Tag Archives: scary

The Ten (Episode One): Introductions

It is only now, in this final hour, that I will reveal the great undertaking that myself and Trevor C. have shouldered. It took six months of constant and ceaseless effort. We planned, plotted and prepared for this moment. Every step we took, every move we made was toward this one point. Every calculated effort was to get us to today, this day.

The day that we released The Ten.

The Ten is the master list of the greatest horror movies ever made as determined by Trevor C. and myself. Each movie will be scrutinized. Every movie will be made to stand among its peers. Every movie must go through The Panel.

It is only after this test of fire that a movie will be allowed to join The Ten.

Join us every two weeks as we nominate a movie and then pick it apart to determine its worthiness. This week, the episode elaborates on the process and the podcast that will eventually generate The Ten.

Listen to The Ten (Episode One) Introductions and we will see you in two weeks.

-D-

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Rock and Shock 2013

I have to say that up until today, my Halloween spirit was lacking. I haven’t been watching scary movies. I haven’t been eating more than my usual share of fun sized Snickers bars. I haven’t been reveling in my usual Halloween activities. October has just been steadily and speedily been moving along and the whole damn month was about to slip on by without me doing a single thing about it.

Things had gone horribly awry somewhere.

But, today, something happened. something truly magical:

I went to Rock and Shock.

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For those that don’t know, Rock and Shock is a convention and concert series that is held every October in Worcester, Massachusetts. I haven’t really done anything with the rocking part of the equation. I’m there for the shocking. Last year was my first time there and I was impressed by the sheer number of vendors, celebrity guests and horror fans that were there.

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There is merchandise from every horror franchise you can think of: action figures, posters, beer koozies, coasters, shot glasses, post cards, lampshades, throw rugs, pillows, replicas, props, bootlegged DVDs showing the hit movie Jason versus Leatherface. If you’re looking for a piece of memorabilia from your favorite horror movie, this is the place to get it.

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And let’s say you don’t want things directly related to Jason or Freddy? They have things for you too. There are artists selling posters of their striking and macabre work. There are writers from small publishing houses and larger publishing houses. There are tattoo artists, taxidermists, animal shelters, jewelers and flask makers, make-up designers, mask makers; anything and anyone that might have something to do with those things that go bump in the night. They’re all there.

And then there are the celebrities. Kane Hodder, Gunnar Hansen, Robert Englund, Jason Mewes, Jack Ketchum; people directly related to the industry that keeps creating more scares.

I went from not feeling Halloween at all to feeling reinvigorated.

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Aside from the things I bought, the most important thing is that I got to wander around at will with a large group of people who share my niche interest. I got to talk to a local filmmaker about the movies they’re making, one of which was even banned in Germany. I chatted at an artist about Friday the 13th before walking off with a poster I hadn’t paid for. Gunnar Hansen quote Dylan Thomas at me. It reminded me about why I enjoy horror, Halloween and all this scary stuff. It’s about exciting, scary, terrifying art and the people who love to make it.  It’s about being able to connect with people who get it and love it as much as you do.

It’s about enjoying being scared.

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It’s also about Jason Voorhees action figures.

Tomorrow, I have something grand planned. I dunno if I’ll be able to pull it off, but I’m going to try. I’m going to try to do my damnedest to make up for the time I let slip by and give Halloween the attention it deserves in one big, bang.

See you tomorrow.

-D-

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Just Down Downs Road

In spite of the fact that I do not believe in monsters, the supernatural or Lovecraftian horrors, I will still go out of my way to try and find them. I’ve gone to Boston Commons trying to find the numerous ghosts that are supposed to have been sighted there. I’ve journeyed down abandoned stairwells hidden away in the walls of the bookstore I worked at.

And now I’ve walked down the legendary Downs Road. There are a few blog entries already written on the subject and the road has worked itself into a few book on haunted New England locations, but that’s not how I first found out about it. A friend of mine claims to have had his own spooky experiences on the road involving a dream catcher and he has been wanting to go back.

Now, we’ve been wanting to go down the Downs Road for a year and a half now, but haven’t had the time or the resources until recently. If you don’t live in New England, you may not be aware that less than two weeks ago, three feet of snow were dumped on the whole region. Snow and rain were also forecast for the whole day. But that didn’t matter, because we were goin to hunt monsters and ghosts and redneck hillbillies and whatever else might be lurking on the road.

Because the stories aren’t really clear what lives on that road. There are stories of ghosts and stories of malformed hillbillies and stories of a four foot tall bigfoot. There’s no one thing that ties together the stories except for creeped out hikers and scary experiences.

My friend, a third friend and myself all went out at around 5 yesterday in the hopes that on our way back it would be truly dark and we could get proper scared. To access the road, you need to drive to Hampden, Connecticut, to the end of a residential street that ends in a cul de sac. At the end of Downs Road, there’s a second cul de sac that’s located one town over, in Bethany.

We marched through snowy woods in snow over a foot thick while we got more and more soaked in the rain. We came across strange tracks in the snow that seemed to belong to some large, three toed creature. But I’ve spent enough time in the country to know that I know nothing about animal tracks. What look like monster tracks to a city slicker like me are most likely tracks made by squirrels that have altered as the snow melts, making the tracks appear larger than they were at the outset.

We heard the occasional owl and saw foot prints from other people hiking through, some of which stopped abruptly in the middle of nowhere, but I’m going to chalk that up to the tracks merely fading as time went on.

We explored the old ruins and the stone walls that cross the countryside. It’s eerie, there’s no doubt about that. It’s so quiet and the little bits and pieces of someone’s failed attempts to colonize the woods are not exactly uplifting. That’s what unnerved me the most; it was a reminder of a time when someone could walk into those woods and never come out again, when the wilderness spanned much further than two cul de sacs, and a body could get lost forever in the wilds.

We walked the length of Downs Road and back again and we saw and heard nothing of note. We were soaking wet, exhausted and ready to make the two hour drive back to Boston. On the way back, we reflected on the sobering realization of an era long lost and the reminders of our own fragility in the face of the unforgiving wilderness.

Or we belted out Weird Al songs while eating junk food.

D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Happy Halloween

I’m drinking a beer called Vampire Slayer (brewed by Clown Shoes). This isn’t a review, I’m just letting you know that I have a dark, flavor rich beer and you should get some yourself.

No, really I’m just here to say, Happy Halloween. We’ve spent a lot of time together, you and I and it’s been a hell of a ride. There were conventions and philosophizing on fear and beer and apple picking and more philosophizing. And, now, it’s drawing to a close. Soon, people will be slapping pictures of hand-turkeys on the walls and throwing cornucopias everywhere and eating way too much food. The time of reveling in horror and monsters and goblins and scary things is drawing to a close.

I’m a little sad, but mostly relieved. I can talk about other things now. I can review beers that don’t taste like pumpkins. I can watch movies that aren’t just boobs, blood and bad guys. I can pontificate on politics or work or Sprint’s terrible service.

But, just one more time, I’m going to watch a horror movie, drink a Halloween themed-beer  and relax for the last night before….

 

 

NANOWRIMO.

 

See you tomorrow.

And have a Happy Halloween!

-D-

 

PS If you need some spooky fun, check this out. It’s an audio dramatization of my story, The Song and Dance Man. Thumbs up.

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: In the Path of the Storm

Storms do not scare me. They haven’t scared me in some twenty years. The thunder is so much noise and the lightning is avoidable. Hail is a problem, but only rarely and only when you’re outside. And, in the end, there’s not a lot you can do about it except button down and stay low.

When I was little, around 7 or 8, I was caught outside during a tornado. I don’t know if the tornado came anywhere near me, it could have been a mile away, because I was hiding up under an overpass, being the most scared I had been or ever would be. The only thing I clearly remember is the noise, just the deafening, all-over, unrelenting noise. It was big noise. Noise that didn’t sound like anything because there was too much to process. It was like being caught in the center of a tiger’s roar and I couldn’t think; there was just raw, undiluted panic.

And then the wind died down and the noise stopped and everything was fine again.

I’ve never been in a storm like that since. Nothing has topped it. That noise. I think if I ever heard that noise again, I would drop to the floor and curl into a ball and hope it would all go away.

But right now, Sandy is being quiet. She’s shaking the house, bringing down some tree branches, but she has no roar.

Bring it on.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: The Little Things

During the Halloween season, people reach for the big scares: movies, haunted theme park rides, horror conventions, creepy costumes. And, I think, they neglect the little details that permeate our lives that are truly unsettling.

Take the following spam comment I got on one of my older entries:

“How should I tell him the bad news?He is respectful to his elders.What happened to you? Please fetch a chair from another room.Don’t forget to keep in touch.what a lovely little girl she is!what a lovely little girl she is!Follow me.Can I help you? Bob has always had a crush on Lucy.”

Spam is almost always nonsensical, but follows a thread of sanity. “I like entry. You should write more peanut allergy entry.” Mostly coherent, but on an entry in which I don’t mention allergies at all. That’s fine.

This one…this one makes no sense in the context of a comment. It just doesn’t fit. And I can’t help but try and put the comment into a context that makes sense.

She’s an older woman, in a room of white, floor, ceiling walls. She’s sitting on a cot, rocking back and forth, curled tightly in on herself. She doesn’t  stop talking, just a constant low murmur directed at no-one, her eyes drifting around the room in aimless directions. She’s worried, agitated.

“How should I tell him the bad news? He is respectful to his elders.” Rocking in time with the words, back and forth. She starts to cry. Crying with no sounds. “What happened to you?”, her hands reach up and clutch her thinning, grey hair. “Please…fetch a chair from the other room.” Tears run down in her face leaving bright tracks under fluorescent lights. “Don’t forget to keep in touch.”

Her tone changes. Fear, trickling into her tone, her breathing increases, becoming erratic.

“What a lovely little girl she is! What a lovely little girl she is!” Rocking back and forth, faster. The words a ward, a charm, spoken emphatically.

She stops rocking, her breathing back to normal in an instant, and turns to you.

“Can I help you?”

She smiles, revealing teeth too even and white to be anything but false.

“Bob always had a crush on Lucy”.

You hear footsteps behind you.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Factory Built Haunted Houses

I have never really wanted to go into one of those haunted houses that pop up this time of year. You know the ones; they advertise every five seconds on TV between September 1st and October 31st, the commercials always show screaming frat boys, and there are a lot of pumpkin graphics while the guy who also announces for local monster truck shows does the voice-over.

The idea of them, their very foundation, doesn’t appeal to me. I can’t imagine anything less scary than a large group of people being herded through a maze while teenagers with masks on jump out and scare you.

My idea for a similar attraction is the following: you and a friend (no more than one or two others) drive out into the middle of nowhere, where a house sits, boarded up and dilapidated. There is no festival atmosphere. This is no party. Just a house.

There is no pre-planned path. You explore at will on the surrounding property and in the house itself. The staff lie in wait within.

What happens is determined by a survey you filled out beforehand cataloging your worst fears. Scared of dogs? There will be dogs. Scared of Leatherface? He’ll be there. Your fears will be manifest.

The experience ends when you want it to, although, if done properly, you’ll want to end it quickly.

THAT appeals to me. That is what I want. Now someone just needs to make it for me.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Masks

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Masks are scary. And not just masks of scary aliens or wolves or demons. I know for a fact that there are people who find the above mask creepy, even though there is nothing inherently creepy about it. There’s no blood or fangs. There’s nothing sinister about it. It represents no gender, race or deformity. It is a blank form.

And yet, this mask elicits uneasiness. If you don’t think this is scary, think about Michael Myer’s mask. It is a white, featureless face. Or think about Jason’s mask. It’s just a hockey mask. Before Friday the 13th Part III, people used to wear it as protective equipment. Now you can’t see that particular mask without immediately thinking of a machete wielding psychopath.

So many of our current monsters wear masks, from gas masks to hockey masks to ghostface masks. The blank, expressionless face is inherently frightening to us. I’m not going wax philosophical and psychological about why I think this is. It’s a gut feeling and gut feelings don’t need much analysis. It’s the return of that base fear, the one that drives all fears; our fear of the unknown.

We derive so much information from the face: age, gender, race, culture (piercings? tattoos? make-up?), emotions, illness. The face is our go-to point for knowing a person. The faceless mask, the one that’s not just a monster’s visage, is inherently creepy because it is still human, undeniably, incontrovertibly, but still so alien. There is no information to be gleaned. There is nothing to tell you about the person behind the face. Unlike a werewolf face, which just howls evil, the faceless mask could be…anything. It is up to the wearer to interpret how to portray this face.

If I did want to go deeper, and started laying some psychology on the table, I’d say that the faceless mask shows us what we already know: When we get down to it, a person’s face doesn’t tell us anything about who they, no matter how many times we comment on someone who has a kind face or has devilish features or a sinister countenance or a gentle look. A person does not wear their souls on their face, no matter how much we wish they did.

That mask, the blank one with no clues of the humanity beyond it, reminds us, all too much, of the fact that the stranger next door could be anyone behind that smile and that wave.

That they’re all masks.

-D-

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October 23, 2012 · 8:45 pm

31 Days of Spoooktacular: Do You Fear What I Fear?

If I were to catalog the myriad fears and superstitions that bind me, we would be here the rest of the night and you would be feeling increasingly sorry for me. They range from the mild, but compelling (numbers, silver, threes) to the more provoking, but manageable (don’t touch, please don’t touch, and now there’s germs) to the almost paralyzing (Emily’s late and almost certainly dead, that food is too old, this person is angry and I have to make them UN-angry). And, if you didn’t know it, three is good. Three threes are better and three three threes are the best, hence 27 is the best  number.

They’re binding because they prevent. It’s not like being scared of a movie. That just prevents you from watching the rest of the movie. And, with most horror movies, you’re probably better off not watching the whole thing anyway.

But a lot of those fears hamper things like a job or a relationship, or they do when they start to get out of control. It’s taken years of throwing myself repeatedly into situations I do not like, a dislike from the depth of me, before I could actually function and even, on occasion, thrive in those same situations.

Working retail in an urban environment, for example, has set off pretty much everyone of my major anxieties at some point. I get touched by dirty angry people and all I really want to do is run into the nearest bathroom and wash my hands for ten minutes. But I have to stay there. Not because I’m trying to be brave, but because this is my job and I’m getting paid to do it, so I don’t have an alternative.

The only way I know to deal with being scared of something is to hunch into a little ball and march forward and hope that my instinctual desire to run is, for once, not the correct impulse. Dealing with it, moving forward, always forward, is the only way to keep from getting stuck, from being bound by a thousand intertwining threads, a spider’s web of nervous anxiety that only builds up if I stay still.

366 is a good number of words.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Rock and Shock (The Event)

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I keep trying to condense all of this into one picture or thought that encompasses the entire event, but it’s just not possible.

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There are the celebrities. The few we actually talked to were absurdly nice and patient with our mumbling and limp handshakes.

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All around me, I see adulation for a genre that gets very little love outside of a small subset of fans. From modern horror to the old classics: everyone is here to share in their love of being scared.

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It’s the feeling of being with a bunch of people who love what I love, who work to create what I love. It’s bring surrounded by creators and artists and fans. It’s invigorating and energizing and l plan on coming back next year.

-D-

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