How I Found Horror

I’ve been doing some horror movie articles and reviews on my blog, and while I don’t do them as often as I’d like to (too many other projects to work on) I want to continue the process, and attempt to regulate it so that there’s some consistency to when I post them. That got me thinking about why I write them, how I discovered horror movies in the first place, and where and when I was exposed to some of my favorites.

Before setting a plan to post these articles I wanted to go back to the beginning, remember where it started, and how my obsession with horror grew. I wanted to know how and why I became a horror writer.

Exploring the past is difficult. Memories are faded, distorted, untrustworthy. But some clear pictures can be retrieved.

The first horror movie I ever saw was The Amityville Horror on TV when I was no older than 8 or so. There was one scene in particular that frightened me—the part when there are eyes staring in the window from outside in the darkness. I’ll always remember that first feeling of dread seeing that scene as a child. After that I saw The Exorcist. From then on, I was hooked.

Every time my parents took me to the grocery store they’d let me rent a movie (This was back when supermarkets still had video rental sections). I’d go for whatever had a cool picture or a horrible title. I had no idea which movies were good and which weren’t. I’d only seen the two, so I was dosed with random movies on a weekly basis. Some of the first movies I can remember renting were Dead Alive, The Ice Cream Man, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Psycho Cop, Night of the Comet, Night of the Living Dead, The Fly, The Fly 2, The Gate, and many more.

None of those movies frightened me. I laughed through most of Evil Dead.

The only movie that scared me other than that one scene in The Amityville Horror was Fire in the Sky. I know it’s not technically a horror movie, but nothing before or since has ever actually scared me in a horror movie. When I saw that as a kid I slept with the lights and TV on for almost two weeks. Monsters, demons, killers; none of that bothered me. But aliens scared the hell out of me.

My love of horror led me to discover a book I’m sure most are familiar with. ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ by Alvin Schwartz. The artwork on the cover was what drew me to it. I read all three of those books with great enjoyment. And I even read them to my own kid as bedtime stories (Horror runs in my family—4 generations now). That led me to reading more horror, which ultimately brought me to the realization that I wanted to write things I hoped would be terrifying.

Feel free to comment. I’d love to hear what horror movies have scared you the most!

 

Damned Words 25 – Pen of the Damned

Nine flash fiction stories – one photo. Check out what Pen of the Damned​ has to offer this month on ‘Damned Words 25’  including my own interpretation, ‘Misapprehension’

Includes stories by Brian Moreland​, Jon Olson​, John Potts​ Jr, Mark Steinwachs​, A.F. Stewart​, Christopher A Liccardi​, Joseph A. Pinto​, and Nina D’Arcangela​

www.penofthedamned.com

Follow Pen of the Damned on Twitter @penofthedamned And like us on Facebook

Pen of the Damned is a collection of dark tales told by those who freely dive into the maw of damnation and live to tell their stories. Every Tuesday a new story is posted to the site by one of its handful of eclectic writers. And once or twice a cycle, the members write their interpretation of a photo prompt as a group post. The stories are short and not so sweet, with a lingering aftertaste of terror.

If you haven’t checked out the site I dare you to take a look into the pitch black, if only to see if you can find the light again.

www.penofthedamned.com

Lament for Master – Pen of the Damned

This week on Pen of the Damned, read my latest story, Lament for Master

Follow Pen of the Damned on Twitter @penofthedamned And like us on Facebook

Pen of the Damned is a collection of dark tales told by those who freely dive into the maw of damnation and live to tell their stories. Every Tuesday a new story is posted to the site by one of its handful of eclectic writers. And once or twice a cycle, the members write their interpretation of a photo prompt as a group post. The stories are short and not so sweet, with a lingering aftertaste of terror.

If you haven’t checked out the site I dare you to take a look into the pitch black, if only to see if you can find the light again.

www.penofthedamned.com

The Fractal Man

I recently wrote a blog post about a writer’s bucket list, and talked about some things I’d like to achieve as a writer before I pass into the void.

I’ve taken one step further to reaching one of those goals, which is to write poetry.

I’m thrilled that my poem, The Fractal Man was published on Stanzaic Stylings.

I had originally written another piece to submit, but thought it was a bit dark for the content I read at Stanzaic Stylings, and decided to submit it to a more horror-dedicated publication. The Fractal Man is a bit lighter than my usual style and thought it was a better fit. I’m very pleased with the results and overjoyed that this piece is now available for all to enjoy!

It’s an exciting adventure into a new realm of writing that I’ve only just begun to explore, and I look forward to diving into it head first and seeing where it leads!

You can read The Fractal Man for free HERE!

Why Video Games are Important for Horror

As a horror writer, naturally I have an affinity for literature, as well as movies. But what I talk little about are video games, and the underappreciated value they provide the genre.

Video games have been a significant and important part of my life. Ever since I had a Pong set, then moved to the Atari 2600, and on to the NES, I played and loved every gaming console since. I grew up on them, my kid grew up on them. And we’ve been playing them together since they could pick up a controller.

To me a good game is a work of art, much like a novel or movie. A video game combines a multiple art forms into one piece. Music, story, visuals, and voice acting. What’s compelling about horror games is they put you directly in the action. You control the character, and for first-person view games, you are the character. Suddenly, running from nightmarish monsters can be quite terrifying and if you’re really into the game, it actually gets your heart pumping. You feel the excitement and adrenaline rush of trying to stay alive.

Not all games are created equal. Just because you pick up a horror themed game doesn’t mean it’s going to scare the hell out of you. Games such as the Dead Rising series are great games, lots of fun to play, and even have nods to classic zombie movies, but they aren’t frightening.

I recently played a game called Outlast. Now that’s the kind of game I’m talking about. It’s a first-person view survival game, where you play the part of a journalist sneaking into an abandoned mental asylum for a story. There are no weapons. You can’t fight. You’re armed with only a video camera, luckily equipped with night vision when you need it. But the batteries can run out. When being chased by a psychopath with a machete or a mutated creature from beyond, all you can do is run, hide, and hope they don’t find you. Trying to navigate an enormous labyrinthian mental asylum in this manner was damn hard, and really got my blood pumping.

Alien: Isolation is another that comes to mind. Also a first-person survival game, it’s based on The Ridley Scott Alien movies. If this game, you’re on a ship with a Xenomorph. You do get a few measly weapons. But nothing worthy of actually trying to fight it. They’re mostly meant for distracting the alien so you can run the other way and hope it doesn’t kill you. The game plays a lot like Outlast, but in Alien: Isolation, the Xenomorph is highly sensitive to sound. Make too much noise, you’re dead. Also unlike Outlast the alien appears randomly rather than the specifically placed foes in the mental asylum. This game is so terrifying the virtual reality version of the game was never released as the developers were afraid it could cause a heart attack.

Although Alien Isolation never made it, Virtual Reality is the next great leap in horror gaming. If playing the game on a screen in your living room has allowed some games to incite actual anxiety, I look forward to seeing what the future of horror can do with a game where you really are in the middle of the action.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, follow my blog for more about horror fiction, writing, movies, and more!

∼Lee A. Forman

10 Best B-Movies to watch this Halloween

10 Best B-Movies for Halloween

  1. The Return of the Living Dead

thereturnofthelivingdead

This 1985 spoof of George A. Romero’s 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead, takes the elements that make up a great zombie flick and puts a hilariously 80’s bad movie spin on them. Starring Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, and the infamous Linea Quigley, this film expands the story, adding its own elements to the original zombie masterpiece. A group of 80’s punks, conveniently named Trash and Suicide decide to break into the local cemetery for a night of fun. In a hardly believable mishap by the army, some of the zombies from the original outbreak in Night of the Living Dead have been sitting undisturbed in the basement of a medical supply warehouse located next to the cemetery. In a freak accident, one gets lose, and let’s just say it keeps getting better from there.

  1. Night of the Demons

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Released in 1988 and directed by Kevin Tenney, this film is another 80’s masterpiece perfect for your Halloween viewing pleasure. Linea Quigley stars in this film as well, including Amelia Kinkade, Hal Havins, and Phillip Tanzini, and many others. In this cult classic, a group of friends decide to have a party at an abandoned funeral home on Halloween night. You can only guess the fun that awaits them…

3.  976-Evil

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This 1988 cult classic directed by Robert Englund and starring Stephen Geoffreys, Patrick O’Brian, and Sandy Dennis, is sure to offer some great fun for your night of Halloween horror. In this fun film dialing a mysterious phone number results in receiving supernatural powers, for better or worse.

  1. Chopping Mall

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Chopping Mall, directed by Jim Wynorski stars legendary Kelli Maroni, Tony O’Dell, and Russel Todd, was released in 1986. It features a group of mall employees who decide to stay after hours for a party (never seems like a good idea in a horror flick but they do it anyway). But the mall just implemented a new security system that features three robots as the guards. Let’s just say things don’t go as planned, and the kill-bots do their job a little too well.

  1. Fright Night

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In this 1985 vampire flick directed by Tom Holland, a vampire named ‘Jerry’ moves in next door to a teenager named Charlie. Charlie sees what looks like some suspicious activity outside his window and when no one believes him that a vampire lives next door, he goes and pleads his case to local TV host, Peter Vincent, Vampire Hunter, played by Roddy McDowall. This movie is full of cheesy fun and filled with memorable moments! The film also stars Stephen Geoffreys (also in 976-Evil), Chris Sarandon as “Jerry”, and William Ragsdale as Charlie.

  1. Troll 2

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This classic B-movie, released in 1990 and directed by Claudio Fragasso is an absolute hit when it comes to cheesy horror. As bad as it is, the whole movie maintains a creepy vibe that resonates with you long after watching. Starring Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, and Margo Prey, it starts with a family doing a house swap for a vacation that takes them to a little town called Nilbog, which incidentally is full of Trolls. Nice place to visit, just don’t drink the Nilbog Milk! Or eat any of that weird green food for that matter…

  1. Night of the Creeps

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This amazingly produced hit contains everything you’d want from any B-movie. Monsters, zombies, serial killers, a psychologically damaged homicide detective, and plenty of boobies. Released in 1986, directed by Fred Dekker; and starring Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, and Steve Marshall, this film delivers with every topping on your horror menu.

  1. Night of the Comet

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In this 1984 classic directed by Thom Eberhardt a comet passes by Earth and wipes out most of the population. Two valley girls are left and must face the horrors that await them in a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Starring Kelli Maroni and Mary Woronov who are both in Chopping Mall, this fun film is sure to entertain in all its B-movie glory.

  1. Motel Hell

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Released in 1980 and directed by Kevin Connor, this classic stars Rory Calhoun and Nancy Parsons, playing a twisted brother and sister who run a small motel. They capture and harvest guests and well…I don’t want to give away any spoilers! Give it a watch and you’ll have some good laughs as well as experience the creepy tone the entire film takes, finishing with a brutal ending fit for the best of B-movies.

  1. Re-Animator

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This 1985 classic based on an H.P. Lovecraft tale, directed by Stuart Gordon, stars Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott, and David Gale. This awesomely gruesome flick features a mad-scientist bent on his own experiments—bringing the dead back to life. The results aren’t what he expected, and with no moral compass to speak of, things go terribly wrong…