Nothing in horror fiction is so well-trod as the haunted house. Whatever variations you throw into the themes and tropes of the genre, audiences and readers more or less know what to expect, and it’s difficult to do anything entirely new with the framework. What you expect is about what you get, and for the most part you know roughly where you’re going to land whenever you crack into a new haunting tale.
Connections between Christmas and the uncanny, the strange, and the macabre are nothing new. The ideas celebrated on the holiday—whether referring to modern Christian traditions or the ancient pagan traditions of Yule—appear readymade to celebrate and acknowledge that which is strange and unusual. It is a celebration built on the backs of drunken revelry, animal sacrifice, angelic visitation, and, of course, virgin birth.
The most—really, the only—disappointing part of GARDEN OF ELDRITCH DELIGHTS is that each of its dozen stories comes to an end. That’s the point of stories, to be sure, but within the pages of each of Lucy A. Snyder’s twelve tales is the suggestion off a world more richly and deeply built and imagined than we will ever know, and though Snyder makes economical use of these worlds, telling precisely the story she intends to tell, each ending carries with it the small pang of heartbreak spurred by the knowledge that this is all that we get.
Witches. Pirates. Ghosts. A curse. A tropical storm that threatens to reveal secrets long buried. And a cat called Bacon who may or may not be possessed by the spirit of a familial treasure hunter. ISLAND OF BONES ticks plenty of boxes this spooky season, as long as you’re more willing to suspend disbelief than the story’s sassy heroine.
You couldn’t be blamed if you had never heard the name of one of the modern era’s foremost writers of uncanny and supernatural horror. Thomas Ligotti hasn’t done much to, as they say, put himself out there to be widely consumed by the masses. The path to Ligotti is circuitous, beset by roadblocks and warnings, sign posts that warn the undiscerning that here there be monsters. He has, for most of his career, existed in the shadows. That, I suspect, is where he prefers it.
Leonard Maltin, a writer and film nerd who sits among the critical pantheon where Pauline Kael, James Agee, and Roger Ebert hold court, begins his latest collection of essays and interviews, HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD, with a recollection of his youth when he was an avid reader of the legendary Famous Monsters of Filmland.
Composer Joseph Bishara has made a name for himself with 32 composer credits to his name on IMDB, most of those in the horror film genre. What made him a household name was his relationship with writer/director/producer James Wan. This lead to Bishara composing scores for hit horror films such as The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and all four films in the Insidious franchise. Bishara can even be spotted in these films portraying various demons and ghosts (most notably the “lipstick-face demon” from the Insidious films).
Sitting here in 2018, it's easy to look at the 1990s as somewhat of a "lost decade" for horror films. Sure, there were a few standout titles that are still generally beloved (Candyman, Scream, Silence of the Lambs) but for the most part, horror fans look back on the 90s as a decade where not much of merit was produced.
YULETIDE TERROR: CHRISTMAS HORROR ON FILM AND TELEVISION, edited by Paul Corupe and Kier-la Janisse, is a comprehensive look at the Christmas holiday in horror entertainment. This is probably the most comprehensive book on the topic and probably the best I have ever seen. The book contains interviews with film stars and director, such as Gilmer McCormick, Lewis Jackson, and Jeff Mandel, among others, and presents history, such as the controversy following SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, along with analytical perspectives all by various writers and journalists familiar with the horror genre, such as Andrea Subissati of Rue Morgue Magazine.
"The Curious Chronicles of Jack Bokimble and His Peculiar Penumbra" is the first children's book from James Demonaco. As per the book description, the story follows the Bokimble family, who after the birth of their son Jack, notice strange things beginning to happen at the their house - glasses fall from shelves and nothing seems to be where Mr. and Mrs. Bokimble left it. Jack's parents begin to sense that there's something strange about their son, and it's not long before they realize that he has a secret friend: his magical shadow.
Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the soundtrack for the feature documentary, FOOLISH MORTALS (2017), by Sideshow Sound Theater.
Allow me to set aside the soundtrack a moment to provide a bit of background. For those who do not know, FOOLISH MORTALS is a documentary about the fan culture that has sprung up around the Disney attraction The Haunted Mansion. People in this community have become famous for collecting memorabilia, making costumes based on the characters, or building recreations of their favorite scenes in their own house. In a way this is a sort of, "Inspired by" fan base that this documentary seeks to examine.
Any child growing up in the 90's that was as obsessed with horror and spooky things as I was is familiar with the holy trinity of scary: Are You Afraid of the Dark, Goosebumps/Fear Street, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and it's sequels. Since then, nostalgia has resurrected Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark is playing again on TV and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has tribute books out for it.
Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the gothic horror novel MARY ROSE by writer Geoffrey Girard. To best describe the story, I will turn to the press release:
"The book is a contemporary gothic ghost story complete with an unexplained disappearance, a haunted island, and a family that’s not what they seem. At the center of the novel is protagonist Mary Rose, whose mysterious background and intriguing family dynamics complicates her otherwise idyllic relationship with her fiancé Simon."
One of my favorite ways to relax is to read. Many people would say that horror books would be the opposite way to relax but I would disagree, there’s something about reading a truly terrifying novel that helps in calming my anxieties of the day and putting me at ease. However, finding quality horror books can be a struggle at times, and though I’m still constantly on the hunt for the next scariest book, I’ve managed to compile a list of truly talented horror authors that I know I can turn to. One of those author, Kealan Patrick Burke, has managed to create stories that send shivers down my spine and his latest novella, BLANKY, is no different.
Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the Cthulhu themed novel I Am Providence (2016) by writer Nick Mamatas. To best describe the story, I will use my own plot summary:
"An HP Lovecraft convention turns into a murder mystery when an unpopular novelist is killed. Books bound in skin, grave robbing, and a corpse who keeps an inner monologue are just a few of the many stops along the way to the solution."
Last year I had the opportunity to see the musical collaboration between Terrance Zdunich (Repo! The Genetic Opera) and Saar Hendelman (The Devil's Carnival franchise) in their performance of AMERICAN MURDER SONG, a collection of murder ballads set in America during 1816. The duo traveled throughout America putting on live performances that incorporated original songs along with music videos, narrations, stop-motion animation and more. Now, a year later, Zdunich and Hendelman have returned with a new album, THE DONNER PARTY, and tour announcement, THE DONNER PARTY REUNION TOUR.
SPEAK NO EVIL is a comic series about a pair of enterprising brothers who happen to stumble upon an old cabin once used by H.P. Lovecraft and Nikola Tesla for twisted experiments into worlds beyond our own. What they think is a quick payday turns out to be a disaster for the world around them, but excellent reading for us.