What I need to do is write winter horror

The first story I ever wrote was Care Bear fanfic. For third grade. It was a rambling four page adventure detailing Coldheart’s return to the frozen world he’d created. If I recall, it was melting and he was sad. Of course the Care Bears cheered him up somehow. Snowshoes were likely involved. Possibly maple syrup. Maybe cocoa or something that a kid would try to entice you with wanting to make winter fun. I find winter incredibly un-fun now.

The second story I really recall writing – then forcing people to read, editing relentlessly, and tearing my heart out over – was a fifth grade endeavour. It involved a widow, was a monster story and dreadful home invasion, and took place on a bitter winter night. Lofty stakes for a fifth grader. Between Alfred Noyes, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King my little kid horror author brain was coming along quite nicely. For some reason I haven’t written much winter horror and this is a trend to end. What I need to do IS write winter horror. Winter terrifies me.

For years as a kid I’d read the Farmers Almanac. During all seasons, not just winter, I’d peruse the pages and try to call them out when I could then marvel when it was accurate. Of all that deep study I did on the Farmers Almanac, the one thing I looked for was the true deep freeze. It was heralded with the ominous if not cheeky statement that we should ‘Beware the Pogonip!’ This is something I took to be a creature. Not unlike the Loch Ness Monster, it lurked n the frozen dark. Living under the ice, it emerged from pressure cracks and made its way through the air that was impossible to breathe and deadly to most creatures in the north, especially humans. Since the word was s o close to Ogopogo in my tiny cryptozoologist mind, of course the Pogonip was a creature and not just a word or weather pattern. So I did! I did beware the Pogonip! How I lost that fear was simple and the same way most people lose those fears. Or mostly lose them as the case may be. I learned what the pogonip was. I’ve seen this dangerous winter fog and dealt with days of -50 cold. It’s foggy out right now, and while it is nowhere near pogonip levels it reminds me of that monster I’d created. A monster that still lives somewhere. Maybe in a lake. Maybe in the air itself. It certainly lives in the cold.

Last year in February I ended up in the emergency ward with no feeling in my hands. They’d all turned cadaver white and the pain of blood struggling to return was terrifying and excruciating. That’s not what sent me to the hospital though. That’s a pretty normal thing for me in winter, or hell in the summer if I touch cold things. I have Raynaud’s Phenomena which means my small vessels spasm with temperature change instead of adjusting. The formal diagnoses came after this attack. Like I said, the white fingers weren’t what sent me in. What scared me enough to drop what I was doing and go directly to the doctor was my right index finger had begun to turn deep blue and the second phalange blackened. It felt as if I had a hot needle inserted there. This is something I never ever want to experience again. For one thing, it’s an avoidable pain. Stay warm. Like, really warm. Chris bought me heated gloves and I am very particular about when I go out and what things I can touch. My father bought me heated insoles because this happens to my toes too. The top reason though is that I am a writer. Dictation does not suit me at all. I’m using these fingers right now to entertain you with this tidbit and I write longhand almost daily. I’m a fairly tactile person too, even though I dislike being touched for the most part. As stated, it is avoidable so I’ll have to do what I can and sacrifice if need be to keep my digits intact.

I’m not entirely alone as writers go. Sure loads of winter horror is out there, but I mean having it get in the way of writing. When I interviewed Nancy Kilpatrick for Postscripts To Darkness she related her fingers got cold while writing in the winter. She dislikes winter. Leaves Montreal when she can. I can’t say I blame her one bit. It doesn’t stop her from writing and it doesn’t stop me either. Having no fingers though, just might.

So I do fear the cold. Like mad. I do beware the Pogonip and his younger second cousin twice removed that lives in the grocer’s frozen food section. Their pal is found in my cold metal house keys. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of him preparing vegetables for lunch. If I don’t or can’t write something as close to me as my general fear of getting cold and the very real consequences of that – blistering, frostbite, gangrene, amputation, all possibilities starting in October through March – then that old fifth-grade story of the widow having her warm home torn open to the elements may suffice.

Either way, I think I’d like to write some winter horror.

Dead Air Ep 87 – Terror Train

For our last episode of 2016. We’re ringing in the new year with the 1980 slasher, Terror Train.
Gather under the sluice grate, for the latest Dead Air podcast episode has been mucked off the slab ~ http://ift.tt/2iS0NoB

A group of college grade med students are planning on celebrating New Years Eve in style as they board a private train. Destination Boozeville with stops over in Sexland and Drugstopia. Little do they know their collective pasts are coming back in a big bad way.
As the party derails in to a bloodbath it’s a nonstop rush on the midnight express where your life is the only ticket that’s about to get punched.

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Dead Air Ep 86 – Black Christmas

Black Christmas is a horror fan favourite for the holidays. For those that can, catch it on Shudder right now! Sure beats whatever holiday plan someone else has made for you, or the lack of plans if that be the case. I’m not a total Scrooge, but this is not my best time of year. With an aversion to cold, having had more terrible holidays than good, and just generally disliking plastic platitudes any time of year I’m not cut out for this shit. That said, I love the look of snow on tree branches. A good latte never tastes better than it does when you have a few days off. Some decorations do look very pretty indoors and out. So it’s not all hell. And then sometimes, it is.

Many times in this review I say I feel for Billy. For all the times I’ve had a hard holiday, I’ve never been as bad off at the street involved or the untreated mentally ill. I’m not an invalid or shut-in, so I do feel pretty blessed just in that. Thinking about someone in Billy’s position and trying to understand how scary and lonely this time of year can be for someone entirely alone and shunned by society is something too many people ignore everyday and treat like a cancer around this time of year. It’s not all holly jolly. It’s not all silver bells. It never is.  If more people thought about that at this time of year maybe there would be a little more pleasure found in being alive, having a roof over your head and food in the cupboard – instead of pounding around a mall and maxing out your cards to keep up with the sick status quo.

Okay, so that’s a rant and a half, but I can’t help but get very sad when watching a film like this. Or Psycho, or Hell House (which is a Christmas film by the way) or Maniac (another one) or any number of mad person horror films.  And this time of year, those feelings just stick all together like cookies in a tin you put together while they were still warm then put the lid on instead of letting everything cool properly.

Anyhow, on with the show… description…

Wes writes far more fun show descriptions that I ever could.

“On today’s episode of the Dead Air Podcast we finally take a look at the grandfather of all slashers, the 1974 film; Black Christmas.

Jess and her sorority sisters are packing up and getting ready to head home for the holidays and not even a series of strange vulgar phone calls from a man named “Billy” can spoil their revelry. However, in this picturesque house a creature was stirring and the morning reveals one of the sorority sisters, Clare, has gone missing. Her father, boyfriend and closest friends can’t find any trace of her and with news of the disappearance of another local girl the police are just as baffled. Everyone’s a suspect as bodies pile up. Black Christmas gave the world the first true slasher. It’s a story of murder, mayhem and a tortured killer that’s closer than anyone could imagine.”

And have a safe and calm vacation, for those that have time off.
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Dead Air Ep 85 – The Woman In Black

Dead Air Podcast heads to Eel Marsh house in search of peat bog mummies with The Woman In Black.

Gather under the sluice grate, for the latest episode has been mucked off the slab ~ http://ift.tt/2hErEky

Arthur is a mild mannered lawyer and although his life has seen some significant personal tragedy his firm is giving him an ultimatum: close down the Drablow estate, or find a new job.

A long trip to the isolated village of Crythin Gifford brings him to the fabled Eel Marsh house but before too long a series of strange events see the local’s children dying in uncanny accidents that are more than they appear.

Soon, Arthur begins to discover the tragic history behind the old Eel Marsh house that spawned an undying hated that grips this town in fear.

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typicalfilm – The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

After seeing the trailer I entered into a small media embargo. It’s the sort of film that deserves to be seen with a fresh mind entirely, and not unlike Sun Choke and Goodnight Mommy, it’s not an easy film to describe. Not only because it’s a very personal film that your own thoughts on life, loneliness and madness will shape – it’s also a very simple film as well. The summary could be one sentence. What words you used would determine the effectiveness of that summary, however, and The Eyes of My Mother is an example of using those perfect words. Not one scene is filler. Not one shot is without substance. Not one word is wasted. Yes, it’s a beautiful film about a terrible world and being safely trapped between those two words ‘beautiful’ and ‘terrible’ is somehow the best place to be.

The first place I turned for any analysis or plain discussion was BindTortureKast – listen to episode 153 where they cover The Eyes of My Mother and talk horror till the cows come home. And get decapitated. And then have their eyeballs cut out by psychotic little girls.

This will be showing at The Mayfair Theatre, so Ottawa people really luck out! 

typicalfilm – Killbillies

wp-1481772506554.jpgKillbillies (2015)

This lovely Slovenian hillbilly horror is out from Artsploitation Films on Vimeo and I could not be happier. While it does have a lot of elements some many people cry foul over when it comes to splatter slasher down n’dirty films, those are the elements I do adore. When four city folk get taken hostage in deformed and drunken rednecks basements, I get all kinds of interested. Sure, it could be due to being unable to take the ‘country out of the girl’ or what have you, but I also find this a scary situation. And horror is supposed to scare you. And make you think. A lot of those things that make people ‘cry foul’ are also set to make you think. The illness of alcoholism, the poor treatment of women, having to survive with limited resources in unknown territory, and having your heroes be interlopers to a land they will never belong and can only damage: all things I love in film. Add to that a refreshing summer-scape of blue sky, tall trees and green grass and I’m even happier. It’s a wicked tundra here already so this was welcome. Hence, the original title of ‘Idyll’ since it is quite idyllic, and that is the main reason our four friends find themselves deep in the land ‘where men are men and sheep are nervous’. A few times I found the score a little out of place, too loud and jarring, but it is a fairly good soundtrack with some experimental noise that I really did like. Quite brutal, steeped in the inbred strain of the genre and not without it’s own quaint countryside charms, Killbillies was all I’d hoped it be, and then some. The end left me a little stunned, which is a nice cherry on top when it comes to this sort of film.

typicalbook – Wild Fell

Wild Fell, by Michael Rowe

Worthy of the Shirley Jackson award and then some, I’m very glad I’d taken Sean Moreland’s advice (and of the ChiZine crew) and picked this up. I love a good ghost story and now I’ve been able to read one of the contemporary best. Based in Alvina, Ontario, it has a special resonance since I’m from the north and did have an ancestor named Alvina. Always thought that was a pretty name and wondered if it were a pretty place…

According to Wild Fell it may be but it’s also terribly haunted. Haunted in that way all small towns can be. The mansion itself, Wild Fell proper, is right up at the top of the list of fine literary haunted houses now. Rowe is also now at the top of my list of fine Canadian authors too. 

Recently I’ve been participating in a workshop group of writers. It’s been really helpful already. Just having others work to dissect, new stories to dig into, and some feedback on my own work. Precious. I’d spent most of my learning to write by reading wonderful stuff like Wild Fell. Maybe a little too much reading and not enough writing, but that feels like splitting hairs. Between having some really great new authors writing this new dark weird and some of them to toss ideas around with, I feel much better equipped in my own work lately. It’s a nice feeling to have. 

typicalfilm – The Red Pill

redpillThe Red Pill (2016)

How do you review a film you haven’t seen? Well, you can’t so this is not a review at all. It looks like I will be waiting for the VOD version of this to hit since this documentary has been deemed so dangerous that many groups are protesting screenings. The Mayfair cancelled this film under pressure (online or in person, bullying or suggestion, I have no idea but there was a protest planned) and now the screening is going forward at a new location presented by another group. It’s unfair that in order to see this a person may find themselves aligning with one group or another. That by stating they want to see it, people assume too much about the future viewers morals, political makeup or lifestyle goals. I found it unfair that to go see a documentary in my favourite theatre I might have had to don headphones and a hoodie in  line while people yelled at those buying tickets. Some people may think that’s exciting, but I find it highly disturbing. So, I’ll be waiting to see this in the comfort of my own home. Making up my own mind, like I normally do. Accepting that there are opinions I may or may not agree with, in whole or in part, and that everyone has a right to express those views without threat of violence. Hell, even without being shouted down, which I find just as violent. I’m just as disappointed that this screening was cancelled, as I am with feminist groups accusing the theatre of aligning with anti-femininsts as well as anti-feminists accusing the theatre of bowing under pressure. It’s all very disappointing considering only very few people involved – if any at all – have even seen this. They are reacting to propaganda. They are letting people tell them what to think and in turn telling people what to do. I’d have much rather seen reactionary programming of more human-rights, equal-rights, feminist and mens-rights documentaries. Then maybe we could all watch ‘Chicken Hawk’ together and have a real reason to question the humans we live alongside.

typicalfilm – Sun Choke

suncSun Choke (2015)

This one caught my eye over the summer and I was surprised to see it on Netflix already. Had I known how great it was, I’d have rented it. Perhaps many other people have the same thought and that is why it is on a subscription site already? To say Barbara Crampton elevates this out of mumble-core territory belies the strength of Sarah Hagan and her gently creeping performance. I’m loathe to place it there to begin with but it does have a very quiet and insular feel with minimalist script and setting. Add skulking emo hoodied teens, and it seems to beg to be placed in that category, if only to claw its way out. Sun Choke is so much more than a summary, however, and no description or trailer really captures what I was in for. Hypnotic from the outset and vague enough to pose a puzzle, it’s full of this quiet terror you just can’t quite put your finger on. By the time you’ve forgotten that you are watching a horror film, it hits you right over the head with genre nastiness. Three days later, it is still on my mind, and each day I want to just watch it again.

Bonus – A Sunchoke is a jerusalem artichoke. Sort of a cross between a daisy and sunflower on sight. The roots are edible and not unlike a potato.

typicalfilm – El Gore’s Snuff Tape Anthology

elgoreEl Gore’s Snuff Tape Anthology (released, Black Lava, 2016)

For months I’d been crazy curious about segment 7, Gore Abortion, for the title alone. Segment 3 and the final ‘Lost Snuff Tape’ were really the stand out reels here while most fell flat for me. I did enjoy my time with this in that hypnotic gore way. Not everyone enjoys that, however, and I’ll maintain there are only a few minutes overall that stuck with me days after. Fun if you enjoy faux-snuff and wish to see all examples, but really only satisfies that. One cadaver was meticulously crafted and enjoyed the bulk of screen time, though I longed for Remi Couture levels of craftsmanship! Using the sounds of tapes being loaded into a VHS player in between segments proved a far more immersive tool than I’d have ever thought. Shows how ingrained those sounds are to one who watched one Hell of a lot of video nastiness as a kid! This is on vimeo for some crazy reason right now, for a decent rental price but the purchase price would make more sense to order as the physical release has additional content.