A new Catherine Cavendish book always shivers me timbers. She really knows how to hit my paranormal sweet spot. To celebrate the release of her latest and greatest, Saving Grace Devine, I invited Catherine to stop by and give my Hellions some world class goosebumps. So dim the light, settle into a comfy chair and read the tale of the White Lady of Stow Lake…
In my novel, Saving Grace Devine, a young girl is drowned, but her spirit returns to haunt the lakeside where she met her untimely end. She seeks help from the living, to help her cross over to the afterlife.
From my research, it would appear that my fictional Grace is not alone. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of drowned girls and young women, who are apparently bound to the shores of the lake where they died. They all appear to be searching for something, or someone -in dire need of help from the living to help them join the world of spirit.
And not all of them are benign.
One such wraith seems to constitute a deadly reason why I, for one, would think twice before venturing on a walk around Stow Lake in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Her appearances have been frequent and well documented.
Golden Gate Park is landscaped on similar lines to New York’s Central Park. It hosts a museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, Sprekels Park and, of course, Stow Lake. It also houses a number of ghosts – and even an allegedly moving statue. But more of that later. We’re concerned now with “a thin, tall figure in white.” So said Arthur Pigeon, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle of January 6th 1908. Police had pulled him over for speeding and he told the newspaper that it had blocked his way as he drove out of the park, “…it seemed to shine. It had long, fair hair and was barefooted. I did not notice the face. I was too frightened and anxious to get away from the place.”
Of course, the temptation is to say the man was merely trying to avoid getting a speeding ticket. And if his had been the only report, then that could well have been the case. But it wasn’t. Over the hundred plus years since that Chronicle article, many other people have reported seeing precisely the same apparition.
So who is this mysterious ‘white lady’ of Stow Lake?
There are, as always, a number of theories. One of the more compelling is that in the late 1800s, a young woman was out, walking her baby in its pram around the lake. She became tired and sat down on a bench. Presently another lady came to join her and the two struck up a conversation. So engrossed was the young mother that she failed to notice the pram rolling away. Suddenly she realized it had gone. There was no sign of either the pram or the baby. Panic stricken, she searched high and low, asking everyone, “Have you seen my baby?” No one had. For the rest of that day, and into the night, she searched.
Finally, she realized the baby and the pram must have fallen into the lake. She jumped in and was never seen alive again.
Witnesses who report seeing her speak of a woman in a dirty white dress, sometimes soaking wet and, contrary to Arthur Pigeon’s assertion that she had fair hair, the other reports consistently state she has long, dark hair. Sometimes she is also seen on Strawberry Hill – adjacent to the lake. Her face wears an anxious expression and she has been known to approach people walking around the lake at night. She asks, “Have you seen my baby?”
As for the statue I mentioned earlier, this is called ‘Pioneer Woman and Children’. It has a reputation for moving around – and even changing shape. These phenomena always occur at night and seem directly linked to the white lady. Sometimes the statue’s face changes. Other times, it has no legs or head. Motorists have reported electrical problems. Different cars driving near the statue or lake at the same time have stalled simultaneously.
Finally, if you are brave – or foolhardy – enough, try going down to Stow Lake at night and say, “White lady, white lady, I have your baby” three times. It is said she will then manifest herself before you and ask you, “Have you seen my baby?” If you say, “yes”, she will haunt you ever after. But, if you say, “no”, she’ll kill you.
Now there’s no documented evidence of the white lady committing murder. But are you prepared to put her to the test?
Can the living help the dead…and at what cost?
When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.
But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.
You can find Saving Grace Devine here:
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Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:
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Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
You can connect with Cat here:
2016 may not have been a year chock full of future classic horror flicks, but there were some real standouts. I had a bigger list than usual to choose from, but once I got past my top 5, the rest were pretty interchangeable as far as jockeying for position. March was a banner month for quality horror releases. October never seems to be. Strange.
So, without further ado, here is my annual top 13 list for the year. Hopefully this will give you something to watch on these cold January nights.
13. THE BOY
This was one of the first horror movies I watched in a theater last year. I was bored and figured it would kill some time. It makes my list because of the strong performance by Lauren Cohan and the overall creepiness of the doll, Brahms. Just look at that face. *shudders* With a very cool twist, The Boy is definitely worth a watch. Plus you’ll want to have a son and name him Brahms, just for the sake of saying his name over and over again.
12. THE CONJURING 2
Look, I know that this movie has as much to do with the real Enfield haunting as I do with ending World War II. That being said, it was fun in a well made, house of horrors kind of way. There were some good jump scares and that nun haunts my dreams. Plus, I’ll watch anything with Vera Farmiga (and if you haven’t been watching her in Bates Motel, shame on you!).
11. THE PURGE – ELECTION YEAR
I’ve come to realize that The Purge is one of the most solid horror franchises to come along in many years. For my money, it gets better with each movie. Election Year is just bat shit crazy with some of the wildest visuals of the series. I fell in love with the ‘car of lights’ and masked hotties out for a night of murder. Might be my next tattoo. It’s a wild ride and I demand a fourth flick!
10. THE WAILING
Don’t let the 2 1/2 hour running time scare you off. The Wailing is a disturbing, engrossing trip into witch doctory and possession. A product from Korea, it has the most stunning imagery of the year, with scenery to die for. Add to that several scenes that will make your blood run cold, and you have a winner.
The premise is deceptively simple – a deaf woman is trapped in her remote house, stalked by a masked (at least for a while) killer. I didn’t realize how tense I was until it ended and I felt stabbing pain in my jaw. Being deaf, she can’t hear her attacker as he prowls around the house, nor can she hear the noise she makes as she tries to get away. Good home invasion horror.
8. THE INVITATION
This is why you don’t accept a dinner invitation to your ex-wife’s house! You know right away that something is up with this gathering of old and new friends in the Hollywood hills, but it’s a blast watching it all unfold. The ending left my mouth hanging wide open. Best watched with sketchy friends.
7. DON’T BREATHE
Now, I know a lot of folks were calling this the best horror movie to come along in years. It’s not, but it is a lot of twisted fun, especially thanks to Stephen Lang’s killer portrayal of a blind man trying to fend off a trio of burglars. This is the second movie of note to be set in the ruins of Detroit (the first being my favorite, It Follows). The abandoned neighborhood alone gave me the willies. There is one scene that will linger with you. I won’t spoil it, but don’t watch it after you’ve eaten turkey.
6. 13 CAMERAS
A young couple moves into a house owned by the strangest looking and sounding dude since the wackadoo from The Human Centipede 2. What could go wrong? Disturbing owner installs cameras all around the house and sees things he should not see. I LOVED the way this one ended. If you’re a fan of The Loved Ones, the vibe this flick gives off is just for you.
5. THE WITCH
Hands down, the creepiest movie of the year. Colonists are thrown out of town and forced to struggle to survive in the wilderness. Right off the bat, a witch steals their baby and it’s all downhill from there. This movie has it all – creepy twins, bitter cold and darkness, the devil and Black Phillip the goat. Do not miss this one.
4. THE MONSTER
No one should be surprised that a guy who calls himself a monster man would be over the moon about a movie called The Monster. The real horror here is the relationship between an alcoholic mother and her young daughter. Trapped on a dark, rainy road in the dead of night, they have to battle a terrifying creature that is the physical embodiment of mom’s karma. With two stellar performances, it’s sometimes hard to watch and pretty bleak. All the ingredients I look for!
This is the first Turkish movie to ever make my list. It’s a true WTF flick. It makes Hellraiser look like a kid’s cartoon. It’s gross, disturbing and maybe doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it’s a freaking blast. If this is what hell is like, I’m going to church every day.
2. TRAIN TO BUSAN
Look, I’m sick to death of all things zombie, which just goes to show how great this movie is. It’s a Korean zombies on a train and easily the best zombie flick since the original Day of the Dead. I love the way the zombies reanimate here and pile up on one another. It’s the only movie I’ve watched in years that had me shouting out loud. Get your ticket for this train. You won’t regret it.
1.10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
The moment I saw this in the spring, I knew it would be my favorite movie of the year. John Goodman is menacing and simply awesome as a doomsday prepper who ‘saves’ a man and woman from a supposed alien invasion above. This is vastly different from Cloverfield, and for my taste, far better. I almost didn’t want to leave the bomb shelter. It’s the only movie that came out in 2016 that I bought so I can watch it over and over.
And now, for some honorable mentions…
Like I said, once I got past my top 5, quiet a few movies on my longer list could have cracked the top 13. Here are some others that tickled my horror bone : LIGHTS OUT, THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, and I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE.
What were your favorite movies of 2016? What movie do you think I’m crazy for including or excluding? Lay it on me!
As a devout reader of Cemetery Dance Magazine since the early 90s, I still can’t believe I now have a monthly column on their online mag. VIDEO VISIONS is a look back at what it was like growing up a horror hound in the 80s, the golden age of horror.
I start things off with a little tale of the first movie my father rented when he bought the family’s original gangsta VCR – VIDEODROME. Little did he know how much it would change the lives of both his children in profoundly different ways.I hope you take the trip back in time with me each month. Hopefully it brings a smile to your face and a shiver down your spine.
So, what was the first horror movie you ever watched on your VCR?
I’m beyond excited to not only share the brilliant cover art for my upcoming novel with Sinister Grin, but also show you the progression of the art and how it came to be in artist Zach McCain’s own words! WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING is a chilling tale of isolation and deep, dark family secrets set on a withering Pennsylvania farm. Here’s the official Sinister Grin press release and a rare behind the scenes peek into how book covers are born.
Last month, Sinister Grin Press was very excited to announce our publishing deal with the best selling and fan favorite author Hunter Shea. This is the first time Sinister will publish work by Shea, and as well, we are honored to publish his first limited edition! In January 2017, we’ll start the year off in horrific style by making WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING available in a hardcover Limited Collector’s Edition. We’ll be offering the paperback and e-book versions a few months later.
Today we are anxious to reveal the cover for WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING by Hunter Shea, with art and design by the amazing Zach McCain!
Here are some of Zach’s thoughts on his artistic progression and thoughts when making the cover…..
The direction I got for this cover was very simple and straightforward: A run down farmhouse with a yard overgrown with weeds and the shadow of a person stretching out towards the house. At first I didn’t think there was much I could with this and it reminded me of many covers I had seen from small press horror publishers years ago.
I started drawing the house straight on and large on the page. Something about this started to look boring to me and I found myself struggling to continue.
At this point I decided to start completely over. This time I would draw the house from an angle and looking slightly up at it. And I decided to make it much smaller.
I felt much better about it after making the changes and quickly finished the pencil drawing portion of the cover.
I was still concerned about it looking like so many other similar covers that I had seen of a spooky house so I decided to give it a harder edge. More “Texas Chainsaw” and less “Haunted Hill.”
The final step was adding the text. It ended up being way better than I had originally expected it would. I’ve found that if you aren’t “feeling it” then it is better to scrap it and start completely over than to continue with something that you aren’t confident with.
At Sinister Grin Press, we love how it turned out. Watch for more news to come on ordering the limited edition from our website. And as always, we welcome your visit to our site and your patronage. We hope to make 2017 our best year yet and continue to produce quality “horror that’ll carve a smile on your face.”
We recently interviewed Lyle Blackburn on the Monster Men to discuss his new movie, Boggy Creek Monster, and book, Monstro Bizzaro. If you’re obsessed with cryptids like I am, Lyle is one of the best investigators in the field today. His previous books, The Beast of Boggy Creek and Lizard Man have prominent positions on my bookshelf.
When all was said and done, I realized I still had a few more questions I’d wanted to ask. So, here is the original video interview along with the bonus questions Lyle was kind enough to answer. Now let’s go squatchin!
We’re very much alike in that we grew up fascinated by tales of Bigfoot and other creatures (as well as a fondness for The Creature from the Black Lagoon!). How did you take the leap from being a rocker in Ghoultown to cryptid reporter?
LB : In addition to being a musician, I’ve always worked as a writer. Among other things, I wrote for a rock magazine and then for Rue Morgue (www.rue-morgue.com) as their cryptozoology-meets-horror columnist. I’ve always wanted to write a book, so I decided to take some time off from the band to pursue that. I ended up choosing one of my favorite subjects, The Legend of Boggy Creek. Once I started investigating these sort of cryptid cases and writing the books, I really enjoyed it so I continued. I always thought the job of a professional writer sounded boring, but this brought me to interesting places and I met interesting people as part of the writing process – not to mention it involved my fascination with cryptids. My band Ghoultown still plays and records, but we don’t tour like we used to.
One of the best things you bring to the field of cryptozoology is your straightforward, journalistic approach to researching and educating people about creatures like the Boggy Creek Monster and the Lizard Man of Bishopville. You report the stories and the facts as they are without dramatization for the sake of titillating your readers. What made you decide to go in this direction and do you think the field needs more level headed reporting so it can be taken more seriously by the mainstream media and public?
LB: I think these stories are fascinating unto themselves without trying to sway people toward a certain point of view. I just tell the story, report the facts, and let whatever evidence speak for itself. I like to take the reader along as I investigate and give them credit to make up their own mind.
Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
LB: As far as writing and cryptozoology, I would say John Green and Loren Coleman. Green always had a level-headed approach to Sasquatch research and presented the stories in an engaging way. He also paid attention to details and getting the facts correct as best he could. Coleman, of course, paved the way for the modern cryptozoology researcher and has investigated so many of the seminal cases. Many times as I’m doing research, when I trace an investigation back to its original source, Coleman was there first. I’m honored that he wrote the Foreword for my first book, The Beast of Boggy Creek. It’s like having one of your heroes endorse your efforts. So cool.
Out of all the photographic and video evidence for Bigfoot, which to you is the most compelling evidence that it is real? And with just about everyone having a camera/videocam in their pockets, why aren’t we getting more solid evidence? Could it be we are but because it’s so easy to fake now, the real deal might be hiding in plain sight?
LB: To me, the footprints represent the most compelling evidence. Examples such as the Elkins Creek cast from Georgia stand out, especially when I’ve been able to interview the police officer who originally discovered the track.
As far as all the photos and videos, it’s really hard to discern between what might be real and what is a possible case of pareidolia or just outright fake. All the blurry shots don’t do us any good. We need something much clearer in this day and age, and even that is suspect since modern technology allows for such amazing CGI. Most people do carry a smart phone camera these days, but the lack of a clear photo shouldn’t be used as a basis to completely rule out the possibility of these creatures. Chance encounters typically last only a few moments, making it hard to pull out a phone, open the camera app, aim, and take a photo.
I’m sure you’ve heard the Sierra Bigfoot recordings taken back in the 70s. What are your thoughts on it and other similar recordings? Most of them are downright chilling.
LB: They’re definitely creepy and very compelling. In my opinion the Sierra Sounds are legit. And if it’s not a hoax, then that leaves very few possibilities beyond an undiscovered creature such as Bigfoot. I’ve heard recordings from other places which sound very similar; sent to me by credible individuals. They just don’t sound like any known animal.
Do you have any plans to investigate the Skunk Ape in Florida? I have the Fate Magazine with the famous Skunk Ape picture on the cover and keep waiting for someone to hunker down and do some serious research in that corner of the country.
LB: Earlier this year I visited the Ocala National Forest in Florida where there’s been a good amount of Skunk Ape sightings over the years. This was part of the research for my upcoming book, “Beyond Boggy Creek: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch” in which I document the history of Bigfoot sightings all over the Southern U.S. I dedicate an entire chapter of the book to the Skunk Ape, although there’s so much to this cryptid’s history and so many sightings, that I could write an entire book on it. Perhaps in the future.
Follow Lyle Blackburn at http://www.lyleblackburn.com
In the mood for a good cryptid book? Check these out…
I’m not afraid to admit I have an addiction. I can’t get enough movies about UFOs, aliens and abductions. No matter how bad, I’m compelled to watch them all. Lately, it seems as though a law has been passed decreeing that all UFO/Alien flicks MUST be found footage with a 10 shilling budget. I’m here to guide you from the darkness and into the light (you know, the one emanating from the underbelly of the Mothership).
Here are my favorite 11 (because anyone can do a top 10 list). I’ve put a quick synopsis followed by my own review for each. When you’re not watching the skies, put your peepers on these…
FIRE IN THE SKY
(Based on a true story) In 1975, logger Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) and his co-workers discovered a hovering UFO. Walton’s pals fled, but Walton was not so fortunate. Whisked aboard the strange craft, he was subjected to a painful, unearthly medical study.
The Travis Walton case is one of the most intriguing abduction cases of all time. The movie is very well done, tense and downright creepy, especially once we get a glimpse of the interior of the gross and trippy alien ship. 4 of 5 flying saucers.
Was a damaged alien spaceship really hidden by the government in the infamous Hangar 18? This film shows you how it might have happened. Aired on television as “Invasion Force,” but with a different ending.
I loved this movie when I was a kid. Plus, it stars Kolchak himself, Darren McGavin. It doesn’t hold up so well, but I can’t ignore the pull of nostalgia. 2 of 5 flying saucers
Still reeling from her parents’ divorce, April (Brittany Allen, Dead Before Dawn) is dragged by her boyfriend (Freddie Stroma, Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince, Pitch Perfect), and a group of his friends back to the cabin where she spent summers as a child. Her trip down memory lane takes a dramatic and terrifying turn when a fireball descends from the sky and explodes in the nearby woods. The group venture out to the crash site and discover the remnants of a ship from another planet, along with footprints that suggest its alien occupants are still alive. They soon find themselves caught in the middle of something bigger and more terrifying than anything they could ever imagine.
This is one bat crap crazy movie. And the more I watch it, the more I like it. I especially love the ending, the very point most directors in this little genre drop the ball. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
(Also based on a true story) Whitley Strieber goes with his family and some friends to his holiday home in the forest. They experience some weird occurances, are they UFO activity? Whitley is abducted and then faces a horrible dilema; was I abducted or am I going mad? He sees a psychiatrist who tries to use hypnotic regression to discover the truth.
Now, this one holds a special place in my tin foil heart. Living close to where author Whitley Strieber had his experiences, the book and then this movie totally captured my attention in the 80s. I watch it at least once a year, every year, despite its odd construction. Hey, it stars Christopher Walken and a score by Eric Clapton! 4 of 5 flying saucers.
THE FOURTH KIND
Based on actual case studies, The Fourth Kind uses archival footage and dramatic reenactments to present the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever in this provocative thriller.
Set in a remote Alaska town, I admit I was one of the suckers who bought the line that the footage interspersed within the movie was real. No matter. Even knowing it’s fake, the movie still gives me chills. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
Doctors are baffled when an expectant mother wakes to find her nearly-to-term pregnancy apparently disappear overnight. Police investigate the situation as a missing child, and only her husband and brother trust her version of events.
I’ll bet most of you have never heard of this one. I plucked it off of Netflix one day and was pleasantly surprised. It’s downright haunting and a found footage flick that gets it right. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
In the summer of 1947, a rancher discovers the charred remains of an unidentified flying object in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. 20 years and 350 eyewitnesses later… the truth about what he found is finally coming out.
No, this is not the TV series. I think we all know about Roswell and Area 51 by now, but when this came out, it was pretty riveting. I believe this was produced by Showtime. I had to wait to watch it on VHS because I couldn’t afford Showtime back then. It was worth the wait. 3 of 5 flying saucers.
A farm family wakes up to find a 500-foot crop circle in their backyard and are told that extraterrestrials are responsible. The circles begin appearing all over the world as the family grapples with the fact that Earth is being invaded.
By far, this is my favorite M. Night Shyamalan and Mel Gibson movie. It’s a movie about a broken family smack in the middle of one of the most terrifying alien invasions ever put on film. Very atmospheric and one of the few movies where old Mel is not the macho hero. Swing away! 4.5 of 5 flying saucers.
As the Barret family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.
Another well executed film about a family in crisis. I actually jumped a couple of times when I saw it in the theater. The ending pulls no punches. Pretty bleak stuff. 4 of 5 flying saucers.
Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.
Wow, wow, wow. Don’t expect over the top theatrics and insane special effects. This is pure storytelling woven with some high concept science. It’s taut, intelligent and at times, heartbreaking. A must watch! 5 of 5 flying saucers.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
Universally considered the best film ever made about alien visitation to Earth, Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind was nominated for eight Academy Awards®, winning for Best Cinematography. Power repairman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) has an extraordinary encounter with a strange spacecraft while out on a call. Recurring visions of a mountain fuel an increasing obsession that drives him to an emotional breaking point.
This is the godfather of all UFO movies. So much of this has become part of our everyday culture. Beautifully shot with a fantastic performance by Richard Dreyfuss, at almost 40 years old, it’s still the one UFO movie to watch if you plan to watch only one. 5 of 5 flying saucers.
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