13 Questions with the Masters 2012

Are you ready Horror Addicts?! It’s time for the second ever Masters of Macabre Challenge! We have 5 horrifyingly devilish authors this season and they are ready to scare you back into your momma’s arms. This season’s theme is surrounded by dark rumors and terrifying ends. That’s right…CURSES! But that’s enough chit-chat; let’s get to the meat and bones of this contest, the authors!

First up we have Philip “Norvaljoe” Carroll who was plagued with “The Curse of Winning the Lottery.” This is Philip’s first time to be featured on HA and he is excited to be here. “There are a lot of great authors who present their work here. Horror isn’t my normal genre, so it’s fun to try out something new. Besides, Emerian Rich is one of my BayCon friends and it’s fun to wander the dark halls with her.” For this challenge Carroll stepped out of his urban fantasy style and has joined us on the dark side. Though Philip was hesitant to share part of his story for fear of giving something away he kindly shared with me a little background about the story. “I’d hate to give anything away. I did want to place the setting in California, so it begins in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California, though, I don’t think that ever really comes out. One of my all-time favorite authors is James P. Blaylock. He has set some of his stories on the coast of California. Specifically, ‘The Digging Leviathan’ is set on the northern coast. Reminiscing about that story I thought the foggy, wet, forest above Mendocino could provide an eerie atmosphere.”

For those of you new to the Carroll fan club, Philip is not just an author. “I’m an Army trained Certified Orthotist in the Central Valley of California. I’m a husband of 30 years. I have three children, two still at home who joined our family by adoption. I’ve been actively learning to write for the last four years and have focused on prompt-based short fiction to hone my skills. As of this week I’ve submitted 192 consecutive entries in the 100 Word Weekly Challenge at www.podcasting.isfullofcrap.com. I submitted almost 75 stories to The Great Hites Podcast and have had short stories in several benefit anthologies. I’m a staff editor at www.FlyingIslandPress.com where I slush read, edit and record stories for our, ‘kind-of’, monthly science fiction and fantasy short story magazine. I have one YA, urban fantasy, novel at www.podiobooks.com, The Price of Friendship, and hope to have my second up and running by the end of July.”

Next up is a man known to all Horror Addicts as Knightmist. That’s right addicts our very own KM is participating in this year’s MMM Challenge! I asked Knightmist (aka Shawn Micallef ) how it felt to be on the other side of HA, “Well I cannot said it’s a new feeling as I did share my writing back when Horror Addicts was using an actual forum site.  It was in the day of our Ning days.  This story is different however as it’s been put to voice and people are actually going to be voting for it.  I have to say that as I try to get some short stories published this is a huge step as I hope what I get back on the story will help me go further with the writing.”

The theme of Shawn’s story is the Otzi’s Curse, for those of you unfamiliar with the curse “it is a modern day Mummy Curse.  Otzi is a mummy that was found in the Alps near Austria and Italy.  They are saying that some people have died who have come in contact with the mummy. We’ll leave the how they died to [KM’s] story.” Speaking of Micallef’s curse he explained to me the roots of his inspiration for the story. “Often it seems that the press will get a hold of a story and give it wings. They’ll have the story go on and on and gain worldwide fame if it’s at all possible.  So I felt in the case of the Otzi’s Curse I wondered what it would be like to have a member of the press come in touch with a “supposed” curse.”

Knightmist is an “eclectic person as [he] has a multitude of likes from everything and this shows in [his] movie and book collections.  The movies cover the classics of the 1930’s to modern day and have so many genres. There is War, History, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Comedy, Drama, Animation and Anime.  [His] reading is much the same as it covers much of the same genres.” Shawn then added, “I’m married with no kids, well I take that back. There are two cats of which are as unique as one can see.  One cat will play fetch with his cat toys and the other is the weight of a good bowling ball.  🙂  If anything I’d just say in a way I may sound very open but I’m a bit guarded and like to use my writing as a way to escape the struggles that life can bring and to just keep my mind active.”

This next name is one you will remember from last year’s MMM Challenge, Rish Outfield, and his story on Entomophobia (the fear of insects). “It’s good to be back,” were the first words from Rish. “I consider myself a writer, but I don’t do enough of it.  I need pushes like your writing contest to make me do the work instead of shirk it, and last year’s experience was a good one, so I thought I’d try it again.  This year was harder, though, as I somehow confused the deadline and found myself needing to finish the story, get it to a reader to record, edit the audio file, and send it [out], all in the same week.  That made for a lot more work this year than last, but it was pleasant work, like planting a garden or having a rival killed, where you know it will be worth it after a while.”

This year though Rish is taking on the challenge of the Curse of Macbeth. Outfield’s story titled The Scottish Scene is set in an everyday high school. “[Having] primarily female characters, made for difficulty when I realized I not only needed three female readers, but had only two days to find them.  Ultimately, I had my friend Renee Chambliss record all the female characters, and she’s talented enough that they all sound different.” While researching his curse, [Rish] read that there were several possible origins for the idea that Shakespeare’s play was cursed, and one of them was that he stole the witches’ dialogue from a real coven, and they cursed his play as revenge.  That idea seemed really fascinating to [him], and [he] thought it would be fun to have it be the true origin of the curse.”

Rish claims to be “not much to write home about, unless you’re one of those cruel people who like to write about the creeps they see on the subway or bus stop, making fun of what losers they are. [I’ll try my best ;)] I majored in Film (Screenwriting) at college, and tried my hand at acting for a while there.  One of my dreams was to someday be a radio DJ, and when I had to leave California with my tail between my legs, I managed to get together with a friend with similar interests and we started a fiction podcast together.  At the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, I get to fulfill my writing, acting, and radio DJ aspirations, all for no paycheck!  But it has been a pleasure to perform other peoples’ stories and try and make audiences laugh for the past couple of years.”

Our next two Masters are Horror Addicts regulars, Don Pitsiladis and Dan Shaurette.

Don’s story this year “is titled Friends, Lovers, and Enemies.  It’s a love triangle story of sorts involving a man named Steven, his ex-girlfriend Renee, and his former best friend and Renee’s current boyfriend Jean Phillipe. When her boyfriend, Jean Phillipe, disappears under mysterious circumstances and the police unwilling to help, Renee goes looking for Steven’s help to find him.  She has her ideas on who possibly took him, but things don’t go as planned when it comes to the rescue.  It’s a much darker story compared to last year’s.”

“With a rather large family (wife, 4 boys, 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 4 kittens) and full time work, it isn’t always easiest to get free time.” To make up for this, Don usually works in about ½ an hour to an hour of writing in the mornings before work and a little at the end of the day. He also mentioned to me that he has started a review blog. “I started [the] review blog back in January to help me stick to a schedule, and for the most part it has helped.  Casa de Pitsiladis offers a Podcast Spotlight and Book Review every week with occasional movie reviews.  I hope to have some stories of my own to post starting this autumn.”

And last of our chilling authors but certainly not the least, HA Music Interviewer, Dan Shaurette! Get ready for the Curse of the Pharaohs and Dead Man’s Book. Dan was kind enough to clarify the meaning of his book title, “Dead Man’s Book, which is another name for the scrolls left behind with mummies in their sarcophagi.” His story is set in Egypt of course but “without spoiling too much, the story is about an archaeological dig in 1860 excavated by Abigaëlle Charest (voiced by the wonderful Lucie Le Blanc for the podcast), and the tragic consequences her team faces after taking a cursed scroll from the tomb.”

Writer, goth-geek, and Horror Addict this native Arizonian is a fan of all things Ancient Egypt. “So,” according to Shaurette, “I don’t think I was terribly cursed at all by drawing the “Curse of the Pharaohs” as my story prompt.” Even with his luck of the draw Dan suffers from the same ailment of most authors, staying on schedule and working writing into everyday life. “My fellow writers espouse the virtues of hitting a word count and keeping to a schedule. These things I also do, but I’ll admit let my personal deadlines slip when they must. My day job and my family come first. So, I sneak in writing whenever I can. For example, this very story will also become a prequel short story to the novel I am working on right now and has helped steer a direction with that.”

Well one thing is for sure with the horrors sure to come this MMM Challenge; I’ll be sleeping with the lights on soon. All these dark twisted minds are gunning for the coveted title of “Master of Macabre 2012.” But one thing is for sure, no matter what happens the boys can’t wait until next year’s challenge! Fans, don’t forget to check below for links to your favorite authors profiles and sites! 😉

Philip Carroll:  http://norvalsoutlook.blogspot.com

Knightmist aka Shawn Micallef: https://www.facebook.com/Knightmist

Rish Outfield: http://rishoutfield.blogspot.com/  http://dunesteef.com/category/rish-outfield/

Don Pitsiladis: http://www.myspace.com/dpitsiladis  http://twitter.com/#!/dlpitsiladis

Dan Shaurette: http://dan.shaurette.com/

#50 Movie Review: Event Horizon

Event Horizon came out in 1997 and opens up a world in which man has begun to explore and maybe even conquer, space. The film stars Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neil, and Kathleen Quinlan. The cast is rounded out by additional well know actors to a British audience.

EH takes the viewer into the near future were a deep space exploration mission has gone horrifically wrong. The ship, Event Horizon, and her crew were lost in space in the year 2040, but things may not be as they seem. The reason being is that seven years later the Event Horizon has reappeared and a message is received back on Earth.

The crew of the rescue ship, Lewis and Clark, only find out about their mission prior to setting eyes on the missing Event Horizon. It’s then when Doctor William Weir (Neil) tells them the true mission of the Event Horizon that was held secret from all but a select few in the government. The true mission of Event Horizon was to use a gravity drive to fold space and make space travel much easier.

Captain Miller (Fishburne) takes two members of his crew and enters the Event Horizon to investigate what happened aboard the ship. When they enter the ship, there is no one to be found, and as Miller puts it, “The ship is a tomb.” Sadly, Miller has no idea how correct he is. The first hint of what happened is when a crew member finds a floating corpse on the bridge. The eyes have been pulled out and the body cut and mangled. Shortly after this discovery, both ships are rocked by a violent event, and the Lewis and Clark is severely damaged.

What should the remaining crew aboard the ship do? There is only one option. To board the Event Horizon or perish in the vacuum of space. This is the point in which the film begins to jump into high gear. There is no other place for the crew to go as everyone must survive upon the Event Horizon. It is time to try and determine what happened aboard the ship those seven years ago when it used the gravity drive.

Event Horizon is a true horror film as we watch a group of people try and survive one catastrophe after another. They must find out what is happening and how to survive the mysteries that are about to plague them. Most of all, they may end up having to survive not only the mysterious ship, the vacuum of space, but each other as well. Viewers will get plenty of shocks during this movie and the added knowledge of having no place to run adds a layer of hopelessness to the crew. It’s not like your typical film in which they can jump in a car and drive off. In this case, there is no were to go, no place to hide, and no place to run.

#46 Movie Review: Death of a Ghost Hunter

Death of a Ghost Hunter is a low budget Horror Film that came out in 2007. The cast is primarily made up of unknown actors but the actress Patti Tindall, who plays the lead Carter Simms, does a great job. The rest of the cast are actors that may someday be seen in more films, or in the case of actor Mike Marsh, writing them.

The film opens with a story about how a family was murdered and then we see what appears to be an old film showing us what happened the night in question. There is a woman in white walking with a bloody knife, dragging a garbage bag, before washing her hands, placing the knife in the block and then shooting herself.

We then are informed how a renowned Ghost Hunter, Carter Simms, has been hired for $5000 to investigate the home by its current owner. It appears the home hasn’t seen many occupants since the murder and a caretaker had a terrible experience there. Carter takes the assignment and is told that she will have some people working with her. Carter is told that a writer and a videographer will be joining her during her investigation. Although Carter prefers to work alone, she accepts this fact as she is getting $5000 to investigate. There is one problem though, when the first night of the investigation begins, an additional person shows up saying she has been asked to assist the investigation as well.

The film moves along as we watch the Ghost Hunter meet with her team and plan her investigation. This is a great part of the film as we get to see the thought process and planning that goes into her investigation. This is something that is shown other times during the film and includes the use of a white board in the process. This shows almost a methodical police like plan of action to solve a crime and as the film progresses it appears that they just maybe solving a crime.

Death of a Ghost Hunter is a film that is somewhat unique in its telling. It takes time to show the process used in the investigation. There are points of conflict that come from the unexpected guest, but this adds to some tension in the film. As things start to get more interesting in the investigation and the bumps in the night become more real, the film really starts to break out to being a chilling tale. There is plenty to keep the viewer on edge and keep a person nervous and scared.

The acting in the film can be a bit off at times, but if you can let yourself get past that, you will find a great film. The way the film helps the viewer to uncover what happened that fateful night when the family was murdered is greatly done and you may find yourself trying to guess what happened. The film is certainly something worth viewing. The interaction of the characters, the plot, and the visuals used in the film are extraordinary considering its possible budget. Paranormal, thriller, suspense, and horror fans will enjoy this movie if they are willing to give it a shot.

#45 The Host Movie Review

The Host is a South Korean Horror Film that came out in 2006. The film saw its premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2006 before it was released theatrically in Korea. The film has won many awards and received numerous award nominations. Although the film has received all this acclaim, it only received a limited US release and many Horror Fans have paid the film little attention.

The Host opens with a doctor telling his lab assistant that he hates dust. He prefers a clean working area and after wiping the dust off the bottle of formaldehyde, orders the liquid be poured down the sink. The doctor is warned that the sink leads out to the Han River, but the doctor does not care about procedure or the river. The viewer gets to see the assistant, now wearing a mask, dump a bottle of formaldehyde down the drain. As the camera pans, we see that there are over a hundred empty bottles with more yet to empty.

The film then does some small time jumps to a more modern day Seoul, Korea. We are introduced to a rather dysfunctional family. It’s not long after this that we find the people along the bank of the river enjoying their day, when they notice something hanging from the bridge. As the watchers start throwing food out at the shape, the creature shows it true self and begins a run thru the crowds crushing and devouring people as it goes. Sadly, for one family, it takes their young girl with it as it leaves.

The movie follows the exploits of the family of Hyun-Seo as they try to find their little girl and get her back. The film is full of concepts that are not often seen in many horror films today. The film does an amazing job at investigating the family dynamic and the way they interact and think of each other. The father does his best to get his oldest children to see their slow-witted brother as a man.

The story takes off as we see the civil police agencies and South Korean government try to deal with the creature. It is decided by the United Nations that they are unable to contain the situation and even worse, the creature maybe carrying a virus.

The Host shows us that Horror can come not just from a creature, but from the feelings we may carry for others, and our environment. We watch as this family tries to save their little girl and at the same time has disconnection and tragedy hit them through their trials. The film has moments of shock not just from a sudden appearance of the creature but events that happen when the creature is not involved.

There is one big question that begins to show itself as you watch the film. Who is the real monster?

#42 Skinwalkers Movie Review

A boy is about to go from a young boy to a young man as he approaches that lucky first teen year of thirteen.  Well, in actuality there is a reason that the number thirteen is seen as an unlucky number and this young boy, Timothy, is about to find out why as that magical day approaches. 

The film Skinwalkers introduces us to a Native American myth were people have the ability to take the form of an animal.  The Native Americans saw this gift as a great prize, but as any gift, it holds a dark side.  Those who choose to eat the flesh and thirst for blood crave power.  There are others who just suffer with the curse and they want the curse end. 

Skinwalkers follows the urgency of a band of werewolves lead by the evil Varek who are trying to find and kill Timothy.  They are thwarted on this campaign by Timothy’s Uncle Jonas and a loyal band of friends and family.   The problem is that neither Timothy or his mother, Rachel, have any idea what is going on and why the evil werewolves want Timothy.

So, what makes Timothy so special? Well, it is the fact that Timothy is a half breed as his father was a Skinwalker and his mother was a normal woman.  This is the reason that Uncle Jonas and friends will give their life to protect Timothy and his mother.  The problem is that they have kept Timothy’s secret from his mother as well.

As his thirteenth birthday approaches, the moon begins to turn red as the prophecy of old is becomes true.  Timothy is stricken with sickness due to this change approaching and those around him have to be more and more careful about ensuring they are well tied down at night. Varek and his band however, are on a murderous rampage trying to find the boy and upon learning his location, do not hesitate to ride into town.

There are some moments of humor and loss through this film and there is a great shoot out scene that takes place in a small town.  Afterall, who cannot help but love it when an elderly woman picks a gun out of her purse and starts tossing lead around. You just have to laugh at scenes such as this and hopefully you will. 

The look of the werewolves was assisted by the makeup of Stan Winston Studios which many horror fans should know.  Winston’s creature affects have been seen horror films such as, Lake Placid, Wrong Turn, Aliens, and many other films.  Thus, the werewolves in the film are primarily real makeup affects and less dependent on CGI.  This helps add some realism to the film that will draw the viewer in.  The larger use of CGI was in the background looks of the film especially in the red moon that becomes very prevalent as Timothy gets closer to his birthday.

The actors aren’t well-known to many, but there are some great performances.  Many will recognize Rhona Mitra (Rachel) who was in the last Underwold movie and Doomsday.  Elias Koteas (Uncle Jonas) has been in many horror films as well.

There is another way to look at the films central plot.  It may not just be a tale of people searching for a boy, but a tale of brother versus brother.  This type of plot has been seen in literature and film for decades and to find out who the brothers are, you will need to watch the film.