Friday 27 August 2021

Unstoppering a 17th-century 'witch bottle' at the Pitt Rivers Museum

h/t to Helen Kemp of A Ghostly Company for circulating the link provided by António Monteiro.

Back to Plan A...


The course of true love never did run smooth, but true love has got nothing on publishing. After experimenting with Amazon I found that the actual format of the proof copy I obtained is too big to fit in standard A5 envelopes, and there were also some cost issues re: postage etc. So I've had another got at  the old Lulu site, despite its annoying clunkiness, and so far it seems to be working okay. So, with luck, issue 47 will be published on time.

What's in it?

New stories by: veteran British contributors Jane Jakeman, Carole Tyrrell, and Mark Nicholls, plus two new stories by American authors Clint Smith and Elie Lichstein. More info to follow! Cover art entitled 'Gibbet' is by Sam Dawson. 

Monday 16 August 2021

Lonely Water (1973)

Quick update on ST 47

Sorry I haven't been blogging much of late. I could blame pressures of work but, to be honest, I haven't been doing much reading or viewing since the pandemic hit. One might expect repeated lockdowns to generate a need for more fiction, not less. But there it is. I write and edit a lot of horror fiction and, perhaps for that reason, seek enjoyment in other genres to a great extent.

That said, I plan to continue publishing the magazine so long as people want it. But I won't be publishing any more print-on-demand issues at The site has become ever more difficult to use and unresponsive. Lately I have run into a brick wall so far as issue 47 is concerned - I can't get the site to work at all. Frankly their customer service has always been poor so I've decided to take the whole shebang over to Amazon Direct Publishing. 

I know some may object to buying from Amazon but the fact is I know how to use the interface already and time is ticking by. It also means that both print and ebook editions of ST will be available at the same place from now on. Hope this doesn't upset anyone and that ST's small band of readers will stick with me.

End of public service announcement. 

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Afterimages (2014)

I am a huge fan of anthology/portmanteau horror movies. I am always ready to take the hit 'n' miss nature of several short stories over the potential disappointment of a 'normal' film that starts well but then fails in some way. So I was interested to find Afterimages, a Singapore horror movie, pop up on Prime lately. 

The framing story is simple - five film students get to spend time lounging around for the holidays in a big old house. The time of year is Ghost Month, when various sacrifices - usually imitation currency - are burned for the souls of dead ancestors. One of the students makes and burns an imitation paper camera instead. The next day, in the ashes, they find some photos. The next logical step is to burn an effigy of an old film camera. Sure enough, a reel of old-school celluloid film appears. 

The first film is subtitled Ghost Pool Leg. A voyeur pervs at various female neighbours, and becomes intrigued by a beautiful young woman who regularly goes swimming just after midnight. He goes down to the pool and is warned about ghosts by a caretaker. Of course he ignores the warning and encounters an aquatic ghost. The water sequences are very well done, and the plot - while obvious - moves along nicely.

The next paper camera to be burned is more modern in appearance. Sure enough, the resulting medium is a large memory card. On this is the story Xiao Bao Bao. A young woman living in a high rise witnesses a neighbour's suicide. She takes a picture of the body and is then haunted by the victim. Again, it's well-handled, with a lot of slick and stylish visuals to jazz up what is a fairly simple tale. 

The third tale is produced by a camera with the letters CCTV on it. The resulting security tape is footage of an elevator that breaks down. As well as the normal characters trapped inside, there is a beautiful woman with a very strange secret. The title, Skin Deep, is a clue. 

The fourth film, Rekindling, concerns a dismembered corpse dumped in a river that proves to be more agile than most. Here there are some predictable jump scares, but a very good central performance and some nice effects make it watchable. There's a distinct 'Beast With Five Fingers' vibe at times.

The final film concerns the students' plans to assemble their 'found footage' into a project. It does not go well, and they find themselves watching the forces they have tinkered with close in on them. Then we switch to an investigation of the students' deaths, which is complicated by the presence of an extra body...

If you like collections of short horror movies put together with confidence and skill, this might be for you. There are a few bumpy moments, and I think a major strategic error was to have all the characters in every story speak English, rather than Chinese with subtitles. The result is dialogue that at times sounds a little stilted or requires subtitles anyway. But this is a minor quibble. It's a nice watch. 

Monday 9 August 2021

Yuletide cheer a bit early this year

The BBC has announced a new Ghost Story for Christmas! It's 'The Mezzotint', with Rory Kinnear heading an impressive cast.

'Filming wrapped recently in the South of England. The Mezzotint will air this Christmas on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.'

Supernatural Tales 56 - contents

The next issue - due out in the autumn - will see a mixture of familiar names and some newbies. I hope, as always, that the stories find fav...