Horror Addicts Guide to Life Author Spotlight: Steven Rose Jr.

Steven Rose Jr. writes horror and dark fantasy, including an anthology called  The Fool’s Illusion.  For Horror Addicts Guide To Life  Steven wrote  two articles in the book entitled Horror And Dark Fantasy and Tomb Toons and Kid’s Horror. In his essays Steven gets into the differences between horror and dark fantasy and gives us a history of horror aimed at children. To read Steven’s work, along with several other articles on living the horror lifestyle, pick up a copy of Horror Addicts Guide To LifeRecently Steven was nice enough to tell us what he likes about horror:

What do you like about the horror genre?

18521949Ever since I was a little kid (4 or 5) I’ve loved that sense of mystery and the unusual that the darkness and grotesqueness of much horror conveys. Because I like the unusual, I like the supernatural monsters and alien/mutant creatures of horror; a lot of sci fi, especially in film, overlaps with the horror genre.

What are some of your favorite horror movies, books or TV shows?

One of my favorite all-time classic horror movies is The Shining, a movie that is so chilling that I was not able to watch it all the way through until several years into my 20s. I love the classic Universal monster movies, especially the Frankenstein and Wolfman films. When it comes to Dracula, however, I just can’t get into Bela Lugosi’s enactment of the vampire (although I’ve liked a lot of the other horror characters he’s played, especially the mad scientist ones). I like Christopher Lee’s enactment of Dracula in the British Hammer films much more. Lee portrays the vampire a lot more realistically, in my opinion. (Lugosi comes across as over-acting the part.) When it comes to contemporary horror films, I have not really seen a lot of newer horror films that I really like. A couple that I were really good and are post-2000 are Universal’s remake of the Wolfman and the Alien prequel, Prometheus. I thought they did a great job giving a gothic ambience to the Wolfman re-make and Prometheus gave interesting background to the earlier Alien movies without info-dumping (a term us fiction writers use that refers to background information in a story where it’s not needed).
Favorite books: I like Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, especially “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Pit and the Pendulum”; I like Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu; The Manitou by Graham Masterton; Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts; the list is nearly infinite especially since there’s so many horror short stories that I really like because I’m a big lover of the short story in general (that’s what I normally write, as far as fiction goes.) But my favorite classic novels of horror are Frankenstein and Dracula, not only because they star monster characters who have been most iconic in modern horror but also because it conveys so much meaning on a literary level.
Television: I haven’t really been a big fan of horror television, although I’ve liked many of the dark supernatural episodes of the original Twilight Zone, such as one about a living ventriloquist puppet that torments its owner and another about the ghosts of murdered Jews who come back to haunt their Nazi oppressor. I like television horror-hosted movie shows such as Elvira’s Movie Macbre of the ‘80s, Sven Goolie’s show and Mr. Lobo’s Cinema Insomnia of today and the 1970s’ Creature Features hosted by Bob Wilkins in which this last one I grew up with. Horror- hosted movie shows such as these often feature B-rated flicks that are so horrible they’re good which I like right up there with the, believe it or not, A-grade or big budget horror films. I like the pop culture of the eras many B movies grew out of and reflect, especially the 1950s through ‘70s.

Another television show that I’ve always liked, although it’s not supernatural horror, is the original Outer Limits. MV5BODk0Nzg3OTAwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDM0OTIzMDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Many of the episodes were dark, featuring menacing monsters from other planets or from mad science experiments. And even though I’ve only seen a couple episodes since it debated about two years ago, I thought Sleepy Hollow was pretty good. Even though it’s way off course from Washington Irving’s short novel, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, as a TV show and so within itself it’s been made really good and utilizes the Biblical apocalyptic theme well during this trending time of post-apocalyptic zombie themes (even though Sleepy Hollow isn’t a zombie series like Walking Dead is, in which this second one I was never able to get into by the way.)

In what way do you live the horror lifestyle?

I wear horror fandom tees, such as ones with Cthulhu prints, skull images, Universal Monster tees. I wear a ‘70s long-hair style and a full beard, which most people seem to be scared of the ‘70s. [laughs] I collect horror memorabilia, especially skull figurines, and use Halloween items I’ve bought on clearance for year-round interior decorating. For example, I have a “painting” of a figure that metamorphosizes from an 18th century naval captain to a dead pirate captain that was manufactured as a Halloween decoration but I hang it in my living room year-round. I don’t dust off the cobwebs in most places in my house. I’m fascinated with crows since they’re so much like ravens and so I’ll take extra effort to avoid hitting them while driving on the road no matter how much an angry driver in back of me is blaring his/her horn or yelling curses to me for “holding up” traffic. I call our local countryside coyotes “little wolves” or “mini wolves”, and I’ll stand several minutes outside at night admiring the full moon. For me, rain and thunder storms are beautiful weather (especially in fall and winter). Also Halloween is like an autumn version of Christmas to me, and so is my ancestral Day of the Dead which for me the two don’t contradict each other. Other words in my Lexington of horror that I use in everyday settings: I call my apartment maintenance man and the cemetery groundskeepers “caretakers”; I don’t call the underground level of a house a “basement”, I say “cellar”; I’ll say “coffin”, not “casket”; I’ll say “grave-“ or “tombstone”, not monument; and I never call a cemetery/graveyard a “monument park”.

My sense of humor tends to be pretty dark too. I listen to pop music by horror-inspired bands, especially the Groovy Ghoulies (who are no longer together) and the Phantom Jets, both who are local to my home area of Sacramento. But a few of my favorite horror rock songs by more notable artists are Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London”, the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Time Warp” and, of course, Bobby Boris Pickett’s classic “Monster Mash” which was probably my very first rock song I really got into.

What are you currently working on?

I was working on a second book of short fiction which I originally planned to release in August of this year but it looks like it won’t happen that soon. That’s because I’m trying to submit some stories to some magazines and, because many literary magazines don’t want simultaneous submissions, I would have to write up some new stories for the book. I plan to title it The Hidden. However, if my short story submissions don’t follow through, then the book release may not be delayed for too long (hopefully no later than the fall, ideally in time for Halloween).

Where can we find you online?

My book of short fiction, The Fool’s Illusion, is available on Amazon in both print and e-format (Kindle) [http://www.amazon.com/Fools-Illusion-Steven-Rose-Jr/dp/1491092548/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431652461&sr=1-1&keywords=the+fools+illusion]. You can sometimes find sample stories of my book at my blog, A Far Out Fantastic Site (faroutfantastic.blogspot.com) as well as ones I have not yet compiled in a collection. Not all of my stories in Fool’s Illusion and on my blog are necessarily horror but most are dark to some degree. I also have a sci fi “column” at the news site, Examiner.com.  [http://www.examiner.com/scifi-in-sacramento/steven-rose-jr ] My Twitter page is @StaRosep2, The Fool’s Illusion Facebook page is [https://www.facebook.com/TheFoolsIllusion?ref=hl] (you may have to be logged into Facebook to see it), or you can email me at strosejr@gmail.com.

Horror Addicts Guide to Life – Available now!

FinalFrontCoverHorror Addicts Guide to Life

Available now! 

Cover art by: Masloski Carmen

Editor: David Watson

Do you love the horror genre? Do you look at horror as a lifestyle? Do the “norms” not understand your love of the macabre?

Despair no longer, my friend, for within your grasp is a book written by those who look at horror as a way of life, just like you. This is your guide to living a horrifying existence. Featuring interviews with Midnight Syndicate, Valentine Wolfe, and The Gothic Tea Society.

Authors: Kristin Battestella, Mimielle, Emerian Rich, Dan Shaurette, Steven Rose Jr., Garth von Buchholz, H.E. Roulo, Sparky Lee Anderson, Mary Abshire, Chantal Boudreau, Jeff Carlson, Catt Dahman, Dean Farnell, Sandra Harris, Willo Hausman, Laurel Anne Hill, Sapphire Neal, James Newman, Loren Rhoads, Chris Ringler, Jessica Robinson, Eden Royce, Sumiko Saulson, Patricia Santos Marcantonio, J. Malcolm Stewart, Stoneslide Corrective, Mimi A.Williams, and Ron Vitale. With art by Carmen Masloski and Lnoir.

 

The Fool’s Illusion

Fool's Illusion BookCover FrontThere are a lot of illusions in our lives. Books, movies television and advertisements all ask us to believe in something that is not necessarily true. Sometimes they say the illusion is real. While other times media is just asking us to suspend our disbelief. If we believe in an illusion we are a fool.  For example we might think people who believed in ancient mythology are fools. Some people who don’t believe in bigfoot might call people who believe in him, fools. There are also times that we create our own illusions like when we dream and wake up thinking the dream was real.

Another  example of a fool believing an illusion is when you see a magician sawing a women in half. It might look like the woman is really being cut in two, but its a magician’s trick. One person may know its an illusion but another may believe it. Illusions are all around us, even what we think is reality may really be an illusion.

Figuring out the difference between illusion and reality can make for great storytelling. This is the main theme in The Fool’s Illusion by Steven Rose Jr. This anthology begins with a great non fiction piece on what illusions are, which was well written and really set the mood for the following stories. I really liked Steven’s observations on how sometimes we think something will make us happy and in reality they don’t and how we deceive ourselves with drugs or television to escape everyday life. In the intro Steven points out that everything is an illusion and its up to us how we interpret it.

I thought all the stories in this collection were good but there were five that really stood out. The first one was The Inheritance. This was a horror story about a man who inherits the family estate and  has to deal with the curse that comes with it. He is warned to ignore the sounds coming from the cellar but curiosity gets the best of him and he finds the reason why college students around town are dropping like flies. This story mixes humor and horror with a great protagonist.

Another story I liked was Coming Out. Puberty is a rough period in your life and its even worse when you have a second one and become a different thing all together. I really enjoyed the relationship between the young boy and girl in this one and watching him figure out what he truly was. I would love to see this one expanded into a novel.

I also enjoyed Digital Love At First Sight which is about how one person manages to fall in love with someone who is a billboard model and not a real person. There is  a good theme here about how you can’t have love without pain. My favorite in this anthology was the futuristic Planet Of The Dead which is about a murder mystery on a cemetery planet. I’ve never read a story that combines Science Fiction and gothic horror but this one manages to do it.

Another one not to be overlooked is The Bazaar which takes a humorous look at mass consumerism.The Fool’s Illusion has a little something for everyone.  I enjoyed the concept behind this anthology and look forward to seeing more fiction and non-fiction by Steven Rose Jr.

Guest Blog: Steven Rose Jr- “The Dark Knight” Shootings

‘The Dark Knight’ to Blame for the Aurora Shootings?

By Steven Sylva-aRT

As we all know, the premiere night (early Friday morning) of The Dark Knight Rises really was a dark night for an auditorium of movie viewers in Aurora, Colorado. My sympathies go out to the victims, including the wounded, and their families of the attack.

Many headlines have been indicating the shootings as movie fantasy having become horrid reality. Sadly, those headlines are true. Along with this, there have been fears of people wanting to blame movies with violence such as “Dark Knight Rises” for these killings. But the majority of media hasn’t even been likening the gunman to the star character of Christopher Nolan’s third and supposedly final installment of his Batman movie series.The media’s been likening the shooter to the Joker of the previous film. Batman has never even used a gun, perhaps save once or twice in all his crime fighting career. He has been known to prefer fighting without fire arms. Batman is a symbol of justice, though in a very grim way and even though he appears to be on edge of his own sanity when fighting crime, he always holds back and brings the criminal to the justice that is fit. Perhaps the concern with Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies leading to these shootings has more to do with the villains. But we can’t forget that it’s a hero that thwarts the evil deeds of those villains. Heroes are the mythic characters who represent hope in a violent and corrupt world.

Nobody has recently explained the mythic role of Batman better than NPR’s Glen Weldon in his article “Catharsis In a Cape: On Comic-book Hereoes and Real-World Violence“. I suggest you read it. You can also read my article at Examiner.com that speaks about the role of fantasy in life. I wrote it in response to the Aurora tragedy.

Until next time . . .

Originally posted at A Far Out Fantastic Site By Steven Rose Jr  a.k.a.  Steven Sylva-aRT

http://faroutfantastic.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-dark-knight-to-blame-for-aurora.html

Steven Sylva-aRT – R.I.P. Ray Bradbury: A Very Sad Loss to Science Fiction/Fantasy

Photo Credit: Alan Light/Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a sad [time] for many of us sci fi/fantasy fans since one of the greatest writers ever in the two genres passed away [Tuesday, June 5th]–Ray Bradbury.

Ray Bradbury was one of the first science fiction writers who I seriously read. The very first novel by him that I purchased and read was The Martian Chronicles when I was a senior in high school. From then on I was hooked. I’ve read and collected nearly all his books of fiction and although I haven’t read as much of his nonfiction books, the few that I did are totally awsome! Other fiction of his that I’ve read have been, Fahrenheit 451, the second book that I read, and The Toynbee Convector which I bought the summer immediately after my high school graduation and just before I entered my freshman year of college. Later I collected and read The October Country, a collection of his dark fiction, his dark fantasy novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man, I Sing the Body Electric, and many more that I still have stacked and/or buried away somewhere in my bedroom.  I doubt I’ll ever get rid of any of them unless I can find older editions of some of them since I am a collector of vintage paperbacks and jacketed hard cover books because of their great art and the very eras it depicts. That is another thing Mr. Bradbury was in love with–the sci fi art of early pulp novels and magazines.

However, Mr. Bradbury was not merely a science fiction/fantasy writer. To label him as such would under rate him way too much. Ray Bradbury was a great writer period. He could and did write in almost any genre of fiction though speculative fiction was his biggest. He also wrote mystery, romance, and romantic (as in highly metaphorical and sentimental, not necessarily as in love) stories and has done equally well in them.  His great poetic prose has transcended genre so much that his work is even required reading in the high schools.

I remember reading in my high school senior advanced English class one of his short stories adapted into the Martian Chronicles. It was about a horror expert who flees to Mars to make his own automated haunted house in a future where Earth has outlawed all things fantasy. Unfortunately, as much as many English teachers assigned their students to read his most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451–about a future society that illegalises books–none of my high school English courses selected that one for us to read. So I went out and purchased a copy and read it on my own. In reading it I discovered more than ever how dangerous censorship can be to both society and individuals.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ray Bradbury at CSU, Fresno in the ’90s when he gave a presentation on his literary and artistic career. I was enchanted when I actually shook his pen-calloused hand just before he signed my copy of his Martian Chronicles at the book signing table. I had the pleasure of seeing him speak a second time during the 64th World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles during the summer of 2006, although that time I didn’t get a chance to have him sign another copy of one of his books.  But I am so greatful that I spoke to him in person and had a book signed by him that first time.

One of the things I feared most in all my life is the day Ray Bradbury would die as all of us do sooner or later.  I knew when that would happen there would be no more new stories from him.  Sadly, that day has come.  But he’ll always be with us when we read his work and talk about him as I am doing this very moment.  Also, I believe his spirit will echoe through us new generation of speculative fiction writers who were influenced by his work and his beliefs on art and creativity. I was definitely influenced.

Mr. Bradbury, we will miss you but will always remember you and continue reading your ingenious work. May you rest in peace.

–Steven Rose, Jr.

 

(Original post can be found here: http://faroutfantastic.blogspot.com/2012/06/rip-ray-bradbury-very-sad-loss-to.html?spref=fb )

HorrorAddictsCon: Steven Rose Jr. – Illusions – Free Fiction

Illusions – Free Fiction

by Steven Rose, Jr.

This excerpt is from the title story for a collection of my short fiction that I’m putting together. The main theme of the book is going to be illusions, but not so much in the sense of magic (even though that’s what this story is about) than in the sense of delusions. So yes, do mind the pun on “illusions”. I’m not necessarily talking about abnormal psychology, but delusions that we all have when our expectations about something are too high.

One example is when a person wants that dream car. That person gets the car thinking they will be happier than they ever had been only to find out that, because it is a more expensive and higher quality vehicle, the required maintenance turns out to be more trouble than it was worth buying the car for. If the disillusionment is really extreme, the car may even turn out to be Steven King’s Christine (from the novel of that same name) or maybe even the Car itself (from the ‘70s low budget horror movie of that same name). Although both instances are highly unlikely. So while many of the stories will be about supernatural or magically generated illusions, the core or universal meaning will be about our misconceptions of life. This is what many myths do, which all forms of story telling are—they tell a truth or fact about life through imaginary means. Therefore all stories, in a way, are illusions.

Just to play a little game, see if you can guess what the magician’s trick in this portion of my story really is. Is it really a trick or is the occurrence real and therefore not an illusion at all? If it is real, can the audience’s preconceptions have been illusions themselves and therefore is the trick actually a disillusion? If so, would such an act be a paradox and therefore both an illusion and a disillusion simultaneously? You won’t find out the answer until I publish the book which I hope to do by Spring 2012. Depending on your approach to reading, you may not find an answer even when you do read the complete story and therefore may conclude that the act on a literary level is an illusion that can never be disillusioned.

Of course, please feel free to leave your answers here on this blog in the comments section but I ask that you do not make continuation scenes based on them for publication since this story is copyrighted.

Thanks.
~Steven

THE FOOL’S ILLUSION

By Steven Rose, Jr.

Freddy had seen the notice on the gray brick pillar of the wrought iron gate of Max Manus’s Magic Mansion which forewarned that the shows were not for the faint hearted. It was not until he saw what happened to Mr. Manus’s young assistant, Maggie Rosen, that he realized the notice was no mere advertisement gimmick.

It was opening night for both the show and the theatre itself. The building used to be an old Victorian mansion, hence the theatre’s name. Mr. Manus was performing the traditional thin model sawing trick. It was traditional with one exception. The box that Manus had Maggie step into was in the likeness of a black, oblong coffin. But that was not the exception.

Freddy had not realised how attracted he really was to Maggie until after that final act. He had noticed both her childishly stubby nose that was gracefully curved at the bridge and her wide, bright blue eyes. He had also noticed that, although her mouth was small, her licorice red lips were fully rounded and her skin a rosy white. Her flashing-white teeth looked like those of a baby’s whenever she smiled which was almost always. Her neck, which her chestnut brown curls dropped to the middle of, was maturely long and slender. And there had been no way he could miss her costume which consisted of a shiny leotard, a black silky pair of hot pants and black tights.

No, Maggie was not the exception either. But she was directly involved with the exception, and that is what attracted Freddy to her.

After Manus closed the coffin lid on Maggie, he sliced a blade sheet through the coffin’s center and another blade through the top third portion of the box. Then the magician separated the box segments setting each one upright on top of the black satin draped bier and opened each. Blood flowed from each segment of Maggie’s body. Her head was slightly tilted downward but her face empty of expression. About half of the audience screamed while the other half gasped in a mix of awe and terror. Freddy’s body froze . . .

Steven Rose, Jr. is a journalist and writer of fiction. His non-fiction includes book, television, and movie reviews. His fiction consists of horror and science fiction short stories, although he plans to write novels in the near future. Besides writing, Steven serves as a public relations rep for the Sacramento based network, Sylvanopolis Writers’ Society. For more information about Steven, go to: http://faroutfantastic.blogspot.com/

HorrorAddictsCon: Steven Rose Jr. – Horror and Dark Fantasy III

Horror and Dark Fantasy: One and the Same?

by Steven Rose, Jr.

Part III

The dark fantasy tends to contain literary elements from both the epic fantasy and, as stated at Beyond, a horror story. The dark fantasy plot often involves a quest on the main character’s part, but it is often a quest into darker, more forbidden settings. The hero may or may not have friends or companions on that quest with him/her. The obstacles he/she faces are menacing creatures that you find in many horror stories, creatures such as zombies or evil spirits ready to devour the hero either physically or spiritually. There often tends to be more fairy or folk tale elements in this type of story than in the epic fantasy or horror story. Therefore there may be magical creatures, such as fairies or talking animals that help the hero, and the hero may come from humble beginnings like the hero in the fairy tale often does. Also, the story’s ending is more like that in the fairy tale—a joyful ending where everything turns out good for the hero(es) and they either go on living life as normal as before or better.

These distinguishing elements between horror and dark fantasy can best be seen if we compare a horror novel such as Dracula with a dark fantasy novel such as Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. In Dracula, a young man who can be considered the hero goes on a journey to the evil count’s estate in Transylvania on business. He is imprisoned by the count, and faces many obstacles in his attempt to escape and in doing so is in utmost fear for his life. He finally does escape, but the count follows him home to his native England . It is there where Dracula causes the terror and havoc on not just the hero’s, Jonathan Harker’s, friends and beloved, Mina, but even on the society at large. The horror of this creature is that he can take control of a person’s life and soul in that he can make them into one of the living dead like himself making them have to feed off of innocent people’s blood. He is immortal and undefeatable. He can appear anywhere at anytime, and, unlike in most of the movie adaptations, can even walk about by day under certain circumstances. He can make people come to him over remote distances by merely thinking about it, like he does with Mina. He can change into a bat, wolf or mist. He can even change the appearance of his age from old to young. Jonathan Harker, Mina, and the vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing, along with others form a kind of expedition to go after Dracula and kill him after the evil count has fled back to his native Transylvania . In this way the basic mythic motifs of the quest and battle against an enemy comes up in this novel. But even though Dracula has become a threat to an entire society, the climaxing battle here is more for an individual’s soul, Mina’s.

Gaiman’s Neverwhere is a story that is actually developed from the basic plot of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The story mostly takes place at night in the underground ofLondon . Because it’s based on Alice in Wonderland, it’s got a fairy tale quality to it and this kind of otherworld atmosphere, yet it takes place in the subterranean structures of an actual geographical based city. However, this underground world in the novel is a fantastical one in that it is seldom seen by Londoners and is occupied by magical beings and so is an environment of mystery. One of the magical beings is an enchantress who sucks the life source out of people, an element of horror since it is so close to the idea of sucking the soul out of a person and is a more personal threat like what we see in Dracula than a societal one. But the very fact that this hidden society comes out both underground and above at night while the rest of Londoners are sleeping gives the setting a more imaginary, dream-like quality seen in much of high fantasy. The majority of the characters the hero comes in contact with are of magic and mystery, as opposed to the more rational based human characters in Dracula (save for the vampires themselves, of course). One of these characters is a talking rat, a rodent character type often seen in a lot of fairy tales and fables such as The Nutcracker. So the quest inNeverwhere, unlike in Dracula, involves more fantastical characters who help the hero on his journey, and the purpose of the quest is more societal than it is personal.

Another high fantasy element in this novel is a giant boar that the heroes must battle in the sewers, a creature used as a dragon type in this story. Likewise, Dracula himself on a more implicit and symbolic level is a dragon figure. In fact, his very name derives from a word associated with dragon. As a dragon figure he is a threat to society. But more importantly he is a hoarder of not only blood but gold like the typical Western dragon is. And, of course, he is a devourer of human blood just as a dragon is the devourer or destroyer of human flesh and lives.

So in comparing these too popular novels, we can see that the distinction between the genres of horror and dark fantasy is that one is more emphasized on the threat of the individual as opposed to a whole society, more specifically the threat to a person’s soul, although dark fantasy can contain that same kind of element. However, there is a more fairy tale quality to the dark fantasy than there is to the horror story since more impossible characters occur, characters like talking and humanized animals such as the talking rat in Gaiman’s novel. In the horror story, the characters are more rational and realistic and the plot, although fantastical in its involving supernatural creatures, consists of more realistic and so more believable events.

Another factor that we shouldn’t overlook is that the distinction between these two genres is also due to the commercial industry’s categorization and marketing of fiction. The majority of book retailers sell their literary merchandise according to popular interests and therefore according to what the majority of customers are going to be looking for in story type. But in order for retailers to do that, and in order for them to consider readers’ preferences, the literary conventions of these story types have to be considered.

So the distinction between the genres of horror and dark fantasy seem to be based on two factors: literary convention and marketing. Yet when looking at the conventions closely between stories of these two subgenres, the distinction seems very blurred because many of these conventions are used to a more or lesser degree in both. What are your thoughts on the differences in these two subgenres? Would you say the two are based more on conventions or more on marketing methods? Are such categorizations more up to the reader than the forces of literary convention and marketing? Are horror and dark fantasy interchangeable terms, or can dark fantasy be considered a mixed genre of horror, high fantasy and even fairy tale elements? Should both just be considered dark fiction and not have any further classifications? Let’s extend this discussion, and so please feel free to leave any answers or other comments!

References

Suggested Reading

Steven Rose, Jr. is a journalist and writer of fiction. His non-fiction includes book, television, and movie reviews. His fiction consists of horror and science fiction short stories, although he plans to write novels in the near future. Besides writing, Steven serves as a public relations rep for the Sacramento based network, Sylvanopolis Writers’ Society. For more information about Steven, go to: http://faroutfantastic.blogspot.com/

HorrorAddictsCon: Steven Rose Jr. – Horror and Dark Fantasy II

Horror and Dark Fantasy: One and the Same?

by Steven Rose, Jr.

Part II

Like the epic or high fantasy, the horror story also involves the unknown and mysterious, but these two elements are much more threatening to the individual. They are usually threatening to a character’s life either spiritually or physically. Therefore, the threatening force is some sort of unfamiliar being such as a ghost, demon, or vampire and often associated with the underworld like the enemy characters are in epic fantasy. But the emphasis is on the threat to the individual than it is on the one to a whole society. Although the term horror primarily has referred to a sense of fear for a person’s own soul and therefore spiritual life (as is the case with Dracula) it has also come to be associated with an extreme fear for one’s physical life.

If the threatening being is not of the supernatural realm, then it is often associated with it through superstition. This is the case with The Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom is not really a supernatural being himself but, because he hides in obscure parts of the opera house and kills people, he is thought to be a ghostly presence. Throughout the horror narrative, there are many unexpected attacks or pursuits from the monster, often in dark settings, resulting in shock on the audience’s part. Needless to say, such evoking of fear plays a crucial role in the horror story.

Often at the end of a horror story, the reader or viewer is left hanging, but not in the sense of a lack of a satisfying conclusion. The audience is left hanging in the sense that they wonder what will happen to the characters’ lives after the characters have faced the traumatic situation brought on by the threatening figure or monster. Therefore the conclusion to a horror story tends not to be as joyful or promising as that of the epic fantasy, and because the story has been focused on the menacing being itself and the terror it has caused, the other characters’ lives are not elaborated on in the conclusion making it much shorter than that of the typical epic fantasy. The monster may have been destroyed by this time or somehow banished from the setting, but what happens to the characters next is anybody’s guess. The monster may return, as is the case with many Hollywood horror films (and so why sequels are so popular with them) or the main characters may have post trauma to deal with that may drive them to insanity. Because of these possibilities, the conclusion to the horror story is more realistic than the more fairy tale happy ending of the high fantasy.

References

Suggested Reading

Steven Rose, Jr. is a journalist and writer of fiction. His non-fiction includes book, television, and movie reviews. His fiction consists of horror and science fiction short stories, although he plans to write novels in the near future. Besides writing, Steven serves as a public relations rep for the Sacramento based network, Sylvanopolis Writers’ Society. For more information about Steven, go to: http://faroutfantastic.blogspot.com/

HorrorAddictsCon: Steven Rose Jr. – Horror and Dark Fantasy I

Horror and Dark Fantasy: One and the Same?

by Steven Rose, Jr.

Part I

In the last ten years at least, the dark fantasy subgenre has become just about as popular as the horror subgenre. The two have many similar elements even to the point where they may seem interchangeable or synonymous with each other. Dark fantasy has been permeating just about all media, including video games and books. Neil Gaiman is one of the most popular dark fantasy writers of today, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of novels and the TV series Supernatural can also be considered to fall under this fantasy subcategory. Authors more associated with strict horror have also written some dark fantasy–Steven King with his DarkTower series, for instance.

Two other authors, who write much science fiction and horror but also write a lot of dark fantasy are Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison. Ray Bradbury’s most famous dark fantasy is his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, while Ellison has famous stories of the subgenre such as “The Basilisk” and “Chatting with Anubis”.

Directors such as M. Night Shyamalan and Guillermo Del Toro who typically make horror movies, like Devil and The Orphanage, also make films that can be classified as dark fantasy: Shyamalan Lady in the Water, Del Toro Pan’s Labyrinth. It shouldn’t be too surprising that such authors and movie directors of horror also produce dark fantasy works since the two subgenres are both imaginative, dark forms of story telling, but what literary elements and conventions really distinguish the two?

Since horror has been the more popular familiar genre for a longer period of time, we’ll look at the literary conventions that make it up before we do the ones of dark fantasy. But before doing that, because dark fantasy descends from the more typical epic or high fantasy, we’ll look at the conventions of epic fantasy before looking at the ones of dark fantasy. But as far as supernatural horror goes, horror itself is also a subgenre of fantasy since it involves imaginary events such as hauntings and black magic.

Horror stories involving more realistic menacing characters, such as serial killers, would not be considered supernatural horror and so would hardly fall under the umbrella of the fantasy genre. So in general, fantasy story telling, regardless of the medium it is told through, involves any type of plot that is centered around magical or impossible events. In a wider perspective, this includes science fiction. The scientific events in a science fiction story, although much more plausible than events in high or epic fantasy, have not occurred in the present time the story is produced and so at that time of production these events are impossible, yet they are visionary since they are possible for a future time. But since we are looking at the distinctions between two subgenres of fantasy that do not primarily deal with science, we’ll disregard science fiction for purposes of this discussion. Because the fantasy genre is the umbrella that the subgenres supernatural horror and dark fantasy fall under, we’ll look at the conventions of epic/high fantasy which is the oldest form of story telling that falls under that genre.

Most epic fantasy involves either a hero’s quest or a battle to save a society–often a kingdom, maybe even the world. Magic, the supernatural, or both play a major role in the story. The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) involves wizardry and underworld creatures such as demons and spirits–the Orcs and Ringwraiths, for example–in the war that occurs throughout Tolkien’s trilogy. The main hero’s, Frodo Baggins’, quest is to take a magic ring to its rightful place and destroy it before it leads to the world domination of evil. The hero or heroes in stories such as this must face several obstacles to completing a task, these obstacles often involving the supernatural. However, they often receive help from a supernatural force such as a deity or elf, or a magic object they obtain. This is the case in the Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit, when Bilbo finds the ring (before its evil power is discovered in LOTR) because he can turn invisible in times of danger by slipping it on his finger.

The hero in epic fantasy often makes it back to his/her homeland after completing the quest/battle bringing some sort of redemption to the society. Such fantasy is often also referred to as high fantasy. Northern Virginia Community College’s literary Website, Beyond . . . , indicates that a slight difference between the two terms is that high fantasy often takes place in imaginary worlds (as is the case with LOTR) whereas epic fantasy is based more in reality and so more directly based on myths rooted in our world’s history (for example, The Odyssey). A good example of epic fantasy would be Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon since it is based on Arthurian and therefore British/Celtic myth. But in nearly all circumstances both kinds of fantasy involve the unknown and mysterious. Because of this we’ll use these terms interchangeably for reasons of simplicity since this discussion’s aim is to distinguish horror and dark fantasy, not epic and high fantasy, from each other.

References

Suggested Reading

Steven Rose, Jr. is a journalist and writer of fiction. His non-fiction includes book, television, and movie reviews. His fiction consists of horror and science fiction short stories, although he plans to write novels in the near future. Besides writing, Steven serves as a public relations rep for the Sacramento based network, Sylvanopolis Writers’ Society. For more information about Steven, go to: http://faroutfantastic.blogspot.com/

Guest Blog: Horror Inspired Kids’ Shows – Steven Rose “From the Grave” Jr.

Horror Inspired Kids’ Shows and Tomb ‘Toons

Steven Rose “From the Grave” Jr.

 

Some of you may be wondering what place do kids’ shows have here on a Website that specializes in the genre of horror, traditionally a teen/adult genre.  Actually, horror films have inspired children’s television for decades.

Are some of you old enough to remember those cartoons and live action kids’ shows that were inspired by horror movies?  Do you remember the Real Ghostbusters cartoon from the 1980s?  If you’re old enough to remember back even further, the middle ‘70s, you may know that those weren’t really the real Ghostbusters as the cartoon series’ title indicates.  In 1975 the real, and therefore original, Ghostbusters was a live action kids’ show that, instead of involving four men and a slime pouring ghost, actually involved only two vaudeville-like men and a gorilla that assisted them on their paranormal missions.  Some of you may be saying, that was a cartoon in the 1980s.  Well you’re right, because when the “Real” Ghostbusters (my quotation marks) tried taking the Saturday morning spotlight (and they succeeded, sadly for the original Ghostbusters) the original series was revived as a cartoon in competition only it was bumped to after school-hours syndicated television.

Let’s backtrack a few years from the original Ghostbusters Saturday morning series.  There was The Funky Phantom in 1971, a Scooby Doo-like mystery cartoon series involving a group of detective like-teens and their 18th century ghost friend.  Then around the same time there was The Groovy Ghoulies, a cartoon series based on the three most famous monsters of film, Frankenstein’s Monster (Franky), Count Dracula (Drac) and the Wolf-Man (Wolfie) and their many like friends and relatives who all dwelled in a haunted castle called “Horrible Hall”.  This series was actually a spin-off from another dark supernatural lore inspired cartoon series—Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1969) (itself a spin-off from The Archies).  Another kids’ show inspired by the three famous movie monsters was actually a live action series called The Monster Squad (1976).  In this series a computer geek-law student who works in a wax museum brings the sculptures of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula and the Wolfman to life and they fight crime together.  The Addams Family cartoon was also aired in the early ‘70s.  The same year that Monster Squad premiered, the producers of live action kids’ shows, Sid and Marty Kroft, came out with a series called Dr. Shrinker, which was about a mad scientist and his dwarvish assistant who shrink a group of island marooned young adventurers and is always after them to perform dangerous experiments on them.

Moving forward to 1978, the same producers of Dr. Shrinker came out with another live action series called Horror Hotel, which involved many of the strange characters from the Kroft brothers’ 1969 Puff ‘N Stuff (an Oz-/Wonderland-like fantasy series): a witch named Witchy Poo, a stupid bat named just that–Stupid Bat, a mad scientist owl by the name of Dr. Blinkey, a yellow spider-like monster, a vulture and a green faced magician (from another earlier Kroft series called Lidville).  They were the staff of a haunted hotel who had a different strange guest each week (“guest” as in both guest star and hotel guest).

The following year, 1979, the New Flinstones show came out with some characters who were neighbors to the neanderthal comic family, the Frankenstones.  The patriarchal head of this ghoulish family was a neanderthal Frankenstein’s monster.  That same year premiered a cartoon based on the Dracula character, Count Quackula, about a vampire duck who, unlike most of the cartoon monsters we’ve been talking about, was not a very nice guy—or, rather, ghoul.

As we moved into the ‘80s two more horror inspired cartoon series came out on Saturday mornings: Drac Pack and Ding Bat and FriendsDrac Pack involved three teenage descendents of the Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula and the Wolf-Man who, like the characters in Monster Squad, also fought crime, only in their case up against the same group of villains each week—Dr. Dread and his evil crew of monsters.  Ding Bat was a more slapstick kind of cartoon involving a vampire dog (Dingbat), a cranky jack-o-lantern and a skeleton who wore a toilet plunger for a hat.

I already mentioned some of the cartoon series of the latter half of the 1980s such as the two Ghostbusters cartoon series.  But also, in 1988, the comedian Martin Short came out with his own Saturday morning kids’ show that was partly live action and partly animated.  In one of the live action weekly skits a Dracula-like vampire told horror stories to his child audience, the stories themselves being animated.  As the decade came to a close, the Beatlejuice movie franchise produced a Saturday morning cartoon series based on the movie’s characters.

In the 1990s, when the cable television-based Tales from the Crypt became popular on syndicated television, a cartoon version came out on Saturday mornings.  A new Addams Family cartoon series also aired.  Then R.L. Stine’s kids’ horror novel series, Goosebumps, was adapted for a live action syndicated series.

In the 2001s Cartoon Network aired The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, a series about two kids who are friends with the Grim Reaper.  Will there be more horror genre inspired cartoons and kids’ shows?  The horror genre has become more popular than ever with young people’s series of novels such as Twilight and TV series such as True Blood, Ghost Whisperer and Supernatural, not to mention the many horror movies made for the big screen such as Paranormal Activity.  How can there not be any horror inspired cartoons and live action kids shows?  Let’s hope some will premiere soon enough.  Any animators out there in the blog audience?

The cartoons and kids’ shows throughout television history have been numerous, regardless of their genre.  If I missed any titles you think should have been mentioned, then, please, leave me a comment!  I’d like to know of more myself!

Take scare, every body!

Bio
Steven Rose, Jr. is a journalist and writer of fiction.  His non-fiction includes book, television and movie reviews.  His fiction consists of horror and science fiction short stories, although he plans to write novels in the near future.

Besides writing, Steven serves as a public relations rep for the Sacramento based network, Sylvanopolis Writers’ Society.  His most recent story will be published in the Society’s short fiction anthology, Leafkin, due for release in December 2010.