Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Outsider

Today I want to talk about one of Lovecraft’s shortest but possibly most effective short stories, The Outsider.

The Outsider is a beautifully written short regarding a chap escaping a castle.

The story is told in first person, which was a means of story telling Lovecraft favoured to an extent. Our narrator talks about his life, focusing on how lonely and isolated he has been and ultimately how unhappy. He has no real memory of other people, or even where he is from originally. He also describes his environment, the dark and rather run-down castle that squats in an endless forest. The narrator has never even seen natural light. All his knowledge from outside world comes from books.

But despite the dark and lonely life the narrator is not completely downtrodden he has a determination to free himself. He climbs the tallest tower of the castle, but the stairs don’t reach the entire way, and so he climbs the walls until he reaches a trapdoor. When he pushes through he realises he is not up high as expected but rather at ground level in another world.

He’s rather chuffed with this.

The narrator is in a churchyard and walks through, passing through countryside until he reaches another castle. A very familiar castle. However, there are people in this castle and desperate for human contact the narrator clambers in a window. The people inside become terrified and flee from him. Though the narrator doesn’t realise its him they are running from and instead becomes afraid himself, what else must be close to him that scared all the people.

He eventually sees himself and he’s not exactly a person, he sounds more like a ghoul. The narrator tries to return to his old castle but finds the way barred. Now he is trapped in this world, still completely alone.

My Thoughts

This story is effective for several reasons, it plays on common fears of loneliness and isolation, the feeling of being trapped. Then the hope of escape only to have that hope ripped away and finding yourself in a worse position. It plays on the fear of trying something new only to find it putting you in a worse situation with no way back.

The plot is simply structured, told from the point of view of the narrator, allowing the reader to live in the narrators head, feel what he feels and also, importantly know what he knows and nothing more.

This is of course, a classic horror story harks back to the Gothic genre, with spooky settings in the form of the old castle, themes and bone-chilling characters.

SCP's

SCP: SCP-3300 – The Rain

Today I want to talk to you about SCP-3300.


SCP-3300 is not a physical object or even a place, rather it is an event.


SCP-3300 takes place every year at around mid-June and lasts anywhere from six to eighteen days. During this time the entire populace of Clear Water in Montana will disappear and be replaced by a new set of citizens.


Typically, in the first 48 hours of the event, there will be light, continuous rain over the entire town, this occurs regardless of the weather in the surrounding area. Once the first 48 hours are done the rain will turn into a severe thunderstorm lasting for the remaining duration of the event.


When the event ends, all previous people living in the town will have been replaced by new iterations with completely new appearances, personalities, and memories. Though that being said some of the new people will sometimes have things in common with those they are replacing, such as sharing names, professions, certain memories, and broad personality traits. However, they will never repeat identically from those in the town prior to the storm.


The new population will have absolutely no recollection of the event and will be unaware of their anomalous nature. These are entirely new people, created by SCP-3300, there are no records of them existing prior to the event that created them.


The population behave identically to ‘normal’ human beings and are physically indistinguishable from you or I, with post-mortem examinations revealing no differences from other humans.

The people outside of the town, are also affected by SCP-3300 in so far that they seem unable to pay attention to the town, completely ignoring it unless it is brought directly to their attention and even then struggling to stay focused on it as a topic of discussion or attention.


The SCP Foundation’s response to SCP-3300 is focused on observation only at the moment as well as ensuring that the event does not spread from the affected area. Any attempts at a manned exploration of events have been suspended.


Any of the population of Clear Water that attempts to leave will be detained by the SCP Foundation. This is due to the fact that any town member will disappear several days after the event begins regardless of them being in the town or now.


My Thoughts


This is one of my favorites from the SCP Wiki, I love the setting, the complete lack of how or why this happens, or what can be done to stop it. It works well as a horror subject due to how it robs those involved of power, in so far that anyone caught up in the event is powerless, even the foundation is powerless to do anything more than observe.


The storm is unknowable, it has no clear consciousness or motivation, it’s just a thing that happens. This also puts me in mind of how people may have felt many years ago when large scale accidents or geographical events such as earthquakes and volcanos. A big unknowable, unconscious thing, something that happens and boom, your entire town is gone. Makes me think of Pompeii or Herculaneum.


This SCP taps into a common fear we all have of our own mortality and that we effectively disappear after death, no one knows why, or what happens after death and this SCP is a microcosm of that.


I didn’t want to reproduce this here as many others have done so, and they are far more skilled than I, but there is an addendum to his SCP, a journal entry told from the perspective of one of the townsfolk, caught up in an instance of SCP-3300. It’s wonderfully written, you can feel the confusion and blind fear of the writer. I strongly suggest giving the below video a listen and you’ll see why I find this SCP to be so effective.

Reviews - Films

Review: Midsommer

Today I want to talk to you about the film, Midsommer.

Midsommer is a folk horror story that was released in 2019. It was written and directed by Ari Aster, who you may remember from Hereditary. Midsommer and Hereditary are both very similar in their ability to build and hold tension as well as the sheer depth of the atmosphere.

In these blogs I usually go heavily into spoiler territory but I’m going to avoid that with this film, just because the best experience you can have with this film is when you go in blind. While the strength of this film comes from its atmosphere and its ability to build tension and keep you up there for as long as it damn well pleases, that does diminish when you know exactly what’s coming. Though that being said this isn’t a film that relies on a twist its got wonderfully crafted characters, and well thought out settings, the story is a very strong one and when you rewatch it you’ll notice all the little foreshadowing hints that you might have missed on first viewing.

Synopsis

Psychology student Dani is left distraught after her parents are killed by her sister in a murder suicide. When she tries to seek support and comfort from her boyfriend, Christan, he is emotionally distant and it is revealed to the audience that he was looking to end the relationship but felt that he couldn’t due to her recent tragedy.

Christian and his friends have been invited to Sweden, by their Swedish friend Pelle, and Dani kind of guilts them into taking her along as well. They go to witness a celebration that occurs only once every 90 years. However, on arrival they discover that there’s a lot more going on at the Hårga than some cute folk festival and the people/cult throwing the festival have ulterior motives and not all is as it seems.

My thoughts

So, this is a little difficult without going into spoiler territory but I am determined that if you’ve not seen the film then I won’t be the one who ruins your first viewing.

The pacing in this film is superb, the story advances quickly but at no point feels rushed or like things are being skipped over, nothing in my opinion felt like it lacked depth or needed to be looked into further. The pacing allowed tension to build expertly well and remain at a tolerable level for far longer than I would have expected. The film is very suspenseful, the score really helps with this.

The world building is masterful, the small settlement with the cultists feels fully developed, again with depth. This is done in many ways, one of which being the setting, the buildings and the costumes, all of which were clearly well researched. You can feel the love that Ari has for the story he was telling.

The film terrifies its audience in a number of ways, it taps into common fears with a few gross out moments as well as tapping to the fear of things such as heights, darkness etc. It taps into the fear we feel when in an alien society and the threat of that society towards outsiders. Lastly it also looks into more abstract fears, such as the fear of isolation, losing our community and support network.

Again without spoilers the ending is a mixed bag, both tragic and hopeful in the same breath.

Overall I strongly recommend this film.

books v film

Book v Film: The Mist

Today I want to look at one of my favourite writers and an adaptation of one of their novellas. I’d like to look at the adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘The Mist’. The novella was released in 1985 in the collection ‘The skeleton Crew’, while the film came out in 2007.

In my opinion, the main things that changed when the novella got adapted were the atmosphere and tone of the story. I want to focus this blog on the elements that the director changed which I feel has effected these.

The most obvious in my opinion is the pacing, the novella, for all it is short at only 130 pages, is a slow burn. Everything in the novella takes time, the characters are introduced gently and given time to establish themselves before we get to the monsters (the first one doesn’t show up until the second third of the novella). King uses the first third of the story to foreshadow, build tension and most importantly make you care and connect with the characters.

The film jumps almost straight to the action, we get a brief introduction of our main character, his son and his neighbour all before we’re whisked away into the supermarket where the bulk of the film takes place. I understand that films will struggle with pacing compared to novels and novellas, they are a completely different medium so we struggle to spend time in our MC’s head, films also have a limited run time so it’s natural that they might cut some of the ‘fluff’ but the world and character building does suffer for it in my opinion.

Continue reading “Book v Film: The Mist”
Creepypastas

CreepyPasta: The Russian Sleep Experiment

Today I want to talk to you about one of the most popular, or at least well-known, Creepypastas.

The Russian Sleep Experiment.

This story is not, in itself, unique, I’m not even sure if it was the first Creepypasta to play with the idea of preventing people from sleeping and the consequences there of, but it is certainly the first one to become so popular.

I have come across a fair few Creepypasta’s trying to recreate the same kind of atmosphere and chills that this story is known for, alas while they can tell a similar story very few manage to recreate the feeling of foreboding and dread that this story does.

Summary

Russian researchers in the late 1940s kept five people awake for fifteen days using an experimental gas based stimulant. The chamber was stocked with books, cots with no bedding, running water and toilets, and enough dried food to last all five for over a month.

Everything was fine for the first five days. Though it was noted that the subjects talked about increasingly traumatic incidents in their past, and the general tone of their conversations took on a darker aspect.

After five days they started to complain about the circumstances and started to demonstrate severe paranoia. They stopped talking to each other and began alternately whispering to the microphones and one way mirrored portholes. The researchers suspected this was an effect of the gas itself.

After nine days the first of them started screaming. The other captives didn’t react to it. They continued whispering to the microphones until the second of the captives started to scream. The two non-screaming captives took the books apart, smeared page after page with their own feces and pasted them calmly over the glass portholes. The screaming promptly stopped. So did the whispering to the microphones. There was no more communication from within the chamber though there was evidence that the subjects were still alive.

On the morning of the 14th day the researchers announced: “We are opening the chamber to test the microphones; step away from the door and lie flat on the floor or you will be shot. Compliance will earn one of you your immediate freedom.” In response they heard a voice response: “We no longer want to be freed.”

It was finally decided to open the chamber at midnight on the fifteenth day.

Continue reading “CreepyPasta: The Russian Sleep Experiment”
Real World Horror

Real World Horror: Tallman Bunk Beds

Today in Real World Horror I want to talk to you about the Tallman Bunk Beds.

Yup haunted bunk beds.

Ghosts, these days will haunt just about anything. You’d think they’d leave little kiddies alone. Asshole ghosts be assholes.

The Tallman haunting was covered by Unsolved Mysteries back in the 1980’s and is said to be so freaky that it rarely airs today. I don’t know if that is the case but I certainly can’t recall ever seeing that episode.

The story revolves around  Debbie and Allen Tallman who purchased the supposedly haunted set of bunk beds. Almost as soon as they had them in the house they started experiencing paranormal visions (the kids saw a ghostly woman), doors opening and closing without intervention, a chair wandered about the house seemingly of its own volition, and disembodied voices started speaking. Naturally the Tallman’s regrated their purchase as their home was terrorised.

Things got worse when the haunting targeted the youngest son, Danny, but Allen gave it a firm word or two and it started targeting him instead.

There have been numerous witnesses to the haunting, which in itself is a rarity. In particular a babysitter who saw a vision of fog and flames.

The Tallman’s ultimately destroyed the bunk beds. I must admit that had I been in their position I would have been hesitant to do so, destroying a supposedly haunted object doesn’t necessarily stop the haunting, sometimes it makes things a whole lot worse.  

Fortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

Though the family moved away for good measure.

Katie's Stories

I got a shout out in a review for Water: Selkies, Sirens and Sea Monsters

I got a shout out in a review! *Insert excited bouncing*

As usual, editor Rhonda Parrish chose a different, somewhat quirky tale to lead us into the pages of “Water.” Catherine MacLeod’s dark tale, “The Diviner,” was an excellent choice to begin this collection of stories and poems. The author wove the story in such a way as to make it easy to believe in the character of Melly, a seemingly ordinary person possessing out-of-the-ordinary cooking skills.

Everybody has different tastes, and there were some stories that reached out and immediately grabbed my attention like “There’s Something in the Water” by Katie Marie, a scary warning tale about a town with a horrific secret. Rebecca Brae’s “The Witch’s Diary: Adventures in Hut-Sitting” is a whimsical revelation of Hester’s world while she spends time away from college on a summer job (her quick comment on fairies was blunt, unexpected, and hilariously delivered). Colleen Anderson’s vivid “Siren’s Song” described a world that was, before it slipped into the catalog of legends.

There’s a touch of horror that worms into some of the stories, as the accepting way we perceive these legendary beings becomes tainted and the beings morph into monsters. This suited me just fine, and I warily strolled through the paths of what could be. Many of the stories eagerly took my hand and led me into the unknown, including Davide Mana’s “The Man Who Speared Octopodes” and “Bruno J. Lampini and the Song of the Sea” by Josh Reynolds. Horror may contain a huge dose of humor as deftly displayed by Joel McKay’s “Number Hunnerd.”

Bottom line, there is something here for almost everyone and it is not hard to appreciate the imaginative poems and stories contained in this book. While I liked some of the offerings more than others, there wasn’t a throwaway to be found, and the wide variance of styles kept the reading interesting. Highly recommended. Five stars.

My thanks to Tyche Books Ltd. and the editor for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.

Reviews - Films

Review: The Platform

Today I want to talk to you about a film I only watched recently, The Platform. This was a very intense film and an interesting exploration of human nature, and the class system, it affected me more than I expected it to. The film came out on Netflix in 2019 and is Spanish, directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia.

It is described as a social science thriller.

Summary

Our main character, Goreng, who we experience the prison through, wakes in a concrete cell marked with the number 48. He has no memory of how he came there or any understanding of where he is. The situation is explained to him by his cell mate they are in a “Vertical Self-Management Centre”. It is later explained that Goreng volunteered to enter the prison, though others are incarcerated.

The ‘gimmick’ of this prison is that food, a veritable feast arrives on a platform that starts on the top floor and slowly moves down through the building. This means that the people at the top have access to all the food and the people below have less and less and less, those on lower floors will starve.

Continue reading “Review: The Platform”
Famous Horror Writers

Famous Writers: Edgar Allen Poe

Today I want to talk to you about Edgar Allan Poe. 

To say Poe’s works have influenced literature is like saying water is wet. He and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. He has influenced many other great writers, such as H.P Lovecraft and Stephen King to name drop just two. His impact on the horror genre (as well as Sci-Fi and Detective) cannot be overstated. 

I could probably write an entire blog series on this man, and if you would like me to do so then by all means speak up. However, today all I am going to do is a very brief summary of his life, and works. 

Edgar Allan Poe was born Edgar Poe on 19 January 1809 and was the first well-known American writers to earn a living through writing alone. He was a writer, poet, editor, and a literary critic. 

Poe was born in Boston, the second child of actors David and Elizabeth Poe. Sadly, his father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died the following year. Poe was raised by John and Frances Allan, though his relationship with them was not without its problems. 

Poe attended university, though due to financial reasons he left after one year and joined the army. However, he was not content in the military life and shortly after the death of his brother he left to be a full-time writer. 

However, due to shitty copyright laws Poe struggled as a writer, this was because American publishers often reproduced unauthorized copies of British works rather than paying for new work by Americans.

Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

That is not to say he had no success at all, he spent several years working for literary journals and periodicals 

Her received a prize in October 1833 from the Baltimore Saturday Visiter for his short story “MS. Found in a Bottle”. This brought Poe to the attention of other writers and editors and landed him a job as assistant editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in 1835. 

He married his 13-year-old cousin in 1836 (he was 26 at the time and they lied about her age in order to marry), sadly, she died of tuberculosis in 1847. It is said that her passing influenced some of his writing. 

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket was published in 1838 and Poe became the assistant editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine the following year. He later took a position as a as writer and co-editor at Graham’s Magazine

In January 1845, he published his poem “The Raven” which made him a household name. He planned for years to produce his own journal The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), but before it could be produced, he died. The cause of his death has never been unearthed. 

On the day before his death he was found in great distress and delouse on the streets, he was taken to hospital and passed away. All medical records have been lost, including his death certificate. 

Poe is buried in Baltimore, Maryland.

Katie's Stories

Water: Selkies, Sirens and Sea Monsters OUT TODAY!

Water is the most yielding of all elements, changing to fit its container, whether that be a thimble or a lake bed. At the same time, anyone who has ever watched the unrelenting progression of a tsunami understands its raw power. Associated with mutability, transformation, and the subconscious, water is both the tranquil azure of a tropical sea and the tumultuous waves and whitecaps of an embroiled ocean. As many faces as water may wear, the creatures within and associated with it have even more.

Featuring: Catherine MacLeod; Kevin Cockle; Greta Starling; Elise Forier Edie; Kate Shannon; Sara Rauch; Katie Marie; Rebecca Brae; Colleen Anderson; L. T. Waterson; Chadwick Ginther; Julia Heller; Marshall J. Moore; Joel McKay; Elizabeth R. McClellan; Eric M. Borsage; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Josh Reynolds; Liam Hogan; Mari Ness; Davide Mana; Sarah Van Goethem; Valerie Hunter; and Kelly Sandoval.

Order now on Amazon!