If there’s one holiday that’s been largely ignored by the horror genre, it’s Thanksgiving (hmmm, maybe I need to capitalize on that!). I mean, how scary can you make a holiday that centers around killing giant birds, indulging in unabashed gluttony, watching bloodsports on TV and recalling the calm before the genocide of a nation?
When it comes to movies, there are slim…and terrible…pickings. We’re talking scraps of meat on a turkey leg at best. You have THANKSKILLING, BLOOD RAGE, aaaand, well, not really much else.
However, if we keep with the land fowl theme, there is a little gem that is so bad it’s good – POULTRYGEIST : NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD. It’s brought to us by the fine, demented minds at Troma, the gang that brought us The Toxic Avenger and Surf Nazis Must Die.
When a fast food chicken restaurant is built on the site of an ancient Native American burial ground, the displaced spirits unite with the ghosts of exterminated chickens and transform into Native American chicken zombies seeking revenge!
So, if you’re tummy is full and you’ve had enough of football, settle down and get ready for utter insanity, comedy and gore with my Thanksgiving pick, POULTRYGEIST!
Horror vs. Terror: A Gothic Battle of the Sexes!
When Hunter first asked me to write a post for him to put up on his blog, I was thrilled, then terrified! Having read a lot of his work and knowing how well-versed he is in all things horror movie and book-related, what could I write about the subject that would interest him as well as his fans? While recently reading his novel We Are Always Watching, I began to compare it to one of my own upcoming novels. Both take place in rural Pennsylvania with the focus on an old, run down farmhouse and some pretty strange, slightly insane, people. The similarities end there. I couldn’t help but wonder if some of that is due to the fact that we are different genders.
Not long ago I was reading about the life and works of Ann Radcliffe. Ann was a pioneer when it comes to the Gothic novel, predating Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker by a hundred years. (Her premier Gothic novel, Mysteries of Udolpho, was published in 1794.) During my studies, I learned that in the late 18th century there was a distinction between the terms Horror and Terror, especially when being applied to literature. Horror was considered more to do with emotions and setting a frightening mood and atmosphere, while creating a growing tension. It was much more subtle and mysterious. Terror, on the other hand, ran more along the lines of physical displays of the grotesque and graphic depictions of torture, murder, and death. Women, like Radcliffe, tended to writer Horror and Ann was generally praised for her unique approach and is given credit for popularizing the Gothic genre, especially among women readers.
Men wrote things more along the lines of Terror. In 1796, Matthew Gregory Lewis released “The Monk”. It was considered quite scandalous, where “… scenes of grotesquery and horror abound”. It was said that Lewis “… had devoted the first fruits of his mind to the propagation of evil” and that he was “… a reckless defiler of the public mind.” Over the years the Horror of Radcliffe has blended with the Terror of Lewis and has become almost exclusively known as Horror. (As an aside, “The Monk” and Radcliffe’s “Mysteries of Udolpho” are also classified as Romance. As far as the Romance genre back in those early days, it was barely considered literature and was denied the prestigious label of being an actual ‘novel’.)
As a Horror fan, it all makes perfect sense to me. My favorite types of movies and books are of the Horror genre, as defined above, or what I’d label as psychological thrillers or psychological horror. In my yet-to-be released novel Dark Hollow Road, I took on the latter without even knowing that such a sub-genre existed. When I discovered the definition of Psychological Horror, I laughed. Wiki says this about it, “…a subgenre of horror and psychological fiction that relies on mental, emotional and psychological states to frighten, disturb, or unsettle readers, viewers, or players. The subgenre frequently overlaps with the related subgenre of psychological thriller, and it often uses mystery elements and characters with unstable, unreliable, or disturbed psychological states to enhance the suspense, drama, action and horror of the setting and plot and to provide an overall unpleasant, unsettling, or distressing atmosphere.” This is the type of atmosphere I tried to create with my ghost story, No Rest For The Wicked, also. Two of the ghosts are unstable and psychologically disturbed and they are definitely creating an unsettled atmosphere for the living who are trying to deal with them.
I’m not very interested in watching Terror and what I would equate with Modern-day slasher films full of random acts of mindless gore and buckets of blood, intestine-eating cannibals, exploding heads and the like. Once in a while, sure, I can really get into all of that and have found that I love one particular “Terror” writer when he’s taking on the many cryptids of the world. But for the most part, I’ll pass on that sort of thing – especially when it comes to a movie. Films like Saw, Candyman, & Scream aren’t my overall cup of tea.
I’ll toss in something gruesome every now and then for good measure into my writing, like, “Flies swarmed over the body of Sarah’s decomposing child, neatly cradled in the arms of the scarecrow.” or “The strings of coagulating blood had stretched from under the flattened portion of his brother’s skull, down to the blacktop, then snapped and dripped and oozed some more.” My goal is not to gross my readers out, at least not too much. A quote over on Goodreads states, “Horror writers shouldn’t play nice. Disturb & unnerve your reader. Make them uncomfortable, but not so much they stop reading.” The last thing I want for someone to do while reading one of my stories is to stop reading. Plus, I have no interest in writing what I wouldn’t enjoy reading myself. I’ll leave the Terror to those who enjoy it.
All this is not to say there aren’t some fine lady authors out there writing gruesome and bloody tales of terror or men who know how to be subtle and slowly heighten the suspense. But, is there a difference in what men and women enjoy more when it comes to Horror vs. Terror?
Who would you say wins this Gothic Battle of the Sexes? Do you want that slow, creeping horror that sneaks up on you and leaves you psychologically damaged for a time, or something more along the lines of images so terror-filled, gruesome and gut-wrenching you have to stop reading or reach for the puke bucket?
We’re going to shake off our Horrortober hangover with a post from one of the best horror writers on both sides of the Atlantic. I first ‘met’ Catherine Cavendish when we were both writing for Samhain. Now we’re together again at Kensington Books. The poor woman can’t shake me. She has a new, terrifying novel out that I can’t wait to dig into. Until then, let’s take a tour of a funeral museum in beautiful Vienna. Take it away, Cat!
“Only in Vienna…”
If I had a penny for every time I have heard that expression, I would be living in splendour right now.
My latest novel – Wrath of the Ancients – is largely set in Vienna, Austria’s imperial capital and surely one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in the world. Its streets team with culture and its proud residents are almost fiercely protective of their enigmatic, sometimes quirky, and endlessly fascinating home, where everyone from Strauss to Klimt and Freud lived and worked.
Vienna is home to well over a hundred museums. It seems there is a museum for almost anything – Chimney Sweeps, Boy Scouts, Tobacco, Trams, Undertakers, Contraception and Abortion… the list goes on and on. And that’s in addition to the wealth of art and history museums on a grand scale. One of the quirkiest – and the first of its kind anywhere in the world – is the Funeral Museum which has been relocated from the centre of Vienna to its new home in the Zentralfriedhof – Vienna’s main cemetery on the outskirts of the city.
When you enter, you are plunged into a dark, funereal atmosphere where the history of funerals and of the main funeral directors’ company in Vienna – Bestattung Wien – in particular is laid out in all its pomp and ceremony. The Viennese have always had something of a fascination with death and the quest to achieve a Schöne Leich (Literally ‘beautiful corpse’) is a passion. Most frequently that means creating the most lavish of funerals. This was especially the case in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when it seemed people vied with each other to create the most over-the-top ceremony.
Bestattung Wien pride themselves on being able to create the most unusual and individually designed funerals. So successful are they that people even come from abroad in order to have their unique vision executed. Funeral tourism! The company handles some 20,000 funerals a year, in Vienna and the surrounding area. Anything from traditional limousines, to horse-drawn vehicles, coffins made by their own coffin makers and pretty much anything your heart desires can be arranged – at a price of course. The museum features insignia, ceremonial uniforms, lanterns, a full size horse-drawn hearse containing a coffin (but minus the horses, of course!)
In a more modern vein, there is a display cabinet featuring a number of items including a small box with a tiny blue diamond. Yes, this is someone’s ashes, turned into an imitation diamond. The relative could, if they wanted, have this mounted into a piece of jewellery so they could wear their loved one around their neck, on their wrist, finger or even in a brooch worn over their heart. All this is on display at the museum, providing a unique insight into the Viennese way of death.
You will also see death masks, and a picture showing the specially designed Sitzsarg or ‘sitting-up’ coffin, based on a painting by Rene Magritte. Only one of these was ever made and it used to be on show but apparently not anymore.
Also on display are reminders that medical science was not always as accurate as it is today when determining whether a person was actually dead. In the first half of the 19th century, there was a widespread fear of being buried alive so a piece of string was attached to the deceased’s finger before burial. This string led into the cemetery warden’s office so that, in the event the ‘corpse’ woke up, they would ring the bell. Sadly, this led to a great many false alarms. Decomposition, shifting earth, release of gases after death all lead to changes in the position of the body sufficient to make the bell ring. Eventually the wardens got so fed up, they ceased the practice of attaching the warning bells, but you can see them here.
Even today, if you are still concerned that you might wake up after being buried, you can specify another option to ensure this could never happen by stating in your Will that, once your death has been pronounced, a thin stiletto-like knife should be used to pierce your heart. Now there can be no mistake. In the museum, one such stiletto is displayed in all its glory, on purple velvet in a glass case. Chilling. That will cost you 300 Euros.
In the so-called Age of Enlightenment, in the 18th century, Emperor Josef II saw fit to ban all cemeteries from the centre of Vienna and introduced the ‘reusable’ coffin. This contained a retractable hatch at the bottom. The body was placed in it, lowered, and the hatch released. The corpse, wrapped only in a sack would then fall into the grave. The coffin could then be used again and again. Needless to say, this did not agree with the Viennese way of death, the ‘beautiful corpse’ and all the pomp and ceremony and was abandoned.
The museum also features a section dedicated to the burials of six famous people from the modern era– some of whom may be less familiar to non-Austrians although Falco (Rock me Amadeus) is well-remembered, as is Curd Jürgens the actor who played a Bond villain in The Spy Who Loved Me.
The Viennese dark sense of humour is also evident in the museum’s gift shop where it is possible to buy coffin shaped USB memory sticks and cigarette cases bearing the words, Rauchen sichert Arbeitsplätze (‘smoking secures jobs’).
As I said at the beginning, “Only in Vienna…”
Destiny In Death
Eminent archaeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .
Wrath Of The Ancients
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and many more. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshiped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
Okay, you’ve answered the door a thousand times and have run out of candy. Time to shut out the lights, crack open a beer or wine (blood red, of course) and watch a scary movie, something to haunt your dreams. Sure, you could stick with the tried and true like Halloween or Night of the Living Dead. But why not explore new dark territory this year? Here are 5 movies guaranteed to give you shivers…
5. THE SENTINEL
3. THE DESCENT
2. THE ORPHANGE
- THE NIGHT STALKER
This one is so sweet, I want to tattoo it somewhere on my body! JURASSIC FLORIDA is one of next year’s trio of Hunter Shea’s Don’t F*** With Nature novellas. Here’s a preview of the front cover and back cover copy…
FLORIDA. IT’S WHERE YOU GO TO DIE.
Welcome to Polo Springs, a sleepy little town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It’s a great place to live—if you don’t mind the hurricanes. Or the flooding. Or the unusual wildlife . . .
LIZARDS. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.
Maybe it’s the weather. But the whole town is overrun with the little green bastards this year. They’re causing a lot of damage. They’re eating everything in sight. And they’re just babies . . .
HUMANS. THEY’RE WHAT’S FOR DINNER.
The mayor wants to address the lizard problem. But when Hurricane Ramona slams the coast, the town has a bigger problem on their hands. Bigger lizards. Bigger than a mobile home. Unleashed by the storm, this razor-toothed horde of prehistoric predators rises up from the depths—and descends on the town like retirees at an early bird special. Except humans are on the menu. And it’s all you can eat . . .
JURASSIC FLORIDA will be available from Lyrical Press summer/fall 2018. Be kind to your lizards until then.
For my money, ghost/haunted house movies are by far the creepiest. Luckily for us, there have been a ton of spine tingling ghost flicks over the years. This Horrortober, if you’re looking to scare yourself before heading off to bed, why not give one (or all ten) of these movies a try?
What are some of your favorites?
10. LADY IN WHITE
9. THE ENTITY
8. THE INNOCENTS
6. THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE
5. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
4. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
3. THE CHANGELING
2. THE SHINING
- THE HAUNTING
For more movie and book recommendations, free books, and all the latest horror news, sign up for my Dark Hunter Newsletter today!
Imagine buying your son a nuclear submarine from the pages of his favorite comic book. His joy in receiving a cheap cardboard sub in the mail is quickly followed by near tragedy. You want your money back (and to kick some ass for making such a thing), but the company that made it is going to take so much more from you unless you go to the source and put a stop to it.
And there you have the final installment of my MAIL ORDER MASSACRES trilogy, MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. It’s now available everywhere ebooks are sold for only $1.99!
The early reviews have been fantastic. If we get more of these, coupled with robust sales, I believe Lyrical Press may ask for more stories!
“Fast moving and gripping. I love the hell out of the concept behind this series.” — Michael Patrick Hicks, author of Mass Hysteria and Black Site
“A fast-paced romp that will leave you smiling and cringing in equal measures. The last selection in Hunter Shea’s “Mail Order Massacres” series is my personal favorite of the three.” Horror After Dark
“A fast paced story that can easily be knocked off in one sitting. Was it fun? Hell, yeah! Was it engaging? Oh yes!…highly recommended!” — Char’s Horror Corner
So put down that comic book and take a wild ride into madness and revenge!