also, along with most of his fellow television adolescents of that era, placed a few bubblegummy songs in the Top 40, with “Cindy’s Birthday” making it all the way to the #8 position in 1962. Played one of the thirty-foot-tall juvenile delinquents terrorizing a small town in the utterly bonkers dark comedy, Village of the Giants (1965).

Billie Hayes (August 5, 1924 – April 29, 2021) American stage, film, television and voice actress, played Witchipoo on the children’s television series H.R. Pufnstuf (1969), The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1969) and the second season of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour in (1969); a similar character in one episode of Bewitched (Season 8, Episode 10, “Hansel and Gretel in Samantha-Land”, aired November 17, 1971); and Weenie the Genie on Lidsville (1971-1972). She also appeared in one episode of the Bewitched spin-off series, Tabitha (Season 1, Episode 6, “Mr. Nice Guy”, aired December 10, 1977). She did voice work for the animated television series Trollkins (1981), The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (1984), The Real Ghostbusters (1986), Aaahh!!! Real Monsters (1995), and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (2005), and the feature films The Black Cauldron (1985) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).

S. G. Chelladurai (1937 – April 29, 2021) Indian actor, Airaa (2019).

Libertad Leblanc (February 24, 1938 – April 30, 2021) Argentine platinum blonde sex symbol, best known for her work in erotic films. She did make a couple of horror pictures, La Endemoniada (A Woman Possessed, 1968) in Mexico and the Spanish/Italian Cerco de Terror (Siege of Terror, 1971).

May

Tom Hickey (1944 – 1 May 2021) Irish actor, Gothic (1986) and High Spirits (1988).

Bikramjeet Kanwarpal (29 August 1968 – 01 May 2021) Indian actor, Mallika (2010), Dangerous Ishhq (Dangerous Love, 2012), Horror Story (2013), and Creature 3D (2014).

Willy Kurant (15 February 1934 – 1 May 2021) Belgian cinematographer, The Incredible Melting Man (1977) and Mama Dracula (1980).

Chuck Hicks (December 26, 1927 – May 4, 2021) American actor and stuntman, Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), Zombies of Mora Tau (1957), Shock Corridor (1963), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1972), Beyond Evil (1980), The Ring (2002), Hood of Horror (2006), and Legion (2010). On television, he appeared in one episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Ten O’Clock Tiger”, season 7, Episode 26, aired April 3, 1962) and two of The Twilight Zone (“Steel”, Season 5, Episode 2, aired October 4, 1963, and “Ninety Years Without Slumbering”, Season 5, Episode 12, aired December 20, 1963).

Feđa Stojanović (31 January 1948 – 5 May 2021) Serbian actor, T.T. Syndrome (2002)

Guillermo Murray (15 June 1927 – 6 May 2021) Argentine-born Mexican actor, El Mundo de los Vampiros (1961), La Huella Macabra (1963), Los Murcialagos (1964), The Chinese Room (1968), and Six Tickets to Hell (1981).

Tawny Kitaen (August 5, 1961 – May 7, 2021) American actress, Witchboard (1986)

Jean-Claude Romer (19 January 1933 – 8 May 2021) French actor, Les week-ends maléfiques du Comte Zaroff (Seven Women for Satan, 1976), Cinemania (short film, as the Frankenstein Monster, 1978), Baby Blood (1990), Time Demon (1996), and Marquis de Slime (1997). Romer was also co-editor of the French science fiction, fantasy and horror film magazine, Midi-Minuit Fantastique (1962-1972). The first issue is available in the Internet Archives.

Neil Connery (1 January 1938 – 10 May 2021) Scottish actor and the younger brother of Sean Connery, The Body Stealers (1969).

Dennis Joseph (October 20, 1957 – May 10, 2021) Indian scriptwriter and director, Geethaanjali (2013).

Norman Lloyd (November 8, 1914 – May 11, 2021) American actor whom I was about convinced would live forever. Linked both to Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, he was a significant presence in every medium of American entertainment for most of a century. He appeared in the May 24, 1945 episode of the Suspense! radio show (“My Own Murderer”). His genre-related films included the 1951 remake of M with David Wayne in the role created twenty years earlier by Peter Lorre; Audrey Rose (1977); the TV mini-series The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978); Jaws of Satan (1981), Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes (1989); and the 1995 TV remake of The Omen. On television, he directed, produced and/or acted in several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, as well as being executive producer on the 1968-1969 series Journey into the Unknown and producer on Tales of the Unexpected (1982-1985). He acted in one episode each of One Step Beyond (Season 2, Episode 1, “Delusion”, aired September 15, 1959), Night Gallery (Season 2, Episode 16, “A Feast of Blood”, aired January 12, 1972) and the Twilight Zone revival series (Season 1, Episode 24, “The Last Defender of Camelot”, aired April 11, 1986).

Jaime Garza (January 28, 1954 – May 14, 2021) Mexican actor, Dinastia Sangrienta (1988) and The Bloody Monks (1989).

Roy Scammell (28 July 1932 – 15 May 2021) British stuntman and stunt arranger, Circus of Fear (1966), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Horror Hospital (1973), Alien (1979), Venom (1981), and Seize the Night (2015).

René Cardona III (1962 – May 16, 2021) Mexican actor, director and screenwriter, The Bermuda Triangle (1978), Terror en las Barrios (1983), Cementario del Terror (1985), Vacaciones de Terror (1989), Alarido del Terror (1991), El Beso de la Muerte: Historias Espeluznantes (1991), Pesadilla Fatal (1991), Colmillos, el Hombre Lobo (1993), and El Asesino del Teatro (1996)

Nitish Veera (1976 – 17 May 2021) Indian actor, Airaa (2019) and Neeya 2 (2019). 

Vladimir Fyodorov (February 19, 1939 — May 18, 2021) Russian actor, Ruslan i Lyudmila (1972), Dikaya okhota korolya Stakha (Savage Hunt of King Stakh, 1980), and Lisova Pisnya. Mavka (1981). 

Charles Grodin (April 21, 1935 – May 18, 2021) Award-winning American actor, comedian, author, and television talk show host, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), King Kong (1976), and So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993).

David Anthony Kraft (May 31, 1952 – May 19, 2021) American comic book writer, publisher, and critic. Wrote the Man-Wolf feature in several Marvel comic book titles in the middle 1970s, including Creatures on the Loose and Marvel Premiere. Man-Wolf was the astronaut son of Spider-Man’s nemesis J. Jonah Jameson who developed lycanthropy after picking up a magical rock on the moon. 

Kraft also wrote stories for the Marvel publications Giant-Size Dracula, Haunt of Horror and Tales of the Zombie. He wrote Demon Hunter #1 for Atlas/Seaboard in 1975, and a Swamp Thing issue for DC Comics in 1976. Kraft founded Fictioneer Books in 1974. Its subsidiary imprint, Comics Interview, published the Southern Knights comic book during the 1980s. Southern Knights was a super-hero group, one member of which was a dragon who could assume human form. A friend of mine at the time illustrated the final issue. 

Romy Walthall (September 16, 1963 – May 19, 2021) American actress in the feature films Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988), The House of Usher (1989), and Howling: New Moon Rising (1995); and in one episode each of The X-Files (“Millennium”, Season 7, Episode 4, aired November 28, 1999) and The Nightmare Room (“Don’t Forget me”, Season 1, Episode 1, aired August 31, 2001)).

Robert Green Hall (27 November 1973 – May 24, 2021) American special makeup effects artist on the television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, and the feature films Vacancy (2007), Killer Pad (2008), The Crazies (2010), Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011), and Fear Clinic (2014). Also directed Laid to Rest (2009) and ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011).

Desiree Gould (March 27, 1945 – May 25, 2021) American actress, Sleepaway Camp (1983), Under Surveillance (2006), Caesar and Otto Meet Dracula’s Lawyer (2010), and Tales of Poe (2014).

Ben Kruger (25 March 1957 – 25 May 2021) South African actor, Snake Island (2002).

Carla Fracci (20 August 1936 – 27 May 2021) Italian ballet dancer, best known for the supernatural ballet Giselle

Robert Hogan (September 28, 1933 – May 27, 2021) Prolific American film and television actor in the feature films Westworld (1973), Species II (1998), and in one episode each of The Twilight Zone (“Spur of the Moment”, Season 5, Episode 21, aired February 21, 1964), Kraft Suspense Theatre (“The Wine Dark Sea”, Season 2, Episode 11, aired December 31, 1964), Night Gallery (“Brenda”, Season 2, Episode 7, aired November 3, 1971), and Tales of the Unexpected (“No Way Out”, Season 1, Episode 8, aired August 24, 1977).

Lorina Kamburova (February 1, 1991 – May 26, 2021) Bulgarian actress, Nightworld: Door of Hell (2017), Leatherface (2017), Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2017), and Doom: Annihilation (2019).

Paul Soles (August 11, 1930 – May 26, 2021) Canadian voice actor on the 1966 Saturday morning Japanese-produced American cartoon series King Kong. Yes, THAT King Kong. Big monkey King Kong. As a commenter on the show’s IMDb page pointed out, it wasn’t a particularly memorable series, but it had one of the catchiest theme songs on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. Not as great as the theme song from Underdog, but still pretty darn good. Soles also did voice work for several of the cartoon shows based on the Marvel Comics characters during the 1960s, including as the title character in Spider-Man, making him the first actor to ever play the web-slinger. It also had a great theme song. Yes, childrens, music was indeed better in the ‘60s, in every aspect of the popular culture.

Shane Briant (17 August 1946 – 27 May 2021) English actor, Demons of the Mind (1972), Straight on Till Morning (1972), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973), Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter (1974), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), Cassandra (1987), Out of the Body (1989), and Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein (2019).

David Butler (March 1, 1960 – May 27, 2021) South African actor, The Canterville Ghost (1983).

Marcell Jankovics (21 October 1941 – 29 May 2021) Hungarian animator, A Székely asszony és az ördög (The Transylvanian Woman and the Devil, 1985), one of a series of short animated films based on Hungarian folk tales.

Maurice Capovila (16 January 1936 – 29 May 2021) Brazilian film director and screenwriter. His 1970 dramatic film, The Prophet of Hunger, while not explicitly horror, may appeal to horror fans as it starred Jose Mojica Marins, better known as Coffin Joe, and had a rather surrealistic plot.

John Gregg (12 January 1939 – 29 May 2021) Australian actor in one episode of the British television series Dead of Night (“Two in the Morning”, Season 1, Episode 6, aired December 10, 1972), and one episode of the Australian supernatural comedy series, Spirited (“Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead”, Season 1, Episode 2, aired September 1, 2010).

Joe Lara (October 2, 1962 – May 29, 2021) American actor best known for playing Tarzan on television in the 1990s. Died in a plane crash in Percy Priest Lake, a few miles from where I live in Middle Tennessee. Appeared in the horror films Night Wars (1988) and The Presence (1992).

Gavin MacLeod (February 28, 1931 – May 29, 2021) American actor best known for playing Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) and Captain Stubing on The Love Boat (1977-1986). Appeared in one episode of The Munsters (Season 1, Episode 12, “The Sleeping Cutie”, aired December 10, 1964).

Arlene Golonka (January 23, 1936 – May 31, 2021) Ubiquitous American actress with an extensive career in television from the 1960s to the 1980s. Appeared in Skeletons (1997). Also did some voice work for the Saturday morning cartoon series, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, in 1973.

June

Violeta Vidaurre (12 September 1928 – 1 June 2021) Chilean actress with a long career in television and in the theater. She appeared as Ercilia Núñez in twenty-three episodes of the Chilean vampire telenovela, Conde Vrolok (2009-2010).

Michael Ray Escamilla (died June 3, 2021) American actor, The Orphan Killer (2011) and The Possession of Michael King (2014)

Damaris Hayman (16 June 1929 – 3 June 2021) English character actress who appeared in one storyline of Doctor Who during the tenure of Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor. She played Miss Hawthorne in all five episodes of “The Dæmons” in 1971.

Ernie Lively (January 29, 1947 – June 3, 2021) Prolific American character actor, Ghost Chase (AKA Hollywood-Monster, 1987), Shocker (1989), Sleepwalkers (1992), and one episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents revival series (“Four O’Clock”, based on the classic short story by Cornell Woolrich, Season 1, Episode 21, aired May 4. 1986).

N. Rangarajan (17 December 1930 – 3 June 2021) Indian film director, Kalyanaraman (1979).

Valeriy Sheptekita (December 20, 1940 – June 3, 2021) Ukrainian actor, Ivanko I Tsar Poganin (1984), 

Arlene Tolibas (1966 – June 3, 2021) Filipina actress in Regal Shocker: The Movie (1989), Tarot (2009), and one episode of the Filipino Tagalog-language TV series #ParangNormal Activity (“Yung may ghost na extra”, Season 1, Episode 5, aired August 8, 2015).

John Sacret Young (May 24, 1946 – June 3, 2021[1]) American screenwriter, The Possessed (1977).

Clarence Williams III (August 21, 1939 – June 4, 2021) American actor, appeared in the feature films Perfect Victims (1988), Maniac Cop 2 (1990), Tales from the Hood (1995), Mindstorm (2001), and American Nightmares (2018). First made his mark on television as one of the leads of The Mod Squad (1968-1973) and worked extensively in the medium, including one episode of the BBC program Orson Welles’ Great Mysteries (“The Furnished Room”, Season 1, Episode 26, aired February 24, 1974), one of Tales from the Crypt (“Maniac at Large”, Season 4, Episode 10, aired August 19, 1992), and as FBI Agent Roger Hardy in two episodes of Twin Peaks (1990). 

Camilla Amado (7 August 1938 – 6 June 2021) Brazilian actress, Quem Tem Medo de Lobisomem? (Who’s Afraid of the Werewolf?, 1975).

Surekha (10 March 1955 – 6 June 2021) Indian actress, Aathma (1993).

Douglas S. Cramer (August 22, 1931 – June 7, 2021) American producer on the television movies The Cat Creature (1973), The Dead Don’t Die (1975), Snowbeast (1977), Cruise into Terror (1978), and Don’t Go to Sleep (1982). 

Laszlo George (May 30, 1931 – June 7, 2021) Canadian cinematographer, Something is Out There (1988), and two episodes of Reaper (“Rebellion”, Season 1, Episode 14, aired April 22, 2008 and “Coming to Grips”, Season 1, Episode 15, aired April 29, 2008).

Ben Roberts (1 July 1950 – 7 June 2021) British actor, Jane Eyre (2011).

Julio Calasso (1941 – June 11, 2012) Brazilian actor, Filme Demencia (1986) and Olhos de Vampa (1996).

Kay Hawtrey (November 8, 1926 – June 11, 2021) Canadian character actress, Funeral Home (1980), The Intruder (1981), Videodrome (1983), Haunted by Her Past (1987), Urban Legend (1998) and American Psycho II: All-American Girl (2002).

Dennis Berry (August 11, 1944 – June 12, 2021) American film director and actor. Directed La mort mystérieuse de Nina Chéreau (The Mysterious Death of Nina Chereau, 1988). Played a bit part in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the Poe-based anthology film, Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead, 1968).

Ned Beatty (July 6, 1937 – June 13, 2021) Prolific American character actor, Deliverance (1972), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Haunting of Barney Palmer (1987), Purple People Eater (1988), The Unholy (1988), Repossessed (1990), one episode of Tales of the Unexpected (“The Final Chapter”, Season 1, Episode 1, aired February 2, 1977), and the pilot for the revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Incident in a Small Jail”, aired May 5, 1985). Perhaps best known to many for playing Lex Luthor’s dim-witted henchman Otis is the first two Superman films starring Christopher Reeve.

John Gabriel (May 25, 1931 – June 13, 2021) American actor, Fantasies (1982).

David Lightfoot (1959/1960 – 13 June 2021) Australian film producer, Wolf Creek (2005) and Rogue (2007)

Lisa Banes (July 9, 1955 – June 14, 2021) American actress, Dragonfly (2002) and Them (2021).

Dinah Shearing (12 February 1926 – 14 June 2021) Australian actress, appeared on stage in Medee, Macbeth and Bell, Book and Candle, and in a 1960 production of Macbeth for Australian television.

Robert Desroches (14 July 1929 – 15 June 2021) Canadian actor, Friday the 13th: The Series (“The Prophecies: Part 1”, Season 3, Episode 1, and “The Prophecies: Part 2”, Season 3, Episode 2, both aired October 7, 1989).

Sanchari Vijay (July 18, 1983 – June 15, 2021) Indian actor, Riktha (2017).

Lily Weiding (22 October 1924 – 15 June 2021) Danish actress, The Green Butchers (2003).

Frank Bonner (February 28, 1942 – June 16, 2021) American actor, best known for playing sleazy sales manager Herb Tarlek on the classic sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. He apparently also thought turkeys could fly. Appeared in the 1970 horror film, Equinox, which also featured Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine editor Forrest J. Ackerman and horror, science-fiction and fantasy writer, and sometime actor, Fritz Leiber, Jr. 

Chandrashekhar (7 July 1922 – 16 June 2021) Indian actor, Maa (1991).

Linda Touby (1942 – June 17, 2021) American artist, widow of legendary illustrator Basil Gogos, as well as custodian of his estate. Gogos painted numerous covers for Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine.

Joanne Linville (January 15, 1928 – June 20, 2021) Prolific American television actress, appeared in one episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“The Safe Place”, Season 3, Episode 36, aired June 8, 1958), two of One Step Beyond (“The Dead Part of the House”, Season 1, Episode 9, aired March 17, 1959 and “Moment of Hate”, Season 3, Episode 6, aired October 25, 1960), one of The Twilight Zone (“The Passersby”, Season 3, Episode 4, Aired October 6, 1961), and the 1989 television movie, From the Dead of Night.

Nina Divíšková (12 July 1936 – 21 June 2021) Czech actress, The Great Unknown (1970), Morgiana (1972), and Wolf’s Hole (1987).

Robert Sacchi (March 27, 1932 – June 23, 2021) American character actor best known for his uncanny resemblance to legendary Hollywood tough guy star Humphrey Bogart. He exploited that similarity to play the inspector in The French Sex Murders (1972). As he also sounded like Bogie, he was the voice of Lou Spinelli in one episode of Tales from the Crypt (“You, Murderer”, Season 6, Episode 15, aired January 25, 1995). The story was shot from Spinelli’s point of view, but whenever he was seen in mirrors or other reflective surfaces, his appearance consisted of images of Bogart recycled from old films noir.

Med Reventberg (7 June 1948 – 24 June 2021) Swedish actress, Porträttet (1999), based on the short horror story “The Portrait” by Nikolai Gogol.

John Erman (August 3, 1935 – June 25, 2021) American television and film director, directed one episode of The Outer Limits (“Nightmare”, Season 1, Episode 10, aired December 2, 1963) and eight episodes of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir from 1968 to 1970.

Hans Holtegaard (August 5, 1952 – June 26, 2021) Danish actor, The Substitute (2007).

John Langley (June 1, 1943 – June 26, 2021) American television and film director, writer, and producer best known for creating the series Cops (1989). He co-wrote the screenplay for Deadly Sins (1995) and was executive producer on Vampire Clan (2002).

Stuart Damon (February 5, 1937 – June 29, 2021) American actor best known for his thirty-six-year run on the soap opera General Hospital. I first came across him on the late-sixties BBC series, The Champions, which was sort of like the contemporary BBC show The Avengers, but with super-powered leads. He appeared in one episode of the British TV series Thriller (“Nightmare for a Nightingale”, Season 6, Episode 3, aired October 2, 1975), and the 1982 television horror movie, Fantasies.

Graham Rouse (1934 – June 29, 2021) Australian actor, appeared in one episode of the Australian horror television series Things That Go Bump in the Night (“I See a Dark Stranger”, Season 1, Episode 3, aired March 13, 1974).

 

Free Fiction Week: The Invitation by Alice Paige

The Invitation by Alice Paige

The dinner table is set. The two face each other, both smiling sharp smiles highlighted in red lipstick. A smile is a weapon. Both women knew this from childhood. It’s a kind of truth men aren’t aware of. They see the smile, but not the tongue curtained behind the teeth. 

The two women, both with too pale skin, lean forward in their wicker chairs. The blood-red dresses they wear shine and shimmer in the candlelight cast from a ring of quickly melting candles rimming the room. No light shines from the table. There is no room on the table for light as this is where the corpse lies flat on its back, dressed in a black see-through shroud. The corpse’s face is gaunt and grey, desiccated. The old corpse is set out, as if for a funeral viewing. What is a viewing if not invitation to grieve? 

“But this is no funeral,” one of the women says, or perhaps, both the women say at once. They glance towards the single curtained window in the room. 

Outside, the snow falls. It is not a kind snow; it is a hungry snow that drinks sound from the air. The abandoned London streets are swallowed in a blanket of white. This snow mutes sound and is an offering of violence. A silencing. The streets are abandoned, a feat in the heart of London with its sickly, sprawling populace. 

The two women smirk as they stand from the table. Slowly, they walk across the room, bare feet slapping against the dark, wooden floor, the candlelight flickering between their toes. Quickly they move from candle to candle burning clippings of the corpse’s hair. 

“In case you are wondering,” one of the women begins, “this is for you. A welcoming,” the other woman finishes. Each candle flairs as hair burns and smokes. The room is a mix of sick sweetness. There is the potent stench of corpse flesh and burnt hair, but the candles provide a stark, contrasting smell of sweet honey. 

The room fills with a startling sound like rubber bands snapping. The corpse on the table spasms again and again under its shroud as the final clippings of curled, grey hair burn. The legs of the table hop and scrape against the floor.

The two women hurriedly walk to the curtained window together and throw the curtains back. Sickly, grey light spills into the room. The window faces out upon a small, abandoned city square. Both women grab the base of the large window and lift. Painfully chilled air rushes into the room. The sound outside is still muted but, just on the edge of audible perception, there is a labored breathing that seems to invade the room as the window opens. 

The two women walk back over to the table and place their hands atop the corpse. Their fingers slowly intertwine atop the soft, black fabric and their hands rise and fall with the corpse’s chest. The women’s skin goosebumps. They look at one another with cautioned excitement.

 “Are you ready?” they ask the empty room. It is unclear who or what they are speaking to. They wait a moment, and, despite the lack of answer, they seem satisfied. Slowly each woman leans backwards, fingers still locked, and they begin to chant. The two chant in unison at an alarming pace, their bright red lips quickly enunciate each word with a labored intensity. 

“It juts its fingers into the dirt, finds the face beneath, the orbital, the mandible, 

cracks the ossuary, slithers into this shattered church, makes a blasphemous home 

of once  priest, rips the faith root and stem, hungrily gorges on intently scarified 

meaning, is pulled, is plucked, is jutted like sharpened weapon, we call, we demand, 

we twinned sisters, given twinned names, we control the star pointed razor, 

the space beyond space, we space behind face, we who have pulled host from holy grave to give you shape once again demand you take shape once again.”

The twin voices drone on together, echoing off the bare, wooden walls and spill into the town square. 

And that’s when I feel it. A tug in my guts. Not that I have guts. 

It’s a strange sensation, to not have a sense of self until I suddenly have a sense of self. To be thrust into “I” once more. It’s as if I have been here the entire time, watching, but have only now just arrived. The two women fall into silence. I recognize them. We were friends once. Before. Before what? My mind feels like a waterfall climbing to be a river. Entropy turned on itself. A collecting.

My vision shifts as the room rotates, turning on its head. I feel my chest heave and my ribs crack. I cough because I can cough. 

“You’re here,” Emily says. She is the woman to the left of me. Her voice is slightly softer than her sister, Emilia. I could always tell the difference. 

I try to speak but my throat refuses to move. I am on my back. How did I get on my back? I was watching the room from above.

“You need to give it a moment. The body will be able to speak soon,” Emilia says. 

 I glance down to see the shroud covering the corpse’s body. No, not the corpse’s. Mine. My body. I inhabit the corpse. I can feel it around me like swimming in muck. Its skin is so tight. I try to move the tongue in its mouth and the tongue shifts slightly. Suddenly, I can taste. Its mouth, my mouth, tastes like ash and copper. Emily places a hand on my forehead. Her skin is so soft. So alive. 

“We told you nothing would keep us apart Dahlia,” Emily and Emilia say together. 

I scream in this body that is not mine. The corpse’s vocal cords hiss.


Alice Paige is a trans woman, poet, and essayist living in St. Paul, Mn. Her writing largely focuses on topics like mythology and queer love. Her work can be found at FreezeRay Poetry, Crabfat Magazine, Coffin Bell, VASTARIEN, Button Poetry, Luna Station Quarterly and Take A Stand, Art Against Hate: A Raven Chronicles Anthology. She is also a co-host for Outspoken, a Queer Open Mic.

 

https://www.instagram.com/alicegpaige/

Free Fiction Week: The Get Together by Prapti Gupta

THE GET TOGETHER by Praptui Gupta

“Mom are you ready?” I asked.

“Yes dear, let’s go” she replied.

Today my mom and I are very excited. Today we are going to meet with our father after a long time. I can’t really explain how happy and excited I am. After a lot of struggle and patience, we are getting to meet him. But the sad part is the meeting period is very short, just 10 minutes.

On our way, I was thinking what questions I will be asking him. There are so many but I can’t ask all of them. We reached the place after some time. Mr. Morgan was waiting for us. He was the medium through which we are going to talk with him. 

 He was seeing us in a very strange manner as if he hasn’t seen people like us before. Yes, I admit we are different because we are new to this place but yet we look like human beings. 

“Good morning Mrs. Evans, I was just waiting for you and your son,” he said to us.

“Is everything ready? We can’t wait to meet him; hope you can understand” my mom said to him.

“Yes. The whole process is to be of 20 minutes and you can talk to him for about 10 minutes, not more than that, otherwise, it can be risky for me” he said.

Though we were disappointed upon hearing the time limit, we nodded.

Then he took us inside a room. It was a dark room, in fact very dark.

Okay, let me clear the fact. We are going to do planchette. This is the only method and medium of our contact with him.

My mom and I haven’t talked with him since the day we two died in a road accident a year ago but my father survived!!!!

It’s really a special day for both of us. 

THE END


Prapti Gupta is an 18 year old writer from India.

 

To read more of her work: Wattpad

Free Fiction Week: The Smoky Mountain Monster by Terry Pierson

The Smoky Mountain Monster by Terry Pierson

The Smoky Mountains, full of shadowed silence and untouched grandeur, hum with stories and legends. There was a little log cabin in the woods that was said to have belonged to Davy Crockett. At night a deep mist would form over the leaf magenta grounds but no one was ever there to see it. A big rock rose like a monolith from a dirt patch where nothing else had grown for a long time. 

No one ever saw it.  A volcano could have splintered from the ground and moltend the forest while turning the sky to ash and it would be days before someone drove by an adjacent road and noticed. There was no one back here, the world had moved on and left this little stretch of existence to stagnate and freeze in time, with nothing to disrupt its trajectory. It slumbered. 

So it sat for decades, time unfolding with callous change all through the world. Yet these few acres of country stayed oblivious. Technology pushed, leaders grew and died, empires boomed and collapsed, but the few miles of trees around Limestone in southeast Tennessee rested in tranquility without any concern for what was happening beyond the borders. It felt at ease with its place in the world; a soft warm blanket for those who knew it. 

This seemed destined to continue until suddenly it didn’t. Some ambitious men decided to expand the real estate market further from the nearby market center.  In less than a year, something that had been the same for lifetimes, secluded and undisturbed, was abruptly and violently uprooted, dug, plowed, shoveled, ripped, paved, molded, and shaped to be an entirely new area of the world fit for civilization and pleasant circumstances. The land did not agree and moaned its disapproval. 

Families moved in fast and it wasn’t long before the surrounding area was filled with gas stations and school buildings and soccer fields and fast food establishments. Year after year marched forward and before long the place the area had been for so long was forgotten, washed away in a tide of habitation. The development was a success but the earth did not reserve its protest.

The land grew haunted, wrecked by spirits and atrocities. Nothing else was allowed to inhabit this space. The very fiber of existence twisted in repulsion at its new form. There was something that revolted against what destiny was dictating. The new orchestra of everyday life – with all of its humanity and confinement – chafed against the fiber of all that had come before. 

It was calm at first, residential troubles and local folklore. There was a haunted house or vengeful spirit. An entire barn of animals all perished overnight with no discernible cause. Some thought the lake was cursed. A family of five died in a fiery car crash on an unmarked road. A deranged man from a nearby slaughterhouse assaulted an elderly woman in her home. There was something damned in the space itself and it would endlessly produce whatever menace fit the void. 

Generations disappeared down the family conveyor belt and the daily troubles of the place turned to twilight. Rumors of a ritualistic cult rooted in the community took hold. A flesh-eater preyed on the town. Some unknown beast, described in wild testimonies and interviews as a horned slug the size of a dog, turned the area into a tourist spot. 

The 21st century had begun to wane when the fissure finally erupted. A great mass swelled in the land; bony, titanic shoulders lifted the earth into an illusion of mountains where there had been none. In the very spot where Davy Crockett’s log cabin had sat the ground split and a tremor propelled through the surrounding countryside. A creature, unlike anything, ever rose to the sky, carrying the homes and barns and utility poles up to the clouds. All of that cursed land was swept up in an instant and crumbled to pieces on the back of the mile-high gargantuan. It fell back to the land and crashed like haunted meteorites cratering in the surface. 

The mammoth could not be. Its presence stained and contaminated the dimension of humanity. No reason or spirituality could support its nature. The thing was an intruder that trekked its cosmic mud across the carpet of conceived existence.

The impossible monstrosity evaporated to space in a fantastic fog. Time and gravity warped around it in a spectacular display of color that broadcast against the Smoky Mountain landscape. Geography twisted on itself in impossible spirals. Deep recesses swallowed rolling mounds. The seams of reality frayed and stretched as the entity joined the stars. The monster was never there, it couldn’t be. Everyone already remembered the Tennessee canyons as all the land had ever been. 


 

Terry Pierson creates creepy content as Something Spooky on social media. His signature style blends campfire story spirit and prestige horror sensibility.

https://amzn.to/3rHGom7

Free Fiction Week : I Am Afraid…by RAJALAXMI BEHERA

I AM AFRAID ……. by RAJALAXMI BEHERA

I opened my door, it was dark outside,

I turned on the lights to quit my fright.

The lights glimmered directly on my face,

I rubbed my eyes, my neck did ache.

 

I was tired of the day, I sat on the couch,

Something hit me, I cried out “OUCH!!!”

 

I moved a little, I hardly turned back,

There was a book on the floor, perhaps it fell from the rack.

 

I felt uncomfortable, I went for a shower,

My heart was filled with an unknown terror.

 

And I could hear some strange sound,

But the sounds stopped when I turned around. 

 

 There was a scratch mark on my mirror,

I was shocked, those marks were everywhere.

 

I exclaimed – “  What the hell is happening to me ? “

The next very second, the marks were nowhere to see.

 

I thought I was hallucinating out of my fatigue,

But it could be that there might have been some rogue,

Who might have entered my house to rob,

But I just fearfully thought to stop.

 

My mind was whirling due to all stress,

My eyes fell on the pocket of my dress.

 

There was a note, I read it, it was written – “ GOODBYE “

I did not know who put it there and why.

 

Then came to my sight, my perfume potion,

I could see, in the clear surface, my own reflection.

 

I could see a figure coming towards me,

On the surface of the potion, I could see.

 

Then all at once, I was struck by something heavy,

I turned back, only a MAN IN BLACK I could see…….

ONLY A MAN IN BLACK I COULD SEE…….

ONLY A MAN IN BLACK I COULD SEE…….


 

 

RAJALAXMI BEHERA is a student and writer of poems and short stories

To find more of her work: www.rajalaxmi2365.blogspot.com

Free Fiction Week:The Tomb of the Red King by Hank Belbin

In the Tomb of the Red King by Hank Belbin

The sarcophagus screeched open. Wafts of ancient dust spewed from the yawning blackness within.  Something else came rushing out too. Francis Aberdeen felt its dark presence as soon as he’d pried the lid from the thing. He had felt it as clear as he felt the ripping winds battering the Cornish coastline above the cave. He felt it like he felt the salty spray of the sea as he descended the cliffs to the entrance of the tomb itself. Something evil and old. Something dark. 

So bizarre to find such a coffin in Cornwall. Such practises were seldom discovered this far north of the equator. But there it was, just like the stranger had said it would be. After hours of crawling on his hands and knees through narrow tunnels by candlelight, Francis finally came into a vast domed chamber with a single white light beaming down onto a stone tableau ahead. The tableau was a  huge scalene triangle of ebony stone that raised up in the centre of the cavernous gloomy crypt. The triangle was surmounted with graphite plumbago shards that all pointed northward like rows of serrated teeth on a great dragon. Along the rim were esoteric carvings, hieroglyphics, and other depictions of demonic entities upward reaching to the coffin’s lid—none of which Francis could understand. It was beyond being prehistoric. Judging by the stratum of rock, Francis put the crypt’s age at somehow being of the late Cretaceous period. The walls of the tomb sloped down and back,  headlong into pitch-black nothingness. Around the sarcophagus itself were dusty old black jars containing a fetid red liquid that smelt like rotten meat. Everything in the chamber pointed towards mummification. But there was no body in the sarcophagus. The room was far too old for that.  Francis paused as he considered what to do next, his heart beating hard in his chest. Thick grey mud from the climb down into the tomb clung to his clothing like a cold blanket. His hands shook, and he felt the chill in his bones.  

Although he was positive he was alone, he distinctly felt the air grow tighter the instant he had unwittingly opened the coffin. A gnawing tingling sensation rose from the base of his spine and up into his neck, and it whispered to him softly that he had made a grave error. He knew it too.  Reckless pride and the desire to discover something unknown had blinded his pragmatism. And now the casket in the dark was open. What have I done? Francis cautiously leaned over the edge and gazed down into it. As he did, he felt the lingering thought that something was alive in there. Its aura impossibly glaring back at him from the abyss somehow. He didn’t know how to describe it with mortal words, but he was steadfast that he felt this lean and hungry stare of a spectre looking back at him from down there, in the pit of the coffin that seemed to stretch inward for eternity.  Something had been waiting for this. 

As he stood over the open chest, the damp air descended languidly all around him, laden with primal particles of disease and unknown threats that had seldom felt any other air for aeons. The darkness drew nearer, clutching up from the corners of the forlorn tomb with wide-open talons of shadows. All that was old and mystical was awake once more. All that once was—would now be again. In a flash, his mistakes came tumbling down to him. How could I have been so foolish? 

Days of hiking, hours of precarious scrabbling down the cliffs, even more, indeterminate time going lower into the caves had brought him to this moment, and in one nauseating instant, he regretted all of it. Some things are better left unknown, he thought to himself. How could he have been so careless? Why had he come into this tenebrous little hole in the earth? In the pit of his stomach, he already knew why. 

A tip-off from a dark-eyed stranger in the local tavern had sent him on this quest, bringing him here;  that was what started it. His shadow had crawled across the table as he approached. The hooded stranger had sat himself down opposite Francis in the meager tavern, offered to buy him an ale,  asked him if he was an archeologist; then proceeded to tell the most vivid tale of a seldom-talked about tomb near the tavern that supposedly held one of the last old spirits of the world. A spirit of great decadence. Beside the twinkle of the candle on the table, Francis could’ve sworn deeply that the stranger’s eyes were glowing faintly red—like the blood-thirsty anticipation of some starved hyena.  

But that wasn’t what brought him down into the cave. The real reason why he’d brought himself to the tomb was he had to see for himself if the fable was indeed true. He wanted to discover it for himself, to brand his own mark upon its finding. And with all the deathly stillness of the tomb around him, he had discovered it. Some unexplainable presence was there in the tomb, next to him,  over him, in him. Something unseen. But something that reared up and climbed inside his mind. It clung to him like cold tar. Whispers of all things primordial and malevolent swam through his thoughts—ancient days of death and blood.  

It wanted to be found, the force murmured to him. Of course, it did. It was all so clear now. The expedition was far too easy, the navigation of the unknown tunnels leading down to the stygian crypt even more so. The map was precise, the weather conditions favourable. All that was needed was for him to undertake the route. All it needed was a vessel. All of it made sense to Francis why.  He felt strangely heavy at the revelation. As if cast-iron weights had been suddenly tied around his shoulders.  

The hooded stranger from the tavern whispered one name to him before he departed. Izuzu. The  King in Red. Francis only knew of the title in passing. The King in Red was an old mystic fable that had only been passed down through subdued whisperings and superstitions in various isolated  Cornish villages such as Boscastle. In the tales, it was always associated with death and disease. A  great horned figure who loped between the shadows and spaces. He who controlled life. Something that betwixt all things that are and all things that never will be. Wherever it would roam, decaying slow death would follow. Its cape soaked in the crimson from the blood of the fallen wherever it had trodden. Legend has it that he was entombed in an impenetrable block of ice by the Old One for his amoral acts upon all things living. If he were to be released once more, he would bring with him the black clouds of death to all things. 

In one sickening realisation, Francis knew why the stranger in the tavern had told him about it. He knew Francis was a greenhorn archaeologist. He knew the young clear-skinned boy could not resist the opportunity to make a name for himself. He knew Francis, the naive 20-year-old, would take the bait. He wanted Francis to open it for him. And Francis did. Without hesitation, Francis Aberdeen of Leicester University had unwittingly unleashed all the eternal gloom of Izuzu, the King in Red, unto the world. What would become of the earth next he would never see. Because in the Red King’s steed, Francis would be trapped in the crypt forever. The darkness closed in. The candle flickered nervously then went out. The crypt sealed once more. He tried to scream, but it was cut short.  

_______________________________________________________________________________

I am a semi-professional writer who has published one novel and several short horror stories. I currently write screenplays and offer script treatments also. I am based in the UK and specialise in gothic and folklore horror set in the United Kingdom.

 

http://www.hankbelbin.co.uk

Free Fiction Week: The Blood of the Guilty by Carlos Ruiz Santiago

The blood of the guilty by Carlos Ruiz Santiago

When people complete their revenge the blood just runs in circles but, when Danya Tebens did it, it rained from the sky.

The sword, twisted and rusty, was creating a trembling path in the ground. The tremulous steps of the woman made her moves slow in the land full of bumps. Sacred stones around her, mortuary monoliths of the ones that had fallen before her, empty ground for the ones that will fall after her. All dead despite the blood, the ichor of life, poured grotesquely over them.

Her sight was lost, full of gore. The red crimson blood that fell from the sky was creating puddles of misery. The red scarlet blood that covered her weapon and her ragged armor, blood thrown by something that shouldn’t be able to bleed. The dark blood from her many lethal wounds.

She fell on her knees in front of one of the many tombs. Probably, the most important tomb in the history of dead people. Only a few words carved.

Belen Tebens. Loved son. Gone too early.

Something fell from the sky. Something thick and monstrous. A gigantic feral arm, full of shattered armor. Chains falling from the sky, colored in red godly blood. The vermilion storm was getting worse, the clouds darker, the wind fiercer, the sun barely showed a pair of ruby agonizing light arms that were fading in plain sight. The world itself was howling in agony.

“What have you done?” screamed a terrified voice of some poor fool at her back.

She hesitated a bit. Her mouth was dry, pasty, the acrid taste of her own guts in her mouth. She felt heavy, dizzy. Far away, the ground was pouring black dross. Part of the sliced skull of something that shouldn’t be able to die fell to the ground.

“I found the guilty” she answered in a reedy voice. “We had a few words.”

Then, she fell to the ground, her world quickly becoming black as the world of the living was becoming red with godly blood.

______________________________________________________________________________

My name is Carlos, I’m a Spanish fantasy and horror writer with two published novels ( Salvación condenada and Peregrinos de Kataik) and a participation in the anthologies Dentro de un agujero de gusano, Mitos y Leyendas and Devoradoras. I’m editor of the website Dentro del Monolito. I had written for magazines, such as Morningside and Exocerebros. I also have content around cinema, with the podcast Pistoleros de Gilead and the blog La Horroteca de Darko. Furthermore, I also organize talks and workshops around cinema and literature in various libraries.

https://darkosaurvlogs.wixsite.com/carlosruizescritor

Free Fiction Week: Once Bitten Twice Shy by Dan A. Cardoza

Once Bitten Twice Shy by Dan A. Cardoza

If you have been diagnosed as having Zika, a strain of the Bubonic Plague, like the one they’d discovered at Kiva Beach in Lake Tahoe, or a malady analogous to Lyme disease, chances are you’ve been bitten by a mosquito, a flea, or a tic. 

Once bitten, twice shy. But at least the odds of recovery favor you. 

A bite, a nip, or an insecticide-resistant tooth is not required for a few idiosyncratic diseases. Unfortunately, Reno won’t give you any odds on your survival.

Melvin Beckham had something worse than cabin fever. He could have died had he not bailed out of his companies Zoom meeting hell. He’d scheduled a short holiday. Hiding from COVID in his house had brought him within an eyelash width of insanity. 

He’d planned the short trip months ago, booking the lakeside view through his timeshare. It wasn’t Europe or Tahiti, but it was something, the twelfth-story view facing the gorgeous Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side. There had been a lot of vacancies. He’d assumed folks were still scared of catching death from traveling. 

Beckham paid big money for his illegal injection, though he hadn’t been a Vaxhole about it. He’d refrained from bragging to his colleagues and the one or two friends he didn’t have. There had been none of his usual insecure boastings after he’d received the two Pfizer doses. He’d kept how much he’d paid a colossal secret in a small black hole in his mind. It wasn’t easy. Beckham was a narcissist. 

Beckham reasoned he was relatively young, thirty-two, and had suffered enough confinement. After all, his dating app had lapsed, and he’d dumped a shitload of Canadian blue pills down the toilet bowl. Enough Viagra, he mused about his giving each fall salmon in the American River a tiny hard-on. 

Cash talks, M.D.’s listen, R.N.’s understand. They all have families to feed. After all, money, not love, is the universal language of record he was certain. 

He’d arrived at the condo complex, with its columns of balcony patios, late Monday. 

The first few nights, Beckham felt warm, slept naked. He’d kept the patio door open. Who or what was about to complain, he’d convinced himself? 

Fish a mile deep in the lake, he giggled? Beckham determined that the Lake’s Coho Salmon were welcome to stare at his blurry, pale sexy ass all week if they had a mind to. 

Wednesday had been sailing into the stiff winds of his first week. It was early evening. Beckham had felt a little uncomfortable. His appetite had been waning. Uber Eats had delivered supper again via Robbie, the lobby clerk. Robbie was the best. He was new at the timeshare, a 49’er gold nugget that had dropped out of somewhere above. Beckham thought him a saint. 

Earlier in the day, Raleys, the local supermarket chain, had delivered Beckham’s subsistence balance for the entire week. Jesus, he’d stuffed the jowls of the fridge. 

Beckham’s judgment had been a little clouded. He’d binge purchased. Inside the fridge, he’d prepared for fall’s hibernation, tee-bones, celery, a couple of six-packs of silly water, butter lettuce, a bag of bagels, and some top roman, mainly for quick lunches, and carrots, bags of carrots, and a large beet. 

Several cans of mixed soup rounded out his impulsive hoard in the cupboard above the dishwasher. The dishwasher had been the machine that washed his dirty laundry the night before. It was a simple mistake, he’d thought.

Beckham couldn’t make himself sleep Thursday night. He’d gotten hot and sweaty again, become a little depressed watching the local news go on and on about the summer’s algae bloom and COVID. He’d retired early. Too many invasive species, viruses, and germs these days, he’d concluded. 

Beckham had woken around at 3:30 A.M. It was early Friday morning, according to his digital bedside clock on the nightstand at home. The old-school hands were running backward. He’d gotten disoriented.

Friday night’s insomnia punished him like a seasoned dominatrix, slapped his cheeks so red they burned. Beckham couldn’t keep his left eye from twitching. He’d taken a long hot shower. After, he soaked in a warm bath, passed out. After a couple of hours, he’d woken from a sound sleep. He’d pruned himself up pretty good, but all that wrinkly water had damned sure cured his crazy belly scratching. 

After, he nibbled carrots and watched a few Oprah Winfrey reruns. Beckham needed all the carrots he could ingest. His sight was dimming, and the world around him too. Soon, he wouldn’t be able to keep anything inside to save his life.

By the following Monday evening, Beckham had nearly lost his voice. He’d been out on the balcony, doing jumping jack calisthenics. All he could recall was that he’d given the neighboring balcony guests the finger as they shouted for him to put his clothes on. He’d cussed them back. Beckham didn’t have any clothing. He’d thrown all the linen, his shorts, and three Hawaiian shirts, as well as his new sandals, over the railing. 

Later, after the beautiful western sunset had darkened the sky, and long after the other guests had stopped complaining, Beckham fell into a deep sleep on the patio lounge.

As Beckham dreamed, his dreams grew wrestles, European electro tech. His delusions had begun as a backdrop of warehouse music. He would truly miss his music one day soon.

The vocals were from an old playlist, his favorite, Sad Transmission. The song was by one of his favorite Indie Bands, the Raveonettes. The Danish duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo had been thrumming over his body’s entire electromagnetic nervous system. Slowly, the beautiful sound, effortlessly, had taken over his being. Beckham gladly let go. 

Beckham’s mind had been turned into a radioactive Chernobyl Meltdown Farris Wheel, whirling away with his ability to reason in minuscule megabits. He’d felt as if he were his timeshares antenna. Beckham had slept until around seven AM the next morning.

Ding-dong–Beckham stumbled toward the bell at the room’s door. First, he’d covered himself with a nautical motif shower curtain. 

The peep-hole said It was the new lobby clerk, Robbie. He was acting as a special delivery courier. Beckham unlocked the door and let Robbie in.

“Robbie, right, that’s what your name tag read in the lobby when I arrived? Thanks for shooting up here in the elevator so quickly, by the way.” 

“Yes sir, Robert, ah, Sherman at your service, sir.”

Beckham wasn’t thinking. He’d grabbed Robbie’s clammy right hand and shook it. It flopped around in his palm, a damp fish dying on land. Robbie had placed his left hand deep in the mucky bottom of his left pocket.

“What say we book another week, Robbie Sherman? Howza bout it?”

“Sir, kind sir, terrific, I’ll make another bundle of invoices and text you a copy.” Robbie noticed that Mr. Beckham was drooling if only a little. 

“You can do that?” Beckham asked. He sort of knew he could. 

Robbie moved his thumb slowly, deliberately. He looked down on what Beckham had assumed was a nervous thumb on an iPhone keyboard. 

Beckham’s cell phone tinged against his loin. It felt like Phantom Limb Syndrome. When he’d arrived, Robbie had agreed to lock it in the lobby’s safe.

Beckham had said, “Let’s bury the fucking thing in the safe so deep I’ll be forced to get some real rest and be able to entertain myself!”

Robbie had agreed with a grin, “Good choice, sir, we’ve done that before.”

Beckham had winked.

There appeared a flashing yellow light on the room’s landline telephone messaging button. 

“Sir?” Robbie asked permission. Beckham nodded yes. Robbie held the phone next to Beckham’s blooming cauliflower ear. Beckham hadn’t wanted to let on that everything he lifted weighed as much as a rusty, sunken ship anchor. 

It was Robbie or someone who sounded a lot like Robbie. It was a message from the lobby, “Kind sir, as requested, I have sent you and an updated invoice straight to your iPhone for good keeping.”

“Ah, Robbie, I thought you were quick, but Jesus Kee-Kee-Christ?”

“Fast?” puzzled Robbie. Robbie bobbled his head, “Not really sir, is there anything else we can do to make you comfortable, bottled water, sir?”

Beckham wagged his head yes, but lied. He’d gotten so used to taking in his life. “Wait,” he’d said. Beckham struggled to the fridge. He snatched the bottle. And then Beckham slowly returned to engage Robbie at the other end of the room. 

Robbie observed Beckham’s shuffling as slow as blackstrap molasses off the side of a yam. 

“Robbie, take this complimentary bottled water. It’s making me hydrophobic just to look at it?”

Robbie cracked up. He moved his thumb over his iPhone again, texting the lower lobby, “Hold the complimentary water; please, Mr. Beckham is no longer thirsty, LMAO!”

Beckham had thought Robbie brilliant, his thumb an electronic bow over a Silicon Valley violin. 

“Will there be anything else, kind sir?” Robbie had politely inquired.

“No, hell and no,” Beckham slurred. “Oh, just the timeshare password. I intend to do some righteous online gaming.”

Robbie removed a pen from his pressed pant’s back pocket. He imagined himself a New York City Bell-Hop in the age of the Roaring Twenties. Everything had felt similar. He was in room twelve hundred at the Algonquin Hotel. Somehow, he watched himself from above as he scribbled the note. After, he’d placed the note on the room’s desktop. The message was intended for his famous guest, Ms. Greta Garbo. 

“There, sir,” Robbie said. Beckham thanked him for the code he’d placed on the desk. 

“How about we stop slipping the complimentary U.S. Today papers under the door each early morning, sir? It looks as though the newspapers are piling up?”

“Robbie, no, no, I may be vacationing…” Beckham paused, rubbed his lower lip. It had been bleeding again. He continued, “I may be vacationing, but just having them thatched there, in that damned pile makes me feel that I’m still tethered to reality if just a little.”

“I see Mr. Beckham, sir. We shall continue then.”

“Robbie?” asked Beckham, “aren’t you going to do your movie magic over the phone again?”

For the first time, Robbie looked dead serious. “Sir, kind sir, there are some things around here we do the old school way. Like you, kind sir, we need to hook ourselves to some sort of reality, even if it’s as simplistic as attaching a monofilament trout fishing line to a rusty hook.”

Beckham guffawed so violently, he gassed himself, blew a snot-bubble. He would have maintained his usual grin, except the left side of his face had been sagging. 

Robbie watched over Beckham. Robbie’s anatomy was as still as onyx marble. He perused over Beckham as David might have watched over Michelangelo.

Beckham composed himself and dragged his right foot along as he let Robbie out. He thanked Robbie kindly. With great effort, he poked a five-dollar bill in Robbie’s shirt pocket. Beckham had thought his effort worth a million bucks. 

Beckham chained the deadbolt shut, but methodically, so Robbie could sense how much he trusted him. Robbie walked casually down the long dark corridor and disappeared into the vault of an elevator. 

Another knock, the hallway had been emptied, the lights had dimmed.

As the sun heated the living room, Beckham found himself in the Mojave Desert. He’d thought it the holy land, not a river, a creek, or a dribble for the rest of his life.

Beckham searched his way into the bathroom. He opened the stainless steel medicine cabinet. His ham sandwich and a Fuji apple were missing. He slammed the cabinet doors. He hadn’t been hungry anyway.

Later that evening, the T.V. remote had broken. The God-damned garage door wouldn’t open. “Hell, it’s only three years old. I just changed the batteries two weeks ago, maybe three,” Beckham yelled at the big screen T.V. as if it had mule ears. 

It had to be three weeks. That’s when he and his neighbor Harry couldn’t turn on Dancing with the Stars for the longest time. 

Harry had gotten under his skin that night. Beckham having enough of his neighbor’s antics, had escorted the twentieth-century charmer to the front door. It was about 10:23 P.M.

Beckham was a flexible man and a chill sort of guy, but not after all that shadow dancing shit by Harry. And after, Harry had commenced calling himself Fred Astaire and meant it. 

Harry Clingman had been sent to the hospital shortly after Beckham had left for Lake Tahoe. Beckham had lied to his friend Harry that night. He’d said he was heading south, maybe L.A. By the time they’d attempted to reach Beckham, Beckham was an afterthought. But really, it hadn’t mattered. Beckham’s phone had been placed in solitary confinement in Robbie’s lobby iron vault. 

Sometime during the second week of Beckham’s short stay, he’d morphed into a newt. You know the slimy lizard types that live in creeks, behind rocks, and under the mosey bottom of lakes and rivers?

Thankfully there wasn’t much carpeting in Beckham’s unit. It made for easier wriggling. 

Beckham had seen and heard the coolest hallucinations. He’d turned paranoid as the result of the high fever. Those damned fish had been stocking him. 

His brand new manic reality had cost him most of his 401-K on South Lake Tahoe’s virtual slots and craps tables. Beckham’s laptop gaming appl had asked him for everything “Just pick a pretty color and turn, turn, turn that damned Russian Roulette Machine, Mr. Beckham?” 

On the last day of his intended short stay, Beckham’s strength had failed him. 

A final invoice had been slipped under the room’s door, along with another copy of USA Today. The newspaper pile had become a thatch of pitchforked paper alfalfa.

His painful progress was serpentine and exhausting as he wrangled toward the door. That day he used his belly ribs to crawl. He crawled to the horizontal crack of light under the door that had shown into his darkened room. To Beckham, the light represented life itself.

Beckham’s breathing had grown deep and laborious. His crape paper lungs had withered into an accordion that wheezed a dry melody. He listed, rolled on his back as if he were a shipwreck. He struggled to wrap his upper torso in newsprint to absorb his lake of sweat. 

Beckham’s paralysis had taken over after only a few wraps of newspaper. 

It had come toward him swiftly, his complete paralysis, as if a fast-moving locomotive off the slopes of the Heavenly Valley Ski Run, now a dry strip of broken granite. He’d been tied to the tracks. Whatever he’d caught, it was intent on running over his humanity. 

Buried deep in the mesh of his newspaper was an important article. The article was dark print, over a yellowing recycled paper backdrop, a story in itself.

USA Today–Sacramento Area Man Dies from inhaling rabies virus–Mr. Harry M. Clingman, a long-time resident of Placer County, has died from the rabies virus. Rabies lyssavirus, formerly Rabies virus (RABV), is a neurotropic virus that causes certain death if untreated. 

Placer County health authorities have asked anyone who has been in contact with Mr. Clingman to call (530) 889-7274 immediately. Several friends and family members exposed to Mr.Clingman have been given the first dose of the four required injections. 

A forensic autopsy has concluded that Mr. Clingman hadn’t been bit by any animal. However, of the six bat boxes removed from the family’s two-story cedar-shingled home. Two of the bats tested positive for the rabies virus and had to be destroyed. 

Years earlier, a Wyoming resident had awoken during the night, with a fluttering feeling on her neck. She flicked off the annoyance and discovered it was a bat. In horror, she elbowed her husband, who woke, captured the bat, and set it free outdoors. Three weeks later, the woman died. A pathologist could not find any bites or scratch marks during the autopsy has concluded that it is scientifically possible to contract rabies without a skin abrasion–The Centers for Disease and Control.

Beckham lay motionless. Fear and anxiety had nearly completed their running of all the red lights in the corrosive intersections of his synapse. He’d become a hebephrenic blob stuck in a block of concrete. His mind had been tortured into a Vitamix blender, unwittingly pureeing his thoughts into some sort of cilantro salad dressing.

Beckham suffered horrifically, the balance of the day and evening. He died the following early morning, about the time bats return to caves. 

           In the Lobby, Robbie listened to Beckham’s phone as it rattled and buzzed in the safe. To him, it was the phantom limb syndrome that Beckham’s ghost had been feeling.

           Robbie spoke kindly across the lobby’s white marbled counter, “Hello Ms. Harris, I’m Robbie. I intend to make your short visit a most wonderful stay.”

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Dan’s most recent fiction has been published in the 45th Parallel, Allegory, honorable mention, Aphelion, BlazeVOX, Black Petals, Across the Margins, Bull, Cleaver, Close to the Bone, Coffin Bell, Dark City Books/Magazine, Door=Jar, Dream Noir, Entropy, Flash Bang Mystery, Gravel, Literary Heist, Mystery Tribune, O:JA&L/Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, New Flash Fiction Review, Overstock, Spelk, Variant, Visitant, Your Impossible Voice, The 5-2. Dan has also been nominated by Coffin Bell for the Best of the Net Anthology, 2021, and best micro-fiction by Tiny Molecules.

To find more about Dan’s work @cardozabig

Free Fiction Week: July 11 to 17, 2021

 

HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present for your reading pleasure, an entire week of Free Fiction!

Enjoy seven different authors as they bring you tales of tomb raiders, dark assailants,  environmental carnage, strange visitors, rising from the dead, bloody war, and disease.

And be sure to encourage the writers by following links to their work and by leaving encouraging comments! And remember~ Stay Spooky!

 

 

Free Fiction : RELEASING ANGER by Alan Moskowitz

RELEASING ANGER~Written by Alan Moskowitz

Willem looked up with trepidation as the Father swept into the ornate office and took his place behind the worn oak desk, a tight smile on his weathered face.  Willem forced his body to remain still and upright in spite of the nervous energy flowing through him, urging him to leave, to run away.  To make matters worse the Elder ignored Willem as he fussed with the papers, notes and unopened envelopes strewn across the desk.  A bead of sweat rolled down Willem’s face, but he dared not raise his hand to it.

 “Wipe it,” the old man’s voice cracked.  Willem quickly brushed the offending drops away.  The Elder’s mouth twisted into what passed for a smile. “No call for nervousness Son, that is unless you’re not ready for this final meeting.”

Willem remained silent.  Father snapped, “You may talk.”

“I have studied the Book, Father.  I have prayed with the Flock.  I have fasted for a month.  I have stood vigils in the freezing cold, seeking donations, and I have raised many funds for the Holy See.”

“Yes, yes, I know all that. You would not be here otherwise.  Willem, are you still angry?  Do you still hate?  Is there still, after all your training and sacrifice, is there a part of you that hurts that drives you to self-harm?  Think on these things, use what you have learned from the teachings of our Lord, and answer me truly. ” He picked up an ornate letter opener and slit open one of the envelopes on his desk.  He unfolded the paper within and set to reading it, ignoring Willem in the process.

Willem’s lips moved in prayer as he sought that place inside of himself that knows his true self.   He had hated his parents.  Does he still?  They did their best, they said, in spite of his issues.  Their best consisted of locking him in a closet for behaving like a “demon child” as his mother put it; getting “the belt” across his back for a variety of transgressions from breaking a dish to wetting the bed to being a coward, a loser, and “a no-good waste of sperm.” His so-called normal siblings hopped on that bandwagon and teased and tortured him unmercifully until at sixteen, he ran away.  No one searched for him.

Pain, massive pain, mental and physical traveled with him into the streets, where his life only became worse.  He sought refuge in the alleyways and fetid tents of the homeless and useless, an outcast and a pariah.  First, he blamed himself.  But the continued abuse turned that self-loathing into seething anger, a burning hatred for his family and for all those who still spit on him, kicked him and laughed.  It was only a matter of time before he exploded. 

And one night a young woman walked slowly by his filthy hovel and glanced in at him; one more so-called human being dismissing him.  Not this time, he murmured.  He crept after her, bent on doing her harm, making her pay for his lifetime of hurt.  He came up behind her, hands reaching out to strangle her when she suddenly turned and met his red-rimmed gaze.   Her eyes told him that she knew his pain.  And then she smiled at him, pulled him to her, and told him he was wanted and loved.   

She brought him to the Flock and the Father.  He was nurtured with kindness and love and shown that he didn’t need to carry all that pain, hate, and misery.  That The Lord of us all would show him The Way to a better life, through kindness, forgiveness, and passing the word to others. And it was so.  After a year of study, love, and sacrifice and he was complete.

  The Father’s voice broke through his reverie, “Well, my son, as our Lord has said, ‘now or never.’ He chuckled, a thick deep raspy noise, with not a hint of humor.

Willem’s eyes opened wide and bright, the excitement of knowing he would be granted his place in Flock.   “I am ready to forgive all who have harmed me, Father.  I will do our Master’s work for the rest of my life and pray He will welcome me into his arms.” 

The old man stood, that crooked smile curling his lips as he held out his hand to the boy.  “Welcome Son, I see great deeds are to be done.” 

 Willem stood and gripped the Father’s leathery hand in his. “Thank you, Father.”

‘Now go, begin the work, we are eager for you to do the Flock proud.”  Willem bowed once, turned, and left the sacred office.

Willem stood for almost a minute just staring at the familiar door before he pressed the bell.  He twitched at hearing the familiar ring.   Part of him wished no one would answer, but he quashed that idea and stood fast, his duty clear.

The door opened and his mother stood before him, her mouth opened in shock, “Willem?  What is this?  What are you doing here?” 

“I forgive you, Mother.”

She scowled, “for what?”

“The Lord of us all forgives you too.”

“You went and joined a cult?  My God, you’re still an idiot.”

“Not your God, My Lord.  He has cleansed me, taken my pain, so I can forgive you.” 

“Isn’t that nice; tell your Lord I said thanks for nothing,” she muttered, the familiar sarcasm dripping from her mouth.

Willem brought the razor-sharp letter opener out from behind his back and drove it between the two upper left ribs as taught, twisting it as it reached into his mother’s heart.  His mother’s shocked look, fade with her life force as she dropped to the floor.   Willem pulled the opener free, stared down at his mother’s face contorted with pain and confusion.  “Our Lord forgives too, but He does not forget.”

He stepped over her body and went inside, wondering who else was home.


 

Alan Moskowitz is a retired screen and TV writer living in Colorado enjoying creating genre fiction.

 

To find more of his work see: mosko13@aol.com

Nightmare Fuel: White Lady Lane In Walhalla, ND

Hello Addicts,

As you are all aware, you can find “lady in white” ghost stories anywhere and everywhere you look. This week, I thought I might share one from my current home state of North Dakota. In Walhalla, ND, there is a tale of a woman in a white flannel nightgown walking the dusty road long after her death. Join me on a trip down White Lady Lane.

white lady lane

Anna Story was a fifteen-year-old girl living with her mother and two brothers, aged 8 and 11, in a little shack by a railroad track near Leyden, ND. According to the official story, Anna drew the attention of Sam Kalil, a peddler of pots, pans, and other household items. Her mother, not keen on the older man’s affection for her daughter, managed to make a deal with him. She offered her daughter’s hand in marriage when she turned sixteen if he allowed her to take whatever she wanted from his wagon. Sam agreed and allowed her access to all his wagon carried.

When Sam returned a year later to claim his bride, Mrs. Story refused to honor her part of the bargain and showed him the door instead of her daughter. Angry at being denied his promised bride, Sam drew his gun and shot Anna in the chest. Mrs. Story was shot in the jaw as she attempted to protect her daughter. Anna’s brothers escaped through a window and ran for help. Sam, fully realizing the gravity of what he’d done, pointed the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately, it failed to fire, so he resorted to using his pocket knife to try and slit his own throat. This attempt also failed as the blade was not sharp to cut deep into the flesh. He surrendered to authorities without a fight when they arrived.

Mrs. Story’s jaw was broken from the bullet and still had a dent after it healed. Sam Kalil was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in Bismarck State Prison. At the age of seventy-one, Sam was released from prison into the care of relatives in neighboring Minnesota after serving only ten years. Anna’s body lay dead and buried but perhaps not her spirit. Every Halloween, she is reported to walk through a muddy bog named Eddie’s Bridge in the same white nightgown she died in, searching for something she has yet to find.

Although the details of the murder reported in the newspapers of the time match this version of the story, it has not stopped other legends of Anna from being created. One has her becoming pregnant out of wedlock, forced to marry Sam, and then hanging herself when she lost the baby. Another has Sam taking advantage of her on the same road she now haunts.

I will admit, I have only recently been made aware of this tragic tale but am making plans on taking a drive down White Lady Lane one Halloween soon. I don’t know whether I’ll see Anna, but I hope to. If so, I’ll be sure to let you know so you might plan a trip of your own.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Odds and Dead Ends :The Weeping Angels and the Terror of Temporal Displacement

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective point of view, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobby… timey-wimey… stuff…”’ –The Doctor, Doctor Who S3 E10, ‘Blink’.

After apparently coming across the statue of a weeping angel in a graveyard, and seeing it chained up, writer Steven Moffat went away and crafted one of modern Doctor Who’s greatest episodes, and established a threat which would bleed through from the show into popular culture. In the episode ‘Blink’, a race of aliens called The Weeping Angels have zapped the time-traveling Doctor back into the past. Communicating via a video tape recorded decades in the past, The Doctor enlists the help of Sally Sparrow, who must face down the Angels and return his time machine, the Tardis, to him. But with the Weeping Angels, when you’re looking at them, they’re a statue. And you can’t kill a statue. But they’re incredibly fast, and as soon as you look away… as soon as you even blink…

            The Weeping Angels have a range of terrifying points to them. Their speed, their appearance, and their ability to turn off lights by pointing at them makes them a walking jump-scare, and most episodes to feature them have used this jump-scare mechanism in some way. But one of their other points, their method of killing, is of particular note. As is said in the episode, they’re the ‘“only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely. No mess, no fuss, they just zap you into the past and let you live to death. Rest of your life used up and blown away in the blink of an eye.”’ This, in itself, is terrifying on a fundamental level to our traditional notion of experience, as I will now attempt to explain.

            Warning: some of this can get a bit abstract, but bear with me.

            As in the quote from the episode at the beginning of this article, people assume that time moves in a strict movement, everything in a nice, neatline. But this is, of course, simply something that humans have come up with in order to try and comprehend everything happening around us. As Kenneth Denigh notes in Three Concepts of Time, ‘Time is not ‘out there’ as a substantial thing like a river in flow; it is rather an abstract entity, a construction.’ (p.3). Essentially, there is no time; there’s just stuff that happens and we’ve come up with an idea called ‘time’ in order to make sense of it all, to string it together in an understandable pattern. Remember that the idea of everyone being in the same specific time zone (at least in Britain), was to enable the trains to run correctly; before that, everyone had a different time in different parts of the country. I’m assuming the same came in eventually for worldwide, for similar reasons.

            And when we do all this construction to our understanding of time, we also give it a direction, because as human beings we can understand directions. We understand the relationship between two different tangible objects, and so we liken the relationship between events in the same way. In his book Space and Place, Yi Fu Tuan discusses this by saying that for us, we normally conceptualise all this by bringing in the idea of ‘forward’. ‘The future is ahead and “up”. The past is behind and “below”’.

            What all this means, roughly speaking, is that people have ascribed arbitrary references to direction in order to understand everything. There is no ‘past’ realistically speaking, but we have come up with the concept of it, and discuss it as being ‘behind us’ to help us process it. When we think about something coming ‘up’, we have it to look ‘forward to’.

            All of this comes with extra baggage. Concepts of direction also come coupled with social and cultural understandings. Everyone wants to be at the ‘top’, because we’ve said that ‘top’ means best, whether that’s the top of the standings in a tournament, on the top floor of a company building, or coming out ‘on top’ of something difficult. The direction is arbitrary, as there is no ‘top’, but over the years social etiquette has come to associate ‘up’ with ‘good’. There’s a reason why the typical description of a hierarchical system has the most powerful at the top of the pyramid. Why do we ascribe Heaven as being ‘above us’, whether in the Christian belief system or in others, such as Olympus being on top of a mountain, ‘up’ in the clouds? And of course, the reverse is true as well. We can be ‘down in the gutters’, at the ‘bottom’ of the pile; Hell/Hades, etc are ‘below’ the ground. You can see how this goes on. I believe Noël Carroll touches on this in his book The Philosophy of Horror, or Paradoxes of the Heart, by relating cultural repulsion of excrement because it comes from, literally, ‘behind’ us, but it’s been a while since I read the book, so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m getting mixed up with another author on that front. Still, I think the point remains. Behind is bad.

            So we, therefore, head into ‘Blink’ with an ingrained cultural understanding that the past, that behind where we are currently, is not as good as where we are, and even that is not as good as what will come, what we head ‘forwards’ towards. This is even in a show with time travel as the norm. And then we are presented with a terrifying monster in the shape of a traditional Christian angel (note the association with Heaven/Up/Forward), who, in the literal blinking of an eye, can send us back into the past. Not only that, these creatures feast on the energy we would have expended had we lived on in that time. Their whole power is their ability to disrupt our culturally ingrained, traditional notion of linear time, sending us into a worse temporal ‘behind’, without the chance to change it, and feast upon the ‘good’ which traditionally is associated with the ‘forward’ future.

            There’s no doubting that the Angels are terrifying even without the time-zapping part to them. Sharp teeth, claws extended, appearing from nowhere when we but blink; it’s the stuff of nightmares. But I think that this temporal dislocation might be one of their most terrifying features. That they exist to disrupt how we as people essentially view and understand reality, and use this as a method of sentencing us to a kind of death, is truly horrifying.

 

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: kjudgemental

Historian of Horror : You Had To Be Then

You Had to Be Then

The one Nashville science fiction convention in the second half of the 1970s I couldn’t attend was the 1977 Kublai Khan. None other than the redoubtable and controversial Harlan Ellison was the guest of honor that year. I had just started a job at Opryland, the theme park that is now a mall and a convention hotel and a testament to the excesses of modern American life. Instead of interacting with one of the great writers of the 20th Century, I spent that weekend washing and drying and dry-cleaning and pressing and hanging up the costumes for all the shows performed in the park. 

Oh, well.

Like most of my fellow fen in that deep and abyss of time that was my misspent youth, I had fairly strong opinions about Harlan Ellison. I loved his work and still do. I’d seen him on television several times, so I knew he had little inclination to couch his own opinions in tactful language. And he did have opinions, many of them. I tended to agree with most of them, so missing out on the chance to meet him and hear him speak was yet another one of those regrets I mentioned a couple of columns ago.

Oh, well.

I’d first encountered his writings in the late 1960s, back when he was one of the brash young things pushing science fiction to emerge from the genre ghetto it had existed in for so many decades and evolve into a real live literary form worthy of respect from academia and Hollywood alike as well as being one able to generate lots more money than was being paid to its practitioners in them thar days.

He was part of the New Wave that had started in England during Michael Moorcock’s tenure as editor of New Worlds magazine that was dedicated to taking speculative fiction (as Ellison called what he did rather than the stale old term ‘science fiction that the non-cognoscenti thought meant cheesy special effects and monster costumes with the zippers clearly visible in the back) in new directions.

It was real people doing real things; in space, in laboratories, even in bedrooms. Because real people, you know, have sex. And poop, so, yeah, let’s think about how a being from Alpha Centauri might arrange his bathroom. That’s part of it, although nowhere near all. But you kind of see what some of the ideas floating around were like in those days. Real people, or real BEMs (Bug-Eyed Monsters), doing what they will probably actually be doing in the future, explained in language that was more sophisticated and poetic than the simplistic pulpy sensationalism of days of yore. Or something like that.

It was the 60s. As the title of this piece points out, you had to be then.

In 1967, Ellison edited a ground-breaking anthology of New Wave stories called Dangerous Visions. He got more than thirty of his fellows in the field whom he had not managed to completely alienate to write the best stories of their lives, the ones they’d always wanted to write, but never felt would get bought by the publishers of that time. The tales that were too avant-garde, too controversial, too dirty for the fiction markets of the day. 

And so, they did, those thirty-plus legendary scriveners. And it was an era-defining success. Fritz Leiber, Jr. (whose novel Conjure Wife will receive some attention in a future column – stay tuned!) won both a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award for his novelette, “Gonna Roll the Bones”, beating out Philip K. Dick’s “Faith of Our Fathers” for the Hugo. Philip Jose Farmer took the Hugo’s novella category for “Riders of the Purple Wage”, and Samuel R. Delany won the same award for his short story, “Aye, and Gomorrah…” That’s pretty much a sweep for a single anthology. Ellison was also honored at the 26th World SF Convention in Berkeley, California (of course) for his efforts. 

Now, those of you denizens of darkness out there who only know of Robert Bloch as having written the book Alfred Hitchcock based his most famous movie on might be surprised to learn that the author of Psycho also wrote science fiction. In fact, he won the 1959 short story Hugo Award for “That Hell-Bound Train”, so of course, he was invited to contribute to Dangerous Visions

And boy, did he deliver. He delivered so well that Ellison was inspired to write a sequel to “A Toy for Juliette” that he called with his typical carefully considered restraint “The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World”. But it’s the Bloch tale that concerns us in this space, in this moment, as we’re thinking about time travel this week. 

Simply stated, in “A Toy for Juliette”, a man in the distant future has been fetching people from the past for his bored, jaded, spoiled rotten and thoroughly homicidal daughter to play with. One day, he decides she needs a real challenge, so the toy he brings to her is…

Spoiler Alert!

Spoiler Alert!

Spoiler Alert!

Oh, go ahead and look. You know you want to.

Jack the Ripper.

Yep. That Jack. 

The Ripper. The Whitechapel Horror. 

Hoo, boy.

Dismemberments ensue.

No wonder he was never caught, huh?

Is it science fiction? Well, yes.

Is it horror? Very much so. Did I happen to mention dismemberment?

Is it time travel? You bet. So, it fits with our theme, n’est pas?

If Ellison didn’t suspect Bloch might go that route, he probably ought to have. Bloch had already written one of the most important Jack tales of the 1940s, “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”, which by 1967 had been adapted to both radio and television. Bloch was more than due to revisit his old friend anyhow, and Ellison gave him the perfect showcase for it.

According to its Amazon page, Dangerous Visions does appear to still be in print, if not available from your local second-hand bookstore, if there is such a thing near you. There was a follow-up anthology, Again, Dangerous Visions, which is available as an ebook from Amazon. I found no dead tree editions for sale except in the used book markets. It had forty-six stories from forty-six different writers. 

There was to be a third volume, The Last Dangerous Visions, but Ellison was never able to get it into print before he passed away in 2018. Some of the purported 150 stories he contracted for it by 1979 were eventually placed elsewhere. Some were withdrawn. In 2020, the executor of Ellison’s estate, Michael Straczynski, announced that he intended to go ahead with publication of whatever is left of Ellison’s original compilation. 

I worry, though, that there will turn out to be a consensus that the moment might have passed, that those visions are no longer particularly dangerous. That the tales Ellison gathered together over forty years ago are nowadays pretty much in the mainstream of the genre at best, dated at worst, and that despite all the efforts of the New Wave writers the genre they strove to bring legitimacy to is still called science fiction and still thought of by the illiterati as ‘that Buck Rogers stuff.

Oh, well. 

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

The more it changes, the more it stays the same. 

I haven’t provided my fellow horror addicts a lagniappe in a while. You know, that little something extra, like the thirteenth doughnut in a dozen that nobody gives out anymore, or the free lifetime tire rotations you get when you buy four new Michelins. It’s well past time you had une lagniappe, and I think I’ve got a doozy for you.

Way back in the early years of the millennium, I placed a cluster of short stories in several long-out-of-print anthologies published by Rage Machine Books. Rage Machine is an imprint run by a gentleman and a scholar by the name of G.W. Thomas. He has spent a couple of decades doing yeoman labours in the field of the history and study of the supernatural detective story, which was the focus of most my own work in those days, as well as of the Rage Machine anthologies in which the majority of my yarns appeared. G.W. also had an email thingie you could sign up for to receive daily “flashshots”, very short tales of one hundred words or less. I placed eight or nine ultra-short stories in that venue, one of which is right here:

God Bless Us, Every One

Thanks to Scrooge’s change of heart, Tiny Tim lived, and he grew strong. Forty-five years after the events of that memorable Christmas Eve, the man who had been Tiny Tim stood in a dingy, blood-spattered room in Whitechapel, hacking away at the corpse of Mary Kelly, muttering under his breath, “God bless us, every one… God bless us, every one… God bless us…”

Sixty-three words, not counting the title. Not the shortest one I did; a gruesome little piece called “Oops!” clocked in at a mere thirty-two words. I did try to expand “God Bless Us, Every One” into a longer yarn later on, but never could get it right. The concept cried out for a flash tale of sixty-three words, and no more.

Oh, well.

Anyhow, G.W.’s website and associated blog contain a wealth of information on some aspects of the history of our genre that I have not yet examined, and are well worth the time anyone interested in our shared cultural heritage might be inclined to invest in them. I commend them to you. They can be located here:

http://darkworldsquarterly.gwthomas.org/

Go thou and be enlightened, as well as entertained. It’s good stuff.

And so, until next time, fellow fiends…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Gypsy Mob : Episode 6 / Negotiation

Giletti sat in his study, his latest cigar smoldering in the ashtray. He watched the ribbons of smoke curling up to the ceiling, grinding his teeth in frustration. He was not accustomed to his directives meeting with resistance. Reaching for the cigar, he clamped his teeth around it, drawing smoke into his lungs and holding it there until little sparks burst in his vision and he let out the air in a puff of smoke. 

The door to his study swung open and his wife Lucia entered, bringing with her the scent of flowers. “Are they coming?”

“They better,” Giletti said, stubbing the cigar out and immediately lighting another. “If they don’ return wid de Gypsy leader, more heads will roll.”

At the other end of the mansion, brakes squeaked as the Giletti car pulled to a stop. Rocco and Brando got out of the front seats, opening the rear door for Ladez. Tony shoved him out, knocking him to the ground before hiking him to his feet. 

“Right dis way, gramps,” said Rocco, gesturing to the door with a bow. “The boss can’t wait to make your acquaintance.” 

Looking up into Tony’s blank and menacing face, Ladez swallowed the retort rising to his lips, looking at the silent infant still cradled in one of Tony’s huge hands. Since its skull had been compressed, the child had made no sound and scarcely moved. Fearful of provoking the giant further, Ladez said nothing and made for the mansion. Silently, Brando, Rocco and Tony fell into step on either side, flanking him. 

Ladez was furious and afraid but could not help admiring the opulence of the mansion as he was escorted through it. The wide-open spaces were filled with silence, broken only by the clacking of shoes and rustle of fabric as they made their way to Giletti’s study. The wall was heavy with paintings in ornate frames, sculptures stood on plinths in various corners and the soft light seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. At the end of a long hallway, a tall door stood open. Reaching it, Rocco rapped twice on it and pushed it open. 

The man sitting behind the giant desk was exactly what Ladez would expect a mob boss to look like. He was balding, heavy, immaculately dressed in a gray suit that would have bought an entire Ferris wheel. A fat cigar jutted from his stubby fingers, filling the room with a sweet-smelling smoke. The woman standing beside the man was tall and willowy, her dress hugging her curves just enough to accentuate them without showing them off. Her long dark hair fell below her shoulders and her eyes dripped disdain and hatred as they met his. The Don’s eyes were blank, but Ladez could see the wheels turning behind them. 

“I am Don Giletti,” the seated man said. “What do they call you, Gypsy?”

“Ladez Hammalka. I dere leader.” Ladez gestured to the infant in Tony’s arms. “That my youngest son.”

“How unfortunate for him,” Lucia sneered. Giletti gave her an amused glance. Ladez felt his face grow hot. 

“Why I here? Why you harm a child to get me here?”

“Because, you too have an innocent child ‘eld prisoner. Dis is to give you an idea of how it feels.” Giletti sucked on his cigar, blowing a large cloud of smoke in Ladez’s direction. “Return her to me and cease your trafficking operation. Dis is our territory.”

“Never,” snapped Ladez. “I not born with silver spoon in mouth; de girls will never go out of style and my family must eat.”

“Your family, yes,” Giletti said. “Quite a number to provide for. Nearly one hundred wretched souls, if what I hear is correct.” He looked at Lucia, who was drumming her nails on the desk. “In de interests of moving on wid our lives, I am prepared to offer you a generous sum in exchange for your cessation and departure.”

Lucia walked forward, pulling a check from her cleavage and forcing it into Ladez’s hand. He looked at it, registering the number of zeros before his pride crumpled it up and tossed it in her face. 

“You no buy us off like so many others,” Ladez said. “Our way is our way and has always been. We rely on our own since I led them, and we will always.”

Lucia gave him a look of contempt before returning to the desk. Giletti looked tired. “Dis is your final word?”

“Ya,” said Ladez, drawing himself up to his full height. 

Sighing, Giletti gestured. Tony stepped in front of Ladez and wrapped a hand around the child’s skull once again. Ladez started forward before being hit in the legs by what felt like an iron pipe. Falling to the ground, he looked up in time to see Tony’s long nails stab through the infant’s soft skull, drops of dark red blood dripping down the tiny body and pooling on the floor. The child made a soft sound, twitching its little arms, before lapsing back into stillness. .

Ladez felt hot tears dripping down his face as he watched, unable to move, unable to tear his gaze away. Lucia was breathing hard, licking her lips as Rocco and Brando laughed. Giletti was expressionless, watching Ladez’s face. 

“Is dis what you wanted? Do you feel you are doing right by your people by resisting me?”

Ladez struggled to speak as he watched his son’s life blood pooling on the tile. Finally, he managed to choke out, “You win. We go.”

Giletti’s face broke into a wide grin. “It’s too late for that, Gypsy.” He motioned to Rocco. Ladez was about to speak when the iron pipe smashed into his skull, sending him to the floor as darkness exploded over him. 

Lucia seized the pipe from Rocco and, raising it high, brought it down on Ladez’s skull again, and again. And again. Shrieking incoherently with laughter, she continued until the man’s head no longer resembled anything living. Coming back to herself, she dropped the pipe on his body, breathing heavily. 

“Get dis mess out of here before it stains de tile,” Giletti said, lighting a fresh cigar. “Oh, and Tony, get rid of dat fucking thing.” 

Nodding, the giant took what was once the youngest member of an ancient Gypsy bloodline into the grounds behind the mansion, where they kept the incinerator. 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Giant

 

Plotline: A teenager’s small town life is changed forever when a series of murders begin on the same night that her missing boyfriend suddenly reappears.

Who would like it: Fans of atmospheric, dreamy, horror movies about coming of age.

High Points:

Complaints:

Overall: This movie left a lot of unanswered questions

Stars: 2 1/2 Stars

Where I watched it: VOD

 

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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

Meet the Horror Artist , Ziemael

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What is your name or what do you go by professionally?

Ziemael the Horror Artist

What is your first memory of being a Horror Addict?

My first horror experience, in an addictive manner, was around age 9.

 Did you see a painting, movie, TV Series or read a book or story that called to you?

I peeked at many horror flicks I was not supposed to like any other kid.  But I snuck to the living room while the whole house was asleep at 1am to watch a film I was forbidden to see.  I forced myself to stay up even though I had school in the morning, it was terrifying, and the end of Sleepaway Camp had me disturbed for decades.  It ruined the school day, it make me sick, it also is a fond memory and I would do it again.

What is the first creative thing you remember painting/drawing/sketching?

I do not know about creative.  But I was around 5 when I had an absolute breakdown because my mother said we had to erase a bear I drew on the chalkboard so my younger brother could draw something.  It was not a cute bear, it was a nightmare of fangs and claws with one eye bigger than the other.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I was pretty young, exactly I do not know.  It was a toss-up between artist and scientist.  Science research on biology is pretty horrific, and geology has many toxins (do not lick rocks) but nothing beat hunting for reference photos of horror, and doing horror “research”.

Who is your favorite artist, and why?

Olivier Ledroit hands down.  Before that it was Frank Frazzetta.  Oliver’s handle on merging beauty with horror in a stunning contrast instantly entranced me.   My favorite work of his is in “Requiem Chevalier Vampire” for both quality and subject matter, monsters, gore, horror, & madness.

What inspires you to create?

It builds up, I know it is coming, kind of like a sneeze that needs to happen, so it takes to much effort to fight it.  (Why on earth would I?) Usually if I have been consuming instead of creating for awhile I start to get signs of depression that meds don’t kick.  Then I start manically pouring over my favorite horror flicks and books,  LoveCraft, etc… Hardest part is deciding which one to do right now.

Is there any certain music/TV/etc…you listen to while creating?

Yes, I listen to mostly BlutEngle, put on the Subspecies Trilogy, or a random playlist of goth rock, Industrial, EBM, dark electro… you know, Covenant, Wumpscut, Grendel, Das Ich, Siouxie, Danzig, et cetera.

What is your favorite piece that you have created and why?

A Nosferatu I loosely based off of Mr. Barlow from the Salem’s Lot tv film.  It shows the hunger, alien outsider perspective that reflects my feelings on my life being on the autism spectrum.  Many things are horrifying to me that others fine perfectly fine, and visa versa.

What’s coming next? 

Short term.  Right now I am looking at references of Johnny Depp, so I can do a proper Barnabas Collins from the Burton Dark Shadows movie.  Long term, I aim to get thicker in the convention scene.  I was quite active on the West Coast before moving to Michigan.  Now I have to branch out in the mid west, which is tentative due to the freezing up and awkward interactions with new people.  Again autism, it is not a gift.

Anything else you want to share?

Yes, if you are schizophrenic, ADHD, or autistic, consider practicing to be an artist.  Many of us cannot hold a job (employee/employer contract) without prematurely quitting, because explaining these things to your boss/underlings is impossible  Yes, art creation takes dedication but, you do not have to work with others outside your preferred activity/subject matter very much. Even with the disabling (nightmarish) effects.  Example I have horrible sensory processing issues, like burning or insect stinging sensations on my skin.  Spatial distortion, like the room is too small/large, my legs or arms are too long/short, or…. Heh, my body parts are not mine … best part is it happens for no reason at all and is completely random. (Now you know why horror movies are so comfortable for me)  Anyway, your very weird brain wiring gives you an advantage regarding perception compared to neurotypical beings.  You just have to want to be so obsessed with your subject that you do not notice the other… issues.  Mine just happens to be horror.

 Oh and if you can, worship Cthulu //\\~;,;~//\\

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You can purchase Ziemael prints at URL: https://www.ziemael.com/  as well as https://www.deviantart.com/ziemael

Social media wise you can follow Ziemael at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zie.mael

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ziemael or Twitter: https://twitter.com/LymevpZie

Book Review: Smithy by Amanda Desiree

Reviewed by Ariel DaWintre

Genre: Horror-paranormal

The story of Smithy is centered in an old mansion called Trevor Hall with a past in a wealthy old town. It begins with a group of college students and a chimpanzee called Smithy. The story is told through the characters’ letters, journals, and diaries. The story starts out very academic. The students and scientists are conducting an experiment with a young chimpanzee which is very smart. They are teaching him to use sign language to communicate but he starts signing things that don’t make sense and acting oddly in the mansion. Strange things start happening at the mansion and the students can’t explain. 

I liked the characters Ruby, Gail, Tammy, Jeff, Eric, and their very different personalities. The main character is the chimpanzee Smithy, whose formal name is Webster. And is about his interactions with everyone and his surroundings. The main person running the experiment and head of the program is Dr. Piers Preis-Herald along with his assistant Wanda. The students are at different levels of academics and have their own ideas of how things should be run, setting up issues, friction, and confusion between the team members. 

The story took a bit to get started for the horror part but it was a good story. I was engaged and with the group wanted answers. I don’t know if I got all the answers to what was happening. I know at the end I was looking back in the story for answers. You did get an ending and it was kind of a sad ending and but the house did win after all. I did have lots of questions and wondered if there will be a part two or a new story and see if it was based on a true story.

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Riot Legion

Greetings HorrorAddicts! Time continues to pass in stops and starts. The days blend together and are distinct only by the latest headlines or weather phenomenon, like what the heck even is an “atmospheric river?” It sounds to me like the next thing in darkwave music. As I write this, we’ve made it through Groundhog Day and that means we’ve passed the darkest time of the year. We have light at the end of the tunnel, and that can be interpreted in many ways. Thank goodness for music, I say, as we could all use a little pick me up. Today I’m here to bring you a new artist who might just get you through the next six weeks of winter that precocious Punxsutawney Phil predicted, the little furry bugger! We need the rain here in the West, but I’m sure folks would like a break from the cold. Hang in there and let’s meet this month’s artist, RIOTLEGION.

RIOTLEGION hail from Seattle and pack a hard-driving industrial sound. Whereas Seattle is known for its grunge musical history, RIOTLEGION breaks with tradition. The album Machine Liberation was released  23 June 2020 through Blind Mice Productions. The brainchild of Michael Coultas, RIOTLEGION is known for high-energy audio-visual performances in the area. Their lyrics delve into the chaotic political landscape we find ourselves in after the events of the past few months. 

Many of the tracks on Machine Liberation lean heavily on distorted beats and chants that might appeal to fans of previously reviewed artists JUSTIN SYMBOL or CELLMOD. “Out of My Head” hits with a hypnotic beat and a rhythmic chant and is a standout on the album and the creepy intro to “Liberation” piqued my interest. The artist relies heavily on flickering synthesized beats and static to add atmosphere to tracks like “Decimator,” and “The One You Deserve.” 

Check out RIOTLEGION if you’re looking for some angry club music to work out some of your aggressions. I’ll be back next month with more new music for you to feast your ears upon. In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Instagram @rlmerrillauthor where I post music recommendations in my stories. I can’t have my lovelies going without the best tunes to listen to, now can I? You can also find playlists on Spotify for my books and whatever mood I’m currently in. Stay tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings…


R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor.

 

The Dead Lands : Directed by Tao Fraser

The Dead Lands – Directed (2014) by Tao Fraser 

Reviewed by Kate Nox

When warriors from a rival tribe commit sacrilege in his tribe’s burial ground, Hongi (James Rolleston), son of a Maori Chieftain reports the act to his father. When questioned about the act, the rival crew of hot heads declares war on the village, killing all but Hongi who has been knocked down a ravine and forgotten.

Coming to and finding himself the only survivor he pursues the killers into a forbidden area (the Deadlands). There he meets an invincible ghost warrior who is rumored to haunt the land. 

Hongi discovers that the ghost is in fact, a fierce warrior, (Lawrence Makoare) although throughout the film there are times you wonder if the frightening warrior is truly a ghost or still human. Either way, he is tormented by a ghastly memory of loss in his own life which gives him a thorough understanding of the young boy whom he teaches to fight, and they join forces to hunt down and destroy the rival killers. 

If you are a fan of action films, you will appreciate that The Dead Lands, in fact, follows the action film formula. There is plenty of bone-cracking, slashing, and gore to keep you interested.

If you are bothered by horrific characters who battle in close and bloody conflict, taunting their opponents with insane faces, wagging tongues, stomping, screeching  and other acts designed to instill fear in the opponent, then I’d advise skipping this one. It is one of those movies where you want to reach out and smack the evil characters just for being so overwhelmingly nasty!

As for telling the story of loss, revenge, and horror lying in the psyche of both main characters, this movie is a winner.

The writers and director use a mix of tradition, mythology, and visions of dead ancestors to produce a truly spiritual “other-world” ending which will make you question what you’ve seen.

Thumbs up on horror and realism!

Haunts and Hellions now in eBook!

Now in eBook format!
HH3DPromo

Haunts & Hellions edited by Emerian Rich

HHBanner

13 stories of horror, romance, and that perfect moment when the two worlds collide. Vengeful spirits attacking the living, undead lovers revealing their true nature, and supernatural monsters seeking love, await you. Pull the blinds closed, light your candle, and cuddle up in your reading nook for some chilling—and romantic—tales.

With stories by: Emily Blue, Lucy Blue, Kevin Ground, Rowan Hill, Naching T. Kassa, Emmy Z. Madrigal, R.L. Merrill, N.C. Northcott, Emerian Rich, Daniel R. Robichaud, Daphne Strasert, Tara Vanflower, and B.F. Vega.

To read, go to: Amazon.com

Nightmare Fuel: The Rake

Hello Addicts,

Urban legends and creepypastas are the campfire stories of our day and age. The stories they share are ones to frighten, make us question their reality, and fuel our nightmares. To me, the best are the ones that sound plausible enough to hope they are not real. One such tale is regarding The Rake.

The creature known as The Rake stands around six feet tall and hairless with gray, sallow skin and a humanoid or a dog-like appearance. As if not scary enough, the creature also has big black eyes and long talonlike fingers that will throw the bravest into terror. It is patient, preferring to stalk its prey to feed on their sanity via nightmares and fear. After it is satiated, the creature tears its victim apart or infects them in a fashion similar to the face-huggers in the Alien movies. As frightening as it is, the beast is not one to get physical right away when confronted. It will, however, widen its eyes and mouth to drive your fear into overdrive. There are also reports of it speaking at times in a shrill and otherwise indescribable way. Some say that hearing the Rake’s voice means being marked as its next victim.

Tales of interactions with The Rake are few. One of the earliest is a story in a mariner’s log from 1691, where it names the tormentor as The Rake. Other sources are a Spanish journal entry in 1880 and a suicide note from 1964, each reporting the feeling of terror in falling asleep and waking face to horrid face with the beast. A majority of the creature sightings in the U.S. are around New York and Idaho. There are even instances of the creature caught on video and in trail-cam photos. There was even a video taken in 2018 of a Rake stalking a moose in Quebec, Canada.

The popularity of The Rake in storytelling did not take off until after 2006 when a woman posted her terrifying run-in with the creature online. According to the story, she woke one night to find the terrifying creature staring at her from the foot of her bed and promptly woke her husband. His body curled up after spotting the monster and tightened more when it made its way to his side of the bed. In a flash, The Rake took off to their children’s bedroom, where it brutally attacked their daughter before fleeing. To make a tragic story worse, the little girl and her father died while he rushed her to the hospital by accidentally driving into a lake. The tale concluded with the wife claiming to have captured the Rake’s voice with a tape recorder as she slept, intimating that she may become its next victim.

Like any good legend, the truth behind the stories is often hard to prove one way or another. There is visual evidence and written accounts of The Rake seemingly dating back centuries, but none as abundant as UFOs, ghosts, or bigfoot. In the end, the stories may be tales for people to chill the blood of others around a campfire. Just in case, however, I hope none of you ever wake to find yourself face to horrible face with The Rake.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Odds and Dead Ends :The Silly, Slimy Charm of ‘Braindead’

Horror movies sometimes get a bad rap, and one of the reasons it gets this is all the blood and the gore and the violence and the splattered body parts that can make an appearance in some of its roster. And I’ll admit, on occasion you do watch someone pull glass out of their leg in gratuitous detail and have to admit that it was unnecessary to the emotional impact of the story. But some films can go in for gleeful blood and gore, and despite the usual apprehension, get good opinions in both the public consciousness and decent reviews from the critics. The 1992 film Braindead (released as Dead Alive in some territories), an earlier project from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, is one of those films. By embracing an absurd concept and playing up both the scenario, and the execution (in a filmic sense and a killing sense), it makes for a strangely charming, slapstick zombie comedy that’s fully aware of what it’s doing, and manages to survive the usual criticisms of ‘too much gratuitous violence’.

            The basic plot of the film, for those who haven’t seen it (and if you haven’t, spoilers ahead), sounds exactly like a run-of-the-mill zombie movie we’ve now before. A ‘Sumatran Rat-Monkey’ is captured and placed in the local zoo; an animal which used to be used in black magic rituals. Whilst stalking her shy son, Lionel (Timothy Balme), who is on a date with a young woman she disapproves of (Paquita, played by Diana Peñalver), Vera Cosgrove (Elizabeth Moody) gets bitten by the rat-monkey, and over the next few days she succumbs to her infection in gruesome, decomposing fashion. The infection spreads, culminating in a mansion full of rotting corpses spurting blood and other bodily fluids, and a finale with a lawnmower and an awful lot of body parts.

            Films had come before which had reveled in the amount of violence on screen to self-aware effect; the obvious candidate being Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films. And whilst the first film played it straight (to a certain extent), Evil Dead II took such pleasure in killing off deadites in a gleeful manner that it’s hard not to see it as a possible influence on the tone of this film. There’s also the large amount of practical effects, and the relatively low budget natures of the films (Braindead had around $3m in it, Evil Dead II had apparently a $3.5m budget). But even Raimi’s films, which had set new bars for the amount of severed heads and splattered limbs, can’t come close to Jackson’s movie. Reportedly Braindead is, by the quantity of blood used in production, the goriest film ever made, though of course, we’ve no way to properly assess this claim.

            The excess is so absurd that the film manages to give a nodding wink to the audience that it isn’t meant to take the violence seriously (there’s no way the human body can be cut up that easily, and also contain such an amount of blood). This self-aware presentation is also carried out through the regular comedy of the film, from the ridiculous setup to the occasional joke (we have, for example, a wonderful exchange between Lionel and Paquita, the latter of which exclaims ‘“Your mother ate my dog!”’, with Lionel’s immortal reply of ‘“Not all of it,”’ to follow). At points, Jackson manages to blend the disgusting gore with the comedy, to give beautiful gems which couldn’t happen in any other film. You wouldn’t be able to get a close-up of porridge, eaten a second before, squirting out of the neck-wound of a nearly-decapitated zombie, in even something like a Nightmare on Elm St film.

            By blending the black comedy and the excessive violence together, it can get away with elements which would be frowned upon even in a so-bad-it’s-good movie, let alone one that was just offensive to filmmaking. When you’ve got an eccentric, kung-fu priest kicking zombies with comic sound effects shouting the line ‘“I kick ass for the Lord”’, and an eccentric Latvian vet with a ridiculous accent and glasses who takes money from people’s hands with a pair of tweezers, you understand that this isn’t a film which goes for realism. When we have a man taking on a hoard of zombies with a knife and a cleaver, and we cut back to him standing over a foot-high pile of severed limbs without having suffered even a scratch, we know we’re not meant to really believe he’s fought them all off; the film just says he did and we believe it because we’re just going along with it at this point. And that’s even before the giant inflatable zombie-mother in the finale.

            But despite pulling out ribcages and going through an army of zombies with a lawnmower, there’s some good, quality filmmaking in here. Jackson uses several exaggerated crane moves which would become part of his main arsenal in The Lord of the Rings which look glorious, for example in a scene with Lionel and Paquita on Lionel’s balcony. Their first kiss is led up to by a big crane move from the ground up to the balcony, sweeping in on them as they are swept into each other’s arms; a wonderfully romantic camera movement. The lighting in the finale is great, with just the right mix of psychedelic colours and silvery moonlight turning the blood black. The lighting is even worked into a gag with one zombie thrust onto a light fixture, where bright orange light streams out of her eyes and mouth, turning her in effect into a lampshade.

            And one might even say there’s a little touch on class and possibly even immigration in the film’s writing. Vera and Uncle Les, both wealthy individuals, look down on Paquita (Vera because she believes her to be ‘experienced’, and Les because he’s misogynistic and specifically suggests that he goes after Paquita because she’s ‘“Latin”’), and try to get Lionel away from her. Even the strange vet initially thinks that Les is from immigration, claiming to have lost his papers, showing his deepest fear of being deported.

            It’s a silly, purposefully overdone zombie comedy with far too much blood and gore to be taken seriously, but it’s made a connection with audiences and critics. IMDb has it rated at 7.5/10, which, for a film with this amount of churning guts stinking in the open air, is ridiculous. The dialogue isn’t the greatest, and some of the acting isn’t good. But despite this, Braindead has somehow managed to click the right combination of direction, practical effects, comedy, and sheer absurdity, to make it out of the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ category and into genuine horror merit. It’s not the greatest horror movie ever made, but there’s a slippery, stomach-churning charm to the film which has allowed it to remain in the public consciousness for so long and going beyond the other films in the director’s oeuvre. It’s silly, slimy, and charming.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: kjudgemental

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Gaia

Plotline: On a surveillance mission in a primordial forest, a park ranger encounters two survivalists following a post-apocalyptic lifestyle. The boy and his philosophical father seem to have their own religion, and a mysterious relationship to nature. There are many suspicious aspects to their existence, but when the cabin is attacked by strange, post-human beings one night, she learns that there is a greater threat in this emergent wilderness.

Who would like it: Fans of religious horror, eco horror, fans of the occult, suspense, the outdoors, and anyone who love a damn good horror movie

High Points: I really believe this is more of a religious/occult movie more than an eco-horror. With that being said, I loved seeing the parallel between the pagan and religious beliefs and practices

Complaints: The black guy dies 1st

Overall: I loved it!

Stars: 4

Where I watched it: Pre-release screener.

 

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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

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Vexillary

Greetings HorrorAddicts I bring you some groovy reviews and righteous recommendations this year to keep your tuneage vibing. Or something like that. Despite the insanity that was 2020, many artists were able to come up with inspired material and I’ll share some great picks with you over the coming months. 

Vexillary is an instrumental project by New York based Reza Seirafi that was influenced by the artist’s love of blending components to create something new. A chemist in his other life, he likes to take seemingly inharmonious sounds and make them fit together. Tracks like “Maritime Panic” offer additional sonic adventures with each new listen. “Annihilation” has a manic feel that leaves the listener grasping at the elements and trying to find something to hold onto. There is a feeling of doom, especially in the opening notes of “Forged Skies” but this offering of electronica is never gloomy, and by the time you reach “The Geneticist,” the mad scientist vibe of the SurViolence is complete.

Vexillary is music for those who need an intense infusion with a side of chaos to make their aural journey complete. Give it a listen and let us know what you think. 

Want to share your favorite music from 2020? Comment below or email me at rlmerrillauthor@gmail.com. The next Ro’s Recs will be less of a “best of” and more of a “here’s what you don’t want to miss.” I’ll see you soon, my HorrorAddict Darlings. In the meantime, Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings…

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R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. You can also find her Hope, Love, and Queeromance posts over at www.queeromanceink.com

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Held

The footage you are about to see chronicles the harrowing experience that her neighbors endured for hours as she screamed, cried, and shouted expletive obscenities at her television as she watched: Held

Who would like it: Fans of trapped environments, survival, strong female leads, suspense and thrillers.

High Points: My favorite part of this the reason what was happening was happening and the way the final girl got out of it

Complaints: None!

Overall: Love it

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Screener

 

Nightmare Fuel: The White Bluff Screamer

Hello Addicts,

Most people who choose to live in small towns do so for the quiet, peacefulness, and relative safety they offer. Not just for the individual but their family as well. White Bluff, TN, is one such place. There is, however, a dark legend involving the woods and what may reside there — The White Bluff Screamer.

White Bluff, TN, is an idyllic town offering community, Southern hospitality, and beautiful scenery. Those reasons drew a family of nine to build a home and start a new life there in the 1920s. It wasn’t long before wails, cries, and screeches coming from the forest disrupted the night. As you might expect, it frightened the family and, after several days of the bloodcurdling sounds, the father grabbed his gun and went hunting for the source. According to the story, as the man searched his property, he noticed that the volume and quality of the sound improved the further he got from his home. He soon realized that his quarry wasn’t a single creature but multiple ones. He hurried back home, not wanting to face whatever made those noises alone. That’s where he discovered the dismembered remains of his family strewn about the house. Some versions of the tale also claim that the husband witnessed a female leaving the scenes engulfed by a white mist.

Another tale comes from a deer hunter who had strung up a buck he had killed earlier in the day and placed the guts in a washtub. He sat on his porch, strumming away on his guitar, and noticed that the woods had grown suddenly quiet. There was no croaking from the frogs or the buzz of insects. Suddenly, his hunting dogs came running around the corner of his house, where their pen was. They crawled into an opening under the house with their tails firmly tucked beneath them. He placed his guitar down and looked in the direction of the dog’s pen. There stood a creature as tall as a basketball goal with long, stringy white hair and hooves for feet. It let out a piercing scream and headed first for his dogs and then for him. The hunter barely closed the front door before the creature began clawing at it. Unable to access his prey, the beast let out more screams and paced the porch, waiting for him to come back outside. The standoff lasted until after the sun rose when the creature finally left with the deer carcass and washtub. The roof of the pen hung askew opposite of the hole the dogs used to escape, and his guitar lay on the porch covered in a slimy substance. Later, the washtub was found in the woods licked completely clean.

Other stories regarding the identity of the White Bluff Screamer range from a banshee, a werewolf, to an exotic animal that escaped a circus train. There are still reports of screams and wails coming from the forest around the town of White Bluff, with some claiming to have seen the beast. So, the next time you are outside and hear a scream or wail, it might be a good time to call it a night and head inside. You never know what may be looking at you with hungry eyes from the woods.

Until next time,

D.J.

Historian of Horror: Busted in Budapest

They say it’s less the things you do that you regret than the things you don’t do when you had the chance.

This is absolutely true. 

You’ve probably seen the commercials, either on television or online, for Viking river cruises. A very long boat putt-putts slowly in front of a large, ornate, white, domed building in the opening scene. That’s the Danube River, which really is blue when seen from above. The building is the Hungarian Parliament. The city is Budapest, pronounced Buda-Pesht by the locals. The Hungarian capital was assembled when the cities Buda, Óbuda, and Pest were united in 1873. Buda is on the western side of the river and is hilly and high-rent. Pest is on the eastern side, flat and less expensive. All that’s left of Óbuda is an island in between. Parliament is on the Pest side. I suspect the film might have been shot from the spire of the 14th Century late Gothic style Matthias Church, on the Buda side, which overlooks Fisherman’s Bastion and several other popular tourist attractions.

In the middle of town is City Park, created for the Hungarian millennial celebration in 1896. There, after passing through the entrance from Heroes’ Square, you will find Gundel Restaurant, home to the most lubriciously delicious crepes you will ever put yourself on the outside of; the zoo and botanical gardens; a shallow lake full of mallard ducks; and Vajdahunyad Castle, a collection of recreations of various historical buildings from around the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

One thing you’ll notice about the older buildings all around Eastern Europe is that there are almost always little niches set into the corners and walls for statues. Most are filled with lovely little sculptures. Saints, dragons, horses, whatever strikes the fancy of the locals at the time. On the corner of one building in Vajdahunyad Castle, a niche was empty in 2003 when a German artist by the name of Hartmut Zech was looking for a spot to place a bust he had made and hoped to give surreptitiously to the city.

He had done this before, in other parts of Europe. Most of his gifts had been removed, but he and his friend were undeterred. They snuck in one night in July of that year with the bust of Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi that Zech had been lugging around. They put it in the empty niche. It was not removed, and is still there.

And I missed it. The one time I was ever likely to be in Budapest, and I did not see that bust. I didn’t even know it was there.

In 2011, my wife and I celebrated our 30th anniversary by spending a few days in London. We spent half of our first full day at the Tower, ogling the Crown Jewels and the headsman’s axe, block and mask, and other artifacts. Then we rode a double-decker bus around Trafalgar Square, stopped in at St. Paul’s Cathedral, toured the Globe Theater, and rode the London Eye, that huge Ferris Wheel on the banks of the Thames opposite to, and taller than, Big Ben. We walked back across Southwark Bridge to Westminster, then on to our hotel.

The next day, we strolled over to Buckingham Palace, but President Obama was scheduled for a state visit the next day and access was restricted. We did watch the changing of the guards and toured the Queen’s Gallery and Mews, ate bangers and mash at a pub, and sacked out early, as we had to leave for Heathrow at 4:30 to catch our flight for Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

We joined a two-week tour of Eastern Europe there, traveling in a very posh Mercedes-Benz bus from Frankfurt to Berlin, then on into Poland. We lunched in Poznan and dined in Warsaw. Then on to Krakow, with a side trip to Auschwitz. That nearly broke me. I stayed on the bus while the others toured its sister camp, Birkenau. I’d had more than enough. Some horrors are just too real.

Then, it was on into Slovakia, a land full of lovely forests and more castles per capita than anywhere else in the world. Not far into the country, we passed by Orava Castle, maybe a mile or two to our right. I took pictures, but from a moving bus in a light rain, it’s hard to make out what they are of. F.W. Murnau filmed part of the classic silent horror film Nosferatu there in 1921. We didn’t stop for a closer look, alas.

We came into Budapest at the end of our first week on the tour. We checked into our hotel and boarded a boat for dinner and drinks on the Danube. At river level, it’s actually more brown than blue, but nobody cared much. The food was good and the champagne flowed freely. Frivolity ensued.

We got up that Monday and went to Heroes’ Square. A military unit was rehearsing for the city’s Memorial Day ceremonies later that day, so we could only look at the square from the perimeter. We went on to tour the Parliament and St. Stevens’ Cathedral, then dinner and drinks and so to bed.

We got into Vajdahunyad Castle the next day and wandered about the buildings, especially admiring the replica of Hunyad Castle, which is in Transylvania and in which Vlad Dracul II was imprisoned in the 15th Century. Transylvania was, in 1896, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s now part of Romania. We stopped in the Romanesque chapel for an organ recital, and then on to Gundel for hedonistic pleasure on a plate. 

Our tour guide was an otherwise exceptional Danish gentleman, but he apparently he didn’t know about the Bela Lugosi bust, or I’m sure he would have pointed it out. I’ve checked and rechecked the myriad photographs I took in Budapest, but Bela is not there. I would definitely have taken a picture of him, had I seen him.

Very disappointing.

We went on to Vienna, where we toured the Kaisergruft, the crypt where the Austro-Hungarian royal family was interred in sometimes grandly ornate sarcophagi, from 1633 until the last member of the Hapsburg dynasty born before the Empire’s dissolution following World War I was placed in the last remaining spot just a couple of months after we were there. I have a future column on that deliciously gruesome place in the plans. Stay tuned.

Then lunch in Brno, a couple of days in the gorgeous city of Prague, a look at the Glockenspiel in the town hall of Rothenburg and back to Frankfurt, then London, then home. A most satisfying trip, for the most part.

For the most part. For all the wonderful things we saw, Alas, I regret missing the only chance I will probably ever had to see the bust of one of the seminal figures of horror movies in its natural environs. I hope some of you, dear friends, have the opportunity to travel to Budapest and will take that opportunity to drop in on Bela. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and worth seeing for many other reasons, but please don’t omit, as I was inadvertently obliged to do, the chance to venerate so important a figure from the history of our genre. You will regret that omission, as do I.

And so, until next time, fellow denizens of the dark…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Binding (Il legame)

 

Plotline: While visiting her fiancé’s mother in southern Italy, a woman must fight off a mysterious and malevolent curse intent on claiming her young daughter.

Who would like it: Fans of the occult, magic, witchcraft, curses, and international films

High Points: I love the slow burn of how this movie opens up and sets the scene but in no way is this a slow movies

Complaints: I don’t have any complaints

Overall: I enjoyed the heck out of this!

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Netflix

 

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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

Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 6 Novels that Inspired Great Horror Movies

Is the book really better than the movie? With horror, that can be hard to say. The mediums are just so different. A good concept is a good concept, though. Some ideas are worth making twice. Check out the list below for some stories that made the jump from print to screen.

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

Before bringing Cenobites to the screen in the film Hellraiser, Clive Barker first wrote about them in this novella. The book delves more deeply into the world of pain and pleasure that the Cenobites inhabit.

Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell

This 1938 classic is the inspiration for John Carpenter’s The Thing. Scientists in the Antarctic discover the frozen body of an alien and revive it with horrifying consequences.

“The Forbidden” by Clive Barker

Okay, so technically this is a short story, not a novel, but it did eventually become the movie Candyman. Helen is studying the graffiti in a dilapidated housing project. Her research leads her to chase an urban legend that is more dangerous that she can imagine. “The Forbidden” appears in Books of Blood Volume 5.

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

I was shocked—SHOCKED—to find that the much lampooned 90’s slasher movie was actually based on a 1973 novel by the same name. Even with a twenty-year gap between the book and movie, the themes of coming of age, hiding terrible secrets, and facing gruesome consequences are evergreen.

Psycho by Robert Bloch

The classic movie Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock is considered one of the greatest American films of all time. But the movie had a lot to build on, with a great concept about a lonely motel with a dark secret, first created in 1959 in this novel.

Jaws by Peter Benchley

This 1974 novel inspired the blockbuster Spielberg movie that scared millions out of the water. Still as terrifying as ever, try to keep yourself from humming duh-DUH duh-DUH while you’re reading.

What movie adaptations of books are your favorite? Is the book better? Leave a comment!

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Dissonance

Greetings HorrorAddicts. This month we’re listening to the Dark Wave artist Dissonance. Cat Hall has a new maxi-single that’s perfect for fans of bands like GARBAGE, NINE INCH NAILS & INFORMATION SOCIETY. Precipice is a techno-moody piece that is very personal to Hall. Music helps us heal from the tragedies in our lives, and for Hall, it’s been a form of catharsis. After a serious health battle, she’s come out on the other side to share her emotional experience in these three pieces. With remixes by Joe Haze, Diverje, Junior Kain, and Machines with Human Skin all add layers to the composition. Reminiscent of Tubular Bells or early Depeche Mode, Precipice is music to sit with and contemplate. Each element woven together, whether it be effects or harmonies, all evoke feelings of loss and yet are ultimately hopeful. 

Thank you for joining me this month. I hope you and yours are well. I’d love to hear what kind of music is getting you through this tumultuous time. If you want to hear what I’ve been listening to, you can check out my #SpotifyWrapped. If you’re not on Spotify yet, you might want to change that in 2021. Getting a report on your listening habits can be…creepy, but also a great trip down memory lane. Stay Tuned for more Ro’s Recs and Merrill’s Musical Musings… 

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R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. You can also find her at www.queeromanceink.com writing about Hope, Love and Queeromance. 

Free Fiction : The Letter by J.S. Occonor

The Letter

I sit here at my desk writing my final words for I fear that I shall not live to see the sunrise. The evil that has lurked in my home has become increasingly bold and the scratching on my bedroom door just last night tells me that it is my time.

 But before I get ahead of myself, a brief introduction should be in order as to how this all may have happened. I am Emmitt Newgate, a professor at the local university – a professor of anthropology and archeology, which fate would have it, would be my own downfall. As is one of the boons of my chosen field, I had taken a trip six months ago during the summer for academic fieldwork. Myself, a few colleges in the department, and three of our most successful students found ourselves granted an opportunity to travel to South America to study a number of ancient ruins. 

The trip itself was not unique, and I have been to places far more dangerous and more exotic. But this location was unique in that in my long history of study, there have been none that we brought more from. The number of relics and artifacts that were discovered exceeded all expectations. The last number that was reported to me was one hundred thirty-three thousand forty-two. A number that has no doubt continued to rise and bring about the undoing and death of all who were and still are involved. How unfortunate that a once-in-a-lifetime discovery would result in the death of so many.

The first death was two weeks after we had returned from our trip. The victim was another professor by the name of Edgar Washington. He was an elderly man but despite his age, he was healthy and fit. Edgar was found in his home, laying in his bedroom his face frozen in agony. And as I write, his cause of death yet remains unknown. The second death worth mentioning was Sidney Davis, the only female student who we brought along with us. She too was found in her bedroom with a similar agonizing look on her face and once again, her cause of death is unknown. Over the next six months, the remaining members of the expedition would die, all in a similar fashion, leaving just myself remaining.

The most recent death happened twenty-seven days ago. Why I know this is because it was a favorite student of mine, Michael Seymore, and his death may have revealed a clue. Or rather what he wrote. Michael Seymore was found in his bedroom in the same fashion as the others that I have mentioned, but he was clutching a journal to his chest. A journal that has come into my possession by means which are not entirely legal, I admit. And while I wish for my reputation to remain as unsullied as possible after the discovery of this letter, I needed to know what Michael had written. It concerns my own death, you see, and a man should know what fate awaits him. The first third of the journal was what you would expect of a man with a sound mind. However, as I turned the pages the words of Michael Seymore become less and less coherent until there was nothing but the ramblings of a lone mad man. The last third of the journal was nothing more than a single phrase written over and over again: “It comes from the darkness, look to the shadows.” A phrase in which the meaning remains lost to me and the limited amount of time I have remaining means that I shall never discover its true meaning. And an unknown fate still awaits me.

After the death of Michael Seymore, the evil turned its attention to me, the last member of our expedition. I had been aware of the deaths since the death of Edgar Washington. However, I did not notice the similarities until the death of Joseph Linkletter, who was the third to die. Had I discovered the link earlier, I might have been able to alter the course or to keep the deaths from happening. When I knew it was my turn, I immediately noticed it following me, but any and all research led me to dead ends.

The first time I saw it was late at night, three days after the death of Michael Seymore. From the corner of my eye, I saw a shadowy shape standing across the street from my residence. It would remain there every night for the next two weeks. Was it watching me? I believe it was. 

The first night it entered my house was a week ago, and I have not left my room since, with the exception of a daily visit to my kitchen, as the activity is minimal during the day. Maybe it does not like light. I have fired the house staff, in hopes to keep them safe, and I have formally resigned from the university to distance myself from everyone. It is my hope that I will be the last to suffer such a fate, but if I am not the last, I hope that this letter may help the next person who is being stalked by this evil being. I know nothing of this being – if it was released from our expedition, then I do not know-how. It may be tied to one of the relics that we returned with but again I cannot be certain. Along with this letter are our expedition notes, books on ancient civilizations, as well as books on evil, books that make mention of dark figures, and the last piece that I leave is the journal of Michael Seymore. I leave these things behind for the next person.

Soon the sun will perish and my candle will burn out leaving me in darkness. I have failed in this life and if I am responsible for this evil, then know that I am truly sorry for what we have unleashed. I will know my fate soon enough. 

My final words,

Emmitt Newgate    


 

J.S. O’Connor currently lives in Bettendorf Iowa where he writes in his free time.

 

 

 

Nightmare Fuel: Loveland Frogmen

Hello Addicts,

This week’s Nightmare Fuel takes us to the Loveland, OH area, where reports of bipedal lizards or frogs have frightened businesspeople and police officers alike over the decades. These are the aptly named Loveland Frogmen.

The creatures stand about three to four feet tall, weighing approximately fifty to seventy-five pounds, and can use sticks as tools and possibly electrical weapons. They are covered with leathery skin and have webbed hands and feet, much like typical frogs. What is most distinguishing is their frog-like heads with wrinkles in place of hair.

The first reported sighting of these creatures was in 1955 when a businessman ran across three as he drove along a dark stretch of road. He managed to watch them for a couple of minutes before one noticed him and waved a stick above its head like a wand, complete with shooting sparks.

The next run-in with the frogmen was in 1972 when Officer Ray Shockey stopped his car for what he perceived was an injured dog laying on the side of the road. When he stopped and exited the patrol car, the creature got to his feet and looked back at the policeman. Its eyes glowed as it reflected the light from the headlights before it turned and leaped over the guardrail and slipped into the Little Miami River. When Officer Shockey and Officer Mark Matthews returned to the scene, they found only scrape marks leading to the river. The same Officer Matthews would later have his run-in with one of the amphibious creatures.

On March 17, 1972, Officer Matthews was driving a different stretch of road outside of Loveland, OH, when he found a dead animal in the middle of the road. Just as in the previous experience, the frogman got up into a crouched position and walked to the guardrail with his eyes focused on Officer Matthews. This time, the police officer managed to fire a couple of shots at the creature before it vanished into the dark.

In the years since, Officer Matthews has retracted his reported sighting, claiming that what he saw was simply a large-sized lizard that escaped its owner. Perhaps his change of heart on the sighting was a case of mistaken identity or ridicule from fellow officers. There is plenty of reason to question the existence of the frogmen. Firstly, frogs are not known to walk on hind legs. Secondly, the part of Ohio where the sightings took place was a heavily populated area without any Native American lore to back them up.

While the legend of the Loveland Frogmen may indeed be a result of active imaginations, mistaken identity, and the dark, it does make for some compelling fodder for story ideas. There is always the possibility that the creatures exist. Until it is proven, however, the legends make for some great storytelling.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

The trouble translating Ann Radcliffe’s best villain

Ann Radcliffe seems to be a name that has been forgotten, except for those who really dig into their gothic fiction. She was at the forefront of her craft, and when she was releasing her novels in the late 1780s and 1790s, was one of the top-selling writers of the time. She’s probably most famous and known now for two novels, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and The Italian. It’s this latter novel which I want to discuss, and specifically the character of Schedoni, the evil monk. As always, I’ll avoid as many overt spoilers as I can, but there will obviously be some discussion of plot details. You’ve been warned.

The novel itself concerns a young nobleman, Vincentio di Vivaldi, who becomes fixated with the young Ellena. But his parents won’t have it, and his mother enlists the help of her confidant, Schedoni, to make sure that Ellena is out of the picture completely. As the story unfolds, the Holy Inquisition makes an appearance, there’s an escape through secret passages in a nun’s convent in the mountains, and we learn why the monk, Shedoni, is such a shadowy, malevolent figure.

With so many figures to comb through older literature for, and especially in these times of going back and pining for classic characters to bring back to life (we’re always looking back at the old Universal monsters, for heaven’s sake), it seems strange that this one has slipped through the net of popular culture to a certain extent. This is a shame because he’s an absolute monster.

When introduced to him, he is a mystery, and mostly through his own doing. Chapter 2 describes him as ‘an Italian… whose family was unknown, and from some circumstances, it appeared, that he wished to throw an impenetrable veil over his origins.’ He is a gloomy figure, with ‘solitary habits and frequent penances’ that many believe is ‘the consequence of some hideous crime gnawing upon an awakened conscience.’ Already therefore we have hints of past deeds, and his potential to do harm. But never can we believe that he has come fully to see the light, despite being dressed in religious garb, because two paragraphs later we’re told that ‘Among his associates, no one loved him, many disliked him, and more feared him.’ ‘There was something terrible in its air; something almost superhuman.’ In his very first descriptions, Radcliffe goes to great lengths to give us this sense that Schedoni is more than just a monk. There is an air of menace, with eyes ‘so piercing that they seemed to penetrate, at a single glance, into the hearts of men, and to read their most secret thoughts.’ This is not a man to meet on a dark night; there is the feel of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

At first, the man is always Vivaldi’s shadow, stopping him wherever he goes. ‘“This man crosses me, like my evil genius,”’ Vivaldi says of him. He is always around the Marchesa, Vivaldi’s mother, acting as her confidant. Radcliffe sets him up as Vivaldi’s counterpoint; scheming and malevolent in direct opposition to the young nobleman’s straightforward, almost naive, innocence. We’ve all come across this kind of paralleling, from the light and dark clothing of Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader to the doubling prophecy of Harry/Voldemort, a setup also complemented by Harry’s reliance on friends and the dark lord’s reliance on follow

As the story progresses, Schedoni manipulates the Marchesa into agreeing on murder as a course of action to solve her problems, and is willing to get his hands personally bloody in the process. He rats out our heroes to the Holy Inquisition, who will go by any torturous means to get their confessions, even if they may be false. He lies and goes about in disguise. His past is a mixture of betrayal, murder, and pride. A perfect character for a world of today becoming, as Baudrillard would have put it, full of ‘less and less truth, and more and more meaning.’

Yet he is also a conflicted character, one capable of staying his hand. At times he questions whether he is doing the right thing. Many might see this as lessening his menace, but it might also be seen as making him a more well-rounded character. I remember Hayao Miyazaki saying that he didn’t believe any of his characters to be completely evil and that they all had good traits in them (Yubaba’s motherly affection for her baby in Spirited Away is a great example of this). At times, we see these small, but significant, good points creep through, despite his overall menace. But then at the end, his final act is that of murder, and the novel finishes with him being thoroughly despicable. But that’s kind of the point. He had a chance to atone and deliberately chose not to. That’s what separates the good guys from the bad guys.

So when you’ve got a villain this conniving, dark, and malevolent, as your central focus, why haven’t we properly embraced the character as a truly layered evil? Why hasn’t he been resurrected in the present day, maybe as a film or an 8 episode Netflix show? What’s stopping us from taking one of the great early villains of gothic horror and bringing him back to life again?

Perhaps several reasons spring to mind. In many people’s minds, horror kind of stops at Frankenstein, and occasionally they’ll go back for The Castle of Otranto, just for completion’s sake. Then it’s onto Poe in the ’30s and ’40s, and beyond into the future. We forget that many of the fundamentals of gothic texts, and beyond, occur in the few decades before Mary Shelley’s masterpiece. My disappointment that Doctor Who didn’t do anything with the character of John Polidori in the last series’ episode, The Haunting of Villa Diodati, which was set on the night Shelley created Frankenstein was unrestrained. How do you have the guy who pretty much established the foundation of the gentleman vampire, in the form of Lord Ruthven in his novella, The Vampyre, created on the same night, and not take advantage of that?

But I digress. My point is that many of the classics before Frankenstein haven’t made the transition from battered reprints of the novels into TV or Film. As much as Shelley’s novel is fundamental to literature as a whole, you can’t think of it without seeing Karloff in your head. Matthew Lewis, Ann Radcliffe, John Polidori, and even, come to think of it, Walpole’s Otranto, have never really got a foothold on screen. Which is a shame, because all of their works are fundamental to our understanding of how Western horror came about, in slow, incremental steps, and they deserve to be kept alive. We’ll adapt The String of Pearls into Sweeney Todd. We’ll get Corman and Price to do a string of Poe adaptations. And we’ll run Frankenstein almost into the ground with adaptations. But before Shelley, we’re severely lacking in adaptations or at least prominent ones.

So would Schedoni now be seen as something of an anachronism? Would you put him in a film and have the critics say that we’ve seen a thousand characters like him now, so why bring him back? His characteristics have seeped into every film and TV show that now it might seem like trying to hype up a museum piece; all very interesting but not very entertaining. And with Vivaldi being so incredibly naive (or at least not as complex as he could be), you’d need to do some serious modifications to make him as compelling a protagonist to put against Shedoni and create a proper double act.

If it could be handled right, the cloak-and-dagger menace from the late 1700s would be incredible on screen. Someone like Mike Flanagan would have a great time making it as a limited series. But I’m not sure how much of the novel would survive the translation for a modern audience, and Schedoni might suffer as a result. The character, as incredible as he is, may have to remain inside the pages of Radcliffe’s final masterpiece, at least for now. I think that’s an incredible shame, but a necessary evil.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: kjudgemental

Historian of Horror : Forbidden Sinister Dark Mansion-House of Secret Haunted Love

Forbidden Sinister Dark Mansion-House of Secret Haunted Love

I never read any of them that I remember, but my mother had a handful of paperback novels by folks like Phyllis A. Whitney and Victoria Holt, gothic romances with paintings of willowy maidens fleeing spooky houses on the covers. Not really my cup of hemlock as a child, although I did read several of the very similar Dark Shadows novels of the same period written by Dan Ross under his pseudonym of Marilyn Ross. Still have them, somewhere in this hodge-podge of occult literature and arcane artifacts that is my office. Dark Shadows was the only soap opera I was ever interested in, so of course I was drawn to whatever subsidiary relics it spawned. I even had a plastic model of Barnabas Collins. I think some of the pieces occupy a box within a few feet of where I am sitting at the moment, although Cthulhu alone knows which of the myriad containers that might be.

C’est la vie. C’est la mort. C’est l’horreur.

My long-time online friend, Melanie Jackson, currently writes several series of cozy mysteries, but when we first encountered each other whilst hanging out in some now-deceased horror message board twenty years ago, she was doing pretty well scribing paranormal romances for the late and unlamented Leisure Books. Or would have been doing pretty well, had Leisure paid their bills. Which is why there is no longer such a thing as Leisure Books, or so I’ve been told by more than one of their former stable of authors. Anyhow, Melanie assured me that Dan Ross was not alone in hiding his Y chromosome behind a female name in order to sell romance novels. Many romance novels are still being written by men under female noms-de-plume, or were when she told me that.

That didn’t stop DC Comics from declining to hide their male contributors behind petticoats in 1971, when they jumped into that genre with a pair of titles that only lasted four issues each. One might wonder if Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love and Sinister House of Secret Love could have survived longer had a fiction of feminine creatorship been maintained. 

Probably not, to be honest. The genre of love comics was on its last legs, anyhow. Of all the comic book publishers that had flooded the drugstore spinner racks of America with four-color romances since 1947, only DC, its main rival, Marvel, and perpetual also-ran Charlton were still in the game. In fact, other than those three, only Harvey Publications, Archie, and Fawcett were even still in the comic book business.

Harvey had gone completely over to kiddie books like Casper the Friendly Ghost and Wendy the Little Witch and Little Dot the, uh, girl obsessed with polka dots, while Archie was only occasionally trying something not associated with its namesake character, usually under its Red Circle sub-brand. After being sued out of business by DC for their flagstaff super-hero, Captain Marvel, being considered too much a copy of Superman, Fawcett was left with its paperback book line and a license to publish a myriad of Dennis the Menace comics. DC eventually hoovered up the moribund Captain Marvel, but only after Marvel had reclaimed the name for the first in a string of their own characters, which is why the original is now called Shazam. Clear as mud?

The first publisher of romance comics, Prize Publications, switched over to joke and cartoon magazines in the 1960s until it quietly petered out in 1978. ACG (American Comics Group) was reduced to putting out industry advertising comics after 1967. St. John closed its doors altogether in 1958. Quality sold off its remaining titles to DC in 1956 and shut down production. And so on, and on, and on. Even the love comics Marvel and DC still published in 1971 were sputtering along on fumes. Not exactly an auspicious time to start up a new variation on a dying genre.

And yet, there they were. Two rather attractive bimonthly titles with covers painted by veterans of the paperback industry George Ziel and Victor Kalin. They were edited by long-time DC employee Dorothy Woolfolk, who was one of the folks credited with coming up with kryptonite in the various Superman comics. Dark Mansion led with a first issue dated September-October, 1971, with Sinister House #1 being dated October-November of the same year. 

Both titles were fifty-two page comic books selling for twenty-five cents. The standard for most comics had been thirty-six pages for twelve cents since the very early 1960s, when the price went up from ten cents. Twenty-five cents would, in those halcyon days of my mis-spent youth, buy an eighty-page giant special issue, usually a reprint collection or annual, or the occasional regular series like the bulk of Tower Comics’s run in the mid-sixties. Later in the decade, that quarter of a dollar got you sixty-eight pages, then down to fifty-two by 1970. For a brief period, Marvel had jumped up its page count and cost for a single month on all its titles, often using reprints to flesh out the issues. DC followed suit for a year or so, not realizing that their chief rival had tricked them into following an expensive trend that was financially untenable. The readers benefitted, however, by being exposed to the treasures of the past that filled the back pages of those issues, helping to create the demand for Golden Age comics that led to major changes in distribution as well as collecting. Comics went from a drugstore item to being almost exclusively procured in specialty comic book stores, with a concurrent escalation of the value of older issues that led to the first appearance of Superman recently bringing in three-and-a-quarter million dollars.

Yeah, I wish I’d kept everything I ever owned, too. Oh, well.

Anyhow, Dark Mansion #1. The cover says, “The Secret of the Missing Bride”. The splash page says, “The Mystery of the Missing Bride”. Under either title, it was the first comic book written by Mary Skrenes, who went on to have a moderately successful career in both comics and television. She was also supposedly the inspiration for Howard the Duck’s human companion (and maybe girlfriend? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. I will refrain from giving in to the temptation of stooping so law as to make the obvious naughty suggestion about the role played in their relationship by that portion of a duck’s plumage that is sometimes used to stuff pillows with), Beverly Switzler. The story, which filled the entire issue, was drawn by Tony DeZuniga, one of a cadre of artists DC recruited from the Philippines about that time. DeZuniga was also the initial artist on the long-running outre western character Jonah Hex when he first appeared the next year. 

Sinister House #1 has two stories, neither reprints. Nor were they credited, either for the first story, which was clearly drawn by comics stalwart Don Heck, nor for the second, which was obviously at least inked by Vince Colletta. The art styles of each are quite distinctive. “The Curse of the MacIntyres” which according to the Grand Comics Database was also written by Mary Skrenes, occupies the bulk of the issue, while “A Night to Remember… A Day to Forget” was penciled by John Calnan, with the writer not known. It seems to me rather reminiscent of many stories from ACG titles like Adventures into the Unknown, in which romance and the supernatural overlapped from time to time. 

And so it went for another three issues for each title. Almost entirely the one long story with only one other backup tale, mostly drawn by DeZuniga or Heck. One story had Colletta inks over pencils by Ernie Chua, another Filipino import. Sinister House #3 was penciled by comics legend, Alex Toth, who co-created Space Ghost for Saturday morning television in the 1960s, and inked by Frank Giacoia and Doug Wildey, who created Jonny Quest. Mary Skrenes wrote one more story. Editor Dorothy Woolfolk is credited with another, as is Tony DeZuniga’s wife, Mary.

Some of the one or two page text pieces that the post office requires be included in each issue for comic books to be considered enough of a literary medium to justify third-rate shipping rates, by the way, were written by none other than later legendary horror movie director, Wes Craven. Betcha didn’t see THAT coming!

Both were retitled with the fifth issues and switched over to standard horror format. Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love became Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion, while Sinister House of Secret Love morphed into Secrets of Sinister House. Very nearly the same, but without all the love. No more gothic romance, just the usual ‘ghoulies and ghosties and lang-legged beasties and things that gae bump in tha nacht’. And aside from one 1982 issue of DC Blue Ribbon Digest that reprinted a few of the yarns from these titles, that was it.

Well, almost. Remember that also-ran publisher I mentioned above? Charlton? The one that only kept going at all into the 1980s because they happened to own the printing presses they used to pump out their second-tier comic books? They managed to have the last laugh when their own gothic romance title, Haunted Love, premiered in 1973. It lasted eleven issues over the next two years, with Tom Sutton handling a significant portion of the artistic labors. The first story in the first story, however, was drawn by Joe Staton, who has been drawing the Dick Tracy newspaper comic strip for just over a decade now. I met Joe back in the late 80s, when he visited the comic book store I managed briefly but much too long. Nice guy.

I have to confess that, until I sat down to write this entry, I had never read any of these comic books. Gothic romance simply isn’t my thing, but it does fill a significant niche in the history of our genre. If it is your thing, scans of all these issues can maybe possibly be found online to be read or even downloaded, given a diligent search in the right places. Not that I’d ever encourage anything even remotely resembling copyright infringement, though. Let your own conscience be your guide. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

And so, until next time, fellow fiends…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Gypsy Mob : Episode 3 / Gypsy Traffic

Peter Giletti had just pulled his Ferrari into the Giletti mansion when Matteo came bursting from the front door, his face a mask of terror so stark it made Peter’s balls creep. Putting the sports car in park and setting the emergency brake, he hopped out and waved. 

“Matteo! What the fuck is up?”

Wild-eyed, Matteo looked around. When he spotted Peter, he rushed over, seizing Peter by the shoulders. “Pete! You gotta help me! I lost her and your uncle—”

“Whoa whoa whoa, first things first, drop the Armani,” Peter said, pushing Matteo’s hands away from his tailored jacket. “I just got this. Now what about my uncle?”

“He’s gonna kill me if I don’t find Bianca!” Matteo said, wringing his hands. 

“Wait a minute, where’s Bianca? What happened?”

Matteo blurted out the night’s events, circling back to the salient point. “He’s going to kill me if I can’t find Bianca! Peter, you gotta help me!”

“You really ditched Bianca to go fuck a whore? That’s pretty—”

“Yes, I know what it is, but it is what it is and if I don’t find her, I’ll never fuck anything again! Now will you help me or not?” Matteo waited, shoulders heaving. 

“Yeah, yeah, sure thing,” Peter said, opening the door to his Ferrari and sliding back inside. “Come on.”

They made good time back to the carnival, Peter pushing the little car up to nearly 130mph on the straight stretches. The police in the area knew the Giletti family cars on sight and knew better than to interfere with them. Peter concentrated on his driving, Matteo sat rigid in his seat, savoring each breath he took, wondering if they would be among his last. 

Before long, the lights glowing in the night became brighter and they were pulling into the parking lot of the Gyspy camp. Matteo reached beneath his shirt and pulled out a Glock .9mm. Racking the slide, he ensured a round was in the chamber and stowed the gun away again. Peter watched, an eyebrow raised. 

“Guns blazing?”

Matteo shook his head, scrabbling at the car door handle. “Just a little protection. It’s up to them.” 

Shrugging, Peter chambered a round into his own Glock and tucked it back into his shoulder holster. 

Passing under the gate to the scruffy midway, Peter popped a cigarette into his mouth and lit it with a practiced motion as he surveyed the meager crowd while following Matteo. “Pretty weak carnival. Everything is rusted. You couldn’t pay me to ride one of these fucking things.” He took a drag as his eyes swiveled to follow a blonde girl with a painted face and jeans which looked to be painted on as well. “Rides are for kids anyway.”

“There,” Matteo said, pointing as he quickened his pace. “That’s the tent.”

Peter looked from the sign proclaiming Your Fortune for $5 to the scrawny man beneath it. The man grinned invitingly, gesturing to the door. Rolling his eyes, Peter caught sight of something far more akin to his tastes. 

“You go ahead,” he said to Matteo, who was fumbling in his pocket for a five-dollar bill. Beating him to the draw, Peter pulled out a five and gave it to the skinny man who made it disappear. “My treat. I’ll wait out here, I want to finish this.” He waved the cigarette. 

“Okay. I’ll yell if I need backup.” 

Peter saluted with the cigarette as Matteo disappeared into the tent. He took another drag and dropped it to the ground in front of the Gypsy, grinding it out and turning without a word toward the Pleasure Tent. 

“Hiya,” said the girl attending its entrance, flashing a dazzling white smile over the barest of tops. “Looking for pleasure?”

“Yes, and I’m in a bit of a hurry,” Peter said, glancing over at the fortune tent. 

The girl smiled. “Take our newest girl. Tonight her first night.”

“I’ll take her. How much?”

“$200,” the girl said, holding out a hand. 

Peter’s fingers nimbly extracted two Benjamins from his wallet and slapped them into the girl’s palm. She tucked it down her skirt and beckoned him to follow as she slipped into the tent. Peter followed her through the labyrinth of cloth stalls, adjusting himself as the sounds of sex further stimulated his growing member. The girl stopped at one of the curtains and gestured. 

“She new. Start tonight. No worry ‘bout that. She ready.” With that and a smirk that gave Peter’s peter a twinge, she retreated into the dim of the tent. 

Peter licked his lips and pulled the curtain back. A girl lay on the cot, staring at the ceiling. The shadows hid her face, framed by her long dark hair. She was nude, her arms over her head and legs slightly apart. At the sound of his zipper, her eyes flickered towards him, then back to the ceiling. Unbuckling his pants and pulling down his underwear, he mounted her and slid himself inside. The girl at the front had been right, this girl was prepared. It didn’t take him long and the whole time, her expression never changed. 

Panting, Peter slid out of her and wiped himself on the cot before standing and refastening his pants. “Good for you, honey?”

“Yes.”

Peter’s hands froze in the act of buckling his belt. It was not the word itself, nor its delivery, flat, dead, devoid of any emotion. The voice he had heard at the Giletti mansion more times than he could count. It was Bianca’s voice. 

“…Bi?” Peter croaked. 

She looked at him blankly. With shaking hands, he pulled his lighter from his pocket. Flicking it open, he cast a soft glow over the room, illuminating the face of his cousin, Bianca Giletti.

“Bianca! What the fuck are you doing here!”

She said nothing, just continued staring at him. If not for her breathing, she could have been dead. 

“I’ve got to get you out of here. Can you walk?” Peter reached for her, weak-kneed at the thought of touching her again after what he had just done. “Bi, I’m sorr—”

A harsh whisper of canvas behind Peter made him spin. An enormous man covered in tattoos and body hair had torn the curtain back and was reaching for him. Peter’s heart leaped into his mouth as he staggered backward. 

“Where you tink you goin’ wit our girl, eh?” the man growled, stepping forward. 

Peter’s reflexes, honed by years of the family business, came to his rescue, drawing his Glock from the shoulder holster and pointing it squarely between the man’s eyes. The big man halted, the gun’s barrel an inch from his forehead. 

“Go ‘head, city boy,” he sneered. “If you got da guts—”

The Gypsy’s hand moved, amazingly fast for his size. Unfortunately, his aim was not good; as he attempted to grab the gun from Peter, one sausage-sized finger slid into the trigger guard of the gun, its girth inexorably pressing Peter’s more modest digit into the trigger. There was a shot. The giant man’s ugly sneer turned into a look of shock as the back of his skull and brains splattered across the tent wall. 

Peter was still trying to process what had happened when the screams began, galvanizing him into action. Pulling the gun from the finger of the dead giant, he looked around wildly. Bianca lay on the cot, splattered with bits of bone and brain, her expression as vacant as ever. There were yells from within the tent as interrupted men and women expressed their fear and concern. There was no choice. 

“I’ll get you out of here, Bi, I promise,” he whispered to her, unsure if she would hear him or if it would even register. Slipping out of the stall’s entrance over the dead giant, he fled down one of the corridors between the stalls, heading for the exit. The girl who had admitted him was standing in it, a machete in her hand. She had dispensed with the knowing smirk and her face was a mask of rage. 

“You murder a Rom, white man,” she hissed, raising the machete. “You will pay.”

Peter raised the gun, pointing it at her chest. “Step aside, lady, or those pretty tits of yours will be the next thing to get splattered.” 

Curling her lip, the girl stood aside, still holding the machete. Peter eased around her, trying to keep an eye on the machete and the rest of her at the same time. As he passed her, she spat at him. 

“I’ll remember that, babe. You’ll be hearing from me again real soon,” he snarled, slipping into the crowd of oblivious carnival patrons outside the tent who had somehow not heard the gunshot. 

Elbowing his way through the throng, Peter halted, panting, before the fortunes tent, his gun beneath his bloody Armani coat. The scrawny Gypsy eyed his hectic expression with what appeared to be a look of amusement. 

“Where’s my friend?” Peter demanded, looking over his shoulder toward the Pleasure Tent, sure the girl would be coming after him with the machete. 

“You friend ‘as gone,” the Gypsy said, spreading his fingers. “He say, he see you later.”

Peter pulled the gun from beneath his coat, keeping it low. “He wouldn’t do that, don’t take me for a moron. Now you tell me where he is, or—”

Behind the scrawny man, another mammoth Gypsy appeared out of the darkness of the fortunes tent. “Or what, slicker?”

Peter heard shouts from the direction of the Pleasure Tent and, performing an analysis of his odds, holstered his weapon and took off, shouldering his way through the crowd of increasingly agitated carnival-goers. He did not stop until he was in his Ferrari pushing sixty mph on his way out of the parking lot.

***

Matteo pushed into the dimly lit interior of the fortunes tent to see a thin old woman wrapped in shawls seated before a dark glass orb. She raised her eyes to his, and a smile crept across her mouth. “So, you come for your fortune?”

“I come for my girlfriend, Bianca,” Matteo said. He pulled his phone from his pocket and showed the woman his phone’s wallpaper. From the screen, Bianca was blowing a kiss with a bottle of tequila in her other hand. “She got her fortune read earlier tonight and now she’s missing.”

“I donno whatcha talkin ‘bout,” the woman said. Her smile widened. “If I read ya fortune, maybe we find hers?”

“Sure, fine, whatever, only her dad has told me he’ll cut off my nuts if I can’t find her so I really need—”

The woman threw up her hand, freezing Matteo in mid-sentence as the crystal ball’s surface flared bright blue. “Silence!”

She moved her long fingers over the ball, peering deep into its depths. Matteo waited impatiently, hopping from one foot to the other. Waste of time, this, he thought furiously as the woman whispered gibberish to the ball. Bianca’s father is going to have me castrated and I’m sitting here watching this old bat poke a piece of glass.

“Well?” he demanded when he could stand it no longer. 

The woman looked a moment longer and then raised her eyes to meet his. “Well what?”

“Where is Bianca?” Matteo’s voice was becoming shrill. 

“Ah,” the woman said, and shook her head. “I can no tell you dat. But I tell you, you be reunited wid her soon. You VERY HANDSOME!” she shouted this last, causing Matteo to recoil. 

“What the—”

“You VERY. HANDSOME.” She repeated, if anything, louder. 

“Listen,” Matteo said, his voice cracking as he pulled the Glock from his waistband. “If you don’t tell me where Bianca is—”

There was a rustling noise behind him. He half-turned in time to see an enormous man swinging a baseball bat at his head before the world exploded into blackness. 

“I tell you, Matteo,” Madam Zara stood, looking down at the prostrate form of Matteo. “You be seeing her soon.” 

The giant snickered.

“Good swing, Grog,” she said with a smile. “Take him to tent.”

***

The sound of a Ferrari caught Don Giletti’s ear and he turned, frowning, to glance out the window behind the desk in his study. Not just because he and his wife Lucia had bought it for their son Peter not six months ago, but because he had made the modifications to that engine himself, and he couldn’t mistake the sound of its tachometer reaching the red line. 

He turned back to face the room. His brother Rocco stood by the tray of amber-filled decanters, pouring himself a snifter of cognac. Giletti’s wife Lucia leaned against the front of his desk, her cosmetically perfect ass seated a few feet from Giletti. “I’m sorry, my dear, what were you saying?”

Lucia rolled her eyes. A few years Giletti’s senior, she sometimes felt as though she were a mother chiding her son. Turning to face him, she leaned against the desk, palms down. “The body trade is down all of a sudden, and you know that is one trade that is recession-proof. Something has changed, Lorenzo, and we need to figure out what it is. I have girls sitting idle at night.”

“My supplier is getting ratty as well,” Rocco said, coming back from the bar with a drink and lit cigarette in the other hand. “I told him I only needed half a container this week and he warned me not to let it become a habit, then hung up.”

Giletti snorted. “I try not to lose sleep over it.”

With a sudden bang, the doors to the study flew open, making them all jump. The men had their guns half drawn before their brains registered that their brother, Brando, towed his son Peter by the arm. The latter’s eyes were giant saucers, staring around though not seeing. Coming to a halt, Brando dropped Peter’s arm and slammed the doors shut, locking them. He strode forward and prodded Peter in the back, pushing him forward. 

“Go on, tell them!” he barked. “Spit it out, boy!” His face was red and his hair looked as though he had been pulling chunks of it out. Giletti had never seen his brother looking quite so deranged and felt a hint of an unusual emotion he was able to identify as fear. What the hell had happened?

“I—they—there’s a car—carnival, up the road,” Peter gabbled, still staring around as though he had never seen the place before. “They had—girls. Bianca. They—I—” Peter shivered mightily and wrapped his arms around himself as though he were freezing. 

“What de absolute fuck are you gabbling about?” Giletti roared, on his feet, fingernails unconsciously digging into the desk. 

“You’ve been wondering why the girl trade is down,” Brando said, striding forward and shoving Peter out of the way, who took no notice. “I think you’ll find it’s been down the exact length of time as a certain Gypsy carnival has been set up in the area. As near as I can tell, Peter, saw a tent set up as a brothel, and when he went in to, um, investigate, the girl they gave him…was Bianca, Lorenzo. They’ve got your little girl, brother,” Brando said, tears of rage standing in his eyes.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Koko-di Koko-da

 

 

Plotline: A case of food poisoning derails a family’s holiday and forever alters the course of their lives. Years later, the couple go camping again, looking for one last chance to go back to the way things used to be. But what once was is lost, and they instead find themselves having to relive the same nightmarish events, as that day and the horrors it brings repeat themselves infinitely. Together, they must overcome their trauma, reconcile with the past and fight for their lives — over and over again.

Who would like it: Fans of camping horror, cosmic horror, WTF, international films, myths and fairytales

High Points: I really love how told in two different media’s

Complaints: None

Overall: I really enjoyed this super creepy little movie!

Stars: 3 1/2

Where I watched it: Sling

 

 

Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 5 Insect Horror Novels

I don’t like bugs. Cockroaches, spiders, centipedes… if it’s creepy or crawly, I’m sure to stay far away. But a Horror Addict asked me to create a list of good horror books involving insects. So, from spine-tingling terror to science fiction frights to the absolutely bonkers, here are my top five suggestions for horror that will make you bug out.

Eight by W.W. Mortensen

When entomologist Rebecca Riley receives stunning photographs of a new discovery, she finds herself on the next flight to Brazil, heading down to join the team of scientists assembling there.

What she uncovers is beyond imagination: strange statues in the jungle… a ruined city built by the refugees of a lost Pacific continent… and a terrifying new species. It is an ancient enemy, one whose very existence has implications for all of humankind… and the planet itself.

Prey by Michael Crichton

In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles—micro-robots—has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.

It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour.

And we are the prey.

Slither by Edward Lee

When Nora and her research team arrived on the deserted tropical island, she was expecting a routine zoological expedition, but it didn’t take long to realize they’re not alone. Now members of her own team are disappearing, and when they return, they’ve changed.

Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon

Six high school students have survived nuclear war in a high-tech bomb shelter, but they are not alone. Mutated insects are hungry and the human survivors are the only prey.

Texas Chainsaw Mantis by Kevin Strange

After wiping out humanity years ago, Praying Mantises have evolved into the dominant species on Earth, taking over our buildings, our jobs, and our lives.

Matthew is a high school history teacher. He does his best to educate the young mantises and tame the savage side of their nature, until the day he comes home to find his wife ready to mate. Anyone who knows anything about Mantises knows that mating is a death sentence for males of the species. But when Matthew’s wife partially decapitates him during sex, he crawls out to the woodshed to die, only to find an old haunted chainsaw, possessed by the spirit of his home’s dead human owner, who just happens to be an occult sorcerer and serial killer known as The Growler’s Phantom. Now resurrected, Matthew vows revenge on his murderous wife, and her new husband Nicko as well as anyone else who gets in his path.

There you have it! Five books to make your skin crawl. Do you know any horror books that feature insects? Want to see another list of recommendations? Leave a comment!

Free Fiction: Undone by P J Curtis

Undone by P.J. Curtis

I lost something in the woods. It hurts my head every time I try to remember what exactly I lost, but there’s an emptiness that must be filled before it’s too late. I am not getting any younger and these trees are only growing taller. 

I would’ve driven through these woods considering how wide the path was, but at its entrance, I decided to leave my car. I wouldn’t be needing it any longer. I don’t need any protection for what I’m doing today. However, when I exited my car, I looked at the sky and noticed how dark it had gotten despite it being early in the day. The once welcoming pink sky has transformed into a coal-stained canvas, just ready to be presented by its maker. At first, it alarmed me how sudden the change was, but I didn’t think too much about it since I needed to find what I lost. 

As I walked down the dirt path filled with moss-ridden stones and rotten bark, my legs began to tremble. It felt like hours since I started my journey to find what I’ve lost but something in my chest was pulling me forward. I figured it was strong conviction but another, deeper part of me, felt as if something was truly pulling me. 

The path seemed endless and less of the already dying light from the sky was sinking through the trees. In fact, I could hardly see the sky. I couldn’t stop and fully take in what had become of my surroundings but it felt as if the trees were closing in on me. Almost as if they were forming a tunnel, the trees began to bend like fingers trying to touch the palm of a hand. There was barely any light but no matter how dark the tunnel of trees made my venture, I knew I would find what I needed.

I kept trudging along the dark path with a shortness of breath. I desired to keep going but my lungs were burning so hot, I thought they would burst from my chest. Even my legs had given up and my knees finally buckled. I figured I would collapse completely but as I fell, I realized my chest hadn’t hit the path. Almost as if I were begging, only my knees kissed the ground. My upper body was completely erect and my chest began to protrude outwards. The pulling sensation had only grown stronger as I was dragged along the path with no visible force tugging at my chest. 

I was dragged for hours. The knee part of my pants has disintegrated and had been matted with blood and mud. I felt weaker the farther I went down the tunnel. I could barely keep my eyes open but an unusual clutter of small voices prevented me from going completely adrift. The deeper I delved into the dark path, the clearer the voices sounded. I could make out what they were saying and frankly, it was nothing special. All I heard were average conversations layered on yet more average conversations. It was incessant but comforting. 

Eventually, the speed at which I was being dragged had come to a halt as I entered a different part of the woods. The tunnel had opened in a circular fashion above me as if the trees morphed into a colosseum. With this newfound exposure to the sky, the moon shone light on something I had never seen before. 

Before my eyes, I saw an old woman in worn rags sewing herself what appeared to be a red scarf. The old woman looked grotesquely thin and feeble yet she used her needle as if it were a mighty sword when she struck the yarn. It was a beautiful stitch, a work of art to say the least. I began to wonder why she wore such hideous and worn rags but I was interrupted by her gruesome gaze. 

She did not say a single word. The old woman stopped sewing for a moment as she brushed her matted wisps of hair over her shoulder. She then pointed at my chest and that’s when I saw it. A long strand of red yarn had come out of my chest and had been linked to her soon-to-be scarf. My eyes widened as she fiddled with the string with her long nail as if it were a banjo. Before I could process what was happening, her eyes rolled back into her skull and her twisted smile grew as she continued sewing. With every passing stroke of her needle, I began to unravel. Her scarf grew longer as my body began to diminish into nothingness. I couldn’t tell if I made a single noise because the conversations only grew louder as I became more scarf than human. 

The process was extremely painful, as my skin was being ripped off but I have to say…it was worth it. I feel warmed not only by the fabric I’ve become but also by the voices I am surrounded by. I can now intermingle with whomever I’m woven with. 

I finally found what I have lost. 


Author Bio: 

P.J. Curtis is a fan of fiction that disturbs readers to the core. Whether he is reading or writing it, Curtis believes we all should take a moment to appreciate what lurks in the shadows. Being primarily inspired by the works of Junji Ito and Franz Kafka, Curtis delves deep into the brink of human absurdity through the exploration of the unexplainable. Right now, Curtis is studying at Montclair State University to become a high school English teacher, but that has never stopped him from exploring what makes us scream.

 

Book Review : Aleister Blake by Valentina Cano

Review by Matt Morovich

An admission before I begin: I’m not that much of a fan of the romance genre.

It’s not for particularly any negative reason, the previous statement isn’t an indictment of the genre, it’s just not a genre that I have had much experience with. Admittedly, it also not one I have a preference for; if I’m going to pick up a book, it’s much more likely going to be horror, science fiction, or fantasy.  Maybe a more accurate statement would be that I don’t have enough experience with the genre to say if I’m a fan or not. 

That said, this book, Aleister Blake

Here I thought it was going to be a horror novel and yet it’s a sneaky, stealthy horror romance.

And that is not a bad thing in the slightest.

Aleister Blake is the story of Nora, a young woman living in Victorian London with her brother Peter. Decidedly working class, the pair work as rat catchers for a man named Sharpe, clearing the homes of wealthier citizens of vermin. Having grown up as orphans on the city streets, the siblings are incredibly close and Peter has done everything he could to keep his sister safe. That said, they are still products of their environment which expresses itself in Nora’s suspicion and dislike for the upper class and her penchant for nicking objects to pawn from the homes of their clients when her brother, the moral compass of the two, isn’t able to stop her. Due to her smaller size and figure, Nora is the quick and nimble one, crawling beneath floors and between walls to catch the rats while Peter helps manage their working relationships to get more clients.

While not a comfortable life, the two of them get by with their work, making a mostly honest living, and things go well until Peter makes the mistake of placing too large a bet on a dog during a rat-baiting when a tip doesn’t pan out. When it is revealed he doesn’t have the money to cover the wager, Peter is stabbed and mortally wounded while his sister watches. Crying for help in a filthy London alley, Nora’s prayers are answered when a stranger appears out of the night to offer her a devil’s bargain: Nora could agree to work for the stranger on a project that he needed her assistance with and he would save Peter. The additional drawback would be that Nora would become invisible to everyone who had previously known her, excising her from her previous life, but, facing living in a world without her brother, she’d rather go on knowing he was alive and unable to see her than for him to be dead, so she agrees. 

And that is how we are introduced to the mysterious Aleister Blake.

The horror of Aleister Blake comes from the same-named character, who, right from the go, is clearly more than he appears. Able to heal mortal wounds with a wave of a hand, he lives in a Tardis-like home that is far larger on the inside than it is on the outside and is staffed with misshapen shadow creatures that flit about silently on the edges of your vision. Over the course of the book, we learn Aleister’s secrets as Nora uncovers more about her mysterious benefactor and business partner and the unsettling nature of his house.

The romance portion of this novel is, you probably could have guessed, the growing relationship between Nora and Aleister. Over the course of the book, the two come to an understanding of each other and gain mutual respect, leading to Nora acknowledging she has feelings for him. To go too much more into either the romance or horror aspect of the novel would be to give too many spoilers, but, to my unfamiliar experience with the romance genre, the relationship seemed to grow organically and realistically.

I’m happy to say that, as opposed to the last two books I reviewed, I enjoyed Aleister Blake quite a bit. Written from Nora’s perspective, she’s an entertaining and realistically written character who I enjoyed getting to be a part of. Her interactions with her brother, Aleister, and others felt real and unlike other female protagonists whose name rhymes with “Smella”, she is competent and realistically flawed. She has a sense of humor, her own fears, and desires, and the end of the novel was refreshing in how it turned out. I particularly enjoyed how Cano wrote the dialogue, it flowed well and sounded like how people actually talk; additionally, the way that Nora and Aleister speak with each other also really emphasized the changing nature of their relationship, becoming more familiar and humorful as they grow closer. 

The only thing that made me frown at the book was, once again, the main threat came down to sexual violence around women, specifically women who had been kidnapped to be trafficked. I will say that there are no graphic depictions of any abuse, only implications of it, but again that was being used as a trope made me roll my eyes a bit. What saved it for me was how little it was part of the plot; it existed, and dealing with the kidnapping was part of Nora’s motivation, but it wasn’t the singular facet of the story nor was it over-emphasized. Part of me wishes Cano had found a different reason for Nora to care about Aleister’s schemes, because of how overdone this sort of thing feels to me, but I could look past that opinion for how much I enjoyed the rest of the book.

I will say that I was hoping that the book would have had more horror. While what was there was well written, I felt like this skewed a bit more toward the romance side of the hyphenated genre than the horror side. The horror had a decidedly PG-13 feel to it, which isn’t necessarily bad, I was just hoping for more. 

If you’re looking for a horror-romance book with an interesting and entertaining female protagonist, I would definitely recommend Aleister Blake.

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Static – X

 

Greetings HorrorAddicts. This month’s review has one helluva backstory. There’s a rock band, a romance, a drug problem, and a resurrection of sorts. I had to do a deep dive to give the album a full critique and what I found was a story that tragically has a lot in common with so many bands who have lost frontmen to the excesses of rock ‘n’ roll, however, the surviving members of Static-X are determined to make their own way back in an unusual but compelling way. 

Static-X celebrated the 20th anniversary of their album Wisconsin Death Trip in 2019. The original lineup toured to commemorate the album…with a singer dubbed Xer0. Because Wayne Static died in 2014 of a deadly combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. News came out that the band was recording a new album using some of Wayne’s demos and compositions, a guest spot from Al Jourgenson of Ministry, and would feature this new, unknown, masked singer, which has been a controversial move for some of their fans. The band, on the other hand, maintains that Wayne would have found it hilarious. (https://www.loudersound.com/features/static-x-the-story-behind-that-controversial-wayne-static-death-mask).

And man is this album amazing. What a testament to Wayne and a reminder of the magic the original line-up had together. 

For those new to Static-X, their hit song “Push-It” has been a staple of the industrial rock/metal scene for years. On this new album, Project Regeneration, Volume I, there’s that same electronic-tinged in-your-face feel of their early work, but the melodic atmosphere of powerhouse bands like Korn, Rammstein, or even Rob Zombie can be heard in the mix. “Worth Dyin’ For” has a hooky chorus, and “Terminator Oscillator” is a hard-hitting tune with a chanting rhyme that is the metal fan’s version of INXS’s “Mediate.” My favorite track on the album so far—and that changes each time I listen because they’re all great—is “Something Of My Own,” a powerful, emotional jam that resonates with its lyrics about opportunities missed due to the loss of Wayne. 

The hard rock/metal scene these days has matured from the days of nu-metal when Static-X first set up shop, but Project Regeneration, Volume I fits in nicely with today’s sound. The album is a great tribute to a band that obviously has a lot more to offer, and it’s one I will be jamming to for quite some time. 

That’s it for this month. Stay Tuned for Ro’s Recs…

R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. You can also find her hope-filled posts at www.queeromanceink.com.

Nightmare Fuel : Olivia Mabel

Hello Addicts,

Olivia Mabel lived with her husband Travis and son Aiden on the Footlights Ranch, a thirteen-acre property near Celina, TX. Tragedy struck the family on March 13, 1990, when Aiden, then seven years old, drowned in a pond on their land. In her grief, Olivia began distancing herself from everyone: friends, family, work, and even her husband. There was a divorce, and Travis moved to the New England area, leaving Olivia all alone. The last reported sighting of her was in September 1991.

On February 27, 1994, police were dispatched to the Footlights Ranch after they traced a series of silent 911 calls to there. The home appeared empty, dusty, and neglected — all save for one room, Aiden’s former bedroom. Unlike the rest of the house, it was kept neat and tidy. It also contained an altar to the deceased child, complete with hand-drawn images and letters addressed to him. On the front of the altar were Tibetian and Sanskrit words which, when translated, said “Construct” or “To Build.” It was in this room that police found the decomposing remains of Olivia Mabel. She sat in a rocking chair with a hand-crafted stick doll clutched tight in her hands.

Although she had been dead for a while by that point, it was a letter dated 2-27-94, the same day of the 911 calls and discovery of the scene, that increased the creep factor. It read:

My Aiden,

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

I should have never let it get like this.

I’m leaving.

I will not let you keep me you ViLE, EViL CREATURE.

Mommy’s coming for you, Aiden, my sweet Aiden.

Mommy loves you.

Some believe that Olivia tried to create a tulpa version of her son based on translations of the Sanskrit on the alter. Further, they think both the tulpa and Olivia’s spirit still inhabit the home. Others see a woman unwilling to let go of her son who slipped into madness and despair. Although the case is officially closed, many aspects of it remain a mystery to this day.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J.

Odds and Dead Ends : Secret Doorways in Takashi Miike’s ‘Audition’

Usually when I write articles analysing films I have a fair idea that what I’m writing about has a chance of being somewhere close to the mark. With this one, I’m putting forth a personal interpretation of something which struck me when I made the sensible (read: stupid, because it disturbed me once more) decision to re-watch Takashi Miike’s infamous 1999 shocker, Audition.

            As always, I will be discussing bits of plot detail. So, you know, SPOILER WARNING.

            For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, or watched it in a while, here’s a brief overview. Aoyama, who works for a film company, finds himself looking for a new companion after his son suggests he re-marries, his wife having passed some time ago. To this end, he and his colleague set up a series of auditions for a film that will never get made, to find Aoyama the perfect girlfriend. He falls quickly for Asami Yamazaki, a quiet yet beautiful young woman, who hides dark secrets behind her naive exterior.

            When I was re-watching it, taking notes sometimes as I do, I found myself struck by the constant use of doorways and doorframes. Often, the action would take place in one room but the camera would be placed in another room entirely, looking in. On occasion, the action, a speaking character, for instance, would move behind the walls so that we can’t see them. This framing occurring throughout the film, and it’s the sort of setup which doesn’t just happen; you have to make the conscious decision that you’re going to block a scene in this way.

            The cynical viewer would suggest that it’s just Miike’s style to have lots of static shots where the action just plays out. This happens in many of his films, and considering his prolific output, one could argue that it means he doesn’t have to set up large bits of equipment for big camera moves and so can just film more. The film was made in three weeks (and apparently this was a week longer than Miike usually made a film in), so it might be a definite factor in the shot choices. He’s used to very little time to get the footage, so he makes sure it’s filmed in a way to require minimal changes between shots, for maximum efficiency in the schedule.

            And yet Miike also has the camera moves down when he needs to (there’s a very specific, disorienting flip in a bed about halfway through the film which demonstrates this), suggesting that everything is thought through. So it doesn’t hold completely that it’s just for efficient shooting schedules. No, there’s definitely a specific, storytelling reason for this consistent framing.

            Considering much of the story is based on the theme of dark secrets, and of things hidden coming to light, I’d like to argue here that the repeated doorway framing suggests something about this theme. By showing the walls of the room the camera is situated in, we are shown a frame within a frame. This could suggest something a larger whole, a secret within an exterior facade. We also must consider the idea of doorways as a portal. The world around us changes when we move from one room to another; we end up in a different place, a different world. It seems consistent with this symbolism that there is therefore a suggestion of two different worlds, that of secrets inside the doorway and an outside appearance, and we are being allowed to look into this other, hidden reality that the characters hide from the apparent truthful world.

            Several examples suggest themselves to support this. At the beginning of the film, Aoyama and his son are eating dinner in a dining room, framed by the doorway, as they discuss that Aoyama should look to re-marry. The secret he keeps of misleading someone to have an excuse to gain their affections begins here with this conversation. In a different, pivotal scene, which hints at Asami’s darkness, she waits with her hair down for the phone to ring. A large, tied up sack suddenly rocks violently behind her. Our understanding of this character, and that she hides darker secrets, is changed completely by this moment, so much so that Miike goes on to break several filmmaking conventions (including the traditional 180-degree rule, which keeps characters in a conversation on the same sides of the frame for ease of understanding) to emphasize this now unstable relationship between the audience and Asami’s outwardly unassuming persona. This pivotal shot is, once again, shot through a doorway. Inside the doorway, secrets are seen.

            There are many more such instances of this doorway framing in the film. Asami is seen standing on a balcony outside at their holiday cabin, dressed all in innocent white, whilst standing through a doorway. From our renewed understanding of her, the purity of her colour combined with the doorway’s suggestion of secrecy and falsity implies that this shining white innocence may not be what it appears. Near the end of the film, Aoyama succumbs to drugged whisky whilst standing on the threshold between two rooms in his house, and the camera is angled in such a way so that his fall happens almost completely within the doorframe.

            And then in the final moments of the film, Asami and Aoyama are both on the floor, wounded and dying, looking at each other through an open doorway. Here the frame connects them because now their secrets have all been spilled, and they watch one another on either side of this world. This is the first time that they see each other’s secrets, exposed and open to each other completely for the first time in the film. There is nowhere to hide anymore, and indeed they have nothing left to hide. Both of them, like the camera, can see into the dark interiors of their lives.

            Until Miike comes out and says that it was indeed intentional to express this theme, we have no way of knowing. But this use of doorways, and our looking through them into a scene beyond, is incredibly common throughout the film and is almost certainly deliberate. It might also be that Miike did this to suggest a distance, a loneliness, in the characters; he often uses long shots in the film to make characters isolated and alone, so to use these doorframes for similar emotional reasons, if not thematic, isn’t too far-fetched. In either case, it’s certainly an additional dynamic which helps raise Audition to something which is far more sophisticated than we might have given it credit for in the past.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: kjudgemental

Gypsy Mob : Episode 2 / Don Giletti

Don Giletti stood at the window behind his desk, staring at the darkness outside his mansion. Behind him, the hulking figure of a man stood in one corner of the room, his features obscured. He may have been looking at the third man in the room, the one cowering before Don Giletti’s desk, cradling his right hand. The fingers of this hand were bent at odd angles and the middle finger looked to be pulled from its socket. The man’s breathing was harsh, the only sound in the room. 

“You ‘ave made me displeased wit’ you,” Giletti said, his voice regretful. “De only question left is whether or not to let you walk from here, boasting of your incompetence and lack of consequences.”

“Don Giletti,” the man whispered, straining to speak through a throat swollen by two enormous handprints. “I crave…I beg your pardon. Had I but known the territory was yours, I never—”

“It is ALL my territory!” Giletti thundered, turning from the window to fix the man with a cold stare. “De very ground you walk on is under our control for hundreds of miles in all directions. Yet you see fit to set up shop in what amounts to my front yard.”

“Yes, of course,” the man panted, his eyes straying to the silent figure in the corner. “Please, Don Giletti, let me prove to you my loyalty. Allow me the chance to do this, killing me will do no—”

“You are correct, death would hinder your chance at redemption. I only question whether or not your redemption is worth it,” Giletti said. He folded his hands before him, staring the man down. 

“Don Giletti, sir, I will be your most loyal, most trustworthy—”

“Tony,” Giletti said, interrupting the stammered protests of devotion. He had heard them all before. “Mr Sanders has pleaded his life, but cannot be allowed to walk free. Please give him a lasting reminder of our feelings for interlopers, that his loyalties never waver again.”

The man’s eyes grew huge and shot to the hulking figure which had come to life. Stepping out of the shadows was a huge man, easily over seven feet tall, in an immaculate black tuxedo. His head was bald as a cue ball, his hands the size of dinner plates. His face was an expressionless blank as he advanced on Sanders, the smaller man squealing with fear, his feet scrabbling for purchase on the slick tile floor. 

“Nonono Don Giletti no you don’t have to do that please no—” 

His words degenerated into gibberish as the giant man knelt beside the chair, seizing Sanders’ calf in one giant hand, his foot with the other. Tendons stood out on Tony’s massive hands as he twisted. 

Sanders screamed, an inarticulate sound of agony and horror as the bones in his ankle cracked in with a sickening wet pop. Tony twisted in the other direction, bringing more popping and screaming sounds from the man as his bones were neatly sheared from each other. Setting his grip, Tony pulled. The muscles under his tuxedo arms bulged and with a sickening sound of tearing meat, the foot of Albert Sanders was torn off in his hand. The wretched man’s screams pleased Don Giletti as he trimmed the end of a large cigar. 

“Thank you, Tony. Now please escort Mr Sanders to the door before he bleeds all over my floor.”

The big man lifted one of Sanders’ arms, placing it around his own massive shoulders and hiking Sanders to his foot. Dragging the sobbing man to the door of the study, Tony booted it open and dropped Sanders in a pile over its threshold. 

“You’ll see yourself out, Mr Sanders?” Giletti asked, lighting his cigar with a silver lighter. “Do try and make it outside before expiring. Good night.”

Tony shut the door, blotting out the man’s suffering. Going to a cupboard in the corner, he pulled out a mop, bucket, and bleach. Going to the French doors on one side of the room, he slid one open, taking the bucket outside to the expansive grounds, and hose outlet. 

Giletti surveyed the blood around the chair Sanders had occupied. A few buckets of bleach water and it would be as though it had never happened. Picking up the phone on his desk, he pressed a button to connect him to the local police station. The other end rang twice before it was picked up. 

“Giletti?” The voice was low and gravelly, hesitant and slightly fearful. 

“Yes, Chief Murphy, and if anybody else ever calls you from this number, I want to know about it,” said Giletti, blowing a perfect smoke ring at the ceiling. “I wanted to thank you personally for your information regarding the late Albert Sanders, it was most entertaining to speak wid him.”

“Of course, sir, you know anything I can do—”

“I do know, and I appreciate you doing it. Tomorrow there will be two tickets to the opera on your desk, along with your favorite whiskey. Don Giletti always rewards loyalty.” A second smoke ring joined the first. Behind him, Tony re-entered from the grounds, the bucket full of water. He closed the French door silently and set the bucket down beside the puddle of blood. Splashing a healthy portion of bleach into it, the huge man set to with the mop. 

“Thank you very much, sir, please don’t hesitate—”

Don Giletti hung up the phone, puffing on his cigar as he watched Tony mopping. 

“Once you are done wid de stain, find Mr Sanders and dispatch him cleanly, will you, Tony? His life no longer seems worth living.”

The man nodded once, never looking up from his work. 

Two raps came at Giletti’s door, light and reluctant. 

“Enter,” said Giletti, sucking on his cigar. 

Matteo entered, his eyes on the trail of blood. Behind him, Giletti could see the pile that was Albert Sanders laying in the hallway, having drug himself only a few feet before passing out. 

“Tony, dis blood puddle can wait. Please tend to what’s left of Mr Sanders before de stain in de hallway becomes permanent.” Giletti gestured with his cigar.

Obediently, Tony stood, leaving the mop in the bucket. Stepping carefully over the puddles, he walked around Matteo, who flinched noticeably as he neared. The big man turned, shutting the double doors softly behind him. 

“Matteo!” Don Giletti said expansively, leaning back in his seat with the cigar in his mouth. “How did my little girl enjoy de carnival?”

“Don Giletti…” Matteo said before trailing off, his mouth dryer than he could ever remember. The whole way back from the Gypsy encampment, he had been rehearsing what to tell his prospective father-in-law and had gotten no further than those two words. “Don Giletti…” he said again, once again coming up short. 

Giletti took the cigar from his mouth and frowned. “Where is Bianca, Matteo?”

“G-gone,” Matteo squeaked, his eyes falling again and again on the puddle of blood and bucket before him. 

Giletti stared at him wordlessly, the cigar describing lazy curls of smoke up to the ceiling. Matteo felt two inches tall. 

“Sir, she went to the fortune teller’s tent. I went…somewhere else, and when I came back to the fortune tent, they told me she had left. I could not find her anywhere and her phone goes to voice mail. I thought I should come back and tell you, sir, before much more time had passed.”

Giletti continued to stare, eyes boring holes into Matteo. 

“Sir, I’m sorry,” Matteo gabbled, now talking faster as though to buy himself time. “If you want me to sir I’ll go back and find her I know I can, maybe I just didn’t check closely enough because I thought maybe she could have—”

“Where did you go, Matteo, dat you left my daughter alone wid de Gypsies?”

Giletti’s voice was very quiet but it cut through Matteo’s babble, shutting the young man up with a snap as his heart sank. Very few had successfully lied to Giletti. 

“I—uh, that is to say, I went—”

“You have one chance to tell me de truth, young man. I would advise you to take it.”

The stories of Giletti’s responses to deceit came back to Matteo, that coupled with the blood on the floor compelled him to the truth, come what may. 

“I went to the Pleasure Tent, sir,” Matteo said in a rush, as though hoping hearing it quickly would be easier for the patriarch. 

“De Pleasure Tent,” repeated Giletti, still staring.

“Yes sir.”

“Am I correct in assuming dat is what it sounds like?”

Matteo’s eyes dropped. “Yes, sir,” he mumbled. 

“You mean to sit dere and tell me dat while on a date wid my daughter, you ditched her to go to bed wid a Gypsy prostitute and now have no idea where she is?”

Matteo was sure he was sealing his fate as he whispered, “Yes, sir.”

The Don’s face was a mask of cold fury as he stubbed the cigar out in a gold ashtray. “De only ting keeping you alive is de fact dat you did not try to conceal dis from me. I will consider de matter closed if you can produce her, tonight. If you cannot, Tony will have to get involved. You don’t want Tony to get involved.”

“No, sir,” squeaked Matteo, hardly daring to believe his reprieve. 

“Get out of my sight, Matteo,” Giletti’s voice was laden with disgust. “If I see you again widout my daughter—”

But he was talking to an empty room; Matteo had already wrenched the door open and fled. 

 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: In The Earth

 

 

Plotline: As the world searches for a cure to a devastating virus, a scientist and a park scout venture deep into the woods. As night falls, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness as the forest comes to life around them.

Who would like it: Fan of mythologies, folklore, monsters, slow burns and slasher films will love this movie!

High Points: I like the concept of using science to try to communicate with nature

Complaints:

Overall: I really liked this film, it’s the kind of movie that you’ll see something different every time you watch it

Stars: 4 1/2

Where I watched it: Screener

 

Free Fiction : In the Winter Forest by John Drury

In the Winter Forest by John Drury

Before the man stood a large monolithic slate constructed with a dark abyss-like cosmic sludge, ever moving and crawling like one thousand termites upon the carcass of a long-deceased animal.  Each character shifted and writhed through the sludge, eternally fighting for release from the confines of the monolith but forever holding their distinct and awe-inspiring shape with both grandeur and solidity. The alien etchings presented themselves to the world like the proclamation of some unholy deity, warning those of the unspeakable sufferings that laid in wait for any who dared step foot upon this god-forsaken land.

All around D’Hiver, a cold winter wind blew, the screams of the wind creating a cacophony that was further amplified by the large monolithic structure that laid bare before him. He awoke sprawled before the structure on his hands and knees in a position of prostration with no remembrance of his past or identity. Only a brief recollection of a life previously lived presided within his now deteriorated mind. Within that memory, a single visage presided but had now been smeared away from his mind like the smudged face of an ancient painting that has long been lost to the sands of time.

Visions of preconceived understandings and depictions of Purgatory and Hell raced through his mind in a desperate effort to attribute their characteristics with those of the world that now laid claim to his soul. All around snow-covered plains laid barren before the man, and far in the distance, a ring of monstrously large tree-like structures surrounded the plains, almost like the gates into a more hellish landscape. No sign of life was evident, both on the plains and through the trees far in the distance. Outside of the harrowing screams of the bone-chilling wind, there existed only silence which echoed through his mind almost as loud as the hallow wind itself.

One last look upon the monolith filled the man with an existential dread of the future that invariably waited for him—still, all the while providing no understanding of who could have potentially created such a horrific structure.

The reverberating black energy of the monolith drove D’Hiver forward, pushing him towards the ring of trees. With no apparent motive or direction, the man went onwards for what he believed to be hours or potentially even days, as there were no stars in the sky, no sun or moon to guide his path or provide any structure to the time spent pushing forever onwards. The only light apparent on this world was an unearthly white glow that cast itself from high above onto the snow below, calling him forward and forever guiding his path.

With each step, the journey away from the monolith became increasingly more difficult, the physical and psychological pain pushing D’hiver far beyond his breaking point. The man’s hunger and need for rest had been exonerated, replaced with a pang of gnawing unfound existential torment and guilt that tore away at his heart perpetually. With each step forward, the more the jagged ice ripped the skin from his bare feet, leaving a trail of blood upon the plains. When inspected, his feet showed no sign of trauma or deterioration; only when set upon the earth, did they begin to bleed and toil away upon the endless void of snow once again. Visions of the wasted body of Prometheus chained to the rocks of Caucasus raced through D’Hivers mind as the man began to feel as if he had been sentenced to a fate similar to that of the bringer of fire.

He stood before the immense trees that seemed to move and sway in a way similar to that of the wordings etched into the monolith. Once the man mustered the strength to pass through the gates, he found that the ground below the trees was barren, inexplicably protected by the vastness of the sprawling canopy of pine-like branches miles above the surface. Once his feet left the snow, the pain immediately subsided, and instantly the air had become completely silent; the halls of the forest seemed to eliminate the horrific screams and bellows of the plains that now lay a mere foot behind D’hiver. Just as the cries of the plains had echoed through his skull like the strokes of a bell, the silence seemed to permeate through the entirety of his body, slowly filling every crevice and niche until his entire being had become a well of pressure ready to burst at the seams. Unsure of which pain he found worse, he continued onwards, blocking the new sensations that at first felt like a relief but now felt like a fire from which the frying pan had directly delivered him. 

The sensations of hunger still seemed to escape him, but the starvation of days without rest seemed to catch up with D’hiver finally. Immediately he fell to the forest floor, cushioned by a bed of ancient pine needles, which ushered him into a deep, dreamless sleep.

For years the man slept, always without movement or breathing; he laid there, becoming endlessly covered by the falling pine needles which stabbed into his body relentlessly until there was no skin left to puncture. A deep guttural calling finally awoke D’hiver from deep within the forest itself, which harked him onwards in the same ancient language that briefly graced the foggy mind of the wayward traveler from long ago when he traveled the plains of the ancient monolith.

And once more, his journey continued. 

Scorched by the fires of some unholy force, the building lay before D’hiver, small in size when compared to the vastness of the trees, which D’hiver had called his own for what had become years now. The building, constructed in the same material as the monolith, and shaped like that of a church, presented the man with a single doorway, for which he slowly approached. With each step, the calling grew more vigorous, D’hiver felt as if his journey had finally reached its conclusion.

The inside of the building was black as night. Every particle of light was absorbed and crushed under the enormous weight of the darkness. From deep within the shadows, a figure walked forward towards D’hiver. With hands outstretched and body prostrated towards the unholy figure, D’hiver presented his unwavering love and commitment the same way he had towards the monolith all those years ago when he had first awoken. 

With each step the figure took, the pressure lodged deep within D’hiver’s soul continued to grow, and the guttural voice’s call grew louder and louder. At last, before the figure was just about to present itself, D’hiver realized that the call was never a call; it was, in fact, a cry, a cry of warning, the same cry of warning that the monolith had attempted to communicate to him all those years ago. He should have never come here; his lack of purpose and direction mixed with the years of physical and psychological torment blinded him to the truth. The enticing possibility of some form of reward or fulfillment laying in wait at the end of the trail kept D’hiver moving.

However, he was wrong, and it was too late to go back now.

The creature took its last steps, and once D’hiver’s eyes bore witness to the abomination that had laid claim to his soul, the well of pressure lodged deep within D’hiver’s body finally gave way. In that very instant, all of the unholy white light absorbed by the pitch-black walls that surrounded the two figures finally collapsed upon the body of D’hiver.

Thousands of miles away, far beyond the towering trees and into the unholy snowcovered fields the man awakes, once again, before the great monolith.


John Drury is a High School student with a soft spot for horror and writing that’s just trying to get his voice out there. . “Over the past couple of years, I have been invested in listening to experimental music and watching older horror movies, which have played a vital role in the desire to focus my time on the creative process. I am only a student right now, but I hope to get my voice heard while developing my ability to create exciting stories. In the future, I would like to publish an anthology or potentially even a full-length story. Unfortunately, I only have one piece of writing under my belt, so my main focus will be on developing my craft and finding new and exciting stories to share.” If you enjoyed this story, watch for more from John and follow him at https://linktr.ee/JohnDru

Book Review : Clockwork Wonderland

Clockwork Wonderland Review by Ariel Da Wintre

I really enjoyed this Anthology. The book consisted of 14 stories and a poem. It has something
for everyone; scary, intriguing and creative. All the stories have the theme of clocks and Alice in
Wonderland characters. The writers added new characters, taking the classic story and
giving it a horror element. I think this works really well as parts of the original story could be
considered scary all on their own. I found the stories very original and some I didn’t
want to end.

The book starts with a poem by Emerian Rich, “Hatter’s Warning”, and it reminded me of the poems in the original Alice in Wonderland.

The first story is, “Jabberclocky”, by Jonathan Fortin. This story is about a boy named Henry and his unexpected visitor,  the Hatter. I really liked this and I was completely drawn into Henry’s story and the scary Jabberclocky. I loved the end but I didn’t want it to end.

I am still tripped out by the very scary, “Hands of Time” by Stephanie Ellis. It is about an apprentice named Rab who meets an executioner and the timekeeper. I don’t want to give anything away but if you like a bloody good time this is the story for you.

Next, “Clockwork Justice”, by Trinity Adler, is another thrilling story. Alice finds herself in Wonderland and accused of murder. Who did she murder? I won’t say but will she keep her head? Will she solve the crime? All my favorite characters are part of the story Mad Hatter, Cheshire cat and more.

The story, “My Clockwork Valentine”, by Sumiko Saulson is about a girl named Blanche and what happens to her. I loved the imagery in this story and the concept of time. You will get swept away by the story and hope our heroine survives.

“Blood Will Have Blood” by James Pyne, starts with the main character, Alicia, getting pulled into Wonderland and being told she is the new Alice. I think you can see where this is going. I found this story creative and different and it is about a blood clock. It is pretty scary I don’t want to be part of that Wonderland.

I loved “Midnight Dance” by Emerian Rich. This story follows the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. It has a very different twist but with characters we all know and love from the book and Zombies!

The next story, “A Room for Alice” by Ezra Barany, is a scary story that follows Alice as she wakes up in a scary place and meets Tweedle D. I enjoyed this story it had lots of plots and twists and left me thinking for some time afterward. It had a lot of creepy elements and I found it very descriptive.

“Frayed Ears” by H.E. Roulo is a story I loved. It has a Rabbit going through many childhood fairy tales. I couldn’t wait to see who would show up next to help the White Rabbit and will he make it on time and who is causing this to happen.

The next story is “King of Hearts,” by Dustin Coffman. This story had a great twist, a guy goes down the rabbit hole instead of Alice. Lenny is checking the closet for his daughter who hears a strange noise and finds himself in Wonderland. He meets the White Rabbit and other characters. Watch out for the Queen of Hearts!

“Riddle”, by N. McGuire, is about a young lady named Alice. She follows the white rabbit on a train and she is drawn into a very strange situation with different Wonderland characters.  Will she solve the riddle?

The next story is, “Tick Tock”, by Jaap Boekestein. This story has all the characters you love but they are not the way you remember them. Wonderland is at war and you don’t know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. This story will keep you intrigued.

The story, “Gone A’ Hunting,” by Laurel Anne Hill, follows a young lady named Alease who is chasing the White Rabbit for dinner. She gets more than she’s bargaining for and needs to escape. Will the White Rabbit help her after she was just trying to kill him? Great story, scary to the end.

I really liked “The Note”, by Jeremy Megargee. It had a great concept. Wonderland is not the same and the character telling the story seems so lost and sad. The story has a lot of suspense. I enjoyed the whole vision of this scary wonderland.

The next story is “Half Past”, by K.L. Wallis. This story follows a girl named Alyssa. She is bumped into by someone who drops their pocket watch. She tries to return it and finds herself traveling on a train to Wonderland with Albert Hare. Alyssa ends up going with the hare to his sister Hatty’s home where everyone keeps calling her Alice. There are great twists and turns in this story. The Queen of Hearts in this story which keeps you wondering until the end; will Alyssa/Alice survive.

The final story is, “Ticking Heart”,  by Michele Roger. The story is about a friend of Alice’s coming to visit her in Wonderland and something is very wrong. The Queen of Spades wants to take over and it’s going to be bloody. Will the good guys save Alice and Wonderland?

I enjoyed this collection of short stories thoroughly. I also found myself looking at the cover thinking it really fits this book. I could read these stories over and over again. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it.