More sorcery practice.
â™« â€œVampiresâ€ by Radiorama
Spooky Italo-disco. The video will surely haunt your mind.
The New Gothic anthology leads with its best story, â€œDive In Meâ€ by Jesse Bullington and S. J. Chambers. In it, 3 delinquent teens visit the fabled Suicide Sinks for a swim after one of them confirms the place’s existence. It wrings a surprising sense of doom from a sunny Florida locale using a great local legend and setting, common fears (of drowning, enclosed spaces, being far from help), and character. Though the end raised a few too many questions, this story made me glad I bought the book. Other highlights included â€œThe Debt Collectorâ€ by Fi Mitchell, in which the titular character tries to collect from a vampire, and â€œReading The Signsâ€ by Ramsey Campbell, in which a lost motorist feels growing unease with the man and boy he gave a lift to after midnight. Some stories didn’t work for me, but most still had some merit.
Anything that makes you feel alive canâ€™t be all that bad. This was the mantra that Gina used to justify all sorts of dubious adventures with Moira and Spring, the other two being decidedly less cautious than she when it came to, well, everything. â€¦ This plot, however, didnâ€™t give her the same queasy-awesome thrill as smashing streetlights or boosting shitty jewelry from Claireâ€™s, â€¦ This plan filled her with dread. For the first hour, she smoked cig after cig, trying to come up with a plan on how to either talk them out of it or get herself out of it. She was just waiting for an opening, but Moiraâ€™s enthusiasm kept common sense out of the conversation as they followed Spring until the cracked sidewalks gave way to the long grass that bordered the old highway leading out of town.
You can get The New Gothic at DriveThruFiction DRM-free in multiple formats (and 25% off through Halloween!), directly from the publisher’s badly-arranged website, or locked-down at the usual online giants. Samples are linked from the comments on the publisher’s page for the book.
â™« â€œWind And Rainâ€ by Crooked Still
In honor of the recent storm, with creepiness for the upcoming holiday.
- CHILDREN OF THE CANE
- A couple on vacation encounters a sugarcane-growing town where the children have formed a cult and murdered all the adults.
- CHILDREN OF THE CO-EARN
- The children in an isolated town become maniacally obsessed with a profit-sharing scheme, killing anyone who won’t join.
- CHILLING OF THE CORN
- A documentary about frozen vegetables.
- CHILDREN OF THE CONE
- A couple encounters an isolated town where the children have killed the adults to eliminate restrictions on ice-cream consumption. Having learned how to operate the ice cream stand, the kids rob and murder passerby to pay for supplies.
- CHILDREN OF THE COW URN
- A society of children venerate a cartoonish cow-shaped pitcher into which they pour the blood of human sacrifices.
- CHILTON OF THE CORN
- In this historical comedy, improbable circumstances lead a British aristocrat to become a farmer in the United States. Will he ever accept the American usage of the word â€œcornâ€ to mean â€œmaizeâ€?
- CHILDREN OF THE COMB
- A cult of children obsessed with perfect hair murder anyone who doesn’t have itâ€¦and grown-ups generally don’t.
- CHILDREN OF THE BOURNE
- The umpteenth Bourne Conspiracy sequel, introducing a new generation.
- CHITLINS AND SOME CORN
- A short video demonstrating a recipe.
- CHILDREN OF THE PORN
- A malevolent pornographic movie rapidly circulates among residents of a small town, causing them to conceive demonic children.
- CHILDREN OF THE CORN MAZE aka CHILDREN OF THE MAIZE
- A traveling couple encounters a town that seems to have no children. They discover that all the children live in a corn maze, where they’ve formed a terrifying, feral society. They live there because one year the local farmer who made the annual corn maze got over-ambitious, and the maze proved too difficult to escape â€” the children couldn’t find their way out. When the adults realized how quiet and peaceful the town was without them, they left them there.
- CHILBLAINS AND A CORN
- A senior citizen details their ailments.
- CHIPMUNKS OF THE CORN
- In an isolated farming town, unusually intelligent chipmunks have formed a cult and murdered all the children in town. The chipmunks got the idea from observing the children, who had formed a cult and murdered all the adults in town. Will the chipmunks learn to farm in time to replace all the corn they’re gorging on?
â™« “Dead Puppies” by Ogden Edsl
A dreadful ditty for the spookiest month.
A Christmas story in which Beelzebub sends a little demon to harass a pickle salesman, Clive Barker’s “The Yattering And Jack” (season 4, episode 7 of Tales From The Darkside) is an odd delight.
â™« “That Doll Just Tried To Kill Me” by Zombina and the Skeletones
“The Signal-Man” by Charles Dickens is a great spooky story. In it, a man who runs the train signals in a cutting near a tunnel sees troubling phantoms that seem to foretell a disaster. The setting has a satisfying gloom that differs from the usual haunted house or castle.
“After a maybe-supernatural disappearance, estranged siblings come home to sort the affairs of their presumed-dead parent” â€” I recently watched both the “boy” and the “girl” versions of this movie plot.
In the “boy” version, Beyond The Gates (written by Stephen Scarlata and Jackson Stewart, and directed by Stewart), 2 brothers packing up their missing father’s video store find a VCR board game that seems to have spirited him away.
In the “girl” version, The Midnight Swim (written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith), 3 sisters connect their mother’s disappearance in the lake she loved to a local folk legend.
The situation in both films draws secrets and sorrows out of the siblings â€” some explained and some only hinted at. Both films feature movie technology in-story: Gates centers on the VCR game, and Swim is entirely filmed by one of the sisters. But despite the similarities, they feel very different from each other.
Beyond The Gates tells its story of grief, reconnection, and healing through the medium of VHS-era-inspired light schlock horror. It has some sketchy story logic, which is normal for pure schlock but somehwat undercut the emotional story for me as I wondered (for example), “Why don’t they rewind the tape to see if it plays the same thing again?” It has some gore and frights, but isn’t a seriously scary movie. It’s an odd duck. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
The Midnight Swim isn’t really a horror movie, and the supernatural plays a low-key, ambiguous role in it, but to me it still felt like solid spooky October viewing. I liked it a lot despite some unclarity near the end. It’s a beautiful movie, and I recommend it. Fangoria liked it, too, and describe it better than I can. I give it 4 or 5 stars out of 5.
When the power goes out…
…the ghost cat appears!
This Halloween I hung out with my friend Anne as she doled out treats to hordes of kids, and I donned the traditional bedsheet ghost costume so rarely seen these days. I almost didn’t bother because even with help it came out crooked, but I’m glad I did because kids’ reactions were a hoot (the photo’s just a pose; I sat on the stoop with Anne).
The first pair shook my hand before leaving. One boy asked if I was a Mister or Miss Ghost and got agitated when I played coy, trying to get a close look and saying things like “What is your gender?” and “Show me your mustache!” We had a couple of skeptics, too; one said, “Nice costume, but I’m not buying it,” and later another said, “You’re not a ghost!” — but only after peering closely :)
A man (Charles) and a woman (Charlotte) walk in the moonlight.
“Oh Charles,” says Charlotte, “I’ve had such a wonderful time tonight — and the moon is so beautiful!”
“OH NO!” exclaims Charles. “I have to go right now!”
“A terrible curse!” says Charles. “Every full moon I turn into a — AGH!” He doubles over in pain.
“Charles, what — ?”
“RRR — RUN! AAAAAA” Charles screams from off panel as the woman gasps in fright and surprise.
“Charles, you’re a — a — a house!” says Charlotte. And indeed, a one-story house stands in Charles’s place. She hesitates, then asks, “May I use your bathroom?”
This is all a story told by a young girl to her younger brother, who says, “Whooooaaa” in amazement. “So that’s what a warehouse is!”
[Voice from inside house] â€œSo how did your trick-or-treating go?â€
[Two girls are sorting their Halloween candy – a blonde girl in a grim reaper costume and a black-haired girl in a skeleton costume.]
Blonde girl: â€œGood â€“ but look what that creepy house gave me.â€
Black-haired girl: â€œA pickle?! Thatâ€™s weird.â€
Blonde girl: â€œYeah. I guess Iâ€™ll put it in the fridge for nowâ€¦â€
Laterâ€¦at midnightâ€¦[sleepy blonde girl, in her pajamas, opens the fridge – then looks wide-eyed in amazement. A pickle with arms, legs, and a face has been using its fangs to drain the ketchup bottle.]
Blond girl: “WHA-?! V- V- V- V-“
- Buy packs of â€œMidnight Snackâ€ & my other Halloween comics.
- Right-click & downloadÂ the PDF of “Midnight Snack” to print. All I ask if you download is that you email or leave a comment to let me know you downloaded it and how many you plan to print & where (for example, â€œ30 copies for trick-or-treaters in Putney, VTâ€).
Assembling the comic is pretty easy! Print the PDF double-sided at 100% (no scaling; donâ€™t let the program â€œadjust to printer marginsâ€ or anything like that). Each copy of the file produces 4 copies of the comic; when you cut them apart, the pages will be in the right order for you to staple & fold. If using scissors instead of a papercutter, you may want to cut after folding. Staple in the center & fold. If youâ€™re using a standard stapler, you may want to fold the comic before stapling or use a ruler to help find the center (at 2 3/4â€³). If using a long stapler, the measurement marks probably donâ€™t go down to 2 3/4â€³, so line up a ruler with the one on the stapler to get the added measurement.
“Are – are you okay?” he asked the boy, who didn’t seem very happy.
“Oh…” the boy replied, “I just don’t have any friends…”
“Well…maybe I could be your friend?” Billy suggested.
“That’d be swell! Would you walk to my house with me?”
“Great! C’mon!” the boy headed into the cemetery.
“Uh-” Billy said. “Wh-why are we going through the cemetery?” He was looking around so nervously that he didn’t notice how transparent the boy looked now that the moon had come out from behind the clouds.
“It’s the shortest way,” the boy said.
“Are you sure there isn’t a better way?” Bill asked as the path wound near a crypt.
“We have to go this way.”
- Buy packs of “The Boy in the Cemetery” & my other Halloween comics.
- Buy it as part of a set with Halloween comics by other cartoonists.
- Right-click & download the PDF of “The Boy in the Cemetery” to print. All I ask if you download is that you email or leave a comment to let me know you downloaded it and how many you printed & where they went (for example, â€œ30 copies to trick-or-treaters in Putney, VTâ€).
Assembling the comic is pretty easy! Print the PDF double-sided at 100% (no scaling; don’t let the program “adjust to printer margins” or anything like that). Each copy of the file produces 4 copies of the comic; when you cut them apart, the pages will be in the right order for you to staple & fold. If using scissors instead of a papercutter, you may want to cut after folding. Staple in the center & fold. If you’re using a standard stapler, you may want to fold the comic before stapling or use a ruler to help find the center (at 2 3/4″). If using a long stapler, the measurement marks probably don’t go down to 2 3/4″, so line up a ruler with the one on the stapler to get the added measurement.
Check out my other Halloween comics, too!
Well, there’s my take on vampires for you.
Get “Beware the Vampire” formatted as a minicomic with puzzle to give to trick-or-treaters, Halloween party-goers, goblins, etc.! Buy packs of “Beware the Vampire” & other Halloween comics, or right-click & download the PDF of “Beware the Vampire” to print. All I ask if you download is that you email or leave a comment to let me know you downloaded it and how many you printed & where they went (for example, â€œ30 copies to trick-or-treaters in Putney, VTâ€).
Itâ€™s easy! The PDF has 2 pages which should be printed as one double-sided sheet in â€œlandscapeâ€ format, preferably on red paper. There are 2 copies of the comic on the sheet, so cut the sheet in half (if using scissors instead of a papercutter, you may want to cut after folding). Fold the comic in half so you canâ€™t see the covers, then on each side fold the edge next to the opening back to meet the edge with the fold, producing a little booklet with covers where you read the comic, then flip over & open the back for a puzzle! It should look like this (except a different comic, of course).Â Put them under a heavy book for a while so they stay closed better.
Have a fun & spooky Halloween!