AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Mike Lombardo

Meghan: Hey, Mike! Welcome back! Last time you talked about creating movies, and I’m glad to have you back, especially with the new book recently published. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Mike: As a kid I loved it because it was the one time of year it was okay to be me in public. I didn’t catch any shit for being a weirdo obsessed with horror movies. As an adult I love it because it brings out creativity in normal people and it warms my heart seeing people making decorations and costumes.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Mike: Not at all. The things that scare me are much more existential than monstrous or spooky.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Mike: Even as a kid, movies didn’t really scare me, but one that really got under my skin was Fire in The Sky. The flashback scenes of the main character being experimented on by aliens is still one of the most unsettling and frightening sequences I’ve ever seen in a movie.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Mike: Not a murder per say, but the woman they find in the french film, Martyrs, that has the metal device stapled into her head. She just starts rubbing her raw exposed skin against the wall like a dog and screaming and it’s extremely disturbing.

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Mike: Not really, but there were a lot I saw as a kid and would make up the movie in my head because I wasn’t allowed to go see it.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Mike: Dawn of the Dead

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Mike: The Blob

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Mike: Being an FX artist and horror filmmaker, I literally am surrounded by this stuff every day so I don’t really have any particular Halloween traditions anymore. I do love the first midnight stroll through town when the weather changes and I can wear a hoodie though.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Mike: The Creepshow’s cover of the Misfits song, Halloween.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Mike: Probably The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum or Surivor by JF Gonzalez.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Mike: I was once location scouting abandoned houses for shooting I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday and as I was standing in a pitch black abandoned living room, I heard breathing from the other side of the room. I exited VERY quickly and never went back.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Mike: There was an episode of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction where a kid was locked in his closet by his friends and started screaming. They opened the door and he was gone without a trace. The end of the episode claimed it was based on actual events and it scared the hell out of me as a kid.

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

Mike: There was a story called The Horror at Berkeley Square in an old real life hauntings book I had when I was a kid and it really freaked me out.

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Mike: Fire axe.

Meghan: Okay, let’s have some fun: Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?

Mike: Werewolf because I could at least shackle myself on the full moon.

Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?

Mike: Zombies.

Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?

Mike: Not sure what zombie juice is, but I’ll take my chances. Was never much for carrion.

Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?

Mike: I’ll take my chances at he Amityville Hoax.

Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?

Mike: Bitter melon.

Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?

Mike: I do love me some cotton candy.

Boo-graphy:
Mike Lombardo grew up on a steady diet of Goosebumps, scary story books, ’90s Nickelodeon, and horror PC games. He is an award-winning independent filmmaker, writer and FX artist who runs Reel Splatter Productions. In 2017, his first feature film, I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday, played the festival circuit around the world, taking home seven awards including multiple Best Picture and Best Actress wins, and over a dozen nominations. He debut short story collection, Please Don’t Tap on the Glass & Other Tales of the Melancholy & Grotesque, was released in August of 2022.

He is the star of the award winning documentary, The Brilliant Terror, from Lonfall Films, which chronicles the world of indie horror and the lengths that low budget filmmakers will go to get their projects made.

He currently lives in Lancaster, PA surrounded by skeletons and old movies. If you would like to experience more of his insanity, you can find him online at Reel Splatter, Facebook, YouTube, and on moonlit nights wandering the ruins of defunct video stores mourning the death of physical media.

Eleven stories of grief, existential dread, extreme horror, and gross out comedy.

After discovering a tape he’s never heard of at a video store closing sale, a VHS collector discovers that sometimes nostalgia comes at a terrible price in Dead Format.

In Weekend at Escobar’s, a man finds himself smuggling drugs across the border stuffed inside the corpse of a cartel boss he’s trying to pass off as living.

An eighteen-year-old virgin’s first trip to the porn store goes horribly awry in Just Like the Real Thing.

With supplies and hope dwindling as they struggle to survive in a fallout shelter, a mother gives her son one last Christmas in the original short story that inspired the award-winning film, I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday.

These and more await as you are invited to gaze into the depths of the twisted mind of filmmaker Mike Lombardo, just be careful you don’t tap on the glass, you might not like what you stir up…

A mother and her 8 year old son struggle to survive in a bomb shelter after an unnamed apocalypse.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: David A Riley

Meghan: Hey, David! Welcome back. It’s always a pleasure to have you here on Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

David: Until recent years Halloween wasn’t really regarded by most people here in the UK as a holiday as such. It’s only been in the last few decades, for instance, that trick or treating has followed in the footsteps of the United States, influenced by films such as ET. Even now I don’t think we make as much fuss of it as in the US. I must admit I don’t do much to celebrate it myself, other than watch a few favourite horror movies.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

David: Not at all. Which possibly helps when it comes to writing horror stories.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

David: On first viewing, probably the original Night of the Living Dead which I viewed for the first time at a British Fantasy Convention sometime in the late 70’s. I had never before watched a more relentlessly nihilistic movie in which everyone is doomed to face a violent death. It’s bleakness was possibly even more disturbing than the image of the marauding zombies.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

David: Martyrs. I found the whole film highly disturbing, especially the addiction the main character gradually developed for being tortured. It’s not a film I would ever willingly watch again. Once was more than enough.

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

David: I can’t say I have. Commercials have sometimes put me off watching certain movies, but not because they looked too scary.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

David: Well, definitely not a slasher movie! It would have to be one where there was a reasonable chance of surviving till the end. Not that the survival rate in most scary movies is particularly high. They wouldn’t be scary if there was. Ghostbusters would seem to be the obvious choice.

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

David: Any with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, probably the Horror of Dracula.

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

David: That’s a difficult one as there are so many great ones, but probably Dracula as portrayed by Christopher Lee. At least there are several films to follow him through.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

David: I’m afraid I don’t have one other than try and watch a few appropriate movies. As I mentioned above, Halloween has never been much of a celebration here in the UK, possibly because it comes only a few days before Bonfire Night on the 5th of November which has always been a big festivity here, with fireworks and a huge roaring fire made up of piles of wood on top of which we burn Guy Fawkes, added to which we have treacle toffee and jacket potatoes cooked in the embers of the fire.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

David: That would have to be the theme from The Rocky Horror Show. That gets in so many horror and science fiction references, it’s amazing.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

David: The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley with its satanists and the Devil himself, plus the Angel of Death. It’s a great adventure story too.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

David: Hearing footsteps running along the landing outside my bedroom when I knew there was no one there. This has only happened the once in thirty years, but this is a very old house (over two centuries old). I must admit, though, I was more intrigued than frightened. Indeed, I wasn’t frightened at all, even when the footsteps stopped at my bedroom door.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

David: The Yeti ever since I watched that old Hammer movie The Abominable Snowman.

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

David: A View from a Hill by M.R. James, which is my all-time favourite Jamesian story. The image of the man being carried away through the streets by invisible spirits of the dead he’d used in his alchemical experiments is uniquely vivid.

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

David: An axe. I’ve always thought the ease with which everyone in The Walking Dead manage to pierce zombie skulls with their knives and daggers particularly unrealistic, as if their skull bones had turned to cardboard. You need something with a bit more weight to reach their brains.

Meghan: Let’s have some fun… Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?

David: A vampire – at least that usually still has a mind of its own, whereas a werewolf is just a ravening beast.

Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?

David: Neither is appealing, of course, but an alien invasion is probably the one I would choose, as for zombies to exist in reality would be a bit too much to absorb. Reanimated dead bodies just do not make sense.

Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?

David: Lovely choice! I think both would result in almost immediate vomiting! I suppose the zombie juice. At least you could drink that down quickly with your eyes shut. Yuck!

Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?

David: As I do not believe in all the razzamatazz about the Amityville house that would easily be my choice. Of course, if you mean the one as portrayed in the movies then maybe the Poltergeist house.

Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?

David: The melon any day, though there are some connoisseurs who would go for some rare but special cheeses which are actually infested with maggots. Those are definitely not for me.

Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?

David: Am I partial to “eye of newt” and all the other icky stuff that goes in it? Possibly. I’m definitely not partial to cotton candy in its usual form so I think I would try my luck with the cauldron. I must admit these are some of the worst alternative foodstuffs I have ever come across!

Boo-graphy:
David A Riley writes horror, fantasy and SF stories. His first story was in the 11th Pan Book of Horror in 1970. He has had stories published by Doubleday, DAW, Corgi, Sphere, Roc, Playboy Paperbacks, Robinsons, etc, and in magazines such as Aboriginal Science Fiction, Dark Discoveries, Fear, Whispers, Savage Realms Monthly and Fantasy Tales. His first collection of stories was published by Hazardous Press in 2012, His Old Man Demons. A Lovecraftian novel, The Return, was published by Blood Bound Books in 2013. A 2nd collection of stories, The Lurkers in the Abyss & Other Tales of Terror, was launched at the World Fantasy Convention in 2013 by Shadow Publishing. Hazardous Press published his 3rd collection, Their Cramped Dark World & Other Tales, in 2016. Both Hazardous Press collections have been reprinted by Parallel Universe Publications, plus two new collections After Nightfall & Other Weird Tales (illustrated by Jim Pitts) and A Grim God’s Revenge. A fantasy novel, Goblin Mire, and a horror novel, Moloch’s Children, were published in 2015. He and his wife Linden recently relaunched Parallel Universe Publications, which originally published Beyond magazine in 1995, and have now published around 50 books, including two art books.

Along with the award-winning artist Jim Pitts he edits a twice-yearly anthology of swords and sorcery stories: Swords & Sorceries: Tales of Heroic Fantasy. The fifth volume will be published as a paperback and ebook in November. Recent publications containing his stories are: Savage Realms Monthly #12 “The Carpetmaker of Arana”; Summer of Sci-Fi & Fantasy “The Storyteller of Koss”; Sword & Sorcery Magazine #118 “The God in the Keep”; Mythic #17 “Baal the Necromancer.” I also have a novelette due in the next issue of Lovecraftiana “The Psychic Investigator.”

Fourteen dark tales of fantasy and horror ranging from 1971 to 2020.

Dead Ronnie and I was first published in Sanitarium issue 44, 2016
Corpse-Maker was first published in Weird Window issue 2, 1971
The Urn was first published in Whispers issue 1, 1972
Gwargens was first published in Beyond issue 3, 1995
Retribution was first published in Peeping Tom issue 3, 1991
The Bequest was first published in Dark Horizons, 2008
They Pissed on My Sofa was first published in Malicious Deviance, 2011
Old Grudge Ender was first published in The Screaming Book of Horror, 2012
A Girl, a Toad and a Cask was first published in The Unspoken, 2013
Scrap was first published in Dark Visions 1, 2013
Lem was first published in The Eleventh Black Book of Horror, 2015
A Grim God’s Revenge was first published in Mythic issue 4, 2017
Grudge End Cloggers was first published in Scare Me, 2020
Hanuman was first published in Phantasmagoria issue 16, 2020

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Clay McLeod Chapman

MEGHAN: Hi, Clay. Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. We’re happy to have you here today. Let’s start with an easy one… What is your favorite part of Halloween?

CLAY: I love taking my kids trick or treating… I loved it as a kid and now I get to relive vicariously through their candy-snatching as their chaperone.

MEGHAN: Do you get scared easily?

CLAY: I do. My flight-or-fight response is permanently flipped on to flight flight flight…

MEGHAN: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

CLAY: It’s impossible to narrow it down to just one! The original Black Christmas is a top contender. The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is profoundly upsetting. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death haunts me.

MEGHAN: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

CLAY: Two pop into my mind. The opening double-homicide that kicks off The Last House on the Left is excruciating to me. I’ve only ever watched that film once and I never want to watch it again. And then there’s the closing moments of Martyrs. That’s such a tough one for me, I can’t do it again.

MEGHAN: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

CLAY: I’m pretty sheepish around extreme violence for violence’s sake, so there are certain films that I just know are not going to be for me… If they’re films that make it to the multiplex, I can usually take it, but there are those underground movies (I’m looking at you, A Serbian Film) I just know to avoid.

MEGHAN: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

CLAY: A nice one? Twilight, perhaps? I always wanted to be one of The Lost Boys… Maybe that one?

MEGHAN: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

CLAY: Flatliners would be fun, the original, just so I could go to med school and get free therapy.

MEGHAN: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

CLAY: Gill Man from Creature of the Black Lagoon immediately leaps to mind. You can’t go wrong with the alien in Alien/Aliens. But I have a fondness for the “space herpes” creature in Ice Pirates.

MEGHAN: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

CLAY: Carving pumpkin! Every year we host a pumpkin-carving party. BYOP (bring your own pumpkin)!

MEGHAN: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

CLAY: My son got obsessed with Monster Mash, so that was on heavy rotation in our house for a while…

MEGHAN: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

CLAY: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. Hands down my favorite. There are more disturbing books (I’m looking at you, Jack Ketchum), but this book took its unsettling storyline and elevated it to something heartbreaking, which I absolutely love.

MEGHAN: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

CLAY: Solo parenting can be pretty creepy…

MEGHAN: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

CLAY: I’ve been obsessed with the Alaskan Triangle… Where did all of those people go?!

MEGHAN: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

CLAY: Not the spookiest, but for me, the campfire tale that had the most impact on me as a child was the story of Taily-Po. It’s an Appalachian folktale about a hunter who stumbles upon something that he probably shouldn’t have. When I first heard that story around the campfire as a kid, it changed my life forever. I’ll always go to bat for the Wendigo, the folktale behind it.

MEGHAN: Okay… let’s have some fun:
In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?
CLAY: Something long and stabby.
MEGHAN: Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?
CLAY: Vampire.
MEGHAN: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?
CLAY: Zombie?
MEGHAN: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?
CLAY: Ewww… Why?! Dead bodies in the graveyard, I guess.
MEGHAN: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?
CLAY: Poltergeist house!
MEGHAN: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?
CLAY: Bitter melon!
MEGHAN: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?
CLAY: I love the idea of cotton candy made of spider webs! That should make its way into a story…

MEGHAN: Clay, I can’t wait to read your spider web cotton candy story so… yeah… you should get to writing haha. Thanks for stopping by today. It’s been great!

Boo-ography:
Clay McLeod Chapman is the author of the novels Whisper Down the Lane, The Remaking, and miss corpus, short story collections nothing untoward, commencement and rest area, as well as The Tribe middle grade series: Homeroom Headhunters, Camp Cannibal and Academic Assassins.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: John Everson

Meghan: Hey, John! Welcome back to Meghan’s (Haunted) House of Books. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

John: The imagery! Halloween is when all of the gothic, spooky stuff comes out to play. Haunted houses, giant spiderwebs, eerie candlelight emanating from grotesquely carved pumpkins… I love it all. In Chicagoland, the weather turns from the fading light of summer to the crisp and bone-chilling cool breezes that signal the coming of winter, and the leaves that were so vibrantly red and orange just a couple weeks before litter the ground as brown, dried husks. Desiccated memories of the vibrance of summer. Halloween is the between time, the dying time between the days of warmth and sunlight and the frozen deathscape that freezes and kills the land in December and January. I can’t imagine Halloween in a warmer climate because the weather provides as much a part of the chill as the dying landscape and early nightfalls.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

John: My personal Halloween tradition is pretty standard — I watch horror movies. I do that year-round, of course, but I used to spend a whole weekend binging on horror movies leading up to Halloween, which was awesome. I’d get through a handful each day. I haven’t been able to wallow in the creepy crazy for that much dedicated time the past few years… but one of these days I’ll be able to do nothing but watch old Euro-horror movies for a solid weekend to celebrate Halloween again! And host the Halloween movie nights for friends that I used to before everyone’s lives got so crazy busy we couldn’t get them scheduled anymore!

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

John: I love everything spooky, supernatural and gothic, and Halloween is the one time of year that everyone in the world gives a nod to the creepy stuff that I love to see and talk about all year round. For a little while, everyone is into horror movies and lawns are decorated with all manner of “haunted house” style decorations. I love it.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

John: I don’t know that I’m really superstitious. But sometimes I do wonder if my pinball machines are possessed by a spirit who likes to taunt me. Anyone who knows me knows I love pinball almost as much as horror and music, and I own five classic machines in my basement that I play all the time. Some nights, particularly if I hit the restart button because I start a game with a bad ball and don’t feel like finishing the game with a handicap, it’s almost like the machine knows I’m “cheating” and starting over – and the next half dozen balls will all go straight down the middle or side with no chance for me to hit them with the flipper. It’s as if the game demon says “oh, you want a do-over do you? Take that. And that. And that. C’mon, can’t you handle it sucker?” It’s creepy when it feels like the game suddenly turns on you and consistently does unusual things with the ball.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

John: The title character of The Living Dead Girl by French director Jean Rollin. She is both a horrific and pathetic character – a “zombie/ghoul” who slowly comes back from the dead and rebels against her blood-drinking nature and her best friend who feeds her with victims out of misguided love.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

John: I honestly couldn’t name one. I don’t ever read or watch anything about “true crime.”

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

John: Bloody Mary used to creep the hell out of me as a kid. Some people call her Mary Worth. The whole idea of going into a dark candlelit room, saying her name in the mirror multiple times and having her spirit come through the mirror in answer to potentially claw your eyes out… it’s such a perfect way to build dread. Kids do it on a dare, but all you need is just a hair of fear that the legend could be true and by the time you say Bloody Mary’s name the third time, your heart is racing.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

John: Again… don’t like true crime stuff, so none of them. I read “escapist” supernatural horror so that I don’t have to be faced with the real life monsters that walk the earth.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

John: Geez, I couldn’t answer that with any surety. I’ve watched the old black and white classic horrors since I can remember. We had WGN – Channel 9 TV in Chicago that used to play a Creature Features program on Friday or Saturday nights that I saw a lot while I was in grade school. I do remember being in probably 3rd or 4th grade and watching a PBS color production of Dracula that I really thought was great at the time. Loved the whole gothic setting with coffins and dusty castles. That probably set the stage for my love of Hammer Films later in life.

As far as first horror book… again, my memory just doesn’t go that far back! I remember reading ghost story books I bought from the Scholastic Book catalog in grade school and loving the spooky factor. And I remember buying a complete collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s fiction at a garage sale once and reading and re-reading that book (which is still on my shelf). Maybe one of the earliest printed impacts on me was a comic book that I bought in probably first or second grade. It might have been an Eerie Tales or something like that. I don’t really remember the stories, but I do know they stuck with me a long time and I still retain one image of a skeletal woman in a bridal headdress driving down the street at the end of one. Apparently whatever that twist was creeped me out enough to remember a snippet of that image almost 50 years later.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

John: Probably Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game. It was the first novel of his I read, and I read it during one of my first trips away from home alone when I was probably 22 – I’d flown to Memphis to spend a weekend with some other journalists on a “PR junket” hosted by the city. We went there to see Graceland and the Handy Blues awards and to generally get a 36-hour tour of the city to go home and write travel stories about how great Memphis was for our newspapers. I remember the first night I was in the hotel room alone, reading that novel and the scene about people being skinned alive and when I turned out the lights to go to sleep… I was severely creeped out!

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

John: I don’t know about “scarred” but Alien impacted me severely. The atmosphere, the slow brooding, building suspense, the wildly otherworldly and ominous spaceship architecture… it was a genius sci-fi horror film and has been in my top 5 horror and top 5 sci-fi movie lists since the day I first saw it. It’s an unsettling, scary and darkly beautiful film.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

John: I have never been a “dress up” person myself, but I do appreciate creative costumes and makeup. Always love good zombie, ghoul or witch makeup!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

John: That one’s easy. “(Every Day is) Halloween” by Ministry. It’s an amazing track both for the Halloween theme and for synth pop. One of my favorite dance club tracks ever, bar none.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

John: Best treat is definitely Almond Joy bars. Worst? Dental floss. (Assholes).

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by, John. It is ALWAYS a pleasure to have you visit. One more thing before you go: What are you top 10 go-to Halloween movies?

John: I am a huge movie buff, and literally own hundreds of horror and giallo DVDs and Blu-Rays. That makes it super hard to pick a top 5 or 10 or even 25… There are so many good ones. So… I’ve tried to note the movies that have really stuck with me the most across multiple genres of horror. Films that I’ve watched multiple times. There are dozens of films I could point to as “oh yeah, that’s a great one!” but here are films that really moved me. From the extreme horror of the French new wave in the 90s with High Tension and Martyrs to the claustrophobic indie horror of Cronenberg’s early Rabid and Shivers, I come back to these again and again. Though my main favorites tend to be older – ‘70s and ‘80s films are my jam. I’m not that much of a modern horror fan. My “Top 3” below are films that have all actually been my #1 at one time or another. I used to say Alien until the Suspiria 4K remaster happened a few years ago! And Jean Rollin’s sexy and horrible beautiful pathos of Living Dead Girl has occupied my #2 or #3 spot since I first saw it some 20 years ago:

Best Movies:
SuspiriaDario Argento (1977)
AlienRidley Scott (1979)
The Living Dead GirlJean Rollin (1982)
The BeyondLucio Fulci (1981)
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the GraveEmilio Miraglia (1971)
PhantasmDon Coscarelli (1979)
Night of the Living DeadGeorge Romero (1968)
RabidDavid Cronenberg (1977)
DagonStuart Gordon (2001)
MartyrsPascal Laugier (2008)

I have to give honorary mentions to horror-humor films which I think live in a class by themselves:
BeetlejuiceTim Burton (1988)
Shaun of the DeadEdgar Wright (2004)
Dead AlivePeter Jackson (1992)
Evil Dead IISam Raimi (1987)
ScreamWes Craven (1996)


Boo-graphy:
John Everson is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Covenant, Sacrifice, The 13th, Siren, and The Pumpkin Man, all released by Dorchester/Leisure Books in paperback. His sixth novel, NightWhere, was a 2012 Bram Stoker Award Finalist. Other novels include The Family Tree, Violet Eyes, Redemption, and The House By The Cemetery. His 11th novel, The Devil’s Equinox, was released by Flame Tree Press in June 2019. He is also the creator of the characters Danika and Mila Dubov, now seen on the new Netflix series V-Wars, based on the books and comics created and edited by Jonathan Maberry.

A wide selection of his short fiction has been collected in six short story collections – Sacrificing Virgins (Samhain Publishing, 2015), Deadly Nightlusts (Blasphemous Books, 2010), Creeptych (Delirium Books, 2010), Needles & Sins (Necro Books, 2007), Vigilantes of Love (Twilight Tales, 2003) and Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions (Delirium Books, 2000).

John is also the editor of the anthologies Sins of the Sirens (Dark Arts Books, 2008) and In Delirium II (Delirium Books, 2007) and co-editor of the Spooks! ghost story anthology (Twilight Tales, 2004). In 2006, he co-founded Dark Arts Books to produce trade paperback collections spotlighting the cutting edge work of some of the best authors working in short dark fantasy fiction today.

John shares a deep purple den in Naperville, Illinois with a cockatoo and cockatiel, a disparate collection of fake skulls, twisted skeletal fairies, Alan Clark illustrations and a large stuffed Eeyore. There’s also a mounted Chinese fowling spider named Stoker courtesy of fellow horror author Charlee Jacob, an ever-growing shelf of custom mix CDs and an acoustic guitar that he can’t really play but that his son likes to hear him beat on anyway. Sometimes his wife is surprised to find him shuffling through more public areas of the house, but it’s usually only to brew another cup of coffee. In order to avoid the onerous task of writing, he records pop-rock songs in a hidden home studio, experiments with the insatiable culinary joys of the jalapeno, designs book covers for a variety of small presses, loses hours in expanding an array of gardens and chases frequent excursions into the bizarre visual headspace of ’70s euro-horror DVDs with a shot of Makers Mark and a pint of Revolution Anti-Hero IPA.

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Voodoo Heart
When Detective Lawrence Ribaud wakes alone in a bloody bed with his wife missing, he knows this is more than just a mysterious case of murder. His wife is the latest victim in a string of bizarre disappearances. All across New Orleans, on one night each month, people are vanishing, leaving behind nothing but a pool of blood on the bedsheets… and an abandoned heart. Ribaud doesn’t believe in voodoo, but he soon finds himself moving through the underbelly of a secret society of snakes, sacrifices and obscene rituals in search of the mysterious Black Queen … and the curse of her Voodoo Heart.

The Devil’s Equinox
Austin secretly wishes his wife would drop dead. He even says so one boozy midnight at the bar to a sultry stranger with a mysterious tattoo. When his wife later introduces that stranger as Regina, their new neighbor, Austin hopes she will be a good influence on his wife. Instead, one night he comes home to find his wife dead. Soon he’s entranced with Regina, who introduces him to a strange world of bloodletting, rituals and magic. A world that puts everything he loves in peril. Can Austin save his daughter, and himself, before the planets align for the Devil’s Equinox?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Christina Bergling

Meghan: Hi Christina! Thanks for stopping by. I know you’re busy, what with your book release today, so let’s get started right away. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Christina: Not to be the cliché horror author but… EVERYTHING! I have loved Halloween since I was a child, and I probably indulge in every part of it. If I had to select a favorite, it would be the costume. When I was young, I loved dressing up (on Halloween or any other day). The same is still true and likely contributes to why I like to dance and perform on-stage (costumes!). Yet the excitement of selecting a costume held me rapt for months. My mother often made my costume, so I had full creative freedom. Then we made the costume together. It all culminated when I could wear the final product, which of course had an elaborate backstory, to school, then later around the neighborhood trick-or-treating. Then the costumes lived on as long as they fit me. The best was when my mother made me a mermaid costume with a shimmering tale and shiny shells sewn on a flesh-colored bodice.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Christina: As a child, trick-or-treating was the best part of Halloween. While I still enjoy taking my children, we have struggled to find a neighborhood that is really into it. As an adult, my favorite has evolved to horror movies, especially at Telluride Horror Show every October, and/or haunted houses. Telluride Horror Show allows me to watch horror movies with genre fanatics in gorgeous mountain scenery for three straight days. Nothing but horror movies and maybe some horror movie trivia. And I love a good scare at a haunted house. I startle very easily, so the actors (and my friends) have plenty of fun with me.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Christina: Are there other holidays? Halloween is undoubtedly my favorite. It always has been. Christmas with Santa and presents did not even compete when I was young. Halloween always had my heart. Perhaps it was because my heart was always dark. I was always drawn to the macabre and the spooky. I am not sure why, but it resonated with me. Then with the addition of costumes and candy and running around in the dark and fear for fun, I was in for life.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Christina: I am not a superstitious person. However, I am a habitual person. If I do something and I love it, it becomes a “thing.” Traditions are forged very easily in my circle. Halloween has started to take over my life because I seem to add a new tradition every year, and I am completely unreasonable about skipping some or simplifying at all. It is never “or.” It is always “more.”

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Christina: My favorite monster is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I love the psychology involved in his character. I think he embodies the wild duality in all of us. My horror villain is Hannibal Lecter. Once again, psychology. He is brilliant and yet profoundly savage. That duality, the way he blatantly ignores social convention to define his own ethical code makes his fascinating. Both have a deep intelligence under the evil, monster, and violence in their character. They are not mindless killing machines. They make very calculated decisions, which I think make them all the more terrifying.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Christina: I want to know who Jack the Ripper is. I know there are plenty of solid theories, and I’m not anywhere near researched enough. But I want to KNOW.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Christina: The Licked Hand haunts me. Of all the urban legends I have heard or read, that one left a mark on the back of my brain. To summarize, a girl puts her hand out of bed for a dog to lick it all night. Later, she finds the dog dead and realizes the killer has been licking her hand all night. I have heard many different versions of this same legend, but all versions just cause me to shudder. It used to keep me up at night when I was babysitting or home alone. And I surely never let my dog lick my hand at night.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Christina: I find Ted Bundy very interesting. His charisma and pathological lying make him quite fascinating. Plus representing himself in court and jumping out of the courtroom window to escape and continue his killing spree. His story is consistently so outlandish. The fact that he was able to get away with so much and garner so much attention for being attractive says some very frightening things about our culture.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Christina: Scream was my first horror movie at age 12. My father showed it to me after my parents divorced. While I lacked the genre knowledge to truly appreciate the meta nature of Scream, I adored it. I fell in love with the movie and the genre. I never looked back. I don’t think my father knew what he was starting. I don’t remember my first horror book. I started with Goosebumps and Fear Street and read numerous ones in elementary school. After that, I graduated to Stephen King. I devoured horror books at the library. Books lay the groundwork for my love of the horror genre and my eventual horror writing.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Christina: The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum deeply unnerved me. The novel is brilliant and so well written. The premise of child abuse and torture is visceral enough. However, the violence Meg endures is so haunting. I physically flinched. The prose made my nauseous. I love the book and appreciate everything it was able to do to me.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Christina: It might be a tie between the French movies Inside and Martyrs. French horror is extremely bloody. I am glad I saw Inside before I even had children because I do not know if I could handle the subject matter after being pregnant. Martyrs contained so much graphic torture. Ultimately, it influenced me so much that it helped to inspire my torture book The Waning. However, the most traumatic movie I have ever seen is by Dario Argento’s daughter, Asia Argento. The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things is traumatic to a level from which I may never recover. It just is not really “horror.”

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume? (This could be from when you were a child or after you became an adult. Or maybe something you never dressed as but wish you had.)

Christina: My most fun Halloween costume was dressing up as Dora the Explorer as an adult. I had her backpack full of very inappropriate tools. I wandered around the party showing everyone what I had in my backpack and taking way too many shots. When I had my daughter, my family went as the Addams family. I made yarn braids for her to be Wednesday Addams.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Christina: I love Black No. 1 by Type O Negative. I’m definitely partial to it because I know a choreography to it and have performed to it. Living Dead Girl by Rob Zombie is another good one. And the theme song from Halloween by John Carpenter is a classic. Ice Nine Kills has a whole album (with another coming out in October) of songs based on horror movies.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Christina: Mellowcreme pumpkins are my favorite. I could eat myself sick on them. And also have. Those peanut butter taffy things in the orange and black wrappers are disgusting though. Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins are also quite delicious. Though candy paired with booze always makes me pretty happy.

Meghan: Before we finish, what are your Top 10 Halloween movies?

Christina:


Boo-graphy:
Colorado-bred writer, Christina Bergling knew she wanted to be an author in fourth grade. In college, she pursued a professional writing degree and started publishing small scale. With the realities of paying bills, she started working as a technical writer and document manager, traveling to Iraq as a contractor and eventually becoming a trainer and software developer. She avidly hosted multiple blogs on Iraq, bipolar, pregnancy, running. Limitless Publishing released her novel The Rest Will Come. HellBound Books Publishing published her two novellas Savages and The Waning. She is also featured in over ten horror anthologies, including Collected Christmas Horror Shorts, Graveyard Girls, Carnival of Nightmares, and Demonic Wildlife. Bergling is a mother of two young children and lives with her family in Colorado. She spends her non-writing time running, doing yoga and barre, belly dancing, taking pictures, traveling, and sucking all the marrow out of life.

Followers
Sidney, a single mother with a menial day job, has big dreams of becoming a full-time horror reviewer and risqué gore model. She’s determined to make her website a success, and if her growing pool of online followers is any indication, things are looking good for her Elvira-esque aspirations. In fact, Sidney has so many followers that chatting with them is getting to be a job in itself. More than a job, it might be getting a risky….

When Sidney is attacked on a dark trail late one night, it becomes clear that the horror she loves is bleeding into her real life. She learns that real-life horror is not a game, and being stalked isn’t flattering—it’s terrifying, and it could get her killed.

Sidney—and her loved ones—are now in serious danger. This follower isn’t just another online fan: he knows her movements, and he knows her routine. In fact, he’s right behind her… and when he gets close enough, he won’t take no for an answer.