Friday, 4 May 2018

The Trailer promises a thoroughly chilling experience for the horror lover. Shot in the Giallo style, and featuring a rather beautiful mechanical doll known as The Infernal Princess, this movie includes my genre favourite, Jonathan Hansler, as a (possibly undead) villain.

Just what the Lovecraft connection is, I cannot say. I don't want to spoil the plot. I can say that Lovecraft is not just about tentacled, extra-dimensional monsters: he uses other themes and tropes too.

The company, Hex Studios, is also behind three other movies, one of which is The Unkindness of Ravens, which has had some critical acclaim. They also created the Owlman, who has a cult following; one of the pledge options gets you an Owlman plushie. Not quite as cute as the Cthulhu plushie, but still!

I have dropped some of my own money into this, and so I have a vested interest in getting this funded. Not only does the project include Jonathan Hansler (Axed, The Devil's Business) but I love the Giallo style, the intense colour just does it for me, and the hints of decadence under the surface intrigue me.

I hope you will check this out and pledge, if you can. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

What Happened to Creeps McPasta, and why I love the Creepypasta community.

Over the Easter weekend, while he was at a convention, some bastard or bastards broke into the modest flat of Creeps McPasta, and stole everything of value, from his recording equipment, to his prescription sunglasses. He was understandably distraught, but seemed more distressed at his inability to record his expected Creepypasta in the coming week. Before you knock Creepypasta, or it's readers, be aware that Creeps himself has a following of over one million two-hundred subscribers. More people are listening to his stories in a week than most authors get readers in a year.

Within three hours of the news breaking, someone had started a Go-Fund-Me on his behalf, and they had reached their target of two thousand pounds. It's still going strong, having far exceeded it's target. This shows how much the Creepypasta community values it's storytellers. The money will be used to replace the stolen equipment, and to secure the flat against future burglaries. This is not so much a case of people giving to a charitable cause, but of people giving back. A thank you for the five years of free entertainment that he has given us.

Creeps McPasta is not alone in what he does, there are at least a hundred CreepyPasta readers on YouTube, most with names that rearrange or reiterate the basic theme. Mr CreepyPasta, Creepypasta Jnr, Dr Creepen, Creeparoni, etc, and a few with unrelated names like King Spook, Black-Eyed Blonde and Natenator. All give their time and energy free of charge, to entertain each other and their audiences with Gory tales, Lovecraftian tales, sick tales, all shades of horror, and sometimes with pathos mixed in. Standing on the outside looking in as I am, I see very little ego involved, and no pretentiousness. They have few literary pretensions, and never let ambitions to greatness get in the way of a good story. I love the way the authors recycle ideas shamelessly, often using the same characters like Jeff the Killer, the Rake, or the infamous Slenderman; I always get a lovely thrill when I find that I am listening to another Candle Cove story unawares. But most of all now, I love the way they all rally round and help when one of their own is in need.

I wish it were possible for all the CreepyPasta readers and writers to get paid for what they do. Hell, I'd rather like to get paid myself! But money is tight for all save the very rich, and more and more people are doing for free what other people are getting paid for. Some think this undermines "real" authors and "real" voice artists, who would pay for a thing when you can get it free? My own personal use of horror media says, plenty. Having a whole load of free stories online doesn't stop me buying books and ebooks. It is true that Creepypastas vary in quality, and some readers are clearly better than others; but the same is true of stories by paid authors. I personally find the quality of storytelling in books to be very variable, and have found as many unreadable stories in published anthologies and I have found unlistenable Creepypastas. At least with Creepypastas, I haven't paid good money to be bored.

Here follows three of my favourite Creepypastas, as read by Creeps McPasta.

Under the Beardmore by Michael Shea.

I was recently reading A Mountain Walked, which is a collection of Lovecraftian horror edited by S T Joshi. It is a first-rate collection of stories, but I was rather disappointed, because they were almost all stories that I had read before, some many times. Then I came to the last story, Under the Beardmore, by Michael Shea, and it thrilled me so much, it made the whole volume worth getting. I won't spoil it for you, but suffice to say there are all kinds of Lovecraftian things under the ice of that venerable glacier, and they have such sights to show you!

I admired Michael Shea's work immensely, and have a special love for Fat Face and The Autopsy. Now I have found my third favourite of his stories. I am seriously grateful to his widow Linda, who gave me permission to record this story for my YouTube Channel, I hope I have done it justice.  She had previously given me permission to record The Autopsy, and so I publish the links to both of them here.

                                                              Under the Beardmore. 

                                                              The Autopsy part one. 

Michael Shea was quite prolific when he was alive, writing horror stories, fantasy stories and poetry. He was perhaps best known for his Nifft the Lean stories, just up your street if you like sword wielding barbarians. For the rest of us there are his first rate Lovecraftian pastiches. I urge you to check out his author page, and see what tickles your fancy.

Michael Shea's author page on Amazon.

Shudder Thou No More

It is with great sorrow that I cancelled my subscription to Shudder UK. Persistent streaming problems mean that movies freeze up on my, far more often than is acceptable.  Being told that it's probably my ISP doesn't wash. It doesn't happen on YouTube, it very rarely happens on Amazon Prime, and when it does, reloading the page sorts the problem.

I'm sure you can all imagine how frustrating it is, when you have settled down to a movie before bedtime to effectively have the movie put on hold, or effectively cancelled.

I had a lot of hopes for Shudder UK, I feel we need a good, dedicated horror channel without adverts; and even though the selection was fairly small it was growing. I still have about 20 days left, and I'm not writing it out completely. But I just don't need the frustration!

Monday, 10 April 2017

The Blackcoat's Daughter, and other things.

This week in my horror life.

I got permission from someone to record a story that absolutely filled me with delight. I'm still working on it, and my voice is getting steadily stronger. I am toying with the idea of using some music for once, having found some suitable copyright free music on YouTube.

I recorded my first Creepypasta story, and being able to use the Creepypasta label has not resulted in a hoped-for flood of subscribers and hits. Never mind. I enjoyed it, and I'll be doing a regular sweep for more new stories to do.

On my companion blog, I have reviewed The Void movie. The short version is: it had many flaws, but they are compensated for by some mind-blowing special effects. Do go read the long version.

There are shadows that creep.

My friend Susan Taylor Chehak recommended that I watch The Black-Coat's Daughter, which I did. I was pleasantly surprised, for it was incredibly well shot, almost enough to qualify it as an art movie. The colour scheme of beige and cream and greyish-blue was calming, which perhaps it shouldn't have been, given the subject matter. The acting was decent, the plot intriguing. Initially I was sceptical because it seemed to set up the usual dichotomy: the family-orientated shy blonde, versus the family-deceiving Gothic brunette. Whilst I wish to avoid spoilers, I think it's safe to say that was quickly turned upon it's head.

You may find the plot difficult to follow at first, I certainly did, but it's worth the confusion. I advise you to watch carefully too. Do not get distracted by the internet or you might miss something important. There are shadows that creep. It is directed by Osgood Perkins, with music provided by Elvis Perkins, both sons of Anthony Perkins. Clearly a talented family. You may find it on YouTube behind a paywall under the original title of February. Give it a go!

                                                         My only Creepypasta, so far.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Nigel Kneale. The Best Magic.

I have recently completed an article on Nigel Kneale's Quatermass 2 over on my other blog, Unfilmable dot Com.

During the process I recalled some of the elements of my relationship with Nigel Kneale, which was almost lifelong. For while we never met, spoke to each other or corresponded, Mr Kneale has been in an out of my life continually since I was a child.

The first time I consciouly heard or read of the name, was when I read Minuke, a short story of his in one of the Armada Ghost Books.  I was about eight, and read that tale over and over with horrified fascination. It was all about a dream house that was attacked by a poltergeist, and while it didn't frighten me, it certainly tickled my horror-bone. For those not in the know, the Armada Ghost books were aimed ay children, and they were very popular back in the late sixties and early seventies.

Around this time or earlier my mother told me about a popular tv show before I was born, it was called Quatermass and the Pit, and it scared her badly. I think she mentioned the subject when she heard Mars the God of War from Holst's Planet Suite on the radio, but I can't be sure. It was quite a few years before I realised that Nigel Kneale was the one who wrote the screenplay.

                                                              What's in the Pit?

In my early teens I finally saw Quatermass and the Pit. The Hammer movie, not the tv show. It completely blew me away and to this day it is one of my favourite films. I'll write something more expansive about that film one day, because if I started to write about what was good about that movie I'd be here all night, and I'm lazy. To follow, I saw Quatermass and Quatermass II, not sure at what interval.  Then came the 1970's tv series, confusingly called Quatermass (what were they thinking?) which I was unable to see until many years later, thanks to the Tube of You. If you look around, you can even find what is left of the original tv shows! Every single one of them is quality, every single one of them is riveting.

                                                A Clip from Quatermass, the 1970's show.

There was a tv show called Beasts, which also aired in the 1970's. If you get the chance to see any of this show, do so. I single out for special mention During Barty's Party. Unlike all the other shows, this series has almost no Lovecraftian elements, although you could stretch the point a bit for During Barty's Party - there are rats in the something.

The Stone Tape was another gem, genuinely frightening, starring Jane Asher as the put upon heroine, and Iain Cuthbertson, he who made Children of the Stones unforgettable. It mixed ultra-modern technology with ancient evils in an entirely original way. Why it hasn't been more imitated, I do not know.

                                   It's in the computer! Clip from the Stone Tape. Try not to panic.

Nigel Kneale died on the 29th of October in 2006, and during his life he won or was nominated for several awards for his work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association. His shadow is a long one, and you can read all about his influence over television and literature on Wikipedia.

When people ask me why I love horror so much, I usually answer, because that is where the magic is. For me that is not true of science fiction, or even of fantasy. The best magic is always a little bit frightening, sometimes a lot frightening. Nigel Kneale made the best magic.


Don't ask me about the 2005 BBC remake of Quatermass Experiment. I have a massive crush on Mark Gatiss and I don't want him to know I think it stank.


Friday, 31 March 2017

Plague Town, The Divide and two Sherlock Holmes pastiches.

A brief roundup of this week's horror.

To beging with I saw the movies Plague Town and The Divide. Both of them are on Shudder_Uk, which I am putting my weight behind as much as I can. We need a proper horror channel. More on that later.

Plague Town is another one of those "never leave the city" movies which are so popular. Although we are forced to spend part of our time in the company of a warring family where for once I'm taking the side of the blonde cheerleader-type over that of the brunette gothy-type. Once they split up however, the hi-jinks ensue, and by hi-jinks I mean murders. The countryside is terrorized by a group of mutant children, deformed and demented, just how I like them. As we eventually find out, the lucky ones die first. You'll love it.

Secondly I saw The Divide. And all the flippancy I applied during the last mini-review disappears here. This film is gruelling. Part post-apocalyptic claustrophobia, part torture porn, part relationship movie. There are plot holes, the protagonists make stupid decisions, and frequently fail to take the bleeding obvious steps to ensure their well-being or escape their death trap. There is a brief vacation into sci-fi territory, which raises questions but doesn't answer them. And there are people being truly vile to each other. There were moments when even I could barely watch it. The acting in this is truly Oscar-worthy. It's sick, it's twisted, it's compulsive.

Now onto the books.

I have my Sherlock Holmes moments, and am frustrated by the fact that I have read the originals too many times. I have to resort to reading pastiches, and most of them are exploitative, unoriginal and unconvincing. I have even read The Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, that presents us with a Great detective so over endowed, one has to wonder where he gets his trousers made.

This week I read The House at Baker Street and The Women of Baker Street, both by Michelle Birkby. They are billed as Mrs Hudson and Mary Watson investigations, and they are damn good. In both books we have some brief appearances by Holmes and Watson themselves, but although we see a different side to Sherlock Holmes than we are used to, they definitely are in the background. Instead we have two resourceful and brave women who set out on their own.

Why am I putting these in a horror blog? Well, in the first one you have a ruthless blackmailer who's victims have a habit of comitting suicide, a hideously disfigured lady in a black veil, and a Jack the Ripper copycat. In the second you have the Pale Boys, a hospital bed with a 100% death rate, and five anonymous graves containing the black clad bodies of murdered children. Pretty grim stuff!

I am off to watch What Have You Done to Solange in a minute, being aware that I have seen very little Giallo, and should have seen a lot of it. I am also going to agonize over not having written the piece on Quatermass 2 for yet.

Happy Weekend everyone!