Archive for Monster

Short Story: BEARING GIFTS

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2015 by smuckyproductions

 

In the nights before Christmas, a different kind of gift giving… one kept in shadow.

BEARING GIFTS

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The snow tried to follow her inside, buffeting the dust and gauze of the empty hall, until she forced the door shut. Without the wind and the snow’s glare, the house was utterly desolate. In the early days it had nauseated her to be alone there. She could feel the weight of all the silent rooms, the winding corridors pressing down on her, tempting their secrets. Now she had grown accustomed, though the wind still sounded like a warning as it begged for entry.

Clutching her bundle, she stepped across the wasted floorboards and approached the ballroom doors, which hung ajar in anticipation. Their moaning movement revealed what once had been a grand ballroom. She imagined it, glowing with candles and extravagant fabrics, a rebellion against the blasted land outside. All that remained of that glamour were the web-shrouded chandeliers and the cavernous yawning windows. They still leaked blue light into the room, enough to reveal the silhouette crouched in the center.

She never took more than three steps into the room. It was enough to made the shadow stir, ripple into movement. A sigh whipped around the ceiling; then, the wheezing voice. “You bring dinner.”

So many years and those words still rattled her spine. “Yes, I did.”

She did not look at the shadow anymore. In the beginning she had made the mistake of doing so. The impressions of grey flesh, distended from misery, and the tatters of an unused bridal gown squeezed over the rotten frame, would never leave her mind. It was best to close her eyes and present the bundle blind.

There was shifting, the crackle of old bones, then the bundle was ripped from her arms. She tried not to listen as the bundle stirred, cried, then extinguished with the crunching of teeth. The chewing dragged on for several moments until the swallowing throat belched and groaned in disgusted satisfaction.

“Done,” the voice sobbed. “Done…”

The sobbing was the worst. She could bear the grotesque shape, the chewing; even the preparation, creeping into silent homes and lifting the bundles from their cradles to satisfy her ward. That was all, she knew, necessary. But to hear this creature, who had once twirled beneath the chandelier with ultimate grace and promise, shaking and blubbering in such degeneration… She ran from the room, holding her hands over her ears until she had burst back into the storm.

Outside and concealed, she withdrew the knife from her dress. She had been carrying it for weeks. When the sobbing became too awful she would use it and end the cycle, allow that deformed body to rest. It would be an act of mercy. But the time had not yet come. She could still hear the innocence, the pure beauty, of that cursed child, trapped somewhere in the body of a beast.

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New MINUTE MORBIDITIES: ALARM

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2015 by smuckyproductions

There’s no nightmare like getting woken up from a nice, peaceful sleep… especially when you live in the world of MINUTE MORBIDITIES.

Check out the latest episode, ALARM, here:

New episodes every TUESDAY and FRIDAY.

Stay tuned and SHARE THE SCARE!

Films That Haunt Me: ABSENTIA

Posted in Films That Haunt Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2015 by smuckyproductions

While ‘Oculus’ made a decent-sized splash when it came out in 2014, director Mike Flanagan is no novice when it comes to horror. His earlier effort, and perhaps the superior film, is a must-see when discussing independent horror – an unsettling fairy tale called ABSENTIA.

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The film is centered around a woman, her sister, and the disappearance of the sister’s husband. When the woman moves in with her sister to assist in the investigation (also to try to kick her drug habit), she begins to notice strange things – all connected with a creepy tunnel nearby. She starts to wonder what really happened to her sister’s husband, but the closer she gets to an answer, the more deadly the situation becomes.

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Sure, it sounds simple, but Flanagan does something that many horror filmmakers forget to do: he gives his characters full-fledged lives. ‘Oculus’ is also populated by dimensional and flawed characters, but ‘Absentia’ gives them much more attention. Everything horrific about the film stems from character interactions. The main character wants to prove that she isn’t a fuck-up by solving the mystery; her sister struggles with resentment for the same reason; and both must grapple with the question of what lives in the tunnel, what is taking people. With the human drama brewing underneath, the impact of the horror is much stronger.

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Combined with these down-to-earth characters is a gleefully fantastical villain. Flanagan shamelessly takes inspiration from the fairy tale Three Billy Goats Gruff, but the monster under the bridge is far nastier than any troll. And he refuses to show us too much, keeping the fear unknown and unnamed. For this reason, the film will alienate many viewers, but for those who pay attention to details, a treasure trove of implied horror will be unearthed. The hints that Flanagan gives are chilling.

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The concept, in its simplicity, also works beautifully. It isn’t a terrifying film – it’s too quiet and patient for that – but it works up a feeling of dread that is at once mundane and uncanny. By layering on the strange occurrences and keeping the audience in the dark, Flanagan constructs an atmosphere akin to Lovecraft, the cloying but silent fear of touching ever so briefly a titanic evil. The dull, familiar setting of the suburbs makes it even more effective. The tunnel that hides the evil is no subterranean nightmare – it could be in any neighborhood, in any city. What’s to say this couldn’t happen to you?

I can’t say that this film scared me, but it leaves the viewer with a sense of wrongness, as if the world has been altered slightly. The human drama comes head-to-head with incomprehensible, invisible evil in a chilling way. And Flanagan, with a budget of only $70K, creates something that inches close to Lovecraft. It’s a celebration of guerilla filmmaking, subtle horror, and the dread of the unknown.

New MINUTE MORBIDITIES: DINNER TIME

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2015 by smuckyproductions

It’s Tuesday, ghouls… you know what that means. A new MINUTE MORBIDITIES has been released: DINNER TIME.

Feed the beast, and share the scare.

For more Minute Morbidities, follow us on:

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And stay tuned every Tuesday and Friday for some bite-sized spookiness!

Short Story: THE LITTLE BOY IN THE WOODS

Posted in Halloween, Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by smuckyproductions

As Halloween is less than a week away, here’s a quick story I wrote a couple years ago. 

THE LITTLE BOY IN THE WOODS

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Since there was no one to play with that day, Cameron Beck went to the woods alone.

He was often alone; his father worked long hours, and his mother was usually at a friend’s house, unless she brought a friend home – they were always men, always smelly men – to stay in her room all day. Even then Cameron was left by himself, because she shut the door and didn’t open it when he knocked or called her name. He was accustomed to loneliness, and as a result had built up a legion of made-up friends who liked his company. They had come to him recently, when his mother’s friends were over almost every day, and they knew all the rules to Cameron’s games and never made him mad. The only problem with these friends was that they couldn’t catch a ball when he threw it, and when they tried to play hide and seek he always knew where they were hiding.

Now, he stood in the leaf-littered grove of dying trees, a few yards away from Green Eyes, who had blue skin and red hair and eyes the color of a Christmas tree. Green Eyes was Cameron’s favorite friend, because he always knew the best jokes to tell, and Cameron liked to have the chance to laugh.

“Ready?” shouted Cameron, as he arched his arm and prepared to throw. Green Eyes said he was.

Cameron threw the ball, and there was a very brief moment of hope that he had every time; hope that Green Eyes or Big Feet or even Lemon Head would reach their arm up and the ball would not sail through, but land on solid flesh. The moment was short-lived because the ball travelled fast, and as always his friend’s hand was no more concrete than the wind, and the ball would hit the ground unperturbed.

Green Eyes said he was sorry.

“It’s okay,” Cameron said. He was sorry, too. “It’s not your fault.” And it wasn’t; if anyone was to blame it was himself, for picking friends who couldn’t catch the ball.

But he was really sorry when he saw his ball had fallen on the other side of the river, a good five feet of rushing water, which was much too high for a little boy to cross. A blackness like rotten bread fell over him. It was his favorite red-with-blue-stars ball, which his father had given to him for his third birthday. When he looked to Green Eyes for advice, his friend wasn’t there anymore, which happened most of the time. There was nothing to be done, and no way to retrieve it.

Then, from afar: “Is this your ball?”

It was a child’s voice, a boy’s, though there was something unusual about it that made Cameron’s skin prickle. He dried his eyes and looked across the river, where his ball had fallen. The speaker stood there, indeed a boy, smaller than Cameron and dressed in old-fashioned clothes that looked dusty. There was nothing remarkable about his features – on the contrary, they were faded, like an old photograph – but Cameron did not pay attention to these details. He was focused on what the boy held in his pale, soft hands: his ball.

“Yes,” Cameron said. “That’s mine.”

“I thought so,” the boy said. The words echoed out of his mouth, like they had been played through a radio, but their tone was bright and pleasing. “It’s very nice. Would you like it back?”

Cameron nodded with vigor.

“Come closer, then,” said the boy. He seemed to choke on his words. “I cannot throw that far.”

He does speak strangely, Cameron thought. It didn’t matter; he wanted the ball back more than anything. He walked across the crackling brown leaves, careful not to trip on any hidden branches. The boy looked eagerly at him, with an excitement Cameron recognized from his dog’s eyes when food was being poured into her bowl.

Cameron stopped a yard or so from the river. An unrecognizable fear had gone up before him like a wall and he didn’t want to go closer. The boy’s face looked funny from this close.

“What’s wrong?” said the boy, bright still. “Come closer.”

“Can’t you throw from there?” said Cameron.

The boy shifted and his features tightened. “I can’t get closer. I’m not allowed to. I can’t reach you from there.” His face was eager again, but it wasn’t subdued this time. He looked hungry.

The ball was so near, sitting in the boy’s hands. Cameron stepped to the water’s edge, close enough to feel the spray on his bare legs. The boy was grinning now, but it wasn’t a nice grin. Cameron decided he didn’t like this boy anymore; once he got the ball back, he would go home and stay in his room and never come to this part of the woods again.

The boy’s teeth parted and a voice that wasn’t human said, “What’s your name?”

Cameron told him.

“That’s a nice name,” the boy said; the words were cold. “Tell me something, Cameron; do your parents love you?”

Cameron couldn’t breathe, but he forced himself to nod.

“I wonder,” said the boy. He didn’t sound happy anymore.

Through his constricted lungs, Cameron brought through his words. “What’s your name?” he said.

The boy’s mouth twitched into what should have been a smile but looked more like a sneer. “I don’t have a name,” it said.

And his arms stretched across the river, lengthening like they were made of rubber. Their slimy wintry fingers, claws, gripped Cameron’s shoulders. The terror was so great that Cameron could not scream, but only watch with frozen eyes as the boy’s head bubbled and dissolved into a white shapeless mass; the sneering mouth became a gaping cavern, wide enough to fit a little boy inside. The throat was lined with a million glinting razors, each row small and unmentionably sharp, shifting and writhing separately from each other in a gleeful vortex. Cameron started into that monstrous abyss where only madness could exist, the abyss that had no end, and though he didn’t know what was happening to him he could sense that he had lost his sanity.

The tentacle-arms lifted him high, over the water and over the yawning madness, and he was able to scream only when the rotten hands dropped him into the razor tunnel. His last conscious emotions were horror and despair, until the jaws rippled shut and Cameron Beck was lost.

Mr. and Mrs. Beck never found out what happened to their son. No body was recovered, and the police found no sign that the boy had been in the woods at all. The detectives grouped his case with all the others from the area, which by that time had amounted to seven, all around the river. The investigation went on for months, but since no progress was made, all of the cases were closed and left shamefully unsolved. The Becks carried out their divorce and never spoke again.

The red-with-blue-stars ball was never found either. It remained where it had fallen that day, concealed well by leaves and weeds and snow, until the water rose and carried it away.

The Ritual: Book Review

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2013 by smuckyproductions

Author: Adam Nevill
Published in 2011
8/10

I came across this book by chance in a Barnes & Noble one day, and the cover alone convinced me to buy it, a decision I definitely don’t regret. “The Ritual” is a wild, harrowing ride, well-written and full of creepy-as-hell imagery. From the first sentence, I was hooked, and couldn’t stop reading until I had reached the pulse-pounding ending.

“The Ritual” follows four college friends who reunite for a camping trip in Sweden. Tensions rise quickly between the four, as personalities clash and they loose their path. You guessed it – they get lost in the cold, unforgiving woods, and soon find themselves stalked by an unseen creature. Hunted and starving, the group struggles to survive as the forces of nature close around them.

There are many aspects of horror at work in this book, which makes it hard to classify. The main villain is an unstoppable Norse god, and a backwoods vibe is introduced by characters closer to the end of the novel. One could almost split the book in two (already done by the author in the formatting), one being a survival horror with a monster as the main threat and the other a Texas Chainsaw-esque occult thriller. This mix of genres makes the book engaging and original. The switch is jarring at first, but Nevill smooths it over well, and keeps the same elements at play throughout.

Nevill’s subtle but shocking way of writing the creature’s appearances is what makes the book so terrifying. He gives the reader little – a quick glimpse of a shape, an unnatural sound in the distance – and this ambiguity keeps the creature frightening until the last page. I found myself jumpy and paranoid after reading certain scenes, though I was far from the woods. Nevill’s prose doesn’t overplay the horror of the story, which makes it all the more frightening. It’s hard to find a truly well-written genre work, but “The Ritual” certainly is one.

Without giving away too much of the story, I can certainly say this novel is worth a read. In today’s industry, saturated with vampire and zombie stories, it’s a breath of fresh air. The story moves fast and is tense, at times terrifying. I look forward to Nevill’s next work.