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Showing posts from July, 2015

Supernatural Tales 30 - Don't Miss Out, Hepster Groove Gerbils!

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Not content with making the latest, rather brilliant, issue of ST available in print form , I can also reveal that it's available for Amazon Kindle , and - for the Amazon averse - as an ebook from Smashwords .

The Babadook (2014)

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Here I go again, reviewing a film that's been out for about a year. Why? Well, if you're like me you never go to the pictures because you don't find it a pleasant experience. So you've got the option of seeing films on DVD, online, or when they pop up on regular telly. I rented The Babadook because it got a lot of praise from people I know and whose opinions I respect. Surprise, surprise, these people were entirely right. The film is an Australian-Canadian horror movie and marks the debut of writer-director Jennifer Kent. On the strength this film I'll definitely watch her next one. It's a very simple story with Gothic overtones, and yet at the same time manages to be a realistic, modern drama. It's grown-up horror that is, at times, so harrowing you might not want to see it more than once. But it is worth seeing. Amelia (Essie Davis) is a young single mother, because she was widowed when her husband died in a car crash. Her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) i

Owlman!

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Not a huge fan of practical jokes and hidden camera stuff, but this is fun and educational. It illustrates the link between being scared and laughter, for a start. So much pf what we call horror is a form of absurdist comedy.

Supernatural Tales 30 - Extracts

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The new issue is now available to purchase as a print-on-demand magazine. It will shortly be available as an ebook, whereupon I'll update the 'Buy Supernatural Tales!' page accordingly. Here is the link . And here are some teasers: '30' by Helen Grant Job the handyman had managed, with an ease born of long experience, to make himself absent at the moment when coffin bearers were required, thus sparing himself an unpleasant exertion. All the same, as he stood in the shadows watching the casket being carried out, he took off his hat in respect for the deceased. The dead man had been the son of a Lord, after all. 'An Element of Blank' by Lynda E. Rucker It had that way about it, of getting inside your head. She reached again for the hands of the others, but she seemed to be alone. Not only that, but she was sure that she was thirteen years old again, that the years had fallen away. You always were thirteen years old, a part of you anyway: all the ages

Cover

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As you can see, cover artist Sam Dawson has done a number 30... ... which is bigger on the back cover. Oddly enough, it fits nicely with one of the stories in this special issue, despite the artist not knowing what the story is about. Spooky, eh? Soon we'll have some extracts from the stories. 

Too late to plump for Betamax now...

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Over at Juxtapoz magazine we find Things. Things made from old VHS tapes. Things that have a distinct M.R. Jamesian feel, but might also be deemed a tad Lovecraftian, or indeed Hodgsonian.

The Ghost of the Pickled Parson!

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With a title like that you want to know more , surely? Or are you a bit blasé about pickled folk, whether they be clerical or secular? Anyway, I think you should read the excellent article by Jim Moon at the link above. His blog is absorbing to anyone who likes horror and folkore, and well worth a good old perusal. Sedgefield, where the parson was allegedly pickled (or perhaps salted) is just up the road from my home. It's in County Durham, one of England's lesser-known but rather fascinating counties. Among its many attractions is Barnard Castle, a tucked-away place with a huge museum built in the style of a French chateau , and containing an amazing automaton, great works of art, and more fancy frocks than you can shake a stick at. But I digress, again... Re: pickling parsons, it's perfectly possible that someone would preserve a dead body in the way described. But I can't help wondering if even an 18th century physician would be fooled. Perhaps the story was co

Spoilsports!

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What with The X-Files on the way back to our screens, there may be a surge in interest in 'unexplained' phenomena. Of course, if you don't look for an explanation you will be forever baffled by cattle mutilation, ley lines, the toaster, pencils... As this list shows, a lot of things that pop up in those by-the-numbers TV series with titles like 'Totally the World's Most Amazing Mysteries And, Like, Really Awesome Weird Stuff' are not quite so baffling as some like to claim. For instance, note the way a humble sheriff, fed up with reports of aliens/Satanists mutilating cattle, conducted a very simple experiment to find out what really happens when a cow drops dead in a field. Don't read any of that bit at tea-time, though. The obvious outlier in this list is the humble ghost. Whether all supernatural experiences can be explained by unusual brain activity is open to question, because it's impossible - for practical purposes - for scientists to explo

Temple to the God Pan

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Let's go inside and mess around, confident in the knowledge that he who ordered this fine structure built is long gone. You can find out more here (though the site is in French.) There's also a mysterious pyramid!

The Anniversary of Never

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The Swan River Press is publishing a new volume of stories by the late Joel Lane. While I never met Joel, he was very encouraging in the early years of ST, and submitted stories to me that he could just as easily have placed in popular (and cash paying) markets. He cared for the genre and wanted horror fiction to be intelligent, enjoyable, and above- all well-written. This new collection is a landmark and a tribute to a superb writer and critic who was lost to us far too soon.  I think that the cover art, by Polly Rose Morris, is brilliant. Contents "Introduction" by Nicholas Royle "Sight Unseen" "Crow's Nest" "All the Shadows" "Midnight Flight" "Ashes in the Water" with Mat Joiner "For Their Own Ends" "Bitter Angel" "After the Fire" "The Annniversary of Never" "The Messenger" "For Crying Out Loud" "All Dead Years" "Some of the Fell" &qu

United States of the Supernatural

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On the 4th July is a good day to celebrate just a few of the Americans who've contributed works of enduring merit to this crazy old genre. We begin, of course, with the man in black... I suppose it's only appropriate, given Poe's predilections, that he didn't stay buried in the same place for long. Poe didn't write conventional ghost stories and much of his work doesn't qualify as horror fiction at all. But a minority of his works have an enduring power that lesser writers can only envy. 'The Masque of the Red Death', 'The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar', 'The Fall of the House of Usher', 'The Black Cat', 'MS Found in a Bottle' - those are my personal favourites, along with his Dupin stories, but I'm sure fans could name half a dozen more. Without Poe things would be very different in supernatural fiction, detective fiction, science fiction... Good show, Edgar, you madcap fellow.

Girls Wielding Steel

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I should have included this in the last post, to show you what the actual dance is like. Silly me. 

Rappers Delight

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The third film in the series that started with The Wicker Man has just been launched as a crowd-funded project.  There's already a Brit Ekland-ish ingredient, it seems... The film has already cast Halla Williams, an Icelandic model who also hosted her country’s version of The X Factor. Well, good luck with that. You never know. But I wonder if there'll be rappers in this new movie? The original film is replete with images (and songs) taken from British folklore, though it has to be said that Summerisle, while off the coast of Scotland, seems awfully English in many ways. This is especially true of the sword or rapper dancers who feature in a number of scenes. I happen to come from a part of England where sword dancing of the rapper (possibly a corruption of 'rapier') kind has been practised for many years. It seems to have been common among miners but is now a subculture of Morris dancing, which is obviously resembles. Anyway, historical pictures of rapper teams

Yeats on Fairies

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W.B. Yeats was arguably the greatest poet to write in English since Shakespeare. His influence was immense, and he's become synonymous with the revival of Irish cultural life (often called the Celtic Twilight) that took place in the decades before the Great War. He was made a senator when the Irish won their independence and had a huge influence on the cultural life of the new Free State. And he believed in fairies. The Irish Times has reprinted an article that appeared in a London magazine in 1890, in which Yeats - then an up-and-coming poet rather than a cultural titan - is quite explicit about his belief in supernatural entities. It makes for fascinating reading, especially when you realise that, as a convinced Spiritualist, Yeats was also keen on contacting legendary figures from Irish history and folklore. Here's a brief extract. Sligo is, indeed, a great place for fairy pillaging of this kind. In the side of Ben Bulben is a white square in the limestone. It is sa

Legend of the Mummy (1998)

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'Beware the beat of bandaged feet!' And so on, and so forth. Ever since Napoleon took a boatload of scholarly chaps to Egypt to document his rather ephemeral conquest, Europeans have been fascinated by the fact that a bunch of non-Europeans created a civilization that was more enduring, more grandiose, and just more all-round spiffing than that of ancient Greece or Rome. The result was a mixture of fear and fascination. After all, those ancient Egyptians weren't white, and therefore - to many Victorians - they must have been a bit dodgy. Or, as some more radical thinkers argued, they must have been a truly superior civilization with advanced cosmic knowledge, and probably came from Atlantis or something. For every academic tome on the subject of Egypt there must be at least three stories of ancient curses, ambulatory mummies, and reincarnation. But it was Bram Stoker, who gave us the modern vampire genre, who also created the Mummy movie franchise with his novel The Jewel

Strange Fertility Rituals in Olde England

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This post on a local history blog mentions M.R. James in passing, though that's not why I stumbled upon it. It gives a little insight into how often authors of supernatural fiction would have seen people dressed up and performing weird rituals, ceremonies etc. We think of the Order of the Golden Dawn as a bit outré and marginal, but it was arguably just a posh and pretentious version of what thousands of arty middle-class Brits got up to on a regular basis. Check out those Druids.