The Horror Begins – Horror’s Roots

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”— H.P. Lovecraft (Supernatural Horror in Literature)

When people think of the word ‘Romance’ in regards to book genres they picture something a bit like this:

Ok, maybe not exactly that. What can I say? Fabio was everywhere when I was growing up. What some people don’t know, however, is that back when novels started becoming popular the term ‘Romance’ had a very different connotation. It referred to a book being fantasy and not a book grounded in everyday, typical life. To understand how horror has evolved over the centuries we’ve got to go back in time. Way back.

Horror, fear and the tale of terror have been with us for a very long time. Ever since people told stories you could always find hints of terror and horror. From these, poems and ballads emerged and, finally, the Gothic Romance. Where instead of Fabio and rippling pectorals there are castles, skulls and tombstones.

The first in a long line was a book called The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole. While it wasn’t the best written piece of literature it did open the door for more intricate and well-written novels. To be fair, Walpole wrote it because he had a love of the medieval and wrote it for fun. It became more popular than he had anticipated. And, yes, it is a hot mess in terms of plot and coherence but it still gave birth to one of the largest forms of literature today, horror.

Walpole’s novel spawned the genre of the Gothic Romance and inspired many other authors to follow suit in crafting atmospheres of dread, terror and the ghastly. The most popular of which was  Ann Radcliffe. She wrote many Gothic Romances. Her most popular of which was The Mysteries of Udolpho. Ann Radcliffe expanded the boundaries of the Gothic Romance. She wrote sweeping vistas of the Italian countryside. It mattered little that she hadn’t traveled to any of them, neither had most of her intended audience. Then she peopled it with extremely sensitive people. Like the kind of people who cry at sunsets and faint at the drop of a hat. They are also hampered thus further by all of the poems stuffed into it and her insipid heroines. Each can be exchanged for another. They gasp, they cry, they faint and are self-absorbed. It’s pretty much a late 18th century version of Twilight. She also had the unfortunate tendency to shoot her supernatural spectres in the ghostly foot by creating non-supernatural explanations for them all.

The popularity of Mrs. Radcliffe’s first book, The Italian, and The Mysteries of Udolpho spurred a lot of imitators. Some would adhere to her strict non-supernatural policy while others would expand the field a bit. Some to greater and lesser effect.

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey rightly lampoons all of the common tropes and cliches of the genre. Although someone could read her book as an attack on the genre itself, it definitely is not. She mentions the books fondly in letters and such. She would also have to have read them frequently in order to riff on them so well. What she does lampoon in it, however, was the tendency of the time to view novels as a lesser form of entertainment and a commentary (through the characters of Isabella Thorpe and her brother John) about consuming entertainment responsibly. Which really surprised me. It seems the argument about entertainment’s influence on morals and judgement has been going on a lot longer than television and video games.

She first sold Northanger Abbey to a publisher in 1803 but the publisher chose not to publish it. After a while Austen’s brother bought it back and it was eventually published posthumously in 1817. Although the publisher wouldn’t give a reason for not publishing it after it was purchased I have a theory that since it was written during the Gothic Romance boom they didn’t want to take the chance of publishing a spoof and tanking the popularity of the Gothic Romances.

A few years after the publication of The Mysteries of Udolpho another book came on the scene: The Monk by Matthew Lewis which threw a whole new spin on the genre. Heavily influenced by German ghost stories The Monk became so popular that the author became known as Matthew “The Monk” Lewis. The Monk featured pregnant nuns, rape, murder, demons and an appearance by The Devil himself. While most of it is pretty tame by our standards it caused quite the uproar when it first came out. It was also highly criticized at the time but even amongst the criticism was also praise. He would go on to write more, mainly translations from German ghost stories.

From Matthew “The Monk” Lewis we go on to Charles Robert Maturin and his book Melmoth the Wanderer. It’s a tale about an Irish gentleman who trades his soul for a preternaturally extended life span. He can get out of the deal, however, if he can convince someone else to take the deal. It’s a long book that weaves together several narratives into one. Honore Balzac wrote an unofficial sequel/reimagining of the Melmoth tale named Melmoth Reconciled, in which the titular character is able to exchange with another person, thus freeing himself of the Devil’s bargain.

These were the biggies of the Gothic Romance era but other authors weren’t just resting on their butts. The market was flooded with Gothic Romances for the brief period that it was popular. Some of them can be found in the book The Northanger Horrid Novels which includes the ‘horrid’ mysteries mentioned in Northanger Abbey. For a long time these books were thought to have been made up but since the advent of e-books and The Guttenberg Project many older books that were thought to be lost have now been ‘rediscovered’. You can find all of the Romances mentioned in Northanger Abbey in this book: The Complete Northanger Horrid Novel Collection put together by M. Mataev.

The Gothic genre has never really died out but it has been expanded to include a wider variety of novels and themes. Since today is Goth Day I suggest you get out your black eyeliner, nail polish and spiky dog collar (if you don’t have one you can borrow mine) and curl up with a few old-school horror tales. You’ll probably laugh over the fact that these were the horror novels of their day. Don’t laugh too hard though, you might smear your makeup.

If you’re interested in reading more about the Gothic Romance and Horror through the years these four books are a great place to start. They’re highly recommended (Stephen King’s kind of skims over some of the early horrors, including Weird Tales, though): The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction by Dorothy Scarborough, Supernatural Horror in Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, The Tale of Terror: A Study of the Gothic Romance by Edith Birkhead, and Danse Macabre by Stephen King.


All covers link to Goodreads

Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #19

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

05/13/2017 – 05/19/2017

The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

It’s raining here so light a fire, get a warm beverage and curl up with some good stories ahead.

 

 

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This is Horror, Issue 10: Alien Covenant and More

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Horror post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Horror is a sampling of Horror Movies, Art, Fiction, and Gaming, and more. A little bit of everything to make the horror hound in you feel all fuzzy and warm. Or tingle with anticipation. Whatever works for you. Hope you enjoy!

This is Horror’s Quote to Consider:

“Animal rage is scary, but not as scary as control.”
Lance Conrad, The Price of Nobility

Horror Movies

 

Horror Movie Suggestion for the Week:

Movie cover for The Witch

Your horror movie suggestion for the week is The Witch. This is one of those movies that people seem fairly polarized on. However, even though I generally hate movies that move slower, I really liked The Witch. It kept my attention much better than I thought it would, and the ending had me goggling.

The Witch Synopsis: A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

 

 

 

 


Opening this Week (May 19th):

Movie Cover for Alien Covenant

 

 

Alien: Covenant Synopsis: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup

Watch the Alien: Covenant trailer.

 

 

 

 


Featured Horror Art from DeviantArt


Chatterer (Edited) by ADAMTMG100 on DeviantArt

The Cenobites are outright freaky, and I think that ADAMTMG100 has done an excellent job of conveying that creepiness in this image. There are many more like it up from him, so if you like it, please click on the link and go show him some love.


Notable Events in Horror History:

 

5 Horror Actors Birth / Death (May 6th-May 19th)

Orson Welles – b. May 6th (Waxwork)

Danny Trejo – b. May 16th (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn)

F. Paul Wilson – b. May 17th (Repairman Jack)

Matthew McGrory – b. May 17th (House of a 1000 Corpses)

Priscilla Pointer – b. May 18th (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3)

5 Horror Movies Released (May 6th – May 19th)

Werewolf of London (1935)

Horror of Dracula (1958)

Friday the 13th (1980)

Firestarter (1984)

Ginger Snaps (2000)


Horrorific Trivia

 

Since we all know how much I love Lovecraft, tentacles and all things Cthulhu it shouldn’t be a surprise that a Lovecraft trivia list would pop up here. As most people probably know he was a great pen pal and had lots of correspondence with other authors. In 1934 a story was sent around anonymously to members of the ‘Lovecraft Circle’. It contained hilarious pseudonyms to his friends and other writers. He denied writing the piece but it’s mostly attributed to Lovecraft. For what it’s worth, my copy lists Lovecraft and Robert H. Barlow. The story is public domain and I will provide a link to the story.

Anyway, I really liked some of the punny nicknames and I think you guys will too.

 

Cast of Characters

1. Two-Gun Bob – Robert E. Howard

2. Knock-Out Bernie, the Wild Wolf of West Shokan – Bernard Austin Dwyer of West Shokan, New York

3. Bill Lum Li – William Lumley

4. Wladislaw Brenryk – H. Warner Munn

5. D.H. Killer – David H. Keller

6. M. Gin Brewery – Miles G. Breuer

7. A. Hijacked Barrell – A. Hyvatt Verrill

8. G.A. Scotland – George Allan England

9. Frank Chimesleep Short, Jr. – Frank belknap Long, Jr.

10. The Effjoy of Akkamin – Forest J. Ackerman

11. Mrs. M. Blunderage – Margaret Brundage   (Weird Tales artist)

12. Mr. C. Half-Sent – C.C. Senf   (W.T. artist)

13. Mr. Goofy Hooey – Hugh Rankin   (artist)

14. W. Lablanche Talcum – Wilfred Blanch Talman

15. Horse Power Hateart – Howard Phillips Lovecraft

16. M. le Comte d’Erlette – August Derleth

17. J. Caesar Warts – Julius Schwartz

18. H. Kanebrake – H.C. Koenig

19. H. Wanderer – Harold Wandrei

20. Teaberry Quince – Seabury Quinn

21. Malik Taus, the Peacock Sultan – E. Hoffmann Price

22. Sing Lee BawledOut – F. Lee Baldwin

23. Klarkash-Ton – Clark Ashton Smith

24. Windy City Grab Bag – Weird Tales

25. W. Peter Chef – W. Paul Cook

26. Smearum & Weep – Dauber & Pine

27. Samuelus Philanthropus – Samuel Loveman

28. Mr. De Merit – Wurst’s Weekly Americana – Hearsts American Weekly

 

Some are obvious wordplay on the names and others I can only assume are inside jokes. The story is very tongue-in-cheek.

 


 

Horror Books

 

New Horror Releases (Covers link to Goodreads):

Book cover for Dark Cities

Book cover for Quinsey Wolfe's Glass Vault

Book cover for Gone with the Dead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dark Cities – Edited by Christopher Golden – May 16th, 2017

In shadowy back alleys, crumbling brownstones, and gleaming skyscrapers, cities harbor unique forms of terror. Here lie malicious ghosts, cursed buildings, malignant deities, and personal demons of every kind.
Twenty of today’s most talented writers bend their skills toward the darkness, creating brand-new tales guaranteed to keep you awake at night– especially if you live in the dark cities.
Far worse than mythical creatures such as vampires and werewolves, these are horrors that lurk in the places you go every day–where you would never expect to find them. But they are there, and now that you know, you’ll never again walk the streets alone.

 

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault – Candace Robinson – May 16th, 2017

Some see it… Some don’t…

People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie, along with her friend August, go on a pursuit to search for them in the mysterious museum. Could the elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with their disappearances?

A book that intertwines horror elements and retellings, with humor and darkness

 

Gone with the Dead – Edited by Lori Perkins – May 3rd, 2017

An Anthology of Romance and Horror where Gone with the Wind meets The Walking Dead!

When a convention of more than 4,000 romance writers and readers descends upon Atlanta Georgia, it can only mean one thing…a mash-up of two of the finest Georgia traditions.

Erotic romance anthologist Lori Perkins has brought together 16 tales of Southern love and death in this unique short story collection.

 

Gracie’s 3 Favorite Ellen Datlow Edited Anthologies:

Book cover for Haunted LegendsBook cover for Poe 19 New Tales


Horror on the Web

 

The Fourth Monkey (Thriller)

Title: The Fourth Monkey | Author: J.D. Barker | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Pub. Date: 06/27/17 | Pages: 416 | ISBN13: 9780544968844 | Genre: Thriller | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Triggers: Torture, death | Source: Received from the publisher for an honest review

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Just Add Water Review (Creature Horror)

Title: Just Add Water | Author: Hunter Shea | Publisher: Kensington Books | Pub. Date: 2017-6-13 | ASIN: B01LXVR9H1 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration | Purchase on Amazon


It’s fun! It’s easy! They only cost a measly dollar. Just clip out the ad in your comic book. Then ask Mom to mail it in. A few weeks later, receive a packet of instant Sea Serpent dust. Then:

Just add water . . . and watch them grow!

WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Just ask David and Patrick. Their “instant pets” are instant duds. They don’t hatch, they don’t grow, they don’t do anything. So they dump them into the sewer where Dad pours toxic chemicals . . .

WAIT UNTIL FEEDING TIME.

It’s been years since David and Patrick thought about those Sea Serpents. But now, small animals are disappearing in the neighborhood. Strange slimy creatures are rising from the sewers. And once the screaming starts, David and Patrick realize that their childhood pets really did come to life. With a vengeance. They’re enormous . . . and have a ravenous hunger for human flesh . . .

Book cover for Just Add Water by Hunter Shea

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Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Purple Testament

The Purple Testament

Lt. William Fitzgerald – William Reynolds
Capt. Phil Riker – Dick York
Capt. Gunther – Barney Phillips
Smitty – Michael Vandever

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The Conversationalist (Horror Novella)

THE CONVERSATIONALIST: Horrorstruck, Novella One

BEGIN A CONVERSATION WITH PATRICK, IF YOU DARE . . .

On Patrick’s Pacific Northwest Island home, people whisper about his family’s sad history. Some feel sorry for him. Most want to help Patrick, as if he’s a song-less bird, make him their next project, and even set him up on a date with a best friend . . .

On one such date, Wendy sits across from Patrick and confesses she’s afraid to die, and says: “My mother died a year ago . . . horribly.” Patrick listens and pretends to care. He keeps his own dark secret safe that way.

There’s something wrong with the way Patrick treats the women he dates, his friends, his family . . . no one ever gets close to Patrick. He won’t allow that.

Included within: an original dark tale, THE NIGHT, and a bonus short story from the award-winning suspense collection, Sandcastle and Other Stories, ON THE BACK STAIRCASE.

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Twilight Zone Tuesdays – The Last Flight

The Last Flight

Lt. William Terrence Decker – Kenneth Haigh
Major General George Harper – Alexander Scourby
Major Wilson – Simon Scott
A.V.M. Alexander “Leadbottom” MacKaye, R.A.F. – Robert Warwick

Panning down from the Twilight Zone intro we pan down to see a fashionable guy in a scarf piloting a bi-plane.

Serling:
Witness Flight Leftenant William Terrence Decker, Royal Flying Corps, returning from a patrol somewhere over France. The year is 1917. The problem is that the lieutenant is hopelessly lost. Leftenant Decker will soon discover that a man can be lost not only in terms of maps and miles, but also in time. And time in this case can be measured in eternities.

During Serling’s monologue Lieutenant Decker seems to be lost in a fog and lands at an airport next to an Air Force jet. Then we see a sign that says ‘Welcome to Lafayette Air Base – Reims, France’. I’m guessing our pilot lost his way all the way to (Twilight Zone) present day. Guys with jeeps and guns hurry to the tarmac to scope out the intruder. He pulls over and they ask him to exit the aircraft. Guy in Charge wants to know where he’s from and asks what he means by landing his ‘antique’ on the runway. The pilot tells them that he’s English and he’s surprised by the base, he had no idea America was so advanced in their Air Force. They escort him to the Administration Building and to see Major General George Harper.

Lt. Decker approaches the desk and M.G. Harper wants to know what’s up. The escort says that Lt. Decker just landed his ‘ship’ there and starts to tell George Harper what exactly his ‘ship’ was. Does the Air Force really call planes ships? M.G. Harper asks who he is and Decker introduces himself as Second Leftenant, William Terrence Decker, sir, Royal Flying Corps.

Harper wants to know if there’s an air show in town but Decker doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Then Harper wants to know if they’re making a film and why he’s in that costume. Decker replies that it’s his uniform. Harper doesn’t really know what to make of the guy. Decker wants to know where he is and Harper comes back with “Where do you think you are?”

Decker says he thought he was landing at 56 Squadron, RFC. The escort looks confused and says that was…somewhere. He trails off. Then he asks Decker what the date is. Decker replies that it’s March the 5th, 1917. They don’t believe him but he insists it is. They tell him it’s March the 5th, 1959. We get a zoom-in on Decker’s somewhat surprised face. They don’ believe him but Decker swears it’s true. He is rather shocked as well. Decker goes to the window and sees some jet planes which throws him for a loop. He sees the big cloud he was passing through and says that it was like being swallowed by a vacuum. Decker a;so says that the same thing happened to another pilot, he just disappeared while flying.

They, somewhat understandably, don’t believe him. Why he would be messing with them is another matter. Why on Earth would someone land a Bi-Plane on an Air Force runway for a prank?

Decker says that he and Mac were on the same squadron…but here Harper interrupts him saying, “Captain Mackaye, Captain Alexander Mackaye?” Because there’s only one guy nicknamed Mac in the entire world, I guess. Decker wants to know how Harper knows Mac and Harper is now even more suspicious because Air Vice Marshall Alexander MacKaye is on his way there now for a base inspection. Decker says that’s impossible because Alexander Mackaye is dead.

Next scene Harper and Escort Guy are checking out Decker’s belongings. Escort Guy says it’s ingenious. That everything could be checked on. Harper doesn’t want to waste the time. Escort Guy says that if it’s a hoax then it’s certainly an elaborate one. Harper wants to know what he means by ‘if’. I get that it’s hard to believe but again, why?? What would be the point? Remember, this is in the era before security was insanely tight just at airports. Harper is suspicious because he thinks it has something to do with MacKaye.

The other Major who somewhat believes Decker goes back to see him. Decker wants to know why he’s being kept prisoner there. The Major replies that he’s not exactly a prisoner there but Decker says it’s pretty much the same thing. They’re not letting him leave which is the same thing. The Major wants to know why Decker’s so afraid of seeing MacKaye. Decker protests that he’s not afraid of seeing Mac or anything else. Methinks he doth protest too much. Finally he says fine, he’ll see him. The Major (who they still haven’t named) asks again about the cloud. Decker says that he’s told the Major everything he knows.

The Major says that pilots from 1917 don’t just land on Air Force bases in 1959 every day. Decker says that it happened today, tells the Major to leave him alone, he already said he’d see Mac. Major asks if Decker really knows Mac. Decker says of course he does. Decker used to call him Old Leadbottom because he took some German gunfire to the booty during a fly-over. Hence the nickname Old Leadbottom. It was a private joke and being proud, Mac wouldn’t like it if he knew Decker bruited it about.

Major wants to know why Decker’s so sure that Mac is dead. Decker says the last time he saw Mac he was surrounded by seven German planes. Decker claims that he couldn’t do anything about it because he was involved with three other planes at the time. The Major says Mac must have survived because he went on to become one of the biggest Blitz heroes and, obviously, is alive in their time. Decker doesn’t see how it could be possible. During the Second World War. Won a lot of medals and such. Big hero, long story short.

Decker freaks out and tries to make a run for it. They get him before he gets out the door. The Major wants to know what’s wrong and Decker says that he can’t see Mac. The Major wants to know why not. Decker yells because he’s a coward! Decker, not Mac.

He says he’s a coward and always has been. Trying to pretend to be a hero. That’s how he got lost in the cloud, he was trying to run away. He prattles on a bit about boys laughing and joking and turning into ice-cold killers in the sky. But not him. He and Mac were supposed to go on patrols together but Decker usually talked him into splitting up. Mac would hope to run into trouble but Decker would linger in the clouds. He thought about giving himself up because pilots get the best treatment (is that true?) but he was too chicken to do that, even. He couldn’t bear to be discredited. He’s actually even fired shots through his plane to make it look like he’d run into trouble. Major says it’s no crime to be afraid and Mac would understand.

 

Decker says he won’t because he ditched Mac and left him to die. The Major says he must not have because he’s coming that day. This makes Decker look up. He begins to beg the Major to let him go. To let him go back in time or Mac won’t be alive to come there. The Major thinks he’s crazy but Decker isn’t giving him long to think it over. Decker decks the Major and takes off for his plane. Decker gets his plane started and tries to take off. The Major catches up to him but Decker insists and the Major lets him fly off into the wild blue yonder.

 

Back at the Air Force Base Harper wonders why Major let him go. The MacKaye we’ve been hearing so much of finally arrives. They ask him about Decker and he says, yes, he knew him. During that dogfight he thought Decker was ditching him. But then he dropped down out of nowhere and saved him. Decker was killed. Harper asks if his personal effects were sent back and Mac says no, they couldn’t find them. Harper shows him the effects they gathered from Decker when he was there. Mac recognizes them, thus proving it was really Decker that was there. The Major has a little giggle to himself over the Leadbottom nickname which Mac recognizes.

Serling:
Dialogue from a play, Hamlet to Horatio: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Dialogue from a play written long before men took to the sky. There are more things in Heaven and Earth and in the sky, that perhaps can be dreamt of. And somewhere in between Heaven, The Sky, The Earth lies the Twilight Zone.

War is Hell

War is war and hell is hell. Of the two war is worse. There are no innocent bystanders in hell.

Hawkeye Pierce (M*A*S*H)


War is Hell

 

May 8th is V-E Day, which used to be a big celebration but (in North America, at least) has kind of faded into the background. V-E Day is the celebration of Europe’s victory in World War II. It commemorates the end of the fighting in Europe and Germany’s official surrender.

What does this have to do with horror? Good question. War fiction spans many genres: Military, Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Drama and Horror. I’m going to be focusing on World War II horror specifically in this post. Which does narrow the field a bit but not much. World War II is a very popular ‘battlefield’ for horror writers. It could be because the Nazi party was rumoured to believe in the occult. Or, perhaps because it was the scene of so many horrors. Perhaps because the SS officers are scary looking. Perhaps because the Nazi ideology is more prone to breed monsters, human and inhuman.

Horror, in my opinion, is well adapted to the themes that war presents. It can delve into the psychological and physical traumas that war inflicts. Unlike other genres (excluding science fiction) horror and dark fantasy are not bound by reality so writers have a wider range to work with. Horror is also not bound to a certain genre, giving the horror writer that much more scope for imagination to wander. They can summon up our darkest nightmares, fears and psychology and place them in an easily recognizable theater.

There is a great variety of war horror ranging from zombies to vampires to werewolves to ghosts and the ghosts that haunt our own minds. Psychological horror tends to focus mostly on the mental state of former soldiers or civilians caught up in the brutality. All mediums are very effective in portraying it, although novels, to me, seem to be able to go more in-depth with this than movies. Movies can only go so far in portraying visually a character’s breakdown of reality (or the regaining of humanity). Novels, by dint of their length and attention to detail can portray far easier the thought processes behind actions and their subsequent effects on the morality of the character. Or lack thereof.

In the older action movies the Allies were always the ‘good guys’, the heroes. They suffered no mental consequences. Shell-Shock (PTSD) was the established term at the time but it was an embarrassing secret that no one talked about. The soldiers in these movies reinforced this idea by their heroes being larger than life.

Horror has the luxury of showing that things don’t always end well. Sometimes the Heroes aren’t as heroic as we’d like. Sometimes they fight their hardest but in the end things will still end badly. Stephen King said, “We make up horrors to cope with real ones.” To me that’s very applicable here. His novella Apt Pupil (from the book Different Seasons) brings forth the concept that evil ideas can bring forth evil actions. It can also be seductive and to awaken it in yourself or someone else is like opening Pandora’s Box. You can neither get rid of it nor put the lid back on it as easily as you had hoped. One of the more chilling scenes in the story is where Todd has his pet former-SS officer dress up in costume for his pleasure. It should be a ridiculous scene. Dussander, a frail old man dressed up in a shabby, historically inaccurate costume goose-stepping around an equally shabby kitchen. It’s not. It’s terrifying. Stephen King paints the picture vibrantly. He also does a great job with Todd’s character. Rather than make the character of Todd a macabre loner, he instead makes him an All-American Boy Next Door type. It hammers home the point that evil is not always identifiable. The story is far superior to the movie. Ian McKellan as Dussander is the only high point. The director watered down the violence and changed the ending to a pale imitation. I can understand why, in part. Perhaps he didn’t want the Holocaust to be entertainment. It’s understandable. It’s not something to be lightly shown. However, it’s part of the power of the book. The changed ending is annoying to say the least. I certainly recommend the story over the movie. The song ‘A Skeleton in the Closet‘ by Anthrax is based on this story.

Nazi zombies are very popular in horror fiction (The Night Boat – Robert R. McCammon), movies (Dead Snow, Outpost and many more), Comics (Nazi Zombies), and video games (Call of Duty: Zombies). While I do read, watch and enjoy Monkey Bombing the occasional zombie I don’t read as much of it as other horror buffs. I think the reason ‘Nazi Zombie’ is such a popular fictional character is that zombies are easy. I’m not trying to disparage zombie books and movies but special effects are easier, they’re easier to explain and they do look pretty cool in the uniform. I’d love to hear the opinion of people who read and watch widely in this category.

It isn’t just zombies that get their day in the sun when it comes to World War II horror. Vampires, demons and ghosts certainly get their midnight moments as well. Vampires, werewolves and creatures are usually more action-oriented. Groups of soldiers (on either side) battling the various creatures of the night. Ghost stories usually delve a bit more deeply into the psychological aspects whether through possession or literally being haunted by the ghosts of the past. Sometimes the ghosts are more in the mind or ambiguous in nature. Demonic stories can straddle both lines equally. A great example of this is The Gilgul by Henry W. Hocherman. A couple of my favorite movies deal directly with hauntings and the morality of war.

The first is Deathwatch. It is set in Word War I but the principles are basically the same.  Since I am speaking to a lot of you horror buffs I’m sure some of you guys have heard of it already. However, since it often gets overlooked unfairly I’ll give you a basic rundown of the plot. A group of soldiers get lost in a mist and separated from their unit. They stumble upon a bunker in which they find a German soldier. The bunker may be more inhabited than it appears though. Although Deathwatch ends on a bit of a confusing note it certainly provides some thought provoking material. Who are the heroes? Are there any heroes? Where is the line of morality and humanity in certain contexts?

The second is Below, a submarine ghostly thriller. We’ve actually seen the sub they use in the movie. At least for the above water and dive scene. Trust me, watching it for the dive alone is worth it. It’s beautifully shot. The rest of the plot is a claustrophobic exercise in ghostly horror. It has it’s problems as well, but it keeps you on your toes and perfectly conveys the close circumstances of the submarine and how it can breed terror and paranoia. Throw in some ghostly vengeance and a terrible, tragic mistake and you’ve got one heck of a movie.

To wrap this up I’d like to add a few to the list for your reading and watching pleasure.


BOOKS
The Keep – F. Paul Wilson (also a movie)
Dark and Deadly Valley – edited by Mark Heffernan
Blue Devil Island – Stephen Mark Rainey
Dogs of War – Steve Ruthenback
Bloody Red Baron – Kim Newman


MOVIES
The Bunker
Shock Waves
The Devil’s Rock
Death Ship
Dead Snow 2


If I’ve missed any, or anyone has any thoughts on the subject, please don’t hesitate to comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

This is Horror, Issue 9: Stitches, Alfred Hitchcock, and The Boy on the Bridge

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Horror post on Sci-Fi & ScaryThis is Horror is a sampling of Horror Movies, Art, Fiction, and Gaming, and more. A little bit of everything to make the horror hound in you feel all fuzzy and warm. Or tingle with anticipation. Whatever works for you. Hope you enjoy!

This is Horror’s Quote to Consider

“Hello Clarice…”
― Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs

 

Horror Movies

Horror Movie Suggestion for the Week

Movie cover for Stitches

Your horror movie suggestion for this week is Stitches. Stitches is an offbeat dark comedy/horror about a clown that comes back from the dead. Its not scary, and most of the time it’s outright ridiculous, but it somehow manages to be funny without trying too hard. And we all need a laugh right now.

Stitches Synopsis: A clown comes back from the dead to haunt those who took his life during a fatal party mishap.

Starring:  Ross Noble, Tommy Knight, Eoghan McQuinn

 

 

Opening this Week (May 5th): 

Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Trailer to Watch:

It Comes at Night drops June 9th, and the trailer is getting a lot of positive attention.


Featured Horror from DeviantArt


Vision Of Terror by JJcanvas on DeviantArt

It had Cthulhu in it. The selection for this week’s horror art took about 3 seconds. From the author’s post, it didn’t seem like they were very happy with it, but I think they did a solid job! Make sure to click the picture and go leave them a compliment if you like their work too!


Notable Events in Horror History

5 Horror Actors Birth / Death (April 22nd – May 5)

William Castle –  b. April 24 (House on Haunted Hill)

Mario Bava – d. April 27 (The Evil Eye)

Alfred Hitchcock – d. April 29 (Psycho)

Oliver Reed – d. May 2nd (Burnt Offerings)

Lance Henriksen – b. May 5 (Aliens)

 

5 Horror Movies Released (April 22-May 5)

House of Wax (1953)

The Beyond (1981)

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Creepshow 2 (1987)

The Craft (1996)


Horrorific Trivia

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson has become one of the giants of haunted house fiction. It regularly pops up on ‘Best of…’ lists and just as regularly as suggestions for people looking for a good haunted house story. It has all of the requisite items: a strange, luxurious mansion that loves to get you lost, a group of intrepid ghost hunters (two of whom have psychic powers) and isolation.

I’m not going to go into the plot too much but I will link to the Goodreads synopsis here. Although I feel I should warn you. If you get the e-book version with the foreword and haven’t read it before, do not read the foreword until you’ve finished the book. It gives away many plot elements with no warning. It really should have been an Afterword instead. The cover links to the IMDB page for the movie.

I’m here to share a few tidbits of trivia from the 1963 movie, The Haunting. Directed by Ray Wise and starring Claire Bloom (Theo), Julie Harris (Eleanor/Nell), Richard Johnson (Dr. Markway) and Russ Tamblyn ( Luke Sanderson).

– Although it is a pretty faithful adaptation there are still some minor changes. Dr. Montague’s name was changed to Dr. Markway for the movie. Eleanor’s last name in the book is Vance, not Lance. Dr. Markway is also portrayed as much younger in the movie and the object of Eleanor’s crush. This is actually an improvement to me as it makes sense she would have some father figure issues. In the book Dr. Markway’s wife is not a skeptic but just as eager in contacting spirits as her husband but in a different way. Also, in the book, Theo’s probable lesbianism is much more vague. She lives with ‘a friend’ with whom she has what’s described as (but not named) a lover’s quarrel. The ‘friend’ is never mentioned by name or gender so it could be a woman or it could be a man since living with a man wasn’t exactly smiled upon at the time.

– The camera used for some of the scenes was an experimental camera from a company in England. It created a slight warping of the scenes (mostly exterior and non-character inside shots) that make them appear to ‘bend’ a bit. Wise was thrilled with it because he believe it made the house seem more sinister. Because it was a non-finished camera Wise had to sign an agreement that he knew about the defect before they would let him use it.

Wise also went to see Shirley Jackson because he wanted her take on the house, if it was haunted or if it was all in Eleanor’s head. Jackson reportedly said that she always though of it as haunted. Since the title was so long he also asked her if she’d ever had any other ideas for a different title. Her reply was that the only other title she ever considered was “The Haunting”.

Claire Bloom once said that she was very interested in playing a woman attracted to another woman because it would be a different kind of role for her. Even though there are hints the movie is quite subte about it except for two scenes.

Julie Harris suffered from depression while making the movie and used it for her character who was supposed to be a bit of an outsider to the group and stayed a bit aloof from them.

Russ Tamblyn did not want the part at first and turned it down until MGM threatened to resign his contract. Later he decided that Luke Sanderson was one of his best parts. Luke’s character was also made more glib than in the book, possibly to complement Tamblyn’s acting style.

While staying faithful to the book, for the most part, many of the supernatural parts of the book were either kept somewhat off-screen or cut altogether. Such as a moment when Eleanor and Theo are walking and arguing the shades shift from black to white, like a film negative. They also see a spectral picnic and Theo sees something that sends them running back to the house. It’s never revealed in the book either, unfortunately. This may have been Wise’s approach to keeping faithfully to Shirley Jackson’s haunting atmosphere and yet trying to give it the psychological bent which he wanted and which the book also lends itself to.

Wise also wisely (he he) confined most of the action to the house to accentuate the isolation and claustrophobia of the house.

– While writing the book Shirley Jackson found a picture in a magazine of a house that she would use as inspiration for her Hill House. Later she would find out that her grandfather (or great-grandfather) had built the house she’d been using for inspiration.

– This isn’t really trivia but the movie has one of the best, quietly funny openings. When speaking of the house Markway narrates that “The house was built ninety-odd, very odd, years ago”. I don’t know why but I love that phrase and it always makes me giggle.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s trivia. Almost all of the details here are from the commentary of the movie by the actors and director. It’s very good so if you have the chance to get the DVD (or Blu-Ray, or whatever) with the commentary I highly recommend it. Are there any other movies, books, music or anything else you’re curious about just let me know! I’m always open to suggestions.


 Horror Books

New Horror Releases (covers go to Goodreads)

Book cover for Dogs of War Book cover for Final Girls Book cover for The Boy on the Bridge


Dogs of War – Joe Ledger #9 – Jonathan Maberry – April 25th, 2017

Dogs of War: Robots are no longer science fiction. Autonomous, programmed to react like animals: fast, relentless, deadly. From microscopic nanobots to massive self-guided aircraft. This technology is here, it’s assessable, and it’s dangerous. What’s even scarier is that almost anyone can get their hands on it.

A freelance terrorist uses the latest generation of robot dogs to deliver WMDs into cities across America. Ultra-realistic robots in the sex industry are used to spread designer plagues. Sophisticated military weapons systems turn on their human masters. A technological apocalypse is coming and we may be too late to stop it.

Joe Ledger and a newly rebuilt Department of Military Sciences square off against this new and terrible threat. Dogs of War pits Joe against a merciless new enemy and an army of techno-terrorists in a race to prevent a global destruction.

Let loose the Dogs of War. – Goodreads

Psst: If you’re going to read Joe Ledger, start with Patient Zero. You can read my review here.

The Boy on the Bridge – The Girl With all the Gifts #2 – M.R. Carey – May 2nd, 2017

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived. – Goodreads

Final Girls – Mira Grant – April 30th, 2017

What if you could fix the worst parts of yourself by confronting your worst fears?

Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented proprietary virtual reality technology that purports to heal psychological wounds by running clients through scenarios straight out of horror movies and nightmares. In a carefully controlled environment, with a medical cocktail running through their veins, sisters might develop a bond they’ve been missing their whole lives—while running from the bogeyman through a simulated forest. But…can real change come so easily?

Esther Hoffman doubts it. Esther has spent her entire journalism career debunking pseudoscience, after phony regression therapy ruined her father’s life. She’s determined to unearth the truth about Dr. Webb’s budding company. Dr. Webb’s willing to let her, of course, for reasons of her own. What better advertisement could she get than that of a convinced skeptic? But Esther’s not the only one curious about how this technology works. Enter real-world threats just as frightening as those created in the lab. Dr. Webb and Esther are at odds, but they may also be each other’s only hope of survival. – Goodreads

I Koontz think of anything, so I went with something simple.

Book cover for The Bad Place by Dean Koontz Book cover for Night Chills by Dean Koontz Book cover for The Taking by Dean Koontz

 


Horror on the Web