Roald Dahl: Master of macabre misdirection... and children's stories!

Dec 17 2007 Published by under Horror, Horror Masters

Our next horror master is Roald Dahl (1916-1990), Welsh author and screenwriter. Most people probably know Dahl as the author of such famous children's books as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda. A lot of these people would probably be surprised to learn that Dahl also wrote numerous nasty and exceedingly clever short stories, some of which are famous in their own right.

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A new Cloverfield video...

Dec 15 2007 Published by under Entertainment, Horror

A new clip for the movie Cloverfield has come out, revealing a bit more of the party scene leading up to the beginning of the end of New York City.  Cloverfield, for those who haven't heard yet, is a movie from producer J.J. Abrams about a gigantic monster descending on and apparently destroying New York City.  Sounds like a familiar plot, right?  The twist is that the movie is entirely from the point of view of digital video taken by someone who happened to be in town during all these calamitous events - sort of a 'Blair Witch Godzilla.'

Personally, I'm really intrigued by and looking forward to the film, which comes out in January.  It looks to be incredibly tense and creepy, and as the film is shot at night, we don't get a clear view at whatever is wrecking the city, which is the right way to go.

Incidentally, J.J. Abrams is also the executive producer of Lost, which may be a positive or a negative for you...

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Clive Barker's Mister B. Gone

Dec 09 2007 Published by under Horror

Clive Barker is back with a new novel!  Mister B. Gone is now available in a lovely hardcover edition.  The dust jacket labels it a 'tour de force of the supernatural.'  That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Clive Barker has written a nice, compact, unconventional horror novel.

The hardcover edition itself is lovely, as I have said: it has an antiquated-looking dust jacket  combined with an ornate lining and artificially yellowed pages.  This is all part of the book's premise: you are not holding a mass-produced novel written in 2007, but rather a unique volume put together in the year 1438, which contains the bound soul of a demon who will speak directly to you through the course of the reading, growing more angry and sinister as you progress.

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The crappiest horror movie endings I can think of... and some of the best!

Dec 01 2007 Published by under Entertainment, Horror

My recent rant about the ending of The Mist made me start thinking of various horror films which have really atrocious endings. Horror films seem particularly susceptible to crappy endings, as many writers and directors think that all horror movies have to end with a 'shocker' or an 'ironic twist'. If well-planned, such an ending can be magnificent, but more often than not it ends up being a complete non sequitur. (Think about the ending to the remade Planet of the Apes.) A really goofy ending can also ruin what otherwise might have been a perfectly nice film. I decided to dredge my brain for examples of some of the worst horror movie endings. I'll give a list, and then a spoiler-laden explanation of why I think they're terrible. To clear the awful taste out of our mouths afterwards, I'll list a few of my favorite horror endings... feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

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Movie Review: The Mist (updated)

Nov 29 2007 Published by under Entertainment, Horror

Frank Darabont should be slapped. He's the writer/director of The Mist, the film adaptation of Steven King's classic novella. I just got back from seeing it with my friend Mike a few minutes ago. We'll come back to Darabont in a moment.

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Graham Masterton's The Manitou

Nov 29 2007 Published by under Horror

I was digging through my collection of horror novels and came across an excellent but mostly forgotten classic: Graham Masterton's The Manitou.  The 1975 book was Masterton's first novel, and launched a prolific and ongoing career in horror writing.  Nowadays, you will almost certainly find his works on the shelves of your local bookstore, but The Manitou itself is not usually among them.  This is a shame, because it is a lovely, creepy novel and a great example of the often-mentioned but rarely-done-well 'science vs. sorcery' subgenre.

The story, told from the point of view of a second-rate mystic who get involved in the mess, centers upon a woman who finds a large growth on her neck, which moves.   It is gradually discovered that the growth is actually an ancient Native American shaman who is reincarnating himself by growing himself a new body on the poor woman.  Furthermore, this shaman is really pissed off at the white man for invading his homeland.  Our second-rate mystic seeks the help of a genuine Native American mystic to save the poor woman and fend off the angry shaman, and a battle of science (and a little sorcery) vs. pure sorcery is launched.

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Ghost cat!

Nov 15 2007 Published by under Animals, Horror

Can I combine catblogging and horror blogging?  I'm going to try!

The past couple of nights, I've sensed a restless presence in my home.  I've heard strange sounds and seen motion out of the corner of my eye.  At last, I got a picture of the phenomenon:

Is my apartment haunted?  Is a restless spirit stalking the corridors?

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Richard Matheson: The horrors next door

Nov 12 2007 Published by under Horror, Horror Masters

On December 15, a new action/horror film starring Will Smith will hit theatres: I Am Legend. The movie is based on a novella of the same name, written by the most famous horror author you've never heard of. This 'Masters of Horror' post is about that author: Richard Matheson.

American-born Richard Matheson has been a prolific author since his first published story in the 1950s, Born of Man and Woman. This story was an instant classic and catapulted Matheson to fame -- at least among those who knew his work. He has written numerous stories and novels in horror, science fiction, fantasy, and some more conventional drama.

Why do I call him the most famous author you've never heard of? Because I guarantee that even if you've never heard his name, you've seen his work. He has written so many classic novels, short stories, and screenplays that you're certain to know at least one of them.

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Subtle, unsettling horror: Picnic at Hanging Rock (updated)

Nov 09 2007 Published by under Entertainment, Horror

I'm constantly amazed at how many really good films exist, even in a relatively narrow genre like horror, that I'm completely unaware of. A few months ago I stumbled across a description of Peter Weir's 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock, bought it, and last night finally sat down to watch it.

The story, set in 1900 at the end of the Victorian era, concerns an outing to the ominous, looming Hanging Rock by a number of students and teachers from Appleyard College, an exclusively women's institution. While there, four students go exploring the labyrinthine mountain, followed soon after by one of their teachers, and only one returns, in hysterics. (This isn't a spoiler, as a text introduction describes the disappearances at the very beginning of the film.) The teacher and the three students have disappeared without a trace, and most of them will never be heard from again.

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Some Halloween Treats...

Oct 31 2007 Published by under Horror

Through Pharyngula, I found a link to The Little Professor, a blogger of Victorian stuff, who linked through a lovely website to some of her favorite ghost stories. (Following me so far?) This seemed like a good idea, so I thought I'd contribute my own mini-list of favorite classic horror. Enjoy!

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