Musings in the Dark: October 2019


Horror 101: "A Rose For Emily"

I read this back in high school as part of the curriculum for American Lit.  While I love almost anything Southern Gothic, I’m not a big fan of William Faulkner.  However, I love this story.  Basically, it’s the story of a lonely woman, Miss Emily Grierson, and an unnamed narrator tells it in a non-linear fashion.  Miss Emily’s father ensured that she would never marry and when he died, she struggled with releasing the body for burial.  Overall, it seems that Miss Emily struggles with change in general and clings to the past almost desperately.  


Horror 101: Falling Angel

Falling Angel is 1978 novel written by William Hjortsberg.  It
is the source material for the Mickey Rourke-led Angel Heart, which came out in 1987.  The story is about a detective named Harry Angel who is working a case for a mysterious client, Louis Cyphere (played by the badass Robert DeNiro).  Mr. Cyphere is looking for a man named Jonathan Liebling, aka Johnny Favorite.  Johnny Favorite was a popular crooner who got shipped off to WWII and got severely injured as well as amnesia, but he owes a debt to Mr. Cyphere.  


Horror 101: Harvest Home

Harvest Home is a 1978 novel written by Thomas Tryon.  It’s about a family that moves to the village of Cornwall Coombe, where the villagers adhere to the “old ways.”  Ned Constantine, his wife Beth and their daughter Kate relocate to Cornwall Coombe, which is a village that celebrates festivals revolving around the cultivation of corn.  The leader of the village, the Widow Fortune, is also a midwife and practices herbal medicine.  Nothing goes down in the Coombe without the Widow knowing.  Ned is suspicious of the Widow’s influence on the town and her medical remedies, but Beth and Kate grow to love her. 


Horror 101: "The Incredible Doktor Markesan"

This is one of the handful of episodes that featured the host of Thriller, the great Boris Karloff, in the lead role as Doktor Konrad Markesan.  It is a genuine creepfest.  A young couple, Molly & Fred Bancroft, arrive at a run-down manor owned by Fred’s uncle, Konrad Markesan.  Molly and Fred have a whole $12 to their names and seek to get jobs at the university where Markesan once worked.  Markesan allows Fred and Molly to move in, but warns them that he is not to be disturbed and that they are not allowed out of their room at night.  Of course, Molly and Fred disobey and shit pops all the way off. 


Horror 101: "The Cask of Amontillado"

I first read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” when I was in elementary school and I remember being shocked at the ending.  I do believe that was my introduction to all things Poe and I read every available story and/or book the school library had.  

For those of you unfamiliar with this sordid little tale (spoiler), it’s about a man named Montresor who is fed up with the bullshit of a man named Fortunato.  Apparently Fortunato has insulted Montresor in such a way that Montresor can’t get over it.  He meets Fortunato at a carnival and lures him home with the promise of some good wine, Amontillado in this case.  Montresor buries the inebriated Fortunato alive in the walls of the catacombs underneath his house, and gets away with it.

After reading, I was like, “Please sir, may I have some more?”  

I love this story, so much so that I attempted a pastiche...but I know my effort is bland compared to the master.


Horror 101: The Relic

This is one of my all time favorite movies.  My bestie and I caught it at the dollar theater waaaaay back in the day.  A detective, Lt. D’Agosta is investigating the decapitation deaths of the crew of a cargo ship and they lead him to Chicago’s Museum of Natural History, where he meets an evolutionary biologist, Dr. Green.  More murders happen in the museum and Green and D'Agosta have to work together to discover the culprit; which just so happens to be the Kothoga, a South American chimeric lizard god. The beast is quickly and constantly evolving due to rapid mutations in its DNA.


Horror 101: Trick 'r Treat

This wonderful little Halloween anthology came out in 2007.  It’s a collection of five interrelated stories involving the “Rules of Halloween” and featuring a precious orange-pajama-burlap-sack-wearing little scamp named Sam. I adore Sam (which is a nickname for Samhain) and even when he gets unmasked, he’s still adorable. Sam is the keeper of Halloween and it is his job to make sure that the rules are followed. 


Horror 101: "The Caterpillar"

I’m a fan of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery.  Night Gallery is an anthology series devoted to horror and the supernatural.  Some of the episodes are hit or miss, but for the ones that hit…they hit.  One of my favorite episodes is called “The Caterpillar.”  It takes place in the jungles of Borneo.  A man, Steven Macy, has been stationed with a couple as part of his job.  The couple is a 66-year old colonel, John Warwick, and his beautiful 26-year old wife, Rhoda.  Macy becomes infatuated with Rhoda and cannot understand how she can be so devoted to a man who is old enough to be her grandfather.  

Macy seeks the help of a ne’er-do’ well who promises him that he can get the husband out of the way.  The way he plans to do it is to put an earwig in the husband’s ear.  But there’s a mix-up and the earwig gets planted in Macy’s head, not the husband’s.  Macy undergoes a long period of excruciating agony because the earwig is chewing its way through his brain (but this is just for dramatic effect because the brain feels no pain) and he is restrained to keep from clawing his face off.  In time, the earwig exits the other ear—having chewed its way through in a straight line—and during Macy’s recovery, he learns from the local physician that the earwig was female and it laid thousands of eggs in his head.

Like I said, when Night Gallery hits, it fucking SLAPS!!!


Fic Update Alert!

Chapter 15 of "Switchblade Romance" is ready for consumption.


Nyx came out and refilled Malcolm’s coffee cup.  “More juice, Kap?  Shantreyl?”

“Yes,” they both said and she smiled.  “Everything okay, Shantreyl?”

“This is absolutely delightful,” she said.  “Everything is so good.”

“I like hearing that,” Nyx replied.  “I work hard.”

“Have you given any more thought to my suggestion of opening a bar next door, Nyx?” Malcolm asked.

“I have,” she said.  “And yes, I’ll do it.  I do like the idea of owning this corner of the block.”

Horror 101: My Favorite Slashers

For the past couple of years, I've been cogitating on my favorite slasher movie villains.  I struggled with this for a long time, obviously, because there are so many to choose from.  I consulted with my dear friend and fellow horror head Noob, but still it was a struggle trying to figure out my faves and why.  I mean, I love the genre so much that this was quite difficult.

Recently I watched Chiller's 13 Great American Slashers and it was a revelation.  The hour-long show runs down 13 classic horror movie villains and it was here where I was able to gather enough data to construct my Slasher Villain Mount Rushmore.  God bless YouTube.  


Horror 101: Doctor Sleep

Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep was published in 2013.  It is a sequel to The Shining and it follows the character of Danny Torrance—now called Dan—who works in a hospice and uses his psychic gift to comfort dying patients.  Dan has followed in his father’s footsteps in that he has become an alcoholic, but when he relocates and begins working at the hospice, he stops drinking.  

Abra Stone is a little girl who has an extremely powerful psychic gift—stronger than Dan’s—and she unintentionally forms a bond with him that grows as she gets older.  Abra’s gift puts her on the radar of the True Knot, a wandering group of quasi-immortals led by Rose the Hat who feed on the essence of individuals with psychic powers.  The essence is called “steam” and Rose the Hat is convinced that she can kidnap Abra and she and the Knot can feed off of what she considers to be an unlimited supply of Abra’s steam. Shenanigans ensue.

As I’ve said before, I’m a SK stan and for the most part, I love his work.  Doctor Sleep is no different.  I read it on a train ride to Beijing in 2014.  It’s a fast read and an engaging story.  King said in his notes about the novel that he got the idea of the True Knot—a very nasty group of individuals—from being on the road and seeing a procession of RVs at random points on the trip.  That stuck with me.  When I come home during the summer, I go on road trips and ever since reading Doctor Sleep, I’m wary of any RV I see. Seeing a group of them traveling the interstate I’m on makes me outright nervous.  If I see a cluster of RVs at a rest stop, I keep on driving whether or not I need to stop.  I’m not psychic and I don’t believe I possess any gifts that would be of interest to anyone, least of all psychic vampires, but I’m not about to take that chance.

Love this book.  Check it out.


Horror 101: "The Cheaters."

Boris Karloff’s Thriller was an anthology series that aired from 1960-1961.  I’ve discussed the show in a previous blog post, but now I’m about to talk about some of my favorite episodes in this appreciation series.

The Cheaters.  Written by Robert Bloch, this story is about a supernatural pair of glasses that were created by a sorcerer 200 years prior to the events of the story.  The glasses are stamped with the word “Veritas,” which means “truth.”  This episode is a mini-anthology of four short episodes as different people encounter the glasses, called “cheaters.”  The protagonists put the glasses on and strangely enough, are able to “hear” the thoughts of others; usually negative thoughts directed towards them.  


Horror 101: "The Lottery."

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” was first published in the New Yorker in June of 1948.  It’s a strange little tale about a small town ritual that takes place every year at the end of June.  The residents gather and draw ballots from a black box.  Every family in the village must be accounted for.  The family that draws the ballot with the black mark then has to draw ballots for a second time; one for every member of the family.  When a family member draws the black marked ballot, that person is surrounded by the townspeople and stoned to death.  


Horror 101: An Appreciation (1/?)

For the past five or six years, I’ve been extremely lazy with my October postings.  You might argue that I’ve been lazy with any and all postings unrelated to my Shorties, and I would not disagree.  I’ve reposted my Halloween appreciation post regularly, but now in 2019, I need to do something different.  Also it’s nice to actually blog about something else instead of a Shortie update (which I don’t mind at all; I’m having a blast writing “Switchblade Romance” and I hope that you, Dark Dilettantes, are having a ball reading it).

So this year, I want to get back to my blogging roots.  I’m a horror head, and have been for most of my life.  When I was a child, I watched all the classic scary movies and most of them scared the shit out of me.  You would think I’d put as much distance between horror movies and myself after that, but naaaah!  Something about those movies (and eventually books) spoke to me on a primal level and ever since then, I’ve been nose wide open when it comes to any and all things horror.