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


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.]

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


(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!



The Roost, a Pretty Cool Ti West “Retro-Horror” Film

MV5BMTczMzIzMTczN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDgwNjYzMQ@@._V1_‘These days, it’s extremely rare that an internship will lead to a full-time job. It’s rarer still, as an aspiring filmmaker, for an internship to lead directly to your first professional directing effort. However, that’s what happened with director Ti West, who interned under producer/actor Larry Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix. Fessenden was impressed by West’s student films, so when West pitched him a feature idea about a pack of killer bats called THE ROOST, Fessenden was quick to come onboard as executive producer. Released in 2005 with intentions as a modest, low-budget throwback to cheesy horror films from the 1980’s, THE ROOST exceeded all expectations. West’s confident direction propelled it to a warm reception at various film festivals, effectively launching his career as a feature filmmaker worth watching.

THE ROOST follows four friends driving through dark woods en route to a Halloween wedding, when suddenly a renegade bat surprises them and causes the car to swerve into a ditch. Unable to free the car, the friends set off into the night to search for help. They come across a dilapidated barn and take shelter from the elements, but it’s not long until they discover that they’ve wandered directly into the bats’ roost, and their bite has the power to turn the bitten into bloodthirsty zombies.

One of the film’s peculiar quirks is the use of a framing device that resembles those late-night horror movie presentations introduced by a ghoulish host. West’s fictional show, which he calls Frightmare Theatre, places the macabre host inside of a chintzy, gothic castle and takes time out of THE ROOST’s narrative so that he can crack blackly humorous jokes. This bookending conceit boasts the film’s one recognizable face, in the form of Tom Noonan (famous for his portrayal of The Tooth Fairy in Michael Mann’s classic MANHUNTER (1986). Noonan is pitch perfect as the droll, Vincent Price-esque Master of Ceremonies, his naturally-gangly physicality adding to the cheesy spookiness on display. Securing the services of Noonan was THE ROOST’s ultimate coup, as his name brought a great deal of legitimacy to West’s efforts.

The cast inside of THE ROOST’s main narrative doesn’t fare as well, unfortunately. West casts a quartet of unknowns (Karl Jacob, Vanessa Horneff, Sean Reid, and Will Horneff) that are most likely friends of his from film school or from local auditions. The characters are standard horror archetypes: the bookish nerd, the sassy girl, the stubborn stoner, and the virtuous alpha male. Not a lot is required of the actors other than to scream and run on cue, which to be fair, they all do effectively. Otherwise, the performances are wooden and uninspired. There’s a reason why none of them broke out along with West in the wake of the film’s success. On the brighter side, Fessenden himself appears towards the end in a cameo as a tow-truck driver attacked by the flock of bats.

MV5BMjA4Njk5MzM0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTgzNTYyMQ@@._V1_Of the filmmakers in my generation, West is unique in that he mostly shoots on film. Since he’s also shot a feature on video, I don’t think he necessarily prefers film to video, but I do think his old-fashioned aesthetic demands film because video can’t replicate it (at least it couldn’t when THE ROOST was made). West is a capable cinematographer in his own right, but he’s probably like me in that his shooting on actual film tests the limits of his skills when he’s also directing. The mechanics and mathematic calculations inherent in film is best left to a dedicated cinematographer, so West entrusts the Super 16mm photography to DP Eric Robbins. The aesthetic of THE ROOST is relatively unadorned, with the majority of camerawork being handheld. Robbins’ lighting setup is low-key, with lurid colors similar to the carnival-esque aesthetic of Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003). It embraces the lo-fi natures of 16mm film, creating a similar look to the heyday of VHS horror. The color red is used specifically for effect, popping out of the darkness and flashed in gory freeze frames. The Frighthouse Theatre segment gets its own particular look, with black and white photography filtered to resemble an old TV broadcast. Production Designer David Bell populates the set with loads of cheesy gothic objects and dressing, completing West’s tongue-in-macabre-cheek vision.

West also incorporates storytelling elements whose influence comes from unexpected places, like Michael Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES (1997). Three quarters of the way through the film, the story abruptly ends with the surviving characters giving up and accepting their fate. Noonan’s unhappy host returns, expressing his disapproval of the ending, so he actually rewinds the film and plays it back to show the alternate, definitive ending. Haneke did the same thing in his film, toying with his audience by presenting false hope only to snatch defeat from the jaws of triumph.

Composer Jeff Grace also received a modest breakout with THE ROOST, having previously assisted Howard Shore in his work on THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY for Peter Jackson and GANGS OF NEW YORK for Martin Scorsese. He crafts an ominous, discordant suite of cues where shrieking string instruments evoke the terror of killer bats. He also uses a gothic organ in the Frighmare Theatre scenes that further lends to the intended cheesiness. Diagetically, West incorporates a few underground punk songs into the mix, giving us a little view into his own particular musical tastes. The sound mix as a whole is incredibly strong for a film this low-budget. Graham Reznick serves as the sound designer, turning in what would be the first of many mixes he’d create for West over the years.

THE ROOST immediately differentiates itself from other indie horror films because of its old-school aesthetic. While most directors of our generation are trying to make slick, glossy horror films with digital cameras, West is appropriating the look of a by-gone era and making it his own. There’s a distinct charm in his approach, a palpable soul. In taking this old-school approach, the evidence of West’s craft and direction becomes more visible. Filmed mainly in West’s native Delaware, THE ROOST is the first appearance of a peculiar signature of West’s, namely that the story revolves around a singular locale. This signature may be borne out of the needs of low-budget indie filmmaking where the locations budget is sorely lacking, but in THE ROOST, West uses it to his advantage to paint a compelling portrait of the abandoned barn in which our characters take refuge.

THE ROOST is stuffed with references to various non-filmic Halloween-time media traditions, like spooky radio shows and the aforementioned Frightmare Theatre presentation. It’s difficult to tell how much—if any—inspiration is sourced from Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, which was a similarly old-fashioned horror jaunt that premiered only two years prior to production on THE ROOST. Knowing their shared affinity for 80’s horror, it’s unlikely that West didn’t like Zombie’s film—which makes the similarities to Zombie’s own debut hard to ignore. For example, both films open with the cheesy, late-night Frightmare Theatre conceit.


DVD Cover

THE ROOST leveraged Fessenden’s name to draw attention to itself during its South by Southwest festival premiere. But once West filled out the auditorium, attention shifted directly on him, with several critics and horror blogs naming THE ROOST as one of the best films of the year. Now, THE ROOST isn’t a great film by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a serviceable entry in the genre, mostly notable for that fact that it is West’s debut. His direction shows the signs of a young filmmaker, frequently indulging in awkward, unnecessary exposition. But with his effective direction of the horror sequences and convincing visual effects, West is able to hit where it really counts. The film was eventually picked up for distribution by Showtime—quite the feat for any aspiring filmmaker. With the success of THE ROOST, West had staked his territory in the genre and established himself as a director to watch.

THE ROOST is currently available on standard definition DVD via Showtime Entertainment.’


Dark Gods, Four Horror Novellas by T. E. D. Klein (Viking/Penguin 1985)

Dark Gods - Jul 1986, T. E. D. Klein, publ. Bantam, 0-553-25801-X, $3.95, 261pp, pb, collDark Gods by T. E. D. Klein, 4 Horror Novellas…

Table of Contents

1. Children of the Kingdom
2. Petey
3. Black Man with a Horn
4. Nadelman’s God

The sadly non-prolific T.E.D. Klein published his only novel, The Ceremonies, in 1984 (an expansion of his story “The Events at Poroth Farm”, another very frightening story that first appeared in Shadows 2, edited by Charles L. Grant). 1984! Klein’s second book, followed a year later: the collection Dark Gods, which is comprised of four novellas written during the previous decade. Klein was editor of Twilight Zone magazine at the time (the magazine published well-respected short horror stories until its demise in 1989).

Although all of his fiction is set in the modern era, its care and subtlety hearken back to late 19th/early 20th century masters like M.R. James, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Sheridan Le Fanu, Lovecraft—there is even a hint of Carver, Oates, and Updike in Klein’s portrayal of mid-twentieth-century American suburbia (see “Petey”). Modern purveyors of this style work in what has been dubbed “quiet horror.” I just call it “smart horror” or “horror with an intellect”. Many of these writers are writing what is now being rferred to as “weird fiction” (Strantzas, Kiernan, Unsworth, Cluley, Mills, Wehunt, DeMeester, Ballingrud, John Langan, Ramsey Campbell, Kim Newman, Gaiman, et al.) These writers pride themselves on creating moods and atmospheres, a sense of awe, mystery, providing chilling intimations of fear and dread rather than, as Stephen King once put it (and as is King’s own niche more often than not), “going for the gross-out.”

The Bantam mass-market paberback cover of Dark Gods (pictured here) depicts, out of a vast stormy sky, an inchoate face, raging, fanged, demonic—a living darkness threatening a solitary rural house (it’s from “Petey”).

The first novella, “Children of the Kingdom” (originally published in 1980 in the game-changing anthology Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCauley), takes place in the midst of the infamous New York City blackout of summer 1977 at an old folks’ home where the narrator’s grandfather lives. Slowly and surely Klein builds the atmosphere, dropping hints and clues throughout, mixing vague supernatural dread with real-life threats caused by the blackout. The sewers of New York, it turns out, harbor more than just baby alligators; and roving gangs something a bit less-than-human, perhaps, might be lurking closer than you think.

black-man-with-a-horn“Black Man with a Horn” (1980), one of Klein’s most lauded stories, has as its narrator an old horror fiction writer who once knew H. P. Lovecraft. After a chance meeting with a nervous missionary returning from Malaysia on an international flight, the narrator learns the true meaning of a horrific bogeyman from ancient myth—myth he thought was made up entirely by Lovecraft and his fellow circle of Weird Tales writers. The story is both a sly, ironic meditation on the art of horror; as well as a creepy, satisfying story. Considered part of the Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos cycle, it was originally published in New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, edited by Ramsey Campbell (Arkham House).  The story is based on a cult mentioned by both August Derleth and Lovecraft, called the “Tcho-Tcho”, and the protagonist’s investigation into its connection with the disappearance of the missionary.

“Petey” involves a man in a mental asylum who’s so spooked by something he’s seen that he keeps trying to commit suicide. George and Phyllis and thirty of their friends are celebrating the couple’s new Connecticut home, an old place they’ve recently fixed up (more specifically, cleaned up). The previous owner of the house was a bit…imbalanced (he had “eyes like a sorcerer” some of the locals claim). Someone finds an ancient book about grotesqueries and arabesqueries. And, about 20 pages into the story, someone pulls out a creepy deck of tarot cards. Petey is one of the best horror stories I’ve ever read. What makes it so incredible is the slow unfolding of the horror. It’s the kind of tale that will quickly exhaust the patience of the short-attention-spanned reader. This, agaon, is smart horror, quiet horror, horror for the intellect. Trust it. Petey is the kind of tale that will reward the patient reader. It will make you glance over your shoulder at every ittle bump in the night, and wish to hell you hadn’t sat down to read it next to a window.

“Nadelman’s God”—which won the 1986 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella, reads more like a comedy of errors than a supernatural arising. But in a random and chaotic universe as this, where mankind is still guessing at metaphysical connections, it is with a mannered sigh of cultivated resignation that an ancient, exiled god can be conjured out of a sophomoric, pretentious poem ego-published in a small, collegiate newspaper. Nadelman has dismissed any long-ago, youthful dream of using his celestial musings to impress society’s intelligencia. Soon, the brutal murders start, and all hope of a benign belief system fail. As more unspeakable events occur, Nadelman plunders into his own daunting ennui. He feels as if the earth were yearning to crush him, smother him, blot out the very memory of him; as if the planet, all nature, all creation, the very fabric of reality, were inimical to breeds such as his.

The Temple of Death: The Ghost Stories of A. C. Benson & R. H. Benson, TOC


Table of Contents

3 • The Temple of Death • (1903) • short story by A. C. Benson
19 • The Closed Window • (1903) • short story by A. C. Benson
29 • The Slype House • (1904) • short story by A. C. Benson
43 • The Red Camp • (1903) • short story by A. C. Benson
63 • Out of the Sea • (1904) • short story by A. C. Benson
75 • The Grey Cat • (1903) • short story by A. C. Benson
89 • The Hill of Trouble • (1903) • short story by A. C. Benson
105 • Basil Netherby • (1926) • novelette by A. C. Benson
129 • The Uttermost Farthing • (1926) • novelette by A. C. Benson
177 • The Watcher • (1903) • short story by R. H. Benson
183 • The Blood-Eagle • (1903) • short story by R. H. Benson
191 • Consolatrix Afflictorum • (1903) • short story by R. H. Benson
197 • Over the Gateway • (1903) • short story by R. H. Benson
203 • Father Meuron’s Tale • (1907) • short story by R. H. Benson
211 • Father Macclesfield’s Tale • (1907) • short story by R. H. Benson
219 • The Traveller • (1903) • short story by R. H. Benson

The First Orbit Book of Horror Stories edited by Richard Davis (ca. 1970s), TOC

51mLcmxAnNLTable of Contents

Big, Wide, Wonderful World • [Shock Short] • (1958) • short story by Charles E. Fritch
Burger Creature • (1973) • short story by Stepan Chapman [as by Steve Chapman]
Forget-Me-Not • (1975) • novelette by Bernard Taylor
Halloween Story • (1972) • short story by Gregory Fitz Gerald
Judas Story • (1975) • novelette by Brian Stableford [as by Brian M. Stableford]
S.F. • (1975) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
Satanesque • (1974) • short story by Allan Weiss
The House of Cthulhu • [Cthulhu Mythos] • (1973) • short story by Brian Lumley
The Man in the Underpass • (1975) • short story by Ramsey Campbell
The Taste of Your Love • [Liefde’s Kronkelwegen • 2] • (1975) • short story by Eddy C. Bertin (trans. of De Smaak van Jouw Liefde 1971)
The Whimper of Whipped Dogs • (1973) • short story by Harlan Ellison
Uncle Vlad • (1973) • short story by Clive Sinclair
Wake Up Dead • (1975) • short story by Tim Stout
Introduction (The First Orbit Book of Horror Stories) • essay by Richard Davis

Reassuring Tales by T. E. D. Klein, TOC

51TiJc8YoFLTable of Contents

7 • Introduction (Reassuring Tales) • (2006) • essay by T. E. D. Klein
17 • Camera Shy • (1988) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
27 • Growing Things • (1999) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
33 • Curtains for Nat Crumley • (1996) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
51 • Magic Carpet • (1976) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
57 • One Size Eats All • (1993) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
63 • Ladder • (1990) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
77 • Well-Connected • (1987) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
93 • S.F. • (1975) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
111 • They Don’t Write ’em Like This Anymore: A TV Treatment in Two Versions • (1989) • short story by T. E. D. Klein
121 • The Events at Poroth Farm • (1972) • novella by T. E. D. Klein