Hey there Hellions. How’s your Horrortober so far? I’m starting this week working on a new novel for Flame Tree Press titled SLASH and editing my next Severed Press book, ANTARCTIC ICE BEASTS. So, since I’m a tad swamped at the moment (because if I have free time, it will be filled with watching horror movies), my buddy Dallas Ray Kitchens is going to talk about his love affair with horror movie soundtracks. What are some of your favorites?
In the fascinating world of horror, whether its books, movies, or soundtracks, I find that we have a fascination with violence. We see an accident and we can’t look away. It’s a burning, itchy feeling in the brain impossible to ignore.
And often it’s the soundtrack that makes or breaks a movie. Which brings me to the first and one of the best, 1982,s John Carpenter’s The Thing. It’s a throbbing pulsing beat that gets your blood boiling. The main theme sets the tone for the entire movie. It grabs you by the throat and does not shake you loose until the end credits.
Music can and often does make the movie. When you’re sitting there waiting for your movie to start, all relaxed and comfortable, staring at the screen, telling yourself, I’m not scared, telling yourself, this movie ain’t nothing, the house lights suddenly go down, and the first musical note hits, and you hope against hope you don’t shit yourself.
Let’s delve into The Shining from 1980. The terrifying soundtrack starts with a low deep vibration in your chest, and you start thinking, what the hell is happening to me? You begin to realize that you’re being released from the horror of your life, and opening up to a whole other world. A world of sound unlike anything you’ve ever heard or felt. Just close your eyes, and it will take you back to a fear that’s never left you. It’s just been buried deep down in your soul.
Some of the movies that changed my course forever are 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera and The Monolith Monsters. The Phantom runs you over like a tank, leaving you breathless, saying thank you sir may I have another. The Monolith Monsters, is a scifi classic, where a desert town is attacked by giant blood thirsty Crystals. A giant meteorite crashes and explodes, leaving hundreds of fragments that grow to be big and tall and menacing, and then they fall and it starts all over again. Yep, killer rocks. What more could ask for?
When a soundtrack gets it right, all you need to do is turn it on, close your eyes and relive the horror in your mind. We all have our favorites. What give you shivers in the dead of night?
I need your help! Please tell me what to read. Let me explain…
It amazes me that with the proliferation of comic book movies, actual comic books, especially ones about superheroes, are not experiencing the same boom. You would think that there would be a comic book shop on every corner, what with Black Panther, a minor Marvel character at best, raking in half a billion dollars. It’s quite the opposite. In the past three years, I’ve seen comic book shops close left and right.
Kids may love to go to the movies, but it sure as heck doesn’t look like they enjoy reading about Batman and Captain America. The average age of the patrons in the comic book shop I go to is about 40. I know reading isn’t perceived as fun for young folks, but reading comics used to be something we all looked forward to. Times are changing.
So are my tastes. I grew up devouring X-Men and Fantastic Four, but now as a man of a certain age, I tend to look beyond the men and women in tights. I want adult stories, horror, compelling scifi.
What I’m looking for are suggestions of what to read. The titles I’ve loved over the past year are HARROW COUNTY, BITCH PLANET, THE CAPE, THE WOODS and SAUCER COUNTY. What books are you reading and highly recommend? Keep in mind, I stick to buying the trade paperbacks. I need to support my local store, so help me fill my shopping cart!
As an added bonus, I’ll select several random people who reply to this post and send them a free ebook. So bring it on, comic lovers!
The miracle of Christmas from a horror writer’s perspective…
This time of year, I see a lot of signs and bumper stickers that declare we need to “put the Christ back in Christmas.” Even if you’re not a Christian, I’m sure you can agree that the birth of Christ is the true reason for the season. It’s just a matter of historical perspective. The secularization of the holiday has created a backlash, though it gets drowned out by frantic shopping, bright lights, and lying to children that elves on shelves and fat old men are watching their every move. We CAN put the Christ back in Christmas, if the Catholic church so desires. I’m going to propose a very unconventional way to go about it.
Faith seems to be in very short supply these days. It gets harder and harder to keep the faith as we are bombarded with more and more distractions. Our 24/7 news cycle is designed to only show us the worst of humanity and the unfairness of life. It’s not only depressing as hell, it also makes you question whether there can be a Creator God who would allow such things to happen to his (or her) children. Add to that an abundance of material and opinions on religious history and it gets to the point that you don’t know who or what to believe. So what do you need to pull your head from the orgy of Christmas excess to the true meaning of this time of year?
And like I said, faith is getting pretty hard to come by.
Even during the time that Jesus walked the earth (kinda like Kung Fu) and was performing miracles, there was a lack of faith. The Apostles and his disciples needed constant reminders of his divine origin. Remember good old Doubting Thomas?
From John 20:24-29 :
24 Now Thomas , one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas, who was alive when Jesus was healing the lame, turning water into wine, and bringing the dead back to life, still needed concrete proof. His faith wasn’t strong enough, even though JC was in his midst doing what JC did best. Thomas needed that extra bit of proof.
So why are we expected to have so much faith two-thousand years and endless atrocities later? It’s nice to be blessed, but it isn’t easy to attain, even now, during what is supposed to be one of the happiest and most holy times of the year.
People need proof. And short of the second coming (which, if you believe the prophecy, will not be all wine and roses), we need concrete evidence of divine forces working here on earth. You might say “we need miracles!” and run to your book of saints, pointing out the oodles of miracles performed in their names over the centuries. Or the stigmata of Padre Pio, who was with us all the way until 1968, stunning believers and non-believers alike. Tales of angelic intervention and miracle cures abound.
But it’s not enough to cut through the noise. Not for us. Not for this world we’ve shaped.
We feed off the negative. I know it’s hard to say, but it’s true. If we didn’t, our newscasts would be vastly different, Jerry Springer would have been on the air for 25 days, not years, and civil discord would be the norm, not the exception.
So, in light of what we are and what we need, I propose this:
Show us an honest to God exorcism.
We have endless ways to document and record the fantastical feats performed by the possessed. From speaking in strange languages in bizarre voices, to vomiting objects such as nails, insects and small animals (people have been known to throw up frogs and mice), levitation, and so much more, these are things that will frighten us into belief. Imagine the visuals and audio of an exorcism, presented to us not just through tacit approval of the Catholic church, but also independent sources (especially if we can get an atheist on board, which shouldn’t be hard to find in the media).
I was told by a monsignor that had performed several exorcisms that true evil does exist. We all know that. We see it, and want to see it, everyday. What we need proof of is that evil exists as an entity separate from man. We may not be able to see the good around us, but if you take the time to show us the bad, people will take notice. Film a miracle and I doubt it will make the news (if it does, it will have X-Files music playing in the background). Show the terrors of an exorcism in living color, and it will be the headline story.
All of this says more about us (and me), than it does about God (or whatever name you want to hang on the entity that made us…if you believe). But as any parent will tell you, we learn through fear. Parents instill a fear of putting your hand on a hot stove, leaping off the edge of the tub, talking to strangers, taking drugs, and hundreds of other things. That fear keeps us safe. If you want the most incredible Christmas in history (okay, the second most), frighten us. Put the fear of God and the Devil in us. Prove to us what awaits a shallow, secular life and we will sing praises, open our hearts to love, and spread joy at Christmas. We will believe because just like Thomas, we will have been given proof. Maybe we won’t be as blessed as those who never needed proof, but we’ll be on the right path.
Sure, this won’t work for everybody. Nothing can. People will claim the proof is fake, or a ploy to get fannies to fill church pews. There’s no such thing as a cure all. But the impact will be seismic. Is it sad we have to cater to our base nature to elevate our souls? Perhaps. Or maybe we just have to accept what we are and find a way to improve our lot in life (and the afterlife), no matter how much it makes us cringe.
Maybe we’re the little Whos down in Whoville that needed proof of evil in the form of that nasty Grinch to strip away the distractions and noise and show us that we better get our acts together. His heart may have grown three sizes that day, but what impact did his evil have on them?
Something to consider.
And speaking of the Grinch, I’ll leave you with Dr. Seuss’s parting words:
“Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.”
My favorite month of the year is just a few days away. I’ve already prepared my list of movies to watch and books to read, along with Halloween/horror events to attend (and beers to drink). How about you?
To help get you in the mood (and build on your TBR pile), I’m having a signed book sale. I have limited quantities of the following books, so it’s first come, first served. If you live in the continental United States and would like a signed copy of the following, email me at email@example.com. All prices include shipping and payments are made through Paypal.
MEGALODON IN PARADISE – $10
WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING (trade paperback) – $15 * 1 copy left!
WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING (1 limited edition hardcover left) – $50
THE JERSEY DEVIL (paperback) – $7 (7 CD audiobook) – $18
SAVAGE JUNGLE – $10
LOCH NESS REVENGE – $10
THE MONTAUK MONSTER – $7
TORTURES OF THE DAMNED – $7
THE DOVER DEMON (last of the out of print Samhain version) – $15
But wait, there’s more!
Available to anyone on this sphere we call Earth, I have a few codes to download copies of my ebook OPTICAL DELUSION . For just $1 (half off the cover price) you can dive into the world of my MAIL ORDER MASSACRES.
Enjoy mind bending X-ray specs, all for less than the cost of a comic book. 🙂
Happy Horrortober everyone!
If you’re a horror freak like myself, I’m sure you’ve heard of the all horror movie streaming service, Shudder. They say ‘It’s always midnight on Shudder’ and to me, that’s a good thing.
I’ve been on the fence for the past year whether or not to subscribe. I mean, I already have Netflix and Amazon Prime. How many more flicks could Shudder offer me?
Well, with all of the hype for the Shudder exclusive, PREVENGE, I finally took the plunge. Man, I’m kicking myself for not doing this sooner. First, I really dug Prevenge. Its dry wit and proper English pacing stands in stark contrast to the horrors that unfold as a pregnant woman goes on a murder spree…all at the behest of her very talkative fetus!
A Shudder subscription is only $5 a month. Why did I think it was so much more? I spent an hour going through their catalog, adding movie after movie to my Watch List. Here’s a sampling of what I found there and can’t wait to watch :
Demons, Demons 2, The Church, The House by the Cemetery, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Night Train to Terror, Sleep Tight, Shock Waves, The Stuff, Wake in Fright, Crystal Lake Memories.
There are a lot of brand new horror movies on there as well. I have to work my way through all of the older movies I haven’t seen in a long time before I do a deep dive on the new stuff.
So, if you watch a lot of horror movies, like I do, I’m going to give it a hearty recommendation. Not to mention, it costs less than a meal at McDonald’s. I’ll talk about at least one Shudder flick each week on my FINAL GUYS podcast to help you add to your own Watch List.
Are you or were you a Shudder subscriber? What do you think of the service? Severed thumb up or down?
Screw yard sales where strangers fondle my stuff and try to rip me off for my collector’s edition Six Million Dollar Man Bigfoot action figure. Or take a whiff of my old bowling shoes, turning away in disgust. I have a wife to give me those looks, thank you very much.
Nope, I prefer to do this the new-fashioned way. It’s over 90 degrees here in the Big Rotten Apple, which gets me to thinking of books to bring to the beach. If you want to build your own beach read pile, I’m here to help. It’s time for a book sale!
I have limited quantities of the titles above, along with a couple of others. If you’d like one, or two or more, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the titles you’d like and your address. Payments will be made via Paypal. All books will be personally made out to you so you can prove to everyone that you’re a true Hellion. You’ll also get bookmarks and I’m going to see if I have any official Hellion stickers in the mess I call an office. Be the coolest Mofo on the beach. Impress the ladies. Capture the man of your dreams. Read horror and grow rich!
The prices below include shipping.
WE ARE ALAWAYS WATCHING – $15
SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE – $12
SAVAGE JUNGLE – $12
THE DOVER DEMON (NOW OUT OF PRINT) – $15
LOCH NESS REVENGE – $12
THE JERSEY DEVIL – $10
THE MONTAUK MONSTER -$10
TORTURES OF THE DAMNED – $10
THEY RISE – $12
Ah, our old friends death and decay are slinking off into the shadows, replaced by that bright and cheery bastard, Spring. These are tough times, my Hellions. Tough times.
But I’m here to lessen our misery.