Read This Book! Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

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‘One of NPR’s Great Reads of 2016!

“A lively assemblage and smart analysis of dozens of haunting stories… absorbing…[and] intellectually intriguing.”—The New York Times Book Review

An intellectual feast for fans of offbeat history, Ghostland takes readers on a road trip through some of the country’s most infamously haunted places—and deep into the dark side of our history.

Colin Dickey is on the trail of America’s ghosts. Crammed into old houses and hotels, abandoned prisons and empty hospitals, the spirits that linger continue to capture our collective imagination, but why? His own fascination piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and “zombie homes,” Dickey embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. Some have established reputations as “the most haunted mansion in America,” or “the most haunted prison”; others, like…

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Free Read of the Week! The Witch of Prague: a Novella by 19th-Century Author F. Marion Crawford…

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witchFor a long time, many of the supernatural stories of author Francis Marion Crawford were out of print/not available. Thankfully, with the publication of The Witch of Prague & Other Stories, fans of well-written horror stories—the kind that fills you with dread and creeps up on you long after you have closed the book—can now enjoy the skill and talent of this amazing writer, who is known for the classic chillers: “The Screaming Skull”, based on a true horror legend; a vampire tale, “For Blood is the Life”; and, one of my very favorites ghost stories of all time, “The Upper Berth”, that features the restless apparition of a long-ago drowning victim that haunts the upper berth of cabin # 105 on-board a steamer ship.

Read The Witch of Prague, free, here…


Francis Marion Crawford (1854-1909), an American writer, was born at Bagni di Lucca, Italy. In 1879 he went to India…

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Return of the Swallows, a Creepy Short Story by Norman Prentiss—Part of His “Apocolypse a Day” Blog Series…

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Return of the Swallows

Every year, at the end of a week of festivities, a flock of migratory swallows used to arrive at the Great Stone Church in San Juan Capistrano, greeted with cheers from sightseers. The sky was black with the shapes of birds returning from winter in Goya, Argentina. The swallows built nests beneath the arches and eaves of the ruined church.

In recent years, few swallows came to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Restoration of parts of the ruined church destroyed many nests and nesting places. Man-made nests were placed beneath a prominent archway, hoping to tempt annual visitors, but the effort failed.

The celebrations continue, however. Tourists from all over gather to celebrate the week-long Fiesta de las Golondrinas, and on March 19 (the feast of St. Joseph), mariachi bands and Spanish and Native American dancers entertain the vast crowd. At noon, a bell-ringing ceremony commences, calling the birds. Perhaps a few will come, but never in the tremendous numbers of the past.

“We are always looking for them,” a resident says this year, her face brimming with unfounded hope.

Tourists turn to the bank of bell towers, raising their phones to record the clamor. They photograph the swinging ropes, the clappers striking metal bells, the scenic sun-dappled stone of the ruined church, but few of them bother to look to the sky.

A shadow falls over the Mission, darkening the images on camera and cell phone screens. A distant, overhead squawking begins to soar over the clamor of the bells.

“They’re back,” someone yells, and cameras and phones swivel, necks crane upward.

Like in years past, like in the famous song, the swallows come back to Capistrano.

The sky is almost entirely black, but it is a black that ripples like an ocean. Wings flap, and the cry of multiple birds is so loud that many tourists cover their ears. The bellringers stop pulling the ropes, so the birds make the only sound.

It is not a birdsong or mating call. The birds sound angry.

“This is more than I remember,” an old gentleman remarks. “Many, many more.”

It’s as if there is not enough room in the sky. The birds fight for space, and the dark ocean of feathers seethes with violent waves.

A group of tourists scream and jump away from where they’ve been standing. On the ground, a dying bird flaps its wings. Its eyes have been pecked out. The feather pattern, usually a mix of grays with white patches, is entirely dark with grime, as if the bird has been rolled in tar or oil. The bird has four legs that struggle in the air as it dies.

Other birds begin to fall from the sky, their grime-soaked bodies pecked and bleeding, some with two eyes pecked out, but another pair above, blinking; most with extra legs, a few with an extra head.

Tourists and locals alike seek shelter amid the ruined stones of the Mission, unaware what disaster struck in the southern hemisphere…only to migrate here in a dark, bilious cloud, then continue to spread as dead and dying birds rain onto the church courtyard.

– Norman Prentiss, March 19, 2017

Read More of Norman Prentiss’ Horror Fiction here…

The Far Away Country, an Irish Poem by Nora Hopper Chesson

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Far away’s the country where I desire to go,
Far away’s the country where the blue roses grow,
Far away’s the country and very far away,
And who would travel thither must go ‘twixt night and day.

Far away’s the country, and the seas are wild
That you must voyage over, grown man or chrisom child,
O’er leagues of land and water a weary way you’ll go
Before you’ll find the country where the blue roses grow.

But O, and O, the roses are very strange and fair,
You’d travel far to see them, and one might die to wear,
Yet, far away’s the country, and perilous the sea,
And some may think far fairer the red rose on her tree.

Far away’s the country, and strange the way to fare,
Far away’s the country–O would that I were there!
It’s on and on past Whinny Muir and over Brig o’ Dread.
And you shall pluck blue roses the day that you are dead.

[From The Haunted Hour, an Anthology Compiled by Margaret Widdemer, Harcourt, Brace and Howe, New York, 1920. Public Domain.]

They Look Like People, a CAF Film by Perry Blackshear

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SPOILER ALERT!

4 stars! Recommended for Quiet Horror fans…

http://www.theylooklikepeople.com/

‘They Look Like People is a 2015 independent psychological thriller film that was shot, edited, written, produced and directed by Perry Blackshear and marks his feature film directorial debut. The movie had its world premiere on January 25, 2015 at the Slamdance Film Festival where it won a special jury award. It stars MacLeod Andrews as a man who believes that humanity is being secretly taken over by evil creatures.

Close friends Wyatt and Christian reunite in New York City, where Christian invites Wyatt to stay at his apartment. Wyatt has withdrawn into himself, having recently broken up with his fiancee, while Christian, who lost his girlfriend, attempts to counter his insecurities with bodybuilding and aggressive machismo. As the two old friends bond, Christian invites Wyatt along on the date he has with his supervisor, Mara, calling ahead and asking Mara to invite her friend.

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Wyatt and Christian arrive to find that Mara’s friend Sandy has fallen and injured herself. Wyatt examines Sandy and recommends she go to the hospital. Wyatt, Christian and Mara spend the evening in the waiting room until Sandy’s release, and Mara gratefully thanks Christian for staying. As Christian walks Mara to the subway, he fails to take the initiative to kiss her goodnight. Wyatt reassures Christian that Mara is probably still interested in him despite the ending. After Christian falls asleep, Wyatt receives an anonymous phone call, where a muddled voice tells him he only has time to save himself, and he must leave the city and prepare for the demonic invasion.

Mara and Christian continue seeing each other. Wyatt receives subsequent phone calls, this time in Mara’s voice, alerting him to ominous signs of the apocalypse and the nature of the demons, specifically how they infect humans. Wyatt confers with a psychiatrist his fears of psychosis, but cuts the session short when he becomes convinced the psychiatrist himself is possessed by demons. Wyatt stockpiles weapons in Christian’s cellar and alternately contemplates both suicide and murder of passerby he believes to be possessed.

With his newfound assertiveness, Christian believes himself to be in line for a raise, only for Mara to reveal that he has been fired. A note on his computer, signed by his coworkers, accuses him of being an asshole. Christian returns home to find Wyatt waiting for him. Before he can say anything, Mara visits. At first angry, Christian apologizes and invites her in. The three chat amicably, and Christian leaves to get food. Wyatt invites Mara to explore the house and takes her downstairs to show his weapon stash. Wyatt asks her for further information on the demonic invasion, alluding to her voice on the phone. When Mara realizes Wyatt’s seriousness, she flees the house. Christian returns, disappointed that she left, and Wyatt becomes highly agitated and rants about the coming demonic invasion. Christian calms Wyatt down and sets him up with a psychiatrist, the same one Christian went to when he previously attempted suicide.

Wyatt accosts Mara, trying to apologize, and she lashes out in self-defense, injuring Wyatt. Out of remorse, Mara helps him clean up, but Wyatt becomes horrified as she transforms into a demon. Wyatt runs away and finds Christian preparing to join the Army to conquer his insecurities. Wyatt instead convinces him to leave the city and prepare for the coming apocalypse. Christian agrees, so long as Wyatt attends his psychiatric appointment. As Wyatt sees omens of the apocalypse, he instead insists they barricade the basement. To show his trust in Wyatt, Christian allows himself to be bound and gagged in case he is possessed. On the hour of the apocalypse, Wyatt becomes convinced Christian is possessed, and prepares to kill him as he watches Christian transform. At the last moment, Wyatt realizes he is hallucinating, and recognizing Christian as truly human, frees him. The two embrace, and Christian remarks that he has finally conquered his insecurities by facing death.’

(Wikipedia)

We Are Still Here — A Serious Indie Fright Fest! I Loved it.

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SPOILER ALERT!

Wow. What a great film. Very scary. Odd in places, but I recommend it!

In 1979, after the tragic death of their son Bobby in a car accident, Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) have decided to move to a new home in rural New England in the hopes that it will bring them some closure. Paul especially hopes that it will be therapeutic for Anne, as the death has hit her particularly hard and caused her to spiral into a deep depression. However, as soon as they arrive Anne starts claiming that Bobby is present in the house and a neighbor named Cat (Connie Neer) covertly warns them to leave the house. The house itself is also the focus of some controversy in the area, as it was built in the 1800s by the Dagmar family as a funeral home. The Dagmars were reportedly run out of the village after the townspeople discovered that they were swindling their customers by selling the corpses and burying empty caskets.

Undeterred, Anne invites her friends May and Jacob Lewis (Lisa Marie and Larry Fessenden), as they are both spiritualists and could help contact Bobby, as well as explain the strange supernatural occurrences happening in the house. Upon their arrival the two couples go out to eat, during which time the Lewises’ son Harry (Michael Patrick) arrives with his girlfriend Daniella (Kelsea Dakota) – Soon after arriving Harry is killed by an apparition on the basement stairs while Daniella watches. She flees the house in horror and drives away, only to be killed a short distance away. The Lewises and the Sacchettis head home, after which Cat’s husband Dave (Monte Markham) arrives at the restaurant, murders a waitress, and then angrily discusses the Dagmar house with the restaurant’s bartender, revealing that the house needs to feed every 30 years or the evil beneath it will search out fresh souls, potentially destroying the town.

Jacob eventually manages to convince a reluctant Paul to hold a seance with him while their wives are out. This ends with Jacob becoming possessed by the spirit of Lassander Dagmar (Guy Gane III), who reveals that they were never run out of town, rather the villagers used him and his family as a sacrifice to the evil under their home. Lassander, overcome with rage, then causes Jacob to kill himself. His wife May tries to flee, only to be killed by Dave, who has come to the house with the other townspeople, determined to give the darkness under the home what it wants. The Sacchettis then hear the voice of their son Bobby urging them to leave the house, and flee upstairs as Dave and the townspeople begin breaking into and entering the house. The spirits of the Dagmar family then proceed to violently murder every one of the townspeople in the house until only Dave, Paul, and Anne remain. Still intending to sacrifice them, Dave tries to kill Anne and Paul, but before he can do so, he is killed by Lassander’s spirit. As Paul and Anne stare at the carnage around them, the spirits of the family depart from the house, finally satisfied with their revenge. Still believing her son is in the home, Anne dazedly walks into the house’s cellar, followed moments later by her husband. As he peers down the stairs, Paul smiles slightly, then says “Hey Bobby”.

Coming Soon from Dark Regions Press! The Red Brain: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (ed. Joshi)

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(Dark Regions Press)

The Red Brain: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Edited by S. T. Joshi, a follow-up anthology to A Mountain Walked. The book will be available in ebook, trade paperback and a deluxe slipcased edition designed to match the slipcased collector’s edition of A Mountain Walked so that both volumes line up nicely on the shelf.

Featuring stories from Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti, Caitlín R. Kiernan, W. H. Pugmire, Mark Samuels, Ray Garton Clark Ashton Smith and more, The Red Brain will be offered for preorder on Tuesday, May 2nd 2017 in our upcoming Cthulhu Mythos campaign!

http://www.darkregions.com/news/may-2nd-cthulhu-mythos-books-campaign-six-new-titles-dark-regions-press