Archive of ‘horror’ category

31 Days Of Horror In 2018

Murder Party 31 Days Of Horror

Today at Haute Macabre, some deep thoughts, keen insights, and incisive takeaways from my 31 Days Of Horror last month. Haha! Just kidding! You came to the wrong person for that sort of thing. Also I maybe failed at the whole “31 days” aspect of the challenge.

31 Days Of Horror Satan's Slaves

At any rate, I *did* watch a lot of horror, I discovered some hidden gems (and swept the duds back under the dirt), and as always, had fun!  Maybe no more movies for a while, though.
Read more at Haute Macabre, today!

Spoilers! My two favorites this year were Murder Party and Satan’s Slaves, both pictured above.

Bargain Bin Gothic Romance


Lou Marchetti

Flashing My Shabby Knickers At This Apathetic Stone Fountain And Other Mundane Tales Of Desperation And Revenge


Esteban Maroto

Esteban Maroto

Just A Quick Detour Through This Graveyard In My Filmy Négligée And Other Tales Of Efficiency, Intrigue, and Intimatewear


Lou Marchetti

Lou Marchetti

Indulging My Perverse Paramour’s Fucking Tweety Bird Fetish Bullshit And Other Twisted Tales Of Terror And Tomfoolery


George Ziel

George Ziel

Surely This Rusted, Unlocked, Antique Gate Will Foretall That Hideous Fiend And Other Naive Tales Of The Rich, Beautiful, And Privileged


Harry Barton

Harry Barton

What The Fuck Are You Looking At, Tree? And Other Salty Tales Of Irksome Annoyance


Robert McGinnis

Robert McGinnis

A Poot In The Night; Or, How I Escaped The Clutches Of My Roguish Captor With Naught But A Gut Full Of Tacos And Refried Beans


Harry Barton

Harry Barton

I Think I Left The Asparagus Risotto Simmering Gently On The Stove, and Other Spine-Tingling Tales of Culinary Consternation 


George Ziel2

Just Casually Harvesting Some Grain While The Murderer Gains On My Head Start, And Other Thrilling Tales Of Terror


Lou Marchetti

Lou Marchetti

Funeral Plot Options And Why It’s Never Too Soon For End-Of-Life Planning, A Tale Of One Woman’s Practicality And Preparedness In The Face Of Immeasurable Horrors And Murder Most Foul

💀 Looking for more absurdity?
Try Kiss Me As The Undead Armies Approach And My Talking Skull Weeps Diamond Tears

💀 Looking for more gothic romance?
Try Embracing the nightside; An interview with My Love Haunted Heart
Or How To Wear A Gothic Romance Novel

31 Days Of Horror


Every year, right around Halloween, I have grand plans to fill the whole month–every single day in October, in fact–with horror viewing. The sad news is, I usually crap out about a week in, having only seen two or three movies. This year it’ll be different, I swear!

I was so excited to begin, I couldn’t even wait until October 1st! The movie I began with was Shelley (2016); a story which revolves around a childless couple, and the young woman they’ve hired to help around the house, who then later agrees to carry their baby. Though the pregnancy is weird(er) and gross(er) than normal, the film was quite beautiful, with that somber, isolated property and the eerie woods surrounding it, and that gorgeous darkened lake. I have a tough time with pregnancy horror, though (no offense to my mommy friends and their little ones, but) I don’t believe pregnancy is the most natural thing in the world. To me, it seems anything but. So this movie really was not one of my favorites.
Shelley is on Netflix now.

Day One. Body (2015) is described thusly: “A night out turns deadly when three girls break into a seemingly empty mansion.” Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Also, there’s Larry Fessenden in another scene-stealing role. Don’t you love it when he shows up? Also: when doesn’t he show up? He’s in everything! I quite enjoying the beginning scenes where we got a sense of the friendship between the young women, and see how dumb and ridiculous people act when they are hanging out with friends and family. It reminded me of my sisters and I when we get together for Thanksgiving.
I watched Body on Shudder.

22157900_292820391201541_7833063223032020992_nDay Two: Transfiguration (2016). Milo is a weird kid utterly obsessed with vampires, and driven to violence by his obsessive urges. I would have had a huge and unfortunate crush on him when I was the same age. We even have the same book! I’d have preferred a different ending, but that, as Milo is wont to say, wouldn’t have been very “realistic”.
Transfiguration is on Netflix now.

High TensionDay Three: High Tension (2003). So, I guess this film is about two friends, one of whom is bringing the other to visit her family on a break from school? And then a psychotic trucker breaks into their secluded house and starts brutally murdering everyone and then kidnaps one of the friends and the other friend tries to save her? I guess? That’s all I will say. Except this: considering the how the film plays out–how does this opening sequence make any bit of sense? I am still mad about this.
High Tension is on Hulu right now.

JuliaDay Four: I paid $3.99 (!!) to watch The Haunting of Julia (1977) on Amazon, and in addition to being lovely (as much as a film about a woman grieving the death, of her daughter, and the ghosts allowed entry by grief can be considered lovely, one supposes), the bleak autumn scenery managed to profoundly scratch all of my current, moody seasonal itches.  Extra credit: The film is based on Julia by Peter Straub

Dark SignalDay Five: Dark Signal (2016). The voice of a murdered woman cuts through the static of a radio interview and tries to implicate her murderer. There’s some other stuff going on too, but it’s all really dumb and not even worth going into. The highlight of this film was when, I realized halfway through who this woman was, and felt a profound peal of delight, clanging like a demented bell, trembling through my very soul. I’ve only seen her in one other film (though she’s been in a few) and it was one of the most memorable performances I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, Dark Signal, despite her casting, remains really stupid and pointless. Do you recognize her, too? Let’s squee together. (I’ve given you a huge hint with the side-by-side imagery!)
Dark Signal is on Netflix right now.

Day Six: Jacob’s Ladder (1990). It’s difficult to talk about films like this because reasons I can’t even share without ruining the story for someone. What can you say? This guy came back from the war all fucked up? I’ll sum up with a question. What’s the word for both heartbreaking terror and brb I’ll be in my bunk thinking about chubby-cheeked Tim Robbins? Sorry, I’m gross.
I watched Jacob’s Ladder on dvd at a friend’s house, but you can get it on Amazon, too.

Pet SemataryDay Seven: Pet Sematary (1989). Though Pet Sematary is one of my favorite Stephen King novels (a huge thank you to Mrs. Haney for letting me borrow this book my second week into your sixth grade class!) I’d never before seen the film. And… I could have waited a longer never. I was warned, but okay, you were all right, it was pretty hokey. And the actor playing Louis Creed was so bland and awful and just….blah. It was nice to see Tasha Yar and Herman Munster, though. I started this on day 7 and finished this the next day, but I think it still counts.
Pet Sematary is on Amazon Prime right now.

AsphyxDay 8: The Asphyx (1972) Sir Hugo Cunningham is an arrogant idiot and keeps killing the ones he loves with his incredibly scientific experiments in his quest for immortality. Forgive the sarcasm. But. It was actually kind of fun! And you can watch the whole thing on youtube.

last shiftDay 8, no. 2: Last Shift (2014).This was was a genuinely creepy film about a rookie cop whose first day on the job is the last shift at the Sanford police station before it closes. And, of course, the supernatural shenanigans that ensue. Parts of this were actually filmed in Sanford FL *and* I’m pretty sure there’s a real-life Sanford police uniform and cruiser in the movie. Apparently there was a big kerfuffle on this point; the Sanford police chief launched an investigation to figure out how the department’s police uniforms and a cruiser ended up as props in this film (Although the department did sign off on it! Le whoopsie.) Another interesting surprise is that my horror-averse partner actually sat through this one with me!
Last Shift is available on Netflix right now.

Respect The Zombie; or, On Mourning The Death Of George Romero


My stories are about humans and how they react, or fail to react, or react stupidly. I’m pointing the finger at us, not at the zombies. I try to respect and sympathize with the zombies as much as possible. –George Romero

With the news of George Romero’s death, there’s a peculiar hole in my heart that I am not certain will ever be filled. Romero’s films had a profound impact on me at young age, and have been a part of my life, in some form or another, ever since that time. I felt I knew him intimately, and yet I never met the man–and if given the chance, I probably wouldn’t have (I’m not really big on meeting celebrities. Or people in general, I guess.)


Where were you when you saw your first zombie? I think I was ten years old, in 1986, and it was Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, whilst seated upon an ugly floral sofa in the living room of my family’s small house on Viking Drive, the empty, troubled house that I still dream about to this day. From the opening scenes of Barbara and Johnny’s ghoulish encounter in the cemetery where they trekked to place a wreath on their father’s grave, to the expository radio and television updates on the zombie phenomenon, presented with such deadpan expression: “…the wave of murders…in the Eastern third of the nation is being committed by creatures who feast upon the flesh of their victims,” and those unforgettable scenes of the bloody aftermath of the gas-station pump explosion and little Karen Cooper (the OG Ghoul Next Door) hacking her mother to death in the basement of that abandoned farmhouse…these are scenes I have watched so many times that their shadowy afterimages are burned indelibly behind my eyelids, and I can replay them in an instant.


When I was eleven or twelve years old, a book suddenly appeared on my mother’s bookshelf. I suspect it was a gift from her boyfriend at the time, whom I believe was really quite fond of my sisters and I, and delighted in introducing us to all manner of gruesome, gory movies. I’m not sure my mother really appreciated the gift of this book–in retrospect, it just doesn’t seem like her cup of tea. It was very much my cup of tea, however, and captivated by its lurid cover, I would steal into her bedroom time and time again, sneaking The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh from her shelf, secreting myself away in my bedroom and devouring the story of George Romero and his fascinating filmography. For a period of several months, I thought of nothing but this man and his zombies, but far from working myself into a state of terror, I just grew more and more fond of this visionary and his shambling undead creations.

Already a fan of horror, and of ghosts and monsters, (thanks Scooby Doo in my formative years!), the concept of the zombie was relatively new to me at that time, but my interest in it grew to influence my every decision regarding reading, viewing, and even listening, for years to come. I believe that’s what got me into Iron Maiden; after all, their iconic mascot sort of looks like some crazed, skeletal, undead flesh-eater, you know?

I think it was easier to fixate on these ghastly monsters and fantastical stories of the macabre instead of focusing on my own life, which was becoming increasingly chaotic. In the grips of addiction, my mother had grown quite monstrous, her frightening rages unpredictable and inconsistent–I never knew what might set her off, how to deal with it, or how to prevent it from happening, again. I became paralyzed with fear anticipating the fury of her next explosion, numb with guilt and shame and recriminations: why is our mother like this? What did we do to make her angry? How close are we to becoming that family on the street, the ones that the neighbors call the police on once a week? (We were somewhat lucky, there was already another family that had us beat in that regard.) In the face of my mother’s alcoholism, I found myself shutting down, shutting people out, becoming a zombie myself. These many years and mommy-issues later, monsters, and zombies in particular, are still a safe haven for me. How funny is that?


But, although I’m very familiar with Romero’s oeuvre, I’ve still only seen Night of the Living Dead! Well, and maybe snippets of Creepshow. I suppose after having read about these films so often, I almost feel as if I have already seen them? I did see the Dawn of The Dead remake, and I saw The Crazies remake, and well, I guess I suppose I have seen most of Land of the Dead, but I barely remember it, so I am not certain that counts.

At any rate, I was terribly saddened to hear of George Romero’s passing. Thinking about his life and his body of work dredged up a lot of issues for me–old bones I thought I’d buried deep, as well as the good stuff, too, the lifeblood that sustained me in troubled times, and the passion it sparked in me for the themes he touched on in his work and all my related interests that grew from that. Without him, I’d be a very different ghoul today.

I shall miss George Romero–the “Godfather of the Dead”,  “father of the modern movie zombie”–tremendously. To celebrate his life, I have commenced watching all of the films I’ve come know and love from reading about them so very long ago, and which influenced me in ways I am still discovering today. To start with, one that Romero called his “most realized film”, Martinwhich is actually not a zombie film at all! A story about a confused, misunderstood youth committing a series of vampiric murders, Martin has long since intrigued me. I also think that since I so closely associate Romero and his zombies, it might be easier on my heart to watch a film that would seem to be so distanced from that.

What are some of your favorite George Romero films? How are you holding up since the passing of our beloved storyteller? Disembodied hugs for you all can be found here.

16 Things I Loved In 2016

loveLet’s face it. There was not much to love about 2016. We watched as our beautiful, beloved dreams died one, by one. Whether it was our star men, our poet-bards, our very first motorcycle-riding, purple velvet wearing crushes, our hopes for a magnificent female president, or at least president who isn’t completely bat-shit bonkers, and as of when I began writing this– the loss of my beloved rebel princess, my very first role model–2016 was devastating in so many ways, and saw the end of so many wonderful things.

And so I look to the little things. The sweetness that lightened the burden. The small discoveries that made life easier, or little luxuries that eased a horrible day, a terrible month, or a no good, very bad year.

In no particular order, and for these reasons, here are 16 things I loved in 2016.
(Curious about my picks for previous years? Here’s 2015 & 2014)


Christian Louboutin Nail Polish. Now someone will say to me, “Really, Sarah?”  A $50 nail polish?” And yes, I will agree, that’s pretty ridiculous. But the bottle is gorgeous, and the wand is the perfect petite height for my small hands (the stiletto lid is deceiving) and this is absolutely high quality lacquer, very long wearing. I mean, I guess it is. I knit and wash dishes and read books and type and use my hands a lot, and 2 coats lasts me a week without chipping. That’s pretty great, right? I wear it almost exclusively.

Oud Wood

Tom Ford Oud Wood Shower Gel. Yeah, so…if you weren’t keen on the thought of a $50 nail polish, you are probably not going to get on board with a $67 bottle of body wash. But this one smells like woods and incense and secret forest temples and is an utter treat. It is my secret weapon in the constant battle of “ugggghh…do I really have to shower today?”


Diptyque Baies candle. I first sniffed this stunningly gorgeous candle whilst shopping at Uncommon Objects in Austin. They had it burning on a counter top near the entrance and I was so enthralled with the fragrant wafts drifting throughout the store that I had actually ordered the candle on my phone on amazon before I made a purchase from the shop I was actually in. Rude! I’m sorry, but I really had to have it. I was so surprised when I read the description for Baies: “a luscious blend of black-currant leaves and Bulgarian roses”. Usually these are not smells that I want anything to do with! But somehow this combines for a strikingly elegant scented object, a sort of woody-musky-green fragrance, that I never ever want to be without.

owl moon
Owl Moon bloodmilk X Black Phoenix Alchemy collabroative fragrance. From chapter one of bloodmilk’s sister shop, Exquisite Corpse, this is an exquisite, unique scent experience that literally sets my teeth on edge, but sometimes I need that very sort of fearsome inspiration and motivation. With notes described as “dark, rooty, sweet patchouli swirled with honey,” Owl Moon opens with the blackest, earthiest patchouli (before learning of the notes, I actually thought it was vetiver!) and calls to mind cool, moist soil at the base of a pine tree through which all of the busy little night creatures slither and crawl, the pale, ghostly light of the moon glinting off their scales and wings. A yellow-eyed owl, perched overhead, meditates briefly before silently embarking on his nightly hunt; the sour, screechy scent of his nest, littered with rodent bones and pellets, serves as a warning nearby.  This is the fragrance of potent night magics, rich and ripe with darkness and feral mysticism. The sharpness of the patchouli streaked with high-pitched honey combine to form an aura that is both graceful and grotesque, sacred and profane. If all of that reads familiar to you, this is exactly what I have written about Owl Moon before, elsewhere, but it’s not plagiarizing if it’s your own words, right?


Hurraw lip balms. Several people mentioned these lip balms in passing this year, but I pooh-poohed them because I thought the name was dumb. Well, turns out I am an idiot. These are amazing. Vegan, organic, fair trade, all of the buzzwords that are bandied about, yes all of those things, but they are also smooth, and not at all draggy or grainy or melty or overly smelly, AND they have options that are not mint or fruit. Also, they are about $15 less than my previous favorite lipbalm, so Hurraw, despite the stupid name, is a win.

Zenmed Anti-Redness Rosacea Treatment. I self-diagnosed myself with rosacea earlier this month, after noticing and freaking out over the course of the year fluctuations and flare-ups of redness and stinging on my face. Based on some suggestions from friends I tried this particular set of products from Zenmed and my face cleared up overnight. That is not an exaggeration or embellishment. It literally cleared up over night. (I also stopped drinking coffee and started taking omega-3s, but I really do think it was this thing in particular that did the trick.) I cannot recommend it highly enough.

And speaking of coffee. I would be remiss in not mentioning cold brew coffee on my list. Any kind, but especially the pre-made stuff in the bottle that you buy at the store. It was a lifesaver this summer when it was too hot to drink hot coffee, and I was too sweaty and lazy to go through the process of brewing the cold stuff. I’m not really drinking coffee anymore, but it certainly made this past May-August ever so much more bearable!


I think Gardein Breakfast Pockets may be my favorite discovery this year. I’m not one of those people who can eat as soon as I get out of bed in the morning; I need to take my time, sip a hot beverage (now that I’m not drinking coffee, the current beverage of choice is turmeric-ginger tea) and just go about my early hours ver-r-rrry slowly. It’s not that I am not a morning person–I am totally a morning person!– but it really does have to be at my own pace. I try to eat a little something right before my work day starts, and these hand-held little pockets are really delicious. I am also a person who absolutely cannot do sweet things in the morning, so to find a convenience food that isn’t a waffle or a poptart or a cloying breakfast bar is pretty awesome. It’s vegan, but I am under no illusions that it’s “healthy”. With no animal products and at only 200 calories though, it’s good enough for me. (Note: I am not vegan. Not even vegetarian.)


The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer left me speechless. I was certain nothing could ever measure up again, and I was very nearly afraid to start reading something else afterward! The books tell of the mysterious, dangerous wilderness of Area X and the humans exploring it: several decades ago, an inexplicable environmental change occurred and a large swath of land and sea was sealed behind an invisible and largely impenetrable barrier. “Inside it, nature shifted. It grew wild and pristine, dense and fertile—improbably pure, as though nature had said “Enough!” and reclaimed itself.”  It’s an uncanny, and genuinely surprising read that haunted me for days and probably will continue to do so for many years to come. With this series The New Yorker refers to Vandermeer as The Weird Thoreau, and …yep. Totally apt.

salt Salt Is For Curing by Sonya Vatomsky. I make myself very sad thinking about missed connections. What would life be like if perhaps I’d never gotten to know certain people, if I had carelessly just let those opportunities slip past? Sonya is one of these people. We connected via social media before I even knew they were a writer and I sometimes think…what if I’d totally ignored this weird person who started following me on twitter? What if I wasn’t a nosy so-n-so and took no notice of the fact that they were also a poet?  In my reading of Sonya’s book, Salt Is For Curing, it took all that I had not to devour this small book of spooky delights in one greedy instant. I feared that to do so, to ingest all of these potent magics at once, would give me a terribly heartsick sort of heartburn and yet leave me with the very worst sort of emptiness, knowing there is no more to be had. I drew it out for as long as I could stand. It is now in its fourth printing, which I think is basically unheard of for small press stuff, so, congrats my darling Soyna! Even if this is my fourth time saying so.


What Is A Witch by Tin Can Forest and Pam Grossman is equal parts storybook, grimoire, comic book, and illuminated manuscript, What Is A Witch explores the many guises and archetypes of the witch–that ultimate icon of feminine power. The book’s lyrical language of night-song and half-rhymes, when given voice (and it absolutely must be read aloud), becomes a wild, witty, wondrous invocation, threaded throughout with fanciful visions, whimsical allegory, and magical truths. I engaged with its mesmerizing imagery and the poetic spell it cast, and immediately it awoke something within me. I felt it rise within myself, something fierce and surprising and nearly frightening in its power. If you feel yourself similarly compelled, don’t fight it. Go where this book takes you. See what you draw forth from yourself. Don’t be alarmed. Let it change you. This is magic, after all, and we are witches.


It’s not spooky or eerie in the least, so it may surprise you to know that HÆLOS’ Full Circle is my favorite album this year. I know it’s not supposed to work this way, but I made my decision back in February and I’ve heard nothing that even comes close to changing my mind since that time. A sweeping, meditative album, comprised of down-tempo, melancholic dissonance, lustrous synth, and cinematic, kaleidoscopic strings; reminiscent of 90s atmospheric trip-hop, and reverberating with narcotic, late night poignancy, this is the sonic equivalent of the steady, gorgeous thrum and throbbing heartbeat of a hand in your own.


Two of my favorite movies this year would have to be Demon, incorporating Jewish folklore and demonic possession into a tragic tale that’s not quite horror and not quite comedy, but works quite well as precisely what it is not, and The Handmaiden, a gorgeous, deliciously twisted film, by Chan Wook Park.


My marvelous coffin-shaped jewelry and pin display boards from LifeAfterDeathDesign, which I have written more about previously here.

And numbers 14-16 are a cheat, but maybe more important than anything listed: I loved collaborating with my brilliant, talented, visionary friends on our various projects–we created not just one, but TWO wildly successful Occult Activity Books this year! That’s amazing!

I loved (is loved the right word?) that I knew when a relationship with a particular outlet was no longer working for me and was lucky enough to move on immediately to something not only better, but which also felt tremendously more right for me. Life is too short to be in an uncomfortable situation that makes you unhappy! Also, boo to bullies and blowhards, what ever form they take. I love that I finally knew when to move on, I guess is what I am saying.

And what about you? What did you take comfort in this year? What are some awesome discoveries you made? What are some of your favorites? Tell me all about it in the comments!

*featured heart garland image is, I think, from etsy seller Kirrakai

A Chilling Chosen Few

A Chilling Chosen Few was originally written for and posted at After Dark In the Playing Fields on Halloween in 2010, as a companion piece for 12 Terrifying Tales, a list of spooky stories which I also shared again here at Unquiet Things earlier this month.

I know, I know… it’s still only August, but if you’re in the mood to draw the shades and crank the air down to an acceptably chilly clime, the following movies–some of my personal favorites for creepy viewing–should tide you over until our sacred haunted holiday.

Also note that, although this list is now six years old, these remain my go-to freaky films: the kind which leave bruised and haunting imprints on the memory, the shadowy images I watch on the movie screen of my inner eyelids when I can’t sleep at night and have worked myself up into a fever pitch of paranoia and panic.

What are some of your favorites for eerie, eldritch viewing? Whether mildly gruesome or pants-shittingly terrifying, tell me about all about them in the comments! (I live in permanent FOMO, you know, so I can’t stand the thought that there is something amazing out there that I don’t know about and have not yet seen.)


Suspiria (Dario Argento), 1977
A moody, atmospheric assault of the senses. A young American woman arrives at a European ballet school where nothing is as it seems. Hallucinatory mayhem ensues.

3-holly1The Resurrected (Dan O’Bannon) 1992
An intelligent, brooding adaptation of Lovecraft’s “The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. Chris Sarandon at his creepily aristocratic best.


Cube (Vincenzo Natali) 1997
Kafkaesque sci-horror reminiscent of a visceral Twilight Zone episode. A handful of strangers wake up inside a monstrous maze of interlocking cubicles which are armed with lethal traps. Why were these individuals chosen? What is this place they are in? Is there even anything outside the Cube?


Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (John D. Hancock) 1971
An eerie, dreamlike film in which a woman’s already fragile psyche undergoes further trauma at the isolated farmhouse where she initially sought solace. Is there really something sinister going on between the mysterious drifter and the baleful townfolk – or is Jessica spiraling further into delusion and madness?


Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder) 2004
Romero’s 1978 original was “sacred ground” for horror buffs, but even though I saw this remake 6 years ago, there are some nights I still can’t sleep thinking upon certain scenes; to this day I am convinced I will awake to find my neighbor’s child gazing upon me hungrily, ready to mindlessly, viciously eat my face off.

Children Photo

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things  (Bob Clarke) 1972
A strangely awkward film, a bit of nostalgic whimsy on my part.   A flamboyant theatre director brings his acting troupe to a remote island cemetery to raise the dead,as a practical joke.  This turns out badly for all involved; as we all know, these practices are no laughing matter.


Lemora: A Child’s Tale of The Supernatural (Richard Blackburn) 1975
 An orphaned young innocent is lured to a remote mansion on the outskirts of the strange southern gothic shanty town populated by bizarre mutants, and soon finds herself in the clutches of the wicked (and undead) Lemora. A long, unsettling nightmare of a film.


Imprint (Takashi Miike, Masters of Horror) 2005
A tale of lost love that grows stranger and more horrifying as the story unfolds. Contains one of the grisliest torture scenes that I have ever seen.


The Mist (Frank Darabont) 2007
Excellent Stephen King Adaptation (at least I thought so, but I don’t want to argue with you about it); local folks are trapped in a supermarket when a mysterious mist envelops the town – among the incredibly frightening monsters here, the worst and most brutish might actually be the human people. Also, I think this may have the bleakest ending of any movie I have ever seen.


Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey) 1962
After a traumatic accident a woman seems to be losing all contact with the world of the living.  Worthwhile viewing for the gorgeously oppressive atmosphere alone.


The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona) 2008
A woman returns to her childhood home – a seaside orphanage – to reopen the establishment and raise her adopted son. The child’s mysterious disappearance, and frightening, otherworldly goings-on contribute to what is a quietly chilling, heartbreaking film.


A Tale of Two Sisters (Ji-woon Kim) 2003
A tale of tragedy and madness, based on an old Korean legend/folktale.


Les Diaboliques  (Henri-Georges Clouzot) 1955

*And a bonus pick from my dear friend The Kindred Spirit, who shares that since having seen Les Diaboliques, “I have been wary of face-like bathtub faucets ever since!”

Will Errickson’s resplendent horror fiction reviews


(Originally posted in 2011 over at After Dark In The Playing Fields)

Perhaps a month or so ago whilst puttering around on the internet late at night, a memory, unbidden, came to mind. A book I had read when I was younger.  Though I could not recall much of the plot (except that it was a riveting combination of almost-unacceptably-unbelievable and strangely compelling),  or the story details, or even the names of the characters – the cover, and the title were for some reason burned indelibly into my brain.

12-18-2010 1;07;27 PM

On a whim, I thought I might poke around to see if what, if anything, other readers had to say about The Manitou, and it was then that I stumbled onto Will Errickson’s Too Much Horror Fiction blog.  Will’s sharp, smart, and endlessly amusing synopsis of the story and review of the book compelled me to dig deeper into his site, and in doing so I came across many strange, moldering titles that I had not thought of or seen in years…some I barely remembered and some which were so bizarre that I actually thought I  had dreamed them up. Before I knew it several hours had passed and it was 2:00 AM in the morning; I was exhausted but full of a sort of demented exultation –   I think it is safe to say that I have never in my life been excited to stumble across a corner of the internet as I was when I discovered Will’s blog, which is dedicated to “reviewing and collecting horror literature and celebrating its resplendent paperback cover art”.

Will graciously agreed to do a bit of a Q&A with us over at After Dark in the Playing Fields; read on for, among other things, his thoughts on terror in the formative years, his picks for a compellingly horrifying read and a top ten list of his favourite deranged horror fiction book covers!

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Mlleghoul: To quote you, paraphrasing Poe and Lovecraft: “Horror… is that singular frisson of terror itself”. Can you hearken back to the time when you first experienced that dread feeling and share with us the details surrounding that, and the myriad ways it has manifested in your life up to this point?

Will Errickson: I’ve tried before to nail down early moments of fear and horror from when I was a kid, and I just can’t. All I can really say is that growing up in the 1970s and early ‘80s there was no lack of spooky stuff on TV that you couldn’t avoid, whether it was IN SEARCH OF… or a commercial for movies like SILENT SCREAM, THE PROPHECY, THE SHINING and ALIEN. I remember finding a horror movie magazine that a teenage relative had that completely freaked me out; I couldn’t even look at the cover. Christopher Lee’s Dracula was pretty impressively scary at that age. Of course JAWS was inescapable, but once I actually *saw* the movie when I was 8 or 9 I became obsessed with it. Can’t quite remember how I began reading horror, because those trashy old paperbacks with skulls on the covers unsettled me. Think I just picked up one of my mom’s Stephen King novels when I was about 13 or so. So ever since I was a kid I’ve been into horror as well as the people who create it.


Back to the above referenced paraphrasing – what are some of your favourite books or stories that evoke such a feeling for you?  I believe I culled the quote from your post on The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, so I imagine that might be one of them?

Several of Ellroy’s novels have been disturbing, not just BLACK DAHLIA but also L.A. CONFIDENTIAL–the parts that *didn’t* make it into the movie version. Books such as DRACULA and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR were perhaps the first scary things I read; later Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” and various stories/novels by King (especially “The Mist”) and Peter Straub. SONG OF KALI by Dan Simmons, THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja, FINISHING TOUCHES by Thomas Tessier, THE SEARCH FOR JOSEPH TULLY by William Hallahan. I read tons and tons of short stories in different anthologies as a teen and in my early ’20s; some of my favorites from that era are “Night They Missed the Horror Show” by Joe Lansdale; “His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood” and “Calcutta, Lord of Nerves” by Poppy Z. Brite; “Dread” by Clive Barker; “Old Man and the Dead” by Mort Castle; “Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner; “Orange is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity” by David Morrell; “The Answer Tree” by Steven Boyett; various Shirley Jackson and Thomas Ligotti tales. It’s difficult to pin some down. Rereading them now is cool because many hold up and are still effective. I’m slowly making my way through the two-volume Library of America’s AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES… Short stories really show the horror genre in its best light. There are great novels, of course, but short stories… yeah. I’m sure I’m forgetting some right now.


In this vein, what is your general criteria for a satisfying read?  Can you give some examples of the books which might fit this criteria?  And this may be a silly question, but how much does the cover art play into this for you?

Pacing is probably the single most important aspect. Atmosphere is great too. I don’t need great writing but it does have to be good. A lot of ’70s horror novels, and even going back further, had a real professionalism about them; you knew you were in the hands of masters. But by the ’80s more horror glutted the shelves so many, many books were very poorly written and edited and conceived. You can forgive a lot if the author is sure of himself, which is the case with Graham Masterton’s THE MANITOU. It was rather ridiculous but his conviction carried it. THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson is a wonderful example of strong writing and story, as are Michael McDowell’s works. You can’t ever go wrong with Shirley Jackson. I loved THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons. Fritz Leiber’s OUR LADY OF DARKNESS was excellent as well. ALL HEADS TURN AS THE HUNT GOES BY by John Farris. THE RATS by James Herbert. As for supernatural violence and the like, I like a quiet chiller as much as a gory thriller. Joe Lansdale’s THE NIGHTRUNNERS blew me away back in the day but I haven’t read it since. As for cover art, it doesn’t play into my interest in reading a book; I’ve gotten past that these days and if the books has a truly terrible cover, I try to imagine I’m reading it in manuscript form! So yes, I guess cover art can color your imagination as you read.


You reference John Farris’ Son of the Endless Night as a quintessential 80’s horror novel, with its “blurb from Stephen King and a review quote comparing it to The Exorcist, and its artwork of both a scary-looking young girl as well as a black-winged demon” –I’d be interested in hearing more about this idea of a quintessential 80’s   horror novel.  Also, do you feel there are elements of the story itself that make it a prime example of the decade’s horror offerings?  So…what would be a quintessential 90’s horror novel?  70’s?  60’s?  Ok, I’ll stop there.

1980s horror to me is big and badass, influenced by more graphic horror movies. Huge set pieces of bizarre horror carnage, lots of characters, a go-for-broke attitude. Another cool ’80s novel is THE SCREAM by Skipp and Spector: big, bold, vivid, outrageous, energetic. A bit dated in a fun way. Let’s see… for the ’60s I’d say ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin: ironic, cool, blackly comic, lightly satirizing modern mores. The ’70s quintessential horror would probably be ’SALEM’S LOT, but I think an argument could be made for HARVEST HOME or THE OTHER by Thomas Tryon. Quieter and more reserved than King, but still creepy; a mainstream bestseller kind of vibe before the paperback horror boom of the ’80s fractioned off the audience. For the ’90s, that’s tougher, because I stopped reading contemporary horror in about 1993 or ’94. Kathe Koja’s THE CIPHER turned horror around by taking the focus off “regular folks” as it’d been in the ’80s and made it about artists, slackers, young people on the fringes of society. What can I say, I identified!



For as long as you’ve been running your blog, what would you say are the top 10 most ridiculous/absurd/batshit insane horror novel covers you’ve featured? 

NIGHTSCAPE by Stephen George

ROCKABYE BABY by Stephen Gresham

SANDMAN by William W. Johnstone

DEW CLAWS by Stephen Gresham

SEE NO EVIL by Patricia Wllace

DEAD TO THE WORLD by J.N. Williamson

TRICYCLE by Russell Rhodes


WAIT AND SEE by Ruby Jean Jensen


But there are still many, many more out there! I will always be on the lookout to feature them on my blog…


What is your opinion of “pulp” and what purpose it serves–what can we learn from it about our culture that isn’t a part of canonical literature? “Pulp” novels are considered low-end and sort of disdained, but obviously they are popular to read.  What about the lurid themes found in them resonates with the reader? 

When it comes to the worth of any kind of pulp or genre fiction and its status, I like to turn it around and posit that lots of literature, the high-end, culturally-sanctioned stuff, isn’t nearly as profound or insightful as some people like to think it is. There is just as much cliche, lack of imagination, and poor–as in pretentious–writing in that kind of fiction as in pulp or genre fiction. Writers who began in the pulp fields are now considered major American authors, crime writers like Raymond Chandler as well as a horror writer like H.P. Lovecraft. Horror fiction deals with the same themes as any other kind of fiction: families, history, love, sex, death, violence, grief, guilt, etc. Sure, a horror novel might accentuate the less savory aspects of these themes, but I’d say a classic writer like Dostoevsky, for instance, is also exploiting them as well. I *think* that literary critics these days are little more amenable to that idea, anyway.


Finally – The Nursery, by David Lippincott (a cult favourite here at After Dark in the Playing Fields) – any opinions?*

I’m unfamiliar with that title but the cover art is awesome! Added to my to-be-read list.


A heartfelt thanks to Will Errickson for taking the time to answer our questions and share his thoughts!


this, that, & the other thing {xxiii}


Witch Series, Camille Chew

The new-to-me art of Camille Chew; a fanciful take on modern witches


A poster for Häxen. (Image: Cornell University Library)

A poster for Häxen. (Image: Cornell University Library,

Take a Peek at the World’s Greatest Witchcraft Movie Poster Collection


I’m absolutely enthralled with this beautiful, grotesque trailer.
Are you as excited for Tale of Tales as I am?

Forces that we cannot contain: The cosmic horror of the nuclear age

Why The Fly is possibly the very best body-horror film ever made

This Perfume Smells Like the Apocalypse: artists capture the heady scent of the end times

10 of the most disturbing folk songs in history

The H Word: The Monstrous Intimacy of Poetry in Horror

Is the Hum, a mysterious noise heard around the world, science or mass delusion?

Sorcery and Sex Appeal: Kristen Korvette Discusses Slutist’s Legacy of the Witch Festival

Anohni Finds Hope in Hopelessness: The iconoclastic artist on her politically-minded new album

The Gnostic World of Antti-Jussi Annila’s Sauna

The Dark Tales of the World’s Most Epic Sleep Talker

Long Live the New Foot Flesh* (a Baby Foot foot peel review)

IMG_1142*First, let me give credit to Ben, who made that foot flesh comment over on facebook.

I am going to lead into this review with an “after” photo.  Otherwise, I am afraid I might scare folks away before they’ve even read the first sentence.  Or perhaps I do not give you enough credit for your iron stomachs and your willingness to delve into the depths of disgusting foot molt with me?  Honestly, this kind of stuff doesn’t really gross me out, and in my postings of this process over on Instagram I’ve found that most people are actually more fascinated than repulsed (or perhaps a titillating combination of both) and so I will stop treating you with kid gloves and just get on with it!

I don’t think I had ever read up on foot peels, or the Baby Foot brand specifically, until I saw a brief mention of it over at EauMG (and let me forewarn you–I never, EVER, come away from Victoria’s blog without desperately coveting and usually ordering something she has mentioned over there.  This visit was no different, as you will see.)

Once the seed was planted, I could not NOT try it.  A disgusting corporeal transformation occurring right before my very eyes?  Body horror delights to photograph and document, with which to freak people out?  Oh, yes, please!  As an aside, I don’t know what is wrong with me.  I have a long history of being in love with grossing people out.  So, my apologies…sort of.  But not really.  At all.

You can find this stuff for about $20 a box, and it is a one use thing.  How does it work? Well, it’s a chemical peel for your feet. The ingredients list mainly fruit acids, but also the stuff you’d typically find in a chemical peel: glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, as well as alcohol. According to Baby Foot, all you do is wash and soak your feet, apply the booties, wash off, then wait. In five to seven days, the peeling should begin.

A few tips from bloggers and reviews throughout the peel-o-sphere: set aside an evening for it.  Wash and clean your feet and soak them in warm water for a good, long time.  Set up a little area for yourself on the sofa or your desk or where ever, and make sure you’ve got everything you need within reach for at least the next hour or so, because you are kind of going to be stuck.Stick your feet into the gloopy, acid filled booties, tape them up, pull on a pair of house socks over them (just to keep everything warm and snug, I presume) and sit tight for the next 60 minutes while you knit or read or watch a movie or tweet your absurd thoughts on twitter or whatever it is you do to keep busy. Note: those are all of the things I did.

Some folks keep it on past the hour mark, but I did not.  To be honest at 45 minutes, things started feeling like they were heating up, in an almost uncomfortable way.  I de-booted myself after exactly one hour, rinsed and dried my feet thoroughly, put on a clean pair of socks, and went to bed.

day one

DAYS ONE AND TWO.  No change.  But you can see that my heel is kind of tough and calloused looking. When I stir and shift at night, in bed, I can hear it rassssssp against the sheets and it’s pretty mortifying. What you can’t see is the really tough patch of skin on the side of my big toes.  All in all, I guess my feet aren’t too jacked up…but I like to wear sandals, and it is my belief that one’s feet must be fantastic looking for those sorts of shoes.  Also note my terrible tattoo that a budding artist gave me when I was about 17.  Tattoo artist friends! I’d love to collaborate with you on a cover up one day. Let’s talk!

day two

DAY THREE. Many bloggers and reviewers note that they are soaking their feet every day during this process, and me, well.  I am not.  I am both lazy and yet I somehow do not have time for that.  And anyway, I figure that my feet are sitting in a shallow bit of water for 10-15 minutes every time I shower, so that’s going to have to be good enough. And truly, as you can see here, I am not certain it really matters all that much. By day three things are starting to happen, as evidenced by the action occuring just below my toes.

day three

DAY FOUR. The Cronenbergian Baby Foot experiment intensifies, slightly. The peeling has also begun to start on my toes and is creeping down the outside of my sole.

day 4

DAY FIVE. Shit is getting real and things are looking pretty leprous up in here.  I am wearing socks everywhere to avoid actively shedding my disgusting former foot skin all over the floor, everywhere that I walk. This just about kills me, as I like my toes to wiggle freely.

Day 5

DAY SIX. I had absolutely no idea I was so utterly, gloriously disgusting. Look at the molting majesty of my foot, gaze upon its vile splendor! IT IS SO GROSS AND I LOVE IT. Several folks at this point asked if it hurt at all, and I am being perfectly honest when I say that I didn’t feel a thing.  This all could have been happening to someone else’s body, for all the discomfort that it caused me (none). Also, many people exclaimed incredulously that they could not believe I was not picking at it.  Well, I did pick, a little bit.  When there was a long, delicious strip of ragged skin,  tattered and barely hanging on, I did give it a gentle tug to loosen it.  If it broke off, great. I threw it away.  If not, I left it alone and stuffed my repulsive appendage back in my sock.

foot top

DAYS SEVEN AND EIGHT. By day seven, most of that rag-tag business had fallen off in my socks over night. The bottoms of my feet were mostly free of dead skin. Now there is some interesting business happening on the tops of my feet– they had gotten a bit flaky and ashy and my toe-knuckles (is there a word for this?) had started peeling.  There really was nothing awful about these parts of my feet to begin with, but curiously enough, I think this stage took the longest to cycle through.


TWO(ISH) WEEKS LATER. My raspy heels are totally gone, along with my horned big toe. However, I know that this is going to require maintenance which, let’s face it, I will probably never keep up with. The bottoms of my feet are quite a bit smoother and the tops of my feet actually do feel like that proverbial baby’s bottom.

I am sad to report, that Baby Foot did not give me freakishly disproportionate, actual baby’s feet attached to my ankles, so I am afraid that the product name is a bit misleading.

However, if you desire soft, lovely feet that look like they’ve never done a day’s work and if you like disgusting science experiments coupled the unease of body horror as it relates to your own body–I cannot recommend this highly enough.  It satisfies on both the side of money well spent on a beauty product and the personal obsession with weird stuff and things to share with people. Win win!

It must be noted that you should purchase this from a seller or site you trust.  I have linked directly to the product I ordered and I had no problems with it whatsoever.  If you are the kind to get freaked out by Amazon’s one star reviews, though, you’ll find some doozies. The short answer is to order from where ever you feel most comfortable.

Have you used Baby Ffoot, or any chemical foot peel at all?  Feel free to weigh in with your experiences…and I am sure I don’t have to tell you…the more disgusting, the better!

Note: this is not I paid or sponsored or whatever-you-call-it review.  I purchased this product honestly with money that I stole from someone else.


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