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Calie Voorhis Loves her Cousin Jason

Dangling her fingers in the placid waters of Crystal Lake, internationally published author, poet, columnist, and “life long fanatic for the fantastic,” Calie Voorhis, thinks about her cousin, Jason. Although their last names are spelled differently (families do that sometimes.), she still loves her cousin.

Of being a fan of Jason, Voorhis says, “With my last name, there was no other choice.” Her friends and “peers” had spread the “mythology” of Jason from when she was 11 years old until she met him, which was when she was 13. “Given my total nerd status, Jason was used to torture me, until I turned the tables to my advantage,” she says. Voorhis has discussed this in a column she writes for Speculative Chic.

Slasher movies often find the audience cheering for the killer instead of the victims. Voorhis totally cheers for her cousin. She says, “Blood is thicker than water.” Part of her support of Jason is because she sees him as a sympathetic character. “He started out as an innocent, is unmercifully bullied and drowns as a result of people being assholes. Then he learns of his mother’s murder and sets out for revenge, which to me seems more than fair, as far as the morality of horror goes.” However, Voorhis takes umbrage with the original idea that Jason suffered from cognitive impairment. (Tom Savini has said Jason was a mongoloid, which for those unfamiliar with term, is an antiquated and offensive word for Down Syndrome.) “Tom Savini was responsible for creating the makeup of that version, which I always thought was a bit too easy. It bothered me then and it continues to bother me now – as a result I tend to feel more than a little bit protective of Jason and called upon to defend him,” she says and provides the link to an archived article from Fangoria.

Jason has changed over the decades. He has gone from being dead to a mortal and then to an immortal. Voorhis always thought of her cousin as being an immortal creature. “In my head, once he came back from the lake, he was already immortal, and it just took the writers and directors a while to figure that out for themselves.” She believes that his immortality is one of the things that has made Jason such an enduring creature. His ability to imbodied cultural fears has kept him vital as well. “[H]e’s generally seen as ‘other’ – the physical manifestation of a time period’s dread and subconscious,” she says and points out that Jason “manifests” all the “campfire tales” and “urban legends” of the time. His “quiet” nature allows every new cohort who encounters him to “project their campfire terrors upon him.” By being able to do this, Jason remains the ultimate boogie man.

Jason’s status as the ultimate boogie man can also be shown through his total kill count. Despite killing no one in the original Friday the Thirteenth (Spoiler Alert: His mom is the killer in the first movie.), he racks up more kills than Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger, and Chucky. He is the gold medalist in the Slasher Olympics. Everyone has their favorite Jason kills. Voorhis shares two of note. The first comes from the less than brilliant Jason X. Her first pick is the “frozen
exploding head.”

Voorhis lists her next favorite kill as the arrow through the throat of Kevin Bacon. She recognizes, “Technically is not a Jason kill, but a Pamela, which leads to the morale of ‘don’t fuck with my family.’” If you don’t have this kill memorized, familiarize yourself with it:

As Voorhis pulls herself from the waters of Crystal Lake, take the opportunity to find her work and read it. You will not be disappointed. She writes some f the most beautiful prose you will ever read from a contemporary writer. Her latest story called “Poaching Oz,” which is about rednecks in the land of Oz will soon appear at Gallery of Curiosities ( .) Visit her website, which she calls the “the world’s thirty-seventh worst website.”

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Dan Foley Goes Native Talking about the Oniare

Dan Foley attributes his dark sense of humor to growing up in New Jersey and serving on nuclear submarines. Having only begun his writing career in his 60s, he has published four novels, two novellas, a story collection, and numerous other short stories. Foley’s novel, Reunion, features a Native American monster called the Oniare. He wanted to talk about this creature, which might be unfamiliar to many readers.

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Russell James Goes Ape for King Kong

Russell R. James writes, “monster books.” These cross the genres of horror, thriller, and sci-fi. “Monster books are the most fun,” he says. Since James knows monsters, King Kong is one of his favorites.

James has a “sentimental” place for King Kong. The love affair with the giant gorilla started during childhood. He says that the movie introduced him stop-motion movie making. “I fell in love with it,” he says. James reminiscences that during his childhood in New York, a local TV station showed King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young back to back on Thanksgiving. “I looked forward to Thanksgiving more for that than the food.”

King Kong finds himself on the shelf with other movie monsters, like the Gillman from Creature from the Black Lagoon. He is a natural “monster,” who is not inherently evil. “He’s just an up-scaled gorilla,” James says. “Kong is a tragic figure in every version.” Speaking of the different versions of King Kong, James states that every remake or revision of the movie changes to “reflect the times.” In the original 1933 RKO film, Skull Island, King Kong’s home, is exploited for the benefit of the adventurers. James notes that the film takes place in a time when “trophy hunting” is something people see as part of upward social movement. He states that nothing on Skull Island is recognized for its “scientific” breakthroughs. Things like dinosaurs are treated like elephants on safari with the main villain, Denham, killing several with no repercussions or expectations that the audience would “condemn” the character for it.

By the 1976 remake, the movie focuses on money-grubbing executives who go to Skull Island looking for oil. When there is none, they take King Kong to “save their bottom line.” In the mid-seventies, audiences see Kong as a completely sympathetic character instead of some mindless killing machine. “The bad guys are bad, and they die for their efforts.” This movie even has Jessica Lange begging King Kong to not put her down for his own safety. King Kong takes another giant character change for the recent Kong: Skull Island film. In this movie, the giant gorilla is no longer exploited by humans. He becomes the protector of the humans. This means that King Kong is “physically” monstrous, but “emotionally, he can be sympathetic.”

James believes that King Kong’s sympathy factor sets him apart from other giant monsters. He has “an expressive face with human characteristics. You never know what Godzilla is thinking, or what emotions are churning within Mothra. Their faces are fixed.” James says that Kong tells the viewer everything that he is feeling with a “twitch of an eyebrow or tilt of his head.”

King Kong is such an essential creature to James that he has used it and other giant monster movies like Valley of Gwangi and The Lost World (not the Jurassic Park sequel) to draw upon for inspiration for his books that could be called creature features. Despite how much James loves King Kong, he feels like the original RKO film’s time might be passing. “I think the nostalgia factor works for the Boomer generation and a bit beyond. But I’m not sure if you plant a six-year-old in front of a black-and-white anything that you’ll get their attention. I’m afraid that means this classic’s life span may be waning.” Even if the classic movie fades into obscurity, King Kong will continue to live on in humanity’s collective unconscious.

As mentioned, several times, James writes monster books. His latest is called Forest of Fire. It’s about paleontologist Grant Coleman’s attempt to find his missing mentor. You can check the book out here:

Please check out more about Russell R. James at his website:

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To John Baltisberger A Rose by Any Other Name is Biollante

Godzilla vs. Biollante, Toho

If you’re a frequent reader on anything on Madness Heart’s blog, John Baltisberger is a familiar name. If you aren’t a frequent flyer around here, Baltisberger is a writer and poet who has published three books: The Configuration Discordant, Inhuman Error, and Artifice of Flesh. He also hosts two podcasts: Madness Heart Radio and Wandering Monster. As a huge kaiju fan, Baltisberger talks with us about Biollante.

The easy answer as to what Biollante is would be a kaiju rosebush. The description Baltisberger gives her is that Biollante is a “vegetation” kaiju. “The story is that a scientist whose daughter was killed by Godzilla is working on using G-cells (that’s Godzilla’s regenerative DNA) to genetically modify a rose bush. This rose bush becomes possessed with the scientist’s daughter. And then morphs into a Kaiju that tries to fight off Godzilla,” he says. It is this backstory of the creation of Biollante that makes Baltisberger love her.

This monster only appears in one film: Godzilla vs. Biollante. Baltisberger believes that this movie is not one of the better Godzilla films, and he certainly doesn’t think the battle between the titular monsters is very good. However, he loves the costume design. “The Monster design is also completely out of this world, it’s in my opinion one of the best looking Kaiju to ever be produced, in any era of film making,” Baltisberger says. Some critics of the Biollante costume design compares the creature to Audrey II from The Little Shop of Horrors. Baltisberger uses the word “flippant” for this description of the creature and says this of the design, “she’s more of a mix of a Godzilla-Esque Alligator and some dangerous plant life.” He definitely says that Biollante is not a “rosebush with teeth,” but “LOOKS dangerous.”

In her only movie appearance, Biollante loses to Godzilla, but she also appears in several video games and comic books. Baltisberger has little love for the video games and feels the monster is underserved by them. On the other hand, the comic books allow Biollante to shine as a kaiju. Baltisberger points to one particular book that serves the monster well: Godzilla: Cataclysm. The storyline finds Biollante attempting to replenish the plant-life on earth after Godzilla destroys it all. “Biollante is almost presented as the savior of the world,” he says.

Although plant-based kaiju are uncommon, Baltisberger does not believe that Biollante would fit well into the world of other vegetation creatures like triffids or the Thing. He says that he would like to see this monster in the world of Swamp Thing. “[It] would tickle me pink,” he says of the crossover idea. Some might even say that flower monsters are not scary. Baltisberger says that in many video games some of most dangerous characters are plant-based. When talking about Biollante, it’s a giant plant monster, which should alter anyone’s perception about the danger it poses.

Right now, Baltisberger has several book projects “peeking their heads out from around the corner for publication at the moment.” You can follow him on social media at @kaijupoet or his personal website here.

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Querus Abuttu Terrifies us with the Raven Mocker

Querus Abuttu, who also goes by “Q”, is a writer with a long history of forensic nursing and military service. Much of this experience ends up in her writings. Her alter ego, is the Director of Forensic Nursing in Healthcare for the government. This alone sounds like a novel. Q, as I will call her for this article, took time to talk about a monster that currently has her interest, the Raven Mocker.

The Raven Mocker is a monster from Cherokee folklore. It is truly terrifying. Q describes it like this, “The Raven Mocker, or as the Cherokee called it, the Kâ’lanû Ahkyeli’skï, is a type of witch or demon that kills a human and is able to take the years that the human would have had and add those years to its own life.” Although the
description of what the Raven Mocker looks like varies from legend to legend there is a running theme in all of them, which is “tormenting their prey, consuming the victim’s heart and taking the victim’s remaining years life.” Only a very powerful shaman can even see the monster when it is feeding because it’s invisible when it eats. Any other time, the Raven Mocker may look like a member of the community. Of recognizing the monster, Q says, “One visible sign is that the person is very old, having stolen years from other people and adding [them to its own life]. It makes sounds like the wind when it is near, and before an attack, it can issue a cry like that of a crow or raven.”

Q says that the Raven Mocker caught her imagination because many everyday things steal our “hearts” today. The Cherokee legend personifies those things that kill us slowly. “I think I’m much like any writer who enjoys writing about monsters. I see the legend/mythos and compare it to our society today . . . Monsters we create are often physical synonyms, if you will, to problems we diagnose in our communities,” she says.

Part of the Raven Mocker “mythos” is that it feeds on the sick. Even though it seems that this monster should only terrify those who are ill, Q believes that the story would motivate everyone to stay healthy. “[T]he sick and the old who are not healthy and are often a weakness to the tribe, and a tribe cannot afford to be weak,” she says. Also, Q
adds that getting rid of evil from the community benefits the entire tribe.

Q has conducted a lot of research on this creature recently because parts of the legend are integral to the plot of a novel she is working on. In her story, which she describes as being in the “juvenile phase,” a town in rural Virginia has been flooded in by weeks of rain. They are cut off from the rest of world, which is the perfect opportunity for a crow demon to rise and wreak havoc. I won’t give too much more away, but needless to say, the story sounds terrifically horrifying.

Drawing from real life is an important component of writing for Q. Living in Virginia, a state with a history of the Cherokee, she says she was glad to have discovered the Raven Mocker legend while writing the first few chapters of her work in progress, which she calls Necrow. “The Raven Mocker was a legend a fellow writer and mentor told me about when I was having her critique some of my early chapters of Necrow before I even knew of the legend,” she says. Since the story was in the early stages, according to Q, the legend fit in nicely and added another layer to the plot.

In researching about the Raven Mocker, Q found a few books and songs to help in her create her monsters. “[T]here’s not a lot out there. There are no films that I can point to utilizing this creature legend. There are some fiction novels and myth/legend books on Amazon that exist—and it has become more popular in novels over the past ten years or so,” she says, and recommends, “Some of the music and lyrics I’ve used for inspiration in this novel is from the Plague Physicians ‘The Raven Mocker’ album and from Spook ‘Raven Mocker’ album. For reading, I recommend, Myths of the Cherokee: And Sacred formulas of the Cherokees by James Mooney, and The First Raven Mocker: The Cherokee Chronicles by Courtney Miller.”

Necrow is still in the writing phase, so you can’t run out and buy it yet, but you can check out all things Querus Abuttu (at least writing-wise) here.

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Lynne Hansen Continues Talking About Zombies

Last week, horror artist, Lynne Hansen, talked with us about her love of zombies. She discussed her favorite movies and how she fulfilled a life-long dream of becoming a zombie in a B-movie, which moved her to make the award-winning zombie short film, Chomp. This week she’ll discuss other things zombie.

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Horror Artist, Lynne Hansen, Always Wanted to be a Zombie

Lynne Hansen describes herself as a “horror artist who specializes in book covers.” The cover art business is keeping her busy right now. She says that she has over 40 cover commissions in “queue.” It was really great that she was able to break away to talk about her favorite monsters: zombies.

“I don’t think there’s anything scarier than having someone who looks like your husband, sister, or best friend not be them, you know?” Hansen says of zombies. To her, this aspect of the creatures is a “betrayal” of the “most basic level” of human interaction. However, she also describes zombies as “just plain fun!” It may seem strange to place such grotesque and ravaging monsters as zombie in the category of fun, but Hansen explains, “They’re a great vehicle for mixing humor and horror, and I think when you can do that, the scary gets scarier and the funny gets funnier.” She calls it a “roller coaster ride,” which itself is, of course, scary and fun at the same time.

Although Hansen believes that she would not survive a zombie apocalypse, she always wanted to play a zombie in a B-movie. “I’d tried several times, but the projects didn’t work out–until I got the opportunity to play both a zombie victim and a resurrected zombie in a short film called Soulless being made for the 30 Day Zombie Film Challenge in Tampa,” she relays. This movie was directed by a woman, Monique Guggino, on no budget, but Hansen thoroughly enjoyed making it. “I was so inspired that when I came home from shooting, still covered in zombie makeup, I declared to my husband that I was going to do a film for the 30 Day Zombie Film Challenge, too.” So, she did. “I wrote the first draft of the script in a day,” she says.

Working with a cast and crew of friends and “friends of friends,” Hansen directed, produced, and edited what would become the short, comedic zombie film Chomp. The film missed the deadline for the 30 Day Zombie Film Challenge but premiered at the Halloween Horror Picture Show. Since that time, Chomp, which is about a sixty-something-year-old woman who kidnaps a college student, after mistaking him for a zombie, has played at over 70 film festivals in 13 countries and has been nominated for over 30 awards. It won Best of the Fest at the Geekfest Film Festival and Best Horror Comedy at the Nightmares Film Festival. Of these accomplishments, Hansen says, “I’m still stunned by the response my little labor of love zombie film received, and will forever be indebted to my amazing team and all the kind folks all over the world who screened our film and helped us find our fans.”

While talking about her own zombie film, Hansen says that her favorite zombie movie is Shaun of the Dead. According to her, the film is “clever, funny, great characters, memorable lines, amazing music, and best of all, zombies that walked that fine line between funny and genuinely scary.” She also loves the original and remake of Dawn of the Dead. “They both had strong ensemble casts, memorable zombies, and lovely pacing that gave us both quiet and loud moments.” Of course, Hansen mentions Return of the Living Dead. She says of this horror-comedy classic, “[It] gave us our first fast zombies and their now infamous love of brains. And again, some bad-ass music and great humor.”

Hansen states that her favorite zombie novel is The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell. The novel is about a little girl who grows up in a world after a zombie apocalypse. “It’s the only life she’s ever known, so while the adults who remember the time before huddle in their little fortresses, she doesn’t live in fear. To her, the world of the zombie apocalypse is beautiful,” Hansen says of the novel. She goes on to describe the prose as “lush” and the story as “lyrical.” Once she came to the end, “I flipped to the beginning and read it again a second time because I didn’t want it to be over.”

Although you might not want this interview to be over, Hansen discussed so much about her love of zombies that I decided to split it. While you wait for next weeks installment, go check out Hansen’s work at: