Krampusnacht!!

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Honestly, I really wish that we celebrated Krampusnacht in America. What’s not to like about a Satanic Santa?

From my understanding, Krampus is like the hellish opposite of Santa Claus. The nice fat grandpa we know and love rewards good children with toys and treats while putting coal in a naughty child’s stocking. Krampus, on the other hand, is more about scaring kids straight. He prefers to drag asshole kids to Hell. Just note that it’s customary to offer schnapps where Santa likes milk and cookies.

I’ve seen some videos on youtube about past Krampusnacht festivals and it looks like so much fun! One of the things I observed is that this is a family celebrated holiday. We have children hanging out with a goblin-like creature. I can’t see the average yuppie parents approving of this holiday. Their precious snowflake children would piss their pants. Yeah, we have Halloween but I think it’s lost it’s scariness. Is that even a word? Anyway, I’d definitely be that parent who would bring my kid to this as a fun way to introduce them to the amazing world of horror.

Is there anyone here who celebrates Krampusnacht? Are there any cities in America where this is a thing? What do you guys think? Would you take your family to this festival?

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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.

 

The Devil’s Carnival (2012)

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The Devil’s Carnival (2012)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Terrance Zdunich

Starrring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Briana Evigan, Jessica Lowndes

If you’re familiar with “Repo! The Genetic Opera” then “The Devil’s Carnival” is a bit like it’s obscure, younger cousin. Comparing the two musicals side-by-side, I think I like Devil’s Carnival better. The singing is better, it’s just the right length (run time is just under an hour) and it doesn’t try as hard as Repo! did to be a feature film. Repo! lost steam somewhere around the middle for me but Devil’s Carnival kept its zany momentum and was fun to watch all the way through.

Trailer:

Devil’s Carnival is a MUSICAL. The story follows a thief, a suicidal father, and abused girl through purgatory; a radioactive-colored carnival populated by crazy clowns, living dolls (as played by the incomparable Emilie Autumn), and burlesque dancers. As Lucifer reads Aesop’s Fables, the doomed trio act out the mistakes that led them to Hell in the first place. It’s an entertaining romp with gorgeous special effect makeup and creative sets, which is all you’re going to get when you watch this film, too. If you like musicals with a morbid twist, Devil’s Carnival is for you. If you’re expecting a feature film that can stand on its own without performance art, look elsewhere.

My favorite song/scene was the climax when the suicidal father acts out the five stages of grief and finally goes to heaven. It’s an emotional scene and one of the few moments in the film when the devil, Terrance Zdunich sings.

Second favorite scene is the tale of the scorpion and the frog, when the abused girl is “stung” for foolishly trusting a man she shouldn’t.

I’ll give “Devil’s Carnival” a B+. 

La Llorona: A Cultural Point of View

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Since Damsel Cannibal wrote a review about a film concerning La Llorona, I thought it would be cool to tell the story as I know it.

Coming from a Mexican background, we have a lot of old folklore and scary stories to frighten children into behaving themselves. One of these stories is La Llorona, roughly translated to “the weeping woman”.

Once upon a time, there was a widow named Maria who had a few children. More than anything she wanted to remarry and be happy. One day Maria met a man and fell in love with him. However, her new lover didn’t want to take care of children. Desperate for his love she took to the river and drowned them. Thinking that her problem was solved, she returned to her lover thinking that marriage was in their future. However, the man left her, he just used her. The realization that she murdered her children for nothing pushed her to drown herself in the same river where she murdered her children. When she was on her way to Paradise, Heaven asked her where her children were. She  was afraid that she would be sent to Hell for her crime so she lied and said she lost them. Heaven wasn’t impressed so they told her, she could never come into Paradise until she found them again. So now her soul wanders the earth, uselessly looking for her children. You can hear her sobbing, “Mis Hijos! Donde estan mis hijos?!”(My children! Where are my children?!) But be careful, she’s so desperate to get into Heaven that any child will do. She’s been known to kidnap children who disobey their parents and wander off.

That’s the story as I know it. Remember don’t wander off because La Llorona will get you!!