Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Dark Corners - Ghost in the Invisible Bikini: Review

I heartily recommend the Dark Corners YouTube channel for its vast array of movie reviews. As well as the bad ones (so many!) there's also some great stuff about good movies, esp. those of Val Lewton.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

'Coulter's Candy' by Johnny Mains

Our next story in Terror Tales of the Scottish Lowlands takes us back to Victorian times, and a genuine candyman on a downward curve. The story opens with Robert Colthart collapsing in the street, mocked by children for his ponderous belly. We've all been there. He wakes up on the kitchen table and his long-suffering wife tries to reassure him. A certain 'she' is dead and he has no reason to keep hitting the bottle, and indeed the pavement.

We then flashback to Colthart before the magistrate, admitting his unruly behaviour in a bumptious fashion. The penalty is stiffer than expected, and the seller of sweets faces a bleak future. But then, on a journey through a certain wood, he encounters someone who can solve his problems. For a fee, of course. A mention of Thomas the Rhymer makes clear who the lovely creature is, and how dangerous she could be. But at first, it seems Colthart has gotten the better of his problematic helper. However...

This is a nifty tale that combines a modern horror sensibility with a period setting. It's also a timely warning to older gentlemen to lay off the sugar, to be honest. I particularly liked a nod to one of my favourite M.R. James stories as Robert puts his fiendish plan into operation. 

More from this enjoyable anthology very soon...

Sunday, 28 November 2021

'Bubbling Well Road' by Rudyard Kipling

My first reading of a story by a Nobel Prize-winning author. Published in 1888, this bears some slight resemblances to a certain tale by M.R. James. Check out the detail of the pathways through the grass...

Thursday, 25 November 2021

'The Ringlet Stones' by Charlotte Bond


It's always interesting to find a new twist on an old idea - in this case, a very old one indeed. Charlotte Bond's story brought back childhood memories of holidays in Scotland, where we would wander off the road into forests and find beautiful lochs that seemed to be hidden, but were in fact more likely just private. Fortunately, unlike Bond's characters, we never found a ruined cottage, and mysterious runes etched into its stones and filled with iron.

The stones of the title ward off a menace from folklore that is well-realized. This story would make a good episode in an anthology horror film, especially in the way the horror aspects interweave with the problems of a young couple's relationship. I was left guessing at to what would happen as Meg and Erika retreat into the relative safety of the cottage, only to find themselves trapped. This is somewhat Blackwoodian weirdness, but with a distinctly modern tone. And the ending is artistically right despite violating all the principles of conventional horror, as found in Hollywood.

So, another winner from Terror Tales. Stay tuned for more, we have many stories ahead of us.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

'Two Shakes of a Dead Lamb's Tail' by Anna Taborska

An anthology entitled Terror Tales of the Scottish Lowlands will involve sheep at some point. When they do turn up, they feature in this comedy-horror tale of strange doings at a holiday home in Dumfries and Galloway. They are not nice fluffy sheep. 

The story begins with a seemingly unrelated anecdote about drugs that becomes relevant later. The main narrative concerns a woman going on holiday with her husband and his parents, something she is not keen on. I can only sympathise with someone who does not want perfection and relentless good cheer. Holidays are a time for brooding, drinking, and getting lost. Anyway, our heroine goes for a walk alone and encounters some ovine horrors that have a hallucinatory quality. Is she - given the first few paras - on something? 

Suffice to say the ending has a good, old-school horror feel about it, and reminds the reader not to take anything for granted here. This short story packs a lot in, and does so with style.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Satanic Panic - 2019 (Dir. Chelsea Stardust)

I never have great hopes of anything obscure that's available on Prime (the home of truly naff genre movies). But I keep trying and sometimes it pays off. Satanic Panic won only average reviews, but for me, it was a very pleasant surprise. The film is essentially what happens when the world of Dennis Wheatley collides with the tropes of American teen comedy horror. It's a bloody and often witty collision, with an intelligent but not too portentous take on the whole idea of devil worship and such.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Issue 48 - Have Yourself a Spooky Little Christmas!


Now available in print and in ezine formats! I thought I would offer a little taster from the stories, so buckle up and here we go.

Rain filled Sandgill’s high street like low cloud. Roadside grates gurgled as they drank it in. Gulls cried and Sean could smell the sea. With the red-brick slab of the library in sight, he dodged around pavement dawdlers, finally dashing to the back door. Inside, he shook droplets off his blue kagoul, hung it on one of the hooks then went through to Lending.

Christopher Harman - 'The Abbey Hoard'

Dark Corners - Ghost in the Invisible Bikini: Review

I heartily recommend the Dark Corners YouTube channel for its vast array of movie reviews. As well as the bad ones (so many!) there's al...