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How Not to Horror

My editorial position is to review and write about, predominantly, things I enjoy. I’ll let the occasional gripe or complaint slip through, but for the most part I’ve found that nonstop delectation in the guzzling of Haterade is, while enjoyable, a young man’s game, and in my 30s I have learned to ditch shame about what I enjoy (and thus the concept of the “guilty pleasure”) and embrace who and what I am. Life is a far briefer rocket ride than most of us would care to contemplate, and maximizing my enjoyment of the journey at this point means focusing on the things I love a little more and the things I hate a little less.

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Defects: Pregnancy in Horror, Part Three

(Note: If women’s reproductive choice and autonomy are issues you care about, the single best thing you can do right now is donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds. As their website says, “Not being able to afford or access an abortion is not an individual problem. It’s a systemic injustice. Together, we can fight back.”)

Last week, I talked about a few of Stephen King’s portrayals of pregnancy in his work. King is one of the all-time greats, but even Orson Welles had his off moments, and so has King. That said, his heart is in the right place and his characters are usually three dimensional and well-developed, with voices and desires that sound and feel authentic. The same cannot be said of all approaches to pregnancy in horror, however. Some writers and filmmakers are responsible for portraits of gestation that serve as both potent prophylactics and startling snapshots of misogyny – and the best place to start is with my old arch-enemy Stephanie Meyer and her novel Breaking Dawn.

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Rest in Peace, Lilly Gray

I live beside the largest municipally-operated cemetery in the United States: Salt Lake City Cemetery, a sprawling necropolis that stretches out over a square kilometer of grounds. It’s one of the most tranquil places in the city. The trees are mature and well-tended, the lawns neat, the markers often interesting and sometimes quite beautiful. It’s a place of peace and reflection, which is exactly what a cemetery should be; I don’t want to spoil the surprise ending for anyone, but the dead appear to care remarkably little about the disposition of their remains or, indeed, their legacy in a larger sense. Cemeteries, like funerals, are for the living, poor fools that we are. Continue reading Rest in Peace, Lilly Gray

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American Cult, Part One: The Empty Places

Next month, Madness Heart Press will release American Cult, an anthology of stories of alternative history and distinctly American horror. It includes my short story, “stuffed,” and to celebrate, this is the first installment of a three-part examination of horror that has been molded by the American experience; a look at the empty places. Continue reading American Cult, Part One: The Empty Places

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‘Possum,’ ‘Mercy Black,’ and Family Trauma in Horror

To hear Vice’s Ryan Bradford tell it, “Terrifying Family Trauma Is the New Thing in Horror.”

I would dispute that family trauma is a “new thing” in horror, something Bradford himself admits, but his main thesis holds up – namely, that 2018 was marked, in films like the excellent Hereditary and shows like Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block, Sharp Objects, and Haunting of Hill House, by stories of family trauma manifested in horrific and terrifying ways. Continue reading ‘Possum,’ ‘Mercy Black,’ and Family Trauma in Horror