Macabre Accolades

Admittedly, New Year’s Eve is one of my least favorite holidays, but the best part about the close of December is the prevalence of year-end retrospectives.  Here’s a compilation of links to different websites honoring the horror genre’s best offerings of 2022:

BookRiot: “The 10 Best Horror Books of 2022”

CrimeReads: “The Best Horror Fiction of 2022”

Paste Magazine: “The Best Horror Books of 2022”

Vulture: “The Best Horror Novels of 2022”

LitReactor: “The Must Read Horror Graphic Novels of 2022”

Esquire: “The 23 Best Horror Films of 2022 (So Far)”  [posted in October]

Rolling Stone: “10 Best Horror Movie of 2022”

Collider: “10 Horror Movie Protagonists Who Made Smart Decisions in 2022”

Dread Central: “Top 10 Horror Movies of 2022”

But when it comes to this kind of stuff, nobody does it better than:

Bloody Disgusting: “Top 15 Best Horror Movies of 2022”; “The Top Ten Scariest Scenes in 2022 Horror Movies”; “The 10 Best Kills in 2022’s Horror Movies”; “12 Best International Horror Films of 2022”; “The Year of Unforgettable Horror Monologues”; “The 8 Funniest Horror Movie Moments of 2022”; “10 Best Horror TV Series of 2022”; “2022: The Year Jenna Ortega and Mia Goth Dominated the Horror Scene”

Any other sites I missed, and which you would recommend checking out? Let me know!

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Finally, I’ll weigh in here by citing my favorite pieces of horror-related media from 2022 (note that I say “favorite” rather than “best,” because I still have a big list of items to read/watch):

Favorite TV Series: “Wednesday” (reviewed here)

Tim Burton, The Addams Family, Jenna Ortega, and Edgar Allan Poe? Count me in(vested wholeheartedly).

 

Favorite Horror Film: “X”

This clever twist on the slasher formula had it all: a gripping story, stellar performances by the ensemble cast (led by Mia Goth in a dual role), crazy kills, and stunning visuals (both beautiful and grotesque)

 

Favorite Anthology: Classic Monsters Unleashed

Dracula and Frankenstein Monster and Dr. Moreau; Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, and the Headless Horseman: oh my, what an entertaining collection of new stories paying homage to legendary horror figures.

 

Favorite Novel: Reluctant Immortals

A clever and terrifically entertaining updating/reimagining of Dracula and Jane EyreI’ll have a lot more to say about this book shortly here at Dispatches from the Macabre Republic, in the next installment of Dracula Extrapolated.

Halloween Ubiquity II

Here’s a follow-up to last week’s pre-Halloween post. Along with Heidi Klum’s costume-party-conquering worm (or supersized spiral ham, depending on your taste) pictured above, these are some superlative seasonal items:

 

Cinema Blend: Jason Wiese revisits a modern classic in his pieceTrick ‘R Treat: 11 Thoughts I Had Rewatching the Halloween-Set anthology Movie.”

 

Crime Reads: Not ready yet to transition into Noirvember? Then check out Olivia Rutigliano’s spotlighting of “The 11 Best Halloween Scenes in Non-Genre (Crime) Movies.”

 

Lit Hub: The compendium “31 Spooky, Eerie, and Uncanny Books to Read for Halloween” will keep your TBR list well-stocked for months to come.

 

First Things: James Matthew Wilson’s post “The Poetry of Autumn” offers a fine survey of seasonal verse throughout American literary history.

 

Tor Nightfire: Ally Russell’s “Good Gourd! On Our Fascination with Pumpkins” is a light-hearted personal essay about the fruit that lights up the fall season.

 

The Skeleton Key: For a decade now, this wonderful blog has presented countless informative, offbeat, and picturesque posts about Halloween. Plenty of material here for those refusing to give in to October’s-over letdown.

 

The Lovecraft eZine Annual Halloween Podcast: This podcast is always a fun listen/watch, but the annual Halloween episode (in which host Mike Davis and his usual panel members are joined by authors Jeffrey and Scott Thomas) is a special treat.

 

Grimm Life Collective: This vlogged walkthrough (day and evening) of Haunted Overload in New Hampshire serves as a reminder of why a visit to the awesome attraction tops my Halloween bucket list.

 

Halloween Ubiquity

One of the many things I love about Halloween season is the wonderful abundance of holiday- and horror-related items online. Here are some (grave) sites that I’ve really dug so far this October:

 

Film School Rejects: This site’s “31 Days of Horror Lists” (e.g., “10 Best Horror Movies Set on Halloween Night”; “10 Deadliest Horror Movie Weapons”) are as inventive in topic as they are informative in content.

 

History.com: The dedicated Halloween page treats readers to a host of enlightening features, such as “How Trick-or-Treating Became a Halloween Tradition” and “Why Black Cats Are Associated With Halloween and Bad Luck.”

 

Halloween Daily News: The website’s name says it all. A worthy read the whole year round, but especially during October.

 

Cemetery Dance Online: The “Free Reads!” section of the publisher’s website has been running a cool interview feature called “How I Spend My Halloween.” So far this month, authors Cynthia Pelayo, Josh Malerman, V. Castro, Stephen Graham Jones, and Hailey Piper have revealed their holiday rituals.

 

Bloody Disgusting: This bountiful site always has terrific Halloween content, such as the editorials “10 of the Scariest Moments in Horror Movies Set Around Halloween” and “The 20 Best Scenes from the ‘Halloween’ Franchise.”

 

Book Riot: In this bibliophile paradise, readers can dive into such pieces as “20 Must-Read Halloween Nonfiction Books” and “Bookish Halloween Decorations for Your Fright and Reading Delight.”

 

CrimeReads: Recent pieces worth sampling are “The Very Human Horrors of Paul Tremblay,” “Discovering Charles Dickens’ ‘The Signalman,'” “Dracula vs. the FBI,” and “9 Works of Dark Humor Perfect for Halloween.”

 

Parade.com: Celebrants who veer toward the lighter side of the dark holiday will be happy to navigate over to the magazine’s “75 Funny Halloween Puns” and “75 Hilarious Halloween Riddles” webpages.

 

Wired: The posted video “13 Levels of Pumpkin Carving: Easy to Complex” might be the best tutorial ever on the topic.

 

Christine McConnell: On her YouTube channel, the goddess of macabre arts and crafts creates an amazing jack-o-lantern.

Putting King in The Kingcast

Today The Kingcast podcast presents the ultimate embodiment of its name, as it features Stephen King himself as guest! Akin to any King interview, this hour-long episode is filled with humorous and highly enlightening bits. Early into the discussion, King shares an amusing (and unabashedly low-brow) story concerning a Japanese tour group outside his home. He discusses difficulties with getting The Dead Zone published, and identifies the actress he believes should have won an Oscar for her performance in one of the film adaptations of his books. The adaptation process is explored at length here, particularly in relation to Lisey’s Story. Discussion of the bleak ending of the nightmarish horror novel Revival leads to the question of whether King dreads his own mortality, and the author responds by detailing what he fears even more than death. King is also prompted on his collaboration process with Richard Chizmar in the Gwendy books, and hosts Scott Wampler and Eric Vespe pose plentiful question about the Dark Tower series. Oh, and along the way King casually drops some major news: a forthcoming novel titled Holly, which focuses on one of his favorite (and most recurring) characters, Holly Gibney.

I could listen to King talk 24/7 and be completely entertained, so this unexpected treat that appeared today flat out made my day. Constant Readers, or any fans of the adaptation of King’s work, will likely feel the same.

 

Ribboning 2021

Another year draws to a close, which means countless year-in-review pieces are popping up all over the Macabre Republic (for me, a recall of all the great work I’ve encountered this year, as well as a reminder that I still have a lot more seek out). Here are the links for some online listings of the horror genre’s best offerings in fiction, film, and television:

CrimeReads: “The Best Horror Fiction of 2021”

Library Journal: “Best Horror of 2021”

LitReactor: “The Ten Scariest Horror Books of 2021–Ranked!”

Goodreads: “Best Horror”

Screen Rant: “The Best Horror Movies of 2021”

Film School Rejects: “The 15 Best Horror Movies of 2021”

The Lineup: “The 13 Best Horror Films of 2021”

IGN: “The 13 Best Horror Movies of 2021”

SYFY Wire: “Here Are the 16 Best Genre Shows of 2021”

Bloody Disgusting: The 10 Best Horror Television Shows of 2021; The 10 Best Horror Movie and Television Monsters of 2021; “Top 10 Horror Movies of 2021”“The Top 10 Scariest Scenes in 2021 Horror Movies”; “The Top 10 Hidden Horror Gems You Might’ve Missed in 2021”; “The 15 Best Horror Movie Performances of 2021”; “The 10 Best Horror Books of 2021”

WatchMojo: “Top 10 Best Horror Movies of 2021”

 

Countdown: The Top 31 Norman Partridge Works of Short Fiction–#2

[For the previous countdown post, click here.]

 

2. “The Iron Dead” (2010)

Imagine if Dashiell Hammett wrote for Weird Tales rather than Black Mask, and you’ll have a good sense of the sensibility of this retro-pulp novella. In middle-of-nowhere Montana, a bootlegging run is interrupted by a “hell machine”–a vampiric cyborg hybrid of flesh and blood and metal and wire. This Satan-serving monstrosity seeks not just sustenance but also fresh recruits for its nightmare army: it builds new soldiers out of “scavenged engine parts and organs harvested from the bodies of murdered men and women.” With such a diabolical scheme unfolding, it’s fortunate that a wandering hero is drawn to the carnage; the drifter Chaney has a mechanical hand, a black satchel full of weapons, and a score to settle. The plot plays out like Night of the Iron Dead, as gangsters, lawmen, and Chaney hole up in a jailhouse under siege from the hell machine’s minions. Escaping, the unlikely band of confederates advance on the hell machine’s workshop of infernal creation (a cemetery-adjacent gas station/machine shop) during a driving rainstorm. A harrowing adventure narrative on overdrive, featuring an extensive cast of human heroes and villains and an assortment of exotic monsters that make Clive Barker’s Cenobites look like a bunch of Tinker Toys, “The Iron Dead” is surely cinematic in scope. No one does hard-boiled horror better than Partridge, and this knockout novella forms his premiere example of such genre mash-up.

 

Poe Abodes

AP Photo/File; Stefano Giovannini

Ahh, the macabre is in the air! One of my favorite parts of the Halloween season (other than the dark, autumnal charm of the High Holiday itself) is the appearance of articles such as this. Allison Hope’s New York Post piece, “Inside Edgar Allan Poe’s Hellish–and Relatable–NYC Housing Hunt,” is an unexpected treat that showed up in my phone’s feed this evening. It’s a terrific read, offering a quick journalistic tour of Poe’s Gotham living spaces and Gothic literary endeavors. Poe fans, and October lovers, are sure to enjoy Hope’s work here.

 

Bronze Macabre

Photo Credit: Peter D. Kramer/USA Today Network New York State Team

I came across an online item this afternoon, and thought it makes a fine companion piece to my “Beyond Sleepy Hollow” post yesterday. Peter D. Kramer’s USA Today article “Sleepy Hollow’s Lesser Known Ghost Story: The Curse of the Bronze Lady in New York” proves that Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman isn’t the sole source of spookiness associated with Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The Bronze Lady is a purportedly cursed sculpture, a funereal memorial that has captured the imagination of locals and graveyard visitors. Various superstitions have been attached to her, a collection of unsettling narratives that would render the Bronze Lady the perfect subject of a Lore podcast episode. Kramer’s article is an informative and enjoyable read, and well-suited to the late-October mood.

 

How the Crowd Gathered

In conjunction with the recent American release of the Terrifying Ghosts anthology, Flame Tree Press has published a special post on its blog today. Eighteen of the contributors (myself included) discuss the inspiration for their respective stories (other authors from the ToC such as Edgar Allan Poe, M.R. James, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edith Wharton have yet to respond to the prompt, but based on the theme of the anthology, I’m still holding out hope!).

So check out the post here to find out which classic story was a formative influence on my piece “Theater Crowd.” And be sure to head back to the Flame Tree blog next Wednesday, for a post in which the contributors discuss our favorite titles in the ghost story genre. [Update, 7/7: the second post is now up on the website]

 

 

Clive Interview

Clive Barker is the interview subject for this week’s edition of the podcast Post Mortem with Mick Garris. It is a bit of a shock at first to hear how pronounced the rasp in Clive’s voice has become, but he sounds very enthusiastic, and says that he is in better health these days (which is wonderful news).

During the 75-minute interview, Clive talks about a traumatic incident from his childhood that was a formative influence on his work. His more recent experience of being in a coma is covered (his return to consciousness makes for quite an anecdote). The boundary-pushing writer also addresses the censorship battles he had to fight with editors and publishers over the years. Valuable insight into his drafting process (when working on a novel) is given. Clive and Mick reminisce on their interestingly-premised Mummy film that never got made, and share the news about an upcoming collaborative project. All told, the interview is a real treat, and one that Clive Barker fans will certainly enjoy.