Come Back to Eventide

There is a deserted hollow in the woods where no wildlife goes, no bird stops in flight, no insect makes a sound.
And fungus grows.
Nadine Forster, a former research biologist from the city, has been absorbed by the hollow.
The distinct sporocap of the local fungus is a basidiocarp, which covers the floor of the hollow as well as the decomposing wood on the ringing trees.
These Hymenogastrale do not resemble mushrooms, but false truffles; they are amorphous grey-green blobs flecked with unhealthy white.
In the spring the mass will sprout unique basidiospore; star shaped, fragile appearing growths from the fungal bed.
These will fragment in heavy rainfall, and dilute into a thick, sweet-smelling gel.
The gel will be washed into the groundwater and join the Stinkwood aquifer.
It is the diluted form of the fungus in the soil that has caused the red wriggler worms of the coastal region to evolve into the brindleworm.
The brindleworms maintain the topsoil of decomposing matter that gives Stinkwood its name.
The topsoil, with its peculiar boggy unstable nature, that has taken so many of Eventide’s young.
They won’t be returning.
Not this season, at any rate.

That place burned again, worse than before.
With the death of Sholto McCabe, there has been no caretaker at the cemetery.
The Reverend Young, horribly burned, somehow survived.
The local wisdom is that his brain boiled in the fires.
He is currently under sedation in a padded room in the city.

In Eventide Village, life goes on.
The salt-marsh scarecrows remain safely on their poles.
For now.

Only one tenant of the Dolores Squane Home for the Blind was lost during the fall storms.
Sadly, it was Edgar Tran, Mrs. Waverly’s personal assistant.
Shortly after, the epidemic of strep throat cleared and the blind regained their speech.

The Alderpersons have resumed their regular weekly meetings, minus Boyd Spencer who suffered a massive stroke on November 1st and passed November 3rd.
Lulu Rothstein, owner-operator of the diner, has been thinking about running for Alderman.
Miri Chaudhri and Glen Roth have begun meeting at the diner for breakfast.
The other day Miri asked Lulu if he smoked a pipe.
“Just a little weed. Medicinal. I gotta card,” Lulu scowled.
Miri and Glen smiled.

Walt Becker’s bait shop closes for the winter, and he heads down to Florida for a season.

The Bottin family, and the bed and breakfast overlooking the village green, are just as fine as ever.
Lloyd Bottin’s beard is well-kept; Pernia grooms and trims it for him.
They are thinking of adding a cheese and cider mixer to the b&b evening itinerary.
Old Maevis thought the autumn storms were just lovely.
She can’t wait till next year.

Roy Pepper keeps his swine, and watches the low grey hills for a clover of cats, led by a young girl.
The Mori Brothers tend the apples; Goro dreams of the cider press.
Jirou dreams of foxes and Ichiro.

The Groom returned to the big city, the engagement broken, the wedding called off.
He is undergoing therapy.
The former Bride, Louisa Welker, has decided to purchase a summer home in Eventide.
She is disappointed that the village will not sell her the lighthouse property.

It just so happens that the Jay residence has gone on sale.
Terrible tragedy, Mr. and Mrs. Jay; murder suicide.
Constable Weary and Judge Lyndon aren’t sure which did what, but that they are both dead by their own or each other’s hand seems undeniable.
Bud Miller and Robert Earl Mundin were hired by the village to clean the house after the inquest.
The two old friends probably drank half their pay during the cleaning process.
Not that anyone could blame them.
Still, inebriated or not, they did thorough work.

Judge Lyndon has appointed Chief Constable Rhonda Weary as Alice Jay’s guardian.
Alice Jay thinks that is just fine, and Constable Weary is ok with the arrangement.
Lillian Thuang has given Alice a promise that she can work the concession stand at the theater as soon as she is old enough.

Ezra Quint, mostly recovered from his injuries, keeps the grounds of the village green and paints the gazebo and oils the clock tower.

A new Reverend comes to village, climbing off the Trailways Bus with a twinkle in his eye and excitement at his first diocese.

And Letitia Thatch, that strange young woman who lives at the edge of the forest, continues to terrify the local crows into silence.

Some nights a black cat slinks through the village, pussyfoot in the shadows.
Some nights a click-clop can be heard, like an iron-shod horse-hoof.
Some nights the village clock strains somewhere between midnight and one, as if it wants to chime an extra hour.
Ah, Eventide.

The clock struck thirteen.

There is a particular click that can be heard on the front steps of the court house.
It is a gear in the clocktower locking into place before the chimes signify the hour.
On October 31st, it made that click at thirteen minutes past midnight.
Ezra Quint was standing on the front steps of the courthouse when it happened.
He held the long handled brush hook easily in one big hand, running a whetstone along the curved blade.
At the first chime, Ezra stepped down off the courthouse stairs.
Sholto McCabe stood at the corpse gate to the old graveyard, That place visible on the hill behind him.
Strange hymns were being sung outside That place by the elderly congregants.
The Reverend Young’s voice shouted hoarse entreaties and blandishments from within.
The sexton held his shears low.
At the second chime he looked up and began to walk towards the village green.
At the third chime, both men increased their pace towards each other.
At the fourth chime, Miri Chaudhri, bundled up in the cold at the gazebo, lit her twentieth cigarette of the evening.
Boyd Spencer’s pipe has gone out, but he was barely aware.
Glen Roth’s cigar was down to a stub.
At the fifth chime, the alderpersons watched as the sexton and the caretaker began to run towards each other.
At the sixth chime, Constable Rhonda Weary stepped out of the Village Cinema where she had been enjoying the creature feature.
She was holding a sleeping Alice Jay in her arms.
The child had eaten two buckets of popcorn and half of a third before passing out.
Rhonda stepped into the street on the seventh chime, to take the little girl to the constabulary and let her sleep on the cot.
Then she would make an official visit to the Jay house.
As she stepped past the pothole, she glanced down and saw black viscous liquid bubbling at the bottom of the crevice.
As of the eighth chime, the two large men clashed together like bears.
McCabe caught the downstroke of the brush hook between the blades of the shears, and wrenched his enemy’s weapon to the side.
On the ninth chime Quint released his hold on his weapon, stepped in and hammered McCabe’s burnt face with a closed-fist.
The sound of McCabe’s jaw breaking resonated through the village.
On tenth chime, Rhonda began to jog towards her office.
She heard hoof-falls behind her, clopping on the pavement.
She didn’t look back.
On the eleventh chime, Robert Earl Mundin let out a laugh that was also a sob, and broke the seal on his bottle of vodka and took a long drink.
His eyes were wild, as he stared at the creature walking down Maine Street behind the running constable.
It looked like a horse from the illustrated bible his gran had given him as a child; all red eyed and jutting ribs and smoking nostrils and a color that defied his brain.
It dipped its massive head towards the divot in the road and drank from the liquid that steamed and roiled there.
As the bell chimed a twelfth time, Quint locked his massive hands around McCabe’s throat.
The sexton drew the sharp file he used to keep the wrought iron fence free of rust, and dragged the coarse rasp across the side of the caretaker’s grimacing face.
McCabe’s shattered jaw hung at an odd angle, giving his already frightening visage further menace.
His eyes didn’t help.
Quint released McCabe’s throat with one hand and grabbed the sexton’s wrist, keeping the file from his throat.
On the hill, as the hymns reached a climax, That place burst into flames.
The clock struck thirteen.

Halloween – October 31

A movie doesn’t have to be good to have a good trailer.

A movie with a great concept doesn’t have to be good- in fact there are many, many films that have great concepts or a lot of heart but don’t quite work.

I have always found potential in movies that probably didn’t deserve my affection – and sometimes that potential has been enough for me to pronounce a movie awesome. In fact some years ago an anonymous comment claiming to be from someone I had known in high school derided me for championing Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, as the person had apparently just seen it and it “sux”.

I did champion that movie a lot in my youth (saw it 3 times in the theater!) and I’m looking forward to the Director’s Cut (out on Blu from Scream Factory- if anyone is worried about what to get me for Christmas). Now I don’t really think of Nightbreed as a horror film, it is more a dark fantasy movie.

There is something fantastical about a lot of the trappings of Halloween. Ghost stories, spooky decorations, haunted houses…

I don’t mean the purported haunted house down the street with the overgrown yard and the curtained windows, or the infamous murder houses that become part of urban legends.

I mean Haunts, the professional (and pro-am) businesses that open every October, do business, and then disappear for a year.

When I was a kid, Haunts were something kids did- some guy in a Dracula cape with plastic fangs looming out of the shadows to “blah!” at you, or a rotting hand loudly hissing with hydraulics reaching through a plastic grate. The modern Haunts are much bigger deals. There is the Hollywood polish of Universal Studio’s PG-13 mazes and “scare-actors” leaping about in pig masks with chainsaws, or the more hard-R rated grand guignol splatterfests held in various downtown locations, or the living theater-type immersive hauntings… and even back-yard haunts that harken back to my youthful memories of plastic fangs and store-bought decorations writ large.

People seek out this fear, this electrical sort of excitement, and do so every year. They pay for it.

And in The Houses October Built, I’m guessing they pay for it.

I have read no good reviews of The Houses October Built. In fact, most are pretty dismissive of the movie as a whole.

I might never see the movie- but the trailer, that spooky masked girl, the ring of figures outside the Winnebago- that will stay with me.

I love the idea of this movie. There is something sinister, something scary, and something unnatural about seeking the “fun” fear of harmless haunts. And if you search too hard for the “ultimate” scare, something truly frightening will find you.

I will watch it if it shows up on Netflix, even if it is a Found Footage (bleh) movie.

Happy Halloween- I hope you find what you are looking for…

Halloween Countdown – October 30

From the first snap of the flashbulb and its mosquito-whine noise…

There are so many great shots in this movie- from the tracking shot behind the swing, to the savage sunset, to the weird corpse sculpture… I don’t even mind that the last shot of the movie is in the trailer.

No horror film has stuck with me the way The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has.

And this is a terrific trailer, using sound so deftly with each visual cut that it ratchets the tension and never really releases it… until we’re with Sally in the back of the pickup truck, hysterically laughing/keening- and then the images come flooding back.

A great trailer for a great movie, it doesn’t hold back and it doesn’t make the viewer feel safe.

Halloween Countdown – October 29

Emily DiPrimio was 14 years old when she raised $31,900 and made an 80’s style slasher film.

The existence of the movie makes me very happy.

Carver has a pretty standard premise, a good mask for the killer, and a great behind-the-scenes story. I’m more likely to enjoy this than I am a lot of the other trailers I’ve featured this month.

Who else?

It is almost Halloween!

Residents of Quaint Eventide (2)

There is a general unease in Eventide Village.

Neither Mori brother has spoken to the other in several days.
The skulk of foxes has spoken to Jirou twice.

Alice Jay has spent the last two nights sleeping in the back row of the Village Cinema.
Lillian Thuang is unaware as the theater is closed, waiting for the Halloween special double-feature.
Alice snuck in while Lillian was airing out the lobby after deep-scrubbing the carpet.

Constable Rhonda Weary has released Bud Miller from the cell in the constabulary on Maine Street and instructed him to stay the hell away from Roy Pepper’s hog farm.
Judge Lyndon has instructed Bud Miller to seek out a 12-step group in the town up north.

Bud Miller did go to town- or start to.
He pulled his truck over again into that same copse of trees, and has sat there thinking all through the night.
Why would hearing hoof-falls scare him so deeply, and what was he doing driving to the Pepper spread?
He doesn’t even know Roy except to nod at him.

Ezra Quint has gone to the Judge and told him that things are getting worser.
The striker in the clocktower seems to quiver every night around 1am, like it wants to strike more than just once.
Ezra Quint knows this isn’t rational thinking.
Judge Lyndon believes that the clock is due to overstrike, as it does thirteen times a year.
Only this time he is afraid.

The Groom-to-be moved out of the Bottin bed & breakfast, and into the Golden Anchor motel.
He convinced the bride it was to make their special day more special, but in truth the risk of seeing anything in any semi-reflective surface in the b&b has triggered daily panic attacks.

Nadine Forster, once a biologist, spends her nights at the Golden Anchor as well.
At dawn she limps carefully towards Stinkwood.
She never enters the forest.
She cannot work up the courage.

The Bride-to-be keeps taking long walks down Turkey Neck Road, which is the dividing line from the village proper and the south-tide.
She is fascinated by the scarecrows out on the marsh.
She visited the pier and asked Walt Beckers to rent her a small boat.
He wisely told her they were all in need of repair going into the off-season.

For the last week the Alderpersons have assembled at the gazebo in the village green at dusk.
Boyd Spencer smokes a pipe.
Glenn Roth smokes cigars.
Miri Chaudhri smokes cigarettes.
They smoke and stand, silent, watching first the courthouse, then That place on the hill.
Tuesday night Mister Spencer said: “Something is going to have to be done.”

Mrs. Waverly has been told that a virulent epidemic of strep throat has ravaged the Dolores Squane Home for the Seeing Impaired.
Now mute as well as blind, the inmates are giving the cooking and custodial staff, and Edgar Tran (Mrs. Waverly’s administrative assistant) the heebie-jeebies.
Needless to say, the afflicted aren’t having a good time of it either.

Every night, the clock tower almost strikes thirteen.
Every night, lights can be seen in That place by the elders holding vigil at the foot of the hill.
Every night gets closer.

Halloween Countdown – October 28

We’re in the final stretch…

Mario Bava and his muse/star Barbara Steele arguably did more to advance horror in the 1960s than Roger Corman- they set the stage, he aped the design. As he should- AIP distributed the film.

Universal had done their elegant, gentle-person vampire movies. Hammer had added some blood, but kept a certain drawing room gentility. From the shot of that crypt being blown apart by pure malignant will- Bava’s Black Sunday was opening a new chapter for undead horror. This 1960 film (banned in the UK for it’s violence) was to gothic horror what Night of the Living Dead was for siege movies.

Black Sunday. Mostly unknown by today’s horror fans- except as a source for Barbara Steele gifs. But what a trailer! From the atmospheric shots of the Inquisition-like torment, to the fantastic crypt sequence, kinetic action, terrible imagery- and looming over it all, the horrible concept of faces half-melted and pulled by fiendish iron masks, and Barbara Steele’s luminous anime eyes…

Halloween Countdown – October 27

I ran the teaser trailer for Ana Lily Amirpour’s upcoming A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night a week or so ago.

It was haunting, evocative, and intriguing as hell.

This is the full trailer, just dropped:

According to VICE media: “The first Iranian Vampire Western ever made, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave. Amped by a mix of Iranian rock, techno, and Morricone-inspired riffs, the film’s airy, anamorphic, black-and-white aesthetic combines the simmering tension of Sergio Leone with the weird surrealism of David Lynch.”

Well shit. I’m sold.

Also, it turns out that not only is it illegal to make a horror film in Iran but impossible. Amirpour apparently found a deserted or semi-deserted SoCal oil town and dressed it to look like Iran, and cast ex-patriates and Persian-American actors.

Like I didn’t want to see it before…

Halloween Countdown – October 26

“I’ve never sensed anything like it…”

1974 gave us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
1975 gave us Jaws.

Two of the most influential and pivotal horror films to come out of the 70s- and pave the way for hundreds of imitators.
In 1982, Spielberg produced and Tobe Hooper directed Poltergeist.

Hooper went on to struggle through some heartfelt but imperfect movies (I’m being kind here, Lifeforce, The Mangler) with the occasional creative success (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, Toolbox Murders) but without the critical or financial success he seemed primed for following Poltergeist.

That Spielberg guy did okay for himself though. And there have certainly been horror elements in many of his films- though he has never returned full-throttle to the genre that launched his career.

(arguments abound that Jaws is more a “Monster Movie” than a horror film, and while I feel that is valid, I believe that Monster Movies belong under the larger Horror designation)

What a trailer though, eh? It is funny. Creepy. And perfectly timed. A time capsule studio 80s trailer.