M. Night Shyamalan- SPLIT

I LOVE a good psychological horror. One that curls your toes and has you peeking through your fingers because it’s THAT scary. We all know that clowns and movie dolls terrifies me, but a main characters having multiple personalities? THAT IS FREAKING SCARY!! I mean, it could happen in real life!

It looks like M. Night Shyamalan has done it again with SPLIT. The antagonist, Kevin, has 23 different personalities; with one still unrevealed. Abducting three teenage girls is just the beginning of this terrifying journey to discovering the beast waiting to come out.

I have done this summary absolutely NO justice, so it’s in your best interest to just watch the trailer and decide for yourself. I will be seeing this very soon! You can see it when SPLIT opens in theaters JAnuary 20, 2017.

Horror Inspiration: Look to the Deep

Are you a horror writer looking for the next big thing to thrill your readers? Sometimes all you have to do is look to the deep.

I love vampires, ghosts and ghouls as much as the next gal, but I’m always trying to come up inventive ways to give my readers the creeps.

When I read about the Cystisoma, a type of crustacean, I felt a tingling in the part of my brain that looks for oddities that could possibly terrify.

Photo by Laura Bagge / Duke University

Okay, so upon first glance, a sea creature that doesn’t look much different when compared to a lobster or roach-type thing might not seem scary to anyone other than those with a seafood allergy, but look closer my friends. And indeed…you must…because the Cystisoma, although a solid creature, has a unique ability – INVISIBILITY!

That’s right, folks. This insect-like creature has a shell made up up tiny spheres with a unique coating that is able to cancel out 99.9% of light reflections.

Think about that for a minute the next time you want to write about a new creature of the night. Imagine a being that is able to reflect light well enough that you don’t even see it coming.

Think about that sense of dread you get walking down a dark street at night, when you swear you hear something; when you would bet your life on the fact that there’s some unexplained something close by. So close that you can hear it breathing…right behind you…

Photo © K.J. Osborn

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The Wandering Taphophile Returns: A Cemetery Bucket List

Being possessed of a transient heart, I can whittle my bucket list into something that generally revolves around travel and experience. This is only ironic inasmuch as I am fond of staying home on my couch, until I’m not: until I’ve crammed a week’s worth of clothes into a backpack and hopped on a plane to go adventuring — to see what I ordinarily wouldn’t see.

I’m in the planning stage of another two trips — three if you factor in DragonCon 2017. Two of those adventures are taking me back across the pond to Europe, venturing a little deeper into the land where my forebears came from. I endeavour to taste the food, smell the smells, touch the things, dodge the tourist groups, and poke my head into places that might get me arrested.

I’m an advocate of practical inspiration: if you want to write about a particular setting, its helpful to experience that setting to get a better sense of it. How you paint it is up to you, but I like parameters and context and understanding by sticking my nose into things to lend an extra layer of authenticity — but also, I just like to travel.

My one exception to the “experience to understand it better” rule is asylums, because NOPE.

I do, however, have an unrivalled fondness for cemeteries. Always have. Probably why I’ve developed a separate bucket list dedicated to cemeteries, ossuaries, charnel houses, and chapels. (It’s not a phase, mom!) They require a different sort of attention, and I tend to schedule entire days around them when I’m off slaking my wanderlust. (I could tell you about that one time in Paris where I went back to back to back: Pere Lachaise, Montmartre, and Montparnasse in a drizzle. Following a visit to Oscar Wilde’s grave, I was feeling overly self-indulgent, and ended up getting the most absurdly expensive creme brûlée — but I now associate creme brûlée with the Picture of Dorian Grey and all those lipstick kisses left on Wilde’s memorial, so I guess it was worth it.)

Suffice to say, my list is pretty long, but I’ve been working my way through it for a few years. For those interested in cemetery tourism, I’d like to offer the highlights on my to-do list, as well as a couple that I’ve already knocked off.

La Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The first public cemetery in Buenos Aires dates back to the early 1800’s, and is the permanent home of Eva Peron, Raúl Alfonsín, and several Argentinian presidents. It’s an architectural masterpiece, exhibiting a number of different styles and sculptures, and is well worth checking out as an outdoor museum. Best way to describe it.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina by Must See Places

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina by Must See Places

South Park Street Cemetery, Kolkata

I was weighing in on which cemetery was farthest away from me up here in (freezing cold) Montreal, and I think South Park Street Cemetery in Kolkata (Calcutta) India is up there alongside a few Japanese shrines. Why I’d consider making the trip: the architectural features are a mash of gothic and indo-saracenic, and it’s got just the right amount of wear to pique my curiosity. South Park Street was the earliest non-church cemeteries in the world, and probably the largest Christian burial ground outside of Europe and America.

South Park Street Cemetery, Calcutta by FabIndia on Flickr

South Park Street Cemetery, Calcutta by FabIndia on Flickr

Cimitirul Vesel, Sapâna, Romania

Cimitirul Vesel means “merry cemetery.” It’s so freaking colourful and cheery, and the graves are loaded with folk art. Located in Romania, Cimitirul Vesel might be the final resting place of some six hundred souls, but each grave is a celebration of life: scenes depicting the individuals buried within, but also their dirty secrets and final moments. Would you like to be remembered like this: “Ioan Toaderu loved horses. One more thing he loved very much. To sit at a table in a bar. Next to someone else’s wife.”

Cimitirul Vesel, Sapâna, Romania via BoredPanda

Cimitirul Vesel, Sapâna, Romania via BoredPanda

 

Bonaventure, Savannah, Georgia

Popularized by the book and the film, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Bonaventure Cemetery is home to the recognizable sculpture of a girl standing with a bird bath in each hand. She looks out from the cemetery in serene contemplation, and indeed, there are several inward-looking statues, probably pondering mortality beneath the shade of all those draping, mournful willow trees. Beautiful. Also haunted.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA via RoadTrippers

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA via RoadTrippers

Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno, Genova

You don’t call it a “monumental cemetery” without expecting numerous, grandiose, extremely well-articulated 19th century sculpture to go along with the title.  Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno is located in Staglieno, Italy, on the outskirts of Genova, and is a love affair with commemoration. If you’re a fan of sculpture, this place is going to take a week of your time, and probably a piece of your heart.

Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno via MyGola

Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno via MyGola

The Actual Bucket List

While doing research for this article, and refreshing my list of places I’d like to visit, I eventually broke down and added another page to my collection. I considered typing up the list (and I might someday) but for the moment it resides in my bullet journal (which is basically my grimoire, spellbook, personal archive, story tome, and day planner all in one.)

If you’re curious, this is the bulk of it to date:

Cemetery Bucket List by Kira Butler, Bullet Journal 2017.

Cemetery Bucket List by Kira Butler, Bullet Journal 2017.

You Tell Me

Are you a fan of cemeteries and haunted locations? Tell me where I should visit next in the comments. I’ve got a lot of pages left in this book to add to this cemetery bucket list, and I’m totally open to suggestions.

Doll Head Crafts

Dolls creep me out.
Well, they did until a funny thing happened…I found a few photos online that got my attention. The first was a doll head that had been make into a pencil sharpener. I just HAD to have this, but after a little research I found that it was not to be. I set upon finding a doll head, so that I could make my own. What I found instead was a wonderful head to hold my pens.

Yes.

You heard that correctly and here’s the photo to prove it!

I used the rollers as pen holders in the dolls hair. I completely creeped my kids out, but I had a new collection…or at least the beginning of one. Then, a friend’s son called to let me know there were two hairdressing practice heads for sale at a neighbor’s yearsale. For $12 I got myself a pair, and they were perfectly creepy.

THIS is why you may see some of my fellow Midnight Society bloggers posting about doll heads. For those of you who are interested in taking an ordinary doll head and making it into something whimsical or utilitarial, here’s the beginning of a fantastic Pinterest Board. BTW–it’s here you can see the doll pencil sharpener! Enjoy!

Twin Peaks Is a Must-Watch for Horror Fans

I love David Lynch. He infuses everything he creates with a weirdness that is almost cosmic. There is a disturbing undertone to all of his works that is punctuated by moments of outright terror. Each of his films and shows are filled with moments that once you’ve seen them stay embedded in your mind forever. He has a way of placing the viewer inside of someone else’s dream (or nightmare), and making us reflect on the darker parts of ourselves.

I came to David Lynch by way of Eraserhead (1977), Blue Velvet (1986) and Wild at Heart (1990), the latter of which is one of my favorite movies of all time.

And I would heartily recommend all of his films, but I have a special love for Twin Peaks, his television drama that ran for 30 episodes between 1990-1991. It’s a slow burn that may not immediately impress you, but it is so worth your time, especially if you’re a horror fan.

Twin Peaks is a cross between a noirish murder mystery, a horror movie and a soap opera. It follows FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper as he comes to the small town of Twin Peaks, Washington to investigate the murder of a young woman named Laura Palmer, whose body is found wrapped in plastic on a river bank. Agent Cooper is a bit of an odd bird, but so is just about every person in Twin Peaks. And as Cooper spends more and more time there, we get to meet more of the townspeople. And that’s where Lynch’s ability to show us the dark corners of small town life and of ourselves really shines. The combination of that small town horror and the nature of the killer really provide the core of the show.

Is it cheesy? Yeah. Is it totally weird? Yup. And it does start to fall apart a bit in the back half of the second season. But despite its flaws, Twin Peaks is an absolute treasure. The tone, the atmosphere, the characters and the moments are just awesome.

I’m going to be re-watching all 30 episodes before the new series arrives in 2017. If you’ve never watched it before, I invite you to come and visit Twin Peaks with me. Agent Cooper is waiting for us.

 

Let’s Watch a Horror Movie…The Conjuring

If you don’t know about my love *cough*obsession*cough* of live-tweeting horror movies, well… WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? In my little real life world, I have no horror-loving friends, so I turn to my Twitter buddies to share in everything scary. Because watching movies with friends is better.

Join me! We have ever so much fun! *hides the bloody knife*

This month…

The Conjuring movie cover found on Google Images

A 2013 supernatural horror directed by James Wan and written by Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes.

Meet the Perron family…Roger and Carolyn and their girls Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April.

The Perrons played by Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, Joey King, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Mackenzie Foy, and Kyla Deaver in the 2013 movie The Conjuring found on Google Images

They are moving into a big, old farm house. They are excited. They are ready for a fresh start. That’s how it starts. Every. Time. Add in a weird music box, a creepy wardrobe, a clapping game that should never be played…ever…

Scene from 2013 movie The Conjuring found on Google Images

…and a curse left by a witch and hold onto your laundry kids.

Scene from 2013 movie The Conjuring found on Google Images

Call the Ghostbusters…otherwise known as The Warrens, Ed and Lorraine.

Ed and Lorraine Warren played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga from the 2013 movie The Conjuring

I LOVE THESE TWO!

The real demon-fighting Ed and Lorraine Warren

Based on true hauntings this power demon-destroying couple faced in their lives, this movie is a scary good time. Polish your DVDs people. Get out your dark chocolate. Make the kids go play elsewhere and join me on Friday, January 20th at 9 EST…turn the lights out, press play, and tweet along with me at #TheConjuring.

 

 

Faith’s Favorite Frights #2

These Bat’s the Spirit! balloons warm my cold heart. I love them. So cute. And they’re 60% off right now. And, oh, what’s that I hear? Look it… Look it!

I can’t stop myself. This kid is my mascot.

Litographs has SO MUCH cool stuff. Frankenstein is one of my great loves, so I of course dig this tragic Frankenstein Temporary Tattoo.

HAUNTED MANSION CIRCLE SKIRT. In purple. Unique Vintage has this in plus and, uh, minus? size. (Don’t blame me, blame fashion for separating us.) I think you can expect top notch people to stop and tell you what good taste you have wherever you go in this one. HAUNTED MANSION SKIRT. Yes.

The dead communicate with Mary. She’d rather they didn’t, but ghosts don’t tend to do what they’re told.

YA Horror with ghosts, and it’s FREE right now. Dark Spirit (Mary Hades #1) by Sarah Dalton. I recommend checking out the prequel novella, My Daylight Monsters.

 

YES.  Stranger Things enamel squad pin.

I couldn’t pick just one enamel Stranger Things pin. THIS IS SO FUN. I just… yes.

 

BONUS:

Welcome 2017!

2016 kicked my butt.

Slayed me.

And then at the end, I was revived.

By a human.

Sound like anyone else we know??

Come on, you know I had to reference Buffy. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be me.

2017 will be different.

I am back.

I will do the slaying.

So look the hell out.

xoxo,

 

Welcome New Member Mary Rajotte!

Another spirit has arrived in the graveyard after we played a little too hard with the Ouiji board that Faith brought to our last meeting. We regret that we killed Mary but only a little because she’s a delightful spirit to add to our bunch.

Mary actually already has a post live, because she’s cool like that, but just in case you don’t already know her, here’s a little bit more about her.

*****

Welcome Mary!

Colonies of bats across Canada left their bell towers with a mournful flourish the day Mary Rajotte passed from this earth.

Her Cancerian nature lent her well to the art of storytelling, and she could often be found conjuring up stories by the light of the moon.

Her love of coffee could only be rivaled by the size of her snow globe collection, which she has willed to those kindred spirits who share her sense of wanderlust.

Those who knew her well saw her as “over-imaginative”, but she wore that as a badge of honor all of her days.

For those wishing to pay their last respects, you will find her tomb strewn with time’s dead flowers, showered in stardust. Gifts of condolence in the form of stargazer lilies and stripey socks are always welcomed.

To facilitate the grieving process, we invite you to revel in the words Mary left behind at her various online haunts:

Website
Twitter
Facebook

*****

Before her untimely and deliberate demise at the hands of our Midnight Society, she had written several spooky stories that you can read here, here, and here.

Welcome to the Midnight Society, Mary!

Love,