AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Patrick C. Harrison III

Meghan: Hey, III. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Thanks for joining us today. Let’s get started: What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Patrick: The answer to this question has changed over the years. Obviously, as a kid I loved suiting up and running from house to house collecting goodies. Then in my teens Halloween became more about wreaking havoc with friends, playing pranks and whatnot. That was long before Netflix and Tubi, so during those years I was always excited about the horror movies running on TV for the weeks prior to Halloween. Once I had kids, I loved watching them go door to door dressed in their costumes. Now, my youngest is eleven and isn’t sure she still wants to go trick-or-treating. So, what I’ll probably be doing is watching scary movies and dishing out candy at the door. Geez, this is a long first answer, so let me stop and come up with something…I guess my favorite thing is that Halloween is the time of year when the entire country embraces the horrors that I love year-round.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Patrick: The last few years as I’ve driven the kids around trick-or-treating, we’ve played a Halloween soundtrack in the car, with Halloween themed songs and songs from various horror movies. I really like that. Going to haunted houses is also fun.

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

Patrick: Christmas is probably my favorite, but Halloween is right there. As I said in the first answer, the whole world kind of embraces my loves. You see spooks and witches and jack-o’-lanterns everywhere. The air is just starting to cool and fallen leaves crunch under your feet as you run from one house to the next. For kids, it’s like a night that never ends.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Patrick: Hmmm. When I played baseball, I would never step on the baseline when going on and off the field. When I worked in the emergency room and it was suspiciously slow night, I would never mention it. (If you ever work in healthcare and you say ‘It sure is quiet today,’ be prepared for an avalanche of medical emergencies. And be ready for your coworkers to kill you.)

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

Patrick: In cinema, probably either Freddy Krueger or Art the Clown. In fiction, probably Pennywise. Yes, I know, very cliché. How about Patrick Bateman then? Does he even count as a villain since the entire story is told from his perspective?

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Patrick: The Elisa Lam case. She’s the lady that went missing in the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. She was on camera acting very bizarre, like maybe she was being followed. Then she just disappeared. Footage of the hotel’s entrance showed that she never left the Cecil. Like three weeks after she disappeared, her body was found in the hotel’s water tank on the roof. People had been drinking and taking showers in that water—containing her decomposing body—the entire time. I love missing person stories too. Check out the Dennis Martin case. Very bizarre!

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Patrick: When I worked in the ER, there was this urban legend about a patient coming in complaining of a severe headache. Upon assessment, it was discovered that the patient had a nest of spiders in her tangled, matted hair. They’d been biting her head, which caused the headaches. Given the things I saw during my years in healthcare, I bet that’s based on a true story. Yikes!

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Patrick: That’s an odd question. I guess H.H. Holmes. I mean, he made a fucking (am I allowed to say ‘fucking’?) murder hotel! He killed people and then sold their skeletons to medical schools. He was pretty damn wicked. By the way, if anyone answering this question says Charles Manson, they need to be fired from the horror community. Charles Manson is overrated and far more cliché than me answering Pennywise to the villain question.

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

Patrick: Movie: I have no idea what my first horror movie was or when I saw it. The first one I remember being terrified of was Silver Bullet. I think I was maybe seven or eight when I saw it. Book: Again, hard to say. Three early books of horror I remember reading are Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful, Ghost Stories of Old Texas by Zinita Fowler, and Spine Chillers by Jim Razzi. I still have all three of these books.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Patrick: Oooo, tough one. Pet Sematary is terrifying and really punches you in the gut, especially if you’re a parent. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis are two books that are brilliantly written and yet soooo fucked up. They really dig at your soul.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Patrick: My tolerance for crazy, fucked up horror movies is pretty high. I don’t think anything has scarred me. But…there were some scenes in The Human Centipede 2 and Nekromantic that made my jaw hit the floor. The scariest movie I’ve ever seen would probably be The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Close second goes to the often-overlooked Vacancy.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Patrick: I don’t think I ever watched an actual episode of The Lone Ranger, but I sure did go trick-or-treating as the masked hero. And I loved it! Thought I super cool.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Patrick: “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. This song leads off the Halloween playlist I mentioned earlier.

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

Patrick: Reese’s Pieces have to be number one, right? They naturally come in Halloween colors. The worst are those little candies that come in either black or orange wrappers. No name or label or anything on them. Just crappy candy on the inside. I know most people probably shit on candy corn, but I’ve been known to consume candy corn from time to time.

Meghan: Before you go, what are your top 3 Halloween movies and books?

Patrick:
Movies:
House of 1000 Corpses
Terrifier
Halloween 3

Books:
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The October Country by Ray Bradbury
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is October’s author. No one else quite encapsulates the nostalgia of the season.


Boo-graphy:
Patrick C. Harrison III (PC3, if you prefer) is the author of A Savage Breed, Inferno Bound and the Hell Hounds, 5 Tales That Will Land You in Hell, 5 Tales of Tantalizing Terror, Visceral: Collected Flesh (with Christine Morgan), and Cerberus Rising (with Chris Miller and M. Ennenbach); and his works can be found in numerous anthologies.

PC3 is also the co-owner (with Jarod Barbee) and editor-in-chief of Death’s Head Press, a Texas-based publisher of dark fiction. Follow PC3’s website/blog for frequent horror movie reviews and updates on forthcoming fiction.

GUEST MOVIE REVIEWS by Mike Duke

Something Creepy This Way Comes:
Halloween Movie Reviews by Mike Duke

Candy Corn (2019)
Director: Josh Hasty

Synopsis: “It’s the eve of Halloween in Grove Hill, Ohio. A traveling carnival is in town for the weekend and local outcast, Jacob Atkins, has been hired as one of the freaks in the event’s main attraction, ‘Dr. Death’s Side Show Spook House Spectacular.’ When a group of bullies target Jacob for their annual hazing, things go too far, and he winds up dead. Now, Dr. Death has resurrected Jacob as an unstoppable killer to seek revenge on those who wronged him.”

This movie definitely has the Halloween/Autumn vibe and looks like its set back in the 70’s. It’s a slow burn atmospheric film that definitely pays homage to 80’s slasher movies in ways. It has a straightforward story and there’s some decent gore in places, but it just seemed to be missing that spark of life. Not sure what exactly about the story didn’t do it for me. Maybe because most of the characters just aren’t likable people so I didn’t really feel invested in them. Maybe because, unlike other similar revenge movies (for example Pumpkinhead), there’s no real penalty for meddling with dark forces. Tony Todd’s character warns Dr. Death against it but nothing comes of it. By the end, I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, “I guess Dr. Death is good buddies with the supernatural dark forces of the Underworld he used to resurrect Jacob to take vengeance against his attackers and anyone else remotely associated with them.” Ultimately, it’s a decent film. It’s enjoyable. If you’re not looking for great but will settle for good, then give it a go for sure. Or if you just want to see a bunch of folks get what’s coming to them, then you’ll certainly like this one too. Just depends. Mileage may vary.

You find Candy Corn on Amazon Streaming. Rent $3.99 / Purchase $6.99. Free with Showtime.

They Live Inside Us (2020)
Director: Michael Ballif

Synopsis: “Seeking inspiration for a new writing project, a man spends Halloween night in a notoriously haunted house. He soon realizes he is living in his own horror story.”

Can’t say a lot about this one without revealing too much. There are some definite twists. Whether you guess what’s coming by the end or not may vary on the viewer, but you won’t know for sure until nearly the end. There are some good clues hidden in the background in places. Look away and you might miss something at certain points. In some ways, this feels a little like an anthology for a while into it, but it’s not and everything works its way back into the story by the end, which I liked. I did wonder in the beginning, “What the hell kind of dad takes his daughter to stay in a haunted house on Halloween night?” It seemed odd but became more acceptable afterwards. I guess. That part was strange to me. Anyway, I did like the main character’s acting for the most part and the writing was pretty good. It may warrant a second viewing at some point to see if there were other clues I missed from the beginning. Give it a shot and see what you think.

You can find it on Amazon Streaming. Rent $4.99 / Purchase $12.99.

Hell House LLC
Director: Stephen Cognetti

Synopsis: “Five years after 15 people were killed during a haunted house tour, a documentary crew visits the scene to investigate what really happened.”

This movie has kind of turned into a cult classic it seems. Now, I know some people are turned off by Found Footage films in general, but I can see why this film has attained a very popular following from both critics and fans alike. It has 1,993 reviews on Amazon with a 4.1/5 average rating. That includes 1,112 Five Star ratings / reviews. That’s pretty impressive. And I was impressed with this movie as well. It sets a dark tone while providing just enough information to hook your interest and start reeling you in. There are some genuinely CREEPY moments in this movie and the atmosphere becomes taut and pervaded with a creeping dread by the last part of the movie when all is finally revealed and then some. The acting is pretty good overall and some of the characters reactions are spot on. No stoic bullshit from some of these people. They wig out and blame each other, wanting to think it’s a prank and not something supernatural but it gets kind of hard to deny what’s really going on the longer they are there. I really enjoyed this movie. The mixture of interview documentary with watching the tapes they are given from Hell House leading up to the night of the murders and the night itself really worked for me. Will probably watch again and definitely want to check out the other two.

You can watch it free with Prime Video or if you hop on VUDU (no membership needed) you can watch it free with ads.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

Synopsis: “Hospital emergency room Dr. Daniel “Dan” Challis and Ellie Grimbridge, the daughter of a murder victim, uncover a terrible plot by small-town mask maker Conal Cochran, a madman who’s planning a Halloween mass murder utilizing an ancient Celtic ritual. The ritual involves a boulder stolen from Stonehenge, the use of Silver Shamrock masks and a triggering device contained in a television commercial — all designed to kill millions of children.”

I just watched this again the night before writing this. Personally, I’ve never been a Michael Meyers fan (the blasphemy, I know) and while for years many people have slammed this movie because it had nothing to do with the other Halloween movies (amongst other things), for me, it’s the only one of them I’ve really liked, and watching it again just reinforces that feeling.

This story is creepy, strange, wild and over the top at times, and all while delivering some ideas and moments that are truly horrifying. When Mr. Cochran explains to Dan why he’s doing this and why it’s happening, and he talks about older Celtic times, that whole section is one of the best parts of this movie. Just fantastic writing. This movie won’t be for everyone, but I love their Go Big or Go Home approach to the story and the over-the-top Halloween Doomsday plot. It’s solid fun with a truly creepy evil villain in Cochran and the wicked plans for humanity he has in store for the world.

It’s on sale right now on VUDU (no membership needed) for only $4.99


Boo-graphy:
Mike was a cop for almost 12 years, but for the last 14 years, he’s been teaching Military, Law Enforcement, and Bodyguards high speed, tactical, and off-road driving as well as hand-to-hand Combatives and Blade tactics. He enjoys martial arts and has been a practitioner since 1989 of various styles. Filipino blade arts are his favorite. Since he was a teenager, he’s loved reading, writing, and watching movies, particularly in the horror and sci-fi genre. He’s also been a prolific reader of theology and has dabbled in philosophy as well. He has a beautiful, smart wife who is amazingly supportive and a son and daughter who are both graduated. His babies now are a German Shepherd named Ziva, a Daddy’s girl who loves to play… even when he’s writing, and a Border Collie mix named Joey “The Bandit” who will steal anything and everything he can, even the toys right out of Ziva’s mouth. Mike is a lover of music, as well, and it is an integral part of his writing ritual.

Ashley’s Tale
Ashley, a young college student with a horrific past, is immediately thrust into a living hell when she is kidnapped. In the lair of her captor, she will be forced to choose between submission and defiance, between folding under his punishment or finding the strength to endure and escape.

But Ashley will also have to face the horrors of her past in this twisted game. Can she prevail against the demons that made her weak, as well as the tortures the sadist set before her? If so, what could she become in the process?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jonathan Janz

Meghan: Hey, Jonathan. I don’t know if you realize this, but you have been a part of our annual Halloween Extravaganza long before it was named a Halloween Extravaganza. In fact, you have been part of every Halloween celebration since I started blogging, back in 2014, on The Gal in the Blue Mask. So thank you so much for all the support. And for once again taking part. Let’s begin: What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Jonathan: I think the general mood. I love the aura, the spooky, cozy, gloomy vibe of late-October/early-November. There’s something uniquely mysterious in the air, the feeling that anything could happen, will happen. Wet-black tree trunks and rain-shiny streets. Drooping leaves and shadows. No time can transport me back to elementary school like this time of year. Nothing can reproduce that shivery feeling quite like Halloween time.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Jonathan: Hmm… For me, the music plays a big role. The Halloween score is a central, seminal work there. I think not only of Carpenter’s incredible main theme, but of the other tracks, specifically the one we hear when Jamie Lee Curtis walks through the neighborhood when we first meet her. I hear the same music when I walk through my own neighborhood, which is like hers with more hills. I also love “This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I sing that one with my youngest daughter Peach.

So listening to the music is a big part of the celebration for me.

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

Jonathan: It’s my favorite non-religious holiday, I’ll say that. It’s just such a marvelous celebration of all the things I love about horror. It’s being joyful in the terror, it’s reveling in the macabre. It really is a time where what we love all year is normalized and appreciated by all, including the hobbyists. For a short time they can see through our eyes and understand the dark beauty we see all year. So there’s a sense of community with the full-timers and a moment of communion with the part-timers.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Jonathan: I’m really not superstitious anymore, but I used to be. Like catastrophically so. I was afraid to leave a room without first smiling into a mirror because I was sure the last expression I made in that mirror would determine the tenor of the day or evening. I had an intricate series of rituals I had to complete (everything in threes, everything pointing in a specific direction) that held a mystical power over me. Essentially, I was raddled with these superstitions, and they profoundly affected me in many negative ways. I eventually overcame them, but it took time.

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

Jonathan: Michael Myers still scares the daylights out of me. So does Jerry Dandridge from the original Fright Night. I love werewolves in general, so the one in Silver Bullet, for instance used to really give me the willies. Oh, and The Thing was awesome because it’s this hostile intelligence and always changing.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Jonathan: Wow. Tough one. There were a pair of murders in my hometown of Delphi, Indiana (which is known as Shadeland in Children of the Dark) that remain unsolved, so for several reasons I want that killer to be caught. Two adolescent girls lost their lives, so it’s an unspeakable tragedy.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Jonathan: I don’t know if this qualifies, but Spring-Heeled Jack has always fascinated me. I love the uniqueness of his powers and the mysterious, fantastical nature of his abilities. I’d like to write a novel about it someday.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Jonathan: Well, I probably wouldn’t say that any would be my favorite, but the most fascinating has to be Jack the Ripper. So much of that has to do with the surreptitious nature of the crimes, the Whitechapel setting, the myriad theories about the killer’s identity, and the fact that it remains unsolved. I also think the clothing of the time and the fog add to the mystique.

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

Jonathan: Probably something like The Omen, which scared the crap out of me. I vividly remember watching The Twilight Zone when I was little, especially Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. Also the one where there’s an alien in the café and the one where the woman is going to have plastic surgery because (supposedly) she’s so hideous. Those shows truly impacted me. They scared me to death but they absolutely absorbed me and compelled me to keep watching despite my terror.

As far as the first horror book, that one’s easy: Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers. That book changed everything for me. Not long after that, I read ‘Salem’s Lot, The Stand, The Dead Zone, The Shining, Night Shift, Carrie, The Gunslinger, Skeleton Crew, Pet Sematary, and It. Essentially, the first twenty books I read were all by Stephen King, so he’s the reason I’m where I am today. He made me a reader, a writer, and an English teacher. Regarding the way those stories made me feel…for the first time, I felt smart when I was reading those books. Obviously, I was entertained too. And mesmerized and unsettled and transfixed. Those books were revelations to me.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Jonathan: Ah, nice question! Let’s see…I’m going to say The Girl Next Door. Jack Ketchum/Dallas Mayr had a way of going to the core of an issue and showing us what he found there, without flinching. That book made me cringe, put it down, return to it reluctantly, despair for humankind, and weep for what happened to that poor young woman.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Jonathan: This one is easy, though it’s surprisingly recent. It’s called Lake Mungo, and it’s a slow-burn faux-documentary that’s at turns depressing, unnerving, and flat-out terrifying. There’s a moment in the film I keep replaying in my head to an unhealthy, obsessive degree. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m afraid to see this face coming out of the dark. So even though I’m an adult…I might just be permanently scarred by Lake Mungo.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Jonathan: I had a chintzy Godzilla costume when I was really little. Cheap as hell, the sharp plastic mask with the string. But I loved it, felt like I was a fire-breathing monster when I wore it. I loved that costume and love it still.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Jonathan: Got to be “This Is Halloween,” though some of the tracks from Halloween are in the running. The song I referred to earlier I think is called “Laurie’s Theme,” though I could be wrong about that.

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

Jonathan: My favorite candy altogether is Dots, so because I sometimes get to eat those on Halloween, I’ll go with Dots. Other favorites include Snickers, Twizzlers, Reese’s Cups, and Kit Kats. Disappointing candy? I can’t think of any.

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by today. As always, it was an absolute pleasure having you here. Before you go, what is your go-to Halloween movie and book?

Jonathan:
Top Halloween Movie: Halloween (1978): I know this is an uncreative answer, but Carpenter’s original film is just perfect. What I appreciate is how Carpenter treats the quieter moments, not just the kills. That film just drips atmosphere.

Top Halloween Book: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Look, there are many great Halloween stories, but this one feels perfect for Halloween. I love the evocation of the small town, the friendship, the father-son relationship, those cusp-of-adulthood themes, and of course the sinister elements in the book. Basically, it’s perfect. I taught it for a few years to freshmen, and they ate it up. It’s a timeless novel.


Boo-graphy:
Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories. His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and School Library Journal. His ghost story The Siren and the Specter was selected as a Goodreads Choice nominee for Best Horror. Additionally, his novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children.

Website

GUEST POST: John Boden

A List of Films to Watch Around Halloween, None of Which are HALLOWEEN

How about that lame ass title?

It’s that time of year again, Boils & Ghouls. I was asked by Meghan to contribute to her yearly holiday blog series, and as usual I said yes and then flaked until literally the day before a piece is due. The grandest intention being to craft a fresh story or autobiographical sliver as I have in past years.

But, see, I think my brain is broken. Plague World and working retail have done it in. Focusing is hard and holding a captured thought is akin to catching tadpoles. So in true cop out fashion I give you this list of movies I love to watch this time of year that may or may not have anything to do with the holiday…okay, a couple of them do.

Ready? Here we go, in no rank or order…

Burnt Offerings. This amazingly gothic film concerns the account of a family whom rent an old mansion in the middle of nowhere only to discover it is not, exactly as promised. Lured by the unreal low cost, the trio learn about desires dark and hungry, about aspirations realized and locked away and never have framed old pictures of people not smiling ever been creepier. Based on the equally superb novel by Robert Marasco.

Dark Night Of The Scarecrow. A Made-For-TV movie that debuted on CBS in 1981. Starred the late Larry Drake as Bubba, a mentally retarded young man who falls victim to violence and prejudices in his tiny farm town…you think. But when the true reason behind his murder begins to show through “Vigilante” posse-runner, Otis Hazelrigg’s cracks (And my God, is it dark and icky for television) you find out it run much deeper. A fantastic cast and wonderfully creepy atmosphere have turned this into a cult favorite. Directed by Frank De Felitta.

Something Wicked This Way Comes. There is nothing that tastes more like October than this novel from the master. A deeply affecting coming-of-age tale about a town haunted. The haunts here are regret and disappointment. Are aging and absenteeism. Are wishes and I mean, we all know how long and hard a wish can clank about in the darkness. Two boys eager to be men, witness the arrival of a strange carnival one late October night. And coming with it are things that live on dreams…and barter for much bigger things. Perfection, this one!

WNUF Halloween Special. This recent treasure from Chris LaMartina is a pinnacle of “found footage/nostalgia itching.” An incredibly well-done trip down memory lane in the costume of a recorded-from-TV Hallwoeen special complete with commercials and static and rewinding and a fairly effective if pretty simple set-up and delivery. A ghoulishy good time!

The Funhouse. This 1981 gem is on here because I have always found it deeply creepy and it always gave me the Autumn feels, even though I think it might be set in late summer. There’s a thick vein of sleaze running through this slasher classic where a group of horny teens (always with the horny teens) decide to sneak into a carnival funhouse for a night of Bible study and crafts and by that I mean probably smoking weed and bumping uglies, only to find themselves pursued by the deformed son of the carnival owner. Not super high on gore but it makes up for it in gross close ups of drooling monster mouth and weird carny imagery.

The Other. 1972 film based on the splendid novel by Thomas Tryon. Set during the Depression, twin brother are at the center of a circle of bizarre events and murder in their rural community. The less you know going in to this one the better but it is absolutely fantastic and a gorgeous film to behold, literally.

I’m going to leave off with this one. The goofy and highly off-kilter Satan’s Little Helper. A video game obsessed little boy finds himself assisting a serial killer plundering his town on Halloween. The boy is all about a game where you help the Devil do bad things and since the killer is dressed as the horned one he thinks that’s what he’s doing. Sure this relatively tame flick has all kinds of logic holes and the acting isn’t the best. But it’s fucking weird. And a lot of fun. From Jeff Lieberman, the feller what gave us the killer worm classic Squirm and the slashery Just Before Dawn.

There. You’ve maybe seen these. Might not have heard of some. Or maybe just never gave them a thought as a Halloween watch. But seeing the white-painted Kirk face every year…hearing the doo-doo-doo-doo of the Silver Shamrock jingle…Watching that little dude with the burlap face chase Brian Cox around his house with a broken lollipop? Change it up. Add one or two of these to your last weekend’s viewing and I promise you you might find at least one new favorite to sew into your Octobers from now on.

And if not, Michael Myers will be waiting for you…as always.


Boo-graphy:
John Boden lives a stone throw from Three Mile Island with his wonderful wife and sons. A baker by day, he spends his off time writing or wasting time watching terrible horror films from the 70s and 80s. He likes Diet Pepsi, cheeseburgers, heavy metal, and old country music and often sports ferocious sideburns. While his output as a writer is fairly sporadic, it has a bit of a reputation for being unique. The books Dominoes, Spungunion, Walk The Darkness Down, and Jedi Summer are his doing alone. Detritus in Love, Out Behind the Barn, Rattlesnake Kisses, Cattywampus, and the nearly finished Black Salve… on those, he had assistance from Mercedes Yardley, Chad Lutzke, or Robert Ford. He’s easily tracked down on Facebook or the Twitter and as rumors have it, a pretty friendly feller… honest.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Daemon Manx

Meghan: What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Daemon: To be perfectly honest, my favorite part of Halloween is the dressing up and wearing of the costumes. Of course, we all love to do this as children, and many of us love this well into our adulthood. However, I have noticed far too many people who refuse to participate in this ritual once they reach a certain age. I have heard “I don’t wear costumes” and “I don’t dress up.” To that I say, “Don’t take yourself so seriously, no one else does.” I love racking my brain trying to come up with the perfect costume and have really pulled off some winners in my day. As a boy I immediately went for the zombie which was years before they had even become cliché. Then once I discovered latex I went as a werewolf attack victim complete with chunks ripped from my neck. As I got older, I have gone with friends as Kiss, Star Trek crew, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and one time my girlfriend and I went as Titanic victim’s I was the crew member with the whistle frozen to his lips. I never took myself so seriously to even think that I wouldn’t dress up for Halloween, I couldn’t even imagine it.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Daemon: It would be difficult to answer this by simply stating one aspect of Halloween as there isn’t anything about the day, the season, the mood, the vibe that I dislike. For me, Halloween is the single time of the year that I have looked forward to since my earliest childhood days. Even then it was so much more than the candy, it was the sense of mystery and the feeling of the unknown. It was a mood in the air as the leaves began to change. It was the movies that were shown on the television. And of course, it was that chance to step out of ourselves and to be someone or something else for a brief moment in time. So, with that being said, my fondest memories that have transcended throughout my latter years revolve around the Halloween Party. It is the decorating of the house and the planning of the event. Then it is the costumes and the music being played and the chance to stop taking life so seriously. I have always dressed up, and I have always had a Halloween Party. When I was in fourth grade, I built a haunted house in my garage and invited my classmates over for my first annual bash. I am not bragging when I say that I scared the crap out of them, and they would still attest to that. I have been having a yearly Halloween party ever since, sometimes dressing with others in a theme, and sometimes going solo. I don’t build the Haunted house anymore, and the party itself has matured a bit since those early days. But it is still a chance to shake off the seriousness of everyday life and live in the world of imagination, of the macabre, of the supernatural. I also appreciate seeing the ever-popular naughty nurse costume as it is guaranteed that at least one of my friends is sure to walk through the door wearing one.

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

Daemon: It absolutely is my favorite holiday and for many reasons. Halloween is probably differently experienced depending upon where in the country you grew up, or where in the world for that matter. I grew up in northern New Jersey, home of Camp Crystal Lake and a real town called Haddonfield. Halloween comes at a time when the air has turned crisp, and the leaves have begun to rattle as they fall from the trees and are scattered up the street and across the lawn. The sun sets earlier and there is sense of mystery that seems to appear as if from nowhere. You feel it as you walk home from school and pass through the graveyard. You sense that someone is watching you and you start to walk just a little bit faster. You are guaranteed to find at least one of your favorite horror films on nearly every channel, for those of us that still watch it that way. And all this seems to grow with a heightened sense of mystery and tension as All Hallows Eve approaches. There is no other time of year that holds such wonderful apprehension as Halloween. It truly feels that if there is one day out of the year when the soul’s of the dead would be allowed to cross over into our plane, it would be on Halloween, and that is terrifyingly wonderful.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Daemon: A better question would be, what am I not superstitious about, as nearly all of the old wives’ tales and warnings hold a sacred place in my heart. I would never consider walking under a ladder and can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would. That just sounds too dangerous and an unnecessary risk that I don’t need to take. I will go to great lengths to make sure that I handle all mirrors with extreme caution as I am a firm believer in luck and wouldn’t want to jinx myself. I don’t sleep on my left side if I can at all help it and hope that my heart appreciates the strides, I take for it. Black cats? Well, I have owned a few but that was before I had any say as to the pets that were allowed in the house. Now I have one cat that is orange with black and tan stripes, however, if I see one outside, I will inadvertently turn away so that it doesn’t cross my path, if I can help it. I won’t say Bloody Mary three times into the mirror with a candle burning. I won’t say Candy Man either. For that matter, I don’t think I would repeat Beetlejuice any more than twice. Why risk it? That guy would just end up trashing the house or doing something potentially worse.

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

Daemon: My favorite horror monster or villain is Frankenstein’s monster. Although let me clarify this, I am a fan of the original masterpiece written by Mary Shelley. Although I love Boris Karloff the book is the classic that gave birth to the modern horror novel and is so much more than a monster story. Victor Frankenstein has figured a way to bring life to his creation. He has dedicated himself to this task and is finally successful in doing so only to find he is repulsed by his creation and realizes that he must destroy it. The creature is unaware as a newborn and cannot fathom why the one who gave him life hates him and wants nothing to do with him. So, the creature fleas and learns to survive and understand the language. But Victor’s own hatred and loathing continues to consume him, and he goes to great lengths to hunt and kill the creature. Perhaps I should say that Victor is my favorite villain, and the creature is my favorite misunderstood monster, as monsters often are.

I won’t give any more away, and if you have not read it, I urge you to do so. It was written when Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron decided that they would each write a terrifying tale. Mary was the only one to finish a story and the horror world was never the same. There are huge symbolic meanings to be found in the book, as a parent chooses to destroy their own creation of innocence. One cannot help but feel for the creature and detest the man. So, hats off to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the original Goth Girl. 

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Daemon: I am fascinated by mysterious disappearances. One that I have found particularly intriguing, and one would certainly be likely to assume that murder had been involved in some way, was the disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste. The ship was found adrift in the Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 4, 1872, under partial sail with its lifeboats missing. The ship was stocked and in functioning condition, but the crew had vanished. The cargo had been denatured alcohol, and the captain and crew’s belongings had been undisturbed. There was a hearing to try to determine the possible cause of the crew’s disappearance which had discussed mutiny, giant squid, supernatural intervention, and even the possibly that the crew had been overcome by the fumes from the alcohol. It has remained a mystery and a cause for great speculation, and it is one story that we will never know the answer to.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Daemon: I hate the one where if you are driving down the road at night and someone is headed toward you with their high beams on. Of course, we are all going to flash them our own so that they will turn theirs off, or will we? I am not so sure that I do that myself. I have heard the urban legend about how they turn around and follow you home, and then… I hate that one, scares the crap out of me and now I have to squint when someone forgets to turn their high beams off because I don’t want to get butchered in my own driveway. I really wish I never heard that one and simply don’t go out at night because I don’t want to be put into that situation. I prefer to sit behind my laptop and think up ways to scare other people. That’s how I get a good night sleep and avoid the hazards of driving at night.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Daemon: I must say that I do not idolize any real serial killers and do not have a favorite. However, I am a huge fan of the made-up ones and would have to say that Dexter takes the prize. He has a code, a purpose and he is doing the world a service. Yes, he is batshit crazy and often a bit to sloppy and show-offy, but when you got it, flaunt it. Although his first few seasons were far better than the latter, I am optimistic for the new installment and will be watching my favorite blood spatter analyst.

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

Daemon: I was ten years old when I saw the movie Halloween. And what a truly awesome flick to be my first real horror movie. I hadn’t been allowed to see it in the theaters and this was when HBO took about a year before movies were aired. I slept over my friend’s house and watched it the very first night it came on. This was the first time that a movie killer got up and disappeared after he had been shot… six times. Now it is expected for a villain, creature monster to continue on after they have died. But in 1978, 79 when I had seen it, we were all seeing it for the very first time. This was groundbreaking stuff, and it was frightening as hell. When Michael sat up at the top of the stairs and came after a young Jamie Lee, you felt it. I still feel much the same when I revisit this movie years later. The remakes didn’t do it for me and the only sequel I cared for was Halloween two. This is what I want from a horror movie, I want to be scared for the first time and I want it to be fresh, not a rehash of the same gimmick.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Daemon: The most unsettling novel I have read would be Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. The story of several writers who have agreed to stay in an old sealed off theater find themselves in a very desperate situation. Convinced that once they are rescued there will be movies and stories made of their adventure, they begin to cause themselves great harm to show that they have truly suffered through the ordeal. They each write short stories that are peppered throughout the tale, one more disturbing than the next. However, there is one that stands out in my mind and is forever seared into my memory banks. It is a crazy tale about a boy who loses several feet of his intestines while performing an act he calls pegging. Does this ring any bells for any of you? It is an insane tale and if you got the ‘Guts’ I suggest you read it.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Daemon: Night of the Living Dead. I had convinced my father to let me stay up and watch it as it came on at 11 on a Friday night. I was still quite young, and he had stayed up with me to keep me company. It was a good thing that he had because I never would have made it through otherwise. This was either in the very late 70s or early 80s and zombies were not a part of pop culture yet. There were seven channels on the TV and we still had phones you had to dial. I know the stone age, right? But things were scarier then, if the power went out or you got stuck on the road, you were really in trouble. Also, if zombies were about to break down your doors and try to eat you, you were probably gonna get eaten… quickly. I was scared out of my mind and recall following my father up the stairs and practically into the bathroom during a commercial break. After that night I always looked at houses and rooms as to how difficult it would be to barricade them if the undead started to swarm the property. I have always had that thought in the back of my mind and have put great care into my escape plan should the dead start walking again. Now that I am older, I realize that I will most likely be one of the first to become a snack for the dead, but I think in my day I would have made a hell of a crossbow wielding force to be reckoned with.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Daemon: My favorite costume has to be from the time I was playing in a band. We always loved to play Halloween parties and at the bars during that time of year. One year we had decided to dress up as Kiss and play nothing but Kiss music all night. As the bass player I got to dress up as the demon, Gene Simmons. We had our make up done by a professional theatre artist and had made our own costumes. I went all out and bought a smoke machine and mini pyrotechnics that allowed me to shoot fire balls from the end of my bass and the drummer had one attached to his high hat. I used blood capsules to spit the blood that Gene was famous for. I remember playing Love Gun, Strutter, Rock n Roll all Night, and was told that people actually felt as if they had gone to a micro version of a Kiss Concert.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Daemon: This is an easy one. Hands down it would have to be The Monster Mash by Bobby Boris Pickett. I think I love this song because not only does it give you a great deal of information, it also asks some very serious questions. We find out that the Wolfman, Dracula and his son have all decided to attend the party along with the ghouls who appeared to have shown up just to get a jolt from the electrodes, which seems a bit local to me, but who am I judge?

There is quite the ensemble at the party, Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds. The instruments were played by the Coffin Bangers who like most musicians were always late to the party. And the sensational vocal sounds of the Crypt Kicker Five. There used to be six of them, but the lead guy thought he was better off as a solo act. I do have to wonder what kind of gigs the Crypt Kickers might find the rest of the year and imagine that the venues come rather infrequently. Not to worry though, they are playing the Mash, which happens to be a graveyard smash. If you were wondering how it grew in popularity, well, it caught on in a flash, my friend.

Perhaps the question that leaves so much to ponder is, whatever happened to the Transylvania Twist. Well, the answer is easy, It’s now the Mash. You see the song has progressed over time and what was once the Twist is now the Mash. Times change, fads fade, and the world moves on. Easy Igor, you impetuous you boy.

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

Daemon: Another easy one. Reese’s peanut butter cups are the greatest candy ever invented and covers all of your five basic food groups. It is the perfect snack at anytime of year.

The biggest disappointment to find in my trick-or-treat bag would be the Mary Jane. I don’t even know what this candy is pretending to be, but if it is going for disgusting, it has certainly hit the mark. I would rather you toss me a rotten apple or a handful of pennies than you even come close to my bag with one of those vile putrid excuse for a candy.

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by, Daemon. Before you go, what are your top two books and movies for Halloween?

Daemon: Wow, and you ask me for only two. Well as you can see by the rest of the interview, I don’t like to hold back so hear you go.

First here are my books that should be read during the Halloween season.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburySomething Wicked This Way Comes is the story that first filled me with a sense of wonder and mystery and fright for the supernatural. It reminds me of how Halloween felt as a child and each sentence is crafted like a masterpiece. The paragraphs are works of art, the language is impeccable. This is the true definitive tale of the supernatural and the story that inspired them all.

Abigail by Daemon Manx — I recommend Abigail for all those who have ever found themselves thinking or feeling different than others. If you have ever been picked on or mistreated or made to feel less than. This creepy tale of what one man finds on his doorstep may not be what you expect to read. But never judge a book by its cover, a lesson that we all could stand to relearn.

And here are my books that should be watched at Halloween.

HalloweenJohn Carpenter’s original for obvious reasons. Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations and don’t settle for anything but the pure stuff. This 1978 horror classic still freaks me out, enough said.

Night of the Living DeadGeorge Romero’s classic taught us that the undead will eat you if they get their hands on you. Barricade your windows and seal up your doors. They’re Coming to Get You Barbera. The remake of this wasn’t all that bad either but nothing compares to the feel of the black n white picture and that claustrophobic sense of isolation.


Boo-graphy:
Daemon Manx writes horror and speculative fiction. He is a member of the Horror Authors Guild (HAG) and has had stories featured in magazines in both the U.S. and the U.K. His short story, The Dead Girl, became a finalist in The Green Shoe Sanctuary’s summer writing prompt contest in August 2021. His debut novelette, Abigail, was released through Terror Tract Publishing and has received 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon and Goodreads. He lives with his sister and their narcoleptic cat Sydney in a remote cabin off the grid, where they patiently prepare for the apocalypse. There is a good chance there they will run out of coffee.

Abigail
Strange things come in small packages. Adrian Billard believes he knows what it’s like to be different, and has nearly given up hope of ever finding happiness. But, a strange package left on his doorstep is about to turn his entire world upside down. Everything Adrian thinks he knows is about to change. He is about to meet…Abigail.