Movie: “The Woman”

The Woman Movie Poster

Be prepared for a unsettlingly creepy and weirdly gory viewing with The Woman (Bloody Disgusting Selects), directed by Lucky McKee, based on a book by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee, also titled The Woman. If you expect to be surprised, you’ll be in a good position for watching this seemlingly straight-forward story about a family that takes in a feral woman.

The Netflix description had setup certain expectations for me which the movie destroyed coming out of the gate. The description on the envelope claimed we would watch the family breakdown as they attempted to “civilize” a feral woman, but from the first scene the family dynamics alone sent a shiver down my throat.

A sticky, icky candy-coating shines right from the scene where the family are guests at a barbeque. From his perch on the deck, the father gazes out at his miserable and uncomfortable teenage daughter and scolds his wife. Around the corner, the adolescent son practices free throws, while ignoring a group of boys tormenting a little girl. You can’t put a finger on it yet, but there’s something wrong in this house.

The action gets rolling when the father finds a wild woman living in the woods. He immediately prepares for her capture by putting the family to work on clearing an outbuilding, a project which they all undertake immediately and without question. Back in the woods, he traps the woman, knocks her out, and then takes her to the building and restrains her. He enlists his family in the project of helping “fix” her.

Ultimately, “The Woman” is a film that’s as much about power as it is about horror. The movie delivers both the gore and violence one expects from a horror film, but it packs the emotional punch of a well-rendered drama as it explores the power inequalities within the family and between the sexes. Don’t be surprised if certain dialogues make you cringe just as much as the scenes of bit-off appendages or torn-off skin. Like with any good film, expect the ideas in the movie haunt you in the days that follow.

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Nightmare #350: Bloody, bloody nose

Photo: Washington & Jefferson College, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: Washington & Jefferson College, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

(Female 40′s) I don’t know if this counts as a nightmare, but it was a bad dream. It’s got the same things happening as other bad dreams I’d had, which is kind of funny when you think about it: pain, embarrassment, lots of blood, and not being about to find the bathroom.

I was on a trip at a hotel with some friends. I’d gotten separated from them, and I was wandering around among the common areas of the hotel, like the bars, meeting rooms and reception rooms. I realized that I was breathing strangely, like my breath whistled in my nose and it hurt. I slid my fingers up the skin on the side of my nose, and I could feel it was all lumpy, like something was huge stuffed way up deep inside my nose. At my nostril, my fingers touched the end of something sticking out that felt like a green bean! What the hell? I wondered. How did I get a bean stuck up my nose?

So without thinking too much, I yanked it out. The bean came out in one piece, but it hurt like hell, and my nose began to bleed. I didn’t have a tissue, so I plugged closed with my finger, but it was bleeding hard. I walked around then, trying to find the bathroom.

I came to a bar and looked around the edges of the room, but I didn’t see any signs or arrows. There were some men drinking; I didn’t think they’d know where the women’s room was. I saw waitress and I asked her, forgetting to hold on to my nose so the blood started to pour out again. She said this bar didn’t have a women’s room and I should try another one.

I walked around again and I came to an arcade, a big one, like those arcade rooms a lot of hotels used to have, only bigger. It was full of pinball machines, skeeball, driving car games, everything. Then I saw a pay toilet! That made perfect sense. I almost laughed out loud, but then I realized I didn’t have any change. Plus someone else was just going into the room. So I left again.

I came to a conference hall. I started to walk across this huge room full of people and booths and tables, and I saw a table with a big spread of sandwiches. I was suddenly very hungry. I picked up a sandwich, and my nose began to bleed again, so I held the sandwich in one hand and my nose with the other and hurried away. I had to get some tissue soon or sit down somewhere. I still had a bloody nose and I was starting to feel faint, and then I woke up.

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A Haunted Michigan Vacation

Postcard picture of Eloise Asylum, Wayne County Michigan

Postcard picture of Eloise Asylum, Wayne County Michigan

Sometimes, when looking for excitement and adventure, one has to go no further than one’s own backyard– or one’s state. Although I am Michigan born and bred, I have been informed that “Pure Michigan” was waiting for me, but I was not fully aware that “Haunted Michigan” was also right here for me to explore.

I recently found two lists on the Awesome Mitten website that are now inspiring a host of summer travel plans. In “The Ten Most Haunted Places in Michigan” and “The Ten Most Haunted Places in Michigan: Part Two“, writers for the Awesome Mitten provide details on Michigan restaurants, homes, theatres, light houses and hospitals that all offer a little something extra in the spooky realm.

I have visited only one of the 20 haunted places mentioned. The stunning Masonic Temple of Detroit has been the site of Theatre Bizarre for the last 2 years, and the Doktor and I thoroughly enjoyed both events. The space was teeming with all manner of persons and costumes, however, so if I encountered any real ghosts, I simply chalked it up to superior costuming skills.

Where to go first is the real question. Michigan is a big state, and many of the destinations are a good day trip away. Nonetheless, we’ll be making a short list of haunted Michigan places to explore and write about. Which ones catch your fancy?

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Nightmare #349: Deadly Jailbreak

(Male, 50′s) Just a dark and sad dream. I woke up really shaken so who’s to say this wasn’t a nightmare. I was on a 5-person team, and one of the guys was someone I used to work with at an old job. He was a good guy, creative, diligent, exactly the kind of guy I’d choose to bring along on whatever task we were supposed to perform. It was night, really late at night, maybe 3:00 AM, and we were in the courtyard of a stone building, just inside a tall stone fence that surrounded a large activity yard. It felt kind of like a prison. We weren’t supposed to be there. My job was to circumvent a computer-based lock, but the trick I used was a long metal rod, a mechanical exploit that bypassed all the fancy electrics. I felt pretty proud of the idea. We five were supposed to wait outside until something happened. We’d know it when we saw it. I leaned against the fence and started scribbling notes for a poem I was writing. Yes, I know that’s crazy, but I was writing a poem in my dream. If I had started writing down the dream earlier, I bet I could have remembered what it was about too. I remember that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to read my hand-writing because it was so dark. I looked up from my little black notebook and found the other guys on my team were gone. I was worried that I’d missed the cue.

Just then dozens of men in work shirts and khakis started filing up out of this building in a big hurry. The building was one story tall so the sense I had was that these guys were coming up from rooms underground. Maybe they were prisoners. Maybe factory workers though they “felt” like tough and clever guys, equal parts Marines and engineers. They ran down this corridor then out to the street where there were a lot of cars parked. Each guy knew which car he was heading to. They were rather strange vehicles by the way, half panel truck and half station wagon, weird looking with no windows. Each car could fit maybe 10 guys. I panicked because I thought we were going to take a helicopter out of here. I hadn’t expected cars and didn’t know what to do. I grabbed one of the guys running past me and he said to come along, that they’d find room for me. But there wasn’t any room for me in any of the wagons. I knew it was just a minute or two until the sirens would ring, and I’d be caught. The wagon-cars started racing down the road and I tried to run along behind them. I kept up pretty well.

It was a residential city neighborhood and I watched the car I was going to get in drive away down a street, only to hear it shot full of holes by machine guns. I thought that was pretty crazy, shooting machine guns in a residential neighborhood but there was no chance anyone survived. I ran the other way. I started to like my odds, figuring I could escape through the residential brownstones to escape the trigger-happy officials who were hunting us down. Worse case, I could go back to the woods that were across from the stone building we’d broken into. I’d be safe so long as they didn’t send out dogs. And just then I ran into two motion-sensor machine guns that had been positioned at an intersection. Who the hell puts motion-sensor controlled machine guns at a residential intersection? They pinned me down with crossfire and I couldn’t move, though I didn’t have the sense that I was hit. I hid behind a leafless bush, just some bare branches, trying hard not to move but totally exposed if the murderous officials came looking. It started to dawn on me that no one lived in this neighborhood, that maybe no one lived anywhere anymore. Those may have been the last humans living anywhere, those guys living underground. I hoped at least some of them escaped. Whatever set up those mechanized machine guns to strafe an intersection wasn’t interested in keeping a neighborhood safe. They would only be satisfied by killing every single one of us.

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News Flash: Winter is OVER: Violin Monster is RETURNING to Ann Arbor

This just in to the DailyNightmare News Network:

Beloved lycanthropic fiddler known as Violin Monster is reportedly in mid-migration BACK to the streets of Ann Arbor, just in time for the Festifools Parade this weekend. Locals are heartened by this well-known harbinger of spring. A great opportunity to get bitten by a love of fun street performance that requires no full moon to enjoy.

Photo of the Violin Monster, from the Violin Monster's website

Photo of the Violin Monster, from the Violin Monster’s website

– Get updates! Follow the Violin Monster on Facebook and Twitter

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Movie: “Blood and Donuts”

bloodanddonuts_poster

by Samantha Reeve, from the Great White North

Think of vampires portrayed in films, and you’ll likely picture the suave, sexy kind that seduce their victims. It’s hard not to – Hollywood has been churning out these handsome bloodsuckers since Bela Lugosi‘s charming Dracula hit the screens in 1931. Though less common, the reluctant vampire is one we’ve even seen before. But one who’s also shy and socially awkward? This is what makes Boya’s character in the 1995 Canadian horror-comedy Blood & Donuts the rarest breed of all.

Having crawled into a bag for hibernation back in ’69, Boya is awakened when a golfer’s stray ball knocks down the shack it was stored in. He jumps into a nearby taxi and asks to be taken to a local cemetery, where he digs up his belongings, and then wanders off the find a room to rent. Meanwhile the taxi driver, Earl, is back at his favourite donut shop, but has been getting harassed by some local thugs. Boya ends up at the donut shop by chance and is able to intervene, saving Earl from a beating with his vampiric strength and agility. He quickly befriends and falls for Molly, the beautiful waitress, and thus begins his involvement in both humans’ troubles.

Devoid of the major laughs or scares you’d find in most horror-comedies, Blood and Donuts is a subtler (but still an enjoyable and unique) take on the genre. It’s lighthearted and filled with characters you can root for – one’s you love even though most of the actors gave pretty poor performances. The few scenes where Boya gets mad and transforms into a terrifying vampire are great, and the campy quality of the rest of the film keeps the ball rolling. Horror fans will also enjoy the cameo appearance of the legendary David Cronenberg, who plays the crime boss.

Though frequently forgotten on many “best Canadian horror” lists, in my books Blood and Donuts is a must-see for those with a penchant for either Canadian horror or 90′s cult comedies.

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Nightmare #348: When the Worms Come Out

(Female, 30′s) I had this dream when I was about 5 years old; it’s a vivid dream that I still remember clearly.

I was in the kitchen (in what was, in the dream, “my” house). Tiny red worms started crawling in, covering the walls and floors and ceiling. The room was yellow so they stood out starkly.

I knew they were poisonous, and so I climbed up on the table. They started crawling up the table legs.

I yelled out for my mother and woke myself up.

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The Necronomicon for Kids?

A friend of ours bought this journal for her child.

Journal

Her child thought the journal was scary. Now it’s ours.

Necro

Look familiar?

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Movies: “Good Neighbours”

GoodNeighborsMoviePoster

by Samantha Reeve, from the Great White North

Good Neighbors (2010) is not often labelled as a horror film. You’ll usually find it listed under drama and thriller, but it has pretty much everything you’d want in a good horror flick: murder, suspense, and creepy characters. What it lacks, and I salute its creators for this, is a lot of the blood and gore that currently dominates the horror genre.

Set in 1995 Montreal, our tale focuses on three people that inhabit an apartment building. Victor, the new arrival, is a teacher who has returned from a stay in China. He befriends Louise, a waitress, and Spencer, a man left crippled and wheelchair-bound after an accident. A serial killer has been preying on the young women of the area, but the trio soon discovers that none of them are who they seem and one of them may be tied to the deaths.

Now without giving too much away, I’m going to say that the strongest, most unsettling thing in Good Neighbours is the characters. From the get-go they seem like mostly agreeable people, but their flaws and potentials as suspects are slowly revealed: Victor is the seemingly friendly guy who creates a fantasy relationship between himself and Louise, and goes so far as to tell others they’re engaged. Louise, with her affection for her cats, first comes off as a kind animal-lover – but one who only cares for animals. Last we have Spencer, the handsome man who was dealt a cruel hand, but who harbours some very dark secrets. With no one to root for, it’s a strange but satisfying story to watch.

One of my only gripes with this film is the choice to set it in 1995. While there was some added tension with the backdrop being the 1995 referendum (in which Quebecers voted to not separate from Canada), the costumers and production designers did little (if nothing) to make this look like the 90′s. Nit-picking, I know, but it felt kind of lazy that there were three lines of dialogue that were meant to completely transport us back in time.

Griping aside, I recommend this film to anyone with a penchant for smarter, less action and murder-packed horror. Be warned, though, that watching the trailers will actually kill much of the mystery – so if you’ve yet to see it, steer clear and take my word for it. You’ll be in for a better ride.

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Nightmare #347: Assassination Attempt

(Female, 50s) This nightmare had a very realistic feeling, which made it even more confusing. I mean, assassination? Really?

My husband recently passed away, but in the dream he was still alive. The weird thing was we were in bed sleeping in the dream, and then we heard noises on the stairs coming up to the bedroom. We both woke up and I whispered, “Do you hear that?” He said it was probably our adult son, who lives at home, although it would be strange for him to come up to our room in the middle of the night.

Then someone jumped into the room. It was a guy who I knew back when he was a little kid, but he was grown up now. He was dressed in camouflage and carrying a gun. He laughed a crazy laugh and said, “I’m a hit man, and I’m here to kill you both! The best part of my job is telling people who hired me to kill them! Guess who hired me?” My husband and I were stunned. The assassin said, “It was your son!” and he laughed again.

“I don’t like to watch people I know dying,” he said, “so I’m going to put my hat on before I do it.” The guy pulled out a ski mask, which was more like a hood and pulled it down over his face. Now he really couldn’t see us as all, but he took aim with his gun.

My husband leaped out of bed and knocked the guy down, knocking him down the stairs, and they landed at the bottom with a big crunching noise, with my husband on top of the guy. My husband stood up and said, “Give me the pottery!” — which is strange because we don’t have any pottery in our bedroom. However, I turned to a shelf full of ceramic urns and vases, and I started to hand them one by one to my husband, who smashed them over the unconscious assassin lying at the bottom of the stairs.

I woke up feeling very odd. It was strange to dream about loved ones who were both protecting me and putting me in danger. I wanted to tell my son about the dream, but I thought about leaving out the part about who hired the assassin. Dreams are weird, aren’t they?

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Nightmare #346: Scary Garden, Scary Basement

graverobbed
(Female, 60) In this nightmare, I was at the home of an acquaintance. Susan is a bit bossy and demanding in real life and can even be a little bit scary because she’s so self-assured, but nothing as extreme as dream-Susan! I’ve really been to her house, which is a large modern house on the outskirts of town, and again, it was nothing like where I was in the dream.

The dream started in the garden. I actually met Susan through a community gardening project, but in this dream, that garden was in her huge backyard, surrounded by a high brick wall. A group of people from the gardening project were meeting there to work in the garden, but unbeknownst to us, Susan had hired a group of professionals to come in and tend the garden first.

The people she’d hired were supposed to remove the weeds, but instead they’d completely destroyed the garden. They had dug up all the plants and moved them into design of four plants in a row: four roses, four carrots, four horseradish, four corn stalks, etc. The landscapers had done this to the whole garden! They’d thrown out all of the other plants. Talk about a nightmare, from a gardener’s point of view!

Then things got weirder. My husband showed up, and he and I went into her house, which was a huge rambling Victorian building in really excellent condition. We walked through the house and discovered that Susan had a crew of orphans working for her. There were dozens of children in Victorian factory-like conditions doing laundry, working looms, and manufacturing parts in a spotless tool and dye shop. It was ridiculous.

My husband discovered a storage space that had a window which opened on a room with a conveyer belt. Items were stored on the belt, and when the controls were operated, the items moved passed the window where you could grab them. I think he was just playing with the controls, figuring out how they worked, when we spied something odd– was that a severed head that just went by?

What kind of person was Susan anyway? The kind who destroyed a garden and kept enslaved orphans working in her basement, who had a severed head in her storage closet? We were obviously in danger.

Now he had to work the controls faster to get the long long conveyer belt to circle around and come back. He had to do it quickly before we were discovered. And then we heard Susan’s footsteps upon the stair.

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Indie Horror Movie “FOUND” Finds Distribution

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Fangoria Magazine announced that Scott Schirmer’s award winning feature “Found” will receive distribution by The October People and that makes me smile a broad, toothy grin. Elsa and I watched “Found” at the IndieHorror.TV First Anniversary Party, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Found presents the best qualities of independent horror, including a smart, self-aware storyline that examines real-life anxieties while ratcheting up the stakes with some well-motivated gore. Why aren’t there more horror movies that critically examine the effects of horror movies as insightfully as Found? Fans of the genre will appreciate the nod to VHS video nasties of yesteryear while civilians will appreciate a coming-of-age tale depicted at that tender moment when an overly curious boy learns the horror and the power of brutality in everyday life. I could quibble about, maybe, some over-exposed backgrounds in the print I saw but there was evidence of well-considered shot composition and cinematography throughout, qualities all too often over-looked in low budget cinema. Found isn’t dumbed-down to a test-market perfect blandness which means there are some sharp edges that will chaff some viewers. For instance, the film seems to thematize race in a way I didn’t quite understand — maybe it’ll be clear on a second viewing — but I appreciated seeing a couple non-white faces…even if their heads eventually appeared in the bowling ball bag. It’s a gutsy, nearly reckless choice to cast youngsters in important roles (Proof text: Anakin Skywalker) but the lead actors of Found pull off the challenge of making sometimes extreme interactions feel normal. I could totally believe these two young men were brothers.

The digital revolution has allowed nearly every bozo with a cellphone to make their own horror movie– including me. If you’ve seen a schlocky home-made slasher and think that represents independent horror, please track down a copy of “Found.” This new distribution deal with The October People makes that search just a bit easier.

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“The River Through the Trees” by David Peak

The-River-Through-the-Trees-by-David-Peak

Cold?

Good.

Snowing?

Even better.

Settle in for a creepy, literate ride through rural Michigan with “The River Through the Trees,” a novella by David Peak (Blood Bound Books, 2013) I’m a sucker for tales set in my home state and this one gets the little details right, like the chapter headings that set a time of day and the amount of snow that is falling. There are times of the year around here when that’s all that matters. The book also nails the acrid desperation of folks stuck in towns where nothing is going on, folks who lack the means or motivation to leave. In small towns, everyone knows everyone else’s business while simultaneously being blind to other, darker endeavors and mysteries. Peak’s book gets that sense right too. Ardor, Mi surely feels like a real place, but one made a bit truer than real, like Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, or more to the point, Lovecraft’s Arkham–other reviewers brood on the similarity to HP’s place-bound cosmic horror. Personally, I could stand to see a mythos spawned from “The River Through the Trees.” Certainly there’s a vibrant cast of weirdness set out… and I can’t say much more than that for risking spoilers. It’s a quick read, maybe 50,000 words perfect for a winter’s night when you unplug the cable, switch off your celphone and remember what rural Michigan felt like in 1993.

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Katabasis Kickstarter Project: Dark and Funded

KATABASIS Tarot by menton3

KATABASIS Tarot by menton3

Katabasis is a hard cover art book based on a solo art show by Menton J. Matthews III at the Last Rites Gallery in New York in April, 2014.

And it’s also a successfully funded Kickstarter project.

We’re pleased to see a well-planned, well-structured Kickstarter project find supporters and satisfaction. What did we appreciate about this Kickstarter?

* A neat project
From the video clips and the art works posted, we can tell this is going to be a great-looking, nicely produced book.

* Groovy rewards
This Kickstarter offers a range of support prizes, from the book being produced by the project, to striking T-shirts, to oil painted commissions and pre-bought pieces from the gallery show.

* Clear plan
As proponents of the enticing new micro-funding venture that is Kickstarter, we get excited about people whose projects are both smart and well-organized. Menton3 and associates clearly have the skills and knowledge to bring this project to reality. We need artists and makers putting out their products and showing the way for others to do the same.

Let’s hope we see more works in the Dark Art making their way into the public eye.

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“Mortal Coil” – 3D Printed Slinky Skull


It’s a toy! It’s high-tech! It’s prompts meditation on the fleeting nature of mortal existence! It’s “Mortal Coil,” a nifty 3D printed skull designed by Ryan Kittleson and available on Shapeways.

So much to love here. “Mortal Coil” is cleverly named and well-designed. It takes advantage of the unique properties of 3D printing to create an object that is both nifty (a technical novelty) as well as cool (a hip cultural expression.) It’s available in white and black, but seriously, black would be over-kill, right? And dig that video, too. It clearly demonstrates the virtues within a compact time frame. I watched it three times!

http://www.shapeways.com/model/1681652/mortal-coil.html

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Skulls Under Foot – Art Installation “What Will You Leave Behind?”

As a fan of bones, skulls and site specific art installations, I dig this Bangkok art show that covered the entire floor of the gallery with tiny skulls. Artist Nino Sarabutra asks if we left this world tomorrow, what would we leave behind for our loved ones, an oddly appropriate question for a time of the year bracketed by the dead of winter when suicide rates are high and Valentine’s Day. The dead out number us and their silent eyes observe our actions even as their work and lives support us.

It reminds me somewhat as the inverse of a ceramics show a few years back that covered the floor with unfired bisqueware. Even to enter the gallery meant crushing piece after piece.

http://www.ninosarabutra.com/exhibition_WhatWillYouLeaveBehind_photo.html

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Borderlands Press Writers’ Boot Camp – Eye Witness Report

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Special Guest Blogger, Sean M. Davis just got back from the Borderlands Press Writer’s Boot Camp and the Doktor is green with envy. Borderlands Press has published several Stoker Award winning books and runs an intensive retreat for writers every year. Sean is a fellow member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and the author of the novel Clean Freak published by Black Bed Sheet Books.

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This past weekend, I attended the Borderlands Press Writers’ Bootcamp. If you’re considering attending the Bootcamp or other retreat or seminar or six week course, I have two words for you:

Do it.

If you think that you don’t need to because you’re already a good writer, you’re wrong. You can always get better.

Here’s a basic rundown of the weekend. Friday night, we met with the instructors, Tom Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, and Doug Winter. They talked about the rules of writing for a few hours, then we did an exercise as a group. Then, the instructors gave us an assignment due on Sunday. On Saturday, each grunt met with each instructor and three other grunts on a rotating basis and critiqued each other’s work based on specific criteria for each session. Saturday night, we had a guest speaker, Richard Chizmar, who talked about how he started Cemetery Dance, what writing and publishing means to him, then answered our questions. Then we had a chance to ask the three instructors questions about the art, rules, or business of writing. Sunday morning, we turned in our assignments, which another guest read aloud, not naming the author so we could critique the stories anonymously. Then, there was another Q&A. Then, we all checked out of the hotel and hung out in the lobby until our taxis arrived.

A little later, I am going to tell you the most important lesson that I took away from this weekend. But first, a concrete example of how this 41-hour experience has made me a better writer already.

-|-

We all know the signs of bad writing. Among them is using the passive voice, constructing sentences backwards. For example:

Tom was shot by Paul.

“Tom” is the object of the verb “shot” and “Paul” is the subject. Sentences like these should be converted to active voice. For example:

Paul shot Tom.

It’s the same sentence, but simpler and stronger.

Yes, we know that’s passive voice. We all took sixth grade English. Well, let me give you a more complicated example from the piece that I took to the Bootcamp.

It was the smell of Siani-Grace Hospital that Jack Kensey hated the most.

Can you see it? Because I sure as hell didn’t. Well, here’s the active way of writing that sentence:

Jack Kensey hated the smell of Siani-Grace Hospital the most.

“Was” does nothing for a story other than take up space. The same goes for all conjugations and tenses of “to be” and all other linking verbs. Notice the other verb in that sentence? Know why it’s there? Because “was” isn’t enough substance to justify a sentence. It’s a verb of being. That’s an adjective. That’s passive voice. For example:

The teens were scared.

That’s not enough. Roll it into another sentence in which the teens do something. For example:

The scared teens ran away from the monster.

Then, you look at that sentence during the self-editing phase and decide that it’s pretty self-explanatory that the teens are scared. They’re running away from a monster. That renders “scared” superfluous. Cut it.

The teens ran away from the monster.

Not only have you eliminated the sentence in passive voice, you also showed a stronger image that involved your reader, forcing them to infer the teens’ emotional state by their action, thus eliminating the extraneous adjective and the entire reason that the passive sentence existed in the first place.

With this in mind, on a break from working on my assignment Saturday night, I decided to search my current WIP for “was.” Keep in mind, I only searched for that word, not any of the other conjugations or tenses. Out of a 1750 word story, I used “was” 21 times. You’re probably thinking that 21 times in a 1750 word, six page WIP isn’t bad.

But it is and I can prove it mathematically.

That’s 1.2%. The length doesn’t matter, because the law of averages dictates that when the story reaches the 3000 word mark, which is where I think I’ll land with this particular WIP, the percentage will likely stay the same. That means 1.2% of my story conveys no meaning, accomplishes nothing and exists only as an enemy to clarity.

That is unacceptable.

I won’t be able to cut them all. Several of them are in dialogue, which gets a pass on a lot of broken rules in the interest of verisimilitude. Others are in dependent clauses which can be either replaced by active verbs or cut completely, moving the predicate of “was” somewhere else.

Even if I still can’t get rid of all of them, here’s the rule which I live by:

Break the rule once, it’s art. Break it more than that, it’s ignorance.

-|-

Everybody wants the quick fix. This seems especially true for writing. People want to know how to write, how to find that elusive chimera, their voice, and they want to know now.

Well, I know the secret now. I suppose you want me to tell you.

First, write something.

Then, make the passive sentences active. Cut those that can’t be.

Cut the adverbs.

Cut the words that do nothing. For a list, go here.

Cut clichés.

In short, cut everything that’s bad writing.

What’s left is your voice.

Practice writing in your voice.

That’s the “lather, rinse, repeat” of writing. “Write, edit, write.”

—- Sean M. Davis blogs at http://seanmdavis.wordpress.com/

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“Til Death Do Us Part” — Severed Heads Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake

Oh, to be young and in love, and just starting out in life! There’s the excitement of planning the wedding and coming up with the perfect everything to convey just what you mean to each other. Each aspect of a wedding can be a symbol and an expression of your relationship.

And nothing says “Til Death Do Us Part” like severed bride and groom heads wedding cakes.

The owner of Sideserf Cake Studio in Austin, Texas created these likenesses of herself and her partner for their wedding reception.

Memorable and delicious, I’m sure.

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Vehicles as Bone Sculptures

My affection for skeletons, those tiny sculptures we wear inside, is well-known so how could I help but dig these sculptures by Jitish Kallat? Kallat re-envisions the structures that lurk beneath the surfaces of familiar vehicles, positing organic bones. The results both make the objects more personable as well as a bit more creepy. It would be one thing to hop on top of Ignitaurus, 2008 which resembles a motorcycle as bull. Bull-riding is a thing, right? one that requires a bit of courage. But Aquasaurus, 2008, a bony water truck, especially the leering grin of its toothy grille, might make me think twice before climbing aboard. Oddly enough, the belly of this transport, the roomy capacity of its rib canopy feels rather peaceful.

http://www.designboom.com/art/jitish-kallat-sculpts-bone-vehicles-like-prehistoric-skeletons-01-20-2014/

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Dailynightmare’s Best of 2013

2013 was a horrifically exciting year for the denizens of the Dailynightmare.com. We undertook new projects, traveled to new places, and made new connections.

Here’s a look back at the highlights of 2013:

IF
Face casting date and followup
We ventured to Studio FX 101 to be guided through a day-long, multistep art project that resulted in duplicate faces and the means to produce more. We bathed in the attention of the shop owners and in algenate. It was a truly unforgettable date. Within a week, we were face casting on our own from the comfort of our home. We got additional use from our project in time for Halloween.

Scarfolk
We discovered the strange and oddly attractive village of Scarfolk, a small town in England which is stuck in time. Through alarming 1970’s style public service announcements, Scarfolk keeps its citizens informed about all manner of topics and dangers, from pagan pediatrics to child discipline to “falling disorder.”

monteleone

New Orleans for the The World Horror Convention
A fantastic place for a great event. The Doktor was able to cross off at least two major goals from his life list (visting NOLA and hearing Caitlyn Keirnan speak). Alas, a lack of paranormal experiences and hauntings did not allow him to reach a third.

Ballroom

Theatre Bizarre: The Processional
We had attended our first Theatre Bizarre in 2012, so we had an entire year for the anticipation and excitement of 2013’s event to build. We checked the website frequently and plotted to seduce some good friends into coming along; they turned out to be easy wins after our gushing reports from our first time. Standing in line for tickets on the first weekend was a riot, and the event did not disappoint. It’s perhaps even a lifetime highlight, if the glowy faces and devilish smiles that cross our faces at the slightest reminiscence are any indication.

Impy2

Introducing the Impy at the Three Corpse Circus
This was another project that took months of planning but the results were oh-so-satisfying. We commissioned an award statue from sculptor Jeremy Haney, who was great to work with. The final product exceeded expectations. The film we selected as the winning entry for Cinematic Excellence in Midwest Horror, “Other” by Daniel Delpurgatorio is nothing short of fantastic.

from Amazon.com and .pdf download

from Amazon.com and .pdf download

The Anthology: 13 Quick Shivers from the Dailynightmare.com
Making a dream into a reality is certainly a thrill, and guiding our first Anthology from idea to plan to paperback book was an extremely satisfying project. We enjoyed collaborating with other horror writers, both old contacts and new. We honed our skills organizationally and technically, and we are gearing up for another round in 2014.

2013 was a year full of adventure and discovery as well as snob horror. We can’t wait to see what awaits us in 2014.

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