Meghan: Hey, Marc! Welcome BACK to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. It is ALWAYS a pleasure to have you join in our festivities. Let’s jump right in – Do you get scared easily?

SC: Yes, but only if I’m thinking of the future of our current civilization.

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

SC: Two come to mind. The Descent is the first and only movie I ever watched in a theater alone. That mixed with the claustrophobia of being underground made it one of the scariest. The second is The Exorcist. I was young and Regan’s eyes haunted me for a long time after my first viewing. More than the movie itself, it was her eyes.

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

SC: The Strangers. I can’t remember an exact kill from it, but the premise of the murders disturbed me. “Because you were home.” Nothing else. Not revenge. Not an obsessive love interest. Just because you’re here. To think that murder could be completely random disturbs me.

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

SC: No. But when I was a kid, the commercials for Cronenberg’s The Fly gave me nightmares. “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” My mom had me draw a picture of a scary image from the commercial and then we tore it up and burned it. The ritual helped. However, when I got older, I really enjoyed the remake.

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

SC: Something like Zombie Strippers or Strippers vs. Werewolves. Look, if I’m gonna get killed, I want to have a good time before I go out.

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

SC: Ash in Army of Darkness

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

SC: It used to be going to haunted house attractions. I would try to go to as many as possible throughout October. Now, I enjoy sitting in my driveway and passing out candy.

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

SC: Uh, man, this is difficult. “Halloween” by the Misfits is great. “Hellraiser” by Motorhead also gets me in the mood. I think “Hellraiser” was originally on the March or Die album, but I heard it on the soundtrack for Hellraiser III and I’ve associated it with horror movies ever since.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

SC: We Need to Talk About Kevin. The concept of being a parent was psychologically horrifying to me as a younger man.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

SC: The Mary Celeste.

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

SC: Rifle, pistol, and shotgun. That should cover all the bases.

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

SC: Vampire

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

SC: Probably easier to survive a zombie apocalypse, but I’m so damn curious about aliens, I’ll go with the ETs.

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

SC: I just vomited in my mouth

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

SC: Amityville

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

SC: Bitter watermelon chilies

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

SC: I’m slightly arachnophobic so abracadabra give me that witch’s brew.

SC Mendes is the co-host of Horror Business – a podcast dedicated to helping authors make a career of their writing. He produces the Don’t Fall Asleep Podcast with Spencer Dillehay and is also the co-owner of Blood Bound Books – an independent publisher whose mission is spreading hope through dark fiction. Mendes has been publishing dark fiction under various names since 2009. The Order of Eternal Sleep, his sequel to The City, released in January 2022, and he is hard at work on the series finale. SC attempts to keep up with readers on Facebook, his website, and welcomes fan/hate mail in his mailbox.

There is a civilization buried deep beneath our own. A place spoken of only in whispers. If you are desperate enough, you will find it. But remember, all knowledge comes at a price.

The bodies were discovered six months after Max Elliot turned in his badge. All that remained of the victims were piles of flayed skin and organs. The bones of each body had been stolen. This torturous method of execution had only been seen once before, and that case remained unsolved. Confident of a connection between the grizzly murders, the police turn to the one man they believe can help. With the allure of closure to his own personal tragedy, Max Elliot agrees to reinstatement for one last case. But the clues lead the unstable detective down a path he never could have imagined. A mysterious drug, a world beneath our own, sex and violence on an unprecedented level, and creatures as ancient as sin itself.

Three years after Max Elliot goes missing, an anonymous tip brings Detectives McCloud and O’Neil to a residential arson on the outskirts of Chinatown.

The majority of the house survived, but the six bodies inside were reduced to gnarled heaps of blackened limbs.

A hidden door to the basement reveals a strange ritual space. Sealing the room, is the image of a serpent and obelisk, reminiscent of Ming’s scarred palm. On the black altar, they find an unidentifiable language and symbols that lead to more questions. Dark magick. Suppressed news reports. Dirty cops.

Besides the nightmares inspired by the crime, something else from the hidden basement is following them. Infecting them. Providing a glimpse to the mental anguish coming to consume us all.

Meanwhile, a secret order is poised to complete their greatest ritual yet. The Rites of Eternal Sleep will usher in the long night. And when the Black Sun rises, the surface will never be the same.

Under the influence of dark forces, McCloud will need all the help he can get to unravel the many veils of The Order before time runs out.

Discover the true plans of the Mara today!

GUEST MOVIE REVIEW by Karissa Laurel: The Descent

Mother & Son Horror Movie Review: The Descent

I’d originally planned do a review, with my 19 y.o. son, of Train to Busan, which was one of my favorite horror movies watched in the previous year. I’m always a sucker for a good Zombie flick, and this was one of the best I’ve seen in a while. (Go watch it. Keep some tissues nearby for the ending). But I kept getting lured into watching other horror movies, so he and I never got around to watching it again for the purposes of writing a review.

I also thought I might do a review of Midnight Mass, which is definitely my favorite horror film/series of the year and probably cements Mike Flannagan as my new favorite horror director. Yes it was brutal But it was so brilliantly written and acted. It was perhaps the most sympathetic horror story I’ve ever watched. However, the kiddo hasn’t watched it yet, and although I’ve tried talking him into it, he’s been reluctant.

Ultimately I decided to ask my son what horror movie he thought I should watch, and he picked one of his most favorites: The Descent (2005), which you can watch for free right now if you have Amazon Prime. First, can I say how thrilled I was to find out one of my son’s favorite horror movies features a band of totally badass women? It passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors, and while it has tons of gore and brutal fight scenes, it features absolutely zero sexual violence. I’m so proud. wipes proud mom tear from eye. While the movie poster features a quote that says something about it being the best horror thriller since Alien, I can’t quite agree with that statement. But I will say it was worth the hour or so I spent on it.

Here’s a blurb from Amazon: A girls’ trip to explore a [unmapped and “undiscovered”] labyrinth of North Carolina caves takes a terrifying turn in this spelunking scarefest.

Horror is highly subjective. What scares one person won’t scare another. In this case, the horror relies a lot on claustrophobia. I don’t necessarily have a nagging fear of enclosed spaces, though. In fact, I’ve explored quite a few caves over the years and always marveled at the experience in a positive way. But I think it’s fair to say that particularly element went over well (or dreadfully) with my son. There’s also the fact that he was born in West Virginia (mountain territory) and spends a lot of time there with extended family. He has intimate experience with old, abandoned mines and such and gets a kick out of exploring them for the horror thrill of it. I talked to him more in depth about this movie after we watched it this past weekend, and here’s what he had to say:

Me: Why is The Descent one of your favorites, and what about it, in particular, makes it scary for you?

D: The reason I like decent is because it’s a breath of fresh air.

Me: In what way?

D: I feel as if it’s similar to horror movies of that time but mixes physical horror with psychological horror. You have cramped areas, no map, no one knows we’re you are…

Me: So, it’s like the perfect storm of bad luck, and that type of construct is also kind of believable.

D: And growing up visiting mountains a lot makes this story scary because these things come up to hunt, and yeah that was a great way to put that storm of bad luck. Like, could they hunt you?

Me: What would you say was your most favorite scene or element? Or what one thing really stood out to you in this movie, where you were like: Oh that was cool! Or, That was especially scary! (WARNING: HIS ANSWER INCLUDES A SPOILER)

D: My favorite moment was when the main character is fighting the girl creature in the pit and has to kill it with a tooth bone. It shows truly how desperate she is to live plus how badass/resourceful she is.

Me: Oh yeah. That was a great (disgusting) scene.

D: Yeah, that’s why it’s my favorite. LOL.

Me: Anything else we should say about this movie?

D: If you like two badass women kicking creature butts, watch this movie.

Me: LOL. That’s perfect, actually.

Ultimately, the movie didn’t really scare me because the claustrophobia factor, a big element, didn’t elicit as strong of feeling of dread in me as it did for my son. I also felt the “monster” factor could have used a lighter touch, particularly in building suspense in the beginning. I would’ve liked more teasing, more suspense. I think the monster element could have happened more subtly over time until one big shocking reveal and the fight to stay alive and escape thereafter.

I can’t say, however, that the idea of trapping a group of women in a cave that has no obvious escape route, and then sending a ravenous horde that has evolved to thrive in the underground gloom after them, isn’t a great recipe for a horror film. It was, and it’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon this Halloween season. Besides, as I said before, horror is subjective. This movie might be the one that perfectly tickles your horror bone.

Karissa Laurel lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie. Some of her favorite things are coffee, dark chocolate, superheroes, and Star Wars. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. In the summer, she’s camping, kayaking, and boating at the lake, and in the winter, she’s skiing or curled up with a good book. She is the author of the Urban Fantasy trilogy, The Norse Chronicles; Touch of Smoke, a stand-alone paranormal romance; and The Stormbourne Chronicles, a YA second-world fantasy trilogy.

Serendipity at the End of the World
Serendipity Blite and her sister, Bloom, use their unique talents to survive the apocalyptic aftermath of the Dead Disease. When Bloom is kidnapped, Sera is determined to get her back. Attempting a rescue mission in an undead-infested city would be suicidal, so Sera forms a specialized team to help retrieve her sister. But unfortunate accident sets Sera teetering on the edge of death. She must fight to save her own life, because surviving could mean finding family, love, and possibly a cure.

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