Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

This will be another quickie report, that BURNING LOVE AND BLEEDING HEARTS (see February 5, January 20) is now available in paperback format. To let Amazon tell it:  Britain’s most respected living horror writer Ramsey Campbell has said of this magazine-sized charity book of short stories:- “A fine anthology for a fine cause.  Invest your imagination in it and you’ll be investing in the world as well.”  BURNING LOVE AND BLEEDING HEARTS is a collection of dark Valentine’s Day tales; a charity anthology to raise funds for the Australian bush-fire victims, and ALL sale proceeds will be donated to the Australian Red Cross.  For more information, including a list of all authors and titles, one need but press here.  (Or if preferred, the Kindle edition, to be released officially Friday for Valentine’s Day, is available for pre-order as well.)

That is to say the anthology SEVEN DEADLY SINS:  LUST (cf. February 6, December 8 2019), Black Hare Press’s promised compilation of tales of . . . well . . . lust, careening toward a less-than-two-weeks-after-Valentine’s Day, February 25 release.  My story in this, a brief tip of the hat (or other item of clothing) to sweet lesbian vampire love, “A Cup Full of Tears,” originally published in MON COEUR MORT (Post Mortem Press, 2011).  But before publication, the details of authors’ biographies must be checked over to ensure correctness.

So yesterday late afternoon, mine was.

It’s not a pretty film, dark, dingy, a low-level industrial machine noise permeating the soundtrack. Interesting, though, and I’m not sure whether I like it or not. A man has made his girlfriend pregnant and now they must marry. She moves in with him in his slum apartment along with the already prematurely born baby, a creature that looks more like a reptile’s head sticking out from a cloth-swaddled body. It also cries — not a baby’s shrill cry but more a constant whimpering sound — until the mom can no longer take it, moving out and leaving the baby with hapless pop.

So pop muddles along, has a brief affair with the woman who lives across the hall; there are several dream sequences, one with a puffy-cheeked woman who “lives in a radiator” and sings a song.  In another dream sequence the man’s head flies off; it falls out the window and a boy finds it, takes it to a pencil-making factory where it’s made into erasers.  Thus the name of the film:  ERASERHEAD.  When he wakes up(?), he finally unwraps the baby’s full-body diaper to find there’s nothing beneath to serve for skin. . . .  Ick!  But eventually may find some kind of salvation, somehow, with the radiator lady.

As the film ended, a girl in the row behind me blurted, “What?”  But, yes, ERASERHEAD is nothing if not surreal.  I’d seen it before, but on DVD, and a lot seems to make more sense (symbolic and/or actual) when seen on the large screen — and some parts are quite good on any level, the awkwardness of a dinner with the man’s girlfriend’s parents as one example, though others to me seemed perhaps a bit drawn out.

To quote the IU Cinema’s blurb:  A dream of dark and troubling things, David Lynch’s 1977 debut feature, ERASERHEAD, is both a lasting cult sensation and a work of extraordinary craft and beauty.  With its mesmerizing black-and-white photography by Frederick Elmes and Herbert Cardwell, evocative sound design, and unforgettably enigmatic performance by Jack Nance, this visionary nocturnal odyssey continues to haunt American cinema like no other film.  Contains mature content, including violence and disturbing imagery.

And whether one likes the film or not might not really matter.

So sometimes several things come all at once, such is the magical life of the writer.  And so today, Thursday, there are three new items under the aegis of “The Writing Life.”  (1)  For starters, an authors proof copy arrived from publisher Things in the Well for BURNING LOVE AND BLEEDING HEARTS (cf. February 5, January 20, 15) in which my story “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale” appears in number three slot in the table of contents.  So says the publisher:  We’ve wound the stories and poems — all 60 of them — into a bit of a narrative.  You’ll find no two are alike, in any way.  It’s so wonderful to have such a diverse representation of dark or dangerous love.  We are delighted with how it has all come together, and hope you are too.  (2)  Then second, for Black Hare Press’s SEVEN DEADLY SINS:  LUST anthology, I received an edited copy of my story, “A Cup Full of Tears” (see December 8), to be checked over.  (3)  And then, last, a contract came from The Great Void for using my novelette, “The Garden,” in their upcoming UNREAL anthology.  So. . . .

A flurry of reading, okaying the proof for an already announced February 14th Kindle edition, with paperback following in its time, for vampiress Claudette and “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale”; more reading to check out Black Hare Press’s edits and find them okay for “A Cup Full of Tears”; and a gimlet-eyed poring over the contract for UNREAL and “The Garden,” with a hoped for publication date of March 14 — all of which I have okayed, approved, and signed and sent back to their respective recipients.  Or, in a word, just another day in the Writing Life lived.

FAKE NEWS, don’t we just love it!  I don’t mean the term the President uses when he means “real news,” but really fake fake news.  Conspiracy theories, that sort of thing, though it may seem real to those that believe it.  But now it’s time for a trip into history.

Hie us back to the year 2018, to June 13 to be exact.  A call from “a (very) small publishing cooperative” called Old Sins:  Let’s write about conspiracies that have been debunked thoroughly but do so through the lens of Alternate History, where they have actually happened.  Let’s write about the second shooter, chemtrails, the Illuminati, Lizard People, Greys, the Loch Ness Monster, Pope Joan, Templars worshipping Satan, and so many other rumored conspiracies throughout history as if they were real.  As it so happened, I had such a tale, called “Country Doctor,” a reprint first published in BOOK OF DARK WISDOM for Summer 2005, one of UFOs and a strange humanoid creature being held by the military and needing medical attention.  And so off it went.

The above itself was reported here about a year later (cf. June 20, 2019), along with more news.  On August 27 2018 an email had come from Old Sins Editor Joseph Cadotte concerning possible minor changes, and that he liked it and “Country Doctor” was being forwarded to “his partner.”  Not an acceptance but, what the heck, I sent some changes plus reasons for keeping some other things the same.  Another exchange on October 25 about “Pending Acceptance,” and then on January 27 2019 an email titled “Re. Pending acceptance to FAKE NEWS” that said in part:  We have a preliminary layout, and, if you are included in this message, you are on it.  An acceptance then, yes?  But it didn’t really, exactly say.  But then on June 19, and hence the day the June 20 2019 post referred to, came an announcement explaining delays and concluding I will try to send you a contract soonish (which, by the way, I don’t recall subsequently receiving, but you get the idea — the wheels of artistry grind slowly as well as, sometimes, quite casually too) so, what the heck, let’s assume by now that it’s all official.

And then again silence until yesterday an email arrived, “FAKE NEWS News and Request,” and later that afternoon “FAKE NEWS News and request, part 2,” to send in a bio, etc., plus a small questionnaire about original inspirations (“which conspiracy,” e.g.), plus an announcement that “the whole text is going to our design person” (that is, if there are any story changes, to get them in quickly).  So it seems, despite delays, the anthology finally is on its way!

Unless, of course, it’s all fake news.

The Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” session (cf. January 5, et al.) was a little bit different this month.  Instead of the usual featured readers plus walk-ons format, it was all “open Mic” but with doubled time, ten minutes instead of three to five, allowed for each reader.  Regardless of format, about fifteen people attended at local tavern Bear’s Place, with some suggesting that possibly more might in the future should it be repeated, allowing as it did a little more flexibility for walk-ons with slightly longer than flash pieces.

In all, seven attendees read, including two with short novel chapters.  Of these, I came precisely in the middle, in number four spot, with a 1300-word story, “La Fatale,” recently mentioned here as a possible entry in a locally edited anthology, RAPE ESCAPES (see December 23), a variation on DRACULA in which Mina Harker, fled to France after becoming a vampire herself after all, proves a savior to three new Frenchwoman friends when attacked on the streets of after-dark Paris.

A humble serving of completely irreverent Cthulhu and Lovecraftian inspired stories.  This assortment of horror short stories and flash fiction takes Cthulhu and other elements of Lovecraftian mythos and tells them in a comedic tone.

Yep, so says the blurb on Amazon.  DEEP FRIED HORROR:  CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER (cf. January 16, 4) is up and available both on Kindle and in print.  It is a smallish book as such things go, only about sixty pages, but not overly expensive either.  To see for yourself and/or order, press here (for print) or for Kindle press here.

My part in this porridge is called “The Reading,” first published in UNIVERSE HORRIBILIS (Third Flatiron Publishing, 2013), a literary tale of poets and poetry, and trepidation when reading in public . . . or something like that.  It doesn’t end well.

To quote from the advertising copy:   CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER comes with four juicy patties, layers of melted cheese, and fresh baked buns.  A very delicious combination of savory flavors, which is good.  You’ll need something to distract from the full-body possession that occurs later.  You might experience vomiting, seizing on the floor, and risk biting your tongue, but you’ll then be enslaved by Cthulhu’s powerful mind-magic.

Why not give it a try?

Well, okay, this is another movie list from THE-LINE-UP.COM, “Growing Pains, Growing Terror:  11 Best Teen Horror Movies” by Hezra Martinez.  Subtitled “[b]eing a teenager has never been more terrifying,” it starts and ends with genre classics, 1980’s FRIDAY THE 13TH and, just four years later, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.  With one exception, the remaining nine titles are more recent, four even from the just ending decade, including such possibly less-known entries as HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017) and JENNIFER’S BODY (2009), along with such staples as I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997).  The one pre-’80s one: 1976’s CARRIE.

To reacquaint oneself with one’s youth (if one really wants to), including links for Amazon rentals, for all eleven one need but press here.

This is a dark film, literally.  Dark browns, shadowy, scenes in the slums of a Mexican city in the midst of a drug war, and how a child may or may not survive after her own mother becomes a victim.  Having just seen it this evening I’d have to add I had trouble following it — the kind of film I may want to see again, having just looked it up now on Wikipedia to, as it were, compare notes on the plot.  Interesting, sad, but requiring perhaps sharper eyes than mine to ascertain just what, exactly, it is lurking within some of the darker places.
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This is the Indiana University Cinema’s take on VUELVEN  (literally “Return,” or so says Wikipedia), or in the U.S. TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID:  A haunting horror fairytale set against the backdrop of Mexico’s devastating drug wars, TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID follows a group of orphaned children armed with three magical wishes, running from the ghosts that haunt them and the cartel that murdered their parents.  Filmmaker Issa López creates a world that recalls the early films of Guillermo del Toro, imbued with her own gritty, urban spin on magical realism to conjure a wholly unique experience audiences will not soon forget.  Del Toro, who presented the film along with López at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, described it as “an unsparing blend of fantasy and brutality, innocence and evils.  Innovative, compassionate, and mesmerizing.”  The two are currently working together on a werewolf Western.  In Spanish with English subtitles.  Contains explicit content, including violence, strong language, and drug references.
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So think Magical Realism and realize that what exactly is “real” may be called in question.  The girl, Estrella, is given three wishes in the midst of a school shooting incident.  Then when she discovers her mother missing she wishes to have her back.  Well, there are such things as ghosts, or visions, and demands from the grave to “bring him to us,” the one, that is, responsible for Mom’s death.
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She finds other children orphaned in the “war” and, as a condition to join them, is told to murder one of the drug chiefs which, attempting to carry it out, she wishes she didn’t have to do — which may come true as well, but not without her still being linked to the death.  Then for the third, at the kids’ leader’s request, she wishes for a scar on his face to be erased, which leads to more death and a chase that ends with discovering her mother’s corpse.  And with the drug gang’s big boss hot on her heels. . . .
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These are some notes at the end of Wikipedia’s article:  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 98 reviews, and an average rating of 8.22/10.  The website’s critical consensus reads, “TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID draws on childhood trauma for a story that deftly blends magical fantasy and hard-hitting realism — and leaves a lingering impact”.  Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 76 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating “Generally favorable reviews”.
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Peter Debruge of the Variety wrote, “The actors may be young, but the story skews decidedly mature.  After all, in her commitment to realism, López allows terrible things to happen to the kids — including death in several cases — and that’s a hard thing to accept, not because it doesn’t happen in the real world, but on account of the melodramatic and manipulative way such tragedy is handled”.  Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Both the emotion and the horror might have taken still deeper root if the world of the movie felt less hectic and more coherently realized, if the supernatural touches and occasional jump scares welled up organically from within rather than feeling smeared on with a digital trowel”.  Brian Tallerico of the RogerEbert.com wrote,”TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID may be imperfect, but you can feel the passion and creativity of its filmmaker in every decision.  She’s fearless.”
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Oh, and yes, the “tiger” has up to now been sort of a graffiti logo, to be not afraid.  But there is a real tiger too (what one might call a validation) at the very end.

Except he’s been demoted to just any “Prisoner” and beware of Episode 40 that went up today too.  In fact, timewise, #40 showed up in my email before the real McCoy, #39.  Such are the mysteries that roam the Interwebs.  Nevertheless the one titled “Prisoner,” née “The Third Prisoner,” originally published in LVWonline.org (as Honorable Mention, Ligonier Valley Writers 2008 Flash Fiction Contest, “Zombie Stories”, November 2008) as well as in Brazil in I ANTOLOGIA LUSIADAS (in Portuguese as “O Terceiro Prisioneiro,” Ediciones Lusiadas, 2009), along with a few other places in English, is now up with its slightly shortened title in FLASH IN A FLASH, EPISODE 39.  If you’re a subscriber, just plunk your email announcing the fact (cf. January 20, 14, et al.).

But if you’re not, there may still be time, and subscriptions to FLASH IN A FLASH are free. To try it out, press here.  Or if you prefer, I understand episodes are eventually gathered up for a future FLASH IN A FLASH anthology — except that that one probably won’t be free (of which more will be here when/if it becomes known).




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