Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror

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Southern gothic horror is uniquely (under-appreciated!) American literature, and too often written by white men. Imagine my surprise when stumbling across Eden Royce’s self-published anthology collection on GoodReads. A  black horror author with roots in Hoodoo/Conjure. Yasssss. I downloaded her book without hesitation and read it while listening to my old delta blues records. The proper way to enjoy a southern gothic is on a porch swing while the sweet, idle songs from grasshoppers rise up from the brush. Unfortunately, congested, downtown Chicago makes that impossible. So listening to Skip James was the next best thang, y’all. I’m also a little homesick and I miss my Gulf side of Texas. Reading “Spook Lights” was the perfect escapism for this reluctant city gal.

Connect with the author on

@edenroyce on Twitter  or her website, edenroyce.com, or blog

Or better, just buy her book on Amazon  or Lulu

There are 12 short stories in all, but my three favorites were “Doc Buzzard’s Coffin,” “Hag Ride,” and “The Choking Kind.” Royce’s melodic writing is full of texture, atmosphere, and characters that invoke the South. I felt the swelter and stale, human sweat rise through each word. Descriptive language meets Black folklore to create a leisurely atmosphere. Think ghost stories told around the campfire. Think of the fairytales your grandmother read to you when you were a child. Reading Spook Lights is more of an experience best enjoyed when not rushed. The horror element is subtle, often ironic, and I found myself able to predict most of the stories’ conclusions, however, the author’s charm and folksy delivery kept me squirming in my seat until the end of them. Most of the short stories are cautionary tales, where the main character often does something stupid, only to be punished or chastised by a vengeful spirit or magical spell later. There’s Hoodoo, Voodoo, murders driven by passion, and quests for revenge.

There’s also strong thread of female (often motherly) wisdom and jilted love in this collection. I appreciated the strong female protagonists of color. The women were often victims of their own making, but learned along the way how to find themselves. You don’t have to be from the south, Black, or a woman to understand the overall concept of this book, which I love. The author does a lovely job blending mythology for contemporary tastes. This is a book to kick back with and savor, bit by bit. It’s down-to-earth, like crackling bacon grease in a hot pan or like cold, tap water from the kitchen sink. Let the stories do the heavy lifting for you–Royce’s subtlety is masterful.

I enjoyed Spook Lights for its storytelling, not necessarily for innovation, horror, or plots. That said, I’m giving this anthology collection a solid 5/5. I heartily recommend Spook Lights to those looking for an enjoyable read rich with Southern atmosphere and non-traditional folktales told from Native American, Black, and a Caribbean perspective. Eden Royce’s ability to entertain is a dream. I will be reading more of her work.

 

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Good Luck Sleeping!!!

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Writer/Director: David F. Sandberg

Starring: Lotta Losten

I’m just gonna leave this here. I remember being afraid of the dark when I was a kid. Now I sleep the the door closed and total darkness. I made the mistake of watching this on my phone before going to sleep…..lesson learned. It’s only a couple of minutes but it’s terrifying.

Goodbye, everyone I'll remember you all in therapy

Breaking the fourth wall with “Resolution (2012)”

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Resolution (2012)

Writers/Directors: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Starring: Peter Cilellaand, Vinny Curran, Zahn McClarnon, Bill Obserst Jr.

After the first viewing, I wasn’t sure how to rate it. It was meta upon meta upon meta. The characters broke the fourth wall and Resolution (2012) ended in a way that left me going “huh?” Not because I didn’t understand the conclusion, but because I just couldn’t believe the direction the writers/directors took an otherwise coherent plot line. The horror writer in me was irritated. “Clever,” I thought, “But why waste a perfectly good story by inserting this ludicrous twist? Are the filmmakers trying to be cute?” I appreciated the story’s constant misdirection, its irony, and brilliant performances by the two leading actors, Peter Cilellaand and Vinny Curran. The movie was great. But still I fumed.

And then I decided to watch Resolution (2012) a second time. Just like the first, the film challenged and forced me to see beyond the characters, beyond the narrative to the private joke played on my expense. But instead of fuming, I decided to play along, which is, I think, the point of this movie. This is a film that demands audience participation, not passivity. The ending is up to us, which even the characters realize and attempt to react to before audience expectations “kill” them.

It’s…literary. Experimental. And interesting. If you’ve seen Rubber (2010) it’s a bit like that…but without the absurdity.

What is Resolution about? Quite simply; it’s about a man who handcuffs a junkie to his remote cabin. The rest is…well…up for debate. Anymore will take all the fun out of watching a film like this. So just watch it. You’ll either love it or hate it. It’ll fly over some people’s heads, but if you read this blog, I’m assuming you’re into weird, thought-provoking shit. I’m giving it an A+ and will definitely check out Justin Benson’s and Aaron Moorhead’s new film, Spring (2015). They’re the same guys behind “V/H/S: Viral.” Definitely two filmmakers to watch. Adding Resolution into my personal collection.

Raising Funds For A Zombie Movie

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Alrighty y’all! Let’s rally together and help finish a Vancouver based zombie film! It’s been described as a modern twist to the zombie genre with a nostalgic feel. Most people think that once you seen one zombie film you’ve seen them all. You’re probably right but that doesn’t make zombie movies any less entertaining.

Please check the Indiegogo site listed below to donate. Depending the amount you donate, you will be rewarded with a shout out in the credits, a digital copy, a signed DVD, etc! We have 38 days to reach the goal of $10,000 CAD so you better hurry. The last count was $426 CAD.

Sites:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/3-hours-till-dead-indie-zombie-horror-film#/story

https://twitter.com/millspictures

https://www.facebook.com/Hourstilldead

Submission Call: Mothership Zeta!!!!

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Mothership Zeta is OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS from July 12 – July 25. They’re particularly interested in horror and sci-fi from diverse authors. What constitutes diverse?

Mothership Zeta welcomes submissions from writers of all backgrounds. We are especially interested in seeing more submissions from people of backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented or excluded from traditional publishing, including, but not limited to, women, people of color, LGBTQ or non-binary gender people, persons with disabilities, members of religious minorities, and people from outside the United States.  Our goal is to publish fiction that reflects the diversity of the human race, so we strongly encourage submissions from these or any other underrepresented groups.

Submissions up to 6,000 words. Paying $0.06/word for original short stories and $30 flat rate for original flash fiction.

They do NOT want:

  • Graphic horror
  • Erotica
  • Fanfiction
  • Rape, torture, child abuse, etc.

So…get cracking this weekend, minions! May the odds be ever in your favor. Check out the links for more information and good luck. 🙂

A New Twist On Vampirism With “Afflicted”

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Directors/ Writers: Derek Lee, Clif Prowse

Starring: Derek Lee, Clif Prowse, Baya Rehaz

I’ve always imagined that I’d take a trip like this with my best friend. Travel the world, see new things, meet new people, and have fun. But what I don’t want as part of the trip is to be turned into a freaking vampire and possibly massacring my BFF.

Afflicted is about two friends, Derek and Clif, taking a trip around the world and starting a blog to share their adventures with their family and friends. One of the reasons for this trip is because Derek was diagnosed with an incurable illness and figures this could be their last hurrah. While living it up in Spain, Derek hooks up with the mysterious Audrey and find himself falling deeper into an unexplainable illness. An illness where one of the symptoms is craving human blood. What started out as a travel blog turned into a documentation of Derek’s strange affliction and their quest to find a cure.

I have to say that I was impressed with this movie which has won awards for directing, writing, and special effects(see HERE). Instead of portraying vampirism as brooding sex symbols that infest our TV today, Lee and Prowse painted vampires as actual monsters. It wasn’t pretty watching Derek’s transition from dying human to animalistic immortal. Seriously…there was projectile vomit and seizures. At first it started out as fun and games where they discover super speed and super strength but then things turn serious when Derek can’t eat anything without vomiting and the longer he holds out from drinking blood the more he transforms into a feral monster.

I really enjoyed the special effects for this movie. There was one “test” that Derek did where he tested the sunlight on his skin and it was gross! I also applaud the fact that there were times when they actually put the camera down. It isn’t logical to carry a camera and document every little thing. Some scenes they left the camera on a table and you’d just hear a conversation rather than see it. In other scenes they created a vest that held the camera so the person could document what was going on while having their hands free(Chase Out Window Scene).

Anyway I give this movie an A.

Check out the trailer and a clip! hopefully you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sites:

http://www.afflicted-movie.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AfflictedMovie

Nintendo President, Satoru Iwata, has died. :(

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He passed away last weekend after losing his battle with cancer.

It’s a sad day for gamers everywhere. Nintendo has been such an influential part of my childhood, and it’s sad to know the man responsible for creating so many happy memories is now dead.

“For young players, classic games are brand new. For older players, they bring back memories and make you feel good.” –Iwata

“We do not run from risk. We run to it. We are taking the risk to move beyond the boundaries of the game industry to reach new players and current players.” –Iwata

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” –Iwata

He was an incredible man and millions of Nintendo fans will miss him.

So I ask you, what was your favorite Nintendo game? Let me know in the comments. Let’s honor Iwata’s passing with cheerful nostalgia.

My favorite Nintendo game was Super Smash Brothers, mostly because I played it so often with my little brother and his friends. Nintendo games always find a way to bring people together. I will always treasure Iwata’s vision on that.

“Delicatessen (1991)” has cannibal butchers!

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The creators of quirky, romcom, “Amelie,” are behind the strange, off-kilter, and obnoxiously French, “Delicatessen.” Kitsch dystopia meets surrealist cannibalism.

Delicatessen (1991)

Director: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Writers: Gilles Adrien, Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Starring: Marie-Laure Dougnac, Dominique Pinon, Pascal Benezech

What an usual treat Delicatessen (1991) is! It was directed/created by the same minds behind the movie, “Amelie,” starring Audrey Tatou. The same quirky humor I enjoyed in “Amelie” take a dark, dystopian twist in Delicatessen. The story takes place in a French town where food is scarce and the only available currency is corn and meat. To feed themselves, the townpeople put out ads for handymen and then eat him after a week. The butcher is responsible for killing the handymen, and while the townsfolk feel bad about the grisly scheme they say nothing in fear of the maniacal butcher chopping them up into pieces, too! The butcher’s daughter falls in love with one of the poor handymen and joins an revolutionary society of corn-eating lunatics deep in the sewer systems to thwart her father before the handyman is butchered.

The story isn’t as enjoyable as the characters and surreal cinematography. The acting is dry, witty and obnoxiously French. I loved the Troglodyte sewer people and their pantry-raids in the butcher’s kitchen for his corn. I loved the character who thinks she’s hearing voices and her failed, often comical, attempts to commit suicide. I loved the butcher’s daughter’s sleeping herbs, the handyman’s chimpanzee, the frogs and snails, and everything else. This isn’t a movie that takes itself seriously, and if you love surreal, zany plots, with dark humor, I recommend Delicatessen. Watch it in French with English subtitles. There are many free, online videos to choose from, but I watched it HERE.

I’m giving it a B+.

GISHWHES 2015 is Coming!

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Alrighty, y’all! It’s time for GISHWHES again and I really hope that you guys take a chance to check it out. i had a lot of fun last year and I’m super excited for this year. I have some of the same team members from last year which makes me very happy. Thank you, Robin for sponsoring me this year. I promise someday I’ll return the favor.

Anyways, If any of you register for we have a few spots open for our GISHWHES team mishasminions2.0. So check us out and hopefully you’ll join in the fun. That’s what it’s all about!

You have 6 days left to register so you better hurry!!

Sites:

https://www.gishwhes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/officialgishwhes

https://twitter.com/gishwhes?lang=en

Killer viruses in “King of Thorn (2009)”

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While I love manga/anime with a medical-thriller vibe (think Naoki Urasawa’s “Monster”) this killer virus flick, “King of Thorn” totally escaped my radar. In fact, I hadn’t heard of this anime or the manga until last night while dicking around on YouTube for something to review. If you’re familiar with the anime series, “Big O” (an adolescent favorite: mecha meets Batman) then you’ve already seen Kazuyoshi Katayama’s directorial style. That alone convinced me to give this movie a try. Although I sorta wished I hadn’t.

King of Thorn (2009)

Director and screenwriter: Kazuyoshi Katayama 

Original writer: Yuji Iwahara (Manga) 

Voice actors (Japanese — English dubs generally SUCK donkey balls) Kana Hanazawa, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Misaki Kuno, Akiko Yajima

The first one-third of the movie was what I expected (in a good way). To survive a pandemic virus, humankind’s last hope is to freeze a selected few for 100yrs until a cure is found. While asleep, mutant creatures attack the dreaming facility and those lucky not to have died while asleep, fight off crazy scientists, mutants, and other odd creatures through gory, pulptastic, action sequences. The animation isn’t terrible and I liked all the crazy characters. Even Kasumi. I wish the movie had stuck with its simple survival horror plot instead of veering left and getting lost in its metaphorical “Sleeping Beauty” message.

I thought the virus was a virus, but apparently the whole thing is just a dream, but the main character is also a figment of that dream, who is a clone of her twin and…yeah…what? Why couldn’t this just be a shoot’em up monster movie as advertised? “King of Thorn” tried way way way too hard to be philosophical and just sorta fell flat by the second-third of the movie. It’s so convoluted I can’t really tell you what the ending even means.

All in all, I’d give it a “C.” I’ll try to review other anime horror movies in the future. This one was just OK.