Odds and Dead Ends : Lost in Translation: Sadako vs Samara

This is a topic I’ve mused upon for many years, and when the remake of Pet Sematary came out last year, featuring a ghost girl of sorts, the thoughts returned to me. Why is it that I disliked Samara in The Ring, but loved Sadako in Ringu? It couldn’t just be that one was the original whilst one was a remake. It couldn’t be that they changed the name for a western audience. It couldn’t just be the different actress. So here I’ve decided to break down the two presentations of the character from the two most well known adaptations, 1998’s Ringu, directed by Hideo Nakata, and Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake, Ring, to try and place my discomfort.

We first have to acknowledge a difference in how we are first exposed to Sadako and Samara, which is deeply cultural in origin. Sadako’s story is given to us by having one of our protagonists experience visions of Shizuka’s psychic performances which led to her slander, suicide, and the unfolding of events around Sadako. With Samara, however, the equivalent information is revealed through a series of tapes, including some interviewing Samara about her powers. Here we see that there are some things that have been changed in the cultural translation; that the spiritual, psychic reveal has been altered for a technological one. We can reason that this is because the supernatural version would be more plausibly received in Japan than the US, where a scientific, technological explanation has been given (this is a slightly stereotypical explanation, but it seems to fit). This doesn’t change anything to do with the character, but does highlight that the changes are more than just the name.

Now we get to what we are shown in these reveals, our antagonist, and it is here that I begin to feel the difference. In Ringu, Sadako flashes, never utters a word. The journalist who calls out Shizuka for fraud keels over with a heart attack, and we have a ringing in our ears. Then, when Shizuka calls out Sadako, and we have the memory of the word ‘Sada’ on the tape, things fall into place. We still haven’t seen her. But when little Sadako runs into Asakawa, transplanted into the dream, and we see her ripped fingernails clench around her wrist, we know that something is seriously wrong, and violent.

At the well, we have another flash of a young woman (Sadako) with long hair peering into a well, before being bludgeoned and tossed inside. All without seeing her face; without hearing a word. A few minutes later we get the reveal of her skeleton, rotted away from decades in the dark, alone, having tried to claw her way out of the well. In all of this we have never heard her voice, seen her face; nothing that makes her an individual. She is a figure repressed, pent up, who has murdered four people already, and has a curse on several more. She is disembodied, silent, vengeful wrath, inhabiting a mere shell.

And this is what we see in the final, climactic scene of the film with Sadako crawling out of the television. It is slow and laborious, her kabuki-theatre-styled movements like someone unused to using their limbs, like a force possessing a body. She slowly stands, arms creaking, shuffling across the floor. You get the feeling that it doesn’t matter that she’s moving so slowly, because she’s just come out of a damn videotape. You’re dead anyway. And when her hair finally lifts, all we get is a swollen, veined, wrathful eye. No mouth, no nose, not even both eyes. Just the one, expressing all the rage and malice that has built like a brewing storm.

When we look at Samara’s presentation, what we get is a much more personal, humanised take on the character. Verbinski and writer Ehren Kruger give Samara a personality, and by giving her a voice and letting us see her face, try to create a distinct individual behind the long hair. They present us with a wronged child, instead of the repressed (and wronged by default) woman.

The trouble with this is that, in my opinion (and this is an opinion piece, let’s be fair), when you give a child a voice in a film, and especially an antagonistic child, you need to make sure that the child actually comes across as malevolent. For me, she comes across as a little annoying, and too much like a young child to feel particularly threatening.

We have the same issue seen with the original, silent Michael Myers in Halloween (Carpenter, 1978), as opposed to the remake by Rob Zombie (2007). By giving Myers a voice in his past, it strips some of the mystery away from the character, and his place, as a surrogate for evil has been replaced by a clichéd journey of a troubled child into psychopathy. For me, the same thing is present here in The Ring. These interview scenes don’t seem much different to Charlie’s incarceration in Stephen King’s Firestarter, and at least there we had Charlie as a main character for hundreds of pages beforehand, and were hoping for her escape. It’s a different take, a different look at the same character, but for me, much of the malice is taken out of Samara by attempting to present her as a person.

And in the final scene, a number of changes in how the TV-crawl is handled have been implemented. Instead of just using the television as a medium to record herself and emerge into the real world, Samara is part of the television itself, glitching and glowing as the image renders. She’s not fully part of this world anymore, but still connected to it, more of a ghost than a real, sinister presence. A downside to this is that you have to believe the CGI on Samara as well. She’s much quicker than Sadako here, out of the television in seconds, on her feet almost instantly, and teleporting across the room for a jump scare. She wants to be there and in your face, as opposed to Sadako’s wrathful judgement. It’s far more personal, as if there’s a specific grudge to bear against individuals inside Samara, whereas Sadako didn’t care because there was no humanity left; it had been hollowed out and filled back up with sheer hatred. Samara is specified revenge; Sadako is revenge personified.

The Ring also includes a Hollywood-style cross-cutting, with Rachel rushing across town to try and save Noah. I’m all for cross-cutting for tension building; it’s one of those techniques which works 80% of the time. But here it dilutes what made the original scene’s sense of inevitability. By not leaving that room whilst Sadako emerged, you were trapped in there along with Ryuji, and the slow, laborious way in which the scene played out kept you transfixed. You forgot the rest of the world existed, and focused only on the threat that had emerged before you.

Another aspect of the vocal/silent change is that we feel in the final scene that we might have a chance to reason with Samara, because we’ve seen her asking about her mother, and interacting verbally with the doctors. With Sadako, when she emerges from that TV set, you know that there’s no chance of getting out alive.

I’m of the opinion (in general), that Ringu is the superior film over The Ring, but then I’m of the opinion that Suzuki’s novel is even better than the film (seriously one of the best horror thrillers I’ve ever read). In both films we have fairly different interpretations of Sadako; a silent embodiment of sheer wrath and female repression in Japan, and a personal, paranormal grudge spilling out of control in America. With Sadako, her interpretation plays into the overall doom-laden, dark and dour atmosphere of inevitability which the film creates. In Samara, a more humanised manifestation leads to a stylised paranormal revenge story to suit a mainstream western audience.

I don’t disagree with trying what the remake attempted in Samara, because sometimes humanising a villain makes them scarier, that we know they’re human (or nearly) and can still do what they do. Here, however, was not the right time to do it. That doomy dread becomes a stylised shocker which never hits the same nerve, and Samara’s ‘can I see my mommy?’ removes all of the terror from my antagonist. The Ring isn’t an awful movie in itself, and there are certainly worse adaptations the US has done of paranormal films from Asia in the last few decades, but I’ll go back to Ringu and Sadako Yamamura over Samara Morgan all seven days of the week.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: @kjudgemental

-I discussed the original Ring novel a few years ago in relation to M. R. James’ short story, Casting the Runes, and their handling of deadlines in horror literature. You can read it here: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/odds-and-dead-ends-analysis-of-casting-the-runes-and-ring/

-And if, after that, you want to jump on the M. R. James wagon for more ghostly thrills, I did a recent analysis of the BBC adaptation of A warning to the curious, which you can read here: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2020/06/14/odds-and-dead-ends-the-danger-of-the-future-in-a-warning-to-the-curious-by-m-r-james/

Odds and Dead Ends : Gothic influences in Wes Craven’s Shocker

When people think of Wes Craven and supernatural slasher films, they think of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Perfectly justified, of course, as Freddy is one of the biggest icons of horror cinema. However, often overlooked however is his 1989 film Shocker, for some justifiable reasons including awful 80s CGI and an incredibly messy second half with little regard for laws of its own unreality. But at its core, and especially for the first third of the film, the gothic elements of the story are undeniable, and it’s a genuinely interesting case of a modern ghost story in the urban gothic vein.

There are gothic influences all over the film, but what tipped me off was the police invasion of Pinker’s TV shop. We head past the initial lobby of televisions playing visions of war and death and enter a dimly lit series of dusty hallways, hardware packed into the shelves on either side. We’ve dispensed with the creaky castle library and entered a modern equivalent of television sets. Noises in the dark. Turn around. Nobody there. We feel a presence nearby but can’t see them. This is classic haunted house stuff going on here.

And then we get the big tip-off as to the influence. We get a POV shot, very Hitchcockian (thinking especially of Norman Bates peering through the peephole into Marion’s room in Psycho), of Pinker’s eye up to a gap in the shelf, peering into the shop. The monster’s hiding in the walls. A policeman stands guard nearby. Nothing. And then hands shoot through the shelves, catches him. He’s pulled back against the shelves, and the whole thing pivots in on a hinge. The cop is dragged inside and the shelf snaps back in line, never to be considered again.

A few minutes later Jonathan (the MC) and his father appear, none the wiser save for a smoking cigarette on the floor. And then they discover the horrible truth when they see blood pooling out from underneath the shelf, like those ghostly legends of old mansions where the walls drip red. Breaking their way in they find cats flayed and dead-on hooks, red lighting from the cinematography department reinforcing the demonic aspect. And then there’s the body in the middle of the room, throat cut, blood on the floor.

This is classic gothic stuff. The secret passageway in the walls is complete Scooby-Doo, Agatha Christie, even some Sherlock Holmes (I’m thinking here of The Musgrave Ritual in particular). The Cat and the Canary did it as well. We’re in the middle of a slasher movie, and we’ve got secret panels and hiding places? We might even claim that these secret passages go even further back, to the origins of the gothic, in Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, the story we take the term ‘gothic’ from in its now traditional literary application.

And yet somehow it doesn’t feel out of place, doesn’t feel corny, because we can understand that Craven is deliberately drawing upon these influences to create a gothic atmosphere. This is important, as it subtly clues us into the paranormal parts of the film that come into play when he is electrocuted in the chair, turned into a horror version of the Phantom Virus from Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (those movies were great, Cyber Chase an underappreciated meta gem of Scooby-Doo lore for the final third act).      If the ghost aspect had come out of nowhere, we might have complained that it was too much of a shift from straight serial killer to paranormal horror, but here these elements help to ease the transition over. Not much, because it’s still a jolt switching subgenres, but it helps nonetheless. I’m not sure how the blood pooled all the way from the chair to spread under the shelf because it’s a hell of a long way. Perhaps this is faintly paranormal in origin, the cop’s spirit doing what it needs to do to alert the living to its final resting place in a bid to stop his killer? Most likely it’s a goof and I’m reading way too much into it, but it’s certainly a possible reading if you wanted to go that far.

Let’s also remember that, even after the electrocution, the film is in essence a ghost story. Whereas in centuries before a spirit might have inhabited a suit of armor, or roamed the walls of the courtyard in which they were executed, here we have a modern updating, inhabiting the electricity that we have harnessed for our own ends. This criticism of our device-ridden society which wasn’t as prevalent when the film came out, but certainly on the rise, was inherent in genre storytelling of the time. Cyberpunk arose as a subgenre a few years before to question our reliance on technology.

And a few years after Shocker, we see the influx of films from Asia that combined a malevolent spirit and technology to demonstrate new fears of a society rapidly flying into the future. Films like Ringu, One Missed Call, Shutter, Noroi, even The Eye to a certain extent (the elevator scene is my example here, with the apparition not appearing on the security camera), would be films that take this concept and run with it, infusing into their tales a very gender-based morality tale of using a stereotypically male industry (technology) and using it as a vehicle for the classic avenging female spirit of folklore.

Could one orient Shocker as a modern gothic gateway to these tales? I suspect most would argue against it, but as has been critiqued in countless essays, articles, and books, there is not one film history, but multiple readings of film histories. As it stands, the genre itself is also fluid and a very pliable concept in itself. I’m not using any of these arguments to state that Shocker is a great film, because although fun, it’s most certainly hovering just in the ‘mediocre’ range of horror films. However, that these more traditional elements find their way into divisive and forgotten films might go some way to showing that it’s not just the revered masterpieces of regarded canon that have interesting literary facets to their makeup.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: KJudgeMental

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Family Haunts and Fears

Family Haunts and Fears 

by Kristin Battestella

These families are less than comforting for each other when it comes to ghosts, cults, and suburban frights.

Before I Wake – Mike Flanagan (Oculus) directs Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush), Thomas Jane (Dreamcatcher), Annabeth Gish (The X-Files), and Jacob Tremblay (Room) in this 2016 Netflix dark fantasy drama. In spite of the never working, always home in their mansion rich blonde white people, we hope for the couple who lost a child now making a fresh start by adopting a very special but sleepless eight year old. Group therapy’s been helping our fellow insomniac mom cope – getting the psychological metaphors out of the way while showing how our husband and wife have reacted differently to such grief. Their new son, sadly, takes out his books and flashlight to stay up all night, sneaking some serious sugar because he fears the man who eats people when he sleeps. Strange images increase about the house, and instead of the typical jerky husband, it’s nice to have a trying to be helpful doctor. The therapist, however, dismisses mom’s encounters with creaking doors, breaking glass, and ghostly figures as lucid dreams or sleep deprived waking hallucinations. Our couple is always in front of the television not talking about how they can inexplicably see and touch their late son in tender moments giving and taking away before he disappears in their arms. Naturally, they take advantage of this gift, putting on the coffee to stay up while their current dreams come true son sleeps. He can help them heal, and with such fanciful graphics, one almost forgets how they are deluding themselves by using his dreams to fix their reality. When mom drugs his milk and cake with child sleeping pills, we know why. Dad may bond with the boy, but it’s unique to see a multi-layered woman both experiencing the horror and contributing almost as a villain who thinks she’s right. The monster may not be super scary for audiences accustomed to terrifying effects, but this is about kids fearing unconscious ghouls and waking nightmares not scaring viewers. Previous foster parents are committed after talking of demons when the boy’s dreams come true, but he doesn’t know what he’s doing – unlike the adults who realize, do it anyway, then justify their response as mercy. If he can’t wake up, they can’t defeat the black vomit and flesh consuming monsters. Unfortunately, convenient hospital connections provide old records and birth mother details while the caseworker never notices the ongoing file is lifted by the subject. Confining the boy leads to a house of horrors with moths in the stairwell, cocoons, creepy kids, gouged eyes, and bathtub bizarre – which are all fine individually. However, the story backs itself into a corner by resorting to a state of mind scary at the expense of the personal fantasy, unraveling with explaining journals and a parent sugarcoating someone else’s memories so obvious Freudian questions can do the trick. With this thick case file, how did no child psychologist figure this out sooner – especially with such legalese and real-world missing persons? Rather than essentially letting mom get away with sacrificing people to overcome her grief, the finale explanation should have been at the beginning to further appreciate the boy’s torment. Despite a kind of, sort of happy non-ending, the parents dealing with a child dreamer plot makes for a mature reverse Elm Street mixing family horrors and fantastics.

Death at Love House – Couple Robert Wagner (Hart to Hart) and Kate Jackson (Dark Shadowsare writing a book on Lorna Love and stay at the Old Hollywood starlet’s creepy manor in this 1976 television movie. Gothic gates, winding drives, old fountains, and broken statues accent the past torrid and vintage bus tours, and there’s a freaky shrine, too – the preserved corpse of our beauty lying in a glass coffin. Of course this print is obviously poor, but the retro Hollywood scenery, Golden cinema looks, and seventies California style make up any difference. I wish we could see the arches and wrought iron better, but the VHS quality kind of adds a dimly lit ominous to the Mediterranean villa as retro commercials provide a vintage patina. Housekeeper Silvia Sydney (Beetlejuiceisn’t very forthcoming about enchanting portraits of the starlet, and newsreels of her funeral show a man in a cape with a black cat among the mourners. Malleus Maleficarum spell books on the shelf, sacrificial daggers, and crusty director John Carradine (Blood of Dracula’s Castle) suggest Lorna was more evil than lovely, and talk of mirrors, souls, passion, and rivals like Dorothy Lamour (Road to Bali) add to the character unto herself à la RebeccaWithout over the top visuals or in your face action for the audience’s benefit, the performances here carry the scandalous scares – jumping at the horrors as thunder punctuates terrifying encounters in the dark. Apparent heart attack victims, destroyed pictures, and warnings to leave Love House lead to locked doors, gas mishaps, and steamy showers while phonographs provide chilling music as Lorna seems to be looking out from the silver screen film reels with her hypnotic power. Bewitching dreams relive the past and wax on eternal youth as the ghostly obsessions grow. At times, the spiral stairs, red accents, and swanky are more romantic, but phantom ladies at the window and rumors of fiery rituals create sinister. Our husband is said to be going through the scrapbooks but he’s not getting any work done, remaining in denial about the basement tunnels, cult altars, pentagrams, and mystical symbols. Although the Mrs. seems calm somehow once the truth comes out, too, the creepy masks and wild reveals make for a flaming finish. There are too many tongue in cheek winks for this to be full-on horror nor can one expect proper glam and glory in such a brisk seventy-four-minute network pace. However, this is good fun for a late-night Hollywood ghost story full of meta vintage.

Kill List– Financial arguments, unemployment, and stressed parents shouting open British director Ben Wheatley’s (High-Rise) 2011 slow burn while fade ins and outs create a disconnected passage of time amid his mundane routine, tearful phone calls in her native Swedish, and brief playtime with their son. Clearly they are trying to keep it together just for him, but recession talk and conversations about their military past make dinner with friends more awkward. Despite some wine, laughter, and music; tensions remain alongside bloody tissues, mirrors, and creepy occult symbols. Foreboding rainbows, eerie skies, and contracts signed in blood lead to fancy hotels, mysterious clients, guns, and stacks of cash. This sardonic, violent lifestyle is normal to our hit men – want a hot tub, put on a nice suit and kill a few people to make money for your family! Things should be looking up, but past mistakes, religious conflicts, and hits gone wrong interfere with the fine dining, friendly chatter, stakeouts, and casually executed executions. The deliberate pace may be slow to some, however full moons, hallway zooms, and binocular views set off the lying in wait preparations, silencers, and worship regalia. Thumping body bags miss the dumpster and victims aren’t surprised their time has come, but off screen implications disturb both our hardened hit men. They are the righteous torturers breaking knee caps and bashing hands! Dead animals, blood splatter, off list hits, dirty crimes, and graphic skull work are not for the faint of heart as the kills become messy and out of control. Ominous women in white, blood stains, infected cuts – this violence is going far beyond their normal work but there’s no getting out here. Nothing good can come from this dreary potboiler as the kills increase from ironic to curious and ultimately brutal in a final act providing throwback shocks and a sense of realism straying into unreliability. Night gear observations at a fancy estate begat torches, chanting, robes, and masks. If you’ve seen enough cult horror, the ritual foreshadowing is apparent, however there’s a warped cleansing to the rain, drumbeats, and sacrifice. Gunfire, tunnels, knife attacks, screams, and unknowns make for gruesome turnabouts that bring the consequences home in a silent, disturbing, grim end.

Voice from the Stone – It’s post-war Tuscany and dilapidated castles for nurse Emilia Clark (Game of Thrones) in this 2017 tale opening with church bells, toppled statues, and autumn leaves. Letters of recommendation and voiceovers about previous goodbyes are unnecessary – everything up until she knocks on the door is redundant when the Italian dialogue explaining the situation is enough. Her charge hasn’t spoken in the seven months since his mother’s death, and sculptor dad Marton Csokas (Lord of the Ringsis frazzled, too. Our nurse is strict about moving on from a family, and although her unflinching English decorum feels like you can see her acting, this may be part of the character fronting when she wonders if she is qualified for the case. The mute son is likewise an obedient boy if by default because it takes speaking to object, and he listens to the walls to hear his dead mother. Period furnishings, vintage photos, mirrors, and candles enchant the interiors, but the stone and stucco are spooky thanks to taxidermy, strange old ladies, creaking doors, winding stairs, and broken tiles atop the towers. Wooded paths, overgrown gardens, and old bridges lead to exploring the flooded quarry, cliffs, family crypts, and stone effigies. This estate has been in the late wife’s family for over a thousand years, and forty generations are buried beneath the rocks. Noises in the night provide chases and dead animal pranks as our nurse listens to the walls to prove it’s just the settling house, rattling winds, or bubbling pipes talking. Progress with the boy takes time while billowing curtains and melancholy phonographs linger over somber scenes as she grows too attached in wearing our late mother’s clothes. Unlike her, our nurse sits docile and silent when posing for his sculpture before fantasizing some saucy as he carves. She can care for father and son – talking to portraits of the Mrs. and listening to tombs to further ingratiate herself into this family. Desperate, she hears her now, too, in eerie interludes and spooky dreams that add aesthetics yet feel like weird seventies horror movies nonsensical. Wet perils and violent slaps begat illness, but questions on whether this fever is real or psychological unravel with fog, wheezing, heartbeats, and buried alive visions face to face with the dead. Although some may dislike the ambiguous nonanswers and stilted style or find the derivative Rebecca or Jane Eyre mood and outcome obvious, the slow burn period setting makes this an interesting piece for gothic fans not looking for outright horror a minute.

 

For more Frightening Flix, revisit our Horror Viewing Lists including:

Haunting Ladies

Witches and Bayous, Oh My!

Mirrors and Superstitions

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

 

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir a Delightful Little Ghostly Romance

Reviewed By Kristin Battestella

I really dislike modern repetitive romantic comedies with that hint of tearful seriousness and sap sap sap. However, classic romances with fun and paranormal do wonders- and I can’t help myself, I’m watching the 1947 treat The Ghost and Mrs. Muir yet again!

Widow Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) – along with her daughter Anna (Natalie Wood) and beloved maid Martha (Edna Best) – leaves her in-laws and takes a cottage on the Whitecliff coast. Unfortunately, Mrs. Muir soon discovers the late owner Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison) already inhabits the seaside escape. Captain Gregg agrees to keep his hauntings to a minimum for Anna’s sake and soon helps Lucy financially by collaborating on his memoirs with her. Could it be there is something more between them? Unfortunately, artist Miles Fairley (George Sanders) also romances the Widow Muir, and he is a ‘real’ man after all, much more able to return Lucy’s affection than the ghostly Daniel. But which does she really love?

Though played a little spooky to start- a widow moving into a mysterious cliffside house all alone– director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Cleopatra, Guys and Dolls) and writer Philip Dunne (How Green Was My Valley, The Robe) keep Josephine Leslie’s source tale progressive and fun. Instead of wasting time on major ghostly special effects or uber kinky relationships as today’s films might, time is taken to know the characters and enjoy the mix of the living and the dead while the romance blooms. Even as much as I love creepy fair, it’s simply wonderful that The Ghost and Mrs. Muir remains simple, innocent, and not totally spooky. Yes, the corporeal barriers and introductory scares might be enough to get a viewer in the door- but the interplay of the cast carries the film. The focus on two shot debates and fore blocking camerawork shows that these two people can hotly interact, inhabit the same space, even coexist and fall in love, but sadly not actually be together-especially when that two-shot becomes a jealous three-way scene. The lovely dilemma and heart of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is allowed to play itself out on screen instead of being squashed by ghostly glitters or Meg Ryan’s lips. And what an ending!

Tragically, Gene Tierney (Laura, Leave Her to Heaven) didn’t make very many films and is more well known today for her health issues and off-screen romances if at all. Fortunately, she did indeed leave us with a set of classics! The turn of the century costumes on Tierney look great, adding period flavor, grace, and an element of change as Lucy herself sways between men over the years. Tierney really is just lovely inside and out- even if the presentation is a little too post-Victorian by way of the forties for some viewers. However, there’s also a fine modern contrast, for Lucy-being a single mother disbelieving in such paranormal ‘fiddlesticks’- is in many ways ahead of her onscreen time. She defiantly calls out the ghostly instead of being the little widow in black and blossoms as a woman because of it. Although I’m not sure about Tierney’s accent amid all the really English folks, her tone is still proper and classy nonetheless. Not many actresses today can handle material like this- not without it getting cliché like those aforementioned run of the mill contemporary romances. I also confess, penning a book to save the finances of one’s house is perhaps the dream of every down on his luck writer, and it’s just another fun, personal and endearing element I love in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Oh, that crusty and delightful Rex Harrison! Though initially seemingly a silhouetted menace with a great bellowing voice, Captain Gregg is built up carefully and creepily toward a sweet and stormy reveal. We expect Daniel to be so upper class and debonair ala My Fair Lady, but Harrison’s rough around the edges opposite to Lucy and near swashbuckling style is wonderful. His dialogue, delivery, and no holds barred attitude are somehow also suave; Gregg compliments Lucy on her figure and quotes poetry! The way the grizzly ghost mellows is utterly bittersweet, and it’s all done without losing any charm or gruff. Of course, George Sanders (Rebecca, All About Eve) is also his usually slick and exceptional self. We might not find either man uber attractive or Team This and Team That in today’s standards, but the juicy choices and whirlwind escapades both men offer is just that- an onscreen delight. Sanders just as easily sweeps the viewer away by painting scandalous portraits of Lucy in a bathing suit as we are also charmed by Harrison’s dreamy soliloquies. Edna Best (The Man Who Knew Too Much) is a little annoying as the stereotypical English maid who always talks so sassy, knows what’s what, and makes no Cockney about it! However, she earns her stripes as the film progresses. Little Natalie Wood (The Searchers, West Side Story) is also a somewhat goofy, but her fans will enjoy seeing her 10-year-old charm.

The black and white photography of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir hampers the visuals a bit, but the silver screen layers also add plenty of atmosphere. The ghostly lighting, candles, gas lamps, creepy paintings, and the shadows created work beautifully. The fake long shot stills are obvious, yes, but understandable. Besides, the sweet cottage interiors are more Victorian mansion than cottage as we would think of it, and the seaside locations are dynamite. The great ghost laughter, the usual glory of storms and wind, and Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, The Devil and Daniel Webster) crescendos add the audio icing. The paranormal hints and hijinks still work, and I love how the darkness surprises us into never knowing quite where the Harrison appearing and disappearing tricks are. Turn of the century cars, glorious feathers, furs, hats, and gloves! Sigh, but those bathing suits! Those are a definite no.

Yes, I’m sure a lot of this can be merely quaint or hokey to some, but fans of the cast or classics in general surely already know and love The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Fortunately, there’s also nothing so ghostly or romantic to dissuade younger viewers, and recent audiences of contemporary paranormal or standard romance should most definitely try this treat ASAP.

For more Lighthearted Classics, revisit:

I Married a Witch

Bell, Book, and Candle

Gothic Romance Video Review

David’s Haunted Library: Sleep Savannah Sleep


 

Jason Crandall needed to make a new start, he worked in Los Angeles as a Marketing executive for years. Sadly his wife died leaving him as a widower with an 18-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. He decided to start his new life in Shadow Springs by becoming a massage therapist. Shadow Springs seems like a nice little town but before long before cracks start to form in the town’s illusion of normalcy and secrets come to light.

First Jason has to deal with a jealous husband of one of his clients but life gets more complicated as the beautiful Savannah Sturgess goes missing. Jason starts to have horrible visions that make him doubt his sanity and some people are looking at him as a suspect in the disappearance.  Everyone in town has their own set of secrets, but the biggest secret is what happened to Savannah and why won’t the dead rest in peace?

Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross is a book that works on several levels. It’s a murder mystery, horror novel and ghost story with the perfect setting of a small mysterious town.  The first half of the book takes its time making us feel empathy for the characters. By the time strange things happen in the second half you’re totally hooked and wanting to see what happens next.

The detail put into each character makes them come to life and while they are shown one way, to begin with you see other sides to them as the story moves along. Savannah, in the beginning, is seen as the town whore but when we get into why she is the way she is, she becomes a sympathetic character. Also, Flynn Garvey who is Savannah’s boyfriend has no personality in the beginning, but later we dig a little deeper and find he has a secret and there is more depth to him than we thought. Even the character of Tabitha Cooper who is not in the story much is someone you feel for. She is seen as a crazy old witch, but in reality is very different than others see her. All of the characters present an image to the outside world but if you scratch the surface a little they show another side. You care about these people because you can relate to them and that makes things even scarier when odd things start to happen.

The best part of this book was when Jason is questioning his sanity. You see him as just a guy dealing with the loss of his wife and trying to raise his kids to the best of his abilities but as he is having visions that make no sense his life quickly unravels. The feeling of losing your mind when you know people are dependent on you is the worst kind of fear and Jason is also dealing with ghosts from his past. In Sleep Savannah Sleep the horror doesn’t come from what you see, it comes from what you don’t see. This is an old school horror novel that preys on your emotions rather than showing you horrific imagery, though it does that too. Alistair Cross shows that he is a master storyteller by giving us memorable characters and a twist ending that you’ll never see coming.

 

David’s Haunted Library: Cold Cuts

Antarctica is a hard place to survive in, it’s even harder when there are mutant penguins with tentacles running around. Ozzy is a pop culture geek and a junk food junkie while Ben takes himself seriously and is Ozzy’s polar opposite. Both are environmental scientists working in a lab at the bottom of the world in Antarctica.

They thought that putting up with each other, the isolation and the cold temperatures would be the hard parts of this job, but they thought wrong. Little did they know that the terrorist organization called The Order Of The Red Wolf has a Nuclear reactor that is affecting the whole continent causing Penguins to become monsters. There are no happy feet in this story.

Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen has action, horror and comedy with a story that moves along at the speed of light. It also manages to give us some memorable characters. One of them is Ozzy who transforms from an overweight misfit to an action hero with a love interest by the end. The story also has some strong female characters such as Terra and Lorelei who aren’t trained to fight but do a good job of it when they have to. The only negative part of this story is that we aren’t given a lot of information on The Order Of The Red Wolf which is the group that created the mutants in the first place, but that doesn’t take away from the story.

What I really love about this book is how it goes from gruesome to funny. Every time there is a scene with Penguins tearing someone apart you also seem to get a scene that is laugh out loud funny. This book has one of the funniest sex scenes that I’ve ever read in a book and there was another great moment that will make you look at the paintings of Bob Ross in a whole new light. Another scene that I enjoyed was when one of the characters gets attacked and keeps fighting off the penguins and repeating to everyone that: “My guts came out.”

Looking at Robert Payne Cabeen’s bio you can see that he is an artist and a screenwriter and it shows in this book. At the back of the book there are several drawings of what the mutant penguins look like but also the way the action is described paints a picture for the reader. As I was reading this I found myself envisioning the whole thing as a rated R summer blockbuster movie. For example towards the end there is a great battle scene between the humans and penguins complete with background music.  I found myself laughing because I kept thinking how awesome this would look on the big screen. Cold Cuts is a lot of fun, it has that perfect mix of horror and humor that I like to find in a book.

Kbatz: The Veil with Boris Karloff

 

Boris Karloff’s The Veil a Pleasant Paranormal Discovery

by Kristin Battestella

 

Behind the scenes troubles and production turmoil put an abrupt halt to the 1958 supernatural anthology series The Veil, leaving host Boris Karloff and twelve in the can episodes of surprisingly quality unaired and on the shelf – until recently that is. Who knew?

 

Eerie music and Gothic castle arches lead to a grand fireplace complete with Mr. Karloff introducing these tales of supposedly true but unexplainable stories, and “Vision of Crime” provides a shipbound moment of clairvoyance and murder between brothers. The hackneyed old ladies fall a little flat, however Karloff and a pre-Avengers Patrick Macnee have some fun with the incompetent constabulary. In addition to hosting, Karloff acts in all but one episode of The Veil, and deduction on derringers, opportunity, and motive with a whiff of the fantastic help solve the case. “Girl on the Road” may seem then-contemporary slow to start with fifties innocence and a dame having car trouble in need of a man to fix all. Thankfully, roadside drinks, suspicious phone calls, and looking over her shoulder fears hook the audience into waiting for Karloff’s mysterious arrival and the paranormal plot turn. While the trail leads to where we already suspected, the simmering mood keeps The Veil entertaining. Likewise, ship captain Boris serves up some deadly seafaring adventures with a side of poisonous snakes to his wife in “Food on the Table.” The disposal is for a pretty barmaid recently come into wealth – and of course, supernatural consequences follow. Again, the story may be familiar but the characters and performances see the viewer through the twenty odd minutes. An Italian setting adds flair in “The Doctor” alongside aging physician Karloff and his prodigal son. Stubborn superstitions versus new medical treatments leave a sick child’s life in the balance, and I actually didn’t see this twist coming.

 

 

Ironically, the French accents are iffy rather than flavorful in “Crystal Ball,” but hey, when your upward mobile lady friend-zones you for your boss at least you get the eponymous gift, right? The foretelling effects are really quite nice with smoky swirls, upside down visuals, and distorted reflections. Moulin Rouge meetin’ Uncle Boris adds to the saucy scandals, and naturally, our two timing mademoiselle gets what she deserves. Rival brothers, contesting wills, lawyer Karloff, family violence, and ghostly biblical warnings anchor “Genesis,” however “Destination Nightmare” has a different opening and introduction before its dreams and mysterious pilot sightings. Crashes, parachute errors, and propeller sputters add to the fears, fine flying effects, and wild toppers while rising temperatures and New York bustle make for some murderous window views in “Summer Heat.” The crime may not be what it seems, yet silence during the observations add to the helpless feelings. It’s nice to see such fifties coppers confronted with the unexplained in their investigation, too. Despite the unique India 1928 setting and Eastern philosophies, “Return of Madame Vernoy” feels western fake thanks to bad casting. I mean, sure he likes to tan, but George Hamilton?! Fortunately, remembering past lives and reincarnations remain an interesting concept. Do you go back to the living the life before and contact family from the past? Can you move forward knowing what was or is there some other purpose for such memories?

 

“Jack the Ripper” is the lone episode of The Veil with Karloff featuring in the bookends only, and the production differences are apparent. However, Victorian spiritualism and professional clairvoyants make for an interesting spin on the Whitechapel theme with brief flashbacks accentuating the predictions and dreamy, eerie quality. The violence is unseen, but reading the scandalous newspaper reports on the crimes create reaction and believability. While the viewing order of the episodes is irrelevant, random VHS or video releases and an elusive two disc DVD version billed as Tales of the Unexplained can make watching The Veil in its entirety a tough, frustrating hunt. Fortunately, it’s also fun to discover new old television thanks to today’s technology, and The Veil is available on Amazon Prime – complete with subtitles! The transposed episodes and mislabeled descriptions, however, are confusing without a third party list, and Amazon is also missing two more episodes of The Veil which can be found on Youtube. The Veil’s original pilot “The Vestris” aired as an episode from another anthology series Telephone Time, and wow, that show has some fifties hallmarks complete with a housewife dreaming of dancing to her new dial tone! Thankfully, sailor songs, fog, phantom coordinates, and ominous quarter bells give “The Vestris” a proper shipbound atmosphere. A lady on board bodes of misfortune, and Karloff’s appearance doesn’t disappoint. “Whatever Happened to Peggy” has familiar people, places, and young lady not who she seems to be. Her memory difficulties and escalating coincidence make for a creepy and unexpected cap on The Veil.

 

The mid-century cars and fashions look sweet, and The Veil uses period settings and Victorian panache to fit the time as needed. Somehow, big skirts, bowler hats, and cravats always add to the spooky mood along with candles, gas lamps, and tea sets. Well done music accents the supernatural sophistication, strong characters, and sly drama. The Veil would seem to use its morality before the twist plotting to set itself apart from other anthologies of the era, however Karloff’s unseen series predates One Step Beyond, The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits – only the earlier Tales of Tomorrow or Alfred Hitchcock Presents provided competition. Each half hour moves fast, knowing how to be eerie enough to fill the time but not over stay its welcome once we know the twist. Although the introductions could be worded better and Karloff gives a postscript telling what happens next rather than showing it, The Veil admits up front that there will be no explanations. If not for a somewhat limited availability, this much shorter six hours is certainly easier to marathon than Karloff’s own later Thriller series. Where Thriller struggles to fill its sixty minute time with crime or suspense plots and never quite goes full on horror as it could, The Veil uses murder and scandal for a paranormal punchline just like it promises.

 

Now similar anthology tales of premonitions, ghosts, astral projection, or psychic phenomena will make The Veil obvious for wise speculative viewers – the unfortunate result of it’s previously unviewed shelf life. The small number of episodes leaves The Veil feeling too brief to be of real substance, and its quick run through may leave one lacking or wanting more. Fortunately, the possibilities were here alongside Karloff’s macabre charm, fun mini twists, and surprising paranormal guesses. The Veil may not look like much, but its black and white mood, well told stories, and fantastic toppers are more than enough for a spooky, rainy afternoon marathon anytime of year.

 

Strange Happenings in Wisconsin

August_the_beast_of_bray_road_by_pyro_helfier-d7v0mcyA fan of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, Jeff Eickelberg recently sent us an email saying that one topic he would love to see us talk about was unexplained occurrences in Wisconsin. Specifically he asked about Great Lakes ghosts, cryptids, haunted farmhouses or anything else that could be considered ghoulish. Being that I live in Wisconsin I was more than happy to research strange happenings in Wisconsin. Probably the first thing people think about when they think of Wisconsin is The Beast Of Bray Road. The Beast is a werewolf that has been spotted several times in Southeastern Wisconsin. There have been at least two books written about the beast and a couple of paranormal TV shows covered the subject. There was also a movie that was released in 2005. If you want to hear more about The Beast Of Bray Road check out D.J. Pitsiladis article on the topic here.

Haunchyville

h2My favorite weird story from Wisconsin is about a small village of murderous dwarfs in the woods near Muskego. The village is called Haunchyville and is protected by an old albino man. The dwarfs live in small houses built to scale and don’t like trespassers. If you are unlucky enough to meet them they will cut your legs off at the knee and force you to live as one of them. Legend has it that the town was created when a group of dwarfs ran away from  the circus because the circus’ ringmaster abused them. When the albino man was a boy he got lost in the woods and found Haunchyville by accident. The dwarfs took pity on him and raised him, the albino re-payed the favor by using a shotgun to keep people away from Haunchyville.

I had heard of Haunchyville from a book called Weird Wisconsin by Linda Godfrey and Richard Hendricks and I was fascinated by the idea of a small village of killer dwarfs. As I was doing research to write this, I didn’t find any record of anyone seeing the dwarfs but in the woods where Haunchyville is said to be located you will find three buildings that look like they could be dwarf homes. Most people believe that the legend of Haunchyville was started by high school kids in Muskego in order to scare younger kids.

http://slpmode.com/a-v-club-milwaukee-dont-go-back-to-haunchyville/

 

Summerwind

20140127-003206Every state has more than its fair share of haunted houses and the most haunted house in Wisconsin was a place called Summerwind. Located in Northeast Wisconsin on West Bay Lake this mansion was built in 1916 by Robert Lamont. The hauntings began when Robert Lamont thought he saw an intruder one evening and tried to shoot him, the bullet passed through him and the intruder faded away. Upon the death of Mr. Lamont the house was sold to Arnold Hinshaw and his wife Ginger who were only able to stay in the house for six months. The couple saw vague shapes and shadows passing through the home. Also lights would turn on and off along with windows and doors opening and closing by themselves. What was most disturbing though was a ghost of a woman who would appear above the dining room table. Over a short period of time, the couple started to question their sanity. Late at night Arnold would play an organ because the demons in his head said he had to. One night after finding a corpse in the home(which they never reported to the authorities) Ginger tried to commit suicide and the couple decided it was time to move on.

People doubted that Hinshaw’s story really happened but then the next owners had trouble. The new owner was Raymond Bober and he claimed he knew the house was haunted and even knew the ghost’s name. The ghost was an eighteenth century British explorer and the land was given to him by the Sioux Indians. He wrote a book about his experiences in 1979 called The Carver Effect. Bober had nothing but bad luck in the house and abandoned it after a couple of years. The house then remained vacant until 1988 when it burned to the ground after being struck by lightning. Some people still believe that the land where the house stood is still haunted.

https://www.prairieghosts.com/summer.html

Boy Scout Lane

BoyScoutLaneWisconsin has more haunted roads then most states and one of those is called Boy Scout Lane. Located near Stevens Point, a Scout troop was killed on the road sometime in the 1950’s or 60’s. Stories vary on what happened, some say the troop was killed by their scoutmaster and another story says that the scouts dropped a lantern which caused a fire and killed the whole troop. It is said that the scouts are haunting the area and if you are there you will hear them hiking through the woods. People that have visited the area have said they had the feeling they were being watched and have seen floating lights that look like lanterns. No one has ever been able to prove that a group of scouts died in this area but the ghost sighting are still happening.

http://www.yourghoststories.com/real-ghost-story.php?story=601

Witch Road

witch_road3Boy Scout road isn’t the only haunted lane in Wisconsin, Near the town of Rosendale lies Witch Road. Legend has it that 60 years ago a witch lived on Witch road and when she died the road became haunted. Some of the people who have traveled the road say that parts of the road are unusually dark and cold and you can hear the sound of trickling water even though there is no stream near by. Others have witnessed white lights in the trees and a ghost of a young girl. The witches abandoned home can still be seen near the street, along with a tree that looks a lot like a witch.  Several people go to witch road because they were dared and even when they don’t see a ghost they still say it’s a very creepy place to visit.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/files_spectrology/witch_road.html

 

Dartford Cemetery

dartford-indian-chiefMany people think cemeteries are haunted but in reality most cemeteries are not haunted but are a beautiful memorial to those that have passed before us. But there is one graveyard that may be haunted in Green Lake called Dartford Cemetery. According to the locals there are several ghosts that wander Dartford at night. Graves here date back to the 1800’s and some of the ghosts include civil war soldiers, kids who died of polio and an Indian Chief whose headstone appears to glow in the light of the moon.

Several stories have been told about this place, One of them is if you sit on one of the mausoleums, a ghost will come and push you off. Some people who are brave enough to enter the cemetery after dark have seen tombstones that vanish and reappear. They have also seen shadows and orbs in the trees and have had the sensation of being watched.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/media/a_haunting_featuring_the_dartford_cemetery.html

Bloody Bride Bridge

c202126003ca8c4cfc617571c5d1f5d0Out on County Highway 66 near Stevens Point, lies a concrete bridge that crosses the Plover River. Though no one has ever been able to confirm the story it is said that years ago a bride and groom were driving home after their wedding in a thunderstorm. As they crossed the bridge the car spun out of control and the couple died in the crash. Since then people have spotted the bride standing on the bridge with blood covering her dress. It is also said that if you stop your car on the bridge the dead bride and groom will appear in the backseat of your car.

http://www.washingtoncountyparanormal.com/blog/the-mysterious-stacked-stones-of-bloody-bride-bridge-stevens-point-wi/

Hotel Hell

maribel-caves-hotel-photoEveryone has had a bad stay at a hotel but there is one hotel out there that some think contains a portal to hell. Built in 1900, Hotel Hell in Maribel was originally called the Maribel Caves Hotel. It had a rough history, it caught fire three times on the same date. One of the fires in the 1930’s killed all the hotel guests while they slept. These were not the only deaths that took place there, one night one of the hotel guests went crazy and killed some of the guests with a knife.

Though no one can say when it happened it was believed that a group of black witches who were attracted to the spiritual activity that went on there did a ritual and opened a portal to hell that released demons into the hotel. Luckily for the future guests a white witch came to the rescue and sealed the portal. The hotel has been abandoned since a fire gutted the inside in 1985. Since then many people have entered the hotel illegally and said that they heard disembodied voices and saw blood on the walls.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/files_spectrology/maribel_hotel_hell.html

Wisconsin Lizard Man

manbatWisconsin also has its fair share of cryptids, including a lizard man who was spotted at different times in the 1990’s on route 13 south of Medford. People who saw the creature say that it was covered in green scales and had large leathery wings.  The first person who spotted it said it was standing in the middle of the road and then shot up into the sky when the car got close. Shortly after that another person spotted it in the same area and said it was staring right at him but when the car got close he flew off into the trees.

About 10 years later in 2006, a creature that fit the same description was spotted near LaCrosse. A father and son spotted the lizard man flying straight at there car while screaming. They thought it was going to collide with them but at the last second the creature darted up into the sky. The picture to the left is an artist’s rendition of how the creature was described.

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/topic/81821-reptilian-sighted-in-wisconsin-by-man-son/

Pepie The Lake Monster

d3f36250d229c4a3623ade43e64569ebSo now you know Wisconsin has lizard men, werewolves and ghosts. But that’s not all we have, we also have our own lake monster. He lives in Lake Pepin which is along the Mississippi River about 40 miles from Eau Claire. His name is Pepie and he goes way back to when the native Americans lived there. Legend has it they would not take their canoes on Lake Pepin because they feared the giant lake monster would tip it over.

Back in 1871 some explorers said they spotted the creature and it looked like a cross between a rhino and an elephant. Since then there have been sightings and even some pictures of the creature, but no hard evidence has been presented saying the creature exists. People keep trying though, in 2008 there was an expedition to find it that came up empty-handed and currently there is a $50,000 reward for proof that Pepie exists. Pepie is so popular in Wisconsin that he even has his own website.

http://pepie.net/

Green Bay’s Griffon

article-2343642-1A5FD37C000005DC-129_634x518The last thing I want to talk about is The Griffon. If you are going to talk about ghosts in Wisconsin you have to talk about The Great Lakes. Ships have been crossing the lakes for centuries and up until the last 50 years or so, it wasn’t safe. Several books have been written on shipwrecks on The Great Lakes and where there are wrecks there are ghosts.

The Griffon’s home port was in Green Bay, in August of 1679 the ship was headed back to Green Bay from Niagara when it mysteriously disappeared. It wasn’t gone forever though. Throughout the years in the fog people have claimed to spot a ghostly three-masted ship that looked like it belonged to a different era. Could The Griffon still be trying to find its way home after 300 years? I guess we will never know for sure.

http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/04/the-ghost-fleet-of-the-great-lakes/

Do you have a favorite ghost story from your area you want to share? Please leave a comment or send us an email at horroraddicts@gmail.com.

David’s Haunted Library: The Box Jumper

 

David's Haunted Library

26880448A box Jumper is a magician’s assistant and one of Houdini’s box jumpers was Leona Derwatt. Leona came from a working class background and her father idolized Houdini. In 1919 she met Houdini while working in a magic shop, Houdini hired her on as an assistant and she became one of Houdini’s favorite employees. They worked as a team exposing spiritualists  as frauds and performing illusions on the stage. Their life together was complicated and it was made more complicated as the charlatans who Houdini exposed as frauds conspired against them.

The Box Jumper by Lisa Mannetti is like a paranormal mystery that keeps you off-balance until the end. The story is told out-of-order which to me made the book seem more original and added to the mood. You have to pay attention to how all the pieces fit together and how the story is told gives it a surrealistic feel.  It starts in the past, moves to the present and then keeps going to different periods in the life of Houdini and  Leona. You may have one scene with Leona where she is young and life is going well then there is a flash forward to a dark period in her life and then we skip to the future where she is reminiscing on her past. I found myself constantly wondering where this story was going which made the mystery in it that much better.

The best part of The Box Jumper is how it handles Houdini’s history. It deals with how Houdini exposed mediums and spiritualists as frauds and it gets into how the charlatans were able to trick people out of their money. This book brings history to life and showcases spiritualism and magic at a time when it was at the height of its popularity.  You don’t have to be a fan of horror to love this book , fans of historical fiction will love it too.

Another good part of this book is Lenora herself, you get to see her at different stages in her life and how she deals with abandonment, disappointment, happiness, and love. For a novella this book touches on several different themes and does a great job of making you feel for Leona. When I first read the ending I was upset by it but after thinking about it a little more I thought the end made perfect sense and I can’t explain that without giving the story away. The Box Jumper is a brilliantly written book and well worth your time.

Kbatz: 666 Park Avenue

666 Park Avenue Had Spooky Potential

by Kristin Battestella

Yes, I am superstitious about the number, and 666 Park Avenue probably began with one foot in its 13 episode grave thanks to its polarizing name. Though flawed with an unclear theme and a rushed rectification, this 2012 limited run remains a frightfully fun marathon.

New building managers Jane van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annabel) move into The Drake, a historic complex owned by penthouse living Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn) and his wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams). As Gavin uses his wealth and influence to advance Henry’s political ambitions, Jane renovates the building, finding unusual secrets alongside fellow resident Nona (Samantha Logan). Neighbors Brian (Robert Buckley) and his photographer wife Louise (Mercedes Masohn) encounter the unexplained at The Drake themselves, as does Louise’s sultry assistant Alexis (Helena Mattsson). Ghostly phenomena, suspicious residents, and past mysteries escalate as Jane digs deeper into the building’s history – and discovers her own deadly secrets.

park avenue

Although 666 Park Avenue is loosely based upon a book, the series ironically shares several similarities with the equally ill fated series The Gates, which aired two summers prior on ABC. Our new tenants move into a luxury, too good to be true apartment building, taking a working position in a community where their predecessor left under unusual circumstances. The ridiculously short credits also flash a lone title card before the listings scroll over the opening action, making who’s a regular or who’s merely recurring tough to deduce. Like The Gates, 666 Park Avenue also pads its short 42 minutes – or less – with unnecessary song montages, and despite a classy billionaire interracial couple at the top, diversity is lacking elsewhere. Does ABC keep repeating this formula hoping to get it right? The numerous writers and directors have no consistency for 666 Park Avenue, and the characters are their roles rather than truly bloomed personalities. The mismatched couples are unevenly developed and only seen hurrying home or leaving late. Some are in on the spooky while others are not, and most of the residents only interact for a hello or goodbye in the surprisingly tiny lobby. The Drake seems more like a hotel thanks to a weekly revolving door where regulars are left hanging for other going nowhere spooky. People are being sucked into the walls for goodness sake but 666 Park Avenue moves away from its scary core for irrelevant corporate schemes, Madoff name drops, and political double talk. Instead of sullying evil with the same old prime time hitmen or political assassinations, maybe not being so New York City steeped or having been period set may have let the building intrigue shine. The wicked blackmail in the second half of the series does better, but the ridiculous need to have an upscale party literally every other episode gets old fast. Truly, no one episode of 666 Park Avenue is all super, the audience never receives the answers we really want, and poor structuring muddles the quality paranormal pieces.

Fortunately, 666 Park Avenue is more spooky than nighttime soap opera with an adult cast, mature situations, desperate pleas, eerie phone calls, and mysterious contracts due. Thunder, spooky zooms, and ominous doors lead to residents with suspicious blood on their hands, petty thefts, and one creepy laundry room. The Pilot gets to the ghostly prospects early alongside deadly quid pro quo requests and a nefarious Order of Dragon past. This first hour feels like a decent haunted house movie, showcasing the eponymous elevator mishaps, spooky stairwells, and murderous flashbacks. Perhaps episode five “A Crowd of Demons” uses a Halloween party excuse too soon – we don’t know the players enough to see them dressed up yet – but this is an atmospheric good time once the ghosts break loose. After an uneven first half, “Downward Spiral” begins to get to the bottom of The Drake only to have its reveals delayed until Show Nine “Hypnos.” Stock crashes, evil men in suits, sacrifices, and past rituals pepper the upscale where we least expect it. Play up those literal trips down memory lane, the mental hospital scares, bricked up fireplaces, and spooky books! “The Comfort of Death” toys with ghosts in the mirror and long lived curses while “Sins of the Fathers” adds priests and more 1927 living history coming back to rent an apartment. Reappearing pills taunt an addict, a knightly organization battles The Drake’s Order of the Dragon – a lot of should have been there all along paranormal is tossed in too late along with a halfhearted evil topper in the “Lazarus” finale, and those dangerous bathtubs, past drownings, and bricked up bodies make viewers wonder why 666 Park Avenue wastes so much time on shopworn auxiliary in its early episodes.

Where the eponymous complex’s supernatural threats are quite interesting, our would be heroic couple Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones) as Jane and Dave Annabel (Brothers & Sisters) as Henry are a touch too innocent, plain, and naive for 666 Park Avenue. They don’t seem like much of a pair, just New York ambitious with lots of parties interfering while Jane’s connection to the building – which should have been immediately solidified – is strung along until the seventh episode. There’s generic architecture talk, but Jane merely breaks a few things and knocks down some walls in her haunted house reveals without finishing projects or following through on the top to bottom explorations. Eventually, it seems like the idea of Jane and Henry being building co-managers is dropped altogether, as the totally unaware of the paranormal Henry doesn’t seem to care about Jane’s pleas to move or her fear for her life until she goes missing and ends up in an institution. Of course, Jane has no right to complain about Henry’s politics getting shady when she has been keeping secrets about The Drake the entire time, and these plots that should be powerful are erroneously intercut with weaker B and C stories. William Sadler (Death in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey yes!) is great as Jane’s estranged father, however, his horror heavyweight potential comes to 666 Park Avenue too late. Likewise, Henry’s spooky dreams don’t happen until the finale, as if the potluck writers simply forgot that Jane had the supernatural visions. It’s not the actors’ faults, nor the dozens of writers and directors who otherwise do fine work, but it seems like there was no character bible for this duo, leaving the audience anchorless to the very persons for whom we should cheer.

13th floor penthouse power couple Terry O’Quinn (Lost) and Vanessa Williams (Ugly Berry) certainly have the slick and suspicious afoot capabilities, but once again the mixed motivations on 666 Park Avenue hamper their scene chewing. At once, Olivia seems like a clueless fairy godmother lavishing on the newbies. However, one too many times she deus ex machina conveniently helps Gavin out of an evil jam before being unaware again by the next episode. Gavin, of course, threatens someone every hour to prove he is the top of the top, using politicians to get rid of mysterious rivals or swiftly dealing with dangerous minions. He knows all along about some secrets yet is blindsided by other evil trickery. If he’s so powerful, why is his demonic brand such a slippery slope under constant threat? The rug is cut out from under the viewer when his evil hierarchy, past Order of the Dragon connections, and good versus evil religious aspects are never fully explained. 666 Park Avenue plays with pedestrian dirty politics too long, and I swear they literally pull a Seven from Married…with Children and send the Dorans’ pointless daughter down the stairs to never be heard from again.

 

Sadly, I’m not sure the yuppie marital discourse of Robert Buckley’s (One Tree Hill) struggling playwright Brian and his wife Mercedes Masohn (Fear the Walking Dead) as bitchy photographer Louise are necessary at all. Sure, they add bubble bath steamy and voyeurism, but oddly, 666 Park Avenue remains tame in the would be saucy affairs. Paranormal drug addictions and fatal attraction with Helena Mattsson (Betrayal) as Louise’s assistant Alexis become completely uninvolved with the aforementioned characters’ storylines, and although the gambling debts being tattooed onto Enrique Murciano (Without a Trace) as romantic Doctor Scott are a neat Karma twist, it never goes anywhere. The paranormal stamp on Brian’s writing is late in the game to save the wishy washy between his women, and we don’t know what’s really going on with Alexis and her debt until Episode Ten. Rather than juggling too many superfluous paranormal residents and their wannabe The Devil’s Advocate deals with Gavin and compromising the series, 666 Park Avenue should have combined these plots for just one strong younger couple, thus earning a second year to introduce some deadly love triangles.

But wait, there’s more trite with the stereotypical magical negro psychic and rebel teen Samantha Logan (Teen Wolf) as Nona. Not only do redundant ghosts also impart similar mysterious warnings, but Nona doesn’t always share what she knows, inexplicably leaving only the audience aware of the clairvoyance. Of course, Nona also has a magical negro grandmother in a wheelchair, and Ghost Guinan herself Whoopi Goldberg also makes an appearance as some kind of Matrix Oracle where, I hate to say it, she seems more like she’s just talking on The View. Erik Palladino (ER) as doorman Tony is also treated as a subservient ethnic minority picked over for a higher position but used as a thug or handyman and deliveries as needed. 666 Park Avenue also has a black widow obsessed with youth, an obituary writer who changes people’s lives with her pen, and two detectives snooping about The Drake. Well, one detective anyway – Teddy Sears (Masters of Sex) continues as another going nowhere side plot while his female black partner is never shown again. Typical.

 

Thankfully, symphony moments and ironic classic tunes add upscale accents to the blackmail and violence on 666 Park Avenue while creepy dream travels, phantom hallways, and hidden aspects of the building slowly reveal some sinister. It’s frustrating when something spooky happens only to be cut away for an ominous commercial edit, but distorted wide lenses and through the keyhole photography add a sense of askew not found on your typical New York drama. The women’s over-arched eyebrows give them a perpetual wow face, people researching their family history never bother to use ancestry.com, and some special effects look mighty poor. However, folks being sucked into the floor is pretty darn cool, and the 1920s styles make up for the contemporary lookalikes and lacking attention to detail. 666 Park Avenue has too many people, side politics interfere with the paranormal goods, and it takes half the thirteen episodes to really get going. The Drake’s spooky promise is never fully refined, and the episodic dragging once again proves that network television needs to catch up with today’s tightly paced shows and no time to waste storytelling. 666 Park Avenue should have been a taught 6 episodes rather than bloating itself with broad filler. Ironically, while improving on The Gates with its more spooky adult drama, these same pitfalls that shuttered The Gates condemns 666 Park Avenue.

It’s annoying when such creepy potential and likable actors don’t get the well thought out summer event series they deserve. Could have, should have – 666 Park Avenue is by no means great. Yet despite my negativity on the show’s never quite hitting the right notes, it was indeed entertaining to marathon for the weekend, and 666 Park Avenue fits well for viewers new to horror, budding paranormal teens, or those looking for something upscale and spooky but light on fear.

David’s Haunted Library: The Cliffhouse Haunting

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The Cliffhouse Lodge has a history dating back to 1887. Not only has it been a place to stay for people enjoying the beauty of Blue Lady Lake, but it was also a place with a dark history. In the twenties a serial killer called the Bodice Ripper terrorized the town and a ghost called The Blue Lady was seen when a death was about to occur.

Flash forward to the present and a new serial killer is terrorizing the town and the Blue Lady is making her presence known again. At the Cliffhouse Lodge, wet foot prints are being spotted in rooms, disembodied voices are being heard and when people look in the mirror they see the face of the Blue Lady.

What can I say about The Cliffhouse Haunting by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross other than it left me with a huge smile on my face. I’ve been a fan of Tamara Thorne going back to the mid nineties. I like her writing because her books have great characters and she creates a detailed mythology. Also her stories have just the right amount of horror, smut, and humor that I look for in a book.

The Cliffhouse Haunting is no exception, it was obvious that Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne had a lot of fun writing this and it was hard to put down. I would love to know the writing process behind this book because all the characters are so detailed and a lot of them reminded me of people I knew. I’m not sure who wrote what in this book but by the end of it I was wanting to read any solo work that Alistair Cross has out along with re-reading Tamara’s books.

The best part of The Cliffhouse Haunting is without a doubt the characters. The serial killer referred to as Hammerhead who hates everyone including the ghost who helps him is a perfect villain. We also have characters who are self-centered and egotistical but at the same time are fascinating because we’ve all met people like this. Authoress Constance Welling thinks she is God’s gift to the world but no one else seems to like her. I kept hoping that nothing bad would happen to her in the book because the scenes that she is in were so entertaining. There is one scene when she is doing a fortune-telling act that’s one of the funniest and most outrageous scenes I’ve ever read in a book. Another great character is Dr. Siechert who will want to make you stay away from doctors for the rest of your life and is part of a very funny scene which takes place in a supermarket.

In addition to memorable characters in this book I also loved the detailed history of the Cliffhouse lodge and how the mystery of the Blue Lady unfolds. I loves how The Cliffhouse Haunting goes back and forth from being funny to scary and it was hard to predict where the story would go next. There are some gruesome death scenes in this book and one in particular had me laughing and cringing at the same time. All I’m going to say about it is beware of the chocolate wanderer. You want to know what it is? You need to read the book; you won’t be disappointed.

25968318Another book I read recently was a novella by Paul Di Filippo and Claudio Chillemi called The Horror at Ganico Rosso. Set in the early 1900’s, this story tells the tale of retired detective named Joe who gets called back to work to solve a series of murders that’s related to a case that he worked on years ago. The murders are linked to the mummies of the Capuchin Catacombs and they may hint at a threat that is coming to earth from another dimension.

The Horror At Gancio Rosso is a short but entertaining read that is inspired by the works of H..P. Lovecraft. This story includes monsters, mummies,parallel dimensions and occult happenings.It also has a good mystery with intriguing characters in an eerie setting. The book had a pulp fiction type feel to it, the story is simple, entertaining and throws a lot of strange creatures and villains at you in a short period of time which is all a true horror fan can ask for. All in all this book is a lot of fun and reminded me of the type of stories that I’ve enjoyed in Weird Tales magazine and it’s a must read if You are a fan of Lovecraft.

25405077If you’re into works of strange fiction set in a futuristic world filled with violence and terror then you should check out Alessandro Manzetti’s Massacre Of The Mermaids. This book contains six stories in a futuristic Rome ruled by a She-Pope. Some of the items you will see in this book include women who get fishtails sewed on them and then are brutally tortured as part of a new religion, human landfills, a slaughterhouse prison and much more. This book is not for the faint of heart but it’s interesting to see how some of the subjects talked about in this book mirror some of the things we have in the present day.

This is a hard book to talk about, the stories were confusing to me but the imagery in each story was so good I wanted to keep reading. The way things are described here are dark and disturbing and the stories are so off the wall that I had to keep reading to find out where each one would go next. Alessandro Manzetti describes things like no other author has and Massacre Of The Mermaids shows how much of a work of art bizarre fiction can be. This book may be ultra-violent but the settings described give a great idea of how creative a horror story can be and it would be interesting to see a novel set in the world that Manzetti has created here.

 

Nightmare Fuel — Elisa Lam

Hello Addicts,

This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the mysterious case of Elisa Lam.  Lam was a twenty-one year old Canadian college student on a trip through California that included a stopover in Los Angeles.   On January 31st, 2013, an elevator security camera in her hotel, the Stay on Main, filmed the student enter and press multiple floor buttons.  When the elevator doors didn’t close after a few seconds, Elisa stuck her head into the hallway and looked to her left and right in a quick turn of her head.  Seeing nothing out there, she backed up to the middle of the elevator car before pressing her back against the wall with the buttons.  Throughout her entire time with the elevator, the doors didn’t close and her behavior became more erratic.  Eventually she is seen walking out of sight of the camera, and the elevator doors close.  As the car stops on each floor, the shiny doors open and close just like normal.

The video itself might seem a little creepy to some and strange to others, but that isn’t where the story ends.  A massive search involving the FBI begins at the request of Elisa’s parents, but nothing was found.  A week after her last conversation with her parents, the video is released and becomes viral.  As popular as it is, the footage doesn’t help in finding the missing student.

Around February 19th, 2013, the hotel sends a maintenance worker to the water tanks on top of the hotel’s roof after guest complaints about the low pressure, discoloration, and oddly tasting water.  Inside the tank he found the naked decomposing body of Elisa Lam with her clothing and personal effects floating next to her.  Her death is ruled an accident, although some people point the cause finger at the fact that she was bipolar or may have been under the influence or some other illicit drug.  What is never completely answered is how she wound up in the water tank with the unhinged lid closed behind her.

While she is gone from the land of the living, the bizarre circumstances of her death and its influence is still seen.  Some people have noted the similarities between the case and the 2005 horror movie Dark Water, and there are a slew of movies and television series that have used the case in their plots including Castle and the latest season of American Horror Story.  As strange as this story is, it is not the only strange thing about the Stay on Main, also known as the Cecil Hotel, but that is fuel for another episode.

Dreamweavers

26031463When people have something horrible happen in their past they often turn to therapy to help cope with the trauma. Dreamweavers Inc. is on the cutting edge of therapeutic research and is using lucid dreaming techniques with neuro-stimulation to teach patients how to control their dreams and conquer their personal demons. Some of Dreamweaver’s patients include Toni who is being stalked by an abusive ex husband and Travis who can’t get over the death of his wife and son. The two meet and fall in love and dream therapy seems to be helping with their problems.

Another patient at Dreamweavers is Nick, a man who use to be loved by women but whose face is now scarred after an auto accident. Nick feels that the world has wronged him and is using his dreams to kill anyone who has a better life then he does. Seeing how happy Toni and Travis are, Nick decides to make them his next victims.  The two new lovers have to enter the dreamscape and stop Nick in a dream world where anything can happen. Dreamweavers by Kerry Alan Denney is a novel that looks at the world in a unique way.

I loved how Kerry describes his characters and how they feel. For example in the beginning of the book we get to know the character of Travis and Kerry gives us some subtle hints of how Travis feels about the world around him. The first thing we see is Travis performing a selfless act in saving some children who are drowning. We then see him on the beach alone with his only companion being his faithful dog. We then have a reporter come up to him and ask him about saving the kids in the water. When the reporter asks for an interview she calls him sir and Travis thinks to himself when did I go from being buddy and dude to being sir. In this subtle moment you realize who Travis is, he is a lonely man who is sad that he is getting older and is not sure of his place in the world.

Kerry also does a great job in making the villan in the story, Nick  a complex character. Nick may be evil but it’s how he sees the world that makes him interesting. His face was scarred from performing a selfless act, he was trying to save his aunt from a burning car and it left him damaged in more than one way. What’s interesting about him is that Nick sees himself as a freak due to his scars and this causes him to act evil. The thing is while he sees himself as a freak, the rest of the world doesn’t see him as looking that bad. Nick doesn’t realize this, he perceives himself as a twisted freak and acts that way.

Dreamweavers is all about analysing how you see the world and asking yourself is the way I look at the world reality or is how I see it a false perception. A doctor at Dreamweavers Inc. tells her patients while they dream to constantly question if what they are seeing is reality. I loved this concept and found it as something you can apply to your every day life. Dreamweavers is a psychological horror story and philosophy book wrapped up in one and one fun thrill ride.

Ink

cover_ink_454Brian is the creator of a series of popular graphic novels starring a character named the highwayman. The Highwayman is a supernatural being who comes to earth when a person is unjustly killed and his motive is to help the victim get the revenge they desire. Success for Brian came with a price, after being continuously stalked by an obsessive fan, he became a prisoner in his own home.

This all changes though when he is talked into going to a convention and meets a female illustrator named A.J. Hart. A.J. has demons of her own but the two hit it off and decide to collaborate on a project. One day a mysterious bottle of ink arrives on Brian’s doorstep, they use the ink and it starts to bring their creations to life. They now have to stop the creatures they created from destroying everything in their path and bringing on the apocalypse.

First thing I thought when I read the description for Ink by Glenn Benest and Dale Pitman was that it was a great idea for a book.  There is a lot going on in this story, we have a love story between the two artists, we have the highwayman’s story from the graphic novel and an apocalypse story in the real world. There is almost too much going on here, Ink is a mixed bag, the characters are all interesting. This includes Brian’s dog who has a big part in the story, I can’t say I’ve read to many books that focused on the dog’s viewpoint, but this one does.

While I loved the characters the story was slow-moving and the sub plot of the Highwayman didn’t really interest me even though I did like the character. I got the impression while reading the Highwayman’s story that the author just threw it in because it was important to show what kind of book that Brian and A.J was writing. Every time we cut away to the Highwayman I found myself being bored and just wanting to get back to Brian and A.J.’s story. That being said I did enjoy hearing the reasons why Brian created the Highwayman.

The best part of this book is the love story between A.J. and Brian and this is coming from a person who doesn’t like love stories. When you hear what they’ve gone through in their lives you can’t help but root for them and you get to see how the two of them working together makes them better people. There are some great horrifying moments in this book such as when Brian’s obsessed fan sneaks up on him in a dark theater and again in a parking garage. Then what really tops it off so well was when the fan says why she is doing what she is doing.

This book has its share of scary moment but best of all it works as psychological horror by getting into how A.J. and Brian are effected by their stalkers.  One good scene that was in this book that really showed how Brian was affected by his obsessed fan was when we see him making an elaborate meal for two and then find out that no one is joining him and he is eating alone. Another part of this book I loved was when Brian was reading letters from his fans and you see how caring for his fans affects his life. While I have to say I had my issues with Ink, it was pretty good and I look forward to more from these two writers.

As Above, So Below and Negative Space

20708447As Above, So Below by Loren Rhoads and Brian Thomas is not your average boy meets girl love story. This story is more of an angel meets succubus, they fall in love and both have agendas type story. It all started when the succubus Lorelei goes into a night club in Los Angeles and sees the angel Azaziel. Azaziel has been cast out of heaven and Lorelei has the task of getting Azaziel to become one of Hell’s minions. Lorelei thinks its going to be easy to turn the angel, little does she know that Azaziel has an agenda of his own.

Azaziel has claimed the soul of a young woman named Ashleigh and wants to use Lorelei’s body as a host for Ashleigh so he can show her a night of love in exchange for him being able to save her soul. After Azaziel puts Ashleigh’s soul in an unsuspecting Lorelei, Lorelei flees and tries to find someone to exorcise Ashleigh from her body. If things aren’t already complicated enough,  the city of Los Angeles is swarming with harpies, demons and angels all trying to get Ashleigh’s soul and punish Azaziel and Lorelei.

As Above, So Below is a complex novel that could be called paranormal romance but it also works as horror and erotica even though the sex scenes aren’t over the top like some erotica books I’ve read. The best part of the book was the characters. Since Lorelei is a succubus that has works for Hell, you expect her to be an evil character. In reality she is a sympathetic character that I liked quite a bit. I felt that she was much more compassionate than Azaziel. I would have thought that Azaziel would be the ultimate good but you quickly find that he is more of a shade of grey. None of these characters acts like you think they would act and the lines between good and evil are blurred.

Another thing I liked about the book was the amount of research that had to go into it. This book gets deep into theology and as I read, I found myself thinking this is probably how angels and demons would really act.  The idea of a human possessing a succubus was an original concept and I enjoyed how there were different situations where each one had to take over the body.

It may sound  strange but As Above, So Below reminded me a little of Romeo And Juliet because it’s a forbidden romance and they represent two groups of people who are at war. There were some memorable scenes in this book, in particular at the end where a battle between good and evil takes place in Los Angeles which also seemed like a character in the book. One of my favorite lines in the book was when Lorelei’s demonic master Asmodeus states that “Demons deal in truth, life is painful.” I found myself liking the demons more than the angels in this book. If you enjoy theology and the idea of angels and demons at war among us, you need to check this book out. You won’t be disappointed.

18336919Changing over from Angels and demons to unexplained phenomenon. I also recently read Negative Space by Mike Robinson. The story follows a painter named Max Higgins who is starting to become popular by collecting photos of missing people and putting them in his paintings. He feels he is giving these lost people a home in his art. His impulse to do this comes from dealing with people disappearing from his life as a kid.  Among them was his father. One day someone recognizes a face from one of his paintings and he has to look into his past to find out why his father went missing.

Negative Space starts with a bang, leaving you with a mystery to figure out as you see mother and son try to defend themselves against some unknown attackers. At this point you get the impression that this story is going to have a lot of action. Then Mike Robinson throws you a curve ball and changes directions as he gets into the main character’s search for meaning  after a tragic upbringing.

The characters in this book were great. I liked how it was set during the L.A. riots of 1992. I liked the use of metaphors in the story. A big part of this book is about describing art and the way everything is described in the story, you get the impression that you’re reading a painting. This book seems to really be about looking for a deeper meaning to everything that happens around us and you have to give the book points for originality. This is a good read but short, I felt that it could have been longer in order to explain more of what’s happening. All in all though it was an entertaining read and different from what I’m use to. I found at the end I was curious to see what else Mike Robinson has available.

February DARK LOVE Month

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Dark Love: What is your definition?

For many of us Horror Addicts, we’ve been led down a dark and cynical path that calls for anti-Valentine’s Day parties and biological heart jello molds. So what are you planning for the big day?

February 14th for seven very unlucky gangsters in 1929, meant death. It’s also the day many wars were started, countries were liberated, and Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead fame) was born. So what does this day, and the subsequent bleeding out into the rest of the month, mean to you?

For me, I have to confess, I think of Morticia and Gomez. My own dark romance has caused this day to be full of thoughts of my husband. It’s so great to be able to share the same tastes, dark sense of humor, and sense of macabre beauty that we both love. Even as we become more “elder-goth” than our once youthful selves, we still enjoy the darker things in life.

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I know some of you are gagging at that thought of spending the rest of your days with the same person, but for you I say, embrace your individuality and enjoy your quick hookups! Valentine’s brings many latex-covered delights. If you are in Florida, you may attend the Valentine’s Fetish Ball, or in British Colombia, the Sin City: Valentine’s Ball, or Toronto, the Opera House Fetish Ball. Maybe your tastes fall a little less fetish and a little more dark and sinister? You might want to check out the Endless Night Vampire Ball in NYC, or the Robotic Valentines Vampire Underwear Party in Oklahoma (Robots+Underwear+Vamps? Yeah, that might be weirder than the fetish balls. Hhhehe).  Maybe you just want to get your aggression out? Try the San Francisco Valentine’s Day Public Pillow Fight, which happens annually. maybe you’d just like to stay home, watch a good murder movie, or read a good book? Whatever your choice this month, let your love of horror and dark love… flourish.

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When I recently asked in our Facebook group, what you, the addicts thought of Dark Love, Horror Addict A.D. Vick said, “Ah, you pose an interesting question. To me, dark romance involves feelings and desires that go beyond anything that a person would ordinarily talk about in mixed mainstream company. These things often lie within our psyches, but are forbidden. How about the eroticism that may exist between a vampire and his/her victim? Imaging desiring such a being and relishing in being the willing victim who is willing to offer life’s essence to the blood drinker who is not only seductive, but has the power to mesmerize? How about relationships between the living and the deceased, who have somehow broken between the dimensional barriers of the living and the dead. A witch who has strong powers of seduction might come to mind. I would even call a romantic encounter that begins at a metal show dark. Anyway, those are just a few things that I would consider dark love.”

Kbatz said, “Wuthering Heights perhaps is a good example for me. It is just so twisted and demented and endearing or sentimental yet it is almost a touch too from the grave hehe. Probably why I prefer it to Jane Eyre.”

Mimielle said, “Secret things, hidden desires…the things that make us stir but that we don’t talk about except maybe long after midnight in whispers, by candlelight. And maybe chocolate.”

What is your definition of Dark Love? What are the unique ways you express it? What are some desires you find titillating that “norms” don’t, but we, your fellow addicts understand?

“Dark is the Sea” by Heather Blanchard

Hello fellow Addicts!

This week I bring an offering of witchcraft and mermaids in the form of “Dark is the Sea” by Heather Blanchard.

Rowan Munro was ten years old when she was kidnapped by a man whose face she doesn’t remember.  She managed to escape, although the how is also missing from her memories.  When her mother disappears months later, Rowan’s father moves her to London, far from her home in the Scottish village of Dorchay.  Years later, she returns to stay with her aunt and discovers her heritage is a very unique one.  She also rekindles a friendship with her best friend Violet, a young witch being trained by her aunt, and falls in love with another childhood friend named Blake.  Amidst all of this, a mysterious and powerful entity, known as The Hunter, has set his sights on her.

In many ways, this book reads like the Twilight series of books, only without the vampires.  There is a very clear romantic theme throughout the book, as well as plenty of paranormal goings on.   From The Hunter to a castle haunted by shadow creatures, this does have a lot to keep any reader’s interest.  If there are any faults to it, it’s Rowan’s reactions to certain key events.  It is a good read, but more so if you are a fan of paranormal romance stories.

Until next time, Addicts.

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Press Release: How To Live With That Creepy Shadowy Ghost in your Home

product_thumbnail (3)Living with the non-living.  Every writer in his or her creative writing class are taught the golden rule of writing: To write about what you know.

Horror writer Don Wright practices this golden rule in his new Book: How to live with that Creepy Shadowy Ghost in your Home.   This is a shocking DIY ghost busting testimonial.  Don Wright grew up living with numerous ghosts as a young child, He lived in several apartments and houses with some nice spirits and some not so nice.

It’s been estimated that countless individuals share their homes with ghosts. Don Wright’s DIY Book is the first non-technical common sense approach on how to deal with the Paranormal. If you think you might be sharing your home with a ghost then this book is a must have.

Available at lulu.com

For more information on Don Wright go to:  http://www.donwright250.blogspot.com

 

December HAUNTINGS Month

mansion-header (1)December is HAUNTINGS month here at HorrorAddicts.net. Have you ever seen a ghost? What about hearing footsteps when no one is there? Possibly you’ve just FELT like someone was there when you were the only one in the house?

This month we will be exploring HAUNTINGS, both true and fictional. We’ll be talking to Paranormal Investigators and about Haunted Locations you can visit. Please send any haunting stories you would like to share to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

I’ve seen and felt many things during my life, but the one location that sticks with me the most is a church we used to go to in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As the child of a minister, I spent many hours hanging out in the halls of various churches. This particular church I spent more time in because we were the blizzard shelter for the area. I even had my own little hide out in the office area with sleeping bag, pillows, and my trusty stuffed seal named Softy. Me and Softy used to curl up and sleep to the sounds of people being fed and sheltered a couple of doors away.

I’m not sure of the church history, I was only 6 at the time, but the place had more “creepy” energy than any other place I’ve ever been. Sure, I was young so some of that came with the fear of being alone in a large building when my parents were doing other things, but I witnessed several hauntings.

woman-in-black-6Once, when they were decorating the stage for a play, I watched as several of the church men set up a large wooden set with holes cut out at varying heights. In the play, actors would stick their heads out of the holes and say jokes or sing (kinda like Laugh-in). After the sets were all up, the actors tried it out, popping in and out of the holes like they would later during the play. I laid on one of the pews and watched. When I woke up in the same position a hour later, everyone was gone. The stage was still lit, but all the adults had gone home. My mother called me and said I had five minutes till we would leave. I sat up, grabbed Softy, and started for the foyer. Hearing something behind me, I looked back and saw a couple of kids playing with the sets. They were sticking their heads in and out of the different holes and making funny faces. Mom called from the door and said we were locking up.

“But what about the kids playing on stage?” I asked.

“What kids? Everyone is gone,” she said.

I looked back and there were no kids. Mom and I investigated the stage, but still found no one around.

That wasn’t the last time I saw kids in the church and the most terrifying one was a girl in a yellow dress that had a red bloody ring around her neck. I was never really frightened by the ghosts in the church, but remembering the happy girl motioning for me to follow sends chills up my spine today. I’m sure my parents thought I was just being an imaginative six-year-old, but as I got older and have experienced other occurrences of the supernatural, I realize that church was definitely haunted.

the-grady-twins

But what are hauntings? Are they ghosts trapped between the worlds? Are they simply imprints of previous events? Are they demons or evil creatures playing with our minds? What do you think?

Press Release: The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B

unnamedMeet the ghost sisters in new YA paranormal novel

Two sisters who love the supernatural investigate a ghost haunting their middle school in a new young adult paranormal novel.

Sunbury Press has released The Ghost Sisters and the Girl in Hallway B by Patricia Santos Marcantonio.

Meet the Ghost Sisters: Kat and Marie Bench.

They love anything to do with ghosts and the supernatural. When their divorced mom moves them to her hometown in Pueblo, Colorado, the sisters discover a real ghost haunts their school—that of a young girl who cries, slams lockers, and leaves mysterious messages as floors writhe, walls weep, and a terrible accident is replayed. Armed with resourcefulness and ghost-hunting tricks they picked up from books and TV, the sisters set out to find the identity of the student apparition. Meanwhile, one of their friends is being bullied. Kat and Marie will need bravery and determination to help their friend and solve the mystery of the girl in Hallway B.

Marcantonio is an award-winning author. Her other books include “The Weeping Woman” and “Red Ridin’ in the Hood and Other Cuentos.” She also is co-author of “Voices From the Snake River Plain,” an anthology of award-winning stories.

http://patriciasantosmarcantonio.com/

http://www.sunburypressstore.com/The-Ghost-Sisters-and-the-Girl-in-Hallway-B-9781620064733.htm

 

 

Crime Seen

20574075Detective Evan White is hunting a killer but not just any killer. The man he is tracking  killed his wife and he’s taunting Evan via the phone. Evan wasn’t supposed to get involved in the investigation but he couldn’t stay away. The killer is looking to kill everyone Evan loves and because the killer is already dead, he may be unstoppable. With the help of his partner Angela, Evan will have to stop the murderer before he kills again.

The best words to describe Crime Seen by Michaelbrent Collings would be, interesting. This novel was an original idea and I can’t think of another book like it. Reading it does have its drawbacks though. While it is an excellent novel you have to read it all the way through to fully understand everything that’s going on. When I first started it I felt like I was reading a book that started 1/3 of the way through but the beginning makes sense when you get to the end.

There was one point where I thought I was going to stop reading it because there were things going on that I didn’t understand but I stayed with it because I liked the characters so much and all of my questions were eventually answered. My favorite character was Angela Listings. She is described as small and beautiful in the book, but looks are deceiving. Listings is a tough cop but has a soft side and a great backstory.  My favorite scene with her was when two of the characters are talking about how to stop the bizarre killings and what they think is going on. Listings hears this and says she is  leaving to be among the sane. I like how she tries to simplify everything to keep from being scared when she doesn’t understand. If she still doesn’t understand, she lets her gun and fists do the talking.

I also loved the character of Tuyen,  she is another tough female character but she is different from Listings. Tuyen is Vietnamese, and has a rough life. She works in a voodoo shop along with a second job and she believes in a lot of old superstitions that were passed down from her grandma. She is also psychic and I liked how she helped Evan find the answers he needed to stop the killings, even though she found out that her beliefs wouldn’t save her from the killer.

Crime Seen is a paranormal mystery like you’ve never read before. I loved the concept in this story of finding the truth to end what’s going on. I also liked how Michaelbrent Collings doesn’t explain everything until the end.   Without giving anything  away, Evan’s reaction to seeing Angela at the end was the best part of the book. Even though he knows whats going on, he’s still happy because of the people around him. If that doesn’t make sense, read the book and it will. Crime Seen is a masterpiece, it may seem like it has holes but I think Michaelbrent was just making sure you got to the end before he made you understand his vision. I got to the end and now I’m looking for more books from Mr. Collings.

Good Ghost Gone Bad

16061234What would it be like to roam the earth and not be seen or heard? You could see your loved ones, but they wouldn’t know you were there. Everyone is going on with their lives and all you can do is observe. That may be what ghosts feel like, they are shadows of their former selves and not a part of society anymore. They see everything and have nothing but time on their hands. This is the idea behind Good Ghost Gone Bad by Janiera Eldridge.

Brianna Moreno was a normal 22-year-old woman. She had a family, bills to pay and was trying to start a career. That all changed when she was murdered walking through the park one evening. Brianna’s killer is the only one that can see her and he’s happy to know she will be walking the earth unseen for eternity. She wanders the  streets feeling lonely and wanting revenge, but she doesn’t know how to get it.

Just when Brianna thought things couldn’t get worse, she discovers her killer also plans on murdering her sister.  Brianna has no clue on how she can save her, until she meets her killer’s other victims. The ghosts get together and learn how to use their powers to make their killer pay. Vengeance comes with a price though and Brianna may not like what she becomes.

Good Ghost Gone Bad hits on some interesting themes such as loneliness, love, vengeance and not taking anything for granted. I love the way this story begins, the author makes you feel Brianna’s loneliness by describing her walking down the streets and the wind blowing through her. Then she recounts her brutal murder and how her hopes and dreams came to an end. I liked hearing Brianna tell all the little things she missed about being alive such as reading and sleeping. There is a lot of depth to all the characters in this story and some good action sequences.

There were some grammatical errors in this book that took a little away from the story. Also there were some things that didn’t make sense,  like when the ghosts find a victim being held captive by their killer and don’t seem to care. Than later on a ghost saves a person even though his struggle with the killer had already summoned help. I would have liked to know what happened to the people who came to help.

The positives out weigh the negatives in the story.  The killer’s revelations towards the end really made me think and they were a surprise coming from a murderer. I also found the killer’s double life interesting, along with his wife’s attitude towards him. It was also interesting to see how Brianna changed as a person throughout the book and the decisions she makes towards the end.

There is a lot going on in this novella and Janiera Eldridge does a great job of telling a good story and creating memorable characters. This book may have had some flaws but it was a good read and I found myself looking into Janiera’s other works as soon as I finished. Good Ghost Gone Bad is a different kind of ghost story and a good example of how much depth a horror story can have.

Paranormal Books and Curiosities – Bringing the Spirits to the Shore

Tonight Kbatz is chatting with Kathy and the ghostly gang from the Paranormal Books and Curiosities Shop and Museum in Asbury Park, NJ!

Thanks for taking the time to chat it up with Horror Addicts.net!

How did the idea of a paranormal shop come together when you first opened in 2008? Did you find Asbury Park or did Asbury Park find you?

I had reached a breaking point in my former career.  While I loved what I did there did not seem to be much forward movement for me doing it.  I decided that I could put all of my skills and creativity into something that I was passionate about and my future would then be in my own hands.  Of course, I wasn’t sure how to do that! I tried a bunch of different approaches, started writing my book, scouted a tour site and ultimately, I decided the time had come for a brick and mortart destination spot for Paranormal enthusiasts and Paranormal Books & Curiosities was born.  Asbury park seemed a natural fit, it had a stormy history and it was interesting and unique and I thought Paranormal would fit right in.

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Now that ‘paranormal’ topics are arguably more popular than ever, how do you define your shop and inform against those who would call such themes evil, occult, witchcraft?

I find most people who come in are curious, even if they are afraid.  I don’t consider it my job to convert or convince anyone of anything.  I just want people to be able to explore their interests safely.  So, when someone comes in an asks me if I am a witch or if I worship the devil (this happens way less frequently than someone asking me if I am psychic or just saying “boo”) I tell them the truth, which is I am not, but there are a bunch of books on the front shelves that can help them with any questions they may have about those things!

How do you decide what books, merchandise, equipment, and oddities go in the store? Where do you get your more unusual museum pieces and exhibits?

I decide based on my own interest and the interests of my customers.  I can tell you that the store I have now is not the one I opened.  It is far more diverse than it was in 2008.  My customers have helped mold and shape it by the questions they ask.  As far as The Paranormal Museum, some items are artists renditions of legends but most relics I have either found in my travels or have been donated to The Paranormal Museum.  Many people have objects that are interesting to them, but they feel uncomfortable with them.  I am happy to make room for those items and to tell their story.

Do you have a ‘curiosity’ of which you’re most proud? What’s the weirdest object you’ve come across?

This is tough.  I have so many favorites!  One of the pieces in The Paranormal Museum that I truly love is a cutting from the Oleander Tree from The Myrtles Plantation.  The Myrtles is one of the most famous hauntings in America and it’s seminal story concerns a poisoning by oleander from this particular tree.  I love the idea that we have the DNA if you will, of a haunting.

Speaking of DNA, I also have a strand of Andrew Jackson’s hair.  Ole Hickory, as he was known, spent a few sleepless nights investigating the Bell Witch in Tennessee and that earned him a place on our wall.

Weirdest is tough, because they all make sense once you tell the story…but I do have a Palo Mayombe cauldron complete with bones and blood ash..I suppose some would think that weird.

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In addition to book events, you also host psychics, ghost lectures, and weekend ghost tours in the shop and surrounding community. Have you ever been frightened by any encounters? In twenty years in the investigative community, how much legitimate activity have you witnessed? Any false claims or debunkings?

I don’t know that I have ever been frightened, but certainly I have been made uncomfortable.  I consider myself to be quite skeptical, although I don’t generally “debunk”.  I try to explain.  “Debunk”-ing implies that there is some kind of hoax or intentional fraud and I don’t find that to usually be the case.  I have often been able to experience what is claimed by witnesses, but have interpreted my experiences differently than they. I can’t put a percentage on it, but I would say that paranormal activity is far more rare that contemporary field enthusiasts (ghost hunters) would have you believe.  But it is not non existent.  There is something that people are experiencing. 

How did the Paranormal BC Investigative Team at the store come together? Has the more recent popularity of ghost hunting shows and events helped or hindered the long active investigative community?

My team came together organically.  I get a lot of people asking to join or asking to “come along” on investigations.  The truth is I investigate much less than many other groups because it is very time consuming and a lot of people who ask for investigations are more curious to see what investigators do than they are concerned that they have activity.  Some of my team members came on public investigation and I liked how they approached the subject. It is all about the “fit”.

I think the TV Shows have done both good and bad, but overall I would lean toward good.  They have given a broad audience the vocabulary to discuss what we term paranormal.  That is good.  That helps start and continue conversations.  The bad is that they have created an entire army of weekend investigators armed with equipment they only understand from watching TV shows.  Is that bad?  I don’t know.  But I know it is frustrating to many people who have been investigating for 15-20-25 years.  Still, I don’t see how it has to negatively impact anyone’s legitimate research or study.  It is annoying for the old school people, but then again, sometimes I think there is a little too much territorialism in general.

My recommendation to people interested is what it has always been.  Read, learn, read, learn.

 

How do you deal with any jokesters, non-believers, and other norms who think its all hooey?

I don’t mind that, provided they are respectful.  I get it.  I’m not sure where I sit on these issues myself from day.  I am always questioning.  That is what it means to be a student of something, you question it to learn.  That does not mean I tolerate condescension though, or mockery.  If you have already made up your mind and are comfortable with what you know or believe, you should have no reason to disrespect other people’s journey to their own decision.  The key is to be smarter and more articulate than your heckler!

You were also involved in several Hurricane Sandy projects. Did you suffer much damage during the storm? Now that summer is upon us, has the clientele returned to the beach? Do you have any special events happening during the season?

I hesitate to even complain about our losses because in comparison to so many others they were minimal.  Of course we lost several months of business, which as a small business is very difficult to overcome.  But we were so grateful to be able to help our neighbors in the little ways we did.  Time will tell if the people will return, we haven’t seen it yet, but we are hopeful!  We have tours and seances, investigations and how to classes, psychic readings, book signings, pretty much something each week! Each month we have what we call a “Paranormal Weekend” where people can attend a paranormal event Friday/Saturday/Sunday and make a mini vacation out of it. 

 

What purpose does the Shop and the companion museum hope to serve along the Jersey shore?

I think we are different.  We are unique.  We offer people the opportunity to explore strange and unusual things in a beautiful setting.  I think we reflect what is so “cool” about New Jersey and specifically, the Jersey Shore.  I like to think we are a place people are proud to turn their friends onto. 

Where can we find you online?

 

www.paranormalbooksnj.com

Thanks again for taking the time to scare it up with Horror Addicts.net!

Free Fiction Friday: The Weeping Woman

16231423For this week’s Free Fiction Friday selection we have Patricia Santos Marcantonio’s, The Weeping Woman. We have two copies of this great paranormal mystery to give out. All you need to do is be one of the first two people to leave a comment on this blog post and the book is yours. Here is a reprint of my review if you need me to persuade you to get your free copy:

Every culture has their ghost stories and one Mexican legend is the tale of La Llorona, The Weeping Woman. There was once a beautiful woman named Maria who had two children but was never married. She fell in love with a man but he did not want her kids, so Maria drowned them in the river. God punished her by taking away her beauty and leaving her to wander the earth yelling “where is my children.” To this day, kids  scare each other by saying “if you don’t watch out La Llorona will get you.”

This is the legend behind Patricia Santos Marcantonio’s The Weeping Woman. In San Antonio, children are going missing and detective Blue Rodriguez believes someone is copying the story of La Lorona.  Blue is a cop with a tortured past and when she is close to a dead body she has the ability to see what they saw and feel what they felt before they died. The kidnappings are taking place in her old neighborhood and to make matters worse, there is also an arsonist torching the city. Blue gets paired up with FBI agent Daniel Ryan and together they investigate several false leads before they figure out who is kidnapping the children. The kidnapper has powers of her own and has a connection to Blue. Blue has to face down her demons and come to terms with her past in order to save the children from The Weeping Woman.

What really made this book good was the characters, they are all three-dimensional with good back stories. The main theme of The Weeping Woman is that everyone has secrets in their past and even though you may try to hide them, they effect everything you do. The way the author proves her point is by showing how all the characters are all tortured  by their past .

For example, the arsonist wants to burn buildings down but you start to feel sorry for him as you hear why he does it. Also there is a drug dealer and you see how bad he is, but as you get into his background, you understand him and feel for him. Also the reaction he had when he helps lead the detectives to the missing kids, proves he is not all bad. There was also a suspect in the beginning whose last moments are described and you can’t help to feel compassion for him even though he was a bad person. Patricia Santos Marcantonio must have done a lot of research for her characters because they all seemed very real to me. Blue’s abusive mother and the arsonist’s drug addicted sister were excellent characters and I loved how Blue’s mother reacts when Blue stands up to her.

There were several sub plots in the story and Patricia does a great job weaving them together. There is also a point about loosing faith and getting it back again that I liked.  The Weeping Woman is an excellent tale that masterfully combines horror and mystery. The characters are great and the story line is like a Criminal Minds episode geared towards a horror fan. If you like a mystery with a paranormal twist, check this one out.

If you want a free copy of The Weeping Woman, please leave a comment below.

Darkseed: Awakening

15752175Sometimes when I’m searching for a horror novel to read, I come across some Young Adult novels that look better than the ones meant for adults. Some good YA horror novels include the Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan, The Grisly High series by Brian Rowe and the Trifectus series by Logan Bryne. Recently I found another one that is the beginning of a series that looks to be up horror fan’s alley called Darkseed: Awakenings by Victoria Ley.

Fifteen year old Sarah and her mother have just moved into a new building. Their new home has a dark past, just 15 months earlier two boys were killed in an accident in Sarah’s bedroom.   One of the boys has not completely left the house and he’s making his presence  known by moving objects around and putting images in Sarah’s head. Sarah invites her friend Christina over to help communicate with the spirit and they manage to make contact through a Ouija board.

They discover that the spirit’s name is Craig and he is trapped in another dimension. Craig use to belong to an organization called the Brethren that researched the paranormal and communicated with spirits. One of the members of their group started to kill the others and trap their spirits in order to gain omnipotence.

Sarah and Christina do some research to find a spell to free Craig’s spirit but doing the spell won’t be easy. They also find that Craig may not be what he seems and they’re being stalked by another spirit. The more they learn about the supernatural, the more twisted the mystery of the trapped spirits becomes and Sarah and Christina may be in over their heads.

Darkseed: Awakening  may be aimed towards a teenage audience but it has a good story, great characters and some suspenseful parts that adults will like also. My favorite part in the book was when Christina and Sarah were communicating with Craig with a Ouija board. I liked it when Craig describes the other side and how he can make objects in a room move. I also liked the girl’s reaction to Craig saying he is right beside them even though they don’t see him.

The story for Darkseed: Awakening takes place mostly on the British isle of Sheppey in Kent. Some of the dialogue and descriptions in this book are very localized, which may turn some people off but added to the story for me because I was learning about an area that I knew nothing about. Another thing I liked in the story was the friendship between Sarah and Christina. The girls are very different but they get along well and help each other throughout the story. A good example of this is towards the end when the two girls have to fight the villain in the story.  They may be scared but they work together to do what needs to be done.

I also liked how Victoria Ley adds so much depth to Sarah in the story. Sarah’s parents are recently divorced and you witness how both parents act towards her and how their divorce affects her family. Sarah is a thrill seeker while Christina is the level-headed one that thinks things through before doing them. There are some great scary scenes in this book also, such as a chase scene through a graveyard and when the girls have to break the spell that has Craig trapped on the other side. Darkseed: Awakening is a chilling paranormal mystery that will have you looking forward to book 2 in the series.

The Haunted

On top of a hill in a forest surrounded by tall trees that look like green soldiers was a beautiful old house with a dark past. A long gravel driveway leads to the house and occasionally people drove down the highway to admire the home’s beautiful architecture. They didn’t stay long though because the house had a sinister feel to it and the people in town were afraid of it. The house had a for sale sign in front of it for a long time but one day the sign came down and a young couple expecting a child moved in.

This is the opening to Michaelbrent Collings The Haunted. The young couple’s names are Sarah and Cap. As they move in they experience strange occurences that they can’t explain, such as radios turning on and off, a truck turning itsself on and objects moving on their own. On the second night an all out assault begins and the couple is attacked by a legion of homicidal ghosts who want them dead. Among the army of spirits that try to enter the house is one with a noose around its neck, one with a slashed throat, and one in a long hooded robe that seems to be the most evil of all. The couple tries to escape but there is nowhere to run; the only help they receive is from the local preacher who may be in over his head.

There are a lot of horror novels out there that can be considered a roller coaster ride but The Haunted is more like a freight train out of control. The opening reminded me of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and did an excellent job of creating a mood of spookiness and impending doom. Right from the start before anything happened I found myself hoping Sarah and Cap would leave the forest and not look back. Ounce the mood is set, The Haunted kicks into a terror filled thrill ride and never lets up, leaving the reader breathless and fearing for Cap and Sarah.

While the plot unfolds you learn more about Cap and Sarah, the author gets inside their heads and makes you feel what they’re  feeling. I love the way Michaelbrent Collings presents his characters. you know their fears, their weaknesses and what there thinking at all times. You fear for them because you relate to them and you know you would probably be thinking the same if you were in their situation.

The only things I didn’t like about The Haunted was that the story was a little confusing and I was able to predict the ending. Despite this, The Haunted is still an excellent horror novel. This is the second book I’ve read by Michaelbrent Collings and in both cases I found myself thinking that this book would make a great scary movie. Michaelbrent’s writing paints a horrific picture and his characters are always memorable. This book has plenty of frights, the descriptions of the ghosts are terrifying and one ghost in particular is scary enough to keep you from sleeping for a night. So if you like a good ghost story then check out the works of Michaelbrent Collings.

The Devil Tree

The Devil Tree by Steve Vernon is an alternate history horror story set in the 1800’s. The story begins with Lucas and his wife Tamsen as they are floating down a stream in a raft looking for a place to settle after having to leave their home in shame. The raft hits a log and the couple is thrown into the flowing current. They are rescued by a man named Duvall and brought to a strange valley which is ruled by a giant Jackpine.

Marcus and Tamsen are nursed back to health by Duvall, his wife Jezebel and their son Cord. The valley seems like it could be a good place to start a new life but the giant tree that stands above the valley has plans for them. Everyone has their secrets and the tree feeds upon their emotions.

That’s all I can say about the story in The Devil Tree because it was a little hard to follow. The characters go through quite a few changes in the story, Duvall is shown as being good, then bad then good again and Lucas also seems to change from good to bad. Tamsen stays the same throughout but we find out that she has done some very bad things in the past. The story is about the characters and because the character’s personalities are constantly changing it makes for a confusing story.

Other things I didn’t like about The Devil Tree was how for awhile it looked like Cord was going to be a big part of the story but then nothing was done with him. I also didn’t like how Tamsen declares her love for Duvall but then acts afraid of Duvall a little later in the story and Lucas doesn’t seem to care. Another thing that doesn’t get explained well was the tree’s power, why it was there in the first place or what it was trying to do. I wondered if maybe the tree wasn’t controlling the people in the valley and they were going crazy because they were the only ones there and it was their guilt about their past that was ruining everything.

Despite my confusion with the story there was a lot I did like about The Devil Tree. I enjoyed how metaphors were used, along with how complex the characters were and I liked how everything was described in the story. The opening where the valley was discovered was beautifully done. I also liked when Lucas and Tamsen’s raft capsized and you see how much they love each other as they fight to survive.

Also if you are into horror there are some gruesome scenes such as the the final battle with the tree and the description of the fight between Lucas and Duvall. The way the characters are all  battling their inner demons was also frightening. This book is very dark, I found myself feeling creeped out near the end when it looks like Lucas has finally lost his mind.

I realize my review here is a contradiction but despite its flaws I found myself not wanting to put this book down. It is very well written and I will want to read more from Steve Vernon. It takes a little while to get going and has some story flaws but The Devil Tree is a psychological horror story that you won’t want to put down.

Guest Blog: Mary Abshire

Hello Horror Addicts. Thanks for stopping by to read my post.

My interest in horror, sci-fic, and paranormal started when I was a young kid. One of my favorite movies is the classic version of Halloween. I can watch it repeatedly without getting bored. The music is awesome and so fitting with the movie. I do so enjoy John Carpenter’s works.

Today though, when I watch Halloween, it doesn’t frighten me. When I was younger, the idea of some psycho on the prowl during Halloween did spook me. Not so much today and I don’t know why, but I still enjoy the movie. Come on, it’s a classic.

There is one movie that scared me when I was a kid and still freaks me out. In fact, I refuse to watch it. Can you guess what it is?

It’s the Exorcist. The story of a young girl being possessed just freaks me out. Possession is real. Yeah, serial killers are real too, but at least we can fight them. Watching an innocent girl possessed just… I can’t watch. The voice, the spewing, the head turning, the jabbing of the cross, the crawling on the ceiling… No, no, no. I try to tell myself it’s just a movie with special effects. Well, yeah, but I’m betting possession is pretty close to all of that. The worst of hell in your body. No thanks, I’ll pass.

Another movie that spooked me was Event Horizon. Sam Neil is one of the best actors to play in horror movies. Again, sound effects made the movie more intense and frightening. I rarely watch the movie, yet I recommend it.

In my opinion, there are various degrees of horror. Off the top of my head, the gross, the disturbing, the special effects, the supernatural, and the down right evil.

Special effects and gross horror go hand in hand sometimes. I think of the Saw movies. They’re not frightening at all, to me. I do like them as they are creative, but they definitely are gross due to the special effects. Creepshow and the first/original Nightmare on Elm Street rank high on the gross list. I also like Death Proof and Planet Terror by Quentin Tarantino. While there isn’t much horror, I’d put those two movies on my gross list, and I love them. Love the originality of the stories.

Disturbing horror movies would include the Serpent and the Rainbow, directed by Wes Craven, and the new version of Halloween. The new version of Halloween portrays Michael as a warped kid from birth. I find it scary because what we see in the movie really happens to kids today. It’s a good movie, but disturbing. Also on my disturbing movie list is the Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal Rising. I absolutely love Hannibal Rising. You get to see Dr. Lector as a child, watch how he handles his struggles, and find out how he became the way he did. It’s an excellent movie and one of my favorites.

Supernatural: My favorite category. From the Hunger to Let the Right One In (not the American version-Let Me In) I love vampire movies. Didn’t care so much for Interview with the Vampire. It was just ok, in my opinion. Love Anne Rice books, just not the movies. One of my favorite supernatural movies is American Werewolf in London. It would fall into my gross list too. When the guy changes…OMG. Great effects and his ghostly friend is cool, though gross.

Two movies I highly recommend and love are the Orphanage and Pan’s Labyrinth produced by Guillermo del Toro. The movies have great stories, very unique, disturbing a wee bit, and have great special effects. I love watching them in Spanish.

I also enjoy apocalyptic horror movies. Struggling to survive after major catastrophes (or fighting zombies) make for great horror movies. 28 Days Later and movies like Return of the Living Dead come to mind.

Paranormal type movies are decent, though not as horrific in my opinion. I’m a long time X-Files fan. Movies with aliens or ghosts are good to watch any day of the week.

In case you haven’t noticed, I enjoy a wide range of horror movies. 1980’s horror flicks rank high on my lists. I like to think I’m very open-minded type of person, but when it comes to the down right evil movies, I have to pass. (Unless it’s Devil by M. Night Shyamalan.)

Horror movies have been a part of my life since I was a child. Did they influence me? Sure, but not in the wrong kind of way. I’m no killer. Horror flicks showed me a dark world full of mystery, pain, and challenges. There are bad guys and struggles of good versus evil. Some of the bad guys are not so bad, just misunderstood. No, I’m not talking about the killers, I’m referring to vampires. I love the bloodsuckers. And while I’m not a fan of demons, I like to write and read about them. Why? Because I love the struggle of good versus evil (the good winning of course). Instead of scaring me away, horror movies opened my mind to a world of possibilities. For all the horror producers, directors, writers, I commend you. Thank you for sharing your creativity with us.

Bio:
My name is Mary Abshire. By day, I am a government employee. At night, I am a Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Author. My interest of the paranormal started in my youth. I grew up watching sci-fi and horror shows. In my teenage years, I read Anne Rice. By my early twenties, I started writing for fun, but never pursued a writing career. Now that I am much older, I can. Love for the dark, mysterious, dangerous, and out of the ordinary is part of my soul.

The Soul Cather series that I wrote contains demons, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and witches. Currently, three books in the series are available and a fourth is in development. You can find information about my books on my website http://www.maryabshire.com

If you want to drop me a line, I’m at:
mary.abshire@gmail.com
http://www.facebook.com/mary.abshire
http://www.goodreads.com/maryabshire
http://twitter.com/maryabshire