Laura James

CONCERT REVIEW: Danzig (2017)

CONCERT REVIEW: Danzig (2017)

In late 2015, Glenn Danzig said he would no longer tour.
My first and only time seeing Danzig had been about a month before he made that announcement. The security at the show was over the top; the performance was underwhelming. I was still grateful to have finally seen the heavy metal legend and punk rock deity.
At a festival in 2017, Danzig played Danzig 3: How the Gods Kill in its entirety. Afterwards he announced a short fall tour for his new album, Black Laden Crown, with Corrosion of Conformity. There was a date at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, half an hour away from me. The forces of evil had showed benevolence. I couldn’t believe my luck.Danzig ticket
The local opener was MOROS, an apocalyptically bleak heavy metal band from Philadelphia. Like Shining from Sweden, suicide is the motif of their music and merchandise. They were abysmal in a good way.
Next was Mutoid Man. Two members of the trio are in renowned metalcore bands but the songs they played were equal parts hardcore punk and doom metal. Singer/guitarist Stephen Brodsky’s stage presence is like a toned-down Devin Townsend singing for Red Fang.
Corrosion of Conformity reunited with vocalist Pepper Keenan two years ago and their set was mostly made up of the southern rock-influenced sound that he brought to the band when they were originally hardcore punk. They played four songs from Deliverance, their most successful album and their first album to feature Keenan on lead vocals, as well as the exuberant single “Who’s Got the Fire” from America’s Volume Dealer. In the middle of their set, they did revisit their punk sound and attitude when they played “Vote With a Bullet,” an aggressive, politically-charged song that didn’t divide people but brought them together in the mosh pit.
Danzig autograph albumCorrosion of Conformity ended their set with “Clean My Wounds” and took down their banner, leaving the iconic horned skull logo snarling down at an eager audience. The band took the stage and started things brutally with “SkinCarver.” A mosh pit instantly broke out next to us. The audience responded with just as much intensity to “Twist of Cain,” a classic from the first Danzig album. After that was “Devil on Highway 9,” a fast-paced song from Black Laden Crown that grabs you and drags you along with it. You can hear Danzig’s age in his vocals on the new album but that was barely noticeable at this show. He followed the new song with “Her Black Wings” from the second album and five songs from How the Gods Kill, including the chilling title track, with Danzig sounding just like he did on the recordings. After the sinisterly catchy live staple “Dirty Black Summer,” he played “Last Ride,” the somber single from the new album. There were several older songs before his most popular song, most inescapable song, “Mother.”
The band left the stage but quickly came back. The encore was the darkly sensuous “She Rides” and biting, blasphemous “Snakes of Christ.”
Danzig autograph pictureWe went outside to wait by the bus afterwards. Danzig is almost impossible to meet anymore but we decided to test our luck along with about thirty other people. Maybe a half an hour after the show ended, Glenn came outside and went to his bus but waved to the crowd and said he would sign soon. His bodyguard explained that everyone needed to line up and then he would take people two at a time to the bus where he would take their items onto the bus for Glenn to sign but he wouldn’t be meeting anyone. That system worked fairly efficiently and we met Danzig’s drummer, Johnny Kelly (formerly of Type O Negative), while waiting to get our stuff signed.
All of the bands put on great shows and it was an amazing experience made even better since it was an opportunity I never thought I would have.
Posted by Laura James in MUSIC REVIEWS, 0 comments
SATURDAY NIGHT SHOCKER: The Amityville Horror, Part 1

SATURDAY NIGHT SHOCKER: The Amityville Horror, Part 1

Part one of a special two-part Saturday Night Shocker: The Amityville Horror

On a December day in 1975, the Lutz family arrives at their new home: 112 Ocean Avenue on the South Shore of Long Island.
Before they start moving in, the mother, Kathleen, tells her three children that the previous owners were murdered in the house. She asks if living there will bother them. Nine year-old Danny, who is the oldest, can barely grasp the concept of murders or death. He isn’t unfamiliar with threatening or sinister concepts, however; his stepfather, George, has bookshelves full of books on hypnosis, the occult, and something called “transcendental meditation”.
Danny trusts his mother and knows she wouldn’t let anything bad happen to them. This house will be a fun new adventure. It’s right on the water and there’s a boathouse and even a pool. He tries to think of an exciting future instead of stories of a spooky past.
He looks at the huge house and wonders which room will be his; maybe one of the rooms with the funny windows.
The windows look like eyes.
Ten years before, another family moved into the house optimistic for a fresh start.
Ronald and Louise DeFeo had a turbulent marriage. Fed up with Ronald’s infidelity and beatings, Louise had briefly moved out of their Brooklyn apartment with their four children, Ronald Jr. (“Butch”), Dawn, Allison, and Mark. Upon her return, Ronald bought the opulent three-story Dutch-Colonial in the affluent community of Amityville. Soon after, they had a fifth child, John.
Fair use doctrine.
DeFeo family portraits
Ronald was the service manager at his father-in-law’s car dealership and, while it wasn’t the most prosperous position, money was somehow never a problem. The house was lavishly decorated. Louise didn’t work and Butch lost jobs frequently but wasn’t concerned with money since his father supplied him with a generous allowance. Ronald commissioned portraits done of the family: one of him pouring a glass of wine for Butch, one of Dawn and Allison reading from a picture book, one of Marc and John by a lake backdrop, and one of Louise posed regally by herself, recalling the modeling she had done before her marriage. There was also a portrait of Louise’s father, Micheal Brigante, the unquestioned benefactor of the family’s wealth. Micheal Brigante was a childhood friend of Carlo Gambino and the dealership was allegedly a front for Gambino’s criminal activity such as money laundering and disposal of weapons. Ronald had a hiding place for money and the dealerships books under the floor of his closet.
The problems the family had hoped to escape just flourished in their new setting. Ronald had girlfriends in the city and Louise was said to have had an affair with the artist who did the family portraits. Ronald continued to beat Louise and turned the abuse on Butch and Dawn. The younger children avoided abuse but witnessed fights that often turned physical. Butch once pointed a gun at his father to make him stop hitting Louise. He pulled the trigger but it didn’t fire, which Ronald viewed as a miracle. After that, he had Butch and his friend Bobby Kelske put religious statues and a small shrine in the backyard.
Butch and Dawn both used drugs and alcohol to cope with their dysfunctional family life. Dawn wanted to move to Florida with a boyfriend but her father forbid it. She fought back, even going after Ronald with a butcher knife during one argument, but didn’t leave. Butch was also at odds with their father. Butch and a friend had supposedly been robbed while taking a large amount of money to the bank. Ronald didn’t believe him, which led to fights at the dealership where employees heard Ronald call Butch “the devil” and said he needed to get the devil off his back. Butch told Dawn he had heard their father and Louise’s uncle plotting to kill him.
Butch knew he had to strike first.
Danny told his mother living in the new house wouldn’t bother him but he wasn’t sure. The day they moved in, a priest came to bless the house. Danny saw the priest go upstairs and then immediately leave. He went into the room where the priest had been and saw swarms of flies. Danny killed as many of the flies as he could, but, when he brought his mother in to show her, they had disappeared. A few nights later, Danny and his little brother and sister accidentally broke a pane in the window in their playroom and both Kathy and George had beaten all three of them.
Danny was used to George’s authoritative, domineering ways; he made the children call him “Sir” and, after marrying Kathy, insisted on adopting the children because he wanted them to have his name if he was going to take responsibility for them. George hadn’t been working since the move and seemed stressed and sick, always cold and building fires in the fireplace to keep him warm. He woke up every morning at 3:15am for no reason and often heard loud music coming from the living room in the middle of the night. He would yell at Kathy to keep the kids quiet and they all tried to avoid him. After a fight with George, Danny was thrown up the stairs by an unseen force.
That wasn’t the end of the bizarre supernatural things that happened to Danny. He opened the window to get rid of an unexplained terrible odor in the house and the window crashed back down on his hands, literally flattening them. Kathy took him down to the kitchen, where he sat at the table while she called for help. A door in the kitchen opened and a specter entered the room. The specter walked through Danny’s injured hands, healing them like nothing had even happened.
The last night the Lutzes were in the house, the boys’ beds shook violently and levitated. The family was so terrified they didn’t take anything with them when they left.
Fair use doctrine.
The Amityville Horror and The Amityville Horror II: The Possession
Posted by Laura James in Real World Horrors, SATURDAY NIGHT SHOCKER, 0 comments
Charles Schmid – The Pied Piper of Tucson

Charles Schmid – The Pied Piper of Tucson

Charles Schmid headshot / Fair use doctrine.
On May 15, 1964, in Tucson, Arizona, a 15-year-old girl named Alleen Rowe went for a drive with a guy known as “Smitty.” Smitty was older, in his early 20s, and Alleen couldn’t believe her luck. She was invited on a date with the most popular guy in town. He had his own place and threw wild parties where he let high school kids drink as much as they wanted. He was sophisticated, wearing “stage make-up” like a movie star, and a little dangerous: he walked with a limp, which he said was the result of a run-in with Mafia thugs. She didn’t even mind that his friends, John and Mary, were tagging along; she knew eventually she would be the center of Smitty’s attention.
It was late when they stopped in the desert. Smitty beckoned Alleen out of the car and John came with them. Mary stayed behind, listening to the radio. Once outside, Smitty turned amorous and rough. His friend’s presence didn’t even bother him; John just faded into the background while Smitty went after Alleen, whether she wanted him or not. When he was done, when she thought he would take her back to the car and home from their “date,” he put his hands around her throat and squeezed hard. Alleen was the center of his attention until her last breath. She had been lured to her death by the Piped Piper of Tucson.
Charles Howard Schmid was born on July 8, 1942. He was the adopted son of Charles and Katherine Schmid, a wealthy couple who ran a nursing home. He had a rough relationship with his adoptive father, fighting often, but his parents still indulged and supported him financially. After he was kicked out of school for stealing, his parents gave him his own quarters on their property and a monthly allowance of several hundred dollars.
Charles was insecure about his appearance and height. He wore thick pancake make-up and applied a beauty mark, and sometimes pinched his lower lip to get a “pouty look” like his idol, Elvis Presley. He was only 5’3″, so he stuffed crushed paper in his boots to make himself appear taller, though it only gave him an odd gait. He threw parties at his apartments, getting the attention and admiration he craved by providing underage kids a place where they could drink and do drugs without fear of being caught. Girls gave themselves to him eagerly.
One girl told her mother she had been invited to join a sex club and that if she didn’t get in, she would be “a nobody.” That girl was Alleen Rowe, Schmid’s first victim. He had one of his girlfriends, Mary French, lure Alleen away with them so he could satisfy his curiosity about what it felt like to kill a girl. He buried her in the desert but didn’t bother to stay quiet about the murder in his social circle. Presumably, his admirers only kept his secret because they didn’t want to risk losing their party spot. One of his girlfriends, 17-year-old Gretchen Fritz, the daughter of a prominent surgeon in Tucson, did threaten to tell the police about the murder, but only when Charles wanted to break up with her. He invited her to his place so they could talk things over. She brought her younger sister, 13-year-old Wendy. Schmid strangled both girls and buried them in the desert.
Having more victims didn’t make him any more secretive or cautious. He bragged to his friend, Richard Bruns, about what he had done and took him to see the bodies. Richard was wracked with guilt, suffering nightmares and paranoia that his girlfriend would be Schmid’s next victim. He went to the police and told them all he knew.
Charles Schmid was arrested on November 11th 1965. John Saunders and Mary French were also arrested for their participation in the murder of Alleen Rowe. Mary French got four years in prison and John Saunders was given a life sentence. Schmid received a death sentence but it was commuted to life imprisonment. He escaped with another murderer in 1972 but was recaptured after a few days.
He was stabbed by a fellow inmate in 1975 and died over a week later.
For a deeper exploration of a narcissistic sociopath who craves followers and followers so desperate for excitement they will be complicit in whatever he does, read Joyce Carol Oates’ iconic short story “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been” or Jack Ketchum’s excellent novel, The Lost, or watch the 2006 film adaptation of The Lost directed by Chris Siverston, all based on the Charles Schmid case.
Charles Schmid police car / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Laura James in BRUTAL REALITY, SATURDAY NIGHT SHOCKER, 2 comments
Peter Kurten: The Vampire of Dusseldorf

Peter Kurten: The Vampire of Dusseldorf

By Laura James
A 20 year-old girl named Maria takes a train from Cologne, Germany, to Dusseldorf in the Spring of 1930. She leaves the train station with her guard up; a fiend had been menacing the city for the past year, assaulting and murdering men, women, and children. He’s even sent letters to the local paper with a map showing the location of the body of his latest victim, a five year-old girl. Maria tries not to think about the horrors of his crimes, as she has come to the city seeking work and needs to find a place to stay.
As she walks, she is brashly approached by a man asking her for directions somewhere and trying to lead her into a park. Panicked that this could be the maniac, she deflects his attention but he becomes argumentative. Just as quickly, another man intervenes. He is dressed respectably with neatly-combed hair. He sends the quarrelsome man off and asks Maria if she would like to come to his apartment for a drink and, charmed, she accepts.
He leads her down a street called Mettemannerstrasse, but pulls her into the woods and begins strangling her. The good Samaritan who came to her aid is “The Vampire of Dusseldorf.”
The vampire’s lust for violence came from a background as brutal as his crimes. Peter Kurten was born on May 26, 1883, in Cologne-Mulheim, Germany. He was the oldest of 13 children. His family was impoverished from his father spending his wages on booze, that they lived in a small apartment, with no escape from their father’s physical or sexual abuse. He forced himself on his wife, beat her and their children, and was arrested in 1897 for attempting (or committing) incest with one of his daughters.
Peter’s dark impulses manifested early. He is rumored to have caused (or at least aided in) the drowning of two playmates at the age of five. He lost his virginity at the age of 13 when he forced himself on a girl in the woods and almost strangled her to death. Sickeningly, women weren’t the only recipients of his lust. He became apprentice to a dog-catcher when his family moved to Dusseldorf and engaged in bestiality with different kinds of animals, sometimes stabbing them and drinking their blood during the act. These were his first instances of vampirism and the start of his criminal history.
He was in and out of jail for burglary, assault, and arson. Watching the fires and imagining the harm and death they might cause was a form of sexual gratification for the pyromaniac. He hated the conditions of the prisons and the treatment he endured from the guards but that was never enough of a deterrent for his criminal activity. In 1913, he crept through the an open window at an inn owned by a man named Peter Klein. Kurten found Klein’s 13 year-old daughter Christine and slit her throat. In his hurry to get away, Kurten dropped a handkerchief embroidered with his initials. The police who investigated the crime scene found it but, following the most obvious lead, focused on Peter Klein.
Even after eluding capture due to a stunning coincidence, Kurten was only linked to one other murder during that time. His impulses may have been calmed by marriage. He married in 1923, and neighbors and coworkers described him as quiet, timid, and responsible.
He didn’t kill again until 1929, beginning his “year of terror.”
In February of that year, he attacked a woman, but her distressed cries summoned people and Kurten fled. A few weeks later, he stabbed eight year-old Rosa Ohlinger to death with a pair of scissors and left her body around a construction site. He returned later that evening, soaked her body in kerosene, and set it ablaze, masturbating while he watched the fire.
Several weeks after that, a man named Rudolf Scheer drunkenly bumped into Kurten while on the way home from a beer hall. This so enraged Kurten that he stabbed Scheer with scissors and drank the blood that flowed from his wounds.
That August, he had sex with a domestic servant named Maria Hahn, stabbed her to death, and further satisfied himself by drinking her blood. Towards the end of the month, he encountered two young girls, 13 year-old Luise and five year-old Gertrude, on their way home from a fair. He lured them into a meadow, strangling and stabbing the older girl and slitting the younger one’s throat.
In September, he attempted to murder another servant and succeeded in murdering other women, one that month and one in October, by beating them to death.
He committed what would be his final murder in November when he stabbed five year-old Gertrud Albermann to death with a pair of scissors.
Kurten greatly admired London’s Jack the Ripper, researching the case and even sending a taunting letter to the German newspaper, Freedom. In his letter, he revealed the location of the bodies of Gertrud Albermann and Maria Hahn.
In May of the following year, he found a girl named Maria Budlies fighting with a man who approached her after she got off a train from Cologne. Kurten diffused the situation and offered to take her to his apartment. Instead, he tried to strangle her in the woods around his apartment but, inexplicably, stopped. Perhaps he was worried about the other man being able to identify him after seeing him walk away with Maria. He asked her if she would remember how to get to his place and she said she would not.
Maria didn’t go to the police about the incident but did write about it to a friend a few days later. There was a mistake in the address so a clerk at the post office opened the envelope to see if she could figure out where it was supposed to be sent. The clerk read the contents of the letter and turned it over to police. The police went to Maria, and she led them to Peter Kurten’s home.
He saw the police and was able to avoid them at the time but knew they were closing in on him. Kurten confessed everything to his wife, and the next day she turned him in to the police.
Peter Kurten plead insanity. He revealed fantasies of poisoning, injuring, or killing large crowds of people at once. He even claimed that his victims, mostly children or those subservient to him, were his revenge on society for the treatment he endured in prison. He did, however, express concern for one person: his wife. He said he hoped she would be taken care of with him gone and, at one point, claimed he was innocent of all charges and said he only admitted to the murders so his wife could collect the reward money.
His plea was rejected, and Peter Kurten was found guilty of nine counts of murder. His morbid lust followed him to the very end; he expressed excitement at the prospect of beheading and inquired if he would be conscious long enough to hear the blood gushing from his body.
Peter Kurten was executed on July 2, 1931.
Posted by Laura James in BRUTAL REALITY, Historic Horror, 0 comments
HoTS LIVE : MITCHELL ALTIERI

HoTS LIVE : MITCHELL ALTIERI

By John Roisland/Allen Alberson

Hello, boys and girls, and welcome to yet another great addition of House of Tortured Souls Live with special guest Mitchell Altieri! That’s right. On this exciting pre-recorded episode, John and Allen welcome special guest writer-director Mitchell Altieri. Mitchell fills everyone in as he discusses the new upcoming horror comedy The Night Watchmen, starring Ken Arnold, Dan Deluca and Kevin Jiggetts that is holding its big screen premier next Thursday, 11/17/16. He also talks about his past movies such as The Hamiltons and The Violent Kind . Along with all this, Mitchell Altieri also talks with us about the pros and cons of independent vs high-end Hollywood production films.
Mitchell Altieri on House of Tortured Souls Live
On this week’s episode of House of Tortured Souls LIve, John and Allen also discuss the upcoming remake of legendary horror film An American Werewolf in London as Max Landis, son of the original director, is now behind the camera. Your horror-fic hosts give mention on our artist of the month Corey Newman as well as welcome our newest member to the staff of House of Tortured Souls, Laura James who will be bringing us true horror in American history.
House of Tortured Souls Live also takes a moment congratulate the winners of our first annual Scary Story Contest. We also touch base on House of tortured Souls own Rocky Gray with his upcoming horror anthology film 10/31/16, as well as give you a sneak peek at our upcoming guests on House of Tortured Souls Live.
So give a listen and as always,
Keep It Evil…
Posted by John Roisland in Podcast, 0 comments