Directed by John R. Leonetti
There’s no doubt about it; the Annabelle doll was one of the creepiest parts of James Wan’s The Conjuring. The doll is just unsettling in appearance, and the true back story documented by Ed and Lorraine Warren is the stuff of nightmares. It’s just too bad we didn’t get to see that particular tale. Instead we get a film detailing the origins of the Annabelle doll, and unfortunately it’s as perfectly mediocre as they come.
Annabelle starts off much like The Conjuring did with the only difference being that you don’t see the Warrens. This is a prequel to the prequel story introduced at the beginning of James Wan’s film. After those same characters from The Conjuring are introduced, we go further back in time and meet the single most vanilla couple in history, Mia and John, played by Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton, respectively. They’re your traditional married couple getting ready to usher a new baby into the world. Mia is a collector of dolls, and as a surprise gift John buys her the last in a line of figures she’s been collecting. I don’t think I have to tell you what doll that ends up being.
Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say that something horrific happens to their next-door neighbors, and as a result something equally as horrific happens to them, which leads to an evil spirit inhabiting the new doll’s body. From there it’s a series of sometimes entertaining events, leading up to the moment in which Annabelle goes up for sale and is bought by the mother of one of the women being interviewed at the start of both The Conjuring and Annabelle.
The film has lots of problems stemming from the leads themselves, who have next to no chemistry and just aren’t that likable. This is only exacerbated by the fact that Annabelle is home to some giant-sized pacing issues. I kept waiting for the film to get going, but it was locked solidly in neutral. Anytime you look at your watch during a movie… well, that’s just not a good sign.
Too many things and characters are introduced that go nowhere with absolutely no payoff. From noisy neighbors to random children to pointless research surrounding demonology/satanism, nothing is ever explained. Actually, each of those aforementioned things ends up being as meaningless as could be. Why even bother? It all feels like padding to get to the 90-minute mark.
As for Annabelle herself (itself?), honestly, she really doesn’t do anything. The worst thing she does is somehow being responsible for turning the stove on. It feels like the doll is playing second fiddle in a movie with her own name as the title. Don’t get me wrong; no one wants to see her running around like Chucky, but other than sitting there looking creepy, she’s just a glorified plot device who was far more menacing in The Conjuring with a tenth of the screen time.
There are a few bits throughout that are interesting and at times cool, but sadly, the best moment is ruined in the trailer and TV spots. To make matters even worse, the ending of the film is needlessly preachy. Yes, we’re dealing with something demonic, but you should show and not tell. If the movie makes you want to go to church (i.e., The Exorcist), then it has done its job. If it’s straight-up telling you to go to church, then it hasn’t.
Annabelle is a true letdown for fans of The Conjuring and serves as a stamped out of the mold prequel to the prequel story that we should have gotten in the first place. If not for the success of The Conjuring, this could easily have been a direct-to-video sequel. Both Wan’s film and the actual doll and its story deserve better. At the end of the day Annabelle is not a bad movie… it’s just not a very good one.
An exclusive one-sheet is here from Seth Grossman’s horror flick Inner Demons (review), and this one is just begging to be needled!
Look for the film in theatres and on VOD on October 3rd. Lara Vosburgh, Morgan McClellan, Kate Whitney, and Brian Flaherty star.
INNER DEMONS follows an ‘Intervention’-style reality show crew that films an episode about a sixteen-year old girl, a former A-student, who is fighting addiction but may in fact be suffering from something even more destructive: demonic possession. The movie is an inquiry into the truth about her – with symptoms that straddle the disturbing and scary intersection between insanity, addiction and true possession.
During October we’ll be bringing you lots of goodies, including exclusive content and giveaways, and kicking off today is a month-long contest to win one of ten eBook copies of Toula Mavridou-Messer’s Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery.
Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery is a fantasy whodunit described as an “old fashioned fairy tale of intrigue, murder, cannibalism, and incest.” It’s filled with mystery and humor, a tantalizing sense of suspense, and absurd darkness. It promises to capture your imagination in a way no other murder mystery ever has.
This debut novel from Mavridou-Messer was written in the space of three weeks after she experienced two car crashes in just one hour. The crashes came during her return journey from a residential crime writing course given by best-selling author Val McDermid. She had been battling a major problem faced by so many would-be authors – that of actually finishing a project and then doing something with it. Fortunately she saw the funny – and disturbing – side of her adventures, and hopefully so will you when you read Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery.
Toula has set up a special page for entries, which you can access by visiting 100PercentPublishing.com. Ten (10) digital downloads are being made available which are compatible with all digital e-readers (PC, Mac, Kindle, Nook, and more) (e-reader not included). The contest will end at 12 midnight PT on October 31, 2014. Winners will be selected at random from all entries received and will be notified by email.
In addition, the book has a Thunderclap campaign under way, which will automatically share a message of support for it on your behalf on Halloween (October 31st). (Note that if their goal of 100 supporters is not reached, no message will be shared.)
“It was me,” said a voice from the other side of the cottage door.
“It was me. I killed her. I should have done it years ago.”
A lightning storm sparks a fire deep in Phooka Wood. The following morning Mortal End’s self-righteous rector Ænus P. Wordsworth, his sidekick Savant Poe, and a motley crew of villagers venture into the wood to see what damage has been done. To their amazed befuddlement, right in the center of the seared earth, is a giant mound of molten toffee and, within it, a selection of human remains.
Ænus P. Wordsworth takes it upon himself to find out whom these bones belong to and how they came to be there. In doing so, he uncovers an horrific tale of murder, incest, and cannibalism that spreads throughout the neighboring villages that surround Phooka Wood. Their investigation takes them to all corners of their roundabout world, from Mortal End to the oozing Hamlet of Stifle and Little Napoo. Along their colorful journey we are introduced to a larger than life cast including Doc Sheare, the barber surgeon; Verrye Brutall, the handsome woodsman; Beliala Bigswoln, the publican’s daughter; Baron Rubigo Bluebeard; and Umbra the Bogyman.
Everyone seems to have a secret they are trying to hide that could give clues to the horror of Phooka Wood. Even Ænus P. Wordsworth has something to hide!
The post Win an eBook Copy of Toula Mavridou-Messer’s Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery appeared first on Dread Central.
We’ve been following the slow but steady progress of the Stephen King/John Mellencamp/T Bone Burnett collaboration Ghost Brothers of Darkland County for quite some time now, and finally it’s about to hit the road!
Read on for the touring cast announcement, which includes a couple of very familiar, somewhat surprising, names.
From the Press Release
The full cast for the Southern Gothic, supernatural musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County has been announced with actor/writer/producer Billy Burke (The Twilight Saga) and actress/writer/singer Gina Gershon (Killer Joe, House of Versace, Boeing, Boeing) playing the lead roles of Joe McCandless and Monique McCandless, respectively.
Touring across North America this fall, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County was written by best-selling author Stephen King with music by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp and musical direction by Grammy Award-winning T Bone Burnett. The tour kicks off right outside Bangor, ME, at the Collins Center For The Arts in Orono, ME, on November 8 before traveling through cities such as Toronto, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Due to overwhelming demand, a second show has been added in San Francisco on December 6th, which is now the final date of the tour.
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County is a collaboration 16 years in the making and is a blend of unique musical and staging styles. Throughout the production, the eerie blues ‘n roots music reveals the inner workings of the characters as opposed to just propelling the play’s narrative with only a few songs directly advancing the plot.
The haunting tale of fraternal love, lust, jealousy, and revenge begins with Joe McCandless reflecting on a past tragedy involving his two older brothers battling over a girl which ended in the unfortunate deaths of all three. Now, with Joe as an adult with two boys of his own, he’s watching an all too familiar scenario play out before his eyes. With his sons at each other’s throats, Joe’s story will either save or destroy the McCandless family.
Jake La Botz
Featured Background Vocalist: Carlene Carter
Sat – Nov-08 Orono, ME Collins Center for the Arts 8:00pm
Sun – Nov-09 Orono, ME Collins Center for the Arts 2:00pm
Tue – Nov-11 Toronto, ON Massey Hall 7:30pm
Thu – Nov-13 Philadelphia, PA Merriam Theatre 8:00pm
Fri – Nov-14 Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Center 8:00pm
Sat – Nov-15 Washington, DC Warner Theatre 8:00pm
Sun – Nov-16 Baltimore, MD The Modell Performing Arts Center at the LYRIC 7:30pm
Tue – Nov-18 Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theatre 8:00pm
Thu – Nov-20 Portland, ME Merrill Auditorium 7:30pm
Fri – Nov-21 Boston, MA Emerson Colonial Theatre 8:00pm
Sat – Nov-22 Providence, RI The VETS 8:00pm
Mon – Nov-24 New York, NY Beacon Theatre 7:30pm
Wed – Nov-26 Detroit, MI Fisher Theatre 7:30pm
Fri – Nov-28 Chicago, IL Broadway in Chicago’s Oriental Theatre 8:00pm
Sat – Nov-29 St Louis, MO Peabody Opera House 8:00pm
Mon – Dec-01 Denver, CO Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre 7:30pm
Wed – Dec-03 Phoenix, AZ Orpheum Theatre 7:30pm
Thu – Dec-04 Los Angeles, CA Saban Theatre 8:00pm
Fri – Dec-05 San Francisco,CA SHN Curran Theatre 8:00pm
Fri – Dec-06 San Francisco,CA SHN Curran Theatre 8:00pm
For more info, including ticket ordering, visit: GhostBrothersofDarklandCounty.com.
The post Touring Cast and Schedule Announced for Ghost Brothers of Darkland County appeared first on Dread Central.
The ABCs of Death 2 is making its VOD premiere via Magnet Releasing TODAY, October 2nd, with a theatrical run set for October 31st; and right now we have an exclusive still for you cats from “P is for P-P-P-P SCARY.” Dig it!
To celebrate the VOD release, producers Tim League and Ant Timpson and the international filmmakers behind the highly anticipated horror anthology sequel will be holding a Live Twitter #DeathParty starting at 10:00 PM ET (7:00 PM PT) later today (10/2). Join in the conversation and watch 26 new ways to die along with the creators using the hashtag #DeathParty.
THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 is produced by Ant Timpson and Tim League in conjunction with associate producers Todd Brown, Marc Walkow, Mitch Davis, and Ted Geoghegan.
THE ABCs OF DEATH 2’s directors are an eclectic, acclaimed group, consisting of Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh; Israel’s Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado (BIG BAD WOLVES, RABIES); Japan’s arthouse provocateur Sion Sono (COLD FISH, SUICIDE CLUB); Academy Award-nominated animator Bill Plympton; ROOM 277 mastermind Rodney Ascher; Filipino icon – and Director’s Fortnight inductee – Erik Matti (ON THE JOB, MAGIC TEMPLE); Lithuania’s Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper (VANISHING WAVES); SPLICE and CUBE‘s Vincenzo Natali; indie horror icon Larry Fessenden (THE LAST WINTER, HABIT); THE STATION’s Marvin Kren; Todd Rohal (THE CATECHISM CATACLYSM); Canada’s king of lo-fi, Steven Kostanski (MANBORG); Cuba’s Alejandro Brugués (JUAN OF THE DEAD); indie director Robert Boocheck; acclaimed UK commercial director Jim Hosking; Japanese monster-maker Hajime Ohata (HENGE); Canadian short film wizard Chris Nash (SKINFECTIONS); France’s Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (INSIDE, LIVID); E.L. Katz (director of the SXSW breakout hit CHEAP THRILLS); twin auteurs Jen and Sylvia Soska (AMERICAN MARY, DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK); A LONELY PLACE TO DIE’s Julian Gilbey; Brazil’s most controversial filmmaker Dennison Ramalho (NINJAS, LOVE FOR MOTHER ONLY); the founder of Nigerian “Nollywood” cinema Lancelot Imasuen; THE LEGEND OF BEAVER DAM and STAGE FRIGHT’s Jerome Sable; and animator Robert Morgan – creator of the BAFTA Award nominated short BOBBY YEAH.
Next week author Dave Zeltserman is heading to the New York Comic Con with The Overlook Press in support of his soon-to-be-released The Boy Who Killed Demons, but before he faces the masses in the Big Apple, he spent a few minutes chatting with Dread Central about the book.
Dread Central: The Boy Who Killed Demons has a teenage protagonist. Would you say, then, that the book is geared toward teens or more so the adult crowd? Or a bit of both?
Dave Zeltserman: I’d say both. Demons is a heroic and straightforward story of a 15-year-old boy who must find a way to stop demons from destroying the world and should appeal to all readers. It’s not as graphic and violent as some of my adult novels, but otherwise I didn’t make any other concessions to write this as a YA novel, and I think adult readers will enjoy this one every bit as much as my previous novels, if not more. My protagonist, Henry, is a smart, resourceful, and I believe honestly written character whom both teen and adult readers will identify with and root for.
DC: How are the adults treated in the tale? Are they involved in Henry’s world or more on the sidelines? Does he have anyone mentoring his demon hunting?
DZ: Henry is all alone in his fight against the demons, and he needs to keep this fight hidden from his parents and everyone else, including a neighbor down the street who’s one of the demons.
DC: The book’s synopsis mentions Henry’s alienation from his parents, friends, teachers, etc. That seems to be a fairly common occurrence among teens, but no doubt in Henry’s case it’s even more extreme than usual. Can you talk about how you incorporated this theme into the book?
DZ: Henry knows that if his parents find out he sees demons, they’ll have him loaded up on psychiatric drugs, and there will be no one left to stop the demons. There’s a lot of stress between him and his parents as they can’t understand how their well-adjusted, outgoing son has become a sullen loner. Henry also knows that if the demons ever discover he can see them, he’ll be dead soon afterwards. His having to fight them in secrecy takes a toll, and he has to sacrifice so much of not only a normal teen existence, but his life, including a budding romance, to save the world.
DC: As for the ancient texts that Henry studies in the course of his research on the supernatural, did you use actual, existing writings, or did you create your own for the book?
DZ: I created my own. There were really two texts—an eighteenth century German text that Henry has to translate (for a good part of the text he thinks the author was a quack) and a rumored seventeenth century text, L’Occulto Illuminato, which only a handful of people know about. Henry has to go to great lengths to get a copy of L’Occulto Illuminato, including betraying a close friend.
DC: Without spoiling too much, what can you tell us about the “demons” of the title? Is there a variety of them, or are they mostly similar? How detailed are the descriptions of them in the book?
DZ: A description of the demons is given on the first page of the novel so I’m not giving anything away. The demons are described in explicit detail, and they’re similar and with a singular purpose. Outside of Henry, and perhaps a handful of other people, everyone else is fooled into thinking these demons are normal, everyday people. The gift Henry has is sort of like the gift Roddy Piper has in They Live, except Henry doesn’t need special glasses to see the demons for what they are.
DC: The Boy Who Killed Demons was written in diary form. What motivated you to select that format for this particular tale, and did it create any particular challenges for you, or did it perhaps make things easier since you could write more in the “train of thought” format?
DZ: The journal form seemed the most natural way to write this book, and it allowed me to mix standard first-person narrative with Henry’s musings and rants while being able to be more playful with it. It also allowed a more natural way to parcel out Henry’s journey. I don’t know if I’ll ever write another book in journal form, but the form worked nicely with Demons.
DC: You’ve written noir, mystery, and horror novels. Do you have a preference, and is there a difference in how you approach each genre?
DZ: When I started out writing, I thought of myself as a noir writer, but the simple fact is most of the great classic noir writers, like Jim Thompson, Gil Brewer, Dan Marlowe, died broke. While I love reading the dark journeys that noir novels can take you on, most readers want someone somewhat likable to root for and don’t want to follow a vicious, borderline-sociopathic character on a one-way ticket to hell. And most publishers will not publish true noir. I feel very fortunate that the London publisher Serpent’s Tail published my first four noir novels, but after that it was time to move on and find other types of books that I wanted to write. Whether it’s noir, horror, or something else, I approach all my books the same way—getting into the heads of my characters and living the book in my mind as I write it.
DC: What are your horror influences? Favorite authors, films, etc.?
DZ: When I was a kid, I was heavily into Lovecraft, and read everything of his I could find, and there’s some Lovecraft influence in Demons, although the writing style is very different. My favorite horror novel is I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. An absolutely brilliant novel. Shelley’s Frankenstein is another favorite. It can be a tough go through the first half, but once you get to the monster’s story, it’s spellbinding. After I wrote Monster, I went on a kick of reading other Frankenstein retellings, and I thought Peter Ackroyd’s The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein was superb and found it fascinating the directions he took it.
My favorite horror films are two from John Carpenter: They Live and The Thing. Also George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead—it may be low budget, but it’s still one of the creepiest movies out there. Others are Psycho, The Birds, The Howling, Fright Night (original), The Exorcist, Child’s Play, 13 Tzameti, and the recent The Cabin in the Woods. Also, as a kid I could not get enough of “The Twilight Zone” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”; quite a few of those episodes have stayed with me over the years.
DC: Lastly, now that The Boy Who Killed Demons is being released, what’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
DZ: I’m in the process of putting together a Julius Katz Collection that I’ll be publishing as a paperback and ebook. This will be made up of the first six Julius Katz mystery stories that were originally published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine plus a new and previously unpublished long novella. These stories are the polar opposite of my noir novels—very lighthearted and charming—and have so far won a Shamus, Derringer, and two Ellery Queen Readers Choice Awards. I’ve also just finished a noirish PI in hell novel that I’m very fond of and will be looking to get that published. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one of my film deals goes into production next year.
Look for Dave Zeltserman’s The Boy Who Killed Demons on October 16th from The Overlook Press. The 2014 New York Comic Con runs October 9th-12th. You can visit Dave in Booth #128 on Friday, October 10th, from 1:00-4:00 pm ET.
Our thanks to Dave for his time and to Kait Heacock at Overlook for setting up the interview.
“My name’s Henry Dudlow. I’m fifteen and a half. And I’m cursed. Or damned. Take your pick. The reason? I see demons.”
The setting is quiet Newton, Massachussetts, where nothing ever happens. Nothing, that is, until two months after Henry Dudlow’s 13th birthday, when his neighbor, Mr. Hanley, suddenly starts to look… different. While everyone else sees a balding man with a beer belly, Henry suddenly sees a nasty, bilious, rage-filled demon.
Once Henry catches on to the real Mr. Hanley, he starts to see demons all around him, and his boring, adolescent life is transformed. There’s no more time for friends or sports or the lovely Sally Freeman; instead Henry must work his way through ancient texts and hunt down the demons before they steal any more innocent children. And if hunting demons is hard at any age, it’s borderline impossible when your parents are on your case, your grades are getting worse, and you can’t tell anyone about your chosen mission.
The post Exclusive: Author Dave Zeltserman Talks The Boy Who Killed Demons appeared first on Dread Central.
Word of a new Dark Horse comic heading our way next year landed in our inbox, and since it combines two of our favorites, Mike Mignola and Frankenstein’s Monster, we couldn’t wait to share the news!
From the Press Release
In 2015 Dark Horse Comics will publish Frankenstein Underground, a new five-issue miniseries written by best-selling comic book creator Mike Mignola with covers by Mignola and interior art by acclaimed artist Ben Stenbeck (Baltimore).
The miniseries follows the Frankenstein monster, who is alone, abandoned, and wandering underground, where he discovers both other monsters and the dark secrets to the universe. The miniseries will be the second appearance of the Frankenstein monster within the mythology and continuity of Hellboy, B.P.R.D., and the other Mignolaverse titles; the character first appeared in the graphic novel House of the Living Dead by Mignola and Richard Corben.
“It’s intimidating as hell to take on an icon like the Frankenstein monster,” said Mignola. “I’m trying to do something that’s true to the origin Mary Shelley created for the creature but also captures a bit of the feel that Boris Karloff brought to the role in the classic Universal films. At the same time I’m throwing the monster into an entirely new environment so I think the result will be something new. It’s an odd one but ultimately will add an important new wrinkle to the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. world.”
Mignola is no stranger to Frankenstein’s monster. He’s long been fascinated by Shelley’s novel and the iconic Universal Studios films that it spawned. In 1991 he drew scenes from classic Universal Studios horror films for Topps trading cards and recently drew a Bride of Frankenstein Mondo print.
“This version of the Frankenstein monster has the same thirst for knowledge readers will remember from Mary Shelley’s novel,” said Scott Allie, Dark Horse Comics’ editor-in-chief. “The monster takes the reader through some of the biggest mysteries of the Mignolaverse, shedding new light on important stuff we’ve only touched on before.”
The post Mike Mignola’s 5-Issue Frankenstein Underground Coming in 2015 appeared first on Dread Central.
In honor of next week’s release of Alien: Isolation, we’re running features and giveaways that take looks at the upcoming visceral experience from Sega as well as gaming itself. Read on for Alien Week Day 4: Win a Copy of Alien: Isolation.
That’s right, kids! Right now we have your chance to score a copy of one of the most anticipated horror games of the year, Alien: Isolation. To enter for your chance to win, just send us an email at email@example.com including your FULL NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS and SYSTEM OF CHOICE – Xbox One or PlayStation 4. We’ll take care of the rest.
This contest will end at 12:01 AM PT on October 9, 2014.
That’s it! Good luck, and we’ll see you in space… where no one can hear you scream, that is!
The CW has a “Supernatural” retrospective heading our way in advance of the show’s Season 10 premiere, and they’ve released a trailer for the “very special” special that reminds us of the road we and the Winchesters have traveled thus far.
“A Very Special Supernatural Special,” which airs on Monday, October 6th, takes a past and future look at the series. Season 10 kicks off the next day, Tuesday, October 7th, with Episode 10.01, “Black.”
“A Very Special Supernatural Special” (airs 10/6/14)
This one-hour special takes a behind-the-scenes look at the past nine seasons of the hit drama about the thrilling and terrifying journey of the Winchester Brothers.
Interviews include series stars Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester), Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester), Misha Collins (Castiel), and Mark Sheppard (Crowley) along with series creator Eric Kripke and executive producers Robert Singer and Jeremy Carver.
The stars and producers share stories and clips of their favorite memories, monsters, demons, and angels from Seasons 1 through 9 and tease the upcoming action fans can expect in Season 10.
The post Get a Taste of The CW’s A Very Special Supernatural Special appeared first on Dread Central.
In general, I find kids to be spooky and they always say things that are just creepy. Whether they have an active imagination or just sensitive to their surroundings, I don’t know and I don’t want to find out. So, when one Redditor posted a seemingly harmless question to the parents on Reddit, the responses that came back was definitely spine-tingling. The question was: What is the creepiest thing your young child has ever said to you?
This Reddit thread is full of creepy stories from parents (and other adults) about kids who may be possessed, see dead people or even grow up to be psychopaths.
So, we dare you to check out these stories tonight and in the dark. We have warned you and are not responsible for any sleepless nights these stories may induce!
More Creepy Things Kids Said On The NEXT Page
The post 15 Of The Creepiest Things Kids Have Said To Their Parents appeared first on Dread Central.
In honor of next week’s release of Alien: Isolation, we’re running features and giveaways that take looks at the upcoming visceral experience from Sega as well as gaming itself. Read on for Alien Week Day 3: The Year of Survival Horror.
This Halloween will go down as the scariest time in gaming, and we want to take a quick look at some of the most intense, cringe-inducing titles hitting shelves. Survival horror games are coming back from the dead with four highly anticipated titles being released in the coming months: Alien: Isolation, The Evil Within, Routine, and Dying Light. Two of these titles launch in time for Halloween with the others rounding out the year and making sure the frights continue into those long nights of winter.
With each of these games being terrifying and gripping in their own right, they have the common theme of facing unthinkable terror and fighting to stay alive despite the challenges presented throughout the player’s journey.
Keep these suckers on your radar, kids!
Alien: Isolation – October 7
Alien: Isolation is a first-person survival horror game capturing the fear and tension evoked by Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic film. Players find themselves in an atmosphere of constant dread and mortal danger as an unpredictable, ruthless Xenomorph is stalking and killing deep in the shadows. Underpowered and underprepared, you must scavenge resources, improvise solutions, and use your wits, not just to succeed in your mission, but to simply stay alive.
The Evil Within – October 14
While investigating the scene of a gruesome mass murder, Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his partners encounter a mysterious and powerful force. After seeing the slaughter of fellow officers, Sebastian is ambushed and knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself in a deranged world where hideous creatures wander among the dead. Facing unimaginable terror and fighting for survival, Sebastian embarks on a frightening journey to unravel what’s behind this evil force.
Routine – TBD 2014
Routine is a first person horror exploration game set on an abandoned Moon base. Your job is to find enough data to uncover the truth behind the strange disappearance of everyone stationed on the Lunar Research Station.
Dying Light – February 2015
In Dying Light, a first-person, action survival horror game, players must use everything in their power to survive until the morning’s first light in a vast open world filled with danger. During the day, players will traverse an expansive urban environment overrun by a vicious outbreak, scavenging the world for supplies and crafting weapons to defend against the growing infected population. At night, the hunter becomes the hunted, as the infected become aggressive and more dangerous. Most frightening are the predators which only appear after sundown.
We’re back with another installment in our monthly series of brand new fiction from Nightmare Magazine. Our October selection is “This Is Not for You” by Gemma Files. It’s the lead story in Nightmare’s Women Destroy Horror! special issue, guest-edited by legendary editor Ellen Datlow.
We hope you enjoy this special Halloween edition of Nightmare Presents.
Please be sure to share your comments below.
THIS IS NOT FOR YOU
by Gemma Files
Three potential sacrifices, just as Phoibe’d predicted, blundering through the woods like buffalo in boots. Mormo broke cover first, naked and barefoot, screaming, with the boys following after, whooping and hollering, straight into the gauntlet, too lust-drunk to see where they were going. Pretty little thing, that Mormo, with a truly enviable lung capacity; the best lure they’d had by far in all the time Gorgo’d been attending these odd little shindigs, and swift enough to keep a good two lengths between her and her closest pursuer as she danced around the tiger-pits. No sooner did this thought register, however, then with a few more steps—plus one wild, deer-like leap—she was gone from sight, entirely: up over the deadfall, rustling the same bushes Gorgo and her girls hid behind, leaving the men in her wake, too shocked not to keep coming.
One took a thyrsus to the knee, so sharp Gorgo heard it crack, and pitched headlong, folding up, rolling. More blows caught him from several angles, breaking bones, tearing flesh; he flipped, bellowing, then gave a moaning “whuff!” as Iris came down right on top, astride both hips, club inverted to crack his breastbone and pop at least one lung, squeeze heart against ribcage, bruise liver beyond repair. His skull met a log back-first, brain slammed hard, eyes rolling up; was probably out long before Iris’s partners (Scylla, Polyxena) could get on him too, their hands rock-full, looking to make like Cain.
To his left, meanwhile, another lucky winner got Deianira’s spear across the top of his ear and recoiled, flinching away only to run straight into Charis’s strong grip instead. They were about the same height, but Charis had him from behind, choking him so hard he started to lift off the ground, kicking wildly. He tore at her arm with both hands, drawing blood, ‘til she finally threw him down with enough force that Gorgo heard his nose pop, or maybe a cheekbone—then heel-stomped him between the shoulder blades, holding him pinned even as he flailed, trying his level best to swim away. One armpit made a beautiful target for Deianira’s next thrust, a goring stab that went in far as she could reach, and the pain made him rear back far enough for Gorgo to slash her scythe across his throat.
The spike of her own kill-pleasure came quickly after that, hot and red and sweet. It was good, but over so soon; just enough to make her want more, something better. Longer.
She sat back on her heels, panting, leather tags of her hiking boots cutting into her bare ass as she watched the man’s—boy’s—blood make a flaring collar ’round his slackening, sweat- and dirt-smeared face. Asking Charis, once she had her breath back: “You see where the last one went?”
Charis shook her head. “Back there, maybe.”
On her feet once more, over by the first one, Iris nodded. “Something tripped a pit.”
Okay, then. “Praise be,” Gorgo said, heaving herself up, unable to quite keep her voice completely irony-free. “Praise be,” two new voices chimed in at the same time, from behind her: Aglaia, of course. And Phoibe.
Charis and the others turned, bespattered, grinning—stepped back a bit, all ‘round, to display their work to best advantage. Aglaia smiled wide and nodded, proudly, as Gorgo and Phoibe exchanged a small, cool nod of greeting.
“Wonderful,” Aglaia pronounced, with the sort of authoritative, maternal warmth that’d’ve done Mother Theresa herself proud, if she’d worshipped Kali instead of Christ. “Very fine. Now . . . let’s go see what She’s left us for last, and best.”
• • • •
The point was to do these things together, not alone. The point was to do them in secret, as much as could be arranged for. The point was to go elsewhere, overnight, and stay as long as it took to get it done. The point was to make it count.
The whole point of a mystery religion, in fact, as Aglaia kept reminding them, was that it was supposed to be—and stay—a mystery.
That wasn’t her real name, obviously. They’d all taken new ones, first as pseudonyms on the cult’s website, then as part of their bonding exercises in “meatspace,” as the kids put it; it was to draw a sort of metaphorical line from old to new, a clear path of translation, adaptation. Some of them came from what passed, these days, as “traditional” backgrounds—odd idea, that, all these mystoi and Goddess-worshippers apparently long-embedded in between the non-denominationals and the atheists—but for most of them this was just a fantasy, a deep-rooted need, a burgeoning itch they’d never quite known how to scratch before eventually stumbling across the myths, the literature, the site itself, which Phoibe had started and still maintained. A particular urge which everything around them said was bad, wrong, unnatural, even as that blood-beat voice inside told them it was anything but.
“We shouldn’t feel ashamed,” Aglaia—an elder stateswoman of some sort of brown persuasion, her graying, loose-curled hair cropped short—had said during their first real meet-up. “Never. What we do here is older than everything else, all the forces arrayed against us—older than laws, older than rules, older than the inadequate language we use to try and describe it with. It can’t be explained. It doesn’t have to be justified. And much as we may serve it, may be personally elevated by that service, transfigured even, we are none of us as important as the principle we subsume ourselves to. The tradition survives, always; we may die away—will die away—but it survives, always. It doesn’t need us. Because even when everything else crumbles, this will still endure.”
Oh, and Aglaia really did make everything sound so pretty, Gorgo thought, whenever she really started to get her groove on; that was the basic trick, the recruiting pitch, the glue. To frame the reason they were all here as a certain route to spiritual ecstasy, but also make it sound like they were reaching for a goal far more lasting than their own selfish pleasure—something done on this whole sad, stained world’s behalf for the unwitting benefit of everyone trapped inside it, exorcising sin while extirpating evil. Like it wasn’t any real sort of crime at all.
Aglaia was a true believer, or she walked the talk so well as to be nigh-indistinguishable from one; Gorgo simply knew what she liked and was willing to swallow her share of theosophic psychobabble in order to get a bunch of women with similar interests to not just pitch in at the kill, but clean up after her. Total freaks, in other words, but very useful ones—which was exactly how, in essence, that membership in their little sewing circle continued to hold enough appeal for Gorgo to not just roll her eyes and walk away, even assuming Aglaia and her coterie would let her.
Every meet-up started with a prayer, Aglaia leading, the others reading along off of printout sheets, a different translation every time. This year’s went like so—
Preswa, Phersephassa, o Kore Hagne
Wise one, She who stops, She who lives in every harvest
Persipne, Praxidike, o Kore Semele
Wine-maker, Subterranean queen, Most flowery maiden
Persephone, Crown of terror
Beautiful, Fatal, She who consumes
According to Whose will the sacred task is done—
life to produce, and all that lives to kill.
“So what is it you do, these days, exactly?” Phoibe asked under her breath, sidling up at Gorgo’s elbow. “Still bending young minds, or did they finally figure out you never actually made it all the way through teacher’s college?”
Gorgo shrugged. “Oh, you’d be surprised how little research private schools put in, selecting instructors. We’re doing Romantic poets this semester, Keats and all. ‘O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, alone and palely loitering?’”
“You tell them it’s a tuberculosis metaphor?”
“On the top layer, sure. Some girls, I push harder; seed an idea here and there, set tests. Try to seek out where their more hidden inclinations might lie.”
“I didn’t know Aglaia was signing off on any more recruitment drives, especially amongst the underage.”
“She’s got nothing to with it, Phoebe.”
“Yeah, okay. I mean, what’s in a name, right—Susan?”
“Awful mysteries here are ours,” Aglaia continued, “so we celebrate them in Your name, which no one may in any way transgress. Happy is she who has seen and believed, both on top of the earth and under it, though she who is uninitiate will never reap a like crop after death, but stay forever buried there in darkness and in gloom.”
Think that’s my real name you got there, little bitch, just ’cause you hacked it out of my digital footprint? Gorgo projected, while staring Phoibe down, as Phoibe struggled to do the same, and failed. My original? Think I couldn’t change it or anything else about me in a minute, or less, if I wanted to—walk away, disappear off the grid, and not come up for air ‘til I stuck my scythe in your tech-savvy spine?
She was a bit of a parody, Phoibe, with her all-black clothes and her hair banded in grown-out dye-jobs like a floppy, cross-cut section of tree—you could practically track her stylistic evolution, or lack thereof, from Manic Panic to Clairol to henna to what Gorgo could only assume was probably her natural shade, a subtle mouse-hide leather tone flecked here and there with the first glints of gray. Deep, slightly keloided dimples bracketing her mouth had once held barbell piercings, just like that scar furling her lip-corner told of a torn-free labrette; she wore a tricked-out pair of granny-glasses with Hipster-thick frames, and tended towards using blush for eyeshadow. But she sure as shit did know how to run a dark-net, so that was something, at least.
Up near Aglaia, everyone was chanting again. Gorgo mouthed the words as Phoibe mouthed them right back at her, a second or two late.
Blood waters it
Blood grows it
Blood alone sees it flower:
Great seed, seed of flesh and bone, Persephone’s awful gift
That nurtures and destroys this world one sacrifice at a time
Truth was, it would be nice to share interests with somebody in private life, Gorgo occasionally caught herself thinking. To be a mentor. She sure wasn’t too likely to breed any soft-minded little co-conspirators herself, not at this late date, even setting the problem of stud-stock aside; adoption wasn’t really an option either, or fosterage, for similar reasons. Short of walking away from her local maternity ward with a free souvenir, therefore, cherry picking each new class for potentials seemed the next best thing. Hadn’t found any thus far, but it was early days still, and she remained hopeful.
Now she set hands on hips and waited, staring down, a whole ten extra years’ worth of game-face blankly in place. She had roughly a foot of height on Phoibe, plus a good fifty pounds in heft, not that she expected things would get physical—both of them had a certain investment in returning to work next week, after all, and doing it while looking like nothing worse than the morning after a particularly celebratory girls’ night out. But when you’d been looking forward to something all year, sometimes things just happened.
A second later, however, Phoibe shrugged, raising her hands: no harm, no foul.
“I’m sure you know what you’re doing,” she said. “I mean, we’re all adults here. What you get up to on your own time’s no concern of mine.”
“Nope,” Gorgo agreed. “So . . . anyone know who the sacrifice’s gonna be yet?”
“Whoever gets here first,” Phoibe replied. “Same as usual.”
“Well, how many candidates in play?”
“Three groups, two to four components each. Maybe four.”
“That’s short odds.”
“Not really; I’d show you the math, but . . .” Here Phoibe trailed off, maybe thinking I wouldn’t want to bore you with it, or even you wouldn’t understand, yet smart enough not to voice whichever outright, either way. Continuing, soon enough: “You ever know anybody not to show up?”
Now it was Gorgo’s turn to shrug. “Not yet,” was all she said.
But that, as Aglaia would no doubt say, was where faith came in.
• • • •
The place they gathered had been a campground, once upon a time. They arrived singly from every direction, mostly by public transport, then hiked to the meet-point, where Aglaia and her acolytes had already set up most of the necessary infrastructure—dug catch-pits, strung bells, planted weapons (thyrsi made onsite, plus whatever else they brought with them), and built the cremation pyre high, for afterwards. People didn’t tend to get naked ‘til the appointed hour, which suited Gorgo fine, though there were always noticeable exceptions. Right now, for example, she could see tall, lean Charis belly dancing by herself off in the middle distance, pleasantly soft from hormones and with her bush grown full to hide the rest, yet proudly displaying the scars where her implants had gone in every time she back-bent far enough for them to catch the light.
At least one potential “sister” had quit because of Charis, or tried to—made it back almost as far as the north road before Gorgo had caught up with her, dragged her into the bushes, and buried her under a deadfall with her flesh flensed sky burial-style so the animals would come running. It’d been an on-the-fly decision, simple self-preservation instinct twisted into altruism by circumstance, done on behalf of a community Gorgo often questioned whether she needed at all; still wasn’t entirely sure Aglaia even knew about it, though she suspected yes, especially since she hadn’t found any bones left to crush with a hammer when she’d checked the makeshift grave last time they met.
In Gorgo’s estimation, however, the radfems could say what they wanted, but Charis had always held her end up well enough to merit whatever help Gorgo chose to give her. Once the hunt was on, she was no different than any other gal with an oversized clit—better, considering her sheer stamina, her extra-long reach and strong, militarily-trained grip. When they piled in on the final sacrifice, all together, Gorgo had seen Charis literally work a man’s head from his shoulders like some live-action Mortal Kombat kill, twisting the finger-torn ruin of his throat and neck ‘til his vertebrae snapped and spinal cord slithered free.
Sparagmos, Aglaia called it. The Maenad’s frenzy, bull sacrifice. A rending apart, followed by omophagia, eating the flesh raw. Or, as Gorgo’d always called it, albeit only to herself . . . fun.
“I know you don’t think you’re one of us, really,” Aglaia told Gorgo, as Gorgo poured herself a bowl of ritual kykeon. “But you do keep on coming, don’t you? Why do you think that might be?”
“‘Cause I like it?”
“You’re no great fan of organized religion in general, though, I think; most sociopaths aren’t. Yet you must admit it can be useful, as a concept, even to those who question it.”
Gorgo sighed, steeling herself to stay polite. “Oh, sure,” she replied. “Mainly in that it gives us divine permission to go on ahead and do what we were gonna anyways, all wrapped up in a pretty story. Secret knowledge, women’s magic, the matriarchy reborn . . .”
Aglaia shot Gorgo a look, as though unsure if she was being mocked. “So you’ll take advantage of the amenities on offer,” she said, at last, “but you won’t do Her homage.”
“If that’s the price of staying on the mailing list, sure. Why not?”
“Except that you won’t mean it.”
At that, Gorgo did have to snort, just a little. “How you ever gonna know anyone ‘means it,’ outside of yourself? Same way I ‘know’ you do, i.e. not at damn all. Look, lady, I read The Bacchae—hell, I’ve taught it. You really think we can bank on weapons of iron not wounding us when the fit’s in full swing, though, no matter how many of those little dried mushrooms you boil the kykeon up with? Barley, pennyroyal, psychoactives . . . it’s a nice high, but I don’t ever remember getting milk and honey from stones or tearing up trees by their roots while I was on it, let alone wearing snake necklaces, or breastfeeding wolf-cubs.”
“Communion wafers aren’t made from real man-meat, either. Our feasts are, and not metaphorically.”
“They weren’t, that’d be the deal-breaker right there, for me.”
Aglaia chuckled. “I’ve seen you hunt,” she said. “One of our fiercest, when She enters in.”
“Hard to stop once I get going, I’ll give you that,” Gorgo agreed, suddenly tired. “C’mon, though—what I run on’s a fetish, not superpowers. I just like to kill people.”
“Ah, but you don’t just kill people, do you, when you have the choice? I’m not talking about self-preservation, or opportunity . . . I mean pure desire, the perfect victim. The image you touch yourself to.”
Gorgo snorted again. Yet the words brought it rising up behind her eyes anyhow, automatic, irrefutable: a man, always, young and juicy for preference. And strong enough to fight hand to hand, take damage from, even—possibly—risk losing to. Not that she ever had.
“. . . no,” she admitted, at last, with reluctance. “You’re right. That’s never just ‘people.’”
“Then you do Her work, and always have. Without even knowing it.”
Gorgo shook her head, stubborn. “Dress it up all you want, Aglaia—what I do is what I choose to, that’s the whole truth, and nothin’ but. ‘Cause I like it. I don’t need any other reason.”
“It gets done, however, either way.”
The area of study devoted to those like Gorgo was choked with truisms, creating spaces she’d always found it easy to slip between. Most serial killers, accepted lore went, were white rather than not, middle-class or lower-, organized or dis- . . . and male, overwhelmingly. Which meant that although there obviously had to be some who weren’t, by simple process of elimination, nobody really spent a whole lot of time looking for them.
Didn’t hurt that women coded societally as victims rather than predators, conferring a weird invisibility on those who didn’t worry about becoming somebody else’s meal. When men’s eyes turned towards Gorgo with ill intent, she met them head-on, smiling. Those unused to the concept turned away; those who didn’t had made their bed, and she felt no guilt about laying them down in it.
As it turned out, this attitude formed yet another point of sympathy between Aglaia’s lot and herself—since according to the mysteries, sacrifices self-selected through willing, deliberate transgression. They had to know there was a taboo in play, even to have some idea of the potential stakes involved, and choose to break said taboo anyways.
Luckily, that was men in a nutshell, or so Gorgo had always observed. Long before the Internet, it had been a truth universally agreed on that whenever somebody started talking about a space being women-only, a segment of the male-identified population would come running with dicks out, ready to mark their territory in the hope no bitch would ever again be dumb enough to believe herself in possession of something they couldn’t access. It was a winning combination of social mores and genetics, bless their hearts—just the way we’re made, ma’am, now get in the kitchen, et cetera.
“Everywhere but here,” Aglaia claimed, proudly. And so far, her claim had yet to be disproven, there being an undeniable strength in numbers which far outstripped whatever one woman could achieve alone. Everybody wanted community, in their heart of hearts—even those who knew themselves, at base, quite outrageously unsuited to maintain it.
Female serial killers hid behind gender constructs, as a rule. They usually played out the roles people (men) expected them to, then killed inside of that as poisoners, black widows, angels of death . . . caregivers turned toxic. The reason the Maenad myth had been so discounted down the centuries, according to Aglaia, was that the very idea of a woman jumping on somebody and tearing them apart seemed physically impossible. But one had to wonder, like Gorgo remembered doing, even as a child: was there a reason men seemed so wary of “allowing” women to congregate in groups? Could it be they guessed how a pack of women might be indistinguishable from one of lionesses, of hyenas?
Hours passed in chanting, dancing, singing, and the sun dipped low. The kykeon, fresh-cooled, got passed around like white lightning; Gorgo drank her next slug in one gulp, watching the newest mystoi sip, wince, almost puke. She already felt the drug deep inside her like hooks, opening her wide, letting in the world.
As the dusk began to swim and click around her, she saw Phoibe appear at Aglaia’s elbow, night-blooming suddenly, pale out of dark. Watched her murmur in the priestess’s ear, then vanish once more, as Aglaia turned to motion Gorgo near.
“Intruders at the perimeter. Mormo has them chasing her already—easy meat for our best huntress.”
Gorgo rose, nodding, to shuck the last of her clothes. She left her footwear on, since running barefoot through the woods was like asking for lockjaw, but Aglaia didn’t say anything—possibly since her good right hand Phoibe had apparently decided much the same, albeit sticking with sandals instead of Gorgo’s comfortably weighted hiking boots.
Charis handed her one more dose, which lit her up like a punch. Someone she couldn’t quite see hugged ‘round her from behind, smearing two mud-clay handfuls across both breasts at once, then down over her abs, to cool her thighs’ hot vee. Gorgo tossed her hair and pulled loose; Charis caught her mid-stumble, grinning. “Y’all ready?” she asked.
“Thyrsus, baby girl?”
“Brought my own, thanks.” The scythe-handle fit nicely into her palm. “You comin’, big sis?”
“Bet your ass,” Charis growled, voice dipping lower than she probably wanted it to, not that that mattered: the ekstasis was on them both, pumping their blood, stiffening every sinew. Around, Gorgo saw the rest of the pack assembling, all the familiar faces. Iris, Scylla, Polyxena, Deianira . . .
They took off running, like Artemis Herself led the way.
• • • •
And here they were, now. The tiger-pit’s displaced covering, lid of the kiste, the sacred basket. Gorgo kicked it aside to reveal a third young man—boy—staring up, down on one knee and crying with pain, at least one ankle probably shattered from the fall. He was a sweet-looking piece, muscled like a wrestler, hair picked out into a soft natural; his skin gleamed, shade falling somewhere between Deianira’s ruddy bronze and Aglaia’s warmer, darker hue. Which was a fairly apt comparison, as it turned out—because when he caught sight of Aglaia peering down on him over Gorgo’s shoulder his eyes went wide, fixed with shock, and awe, and terrified recognition.
“Mom?” he managed, voice breaking. “Mom? What . . . what’re you doing . . . here . . . ?”
Aglaia didn’t answer, not immediately. Just drew herself up, turning to stone; crossed her arms and waited, possibly to see what happened next.
“Mom, shit . . . you have to help me. They’re crazy, these women’re all—Mom!”
Gorgo back-shifted, waiting as well. Until finally, another voice chimed in: “Well?”
Aglaia, without moving: “‘Well’ what, Phoibe?”
The woman in question came shoving her way through, pale as a twilit ghost, ‘til she stood almost at Aglaia’s side—almost. But not quite.
“He’s penetrated the mysteries, hasn’t he?” she declared, nodding downwards, voice pitched to ringing. “Seen things done, heard things said, just like the rest of them. Should the priestess’s son go free, and other women’s sons pay in his stead? Is this Her will?”
Posturing little hooker, Gorgo thought.
“Didn’t hear Aglaia say what she wanted done with him, one way or the other, myself,” Gorgo pointed out. “And since I’m a hell of a lot more likely to listen to her than to you on the subject . . .”
“Ha! The unbeliever speaks.” Phoibe threw her arms wide, addressing the whole cult, now flocking in around Gorgo’s hunting team. “See how she mocks? Ask yourselves why Aglaia would ever let somebody like this in in the first place, let alone allow her to stay. Then ask yourself if it isn’t obvious that the Goddess chose to punish Aglaia for her hubris by sending her first-born to the killing floor! How else could it have happened?”
Defend yourself, idiot, Gorgo tried to project Aglaia’s way, watching heads on all sides begin to nod, albeit reluctantly. But Aglaia’s eyes stayed on the pit, her whimpering child. She might as well have been a statue.
Murmuring spread in every direction, like a tide.
Time to run, maybe, Gorgo thought, reluctantly, gripping her scythe hard enough to hurt. Save yourself, before this shit shifts on you; drop out, get gone. This was a bad idea. It’s like Missus Gast used to say, my third foster-Mommy—someone like me just needs to stay the hell away from people I want to keep safe . . .
(. . . unless I’m killing ’em.)
That was when it happened, sharp as a wound—that same unfurling times ten thousand, the kykeon’s blow suddenly felt all over, a general uproar. This lurching, queasy sensation of opening up so far it was like her insides were out, skin shifting, one massive neuron blur. Blood broke from her nose, mouth, the corners of her eyes; later, she’d find burst vessels on both eyeballs, a pair of tiny red flowers. For now, however, it was as though something else had a hold of her, puppeting her from the gut. Making one hand fly out, scythe’s point sticking deep into Phoibe’s still-babbling throat, then jerking free again, conjuring a flood. The spurt slapped across Gorgo before hitting Charis, who gasped, and Aglaia, who didn’t; a general cry went up, cultists reacting as one. Phoibe fell, flopping, while Gorgo shivered still upright, mouth opening against her will. Words torrented free, garbled, unfamiliar, Greek-accented. Saying—
Fury-source, Wrathful One, All-Ruling virgin,
Kore Semele, light-bearer incandescent
Horned Maiden, Earth’s vigorous daughter
When Death comes, we go willingly to Your realms
Until again You send us forth, into this world of Form.
She didn’t know this prayer, Gorgo realized, unable not to complete what she could only assume was the verse’s ancient formula. Not one she’d heard, nor one she’d read. No translation of The Bacchae she’d ever taught could have left it behind in her mind’s folds, waiting to suggest itself under pressure—no, this was something else. Something Other.
At her boot-tips, Phoibe had almost ceased shuddering. Gorgo found herself pointing at her, mouth stretched Body Snatchers-wide, pronouncing: “How’d it happen? Ask the hacker. The girl with the math. Ask her how she sought him out online, groomed him, brought him and those friends of his here—because she wanted to mount a coup, thought he’d make Aglaia look weak in front of you, that she could turn you against Her chosen. But nothing happens, ever, except that She allows it.”
“Praise be,” Charis chimed in, wiping Phoibe’s blood straight into her mouth; “Praise be,” Iris agreed, kicking Phoibe so she flipped, so her last breath went down into the earth itself, Persephone-Perswa’s home. To which Aglaia finally nodded, dignified as always, and put her hand on Gorgo’s still-shaking shoulder, palm-print burning a hole, all the Goddess’s presence suddenly drained from once more, leaving her numb and cold, scythe drooping.
“Praise be,” Aglaia agreed, approvingly. “I’m so happy for you, Gorgo. It’s seldom any of us feels Her grace directly—to have that one be you is a rare honour, and welcome. Especially since I’d’ve had trouble killing a woman, myself, even one who’d betrayed Her covenant.” A lovely smile. “But then, that’s what She sent us you for.”
“The fuck you say,” Gorgo replied, all out into a rush, with no time for self-censorship. Her nervous system was still twitching, refusing to obey, or she would’ve cut Aglaia’s throat next—something Aglaia seemed to know, since she glanced at Charis, who gently pried the scythe from Gorgo’s limp hand, folding her into an embrace.
“C’mon now, baby girl,” Charis said, soothing. “You got nothing to be afraid of. We all want to feel her hand on our souls the once, like you just did. It’s why we’re here.”
“Not . . . why I’m here . . .” Gorgo said, muffled, into Charis’s pectoral, her implant-springy breast. But Charis only laughed.
“‘Course not,” she replied. “We all know that. Is now, though—and that’s beautiful, don’t you see? Hell, it’s divine.”
“Literally,” Aglaia agreed. “Oh, Gorgo! You’re a saint to us now, a true Maenad. The very proof of our religion.”
And that murmur was back again, eddying right, left, and every which way, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. They seized on Phoibe’s body and bore it away, tearing off pieces as it went; probably ending up on the pyre with the rest of the meat, fit for the celebratory feast, with the bones all divvied up and buried wherever individual cultists went home to, after.
I’m trapped, Gorgo thought, hanging there in Charis’s arms, while Aglaia and the others clapped, cheered, and ululated in approval, each according to their preference. They’ve got me now, these freaks, them with their goddamn Goddess. I’m altered, forever changed. Like I don’t even know my own self anymore.
“What about him, down there?” she asked, finally, through trembling lips.
Throughout the preceding action, the still pit-trapped boy—Aglaia’s unlucky son—had fallen silent long since, in terms of pleas. Now it was just grunts and cursing, oh God oh God oh shit, help me please, with the kid scrabbling at the walls like a crippled badger, trying his level best either to heave himself free or bring the walls’ earth in on top of him, so he could suffocate before they pulled him free and ripped him apart. Perhaps having stared enough, however, Aglaia didn’t even look, this time. Simply shook her head, curls lifting slightly (softer than his yet similar, Gorgo could now see), and said—
“Phoibe called him, but She made him answer. This is not for him, for any of them, yet still they come: anathema, to be dedicated, to be cursed. He chose his own fate.”
At that, the scrabbling stopped, as if kicked. Gorgo heard the kid moan out, instinctive, maybe in supplication, maybe in protest: Mom, oh Mom, Mommy, no. Please, God, please.
True Believers, true belief; not such an arrant hunk of legitimized murder wrapped in bullshit fairytales after all, as it turned out. More’s the fucking pity.
No God here, little boy, Gorgo thought, as close to sadly as she was capable of. And closed her eyes.
Nightmare Magazine is usually edited by bestselling anthology editor John Joseph Adams (Wastelands, The Living Dead). This month, however, Nightmare is presenting Women Destroy Horror!, our special double-issue celebration of women writing and editing horror. Guest editor Ellen Datlow has selected original fiction from Gemma Files (“This Is Not for You”), Livia Llewellyn (“It Feels Better Biting Down”), Pat Cadigan (“Unfair Exchange”), Katherine Crighton (“The Inside and the Outside”), and Catherine MacLeod (“Sideshow”), along with reprints by Joyce Carol Oates (“Martyrdom”), Tanith Lee (“Black and White Sky”), and A.R. Morlan (“. . . Warmer”). Our Women Destroy Horror! nonfiction editor, Lisa Morton, also has a line-up of terrific pieces—a feature interview with “American Horror Story” producer Jessica Sharzer; a roundtable interview with acclaimed writers Linda Addison, Kate Jonez, Helen Marshall, and Rena Mason; a feature interview with award-winning author Joyce Carol Oates; and insightful essays from Maria Alexander, Lucy A. Snyder, and Chesya Burke. You can wait for the rest of this month’s contents to be serialized online, or you can buy the whole issue right now in convenient eBook format for just $2.99. You can also subscribe and get each issue delivered to you automatically every month for the discounted price of just $1.99 per issue. This month’s issue is a great one so be sure to check it out. And while you’re at it, tell a friend about Nightmare!
The post Nightmare Presents: This Is Not for You by Gemma Files appeared first on Dread Central.
Directed by Ed Hunt
The Pope of Greenwich Village, Star 80, Runaway Train… Hell, I’ll even throw Best of the Best in the mix as one of my favorite Eric Roberts vehicles to witness, and looking at the man’s IMDb filmography list, you’ll see many other notable roles throughout the years as well. Any actor could tell you that he or she has jumped on some “questionable” jobs during the span of their careers, but Eric… oh, Mr. Roberts… this one just might take the cake.
Directed by the man who brought home the 1981 murderous children film Bloody Birthday, Ed Hunt, comes Halloween Hell, an interesting little jaunt into the world of internet-fed reality competitions. The one in question is run by The Prince of Darkness himself, Dracula (Roberts in a head-shaking performance) – his portrayal of a sleazy, yet slightly loony host is an almost parallel run to his character in the film Camp Dread, minus the vampire makeup. He has concocted a contest taking six everyday late teens and dropping them into a locked soundstage, complete with store-bought Halloween decorations, minus their cellphones and any computer equipment so they cannot connect to the outside world. However, one contestant is allowed to bring in a pistol (yeah, I didn’t get this either).
Their objective is simple: to stay locked in the soundstage for 24 hours while sharing space with not only each other, but the spirit of a vengeful demon that is confined to a small idol that was supposedly carved from the lava in Hell. Make it through the night, and you’ll score a sweet $100,000. Sounds easy, huh? Well, when the demon does break free from his prison (on many different occasions), he slices and dices his way through some unfortunate souls, leaving a more than ample supply of blood and guts in his wake – some gore is mentionable, while other scenes reek of lower-than-low budget – hey, Hunt worked with what he had available, and it’s passable for some viewers’ eyes.
The acting, as one would suspect, is less than desired, and while Roberts might potentially look back at this decision with some regret, you cannot deny that he brings everything he’s got to each and every character that he throws himself into. Other than Roberts’ shady effectuation, the remnants of the cast limp through the film without so much as a whimper – no real annoying personages, not one particular soul that I wished would get offed first… nothing. I think I’d rather have a cast that at least has a pulse rather than a collective group that gives off the emotions of just showing up and reading lines.
When all was said and done, I can honestly conclude that Hunt’s return to the big chair was an admirable one, and while the lead runner (Roberts) has more than shown the gas to complete any marathon, it seemed like he was holding the hands of the rest of the cast, and they were dragged to the finish line in a less than stellar display. You could fire this film up on Halloween night and try to get the full effect, or wait until November 1st, but you’re more than likely going to be disappointed with the result any way you slice it.
It’s a sad day for fans of the horror soap “Dark Shadows.” Writer Sam Hall has died after a short bout with pneumonia in Rhinebeck, N.Y. The news was broken by his son, Matt, who confirmed the passing via The Hollywood Reporter. He was 93.
Sam Hall joined ABC’s Gothic soap “Dark Shadows” in 1967 and penned more than 300 episodes, often collaborating with writer Gordon Russell.
He co-wrote the screenplays for the features House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows, filmed during production of the TV show, and worked on a short-lived Dark Shadows primetime revival for NBC in 1991.
We here at Dread Central would like to offer our deepest condolences to Sam’s many friends, family members, and constituents. Thanks for the wild and wacky memories, kind sir.
What is it with Sony Pictures and its complete and total indecisiveness? Lord knows it’s had its ups and downs with the Ghostbusters franchise, but let’s not forget Zombieland has been forever getting the “Yo-Yo treatment” as well. After an abysmal attempt at a TV series on Amazon, interest in an official sequel has once again piqued.
Deadline is reporting that Sony Pictures is getting more serious about mounting another installment of Zombieland. The studio just hired Dave Callaham to write the sequel under the supervision of Ruben Fleischer, who’ll return to direct.
No word yet on if the original participants will be back; the original film features Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin.
As promised this morning, a new trailer has arrived for “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” and it just ramped up our excitement tenfold! Check it out, and join us in wondering how the heck they made Sarah Paulson’s two heads look so damn real!
The trailer, which premiered on Buzzfeed, also gives us our first good look at this season’s villainous Twisty the Clown so dive in and let us know what you think!
“AHS” Season 4 kicks off October 8th at 10:00 PM on FX. The premiere will be an expanded 90-minute episode.
Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe, Denis O’Hare, Jamie Brewer, and Evan Peters return from previous seasons. New cast members includes Michael Chiklis, Wes Bentley, John Carroll Lynch, Finn Wittrock, Matt Bomer, Patti LaBelle and the world’s smallest living woman, Jyoti Amge.
“American Horror Story: Freak Show” begins its tale in the quiet, sleepy hamlet of Jupiter, Florida. The year is 1952, and a troupe of curiosities has just arrived to town. Their arrival coincides with the strange emergence of a dark entity that savagely threatens the lives of townsfolk and freaks alike. This is the story of the performers and their desperate journey of survival amidst the dying world of the American carny experience.
“American Horror Story: Freak Show” – Episode 4.01 – “Monsters Among Us” (airs 10/8/14)
One of the only surviving sideshows in the country struggles to stay in business during the dawning era of television. When police make a terrifying discovery at a local farmhouse, the eccentric purveyor of the freak show (Lange) sees an opportunity that will lead her troupe either to their salvation or ruin. Written by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk; directed by Ryan Murphy.
The post New American Horror Story: Freak Show Trailer Focuses on the Freaks appeared first on Dread Central.
The official Season 2 artwork has been revealed for The CW’s “The Originals,” and along with a peek at that we have the first clip from the show’s S2 premiere episode, which is entitled “Rebirth.” In the clip we get to see what kind of chessmaster Klaus is.
As for the artwork, per usual for the network, it debuted on THR.
“The Originals” Episode 2.01 – “Rebirth” (airs 10/6/14)
After months of being holed up inside his compound, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) enlists the help of Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) in plotting his revenge against the Guerrera werewolves and vows to take down anyone who poses a threat to baby Hope’s existence. Elijah watches helplessly as Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) spirals downward while mourning the loss of her daughter and struggling to adapt to her new hybrid status.
Exiled by the Guerrera werewolves, who now control the French Quarter, Marcel is still reeling over the destruction of his vampire family and attempts to rebuild his home with the help of Josh (guest star Steven Krueger). Elsewhere, Cami (Leah Pipes), who is attempting to regain some normalcy in her life, seeks comfort in a surprising place.
Lastly, Davina (Danielle Campbell) continues her plan to use Mikael (guest star Sebastian Roche) against Klaus but gets sidetracked when she meets the mysterious, yet charming Kaleb (guest star Daniel Sharman), who holds a few secrets of his own. Lance Anderson directed the episode written by Marguerite MacIntyre and Julie Plec.
The post See the First Clip from The Originals Episode 2.01 – Rebirth; New Artwork Unveiled appeared first on Dread Central.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a miserable film. Just don’t tell your friends about it, or they’ll clown your ass until you lock yourself in your bedroom with a bottle of Jack, wiping away a fusion of sweat and tears, writing suicide notes.
Ready to be done with all the shame and your embarrassing habits once and for all? Despite the fact that you know, deep down, those buddies of yours have a handful of crap flicks that they themselves tune in to on a regular basis, they just happen to be smart enough to avoid airing that info out to their friends and associates. Clever bastards.
The truth is, sometimes we need brainless fodder. Intense films can weigh heavy on the mind, there’s no doubt about that. Ever watched Cannibal Holocaust? It’s an atrocious film that leaves the abdominal regions writhing in disgust. Ever seen Martyrs? While a genuinely ingraining piece of cinema, it’s so vivid and impacting that it summons legitimate feelings of poignancy. I love the film, but it’s an acquired piece, and it sure as shit doesn’t fiddle with the funny bone in the manner that a guilty pleasure pic does.
There’s room in the horror landscape for all assortments of films: serious, humorous, gory, desolate, and yes, the almighty guilty pleasure. It’s time to take a brief hiatus from the more penetrating offerings and focus on the movies that probably shouldn’t entertain but do so regardless. Here are 10 awesome guilty pleasure flicks perfectly suited to carry a beer-craving genre fanatic through a slow weekend.
Van Helsing: If guilty pleasures are being discussed, Van Helsing is earning mention. Stephen Sommers’ big budget monster movie clearly intended to fuse high speed action and vintage genre appeal. And it does that, surprisingly well, to be honest. What it doesn’t do, however, is work on any other single level! The script is embarrassing, loaded with staggeringly dreadful dialogue. The special effects haven’t aged well, but they didn’t need to age well; they were laughable at birth! Terrible casting and a complete disregard for logical decision-making bury the movie on a technical front. But here’s the thing… I can’t take my eyes off the TV whenever the damn movie is on. Despite how wretched it all is, Van Helsing still feels like a good old throwback Universal monster movie. It still gives me that nostalgic punch in the face that I welcome with lowered defense. I’m a little leery to say it, but I still love Sommers’ costly disaster… and yes, I totally and completely acknowledge the fact that it’s a nauseating feature.
Season of the Witch: There’s something strange going on with Nicolas Cage, and I believe it to be Jedi Mind Tricks. Really, he has this mystifying way of capturing the attention even when the last face you hope to look at is that of Nicolas Cage. Cage is one of the hokiest guys in the business, flat out. I’m not sure if he even takes any of his own onscreen insanity seriously anymore because his performances reflect a guy who is out to have nothing but a silly, good time rather than turn in an edgy, memorable showing. And still, a couple of his features remain magnetic. Take for example Season of the Witch (Drive Angry gets a nod as well), an abomination of a feature that captivates me at every turn. It looks miserably awesome, Cage is miserably awesome, and I just feel flat out miserable having to admit that I love it. All of it. Every last second of this stinker.
Constantine: Talk about defecating on an iconic comic book character. Nothing about Warner Brothers’ Constantine felt faithful to DC’s own Constantine. It felt as though the entire character had undergone a personality transplant. John’s smoking habit is even altered as a result. Anyone who thought they’d watch this movie and see Constantine smoke less than 7,000 cigarettes is out of their mind. And yet, that’s what happened, a bad habit victim of the Hollywood makeover. The CG looks awfully damn abysmal as well. To be entirely honest, I can’t remember how I felt about the visuals the first time I checked this one out back in ’05, but it hasn’t looked good to these peepers in years. But you know what? There’s something about Keanu Reeves’ one-note delivery that gets me, the insane, almost Matrix influenced action scenes are hypnotic, and both Shia LaBeouf and Peter Stormare deliver just the right supportive flare to win me over. The real John Constantine wouldn’t be too pleased with this one, but it’s got a place on my shelf.
MORE Terrible Movies That Rock on the NEXT page!
The post Guilty Pleasures: 10 Terrible Movies That Kind of Rock appeared first on Dread Central.
Remember the days before the Internet, when finding information about “dark” music, art, and literature was next to impossible? In 1994, like a lifeline, Catia and Thom Carnell’s Carpe Noctem magazine appeared on the newsstands and brought it all into your hands.
Carpe Noctem gave readers and artists alike a break from their dreary day jobs to express their darker leanings.
Today publisher ZED Presents announces a KickStarter campaign to fund the Carpe Noctem 20th Anniversary Edition, and we have all the information you need to help this endeavor below.
When Catia and Thom Carnell originally launched their unique vision of a literate and informed “dark art” journal, Carpe Noctem magazine was unlike any other publication available at the time. With each subsequent release, people were more amazed by the beauty and unique vision held within. Nowhere in print was there a more perfect union of dark beauty and intelligent writing.
Across ages, cultures, and continents, Carpe Noctem magazine spoke to those who walked a slightly darker path. Whether featuring GWAR or Gino Vannelli, Jon J. Muth or Jhonen Vasquez, no publication could match the in-depth interviews, breathtaking artwork, or diverse coverage of music, film, and comics.
The KickStarter campaign will fund the printing of the Carpe Noctem 20th Anniversary Edition, already in production, which will not only catch up with artists covered in the ’90s but also add entertainers who had not been featured in the pages of Carpe Noctem before. Additionally, everyone is invited to submit their own memories about that time for possible inclusion in the print issue or on the website.
Come… find what the Night brings… once more.
The post Help Make Carpe Noctem’s 20th Anniversary Edition a Reality appeared first on Dread Central.
Written by Pierre Boisserie with art by Malo Kerfriden, The Rage Vol. 1: Zombie Generation arrives on October 7th. Look for Vol. 2: Kill or Cure on January 6th of next year.
A new pandemic virus, a mutated form of rabies, spreads throughout the world. It affects only children, turning them into mindless, violent killers, hungry for blood.
Now humanity faces an impossible choice: kill every child or face extinction… The government tries to save those infected by keeping them locked away until a treatment becomes possible.
The government men find protecting the children more and more difficult, however, for large militia groups now roam the land with a single-minded purpose: to kill all the infected and cleanse the world of the virus. Meet Amina, a young mother battling to save her son. She finds not only their lives hanging in the balance, but her humanity – and that of everyone around her, too.
The post Titan Comics Releasing The Rage Vol. 1: Zombie Generation on October 7th; See the New Trailer appeared first on Dread Central.