Under the Spell of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins is undoubtedly the father of shock rock. First introducing theatrical provocation to rock ‘n roll in 1956, following the success of “I Put a Spell on You”. Through a macabre lens, Hawkins would vocalize morbid themes and pair them with monster movie props in his live performances. Inspiring musicians for decades from Arthur Brown to The Cramps, Screamin’ Jay ushered the horror genre right into the spotlight of music.

Scream, Baby, Scream

Born in 1929 as Jalacy Hawkins, he was never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story. Cultivating his own mythical history, Hawkins embellished his life as a true entertainer. Adopted by Blackfoot Indians at 18 months old, he grew up with an appreciation for opera and classical music. Often referencing Paul Robeson as a major influence. As an accomplished pianist, Hawkins became a blues and jazz musician by way of Tiny Grimes’ band, Rockin’ Highlanders. Often stealing the show with the genesis of his outlandish wardrobe before becoming a solo artist. Inspired by the sounds of Big Bill Broonzy and Dizzy Gillespie, Hawkins created his style of performing and writing his own version of blues.

Horror on Stage

Following the controversial success of 1956’s “I Put a Spell on You”, a Cleveland disc jockey would encourage the musician to capitalize on the negative backlash of his song. Clad in a black cape and velvet gloves, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins would rise from his mirrored casket to glare at the audience with spinning eyes. Accompanied by his sidekick ‘Henry’, a rotting skull on a stick that actively smoked cigarettes. Sometimes Henry was described as a restless soul possessing a fetish and other times an actual donated skull of a deceased friend. A mechanical severed hand would squirm on the piano and was previously believed to have run across the stage in the early years. Other elements of the occult were incorporated into live shows. Candles and bells to call spirits, snakes around his neck, and chattering teeth illuminating from the darkness. Hawkins would also employ smoke bombs, flash paper, and other pyrotechnics that would leave him burned by his own quest for entertainment. Hawkins’ shows were frequently picketed by offended citizens yet continued to draw eclectic crowds of teenagers. All clamoring to take part in the magic rituals staged by the other-worldly figure of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

Songs

The morbid stage antics were just icing on the cake. The real substance of his career was in the music. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s most famous song, “I Put a Spell on You” was written in a fit of despair following a bad break-up. Originally intended to be a ballad, a record executive suggested Hawkins do “something different” with the song. Providing the group with imported fortified wine, they recorded a blind drunk version that became the infamous waltz of unrequited love. Blacked-out from their wild night at the studio, neither Hawkins nor the rest of the band remembered the session. “I Put a Spell on You” was an instant hit, surpassing a million copies in sales and ruffling the feathers of moral gatekeepers everywhere. The provocative growling, that became the singer’s trademark, was considered too suggestive and banned by radio stations. Hawkins would feed the grim rumors by claiming he had tried yet was unable to destroy the original audio tapes. Also, reportedly the song gave him the creeps throughout his career. Admitting that he would only sing it live after hitting the bottle. But his claim to fame wasn’t the only song packed with horror tropes. Here are a few suggested songs to those looking for the thrills only Screamin’ Jay could provide.

“Alligator Wine”

Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was one of the first to record “Alligator Wine”. Lyrically the song is a cartoony recipe for a love potion, but Hawkins set the standard with a swampy, bare-bones blues trance. Reading the grotesque ingredients and instructions right out of a bayou healer’s grimoire, “Alligator Wine” describes the adverse effects after consuming the concoction. A powerless addiction to vice and the charms of Screamin’ Jay himself.

“The Whammy”

The song “The Whammy” gives Screamin’ Jay a taste of his own medicine. With a full catalog of confessional tunes of snaring women with magic, the tables turn for Hawkins. He sings of being desired by a woman who puts a supernatural influence on him. Building suspense through his disturbing moans, Hawkins wails of the physical torture under this powerful conjure. Descending into madness as he begs the spell caster for release, going to far as to threaten her with a shotgun.

“I Hear Voices”

Equal parts biographical as well as the intrinsic aesthetic of Hawkins, “I Hear Voices” notes of a man unlucky in love. Another relationship soured and our jilted lover mourns his losses to the brink of paranoia. Screamin’ Jay’s song is plagued with the troubled mumbling and whispers of spirits. Losing a grip on reality, our narrator hears the chattering giggles and footsteps of phantoms as his own heartbreak drives him insane. 

“Whistling Past The Graveyard”

Written by Tom Waits, the song’s title is an idiom of unknown origin, meaning to focus on a positive outcome regardless of the situation. The lyrics are a string of superstitions deliberately broken. Purposely provoking this bad luck energy with the confidence of a man who has nothing to lose. Screamin’ Jay’s cover utilizes his baritone instrument for the melodic incantation. Summoning a trickster entity born from a series of bad omens. The audience could easily see this song as another facet of Screamin’ Jay’s mythic history.

“Baptize Me in Wine”

Released in 1954 as a single by Jalacy Hawkins, “Baptize Me In Wine” takes influence from a New Orleans second line funeral. A midtempo chucklesome tale of wino’s last requests. Whether the preacher has returned to life or is knocking at death’s door is debatable. What is clear is that the afterlife will have to wait until the decedent has had a final libation. The soul will not rest until refreshed and buried with his beloved wine.

“Monkberry Moon Delight”

A nonsensical song written by Paul & Linda McCartney. The couple explained their original inspiration was taken from the surreal wordplay of a child’s imagination and singsong riddles. As an underrated cover, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins gives purpose to the song. Making it his own by improvising lines so the song is tailored to a spiritual narrative. Undergoing a psychedelic trip and surrendering to the addiction of a unique spirit/potion.

Spellbound

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was a pioneer of shock rock and proto-goth subcultures. Providing the blueprint for every band who incorporated macabre theatricality in their music. Breaking taboos in the industry, none can surpass his original bone chattering freak-out power. If rock ‘n roll really is the Devil’s music, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was a supernatural force.

Further Reading

I Put A Spell On You: The Bizarre Life of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins by Steve Bergsman

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Documentary I Put a Spell on Me

Do Androids Dream of Cronenberg? Philip K Dick’s Influence on the Baron of Blood

Canadian director, David Cronenberg, is best known to cinephiles for body horror of a particular kind of yuck. Whether it’s a parasitic relationship or a medical kink, his use of practical effects could make any gore-hound squirm. Others are drawn to Cronenberg’s cerebral adaptations of unfilmable literature. The not-too-distant dystopian unrealities of J.G. Ballard and Burroughs were brought to the big screen with Crash and Naked Lunch. Yet David Cronenberg’s amalgamation of technological unrest and quivering gristle may yet best envision the fictional worlds of Sci-Fi guru, Philip K. Dick.

Everybody’s a mad scientist, and life is their lab.

The producers of Alien had been trying to adapt a short story of sci-fi guru Phillip K. Dick since the 70s. “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” became the basis for Total Recall with David Cronenberg as the first director considered. Spending a year working on 12 different drafts, Cronenberg kept the script as close to Dick’s novel as he could. Remaining dark and paranoid, he contributed the concept of mutants and his own on-brand yonic imagery. But studio executives were looking for “Raiders of The Lost Ark goes to Mars”. Something much different than what he was willing to give and eventually left the project. Though the stories of Philip K. Dick would always have an influence over David Cronenberg. His pessimistic futures of isolation and counterfeit realities blended well with the director’s affinity for perversions of science. The foundations of Dick’s novels continue to manifest within the films of Cronenberg. Here we examine the similitude of their three most popular novels and films.

Scanners/Ubik

Hollywood continues to try and develop a film version of Philip K. Dick’s Ubik. David Cronenberg was at one point involved in discussions of an adaptation, even directly contacting the writer’s daughters. Though the director’s idea fell through, themes from the novel remained prevalent in another film. Through a combination of Cronenberg’s scripts for The Sensitives and Telepathy 2000 came the movie, Scanners in 1981. It’s a story of a mentally ill vagrant named Vale, captured by a private military company. They cure him of the voices in his head with their drug, Ephemerol, and then inform him of his super mind powers. As a “scanner”, he is recruited to stop an underground ring of rogue scanners through infiltration. Uncovering a plot of mass distributing Ephemerol to pregnant women and mutating the unborn. Transforming a new generation of scanners to overthrow the world. Philip K. Dick’s Ubik gave us the same gritty timeline where psychic powers are used for corporate espionage. Another downtrodden protagonist is employed by a company managing “precogs”. Cyberpathically securing their clients’ private information from telepathic hackers. A rival organization of psychics engage in guerilla style combat to eliminate business competition resulting in a liminal plot of time travel. Between life and half-life, the present or 1939, the characters become trapped Schrodinger cats. Doomed to deteriorate without the widely accessible store-bought product, Ubik. Both Scanners and Ubik would broadcast a faint warning of warring corporate entities and their disregard of consumer casualties.

Videodrome/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner is an acclaimed 1982 film adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Though an excellent piece of cinema, the1968 novel contained more complexities than a single film could possibly capture. David Cronenberg would expand on Philip K. Dick’s story beyond android bounty hunters with 1983’s Videodrome. A retro portrait of post humanism, the movie pokes fun at the idiot box and media identity. A sleazy cable-TV president becomes obsessed with a snuff channel broadcast out of Pittsburg. The addictive signal induces a brain tumor that causes hallucinations. These visuals are recorded and marketed as television programming. All under the guise of a false media prophet, Brian O’Blivion, founder of the Cathode Ray Mission. Existing only within video tape recordings, humans are reprogrammed into an analog hell-LIVE! Dick’s novel, Electric Sheep, gives us another society of stifling technology mimicking the organic. Literally dictating every human emotion with Penfield Mood Organs and a tech-based religion called Mercerism. Utilizing “empathy boxes” to simultaneously link users to a virtual reality of collective suffering. Centered on a Sisyphus martyr-like character who eternally climbs up a hill while being hit with crashing stones.

eXistenZ/The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

The David Cronenberg film most referenced in regard to Philip K. Dick, is 1999’s eXistenZ. A film that takes gaming beyond hobby or addiction and into a complete lifestyle alignment. Popular on the market in eXistenZ are fleshy VR pods that connect on a bio level with consumers. Gamers are surgically fitted with a spinal port that plugs into the console. Dueling game companies compete for control of the market while fending off an underground movement of “Realists”. Domestic terrorists that disapprove of these games distorting reality. A failed assassination on a game-developer’s life has her on the run with the only copy of her latest game creation. To ensure it isn’t corrupted she plays through with her bodyguard, only to enter a deeper level of virtual reality filled with assassins and spies. The addiction to escapism reflects Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. A novel about the miserable existence of manual labor where citizens are drafted to colonize other planets. Draftees self-medicate with the illegal drug, Can-D. A hallucinogen allowing a controlled simulation of a Barbie doll figure, “Perky Pat”. Continuing with the element of opposing business giants, a famed bio-modified merchant has discovered a better alternative called “Chew-Z”. Double agents fall through the looking glass into their own hallucinations as the battle of drug patents ensues. Both Cronenberg’s eXistenZ and Dick’s Three Stigmata have ambiguous endings that leave the audience wanting more.

 Brandon Cronenberg: Like Father Like Son

David Cronenberg’s son, Brandon, follows in his footsteps as a director and screenplay writer. Deriving inspiration from alternate consciousness and the universes created by Philip K. Dick. His debut, Antiviral, takes celebrity worship and his father’s signature “venereal horror” to another plane. Familiar tropes of misuse of medical technology and quarreling corporate giants,the movie reveals a black market of genetic souvenirs from celebrities. Reminiscent of Ubik by way of a manufactured afterlife wrapped around the consumer market. Brandon’s 2020 film, Possessor, references Dick’s frequent use of imposters and multiple identities. An assassin tale where public persona meets shadow, and all sense of identity is lost in a role. Similar themes arise in Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said and The Simulacra.

Long Live The New Flesh

Philip K. Dick was afraid of how technology would transform humanity, and that fear aroused something within David Cronenberg. He is the grimy lens of our mind’s eye that shows us a broken-society closer than not-too-distant. Where body horror is loss of autonomy when flesh melds with tech. Where humans become fake versions of themselves living in fake storylines. Philip K. Dick warned that this was going to happen, and David Cronenberg rubs our faces in it.

There are about a hundred movies that could be made from Dick’s stuff, but I think people are afraid of it still, which is a testament to the power his work has.

https://www.nightmare-magazine.com/nonfiction/interview-david-cronenberg/

Further Reading

Behold! The Unfilmable: The Literary Adaptations of David Cronenberg  

Every Warning Sci-Fi Writer Philip K. Dick Gave Us About Technology is Coming True

Never-Been-Seen Concept Art for David Cronenberg’s Total Recall

Coming of Age With Last House on the Left and VHS Bootlegs

Wes Craven’s debut is widely regarded as one of the most gruesome films in the horror genre. Last House on The Left pre-dated the modern slasher and set a standard in grindhouse cinema. Intended to be a commentary on the violence in media surrounding the Vietnam war, the outrage sparked almost destroyed Craven’s career before it began. Bizarrely, the controversy was the driving force in ticket sales at theaters and drive-ins. While the moral value of Last House is still debated to this day, it continues to serve as a grim warning to blossoming youth.

Multi-Generational Trauma

My mother graduated in 1972 and embarked on a life beyond the disapproving gaze of her god-fearing parents. Openly admitting to hitch-hiking to antiwar demonstrations, she recalls meeting a young man in the late summer requesting a date. Slightly older and handsome she referred to him as a “fly by night” boyfriend. My mom would agree to an evening at the Highway 2 & 65 Drive-In in Corydon, Iowa for a double feature. Little is recalled of the first movie, due in part to trying marijuana for the first time. The drive-in’s second feature was a different story. Wes Craven’s Last House on The Left would invoke a terror in my mother, too grisly to look away from the screen. Scenes of torture and humiliation would haunt her dreams for decades. Leaving to rethink choices made as a young adult with their first taste of freedom.

Exploitation’s Fountainhead

The gritty viscera of Last House on The Left follows Mari Collingwood on her 17th birthday. With her gal pal, Phyllis, they travel to the city to attend a rock concert. Trying to score some “grass” before the show, the girls approach a lonely looking hippie. Completely unaware that he’s a strung-out errand boy for a gang of serial killers who just escaped from prison. Captured and tortured, to say the least, Mari realizes she’s just a short distance from her own front door. There her parents await her return, having planned a surprise birthday party for their daughter.

Wes Craven would develop Last House with Sean S. Cunningham, who would later go on to produce Friday the 13th. The film was shot “guerilla-style”, bringing a documentary quality that blurred the lines of reality and fiction. This disorientation for the audience would spawn promotional taglines like “To avoid fainting, keep repeating ‘It’s only a movie’…”. Craven would play up the shock factor by intercutting the confrontational gore with inappropriate slapstick scenes of bumbling police. Barely skirting by with an R rating after numerous cuts, the film was never released in Australia and outright banned in the U.K. Rumors circulated of projectionists cutting up film reels and even audience members stealing copies to be destroyed. Resulting in many different versions of Last House existing with lost or rare scenes.  

A Horror Fan Is Born

The tender buds of my own puberty had blossomed in the mid-90s, and I was devastated. The chrysalis between a feral child rolling in the dirt to a teenage Frankenstein was traumatic. I found comfort in horror films, observing victims of the supernatural and relating to monsters. Becoming a regular of the horror aisle at the local video store, I’d arrive with parental notes giving permission to rent another R-rated tape. Blessed with folks that took interest in my hobby, dad and I would watch creature features on Saturday nights. While my mom would take me to the movies for some milder horror cinema. Like The Blair Witch Project or the time we incorrectly assumed From Dusk Till Dawn was a heist movie. During conversations about the genre, she’d reference a film that had traumatized her the most. More than Deliverance or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the flick that had altered her perception of the world was Last House on The Left. Unable to describe the horrors of the real world, mom believed it was best if I viewed this movie myself. A warning of the dangers that lie beyond my rural hometown.

Tracking It Down

Not surprisingly, the family-owned video store did not carry a copy of Last House. So we went to the video stores in the city; Blockbuster, Family Video, and even Suncoast at the mall. Who knew the controversial film would be so inaccessible in the Bible Belt? It would end up being a thrift store outside of Des Moines that would lead us in the right direction. A box of donated magazines would introduce me to the last breaths of underground tape trading. The classifieds of Fangoria, Midnight Video catalogs, and stacks of tattered fanzines gave a brief glimpse into this dying fan system of bootleg circulation. By then most of the heavy weights had moved online, though some still offered PO Boxes to send a few bucks for a list of what was available. My mom decided to write a letter to Shawn Lewis of Blackest Heart Media, the independent publishing roots of RottenCotten and Eibon Press. While Blackest Heart mostly dealt in comics, soundtracks, and t-shirts, they did still sell tapes. I think we might have paid a $12 money order and waited about 6 weeks before the tape arrived. The VHS cassette had a very plain black label on a white background that read in all capital letters “Last House On The Left”.

There was an ominous seriousness about it. Lewis had sold us one of the more complete versions to exist at the time. A bootleg from Japan with subtitles burned into the bottom. Our private mother-daughter screening was as solemn as a funeral. It was more traumatic than the birds-and-bees talk years prior and I didn’t sleep well for a while. As years went on, I would share the VHS with cousins and certain friends. Late night horror-thrills with a full disclaimer before pressing the play button. Those that sat through Craven’s debut in its entirety would become grim and unwilling to discuss scenes after. I recall one male friend asking, “Your mom let you watch that movie?”

Horror Nerds of The Future

There are still specific scenes from Last House on The Left that have stayed with me after all this time. It has been well over 15 years since I’ve watched the original, with no desire to do so in the immediate future. I can’t say if the film’s message conveyed any kind of natural instinct within me to avoid danger. I still made many stupid decisions that should have left me as a cold case file. Last House was a rite of passage, not one of survival but a precursor to evolving my horror fandom. The World Wide Web connected gore hounds from around the globe and made the rarest video nasties more accessible, but it also sucked a lot of the fun out of collecting. Blogs and news feeds have replaced fanzines and word of mouth. Bootleg VHS trade continues to limp along but only as a nostalgic hobby to preserve the rich history of horror nerds for the next generation.

Last House on The Left celebrates its 50th anniversary August 30th 2022.

Further Reading

Xerox Ferox: The Wild World of the Horror Film Fanzine

Eibon Press

Merry Maladies & Sepulchral Summoning

Last October I was honored to collaborate with Nora Barton of Planchette for some eerie orations and spooky spoken word. 

Planchette (feat. Krystle Ratticus) – “Spider Baby”

A rendition of Ronald Stein’s underrated theme for the 1963 horror film, Spider Baby. Video by Matthew Shelton of Flex Your Love Muscles.

Planchette (feat. Krystle Ratticus) – “Because I Could Not Stop For Death”

Written by Emily Dickinson and video by Nora Barton.

Planchette (feat. Krystle Ratticus) – “Omens”

Written by Cecilia Llompart and video by John Barnard of Pexelsvideo

Planchette (feat. Krystle Ratticus) – “Polluted”

Written by Krystle Ratticus and video by Nora Barton.

You can find more of Planchette here and please check out all of Nora’s extra cellistrial projects and celloscapes here.

Oven Fresh Hell: The Relationship Between Pizza and Horror

February 9th is National Pizza Day and to celebrate, let’s get delivery and a rental. Little compares to the combination of pizza and a horror movie. Whether a Friday night-in or a Saturday sleepover, every weekend begs the addition of ‘za and a fright flick. A throwback to unsupervised youth on a Blockbuster night, staying up too late, and consuming junk food. The resulting nightmares would traumatize adolescents and influence horror media forever. Reminding the audience that nothing is sacred in scary movies, not even your slice.

Sometimes You Eat the Pizza, Sometimes the Pizza Eats You

Rivalries of regional styles rage on to this day. But whether you favor Chicago or New York, even bad pizza is still pizza. The worst pizza in the universe is Pizza The Hutt. Intergalactic mobster that drives the entire plot of Space Balls. Disgusting and delicious, he directly inspired the animated villain Pizza Face from the 2012 TMNT series. Hypnotizing the hungry into his parlor to eat as calzones. Simultaneously unveiling the vulnerability of the voracious. The original Ninja Turtle animated series gave us Pizza Monsters from Dimension X. Almost gremlin-like, they hatch from meatball shaped eggs when heated up. Just add water to grow into yellow Xenomorphs that rearrange positions in the food chain. The cannibal slasher, Offerings, has an escaped psycho courting a teen with body parts. Beginning with a stack of “sausage” pizzas on her doorstep, nobody notices the missing family dog. Freddy Krueger has an appetite for soul food in Nightmare on Elm Street 4. On a dream date in a diner, the meatball toppings resemble victims screaming for mercy. Every time Freddy eats a soul, he gains another slimy mole. The moment in the franchise when fans notice how much Krueger’s skin resembles pizza. You are what you eat in House IV, where Kane Hodder makes an uncredited cameo as The Human Pizza. Singing delivery has everyone humming until they open the box to a grinning pie. Ruining dinner by spewing gory marinara and attacking with cheese tentacles. But if the food doesn’t kill ya, the service will.

Little Pizza Shop of Horrors 

Urban legends of haunted red sauce joints exist all over. Possibly as continuations of the old trope of fronts for the mob. In the Killer Pizza horror novel series by Greg Taylor, the titular business is a front for a monster hunting organization. It’s like the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense was slinging slices on the side. Not necessarily needing a cover to bring the paranormal into your personal pan, some restaurants simply make unfortunate decisions regarding location. The pizza horror comedy Slice is centered around Perfect Pizza Place, an eatery built on top of a portal to Hell. Inciting more than bad Yelp reviews, a coven of witches wreak havoc to gain access. But a fate much worse than bad service is having an in-house monstrosity dining on you. Namely, the horrific animatronics of pizza chain restaurants. Any nostalgic attendee of family fun in its heyday were captivated and terrorized by the robots. Popular horror game series Five Nights at Freddy’s brought these childhood fears to life with machines moving freely at night. Possessed by vengeful spirits that punish all trespassers. In the same vein, 2018’s Huluween film festival featured the pizza horror short, The Hug. Pandory the Panda is a lone robot in his restaurant and needs to feed between performances. Also being a demon, Pandory prefers children. This short would give way to the 2021 Nicholas Cage pizza horror film, Willy’s Wonderland. A serial killer cult inhabits the animatronic characters and demands human sacrifice. This redefines the notion of businesses struggling to keep customers. However, ordering to-go isn’t always the safer bet, especially if you’re making the deliveries.

Pizza is Gonna Send Out For You 

Slinging pizza is a respectable hustle but with considerable risk involved. These liminal laborers walk between worlds and enter unknown situations repeatedly in a single night. Adventurous drivers might take a chance outside of their delivery zone like in Satanic Panic. A pizza horror film featuring a delivery girl served up as a sacrifice to Baphomet at the hands of Satanist glitterati. In Slumber Party Massacre, the delivery boy is dead on arrival at a slashing in progress. Awaiting help, the teens help themselves to the cold pizza lying next to his corpse. The perfect comfort food to stress eat when stalked by a homicidal maniac. In the Indian horror movie, Pizza, the supernatural orders out for the pizza guy, Michael. Trapped in a haunted bungalow looping its trauma, this pie is extra bloody with ketchup and murder. The pizza profession requires grit as behind each door lies a potential occupational hazard. A single order could be a family of zombies craving deep dish brains, like in Dance of The Dead. Jimmy makes his last delivery of the night and realizes he’s on the menu. 

Pizza Horror as a Subtrope 

What makes pizza horror truly terrifying is that it’s too real. Whether you’re an employee or a customer, pizza is a bullseye for the weird. We lower our defenses when taking in sustenance. Fueling that long run from the chainsaw man wanting to eat you. Consider how you invite chaos into your life every time you grab a slice.

And always remember to tip. 

Further Reading 

Tales From The Crust: An Anthology of Pizza Horror by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing 

Horror Movie Screams Photoshopped With Hot Pizza 

The Strange Role of Food in Horror

Dr. Bloodmoney or: The Post-Apocalyptic Novel to Begin Your New Year With

Hailed as “The Godfather of Science Fiction”, Phillip Kindred Dick was born prematurely on December 16th, 1928. His twin sister, Jane Charlotte, would die 6 weeks later and leave a profound impact on Philip’s life. Suffering from hallucinations and a slippery grip on reality, he would also be forever haunted by the absence of a sibling. The concept of a “phantom twin” and estranged siblings would surface throughout his critically acclaimed writing career. Most notable being Dr. Bloodmoney or: How We Learned to Get Along After the Bomb. In a letter written to Sandra Miesel in 1970, Dick admitted that he liked this novel more than anything else he had ever written.

The Bomb Will Bring Us Together

Composed on the heels of the Cuban missile crisis, Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Bloodmoney imagines the early 80’s in California’s Bay Area as an age of fear. A paranoia of atomic weapons and fallout after a failed nuclear defense experiment. The Bluthgeld Disaster of ’72, so named after the overseeing physicist that had made a miscalculation. Resulting in mass destruction and radiation poisoning. In his signature style of a disjointed narrative, Dick’s novel begins by introducing multiple characters on the last known day of civilized society. 

Beginning with Mr. Jack Tree, the assumed name of Dr. Bruno Bluthgeld. The infamous radiation expert that had made the grave error. Having gone into hiding after the catastrophe, he now suffered from severe paranoia. Guilt and isolation eroding his mind to fabricate delusions of grandeur. Believing he can speak with God and that others read his thoughts. At the suggestion of his friend, Bonnie Keller, he seeks psychiatric help from Dr. Stockstill. Unfortunately, Stockstill disgusted with the incognito scientist, knowing who he really is. Trying to mask his hatred of the patient, he distracts himself by thinking about the NASA Mars launch. 

The lone friend of Bruno Bluthgeld is a bored housewife, Bonny Keller. Depressed and repressed, she fears stagnation. Burning through hobbies and meddling in the lives of others to stay busy. With little regard for her husband, Bonny is quite fond of Bruno. Having served as a mentor, she hopes her psychiatrist can help with his mental state. Anxiously she waits by the phone to hear about Bluthgeld and Stockstill’s session. Fantasizing about having affairs or China declaring war. To ease the restlessness, Bonny watches the Mars launch live on television.

Hoppy Harrington suffers from phocomelia, born without arms and legs. He gets around on a government issued cart with extensors. But Hoppy has a powerful mind and is full of ambition. Determined to make a living doing manual labor, he’s hired as a repairman at Modern TV. Quickly he wins over his coworkers with his talents. Concentrating on a broken electronic, he almost seems to heal the device rather than repair it. 

Emergency Day 

Since the radiation fallout from 1972, mankind has been seeking to thrive beyond Earth. Russia had failed to colonize the moon and the cosmonauts either starved or suffocated. NASA had decided to send a couple into orbit in hopes of colonizing Mars. Walter Dangerfield was selected, an earnest-hearted Regular Joe with his wry and mordant wit. He and his wife Lydia were being sent to pioneer a “Nova Terra”, armed with good breeding genes and a wealth of knowledge. The Dangerfields are a beacon of hope for Earthlings suffering the long-term effects of the Bluthgeld Disaster. Making the opportunity of a fresh beginning more available to everyone tuning in. Until all the screens suddenly go blank, and the signal is lost.

“Walter, we are under attack down here.”

Static begins erasing voices from mission control to the Regular Joe. Helplessly looking down at the blue marble to see matches being lit. Little puffs and flares burning up life. 

The only warnings that came were a split-second Red Alert on FM radio. Moments passed before skies darkened and filled with soot. The very ground would jump again and again. Bombs rained upon cities and countryside alike from unknown enemies. People ran wild in the streets, seeking shelter in community cellars. Buildings crumbled and all of Berkley seemed to be sinking on one side, tilting sidewalks, and toppling structures. The survivors would one day reminisce about the event lacking hostility and purpose. As if it was another mistake made in Washington. Militant amateurs and the greedy in their highly scientific circles. Just like in ‘72, when the deranged are in charge it makes the concept of “enemy” unbelievable. Other survivors will recall the relief and excitement felt when the bombs started dropping. If not seen as a second chance to do things over, it was regarded as the will of God. Cleansing away all the undesirable traits of mankind. 

The city had become a sieve, leaking endless streams of people wanting to get out. Bruno Bluthgeld wandered the demolished streets of Berkeley, in the midst of chaos. Unable to understand what was happening, just like everyone else. Cars and crowds pushed past him as he slowly recognized this as the end. Surmising that there is no war to speak of other than inside of himself, the responsible party. Bluthgeld believes he brought about this ending with his mind alone. Possessing psychic abilities that cause destruction, just as he had done in ‘72 with the experiment failure. Desperate to make amends, Bluthgeld attempts to will civilization to heal itself from this tragedy. 

Crawl Out From the Fallout 

When the bombs cease and the smoke clears, society slowly reestablishes itself in smaller colonies. Connecting with a barter system of skills and resources. Slowly they rebuild with primitive methods and little to no machinery. Outside of Berkeley, in West Marin, there are communal gatherings to listen to a lone working radio and the last broadcasts of mankind. Walter Dangerfield, trapped in the Dutchman IV space capsule for the last 7 years, has become an international disc jockey. Endlessly orbiting Earth, entertaining anyone that can pick up his signal. Transmissions of book readings and songs from his music archive. Equipped with the resources to sustain a decade of life for 2, he currently feels unwell. Noticing a sudden appearance of chest pains. Cheerfully, he asks his audience for advice and wonders how much time he has left, as do his listeners. Unable to imagine going on without Dangerfield. 

Hoppy Harrington defied all odds and survived Emergency Day. Settling in West Marin, he serves as the capable handy-man and entertains with imitations and juggling. Always seeming to know more than he lets on, Hoppy makes people uncomfortable. Yet the residents were grateful to have him part of the community for his talents. Mechanically inclined and strengthened mental abilities, Hoppy can now move objects with his thoughts. Using these assets to protect residents from thieving outsiders. Psychically lashing out at anyone who underestimates him. Hoppy’s funny impressions can become cruel mocking if his telekinetic gifts aren’t respected. 

Bonny Keller defeated stagnation after Emergency Day with her beauty alone. Rising to an unofficial position of power by influence and her many secret affairs. This dangerous hold over her peers has led to the execution of anyone who displeases her. In a spontaneous comfort tryst with a traveling salesman after the bombs fell, Bonny conceived a child. Now 7 years old is the dark eyed little girl named Edie. Unbeknownst to all is her parasitic twin that she calls “Bill”. When she speaks to her brother, it is written off as merely an imaginary friend. But Bill has special abilities too, being stuck between worlds. He speaks with the dead and wants to try and swap consciousness with another creature. 

Mr. Jack Tree, formerly known as Bruno Bluthgeld, lives on the outskirts of West Marin as a sheep herder. Twisted with age and more mentally unstable than ever before, protected by Bonny Keller. Once suspecting his cover has been blown, he decides to eradicate all of humanity for good using only his mind. Envisioning black skies and bright flashes in the distance with the smell of smoke on the wind. Hoppy Harrington decides to intervene with his own mental abilities and psychically disposes of the physicist. Indebting West Marin and the rest of the Bay Area to him for sparing all another Emergency Day. But the resident’s gratitude isn’t enough for the telekinetic handy. He wants to be admired like Walt Dangerfield and uses his mind to slowly replace him. Only the little Bill Keller inside of his sister’s abdomen is willing to take on Hoppy Harrington and stop him from hurting people anymore. 

Postmodern Pandemic 

Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Bloodmoney is considered to be one of the defining science fiction novels of the ‘60s. Originally under the working titles “In Earth’s Diurnal Course” and “A Terran Odyssey”, editor Donald Wollheim suggested something different. A reference to the 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Published by Ace Books in 1965, it was nominated for a Nebula Award for ‘best novel’ but lost to Frank Herbert’s Dune

Reading Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Bloodmoney in the beginning of 2022, is remarkably chilling. Offering ideas of how people come together or move further apart after a major disaster. He blurs the lines of time by referencing actual government officials, like Richard Nixon. Other times he gives only vague descriptions that allude to other political figures. While the book is a product of its times, it’s uncomfortable in moments that highlight the unnecessary divisions of humanity. Many of which are still rampant, 57 years later. Dick noted the desperation of neglected veterans, mental capacities of leaders, and long-term effects of chemical testing. Even giving an uncanny projection of the Challenger tragedy with a simple line of alternate history. 

The arrangement of characters and their struggle for a basic understanding echoes current uncertainties of the future. From the horrible realization that everything will change. To the feelings of hopelessness in the face of domestic error and miscalculated response. All putting the reader in an uneasy state of familiarity, as we enter a 3rd year after Covid’s debut. Once considered tropes of science fiction and horror are now staples of our modern-day reality. It wouldn’t feel too far-fetched if the next challenges our society faces align with other themes in Philip K. Dick’s existential treatises. Such as government conspiracies, evil corporations, or the entity formerly known as God appearing as A.I. or a cosmic structure. The futures he contributed to the sci-fi genre beg us to never stop questioning reality and what does it mean to be human? The answers to which are forever evolving in what feels like the beginning of the end.

With These Hands: A History of Mad Love

The 1930s were peak in Hollywood’s Golden Age of horror. Universal led the way with its legendary monster movies and Paramount added sophisticated suspense to the genre. In 1935, MGM decided to release the horror-thriller Mad Love, directed by Karl Freund and starring Peter Lorre in his American debut. Lorre, a highly publicized talent, harnessed a dark glamor with his emotive acting. Bringing an amalgamation of repulsiveness and vulnerability into each role that the audience sympathizes with against their will.

His Love Was a Pitiful…Hopeless Madness

The famous surgeon, Dr. Gogol sits in private box at the “Théatre des Horreurs”, just as he has for the last 47 nights. Blissfully gazing upon Madame Yvonne Orlac as she is tortured on stage as the Duchess. Having sent flowers and notes to her dressing room for each performance, he finally approaches her dressing room on closing night. Yet he is crushed to learn she is married to concert pianist, Stephen Orlac. As he wraps up a tour, Yvonne retires from the stage to join him at last. The dejected Gogol comforts himself by purchasing the theater’s promotional wax figure of Yvonne from the lobby. Having it delivered to his private chambers to do with as he pleases, without fear of rejection.

While enroute to meet with his wife, Stephen is mangled in a terrible train wreck. Crushing his hands which must be amputated to save his life. Yvonne is desperate to preserve her husband’s livelihood and begs Dr. Gogol for a miracle. His surgical genius is struck with divine inspiration and Stephen is given a hand transplant. The donor of which being a recently executed knife thrower from the circus. The surgery is a success, but Stephen is repulsed by his transplants that require long and expensive treatments. They don’t take to playing the piano as they once did but now seem to have a talent for knives. The Orlacs are forced to sell all their valuables as the bills pile up, straining their marriage much to Gogol’s delight. With murder hanging in the balance, Stephen descends into madness. Luring Yvonne to Dr. Gogol for answers, like a fly to a carnivorous plant.

I have conquered science! Why can’t I conquer love?

Mad Love was the first of many remakes of Orlacs Hände (The Hands of Orlac). An Austrian silent horror film directed by expressionist veteran, Robert Wiene. This version focused more on the unraveling of Stephen as the protagonist. Rejecting his evil willed appendages and featuring a con man as the villain. Wiene’s film itself was inspired by a 1920 French fantasy/horror novel, Les Mains d’Orlac. Written by Maurice Renard, it is cited as one of the earliest appearances of body horror.

Mad Love is less faithful to Renard’s novel than Frankenstein or Dracula are to their origins in gothic literature. Which comes as no surprise that the script writer, John L. Balderston, had previously written on those film adaptations along with The Mummy and The Bride of Frankenstein. Balderston expanded on an otherwise minor character by combining the novel’s benign doctor with ‘Spectropheles’. A grotesque figure clad in white that haunts Stephen Orlac’s wife throughout Renard’s version. Regarded as the ghost of the train accident in the book and on screen as Dr. Gogol, a ghoul in white surgical scrubs. Both personal devils of Mrs. Orlac that must be faced before all is lost.

Balderstone had composed the film’s dialog with Lorre in mind, at points calling for the actor to deploy his “M look”. Referring to Lorre’s breakthrough role as Hans Beckert, a child murderer in Fritz Lang’s 1931 thriller, M. A Weimar Republic-era movie that would type cast the actor for the rest of his career. The tortured Stephen Orlac is played by, Colin Clive. No stranger to horror as the memorable Dr. Henry in Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Keye Luke appears as Gogol’s assisting surgeon, Dr. Wong. Best known for his role as Lee Chan in the Charlie Chan films and appearing with Peter Lorre in 1938 film Mr. Moto’s Gamble. Edward Brophy plays Rollo the knife thrower, on his way to the guillotine. Brophy had also played a knife throwing circus performer named Rollo in the 1935 movie Freaks. Possibly setting the cult film within the same cinematic universe as Mad Love.

Other film adaptations include The Hands of Orlac (1960) directed by Edmond Grevilleand Hands of a Stranger (1962) directed by Newt Arnold. The premise of a killer transplant inspired a number of other films such as The Crawling Hand (1963), The Hand (1981), and Les Mains de Roxana (2012). On television it had influenced a segment of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery and the Doctor Who serial, “The Hand of Fear”. A variant of the theme was used in an unproduced project of Alfred Hitchcock, The Blind Man and parodied in The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror IX”. It has even been suggested that Mad Love directly inspired the visual style of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

 “Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves”

Though upon initial release Mad Love was a commercial failure, it has grown a devout following through the years. Amassing an audience that appreciates Freund and Balderston weaving as many horror tropes within their movie as they could. From set designs to borrowed lines, the film pays tribute to its expressionistic roots and other heavy hitters in the genre.

The film title Mad Love is more obviously in reference to the sadistic obsession Gogol has for the actress and the skin-crawling scenes of his entitled wooing. Perhaps it also regards Yvonne’s devotion to her husband, Stephen. Resorting to desperate measures to care for the wreck-mauled pianist. Including reaching out to a repugnant stage-door johnny and admittedly trading on his unrequited feelings. Unknowingly evoking a madness in their lives that can only come from “love”. 

The Maddest Story Ever Told: An Examination of Spider Baby

Merrye Maladies

The Merrye Syndrome is a rare disease known only to afflict descendants of Ebenezer Merrye. An unfortunate condition developed from generations of inbreeding. Causing a mental regression and deformity, beginning in late childhood. It is believed the victim of Merrye Syndrome will de-evolve to a pre-human state of savagery and cannibalism. This ailment cast a shadow of shame over the wealthy family for many years, prompting them to live in seclusion as the bloodline dried up. The patriarch, Titus W. Merrye, dedicated his life to hiding the family curse from the world. This included his brother Nedrick, their two sisters, and his 3 children. Devoted servant, Bruno, gave a solemn oath upon Titus’ death to protect the skeletons in the Merrye closet.

Elizabeth, Ralph, and Virginia Merrye with Bruno

Emily Howe and her brother Peter are distant cousins and the only other known living heirs. Emily, hungry for the family fortune, intends to become the legal guardian of the Merrye children. They arrive at the unkempt mansion on short notice with her lawyer, Mr. Schlockier, and his secretary, Anne. Catching Bruno off guard, just as he was cleaning up another unfortunate mess created by the “kids”.

Children, We’ve Got To Keep Some Secrets Today

The Merrye siblings are actually young adults with the mental faculties of unpredictable children. Ralph is the nonverbal oldest child. With gangly limbs and brute strength, he crawls through the dumbwaiter shafts of the dilapidated house. Elizabeth is more put together, often called upon by Bruno to look after her brother and sister. The youngest, Virginia, is especially peculiar with an obsession with bugs and spiders. Often playing dangerous games with butcher knives and keeping pet tarantulas in a roll top desk.

When the unwelcome guests insist on spending the night, Bruno quickly hatches a plan in hopes of deterring them from seizing control of the estate. Plotting to host an unsavory dinner party for the outsiders and spare the Merrye children from becoming the object of public scrutiny. Hanging over Emily and her lawyer, he divulges the intimate details of the children’s austere lifestyle. Serving up a roasted cat Ralph had caught, toadstools and weeds foraged by Virginia, and pickled insects. Anne and Peter are unfortunate victims of circumstance and seem to pick up on Bruno’s subtle cues. Peter teases his sister, hoping she’d change her mind about staying the night. Sparking a self-referential conversation with Anne about horror movies. The pair coquettishly gush about their favorite monsters, but when she mentions the Wolfman, all the color drains from Bruno’s face. Dripping with sweat, he gravely warns them, “There’s going to be a full moon tonight.” The pair sheepishly glance around the room, making eye contact with each Merrye child. Devious grins cross their faces, like mocking portents to the dangers that lie ahead.

Bruno & Ralph

Just Because Something Isn’t Good Doesn’t Mean It’s Bad

Spider Baby was the feature film debut of the celebrated cult-film director, Jack Hill. Best known for exploitation films like The Big Dollhouse, Switchblade Sisters, and Foxy Brown. Hill shot the movie in the summer of 1964 with the original title “Cannibal Orgy or The Maddest Story Ever Told” as a joke. Due to bad press, the producers cut the film up in a panic. Halting the release for 3 years, as they were involved in real estate development and went bankrupt. Independent producer, David L. Hewitt, saved the movie from being lost forever by acquiring a theatrical print for distribution in 1967. Changing the title to “Spider Baby”, though it was alternatively billed as “The Liver Eaters” in drive-in double features. Jack Hill admits to writing a script for a sequel called “Vampire Orgy,” which followed surviving characters, Peter and Anne, on their honeymoon. 

Sig Haig plays the mute Ralph Merrye. Though he had no dialog throughout the film, his wild facial expressions made the monstrous man-child a loveable character. Haig appeared in many of Jack Hill’s films, including his debut in Hill’s UCLA student film, The Host. Haig is most beloved by younger fans as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Beverly Washburn plays the oldest Merrye daughter, Elizabeth. Washburn had also appeared alongside Sid Haig in Jack Hill’s Pit Stop. But the biggest star of the Spider Baby movie is Lon Chaney Jr. as the family chauffeur, Bruno. Veteran of several Universal horror films, Chaney appeared as the Mummy in three pictures, the monster in Ghost of Frankenstein, and the titular Son of Dracula. However, he is best remembered as the cursed Larry Talbot who would transform into The Wolf Man.

Many horror fans are quick to notice the similarities between Spider Baby and House of 1000 Corpses, beyond the casting of Sid Haig. The Firefly clan are presented as a more perverse version of the Merrye family. Residing in a decaying house filled with trap doors, taxidermy specimens, and crucified ragdolls. 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was also influenced by Spider Baby. Mirroring cannibalistic themes and relatives mentally unravelling while trying to cover up sins of family. Even the oldest of the Sawyers met a fate similar to Titus W. Merrye. Finally, The People Under The Stairs also takes direct inspiration from Jack Hill’s film. A rich and incestuous family reside in a big creepy house with a basement of mutants. Even the character Roach eats up every scene, in spite of being completely nonverbal just like Ralph Merrye.   

Virginia & Elizabeth

Well Beyond The Boundaries of Prudence and Good Taste

Murder and mayhem running rampant through the night, the Merrye children have stirred a chaos that is no longer capable of being kept secret. Bruno has prepared for this moment for some time but never expected it to arrive so soon. He sets out to retrieve a “toy” that will put an end to the madness and protect the Merrye legacy. Peter and Anne manage to escape as a menacing version of “Itsy-bitsy Spider” plays in the background. The pair marry, inherit the family fortune, and have a daughter of their own, named Jessica. She looks nothing like either of her parents with big dark eyes, wiry limbs, and a long face that lights up when she spies a spider outside. Not too unlike her presumably distant cousins; Elizabeth, Ralph, and Virginia. Perhaps the rare Merrye Syndrome, though believed to be extinguished from humanity, lives on in the next generation.

Review: Kanye West – Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft & Joshua Chaplinsky/Donda Listening Party

The fictional character of Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout, was an unsuccessful sci-fi author. The origins of his fabricated misfortune started as a joke from one of Vonnegut’s editors, Knox Burger. Once suggesting that it was much more entertaining to hear the idea or pitch of a science fiction novel rather than actually read the finished book. This comment led to Vonnegut creating the professionally unlucky alter ego.

Naturally, Kilgore Trout’s name was the first to come to mind when discovering Kanye West – Reanimator. I had been searching the Chicago Public Library catalogs for local horror when this title was suggested. The novella was authored in part by H.P. Lovecraft and Joshua Chaplinsky. Admittedly having also started as a joke, Kanye West – Reanimator followed Trout’s formula of sounding better as a concept than as a completed book. Its creation was fittingly an experiment by Chaplinsky. Beginning this reimagining by first swapping out names in Lovecraft’s original texts. Details were updated to reflect the rapper’s personal biography and the classic horror tale clicked into place with hip hop history. Thus, creating a dark comedy that begged to be paired with Kanye West’s tenth studio album, Donda. Released a little over a week after Lovecraft’s 131st birthday.

Written from the point of view of West’s college friend and trusted confidant. The narrator recounts his days under the Yeezy spell as an accessory to morbid crimes against the music industry. Kanye West is fondly remembered by his associate as an eccentric genius turned mad scientist. Obsessed with reanimating a dead genre beyond “cookie-cutter pop and gangsta rap.” Spotify’s most played tracks of Donda synched eerily well with the book’s pacing. The song, “Off The Grid”, echoes in the corners of the abandoned farmhouse where the pair isolate themselves to perform experiments. Flesh meets machine as Kanye literally plugs tracks into corpses. Souls trapped within give birth to unique remixes as the abominations rise from their slab. West waxes hyperbolic of art beyond death with the auto-tuned screams of “God Breathed”. But never satisfied, he seeks out new subjects for experiments to match the success of The College Dropout. Including a run in with head of Roc-A-Fella records, Damon Dash, stealing the ashes of Biggie Smalls and the ever-present beef between West and Jay-Z. The novella’s crescendo is a scene straight from the controversial video for “Monster”. Yet it is the track “24” that delivers poetic justice and the cautionary tale. A discordant church organ unravels the song as Ye faces the consequences of playing god. Wavering confidence as he chants, we gonna be okay.

Kanye West – Reanimator was possibly the only release of Yolo House Publishers, in September of 2015. Consisting of the trio Cameron Pierce, Matthew Revert, and personal favorite, Molly Tanzer. Whether or not you consider yourself a fan of West’s music, his many struggles always manage to find their way into the public consciousness of everyday life. His controversies since the release of Kanye West – Reanimator have certainly eclipsed those that came before. Between West’s questionable political ties, divorce from tabloid queen, continued “shameless pillaging of imagery from Alejandro Jodorowsky”, and setting himself on fire among homophobes and rapists…one can only hope Joshua Chaplinsky will be inspired to resurrect the parallel continuity of the Reanimator sequels.

St Rooster Books: Stranger With Friction 1 & 2

Tim Murr walks the path of most resistance when it comes to DIY publishing. Having debuted his first collection Destroying Lives for Fun and Profit over 25 years ago before founding St Rooster Books. Managed with his wife Stephanie, St Rooster Books regularly releases anthologies and horror novellas. Uplifting writers with a unique flair for horror with e-readers or a print-on-demand service. Remaining loyal to the palpable connection with art, Murr also released the physical magazine, Stranger With Friction. A quarterly publication offering outsider literature for those inspired by horror, comics, and punk rock. 

The first few issues offer a variety of regular columns and personal essays. Diving into horror franchises like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and various albums of Black Flag and Alice Cooper. Chris Cavoretto of Werewolves in Siberia, contributes a dissection of punksploitation soundtracks like Repo Man and Return of The Living Dead. SWF also examines socio-political issues within the horror genre in an interview with up and coming indie director, Izzy Lee

Other steady purveyors of twisted fiction like “Neighborhood Watch” and “Secret Satan” is author Carter Johnson. Keeping the nightmares alive from the infected trenches of an apocalyptic suburbia to the cubicle walls of a literal office Hell. Jeremy Lowe also haunts the pages of SWF with “Macho Insecurity” and “Bury Them Deep”. A queer punk videodrome of self discovery and a carny possessed hearse taking on a hillbilly sex church. Others are newcomers, like Lamont Turner and his tale of mad science haunting a house with time warping mutants in “Cramps”. Reed Alexander writes “The Nightlife”, a thriller about a late night rave that turns into a cannibal buffet. There’s political prose from Erik Stewart and morbidly romantic poetry by Marcelline Block. 

Lastly, a Publisher Spotlight is featured on Sam Richard of the kindred indie press, Weird Punk Books. Richard talks about origins and upcoming releases of the erotic occult variety. (Checkout their tribute anthologies to GG Allin and David Cronenburg.) 

For those that dabble primarily in weird cult genres, Stranger With Friction is worth picking up from St Rooster Books. If not inspired to submit to the magazine itself,it is a must read to further introduce yourself to the many voices of indie horror culture. 

You can pick up Stranger With Friction #1 & #2 HERE and peruse other releases by St Rooster Books. Check out the latest The God Provides by Thomas R Clark!