Archive for December, 2018

The haunted house import from Japan centers on a possessed residence that literally gobbles up its doomed visitors.  A group of school girls unwittingly enter a haunted house of horrors.  Demonic possession, reanimated body parts out for blood, and downright bonkers fun house effects ensue.  Fun fact:  studio execs in Japan originally planned to produce a movie like JAWS.  Yet when director and producer Nobuhiko Obayashi discussed the pitch with his young daughter, she revealed her own childhood fears — which were far more twisted and inventive than a rehashed shark movie.  Thus, HAUSU was born.

Thus quoting from number 3 of “11 Scariest Haunted House Movies to Freak You Out in Your Own Home” by Jessica Ferri, courtesy of THE-LINE-UP.COM, and reason enough to check out the whole list by pressing here.  Yes, there are “the usual suspects,” PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, but other good films are on the list too, like the Spanish film THE ORPHANAGE and THE OTHERS.  One caveat, though, the links under each listing inviting you to WATCH IT NOW aren’t links to the movies or even to trailers, but rather to Amazon’s rental site.  But you can always go from there to their actual movie site and get an idea of what prices are if you want to buy the DVD.

Also, re. HAUSU, I highly recommend it, but do realize it’s a little . . . different.  Or to quote myself (cf. below, October 31 2015 — yes, I posted a review when the IU Cinema screened it for Halloween three years back), [i]t’s an “evil house” movie, but with a big difference.  This one combines the expected tropes with a weird undercurrent of surrealism, including cartoons, a demon cat, telegraphed punches — all clearly intentional — even slapstick humor in a tale of seven schoolgirls’ summer outing at the home of one of the girls’ maiden aunt.  An aunt she hadn’t seen since her grandmother’s funeral years in the past.  And in my opinion, HAUSU alone is an excellent film to ring in the new year, a year perhaps destined to be marked with its own surrealism.

It’s a little ritual when a book is published, to make sure folks like Amazon know that I’m one of the authors.  This one is RE-QUEST (cf. June 1, February 18 1nd 2), the third in Pole to Pole Publishing’s “Re-Imagined” reprint series, which is now available on Amazon and elsewhere.  More can be found on the publisher’s page by pressing here.  My story in this one is “The Blade of Gudrin,” a saga of knife play and double crosses all in a sword and sorcery setting, originally published in SPACE AND TIME for Spring 1993.

Other Re-Imagined books out thus far are RE-LAUNCH and RE-ENCHANT with my stories “The Game” and “Dust,” for which see October 16, 11, et al. and November 26 et al., respectively, and with one yet to come — RE-TERRIFY — of which more later.

It was a small thing, the kind of thing that might be overlooked amidst the flurry of of year-end activities.  But it does deserve a mention, the “extra” gift I received on Christmas.  The thing is the mail gets delivered late here, at the end of the route, and often these days comes after dark.  No big deal, really — mornings I go out on the front porch for some deep breathing exercises I do, and if there’s mail waiting, I bring it in then along with the newspaper.

So it was Christmas morning (though without a paper) where, with a few other items, there was a smallish package.  A return address identified it as my author’s copy of PLANET SCUMM (see December 14, et al.), and so I dropped it onto the pile of received Christmas loot, and proceeded to have my breakfast, give the Goth Cat Triana her brunch, and do whatever else I had planned for the morning.  And then at last gift opening time came — a few clothing items (including a pair of much needed gloves), a book from my youngest niece, treats for Triana, and . . . PLANET SCUMM with my name even spelled right on the cover (see December 16) and including my story, “Holly Jolly.”  A leisurely read for later that p.m. with carols on the TV in the background, and all in all a pleasant surprise.

Yes, mini-horror films, to wit “10 Terrifying Short Horror Movies to Watch in the Dark Tonight” by Occult Museum via THE-LINE-UP.COM.  Horror films don’t always need a full two hours of build-up and suspense to pack in the scares.  The following bite-sized shorts will have you screaming and hiding behind the sofa in just a few minutes flat.  The genre, after all, lends itself well to the short film format, as just the merest flash or suggestion of something unusual is often more effective.  The merest glimpse of terror can leave you unsettled for hours after.  And with the rise of YouTube and creepypasta, the folklore of the digital age, directors have found new and inventive ways to terrorize their audiences.

Press here to enjoy as a late night post-holiday treat, but (as the blurb continues) [r]emember to turn the lights down low as these mini scream fests are best enjoyed in the dark.

Brought to my attention by Joan Hawkins, whom we’ve met in conjunction with the Bloomington Writers Guild, along with reader, poet, and artist Marge Simon, “Have a Creepy Little Christmas with These Unsettling Victorian Cards” by Allison Meier — and two of which are in our own local Lilly Library! — via HYPERALLERGIC.COM.  Anthropomorphic cats, murderous frogs, and insects dancing by the moonlight aren’t exactly part of our Christmas card tradition today.  However back in the 19th century, Victorians thought nothing unusual about sending their loved ones a grim image of a dead robin with the words “May yours be a joyful Christmas.”
Many of these strange Victorian Christmas cards are making the rounds on social media this holiday season (@HorribleSanity has shared some especially disturbing ones, like the scene of a frog-on-frog stabbing, and Saint Nicholas stuffing a kid in a sack).  But where do these visuals come from, and what do they mean?  Some of that significance is now lost to history, yet it’s important to consider that Christmas wasn’t widely celebrated in the early 1800s.  So over the 19th century, the iconography of the pre-Santa Saint Nicholas, the trees, the presents, the snow, evolved gradually.
And so, some with explanations (a frozen robin might remind us to be generous to the poor, especially the helpless children), some not, and with varying degrees of the bizarre, click here, look, read, and enjoy!
(Triana especially likes the ones with cats in them.)

To celebrate the tradition of Christmas ghost stories, here are 20 ghost and horror stories to sink your teeth into this holiday season.  Some you can read, others you can listen to, but best of all, they’re available free-of-charge.  So, venture forth, if you dare. . .

So begins “20 Ghost and Horror Stories for Christmas” by Michael David Wilson, via LITREACTOR.COM, a treat that screams to be shared.  But including Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” (number 9)?  Well, as compiler Wilson explains, the story’s original publication was in THE GIFT:  A CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’S PRESENT FOR 1843.  Other than that, though, the other offerings have themes or settings more Christmas-like too, and what a selection, again all with links to texts and/or podcasts!  Algernon Blackwood’s “The Kit Bag.”  “Christmas Present” by Ramsey Campbell.  M.R. James, “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad.”  And sixteen more, contemporary as well as classics, which can be savored by pressing here.

Merry Christmas to all!

Yes, AbeBooks is at it again with a quick through-Christmas sale (cf. November 8, et al.).  Save up to 50% on books and collectibles from select sellers. Discover a great selection of new, used, and collectible books, art and ephemera, all discounted until December 28th, from the horse’s mouth.  And, never mind “only” fifty percent off, there are some copies of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH marked down to less than $7.00, this for new copies with shipping to the US free, which can be found here.

Also, and this is new, there’s even one copy of THE TEARS OF ISIS for $9.02 (usually, for some reason, not on their sale list), shipping again free though this is a used copy in “very good” condition, as well as a new one at $12.95 with shipping again free, for which one may press here.  So give it a try and enjoy, enjoy!

Yes, another mammoth royalty has been announced.  Though payment has actually not yet been released, it is promised to be by the end of the month, and so the Money Bin is being dusted out and readied for its receipt.  As has been my past practice, the exact amount (and publisher) is being kept under wraps to avoid embarrassment on both sides, but it is above $0.00.  Not much, but above.

Thus the rich life of the writer and poet.

Yesterday afternoon HUMANAGERIE (cf. October 28, 3, et al.) arrived in the Computer Cave Mailbox, all the way from the United Kingdom, with “Crow and Rat” nestled toward the bottom of the first page of contents.  It’s a very handsome book, moreso than society throwaways like the aforementioned duo are used to, so be sure that they’re on their best behavior.  Moreover, should it be of interest, the world they inhabit is that of my novel-in-stories TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  To see more for oneself the anthology can be ordered in both hardbound and softcover editions directly from the publisher, Eibonvale Press, by pressing here.

Then those gimlet-eyed enough may have noticed on Friday’s post, for December 14, a misspelling of my name on the cover of PLANET SCUMM pictured.  A missing first letter, “D,” to be exact.  I’m assured however that the picture is of a preliminary test cover from the printer, that had to be used for advertising on their website, and that the actual finished issues sent to subscribers, etc., have been corrected.

Thursday brought this year’s closing Players Pub Second Thursday Spoken Word Series, co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild with radio play performances of Lucille Fletcher’s SORRY, WRONG NUMBER; Ray Bradbury’s IT BURNS ME UP!; and, by William S. Burroughs, THE JUNKY’S CHRISTMAS.  This has become somewhat of a tradition, having been the offering last year as well (see December 15 2017), and was followed by an open mike session which, due to a bothersome sore throat, I opted not to join in this time.  The plays, however, were good and I’d especially wanted to hear the Bradbury one again.
But that was not all for the gala pre-Christmas theatrical weekend.  Friday I managed to cop the one remaining unsold ticket for a local production of EVIL DEAD:  THE MUSICAL, unfortunately for the Saturday afternoon matinee (Saturday evening was the last performance and it, and Friday night, were sold out) which, today being local “S.C.I.F.I.” writers critique day, meant I had to plan to leave the meeting early.  But not to worry, my story on the docket could wait until January — and at least the sore throat hadn’t gotten (much) worse.
This is the play that asks the question at only about the second scene, “five teenagers break into a mysterious abandoned cabin in the woods for spring break, and nobody knows where they are.  What could possibly go wrong?”  The play based on the three EVIL DEAD movies, the answer is quite a bit, and quite hilariously, with special honors to the character of Ash’s smarter sister Cheryl, who is also first victim, spending most of the play locked in the cabin’s cellar while still conveying, sometimes by facial expression alone, the sheer manic joy of now being evil.  And then there were the disposable ponchos sold in the lobby — for protection if splashed by stage blood of which there was a lot.  I, forewarned, bought one and sat in the first row, thus being immersed not just in the drama but some of the special effects as well.
Songs included “Cabin in the Woods,” “Look Who’s Evil  Now,” “What the Fuck Was That,” “All the Men in My Life Keep Being Killed by Candarian Demons,” and the ensemble dance number “Do the Necronomicon.”  Even for people like me who don’t like the movies that much, I recommend it.

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