Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Bash...With Reed Rothchild Jessica Biel and quality horror= boners for days..

This was one beautiful atmospheric puzzle.  Laugier has created this depressed community the oozes fear and uncertainty.  Even though there are miles of land everything just feels claustrophobic and urgent.  The twists come out of left field and previous occurrences take on a completely different meaning.  Halfway through the second act you kind of figure out where it's going, but you'll never be able to figure everything out. This film is not only tense, but it's also very moving.  By the end I really wasn't sure who the good guys or bad guys were.  All I know is that I haven't seen a horror/suspense film this powerful in a while.  Laugier is one talented director that knows how to manipulate your emotions and create tension.  This one comes highly recommended.  Even Biel wasn't terrible acting wise.

Funny or Scary: Very chilling stuff and it makes you think.
Scariest Scene: When Julia chases after her son in the abandoned warehouse
Overall Corpse Rating: 7.5 blown away corpses.


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Happy Halloween

Special Thanks to all my guest bloggers, 


Stay Scared, if only for another night...


M.R.

Hope to see you all Tomorrow Night at the Hooksett Town Library in NH at 6:30  
If anyone would like an e-signed copy  of Where the Dead Fear to  Tread send me a message via facebook or goodreads with your email address as well as who  you would like it made out to.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Bash...Scott Baker's Trick or Treat


Trick or Treat.  For us Monster Kids and Horror Hounds, these words hold the same enchantment as Merry Christmas.  Except, rather than opening an elegantly-wrapped package to see what Santa bought us, we open the door of a haunted house to see what Satan conjured up to scare us. 

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that Halloween is my favorite holiday.   As a kid, the anticipation used to begin weeks before that unholy night when the costumes started hitting the stores.  I’m not referring to the stores of today that pop up across the area a month before and sell nothing but adult costumes and accessories to satisfy every fear or fetish.  Those from my generation remember the cheap-ass costumes our parents used to buy from Woolworth’s or Gorin’s.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  The crappily-made one-piece body suit with the plastic face mask that your mother always had to enlarge the eye slits on because they were so small.  I would stand in front of the display for an hour debating what I wanted to dress up as (I recall over the years being Frankenstein, a robot, and an astronaut).  Once purchased, my mother would never let me play with the costume because the material was so flimsy I would be lucky to get one wear out of it, so I was forced to stare at it through the cellophane window of the cardboard box like I was admiring some ancient relic in a museum display case. 


Finally that Hallowed Eve arrived and my parents would take me on my rounds (if the weather was cold, my mother would make me wear a coat over my costume, but that’s a story for my therapist).  For me it was never about the chocolate.  I only ate a small portion of the goodies and let my mother scavenge through the rest.  The thrill was parading around town in my costume, pretending to be someone else, and proudly declaring my love for monsters.  After that night, I would play with that costume until not even duct tape could hold it together any longer.

While the innocence of those childhood memories is gone, the excitement of the holiday is still there.  This is not because the stores are filled with countless decorations that inevitably become part of the permanent d├ęcor of my house (my study is on the verge of having just as many statues to famous monsters and fetishes as it does books).  Nor is it because television broadcasts monster movie marathons for a month, most of which I record until my DVR is full.  Halloween is the one time of the year when the macabre becomes mainstream. 

Forty years ago as a bona fide Monster Kid I was an outsider, the geek in school who never fit in.  I thank God I had close friends who shared similar interests (Curtis, who was as big of a monster geek as me, and John, who was into superheroes and comic books) plus parents who not only supported my obsession but nurtured it.  I never lost my passion for horror and monsters.  In fact, over time it intensified until, in 2003, I eventually began writing in the genre.  But by then horror was the norm.  Conventions celebrating horror, Sci-Fi, fantasy, anime, vampires, zombies, and every other imaginable aspect were held practically every weekend. 

The change in the way of thinking reminds me of a scene from Hotel Transylvania.  (Yes, I’m citing a cartoon to make my point.  And, yes, this is a spoiler alert.)  The basic premise of the movie is that, more than a century ago, Dracula had set up a hotel deep in the Carpathian Mountains to provide monsters with a safe haven from villagers who hunted them down, and since then they have lived in isolation from the rest of the world.  In the climax, Dracula and several monsters must travel back to the city to prevent his daughter’s boyfriend from leaving Transylvania.  The monsters’ apprehension turns to amazement when they stumble upon a festival being held in their honor, and they discover that they are now considered rock stars to the townspeople. 

I feel the same way as Dracula did in the movie.  For decades my love of monsters and horror was out of the ordinary and firmly placed me in the geek camp, but today I’m more mainstream than ever.  So now I’m going to go hang some creepy Halloween decorations, prepare a bowl of candy, and scare the hell out of the trick or treaters. 



Click for All of Scott's novels
Scott M. Baker was born and raised just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Scott M. Baker has spent the last twenty-two years living in northern Virginia. His first zombie novel, Rotter World, was released by Permuted Press in April 2012. 

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He has also authored The Vampire Hunters trilogy (The Vampire Hunters; The vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon; and The Vampire Hunters: Dominion) and several short stories, including the chapbook "Dead Water," "Cruise of the Living Dead" (Dead Worlds 3 anthology), "Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly" (Christmas Is Dead anthology), and the soon-to-be-published steampunk zombie story "Last Flight of the Bismarck" (Machina Mortis anthology). When he is not busy writing, Scott can either be found relaxing on his back deck with a good cigar and a cup of iced coffee, or doting on the four house rabbits that live with him.
You can check out his blog at: http://scottmbakerauthor.blogspot.com/

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Bash...with Reed Rothchild...There was no better time for kids movies than the 80's.



The movie starts off two hundred years in the past where Van Helsing is trying to use a magic amulet to trap Dracula for eternity.  Dracula escape through a time portal and ends up in present day 1987.  A group of friends that call themselves "The Monster Squad" discover that Dracula is plotting to take over the world.  They enlist the help of Creepy German Guy and The Frankenstein Monster to stop him and save the world.

If that doesn't sound like a fun premise for a kids movie then I guess you have no imagination.  In case you had any doubts this holds up really well.  The special effects look terrific considering they're over 25 years old and them monsters' makeup is amazing as well.  The really cool thing about this movie is that it was kind of a re-introduction to the Universal Monsters from the 30's.  It was the first time I ever saw any of the classic monsters on the big screen and I'm sure it was the first time for others my age as well.  The monsters all look great and stand up to the high standards set forth in the original films they appeared in years ago.  The kids in this are pretty great as well.  There's a bit of overacting, but they deliver classic lines like "Wolfman's got nards"  and "you guys are chicken shits" with ease.  There are tons of laughs and the action sequences are still pretty damn thrilling.  Plus there are a ton of little touches that always crack me up like Sean's "Stephen King Rules" T-shirt and Eugene's letter to the "army men" about the monsters in his room.  The Monster Squad original theme song to close out the film is just icing on the cake.  This is obviously a better film if you grew up with it, but I fully believe that those seeing it for the first time now will find at least something they like about it.  It comes highly recommended.

Funny or Scary:  If you're a little kid watching both.  If you're older then still be smiling and chuckling throughout.
Funniest Scene: "Wolfman's Got Nards."  Also Eugene's letter.
Overall Corpse Rating: 8 kid friendly corpses.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Bash...Angel Life of the Party


Click here to watch Angel's one and only Halloween episode 'life of the party'

Halloween Bash...The ultimate play list

Halloween Parties require a great deal.  You have the decorations, changing your abode into a hellish entity.  You have the snacks, class dishes turned ghoulish.  Then you have the music.  It's easy enough to get a few horror movie scores creating ambiance, you probably even threw on Thriller, or Werewolves of London so that the drunks can dance, but there can be so much more.  Here are some suggestions for the ultimate playlist.


Lou Reed-The Halloween Parade

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead

Donovan-Season of the Witch

Ministry-Everyday is Halloween

Einsturzende Neubauten- Armenia (Play this now, trust me)


Welcome to My Nightmare-Alice Cooper

Andre 3000-Dracula's Wedding.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-Up Jumped the Devil

Siouxsie & the Banshees - Spellbound (Extended '12 Version)

Siouxsie & the Banshees-Halloween


Spinnerette - The Walking Dead

And choose your favorite version of This is Halloween from Nightmare Before Christmas

Also covers of songs like Paint it Black add a foreign element to the recognizable.

Lastly The Second Half of David Bowie's Album Heroes from Sons of the Silent Age on works great.  Most of it is instrumentals with a gothic noir feel to it.

For those who want background images I would recommend Zombiethon, currently available streaming through Netflix.  This is a compilation of 70's Italian zombie features, focusing primarily on nudity and violence with original feature linking the clips.

Happy Halloween.

M.R.




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Bash...Mystery, Suspense & Horror - Author Panel at the Hooksett Library in New Hampshire





Hooksett Public Library

Mystery, Suspense & Horror - Author Panel
Please join us for an opportunity to meet three local authors. Learn about their mystery, suspense & horror novels, in addition to their writing and publishing experiences . One lucky attendee will win a mystery door prize.
The author panel includes:
M.R. Gott, author of Where the Dead Fear to Tread (horror). To learn more about M.R. Gott please visit his website: wherethedeadfeartotread.blogspot.com/
Richard Hatin, author of Evil Agreement (mystery & suspense). To learn more about Richard Hatin please visit his website: richardhatin.com/
Joe Smiga, author of Gateway to Terror, (suspense). To learn more about Joe Smiga please visit his website: joesmiga.com/

Date:

Thursday Nov 1, 2012

Time:

6:30 PM  -  8:00 PM

Contact:

Mathew Bose    603.485.6092    mbose@hooksettlibrary.org

Location:

Hebert Media Room 


THE JAKE HELMAN FILES: AFTERLIFE PROJECT

Here are the illustrations from THE JAKE HELMAN FILES: AFTERLIFE PROJECT, a free download which provides an overview of my supernatural action series The Jake Helman Files (Personal Demons, Desperate Souls, Cosmic Forces and Tortured Spirits), available as trade paperbacks, e-books, and audio books.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Bash...Chuck Miller and Kolchak the Night Stalker


Please Welcome Chuck Miller as he recounts his memories of Kolchak the Night Stalker.

When I was a kid, the world seemed like a much safer place in some respects than it does now, and a wilder, more dangerous place in others. Things were magical in ways both good and bad. There was more delicious mystery than there is in the adult world. And television was much scarier-- in an oddly comforting way that I cannot define.


I grew up just outside Akron, Ohio. I was young enough that the legendary horror movie host Ghoulardi was slightly before my time, but I gorged myself on Hoolihan & Big Chuck and Ghoulardi's successor, the Ghoul, in the late 60s and early 70s. Horror movies made my nights a little uneasy, but I loved them. I knew there were no such things as monsters, but ghosts were another matter, and the monster movies always put me in mind of them. I knew I'd have to sweat it out later, but every Friday and Saturday night, there I was, in front of our old black and white set. It was something of a compulsion, I guess.

In 1974, a TV show came along that grabbed my imagination like nothing else ever had. After 38 years, that grip hasn't loosened all that much. On Friday, the 13th of September, the ABC network broadcast "The Ripper," the first episode of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker." There was something in that hour that resonated powerfully with the very young me. It starred Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak, a rather down-at-heel Chicago crime reporter who often found himself in extraordinary situations.


The series was based on two very successful TV movies, "The Night Stalker" (1972) and "The Night Strangler" (1973). In the former, Kolchack faced off against a genuine vampire in Las Vegas; in the latter, a murderous alchemist in Seattle. The premise was intriguing: A hard-boiled crime reporter investigating a series of gruesome murders comes to realize that the killer is a genuine vampire. The execution was fantastic. It was the highest-rated TV movie of its day, and remains an undisputed classic. That success led first to a sequel, and then to a weekly series in which Kolchak ran up against one unexpected paranormal menace after another-- twenty in all.

The show had its flaws. In fact, they were legion. So much of it was utterly absurd, the history and folklore completely fabricated. The first episode, "The Ripper," barely made any sense at all. The writers get it right when they say the original Jack the Ripper killed five women in London in 1888, but every other "fact" about the case is pure fairy dust. The nature of the Ripper himself-- exactly what kind of creature he is, how he has managed to live so long, and why he does what he does, is never revealed. Kolchak discovers that the Ripper is vulnerable to electricity, and that fact is never explained. Is this an example of a screenwriter maintaining an acceptable level of unsolved mystery, or is is mere laziness?  There is an enormous pile of logical inconsistencies and unanswered questions.

The miraculous thing is, it doesn't matter at all. Not to me, anyhow. This slapdash approach might completely destroy my opinion of a lesser show, but it never diminished my enjoyment of Kolchak in the slightest. Not even after I-- as Carl might put it-- learned the true facts. Episode two, "The Zombie," was just as bad. The Voodoo ritual that summons up the zombie did not come from African or Haitian lore-- it came instead from the imagination of the writer. Consulting a text on genuine Voodoo practices wouldn't have been too onerous a task, surely-- but it was omitted in favor of an utterly ridiculous, completely made-up ritual. And yet.... It was effective in 1974, and remains so today. It is creepy rather than gory, nerve-wracking, funny and frightening at the same time. The third episode featured one or more invisible aliens who sucked blood marrow out of zoo animals (and people) and stole large quantities of lead ingots and stereo components. Once they completed their depredations, they departed earth in one of the clunkiest-looking flying saucers ever seen on the small screen. And yet...

As a child, of course, I didn't see any of these flaws. Well, not all of them, anyhow, though the special effects were sometimes appalling enough to give me slight pause. But when I was a child-- one who in the very recent past had taken Adam West's Batman utterly seriously-- most of it went right over my head.

Now, as an  adult, I see them clearly. And it doesn't matter one bit. I know everything that's wrong about it, but I can push my awareness to the rear for an hour. I'm very grateful for my ability to willingly suspend-- indeed, to willingly obliterate-- my disbelief. One of my favorite of the later episodes, "Chopper," featured a laughably phony-looking headless motorcyclist. It wouldn't fool a child. With today's CGI techniques, he would be more convincing, but he would also lose every bit of his strange charm.

The first four episodes, even with all their plot holes and absurdities, were the best of the twenty. After that, the quality was uneven, coming up short more often than not. The show was plagued by problems before it even began-- too many writers and producers that did not get along had been involved in the TV movies, and a few legal problems ensued. These issues were ironed out, but other problems continued as the series progressed. McGavin was unhappy with the "monster of the week" format and the increasingly-poor scripts. And yet...

The show worked, even when it shouldn't have.

The true appeal was the star, Darren McGavin, who was brilliant in spite of weak material and laughable special effects. His wonderful voice-overs have echoed in my head for decades.

McGavin's Carl Kolchak was a late 20th century refinement for the Heroic Ideal. Carl Kolchak was not a genius, but hwas clever. He was not fearless, but he had sufficient courage-- or maybe it was desperation-- to plow through his fear to do what had to be done to save his own neck, and quite a few others, too. He was a bad dresser. His seersucker suit and straw hat were all he ever wore. Did he own any other clothing? There is no evidence that he did. Where did he live? Nobody knows. We never saw his home. Did he even have one? Perhaps not. He was a reporter and nothing else. It was all he did, all he was. No personal life of any kind. No real past to speak of. No close friends-- just co-workers, associates and contacts, most of whom-- like morgue attendant Gordie "The Ghoul" Spangler-- were hustlers who drained his wallet in exchange for information. The only "family" he had consisted of the other employees of the Independent News Service office in Chicago: Editor Tony Vincenzo, the long-suffering father-figure; business reporter Ron Updyke, the prissy and annoying little brother; crossword puzzle maven Miss Emily (or Edith) Cowles, the dotty but loving aunt. This is all Kolchak seems to need.

Like most television programs in the 60s and 70s, Kolchak featured a parade of guest stars, well-known character actors of a type that no longer seems to exist: Scatman Crothers, Dick Van Patten, Jan Murray, Larry Storch, Jeanne Cooper, Alice Ghostley, Phil Silvers, Bernie Kopell, Marvin Miller, Jesse White, James Gregory, Hans Conried, Mary Wickes, Henry Jones, Carolyn Jones, Jackie Mason, Stella Stevens, David Doyle, Jim Backus, Kathleen Freeman, John Hoyt, Dwayne Hickman, Eric Braeden, Tom Skerritt, Erik Estrada, William Daniels, Jamie Farr, Pat Harrington, Jr., Larry Linville and Richard Kiel (In fact, Kiel-- better known as "Jaws" in the James Bond movies-- would play three different monsters in the series: the Rakshasa, the Diablero, and the slimy swamp thing Peremalfait), and many others. It can be a bit jarring to suddenly encounter a familiar face from some silly sitcom in a horror program. But, since the main element in any Kolchak story is incongruity-- things popping up in places where they should not be-- it works.

The show didn't last into a second season, but it is not forgotten. It has been embraced and cherished for many years by a small but extremely enthusiastic cult of fans. Why is this? What is it about Kolchak that keeps that magic going even now? It boils down to the character as portrayed by McGavin, of course. But why? What is it about him?

You wouldn't necessarily want to be Carl Kolchak. I did when I was ten years old, but I see him differently now. There wasn't much there to envy. He didn't conduct himself as a fearless, confident, utterly competent hero would. He stumbled and fumbled, he tripped and fell, he sought guidance from the unlikeliest characters, he often found himself totally at sea. He made missteps and came close to losing everything.

But he was dogged, he was persistent, and possibly a little too dumb or pigheaded to realize he was totally outclassed. So he always won. It's difficult to beat a man who has no idea he cannot possibly win. He dodged the police officers who were out to shut him down, using his native skill and moxie. He ferreted out the truth about the nightmarish creatures he engaged and he finished them off, one right after another.

In that respect, Kolchak is the sort of person you might aspire to being. But, the thing is... you might already be him. Aspirations were unnecessary. Kolchak was you, thrown into circumstances more extraordinary than any you have ever imagined. He had to sink or swim, and-- against all odds-- he swam. It was always by the skin of his teeth, but he prevailed. He's a sort of Everyman, far from perfect on any level. Warts and all, he is just like us.

Like most of us, Carl was not a "monster hunter." He never looked to get in over his head. Unlike Fox Mulder of "The X-Files," or any of his other spiritual descendants, Kolchak never set out to find and destroy a supernatural horror. (The sole exception being the fourth episode, "The Vampire," a sort of sequel to the first movie.) But anything he investigated could-- and did-- lead him there against his will, time and time again. An investigation of espionage in the fashion industry uncovers a malevolent witch. A human-interest piece on a singles cruise brings him face-to-snout with a seagoing werewolf.

Now, it seems to me that there are three rather different and distinct Kolchaks. There is the Kolchak of the first movie, "The Night Stalker." He is somewhat seedy. He drinks. He has a girlfriend who works in a Las Vegas casino. He has been in trouble in the past, having done his career a near-fatal injury in New York-- a milieu to which he desperately wants to return in triumph. He believes his victory over the vampire, Janos Skorzeny, will bring about this devoutly wished consummation. Of course, it does not. He figured it out when the police could not. He cut a deal with them. In return for his help in finding the killer, they would allow him to publish the exclusive story. He holds up his end of the bargain and prepares for his glorious transformation, from has-been reporter to journalistic star.

But his trust in the Las Vegas law enforcement community proves to be tragically misplaced. After he kills the vampire, Kolchak is betrayed, threatened, and run out of town. His job and his girlfriend are both gone in an instant. And that's the kind of place we've all been to, in one way or another, to one degree or another. An already dark and cynical character is given ample reason to become even darker and more cynical. 

The Kolchak of the second movie, "The Night Strangler," does not quite live up to this dark promise. Carl is still edgy, but his edge is mysteriously blunted. He is less three-dimensional than his predecessor and more whimsical. The tone is lighter, there is more humor. He is not what I would have expected from the man last seen in the final moments of "The Night Stalker." And he finds himself surrounded by oddball characters. Guest stars Margaret Hamilton and Al Lewis provide amusing echoes of their earlier screen personas, the Wicked Witch of the West and Grandpa Munster. The ending is practically slapstick, more suited to an episode of "Three's Company" than a horror movie. And yet...

The third Carl Kolchak, the one from the short-lived TV series, was in many ways more of a caricature than character, almost a cartoon. TV Carl is, strangely, both more innocent and more resigned to the wicked ways of the world in which he lives. And this wickedness has nothing to do with supernatural menaces. He knows that his real enemies have always been officialdom and his superiors in the newspaper business. He seems to have internalized that lesson while somehow jettisoning most of his personal angst.

The Kolchak of the TV series knows he will not win favor with his bosses or with the authorities for exposing and exterminating supernatural menaces. In this, he is much wiser than his seemingly-more-worldly earlier incarnation. He knows Vincenzo will never believe his stories, much less publish them. He knows that law enforcement will not lionize him for destroying a murderous creature from the Beyond that has run rings around them. He has a brash, almost childlike disregard for authority of every kind. He gleefully needles the police and torments his boss. He almost never becomes angry. He seldom has allies-- only people he manipulates into helping him in spite of themselves. Virtually nobody believes anything he says. He knows this, and knows that it's hopeless to try to convince the non-believers, but he never stops trying. In the end, he stands alone. So it has always been, so it will always be.

And these things do not seem to matter to him. He knows he will stand alone in the end, as always. Unlike the Kolchak from the first movie, the TV incarnation is strangely selfless. In many cases, he is not personally threatened. He could walk away from the story and avoid risking his own life. But he never does.

When this Kolchak sets out to kill a monster, the personal ambition and desire for recognition that motivated him in Las Vegas are absent. He's just doing his job now. The job description does not include supernatural monsters, but when they appear, Carl copes beautifully. And don't all of wish we could do that with our own "monsters," whatever they might be? Wouldn't we love to defeat them just as we are, all by our non-heroic selves? We are not ruggedly handsome, we are not at the peak of whatever profession we are in, we very seldom get the girl, and almost never get the glory.

Kolchak is us, and that never changes. And the Kolchak motto, if he has one, must be, "Never let the bastards grind you down." No matter who they are or which side of the Great Divide they hail from. Maybe Carl can't get ahead in life, but he'll be damned if he's going to be pushed backward. He refuses to be helpless, even in the face of an unimaginable threat. This is the quality that all three Kolchaks have in common, and the one we all want to share.

Whether we are ten years old or fifty, we recognize this hapless kindred spirit. Against any opposition, against logic itself, he prevails every time. He remains a schmuck-- just like most of us.


And if he can do it, so can we.


Click For All of Chuck's Books

Chuck Miller was born in Ohio, lived in Alabama for many years, and now resides in Norman, Oklahoma, for reasons best left to the imagination. He is a Libra whose interests include monster movies, comic books, music and writing. He holds a BA in creative writing from the University of South Alabama.
He is the creator/writer of TALES OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE, THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF VIONNA VALIS AND MARY JANE KELLY, THE BAY PHANTOM CHRONICLES, and THE MYSTIC FILES OF DOCTOR UNKNOWN JUNIOR. He has also written stories featuring such classic characters as Jill Trent: Science Sleuth, Armless O'Neil, The Griffon, and others.
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Miller recently received the BEST NEW WRITER OF 2011 Award from Pulp Ark. His first novel, the critically acclaimed "Creeping Dawn: The Rise of the Black Centipede" was published in September by Pro Se Press. The second installment in the Black Centipede series, "Blood of the Centipede" is forthcoming.
"The Black Centipede and related characters are part of a grand concept I came up with myself and started writing and publishing on the web," says Miller. They had actually been festering in my skull for more than 20 years-- a proposed comic book that never made it off the ground-- and it seemed about time to let them out."
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween Bash...Robert Dunbar and the Season of the Witch


Robert Dunbar an incredibly unique voice in the horror genre shares his thoughts on Halloween

“Must be the season of the witch.”
~ Donavan Leitch


            Wise up. It’s not about the candy corn.
            Halloween is as political as a brick through the windshield of a cop car.
            We have always been at war. First the Romans marched, then authoritarian religious armies – pious and intolerant – slaughtered, burned, and assimilated in their footsteps. What else could you call it but war?
            Adherents may have been tortured and maimed. Priestesses may have been put to the sword and temples sacked. But the old beliefs won’t stay buried. Even now, they lurk just beneath the sanitized, homogenized surface, ready to claw their way up. Once a year, the prevailing culture acknowledges this fact … without ever admitting what it is that’s being acknowledged.
            Neat trick. Never mind.
            The wild grace does not fade.            Jack-o-lanterns still burn as brightly as any heretic. Hags cackle, and skeletons cavort. But don’t be afraid. It’s all in fun.
            Isn’t it? Listen for the cries of “Satanism!” According to so many sectors of the community, this day represents a challenge, even an outrage. In many circles, Halloween is still referred to as “the gay holiday,” and this alone offers effrontery to the status quo. Dissidents have perished on the rack for less. Much less.
            This is not just war. It’s history.
            And which side writes the history books?
            The name Halloween is a corruption of All Hallows Eve, one of many calendar events grafted onto pagan celebrations, in this case Samhain. (Doesn’t it always come down to power? Stealing the old gods and turning them into saints and angels, even erecting shrines to them, has proved to be an excellent means of establishing control.) Wiccans still consider Samhain – the day when the spirit world and the mortal world make contact – the highest of holy days. As celebrated in the queer world, Halloween becomes a transgressive festival: flagrantly unorthodox, a night of revels for the most marginally accepted (and often brutally oppressed) citizens. All Hallows Eve leads into All Saints Day – a cattle call of mythological personae, traditionally including figures like Saint Demetra and Saint Mercurius, supposed martyrs adapted from the Roman gods Demeter and Mercury, themselves based on the Greek gods Ceres and Hermes. This list includes Saint George (and his dragon), Saint Christopher (a giant), and Saint Valentine (Cupid/Eros) as well as  celestial hosts of others, so many in fact that early Protestant reformers could attack All Hallows Eve for being both Pagan and Papist. Another neat trick.
            Then as now, propaganda and superstition remain potent weapons. Witches rarely burned alone, and never because they possessed magical powers. (The very word “faggot” refers to kindling.) However meager their possessions, every heretic rendered to ash owned something to be commandeered by church and state. If one sought true cause for outrage, one need look no further.
            And the war never ends. Bats flap. Phantoms moan.
            No, it’s not about the candy corn. Everything is politics. It’s all about power. And the battle is mostly fought with different weapons now. (Voter suppression, anyone?) This Halloween take a stand, and do something revolutionary. Heave a brick for all of us.
            Just be sure to wear a mask.

ROBERT DUNBAR is the author of the novels THE PINES and THE SHORE and WILLY, the novella WOOD and the short story collection MARTYRS & MONSTERS. He was also the editor for the anthology SHADOWS, SUPERNATURAL TALES BY MASTERS OF MODERN LITERATURE. Dunbar's books have been extremely well-received by the critics, and he's been called "the catalyst for the new literary movement in horror." Yet dark literature has only recently become the principal focus of Dunbar's career. Both his mainstream fiction and his poetry have appeared in respected literary journals, and several of his plays have been produced. Dunbar has also written for television and has appeared as a guest on a variety of programs. For more information, visit his site at www.DunbarAuthor.com.
Praise for books by Robert Dunbar:

WILLY
"Unique ... highly recommended."
~ Midwest Book Review
"A tour-de-force."
~ Shroud Magazine
"Powerful."
~ Dark Scribe Magazine

MARTYRS & MONSTERS
"Impressive ... completely and utterly engrossing."
~ The Lambda Literary Foundation
"Substantial amounts of panache and poetic insight."
~ Cemetery Dance Magazine
"Sure to satisfy lovers of both horror and literary fiction."
~ Shroud Magazine

THE PINES
"Not only a superb thriller but a masterpiece of literature."
~ Delaware Valley Magazine
"Dark, foreboding, menacing, eerie ... seductive."
~ The Philadelphia Inquirer
"This is the way great horror should be written."
~ Hellnotes

THE SHORE
"Intense and wholly original."
~ Dark Scribe Magazine
"An instant classic."
~ Nights & Weekends
"Literary and atmospheric ... be prepared to be entertained."
~ Horror World

WOOD
"Literary horror at its best."
~ LAYERS OF THOUGHT
"Mesmerizing ... unnerving."
~ LITERARY MAYHEM
"A dark literary masterpiece."
~ FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND
"Honest-to-God terrifying."
~ HORROR WORLD
~In Wood Robert Dunabr has creates an eerie setting that you can almost reach out and touch populated by well-constructed characters and events.  While the creature reveal didn’t work for me personally I would still recommend this novella.   
~M.R. Gott