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

 

 

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.

Cool “Lovecraftian” Comic Art

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The delights gather thick as ghouls in a midnight cemetery …

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“The delights of this macabre novel gather thick as ghouls at midnight in the cemetery.” – The Washingtom Post on The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

Vampires, a curse, the colonial village of Princeton, this novel is a knockout—filled with poetic prose, with nods to Radcliffe, the Brontës, Bram Stoker, Lovecraft, and even Emily Dickinson. The Accursed is not what I expected. The cover misleads. And I’m glad it does.

Ron Charles in his 2013 Washington Post review: “With its vast scope, its mingling of comic and tragic tones, its omnivorous gorging on American literature, and especially its complex reflection on the major themes of our history, “The Accursed” is the kind of outrageous masterpiece only Joyce Carol Oates could create.’

Read this book. – SW

The Washington Post Review, 2013

Book World: ‘The Accursed,’ by Joyce Carol Oates by Ron Charles

‘The Accursed” is the latest addition to Joyce Carol Oates’s boundless body of work, and it’s spectacular — a coalescence of history, horror and social satire that whirls around for almost 700 mesmerizing pages. Oates started the novel in 1984 but set it aside to steep in its own febrile juices for three decades. Now “The Accursed” arises in full bloom, boasting as much craft as witchcraft.

The book comes to us framed as a work of amateur history, the pet project of M.W. van Dyck, a member of one of the august old families in Princeton, N.J. “I have been privy to many materials unavailable to other historians,” he tells us, dismissing earlier scholars who have tried to make sense of the tragedies that struck Princeton in 1905. “No one is possessed of as much information as I am concerning the private, as well as the public, nature of the Curse.”

What follows is a “massive chronicle” — a patchwork of narratives, letters, diaries, journals and sermons that together unveil the grotesque assault that once shed America’s bluest blood. “The subject matter is disconcerting,” van Dyck admits, “if not frankly repulsive,” but the truth will out.

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At the center of this spectral tale, spiked with a “frisson of dread,” live the Slades, who can trace their lineage back to Plymouth Plantation. The living patriarch, the Rev. Winslow Slade, was once governor of New Jersey and now basks in the joys of retirement. As one of New England’s wealthiest and most esteemed Presbyterian ministers, he’s still sought out by men of influence. But nothing matters more to him than the happiness of his four grandchildren. How sad, then, that those beautiful children are torn from him, one by one, during a series of chilling events known collectively as the Curse.

The first grandchild struck is beautiful Annabel, betrothed to gallant Lt. Bayard. Honestly, can anything worse befall a young bride than getting married in a book by Joyce Carol Oates? It’s always something old, something new, something borrowed, something slew. This time the flowers don’t just wilt, they emit a poisonous aroma that drives men to murderous rage. Nine years ago, Oates published a powerful novel called “The Falls” about a marriage that ended on the first day of the honeymoon, but that was matrimonial bliss compared with the marriage in “The Accursed,” which lasts about 30 seconds. It’s such a masterly scene, elaborately foreshadowed, gorgeously festooned as only Oates can, and then run in delectable slow motion — with some dialogue in parseltongue — right up to the fantastic climax of Part I.

The delights of this macabre novel gather thick as ghouls at midnight in the cemetery. I’ve never been so aware of Oates’s weird comedy. Through it all, van Dyck maintains his skeptical, scholarly tone, even when a lonely undergraduate is ravished by a self-loathing gay vampire, or a minister chokes on a giant snake, or a gossipy invalid is murdered with an electric fan. The scent of demons grows pungent, and viscera pile up at the bottom of these pages, but our narrator shuffles along, assuring us he’s just clearing the cobwebs from a story too long encumbered by myths and rumors. “Where my objectivity as a historian is an issue,” he tells us, “I must err on the side of caution.” Did I mention the boy who turns to stone?

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Among all the creatures Oates resurrects, she revives the spirit of Nathaniel Hawthorne — who, with a similarly dry wit, liked to suggest the most outlandish speculations, then dismiss them immediately. And his work isn’t the only classic you can hear echoing in the dark forest of this story: The mysterious pattern of mayhem in Princeton recalls one of America’s first novels, a tale of deadly mental influence by Charles Brockden Brown called “Wieland.” In another “Accursed” storyline, a professor falls into madness by trying to apply the methods of Sherlock Holmes. Later, a handsome young man sails off toward the frozen terror of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Arthur Gordon Pym,” while his lovely sister rides away in a creepy dramatization of Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” flaps around every corner.

Those literary allusions are only a slice of this novel’s treasures. Although a creaky ghost story with all its attendant specters would seem a strange frame for a work of historical fiction about the beginning of the 20th century, “The Accursed” provides a compelling context to explore equally scary attitudes about blacks, gays and the poor. After all, to these nervous Brahmins, striking miners are just as frightening as vampires. In the twilight before World War I, the pious folk of Princeton are troubled by fiery debates about the nature of God, the rights of women, the power of capital, the future of socialism and particularly the role of blacks. Older residents can remember the good old days when Southern boys brought their own slaves to school. But now, that calcified structure of elitism is being challenged by forces earthly and occult, and the past will have its revenge. “There is a monstrousness in our midst,” one well-heeled snob scribbles in her diary.

Whereas the central, doomed family of “The Accursed” is Oates’s invention, familiar figures such as Mark Twain, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland rise from their graves fully reanimated in these pages. Central among them is Princeton’s most famous president, Woodrow Wilson, a brittle monomaniac shown here in all his paranoia and imperialism years before he ascended to the White House and made the world safe for democracy. Oates doesn’t just knock him off his pedestal; she crushes him beneath the weight of his own bizarre habits and terrors. She takes special delight in detailing Wilson’s penchant for demonizing anyone who disagrees with him, telling racist jokes and pumping his own stomach with a tube.

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A professor at Princeton for decades, Oates also luxuriates in exposing the school’s ivy-strangled traditions in “a claustrophobic little world of privilege and anxiety in which one was made to care too much about too little.” Internecine battles threaten to tear the school apart, and the students are devoted to socializing, not scholarship. And there’s a wickedly funny section about Princeton’s obsession with homosexuality that foreshadows our current approach to prosecuting terrorism in a cloud of paranoia and secrecy.

Charmingly, Oates subjects herself to the same wry appraisal. Van Dyck’s narrative is spiked with self-deprecating jokes that allude to her own critical reception, her inexhaustible verbiage, even her tendency toward melodrama. When the novel’s final pages veer into Shakespearean comedy and then rush into a puritanical sermon of Old Testament fury, it’s clear that this is an author fully aware of her literary extravagances.

Yes, it’s exhaustive and exhausting as it sprawls across all this disparate material. It’s no wonder the word “faint” seems to lie on every other page. And there are a few dead patches — Wilson’s trip to Bermuda never really comes to life, and the Jack London section drags — but those ragged edges only make the book seem more like something van Dyck has curated over his lifetime. With its vast scope, its mingling of comic and tragic tones, its omnivorous gorging on American literature, and especially its complex reflection on the major themes of our history, “The Accursed” is the kind of outrageous masterpiece only Joyce Carol Oates could create.’ ♢

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Author Photo by Annie Leibowitz.

Lovecraftian-themed movies currently on Netflix and Amazon Prime

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Are you in the mood for a Lovecraftian-themed movie? Look no further! Here’s a list of Lovecraftian-themed films on Netflix or Amazon Prime, as of today, October 11, 2016.

Source: Lovecraftian-themed movies currently on Netflix and Amazon Prime

#Cover Reveal! Agents of Dreamland, a New Novella by Caitlín R. Kiernan (>Feb. 2017)…grab yours now!

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Art by Christine Foster.

First of all Caitlín R. Kiernan is this blogger’s favorite writer. There are many reasons for this, too many to go into in a quick post like this.

If you haven’t read Kiernan, you’re missing out.

I am excited to learn she has a new novella due out from TOR publishing this coming February. Her work is extremely collectible and so I do not exaggerate when I say, pre-order your copy now. I have provided the link to Amazon below. You can also pre-order for nook, and ibook.

From the lovely folks over at TOR publishing:

“We’re excited to share the cover for Agents of Dreamland, a Lovecraftian first-contact novella by Caitlín R. Kiernan—available February 2017 from Tor.com Publishing…”

A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation, but which haunts the Signalman.

In a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible — the Children of the Next Level — and offers them something to believe in and a chance for transcendence. The future is coming and they will help to usher it in.

A day after the events at the ranch house which disturbed the Signalman so deeply that he and his government sought out help from ‘other’ sources, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe New Horizons. Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact.

And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.

 

Pre-order your copy of Agents of Dreamland here:

https://www.amazon.com/Agents-Dreamland-Caitlin-R-Kiernan/dp/0765394324/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

(Text & Image: http://www.tor.com/2016/08/31/revealing-the-cover-for-caitlin-kiernans-agents-of-dreamland/)