I was already a fan of Kirsty Logan’s work, which explores the dark and fantastical, through her previous novels, as well as hearing her perform at events, such as when she read her wonderfully titled short story “Girls are Always Hungry When all the Men are Bite-Size” which also features in Things We Say in the Dark. Since then, I have been excited to hear more of Logan’s horror – her new collection does not disappoint.
It’s 2019, and the horror genre can often still use disturbingly careless tactics in attempts to induce fear and shock; deformities and disabilities portrayed as monstrous traits and the severe torture and murder of women being normalised are among some of the harmful tropes. It is such a refreshing relief to pick up Laura Mauro’s Sing Your Sadness Deep and find another fresh horror writer who has found inventive ways to produce said fear and shock.
Apart from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, there’s hardly a more famous vampire novel than Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. It was among the first of its kind to take a modern stance to the vampire tale, such as coping with the existential horror of living forever when one’s loved ones have grown old and died, or the ethics surrounding drinking human blood.
Religion and horror on their own, separate terms can be deeply moving, if not outright life-changing. When the two intersect, something new, poignant and powerful emerges. Author Matt Cardin, who has his PhD in leadership and a master’s in religious studies, recently published theological horror fiction collection To Rouse Leviathan, and he understands the importance and beauty of this intersection better than most.
Too early for Christmas, I hear you say?
Well, maybe. But there’s no escaping it – supermarkets’ seasonal aisles have sprung up before we’ve even thought of storing our summer clothes, and social media’s awash with panic-inducing adverts for Christmas Day dinner (“If you don’t book now, you’ll be eating beans on toast!”). We have two options – embrace it or ignore it, but reading material, I argue, is a different matter.
Alien is very possibly my favourite film. I certainly spend much time overthinking it, as anyone who’s read my recent article on its Gothic roots will already know. Imagine my annoyance, then, when I realised I would miss the limited theatrical run of the film’s new documentary, Memory: The Origins of Alien, directed by Alexandre O. Philippe. Imagine my comparable delight when it suddenly became available to stream through the website of the trusty old BFI.
The Devils is Ken Russell’s notorious 1971 historical drama telling the extraordinary story of a case of possession in 17th century France, in the city of Loudun. I start with possession because, were this any other story, that would be the most extraordinary part. But this isn’t a film about possession; it is a film about the dangers of religion and politics colliding, and it’s message is as resonant today as it was on release (and on publication of the Aldous Huxley book, The Devils of Loudun from 1952, on which the film is partly based).
It Chapter Two is the much-anticipated sequel to Andy Muschietti’s 2017 It, following up twenty-seven years after where It left off. The child members of the Losers’ Club have grown up and grown apart. Apart from Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa), who stayed in their childhood home of Derry, Maine, all of the other Losers moved across the country and have completely forgotten about their previous battles with the homicidal supernatural entity which appears to the children as Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård). After a string of child disappearances, Mike calls the other Losers, instructing them that it’s time to make good on the promise they made twenty-seven years ago to return if Pennywise ever comes back.
The nightmare was real. Sitting in Ava Chitwood’s course on Greek civilization, my phone starts going off. Loudly. Dr. Chitwood was the kind of professor who inspired both fear and fascination. No doubt, those of us majoring in classics adored her but nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted to get on her bad side. I remember once advising a friend of mine, “if you’re late, just don’t go.” Truth be told, she just didn’t have time for any college-age bullshit. This was the kind of professor (icon) that would throw you out for yawning too loudly. So, you can imagine the fear, the panic, and utter desperation I felt as my phone starts ringing. There I am, tearing through my bag, praying she doesn’t kick me out, when my hand finally finds the phone. I silence it, drop it back in the bag, and pick up my pen. Dr. Chitwood is just standing there silently, eyes locked on me. “In 44 CE,” she continued, “…there was a sudden outburst of music.” She winked at me and, I swear to God, it felt like a wink from Fate, herself!
After first discovering Laura Purcell’s precise skill for crafting unsettling and foreboding Gothic tension in The Silent Companions, I was excited to read her third novel Bone China. Bone China follows housemaid and nurse Hester Why as she joins Morvoren House, an imposing abode atop the cliffs of Cornwall, and its peculiar and withdrawn mistress Miss Pinecroft. As Hester learns of the strange household dynamic and superstitious nature of the residents, she must also keep her own secrets of her blighted past.