supernatural

Director: Ryan Bellgardt; Writers: Ryan Bellgardt, Andy Swanson, Josh McKamie; Stars: Adam Hampton, Katie Burgess, Christian Bellgardt; Rating: Not rated; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
First off, let me say I was pretty excited to get a screener for Gremlin as I was a huge fan of Ryan’s previous film Army of Frankensteins, which was a balls to the wall action horror which played like old school Doom(and that is more than OK with me). But sometimes that excited joy can turn to disappointment. Gremlin, not to be confused with Joe Dante’s seminal horror comedy Gremlins is about a mysterious box hiding a nasty little surprise inside. If you are unlucky enough to receive it, you must pass it along to someone you truly love or it will destroy everyone in its path. As much as I hate to bash Bellgardt, I just have to be honest. Gremlin tries hard to be a family drama wrapped in a high concept monster movie but sadly it struggles to do it right. But to be far this is a tricky thing to pull off correctly but is possible, films like Stake Land and the more recent (and brilliant) The Monster (2016) really mesh the two genres seamlessly.
The film gets weighed down in poorly written dialogue, all over the place acting (and I’m using that term very loosely mind you), and plot holes and contrivances that boggle the mind. And then there is the creature… I mean elephant in the room – that being the really poor CGI (think made for SyFy movie) which takes the audience right out of the film. Part of what I loved about Ryan’s previous film was the fact that it for the most part he used practical effects (and damn well, I thought) so why he would choose to follow it up with a hacky CG film is beyond me. But I think what hampers this project the most is in the painfully earnest way it forgets to have a bit of fun with the monster genre and we, the viewers, are left to wade through tired melodrama. Again, as I mentioned above, marrying the drama and horror genre together really is a hard thing to do successfully, so if you know you can’t, why not have some fun with it?
I will give credit where credit is due and say the film is well shot and Bellgardt clearly knows the technical side of film and he frames and lights things to their upmost effectiveness. It also sports a great score. I so wanted this film to be as creative and enjoyable as Army of Frankensteins, but instead of maturing, Ryan traded in his steampunk Indie cred for something altogether unremarkable. I know I beat this film up, but I can see Mr. Bellgardt was really trying for something different and for that I give him huge props. I am still looking forward to his next film – a mash up of Jurassic Park and The Hunger Games as it seems like a return to Army of Frankensteins style madcap fun.
PREVIEW: Gremlin (2017)

PREVIEW: Gremlin (2017)

Director: Ryan Bellgardt; Writers: Ryan Bellgardt, Andy Swanson, Josh McKamie; Stars: Adam Hampton, Katie Burgess, Christian Bellgardt; Rating: Not rated; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
First off, let me say I was pretty excited to get a screener for Gremlin as I was a huge fan of Ryan's previous film Army of Frankensteins, which was a balls to the wall action horror which played like old school Doom(and that is more than OK with me). But sometimes that excited joy can turn to disappointment. Gremlin, not to be confused with Joe Dante’s seminal horror comedy Gremlins is about a mysterious box hiding a nasty little surprise inside. If you are unlucky enough to receive it, you must pass it along to someone you truly love or it will destroy everyone in its path. As much as I hate to bash Bellgardt, I just have to be honest. Gremlin tries hard to be a family drama wrapped in a high concept monster movie but sadly it struggles to do it right. But to be far this is a tricky thing to pull off correctly but is possible, films like Stake Land and the more recent (and brilliant) The Monster (2016) really mesh the two genres seamlessly.
The film gets weighed down in poorly written dialogue, all over the place acting (and I’m using that term very loosely mind you), and plot holes and contrivances that boggle the mind. And then there is the creature... I mean elephant in the room - that being the really poor CGI (think made for SyFy movie) which takes the audience right out of the film. Part of what I loved about Ryan’s previous film was the fact that it for the most part he used practical effects (and damn well, I thought) so why he would choose to follow it up with a hacky CG film is beyond me. But I think what hampers this project the most is in the painfully earnest way it forgets to have a bit of fun with the monster genre and we, the viewers, are left to wade through tired melodrama. Again, as I mentioned above, marrying the drama and horror genre together really is a hard thing to do successfully, so if you know you can’t, why not have some fun with it?
I will give credit where credit is due and say the film is well shot and Bellgardt clearly knows the technical side of film and he frames and lights things to their upmost effectiveness. It also sports a great score. I so wanted this film to be as creative and enjoyable as Army of Frankensteins, but instead of maturing, Ryan traded in his steampunk Indie cred for something altogether unremarkable. I know I beat this film up, but I can see Mr. Bellgardt was really trying for something different and for that I give him huge props. I am still looking forward to his next film - a mash up of Jurassic Park and The Hunger Games as it seems like a return to Army of Frankensteins style madcap fun.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
WiHM: Lady Macbeth

WiHM: Lady Macbeth

If I should make mention of a gruesome, manipulative tale full of drama, suspense, witches, spirits, and multiple murders, one might wonder to which new movie, new series, or perhaps even sequel I might be referring. Before you start searching YouTube for the trailer, let me mention that you certainly won't find any modern horror film showing in any movie theater that compares in quite the same sinister light. I am referring to one of the most original conceptions of horror and terror of all time. That is none other than the Shakespearean classic play: The Tragedy of Macbeth!
In my effort to contribute to this fantastic month of February's theme of "Women in Horror," I will ask you to think outside of your modern box of horrors and travel back to the Middle Ages where a very manipulative and calculating woman in Scotland played others as her puppets: Lady Macbeth.
Though my focus is on the character of Lady Macbeth, it is important to acknowledge that female supernatural elements are immediately apparent when we are introduced to three witches (AKA weird sisters) in the first act of this play. Setting the mood, these women initiate the suspense of the play by planting the seed of potential power in Macbeth's mind to rule as king. However, it is Lady Macbeth who runs with this witchcraft and creates such an overwhelming sense of terror and horror that even her own husband follows her bloody lead.
Let's begin at the beginning. Shall we?
In Act I, Scene V, Lady Macbeth learns of the prophecy by the three witches in a letter from her husband. Immediately she feels concern that her husband is "too full o' the milk of human kindness" (line 18). Still, she quickly resolves to change that when she decides that she will "pour my spirits in thine ear; / And chastise with the valour of my tongue / All that impedes thee from the golden round (27-29). The choice of words in mentioning the plan to pour her spirits in her husband's ear in order to ensure that he gains the throne, which will clearly make her Queen, evokes a kind of supernatural power or sorcery.
Don't believe it just yet? Stay tuned.
Once Lady Macbeth learns that King Duncan is nearing her castle, she takes her manipulative plans to another level when she begins to summon spirits to help her become less feminine and humane into something more evil than perhaps the reader expects. Specifically, she calls on "spirits" and "murdering ministers" and even "thick night" in a "smoke of hell" to aid her in shutting off any emotions that may stop her from having her knife commit the murder and heaven from seeing her act and stopping her. Below is an excerpt of this summoning:
"Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood; / Stop up the access and passage to remorse....Come to my woman's breasts, / And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers....Come, thick night, / And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, / That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, / Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, / To cry 'Hold, hold!'" (lines 41-55).
Upon arrival of her husband, she then tells him to be sure to play the part of the gracious host "But be the serpent under't" (68). Lady Macbeth assures him that she will take care of the murderous deed: "and you shall put / This night's great business into my dispatch...Leave all the rest to me" (69/74).
Yes, folks. Lady Macbeth is undoubtedly the mastermind behind an unstoppable trail of death in this violent play. And though some might argue that she is not so horrible since she does not actually end up killing King Duncan with her own hands, she is still the Charles Manson of this play.
In Act II, she even admits to poisoning the guards of the king before she tells her husband to go finish the job. However, he doesn't do so to her liking as he returns with the daggers, so she ends up having to go wipe the sleeping guards with the blood to make them look guilty since Macbeth is too upset about what he's done. Her chilling response was to call her husband a coward and tell him that "The sleeping and the dead / are but as pictures" (715-6). Nice. No remorse in her blood. In fact, once she gets her hands covered in blood, she tells her husband that "A little water clears us of this deed: / How easy it is then!" (734-5). With nothing but wickedness coursing through her veins, Lady Macbeth continues to harp on her husband's feelings of guilt as annoying and even effeminate.
By the end of this downward spiral to hell and after several additional murders, all stemming from the initial murder of the king, Lady Macbeth does nothing beyond trying to clear her name from the blame even in a subconscious state in the final act. Some would say it is illness in the form of a psychotic state that she enters as she sleepwalks, continuously trying to wash the imaginary blood from her hands and speaking of murder, yet it can also be argued that she continues to be under the possession of the evil spirits that she has so willingly summoned. Nonetheless, Lady Macbeth is clearly so far gone from morality that even the doctor in the play admits nothing more can be done to help her as it "is beyond" his "practice" and even goes so far as to admit that what Lady Macbeth needs is none other than "the divine" (2181/2196).
Why else need divinity if not for the hope to end evil?
Posted by Scarlett O in WOMEN IN HORROR, 2 comments
2016 Scary Story Competition Entries

2016 Scary Story Competition Entries

By Woofer McWooferson
If you're like the folks here at House of Tortured Souls, you're suffering just a hair of post Halloween let down. Well, fear not because House of Tortured Souls has you covered. We've compiled a handy linked list of entries in our 2016 scary story competition.
Take a look at these six tales and let us know what you think. Which ones made you lock the doors? Which ones made you keep the lights on? Which ones kept YOU up at night?
A special thanks to all of our contestants and good luck!
Be sure to keep an eye out for Rich Orth's Halloween collaborations.
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in CONTESTS, FICTION AND POETRY, HALLOWEEN, PARANORMAL, 0 comments

2016 Scary Story Contest – Entry #6, E. L. Dawson

House of Tortured Souls
Presents the
2016 Scary Story
Competition

Entry #5: Requiem
Category: Fiction

By E. L. Dawson

1.
I opened my eyes to a bright shining light, and I wondered just where I was.
As my sight adjusted, I realized that the light I was seeing was only the fluorescents on a ceiling far above me. Moving my head I looked around the area I was in, and nothing registered. I had no idea where I was, or even for that matter, who I was.
I sat up, and put my hand on the smooth shiny floor. 'Trazel.' I thought, even though the word had no meaning to me. Looking around, my mind screamed, 'What is going on?'
The room that I was in was about two hundred feet wide and a thousand feet long. The floor was made of the shiny stuff with markings on it. One marking, I could tell, was a circle with an A in the middle, and the middle of the A became a gigantic bird. I wanted to name the bird, but couldn't do it. It was black and had a long beak.
The walls were made of brick, and there were pictures on them. On the south wall were pictures of kids and above them were the words "In Memoriam." Twelve pictures in all, and they all of them had placards that told the age that they were when they had expired. There were other pictures on the walls, but I could not tell what they were from where I was sitting.
Wooden benches sat every five feet from the walls and they were accompanied by a waste can. I stumbled to the bench closest to the glass doorways, leading outside, and sat down. I couldn't believe how groggy I was. My mind raced as I wondered what happened to the other people. Had I been abducted by aliens? Was there a terrorist attack? Maybe even the rapture? I didn't know All I knew was that this was the kind of building that should have had other people in it.
"Hello!" I yelled out, and the only thing I heard back was the echo of my own voice ringing out.
"Is there anyone here?" I got the same response, and I got a chill up my back. I wanted to run out the doors, but found that my pride wouldn't let me. I was going to walk out those doors like a man!
I put my hands in my pocket, frantically, and found a cell phone, and in my right hip back pocket I found a leather wallet with the Indianapolis Colts logo on it. Thumbing through it I found sixty dollars in cash, an American Express card, a Social Security card, and a drivers license made out to Kevin O'Halloran. According to the license, I was forty-eight, born on August forth, 1964. Even though I now knew my name, I still had no idea who I was. It was frustrating.
Standing up on wobbly legs, I started for the doors. The first thing that hit me was how cold it was in this place. I could see my own breath. Goose bumps rose on my arms as the hairs stood on end. For the first time of many I felt scared. Alone and scared, I made my way to the doors leading outside.
It was daylight, and the parking lot was full of vehicles. I thought to myself how weird it was that there would be that many cars and trucks in the lot, but no presence of any other human beings in the building.
Pushing on the bar, nothing happened. The door stayed closed, and I was at a loss. I slammed my body against it, and all I got for my trouble was knocked over to the floor. I was getting scared. Whatever had happened here did not want me to get out. That thought made me more jittery than anything else that had happened up to that point.
I made myself stand back up, and decided that it was time for me to check out the surroundings, and find another way out, and maybe find other survivors along the way. I took a really good look at where I was at. There was a cafeteria, and I thought maybe I was in a school. By the size of the common area, it had to be a high school!
My hand automatically reached into my breast pocket, and I pulled out a Camel Crush, and lit it without any problem. I inhaled a generous amount of flavor, and then crushed the little ball in the filter, changing the flavor to menthol. I decided to sit down and enjoy it. If anything would bring anyone out it would be a non-smoker demanding that I put out the cigarette. At least that was what I was hoping for.
What had happened was a big zilch. Nothing! I finished my cigarette, and crushed it out on the floor beneath me. I listened for loud pounding footsteps in the hallway around me, and got no sound at all. I was devastated. As crushed as the cigarette butt that lay on the floor below me.
There was a map on the brick wall in the entrance, and I walked over to study it. The marquee over the picture stated that it was Appleton High School. The name rang a bell to me, but I could still not pull it up. My mind or at least what was left of it would not allow me to access anything that was to let me remember who I am. I couldn't believe how big, according to the map that the school was. I thought to myself as how this school could have it's own zip code. There was a whole wing dedicated to band only, and then a music department, and home economics department. I was shocked.
My finger went across the map, and I felt that I knew the place as well as I was going to. I walked away with hope in my heart. Hope that I would find another person, or at least a way out of the predicament I found myself in.
The first thing that I decided to do was go to one of the locker rooms and clean myself up. Not that I was dirty or anything, I just wanted to get the smell of fear off of me. Was I scared? Yes, and I still am. Getting that smell off was the first step in trying to find a way out of this mess. I wanted a shower.
I walked down the hallway next to the commons, where I found the gym. The bleachers were all in, and the basketball goals were out so that the basketball team could practice. "Never again." I mumbled under my breath, as I walked towards the men's locker room.
Opening the door, I expected the lights to be off, but I was wrong. The hallway lights leading into the pit of the beast were working all the way down into bath and shower area. I was relieved. I yelled down the hallway, "Hello?" Once again, no sound came from inside. I shook my head and cautiously made my way in. Each step that I took I felt like screaming, and my own foot falls rang in my ears.
The door to the coaches office was standing wide open, and I peeked in to see if there was anyone in there. It was the same as everywhere else. Nothing!
"Dear God," I found myself praying. It was probably the first time in years that I had even attempted to speak with God, but I felt that this time it was maybe the only thing to do. "I don't know how long it has been, but I am in desperate need of you right now. I don't know what is going on, nor do I even know who I am. I am lost and lonely. The truth is that I am scared. Please help me in my hour of need! Amen!"
I waited hoping that God would intervene, but to no avail. I was thinking that the door would open and the coach would be all happy to see me. It never happened. I finally walked back into the room where the lockers were stored.
There were yellow lockers all in a row around the room. They were all open, and clothes were scattered all over the floor. There were names on magnetic strips above each locker. Yeary #15, Muncy #28, and so on. I shook my head as I realized that these poor kids would never play the game ever again.
I walked over to the locker marked for Yeary, and rummaged through it. Speed stick Sport deodorant stood out to me, and I grabbed it. It wasn't as if Yeary would ever need it again. I also grabbed a towel out of his locker.
With a heavy heart, I walked into the shower. It was a square room with three showerheads on the three sides that didn't have the doorway. On the tiled floor there was a single three inch drain. Strands of long dark hair clogged it, and I reached down to grab the clumps out. Touching them mad me want to vomit, because my mind kept telling me I was touching the hair of a dead man, and that though stayed with me. I hurriedly grabbed to sickening clumps, and threw them at the wall, where they stuck. I ran to one of the toilets and hurled.
Feeling better, I rinsed out my mouth, and walked back to the shower. I didn't know what to expect, but as I turned to water on I was mildly surprised to find that the hot water worked. I found myself whistling a tune that I didn't ever remember hearing before, as I got undressed.
A man can adapt to any given situation, and I knew that I was adapting quite quickly. It is truly in our nature, and I was experiencing it firsthand. Getting under the hot streams of water made me once again feel like a man, and I knew that I was going to find a way out of this mess.
My thoughts turned to the cell phone that I had found in my pants pocket. Why I hadn't thought of using it before, I couldn't say, but it was looking me in the face the whole time. I could call out to one of the numbers stored in there and then someone would come and get me.
"You idiot!" I said aloud to myself. "All this time you had the solution right there in your pocket, and you didn't even think about it!"
Turning off the water, I dried myself off. I finally felt refreshed and ready to go. My mind gave no thought to the fact that if there was no one in the school, why would there be anyone out there.
I put my clothes back on, and checked the cell. There was no signal, and I cursed it. I knew that I had to find a place where I could get out, and use the phone so I could let someone know that I was stuck in the school. I was desperate. I hit the contact list, and saw the name Leslie O'Halloran. My mind scanned itself trying to remember who Leslie was, but nothing came up.
I started wondering if any of the other doors would work. If I couldn't open them, at least I could break the glass to get out. I knew there had to be a way out, but I was just overlooking it.
"Well, I'm not getting anything done just sitting here." I said, standing up and walking towards the door that lead to the hallway around the gym.
As I opened the door a gust of cold wind hit me, and I screamed. It didn't just hit me, but it went through me. I had no clue what it was, but whatever it was scared the living daylights out of me. My legs went limp as butter, and I fell to the floor. There was something here with me, and I knew that it couldn't be a good thing. It wanted me and this time I wasn't just scared, but I was terrified for my immortal soul!
2.
I managed to crawl back to the common area before the feeling came back into my legs, but I was crying the whole way. I didn't care if anyone had seen me, for if anyone had found themselves in the situation that I was in would have done the same. In that, I have complete confidence.
Finding my legs, I stood up, and made my way to the pop machine. I was thirsty, and I wanted something other than water. Depositing two dollars, I pushed the button for a diet Orange. Three quarters came out in the change slot, and I collected my money and my drink.
My stomach grumbled and I knew that I needed to find something to eat, so that I could keep going. I walked into the cafeteria and then into the kitchen. I was surprised at how big it was, but even more impressed with the cafeteria that accompanied it. There were two sections to the cafeteria. One was the main sitting area. Tables were everywhere, there was five fifty-five inch hi-def televisions in the back, and sides near the doors. I started chuckling as I noticed an old style jukebox that stood next to the doors that led to the commons.
The second part of the cafeteria was much smaller, but there were signs to different fast food places in the area. There were tables for Burger Queen, Pizza House Pizza, Chuck wagon Roast Beef, and of course that old back up, Subterranean Subs. These kids ate well, that was for sure. I wondered to myself if these kids parents knew what they were paying for, and found that I really didn't care.
I walked to one of the serving lines and couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was hot food in metal containers on the steam tables, and it looked fresh. My mind flashed that there really was someone here with me, and I bellowed out.
"Hello!" I yelled before I could stop myself. I wanted nothing more than to find someone else. Anyone would do just fine. Then I remembered the presence that I had felt in the hallway, and became very still.
My stomach growled even harder , and I grabbed a cheeseburger from the steel metal bucket, and placed it between a sesame seed bun. The taste hit me at once. It was the best burger that I had ever tasted. I don't remember my taste buds ever having an orgasm, but it was the closest word I know to describe it. A total tastegasm! The Orange drink was the same. My mouth filled with Orange flavor as I guzzled the entire contents down my throat.
I made another cheeseburger, and grabbed some French fries from another bucket. I wanted to sit down and see if I could find any news about what was happening. What I really wanted to know was, was I the only one this was happening to.
The screen came on, but there was nothing but snow on any of the channels, and I was sorely disappointed. When I was a kid there was a T.V. movie that I had watched called "Where Has All The People Gone?" It starred Peter Graves as a man who was in a cave during a solar eclipse. The flairs had killed all the people that were not protected. That's how I felt right then. Almost everyone else was dead, and I was one of the few left.
That thought didn't do my appetite any good. I pushed the rest of my food away and grabbed another cigarette. I placed it in my mouth, and clicked the lighter. It didn't flame on the first click, so I flicked it again. This time I was able to light my smoke, and I sat back to enjoy it.
While I sat there blowing smoke into the air, I tried to think what would be the best way of getting away. The only thing that I could think of was that maybe I could break the glass of the doors in the entrance. In my heart of hearts, I knew that there had to be a way out, and it was up to me to find it.
I finished my cigarette, and downed the rest of my Orange drink. Standing up, I felt that the plan I had was going to work, and that was something I needed to feel. I walked out of the cafeteria, and into the commons.
Grabbing one of the trash cans, and hoisted it up. It was made of fiberglass, and had a good amount of weight to it. I nodded my head, and walked into the entrance. Opening the inner doors, I felt exhilarated. I lifted the barrel over my head, and flung it at the doorway that was keeping me locked inside of this desolate mortuary! I screamed in triumph.
My gleefulness was short lived as I watched the trash barrel hit the glass and bounce off. I stood there in disbelief, and my shock turned to anger as I grabbed the barrel and started smashing it against the glass.
"This is not happening!" I yelled out with each impact on the glass. "I will not be defeated!"
I'm not sure how long that I stood there beating the glass with that trash can, but I got tired of it in a hurry. I collapsed on the floor, and bawled like a baby. Drawing myself up into a fetal position, I let it all out. I was scared, and I wanted answers, but none were forthcoming.
I must have fallen asleep lying there, for when I woke up the sun was going down. I don't know how long I was out, but I was covered in dried snot from when I was crying. I stood up, and stretched, letting my muscles get loosened up. I didn't know if I was ever going to get out of here, but I did know that I was going to keep trying. I wondered what the beings that were holding me thought. I wasn't going to give up, and I swore whoever was responsible was going to pay!
I knew that it was time to quit whining, and show them what I was made of. I was angry! Angry at them, angry at myself, and at anyone else who might get in my way!
I made my way back to the cafeteria and walked over to where the cheeseburgers were. The food was gone, and I wondered if someone had come while I was asleep, and took everything. That was possible. I knew that there were plenty of scenarios that would be possible but I thought that I should wait before I made up my mind on what I thought was going on.
I was hungry again and since there was no food in the cafeteria, I thought I might find something in the teachers lounge. I hadn't been to the front of the school yet, so I wondered what would be up there. I did know by the map that there were a few classrooms in each wing, and that the offices were in a square. Student Services was what they called it. I found that funny because I knew that they used to call it the principal's office and the guidance councilor's office.
I started down the long hallway that ended at another entrance door, but I already knew that I wouldn't get out that way, so I didn't even try. I was on a quest for food, and then I would worry about how to get away after my belly was full.
By the time I walked by the front doors, it was full dark, and once again I felt the coldness of the unknown hit me. This time I did not scream out, nor did I fall down. I took it in and let myself show whatever was watching me know that I would prevail.
I kept on walking and I let the exhilaration of my own humanity show for all to see. The creatures of the unknown be damned. I was going to shine! I remember wondering to myself if any other human being had gone through what I was enduring now. I really didn't know, but I found that I couldn't care any less either.
I found the teachers lounge and looked in the refrigerator. Upon seeing that one of the teachers had left a Tombstone Pizza in the freezer, my stomach rumbled. It was a supreme, and I loved those. Taking it out and unwrapping it, I opened the microwave, and shoved it in. While waiting for the pizza to cook, I scanned the lounge, and what I saw was unbelievable. Fresh coffe was being made. I watched the dark liquid pour out of the cup that held the grounds into the carafe. It smelled so good that I was literally drooling.
Searching the cabinets, I found several coffee cups. I poured a cup, smelling it as I took in the sweet nectar. The microwave said I still had about five minutes, so I sat down and took a big gulp of the coffee. Frowning, I thought that there was something a bit off about it. The coffee wasn't bad or anything, it was just a bit more bitter than I was used to.
"It must be an off brand." I spoke aloud thoughtfully.
Sitting there sipping from the cup, a loud ring came from the wall behind me. I knocked over the chair I was sitting in as I ran to the phone that was displayed underneath the television in the corner of the room. I picked up the receiver and put it up to my right ear.
"Hello... Hello, can you hear me?" I screamed into the phone, and all that I heard back was static. "Please! Is anyone there? My name is Kevin O'Halloran, and I am stuck here! Please answer me!"
Hearing that hateful static on the other end, I knew that my hopes would be dashed once more if I dwelt on it. I hung up the phone and walked over to the microwave to get my pizza, as the timer beeped. I found a pizza cutter in one of the drawers and sliced it four times, then sat down to eat the magnificent pie.
Once again, I was fooled. The pizza in front of me didn't taste exactly right. It wasn't spoiled per se, but it tasted as if it had absorbed the flavor of the cardboard that it sat on. I ate it knowing that I was going to have to keep up my strength if I was going to get out of here.
"Okay, so they're playing games with me. Fine, go ahead. Let's see who is more strong-willed! I managed to say at the top of my lungs. "I will win! I swear it!"
After I ate, I stood up, and walked out of the room. As I turned the corner, in the hallway, I saw something I knew that I couldn't have possibly seen. It was a shadow creature. I didn't see it well, but I could tell it had long black misty tentacles hovering behind it. I also could see right through it's greyness. I thought for sure that I was seeing a ghost and that had scared me worse than anything else I had seen through the whole day. The thing floated from one end of the hall to the other, and lit into the wall going into the guidance offices.
I stood there in shock, and my body broke out in a cold chilly sweat as I took one cautious step after another. I knew what I saw, but tried to convince myself that it was just a trick of the mind. I told myself that I was all alone in a spooky building, and that the mind plays powerful tricks on a person when he is scared shitless.
I wasn't convinced.
3.
I knew that I would not be able to sleep that night, for too much had happened for that to even be possible, so I decided to go to the weight room instead. Do a workout, something to tire me out. Was I ever so wrong!
Remembering from the map, I knew that the school was big, but I really had no idea just how big it really was. It took me a good ten minutes to walk from the front of the building to the back where the weight room was. I was huffing and puffing by the time I walked into the room. Deciding to forgo the cardio room, I went to a bench a laid down on it and grabbed the weight bar above me.
Time here has no definite meaning, and that was something I was finding out. All the clocks had stopped, and my internal clock was messing up more often than not. What I'm meaning to say, is that I had no idea how long I was in there sweating myself, and trying to think about what I had gotten myself into.
As I sat up and wiped the sweat off my face, I was astounded to see a kid sitting on another bench. He was just sitting there staring at me, and I finally found my voice.
"You can see me?" I asked while seeing a glimmer of hope once again.
The young man just sat there and said nothing. I stood up and walked over to him. He kept staring until I got close, then he winced as if I was going to strike him. The look in his eyes were woe-some, and I knew that I had seen him somewhere before. Studying his face for a few seconds I had visions of pictures entering my mind. It was then that I knew that what I was seeing couldn't be possible. The face of the boy surrounded by a frame and a placard swam in front of me. The words "In Memorium" above his picture told me that I was seeing a real God for honest ghost! I screamed, and the boy just lowered his head, and said nothing. The sad expression on his face made me want to cry for the kid. I wished to help him, but I knew that I couldn't even help myself. I knew that this poor kid was doomed. He was going to be here for the rest of eternity, and that this would always be his place of unrest.
My feet were planted to the floor as he looked at me, and I to him. He was dressed in a pair of shorts, and his hair was cut short. His blue eyes took me in as I waited for what he would do. I put out my hand hopeing to feel a real person, but my hand passed through him. He started to shimmer and disappear, but I pleaded with him to stay. I needed company even if the other person wouldn't speak. I wanted to know that there was someone else in the same predicament that I was in.
"Please stay!" I heard myself repeating over and over again, but to no avail. The boy faded and I knew once again I was alone. I had at that moment understood that I was being tortured by something or someone unknown. I again felt the terror creep into my soul!
I carefully backed out of the weight room, watching the bench where the ghost had sat. I was wondering if it sanity that I was losing, or maybe something else. Maybe I was losing my very essence. I wasn't sure what to think as I ran down the hallyway, hearing the door to the weight room slam shut.
I suddenly knew that what I had gotten into wasn't any government tests, or anything else like that. I still thought that it was a possibly That I was abducted by aliens, but I was finding that harder to believe. I stopped and panted, trying to catch my breath. Even that was harder than I thought it would be.
"Kevin!" A whisper that was neither masculine, or feminine echoed through the hallway, and I turned to look for it. There was nothing in any direction, and I started shaking all over.
The hallways were deserted except for the overhead lights that lit the way to other mysterious hallways and classrooms. I wanted to run, but instead I found my inner strength was surfacing as I yelled out, "Damned you! I will not be broken, you son of a bitch!"
There was no reply as the eerie silence settled around me. I felt the cell phone in my pocket and a thought suddenly hit me. I was sure that I would get a signal on the roof. I could call out and someone could send help! I knew that this would work, and I became excited. I knew that the things in this place, this dead place could not keep me down. I was going to show them that I was better than anything that could be holding me here. I just needed to find a way onto the roof.
Needing to relieve myself, I first stopped by the men's restroom. I sighed as the warm urine passed through my system into the urnal below. I realized that I had not gone at all today and found that I was concerned. I wasn't sure but I thought that I was usually pretty regular. I decided to worry myself about that once I was clear of the mess that I was currently in. Whatever this mess was.
I zipped up my pants and walked over to the large round lavatory. The facet was the kind you put your hands under and the water turns itself on. I was deep in the sensation of the water hitting my hands when I felt that I was not alone in there. Something that I couldn't see was waiting in one of the stalls, and I knew that I needed to see what was there.
There were three stalls and three urinals. The urinals were out in the open, and the toilets were enclosed. As I approached the stall closest to the urinals, a toilet flushed. I almost jumped out of my skin. You would think that after everything I had seen and everything that had happened, I would have been used to it. That wasn't the case, not at all. I looked down on the floor as water seeped from below the stalls. The toilet was overflowing a black murky slime that my mind was telling me I didn't want running over my shoes. I stepped away from the stalls, as a toilet seat came crashing down on the toilet itself. As I turned to run the lights in the restroom went out. In the blackness I saw something I tried to tell myself I was not seeing, a pair of red eyes. They floated in the darkness and started towards me!
A scream trapped itself in my throat, as I backed my way to the entrance, into the lighted hallwy. I sat down on another bench, and took out my cigarettes. There were four left. And I knew that this was one of the times that I needed one.
I took one out of the pack with shaking hands, and grabbed my lighter. I flicked it several ties before a small flame came into view. Steadying my hand as the flame approached the cigarette, I took a long deep draw. I felt the calming effect of the smoke as it went down my throat into my lungs. I held it there and let my fears evaporate into the silence that I had never thought I would be so glad to hear.
4.
I checked the map once again and found the nearest mezzanine. It was basically an electric room that supplied all the power for that wing of the school. Not only were there the power lines, but also a back-up generator in case the regular power went out. Also there would be a door that led to the roof. That's what I wanted. I wanted to get out of that school.
I had been noticing odd smells, like a musky, dank smel. I needed a breath of fresh air. I realized that I had to walk to the front of the building to get to the second floor, and then up another set of stairs to the mezzanine.
All of the time I was walking toward the front, it was in my mind that the door probably wouldn't work, that all my walking would produce nothing more than more heartache. I slapped myself hard, and said, "Kevin, you can't think like that! Man you have to keep moving, and doing the best that you can to find a way out!"
I walked on, listening to the sounds of my own footsteps, hoping that no one else's would follow. Going by the library, I noticed movement through the windows. I wasn't sure what I saw, but I knew something was lurking in the shadows. I didn't really want to know what was in there, but I was compelled to walk in just to satisfy my curiosity.
I quietly walked in. The first thing that I had noticed was that the sign stated that the room was called a Media Center. I thought as how things had changed since I had been in school. Kids today had it easy. Televisions in the classrooms, Jukeboxes in the cafeteria, and now even a media center. How's that for living? I gave a nervous laugh, and walked further in. There were two long tables with seven computers on each side. I was impressed to say the least. They were all on, and the homepage for Appleton Community Schools was showing on every one of the screens. I looked around me suddenly afraid that the Shadow-creature was back, but there was nothing in the room with me. Just the electric smell coming off the computer and moldy paper smells that I had always associated with books.
Sitting down at one of the terminals, I wondered just how much I would find out. I typed in Yahoo.com and waited for it to load. My wait wasn't very long as I watched the headlines take effect on the screen. A country singer had died, and there were terrorist attacks on Americans in Iraq. Nothing revealing what my situation was, so I typed into the search engine for the Indianapolis Star.
A list of different websites listing the Indianapolis Star came up onscreen and I clicked the front page. What the screen showed me was '404 error, This website cannot be found.' I sat there looking at it for what seemed an eternity. This way my luck, at least for the past day.
I lowered my head into my hands and just let my thoughts fly where they may. I knew that I was in shock, but I wasn't sure just how to cope with it. I also knew that if I quit telling myself that there was a reasonable explanation for all of this, I would lose my mind once and for all. My mind at that time was a very fragile thing.
Standing up, I decided that it was time that I did what I started out to do. I was going to get out on that roof, and then I was going to get some answers. First of all I wanted to know who Leslie was. Was she my sister? Maybe she was my wife? I had no clue, but if I spoke with her maybe I would learn something about myself. That would be a start.
Taking a deep breath, I started moving my feet towards the door of the Media Center. Something in the back of my mind was nagging me, and I had to think hard before I fully understood what it was. I was scared. That was all, plain and simple. Scared to find out what I maybe was going to find out. I had to make my feet keep moving.
As I left the Media Center and walked very carefully toward the stairs, the air around me was getting very stale, and I found that it was getting hard to breath. My legs were like iron, and it hurt with each step I took. Slowly, I took each step of the stairway with a bit of throbbing pain.
"Kevin!" The voice rang out again, and that broke my paralysis. I ran to the doorway where the mezzanine was, and took the stairs three at a time until I was at the top. The noise from the machinery was mind-boggling, and sounded like bee's humming during a summer's morning. I wanted to sream at the top of my lungs, but was able to hold it in.
I found the door that led outside and walked to it. I asked myself if this was something that I really wanted to do, and then took a deep breath. 'YES!' my mind screamed out to me. 'Move your hand, open the door, and make the call!'
Grabbing the handle of the door, I pushed it down. To my amazement I heard the bolt slide open, and I pushed the door. The wind hit me like a stone, but I could breathe adnd I was free from the inside. I rejoiced.
I walked out to the edge of the building so I could get a good look at my surroundings, and realized that all the cars and trucks that I had noticed that morning were gone. I tried to tell myself that my eyes had deceived me that morning, but in my heart I knew what I had seen. Too much had happened all day to make me that naïve.
Grabbing the cell phone from my pocket, I smiled to see that there were full bars across. I had mega-signal. I was ecstatic as I went to my contact list. Leslie's name was the first one on there, and I hit send.
I listened to the beautiful ring and smiled. The other end rang three, or four times before a woman's voice answered. "Hello?" She asked in a sleepy voice.
"Hello, Leslie." I said, close to having a major breakdown. I felt the tears come to my eyes, and a parched lump came up my throat. Finally I had someone other than myself to talk to.
The voice on the other end hesitated, and then asked, "Who is this?"
"It's me, Kevin." I simply said.
What she had said next, I was totally unprepared for. "You son of a bitch, don't you ever call here again! Next time I will call the police! Do you hear me!" She cried out and slammed her end down.
I couldn't believe it. What had I done to make her hate me so badly? I yelled out to the heavens just then, and pitched my phone into the parking lot. It hit the pavement and broke apart into small parts. A laugh made its way up my throat, and I let it out. I know I must have looked like a madman up there letting everything that I had endured that day come out. My laughter sounded a lot like screaming, and perhaps it was. All I know is that I could not stop it. I had to let it all the way out, or I knew I would go insane.
I worked myself into a frenzy, started coughing, and passed out on the roof of this building.
5.
I woke up to a popping noise. The sound not only terrified me but seemed to bring back a memory. I cannot remember exactly what it was, but I know it had something to do with my life. Something I so desperately wanted to remember.
Standing up, I looked out over the parking lot and realized that the streetlamps were blowing out. That was the popping. The moon had already succumbed to the west, and there was so much cloud cover that the stars were not even visible. I was going to be engulfed in total darkness, and I found my mind going back to the thing I saw in the hallway. I began to shake uncontrollably. Knowing I needed to calm down I took a deep breath, and counted to ten.
It was the middle of the night, yet the heat intensified. Sweat was running down my face in rivers, and I could see the tar on the roof start to bubble. Steam rose from the surface as I shook my head in disbelief. The steam and bubbles were starting to change into some kind of creature. It was forming as it came toward me. The thing had the blackest sharp teeth I had ever seen, and glowing fire and brimstone eyes that made me think of Hell. I stood transfixed as it came within a meter of me. My curiosity broke and I ran for the door to get back inside. I opened the door, ran inside, and as I turned to get a final look at the outside I saw that the steam and tar monster was still coming for me. I shut the door as it reached me. The creature hit the metal door with a bang. Locking it, I made a sigh of relief.
I leaned against the door, as the thing kept crashing into it, and I tried to scream, but couldn't find my voice. The humming of the electrical equipment in the room had stopped it's buzzing, and was laughing at me. Each machine had grown a voice and was taunting me. They were calling my name, and telling me that something evil was going to get me. For some reason I knew that the school was coming alive and that I would be seeing more than ghost and goblins, I was going to see death itself.
I ran down the stairs into the well-lit hallway and got down on my knees and thanked God for not letting the monsters get me. I was like a four year old afraid of the boogeyman. I was scared that the thing wanted more than just my life, but that my very soul was hanging in the balance.
Up the stairs in the mezzanine there was a gigantic crash, and an even louder and fiercer growl than I had ever heard. The tar creature had gotten through the door, and I was not about to wait around to see what the thing was going to do to me. I took off and ran right into the band room.
Inside the band room, I paused long enough to catch my breath, as running was becoming a thing of nature with me. I placed my hands on my knees and took deep breaths, letting the oxygen slip into my lungs. That's when I noticed the ghost-like shadow creature roaming around the snack room that the band leaders insist on. A small mouse was shying away from the monster, but I knew the creature was going to get it.
I watched mesmerized as the demon reached out and touched the poor frightened mouse with his finger. The mouse froze, and simply died. I was horrified. The apparition picked up the dead mouse, and devoured it. I watched as it slid down its transparent throat into darkness. Up came everything that I had eaten that day.
The beast heard my retches and turned to look at me. Its red eyes blazed with hatred, and the smell of sulfer was making it's way into my nostrils. It pointed at me and I knew that my only hope was to run away. I turned to see if it was following me, and of course it was. I put out a burst of speed and flew out of the music department. I didn't stop until I was in the front of the building.
There were yellow lockers on each side of me going down the hall, and I could smell the stench of decay coming from each one of them. Death was here and I knew enough to be respectful. I hesitantly took a step in the direction of the Home Economics hall, as a small creaking came from inside the lockers. I moved quicker, and then each locker opened with an explosion. From each a skeleton erupted to grab and hold me. It was like running a gauntlet, but this particular line was for me very essence.
As each sinister pile of bones jumped out, they would call my name and hit the floor shattering, turning into dust. I made it past the last of the lockers only to be grabbed from behind by one of the corpses that was smart enough not to jump, he remained intact. I let out a primitive scream, and turned to face it. The skull was facing me down, and I let every ounce of anger that I could muster flood over me. I brought my fists down on his collarbone, smashing it into dust, and as the skeleton crumbled, I kicked his skull with my knee. I smiled as it skidded to a halt down the hallway by the principal's office.
'I had triumphed.' I was thinking as I strolled down the corridor, wondering what else was going to happen. It turned out I didn't have long to wait.
Stumbling across an entrance to the maintenance hall, I decided to check it out. My mind was telling me that there was a way out in this direction. I held out hope, but to tell the truth and shame the Devil, I didn't believe it. The first door that I had come to said it was the boiler room, and I opened it. Heat blew at me as soon as the door was cracked even a little bit. I expected to see a fire on the other side, but what there was, was a big nothing. It was devoid of anything.
My shirt protruded in front of me as I realized that I was being sucked into the dark nothingness that lay before me. "Somebody, help me!" I yelled as I was flung into the void. I realized I was floating as the door slammed shut.
My name was whispered throughout the darkness, and I looked for it. There was no one else around me that I could see. I was alone, and floating in a place that I had no business being.
"Hello?" I responded to the whispers, but nothing came back. I wondered if this was what it felt like to go insane. "If someone is there please talk to me!"
I flew through the abyss until I saw a door on the other side from where I came in. Floating to it, I felt relief wash over me. I was going to get out of this mess, and I knew it. I grabbed the handle and when I opened the door, I was outside of the school. There was a large water air-conditioner and was happy to see that it was on the ground, and so was I.
I walked around the courtyard, and found a gate to the parking lot, but when I turned around the boy I had seen in the weight room was sitting at a picnic table under the large compressor. He looked at me and shook his head, with his black hair flapping in the wind as he did so.
"Why not?" I asked, knowing that the boy would not or could not speak. I wanted to go out there, but I hesitated because he didn't think I should go. What was the reason? I found that I wanted to grab the kid and shake him until he spoke, but I knew that wasn't going to solve anything. Instead I got a gut feeling that I should go back inside and figure out another way. I found the door into the main electrical room, and walked back inside.
The electrical room led me back into the maintenance hallway, and I decided that I had had enough of that place. I walked back into the main corridor and down the Home Ec. Hal. That was when I heard voices coming from one of the rooms and broke into a run.
I knew that if I found the owners of those voices I would finally be free. Looking into every doorway, I was disappointed. There was no one in any of the rooms that I had looked into. There was lights on, but no people. The voices were still carrying, but there was not one person to be seen.
I checked every room, until the last one at the end of the hall I could see dead bodies lying on the floor. I tried to throw up, but it seemed that all the food that I had in my stomach had gone out when the demon had ate the mouse.
The door stood wide open, and I heard clawing sounds. Grunts were coming from the dead, as they stood up. I stood there in shock as they came for me, and all I could do was scream.
6.
I snapped awake from the dream with a gasp, and the sun was shining directly over my head. I knew at once I was having a nightmare. Standing up, I walked over to the edge of the building once more. I swear that all the vehicles were once again all in the parking slots. A single thought entered my mind, 'A full parking lot is a happy parking lot.' I made a small chuckle. My cell was no longer visible to me, for a red Mustang parked above it.
My dreams of the night before was riddled with strangeness, and had seen things that I had never seen before. Sometimes I felt like I was flying, other times burning. I was hearing disembodied voices and running around in circles. I tried to run from what I didn't understand, but I now knew I was running from myself.
"That's all this whole thing was!" I told myself as I walked to the door. "It was all a nightmare. I'll get back downstairs and there will be people everywhere. I'l be ok."
As I walked into the hallway outside the mezzanine door, I knew that I was wrong once agaian. The whole building was silent as a tomb, and just as deserted by any living, breathing human beings. I sat down and cried. If it is true that crying cleanses the soul, then mine must be sqeaky clean.
I thought about the boiler room I had dreamed of, and I knew that the possibility of finding my way out lay in that direction. I knew this morning, or afternoon, whichever it may have been that what I was seeking may be there. My plan was to check it out, at least right after I found something to eat.
I went back to the cafeteria, and once again I found that there was food in the steel hoppers. Not only cheeseburgers, but there were Hot Dogs, and Salisbury Steaks as well. I grabbed a tray, and loaded on the steaks with plenty of Mushroom sauce. I smiled as I looked at the scrumptious food that lay before me. Cutting into one of the steaks, I dipped it in the sauce. I brought the dripping monstrosity toward my mouth, and shoved it in. In mid-chew, I gagged, and spit the whole thing out. It was like chewing rubber, and there was no taste at all. I sniffed the rest of the food, and found that there was no smell at all. With a frown, I pushed the tray away. I was no longer hungry. I grabbed my pack of smokes, and gave a sigh as there was only two left in the pack. After the disappointment of my dinner I knew that I needed one. I fumbled one out and grabbed my lighter.
Flick, flick, flick, flick, flick. On the fifth try I was able to get a small flame that was just barely able to light the front of my smoke. I took a deep draw, and coughed it out. The cigarette was stale! They were fine last night and now they weren't? I found that I didn't care how stale they were, I was going to smoke this one and then the last one. My lighter was on its last leg, Hell it was probably dead by now anyway. I figured that I would have to light it with this one anyway. I smoked it down to its filter, and lit the last one with the nub. I smoked it, and it too was as stale as the last one, but it was something to smoke.
After they were both gone, I walked down the corridor to the boiler room. For some reason I knew that this was going to be my last chance to get out of here, and I so desperately wanted to get out.
Opening the door to the boiler room, was hit with a blast of warm air, and I basked in it. For one glorious moment I felt better than I had since this whole ordeal began. I walked in and let the door slam behind me. I found what I was looking for in the back of the room, doors that led to the courtyard behind the school!
I cautioned myself not to get cocky as I approached them. Trying one of the doors and finding that it was not locked, I pushed it open and walked into the courtyard. I had a smile on my face as I walked toward the fence. There was an opening underneath the gate and I knew that I could crawl through, which I did. I found myself in the parking lot and I knew that this time I was going to get away.
Walking across the pavement, I started whistling. I am not sure of the tune, but I wanted not to think too much as I made my way to any other place away from here. I walked a little faster, and then I was at a run.
I was free!
I ran. I ran like the wind to the road that was my salvation. Swearing to myself that once I was away I would never set foot into another school building as long as I lived, and then at the street, I hit an invisible barrier and was knocked back. When I hit the pavement with my butt, I felt the pain, but it was no where as painful as the hurt of my wounded pride.
"NO!" I bellowed. I clenched my teeth together, and stood up. Walking to the barrier, my fist connected to it. "This is impossible, the things invisible! This just can't be happening!"
Defeated, I slowly made my way back to the building, walking between the cars that were parked in the lot. Shaking my head on several occasions, I just kept walking. I didn't want to think, and I didn't want to care any longer. All I wanted at this point was to wallow in self-pity.
I walked in through the front doors that would not open to let me out, yet seemed to be welcoming me back, and then I walked into the auditorium next to the commons area. I saw the shadow crature once more as it was gliding across the stage. I walked in.
Now that I had a good look at it, I was surprised at how ghostlike it really was. I could see through it, even though it was dark on the other side. I was right about the tendrils that floated behind it, and the bloody thing didn't even touch the ground.
"What's your game?" I asked it. "What the Hell do you want from me? I want answers damned you!"
The creature stopped where it was, and turned to look directly at me. My jaw dropped as I looked at his glowing eyes. I wouldn't say that they were red, but to me they looked to be on fire. Maybe the creature was just trying to scare me, but I stood my ground. I really had no more fight left in me, and now all that I wanted was to know what was going on, and how to end it.
The creature rushed toward me with its eyes blazing and I found out that I couldn't move. I felt it pass through me and all the hatred that it had stored up inside it washed over me. There was no doubt in my mind that it was a demon, and I was the one who got to see it.
I turned around and watched as it flew out the door of the auditorium, and I decided to follow it. I traked it as it went down one hallway after another, and finally into the newest part of the building. Part of the building that was just being constructed.
I opened the door and walked in.
The creature was gone, but what I saw made me the happiest man in the world. There were other people! The workers were in there, and all at once I knew that I was one of them. I remembered who I was. My name was indeed Kevin O'Halloran. Leslie was my wife, and my sixteen year old daughter attended school here, and I was a construction worker who was working here.
We were adding on to the school. Yes, they were calling it a Senior Center. My mind was going into overdrive, and all my memories were flooding together. I knew deep in my heart that I had been dreaming! This was real, and there was no such things as shadow creatures, ghosts and the like!
"O'Halloran!" I heard Jack Kirby yell over to me. "Go tell Johnson that we need that forklift over here."
I smiled and acknowledged Kirby. Walking through the worksite I heard a loud clange, and I knew that Gary Johnson had hit a propane tank with one of the forks. I started running toward Johnson, when I spotted Harry Nesbit lighting a cigarette.
"Harry! NO!" I screamed out, but it was too late. There was an explosion, and I felt the blast of heat pick me up, and throw me onto the commons inside the school. I laid there with my eyes closed for what seemed an eternity.
When I finally opened my eyes, my daughter, Beth, was crying over me, "No Daddy, no." She kept saying, and I wanted to comfort her. Now I knew why my wife leslie was so upset. A crowd was gathering around me, and I tried to tell them I was all right.
Standing up, I looked around. I just couldn't believe how far the blast had thrown me, and I knew right then that I was lucky to be alive. From out of nowhere, I heard the voice that I was certain I would never hear again. "Kevin. It is time." It whispered. Looking up, I saw the shadow creature looming around the tiled ceiling.
Looking down, I then knew what had happened. I watched my soon to be dead body twitch on the floor. Beth was crying, and I couldn't do anything for her, but stand there and gawk at my body lying in front of me.
Listening, I could hear the sirens coming for me, and I was at a loss. I leaned over to my baby girl and I kissed her forhead one last time.
"Kevin, come to me. It is time for it to end." The voice once again whispered in my ear. I said nothing yet, but just nodded my head. I knew that it was over, and I had to go. I walked towards the door that so stubbornly held me in, and walked through it, into my new state of being.
THE END
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in CONTESTS, HALLOWEEN, 0 comments
2016 Scary Story Contest – Entry #5, H. L. Ghost

2016 Scary Story Contest – Entry #5, H. L. Ghost

House of Tortured Souls
Presents the
2016 Scary Story
Competition

Entry #5: My Dog Loved
Pumpkins

Category: Fiction

By H. L. Ghost

It's a cool October afternoon and I'm sitting on the front lawn with my beautiful family. A towel is spread out beneath our legs, already cluttered with various tools and pumpkin guts strewn between the three of us. We joke and laugh as each of us struggles to make our Jack-O-Lantern look decent. It's a talent that I never quite acquired during my childhood, and my husband has about the same technique--just hack away until something at least slightly resembling a face appears in the firm orange canvas. None of us really care if the pumpkins are the best in the neighborhood; we just like getting our hands dirty and having an excuse to pick at one another.
Unfortunately, my six-year-old daughter has grown frustrated with her work. It doesn't have as much of a similarity to the Little Mermaid as she had hoped. She points at the untouched pumpkin propped up in the grass behind me and pouts her lips. "Mommy," she whines, "can I pretty please start over with that new pumpkin?"
I shake my head. "No way, Jose. That pumpkin is reserved."
"For who? We all already have one."
My husband and I exchange a knowing glance. He squeezes my foot with his slimy hand reassuringly and says, "Mommy gets an extra pumpkin every year, sweetheart. We've been over this. It's the special pumpkin."
"Tell me why it's so special then," she snaps. I raise an eyebrow at her warningly and she shrinks back an inch or two. "I'm sorry, Mommy, I just wanna know."
"I'll tell you one day, Katie-bug. But today isn't the day. We have to wait until you're a big girl, okay?" There are tears welling up in her eyes and she keeps looking at the pumpkin in her lap like she has never seen anything so pathetic before. I sigh. "Hey, hey. If you're really that unhappy with yours, we'll go get you a new one later this week, okay? I'll let you finish mine until then."
She sniffles and looks at mine, which I haven't made much progress on. The top is cut out and most of the gunk inside has been removed, which is her favorite part, but the outside is void of any carvings. She thinks for a bit and finally complies, and the afternoon breezes on like the falling clusters of autumn leaves around us. As my husband takes on the mission of getting Kate's new pumpkin carved to her princess standards, my mind floats off to a distant memory, a time of the past revived by my daughter's questioning.
I must have been about 6 or 7 years-old when my mom and I resided alone in a rural town just about 100 miles from where I live now. My birthday had fallen on a hot July day and I had spent most of it at my fraternal grandparents' house, the only piece of my father's side of the family that still actually wanted something to do with me. They had bribed my mother with the promise of cake and presents, things that she couldn't really afford on her own. By the time they dropped me back off at home, I was elated, stuffed to the brim with cookie cake and the knowledge that dozens of new toys would be joining me back in my room. I scrambled out of the backseat and helped my grandpa carry my treasures into the house. We unloaded everything onto the kitchen counter, and then I paraded to the living room to tell my mom all about my day.
When I saw her I completely lost my shit.
She was sitting in the recliner with a little black ball of fur wiggling on her lap. It looked up at me and yapped, ears pointed straight to the ceiling and tail wagging ferociously. "Happy birthday, Margot!" My mother exclaimed, her smile widening as the tears began to stream down my face. I could see my grandpa standing in the corner of the room with a camcorder.
I stepped forward and reached for the pup. My body was rocking with sobs. It leapt eagerly into my embrace, smothering my cheeks with kisses tainted by puppy breath. My crying intensified. "Is-is it really m-m-mine?"
"Of course, sweetie! You've been asking all year; do you think I'm deaf?" My mother was laughing hysterically, but I could tell she was trying to hold back tears of her own. "What do you want to name him?"
I held him out at arms' length to look into his glittering tawny eyes. He yelped excitedly again, twice this time, squirming in my grip. "Smoke. His name is gonna be Smoke." As soon as I said it, I knew it was the perfect choice. I pulled him close against my chest and buried my face in his fur. I had never felt so much happiness in a single moment prior to that. I really had been begging my mom for a puppy pretty much ever since my dad left; she had to work lots of hours to pay bills and the house could get pretty lonely when she was away. I thought about this as I held him, and the sobs returned with even more intensity. I was so damn happy.
Smoke and I became best friends from that day forward. With more time I could tell something about that dog was special, but in what way I just couldn't put my finger on. There wasn't a second that I was with him that I didn't feel completely safe, invincible to any evils that the world might send our way. The rest of the summer was a sunny haze of training him to fetch, sit, stay, high-five; hiking trips down to the creek in the woods behind the house, where he would paw at the minnows in the water and bark in frustration when he couldn't catch them; walks into town where the pretty carhops at Sonic would bring him a bowl of water and give me a free ice cream cone for the "puppy therapy". It was exactly like one of those corny kid-and-dog montages you see in movies and commercials. Everything I had ever longed as a lonely tomboy living in the middle of nowhere. A dream come true.
The only complaint that my mother and I ever had about Smoke was that he had a really weird?and sometimes rather annoying?obsession with eating pumpkin. We didn't discover this until mid-October, when he got loose from the backyard and we found him hours later in the local church pumpkin patch, completely mauling one of the vegetables. Fortunately, no one had been tending the patch at the time and we were able to get him out of there without any problems. We figured it was a one-time thing, that he was just curious about his surroundings and happened to stumble upon some interesting-smelling food while he was exploring. We were wrong. He escaped the yard and sabotaged the church's pumpkin patch three more times after that day. He inhaled the two Jack-O-Lanterns that my mother and I had carved and left on the front porch that Halloween. He snuck into the house on the day before Thanksgiving and managed to get into the fresh pumpkin pie left to cool on the kitchen stove. It was ridiculous, and honestly quite hilarious, because this dog was so well-behaved and trained that we never dreamed he would do something like it. It was as if pumpkins were his kryptonite. So from then on we let him eat his heart's content of the orange crop whenever it was in season, and even bought some canned pumpkin at the grocery store to mix into his food during the spring and summertime. Sure enough, we didn't have any more pumpkin felonies happen after that.
Then Smoke's third Halloween rolled around. My mom had driven us to a nearby subdivision for trick-or-treating. He loved going out in public and meeting new people; despite his tremendous size, the only beings who had any reason to fear him were pumpkins. I had dressed him up in a vampire costume designed for dogs, which he had practically torn all the way through before we were halfway across the neighborhood. He still looked crazy cute though, and it was definitely thanks to him that I received as much candy as I did that night. By the time we arrived back home it had grown dark outside and I was pretty exhausted from lugging my overflowing bag of sugar around all evening. But despite my drooping eyelids, I plopped down on a chair and spilled my treasure on top of the kitchen table to assess my collection. Smoke curled up at my feet with a yawn and was snoring within minutes. Mom kicked off her shoes and sat down across from me, grinning sleepily and shaking her head. "You know it's past your bedtime, Moe."
"I'm almost done!" I pleaded, separating the chocolate bars from the lollipops with drool gathering in my cheeks.
She opened her mouth to respond but was interrupted by a sudden eruption of barking from Smoke. He faced the back door which was connected directly to the dining room. It led onto a small porch illuminated by a single bulb overhead and looked out over the backyard, which only stretched about 50 feet away from the house, a chain-link fence separating the yard and the dense woods lining the property. His outburst startled the hell out of both of us, breaking the peaceful quiet that had settled into the house with the night.
"Smoke!" My mom and I cried. Most of me was pissed; my ears had grown sensitive with fatigue and he was being unbelievably loud. But another part of me was terrified. Within seconds he had darted to the door and pressed his snout against the threshold. Every hair on his body stood stick-straight and his lips were curled back to expose sharp, glistening teeth. In the three years I'd owned him I had never seen my dog, my constant companion, in such an aggressive state. My mom seemed to notice that something was off too, because she got up from the table and came to my side, assuming a protective stance between me and the door.
We stood there for what felt like hours, watching Smoke snarl and bay at the door like an animal that had lost its mind. "It's probably just a raccoon," Mom whispered to me over her shoulder. We waited for him to stop. He didn't. My mother turned to look at me with frighteningly wide eyes and ordered me to go to my room and lock the doors and windows.
In that same instant, a loud banging came from the other side of the back door. Both of us froze. Smoke absolutely lost it. I seriously thought he was going to physically rip his way through the wood to get to whatever the hell was on the other side.
"Go. Right now."
I tried to get my legs to move. I really did. But all I could see was Smoke, growling at the bottom of the door, just inches away from something horrible and dangerous. I couldn't leave him.
"Did you hear me? I said go to your room, RIGHT NOW, MARGOT." My mom was gripping my shoulders, trying to shake some sense into me. But I couldn't stop staring at Smoke, imagining him claw his way through the wood only for whatever was outside to tear him to shreds. My vision was blurry with tears.
The doorknob started to shake.
"GO! MARGOT! NOW!"
Smoke. I could not leave Smoke. I couldn't let him face the monster alone?
A voice, somehow loud enough to be heard over Smoke's barking, roared from behind the door. "TRICK OR TREAT."
An inhuman sound escaped my mother's throat. A noise I can only imagine a kitten trapped in the jaws of a python might make. She wrapped her arms around me and pulled me into the kitchen, down to the cold tile floor. While she reached up to grab the telephone from the receiver on the counter, I slid myself to the corner of the kitchen so that I could still have a view of Smoke. The door knob was still rattling spastically, the banging increasing with every second.
"TRICK OR TREAT TRICK OR TREAT TRICKORTREATTRICKORTREATTRICKORTREAT!"
Wailing, I took off down the hall to my room. I locked every entrance that fucker could possibly bash its way through and then shoved myself beneath the bed, being sure to stay facing the door. For the next several minutes, I could only hear Smoke's yowling, the crashing against the door, and the man shouting from outside.
Then everything went silent.
All I could hear was my own heartbeat for what seemed like forever. Until a sound that I never thought I would find threatening echoed across the house and sent a wave of unfathomable horror surging through my body.
The back door, notorious for its noisiness. Something mom and I had always made occasional jokes about. Creaking open slowly, slowly. Whining on its rusted hinges like an abandoned infant until the silence returned.
And then the footsteps began.
Heavy, thunderous even. Almost like the sound of hooves. Through the dining room, past the living room. Down the hall. Awful, heavy breathing staggered from the lips of whatever was coming straight towards my bedroom. The footsteps stopped at the same instant that a shadow appeared between the floor and the bottom of my door. There was a deafening silence, and then the scratching started. The scratching turned to pounding and the pounding turned to pulling, clobbering, wood was shattering and the beast outside was snarling like a rabid animal.
"TRICKORTREATTRICKORTREATRICKORTREAT I'M ABOUT TO HAVE SOMETHING GOOD TO EAT!"
Everything turned to slow motion as the door plummeted to the floor in absolute defeat. My last form of protection against the nightmare coming to get me. All I could see from beneath the bed was a pair of oversized clown shoes painted a crusted, peeling red. The entire room began to smell like rot. I was crying so hard that eventually I could barely see anything at all, which I found relieving. So I shut my eyes.
Some seconds passed before I heard the wooden floorboards start to groan beneath the shifting weight of the monstrous intruder. I could suddenly feel its face within inches of mine, breathing on me, warm and sour. I was trying so hard not to gag.
Something calloused and sticky grazed my cheek. A finger.
"Hey sweetheart. Don't be scared. I'm here to make ya smile."
The same finger ran along my bottom lip, then forced its way in between my teeth and onto my tongue. It tasted like vomit.
"Smile big and wide so Mr. Funnyface can give you the best Halloween treat of all."
I bit down hard and screamed with every ounce of fear I could gather within my ten-year old body.
At the same time, violent, guttural snarls with primordial wrath erupted from the opposite end of the room. The finger jerked sharply out from my mouth and the staggered breathing ripped away from my face as the atmosphere was ignited with an explosion of noise. There was screaming; the sound of a full-sized adult in absolute panic. My eyes shot open just in time to see a mountain of a man crashing to the floor, reaching for his ankle which was now locked in the jaws of a creature that could have crawled straight out of the depths of hell. It was all a blur for the most part, but I was able to make out that the man was dressed in grimy white clothing with a curly red wig and a face painted so colorfully it made me sick. The beast upon him was a colossal bulk of black fur and muscle, bloodstained razors for teeth ripping into flesh. Its massive eyes emitted a piercing, unnatural yellow glow but they didn't see me; they were too focused on the thrashing Mr. Funnyface. I shut my eyes again and continued to scream, wishing it all to be over. Wishing I had Smoke to cling to. As the monster dragged the clown away from my bedroom, the echoes of the chaos continued down the hall. I listened to the tortured cries of the clown, accompanied by the sound of fingernails snagging desperately onto wooden floorboards. An entire chorus of those prehistoric growls and the crunching of bone.
And then, almost as if nothing had ever happened at all, the house fell deathly quiet, as the atrocious duo had vanished.
It took a lot for my mom to coax me out from beneath my bed. I was traumatized. Hours later, when I finally did crawl out from my hiding place, I noticed the alarming amounts of blood that trailed across my bedroom, down the hall, through the kitchen, and out the back door. I was a sobbing wreck. Smoke was nowhere to be found. The backyard was dark and silent, taunting me. Where was the monster? Where was Mr. Funnyface? Had I imagined the whole thing?
Where the hell was Smoke?
Of course the cops showed up after it was all over. They crouched down by the bed and asked me all of their questions but in my devastation I was no help. I had possibly lost my best friend thanks to some sicko in a clown suit on one of my favorite holidays. I wanted nothing to do with anyone or anything; I just wanted Smoke to come home. The next day my mom let me stay home from school to search around town and hang up "lost" posters for him. We returned home with no luck, and the only time I left my bed for the rest of that day was to use the toilet.
Life went on. I grew older, and came to terms with the assumption that Smoke had simply run off that night and ended up in another city. A nice family had surely found him and were showering him with all of the love he deserved. That didn't change the fact that I missed him like crazy, but the idea did help with the pain of knowing that he might just be dead. I never told anyone about what I saw that night because I figured I had just been in some state of petrified hallucination.
Then one day, when I was in college a few hours away from home, my mom and I were chatting on the phone. We were reminiscing about old times, and somehow stumbled upon the subject of the night Smoke disappeared.
That phone call changed my life forever.
According to my mom's side of the story, two days after the Halloween ordeal, I was away at school. She had stayed home to clean up the house and was keeping the back door and windows open to rid the inside of the rotten smell that had come in with the clown man. As she worked on scrubbing the remaining bloodstains away from the kitchen tile, a loud thumping sounded from the back porch. She immediately panicked, thinking the lunatic had come back for a second try at whatever he had been attempting the night before. She grabbed the phone, prepared to dial the police, and stole a petrified glance around the edge of the kitchen doorway. She stopped dead in her tracks.
There, sitting cheerfully on the threshold of the back door, was Smoke. Tail hammering vigorously against the wood of the porch, a bloody rubber clown nose hanging from his teeth. My mom tries to spare me the details, but she says he was badly injured. One side of ribs exposed, fur caked in bits of carnage, one of his eyes completely gouged out of his massive skull. Mom moved slowly towards him, and his tail knocked even harder. She said his wounded face lit up like he didn't feel any pain at all. He dropped the clown nose at her knees and pressed the top of his head against her chest. She could tell from the damage that the 30-minute drive to the nearest veterinarian would take too much time to save him.
So she gave him the best final moments that a dog like Smoke could imagine.
She wrapped him up in his favorite blanket to roll around on when we lounged in the living room. She pulled him into her lap and held him close to her while they sat together on the back porch, staring out at the grey November sky. And of course, she fed him bits of pumpkin until she thought his belly would burst. His tail thudded constantly against the porch wood and he occasionally lifted his head to lick her chin in gratitude. She said that only about 15 minutes passed before his tail fell still and his body went limp, that he did not show a single sign of suffering up until the moment he was gone.
She buried him in the forest that night and burned the clown nose in our fireplace. She refused to tell me what that monster had done to our baby. She says she didn't want me to carry that kind of distress, so she lied, had me thinking he was missing for all those years. I don't blame her.
She says a day or two later, the clown man's body was discovered by some hikers several miles deep into the forest behind our home. The news reported that the dirty white suit he wore was covered in black fur, that his right leg was hanging by a single tendon, and that his throat had been completely torn out. They found a bloodied knife in one of his hands, as well as duct tape and a bag of candy in his suit pockets. Investigators chocked it up to a coyote attack. The man's face was mauled past any recognition. They later ran DNA tests, once the technology was more accessible in our town, and found that he was responsible for two other United States murders in which female victims were bound to their beds, brutally tortured and beaten, stabbed excessively and left with Halloween candy stuffed in every one of their orifices.
As if that wasn't traumatic enough, during that phone call my mom also told me that the same night they had found the clown man's body was the night Smoke's body disappeared from his grave. She says she went to have a cigarette on the back porch and to thank Smoke for being the wonderful gift he had been to our family. When she turned on the porch light to see his grave, she was greeted with a scattered pile of dirt and an empty hole in the earth. No shovel. No blood. Not a single trace of a living being. She freaked out and was about to turn back into the house to call the police, until she saw it.
At the fence line of our backyard stood a mass of black darker than the forest shadows around it. It appeared to be at least 6 feet tall, standing on all fours with its head down low to the ground. Mom tried to ignore it, but she says she just couldn't. She didn't know why. She stared at it for several minutes, too confused and creeped out to move. Then something inside of her clicked, and a wave of impossible courage rushed over her. She managed to call out a single word.
"Smoke?"
The animal looked up at her with shining golden eyes and took a gentle step forward. She says she could make out a quick movement behind it. A tail wagging. And then it turned and went crashing back into the woods, hardly making any sound at all.
I never would have believed her if our descriptions of the creature hadn't matched up so closely. To this day, I still place a special pumpkin on the back porch stoop, the happiest memories of Smoke replaying in my mind. Maybe it's a silly tradition, leaving a big orange vegetable on the back porch for my undead monster dog to enjoy. But my mother and I have stuck with it ever since Smoke's death, and I hope that my family will carry it on during their future Halloweens as well.
I've been reading online about all of the craze over "creepy clowns" terrorizing quiet neighborhoods, lurking the shadows of nearby towns. Too close for comfort. I can see all of the news headlines stretched around my mind like caution tape, and my anxiety starts to pick up as I go back into the house. Kate and my husband are giggling behind me, oblivious to my rising fear. I bring the reserved pumpkin along with me and place it on the back porch.
"This is for you, buddy. Please look out for us again this year."
I close my eyes and let the autumn wind whip through my hair, breathing it in deep and trying to allow my nerves to relax. "Please."
I almost miss it. So quick and quiet that if I would have opened my eyes a millisecond later, I wouldn't have been able to catch it. A big bushy black tail, smoothly retrieving into the tree line a couple dozen yards beyond the backyard.
We'll be safe tonight.
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in CONTESTS, 1 comment
2016 Scary Story Contest – Entry #4, Julie Dunic

2016 Scary Story Contest – Entry #4, Julie Dunic

House of Tortured Souls
Presents the
2016 Scary Story
Competition

Entry #4: Vessel
Category: Fiction

By Julie Dunic

Julie is an art student from Paramus. She has recently collaborated with Rich Orth, who has written several poems based on her artwork. You can see some of her illustrative, creepy work at www.facebook.com/juliedunicart. However, aside from art, another one of her favorite hobbies is writing, especially horror...
Before I tell you what happened, let me get started by saying that none of this was my fault. Sure, technically it was me that caused all hell to break loose--quite literally, in fact--but there were dozens of people there and it could've been any one of them. But of course, I had to keep my lucky streak that was about the same as a fucking black cat walking under a ladder.
Anyway, here goes... the scientists targeted me because I had nothing to live for, I was depressed, homeless, and, most importantly: no one would go looking for me if I went missing. So when they found me sleeping on my favorite bench on the side of the road, you bet your ass I jumped at the chance of some cash in exchange for me being part of their experiment. They also told me I'd get a place to live and food to eat. Why the fuck not?
Apparently, the experiment was about how souls work. Souls? I told them I didn't believe in any of that spiritual crap. They said that's what they were trying to figure out--the science behind souls. I wondered what the hell that could mean... but it sounded interesting enough.
So they took me to the top secret location of their laboratory. It was in the middle of fucking nowhere and lemme tell you, the place was huge. But I couldn't help notice, it was surrounded by barbed wire. Did they want to protect their secrecy? No... no, like I said, the place was in the middle of nowhere. So I figured, they weren't trying to keep invaders out, they were trying to keep something in.
I asked, before getting out of the car, what exactly they were going to do to me. They answered: "You'll see." I reluctantly got out of the car and the scientists led me to the building. It was night time, so the air stayed dark and quiet. The very sound of my breathing was uncomfortably loud in my ears, with no other noise to block it out.
When we entered the door to the place, we faced a long, stretching hallway with doors on either side. No hallway should be as long as this one, it was unsettling, and there were lights along the ceiling but none of them were on. I was told that bedrooms of test subjects like me were in this hallway. Great. I had finally come to the conclusion that this place was, indeed, creepy as fuck. But at the same time, I had to admit I was grateful just to have wooden floor under the skin of my feet, rather than pavement or grass or cardboard.
Then they let me shower for the first time, God, it was fucking amazing. The tub was fucking brown by the time I was done, I was so dirty. On my way to my bedroom, I noticed another hallway down from the corner of this one. The hallway was the same set up: long with a row of doors on each side, but unlike my hall, every door had a slot in it. I went to bed in my little room that had only a mattress, small dresser filled with clothes, and a light. The thoughts of how bizarre this was would have possessed my head, keeping me awake, but they were silenced by how comfy I was laying on an actual mattress.
They took me and all the other test subjects from my hallway to the cafeteria in the morning. It was a pretty big room and I joined a table with some people. God... real food instead of leftovers I'd dug out of people's trash... I couldn't wait. The people at my table were eager to meet a new person. I asked them if they knew anything about the experiment. All they could tell me was that the scientists had to get us as healthy as possible in preparation. Whenever any of us get healthy enough, that's when we get to leave. I'd have my first health exam that night, and have one every week until it was my turn to leave. That's all the people at my table knew.
Then, I got totally distracted by the fucking breakfast banquet they brought in. We had to be well-fed if we were going to be healthy. Makes sense; if the experiment is about souls, and bodies supposedly hold souls, then yeah, we should have healthy bodies. A plate was brought to everyone and I almost collapsed when I got my French toast, eggs, and bacon, all fresh. Everyone had a slightly different meal for their own health needs and everyone received pills of whatever vitamins they were lacking. After this was explained to me, I asked my new friends if they knew what was kept in the back hallway with the doors with the slots. They said no.
After breakfast, we were taken to the recreation room. Oh... it had television and exercise machines and books and games... we were meant to socialize there. Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical. Though, quite a few people were working with trainers on the machines to improve muscle health. So I got to know my new friends as we shared our life stories of shoplifting, going bankrupt, running away from cops, yknow, the usual stuff.
After a couple hours, we had lunch. The next few weeks had the same pattern: breakfast, rec room, lunch, rec room, dinner, rec room, dessert, bed. But that night, and once a week since, I had a health exam. I was taken to an examination room in a patient gown where I encountered needles, machines, scanners... They tested everything, and I mean everything. Blood, spit, eyes, piss, shit, you name it... I was violated in more ways than one, and cameras were put in places that cameras should not go.
But these invasive exams were only a small price to pay for the luxury of living like this. As weeks passed, I got healthier and healthier. My emaciated limbs increased in mass and my black-bagged eyes grew life. And of course, every once and a while we would gain a new person, and every once and a while, one of my friends would reach maximum health and say good bye. I thought, maybe they get sent to the outside world when they're like this. Maybe their souls were improved? I was definitely happier being there, so maybe my soul was improving?
It was a vague theory, but it got disproved one night when we were eating in the cafeteria. Out of nowhere, I heard someone shout: "Is that Henry?" And I turned and looked to see a man I'd never seen before. Then, I started to hear everyone else go: "Henry?" "It is Henry!" "What's he doing here?" But this "Henry" man didn't look right. He didn't speak, but his arms were out-stretched in an uncomfortable manner, as if he wanted to beg for something. His eyes were wide and terrified, and I could tell, just by looking at him, how tense he was.
"Get back here!" A scientist yelled as he tried to grab Henry's arms. The whole room flinched as inhuman noises and moans spilled out of Henry's mouth. He shouted in protest as the scientist took him away.
"Who the fuck was that?" I asked. The answer I got made me want to vomit all the delicious food I was eating. Apparently 'Henry' had been part of the experiment, and then reached maximum health. He came and left before I got here. Well, except he didn't leave after all.
Of course, the scientists denied that it had been Henry, they claimed he was just some mentally disabled man who somehow wandered into the place. I tried to forget the incident. My friends insisted it was him, though, which meant that whatever happened to him, would happen to us when we got healthy enough. I never knew Henry, so I couldn't be sure if that really was him. I had a feeling it was.
Still, all we could do was eat our food and enjoy ourselves while we waited. It's not like our outside lives were anything to go back to. Finally, after a particularly invasive health exam, I was pronounced healthy enough for my next step. Could I leave this place? Would I end up like Henry? I looked about as paranoid as Henry as I was led into another exam room with even more machines. This room also had a tray with sharp tools on it--tools that looked like they were meant to cut flesh. There was a patient table with buckles on it for me to lay on with a little plastic thing for me to put my head in.
"Lie down here, please," a scientist said. I sat on the table. "Lie down." I took a breath and lied down. He guided my head into the little contraption attached to the table, so my skull was surrounded by plastic, keeping it still. As he buckled me to the table and head gear, he began to explain: "It's time you find out what we're really doing, here. Well, it can be hypothesized that the soul is located in the brain, because the brain contains everything we use to perceive and react to the world. But, we are trying to find out where exactly the soul is in the brain, and if a healthy body can go on living without a soul. We may even discover the secret to immortality."
I glanced to the side and saw other scientists prepping an IV and sanitizing the medical tools. One of them put a cloth over my face and chest, probably to protect me from the blood that was about to spill. Thanks to this, I now had my eyes covered, and could only see an outline of the doctor as he paced back and forth. It wasn't the fact that I was tied to a table that was keeping me still, it was my paralyzing, gut-wrenching, heart-stopping fear.
"Our objective," he continued, "is to remove your soul. To do this, we will remove part of your brain. We've been removing a different part from the brain of each person here, and then monitor them to determine if their soul remains. We're not sure what to expect if the specimen's body does end up a soulless vessel, but we hope to find out." No. NO. No. That man before was Henry. A brain-damaged Henry! "Now, we will give you some anesthetic for your procedure." I didn't even realize I was going under because my mind had already gone blank with shock.
Soon enough, I was opening my eyes again because the procedure had ended. I had a huge line of staples in my head and felt a shitload of pain, as if someone ripped a part of my brain out. OH RIGHT. Then, I saw myself groan. Hold on--shit. I wasn't groaning, I was seeing myself groan. I was looking at myself lying sick in bed. The fuck? I felt a nauseous wrench in my stomach as I floated up above this experiment building. My life-filled body remained inside. The scientists did it, they removed my soul! Those fuckers... But hey, it might be cool to just hang around and watch things as a disembodied spirit for a while. Eventually, I got bored of watching my healing body just lying there, so I wandered to the hallway with the slotted doors.
I poked my 'ghost-head' though each door, and noticed the rooms were exactly the same as ours, except these had video cameras in the corners, recording everything. After seeing these people, I felt lucky about my own situation. These post-operative men and women were... disturbing. Some weren't bad and were still clearly capable of functioning. But others... other talked to themselves, some not even with real words. Some screamed. Some just cried. One had a smile so intense, I thought she was definitely smiling at me, but to her, no one was there. One was blind, one banged his head against the wall. One was still, and crouched on top of his dresser like a fucking bat, with his arms behind his back and his head stretched up a little too far so his Adam's apple bulged out. One had dozens of scars on her, and she had no hands... probably to prevent her from making new scars. Soon, scientists slid plates of food through the slots in the doors.
I took a few days to walk around and saw that some of these people just stayed in their rooms. The scientists helped them to the bathroom (on occasions when they didn't just go on the floor of their rooms). They were only let out to be examined. The more intelligent ones were allowed in the rec room sometimes, and even talked to the scientists. The rest were locked away
Finally, my physical body was well enough to move around and talk. I figured all it'd be able to do would be babble and crawl without me. But, no, it acted just like I do. It had my voice, personality, movements, everything. I guess since what was left of my brain had all my memories in it, my body was able to function just fine without me. The scientists were baffled by how my body acted, and of course I--my body--was their favorite post-operative patient. They talked to me, played games with me... I don't know what was weirder: watching myself go around with my foul mouth and personality, spying on my friends, or seeing the fucked up people like Henry.But could my body really just... go on without me? I noticed one morning, my body acted a bit different. The voice was a bit different and my movements were more fluid. I didn't think much of it. The scientists didn't even notice.
That night, I watched myself get sent to my bedroom to sleep, only I didn't sleep. I watched the same body and face that I've seen in the mirror for thirty seven years, morph slightly. My bones crackled and my neck snapped as my eyes began to go black. Suddenly, my jaw clamped down on my arm, drawing blood. The blood slid down to my hand and I was using it to draw markings on the floor. Terrible wheezing sounds came from my throat.
Finally, scientists charged into the room, having seen all this on the camera in the room. They gaped in shock as my body froze, facing away from them, blocking the now finished drawing. Suddenly, my spine contorted backwards, so my evil face could look at them upside down. A grin snapped onto my thin lips and they could see my chest heaving up and down in this unnatural position.The scientists froze as a horrifying voice crept into their minds. It said: "By removing the soul from this body, you've created a healthy, living vessel for me to inhabit, and now I've called upon my friends so hell can rule the Earth and all of you will be damned."
My body moved aside to reveal strange symbols painted in blood on the blackened floor. Flames exploded from the walls. Cries erupted in the scientists' minds, and they couldn't tell if the sounds were laughing or sobbing. Smoke covered the room, clawing at their throats and veiling the demonic hands rising up from the floor. My body remained crouched, frozen, still looking at them upside down.
"Who are you?" a scientist managed to choke out.
And my body said, out loud this time: "Satan." And all the demons burst up through the floor and the scientists could see only their silhouettes through the smoke as they escaped this building to wreak eternal damnation on humanity.
See, I told you none of this was my fault. It could have been anyone. But I guess I'm lucky when you think about it -- my soul left the Earth before the Devil took his reign and all this crazy shit went down.
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in CONTESTS, HALLOWEEN, 0 comments
2016 Scary Story Contest – Entry #2, Alfred Guy

2016 Scary Story Contest – Entry #2, Alfred Guy

House of Tortured Souls Presents the
2016 Scary Story
Competition

Entry #2: A Ghost Pulled Her Leg.
Was She Pulling Mine?

Category: Non-fiction

By Alfred Guy

"A ghost came through the wall and pulled me out of bed by the leg!"
At 9 years old, this is not what you want to hear from your aunt, as you start your weekend stay at her apartment.
My name is Alfred Guy and I now live in Catonsville, MD, just west of Baltimore. This is a real story, told to me by my aunt. Did the events really happen? Who knows? She said they did, and she has never wavered, even when ridiculed about it.
It was around 1972, in North Philadelphia near the main campus of Temple University. I wound up going to school there in the early eighties. It was an old three-story brick row house. A small candy store was on the 1st floor to the left of the main entrance. My favorite things to buy there were Zero Bars (did anyone else actually eat those?) and candy shoelaces.
The stairway to the 3rd floor was poorly lit and smelled of old wood and lacquer. Every time we visited, it had the same old smell. It wasn't a particularly terrible smell, but it made you feel uneasy. I hated going up and down that stairwell alone. The stairs were uneven. Every stair creaked and some even gave a bit, causing you to feel like you could fall through and end up in some dark, dusty basement, hurt and alone. As I passed the heavy wooden apartment doors, I always felt dread. Would someone or something spring out and drag me into one of those rooms? Once the huge and heavy wooden doors closed behind me, no one would even know. So, why did I brave the dark scary hallway and creaking stairs? Remember, the candy store on the 1st floor??? That's why.
Well, here we go! I was dropped off with my little sister, to spend a weekend with my Aunt Marion. It was to be our first time overnight away from mom and dad. They wanted a couple of days without the kids. I was looking forward to it, because Marion is my favorite aunt. She always made sure we had treats and books to read when we would visit. Aunt Marion is a feisty, loud woman and I mean that in the most endearing way. She always had a distinctive voice and a way of telling stories that had you riveted to the spot. She sported a tooth that was framed in gold. This was way back when adults, and not rappers gilded their teeth. All these things made Aunt Marion my favorite. At least until she told me what happened to her last year.
"Alfie, all I wanted to do was change my bedroom around. I was tired of the way it looked. I moved my bed to the middle of the floor instead of the corner of the room. Shortly after that, odd things started to happen to me and Johnny (her son). I came home one day from work, and Johnny was in the bathroom, running water for a bath. I said hello, but he didn't answer. I knocked and still no answer, but the water stopped. After knocking again, I opened the door, to find the bathroom empty. I didn't tell him then, because I didn't want to scare him. (She sure didn't mind scaring the Hell out of me, though.) Alfie, I swear this happened, even though your mommy doesn't believe me.
Johnny started having trouble sleeping. One night after he had gone to bed, I was sitting up watching TV when I heard large crash. I ran to his room and found him on the floor with his mattress and box spring on top of him, and the bed frame on top of that. Everything was upside down! He was very scared, but I told him he must have been sleepwalking.
Then, the worst happened.
I began to have nightmares all the time. I would wake up to see a little skinny man, maybe three feet tall, with glowing yellowed eyes float through the wall near my 3rd floor window. He was wailing and moaning. His skin was jet black and dried and wrinkled, like an old prune. He would reach out for me and then fade away. Each night though, he got closer to my bed.
After several visits, he got so close that he could grab me! One night, he actually grabbed my left leg with both gnarled hands and started to pull me toward the wall he had floated through. I was hanging onto the bed, screaming for Johnny, but he never came to my room. My Bible was on the nightstand, so I grabbed it and held it tight. The little wrinkled man moaned and slowly faded away. I jumped up and turned on the lights. When I ran in to check on Johnny, he was still fast asleep. I was afraid to sleep again in my room, and I couldn't afford to move, so I decided to try and find out what was going on.
I had Johnny and his cousin Carliss, sleep in my bed one night. I sat up in a chair to watch them. As soon as they were both asleep, they began to toss and turn. I almost screamed when I saw them both sliding toward the side of the bed where the evil man grabbed me before. I was terrified! I could not see him, but I could see where he was pulling them by the arms and legs. Now I did scream and I ran over and woke them up. All they remembered was having bad dreams. I felt bad for doing this to them. What if they got hurt? I still had to find out why this was happening.
I asked some of the neighbors if anything strange had happened there before I moved in. What they told me scared me all over again.
There was an old frail man who lived in the apartment before I did. He rarely spoke and seemed to hate everyone. No one knew where he went during the day or anything else about him. He would walk up the creaky stairs to his door and slam it shut. If you passed him in the hall, you were lucky if you got a grunt from him. Since he was sort of a hermit, no one thought much when he hadn't been seen for a while. At some point, a terrible smell was noticed on the 3rd floor. While trying to discover where it came from, the old man's door was knocked on, but there was no answer. After a couple of days of that, the police were called. The door was forced and what they saw shocked them all.
In the main bedroom, in the middle of the floor, the old man was on his knees almost facing the window. The look on his face was one of pain. He was kind of dried up. And he was dead. Had been for a while. I guess he was only three feet tall, because he was on his knees when he died and stayed that way as a spirit!"
So you see, the old man died in agony, alone on his knees in the middle of the bedroom. It was the exact spot where my aunt had moved her bed. The haunting started when she invaded his space. He tried to remove anyone who dared sleep on his "deathbed." As her story goes, after she moved the bed off of that spot, the terrors stopped.
I'll give her this. I have asked her again and again over the years, if she was just pulling my leg. Even though she has suffered ridicule and teasing for decades from her family and relatives, she insists that everything happened like she said. My cousins Johnny and Carliss, did remember having the bad dreams that night, but that is all. My aunt did not share these stories with my little sister that weekend, and neither did I.
To see the old "haunted" apartment building, click here. The middle building is where my aunt lived. The candy store was on the left of the entrance, where the awning is now. I remember sitting on those very steps, afraid to go back inside after hearing that story. My aunt insisted that I come inside after dark. Even my "friend," the candy store had closed for the night. I wanted to go home, but my parents wouldn't return until the next day. I don't remember if I was ever able to sleep in that apartment, but I doubt it. I never stayed there overnight again. Good times!
Just to the LEFT of the top right window is where the ghostly hermit floated through the wall! Happy Halloween!
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in CONTESTS, 0 comments
HISTORY OF HORROR: SEPTEMBER

HISTORY OF HORROR: SEPTEMBER

By Woofer McWooferson

Join House of Tortured Souls as we celebrate significant dates in the history of horror in September. Click on thumbnails for full images.

September 1 - 7

09/01/1939 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) released
theatrically
Poster The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) Copyright RKO Radio Pictures
Poster Universal Pictures
09/02/1923 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame released
theatrically
09/02/1978 – Dawn of the Dead released
theatrically
Fair use doctrine.
Image credit erinc salor
09/05/1942 – Werner Herzog (director of Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) born
09/06/1879 – Max Schreck (actor who portrayed Count Orlok in Nosferatu) born
Public domain
Image Universal Pictures
09/06/1925 – The Phantom of the Opera (1925) released theatrically
09/07/1940 – Dario Argento (director, producer, and screenwriter of Suspira and other horror films) born
Photo by Ian Gavan - © 2012 Getty Images - Image courtesy gettyimages.com
Photo by Bobby Bank - © 2010 Bobby Bank - Image courtesy gettyimages.com
09/07/1954 – Doug Bradley (best known as Pinhead in the Hellraiser film series) born
09/07/2004 – Silent Hill 4: The Room released on the PlayStation, Xbox, and PC in North America
Image Konami

September 8 - 14

Fair use doctrine.
09/08/1990 – Bride of Re-Animator released theatrically
09/09/1954 – Jeffrey Combs (actor in many horror films) born
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Fair use doctrine.
09/09/1997 – Cube released theatrically
09/09/2004 – Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan
Image Capcom
Copyright 2005 Sony Pictures
09/09/2005 – The Exorcism of Emily Rose released theatrically
09/10/1993 – The X-Files premieres on television
Fair use doctrine.
Fair use doctrine.
09/10/2004 – Resident Evil: Apocalypse released theatrically
09/11/1987 – Hellraiser released theatrically
Fair use doctrine.
Fair use doctrine.
09/11/1992 – Candyman released theatrically
09/12/1958 – The Blob (1958) released theatrically
Fair use doctrine.
Photo by Apger - © MPTV - Image courtesy mptvimages.com.
09/12/1992 – Anthony Perkins (actor who portrayed Norman Bates in the Psycho films) dies (b. 1932)
09/13/1913 – Paul Wegener (director of The Golem: How He Came Into the World) dies (b. 1874)
Photo by A7A08A39_023.jpg - © Archives du 7e Art/Deutsche Bioscop - Image courtesy photo12.com.
Fair use doctrine.
09/13/1991 – Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare released theatrically
09/13/2005 – Supernatural premieres on television
Fair use doctrine.
Fair use doctrine.
09/14/1960 – The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) released theatrically

September 15 - 21

09/15/1974 – The Ghost Galleon released theatrically
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.
09/16/1963 – The Outer Limits premiered on television
09/16/2002 – Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance released on the Game Boy Advance in the US
Box art. Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/16/2005 – Cry_Wolf released theatrically
09/17/2004 – Silent Hill 4: The Room released on the PlayStation, Xbox, and PC in Europe
Image: Konami.
Fair use doctrine.
09/17/2004 – Resident Evil Outbreak released on the PlayStation 2 in Europe
09/18/1963 – The Haunting (1963) released theatrically
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/18/1998 – The Dentist 2: Brace Yourself released theatrically
09/20/1940 – The Mummy's Hand released theatrically
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
Fair use doctrine.
09/20/1975 – Asia Argento (actress in many horror films, daughter of Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi) born
09/21/1947 – Stephen King born
Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/21/1984 – The Company of Wolves released theatrically in the UK

September 22 - 28

09/22/1986 – Castlevania released for the Nintendo Entertainment System
Box art. Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/22/1995 – Se7en released theatrically
09/22/1999 – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis released for the PlayStation in Japan
Box art. Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/23/1988 – Dead Ringers released theatrically
09/24/2001 – Silent Hill 2 released on the PlayStation, Xbox, and PC in the US
Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/24/2002 – Vampires: Los Muertos released on video in the US
09/24/2004 – Shaun of the Dead released theatrically in the US
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/25/1959 – The Mummy (1959) released theatrically
09/25/1994 – Alone in the Dark 2 released on PC
Box art. Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/25/1998 – Urban Legend released theatrically
09/26/1962 – Carnival of Souls released theatrically
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
Fair use doctrine.
09/26/1970 – Sheri Moon (actress in House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, Toolbox Murders) born
09/27/1985 – The New Twilight Zone premiered on television
Fair use doctrine.
Box art. Fair use doctrine.
09/27/2001 – Silent Hill 2 released on the PlayStation, Xbox, and PC in Japan
09/28/1987 – Friday the 13th: The Series premiered on television
Title card. Fair use doctrine.
Fair use doctrine.
09/28/2007 – Moonlight premiered on television
09/29/1955 – The Night of the Hunter released theatrically
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/29/1995 – Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers released theatrically

September 30

09/30/1984 – Tales from the Darkside premiered on television
Title card. Fair use doctrine.
Movie poster. Fair use doctrine.
09/30/1988 – Elvira, Mistress of the Dark released theatrically
09/30/2005 – Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow released on the Nintendo DS in the European Union
Box art. Fair use doctrine.
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in HORROR HISTORY, 0 comments
COMING SOON: The Forest

COMING SOON: The Forest

By : John Roisland

THE FOREST

Forest poster

Coming soon from A -I Films and Lava Films.

The Forest takes  place in the Aokigahara Forest ,of Japan. Which is a real-life place in Japan where people go to die, to end their lives. Against this backdrop, a young American woman played by Natalie Durmer ( Captain of America, The Hunger Games) comes in search of her twin sister, who has mysteriously disappeared. Despite everyone's warnings not to "stray from the path," she  dares to enter the forest to discover the truth about her sister's fate, only to be confronted by the angry and tormented souls of the dead who now prey on anyone who crosses their paths.

The film was directed by Jason Zada , who also directed Take this Lollipop and was parting team behind The Houses October Built (and if you've been an avid reader here at House of Tortured Souls, then you already know how crazy about that film I am!)

Co-staring in The Forest , Taylor Kinney ( The Other Woman, Zero Dark Thirty), Yukiyoshi Ozawa (The Hidden) , Eoin Macken (Merlin, Centurion, The Night Shift) and Rina Takasaki (Level Up).

This supernatural horror-thriller already  seems to be getting a lot of talk due to its historical background amongst the Japanese. Now I know the film industry has dumped what seems to be endless amounts of supernatural films on our screens the last few years , or so it seems, some better than others...some a lot worse, but this one even though caring a PG13 rating, seems promising.  Now ,maybe I say that because it holds some amounts of truths in it, dealing with the history of the location. But on a personal note, I've always enjoyed, or seem to at least take more seriously, based on true story films.

So save a few dollars that you might have gotten in a holiday Christmas card from your distant family members that you only hear from around the holiday season, and go check out The Forest, looks pretty damn good!

Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments

Haunt Off – 13 Ghosts Versus Thir13en Ghosts

William Castle's 13 Ghosts
Versus
Terry Castle's Thir13en Ghosts
Part 3 of 3

By Woofer McWooferson

13 Ghosts - Plato Zorba v Cyrus Kriticos

Plato v Cyrus

It isn't easy to compare movies that came out 51 years apart, particularly when those films are in the horror genre and involves ghosts. This final analysis compares William Castle's 13 Ghosts to Terry Castle's Thir13en Ghosts, bearing in mind that Ms. Castle was only a co-producer and did not direct it whereas William Castle both produced and directed 13 Ghosts.

Being the showman that he was, William Castle touted 13 Ghosts as being in Illusion-O, a film technique that allowed audiences to see the “real” ghosts in the movie by looking through one lens or to watch a tamer version sans ghosts by looking through the other. In the film, there is a single set of glasses that Plato Zorba used to see ghosts and which is left to his nephew Cyrus and his family. In addition to a change of color on the screen, a message would flash to indicate that it was time to use the viewer, effectively making the audience part of the film. The Zorba family was affable and it was easy for audiences to relate to their situation – both on the natural and supernatural levels. The mother and father were kind and thoughtful, the daughter beautiful and charming, and the boy intelligent, playful, and a fan of all things horror. The ghosts, while disturbing, were only half the Zorba family's problem; lawyer Ben Rush was the other half, and quite the problem he was. Viewers genuinely wanted Rush to be caught or killed by the ghosts!

Everything that made 13 Ghosts charming and fun is missing from Thir13en Ghosts. The uncle has gone from eccentric to evil, the ghosts from tortured souls to malevolent, murdering entities, and the family from a loving and caring unit to a collection of individuals to whom the audience cannot relate nor care about, leaving viewers unconcerned for their well-being. The “sprawling old mansion” has been replaced by a super high tech, 3-D Rubik's house and deliberate tension-building sequences with real dialogue were replaced by jump scares and the witty quips that seem to overpopulate today's horror. Whereas 13 Ghosts only had one viewer for all in the family to share, Thir13en Ghosts had several, the better to allow the camera to follow as each member is confronted by one or more of the indiscriminate but vengeful spirits. It revolves around its effects rather allowing the effects to enhance the story.

Final word on the Haunt Off - 13 vs Thir13en:

Do yourself a favor. Save Th13en Ghosts for a popcorn and soda party that never wakes up. Then dim the lights and put on 13 Ghosts instead.

Check out my review of 13 Ghosts, and my review of Thir13en Ghosts .

13 Ghosts – 10/10 claws, fun for the entire family.
Th13en Ghosts - 4/10 claws – All four claws are for the ghosts and the house.

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

COMING SOON: The Witch (2016)

The Witch:

A New-England Folktale

By Dixielord

The Witch poster

Horror returns to the Puritan times in the upcoming horror film The Witch, which made its festival debut this year and is set for a theatrical release in 2016. It won the award for best director of an American drama at the Sundance International Film Festival. It currently has a 87 rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on fifteen reviews, making it one of the most eagerly awaited films of next year. Besides Sundance, The Witch has also screened at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, and, as I type, is scheduled to screen at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Set in 1630s New England, shortly before the start of the Salem Witch trials, a missing child sets the stage for accusations of witchcraft. As crops fail and more evil portents befall the family, they quickly descend into madness. But real evil lurks just beyond their farm in the wilderness waiting to take advantage of the situation.

The trailer for The Witch looks dark and brooding without giving away too much of the plot. The film appears to be straddling, and perhaps crossing, the line between psychological and supernatural horror. We wont know for sure until 2016, though, when it will debut on Direct TV before a theatrical release.

The Witch stars relative newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy (Vampire Academy) as Thomsin, in a potentially star making role. It also stars Game of Thrones alumni Kate Dickey and Ralph Ineson, and Bathsheba Garnett (Mean Girls) as The Witch. The Witch will be the first feature length film for director Robert Eggers, who has previously directed the shorts The Tell-Tale Heart and Hansel and Gretel.

If you need more of The Witch right now, you can check out their official site. You can even follow Black Phillip, the film's goat and star of the poster, on Twitter. Look for The Witch early in 2016.

Posted by Allen Alberson in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: 13 Ghosts (1960)

Part 1 of 3:
William Castle's 13 Ghosts

By Woofer McWooferson

13-ghosts-1960-poster

Director: William Castle; Writer: Robb White; Stars: Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Martin Milner, Rosemary DeCamp, Donald Woods, Margaret Hamilton; Rating: NR; Run Time: 85 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1960

Among William Castle's most memorable films, 13 Ghosts opens by showing audiences a count of 12 ghosts already in existence and a question mark indicating that the thirteenth ghost will be revealed as the movie unfolds. From here, it moves to a brief introduction wherein Castle explains to viewers that his new film technique (Illusion-O!) allows the audience to see the ghosts - if they chose to. Use of a special red/blue ghost viewer allows those who believe in ghosts to see them when the screen turns blue. To ensure maximum impact, USE VIEWER NOW would appear on screen to remind viewers to use their special ghost viewers. Finally, Castle asked the audience to be considerate of others who enter the film late and instruct them on how to use the viewer.

When occult researcher Dr. Plato Zorba dies, he leaves “one of those sprawling old mansions they built 50 years ago” to kind but forgetful nephew Cyrus Zorba (Donald Woods). However, as Ben Rush (Martin Milner), Dr. Zorba's lawyer, notes, the family also inherits the 12 ghosts Dr. Zorba has gathered in the house. These ghosts can only be seen when wearing the special occult glasses Dr. Zorba invented. Son Buck (Charles Herbert), a huge horror fan, finds the house and ghosts a dream come true. Unbeknownst to the Zorba family, their lives at risk because Dr. Zorba stashed his fortune somewhere in the mansion. Zorba's housekeeper Elaine Zacharides (Margaret Hamilton in a role that nods and winks at her Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz) adds to the creepy factor, and the Zorbas find themselves ready to move in spite of their distressed financial situation.

Since the ghosts are revealed in the movie's opening, there is no mystery around their appearance. Instead, the mystery revolves around Uncle Plato's fortune. Everyone in the cast is brilliant, and there is real chemistry Ben Rush and Medea Zorba (Jo Morrow). Combined with Castle's Illusion-O!, 13 Ghosts deserves its place in the horror pantheon both on its own and as a cult film favorite. Do yourself a favor. Get some blue and red translucent viewgraph sheets and make your own ghost viewer... if you dare.

Find more about 13 Ghosts at IMDb. Watch for part 2 where I review Thir13en Ghosts, co-produced by William Castle's daughter Terry, and part 3 where I compare the father's and the daughter's films.

10/10 claws – 13 Ghosts stands the test of time

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments