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FEARNET.com News and Reviews

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    If you missed our previous DIY Monster Makers features on the amazing hand-sculpted collectibles from Freakland Shop, it's high time you got onboard with their latest creations... like this awesome polyresin replica depicting one of the most notorious scenes from Lucio Fulci's gore epic City of the Living Dead, known stateside as The Gates of Hell. 
     
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    The hand-sculpted, hand-painted vinyl busts (roughly 5” tall) are limited to a run of 500 numbered units, each accompanied by one of two styles of movie cards, autographed by Morghen himself.
     
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    Visit Freakland Shop for ordering info, and be sure to check out our previous feature to see more of their excellent horror replicas.

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    FEARnet is proud to present brand new fiction from Nightmare Magazine. Once a month, we'll be featuring a story from Nightmare’s current issue. This month's selection is “Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez?” by Isabel Yap. Please tell us what you think and enjoy!

    Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez?

    by Isabel Yap

    It all started when Ms. Salinas told us about her third eye. It was home ec., and we were sitting in front of the sewing machines with table runners that we were going to make our moms or yayas do for us anyway. I was pretty anxious about that project. I knew Mom was going to tell me to do it myself, because she believed in the integrity of homework. “Mica,” Mom would say. “Jesus expects you to be honest, and so do I.” I was wondering how to get Ya Fely to do it for me behind Mom’s back when Ms. Salinas started blabbing about the ghost on the bus.

    “You see, girls, most ghosts are very polite. At first I didn’t even notice he was a ghost, and then I realized the woman sitting next to him couldn’t see him, because she looked at me with this suplada face and said, ‘Miss, are you not going to sit down?’ Then the ghost shrugged, like, it’s okay with me. So I had to sit on its lap, while at the same time sitting on the bus seat, and that felt so . . . weird.”

    Ms. Salinas was young and super skinny, which made up for her ducklike face. On the scale of teachers she was neither bad nor good. She liked to wear white pants, and a rumor had recently spread about how she liked to wear lime-green thongs and was therefore slutty. We amused ourselves during home ec. trying to look through her white pants every time she turned, crouched, or bent.

    “Miss S!” Estella piped up. By then we had realized that if we kept her occupied, she might forget to give us our assignment. “When did you open your third eye?”

    “I was born with mine open,” she said. “My dad had it, and so did my Lolo. Oh, but my Kuya had to open his. He just forced it open one day by meditating. It’s really easy as long as you know where yours is.” A snicker from somewhere in the back made her look at the clock. “Girls, don’t stop sewing.”

    We obediently hopped to work. I stepped on my machine’s presser foot and stitched random lines through my table runner. Someone tugged on my elbow. “Help,” Hazel whispered. She gestured at her machine: the cloth was bunched up in the feed dog, the needle stabbing through it at random points. I reached over and jerked one end of the cloth until it came unstuck. It was now full of micro-holes. She made a face. I smirked.

    “You trying to give your cloth a third eye?” I asked.

    • • • •

    Anamaria Marquez was a student at St. Brebeuf’s, just like us. One day she stayed after school to finish a project. At that time the gardener was a creepy manong, and when he saw her staying in the classroom all by herself he raped her. Then, because he did not want anyone to know about his crime, he killed her and hid her body in the hollow of the biggest rubber tree in the Black Garden. Nobody found out what had happened to her until after the manong died, when finally a storm knocked over the rubber tree—that was years ago, it’s grown back now, duh—and the police found her bones.

    If you look at the roots of the tree at night you might see Anamaria’s face, or some parts of her naked body. If you stand in the Black Garden and stay absolutely silent you will hear her crying and calling for help.

    But you shouldn’t go near, because if you do she will have her revenge and she will kill you.

    • • • •

    It was fifth grade, a weird time when we were all changing. It seemed like every week someone was getting a bloodstain on her skirt, and sobbing in the bathroom from shame and hormones, while her barkada surrounded her vigilantly.

    At the start of the semester we had a mandatory talk called You and Your Body! We were given little booklets with “chic” illustrations, diagrams of the female reproductive system, and free sanitary napkins. We spent a lot of our time vandalizing the chic illustrations. Lea found an ingenious way to turn a uterus into a ram by shading in the fallopian tubes, and we took turns drawing uterus-rams in each other’s notebooks.

    I held a slight disgust for all of this girl stuff, though I couldn’t explain why. Maybe it was because I only had brothers, and some of their that-is-GROSS attitude rubbed off on me. My skin crawled whenever Mom or Ya Fely or the homeroom teacher made some reference like, “You are now a young lady. You are developing.”

    Our barkada had decided that we would tell each other “when we got ours,” and that would be it, no hysterics or anything. I was more afraid that someone was going to get a boyfriend. Bea, the class rep, took every chance she could to tell people about her darling Paolo from San Beda. I was fine with Bea having a boy, and Bea was my friend too, but she wasn’t part of our group. If any of us got a boy, I knew the dynamic would change so much we’d be screwed.

    It was around this time, after all, that people’s barkadas were getting shifted around, and that scared me more than I liked to admit. I loved my friends and wanted us to stay the same forever. There were four of us: me, Cella, Lea, and Hazel. Hazel and I were both in section C this year; Cella was in B, and Lea was in D. We had all ended up at the same assigned lunch table in first grade, and had continued eating lunch together since. We had our fights and silent periods and teary reconciliations, like everyone else, but otherwise we were one of the tightest groups around. These girls were the sisters I’d never had, and I thought we’d forgive each other anything.

    So when Hazel told me she had opened her third eye, I laughed in her face and thought nothing of it.

    • • • •

    Anamaria Marquez was a student at St. Brebeuf’s, just like all of us. One day she took a piss in the third-floor bathroom and the school bully locked her in, laughing, and called Anamaria a stupid slut. No one knows why she hated Anamaria so much. When the cleaning lady did her afternoon rounds she was surprised to find the door locked. Inside, on the second stall from the left, she found the corpse of Anamaria. Anamaria had drowned herself by sticking her head in the toilet.

    That’s why you should never use the third-floor bathroom. If you use the second toilet from the left, Anamaria Marquez will come out of the toilet right before you flush, and ask why you bullied her, and then kill you.

    If you use a different stall, she won’t kill you. She’ll just float on the ceiling and look down at you and ask you, Why?

    • • • •

    The annual school fair was coming up. Based on a random draw, the seventh graders were assigned the concert, and the sixth graders were going to work with the PTA for the bazaar, which would include goodies baked by the fourth graders. Our year level, the fifth grade, got the Haunted House. Bea announced this right before recess one Monday. The fair was pretty much the only time each year that boys were allowed on campus, which meant a lot of squealing. Section A was doing a freaky dollhouse inspired by Chucky; section B was recreating the well from the The Ring; my section, section C, was staging a haunted traditional Filipino home; and section D was enacting ritual sacrifice. There was a cash prize for the scariest section, so Bea insisted we do well.

    While people were yelling at each other to sign up for time slots and committees, Hazel pulled me aside and said she didn’t really want to do this, now that she had opened her third eye. I laughed and continued to cram my science homework.

    “What’s so funny?”

    I looked at her, annoyed. “Um. You just told me you opened your third eye.”

    “But I did.” Her eyebrows were furrowed, and her eyes were taking on that buggy, frantic look they did when she was priming for an argument. I considered this. Hazel was one of my best friends, but she was also an attention-seeker—she was the only one among us who had broken the rules and cried passionately when she “got hers,” describing her intense stomach pains as being “like giving birth.” I mean, it must have hurt a little, but she was fine by the next day. Lately I had been thinking that if anyone changed anything in our gang, it would be Hazel and her weird theatrics. It was probably the lack of a real drama club in our school.

    I stopped writing. “Why would you do that?”

    “Because,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to see.”

    I remembered our failed ghost-hunt during Stargazing Night in third grade, when we were both part of the Nature Club. We had squealed and scurried through the halls, waving our flashlights, and nothing had come out: no spirit balls, not even a little wheeze from the famed Anamaria Marquez. Then again, we didn’t make it to the third floor, because as we were creeping up the stairs a security guard spotted us and told us that area was closed.

    “And?” I asked, feeling the precious recess minutes drain away. “Have you seen anything?”

    She shook her head. “But I’ve—I’ve started hearing things! Whispering, weird noises, sometimes singing.” I couldn’t tell if this delighted her, or freaked her out. I was not a ghost person. If you had my Mom, who routinely doused the house in Holy Water, and never stepped into her parents’ home without begging her dad—rest in peace, Lolo!—not to come out and spook her, you probably wouldn’t be either. I preferred my dad’s stance: laughing and shaking his head because Mom was a probinsyana through and through. Besides, I always had my scapular to protect me from evil. It was a gift from my ninang at baptism: a brown cloth string that linked two images of Our Lady, which I wore around my neck. Mom insisted I never take it off, just in case I died suddenly, because it guaranteed entrance to heaven.

    “Sure. Any confessions from the kapres yet?”

    Hazel gripped my shoulder. “You really don’t believe me?”

    “I’ll believe ’em when I see ’em,” and I tried to say this comically, fakely, so that she would understand that I wasn’t trying to be mean.

    But I guess I used the wrong tone of voice, because she said, “Fine. Be that way,” and stalked off.

    • • • •

    Anamaria Marquez was a senior in high school when she committed suicide by hanging herself on the higad tree next to the parking lot. Her boyfriend had dumped her for one of the Popular Girls, and she was so distraught that she decided to teach him a lesson. She only meant to scare him and his new girl, or so her barkada said afterward. She was supposed to freak them out by pretending to hang herself, except it all went wrong; her foot slipped on the branch she was stepping on, or something. I’m not making this up. This really happened. It was all over the news and stuff. Of course the boyfriend freaked out, and broke up with the new girl and then had psychological issues all his life. And the tree, which was once a pretty tree, is now full of fat, hairy higads, crawling around or dangling in the breeze, and if they fall on you, you will get a really bad rash.

    So that’s the part everyone in Manila knows; now here’s the part only the girls of St. Brebeuf know: if you walk beneath the higad tree after the school has closed down, sometimes you will see her shadow on the concrete, the shadow of a hanging girl. Don’t look up. If you look up you might see her, and she might talk to you. No one knows what she says. No one who has heard her talk has survived.

    • • • •

    Hazel got all distant after that conversation. We were still talking, but there was all this weirdness underneath the surface. I felt that she was overreacting. Everyone else said it was hormones. She would pick at her food during lunch and not say much, even when Cella would do her hilarious commercial parodies. Everyone assumed Hazel was slimming down for the boys at the fair. I thought about apologizing a few times, but then I would think, Well, I didn’t do anything wrong! Besides, we were all so busy preparing for the fair (which happened right before the semester break) that every time the guilt crept up something would distract me. I was on the Props Committee, and spent my days badgering people to bring their Lola’s folding screens and old sheets and tablecloths—the grosser the better.

    The Haunted House was going to be in the Old Recreation Building, which we lovingly called the ORB. It was a small square structure right next to the Black Garden, barely used after the fancy new gym was erected. Our batch could make use of the whole ground floor.

    That last week was crazy. We had our usual schedule until Wednesday, and morning classes on Thursday. The fair started at five p.m. on Friday and ended with a concert on Saturday evening. We hated our school and our teachers were sadists and periodically Bea burst into tears, because our Haunted House was obviously going to suck. When it got too stressful people would launch spitball fights, wadding up newspaper and shooting it from the straws someone had added to our materials pile.

    The school finally let us start decorating the ORB on Monday. I sat with the rest of the Props people and spraypainted crumpled balls of newspaper to look like bloody things. We draped the windows with mottled sheets and marked off our section of the floor with some plastic cafeteria tables that we covered with yellowing tablecloths. A troop of girls retrieved the random wireframe bed that lay in the corner of the home ec. room. The idea was that we would have a creepy, bloody Lola lying on the bed, looking for her lost grandchildren, shouting “Anak! Anak!” at passersby. We had also envisioned a grandfather clock. That was probably not going to happen. To make up for it, Bea decided that the tiniest girls in class needed to dress up in nightgowns and crawl out from underneath the plastic tables.

    Hazel was still one of the smallest girls in class, although she had been the first in our group to start wearing a bra. I happened to pass by just as Reena from the Costumes committee was asking her whether she had a plain white nightgown. “I have some old shirts,” she said.

    “That would work! We’ll just paint them. Hey Hazel,” Reena said. “You look, like, kinda anorexic. What’s wrong?”

    “Nothing,” she said.

    “Growth spurt, maybe?” Reena pressed. Reena wanted to be a doctor when she grew up.

    “I’ve been waking up in my sleep a lot. It’s too noisy,” Hazel said. She shrugged, and turned, probably to stop Reena’s pestering. I didn’t have a chance to keep walking. I smiled at her. She quirked her lips, but I couldn’t tell if she was smiling back. She looked tired. There was something unfamiliar about her face, but it was probably the way the old sheets were blocking the sunlight from the windows. We had to pile them on thick so that it would actually be dark and scary inside our Haunted House.

    To make conversation, I said, “Did you fill in your time slots?”

    “Yes,” she said. “Friday evening.”

    Then she floated away, as if something else had caught her attention. Reena shook her head and muttered, “Cramps.”

    • • • •

    Anamaria Marquez was the principal’s daughter, and felt she needed to be perfect. You know that girl. There’s one in every class. But no matter how perfect she was, the principal was always too busy for her. One day she didn’t show up for homeroom. They found her body in the well of the Black Garden, all swollen, her mouth full of seaweed. Some people said her legs had dissolved and became seaweed, too. That is why the well in the Black Garden is full of seaweed, and the water is brown, and every frog that drinks from it dies.

    Some girls might tell you to throw a coin in the well of the Black Garden and make a wish. Don’t. You will be cursed. Anamaria Marquez will crawl out and eat you, and bad things will happen to your family. But if you say “Mama Mary” three times before she reaches you, she will dissolve into seaweed again.

    I don’t think you should try. She crawls really, really fast.

    • • • •

    Thursday was tense and awful and most of us stayed in school until past ten, decorating the ORB and taking naps on each other’s laps. Cella wandered over from 5B’s display to see how our section was faring. Her face was caked with white makeup, except for the blue rings under her eyes. I burst out laughing when she approached. When B said they were doing The Ring, they weren’t kidding.

    “They made you Sadako?”

    “It’s the hair, the hair!” she moaned, gathering the massive amount in a fist. “Did I have any choice?”

    “Why the blue eyebags?”

    “They couldn’t find any black face paint,” she said mournfully. “I think it will work if my hair is all over the place?” She combed it over her face and waved her arms around.

    “Yeah, that works,” I said. Cella was the tallest of us four. Looming over me with only one eye visible and all that face paint, she actually did look like a dead girl who had crawled out of a well. I hoped our Lolas would be able to hold their own.

    “Where’s Hazel?” she asked.

    I found myself preoccupied with the stockings-and-old-shirts-guts I was holding. “Uhhh, not sure.”

    “Hey, Mica,” she said, pulling her hair back. “Are you two okay? It’s been kinda weird at lunch these days. Did something happen?”

    I shrugged. “I’m fine with her. I don’t know if she’s fine with me. We had . . . a debate, a few weeks ago.” I didn’t mention the third eye. It floated into my brain, but something stopped it from leaving my mouth.

    Cella patted my head. “Well, Hazel’s been kinda moody since she started her period. You can tell me and Lea if you want us to, you know, intervene or whatever.”

    “Eh, we’ll be fine,” I said.

    “Hey look, there’s Hazel,” Cella said. “Let’s go talk to her.”

    I wanted to refuse, but Cella grabbed my arm and started tugging me. Hazel was sitting alone in a corner, with her head bent, as if she was reading something in her lap. We had only taken a few steps when someone from section B called out, “Come back, Sadako! You need to practice your groan!”

    “Shoot,” Cella muttered. “Okay, you go on your own. Just say you want things to go back to normal!” She ducked back through the makeshift curtain that separated her class’s display from ours.

    I steeled myself and decided that I could always ask her if she needed any props, in case things got weird. As I neared, I realized Hazel was talking to herself.

    “I know, that one is kind of ridiculous. I think some high schoolers made that up so that they could go there to make out.”

    She must have heard me approaching, because her shoulders tensed. She stood and whirled around. “Hi, Mica,” she said, oddly breathless. Her face was caked with dead-girl makeup, like Cella. Our section’s makeup artists were obviously better than B’s, because her face actually looked convincingly withered. There was a ribbon in her hair, and someone had artfully arranged her bangs to obscure half her face. They had also inked a trail of blood from her lip to her chin, and smeared it expertly. If she weren’t still wearing her uniform, I would have clapped my hands in glee. If everyone looked as freaky as Hazel, that cash prize would be ours.

    “Are you practicing your script?” I asked. “It sounded kind of long.”

    Hazel’s eyes flickered sideways. The fluorescent lights in the ORB were old, and some of them were burnt out, so certain spots were cast in shadow. The place where Hazel was standing was bright enough. I suddenly did not want to look at the shadowy space next to her.

    “Um, just thinking aloud,” she said. As if she could not help herself, she added in a low mutter, “Yeah, I know, okay? Stop it already.”

    “Excuse me?” I said. My palms felt clammy. I clutched my old-clothes-guts and tried to look Hazel in the eye, but she kept looking at the space next to her. It annoyed me, that she was trying so hard to freak me out by acting this way. But this had been going on for too long. It looked like I had to be the mature one.

    “Hey, Hazel,” I said. I sucked in a breath. “I’m sorry I laughed about your . . . third eye thing. I was tired that day, okay? I’m sorry.”

    Her eyes snapped back to me. They were suddenly cool, calculating. “But you still don’t believe me.”

    I sighed, trying not to be angry. Why was she so intent on putting the blame on me? Hazel could never admit to being wrong, and that side of her was coming out more and more often. I didn’t like it and it bugged me in a way that it didn’t bug Cella or Lea. “Look, we can each believe what we want to believe, okay? I don’t believe in ghosts. That’s all.”

    “I told you so,” she answered, but she didn’t seem to be addressing me. Something icy ran down my back. Then she focused on me again, suddenly looking fatigued. She actually swayed. I thought she might collapse. I reached out to steady her, but she stepped away from me, like I was dirty.

    “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she said. Her eyes were wide, as if she was trying to convince me of something. “It’s okay, Mica,” she said, giving me a tiny grin. “Don’t worry about it. We’re fine.”

    • • • •

    Anamaria Marquez was a student at St. Brebeuf’s, just like us. She had the usual black hair and brownish eyes and pearl earrings. Her portrait is hanging on the second floor corridor—the one with the Music Room and the President’s Office and the Dance Hall—next to the paintings of St. Brebeuf and Blessed Antonia Mesina and the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. None of the teachers or admin know why her painting is there. The truth is that they trapped her spirit in that painting, so she’ll only haunt you if you walk down that corridor. You’ll notice that her eyes are always following you. You’ll notice her uniform, which is the same as our uniform, and you’ll notice that her smile is a little sad.

    Anamaria Marquez is the reason why the third and fourth floors have those extra railings. Anamaria Marquez jumped from the third floor after a dare.

    Actually, I don’t believe that story. I believe the one that says she was pushed. Because Anamaria Marquez was such a sweet, sweet girl, and maybe her sweetness was too much for someone.

    Have you heard about the mysterious puddles of water in that corridor? It’s from the painting. If you visit it at three a.m. you will see that her face is broken, and tears are streaming out of her eyes.

    • • • •

    The next day was Friday. Fair Day. There was a lot of last minute blood splattering to be done. I ran into Lea on my way to the bathroom to wash my hands for the hundredth time, and she breathlessly handed me a sandwich. “Here. Extra. She told me you were gonna forget lunch,” she said.

    “Who?”

    “Hazel,” she panted. “Gotta run!” Lea was vice president of her class and looked extremely harassed.

    So Hazel and I really were okay. Great. I hadn’t slept so well the night before. At one point in my dream, Cella, in her Sadako attire, had crawled out of a papier mâché well and begged me to open my eyes. I had woken up in the middle of the night with a bad taste in my mouth, and nearly jumped when Mom blearily stuck her head in my room and asked me what was wrong. “You have Holy Water on your bedside table, Mica, remember,” she said. Then she reminded me not to forget my prayers, and I had to convince her I hadn’t. I was already so sleep-deprived that week I could barely think. So it was a relief that Hazel wasn’t still mad at me.

    The gates opened to outsiders at 3:30 p.m., though they couldn’t enter any attractions until 5:00. There was a massive scrambling behind the scenes when it hit 4:00, but somehow, by 4:55, we were all in place and ready to go.

    As usual, the Haunted House was one of the biggest attractions. Girls from other year levels and their boylets started streaming through, as did the occasional cluster of teachers. With all the props in place, and the overhead lights turned off completely, we actually seemed to be doing pretty well. Our first Lola, played by Bea, got especially loud screeches from the groups shuffling through. “Anak! Anak!” she howled, rolling her eyes as far back as they would go. “Nasaan ang aking mga Anak?!

    Lola! Lola!” went the two “Little Girls” on duty. Abbie and Erica were roughly the same height, and someone had outfitted them in matching white smocks. They crawled out from under the table and lolled their heads, reaching out with grasping fingers. “Lolaaaa!

    I was responsible for guiding people out of our display and into Section D’s. I was wearing an old dress—someone from Costumes had cut out the waist part and sewn fake intestines onto it. I bobbed my head and went “Salamat, salamat,” before directing visitors around the folding screens, which blocked section D’s altar from view. They had a pretty good chance of winning, because of the holy statues they had amassed. I don’t know how they did it. If I so much as asked for one of the baby Jesus figurines from our home altar, Mom would throw a fit.

    There was a short break at 7:00 so that we could rest and switchover for the next shift. The fair closed at 9:30. I checked the list and saw that the next Little Girls were Hazel and Yanni. Bea was looking over my shoulder. The next Lola, Sammy, was yawning behind her. “Have you seen Hazel?” Bea asked. “We only have twenty minutes. Shouldn’t she be with Costumes by now?”

    “I’ll go find her,” I said. I wanted to thank her for the sandwich, anyway. I entered the ORB Bathroom, which Costumes had invaded. It was a mess, with piles of clothes and girls in different stages of undress. I waded through, asking people if they had seen Hazel. One or two girls thought they had seen her wandering around outside the building. It looked like she was looking for someone, they said. “If she comes in here, tell her she needs to get into position,” I said.

    I darted out of the ORB to find the fair in full swing. It was already dark. The deep purple sky was starless. Bugs swarmed over the big stadium lights they had erected around campus. The scent of kettle corn hung in the air. A gaggle of seventh-graders laughed exaggeratedly as a group of boys with overly-gelled hair passed them. To my left was a row of parlor game booths, courtesy of the high school students. To my right was the Black Garden, barricaded by the old metal gate. I gave it a cursory glance, already set on grabbing some kettle corn, but that thought vanished as I spotted Hazel: already in costume, standing beneath the biggest rubber tree.

    • • • •

    Anamaria Marquez was a student at St. Brebeuf’s, just like you and me. When she was in fifth grade, she died from a mysterious illness. She really loved to study, poor Anamaria; she dreamed of becoming a great scholar one day, perhaps becoming the principal of our school. It never happened, but her love for the classroom was so strong that she never left. Sometimes you will see a bright light winking against the classroom window, and if you stick your head out the window, you will see a girl huddled beneath it. Her skin will be rotting. She will look up at you and ask if you’ve done your homework. If you’re a good student, she will spare you.

    If you’re a bad student, she will ask you why, why, and she will latch onto your shoulders and you must carry her until you die. No one will see her except for you, and the only way to get rid of her is to visit the Monastery of the Poor Clares and offer them a dozen eggs every day for twelve days. And don’t even think about lying. If you lie she will leap into your mouth and possess you, and make you claw off your own face.

    • • • •

    I pushed through the gate and walked in. I found that my hand had flown to the scapular around my neck. I realized how ridiculous I was acting, and jerked my hand away, but I stopped walking forward. I called out to Hazel from where I stood.

    “Hazel? Your shift’s about to start! Are you done with your makeup?”

    Hazel turned, slowly, to face me. I saw that she was standing right in front of the rubber tree’s hollow. I couldn’t tell if she already had makeup, or not. She was pale, but not in the cakey way, and the rings under her eyes seemed real. Her mouth moved. I could not hear what she was saying.

    “Hazel, come on,” I said. I heard a loud roaring in my ears, and realized it was my heart. My voice came out pleading. “Hazel?”

    “Mica,” she wheezed, with great effort. “Mica, I’m sorry.”

    “What? Hazel?” I couldn’t help it; I moved forward, staggering toward her, my fake guts swinging as I tried to avoid the roots of the rubber trees. “Hazel, what’s wrong?”

    “I’m sorry,” she whispered, starting to cry.

    “What?” My skin was prickling. “Let’s get out of here, Hazel.” I didn’t look at the tree and its drooping branches; I didn’t look at the roots. I didn’t look at the well to the left of the tree; everyone knew it was drained, anyway. “Let’s go. Come on.” I paused right before a tangle of roots that snaked between us and reached out my hand to her.

    She shook her head. “Not until you say you believe,” she whispered. Then I saw—the impression of fingers on her neck, as if someone was gripping her throat. “I opened it because I was curious,” Hazel wept, struggling to get the words out. “And I still can’t see. But then she found me, and she keeps talking to me. She wants you to say,” her breath hitched. The finger-shaped dents on her neck deepened. “Say,” she choked.

    Something dark bubbled up from the pit of my belly. Something dark stirred the trees. The rustling sounded like the chatter of young girls, our friends, our own voices. We were alone in an abandoned school, and it was pitch black—midnight? Three a.m.? I could not turn my head to look back at the gate or the lights of the fair.

    “I believe,” I whispered, gripping my scapular, gazing at Hazel, whose eyes were bulging. “I believe,” I said, louder and louder, “I believe! I believe! I was wrong!”

    Hazel’s eyes rolled back. Her feet slowly lifted off the ground.

    “It’s my fault!” I screamed. “Now give Hazel back to me!”

    Hazel wheezed and gasped, as if she could finally breathe again, and she dropped down, stumbled forward—I let go of my scapular and reached out my hand to her, shaking uncontrollably.

    Cold fingers grasped the wrist of my free hand, and cold lips brushed my cheek, and a cold voice whispered sadly in my ear, “I know.”

    • • • •

    Anamaria Marquez was a student at St. Brebeuf’s, just like you and me.

    She is standing in the middle of our circle right now. You can’t see her, but I can. She is happy we are talking about her, even if some of our stories are stupid; even if some of them have got it all wrong. At least we know her name. At least sometimes we think of her.

    [end]

    - - - 

    Nightmare Magazine is edited by bestselling anthology editor John Joseph Adams (Wastelands, The Living Dead). This story first appeared in the Nightmare’s March 2014 issue, which also features original fiction by Genevieve Valentine (“A Dweller in Amenty”), along with reprints by Glen Hirshberg (“I am Coming to Live in Your Mouth”) and Nathan Ballingrud (“Sunbleached”). We also have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with our authors, a showcase on our cover artist, and a feature interview with Bram Stoker nominated author Jeff Strand. You can wait for the rest of this month's contents to be serialized online, or you can buy the whole issue right now in convenient eBook format for just $2.99. It's a great issue, so be sure to check it out. And while you're at it, tell a friend about Nightmare!

     

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    Actor Marc Senter, who came to horror audiences’ attention with his starring role of Ray Pye in Chris Sivertson’s 2006 indie darling The Lost, and who subsequently has appeared in Darren Lynn Bousman’s The Devil’s Carnival and Simon Rumley’s Red, White & Blue, caught up with us last night to chat the SXSW feature premiere of Starry Eyes, in which he stars. 

    Co-written and directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch, Starry Eyes stars Alexandra Essoe, Amanda Fuller (Red, White & Blue), Fabianne Therese (John Dies at the End), Noah Segan (Looper), Shane Coffey (The Originals) and Senter, and revolves around aspiring Hollywood actress Sarah Walker (Essoe), who spends her days working a dead-end job, enduring petty friendships and going on countless casting calls in hopes of catching her big break. After a series of strange auditions, Sarah lands the leading role in a new film from a mysterious production company.  But with this opportunity comes bizarre ramifications that will transform her both mentally and physically into something beautiful, and altogether terrifying.

    Having shot last May in Los Angeles over the course of three weeks, Senter said of how he became attached to Starry Eyes, “The producer and my friend, Travis Stevens, reached out to me about it. Travis is one of the hardest working and most talented genre producers in the business today, so when he sends me something, I trust there is something there. I don't think there was even a role in particular that he was reaching out to me for and I believe that at this point, a lot of the film had already been cast, except for a few supporting roles. I thought the script had some cool elements to it, but, more importantly, I understood what Travis envisioned for it, and was most attracted to that.

    “Of course, when I met directors Dennis [Widmyer] and Kevin [Kolsch], it seemed clear that they were in tune with Travis' vision and had the passion to back it up,” continued Senter. “Also, when I read the script, the role that I would ultimately choose to play really popped out at me. I had an idea for something different and fun, and wanted to try it."

    "Some of my favorite psychological horror films are from the 1970’s,” mused Senter, when queried regarding the comparisons currently being made of that decade’s horror entries and Starry Eyes. “Rosemary's Baby is one of those, with The Shining being my favorite.” 

    As for his character known simply as 'The Assistant,’ Senter illuminated, “I play the assistant to the casting director. It's so funny. I’m smiling and laughing a bit at the memory. When the lead girl (Essoe) gets her big shot to audition for the role of her dreams, it’s me and the casting director she must impress. Of course, there is a real twist to this character, as well as the casting directors, but I probably shouldn't mention that.”

    While he remained coy regarding narrative points, Senter was more than happy to chat about his ‘method’ approach to the role. “I know a gentleman who is a casting director. He was one of the casting directors who cast me in an earlier horror film I did, and from the second I read the character he popped into my mind. I went and had lunch with him to see what in my memory could be refreshed, and what new things I could pick up. The moment I sat down with him, I knew that he was definitely the choice for this character, and that was awesome, because I knew it would be a lot of fun bringing him to life.”

    Regarding his working relationship with Widmyer and Kolsch, “They are great dudes and I like them a lot,” offered the actor. “I am grateful they thought of me, along with Travis, for this film. I had a lot of fun working with them.” 
    As for his thoughts on the SXSW premiere (it premieres tomorrow at The Alamo Ritz; see details below), “I really dig the fest, and am excited to get back down there to celebrate this film, and hang out with new and old friends,” stated Senter.

    “My first film, The Lost, premiered at SXSW, and it is one of the most memorable moments I have in my career. I was also there with Red, White & Blue a few years back, which was a total blast. It's been a minute, so I am excited to get back down there. Oh, and I decided to take a few extra days and do a little road trip with my friend and co-star Noah Segan. We are hitting the open road at 6am manana! Still wondering if this was a good idea, though I know it will definitely be an adventure.”

    We asked Senter, given his genre-heavy filmography, what audiences may expect from him the future, to which he replied, “A lot of diversity in genres and character. While things are a little secretive at the moment, there are a few projects I can mention. I have a movie in development about an extremely influential Los Angeles band, in which I’ll play the lead singer. There is also a New Orleans crime thriller, where I will play a cop, and there is a high-concept comedy I am working on as well, where I will play a pretty hilarious character that makes a bit of fun of my actual career.”

    Not content to rest on his laurels and having been bitten by the producing bug on his 2011 flick Brawler (which he produced and starred in), Senter concluded, “Six months ago, my producing partner and I joined forces with two industry heavyweights and launched a new production company. There will be a formal announcement very shortly with the company name and details, but we already have some very exciting things going on. While I am an actor first, I love producing. It gives me the opportunity to work on multiple projects at once, which is necessary for someone like me, who does not like to sit around and wait for the phone to ring.”

    SXSW screenings of Starry Eyes are as follows:
    World Premiere:                Saturday, March 8th, 11:59pm (Alamo Ritz 1&2)
    Public Screening #2:          Monday, March 10th, 11:59pm (SXSatellite: Marchesa)
    Public Screening #3:          Wednesday, March 12th, 11:59pm (Stateside Theatre)
    Public Screening #4:          Friday, March 14th, 1:30pm (Alamo Ritz 2)


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    Godzilla lamp

    Having a friend like Godzilla means never having to ask for a lighter, reach for a flashlight, or spend thousands of dollars a year on heating oil. Like a walking, city-destroying, havoc-wreaking fireplace, the 'King of the Monsters' has the fiery breath of Satan himself, and the ability to light up a room - and turn it into a post-apocalyptic wasteland - at the drop of a hat.

    Thanks to this awesome new lamp courtesy of SKK Lighting, you can harness the incredible power of Godzilla for good, rather than evil. Godzilla doesn't want to destroy your room or burn you alive but rather he just wants to provide you with some warm light that'll soothe you to sleep and allow you to read your favorite book, before conking out. See? Godzilla's not all that bad. He's just misunderstood.

    You can get your own Godzilla lamp for approximately $150, over on SKK Lighting.

    Want more proof that Godzilla is a misunderstood monster? Check out a hilarious new Snickers commercial, which shows that he's not exactly himself when he's hungry!


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    In the second half of my interview with the amazing Lance Henriksen he spoke about pottery, Art, what is life, and women (see part 1 of the interview here). I didn't say much but merely hung on to the adventure of our conversation so that I didn't get lost.

    Did you take time off from the pottery making because you didn't have the correct setup to create it?

    That's right. When I'm not working, I need a studio. Now I have that and I'm working everyday down there. I was down there three-quarters of today. I have a love and respect of labor. I need labor. I can't live just in my brain. I have to labor. Something happens to me. I feel really good.

    The accomplishment? The satisfaction of completing something?

    That's to put it mildly. There's a whole culture of potters in America that have been devastated or made...Well, wait a minute. The Chinese are making sets of dishes for twenty dollars. They've put most of the potteries in England and America out of business. So the only ones who are really surviving are studio potters. But that's not the real issue. The real issue is unless it's Duck Dynasty or some stupid reality show about logging or swamp killing all the wildlife...all the species on the planet are getting slaughtered for reality shows. I wanted to do one about waking people up to what they're missing about the studio potters of America. We have an incredible heritage of that. I want to do it by embarrassing them, which is a good way to reach them. Just shock them into waking up.

    You don't think that may be a lost cause?

    No. I don't think people are a lost cause. I really don't, especially Americans. The American mind, when it catches on… we're very agile and very smart. 

    Very adaptable.

    Very, very adaptable. It's where I live. This is the country I love. I know we'll travel the world introducing people to all kinds of people, potters all over the world. I know, first hand, that if I'm sitting with a beautiful chick and she knows I'm an actor and she's having dinner with me because she's interested on some level and she might say, "Well, what do you do in your spare time?" 

    "I actually make pottery." 

    You'll hear, "Check please! Taxi!"

    Hahaha. "I build fences."

    "I knit Christmas sweaters."  But no, seriously, there's a lot of life out there. I demand that we see it. I have a terrible fear that we are going to extinguish all other species but us. Inevitably. 

    Which will extinguish us. 

    We're last rung on the ladder. We'll go down. We'll be taken out by little tiny microscopic things probably. It's not the fear of dying. It's the fear of having not lived and given dignity to everything around me.

    Do you have a fear of dying?

    No. No matter what happens it's going to be quick. 

    Do clowns scare you?

    They don't scare me I just want to punch them in the nose. I hate them. I hate mimes, clowns and ventriloquists. Those three things, they drive me nuts. I'll literally get up and leave. 

    At this point, what is still on your bucket list?

    Oh I've got some major stuff. I want to meet a woman that I can honestly say I understand what a woman is. I've never met one that I really understand, that she reveals and I reveal, and you find out who a woman is.

    What makes them tick?

    What makes this thing happen. I know it sounds very generic but that's the way it ought to be. But that and I really want to have a show, a pottery show, an exhibit.

    You mean a gallery show?

    Oh yeah, yeah even if I have to build the gallery to do it. I'd like it to be in New York. I'd like to do work that is startlingly interesting and will wake people up.

    Wake people up to...?

    Just wake them up. My presentation will wake them up, more than somebody zoning out. You know what I mean. The Art World is a very fickle thing. Art is a process of discovery. Now where you find that artist on his road to discovering what he's pursuing is what separates the men from the boys. If you look at Picasso's early stuff it was as mundane as you can get. But he had a journey. We all have a journey. They can write on a tombstone, "I told you I was sick," or, "Here lies the greatest painter that ever lived." I mean the effigy of an artist is ongoing. It depends on where you meet them. 

    Is the idea of Art, for you, to have something that lasts after you're gone?

    Lasts on its own whether I'm gone or not. Whether I'm here or not. I remember, I think I was about fifteen or sixteen, in that range, I was in New York and (H. R.) Giger was actually having a show in New York of those Alien creatures. But they were paintings. He was a young man. I remember him. I walked into the gallery and I saw them. I made no connection. I just liked them because they were so creepy. Wonderful.

    That was a combination of mechanical and flesh.

    Yes, but it was Necromancia. But I never knew that in another twenty years that I'd be playing in one of those movies that those creatures were in. How can you know that? I've been blessed. My whole life I've been blessed. Equal parts insanity that the world can deliver and also the gifts. Who knows what's going to transpire in the next twenty years? I figure I'll make it until about ninety-five and then that will be it. But I'm not going to be a slow-down ninety-five.

    Like Neil Young sang, "It's better to burn out than to fade away"?

    Yeah, yeah. That's not going to happen. A psychiatrist once said to me, "Double your age, whatever it is right now, double it. You think you're going to live to be whatever?" It was shocking. I remember when my first child was born, I had forgotten I was born. I thought I had created myself. You know, you see this little pink...

    Talk about waking somebody up.

    Yeah, Exactly, there you go. That's a good example. That's what Art should do. What greater Art than a woman creating a baby? But I want to compete. I've got things to say. 

    Regrets?

    None. No, no I don't. I don't live that way. It's a waste of everything, energy, everything else. If, professionally, I don't get a role, I never look back. I don't even think about it again. I may have an idle thought if I saw it. I may think, "Awww, what was all the hype about that role?" 

    ---

    Del Howison is a journalist, writer and Bram Stoker Award-winning editor. He is also the co-founder and owner of Dark Delicacies “The Home of Horror” in Burbank, CA. He can be reached at Del@darkdel.com


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    Ireland Swamp sculpture

    Located in Ireland, the Victoria's Way Garden is no doubt one of the more interesting places in the world to pay a visit to. The 22-acre park is home to various sculptures from various different artists, including statues of mythical figures like Buddha and Ganesha. Oh, and did I mention that in order to get into the park you have to enter through a tunnel, the design of which is inspired by the idea of 'Vagina dentata'? If you don't know what that is, look it up. Or just watch the movie Teeth.

    Ireland swamp zombie

    No doubt the coolest sculpture in the park is this massive stone zombie, which is perpetually emerging from the murky depths of the swamp. Okay, so it's probably not actually supposed to be a zombie, but since I couldn't find any information on this particular piece, I've decided to go ahead and just call it what it looks like. It's a zombie. Emerging from a swamp. And it's awesome.

    Speaking of underwater creepiness, check out the eerie human figures that haunt Grenada's underwater sculpture park!


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    New comic book Wednesday has come and gone. The dust at your local comic shop has settled. An eerie silence descends as you finish reading your last superhero book of the week. Now it's time for something a little more sinister. Welcome to Bagged and Boarded: comic reviews of the sick, spooky, twisted and terrifying!

    The Auteur No. 1

    Nathan T. Rex was one of the hottest names in Hollywood. His track record as a producer was incomparable. Hit after hit he spawned, until his latest release, a three-part space epic called 'Cosmos,' flopped. Considered the biggest failure in movie history, Rex was shunned. Now he's trying to find inspiration for his newest horror movie through drugs, drugs… and more drugs. Through vivid hallucinations he finally figures out who his slasher is supposed to be.

    Bag it or board it up? This comic, written by Rick Spears and drawn by James Callahan, oozes imagination and depravity. The hallucination scenes are some of the best I've ever seen in a comic, and this plot seems fun. I'm not sure where this series is headed, but I'm following.

    The Twilight Zone No. 3

    A big-time, too big to fail investment banker is on the hook, and could be facing some serious jail time. But he's had a change of heart, says he'll face the charges, and begins loving his wife and caring about the world around him. Meanwhile, a downtrodden, nasty guy says that he's that banker, says that someone stole his life from him. As the story unfolds in true Twilight Zone fashion, we see just who's who in this weird tale.

    Bag it or board it up? This comic really feels like good old Twilight Zone. You're not sure who's the good guy, you're not sure what's going on, and you know there's going to be an awesome twist at the end. Written by J. Michael Straczynski, who wrote episodes of the eighties version of the show, the comic shines with good plotting. Even though it's not a new story every issue (which would have fit nicely with the style of the serialized show), it still really harkens back to the old episodes.

    Escape From Jesus Island No. 1

    A group of young animal rights activists with dreams of reality TV stardom sneak onto an island owned by ReGen Corp. The company, which specializes in genetic testing on animals, has one of its testing facilities shrouded in mystery. As the group investigates the old, abandoned-looking building, they find more than animal testing on the island. Whether ReGen or some other entity, someone is seriously stirring the genetic pot. Mutants, monsters, and mad men stalk the halls, attack the kids, and generally terrorize.

    Bag it or board it up? This gleefully offensive comic is so full of blood, gore, and mayhem that I can't not recommend it. Originally released in December as part of a promo, it's now officially released. And this comic is a blast. If you like monsters, sacrilegious imagery, and idealistic a-holes getting torn to pieces… you'll love Escape from Jesus Island.

    Afterlife with Archie No. 4

    Archie and the gang are under assault from hordes of zombies. In a story they said could never happen, all of Riverdale is under siege. Previously, the gang holed up in Veronica's mansion, but Archie slipped away while no one was looking. Archie's off to find his parents, hoping against hope that they haven't yet been infected by the zombie menace. When he runs into trouble, a dear old pal saves his butt. But at a cost!

    Bag it or board it up? Why aren't you reading Afterlife with Archie? What are you thinking! Go, run, read it! This comic deals with issue the normal Archie comics wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole, and it makes you wonder how the hell they got away with it!


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    Cemetery Dance is one of the longest running and most well-known horror publishers in the game. They recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of their acclaimed horror magazine. Here are some noteworthy books to add to your reading to-do list:
     
    December_Park
     
    December Park by Ronald MalfiSigned limited editions of this chilling novel are now available, but will be sold out soon. December Park tells the story of several young friends and the horrors they unearth while searching for a young girl's killer.
     
    Gone_Girl
     
    Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnSigned limited edition copies of the best-selling novel are available, but they're going fast. Gone Girl (soon to be a major motion picture) tells the story of Nick Dunne, a seemingly innocent man blamed for his wife's sudden disappearance. [Note: cover art shown above is from the Standard Edition.]
     
    Hogben
     
    Sometimes, Cemetery Dance sells other publisher's books like The Hogben Chronicles by Henry Kuttner: 500 special-edition copies will be available from Cemetery Dance, but the books are actually published by Borderlands Press, which is run by Thomas F. Monteleone and Elizabeth Monteleone. The limited editions given to Cemetery Dance will be signed by Neil Gaiman, Pierce Watters and F. Paul Wilson. 
     
    This is obviously only a small sampling of what the horror publishing behemoth has to offer. Take a look, browse around, and get your copies before they're gone at CemeteryDance.com
     

    Nancy O. Greene started writing at the age of nine. Her short story collection, Portraits in the Dark, received a brief mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007. Other works have appeared or will appear in ChiZine; Lovecraft eZine; Cemetery Dance; Tales of Blood and Roses; Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror; Shroud Publishing's The Terror at Miskatonic Falls; Dark Recesses; Flames Rising; Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! and others. She has a BA in Cinematic Arts (Critical Studies) and a minor in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Southern California, and is a former Fellow of Film Independent's Project: Involve.

     


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    As horror fans, we make it our business to know the most obscure details about our favorite films. We watch the bonus features on the Special Edition releases of our favorite DVDs; we read retrospectives and interviews in support of our most beloved titles. But even the most diligent fan is bound to miss something along the way. So, to help you get the lowdown, we're launching a new segment that rounds up some lesser-known trivia from your favorite horror films.

    For this installment, we're setting our sights on the 1978 classic Halloween. Most horror fans probably know that the Michael Myers mask used in Halloween was a William Shatner mask with a few modifications but we have uncovered some lesser-known facts for your reading enjoyment. Feast your eyes on 10 things you may not have known about Jon Carpenter’s Halloween.

    The man who portrayed ‘The Shape’ later collaborated with John Carpenter in a much different capacity.

    Nick Castle, the man who played Michael Myers for the majority of the film, was also a screenwriter. He co-penned Escape from New York with John Carpenter. Castle later went on to direct films like The Last Starfighter.

    When shooting commenced Jamie Lee Curtis was certain she would be fired from the production.

    Early on, Curtis was convinced she was doing a terrible job on the film and was convinced she was going to be fired. So, when Carpenter sat her down to chat after the first day of shooting, she was sure he was getting ready to fire her. She soon learned that Carpenter had no intent of firing her and the rest is history.

    Initially the film was not set on Halloween.

    Halloween was originally going to be called The Babysitter Murders. The decision to set the film on Halloween was made in part as a budgetary consideration. Having the majority of the film take place on a single night meant fewer costume changes and in turn lessened the financial burden.

    Donald Pleasance only agreed to take the role of Dr. Loomis at the urging of his daughter.

    The actor’s daughter was a big fan of Assault on Precinct 13 and suggested that he take the part.

    Christopher Lee passed on the role before it was offered to Donald Pleasance

    Lee later confessed to Donald Pleasance that he regretted that decision. Peter Cushing was reportedly offered the role and obviously declined, as well.

    The truck that says Phelps Garage on it served a double purpose.

    In addition to being used in the film, The Phelps Garage truck also served as the craft services vehicle.

    Director John Carpenter composed the film’s score in record time.

    It took John Carpenter only three days to complete the epic score for this beloved horror classic.

    Nancy Kyes (Nancy Loomis) is the only actor to physically appear in all three of the first Halloween movies.

    She played the same character in the first two films (Annie Brackett) and then portrayed the ex-wife of Tom Atkins’ character in the third film. Jamie Lee Curtis did actually pop up in an uncredited voice only role as a telephone operator in the third installment but she did not appear on screen.

    Rick Rosenthal is the only director to helm two entries in the original Halloween franchise.

    Rosenthal directed the second installment in the series and then returned to direct the ultimately disappointing Halloween Resurrection. Of course, Rob Zombie directed two entries in the rebooted version of the series but Rick Rosenthal remains the only person to direct two of the films in the original series.

    John Carpenter drew inspiration from for the Michael Myers character from Yul Brynner’s character in Westworld

    The Gunslinger character in Westworld had an indestructible nature that inspired John Carpenter in his creation of Michael Myers.

    You can also check out 12 Things You May Not Know About Wes Craven's Scream Here.


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    The History Channel recently launched Cyrptid: The Swamp Beast, a new dramatic series about the hunt for an elusive creature known as the “Rougarou,” or “Bigfoot of the Bayou.”
     
    Cryptid1
     
    Set in a rural Louisiana town, Cryptid begins with a series of violent attacks by an unknown creature (based on a blend of Bigfoot and werewolf legends), which sets the locals into a panic and launches an all-out search and destroy mission – not to mention some dabbling in the occult – to bring down the terror of the swamp. The series follows a fictional narrative, but is based on legend, history, native folklore and eyewitness accounts from across Southern Louisiana.
     
    Cryptid2
     
    Cryptid: The Swamp Beast airs Mondays at 10PM Eastern/9PM Central on The History Channel, and you can also watch past episodes at their official site. Check out the teaser below:
     
     
    If you dig those creepy cryptids, we've got tons of info for you on the latest sightings... like this report of Bigfoot setting up housekeeping in an abandoned Detroit suburb!

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    Hannibal Episode 202
    “Sakizuke”
    Written By: Jeff Vlaming and Bryan Fuller
    Directed By: Tim Hunter
    Original Airdate: 7 March 2014

    In This Episode…

    The “mosaic man” victim, Roland Umber, wakes to find himself in this hideous pile of bodies. We later learn that a lifetime of heroin use has given him a very high tolerance - the amount that killed other people was just a good buzz for him. He tears himself away from the bodies he is sewn to - literally. He is so desperate to escape that he pulls and pulls until his flesh is just ripped away from his body. With big, bloody patches of missing flesh, Roland races, naked, from the silo that held him. As he leaves, his captor drives up, and he wastes no time chasing his escaped paint swatch into the corn field. What follows is a tense cat-and-mouse chase, which ends when Roland comes to the edge of a cliff. He weights his options: go back with the madman, or jump. He jumps, hoping to his the river below - but he bounces off the rock wall a couple times before splashing down.

    When the FBI receives the body, Beverly posits Will’s theory of the color palette of humans. This sets off warning bells in Jack’s head and he calls Beverly into his office. Jack knows she has been to visit Will, and is not happy about it. But his displeasure seems to be for more selfish reasons. If Will is delusional, Jack made him so; if Will is a psychopath, then Jack’s gut instincts are wrong. Either way, the FBI wants to put him through a psych evaluation. However, he doesn’t outright ban Beverly from visiting Will; he just wants to pretend this meeting never happened. 

    So Beverly returns to Will. Interestingly, she is afraid of him. The two times she visited him in this episode it is to show him files, and each time she only gets as close as she physically needs to be to pass off the file. Will will help, but he insists that Beverly forget all the evidence against him. If he is guilty, she will find more evidence; if not, maybe she will find evidence of that, too. Beverly agrees and Will takes a look at Roland’s autopsy photos. Initial thoughts were that the killer was unhappy with Roland and tore him out of the artwork, but Will notices his skin is well preserved. He wouldn’t be thrown away; he would escape. He advises Beverly to look upstream, someplace isolated like a warehouse or a farm. When he asks what Hannibal’s theory on Roland’s death is,  she tells him it was the same as everyone else: the killer tore him down and dumped him like the others. “That might be what he says, but that’s not necessarily what he thinks,” Will warns.

    Of course, Will is right. While examining the body, Hannibal got in close enough to sniff out corn on the body. He heads off, alone, in his clear plastic kill suit, and finds the killer’s lair. A giant silo on the property is padlocked from the outside, so Hannibal climbs up and peeks down through the large round opening in the ceiling. He gets his first, full glimpse at the human canvas. A shaft of light breaks through the darkness, and the killer comes in, ready to give his art another coat of resin. “Hello. I love your work,” Hannibal calls down to him.

    The FBI find the crime scene and brings in Hannibal to consult. Several bodies have been removed; dozens more remain. Hannibal sees it as a ritual human sacrifice, an offering. Is the killer looking at god? He must be - if it were an existential crisis, there wouldn’t be a reflection.

    In the lab, based on the stitch patterns, they identify the body that replaced Roland in the mosaic. But the killer seemed to change colors mid-brushstroke: while Roland was black, his replacement is white. Beverly and Hannibal take the crime scene photos to Will, who does his close-his-eyes-and-step-into-the-killer’s-shoes thing. He sees the moose man staring down at him from the top of the silo, and Will becomes the man at the center of the eye, the reflection in this macabre landscape. He sees Hannibal stitching him into the mural. Will opens his eyes: “the man in the mural is the killer.” Whoever sewed him in took his leg as a trophy.

    Indeed, it was (of course) Hannibal who stitched the killer into his own mural. In flashbacks, the killer seems rather amenable to his new situation. Hannibal assures him that his placement will be meaningful. There is no god because the eye sees nothing. Hannibal is making it so his eye will now see god reflected back. Hannibal also took the leg and prepared it like veal cutlets.

    Perhaps even more interesting than the particulars of the case is what is going on with Bedelia. She has decided to sever ties with Hannibal and refuses to treat him any longer. In a marvelously tense scene, she ends it. With ever confident step Hannibal takes towards her, she takes a timid, frightened one back. She is grateful for Hannibal’s persistence in engaging her after her attack, but “with everything that has happened with Will, I question your actions, especially with me and my attack.” She will not share this with Jack, as she would “look as guilty as you.” But she has decided that he is dangerous.

    Bedelia does go to see Jack, but that too is a break-up. She has no further insights to give to Jack, and has stopped seeing Hannibal. She won’t go into details, but she “doesn’t feel secure” so she chose to recuse herself from the situation. Finally, Bedelia pays Will a visit. She wanted to meet him before she “withdraws from social ties.” She believes that Hannibal has done what he honestly believes is best for Will - but then she steps right up to the bars of his cell, much to the chagrin of the guards, who run in to pull her away. Will leans in close and she whispers into his ear before they drag her off: “I believe you.”

    Dig It or Bury It?

    That opening sequence was just pure, unadulterated horror. The fact that it wasn’t supernatural and didn’t play like a a cartoon only added to the intensity. Between the skin ripping from his body in a desperate attempt to flee, to the chase through the cornfield, to the impossible choice of, basically, which way he would rather die was edge-of-your-seat thrills.

    And THEN! And then we get Bedelia, clearly frightened of Hannibal, clearly doing her best to remain composed… just so intense. I really want to see her just completely and totally break down. She is so tense and working so hard to keep herself together. The only possible outcome is for her to dissolve. Not violently, but she will have a break down. Gillian Anderson plays the subtleties so well.

    Chef’s Specials

    Sakizuke is a tiny, bite-sized appetizer, similar to the French amuse-bouche.

    Prophecies?

    Will’s trial begins, but new murders while he is in custody shed doubt on Will’s guilt.


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    Grimm Episode 314
    “Mommy Dearest”
    Written By: Brenna Kouf
    Directed By: Norberto Barba
    Original Airdate: 7 March 2014

    In This Episode…

    A pregnant woman and her husband - Dana and Sam - are cleaning up dinner. He offers to go to the pharmacy to pick up her medications while she lays down. Dana reads for awhile, then goes to sleep. As she sleeps, a slithery reptile-like creature climbs the tree outside her bedroom and shoots its long, tentacle-like tongue into the room. It slithers beneath the bed sheets, attaches itself to Dana’s bellybutton and starts sucking. She wakes and starts screaming, as the creature actually comes into the room. She does her best to fight off the creature, finally breaking a lamp and using a broken shard to slice the parasite off her. The neighbor, Liz, hears the screams while taking out the garbage, but by the time she gets to Dana, the beast is gone and Dana is bleeding (but still pregnant).

    Wu and another officer hear the call over the walkie-talkie, and Wu recognizes the address. They rush over. Dana and Wu have known each other since they were children, and apparently used to date (she may even be “the one who got away”). He feels responsible because it was Wu who convinced them to move to Portland from Manila. As Dana is taken to the hospital, she whispers to Wu, “Aswang.” Nick and Hank arrive to find claw marks on the windowsill and the tree that are definitely not normal. The neighbor didn’t see anything, but she heard a strange ticking noise, and thought she saw a shadow moving.

    The doctor has never seen anything like this - it appears that all Dana’s amniotic fluid was drained. The fetus is fine and as long as she stays hydrated, she should replenish her amniotic fluids in a few days. Other than stem cell research, the doctor can’t think of a reason why someone would want amniotic fluid. Hank and Nick are leaning towards Sam being the culprit (you know, in wesen form) but Wu insists this had to be a stranger. When Dana is finally awake, Nick and Hank go speak to her. She claims not to remember anything, but she struggles. She most certainly does remember what happened, but she would have to be crazy to believe that, so she goes with the whole “I don’t remember” routine.

    A nightmare sends Wu to visit his cousin and consult on a tale that their grandmother used to tell them of the aswang. Cousin Wu laughs, remembering the story, which he always thought was a story to keep husbands from stepping out on their wives. The aswang would eat the fetuses from pregnant women to absorb their youth and strength. Wu nervously says that he thinks someone is staging a sick, elaborate joke. But obviously it is no joke, and Sam knows it - he is an aswang. But he didn’t attack his wife. He calls his brother, back in Manila, to ask when “she” arrived and where “she” is staying.

    The “she” is Sam’s mom, Lani. He pays her a visit at the motel, and she begs him to reconsider. She will die soon if she doesn’t eat her grand-fetus. “You can always make another baby, but you only have one mother.” Wow, giving mother Bates a run for her money. Sam gives her a ticket back to Manila and storms out. With Lani in town, Sam has started acting dodgy and nervous, which makes Wu suspicious. He finally takes his suspicions to Hank and Nick. He is very nervous about telling them, but he finally admits that he thinks Sam may be guilty, and may be staging it to look like a supernatural attack. Hank desperately wants to tell Wu what is going on, but Nick advises against it.

    With Dana being released from the hospital, Wu takes it upon himself to keep watch outside. Night falls, and he sees Lani pull up outside the house. Instead of going to the door, she climbs the tree. Wu is suspicious and goes to investigate.

    Inside the house, as Dana sleeps, Sam hears a noise. He finds his mother in the living room. She makes short work of knocking him unconscious before heading in to see Dana, assuring her she is there to take care of her. Lani hums her daughter-in-law back to sleep - then starts tonguing her bellybutton. Wu peeks in the house and sees Sam unconscious, and uses that as probably cause to enter the house. He hears a ticking noise upstairs and races up - to see the aswang attacking Dana. Wu is literally frozen in fear - until the aswang attacks him. Nick and Hank arrive in the nick o’ time (having followed the standard trail of breadcrumbs from the trailer) and shoot the aswang dead. It reverts back to Lani - right before Wu’s traumatized eyes. He is in shock as Nick attempts to calm him down. But he keeps repeating, “It wasn’t her. I swear. It wasn’t her.”

    Hank and Nick visit Wu a few days later. But not at home. He has checked himself into a mental asylum and has been having a hard time talking about what happened. Nick tells Wu that Lani had a long history of violent behavior, and that he was a hero for saving Dana and the baby. His only response is a distant, vacant smile, courtesy of massive amounts of drugs, then returns to his staring window… where he can still see the aswang attacking.

    Also: Adalind has her baby - a girl. When Meisner tells Renard, he has to choke back the pride to tell him to stay put while he makes arrangements to get them out of the country. Adalind seems more excited to have her powers back now that she has given birth. But the baby seems to have powers of its own: when Meisner brushes back Adalind’s hair while she sleeps, the hair coils up around his hand tightly. When he looks, the baby has its supernaturally-blue eyes fixed on him.

    Dig It or Bury It?

    This was one of the best episodes of Grimm that I have seen in awhile. I’m not sure what exactly it was that kicked things off so well: the majority of the episode focusing on one story, the fact that it opened with some good action (even if the CG was a little off); or the fact that another character knows about wesen - but doesn’t really. I think it was the structure, honestly. We open and close with bits of Adalind, but then the rest of it stays pretty focused.

    And… Wu finally gets a first name! DREW! Drew Wu!

    Big Bad…

    …Aswang. From Filipino myth, the aswang uses a tongue that looks like it stepped from an anime porno to shoot chewed-up valerian root (“nature’s valium”) into a pregnant woman through her bellybutton to sedate her, then sucks out the amniotic fluid and fetus. Consuming this is said to provide youth and a longer life. It is especially effective if the child is a blood relative. In Sam’s family, tradition holds that it is the duty of the eldest son to provide his first child to his mother to eat.

    Prophecies?

    Mummies! Mummy Anubis, no less. Apparently Egyptian gods were wesen.


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    scotch tape monsters

    When it comes to morning routines, nobody has a better one than Pee-wee Herman, who showed us that waking up doesn't have to be the painful experience we all tend to make it. Perhaps the most fun part of Pee-wee's daily routine is when he wraps tape around his face, all for the purpose of making himself laugh, while looking at himself in the mirror. Suddenly, Monday mornings aren't so depressing!

    scotch tape monsters

    Taking a cue from Pee-wee, Albuquerque-based photographer Wes Naman uses Scotch tape to turn his subjects into monsters that are as hideous as they are humorous, as part of a fun photography project that we spotted over on Sploid. Naman says he's always been interested in manipulating and changing the human face in Photoshop, and when he realized he could use tape to do the same thing to actual human subjects, cheaply and quickly, the 'Scotch Tape Series' was born.

    Check out some more of the hilariously hideous results below, and find many others over on Naman's website, where lots of fun photography awaits!

    Wes Naman scotch tape

    Wes Naman scotch tape

    Wes Naman scotch tape

    Speaking of creepy human faces, Freya Jobbins forms them out of old children's toys. Check it out!


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    Mirrors are sort of fascinating -- how they actually work, not just the ways in which mirrors can act as portals, creatures, and harbingers in fantasy and horror stories -- but if you ask a horror movie aficionado about "that movie about the killer mirror, you'll get a response like Mirrors (1995) or (dear lord) one of those awful "Mirror Mirror" junk piles. (I actually kind of liked the Kiefer Mirrors movie; crazy, I know.)

     
    The egotist's best friend has graced many a great horror moment or sequence, but when you decide to center your movie ON a mirror, you better be careful; if your mirror doesn't have some substantial humans to bounce off of... it's just an inanimate object. Fortunately, Mike Flanagan's smoothly satisfying new horror film Oculus has two distinct subplots full of interesting characters, and the ominous mirror doesn't only reflect an interesting pair of terrifying tales; it becomes a character that ties everything together.
     
    Based on Flanagan's and Jeff Seidman's short film "Oculus: The Man with the Plan," the longer version of Oculus is a pretty straightforward affair: Kaylie Russell is a lovely young woman, but she's had a pretty rough life. Both of her parents were murdered inside the family home, and her long-hospitalized little brother is finally getting out of a mental institution. Also, she is convinced that an antique mirror contains a supernatural force that caused all the bloody mayhem and horrific family tragedy about a decade earlier.
     
    It's an ironic twist of the consistently clever screenplay that the allegedly insane Tim Russell is the voice of reason where "the mirror" is concerned, while the ostensibly more responsible Kaylie is the one setting up video cameras and timers and pick-axes in an effort to A) prove there's something sinister inside the mirror, and B) destroy the evil piece of glass once and for all. (This mirror is remarkably impervious to damage!)
     
    If it sounds like much of Oculus is broad or goofy, rest assured that director Mike Flanagan (Absentia) and co-writer Jeff Howard (and a superlative cast) seem well aware of how silly this tale could be. The dialogue between Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites) is legitimately interesting, insightful talk about fantasy, reality, memory, and dreams, and the simple yet effective plot details are doled out in sly and subtle fashion.
     
    Even better is Flanagan's editorial skill; Oculus frequently leaps back in time so we can see what the hell actually went down with that mirror and Ma & Pa Russell in the first place. It takes an astute editor to know precisely when a viewer wants to "switch over" to the alternate plot. Mr. Flanagan pulls this trick off at least four or five times as Oculus ties its two connected tales together with style, confidence, and plenty of straight, simple, enjoyable scares.
     
    Ms. Gillan and Mr. Thwaites are simply excellent, particularly in the film's mid-section -- which is precisely when a horror movie needs some narrative meat or some emotional roughage to stay interesting -- and when the film flips back to the early 2000s, we have two great young actors (Annalise Basso and Garret Ryan) as the long-suffering Russell kids, and the always entertaining Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane as, well, two sweet parents who simply bought the wrong damn mirror. And boy do they live to regret it.
     
    Satisfying in a "smart indie flick" way and more than appealing enough to work as a mainstream horror film at the multiplexes. Oculus is not only an improvement over the already worthwhile Absentia; it's a great example of how to expand, not just lengthen, a short film into a feature. This, quite simply, is a cool, classy, and frequently very creepy horror tale, and exceedingly well-told, too.
     

    READ FEARNET'S PARTNER REVIEWS OF OCULUS


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    Dorset sea creature

    It's likely you've never seen or even heard of the animal known as a 'Sea Mouse,' due to the fact that they dwell at underwater depths of around 6,000 feet. Found in the North Atlantic, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, the sea mouse is essentially a giant 12-inch worm covered in rodent-like fur, and they're normally buried headfirst in the sand, at the very bottom of the sea - where they feed on the dead animals that rain down on them.

    As reported by the Dorset Echo, a sea mouse was found last week washed up on a beach in Dorset, England, which is a pretty rare occurrence, given how far beneath the surface these little guys live. The find was made by biomedical scientist Paul Harris, who didn't even realize what he had discovered, until he looked it up in a book.

    sea mouse

    Sea mice are only ever seen when severe storms fling them onto land, and this is the second one that's recently been discovered on the Dorset beach, in the wake of the coast being battered by a series of storms.

    Head into the FEARNET sea creature archives, to see more strange finds!


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    The chair creaks as you settle onto it. The candlelight flickers. All around you the ravenous faces of your so-called friends twist in delight as you slowly open the box laid out on the table. Welcome to Dangerous Games! Each week, we'll feature a horror/thriller/monster tabletop game you should be playing. Don't be scared… roll the dice… what's the worst that could happen?
     
    Doom1
     
    Doom: The Board Game (2004)
     
    The hiss of pressurized air fills the silent halls of the Union Aerospace Corporations base on Mars. You'r body welcomes the half-shift of sleep you've got scheduled next. When the klaxon alarms begin to pierce the compound, you figure it's just a test, or a malfunction with the alarms. But then the corporal's voice, so seldom heard, rings out over the PA system. "This is not a drill. All marines and security personal suit up. There's been a breach in the dimensional gateway facility! Red alert!"
     
    In Doom: The Board Game, one to three players face off against another player playing as the Game Master. Through various scenarios, the Marines will attempt to survive, stop the menace pouring out of the dimensional gates, and outwit the Game Master. The Game Master's job, quite simply and in every scenario, is to kill all the players.
     
    Doom2
     
    Gameplay Mechanics
     
    The board to Doom: The Board Game is modular in an effort to emulate the famous PC first person shooter in which this game is based. As Marines explore the area, they flip tiles or cards to decide which room they walk into next. The fear of the unknown, so crucial in the video game, is present here through the machinations of the Game Master. He or she decides what jumps out of the darkness by drawing cards from a deck of monsters and then placing those plastic miniatures down on the board.
     
    Each scenario (of which the base game has nine) offers different rules for set-up, as well as special rules, an end goal, and lots of flavor. The Marines roll dice to try and shoot the monsters, and each gun has its own special die. When rolling, you either hit, miss, or jam your gun (not cool). As mentioned above, if all Marines are killed by monsters, the Game Master wins. If they complete their objective, the Marines win!
     
    Doom3
     
    Replay Mechanics
     
    Because of the vast support this game has had after its print run there are tons of different scenarios and campaigns to play through. The game itself comes with enough scenarios to keep you and your friends busy for a while. But it's very easily customizable, and you and your friends will soon be thinking of all kinds of different game modes to play with.
     
    Overall Impressions
     
    This isn't the type of game I normally gravitate toward. Maybe it's a bias against franchised games (especially video game franchises), but something always rubbed me the wrong way about games like this. But that was before I tried this game. A member of my gaming group suggested it for this article, and she was dead right. It's a perfect horror game. It's gory, creepy, menacing, and full of flavor. Even if you've never played the groundbreaking video game, you need to seek this out. Just… you know, save up for it. The asking price on eBay right now is around $150!

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    Sometimes it's really weird how these things work out: Dredd and The Raid came out around the same time, and they had a lot of plot components in common. More recently we saw two cult-related indie horror films (The Sacrament and Children of Sorrow) that were released (and produced) only months apart, and also bear a few striking similarities. Now we get two completely unrelated but very similar "found footage Bigfoot horror" movies in Willow Creek and Exists.

     
    Personally I don't think any of these films "stole" from one another, but it's always amusing to note how producers often think in similar fashion. For example, if you think about it, "found footage" presentation plus a "Bigfoot" horror story is kind of a no-brainer. We should have dozens of "Found Bigfootage" horror films by now. I'd see 'em all.
     
    Also interesting? If you combined Willow Creek and Exists into one "found footage Bigfoot" movie and then did some serious editing, you might have an indie horror classic. As it stands, they still work as complementary films: Willow Creek has a strong set-up and a somewhat conventional finale, whereas Exists struggles in the early-going before delivering a legitimately ass-kicking third act.
     
    Both films have their merits, but it's in the actual horror department that Exists shines. Directed by one of the found footage granddaddies (The Blair Witch Project's Eduardo Sanchez), Exists follows the format's blueprint to a T: a lot of set-up, a ton of chit-chat, a few laughs and decent character beats -- and then carnage and mayhem aplenty. For those who don't love Blair Witch, Exists has a considerably more kinetic ending than that film does. Tough to pull off subtlety in a movie about rampaging Sasquatch. 
     
    Those who have little patience for the found footage style may note that Exists is inordinately well-edited (and scored), but as a horror geek who actually digs the "handheld horror" material, I didn't mind. The biggest problem with Exists is simply this: there's virtually nothing in the first half of the film you haven't seen before. This time around the characters are cool enough and the forest setting is suitably ominous, but the actual plot is slim, simplistic, and predictable. "Found footage" is fine, formula is not.
     
    But, and this is an important but, once Exists lays down its Bigfoot cards and starts delivering chases and kills and shrieking noises from deep in the woods, it's a fun, fast-paced, and admirably creepy affair. The fact that the movie takes some warming up to, and feels a lot like other horror flicks you've seen, feel considerably less important once the Sasquatch gets involved. Let's just say Exists will almost certainly warrant an R rating from the MPAA. It's pretty gory.
     
    Exists has enough assets in its corner to make one wish the screenplay was a bit more novel than just another "people trekking through the forest" set-up, but while it certainly won't win many points for originality, it does manage to dole out some very effective horror sequences in the end. Needless to say, Exists and Willow Creek could make for a pretty amusing "lights out" double feature from your couch one night. (And toss the half-decent obscurity called Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes onto the pile as well.)
     

    READ FEARNET'S PARTNER REVIEWS OF EXISTS


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    Police in Pontiac, Michigan are working to unlock a macabre mystery that began last Wednesday when a roofing repair crew discovered the mummified body of a woman in the back seat of a car, which was still parked in the garage.
     
    Michigan_Mummy1
    Photo: Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press
     
    Although the body is likely that of the house's reclusive resident, 49-year-old Pia Davida Farrenkopf, the identity remains officially unknown until dental records and other data can be consulted. According to the Detroit News, Farrenkopf had not been seen by neighbors or family in several years, so no one seemed to notice her absence until mortgage payments stopped last March.
     
    “Regardless of who it is, the woman who lived there had her personal finances, her utilities and mortgage, all on auto-pilot,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. “That’s what took this so long to come out.” He also noted that while the car keys were in the ignition, it was still in the “off” position, which seems to contradict the theory that Farrenkopf had taken her own life.
     
    “For all we know, this person may have just been in the back seat looking for something and suddenly died for some reason,” the Sheriff said.
     
    While this tragic case may be resolved soon, it took decades to trace the identity of this mystery mummy found hanging in a California amusement park in 1976.

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    As horror fans, we make it our business to know the most obscure details about our favorite films. We watch the bonus features on the Special Edition releases of our favorite DVDs; we read retrospectives and interviews in support of our most beloved titles. But even the most diligent fan is bound to miss something along the way. So, to help you get the lowdown, we're launching a new segment that rounds up some lesser-known trivia from your favorite horror films.

    For this installment, we're setting our sights on the classic slasher film Black Christmas. There are plenty of well-known talking points regarding Black Christmas but we have rounded up some slightly more obscure facts that may even enlighten even the super fan. 

    Now, we present to you: twelve things you may not have known about Bob Clark’s Black Christmas.

    During the filming of the infamous phone call sequences, there was nothing playing on the other end of the phone. All of the dialogue from the other end of the line was added in postproduction.

    To make the actresses, appear surprised Bob Clark was calling out crude remarks to the girls while shooting the phone call scenes. However, what he was saying to the ladies was reportedly tame in comparison to the filthy conversation we hear in the finished version of the film.

    There were three different people that provided the obscene dialogue for the phone calls.

    Bob Clark revealed that Nick Mancuso, an unnamed actress, and Clark, himself recorded the phone dialogue.

    Actress Gilda Radner was attached to play Phyllis.

    Gilda Radner was reportedly involved with the film but had to withdraw from the project because the production abutted her schedule at SNL. 

    The film was originally released for US audiences as Silent Night, Evil Night.

    There was concern that the title Black Christmas may lead potential viewers to believe it to be a ‘Blaxploitation” picture, rather than a horror movie, thus the title change for the film’s initial release.

    Though Black Christmas is widely regarded as one of the first slasher films, Bob Clark didn’t necessarily think of it as such.

    The late director was known to say that he thought of the picture more along the lines of a psychological horror film than a slasher flick.

    Kier Dullea was not the first choice to play Peter.

    The role was offered to Malcolm McDowell but McDowell turned down the part.  

    Kier Dullea only appeared on set for one week.

    The actor was on set for such a short time that he didn’t even meet Margot Kidder during the production process. But since Dullea’s scenes appear throughout the film, it’s easy to assume he was there throughout the 40-day shoot.

    Bette Davis was originally offered the role of Mrs. Mac.

    Before the part was given to Marian Waldman, Bette Davis was approached to play the housemother.

    A variety of unconventional instruments were used in the composition of the film’s creepy score.

    Composer Carl Zittrer tied silverware to the strings inside of a piano to cause the warped and distorted noises that accompany the film. 

    Olivia Hussey took the role at the suggestion of a psychic. 

    Hussey’s ‘spiritual advisor’ believed that the film would be a big hit and a smart career move for Hussey.

    The snow in the film is made of foam.

    Black Christmas was shot during a year with very little snowfall, so a Styrofoam-like substance was used to provide the appearance of snow for certain scenes. 

    John Saxon was brought in at the last minute to replace Edmond O’Brien.

    Saxon replaced Edmond O’Brien when O’Brien was unable to play the part due to illness.

    Be sure to check out these as well:

    Things you may not know about John Carpenter's Halloween.

    Things you may not know about Wes Craven's Scream.


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    True Detective wrapped up last night, and if you have spent any time on the internet, you probably have noticed that it is the most talked-about series since Breaking Bad. It was a show that flew in under the radar - I didn’t see much advertising for it before it aired - and, on the surface, appeared to be a fairly straight-forward (but damned good) procedural. Of course, that all changed very quickly, and by last night’s season finale, the series was one of the darkest hours of television currently airing.

    Luckily in this age of blu-ray, DVD, online streaming, digital downloads, and a myriad of other ways to get content, just because True Detective wrapped up its season last night doesn’t mean you can’t discover this modern classic for yourself. In an attempt to entice you into the series, here are some of the most horrifying things we saw.

    (A note on spoilers. If you want to go into True Detective a blank slate - or if you haven’t seen the last few episodes - don’t read this article. I am not going to reveal who the killer is, but honestly, the “who” doesn’t matter, because it is not a typical procedural. You are not trying to guess whodunnit; the show is about the journey there, and the relationship between Rust and Marty.)

    A little background.

    Woody Harrelson plays Detective Marty Hart, and Matthew McConaughey plays Detective Rust Cohle, state police in Louisiana. Marty is a pretty stereotypical cop: born and raised in Louisiana, married with two daughters, and a mistress or two on the side. Rust is a recent transfer to the homicide department, previously working undercover in narcotics. Before that, he was in Texas with a wife and daughter. The daughter died and the marriage fell apart.It is an uncomfortable pairing, as Marty’s style is more brash, more direct. Rust is quiet, introspective, more than a little philosophical, and he is always taking notes and making sketches in a big black ledger.

    The series jumps between two time periods: 1995 and 2012, with 2012 being the show’s “present.” (We also spend a brief amount of time in 2010.) Their first case together began in 1995, but now, in 2012, Rust and Marty are being questioned about said case. It is unspoken but clearly obvious that the new cops believe Rust was somehow involved in these allegedly-solved murders.

    The case.

    What brings Marty and Rust together is the case of one Dora Lange. She is discovered in the middle of nowhere, seeming to be the victim of a Satanic or Voodoo cult: ceremonially placed, with symbols drawn on her raped and mutilated body, deer antlers placed on her head, and strange stick sculptures arranged like idols around her body. Rumors of devil-worshipping child abusers are thrown about, but with no other victims to go off, the cops treat this like a one-off. Rust, with a knack for profiling, insists that the sophistication with this killing means the killer has struck before.

    The Yellow King.

    A huge part of True Detective is the Yellow King, the unofficial-official name given to the killer. The reference comes from The King in Yellow, a bizarre piece of meta-fiction from 1895. Having never Robert W. Chambers’ book, I have to go by what others are saying (you can read a great, early speculative piece on io9) but basically “The King in Yellow” is a play that is the subject of a collection of short stories that brings “despair, depravity, and insanity” to anyone who reads the play or sees it performed. References to The Yellow King are written in Dora Lange’s journal, and another girl reported seeing a tall man with a scarred face, green ears, and yellow spaghetti hair.

    The cinematography.

    You go to some dark, dark places (emotionally) in True Detective, yet it never feels depressing. Oppressive, yes. Creepy, yes. But not depressing. Frequent forays into dense jungles that look like the sets from Cannibal Holocaust, with vines and roots twisting like grotesque monsters give way to expansive, lush vistas of the bayou. Tightly coiled caverns open up to reveal spacious underground rooms. Suffocatingly small and dark homes are set on expansive tracts of otherwise empty land. It is darkly beautiful and intensely foreboding.

    The horror.

    You come across a lot of horrible things about the human condition in this show. You don’t get any actual, supernatural monsters - which makes it far more disturbing because people like this actually exist. There is a laundry list of horrible things that happen or are represented in this show - both as a focus of the story, and as off-hand horror. Among these: underage prostitution; a bizarre child-abusing cult; a baby in a microwave oven; Blair Witch-style twig sculptures; an abandoned burned-out church; strange and creepy graffiti; incest; slave trade; the aforementioned spaghetti-haired “Yellow King;” hoarding (including old, broken dolls); biker gangs; traumatized girls in eerie psych wards; and cult-like revivalist churches.


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