“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” — 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 — 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!
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!”
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, “30 copies to trick-or-treaters in Putney, VT”).
It’s easy! The PDF has 2 pages which should be printed as one double-sided sheet in “landscape” 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 can’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). Put them under a heavy book for a while so they stay closed better.
Have a fun & spooky Halloween!