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Wandering Monster and Madness Heart Radio Join the Project Entertainment Network

As many of you know, we have two shows here at Madness Heart Press, Madness Heart Radio, where Publishing Editor John Baltisberger interviews various members of the Horror Industry, and Wandering Monster, where Charles Bernard, Lemons Clemons, and John Baltisberger talk monsters.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘The Endless’ (2017)

Stuck at home? At least you’re not The Endless.

I ended up watching this because a friend recommended it after I surprisingly enjoyed Color Out Of Space (2019). The 2010’s brought us a huge uptick in seriously quality Lovecraftian horror, many of which made it on to my ‘All Time Top Horror‘ list.

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New Release! In The Beginning

Reed Alexander’s newest Cosmic Horror! Reed ramps things up with cosmic invaders that have installed themselves into local governments. Continuing to follow the traditions of H. P. Lovecraft, this book is about the protagonist dealing with the illogical in the most logical fashion. This is followed by a slow descent into madness as the power of their enemies seems to contradict the natural laws of the universe.

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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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Suffer the Little Children (Part 1)

As I’m sure is the case with many Madness Heart readers and fans, I took to reading early. My childhood hunger for words was bottomless, and thus at some point when I was mature enough my parents stuck a Stephen King novel in front of me, and that was that. It was off to the races.

Salem’s Lot. The Stand. It. Many of my earliest lessons in “adult” cognition and the opaque, complicated ballet of “adult” emotion came from King’s books. This was, in part, a function of natural childhood development and a reason why reading is so beneficial, but also in part a function of King’s specific and extraordinary gift for voice. He can articulate a character’s internal motivations and train of thought better than almost any modern author I’ve read, even after all these years, and when I was a young man this helped me to develop my own empathy and ability to listen. I will always be grateful to Stephen King for that.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of C.H.U.D. (1984)

Surprisingly good for bad horror.

This movie is pretty bad, but for what it is, it’s actually quite good. And I don’t mean ‘so bad it’s good,’ I mean actually good. And I’m not grading on a curve here. Don’t misunderstand me, there is so much about this movie that is jut flat out bad that it should fit into the category of good-bad movies. In fact, I struggle to place it anywhere else. It’s a bit of a paradox, a movie being both good and bad while not technically being good-bad.

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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.