Anyone listening to the Darkness Dwells podcast should know by now that I’ve taken on a co-host. His name is Michael Schutz-Ryan, and he is the writer of the novel Blood Vengeance. I chose Michael because of a few different conversations we had about horror movies, especially the day he messaged me over Facebook to see if I had seen the movie Tusk or not. I have seen it, so we discussed what we both felt were strengths and weaknesses of the movie, which somehow led to our discussing a mutual love for Rob Zombie films.
As he’s been on the show before, I knew we could talk without any real barriers. In short, we get along just smashing!
My plans for the blog, however, do not end with Michael, though. I want to grow the Darkness Dwells blog into a small network of writers where we review horror movies and books and, more importantly, become a massive news source for horror literature, including reviews, release dates on novels, interviews, and whatever else our imaginations can conjure. This will create a need for a website makeover sometime in the future, but hey, this blog is now a year old. It took me this long to find Michael, so let’s take it one step at a time. Baby steps, my friends. Baby steps.
As for the podcast, I think Michael and I will do just fine as we discuss the macabre on the big screen of moving pictures.
What it comes down to is that I’ve had big plans for the blog, which includes the podcast, from day one. I want to share my love of horror literature and movies with the world. I also would like to create a place online where people can go to get the latest on horror literature news.
This will probably take some time, so if you’re getting excited I suggest you have a beverage and take a deep breath. Patience will be of virtue here.
So, please welcome Michael aboard as the first team member of Darkness Dwells. He’s an awesome writer and a great dude to talk with. And thanks,
Michael, for your enthusiasm and input. It will be fun, I’m sure.
Earlier this week, a silly article surfaced on Facebook titled What It Says About You If You Enjoy Horror Movies. On Facebook, I remember that it had the picture from The Babadook on it that’s at the top of the article itself. These two things were the reason I clicked the link, thinking, “Here we go.” With a title like that, you know that, as a fan of horror movies, you’re in for a flaming.
I wasn’t disappointed. The article went on to say that fans of horror movies lack empathy, are aggressive, and are generally men. I sighed, and perhaps by mistake I also dismissed the article as so much BS.
I say mistake because at the time I didn’t think of what kind of hatred this kind of thing spreads about people who enjoy a certain genre of popular culture. One could argue that fans of action movies hold the same characteristics because of the thrill seeking and the violence. Yet they are rarely, to my knowledge, attacked.
There was some backlash to this (In Response … by John Squires and An Open Letter to Alice Hobb by BJ Colangelo, both of which are great) which is what got me off my ass and made me realize that we, as horror fans, can’t just shrug this sort of thing off as nonsense, not even worth giving an ounce of our attention. The reason for this is that articles like this one will only affirm what people already believe in people like you and me, the fans of horror.
As an author, I get flack all the time for being a sick bastard because of the things I write about. Most of these people are not horror fans at all and they tend to look at me with a new kind of fear in their eyes after reading one of my stories. My own father, who holds deep Christian values and beliefs, thinks I’m going to burn hell. Someone I know even went to say to me, “I thought I knew you!” There was laughter in that comment, but there was also a real change of perspective.
I wanted to write this response not to join the ranks of people who are better at making arguments for this sort of thing, but more so because this is a subject that fascinates me: why are people like me drawn to horror?
What my friends and family don’t understand about me is that horror is part of my reality. All fans of horror come to it for different reasons, but I think that there is a core similarity for most horror fans. This similarity is fear and the remarkable fact that we are able to look into the abyss and face our fears.
I fear a lot of things. Death, aging, losing the ones I love, seeing terrible things done to the ones I love are all at the top of that list, but let tell you something. The list is long. Things, like dying and death, also disturb me deeply. So watching horror movies is a sort of healthy and vicarious way of dealing and preparing myself for these things.
For they will come. We all age, and we all die. Some of us way before our time.
I’m certain that I’m not alone in thinking about these things. The guys over at a Horror ETC, especially Ted, have discussed this topic on their podcast a few times, and they express similar feelings on the subject. I’ve been member of various horror related forums online and have discussed this topic with friends and came up with similar results. We, in fact, often marvel at how the horror community seems to be more compassionate and understanding of each other more so than non-horror fans. As far as I know it there are no statistics supporting my beliefs here. And, I do indeed understand that there are people out there who are exactly what Alice Hobb’s article describes. To the more intelligent and less judgemental, however, I don’t think that I have to explain how there’s a bad apple in every bunch.
My point is driven from experience, through friends both in real life and online. I’ve experienced both the good apples and the bad ones. I have to say that the good apples thrive, outnumbering the bad.
So then, if that’s the case, why do we enjoy movies like Friday the 13th so much? The good old slasher. That’s a fair question, but there is also the idea of having fun with the things that, if they were at all possibly real, would terrify the living shit out of us. Friday the 13th, and movies like it, are so far removed from reality, though, that it’s nothing but schlock. A fun thrill ride that fans of the Expendables movies, or Commando, Robo Cop or any of the Terminator films, experience. Yes, it is that thrill-seeking element, but I suppose snowboarders and bungee jumpers are also a bunch of sick fucks who can’t be trusted around children either.
Who would imagine that safe, vicarious violence and thrill seeking can be fun?
Does anyone watch cartoons that are targeted at children, as John Squires mentions in his response? John also has a terrifying story about someone who lost his job working with children after his superiors found out he was a horror fan.
The fact is, Alice Hobbs wrote her article on a misunderstood topic that already has prevalent ignorance towards horror fans. We fear what we don’t understand and it’s funny, I think, how fans of horror would look into something that frightens them rather than simply write it off and insult the very person of the typical fan of whatever genre.
Oh, and I wanted to point out that The Passion of the Christ and Avatar are not horror movies as the beginning of Alice’s article might try to pass off. Granted, Passion is certainly horrifying. But it’s not horror.
In closing, I am thankful that this article was written, even though I passed it off at first as so much BS. For one, it gave some people, such as the response articles mentioned above, an intelligent and fact bearing retort. It’s also something that does fascinate me and I love to talk about.
At the same time, it’s sad that someone would use long outdated stats and articles as proof for their convictions.
Hopefully one day we’ll learn.
Welcome to episode 12!
This week, I want to talk about my top ten 90s horror movie list and the surprising reaction it received on MoviePilot.com.
And in that spirit, I have for you this week my top 10 found footage films.
I also discuss Mutator, the DarkFuse novella by Gary Fry
There’s also have some cool tunes for your listening pleasure.
And Darkness Dwells first contest. You can win an Amazon.com gift card. Stay tuned until the end of the episode to see how you can win it.
You can reach the show online:
Voice mail: 206-600-4257
One element that makes great horror so effective, at least for me, is isolation. I think it’s scary enough being somewhere so far out of reach from fellow humans that to have something go horribly wrong, such as a monster intent on destroying and/or assimilating you, can, if done well, make the atmosphere and dread of what’s already a dreadful situation even worse. Some of my favourite stories involve this kind of isolation and dread. Movies like Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing come to mind first. Those movies really cemented my perception of horror.
But then in the late 90s, or there abouts, came a slew of deep sea movies like Leviathan, Deepstar Six, and The Abyss. The latter of these isolation stories reminds me of David Salkin’s novel, Deep Black Sea, for obvious reasons, but the actual story and intensity of the growing dread remind me more of the former. No disrespect to the mentioned deep water movies, but none of them have the staying power of the classic Alien and The Thing.
In Deep Black Sea we start the story with an introduction to all seven crew members as they discuss their mission: to stay in a new type of research submarine four miles below sea level for an entire year. The description of the living conditions down that deep, which also compares the differences of outer space, was fascinating and actually gave me nightmares. I’m not even claustrophobic. Or, perhaps I am and just haven’t been in a situation yet to show me that I am. If that’s the case, then my thanks to David Salkin for pointing this out to my unconscious mind.
The seven crew members then head off on their mission. They make their slow descend into the deep. Along the way they catch fish and get to know each other better. Once they hit the ocean floor, things become immediately interesting. They bring aboard a bacteria that can enable flesh to live in extreme circumstances, such as seven-hundred degree water near a black smoker–which is sort of like an underwater volcano.
The story moves quickly after this as a terrible situation grows worse and worse with each passing scene.
Is Deep Black Sea so good as to become a classic and sit amongst greats? No, not necessarily. The book is really good with an ending that’s probably one of the best I’ve read in a long time, but to join the cannon of true classics is seriously tough. First, it would be great to see this one become a movie. If done well, I think it would offer some new things along with some great homages to said classics. But we’ll have to wait to see how the future remembers Deep Black Sea to see for sure.
Whatever the case, this is a great read and a lot of fun. Give it a go and see what you think! I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Five dweller heads!
I first came to reading Tim Curran by taking the advice of my friends in the Goodreads group Horror Aficionados. The people there really know their stuff and I’ve found a ton of new favorites because of them. So, I read Dead Sea by Curran and was blown away. The imagination that went into the monsters of the story, and I can guarantee you that there are many, is something very rare in horror fiction.
I fell in love with the book and continued to read him. I have yet to read everything the man’s published, considering how slow I read and how fast he pumps them out every year, and of course I’ve read some things from Curran that I thought were bad (no author’s perfect). When I think of horror fiction written in today’s modern world, especially monster fiction, I would have to say that Tim Curran is the only one who can do it the way it’s supposed to be done.
I may have mentioned this top part before, but it really needs repeating. Every fan of horror fiction should be reading Curran.
When I came to Nightcrawlers for the first time, I have to admit that I didn’t like it and put it down. What can I say? I’m a moody reader sometimes. I went back to it recently and started again from the beginning. I figured out quickly the reason why I didn’t like it so much the first time around. It was because part of Tim Curran’s brilliance, in my opinion, is his ability to create deep, dysfunctional characters that mimic real life people we all have probably known or do know. The people who populate Nightcrawlers at first seem empty in comparison.
When I met Jen, my wife, about twelve or thirteen years ago, I tried to find common ground with her. We were both avid readers, but different kinds of readers. She liked romance while I liked horror. So she found herself reading John Irving (not horror, but nonetheless a favourite of mine), while I, with no particular interest in tackling the romance genre, suggested chick-lit. Back then, the term chick-lit was making its first marketing waves and books, like Bridget Jones’s Diary and the Shopaholic series, were transparent in their new marketing schemes.
That’s a good question. Picture chick-lit written for a guy like me. You have a woman protagonist, Emma, written in a somewhat light, comedic way with these horrible things happening around her, her husband, and her dog. A zombie virus hits and knocks out civilization pretty quickly and our protagonists find themselves on the run for their lives. All they want is to find a safe place to hold up.
The more they travel and the more people they meet, however, the more they learn that safe is an old-world term, and that to sit in one spot for too long results in tragedy.
As Time of Death: Induction is the first in a series of novels by Shana, it will be really interesting to see where she takes Emma’s character, the dark places she will visit not only within this violent new world, but also within Emma herself as a person.
What I really enjoyed about Induction was recognizing and remembering that chick lit feel to some of those books I read way back when first trying to impress the woman who would become my wife. I guess my scheming worked. I’m not sure how, though. Jen became a John Irving fan where as I left chick lit behind. It’s not that I didn’t like the genre. It’s more like it didn’t really hold anything of value for me.
Shana, however, puts the type of value that gives me my kicks when reading horror novels and fused it well with that old marketing scheme. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun to read. The action almost never stops and is well-written. There are also some pretty awesome gory scenes in here as well.
Four Dweller Heads!