(Male, middle-aged) I kept dreaming this dream all night though I woke up a half dozen times. The sense of outrage, of powerlessness still stick with me.
My sister in law came to stay with us for a little while because she was being stalked by one of her customers. The police knew everything about this guy including where he lived, what he did. My sister in law even was shown pictures of him. The stalker had been placed under house arrest and was given one of those electronic tethers, but he had escaped from them before. Furthermore, the stalker had even killed a couple other people — his previous stalking targets — but for the most part everyone was treating him like he was relatively harmless. Not entirely harmless — my sister in law was encouraged to leave town until he lost interest in her — but the stalker also had some kind of special skill or profession that made people overlook his “faults.” He was a surgeon or something, though I shudder to think of him operating on someone I love.
I felt pretty sure that I could protect her, even though I’m not strong or skilled with a weapon. I resolved that as soon as I saw the stalker, I would just have to kill him before he could take advantage of the situation. Somehow, just having that attitude was going to keep everyone safe. I figured I could kill him in a fight and no one would care.
One afternoon, my wife and her sister actually were gone shopping and I was at home with several people — our plan was to have lots of people awake and paying attention at all times so we wouldn’t be caught off guard. A couple of young children knocked on the door I went to the door but I knew it was him. I went out on the porch and closed the door behind me. I recognized him from his photos. He was very tall and very muscular and had short blond hair. When he turned to face me, he flicked a lit cigarette at my face.
“You’re a little jumpy,” He said.
“You’re not supposed to be here.”
“So she’s here”
“You’re not supposed to be out of your house. Your cage.”
I yelled in the screen window for the others to call 911. We started to fight, to grapple, to wrestle. He was much stronger than me, much taller than me. I kept calling for 911. I don’t know if anyone did. My plan now was to keep him busy until the police arrived. He wrapped one arm around me, pinning my arms to my sides. With the thumb of his other hand, he started pushing on my teeth like he was trying to crack them off into my throat.
I awoke face down in my pillow.
I had been working outside side in sort of a garden. The plants seemed to have square leaves. The soil was very dry and dusty. There was this weird spider that I had been coming across all day, that had eight legs but otherwise looked more like a lizard. The lizard-spider was probably the size of my hand. It had orange skin with a large cream colored spot on its back. It moved around under the leaves. I had brought a strangely shaped glass bottle filled with something to drink as well as a glass cup that looked like it was from a punchbowl set. I poured myself a glass of whatever kind of liquid was in this bottle. But as I brought it up to my lips, I realized too late that the lizard-spider was in the glass. I swallowed part of the spider yet part of it still dangled outside of my mouth. I could feel its legs on my face and I was scared it was a poisonous spider that would bite me inside my own mouth.
A dusty basement room.
tables, chairs on their side.
alone, you climb confused stairs
a song humming but not by you.
a sudden unseen touch.
(Male, middle aged) You know that song “Stuck in a Moment” by U2? I feel like they’re singing that right to me. I have what you could call a fear of regret. It’s almost paralyzing. Looking back on my life I have kept myself from trying so many things entirely because I’m afraid — terrified, actually — that I’ll regret it later. I’ve taken the bland, safe alternative at almost every opportunity, though it’s even hard to say that I’ve been active in choosing those alternatives. It’s more like I’ll stay in the status quo long enough until the opportunity closes. What’s weird is that I’ll often have very strong, very passionate ideas like for business endeavors but I’ll either smother them before I can act or if I can manage to act on them, I’ll let the projects wither before they can really disrupt my “normal” life. What’s up with that?
This guy, Dave Devries, takes the artwork of children and then paints realistic versions of the monsters they’ve envisioned. He’s published a book of the monsters and interviews with the children called Monster Engine: an experiment with children’s art. On the site is also a short movie where he demonstrates the process and describes some of his ambitions.
(Female, middle aged) This wasn’t a dream as much as a really powerful image. I mean, of course it was a dream; I just don’t remember a lot of other details from it. But it lasted a while, in dream time.
The frightening image was a slit of light along the horizon. The light was very far away, but it was coming closer all the time. It reminded me a little of that– what is it?– that flaming eye in Lord of the Rings that represents the rising evil presence, that all-knowing, all-seeing eye. This light was like that, coming closer slowly.
As it approached, I could see that there was something in it, something blurry, a dark line of some sort. As the light came nearer, I could see that the dark blur was actually text, like when you are having your eyes examined and the doctor shows you blocks of light with letters in them and wants you to read them aloud. In the light was writing. Except that this was longer, not just single letters, but probably words. There was something written there, a long sentence maybe from the amount of letters.
I squinted my eyes, trying to decipher the text, trying to make sense of it as the scary light came closer. Figuring it out was my only hope, but the text was too blurry. I couldn’t read it and the light was going to get me soon.
I’m not sure if the scariest part was the approaching light itself– I mean, after all, what was the light going to do to me? More frightening, I think, was the not-being-able-to-read part of the dream. I don’t know if my eyes were failing or what. Just that something important wasn’t working right.
(Male) This was a dream that had a whole world attached to it, all these things I just knew about this world which makes it rather hard to tell as a straight story.
The whole dream was set in the future, a time when it rained all the time and people seemed to live inside all the time under this really flat, gray light. The world was like a honeycomb of hallways, very institutional-feeling. Everybody wore these very drab gray jumpsuits that seemed to be very fragile, easily torn but then again very easily replaced. What’s coming to mind is that they must have been made out of recycled paper fibres but no one in the dream actually said that.
We were at war with this other society but what was strange was that both societies lived in the same hallways. The only way the different armies could be discerned was by their weapons. Get this: the weapons looked like water balloons but they had a tough enough skin that they could be stacked. There was one hallway that was stacked floor to ceiling with these water balloons. But the other army had their own water balloons, the only difference is that one army had balloons that were red while the other army had balloons that were blue. The weapons had the only bright colors in the whole place.
Since both societies basically looked like each other, we were suspicious of basically everyone all the time. The only way to really tell what side someone was on is if they were carrying a weapon. Through a passing conversation with a friend I knew and trusted, I learned that I had had some surgery as part of a very old military program, something that implanted a weapon inside me. I didn’t like the sound of that, though I thought it would be good to know once and for all which side I was on, which society I really belonged to. He mentioned an “address” which of course was a room number because no one went outside anymore.
I tried to get to the address. I didn’t know what to expect. Would the doctors remove the weapon? Would they program me to explode like a water balloon? Would I find the room empty and abandoned? While I was getting there, I must have made certain army officials suspicious of me. I had to run away from them, down the unfamiliar, indistinct corridors, turning here and there. Finally I got to the room and explained my situation to the doctors. They beat me up and kicked me when I collapsed on the floor. I tried to ask if they weren’t afraid that the weapon would detonate but all they said was “Ungrateful.”
Finally they dragged me over to an operating table. “We’ll take out the weapon. Then we’ll ship you off-world to a mining colony. How do you like that?”
The next thing I knew I was outside, running through the rain. It sizzled, stung a little, as it hit my skin. It was very dark. I ducked into an alley. There was another man there with a long black beard and a woman with snarled blond hair. They had had money once but had wasted it all and so now, they were escaping.
(Male) This isn’t so much a dream because I can’t remember the whole dream but just one image:
Everything was deep blue and grey, like a foggy day on the ocean. There were long swirls of kelp that were a dark blue-green. And swimming among the waves and the kelp was a mermaid, a half fish – half woman with long flowing black hair that glistened from the water. She pulled herself out of the water to rest for a moment. The Mermaid didn’t seem to know I was there or perhaps she didn’t care. I was so close I could reach out and touch her shoulder but I didn’t want to startle her so I called out to her gently. She turned her head and I could see that she had no face. Literally, everything between her chin and her forehead was gone, even the bone was missing. It looked like a shark or something had taken a bite out of the front of her head. The front of her teeth were missing, revealing a gaping throat; there were empty socket that might have been where her eyes were or perhaps they were the sinus cavities behind her eyes. The Mermaid wasn’t bleeding or in any obvious pain but I couldn’t imagine how she could still be alive after such trauma.
(Male) The dream took place in a cottage that friends of mine used to have when we were kids. But instead of being on a lake, the cottage was just in a normal, old neighborhood. One night, zombies attacked. Nothing too unique or special about the zombies, just old-fashioned, slow-moving, brain-eating zombies. They were more or less easy to keep out despite the long rows of windows at the front. We had retreated upstairs.
But we survived til dawn. For some reason these zombies couldn’t be out in daylight, which made things rather convenient for us. I went downstairs and found a friend of mine on the couch. I thought he was a zombie but he was just hung over. I went outside and talked with my neighbors who were all very angry. I learned that many people had tried to escape the city so there was a huge traffic jam and then when nightfall came, the zombies just ate people in their cars, one by one, like a buffet table.
Though our neighborhood had been attacked it didn’t look like anyone had been hurt. We knew we wouldn’t be so lucky tonight.
When night fell, the folks in our house retreated to the second story of the cottage, plugged in our gas generator — which we knew wouldn’t last forever — and then used the electricity to power our guitar amps. We played this really weird psychedelic music all night long. We had destroyed the staircase so we were sort of luring all the zombies to our first floor for some reason, like a big roach motel. We could hear them moving downstairs, moaning like they were singing along with the music.
When I woke up from this dream it was still dark and I was even scared to move.
(Male) This was an epic scale dream, one that felt like it went on for hours and hours and covered a huge amount of narrative. The dream took place on this cloud that was more or less solid. People had landed on this cloud and dug out huge passages and tunnels inside it. All the walls were translucent so sunlight made them all glowing white.
The cloud was some kind of secret military installation and I wasn’t supposed to be there. But I was there with my best friend and with an old friend I haven’t seen in probably 10 years.
It was scary because we had to avoid the military who were shooting at us. And also because the whole cloud was dissolving. The builders had carved too much into the cloud and so it had started to turn back into merely water vapor. Aircraft and vehicles were starting to sink through the floor and presumably then fall to earth. We were running around, trying not to be killed while trying to find some way off the cloud.
By the end of the dream we still hadn’t escaped. As we ran, our feet sank into the floor like it was melting underneath us. It became harder and harder to run.
I’ve been contemplating my own list of high brow, low budget horror films recently and I stumbled upon this list by “the pop culture addict” which I think is really quite good. He and I might have a friendly disagreement about some titles, like the Chaney Wolfman and I’d have a few more title to add I think, like… well, I’ll just save those for MY list.
(Male, 30′s) I remember one nightmare I had as a kid. It was a fever dream and fever dreams are especially vivid and realistic so it almost feels like a memory. I had noticed a large paw print in the dust on top of my dresser — though this was of course impossible because I would have been so short at the time that I couldn’t even SEE the top of my dresser. Then I had the feeling I was being watched. I looked over at the window of my bedroom and there was this huge hairy creature looking in at me. I wouldn’t have known the word for it then but clearly it was Bigfoot! I didn’t want him to get me. So I ran out of my bedroom and into the hallway. There was window at the end of the hall that usually had a curtain in front of it but in the dream there was no curtain. This allowed Bigfoot to look right in at me again. Then I ran into my sister’s room. She was disturbed by my running around but she was disturbed even more by Bigfoot staring in her window too. Finally both of us ran and hid in the closet which was the only place it seemed like we’d be save. To this day, I think we did hide in the closet!
(Male, mid 20′s) The wife of one of my wife’s friends shows up at our door. She says she has just left her husband and that she needs a place to hide. She’s afraid her husband might be violent. We let her in.
..She’s afraid her husband might be violent…
Before long her husband appears and he is angry. He tries to attack his wife but she runs away from him. Then he is angry at my wife and I for letting his wife hide in our house. He takes a poker from the fireplace and chases us around in a homicidal frenzy. Then he threatens my infant daughter — and without a thought I rip the weapon away from him and beat him over and over with it. Before I know it, this longtime friend of ours, someone who would eat dinner at our table, lies dead at my feet, bloody, broken, crushed by my hand. It was terrifying how easy it was.
(Male) This part really happened: A teacher I had maybe ten years ago had a daughter a couple years younger than me. I don’t remember ever having a conversation with her. The difference between our ages always seemed so big at the time. Last month, his daughter died after a lengthy illness.
But after she’d died, I had a dream where she and I were both in this dark room. Just outside the door in a lighted space there were people who we both knew. We stood very close to each other for quite awhile, wordlessly standing, not exactly waiting, just sort of “being.” Finally I spoke, “I never really knew you.” Then she said entirely without inflection “Now I’m dead.” I nodded but since we were in the dark, she wouldn’t have been able to see. I didn’t know if her words supposed to mean that I was dead too, or that since she was dead that therefore we’d be able to get to know each other or whether, perhaps, her words really weren’t replying to me at all. I could hear a commotion coming from the people in the lighted space but none of their words were distinct enough to make out. We stood there, in the dark, face to face, until I woke up.
His daughter who
This Phantom of the Opera was the first monster model I completed as an adult. It’s a styrene plastic kit which means that it’s a bit of a challenge to assemble without encountering some unwanted gaps or jutting seams. I have some dental-sized rasps to even out the pieces that stick out. I used Squadron’s “Green Putty” gap filler for the gaps and a little extra fine sand paper to make everything smooth. I primered the kit with grey sandable primer, and boy howdy, shooting on a coat of primer REALLY reveals any surface flaws so I sanded more after that first coat.
Painting this kit was a blast since I finally had the patience of an adult, not to mention the ability to get the right materials. Acrylic paints are SO much easier to work with than the goopy enamels I used as a kid. Not to mention that hard, glossy sheen of the enamels is better suited to a hotrod than to a monster model. And another aspect of adult-level patience is that I looked at the model carefully before I assembled it and determined which parts should best be painted BEFORE they were assembled (the prisoner, the underside of the Phantom’s cloak…) I tried different techniques to make different areas of the kit feel like different materials, like dry brushing for highlights and washes for contrast. I sprayed a couple coats of flat lacquer on the model once the color was pretty much how I wanted it but then I brushed on a bit of high gloss lacquer to certain areas near the jail cell to make the stone look wet.
I only had memories of assembling a model as a kid, mostly of botching up something here or there, so I was really pleased if not amazed to watch this kit almost assemble itself.
Happy was the day I stumbled upon the dark surrealist digital imagery of Erlend Mork. Mork’s work places suggestive and stylized elements next to passages of utmost clarity, all layered and at times effaced with washes. I am not saying anything new to note that these key elements of artistic surrealism echo the internal logic of dreams. Mork’s darker fixations also link his subject matter to what we discuss on the Daily Nightmare.
A skeptic would say it’s all just Photoshop and I admit, some pieces are more effective than others. I’m unlikely to make a digital believer of someone in a few words but if you are so interested, look at these pieces in particular:
For me, the cello – an instrument I’ve played as a amateur for nearly 3 decades – is the wordless voice of my soul. It’s ethereal, melancholy, gutteral, lonesome, joyous, graceful…each in turn. This piece nicely illustrates at least one grouping of my mental ensemble.
Everything sounds more serious in German, n’est-ce pas? I hesitate to comment on this piece, “The Fool’s Dream” because it might reveal too much of my own psychology. But is that young man dutifully collecting the nightmares of others, putting in canning jars their jarring dreams? Is this like my project here? Am I then the fool?
The mass of erudition, piled in an unbelievable space with a surface like an old photograph. Whimsical perhaps but show this image to any scholar or better, a failed doctoral student and observe the weary smile creases at the edges of their eyes.
This entry is an addendum to the “Other Haunts – Monster by Mail” post. Y’see, the same GENIUS, Len Peralta, is also behind “The Zombie Alphabet” found at e-zombie.com Letters made by zombie calisthenics. Perfect for greeting cards, dontcha think?
Zombie Letters from e-zombie.com
I squealed like a mouse in a fan belt when I stumbled across “Monster by Mail.com” For a very reasonable fee, Len Peralta will draw a 4″ x 5″ color portrait of a made-up movie monster of your choosing. And for $10 more, he’ll send you a time-lapse movie of its creation. I couldn’t resist so I sent in a few bucks to see his interpretation of what I, the Grim Gnome, look like. I think he really captured the demonic glint in my eye and the gnarled twist in my grin. You can almost SMELL my bad breath. Though he’s got me decked out in obviously new clothes, obviously new due to the relative lack of bloodstains on them.
Here’s the movie of Len’s deft pens.Â It’s like watching a quick sketch artist who’s set up shop near the red carpet of a B-movie festival.
And even if you don’t want to see the demon of your dreams immortalized in art, check out the Monsters by Mail site, (or Len’s Flickr site) where there are DOZENS of great creatures.
You’re asleep. Dreaming. And you become aware that there is no air getting into your lungs. You try harder to decompress your chest but nothing works. You’re suffocating. You force yourself up, up, up through the layers of sleep, like a diver rising quickly too quickly toward the surface, aching for breath. Once awake enough to control your body again, you sit up quickly in bed, your chest heaving, forcing air into your lungs. Your heart hammers inside your chest. Perhaps a bit of vomit has begun to rise at the back of your throat. You sit on the edge of your bed, panting, confused as to when and where you are, peering into the dark room. Eventually you are able to breath regularly. The alarm clock tells you it’s still the middle of the night, that there are hours until morning. Adrenaline disapates and you feel the weariness of your body again. Do you go back to sleep and risk another terrifying incident of apnea, of premature burial, of nocturnal suffocation? Or do you choose to haunt your house yet another night, to surrender to insomnia and drift from room to room ’til dawn? Apnea seems more likely to strike following days when you’ve worked hard physically, on nights when you most need a deep rejuvenating sleep.
You’ve always snored but in recent years, you’ve been told it’s gotten worse. You find it hard to find a position to fall asleep in. You haven’t slept on your back in years; your throat closes off immediately. There’s one position, on your side, propped up with a pillow that allows sleep. All others are uncomfortable. Your body has become picky, peculiar about sleep, as finicky as an elderly cat that sniffs its bowl of food disdainfully before forcing down a couple mouthfuls.
Perhaps the treatments for apnea seem intrusive. Losing weight is recommended. Excess fat around the neck – that double chin – contribute to night time strangulation. But you’ve tried losing weight before and it keeps returning. There are also other treatments, masks that retain enough air pressure so that your passageways don’t collapse. But regardless of how much you read about them, the idea of wearing something on your face is sickening, terrifying. Yet another thing to get in the way of breath. An inanimate hand clamped around your face.
When you were younger, you joked with your friends about decadent rock stars who choked to death on their own vomit. Now, you think differently about those stories.
And this is the nightmare. It’s not one you wake from. It’s one you carry all day, every exhausted day, each horrified night. Sometimes it recedes, hides but the threat of night suffocation is always there.
Yours truly, the Grim Gnome, doesn’t get out to many movies in the theatre whether due to laziness, stinginess or perhaps because the foul odor of toadstool flatulence I have makes the box-office drones think twice before they sell me a ticket. But I did recently take in a late night screening of “The Host,” that Korean monster movie that everyone is raving about.
To avoid disappointment, remember “The Host” is a monster movie not exactly a horror movie. Don’t expect much sickening revulsion – though my stomach did sort of turn when the character ate a can of some sort of snail-like delicacy. And in another scene a human skull drops to the floor with a very satisfying “kellop.” So though it’s Korean, “The Host” is not Asian extreme by any stretch.
And don’t get too distracted by the questionable causes that give rise to the monster. Or why no one really noticed it until it grew so gosh-darned big. Or what it ate, say, the week BEFORE it made its first attack… Those kinds of things never matter much. I’m not giving away much to say that Americans are responsible and we come off as rather amusingly obsessive, inept and beligerent by turns. In one scene, just outside of a high security military hospital American soldiers are surprised in the midst of an impromptu barbecue.
So what IS important in a monster movie like “The Host?” Maybe it’s how the monster threatens the main character. The main character of “The Host” is a ne’er-do-well father and, again I’m not giving away TOO much to say the monster steals his daughter. What is intriguing about “The Host,” as opposed to perhaps a more Hollywood-ish approach, is that the “hero” enlists the more-or-less reluctant help of his family during the rescue. The family-oriented/group-hero set-up doesn’t make “The Host” exactly an ensemble piece, nor does it feel very insightful to attribute it to a commonplace of Asian identity. Regardless, it felt fresh to see the various family members each confront their own flaw to confront the beast, far cooler than to see a solitary hero strap on whatever firepower is necessary and have a show-down with the beast. “The Host” makes me wonder what kind of monster movies could be made domestically if a less individualistic bias guided the narrative.
Whenever I see a “foreign” movie I am prepared not to understand all of the cultural codes that are at play. I suspect these hidden codes are why some aspects stay strange (I call this the “French-folks-love-Jerry-Lewis” phenomenon) while others just feel fresh. And some things go between the two. A couple scenes in “The Host” exhibit this transition deliciously, for instance, the scene when the family re-unites at a shrine for a younger member who is presumed dead. The histrionic mourning went from sentimental pathos, over the line into something that felt very alien and indescribable and then seamlessly into slapstick comedy. This wasn’t the only moment in the movie that I would like to watch again. Oddly, none of the scenes I want to re-view involve the monster.
OK so I feel obligated to MENTION the monster at least in a review of a monster movie. But let me get this off my hairy little chest first: I don’t like to see monsters and especially not computer generated ones. Take me back to the days of latex prosthetics, stop motion animation and over-acted reaction shots, not to mention virgin sacrifices, public executions and luxurious railway travel. Computer Generated Imaging — how shall I put this politely? — largely sucks. Granted, “The Blair Witch Project” tried to get away with too much but I really, really don’t mind seeing much more than shadows and footprints until the third act. Having said that, “The Host” is a pretty cool design with an excellent mode of locomotion on the supports of the bridge. And the first appearance of the critter is a rather lengthy, full-sun scene which, I have to say honestly, I didn’t mind very much — which is probably saying a lot right there.
Not that you should give two pickled crickets about my opinion, but I didn’t exactly “love” “The Host,” not as much as I was lead to think I might but I did like it quite a bit. And I’ll probably watch it again when it’s out on DVD. You might want to as well.