I lived a good chunk of my childhood on a small, rural road. All of the homes had families and were fairly well-kempt, so my siblings and my best buddy who lived next door didn’t really have a typical “haunted house” to be afraid of; but that didn’t keep us from concocting weird stories about the surrounding property. That creepy orchard up the hill? A kid my mom used to babysit for convinced us that he had seen a severed hand from World War II hanging from a tree up there (yep, from that famous WWII battle fought in Upstate New York, of course). Then there was the turnaround where I swear I saw a UFO land one night (okay, maybe that was just a dream). When you’re a kid, your imagination runs wild, and seemingly innocuous places can transform into terrifying locales. Jonathan Janz can relate—he read a story back in seventh grade that touched on just that idea, a story that stuck with him and put him on a path to creating strange stories of his own. Continue Reading
I first read F. Paul Wilson’s The Touch way back in 1986. I was a twenty-five year old boy, rabidly in love with horror. And after The Keep, The Tomb, and some short pieces I had read, F. Paul Wilson was one of my favorite writers.
There’s a section near the beginning of The Touch. It’s describing a seafaring historical area of a small town…
The Illusion almost worked. He could almost imagine Ishmael, harpoon on shoulder, walking down the harbor toward the Pequod…passing the new Video Shack.
Well, nothing was perfect.
I loved that. I was a modern young man and I was head over heels for the home video explosion. It was a perfect time for me. A perfect time to be a horror fan.Continue Reading
Stephen King’s first novel Carrie debuted on April 5th, 1974 with little to no fanfare. One might say that, like the novel’s title character, Carrie was always destined to be a late bloomer. Shy to the spotlight, you might find Carrie hanging out at your local library or bookstore, sitting there all but invisible upon the shelf. All the while, of course, Carrie held a great secret. A special power. Quiet and patient, Carrie was waiting to make her mark on the world, to have her revenge on those who had underestimated her, and to make Stephen King a household name. Continue Reading
One of the themes of Stephen King’s 1986 novel It was the notion that adults lose the ability to believe in the kinds of things they embraced as children. Mike Hanlon contemplates this issue when he’s planning to summon his childhood friends back to Derry to confront the monster they defeated but did not destroy nearly three decades earlier. He wonders if they’re up to the task because their former ability to believe in the power of certain talismans gave them the strength to hurt Pennywise.
Exhumed is my humble attempt to read and review every short story and novel excerpt ever published by Cemetery Dance magazine. In their 29 years of publication, that comes to over 550 pieces spread out over 76 issues. Since each Exhumed post covers just two pieces (one “old” and one “new”), I think I’m going to be doing this for a while. I sure hope you’ll join me along the way.
If so, then welcome, friend! Feel free to read each story along with me or just take it all in while I do the hard work and wax poetic with my observations.
Either way, grab your shovel and dig in. There’s no telling what we’ll unearth together.Continue Reading
I’m going to be brutally honest here and you may try to take my horror club card away, but here goes.
I’m not a fan of Italian horror. I mean, at all. I am a fan of Italian women, so much so that I married one. But I digress. I know that people wax poetic over the artistry of Argento and the trippy avant garde mastery of Fulci, but at best, their movies leave me scratching my head. Or dead asleep. I tend to sleep a lot when I watch Italian horror. And this from a guy who can stay awake through The Haunting of Whaley House (as bland and uneventful as the actual Whaley House tour) and The Darkness (even Kevin Bacon can’t win them all). Continue Reading
First period, 10th Grade Honors English. Roughly 9 a.m.
That’s when I heard the news.
Even today, as I write this, I feel a chill. Looking back, it was not only a surreal and an unbelievable experience…it also offered a moment of affirmation for me as a teacher that hasn’t been rivaled, since.Continue Reading
Last month, we explored how, after Rome’s Edict of Milan, Christianity spread throughout the world and began to influence supernatural fiction. But since our previous chapter focused primarily on twelfth century werewolf fiction, I want to begin this month by talking about another religious book that had a lasting impact on our genre. Continue Reading
When you bring up the pioneers of hardcore, extreme horror fiction, you’re most likely to hear names like Jack Ketchum and Richard Laymon. As well you should, because these guys were important—important to the fans who were raised on George Romero, Tobe Hooper, etc., and wished to read more than traditional supernatural horror. We wanted, or perhaps we needed, to see the genre tackle more explicit subject matter.
But as great as Ketchum and Laymon are, James Herbert was there first. It’s almost hard to believe now, but Herbert’s first book, a gruesome novel called The Rats, came out in the same year as Stephen King’s Carrie.Continue Reading
We’ve explored how the supernatural informed much of humankind’s early written works, from the various texts of the world’s religions to cultural folklore and myths to fiction. Eventually, one religion began to influence them all. Around the same time that anonymous writer was penning Beowulf, the Roman Catholic church’s first official accusation of real-life Satanism took place in the French city of Toulouse.
When I first decided the horror genre was for me, (about twelve years ago now, believe it or not), I wrote some stories which were “okay” but were very bound by genre clichés (many of these are featured in my first short story collection, Things Slip Through). Monsters, werewolves, wendigos, women in white, haunted houses, evil doctors, Mothman knock-offs, a few campy vampire stories which thankfully never saw the light of day (one of them, embarrassingly enough, titled “Blood Diner”), serial killers, people who go mad and do terrible things, and some “okay” Lovecraftian pastiches. Continue Reading
As an early adopter of Netflix, I take full responsibility for my part in the demise of the neighborhood video store. Little did I know that my yearning to get a new DVD each week for a low monthly fee (my first Netflix rental being 1978’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers) would seal their doom. To be honest, I thought they would complement one another. There were just so many titles the little shop near me could handle. Netflix would simply fill in the gaps. And let’s not forget the biggest draw of Netflix back then—no late fees!
As we’ve already established, supernatural elements informed much of mankind’s early written works, from the various texts of the world’s religions to cultural folklore and myths to one of humanity’s first pieces of fiction—The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Let’s examine some other early works of horror fiction from the dawn of civilization, starting in 1500 B.C. with the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur—a tale of bestiality, royal intrigue, and man-eating monsters. Continue Reading
In Night Gallery, the 1969 film that served as a pilot for the anthology TV series of the same name, there’s a segment titled “The Cemetery” that will forever haunt me. In this macabre tale, the lead character, Jeremy Evans, who has murdered his uncle and lives in his dead relative’s mansion, owns a painting which depicts the mansion and the family graveyard, where his uncle is now buried. As the story progresses, the painting changes. To Jeremy’s horror, his uncle rises from the grave in the painting and lurches closer and closer to the mansion, until….well, I won’t spoil it for you. But the image of that painting, of the undead uncle creeping toward the mansion, has been seared into my brain since I was a kid. Author Gemma Files knows that feeling. She happened upon a book when she was but a child, one filled with images that would haunt and thrill her for years to come. Continue Reading