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

Odds and Dead Ends: Greek Mythology / Cerberus

I like to dabble a bit in mythology and legends here in the Odds and Dead Ends corner, and this week is no exception. Having written on Cuchulain (Cu-hu-lun) and the Cyhyraeth (cih-here-aith) in the past, I decided to leave my Celtic homeland, whilst still keeping up the ‘C’ theme. There are many mythical creatures that have permeated popular culture, but one of the most famous must be the triple-threat hound of hell himself, Cerberus. Pronounced sir-bur-us, Cerberus is a monstrous dog that guards the underworld in ancient Greek mythology, and I’m going to give you a quick introduction to the monstrous pooch.

Guarding the entrance to the Underworld, the realm of Zeus’ brother, Hades, Cerberus is the offspring of Echidna and Typhon, two fearsome monsters both with snake-like parts of their anatomy. One of the most famous accounts of Cerberus is from Hesiod’s Theogony, also accounts Echidna as having given birth to Hydra of Lerna, the famous hydra of multiple heads. It is therefore perhaps not surprising, given all this, that Cerberus is described as having snakes as part of him in many sources.

Hesiod’s description of Cerberus is ‘a monster not to be overcome and that may not be described, Cerberus who eats raw flesh, the brazen-voiced hound of Hades, fifty-headed, relentless and strong.’ (Hesiod, 1914) Considering that the main image of Cerberus is with three heads (hence J. K. Rowling used Cerberus as the main source for Hagrid’s three headed dog, Fluffy, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)), which is something I’ll discuss later, it’s interesting to see him depicted in the old texts with far more heads than we now think of him as having, closer to a cross between Hydra and his other sibling in some texts, Chimera.

In his book Gods and Heroes in Late Archaic Greek Art, Karl Schefold and Luca Giuliani discuss the depictions of Kerberos (another spelling of Cerberus) on the ancient pottery of the time. These depictions are mainly in relation to one of the tasks of Herakles (the Greek spelling of Hercules), who was sent down to the underworld to subdue and retrieve the dog as part of his trials.[1] These trials are depicted throughout the famous epics, including Homer’s Iliad, one of the great epics of the ancient world. According to Schefold and Giulani, this task is ‘illustrated as early as the middle Korinthian period’ (p.129). They also discuss the painting…

by the powerful Lakonian artist dubbed the Hunt Painter… Here for the first time Kerberos has three heads to which Sophokles, following epic authority, refers… and he is completely covered with a shaggy coat of snakes, a feature already suggested on the Korinthian skyphos.’ (Schefold & Giulani, 1992, p. 129)

It’s interesting to see that it’s not even the written word, but pottery, that has clearly defined the monster and set in stone the attributes we associate with him. Even Sophocles, the famous Greek playwright, uses this image as his basis for Cerberus’ depiction.

Something I feel is often misunderstood is that Cerberus is that he stops unwanted people coming into the Underworld. This certainly may be a by-product, but his main function is to stop anyone escaping. Charon was the one that stopped anyone getting in, really, as he was the only transport over to Hades, and not many people that were alive ventured down to the underworld. According to Robin Hard, Charon was so shocked at seeing Herekles, alive, that he took him across to the land of the dead, ‘and was punished for this breach of his duties by being thrown into chains for a year.’ (Hard, 2003, p. 268) For the most part, Cerberus was the perfect creature stopping anything escaping the underworld, as Hard’s description makes plain:

Kerberos would not allow himself to be captured without a struggle and he was a formidable opponent even for the greatest of heroes, for he was not only large and powerful but had three heads (in the usual tradition at least) and a snake in his tail.’ (Hard, 2003)

In a way, Cerberus is the perfect guard dog of mythology. As with all mythology, it’s had some allegorizing over the years, such as being the ‘corrupt earth’ and Herekles’ victory representing his defeat over base, earthly passions, but it’s also perfectly fine to think he’s just a big dog with vicious teeth that will rip your face off. Certainly, one of the most well-known dogs of legend, not only has he featured in re-adaptations of Greek myths (such as in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, (Riordan, 2005), but in video games such as Final Fantasy 8 (Kitase, 1997). Cerberus is a legend, quite literally, and a hell of a lot of fun to imagine and reimagine throughout the years.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Follow him on Twitter: KJudgeMental

Bibliography

Christie, A., 1947. The Labours of Hercules. United States: Dodd.

Hard, R., 2003. The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology: Based on H. J. Rose’s Handbook of Greek Mythology. London: Routledge.

Hesiod, 1914. Hesiod, Theogony. [Online]
Available at: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Hes.+Th.+311
[Accessed 08 06 2019].

Homer & Butler, S., 2008. Iliad. Waiheke Island: The Floating Press.

Kitase, Y., 1997. Final Fantasy 8. s.l.:Square.

Riordan, R., 2005. The Lightning Thief. s.l.:Miramax Books.

Schefold, K. & Giulani, L., 1992. Gods and Heroes in Late Archaic Greek Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[1] Interestingly, these twelve tasks/trials were adapted by Agatha Christie as a series of short stories for her famous detective, Hercule Poirot, which form some of his last investigations in The Labours of Hercules. The detective is, as many can see, is named after the hero, so the theme fits very nicely.

Odds And Dead Ends: Cuchulain

Cuchulain: The Champion of Ulster-Violence by Kieran Judge

Native myths and legends are something that are quickly glossed over in schools, or not taught enough. In Wales, or when I was at school here, aside from anything to do with dragons, you’d get a brief introduction to The Mabinogion through the story of the black cauldron, which some people might know of from a Disney movie roughly based on an adaptation of The Chronicles of Prydain, which was based on the Mabinogion in turn. That, really, was about it. In the island of Ireland (to avoid any political debates I’ll refer to the whole land mass as such from now on), the main texts are the four cycles, the Ulster Cycle, the Mythological Cycle, the Fenian Cycle, and the Historical Cycle. From these legends, perhaps no figure has captured the imagination more than Cuchulain.

Spelt in various ways (Cu Chulainn, Cúchulainn, etc), Cuchulain is a mythic descendant of the gods known for being almost unbeatable in battle even from a young age. He was the warrior hero, the Champion of Ulster, as many of the tales will tell. Renowned poet and playwright W. B. Yeats wrote a whole series of plays and poems about the mythic man as part of his attempt to revive Irish culture, a movement heavily tied in with Lady Gregory and the National Irish Theatre in the early 1900’s. However, Cuchulain was also a madman, prone to becoming overwhelmed in his bloodlust, going on to slaughter hundreds, thousands, without stopping. In his frenzy, he recognises neither friend nor foe, and in one tale, even kills his own son when he refuses to identify himself.

It’s this blood lust that I find most fascinating about Cuchulain. When he fights he becomes a man who is unable to tell his allies from his enemies, much like the typical description of the werewolf. He slaughters everyone in his path. This frenzy, however, can be stopped in a very unique fashion, as the final section of Jeffrey Gantz’s translation of The Boyhood Deeds of Cú Chulaind tells:

‘The women of Emuin went to meet Cú Chulaind gathered round Mugain, Conchubar’s wife, and they bared their breasts before him. …Cú Chulaind hid his face, whereupon the warriors of Ulaid seized him and thrust him into a vat of cold water. This vat burst, but the second vat into which he was thrust boiled up with fist-sized bubbles, and the third he merely heated to a moderate warmth.’ (Gantz, 1981, p. 146)

It’s clear to see that Cuchulain is much different to many of the hyper masculine heroes we see in other myths, such as Pryderi or Arthur from The Mabinogion, in that there is a switch inside him which takes tremendous effort, and the feminine form, to subdue. Even most of the Greek heroes remain themselves throughout the course of their many trials. Other heroes remain mostly gallant or noble, if a little misogynistic at times, but the Champion of Ulster seems to have that Jekyll and Hyde double inside him which I think is fascinating. It’s something that Cuchulain can’t control.

Perhaps, if we were to look into this a little further, one could suggest that the thrill of the battle brings out the warrior in him, the masculine of the superhuman. In contrast, the sight of the female form brings him back to the feminine human. The godly side of him, when in control, never wants to be contained again, never wants to accept the feminine. If you were really going to go into it, you could argue that the vats represent the womb and Cuchulain must be reborn through this into the mortal realm once again from his divine rage. I think this may be getting too far into it, however.

That Cuchulain was a flawed hero is obvious, but he was also understanding in his own way as well, as one of the tales in The Boyhood Deeds of Cú Chulaind shows; ‘…they met Cúscraid son of Conchubur; he was badly wounded, so Cú Chulaind carried him on his back…’ (p.138). The mighty warrior that would defend Ulster in single combat for months, defeating an entire army (as the prophet Fedelm says of the upcoming attack on Ulster, ‘‘I see it crimson, I see it red.’’ (Carson, 2008, p. 13)), also has the time to help his fellow soldiers in combat. This is a classic bit of storytelling. If we know he is human, and have a reason to sympathise with him, we can get behind him and we can forgive him in the future for any misdeeds he may commit.

Though not known outside of Ireland, he is still one of the main figures of legend on the emerald isle. At the Tayto Park theme park, their flagship attraction is the Cu Chulainn rollercoaster, complete with gigantic stone figure near the entrance to the ride. Many murals in Belfast also depict him as a reminder of the figure who would ward off Irish attacks to protect Ulster from its armies. Though both sides of the border may try to claim the figure, Cuchulain remains Ireland’s Hercules, their Arthur, and their Conan. A man who would slaughter thousands to defend his land, but turn on his own side just as quickly. Perhaps, disguised in a mighty warrior, this is a discussion on the meaningless of violence, the way in which a price must be paid for the blood that is shed.

 

Article by Kieran Judge

-Follow him on Twitter: KJudgeMental

Bibliography

Carson, C., 2008. The Tain. England: Penguin Classics.

Gantz, J., 1981. Early Irish Myths and Sagas. Great Britain: Penguin Books.

 

 

Author Interviews at The Mount Holly Book Fair Part 1

Vampires, Magic, and Steampunk!

 

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz was on the windy scene April 29, 2018 at the Mount Holly Book Fair to interview several Local Horror Authors…

 

Author Brian McKinley chats about his Ancient Blood series, vampires past and present, psychological horror, thrillers, Hitchcock, and zombies. For more visit http://www.brianmckinleyauthor.com/

 

 

Author Char Webster talks about her Gifted Series and The Runes Universe, paranormal, magic powers, and marketing. For more visit http://www.charwebsterauthor.com/

 

 

Author Christine Norris talks about her Athena series, Middle Grade Fantasy, mythology, Young Adult versus New Adult, Magic, and Steampunk. For more visit https://www.facebook.com/AuthorChristineNorris

 

Special Thanks to the Mill Race Arts & Preservation for hosting The Mount Holly Book Fair.

 

Stayed tuned to HorrorAddicts.net for more Author Interviews and let us know what kind of video/media content you would like to see!

David’s Haunted Library: Quiet Places

 Dunballan is a place that has its share of dark secrets,  along with a beast that stalks the woods around it. There is a long history associated with this small town and David McCavendish’s family is part of it. David has been living in London and now has to return to the place of his ancestors in order to inherit the family home. He now has to adjust to country living and in order to help him, he brought along his girlfriend Sally.

Sally quickly realizes that something is a little off about Dunballan. The only person who seems to talk to her gives her a history of the town that includes some stories of odd spirits that lurk in the woods, one being Hettie Of The Hedgegrow. Another problem is that every time the beast in the woods appears, David goes into a depressed catatonic state that lasts for days. Sally realizes that the town is cursed and will do anything to keep David from suffering through it. The problem is she may not be able to help him without making everything worse.

Quiet Places by Jasper Bark is not your average horror novella. It feels like Jasper Bark was thinking to himself: “What are the things that scare people the most?” As he was pondering that question he sat down and wrote a terrifying piece of work that relies on mood and emotions rather than gore or a hideous monster. The beast in this story isn’t all that scary, but what it represents is and the history surrounding it is even worse. I felt the scariest part of this book was in the very beginning which I don’t want to give away but Jasper pretty much nailed my worst fear and he wasn’t even that descriptive. It was all psychological, Jasper makes you imagine it instead of showing it.

After the gut wrenching start, you as the reader are left to wonder how we got there and then you get the history leading up to the event. This book gets into mythology, the occult and a history of David’s relatives. I loved all the attention to detail in this book but most of all I loved the character of Sally. We see Sally deal with a lot of different issues in this story but she stays strong even when things are at their worst. Sally seems like she doesn’t fit in anywhere and she isn’t sure she even cares about fitting in. She does know who’s important to her though and will do anything to save him.

Quiet Places is heavily inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and could be considered cosmic horror but it’s a highly original novella. This is a psychological horror story that gives you a lot to think about. Some of the questions it raises are who do you trust in a town of strangers? How far would you go to save a loved one? And What would you do when all hope is lost? Quiet Places shows us that a story doesn’t have to be bloody to be scary and there are far scarier things than death.

 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Siren

Susanne L. Lambdin

Noel Saabye

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.

WordsmithCrystalConnor

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

@notesfromtheauthor

@Fromtheauthor

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!” 

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.

Once Upon a Scream Author Spotlight: MD Maurice

Horroraddicts.net publishing has recently published our 4th anthology called Once Upon a ScreamRemember the Fairy tales that you grew up reading? Well, they are back again with a horror twist. Once Upon a Scream includes 18 tales that are fantastic and frightful. One of the authors in this anthology is MD Maurice and recently talked to us about her writing:

What is your story in Once Upon A Scream called and what is it about?
OnceUponAScreamFrontMy story is called “Lake Tividen”. It is basically, a modern retelling of an old legend involving a dangerous Norse water sprite called the Nokken, sometimes referred to as the Water Horse in Norwegian mythology.

What inspired the idea?
The original piece was inspired by a prompt in my writing group where we had to write about mythological creature. I wasn’t familiar with the Nokken, but the more I read about it, the more intrigued I became. I loved the idea that it could take on multiple forms, entice and manipulate through its appearances. There was something very powerful and dark that appealed to me. This particular legend had elements that I really loved. I thought I could twist and expand on in both very visual and visceral ways. It just took off on me and began something bigger. Also, I always loved the ominous nature of those fairytales that promised something wonderful but demanded a higher price than one was prepared to surrender.

When did you start writing?
I started writing publicly in early 2001, that is to say, I starting to pursue publication for my work. I have been writing in some form since I could spell, I think. I can remember as a young girl in middle school, I began writing really terrible poems and cheesy song lyrics. Then, I actually started writing fiction pretty early in adolescence and I was hooked totally on the craft.

What are your favorite topics to write about?
I’ve had some of my adult fiction published over the last several years in erotic horror and sci-fi anthologies. The recent mainstream popularity of works like “Fifty Shades” have made it easier to find markets for that work. I welcome the way erotica lets me freely focus on all the varied emotions and physical connections we have to our passions and our most basic instincts. I do tend to write many stories that are darker in nature. I like that they allow me to explore the shadows and fine lines that reside in all of us. I like things that make me feel uneasy or slightly off-centered because I’m a person with a scientific background who was always taught there is an answer for everything. So, it excites me to think that not everything can be explained so easily. I like the mysterious, the creepy…that thing you thought you just saw out of the corner of your eye… I’m also a pretty active blogger, it keeps the creative juices flowing. It also gives me a venue to write about: parenting, family, travel, other interests and pursuits I enjoy on a daily basis. Plus, I like having some pieces I can still share with family and friends that are more mainstream…with far less blushing and explanations involved!

What are some of your influences?
I’m influenced by so many things and people, but my favorite authors are Gabriel Garza Marquez and Anis Nin. I also love James Lee Burke, Greg Iles, Joe Hill and Gillian Flynn – all very different, but they all do what they do so exceptionally well. I’ve read lines in all their works that have made me just sit back and say, “Good God, that’s so fucking great…” You have to take a few minutes to just absorb the way the words made you feel. I’m also influenced every day by the authors in my writing circles and in my group at Writing.com…So many unrepresented, amateur writers who find success just by keeping the pedal to metal and grinding out amazing material every day, working to make their craft as good as it can be.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?
I love the freedom by not being bound to anything. There are no rules because the unknown and unexplained are so ripe with endless possibilities and fear is so relative. One of my most favorite novels of all time is “Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King. The imagery and descriptive power in that book, and in other early King works, could actually keep me up at night. The story had my heart racing hours after I put the book away. I love that about this genre, it can make me feel something in my gut that stays with me in a real residual way.

What are some of the works you have available?
I’ve had pieces previously published in print in the Rainstorm Press, “Nailed – An Erotic Death Anthology” and also the sci-fi anthology, “Abaculus II” by Leucrota Press. Some of my short stories have been published previously in Bare Back Magazine,  Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, online at Erotic Nights and other sites devoted to erotic fiction. I’ve also had some non-fiction work featured in the River Poets Journal and self-published a children’s book called “Mugsly’s Forever Home” about a rescue mutt. Also, a memoir about my great-grandmother entitled “Claudette’s Lovely Dementia”.

What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a horror novel about a succubus demon which ironically just drains me, and a serialized novel about two ladies who run a sinfully sweet chocolate shop. Also, several short nonfiction pieces for upcoming anthologies that focus on loss and addiction. I try to blog every day and have several articles almost ready for submission…fingers crossed! I hope to begin drafting something for the new upcoming HorrorAddicts.net anthology just announced – as I am a huge, huge fan of Alice in Wonderland myself and I’ve very excited for that! I try to be as productive as I can while working full-time in my day job and raising a young daughter…some days I’m better at it than others!

Where can we find you online?1798535_604919092931153_1567880026_n

You can find me online at MD Maurice official. I’m a regular contributor and moderator of the Sensual Infusion group based as Writing.com. You can also find me on Facebook/Mdmaurice and on Twitter @MDmaurice2015.

Interview with John DiDonna of Phantasmagoria

_BDK2979-Edit

We’ve all seen horror on the big screen but have you ever seen a live Victorian Horror show?  I recently had a chance to interview  John DiDonna, the creator of Phantasmagoria Orlando who has been bringing live horror to audiences for seven years.

 

Cimorene (Dion Leonhard) of Phantasmagoria breathes fire at Reninger's Industrial Steampunk Show in Mt. Dora Oct. 17, 2015.

Cimorene (Dion Leonhard) of Phantasmagoria breathes fire at Reninger’s Industrial Steampunk Show in Mt. Dora Oct. 17, 2015.

What is Phantasmagoria?

So many words to describe. . . it is a Whimsically Macabre Victorian Horror Circus!  We bring stories of horror to life in “Phantastical” dance, live music, explosive stage combat, large scale puppetry and enthralling storytelling!  It has also been described by many as a “Graphic Novel come to life!”

What is the legend behind Phantasmagoria?

The legend goes back to the ancient storytellers of Greece who wandered the countryside, . . never knowing that they were immortals born of the story. They wandered alone, till one day two came upon each other and they realized they were a race differing from mortal humans, and they travel through the centuries finding each other, and bringing the stories to horrific life!

 

When did Phantasmagoria start?

7 years ago – it was brought together for one show and has continually built upon itself with all newPhantasmagoria wicked0079

shows each year, and eventually to a 12 month a year ongoing theater troupe!

 

What was the inspiration behind it?

I have spent my entire life loving horror, but most especially literary horror. The dread of Edgar Allan Poe and gothic writers who brought these stories to feverous minds.

 

What were some of your past performances?

We have performed our large mainstage show for the entire month of October for the last seven years at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center.  Over that time we have performed close to 60 stories of the macabre, all culled from literary horror, mythology, legend and folklore (all adapted from the public domain into our own style of storytelling)  With that we also have two touring shows, and a myriad of special event style shows that we perform 12 months a year that range from fire performance, to dance, to storytelling to even children’s shows of the whimsically macabre.

Phantasmagoria wicked0107

How long does it take to put a performance together, including set design, writing of the script and finding the right actors?

Oh my. . . for the script? About a year of research, story reading, inspiration, adaptation, edits, etc. Then for rehearsals about 2 – 3 months for developing a mainstage show. The puppets are the big design element, sometimes as large as 20’ long and 14’ high.

The troupe itself is ongoing so the actors are already here for the most part, though we add new people through our yearly auditions.

What do you look for when someone wants to be a part of your organization?

Ensemble. Collaboration. Energy. And a multitude of skill sets from movement to dance to stage combatPhantasmagoria wicked0089 to acting to puppetry etc.

 

How many performances do you put on per year?

Between mainstage and special event/appearances probably topping 50 at this point in time!

 

When is your next performance?

Coming up we have our touring show “Wicked Little Tales” in Baltimore, Maryland from March 17 – 20th, then we perform a series of mini shows upon our return, and then our second touring show opens for the Orlando International Fringe Phantasmagoria wicked0039Theater Festival in May 2016. The summer is filled with appearances and children’s shows, and then this fall we premiere Phantasmagoria VII “The Cards They Are Dealt” for the month of October!

 

What can people expect at the show?

To be enchanted, to be frightened, to be overwhelmed with all the senses. . . to become PART of the show as the audience IS the show, they share in these adventures with us, trapped as we are in the same room with

Allegra (Mary Beth Spurlock) of Phantasmagoria eats fire during the VIP aftershow following a performance at Lowndes Shakespeare Theatre July 25, 2015.

Allegra (Mary Beth Spurlock) of Phantasmagoria eats fire during the VIP aftershow following a performance at Lowndes Shakespeare Theatre July 25, 2015.

these stories. We have heard many a scream, many a gasp, many a laugh. . . and even some loving tears throughout the years.

 

What does Phantasmagoria have planned for the future?

To keep touring and growing! We have mini troupes planned now for further performances and we want to bring the stories to as many people around the globe as we can! We are experimenting with some interesting technologies right now too to bring that to the world through this little computer screen.

Check in with us at:

www.facebook.com/PhantasmagoriaOrlando

PhantasmagoriaOrlando.com

https://twitter.com/PhantasOrlando

_BDK2984-Edit-Edit

Phantasmagoria wicked0065

Press Release: Dawn of the Chupacabra is now available

The Next Dark Fiction Novel in the Chupacabra Series is Now Available

Press Release

Fort Myers, FL – October 12, 2015 – The next installment in Michael Hebler’s award-winning dark fiction Chupacabra Series, Dawn of the Chupacabra, is available on bookshelves and for eReader downloads.

Synopsis: An A.W.O.L. Confederate soldier is hunted by a demon sent to avenge the victims of his treacherous crimes.

DOTC front cover final_webJeremiah Whiting has been a survivor since birth. He endured an abusive upbringing only to fight as a private for the losing side of the American Civil War. But when the war ends, Jeremiah’s battle does not. He will meet his greatest adversary yet, in the form of a heinous entity sent to kill him for crimes against the Cherokee Nation, and the only allies willing to fight at his side are the remarkable instincts he possesses and the voice of a deceptive Soldier who possesses him.

Hebler hopes fans and first-time readers of the series will enjoy the new dynamics in this origins story. “By going all the way back to the chupacabra’s origins, I wanted the reader to have a different experience with this novel,” states Hebler.“ I intended for this entry to be grittier and scarier than previous volumes. I had to take it to a very dark place where it could be deemed logical to summon such a beast for the purpose of revenge.”

Hebler further states that this is not only an origins story for the chupacabra, but for some of the characters from previous volumes as well. He also assures the series’ same action and adventure, and promises to answer many lingering questions like who possessed the curse of the creature from Chapter I of Night of the Chupacabra.

The new book will be made available in trade paperback and eBook. Dawn of the Chupacabra also marks the final chapter to take place in the Old West before the series leaps forward into more modern times when the fifth entry, Return of the Chupacabra, is released in 2017.


“DAWN OF THE CHUPACABRA” DETAILS

Author:Michael Hebler

Style: Series

Theme:Dark Fiction / Horror / Western

Length:500 pages (print) / 115,000 words

Binding:Perfect bound, digital (.mobi, .epub, .pdf )

Retail:$17.95 (print) / $6.99 (e-book)

ISBN:978-0-9833884-3-2 (Print) / 978-0-9833884-4-9 (eBook)

Website: www.michaelhebler.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Prior to becoming an award-winning author of his dark fiction Chupacabra Series, Michael was a full-time international film publicist who had worked on multiple titles for Walt Disney, Pixar, Lionsgate, Lakeshore Entertainment, Warner Bros., Summit Entertainment, and the 2013 Academy Award-winning Best Foreign Language Film, “La grande bellezza” (The Great Beauty).
Born in the early 1970’s in Los Angeles County thanks to a salesman and homemaker, Michael dreamed of following his passions for entertainment and storytelling by acting. It was while studying theatre arts at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, that he realized his penchant for stories were better suited for the page than the stage. But creating tales with suspense, laughter, and heart is not Michael’s only love. Hebler also enjoys volunteering in his local community, as well as aid in the capture/spay/neuter/release feral program.
To date, Michael’s other publications include Night of the Chupacabra, Curse of the Chupacabra, andLegend of the Chupacabra (Books I, II, & III of the six-part Chupacabra Series) as well as his first publication, The Night After Christmas, a holiday picture book for believers of all ages, and multiple short stories.

Puzzleman

PUZZ.3Puzzleman by Christopher Alan Broadstone is one ambitious novel. When you first start reading it you think its going to be a gruesome horror novel meant to shock people. That’s exactly what it is, but as you start reading you find there is a lot of depth to the story and characters. The story begins with a woman named Amanda buying an earring that looks like a ball of metal wires. Amanda is recently divorced and her infant child has died leaving her bitter and wondering where her life went wrong.

Little does she know that the earring will soon lead her to some answers she doesn’t want. Amanda isn’t the only one searching for answers in Puzzleman. We soon meet a legless heroin addict named Erik who wants vengeance, a professor named John who feels his life has passed him by, a French vintner named Jeannette who wants to revisit a lost love and a former detective named Ben who wants to get back into the game. All of the characters are searching for something and all of their destinies are intertwined in the Puzzleman’s maze like pipeworld.

The pipeworld is a place where life is eternal but is also a place of suffering. It’s a place of living nightmares crawling with grumemonsters but also a place where the five people in the story can find what they are missing. The Pipeworld is like a giant macabre puzzle with the puzzleman as the master and the people as the pieces. The question is, can the pieces find the answers they seek and escape with their sanity?

My Favorite character in Puzzleman was Amanda, this is a woman who has questioned god and everything else around her since she was a child. It almost seems like god is punishing her for her questions with the death of her young child and her abusive husband. She shows how tough she is in the pipeworld though by not giving up even when things are at their worst. I loved how towards the end she makes a comment to the Puzzleman that shows that her viewpoints on god have not changed and I enjoyed the Puzzleman’s reaction to the comment. Another thing I liked in the story was finding out why her husband was the way he was.  My only problem with the story was that there was a long section on the mythology behind the Puzzleman.  I felt the section was to long and took the reader out of the story and would have been better if it was divided  into segments within the story and not just one big chunk.

There is a lot going on in this book, it starts as a horror novel then turns into a text-book on world mythology and then goes back to being a horror novel. This isn’t just any horror novel though, it asks some important questions such as What are you willing to do for the ones you love? What would you do for eternal life? and Why does god allow so much misery? This is a thinking man’s horror novel. It delivers the scares and the gore but it also makes you think. In fact you might have to read it twice to understand everything that Christopher Alan Broadstone is trying to say. Puzzleman is Mr. Broadstone’s first novel and it will be interesting to see what he has in store for future novels.

 

Exsanguinate

blood_full-682x1024

In the world of an online role-playing game anything can happen and for Cheyenne O’Cuinn, a Halloween Scream Park adventure is about to become a supernatural reality. Cheyenne is given the task to watch, record and study fear. Her job is to find out what causes people to run screaming out of haunted attractions while peeing their pants. The three O’Cuinn sisters know horror, they live for horror trivia, and have developed a horror themed online role-playing game called ExanguiNation.

Things are not going well for the O’Cuinn family, while at the theme park, two of the sisters have been kidnapped by vampires to breed warmongering dhampires and its up to Cheyenne to save them. To do that, she has to play the game and solve riddles or her sister’s body parts will be mailed to her one by one.

Cheyenne is not alone though, she has a dragon, werewolf and a vampire to help her. She also has a virtual lover who has secrets of his own. Can their love survive? Who can Cheyenne trust in this virtual world and can the vampire apocalypse be stopped? Find out the answer to all of these questions in Killion Slade’s Exsanguinate.

When I first heard about Exsanguinate I was excited. I always like to read books that create their own  mythology and  combines it with reality. This one goes one step further, adding a virtual computerized world to the mix which happens to be more real than anyone knew. Part of this story takes place in a virtual world and the book includes links that go to extended animated scenes on the book’s website or if you buy the print book it has a code you can enter. I thought this was a great idea that added a lot to the book, it was like looking at special features on a blu ray movie.

Killion Slade takes the mythology of vampires, werewolves and dragons and changes it just enough to make everything fresh and original. One of my favorite scenes was when four of the characters go into a supermarket that is geared towards supernatural beings. The supermarket is cleverly disguised as an old warehouse and it has supplies for witches, blood donors for vampires, spas, restaurants, and items for creatures that no one knew existed.

Another thing I liked in this book was how it blends humor and horror. There was one funny moment where a vampire stakes a human and talks about selling humans on a stick at the state fair. I also liked when the werewolf in the story is eating bacon flavored dog treats, much to the disgust of a vampire. Exsanguinate has some great moments of horror as well. The description of the room where human women are impregnated and give birth to dhampires (a human, vampire hybrid) is chilling. Another scene is when one of the characters battles a rogue vampire in a Halloween haunted house. This scene was great because at first you’re not sure if its real or not.

Exsanguinate flawlessly blends horror, fantasy, romance, action and humor into one entertaining read. This book has it all and fans of all genres will enjoy it. This is the beginning of an epic series that has a lot of different types of creatures to work with.

www.worldofblood.com

www.killionslade.com

Midnight Echo and After The Fire

ME9_cover-724x1024Not to long ago I had the privilege of reading and reviewing Midnight Echo magazine issue 8. Midnight Echo is the official magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association. Midnight Echo comes out about twice a year. Each issue contains over 100 pages of horror literature, art, poetry, a regular column on understanding poetry, author interviews, articles on movies and a  vampire comic called Allure of the Ancients which is illustrated by the author from episode 91 of Horror addictsGreg Chapman.
The theme for issue 9 of Midnight Echo is mythology.  The issue contains an article on Russian mythology and every story in the magazine deals with mythological creatures. Some of the stories in this magazine include Changeling by Jonathan Mayberry which is about shape shifters, The Wee Folk by JG Faherty about a group of little people who live in the woods and kill those who bother them and there is another great story by the name of Little Boy, Little Girl Lost In The Woods by Mark Patrick Lynch which gets into witches and Hansel and Gretel. This story shows how much fun fairy tales can be with a horror twist thrown in.

My favorite story is The Fathomed Wreck To See by Alan Baxter which takes a look at the myth of Sirens. This story is so amazingly good that I’m dying to ruin it so I can talk about it, but I won’t because I really think you should buy Midnight Echo issue 9 and read it for yourself.  The story is about a man named Dylan who is having problems with his wife and a Siren who wants Dylan to herself.  This is a love story but it looks at the dark side of love and is not one of those make you feel good kind of love stories.

Proving that Midnight Echo is not your normal horror magazine is the regular column called Tartarus by Charles Lovecraft which helps explain how metre and resonance are used in dark poetry. There is also a great article on movies based on Australian myths including films about a haunted house and one about an Aboriginal spirit that feeds on animals, women and children called the Bunyip. The magazine also includes articles on Middle Earth mythology, an interview with the creator of the comic Killeroo and an interview with author James A Moore.

Midnight Echo is an excellent horror magazine. This magazine is for the hard-core horror fan, the type that can’t go to long without reading a good horror story or watching a horror movie. It’s also for the people who are always on the look out for great horror fiction, art, and interviews with the people who make them. If you’re not a hard-core horror fan you might not be able to appreciate it, but If you live and breathe horror,  you owe it to yourself to buy a copy.

18144958I also recently read After the Fire by D. Alexander Ward. Things started simple enough, two boys named Frankie and Lane at the age of 12 decide to go on a little adventure. There is a house in their town known as the witch house and they decide to explore it while the witch is out-of-town.

They break into the witch’s house and see things that they’ve never witnessed before. They hear a noise in the attic and decide to investigate and see something that makes their worst nightmares seem tame. In a rush to escape the witch’s house they knock a candle down and start a fire and Lane is killed in the blaze.

As an adult Frankie is plagued by constant nightmares of that day. Some horrors never go away and have a tendency to ruin your life. Will he come to terms with what he saw in that house, and the death of his friend or will the nightmares haunt him for the rest of his life?

After The Fire is a psychological horror story that looks at how one horrific event can affect your life forever.  There is some great and disturbing imagery in this book. The way the witch’s house is described was excellent, including the pictures of post death Victorian corpses that the house contains. This is a good tale about redemption and confronting your personal demons. Its also a short read with great characters, a lot of action and enough spooky atmosphere and gore to keep horror fans happy.