GUEST MOVIE REVIEW by Daemon Manx: Jaws

Jaws

A Zanuck Brown Production/Directed by Steven Spielberg

I am at a point in my life where I can tell if a relationship is going to work within the first ten minutes of meeting someone, before I even find out what their favorite color is. There are only two things I need to know to ascertain whether we are compatible or if we even stand a chance at becoming friends. All it takes is for someone to say “I’m not a fan of horror movies” or “I didn’t like the movie Jaws” and it is a deal breaker, game over, so long, have a nice life.

Never trust anyone who tells you they didn’t love the movie Jaws!

As a boy growing up in New Jersey, the home of author Peter Benchley, and the original setting of the shark attacks that allegedly inspired the 1975 film, I spent countless summers frolicking in the surf and at the beaches during the time of this iconic movie’s release. There are countless aspects as to why this block buster should be in everyone’s top ten, if not five, movies of all time. However, I can only speak for myself and try to inspire with my I own fascination and love affair with this movie.

Timing is everything! That’s what they say, and I am a firm believer. Jaws was released during the summer of 1975 and was the very first movie to be filmed on the ocean, which lead to massive production problems. The film ran over budget and past schedule, and the salt water wreaked havoc with Bruce, the mechanical shark that repeatedly broke down during the filming. This ultimately worked in Spielberg’s favor, a young director who had yet to make his mark on the industry, who utilized the malfunctioning shark to his advantage. In horror, it isn’t always what you see, it’s what you don’t see. Spielberg decided to suggest the shark’s presence as much as he could, relying on shadows and quick glimpses of the ominous fin to reveal the impending threat.

To further turn up the drama, composer John Williams added the soundtrack that has become an iconic undertone that all beach goers know all too well. The theme is essentially comprised of two bass notes that no-doubt strike fear in the hearts of millions every time it is heard, especially if they are to be swimming at the time.

It’s about suspense, it’s about tension, it’s about what you don’t see. Author’s call this invisible ink. The space between the lines, the words that are not being used. Spielberg painted this masterpiece with gallons of invisible ink as he gave life to the novel written by Peter Benchley in 1974.

Benchley, a Jersey native claims that this tale is not inspired by the shark attacks that plagued New Jersey beaches in 1916. From Beach Haven to the Matawan Creek a killer shark dinned on hapless beach goers that fateful summer. A boy on a raft, a man and his dog, another gentleman who had lost his leg. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Benchley’s novel was different in ways from the big screen version, but the premise is the same and the horror is synonymous.

The movie is a watershed moment in Hollywood history for being perhaps the first true summer blockbuster. It was the highest grossing picture of it’s time until Star Wars was released a year later in 1977. It has spurred three sequels, none of which stand up to the original, some of which are downright embarrassing. It was one of those moments where everything gelled. It had to do with the production, the music, the editing, the director, and Oh My God…it had everything to do with the cast.

Roy Scheider was cast as Police Chief Martin Brody, but the role was first offered to Robert Duvall who only wanted to play Quint. Charlton Heston wanted the role but Spielberg though that Heston was too big of a star to bring the anonymity that he wanted from a lesser know actor. Above all else, he wanted the shark to be the star of the show.

The character Quint was based on real life fisherman Craig Kingsbury, was played by veteran actor Robert Shaw. There are numerous repots that Shaw spent most of the time rather tipsy during the filming of the movie. If this is what you get when Robert Shaw is tipsy then by all means, buy this man another round, and put it on my tab. Quint is an absolute show stealer, and his recollection of the sinking of the Indianapolis is possibly the greatest monologue in movie history. Chills…do you feel them?

The character of Matt Hooper was not even cast until nine days before production began. There were a lot of possibilities when it came to would-be hopefuls for the part: John Voight, Jan Michael Vincent, Jeff Bridges, Joel Gray even Kevin Kline. But it was Spielberg’s good friend, George Lucas who recommended that he use a young actor who had performed in his movie American Graffiti. Richard Dreyfus took on the role of the young oceanographer and the rest was magic. At least for us, Dreyfus and Shaw couldn’t stand each other.
You know that you really have something special when people go around quoting your movie afterward…damn near 50 years now

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” This is the best hands-down line ever written in a movie.

“Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed.”

And who could deny, “Smile you son of bitch!” Although the bitch is drowned out from the explosion it is in there.

So, this movie messed up a lot of people. It made them afraid to go into the water. It turned them away from the ocean and scared the ever-living shit out of them. It had a different effect on me. I instantly wanted to become an oceanographer when I grew up. I never did, but I did become an avid scuba diver. While other children were playing football, my friends and I were reenacting scenes from Jaws. This movie inspired me on such a deep moving profound level that I can’t completely express it. Possibly it was because I was at that perfect age at the time, also it has everything to do with all of the reason that I have explained.

What makes the Mona Lisa a masterpiece? What makes Beethoven a maestro? What makes Einstein more than just another guy with a bad haircut?

It’s the same reason why Jaws is, and always will be a watershed moment in movie history and one of the greatest achievements of our time. If you missed this on the big screen, I truly feel sorry for you. You have no idea what you missed when Ben Gardner’s head pops out…Oh My God!!!

There aren’t enough stars in the heavens to give this movie all that it truly deserves.

Infinity stars for Jaws, Spielberg, and the entire cast and crew that brought this gem to life. Thank you!

One last note to the Gods of Hollywood who are determined to ruin everything.

DO NOT try to remake this movie! I will hunt you down and I will make chum out of you!

I mean it!
Daemon Manx


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.

GUEST BOOK REVIEW by Daemon Manx: Frankenstein

Frankenstein OR The Modern Prometheus
By: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Genre: Horror, Gothic, Science Fiction
Pages: 260

Mary Shelley’s seminal novel of the scientist whose creation becomes a monster.


Frankenstein OR The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Written in 1818 by the English author, and original Goth Girl, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein was originally published anonymously when she was 20. It wasn’t until the release of the second edition that Shelley’s name even appeared. Some of Shelley’s background is certainly important to know to fully understand the magnitude of what the author has so masterfully painted and implied in her work. I assure you; the message and the social implication of Frankenstein is just as relevant today as it was two hundred years age.

Shelley’s mother died from an infection she developed after giving birth to Mary. The iconic author grew up never knowing her mother and had bonded strongly with her father, William Godwin. However, Godwin’s second wife was jealous of their relationship which resulted in his pulling away from young Mary, and for his favoring her half brothers and sisters instead.

Mary later met and married Percy Bysshe Shelly, one of the Romantic Poets. In 1815 Shelley gave birth to Clara, who died two weeks later. Mary continued to lose her children in a similar way for the next eight years. This is such an impactful premise that followed her through her life and ultimately helped to shape Frankenstein.

In 1816, while travelling in Geneva, Shelley, Percy, Lord Byron, and John Polidori decided to see who could write the best ghost story. Only one of them ever completed their story. Mary Shelley was 18 when she won the contest with her story Frankenstein.

The story is masterfully executed as it shifts from one narrative POV to the next. Initially the story is told through a series of letters from ship’s Captain Robert Waldon, a failed writer on an expedition to the North Pole. It is through the eyes of Waldon that the reader first meets Victor Frankenstein, and we get a glimpse of the giant creature on the horizon. Victor is nearly dead by the time Waldon finds him. Consumed by his own compulsive desire and obsession, Victor sees a bit of himself in the captain, a man obsessed with his voyage to the North Pole. We learn that Victor has been pursuing the giant creature and his obsession has nearly killed him.

Flawlessly the narrative shifts and is told through the eyes of Victor as we learn about his childhood, the death of his mother, and his passion for the sciences and Alchemy. Victor is consumed with the pursuit of knowledge and has learned the secrets to creating life.

There are no bolts of lightning, there is no assistant named Igor, and there are no electrodes attached to the neck of Victor’s creation. The creature is 8 feet tall because the intricacies of the human anatomy would be too difficult to work on and recreate if performed on normal scale. It is done with a mixture of science and chemistry, and a bit of mystery as we never learn how Victor actually did it. However, he succeeds, and he is instantly repulsed by the sight of the creature. It is so profound to take note that Victor has put a great deal of effort and devotion into the creation of his creature. Then when the act is complete and the fruits of his labor are revealed, he no longer wants it. In fact, Victor wishes nothing more than to destroy his creation. Victor losses his mind for a moment, if he was ever in possession of it to begin with, and takes off, while his newborn is left to fend for himself. We later find out that shortly after this incident happens, Victor’s brother is murdered.

The narrative then shifts to the point of view of the creature. Alone, unable to understand the language, the creature must fend for itself in the wild. It hides and teaches itself how to speak by watching a family, and he quickly grows intelligent. However, he is aware of his own repulsiveness and soon finds that all humans see him just as his father Victor does, hideous and unworthy of love.

The creature decides that if he cannot be loved and since he is so hated by man, that he will find Victor and force the scientist into creating the only thing that could love him, a mate in his image, hideous and repulsive. I will not give it all away as I nearly have already. However, if you have only seen the Hollywood flicks and never read Shelley’s masterpiece, you are doing yourself a great disservice. This is the real deal, the original horror classic. Certain Horror associations should be giving out the Shelley award. The guy who wrote that story about a creepy count was a hack compared to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. I said, and it is too late to take it back. And I will tell you why…

First, Victor is Frankenstein-not the creature. Also, Victor is the monster. A parent who decides to conceive his child, puts all his effort in giving that child life, and then brings that child into the world, only then wishing the destruction of that child. Shelley’s mother died as a result of childbirth. Mary Shelley lost several children during childbirth and/or soon after. Also, abortion was as controversial a subject then as it is today. This all plays heavily into the subjects of destruction of life and the abandonment of a living being.

Science was in question. Was it right for man to assume the role of God when it came to creation? Was it even a place for a man to have a place at all? I urge you to read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and allow yourself to go a bit deeper. This story not only sets the precursor for the modern-day horror novel and sci-fi thriller, but also suggests that we dig a bit deeper into what truly defines us as human? It’s about the balance between our emotions and our obsessions, our desires and our darkness. It’s about what separates man from monster?

Can I give more than five stars? What is the limit? Whatever it is, that is what Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley deservers, and so much more for her masterpiece, Frankenstein-The Modern Prometheus.
I Love, Love, Love this Book…Daemon Manx


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.

GUEST POST: Daemon Manx

My Halloween Inspiration

I am sure that my affinity for Halloween and all things spooky is similar to that of most people who find themselves drawn to the horror writing culture. It starts at an early age, and it continues to grow at an insatiable rate until one day you find yourself in your big-boy shoes staring at a room full of plastic skeletons, two dozen black hairy spiders, and a cauldron full of body parts while the original Halloween from 1978 runs an endless loop on every television in your house. It is then that you sit back and realize your life has turned out just the way you hoped that it would.

I have always loved the idea of stepping out of myself into another character’s shoes. Halloween is that one time of year where we can all do that without fear of judgement. Though the undead genre had made great strides within the past decade, I am sure that if I were to stumble down the halls of Rutgers University dressed as a zombie, moaning, and grabbing at passers-by, it would not be well received. Now if I were to do that on Halloween it would not only be perfectly acceptable, but it would also be expected, if not required. What is not to love about going to a party dressed as Gene Simmons’ demon from Kiss? Six-inch spiked boots, chain mail armor, full make up complete with blood spitting pellets, and the optional ability to shoot balls of fire. It is a costume everyone should wear at least once in their lifetime.

I consider myself fortunate that my childhood took place during a period where people still respected the classics. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Night of the Living Dead were staples for the children my age. There was a great sense of mystery that was to be gained from watching the old black and white classics as they were shown everyday on what channel eleven called the 4:30 Movie. If you got lucky there might be a weeklong Planet of the Apes movie marathon or a Horror Week series. Sundays at 11:30 were a special time as well as the Abbot and Costello movie would be on, possibly the one where they met the Wolfman, or even Dracula. Actors like Vincent Price, Lon Chaney, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff and of course Bela Lugosi were the icons of the golden age, to name a few, who helped inspire that mystery and love for the macabre in all of us.

But it wasn’t all steeped in the classics, although many of what was considered contemporary horror releases would soon be considered classics themselves. I was in High School when Michael Jackson’s Thriller was released, also the movie Ghostbusters. I remember when Misery came out in hardcover and then later interpreted onto the big screen. I sat in theaters when Friday the 13th came out. I jumped from my seat, spilling my popcorn the first time I saw cute little Jason pop out of the water.

Let’s face it. Halloween isn’t a holiday, it isn’t a time of year, and it isn’t a season. Halloween is a feeling. You either get it or you don’t. I am a Halloween person. I married a Christmas person, and it didn’t work out. You can imagine why. It goes way deeper than the fact that all I wanted to watch was scary-ass movies and all she was interested in was sappy chick-flicks written by guys like Nicholas Sparks. Oh, the horror!

I say all this for a reason. As a writer…as a horror writer…as a sarcastic, introverted, creepy-ass, horror writer, Halloween is largely responsible for who I am. It has shaped my outlook, my thought process, my day-to-day interactions, and it consumes my ideologies…for real!

I am by no means the most extreme horror writer out there. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider my writing extreme at all. I am, however, a writer of speculative, gothic, dark, psychological, suspenseful, morbid, and oftentimes, rather sad stories. That’s not to say that I don’t have the capacity to explore other emotions in my stories, A good writer covers the gamut and can utilize the combination of human emotions throughout the course of their text. I hope to be one of those writers one day…lol.

There is one story that I have been working on, for about a year and a half now, that I would like to expand upon. The inspiration for this story comes from the very first Halloween party I threw as a lad. I was in grade school and had constructed a haunted house in my basement which succeeded in scaring the pants off most of my friends. The rest of the party consisted of cupcakes, costumes, and my mother inventing creepy Halloween based party games. She blind folded us and passed around various objects for us to hold.

“These are his intestines,” she said as she passed the innards of the carved out pumpkin to me and my friends.

We did that light as a feather stiff as a board thing where you lift the big kid by only using two fingers. It was a blast, and it became something that I did every year. This followed me into my later years as Halloween parties, parties at bars on Halloween, continued to appealed to me on a profound level. The thought and work that I would dedicate to the fabrication of the perfect costume was an event in itself.

Naturally, I was a child quite some time ago. The seventies and eighties were very different in many ways. For one, the lack of technology is a huge thing to consider. If you were lost in the words in 1980, you were really lost in the woods. There were no cell phones and there was no GPS. If you got stuck on the side of a dark road, you were praying that someone would come along and help you before some psychopath showed up and turned you into a slipcover for his couch. It was a scary time because there was less connectivity linking you to sources of help. You definitely didn’t want to have to walk to a payphone on a dark deserted highway in the middle of the night.

I started writing my story, which shall remain nameless until the point where it is copywritten and ready for release, as the world went under lockdown. While social distancing and mandatory quarantines were in effect in the area I lived, I came up with the idea of a story that takes place during a time when you couldn’t rely on a cell phone or GPS to bail you out of tight situation. I spent roughly six months feverishly hammering away at the archaic device I used to write my first draft. I began this story sometime in April of 2020 and on October 30th of that year, I looked up from the tiny screen as I typed the final sentence of my saga to find that I had a staggering 500k word monster staring back at me. For a little perspective, Stephen King’s unabridged version of The Stand clocks in very close to 500k words. I by no means dare to compare myself to the Master of Horror, I only use the word count as a reference.

Needless to say, I was exhausted. I had spent approximately six months writing for five uninterrupted hours a day. I had no idea where the story was even coming from as it appeared to flow out of me from an unknown source. It was spontaneous and oddly enough, it had started out with the intention of being a short story. The never-ending short story apparently. I would spend my daylight hours outlining and framing where the next few chapters would logically go but never had a clear picture of where the story was headed. It was as much a thrill of discovery for me as it will eventually be for the reader.

On October 30th, 2020, I was finished…with the rough draft. I had made some typo edits along the way but no major revisions. I needed to step away, I needed a break. I needed to focus my attention on other projects while this beast sat and marinated for a while. Abigail had already been written at this time, along with several other of my stories that have been recently published. I started writing other short pieces and went about the process of shopping my material. I landed a few magazine publications, got a job with the Observer, and even stumbled into a cool gig with Princeton University. Then Abigail got published which started the ball rolling and brought me back to the idea that it was time to dive into my doorstopper of a story.

Halloween is the pivotal moment in my saga, at least it’s the lead up to it. It is the feeling in the air of the small town that I created, and it is also the day after the day that I completed the first draft. My first day of rest…lol. In June of this year, six months after the final sentence had been written, I dove back into my story. I began the process of redrafting and tightening up, fixing the prose, and patching the holes. This has been an even bigger undertaking than the initial writing of the story itself.

I see this story as possibly being my life’s work…at least up to this point. It is an encompassing tale of horror, love, family, betrayal, and survival. It is rich with back story with a town full of characters, each one more interesting than the next. And it is a fast-paced race to save the day.

Looking at the sheer magnitude of my Halloween tale I see it as possibly being four separate novels. All of which will be quite lengthy on their own. Maybe Stephen King can put out a 500k word story and expect people to buy it, but for the new kid on the block, that might not fly. I have recently finished redrafting book two and am about to dive into book three. Fortunately, I have other releases ready to go, that will be sent to the press according to the release dates I have loosely scheduled. I am still open for the medium of this projects release and imagine that will continue to mature as the story itself does.

Although I am not at liberty to reveal much else about this story, I will say this…If you love Halloween, if you love epic sagas, and if you love survival-based horror, you are in for a treat. With any luck we will be discussing this story in depth next Halloween.

I look forward to seeing you then…Daemon

Trick or Treat
You little monsters!


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.

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.