Horror Curated: Lynne Hansen

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

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

Horror Curated: Midnight Syndicate

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

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

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

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

Horror Curated: Winter Tale author Cliff Biggers

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

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

Why should readers pick up A Winter’s Tale?

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

What is your favorite horror aesthetic?

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

Horror Curated: The Bloody Brilliance of Lady Snowblood

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

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

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

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

Horror Curated: When Hell Freezes Over, Blutgletscher

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

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

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

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

But more about that in a second.

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

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

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

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‘Twas the Night Before Creepmas by Nivek Tek

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

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

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

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

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

Horror Curated: The Ghost of Father Christmas by Dean Farnell

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The Ghost of Father Christmas by Dean Farnell

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

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

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

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

The spirits placed my presents around the Christmas tree,

Or it’s my imagination playing tricks on me.

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Horror Curated: Nikolette Jones, Ornament Maker

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Horror Ornament Maker, Nikolette Jones

by Emerian Rich

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

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

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

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

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

Horror Curated: Have a Haunted, Jolly Christmas

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Have a Haunted, Jolly Christmas

by Mark Orr

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

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

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

Horror Curated: Spooky Locations with Christmas Names

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Spooky Locations with Christmas Names

by Courtney Mroch

Evergreen Cemetery * Owego, NY

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

Magazine Review: Encyclopedia of Horror

Want a nice, high-quality magazine, full-gloss with no advertisements? Then the Encyclopedia of Horror is for you.

The art is beautiful and the style is just what any horror addict would want to see with shots of their favorite actors, bloody handprints, and blood seeping from the corners.

There is tons of stuff to love in this magazine, but a few of my favorites are:

“Long in the Tooth: A brief history of Dracula and a host of other vampires.” This article does talk about Dracula but then explores how the myth came about. It touches on Byron, Polidori, and Sheridan LeFanu, the author of Carmilla. They also mention The Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory, and cover all the vampire film adaptations from Dracula and Dark Shadows to Twilight and True Blood. With ten full-color pages of my favorite monster, it was hard not to love it out of the gate.

There are also in-depth articles on Frankenstein’s monster, The Exorcist, and great authors who bring our monsters to life. Like any self-respecting horror expose they have a top-10 Scream Queen list as well as a top 13 list of terror movies. One of the most interesting articles with something I haven’t seen before in print was about new horror creators highlighting Blumhouse, Jordan Peele, and the new IT.

Covering everything from aliens and psycho killers to vampires, werewolves, and zombies, this is a magazine you have to own. In fact, the only area of horror I saw missing was music. Perhaps they can add that in next time. The “Timeline of Terror” was especially visually stimulating, putting all of our movies in perspective from the 1920s to today.

Now, where can you get this awesome magazine full of our favorite subject? Well, you can’t order it online, but it is supposed to be in stores until December 31st, so run out and get one while they still last. If you aren’t near a store that stocks it, I’ve seen a few on eBay, but you got to act fast.

This was an exciting experience to review the Encyclopedia of Horror and I look forward to seeing what this creative team does in the future.