Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 5 Uncommon Monsters that Deserve a Movie

I love monsters. Demons, vampires, werewolves, giant atom-bomb lizards, scientific monstrosities, supernatural entities… you name it, I love it (except zombies, but we won’t get into that here). I’ll gleefully watch every Hammer Horror movie and sit through a thousand Universal monster marathons.

But, given the deep wealth of urban legends and cultural mythologies from around the world, is this really the best we can do? Endless remakes of Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy?

It’s time to branch out.

See below for five monsters that deserve their own block buster franchise:

1. Jorogumo

Jorogumo is a Japanese spider creature that can shapeshift into a beautiful woman. Japanese folklore is filled to the brim with fascinating monsters of all shapes and sizes and Japanese filmmakers have made films that scared the pants off us for decades (The Ring and The Grudge, anyone?). I’m imagining a tense thriller about young newlyweds, one with a dark secret… but it’s best to leave this to the professionals.

2. Cuca

The Cuca is a Brazilian mythological being taking the form of an old witch with an alligator face and hawk-like claws. She is known to steal children (especially naughty ones). Given the fantastic history of Brazilian cinema, I would love to see a tense, artsy film that brings home another Oscar for horror fans.

3. Bouda

Say it with me now: were-hyenas. That moniker really doesn’t do this African creature justice. The Bouda legend takes different forms depending on where exactly it comes from (it’s common in North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and the Near East). Regardless, humans turning into animals is rich fodder for all kinds of horror and we could all do with a break from the clichés of yet another werewolf movie.

4. Dzoavits

Dzoavits is an ogre from Native American (specifically Shoshonean) folklore. He is known for stealing and eating children. While this legend doesn’t have a wealth of stories to draw from, the premise alone is spooky enough for me to greenlight it.

5. Drop Bear

The drop bear is a larger, carnivorous cousin to the koala. Luckily, it’s not real, but is actually an Australian hoax designed to scare tourists. Australia is a nightmare country. Scientists are always discovering new and exciting ways for the wildlife to kill you. So, who’s to say this tourist-scaring cryptid isn’t waiting in the branches above. Just waiting… to drop.

That’s my top five list for new monster movies! What would you like to see?

Odds and Dead Ends : Scaring Ourselves Silly | Monsters and the Uncanny Valley

We all love a good monster. Be it Godzilla or King Kong, werewolves or cenobites, we can’t get enough of them. Guillermo Del Toro has made a living out of them, and nobody in their right mind would begrudge him that. But when we think of being scared, perhaps what touches the nerves more than anything else are not the big, lumbering beasts towering above us. It’s those fiends that come close to being human, just one step away from actually being us.

This concept is known in the field of robotics as the ‘uncanny valley’. Coined initially by Masahiro Mori, the basic idea of it is that there is a distinct, graph-able curve in people’s emotional responses to the verisimilitude of a robot to people. Essentially, when you start to make a robot look like a person, people view it more favourably. Then, suddenly, as you keep going, there’s a point where it’s not completely robotic, but not completely human, and it’s in this stage when we have a strong feeling of revulsion or disgust. When it gets close to being indistinguishable from us, it becomes so lifelike that we view it favourably again. This dip into disgust is the uncanny valley.

The theory of the uncanny itself was used by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 essay The Uncanny as a way to explain why we’re so creeped out by dolls and waxwork figures and the likes. He goes back to the original German for uncanny, unheimlich, and its roots in the word heimlich which roughly means to conceal or hide. He proposes that we find something uncanny because it is a revealing of social taboos and ideas which we try to hide in everyday life. This eventually gets linked on to concepts of the id and the subconscious, which is really the subject for another article altogether.

But what does all of this mean for our monsters? How can we link these concepts together in a way that impacts our understanding of our favourite horror villains?

Well perhaps this doesn’t apply for the big Kaiju as such, but maybe it helps explain why we’re still chilled by vampires, ghosts, and ghouls. The brain sees their general shape and recognises them as human, or at least, very human-like. Yet there’s always something just a little bit off, be it the pallor of their skin, or the sharp claws or teeth, which sets them apart and makes them disturbing to us. Going back to Del Toro, think of The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth. He’s got a recognisably human shape (based off Saturn in the painting Saturn Devouring His Sun by Francisco Goya), but with the skin stretched over the frame, the nostrils flared with no bridge, claw-like talons, and eyes in his hands. He’s started off human but been warped.

Even cursed or possessed dolls have something off about them; the animation of a human avatar is almost the very concept of the uncanny valley, with the robot being substituted for a doll, but the basic principle remaining. Toys are essentially us, preserved in miniature, and when they rise up against us, the human part of their design strikes a chord with us.

This is perhaps why we find masked killers a distressing concept. The shape is human, and the mask is human-like, but it doesn’t change, and as humans learn to see the face as the main projector of emotion when it doesn’t alter during extreme acts of violence, we slip down the slope of the valley. Masks such as those belonging to Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers, fairly blank and devoid of emotion, would, therefore, represent something uncanny. Also very often the mask represents a demon or spirit (thinking of films such as Onibaba or Scream) which conjures up concepts of possession by an unseen force. This might explain why we’re so focused on the killer’s mask in these films, because they are themselves imbued with that uncanny quality which makes them memorable beyond the killer behind them.

Think of the Scream franchise, where the mask comes to represent something much deeper, a force of evil in itself. When you see someone without the mask, they’re normal, but as soon as the face is obscured, they become terrifying, a body for the murderous will of the mask. And the mask and the murderous intent has the power to transfer its ownership from one person to another, like a spirit darting in and out of its possessed victims. Even think of the numerous killers that take on Jigsaw’s role in the Saw films. As soon as you come into possession of Billy, leading the charge of the traps, you become Jigsaw, the embodiment of John Kramer and his will to put people to the test of their drive to survive. We dip from being too human to being something slightly removed.

The idea of the uncanny valley even feeds into ghosts. Think of Kayako and Toshio from the Ju-on films. Though it sounds funny, how many of us were deeply disturbed when Toshio, a pale little boy, opened his mouth and meowed? When Kayako came crawling down the stairs, her throat croaking like a door very slowly opening? This concept of uncanniness transfers over to the sounds we make, affecting us when someone’s voice is not what it should be. This is something obviously well known to anyone who has watched The Exorcist in their time.

And so whilst the big monsters from The Ritual and Cloverfield might scare us, they don’t get anywhere close to instilling that distinct feeling of unease which those humanoid villains which nestle in the uncanny valley have the ability to do. When vampires flash their fangs, with blood in their eyes, we see something hiding inside the human form. When we see Schwarzenegger doing his own repairs in The Terminator, we find lines between humanity and inhumanity blurred. From now on, he looks just like us, but we know he isn’t.

And when we transfer over to imitation narratives such as The Thing or The Body Snatchers, suddenly we’re even more scared, because any one of us could be them. Now the uncanny transfers into paranoia, and we have to rely on looking out for the uncanny to alert us to danger. We have to fall back on something terrifying to keep us calm. In a way, we hope for something uncanny to confirm our fears. And that, more than anything, is scary.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: KJudgeMental

Bibliography

Cloverfield. 2007. [Film] Directed by Matt Reeves. USA: Bad Robot.

Finney, J., 2010. The Body Snatchers. Great Britain: Orion Publishing.

Freud, S., McLintock, D. & Haughton, H., 2003. The Uncanny. New York: Penguin Books.

Friday the 13th. 1980. [Film] Directed by Sean S. Cunningham. Unites States of America: Georgetown Productions Inc.

Godzilla. 1954. [Film] Directed by Ishiro Honda. Japan: Toho.

Goya, F., 1819 – 1823. Saturn Devouring His Son. [Art] (Museo del Prado).

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

John Carpenter’s The Thing. 1982. [Film] Directed by John Carpenter. United States of America: Universal Studios.

Ju-On: The Grudge. 2002. [Film] Directed by Takashi Shimizu. Japan: Pioneer LDC.

King Kong. 1933. [Film] Directed by Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack. USA: RKO Pictures Inc..

Onibaba. 1964. [Film] Directed by Kaneto Shindo. Japan: Kindai Eiga Kyokai.

Pan’s Labyrinth. 2006. [Film] Directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Spain: Telecinco Cinema.

Saw. 2004. [Film] Directed by James Wan. USA: Twisted Pictures.

Scream. 1996. [Film] Directed by Wes Craven. United States: Dimension Films.

The Exorcist. 1973. [Film] Directed by William Friedkin. USA: Hoya Productions.

The Ritual. 2017. [Film] Directed by David Bruckner. UK: The Imaginarium.

The Terminator. 1984. [Film] Directed by James Cameron. United States of America: Hemdale.

 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Head Hunter

Plotline: A medieval warrior’s gruesome collection of heads is missing only one – the monster that killed his daughter years ago.

Who would like it: Fans of sword and sorcery, folklore, vengeance. monsters, mythology and movies about men setting off on quests.   

High Points: The fight scenes. For all of them except the last one is shot in a way that invokes your imagination and unlike Conan the Barbarian or any other Knight in Shinning Armor that goes off to fight all the horrors after each battle he returns injured, making the next battle all the more perilous. 

Complaints: Some of the personal choices he is making, giving the things that he is doing monster hunting, doesn’t make sense and could have prevented his ultimate peril. Another complaint I have is about the potions and elixirs, there is a scene in the movie where he seems surprised about what one of his own concoctions is capable of and with as much time he spends creating them and what he is using them for it just seems unlikely that he wouldn’t know what it would do.    

Overall: I liked it and I think you will too

Stars: 3 1/2 Stars

Where I watched it: VOD

 

***

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

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

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

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

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

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

Press Release: The Sequels

Fanbase Press is thrilled to announce that the upcoming trade paperback of its four-issue series, The Sequels, will feature a foreword written by Andre Gower (The Monster Squad, Wolfman’s Got Nards – A Documentary).  The team is also revealing the brand new trade paperback cover, featuring the combined artwork of series cover artist Don Aguillo and interior artists/colorists Val Halvorson and Bobby Timony!

The Sequels is a creator-owned series that – in the height of ‘80s nostalgia – dares to question whether our grasp on the past is endangering our future.  It is written by Norm Harper (Eisner Award-nominated Rikki, The Naughty List) illustrated and colored by Val Halvorson and Harvey Award-nominated Bobby Timony (The Night Owls, The Simpsons), flatted by Deanna Poppe, lettered by Oceano Ransford (A Geek’s Guide to Cross-Stitch, Eisner Award-nominated Rikki), and features cover art by Don Aguillo (Rise, Winter, Isugid Pinoy!).

“We’re extremely honored to have Andre’s contribution to the collected trade paperback,” says Fanbase Press President Bryant Dillon.  “Given the thoughtful examination of nostalgia in The Sequels, Andre’s unique perspective and incredible impact to our collective nostalgia for the ‘80s make his contribution truly special.”

Series Synopsis:

Remember the ‘80s? Avery, Gwen, Russell, and Dakota will never forget.  As children, they each experienced unique adventures . . . saving the life of a sentient robot, partying with an intergalactic alien, battling the likes of vampires and werewolves, and defeating a nightmarish monster to protect imagination itself.  Now, 30 years later, they’re directionless adults, still obsessed with their pasts. When a mysterious figure brings the group together to cope with their experiences, will they be prepared to live out the “sequels” to their childhood adventures?

Issues #1-4 of the comic book series are being released digitally through ComiXology, and the series’ collected trade paperback will be released on July 22, 2019The Sequels trade paperback is currently available for pre-order at www.TheSequelsComic.com and through the Fanbase Press website (www.fanbasepress.com).  Pre-orders made by May 1, 2019, will receive an exclusive set of prints (representing each of the four covers) illustrated by Don Aguillo and signed by the entire creative team.

Founded in 2010, Fanbase Press celebrates fandoms and creates new ones! As a comic book publisher and geek culture website, Fanbase Press produces new and distinctive works, as well as daily reviews, interviews, and podcasts, that span the pop culture spectrum and give voice to the themes, ideals, and people that make geekdom so exceptional.

Fanbase Press’ previous titles – including the 2018 Eisner Award-nominated Quince, the 2019 IPPY Award-winning A Geek’s Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space, the 2014 Bram Stoker Award-nominated Fearworms: Selected Poems, The Margins, Hero Hotel, The Gamma Gals, Something Animal, Identity Thief, The Arcs, and Penguins vs. Possums – are available online at www.fanbasepress.com and on Amazon, as well as digitally through ComiXology.

As a special note, Andre Gower’s latest project, Wolfman’s Got Nards – A Documentary, explores the relationship a dedicated audience (including celebrities and filmmakers) has with The Monster Squad. This documentary takes an in-depth look into the film’s conception, response, cult status, and revival. Through interviews with the cast, crew, screenwriters, directors, academics, and original reviewers, as well as through never-before-seen footage, it turns the lens on an audience of self-proclaimed misfits who have kept The Monster Squad alive for more than thirty years.  More information may be found at www.thesquaddoc.com and on Facebook and Twitter (@thesquaddoc).

Book Review: Monsters of Any Kind , edited by Alessandro Manzetti and Daniele Bonfanti

We see plenty of serial killers and psychopaths here at HorrorAddicts.net. Some call them monsters. Yet, evil though they are, they are still only human. What of the truly monstrous? the grotesque? the abominable? the creatures that defy not only nature but Heaven and Hell as well?

Monsters of Any Kind—published by Independent Legions Publishing and edited by Alessandro Manzetti and Daniele Bonfanti—brings you tales of creatures that slither and writhe and go bump in the night. Whether they’re good, evil, or… otherwise, they’re sure to terrify. Prepare yourself for stories of real monsters.

Monsters of Any Kind presents a diverse collection of stories, each prominently featuring a monster, some from folklore and some the product of pure imagination (terrifying as that must be for the author). Each story takes a different variation on the theme, bringing surprises and delights with each turn of the page.

Perpetual Antimony by Cody Goodfellow – Goodfellow introduces a fascinating concept that explores the limits of human potential and what may drive a person to forsake humanity altogether.

The Thing Too Hideous to Describe by David J. Schow – This tale of a monster and the researcher who wants to study him takes a humorous approach to the theme. Still, this is a horror anthology and the ending is… well, you’ll see.

Silt and Bone by Jess Landry – Jess Landry (a contestant from the HorrorAddicts.net Next Great Horror Writer Contest) is a master of imagery and creates one of the most vivid descriptions in a stand out book. The story is atmospheric and chilling. The horror of natural disaster, personal repercussions, and things beyond this world combine to make this a gripping experience.

Sucklings by Lucy Taylor – This story of grisly small-town murders and a monster that wears many faces explores whether you can truly trust your loved ones.

We All Make Sacrifices by Jonathan Maberry – Maberry’s noir-style werewolf story is my favorite of the anthology and I can only hope that we will see more of this as a novel or serial.

Brodkin’s Demesne by Michael Gray Baughan – In this story, a couple moves to an isolated country home, where the ever-present drone of cicadas belies something more sinister. Baughan creates a slow build of terror and his violent imagery stuck with me long after reading.

Sealed with a Kiss by Owl Goingback – A man’s car breaks down as the world literally goes to hell around him. Sealed with a Kiss is clever and well written with a tongue in cheek take on horror.

The Other Side of Semicolons by Michael Bailey – A girl explores the twisted dimensions on the other side of a mysterious symbol in her room. Bailey writes a tale of psychological terror that explores what could be. The visions draw you in and create a sense of dread that isn’t easy to shake.

Bad Hair Day by Greg Sisco – What would you do for vanity? Bad Hair Day is an exquisite work of horror edged with science fiction that I would not be surprised to see listed as a classic of the genre.

Midnight Hobo by Ramsey Campbell – A lurking form haunts Roy at home and at work, slowly driving him mad. Campbell has a talent for grounding his horror in the mundane and leaving just the right amount of description to the reader’s imagination.

Noverim Te by Santiago Eximeno – Tourists gather in a small town where a god goes to sleep every year. Eximeno blends ancient superstition with modern behavior in this exquisite concept.

The Dive by Mark Alan Miller – One night, Al finally gets everything he wants, but he’ll be lucky to escape with his life. A fusion of humor, horror, and adventure, The Dive is an excellent piece of fiction that will leave you feeling a little more grateful for what you have.

Mammy and the Flies by Bruce Boston – What happens when neglect and abuse turn someone strange into something horrifying? The small scale and sheer intensity of Mammy and the Flies made this story delightful. Boston’s emotional writing blew me away.

Old Sly by Gregory L. Norris – Norris’ story has a foreboding atmosphere reminiscent of The Haunting of Hill House, with a twist that will make you question whether you really want to inherit a fortune from a distant relative.

The Last Wintergirl by Damien Angelica Walters – Mythical Wintergirls fall prey to the boys of the village while they slumber. The boys think nothing of the terrible retribution they’ll face… but they should. The Last Wintergirl is a chilling tale of human evil and monstrous revenge. Walters creates an intricate mythology that would make a great novel.

The City of Sixes by Edward Lee – By far the most graphically grotesque of the collection, Lee’s story of literal Hell is somehow more horrific than you can possibly imagine.

Crisis of Faith by Monica J. O’Rourke – A spiritual seeker finally finds what he’s looking for; a real-life demon. O’Rourke’s description of torture and the psychological effects is incredible.

Cracker Creek by Erinn L. Kemper – A town scandal becomes something more sinister when newly born babies aren’t what they seem. Kemper creates a gripping story, well written and perfectly paced.

Presented along with the text are incredible illustrations by Stefano Cardoselli. The art never gives away the story, but adds to it, especially once you know all the twists and turns.

Whether you enjoy gruesome violence, psychological terror, existential dread, or the humorous side of horror, you’ll find a story to suit your taste among the offerings in Monsters of Any Kind.

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.

Book Review: The Dark is Full of Monsters by Edward P. Cardillo

Review – The Dark is Full of Monsters by Edward P. Cardillo

By Chantal Boudreau

I love horror with monsters, supernatural…mutant…human monsters–it doesn’t matter–so I dove into this book really hoping I would enjoy it.  The premise did intrigue me–a ragtag group of inhabitants from a sleepy little town venture into the woods seeking a local urban legend cryptoid monster after a series of strange occurrences including a close encounter with the monster and the kidnapping of a neighborhood boy.  It had the makings of a good story.

Unfortunately, while it had a lot to offer, it didn’t quite hit the mark with me, but it might work for other readers out there.  I found character intro and development a little thin and that’s the most important aspect for me in a book.  The writing style was at times repetitive (for example far too many of the paragraphs began with a character name or pronoun–I was yearning for a few transitional words) and lacking in focus.

It did have its strong points too, though.  The monster was sufficiently novel and gruesome, offering up some chills.  The dialogue was entertaining and quite funny in places (I had to laugh at things like the word “citiots”).  I also think it had a good feel for its setting.  I suspect the author based it on somewhere familiar and captured that concretely in the story.  It reminded me a little of the place where I grew up.  If these are things that appeal to you as a reader, this book might just be for you.

While I think the book had an interesting concept and some good scares, it fell a tad short, so this one rated a three out of five for me.

David’s Haunted Library: Drive-In Creature Feature

Soda? check, Popcorn? check, Blankets? check. These are some of the things you might need if you are going to your local drive-in theater. If you’re 30 or younger you probably don’t know what a drive-in is. You also don’t know the joys of sitting in your car with a group of friends while you watched giant creatures destroying the city on the big screen. Luckily Eugene Johnson and Charles Day have put together a horror anthology that captures the spirit of the Drive in.  Drive In Creature Feature contains 19 stories for anyone who loves a good monster tale.

Since it would take too long to talk about each story I’ll spend some time talking about my favorites. The Tattering and Jack by Clive Barker is about a demon who has the task of driving a man crazy. The job ends up being much harder than the demon thought as the man shows he has no emotions and won’t be driven off the deep end. This story has an awesome twist and goes back and forth from being funny to scary. Another good story is The Forrest That Howls by Michael Paul Gonzalez, this is easily the best Bigfoot story I’ve ever read. It answers the question of why there is no proof that the creatures exist.

Ghoul Friend In A Coma by John Everson is a bizzaro love story between a teenage boy and a ghoul. This is another one that combines humor and horror. I love how even when the teenager sees his life in danger he still thinks with the wrong head, this is exactly like I would expect a teenager going through puberty to act. This story teaches us that a couple having sex then carrying a corpse together to the basement is what true love is all about.

Double Feature by Jason V. Brock actually takes place at a drive-in theatre in the Seventies. The story centers on a father who is taking his two kids to a movie. The father and mother are going through a divorce and the story begins with an argument between the occupants of the car. Their problems become secondary though when the drive-in becomes a battleground between a bunch of giant monsters from outer space. This story was a lot of fun but what I really loved was how the family puts their problems aside and works together when a crisis happens.

I also have to mention Popcorn by Essel Pratt, this is another one that takes place in the drive-in. A group of teenagers is at the theatre looking for a good time, but things get ugly when a giant popcorn monster attacks the movie-goers. I love the idea of a monster made of popcorn and there were some creative death scenes here, you may never want to eat popcorn again.

This book is one fun ride, it’s funny in places and scary in others. It also does an excellent job of capturing a bygone era and bringing back a lot of great memories of watching horror movies at the drive-in. There were a couple of stories here I didn’t care for but all in all this book reminded me why I love horror literature. It has humor, great monsters, and good storytelling, what more can you ask for? This is a must-read book for horror literature fans.

By The Fire: Episode 147: Challenge 12: Write a 2500-3000 Word Story Featuring a Diverse Woman and an Original Monster of Your Making

Our contest is drawing to a close, we made it to episode 147 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast and the twelfth challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to Write a 2500-3000 word story featuring a diverse woman (of color/ethnic/minority) that also contains an original monster of the writer’s making. Our contestants created a monster way back in challenge 2 which they can use for this story, or they can create a new monster. The goal is to test their ability to write a story with a theme involved, they will be judged on creativity, overall story concept, and writing quality.

One thing I wonder about is would it be easier to create a monster or to create a good diverse female character and what would be the theme that would fit both? I think for all parts you are using a different part of your imagination. For a monster you want to try to think of something original but you also have to make it scary, being able to describe the monster and make it come alive is important. For the female character you would have to go into detail on her personality, what makes her tick and why should we care about her? When coming up with both of these creations probably the most important thing would be to make us feel some emotion for them and perhaps this is where the story’s theme would come out of. Whether its fear, compassion or even hatred, if we don’t feel anything and there is no theme, then we won’t want to finish the story.

So our contestants already know something about making a monster but how hard is it to come up with a good ethnic female character? Would it be harder to come up with a woman than a man? Or does that depend on if the writer is a woman or a man? Personally I think coming up with the monster would be much easier than coming up with your lead character because the lead character is the most important part of the story. So what do you think the hardest part of this challenge will be and who do you think did the best job with it? Let us know in the comments.

David’s Haunted Library: Deadman’s Tome: Monsters Exist

 

 

When you were a kid did you think monsters existed? Well they do exist and they’re everywhere, there are too many stories about monsters to think otherwise. The preface for  Deadman’s Tome: Monsters Exist edited by Mr. Deadman and Theresa Braun tells us that . There are 14 tales here about monsters that some believe really exist. I loved all the stories in this collection and couldn’t decide what to focus on since they all fit so well together so I decided to give info on each one:

Master Vermin by Wallace Boothill: The city of Baltimore has some dark places and there is a rat king that rules the night. I loved the idea of the characters trying to stop a low-income apartment from being destroyed and then finding a more sinister force at work.

Legend Trippers by Theresa Braun: An urban legend about a goatman and a man trying to escape the past. Great build up til the end and I liked the reality tv show crew looking for answers.

The Murder Of Crows by S.J Budd: Great little story about the goddess of death. Great twist in this story, loved the idea of what makes a serial killer.

Wicked Congregation by Gary Buller: Great storytelling here on the legend of faeries and what it takes to keep them from killing us all.

Playing Dead by S.E. Casey: This one is about a giant monkey and a strange little carnival. Loved how we find out what is really going on and how the main character feels about it.

Lake Monster by Mr. Deadman: This one combines a couple of legends, every forest has a legend, if the creature in the woods doesn’t get you the lake monster will.

Never Sleep Again by Calvin Demmer: Possibly my favorite in this book, half detective story and half horror story focusing on the monster under the bed. Loved how the monster looked and how he got around from bed to bed, love to see this one expanded to a longer piece.

The Voice From The Bottom Of The Well by Phillip W. Kleaver: Great story about a little girl with insomnia and what she is willing to do to keep the monster at the bottom of a well quiet. Sacrifices must be made and its a surprise who she chooses.

Eclipse at Wolfcreek by Sylvia Mann: This one looks at two kinds of monsters, one is the mothman and the other is something much scarier. I love the beginning of this story and seeing how the main character comes out of it stronger than before but still damaged.

No. 7 by William Marchese: Government experiments and conspiracies play a role in this one along with one terrifying monster. A creepy story with a good mystery.

Criatura by John Palisano: This one is about a bigfoot type creature living in the desert. Love the description of the monster in this one and what the monster seems to want.

Bitten by Christopher Powers: Great storytelling about a giant Spider and what it does to catch its prey. I liked the idea of two men sitting and one telling the story and the other not believing it, this one had a campfire tale vibe to it.

Kelpies by Leo X. Robertson: Good story about what happens if you are not loyal, the kelpies have a nice under the sea set up.

Bloodstream Revolution by M.R. Tapia: It’s a mystery who the monster is in this one, is it the warlords fighting over land or the chupacabras? It’s hard to disagree with the main character’s decision at the end.

Every story in Deadman’s Tome: Monsters Exist are fast paced and never leave you with that “When will this end feeling.” It’s a quick read with each tale grabbing you by the jugular and not letting go til the blood soaked end. This book is a horror fan’s dream which will give you nightmares for weeks.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Devil in the Dark

 

 

 

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

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

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

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

The Website

The Fanpage

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

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

David’s Haunted Library: Night Things: Undead And Kicking

David's Haunted Library

 

 

30190570What would our world be like if vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghouls, mermen and other creature walked the earth? They aren’t all trying to hurt humans, some of them just want to make an honest living and be accepted. People still fear what they don’t understand and even though some accept the Night Things, others aren’t so trusting. So the night things are given devices that track their every move.

Times are changing after the events of Z Day and Johnny Stucke, a Night thing himself is getting involved in politics. One of his first orders of business was getting Dr. Herbert West to work on a way to control zombies. Enter recently deceased professional MMA fighter Carol Haddon. Her DNA may hold the secret to changing the world’s zombies. Carol has also drawn the attention of Herbert West’s greatest enemy Jack The Ripper. Due to an accident Dr. West has made Jack more powerful than ever and if Dr. West can’t defeat him, it could bring on the apocalypse.

Night Things: Undead And Kicking by Terry M. West  is the second book in The Magic Now series and there is so much going on here that a 2 paragraph description hardly does it justice. The plot moves along at a brisk pace, it includes several sub plots and some great characters. There are also some great cameos from popular creatures and people known to classic horror fans. What makes this masterpiece of horror stand out over other works in the genre is how Terry M. West presents his characters.

For instance the main character is Carol Haddon. When she is introduced we see her as someone who feels compassion for the Night Things, she works in a shelter for them and we hear her comparing them to immigrants(love the metaphor). We also see her as a bad ass MMA fighter, but at the same time she is a vulnerable human being who goes to a therapist to deal with feelings she has for her mother. At this point Carol comes across as a complex person and things get harder for her as we find out that the two people helping her, Johnny Stucke and Herbert West have their own agenda and might not have her best interest at heart. That being said they are better than Jack The Ripper who would like nothing better than to rip the dna from her bone marrow. Carol is a hero you can relate to because she’s a compassionate person in a bad situation. Then we have Johhny Stuck and Herbert West who are shades of grey. They want to help Carol but at the same time they have an agenda that has already made major problems for Carol. You see the good and bad in both and it makes you like them that much more.

Undead And Kicking is the type of book that you can point to when people ask you why you like horror. Terry M. West is a horror fan writing books that he knows other horror fans will love. This story puts a fresh spin on classic horror mythology and also manages to add humor, great characters and plenty of blood and good scares to the mix.  I can’t say enough good things about this book and I hope there are several more books in The Magic Now series.

David’s Haunted Library: Camp Arcanum

20959068Three men arrived in Arcanum Ohio with a pick up truck, a camper and seven months to build a renaissance faire. Little did they know that Arcanum is a town where most of the population practices magick and the woods are filled with supernatural creatures. The man in charge is Marc, who along with a love of power tools, has a family history of mental health issues and he doesn’t believe in magick. His beliefs soon change though when he meets a woman named Brenwyn who is head of the local wiccan coven.

Marc is forced to reexamine his views on magick and he has to deal with Jerimiah who is a powerful warlock and Brenwyn’s ex lover. Jerimiah has plans to finish off Marc but not before he uses him to become more powerful. Between the witches, demons and undead skinless bunnies, it’s going to take more than power tools to get the renaissance faire open in time.

Camp Arcanum by Josef Matulich is a comedy with horror elements and an interesting love story. When Marc and Brenwyn meet you see that they are exact opposites but right away their relationship clicks. One of my favorite scenes in this book was when Marc who has a history of schizophrenia sees magick spells being done and believes that he is loosing his mind. He starts to freak out and Brenwyn tries to come to his aide but at the time Marc doesn’t want her help and leaves Brenwyn feeling heart-broken. Eventually they start to accept their differences and work at becoming a couple. What really stuck out for me about this love story is that it didn’t seem too perfect and despite their differences I was rooting for them to stay together.

I also loved how witchcraft was represented in this book, I admit I don’t know a lot about covens, wicca or magick but this book made me want to find out more.  All of the witches and warlocks in this book came across as people you might meet in everyday life and were nothing like the stereotypes that I’ve seen in other books and movies. In fact this book makes fun of those stereotypes. Though it’s not a big part of this book I have to say that I loved how schizophrenia is dealt with in this story. Marc spent a period of time taking care of his brother who has schizophrenia and I liked how he points out that people who have it can’t help how they act. In many books you see people who have mental health issues as being a villain, so I liked that this book treated it like it wasn’t a bad thing.

Camp Arcanum was kind of a mixed bag for me. I thought the story was slow-moving and even though I liked the villain he didn’t seem to come across as very threatening. All of the characters in the book were interesting and I liked the love story between Brenwyn and Marc. This book has some great moments such as Marc using tools to battle a coven of witches and there was a hilarious scene where all the local wiccans gather at a movie theater to watch and make fun of bad movies based on witches. This book is definitely worth your time and the ending is left wide open for a sequel.

25217904The sequel to Camp Arcanium is Power Tools In The Sacred Grove by Josef Matulich. This one picks up right after the first one left off and continues the story of Marc and his crew trying to build a Renaissance faire while fighting off monsters, demons and undead bunnies. The way things are going though the faire may not start on time. Jerimiah is doing all he can to stop construction along with putting a wrench in Marc and Brenwyn’s relationship. Also Marc is still trying to recover after a battle with a large tentacled monster. Hopefully Marc can stay on good terms with Brenwyn and keep his crew in the land of the living.

Power Tools In The Sacred Grove is on par with its predecessor and gives you all the comedy you would expect and more. I liked the further character development on Jerimiah. Jerimiah is more than a black and white villian. In this book you feel a little sympathy for him despite the fact that he is trying to kill Marc and his crew. Jerimiah craves power but doesn’t seem to realize that he is destroying his life in the process.

Another great scene in this book was when the OSHA lady pays a visit to Camp Arcanum and gets more than she bargained for. The exchange between Marc and his workers is priceless and how it ends is hilarious. Once again though I have to say my favorite part of this book is the relationship between Brenwyn and Marc. I like how they are total opposites but seem to work well together anyway.

While I did find this book entertaining, my problem was that it just seemed like more of the same. The first book doesn’t have any closure and this one continues the story. I felt as I was reading that the author could have just edited some scenes out of both books and combined them into one. That being said Power Tools In The Sacred Grove is still a lot of fun.  I love a good mix of comedy and horror and the characters are deep and memorable. I’m hoping we see more from Camp Arcanum in the future.

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY: Matthew J. Barbour

A RHYME OF MONSTERS

By Matthew J. Barbour

 

A is for the Alp, demon of the night.

B is for the Boggart, who kills you with his fright.

 

C is for the Centaur, a hybrid of man and horse.

D is for the Dvergar, whose origin is Norse.

 

E is for the Erlking, spirit which brings you death.

F is for the Funayurei, who never breathes a breath.

 

G is for the Golem, built of clay and prayers.

H is for the Hydra, who claws and bites and tears.

 

I is for the Ifrit, genie cloaked in fire.

J is for the Jengu, who swims down in the mire.

 

K is for the Kraken, scourge of the waves.

L is for the Lamia, who feasts on little babes.

 

M is for the Minotaur, alone down in his maze.

N is for the Naga, who will charm you with her gaze.

 

O is for the Orobas, horse-headed devil of old.

P is for the Phoenix, whose plumage is so bold.

 

Q is for the Quareen, jinn of great despair.

R is for the Rarog, who whirlwinds in the air.

 

S is for the Selkie, which changes into a seal.

T is for the Troll, who will eat you as his meal.

 

U is for the Uwan, that yells and screams and shouts.

V is for the Vodyanoi, who sits in the river and pouts.

 

W is for the Warg, hiding behind your shed.

X is for the Xian Tian, who doesn’t have a head.

 

Y is for the Yeti, standing atop mountains high.

Z is for the Ziz, who soars up in the sky.

 

My mom says monsters don’t exist, she tells me this, I swear.

But just in case this rhyme is true, know their names, take heed, beware!

 

About the Author:

Matthew J. Barbour is a speculative fiction author living with his wife and three children in Bernalillo, New Mexico. When he is not writing fiction, Mr. Barbour manages Jemez Historic Site and contributes to a number of regional newspapers, including the Red Rocks Reporter and the Sandoval Signpost. 

 

What Price Gory?

19453378Demons, a succubus and a man with many faces are just a few of the things that await you in Terry M. West’s What Price Gory? This collection includes eight stories and a sneak preview of an upcoming novella. All of the stories here are good and they get better as the book moves along.

The first story is a tale called Car Nex, it’s about a man named Adam who summons a demon and now hopes to stop it before the demon devours all the townspeople. I loved how all of the characters react when Adam displays why they should help him kill the demon. The demon is described as a shark on two legs and reminded me of the Tasmanian Devil with only one way to stop it.

The next story is Cecil and Bubba Meet A Succubus. This is a simple tale of two underachieving simpletons who get hired by a paranormal investigator to help him explore a haunted house. This is a fun story and at the end of the book there is a preview of the upcoming Cecil and Bubba Meet The Thang. These two characters have been cursed by a gypsy and now they have the misfortune of being magnets for strange creatures. Cecil and Bubba were easy to relate to, it was interesting to see how things worked out in the end and I look forward to their next adventure.

Next up is Held Over which is an original take on zombies. How much would you pay to keep your body alive after you die and what would happen to it? This story has the answers. The fourth story is The Hairy Ones which is about religion and marriage and what kind of horrors people are willing to put up with for the sake of both. This was a story that managed to be disturbing using the power of suggestion rather than being violent.

In The Hermit’s Creepy Pet a man who is trying to become a writer finds inspiration  when a hermit comes to his door claiming to have caught  an urban legend in a bear trap. The writer has his story idea but he also may be biting off more than he can chew. This is an excellent horror story with a little twist.

Put On A Happy Face is the most bizarre story here and would make an excellent horror movie. Deep in the woods lives a young girl and her older brother who wears a mask to show his emotions. He has a happy face when things are going well and an angry face which warns his sister to run far away. I loved the way this story unfolds, you hear what the girl feels is happening and then you hear the brother’s story as he is about to put on his angry mask. I loved hearing about the emotions of the man who comes to the house and how he tries to escape. I also liked the revelation that the sister suspects more than she lets on.

Next is Midnight Snack which follows a man who has taken a wrong turn in life and on the highway. He gets a second chance when he enters a dinner full of demons and learns a hard truth about life. This is a creepy story with a good moral. The last story is What Price Gory? which looks at what an author is willing to do, to become the new king of horror. I liked how the writer gets his dream and his worst nightmare at the same time. What Price Gory? is an excellent horror anthology that will give you nightmares and leave you screaming for more.