The Unforgettable Serena Toxicat

The Unforgettable Serena Toxicat
by Sumiko Saulson

I was so fortunate as to have Serena in my life for twenty-five long years, but honestly, it wasn’t enough. I had always imagined that we would grow to a ripe old age, making art in the Bay Area as so many folks around here do.  Serena’s multiple talents took her around the globe, however. She was a singer/songwriter in multiple projects, ranging from her personal project, the catwave band Protea, to performing with Apocalypse Theater, Stagefright, Starchasm, Manul Override, and others. A fashion designer, professional model, painter, and author, she performed burlesque with the Black Widows, and Scry of Lust. For nearly eight years, she lived in Paris, and she traveled to Egypt, where she recorded vocals in the King’s Chamber.

When I interviewed her in 2019, she said this of her writing:

“I’ve often viewed writing as my first real discipline, even though I was already painting. It is a calling, I suppose–unless what I answered was just somebody in the next room blowing their nose. It started out with a play I wrote in iambic pentameter, a 5-heartbeat/10-syllable-per-line rhythm, and staged at Bannam Place Theater in North Beach with the NOMA troupe we put together. I also won a poetry contest at my school. This is was [sic] when I was 17, and that was when saying “groovy,” “keen,” and “grass” was only barely ironic. I’m not sure why I love writing so much. Authors bring friends, rivals and all manner of events into being through the living power of thought. That’s certainly a part of it. Writing has an emotionally and energetically regulating quality, too. It tunes my mood, turns my switch, and makes me feel like a badass witch!”

Her novels included Evangeline and the Drama Wheel, a cosmic sci-fantasy about a cat-human hybrid named Evangeline in a cybergoth band, and Ghosts in Bones, a touchingly candid fictionalized account of a woman who struggled with anorexia nervosa that often mirrored Serena’s battle with the disorder.  Her poetry chapbooks included, You Send Forth Constellations, Paper Wings, and Consciousness Is a Catfish: stealthily grim, subtly spiritual poems. She had short stories in Wickedly Abled, Scry of Lust 1, and Scry of Lust 2.

DeTraci Regular, a friend and colleague, speaks highly of Serena:

“What I’d like to mention is her incredible generosity. She would do all the work of setting up an event and then invite others to essentially just show up. I’d never done a poetry reading before she invited me, despite having written for literally decades. She was so gracious and beautiful at these events, serving as the ‘hostess’ and making sure others got attention while also participating. In all the times I saw her, I never saw her be mean or petty with anyone, and I also saw her be especially gentle with those who really needed it. This was in juxtaposition to her amazing sharp-edged, intensely truthful writing and her many other talents, all of which pulled no punches. And of course she was wonderful with our ocelots and other cats. They trusted her and she trusted them. She was a true original, unlike anyone else I’ve ever known, and I’m grateful for her presence in our lives.”

Serena was an adoptee, and thrilled when she reconnected with her birth family about five years before she passed away. She is survived by her adoptive mother and her brother, Marc Rovetti.

She loved all things feline: cat ears, cat plushies, cat beanie babies, Hello Kitty, and Grumpy Cat.

Serena was very close to her cats and was predeceased by two of them: Isis and Selket. Selket passed away in February, just before shelter-in-place. Her loving concern for her elderly cat, who had feline leukemia, touched many people’s hearts, as seen by their support for the many fundraisers to support Selket. She also raised money for manuls, also known as Pallas Cats, a pet cause of hers. A vegetarian and an avid animal lover, she raised even more money for Isis Oasis, an animal sanctuary in Forestville, CA. Her 2015 event, ManulFest, a day-long music festival at Isis Oasis featuring Gitane Demone, held a special pride for her. It raised money for manuls in Southern California, as well as for Isis Oasis, which is home to ocelots, bobcats, alpacas, and other exotic animal rescues.

Serena’s Cat-Themed Fashion Show on CatSynth TV:

She has left behind an incredible body of work, which includes her books, also available on Lulu, her music on ReverbNation (Protea and Starchasm), and Bandcamp (old Protea and super recent Protea), and her latest on Bandcamp.

With wholesome, girl-next-door pin-up model looks, Serena enjoyed a substantial modeling career. including work in fashion, fetish, and commercial modeling. In fact, if you buy wigs from Spirit Halloween Store in October, you might see her smiling face modeling a Cleopatra haircut wig. Her many eye-catching tattoos, which covered most of her arms and legs, and often equally colorful hair made her a popular alternative fashion model. They contrasted with her. Serena turned 52 five months before she died. At 52, she was still a stunner and highly sought after as a professional model.

Serena was the founder of the Oakland Temple of Bast, where she served as its priestess among colorful murals depicting the cat goddess Bastet and other members of the Egyptian pantheon. Her service to them also led her to become a priestess at Isis Oasis. She worked as a life coach, and many of her self-help videos can still be found on her YouTube Channel, along with videos of her book readings, and musical performances.

As a visual artist, she not only painted, but also created unique fashions adorned with her feline artwork. She even published a Tarot deck featuring feline images.

Another friend and colleague of Serena’s, Bram Stoker Award-Winning horror author Rain Graves, had this to say of her:

“She sang beautifully, and was in a lot of different groups throughout the years. Ephemeral Orchestra, Apocalypse Theater, Stagefright (Sumiko’s band), and Protea were among her many projects and collaborations. She loved collaboration of any sort. It was fun for her to create with others. It helped her inward shyness, which was hidden by the ruse of extrovert. She was more introvert than many knew. Even when she modeled. She knew how to find the light.

When I was starting out as a writer of dark fiction and poetry, around the same time we met, she had written a few things already. They were very esoteric, brilliantly cerebral, and fluid. Evangeline and the Drama Wheel was among these, a little bit later. It was intelligent and stream of consciousness; ahead of its time. A lot of people didn’t know what to make of it, except other writers.

It was also autobiographical. Almost everything she created was, though tweaked and fictionalized to protect her friends and those she modeled characters after. “

French ‘Mau Bast’ Excerpt 2 – Chapel of the Chimes ‘Garden of Memory’ 2019 – -Manul Override

From the Vault: Horror-friendly Valentines Song Dedications

Are you addicts dreading the big heart day or are you welcoming it with open arms? Are you dreaming of that dark-clad beauty or are you currently in the arms of said goddess? Are you hoping for a quick fling or staying the hell away from all that lovey-dovey crap?

Well, here are some horror-friendly Valentines Songs to dedicate to your love, your ex, or that leather-clad hotty you happen to meet on the blessed day.

“This Love” by Pantera
Does your love hurt?

“So Close It Hurts” from the SUCK movie soundtrack
I almost killed you last night… Whoops!

“Love Song” by The Cure
Always a classic!

“Marry Me” by Emilie Autumn
A rather jaded and beautifully morbid look at marriage.

“Army of Love” by Kerli
For all you shiro goths, grab your army, and suit up!

“Love You To Death” by Type O Negative

“Let Me Rest In Peace” by Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Ever want your ex to just leave you the f- alone?

“Temple of Love” by Sisters of Mercy

Here are some other suggestions from our staff:

Dan Shaurette:
“Haunted” by Coven XIII

“Something I can never have” by Nine Inch Nails

Mimielle Marek LeFauve
“Todokanai Ai to Shitteita no ni Osaekirezu ni Aishitsuzuketa”  by Gackt

H. E. Roulo
“Invisible” by Switchblade Symphony

Do you have a favorite love or anti-love song to share?

Review: Alice in the Country of Hearts by Quinrose

alicein the countryAlert: Herbivores beware, rabbit discrimination! Warn your kits!

“These aren’t rabbit ears! They’re just long! I swear I am not a rabbit. I eat carrot cookies, cake, and tea. I like stuff made from carrots but I could never eat a carrot straight, so I’m obviously NOT a rabbit.”

How dare Alice group people together based on the size of their ears! This is just one of the amusing quips in the awesome manga series Alice in the Country of Hearts by Quinrose. This has to be one of my top ten manga series of all time.

The first thing that drew me to these beautiful books was the art. Illustrated by Soumei Hoshino, the detailed display of clocks, sweets, architecture, and fashion is phenomenal.

I think any Alice lover will enjoy the new twists on our most beloved story. First, Alice is not the Alice we know. Instead of being curious and following the white rabbit, he tricks her into falling down the hole and then traps her in wonderland by force-feeding her a potion through a kiss. She finds herself in a land where everyone has a clock for a heart and they are fighting a war based on reincarnation. The characters are so detailed and interesting, I’m not even sure I can pick my favorite one.

Our favorite Mad Hatter in this book is Blood Dupre, a Mafia Don who leads The Hatters in war against the other factions. He is a gothic dandy, more interested in seducing Alice than the battle at hand. In his posse are two young boys dressed in fashionable military outfits and a non-rabbit enforcer named Elliot March. Something this author picked up on from the Lewis Carroll book, that I never thought of, was the possibility of the White Rabbit and the March Hare fighting. I found this storyline beyond amusing.

Another sect of Wonderland is the Amusement Park District where Alice can enjoy all the normal sort of rides while being shuffled around the place by overly peppy park attendants. The owner of the park is Mary Gowland, an older hippie man who takes to drastic mood swings and plays the violin very badly. Gowland and Dupre are in a war because Dupre makes fun of his name, which when said in such a way, sounds like Merry Go Round. The fights between Gowland and Dupre are fun to read. Gowland can turn his violin into a gun and Dupre doesn’t even flinch when his hat gets shot off.

Boris Airay plays the part of the Cheshire cat.  A cosplay kitty boy who loves to get in scrapes. He is often found by Alice, in the woods, sometimes nude, with horrible injuries that heal when he licks them.

The Queen of Hearts is pretty much the same as in the original Alice story so far, not much is known about her yet. The caterpillar is Nightmare, a handsome, eye-patched man dressed in elegant blacks. He mainly just gives more info to Alice, explaining terms the wonderland folk use and adding a sense of foreboding as he hints at dangers unseen.

Two new characters to the Alice tale are perhaps the most interesting to me. Julius Monrey is in charge of the Clock Tower Plaza, a neutral zone in wonderland and the place where all clock hearts are repaired. Ace is a knight from Heart Castle that helps Julius recover the hearts when someone is killed. He seems a double agent, but can’t navigate to save his life. Not too smart, you might think he would fall prey to the Hatters, but he is a pro at sword fighting so that keeps him safe.

Even though this is a manga about the cheery, happy world of wonderland, the author keeps that sinister air about it so that you are just as curious and frightened as Alice. The most chilling part of this retelling is the connection between the shadow people and the servants with no face. I’ll let you unravel that one on your own.

KIDNAPPED BLOG: J. Malcolm Stewart, You Might be a Monster Lover if…

halogokidnappednotdateHey, there Horror Addicts, guess what? It’s Halloween Time!

I know, I know, you can hardly contain your excitement…. Especially as we horror minded people wait all year for the outside reality of the mainstream  to meet our internal reality. Now that we’ve made it to the day  of the year where the carpet matches the drapes, it’s time for an admission…

You’re kinda of a Monster Lover, aren’t you?

Now, I know you don’t normally go around and say that out loud to people… Makes for some uncomfortable dinner time conversation. And I’m not saying you’re doing anything wrong either. This isn’t the opening to a recovery intervention. To paraphrase Billy Joel, we like you just the way you are.

But maybe you’re just not sure about your status. I mean, it’s not everyday you get slapped with the stark, cold reality of your addiction.

Fear not! We’re here to help! Especially when it comes to slapping you with stark, cold reality… We horror addicts live to serve.

So, without further ado, the 15 reasons you might be a Monster Lover in 2015:

  1. If you’ve every been caught lurking around the Dollar Tree on Oct. 1st looking to score some brand new, skull studded, black paper plates… You might be a Monster Lover.
  1. If you have two packages of matching skull napkins in a closet at home from last year’s Halloween party… You might be a Monster Lover.
  1. If you are already planning your Dec. 4th Krampus viewing party…. You might be a Monster Lover.
  1. If you have purchased Krampus Holiday cards… You might a Monster Lover. Or you’ve spent too many dark nights in Bavaria, which is almost the same thing. (Either way, no card exchange this year, please!)
  1. If you are already making bets that Crimson Peak will end up ripping Tom Hiddleston’s million-dollar-face clean off his skull at some point… You might be a Monster Lover (Or you hate Superhero-themed blockbusters. Or some combination of the two).
  1. If you’ve had the random thought “That whole meat dress thing was just an elaborate audition ploy by Gaga to get on American Horror Story…” You might be a Monster Lover (you cynic).
  1. If you at any point wished that dress was made of fresh Kardashian… You might be a Monster Lover.
  1. If you can’t walk by a dollar movie bin without digging in it for old-school, black-and-white horror movies… You might be a Monster Lover.
  1. If you did the Nae-Nae in celebration when you found a double DVD copy of both Cat People and The Curse of the Cat People… You might a Monster Lover ( And, without a doubt, have impeccable taste in movies and are extremely culturally aware).
  1. If your spell-check knows how to correctly change Cthulhu… You might be a Monster Lover.
  1. If you can correctly spell Cthulhu without spell check and without peeking… You might be a Monster Lover (and no asking Siri).
  1. If you’ve ever spent an afternoon at work considering he most efficient method of destroying a Zombie Horde only using stuff from CVS… You might a Monster Lover.
  1. If your final answer came down to a case full of Aqua Net and 20 Bic Lighters… You might be a Monster Lover (and you will likely survive the Zombie Apocalypse).
  1. If you plan to stay in this Halloween and take the Horror Movie Marathon Challenge from The Horror Addicts Guide to Life (plug plug, plug)…. You might be a Monster Lover (as well as smart, attractive and in good company. Bonus points if you sneak in the debut of “Ash v. Evil Dead”).

And the Number One way to know if you might be a Monster Lover:

  1. If you at any time in your life have had cats named “Louie,” “Lestat,” “Claudia,”  “Anne” or “Memnoch” either separately or all once…  Well, congrats, my friend, you are a Monster Lover and probably can make a mean pot of tea and/or a batch of gumbo.

Happy Halloween!

J. Malcom Stewart

 

Free Fiction Friday: Her Eyes Were October by Chantal Boudreau

Her Eyes Were October

 by Chantal Boudreau

Her eyes were October

With a harsh and chilly stare

Rejecting what I’d done

Her look letting me know it

 

Her eyes were October

With no April found in there

Don’t forget, don’t forgive

She would never move past it

 

Her eyes were October

With a suffocating glare

Punished me at each turn

I just couldn’t escape it

 

Her eyes were October

With a cold I could not bear

Needing warmth, needing love

I somehow had to claim it

 

So I brought winter to that gaze

Frozen death, end of days

Time bled away in liquid red

And now I’m truly free

 

I’ll find spring thaw in other eyes

No more ice, no more lies

The bliss of March, all fresh and new

That’s what I’ll finally see.

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zombiemepicAside from being a long-time fan of the zombie genre via books, movies and now TV, Chantal Boudreau began her existence as a published author with a zombie short story named “Palliative” in an anthology called “Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts – Oh My!” published by Notreebooks.  This was followed by the publication of several other zombie shorts: “Just Another Day”, “Waking the Dead”, “Escarg-0”, “Life and Undeath on the Chain Gang,” and “One Lonely Night” in the May December Publications’ anthologies “First Time Dead, Volume 1”, “Hell Hath No Fury” (all women writers), “Zero”, “Zombie Lockdown” and “Let’s Scare Cancer to Death” as well as “What a Man’s Gotta Do” in the anthology “Undead Tales” from Rymfire Books and “Deadline” in the anthology “Zombie Buffet” from Open Casket Press.  She has done extensive research for her blog series “Chantelly’s Field Guide to Zombies” and a non-fiction article on Zomedy – the dark humour in zombie fiction.  She is currently shopping a full zombie novel, Sleep Escapes Us, set in ancient Thrace and involving the myths surrounding the death god, Zalmoxis.

Kbatz: House of Dark Shadows

House of Dark Shadows Creepy Fun for Long Time Fans

By Kristin Battestella

Naturally, House of Dark Shadows- the 1970 big screen debut of the hit soap opera- is essential for fans of the series.  All the scares, screams, and treats are here with an extra dose of theatrical panache.  Woohoo!

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Collins handyman Willie Loomis (John Karlen) is obsessed with finding the family jewels- especially after Roger Collins (Louis Edmunds) fires him for his angry behavior.  Unfortunately, Willie discovers the family secret is not riches, but the vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid).  Once released from his chained coffin by Willie, Barnabas preys upon Carolyn Stoddard (Nancy Barrett), the daughter of matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Joan Bennett).  Although Resident doctor Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) believes she can cure Barnabas of his vampire affliction, he plots to make governess Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott) his vampire bride- something he was unable to accomplish with his lookalike love Josette 175 years before.

Of course, this cinematic update is a redo of the 1967 Barnabas introduction, and it is sweet to see it all in color and without television restrictions.  The camerawork is horror film perfect- cut off points of view and askew angles up the scares with claustrophobic and intimate photography. The intense vampire filming wonderfully contrasts Jonathan Frid’s nonchalant onscreen arrival, but we should know better than to believe this ‘cousin from England’ story!  Though the pacing and editing is well done, the plot and style is perhaps slow to those who don’t know the tale whilst also seemingly rushed for familiar viewers.  Director Dan Curtis (Burnt Offerings) and house writers Sam Hall and Gordon Russell have to tweak and condense months of storyline after all, and these ninety minutes do pack a lot.  Barnabas’ rising, Carolyn as a vampire, a romance with Maggie, and a vampire cure all at once; it’s a bit like the 1991 Dark Shadows: The Revival actually.
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It is odd though that characters originally present for this TV plot are absent- namely Victoria Winters, Joe Haskell, and no mention of Jeremiah Collins’ relations with Josette nor Angelique’s foil of Barnabas. Instead Maggie Evans and Jeff Clark are combined into an awkward couple. Barnabas’ love obsessions and motivations, though great and more malignant than could be shown on the show, are also a little uneven thanks to this summarizing in House of Dark Shadows. Fortunately, it’s totally amusing to see police arming with crosses and handling out silver bullets montages.  Fuzz standing guard against vamps, no questions asked!  The stakings are bloody like the likes of Hammer Horror, too- again without the hampering from television restrictions.  However, the swift filming is blessedly more for the drama then the sensational. Vampires love, feed, die. Fin.

The transferred cast for House of Dark Shadows also has its fun and drama. Even knowing what Barnabas is- or perhaps even if you don’t- Jonathan Frid is slick as always as our favorite sad and lovelorn vampire. He’s tragic, and yet Barnabas must continually cover his bloody indiscretions. Early in the film, its great to see the humble changes to John Karlen’s Willie and the violent abuses he suffers thanks to Barnabas’ unglamorous vampire rage.  The rapidly aged Barnabas segment is also disturbing, again showing the dark side of twisted vamp love. This is how a real vampire would be, after all- old, nasty, lurching towards the luscious necks for blood! Kathryn Leigh Scott is of course lovely as Maggie, but she screams an awful lot and doesn’t look quite right with any of her leading men. Thankfully, the innocence and naivety of the ladies are great against their own hot and bothered jealousies.  Nancy Barrett, usually a straight Carolyn or another demure and ditzy role in the series’ period storylines, makes a great slutty vampire! Likewise, Grayson Hall gets to play Julia Hoffman as a little more creepy.  She chain smokes and practically stalks her unrequited vampire love. Thayer David is also his usually cucumber cool Professor Stokes, but eh Roger Davis as Jeff Clark is quite the yawner as our good guy. Everyone else is on form, subdued in the scares, and delightful without the famous Dark Shadows same day tape flub ups and obvious glances towards the cue cards. Yet Davis is still over the top.  Did know one else notice?

Don Briscoe also gets some big and sexy action for House of Dark Shadows as Carolyn’s willing jugular, but I don’t understand why the character’s name is some sort of Tom Jennings/ Todd Blake combo.  Who the heck is that?  Lisa Richards (Sabrina Stuart in the series) is also a fun wink to the audience in playing a Collins secretary named Daphne before Kate Jackson entered the series as Daphne Harridge.  Mrs. Johnson, however, looses a bit of fun with fill in actress Barbara Cason (It’s Garry Shandling’s Show) instead of regular Clarice Blackburn.  Collins staples David Henesy, Louis Edmunds, and the ever-classy Joan Bennett also don’t have much to do beyond some cursory scenes in the first half of the picture. Nevertheless, it’s fun to see other stock players in quick cameos- including wicked Reverend Trask actor Jerry Lacy as a minister, the devil’s henchman himself Humbert Allen Astredo as a doctor, Quentin’s love Terry Crawford as a nurse, and gypsy henchman Michael Stroka as a pallbearer. Even Dennis Patrick (on the show as Jason McGuire) as Sheriff Patterson gets into the vampire chase- he comes into the ladies’ bedrooms to check the garlic strands!

In addition to cast and character juiciness, House of Dark Shadows looks so, so sweet.  Though the voices are low and tough to hear, some scenes are a bit dark, and opening and closing credits strangely run over some of the action; the now period design, great nighttime suspense, red coat symbolism, and wolf howls and spooky sounds set the mood perfectly. Everything looks old and dirty as it should- not TV low budget hokey or 70s stink.  The Lyndhurst Castle and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery locations are excellent, too. I should know- I visited there last year.  No, not solely for a Dark Shadows pilgrimage, but that was certainly reason enough!  A serious scholar could have a lot of fun studying scenes versus locations frame by frame. Yes, some of the interior filming might seem crowded- most of the scenes are comings and goings in the hallway around people and through museum like antiques.  Others might also find it incredibly odd to see Dark Shadows without the familiar Collingwood and Old House sets.  Fortunately, candles, cobwebs, and a scary pool house add heaps of atmosphere.  Robert Cobert’s music is also wonderful as always- perfect for a 70s horror film. You’d never know it was originally scoring for a 60s soap!  Although I could do without a brief but dated costume party scene and annoying evil echo effects, the gore and sexy of House of Dark Shadows looks dandy. Though perhaps still too gory and mature for kids even if it’s all tame compared to today, the lengthy bites and bright red blood are just a tiny bit naughtier than the series proper.  Men rip open their shirts; victims tear off their neck bandages and submit willing for the bite!  There’s even man on man vampire attacks, too- a little homoerotica television couldn’t quite touch. There aren’t any hokey bats in House of Dark Shadows, either. Well, almost!
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Despite being a flashy consolidation feature, this is not an introductory piece.  New audiences perhaps can’t appreciate all the bells and whistles similarities and/or differences, and that’s part of the fun of House of Dark Shadows.  Certainly, some fans might also disown this theatrical adaptation thanks to the ending.  However, longtime viewers can eat up this or the sequel Night of Dark Shadows for a quick fix.  In fact, I would like to see Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s upcoming Dark Shadows film have a similar plot and style to House of Dark Shadows.  Seventies horror film fans familiar with the series can enjoy the ride here purely as a juicy vampire movie, and I hope the remake can tie together both the essentials of the soap and the spirit of great horror cinema of the decade.  None of that Alice in Wonderland hokey this duo keeps re-treading, please!  Fortunately, it looks like a proper DVD release of House of Dark Shadows is finally forthcoming ahead of the remake- but I’d hang on to my VHS copy or catch an October airing just in case.  Fans of the gothic soap or vampire film can have a lot of fun in the House of Dark Shadows!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween Addicts!

We hope you are enjoying the season.
Here’s a refresh for all of you who want to play the Finale at your parties!

Halloween Special! #110

And from all of us at HorrorAddicts.net, have a happy, safe, and scary Halloween!

~Emz, Horror Hostess

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Happy Halloween Darlings! Thank you for your loyalty to HorrorAddicts.net. ~Dawn Wood

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Horror on TV, pumpkins glowing on doorsteps, people dressing up to scare their friends. Halloween comes only once a year, but don’t let the spirit die. Keep watching horror movies, reading horror novels, and most important keep checking HorrorAddicts.net where it’s Halloween all year long. Have a great one and stay spooky. ~ David Watson

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Festive Fall Flights of Fancies to you my Precious Addicts. Stay Beautiful throughout the season! Remember the motto: Too Spoopy to Live, Too Creppy to Die! ~ Mimielle

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Thank you for all your comments and stay spooky but safe this Halloween! Macabre tidings, Kbatz

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Happly Halloween, everyone! Here’s hoping your holiday is full of morbid meals and not-so-tricky treats! Stay safe and stay spooky! ~ Dan Shaurette

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Have a Happy Halloween, and let the bed bugs bite addicts! ~ Marc Vale

Horror-friendly Valentines Song Dedications

Are you addicts dreading the big heart day or are you welcoming it with open arms? Are you dreaming of that dark-clad beauty or are you currently in the arms of said goddess? Are you hoping for a quick fling or staying the hell away from all that lovey-dovey crap?

Well, here are some horror-friendly Valentines Songs to dedicate to your love, your ex, or that leather-clad hotty you happen to meet on the blessed day.

“This Love” by Pantera
Does your love hurt?

“So Close It Hurts” from the SUCK movie soundtrack
I almost killed you last night… Whoops!

“Love Song” by The Cure
Always a classic!

“Marry Me” by Emilie Autumn
A rather jaded and beautifully morbid look at marriage.

“Army of Love” by Kerli
For all you shiro goths, grab your army, and suit up!

“Love You To Death” by Type O Negative

“Let Me Rest In Peace” by Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Ever want your ex to just leave you the f- alone?

“Beneath a Moonless Sky” from Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera
For you dark musical buffs… Phantom (monster) love.

“Stay” by Shakespeare Sisters

“Temple of Love” by Sisters of Mercy

Here are some other suggestions from our staff:

Dan Shaurette:
“Haunted” by Coven XIII

“Something I can never have” by Nine Inch Nails

Mimielle Marek LeFauve
“Todokanai Ai to Shitteita no ni Osaekirezu ni Aishitsuzuketa”  by Gackt

H. E. Roulo
“Invisible” by Switchblade Symphony

“Lucky” by Bif Naked

Do you have a favorite love or anti-love song to share?

Sorcerers and Secretaries by Amy Kim Ganter

sands2An Americanized manga, Sorcerers & Secretaries hooked me with the name. I was expecting a evil-fighting admin assistant with a pen that dissolves evil and a stapler that will fend off the most intimidating magical creature. What I found was something completely different.

Nicole is a receptionist and college student who lives her life in a dream world that she spins through writing sword and sorcery tales. We can all relate to her immediately with issues such as, an annoying mom, annoying job and coworkers, wanting to write instead of work, and everyone in her life putting down her interests by saying “that childish fantasy stuff you like”. This tale started slow for me, but won me over with its cute book references and speculative fiction inside jokes that only we understand. Although the art is very American (circa 1980’s Sunday morning newspaper comics), the drawings of the bookstore are great and had me pause for a few minutes to read the titles. One cover I especially got a chuckle from was “LARP for Beginners”. A new twist in this tale is that the cute hottie at the bookstore actually likes the geeky, book-loving, allergy girl.

The author is definitely in our demographic and should be supported for that alone. However, this is not a tale I would recommend for its excellent fantasy story. This book is not so much a fantasy story as a romance where the lead is in love with the lead character in her fantasy novel. Like Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, the girl is wrapped up in a fantasy tale so completely that she cannot see a real guy who wants to date her. Still, an amusing, quick read and one that despite its cover warning 13+, is safe for all readers. Sorcerers and Secretaries is a great gift for your teenage cousins who are into the fantasy/romance genre.

sandsIf you enjoy this manga, you can read more about the series and download desktop images from this site: Sorcerers And Secretaries

Get your copy here from amazon and help support the project:

Kbatz: Buffy Season 2

Buffy Season 2 Ups the Ante

By Kristin Battestella

One can make the case that Buffy the Vampire Slayer actually begins in 1997 with its full-length Second season.  Any growing pains from the quick debut season are corrected, and the Buffyverse hits the ground running here in fine paranormal form.

buff2Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) begins another school year still trying to balance teendom with being the Vampire Slayer.  Mom Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) and Principal Snyder (Armin Shimerman) are still clueless about her secret identity, but Buffy’s friends Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) and Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) help her deal with the ruthless new vampires in town: Spike (James Marsters) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau).  School Librarian and watcher Rupert Giles (Anthony Steward Head) finds romance with Computer Science teacher Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte), but the dark forces drawn to Sunnydale’s Hellmouth spell doom for Buffy’s relationship with reformed vampire Angel (David Boreanaz).

Show runner Joss Whedon (Firefly) springboards from Buffy’s first season into more wit, dark comedy, and seriousness.  The ongoing storylines and continuing mythos have grown up considerably- already stand out or multi-part episodes like “What’s My Line”, “Surprise”, “Innocence”, and “Lie to Me” take things beyond high school towards the bigger life picture.  Despite the fantastical scenarios, Buffy never lets us forget life is just as scary as vampires or other fictitious demons. Some stories do borrow from the same old Frankenstein, mummy hijinks, and Anne Rice references; but the second half of Season 2 brings the series into its own.  As the episodes progress, there’s less and less outside influence and more and more of the nuances that make Buffy Buffy.  The mix of stand-alone shows and two part episodes is finely balanced, and from Episode 6 “Halloween” to the double finale “Becoming”, the viewer is hard pressed to find filler or fluff.

Nowadays, teeny vampire goodness and forbidden dark romance is an inescapable phenomenon.  Did this hysteria begin with the ill-fated romance of Buffy and Angel? Perhaps. Though a complicated and realistic relationship, the periodic make out sessions are now a little redundant to older viewers.  The first romance and sexual experience scenario is also dated, but the tact here is angsty, relatable, even mature and well done.  This is not my favorite couple from Buffy, but the innocence lost here is still superior to Twilight.  Sarah Michelle Gellar (Scooby Doo) wonderfully walks the difficult line between being the tough action hero and the hurt and broken young woman.  Despite superpowers, Buffy can’t always deal with everything.  She’s flawed, screws up, and it’s delightfully refreshing to watch.  Likewise, David Boreanaz (Bones) struggles with the romantic feelings amid his 200 years of vampire soul and conflict.  When Angel returns to his evil ways, again its refreshing, tragic drama.  Sure we’d like our couple to live happily ever after, but where’s the fun in that?  Angel’s extreme take on the bad ex-boyfriend puts the exclamation on Season 2.

spike durOppositely balancing the polarity of the slayer loving a vampire is the fun introduction of James Marsters (Smallville, Torchwood) as punk vamp rocker Spike and Juliet Landau (Ed Wood) as his demented love Drusilla.  The pair is visually at odds themselves- platinum, wild Spike and dark, classical Dru- but the vampy affection of the couple adds another layer of bizarre emotion.  Evil demons who take over one’s souls can’t be affectionate, endearing, or in love- can they? There’s plenty of history, love triangles, and kinky vampire goodness for Season 2 and beyond. The fact that these vampires can comment and even laugh at their own dynamic drama makes heavy episodes like “School Hard”, “Passion”, and “I Only Have Eyes for You” all the better. Likewise, we have time to explore Buffy’s flawed adults and the skeletons in their closets.  Anthony Head (Merlin) and Robia LaMorte (Beverly Hills 90210) add fun and bumbling flirting amid dark and ruthless histories, and even Kristine Sutherland (Honey I Shrink the Kids) has a chance to have some twisted romantic fun with delightful guest star John Ritter (Three’s Company) in “Ted”.  Armin Shimerman (Deep Space Nine) as anti-student Principal Snyder and Robin Sachs (Babylon 5) as Giles’ antithesis Ethan Rayne also add seriousness and maturity to make life even more difficult for Buffy’s Scooby Gang.

Nicholas Brendon (Kitchen Confidential) and Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother) also gain a little growing up thanks to more relationships.  Though the Buffy, Xander, and Willow trio is the core of the show, the interconnecting character relationships add depth and conflict nicely.  While Brendon looks to be having a lot of fun as the wisecracking Xander, his lady foil Charisma Carpenter (Veronica Mars) still doesn’t get her full glory.  Is making out and being pretty all there is to Cordelia?  We get hints that there’s more, but again she does all the screaming and seems more like a reflexive character meant to strengthen or interfere with the lead three.  And but of course, the underutilization of Oz begins. Though Alyson Hannigan continues to wonderfully grow with the budding Willow, boyfriend Oz’ coming out party in “Phases” is one of this season’s few missteps.  Although the teenage werewolf scares and fun are there, such a big character development demands more than a mere 45 minutes. This storyline could have been an ongoing mystery through Season 3.  Instead, we go from barely knowing Oz to being intimate with all his secrets too soon, and he never fully fits in with the rest of the gang. I like Seth Green’s (Austin Powers, Robot Chicken) quirky performance and sardonic delivery; but despite fine dialogue, this is one place where Whedon’s writing wasn’t there for his character.  Even the snips of Danny Strong (Gilmore Girls) as geeky Jonathan, Elizabeth Anne Allen (Bull) as teen witch Amy, and Larry Bagby (Hocus Pocus) as macho Larry are a lot of fun as supporting high school stereotypes that develop in later seasons.

Once again, the dated fashion, hairstyles, and music from Season 2 aren’t so longstanding twelve years on.  Though somewhat critical in storylines this season and next, the onscreen band Dingoes Ate My Baby is kind of silly and seemingly a ploy for music fun more than anything else.  Some graphics and horror makeup aren’t up to snuff anymore either- especially the werewolf design. I suspect this might have been part of the reason we don’t see the full beasty so much, but with the right treatment, who cares what the doggy suit looks like.  Even the vampire dress style and brooding goth motifs aren’t in today’s ala mode. Nevertheless, this is a decade old television show, visual imperfections are to be expected; and frankly, the focus on characters and story angst before glittering effects is not dated, but refreshing against today’s trend of visual desensitization over intelligent substance.

New fans can meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer or returning viewers can rekindle their love here with Season 2.  There’s more paranormal romance fun and some scares, but things this season are tame compared to later seasons and modern television.  All this goodness without the introductory hiccups of Season 1, too.  Fans of recent vampire motifs can definitely turn to Buffy; and with rental options, streaming sites, and affordable DVDs, there’s really no reason not to enjoy Buffy Season 2.

Alice in the Country of Hearts by Quinrose

alicein the countryAlert: Herbivores beware, rabbit discrimination! Warn your kits!

“These aren’t rabbit ears! They’re just long! I swear I am not a rabbit. I eat carrot cookies, cake, and tea. I like stuff made from carrots but I could never eat a carrot straight, so I’m obviously NOT a rabbit.”

How dare Alice group people together based on the size of their ears! This is just one of the amusing quips in the awesome manga series Alice in the Country of Hearts byQuinrose. This has to be one of my top ten manga series of all time.

The first thing that drew me to these beautiful books was the art. Illustrated by Soumei Hoshino, the detailed display of clocks, sweets, architecture, and fashion is phenomenal.

I think any Alice lover will enjoy the new twists on our most beloved story. First, Alice is not the Alice we know. Instead of being curious and following the white rabbit, he tricks her into falling down the hole and then traps her in wonderland by force-feeding her a potion through a kiss. She finds herself in a land where everyone has a clock for a heart and they are fighting a war based on reincarnation. The characters are so detailed and interesting, I’m not even sure I can pick my favorite one.

Our favorite Mad Hatter in this book is Blood Dupre, a Mafia Don who leads The Hatters in war against the other factions. He is a gothic dandy, more interested in seducing Alice than the battle at hand. In his posse are two young boys dressed in fashionable military outfits and a non-rabbit enforcer named Elliot March. Something this author picked up on from the Lewis Carroll book, that I never thought of, was the possibility of the White Rabbit and the March Hare fighting. I found this storyline beyond amusing.

Another sect of Wonderland is the Amusement Park District where Alice can enjoy all the normal sort of rides while being shuffled around the place by overly peppy park attendants. The owner of the park is Mary Gowland, an older hippie man who takes to drastic mood swings and plays the violin very badly. Gowland and Dupre are in a war because Dupre makes fun of his name, which when said in such a way, sounds like Merry Go Round. The fights between Gowland and Dupre are fun to read. Gowland can turn his violin into a gun and Dupre doesn’t even flinch when his hat gets shot off.

Boris Airay plays the part of the Cheshire cat.  A cosplay kitty boy who loves to get in scrapes. He is often found by Alice, in the woods, sometimes nude, with horrible injuries that heal when he licks them.

The Queen of Hearts is pretty much the same as in the original Alice story so far, not much is known about her yet. The caterpillar is Nightmare, a handsome, eye-patched man dressed in elegant blacks. He mainly just gives more info to Alice, explaining terms the wonderland folk use and adding a sense of foreboding as he hints at dangers unseen.

Two new characters to the Alice tale are perhaps the most interesting to me. Julius Monrey is in charge of the Clock Tower Plaza, a neutral zone in wonderland and the place where all clock hearts are repaired. Ace is a knight from Heart Castle that helps Julius recover the hearts when someone is killed. He seems a double agent, but can’t navigate to save his life. Not too smart, you might think he would fall prey to the Hatters, but he is a pro at sword fighting so that keeps him safe.

Even though this is a manga about the cheery, happy world of wonderland, the author keeps that sinister air about it so that you are just as curious and frightened as Alice. The most chilling part of this retelling is the connection between the shadow people and the servants with no face. I’ll let you unravel that one on your own.

How did you start reading?

Did you all get books, eBooks, or audiobooks for holiday gifts? I did and can’t wait to rip into them, which got me thinking about how I started reading.

I always loved to read, I was good at it and it was one school subject I could always excel in. I don’t think I would have got into the habit of reading so many books if my parents didn’t start a contest where I would get a penny for every book I read in a year. I remember always striving for a 100 so I would get a dollar. I usually surpassed it, but they quickly put a cap of $1.00 on it. I also remember in Alaska, I had access to a thrift store and was allowed to get any five books I wanted and then switch  them back out when I finished them. Being a poor kid, this was a definite perk! I would stay up late reading because it was light all night during a lot of the year. We had these thick shades over the windows to keep out the light, but I kept mine cracked open a little so I could read all night. I remember being so sad when winter started and it started getting dark all day cause then I would have to try and sneak a flashlight!

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That Was Then This is Now

I don’t remember the name of my first book love, but it was a gothic romance with a picture of a stormy sea, lighthouse, and haunting woman on a cliff. Even though I wasn’t a horror addict then, that sort of dark romance was always a draw to me. I do, however, remember my favorite adolescent series was by S. E. Hinton. The Outsiders; That was Then, This is Now; and Rumblefish were my favorite books in junior high. I wanted to know kids like Ponyboy and Sodapop. I think Ponyboy was my first crush – even though he was just a book character. I didn’t see the movie until I was an adult and even though I enjoyed it, it didn’t come close to the feeling I had reading the book for the first time. The fact that the books had character cross-over was a plus.

728541n11862This love affair with books continued and I have been so wrapped up in a book storyline that I think of it while I’m not reading. Some of my favorite characters feel more like family members or friends rather than fictitious people. In college, I connected with many of Anne Rice’s characters, but when Marcel’s heart gets ripped out by his father’s betrayal in Feast of all Saints, I felt like it was my heart breaking.  Her Cry to Heaven actually had me crying on a city bus as I read. Andrew Neiderman’s Bloodchild entertained me to no end and Poppy Z. Brite’s Drawing Blood made me have the most glorious nightmares. These are just pinpoints in my life that have been changed by authors.

I asked how our Horror Addicts started reading, and here are some of the answers:

David Watson: I remember my mom taking me to library story time as a kid and always having a stack of books for me when it was done. The books I was drawn to the most were always horror, baseball, and superheroes. I’m pretty sure the first adult horror novel I read was Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.

A.d. Vick: Hmm…I’m not sure what inspired me to start reading, but I do know that I could read a few words before I started school. I don’t remember all the authors I read, but I was into a lot of sci-fi as well as nonfiction.

Kristin Battestella: My dad was building this giant custom entertainment unit, so all the books meant for the future bookshelves were piled in the corner while he worked. There was a set of those big old-fashioned leather bound volumes of classics, and I used to just make forts out of them and build myself in and pick a book off the top and start reading. Some I remember being so disgruntled with at the time. Like what, Jane Eyre isn’t a scary story after all! Paradise Lost ugh, but The Twain, Shakespeare, Poe, Dickens, wow. But primarily, I had a lot of books to play with. I think that inspired me to a life of readership. I don’t really believe in this new tablets for toddlers stuff. I think children should be surrounded by tangibly intangibly things, if that makes sense, not pressing some buttons.

Murdo Morrison: Family lore has it that I was reading before I went to school. I don’t know if that is true but I have been reading since I was a small child. My father, who was not particularly bookish, did bring me books and comics so he was also an influence. For a working class kid though the public library was a great resource. I think you had to be ten to graduate from the children’s section and I couldn’t wait. I have always been an ecletic (and voracious) reader. I was one of those kids who read under the covers with a flashlight. In the summers, when school was out, if I got interested in a book I might read it until dawn came or I finished it, whichever came first. A lot of what I read back then, old classics, are probably not much read by young people today. Today my interests lie more at the non-fiction end of the spectrum, particularly history and science, but I also like biographies.

Steven Rose Jr.:  When I would check out ghost story anthologies at my grammar school’s library or the public library when I was about 8 or 9.

So how did you start reading? What interested you? What is your favorite memory of reading as a child? What author inspired you to read their whole series? What story did you read years ago that has become a part of your belief system, your way of looking at the world? Please share in the comments below, we want to know.

Manga Review: Anima by Dany & Dany

Before I go into this review, I’d like to bring up the subject of Yaoi. Yaoi (pronounced Yowie) is a form of manga that features male to male romantic stories usually written by women, for women. Often erotic, these tales can be little more than porn, or they can be truly beautiful stories of love that transcend race, sex, and even species. The best Yaoi I have ever read is the topic today.

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Anima was written by Dany & Dany, two women from Italy who write and draw all their own comics. Daniela Orrù and Daniela Serri are known as paranormal manga creators by those in Japan and around the world. They work as instructors at two major comic schools in Italy. Dany & Dany are also Vampire Chronicle fans and because they have an interest in portraying Louis and Lestat in a Yaoi light, you may sense a vampire feeling in their work. Some of their works have characters that look so much like Louis and Lestat, you may find yourself looking twice to see if it is our beloved vamp boys. For those of you that like the idea of Louis and Lestat being lovers, you will be excited to know Dany and Dany have done some fan art that can be found sprinkled across the internet. If you find a well done fan pic of Louis, Lestat, or Claudia in manga style, it is usually theirs.

anima_500The cover of Anima shows just a glimpse of the coolness you will find inside the book. Anima features crisp, clean art in a steampunk setting. On a ship like the Titanic, a beautiful love story ensues between a gorgeous writer and an angel-like ballet dancer.  The beautiful android dancer, Danya, is injected with “Anima” to allow him to feel human emotions, but what his creator doesn’t realize is that the injection also allows him to fall in love. Patrick, a cynical journalist and admirer of Danya, just happens to be there as Danya’s emotions are released. They fall in love, but Patrick doesn’t know Danya is an android. Though Patrick is an android sympathizer, will he be able to over look the fact that his new love is one? And once Danya’s creator finds he loves another, will he be able to let him go?

Anima is an erotic love story that may not be for everyone. Parental guidance is suggested.

Extras:  The Terrible Plot Demon is a one page, silly, chibi cartoon where the characters torture the authors.

To find out more about Dany & Dany, go to their website at: danyanddany.com

Manga Review: Princess Ai by Courtney Love, DJ Milky, and Mishaho Kujiradou

Princess-AI-Volume-1-9781591826699Princess Ai is a girl with a slammin’ body who finds herself lost on the streets of Tokyo.  Her clothes are in shambles and all she has as a clue to who she is and where she came from is a heart shaped box.  The scantily-clad bombshell meets a young innocent student named Kent who attempts from that day forward to help and protect her.  Ai soon becomes a singing star, has tons of adoring fans, and sprouts wings! The secret of Ai’s origin is one that unfolds so well in the books, that I wouldn’t dare spill it.

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If any of you know anything about Courtney Love or her late husband Kurt Cobain, you can surely see the connection between them and the story.  Ai means “love” in Japanese and it is said that Ai is loosely based on Love’s life story.  Her heart-shaped box, which is prominent in the story, was a hit song by Nirvana and referred to a present Courtney gave Kurt.

It is interesting to see the evolution of fashion in these musically inspired books.  The first volume starts with simple shredded outfits and ends with an almost Playboy Halloween costume Lolita dress.

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Volume two adds some cosplay elements and ends with an even more Bo Peep-ish Lolita dress.  There is also a vampire-like adversary who is dressed like a succubus vixen, reminiscent of Morrigan Aensland from Darkstalkers.  Volume three brings in a lot of Victorian elements as well as kingdom and Edwardian styles.  The art in all of the books is the kind that you can stare at for hours, whether you are inspecting AI’s costumes for inspiration, or her body for pleasure.

Special features in the books include:

Volume 2: An article about the making of the Princess Ai dolls.

Volume 3: Ai paperdolls, an afterward by DJ Milky, and a cosplay Ai look a-like-contest review with pictures of the fans.

For those hard core Ai fans, you might want to invest in the Princess Ai Roses & Tattoos art/poetry book.  This book does not have any more story in it, but it does have plastic sleeves with 16 full color pin-up pictures of AI.  Each pin-up has poetry on the back.  There are also 12 pages of AI stickers that you will never want to use because they are just so cool.

aicolorI also own these other volumes:

  • Princess Ai: Rumors From The Other Side, which is a fan art manga with different stories drawn by really good fan artists. The art ranges from traditional manga, to some that looks like Archie cartoons, to comic book vixen style.
  • Princess Ai Color Me Manga Coloring book, which contains about 60 one sided coloring sheets of Ai and Kent.
  • Princess Ai The Prism of Midnight Dawn, Volume 1 by Christine Boylan & D.J. Milky.  This is the first of the trilogy and my copy came with a music CD of Ai songs, though I am not sure all copies do.  I found it enjoyable, but not as good as the first series.

Princess Ai successfully combines a love of art, music, and fashion into a series that will have you occupied for hours.  Happy reading!