31 Days Of Horror: Week Four. | Haute Macabre

31 Days Of Horror: Week Four.

To make up for last week’s lackluster entry in this month-long series, I set out to make week four a collection to remember. And I think I succeeded in doing so. It’s an eerie extravaganza! A spooky spectacular! And much like last week, I am not certain if it makes sense to order the following list by day, but in this instance, rather than due to a lack of entries, I’ve got nearly an overabundance. What’s the collective noun for entries on a 31 Days of Horror list? A dreadful trembling of entries? A shrieking nightmare of entries? An unholy void of entries? Ok, I’ll stop.

Also, I think I need to come up with another name for this series. It’s not really 31 Days of Horror, is it? And it’s not quite 31 Days of Halloween. It’s more like “31 Days of Seasonally Appropriate Stuff in October”…but that doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Oh well, I’ve got a whole year to come up with something good!

Need to catch up? Week 1 // Week 2 // Week 3

The Third Day

A psychological-horror drama in the form of a a six-part miniseries, in The Third Day we, along with Jude Law, are drawn to the mysterious, British island of Osea and its sinister secrets. I was originally interested in watching this because I’d heard that one of the co-creators of Punchdrunk had a hand in it (and you may know that Punchdrunk is the theatrical company responsible for our much beloved Sleep No More experiences.) I only watched two episodes this week, but it’s bizarre and gripping and I’ve seen just enough to know that I am invested in peeking back in at this place and these characters and hopefully figuring out what’s going on.

The Haunting of Bly Manor

Last week I began reading The Turn of the Screw in anticipation of watching its current loosey-goosey Netflix adaptation, The Haunting of Bly Manor. Despite a friend’s reassurance that the book fucking rules (I’m paraphrasing here, but close enough) I needed a break from Henry James’ overwhelming long-windedness. I am only one episode in and I am perhaps prematurely in love with Owen and you’d better not make me regret sharing that confession, Owen! Don’t end up being some kind of asshole! I’ll watch another episode because I liked Flora’s dollhouse, but I didn’t see anything about the show to really hook me, just yet,

Dragula: Resurrection

Ah, so here’s where we start watching things the whole way through! If you’ve not watched The Boulet Brothers bleeding-edge reality show wherein drag artists (including drag kings and non-binary, too!) compete for the filthy, horrifying, glamorous title of drag supermonster–well, I’ll wait. Watch seasons 1-3 and meet us back here. I’m not one for competition shows, they stress me out way too much. But I have loved Dragula since their wild and weird and wonderfully low-budget first season where I watched a challenge with the rivals getting buried alive.

“Resurrection” was a between-season special, during which they called past contestants back to compete against each other in three categories for an opportunity to be in season four. Due to the pandemic, they had to arrange things a bit differently than the typical Dragula set up in which the contestants are on camera hanging out together, designing costumes, planning performances, and being antagonistic and shitty to each other. And that’s fine with me! Those are the segments of the show that, while I am sure are good for ratings, always make me feel panic-stricken and frantic like my breath is caught in my lungs. I loathe confrontation, and while I’m sure a lot of it is manufactured in shows like this, and there’s probably much in the way of editing to create melodrama out of molehills–still. I know it’s not real but it always makes me cry, anyhow. “Resurrection” was filmed in the individual performer’s various locations, so there was none of that real-time cattiness and bad behavior (it should be noted that I am ok with all that foolishness happening behind everyone’s backs, ha!) But getting back to me crying. Oh, I cried. My heart. The winner? If you’re anything like me, it’s exactly who you want it to be.

The Curse of La Llorona

The Curse of La Llorona, the legend of the weeping woman searching for the souls of her children, is such an inspired idea for a movie and a wonderful opportunity to showcase Mexican folklore, and I think in the hands of someone else, this could have been a beautifully tragic, eerie, and even terrifying film. But this…is not that. It’s too slick, too Hollywood, and with a white woman as the main character, I would also say a little white-washed– but if you can look past Linda Cardellini and the jump scares and the ridiculous ghost, I do think there are the beginnings of some wonderful explorations into Mexican culture to be found in the film.

The Wake, Perfume and Fripperies

I feel a little bit awful in admitting I’ve never heard of these “masters of goth” until I just recently stumbled across their current album, Perfumes and Fripperies. Despite the fact that I don’t know them, I am convinced they somehow know me and they named this album–their first in a quarter of a century!– in my honor. Maybe just to get my attention! I know, I know. I’ve got quite the imagination. If goth rock, florid and gloomy and cloaked in velvety, doomed romanticism sounds like something you’d be into, that’s exactly what this is. And I am definitely into it. And now I wanna hear about their perfume and frippery collection…

Valancourt World Horror Stories

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll note that this book is showing up in every photo I’ve shared lately, but it’s really quite good. Valancourt has achieved something extraordinary with this marvelous collection of strange and unsettling tales from all over the world, many of them translated (in house!!) and for the very first time. If you don’t have a copy yet, you need to grab one immediately.

Night Tide

Night Tide is the story of a sailor, who, while on shore leave, becomes entranced with a sideshow mermaid who believes that she really is a siren and that she is fated to murder men on nights when the moon is full.

I’ve had this on my watchlist for years now, but I am strangely cheap in that I will not spend $3.99 to watch it (and yet I will spend $399 on a much-coveted perfume? Priorities, I guess?) After using my library’s digital service for ebooks for the last 8 months, it dawned on me that they may have streaming movies as well…and they do! They offer services like Hoopla, where you can find cinematic classics like SHARKENSTEIN and FIVE-HEADED SHARK ATTACK! And one, what’s with all the sharks? But two, if you have Kanopy available to you, use that one instead. Let’s just say the selections Kanopy has to offer are more discerning and thoughtfully curated. Anyway, that’s where I found Night Tide. I want to say it was a “weird little film” but that could be just because Dennis Hopper is in it. Dennis Hopper always makes shit weird.

The featured image in this post is from a divination sequence in the film!

Beyond the Mirror’s Image by Dream Division

If your ideal sonic soundscape is a traversing a long, dark nightmarish hallway that is simultaneously echoing and reverberating with the sounds of 70s Italian horror scores, 80s slashers, dark synth, and 70s prog rock, I think you are going to really dig Beyond the Mirror’s Image.

Hellraiser: The Dark Watch Vol. 1

So, it turns out that you can find comics and graphic novels in your library’s catalog of digital offerings! I don’t know why that I never thought to look, and it didn’t occur to me until late last week. The first title that caught my eye was something I recall hearing about all the way back in 2013…the reimagined story of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser series!

Now I’ll admit, I have not seen all the movies, so I am really lost with regard to what’s going on. Hell’s got a new high priest now, and there’s a Cenobite army? What? I don’t know, it all seems disjointed and odd, but then again, so did the movies. But the art is gritty and gory and there are wicked monsters and diabolical traps, and really what more do you need from a Hellraiser comic?

[EDIT: Ok this is a total cheat because I am adding this after the fact and I haven’t even watched it yet but HOLY SHIT Y’ALL there is Hellraiser ASMR! Thank you Minna, for making me aware of this–I cannot wait to experience these sensory seeds of torment!]

Stage Fright AKA Deliria

I suppose it sounds ghoulish to say so, but I adored this nonsensical. bloodbath of a movie in which nearly every single character is extremely disposable and the masked killer has the most incredible mask that I’ve ever seen in any slasher/Giallo/thriller type film.

In Stage Fright, an escaped madman and notorious serial killer (and former actor!) terrorizes the cast of a musical who get locked into their rehearsal space …by their egomaniac director, in an opportunistic, irresponsible “the show must go on!” kind of move.

There is absolutely no logic to any of the story, but it is a fun story and paired with both the flamboyant neon glamour of the visuals and the aggressively hypnotic score, I had an fantastic time finally watching this film. Also, it’s on YouTube!

World of Horror

I am bad at video games. I prefer to read or watch a movie, to follow where the author or director is leading me, and wherever I end up, well, that’s the way it was meant to be. That’s how it was written. And I am most likely going to get there in 90 minutes or so. At least with a movie. I wish it only took me 90 minutes to read a book! My point is that there’s no guesswork in these stories. I experience them, but I don’t interact with them. I don’t have to do anything but let them unfold.

Video games frustrate me. I am not a puzzle-solver by nature, and I am the kind of person who, if my first attempt at something fails, I will go back and try that same exact thing fifteen more times. This staunch refusal to deviate from the path I’ve set out before me is what caused me to die fifteen times in a row (but somehow in fifteen completely different ways??) while playing the retro, creepy World of Horror, an H.P. Lovecraft/Junji Ito-inspired RPG horror game set in a quiet Japanese town filled with eldritch beings, wild-eyed cultists, and impossibly twisted human forms.

In World of Horror, one invokes dark rituals, uncovers disturbing clues, and solves puzzles across multiple randomized mysteries. It’s unsettling –especially playing in the dark, with headphones on–and frustrating, and oddly enough, I can’t stop thinking about. I find that most disturbing of all.

The Craft: Legacy

It’s unfair to add The Craft: Legacy to this list, considering that at this point I really don’t think I am ready to talk about it yet. I will say this. Obviously the original is a classic and a feminist horror touchstone and I know we all have all kinds of attachments to it for all kinds of reasons. But it’s not unimpeachable. It had some problems. So it was heartening to see the original bones of the story fleshed out with entirely new weirdos and witches, who had more aspirational priorities. I loved the strengthened sense of sisterhood in this version of The Craft, but I feel like the characters, as individuals, needed and deserved so much more depth and story. I’m not sure I can say anything else right now, I am still mulling it over!

A ritual

Late on Halloween night, sitting alone and in silence, I explored a confessional ritual in Lisa Marie Basile’s The Magical Writing Grimoire.

In this exercise, we make a sacred confession: we name our shadows and call them out by the name we have given them. “When we validate and honor our darkness,” Lisa writes, “we can begin to heal it.” By naming our shadows and meditating on them, we have taken that dark energy and transformed it into potential.

And so with my box and my string, my paper and my pen, my will, and my intention, I set out to make that change.

Treats for the departed

Soul cakes, also known as “soulmass-cakes”, are small spiced, round cakes traditionally made for Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day to commemorate the dead in the Christian tradition. The practice of giving soul cakes was celebrated in Britain or Ireland during the Middle Ages, although according to Wikipedia similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy.

Typically flavored with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger or other sweet spices, along with raisins or currants, I found a recipe on NPR that didn’t seem too tricky, and baked them up on Halloween night while I ordered out for enchiladas. I had a lot of movies to watch and had only so much time to devote to cooking!

A glamour

Speaking of enchiladas…

“Hello, I’m Stevie Nicks. Do you like the music of my band, Fleetwood Mac? And do you like fajitas, flautas, quesadillas, and other Tex-Mex specialties? Then come on down to my new restaurant in Sedona, Arizona – Stevie Nicks’ Fajita Roundup. In the seventies, I dedicated myself to witchcraft, Lindsay Buckingham, and cocaine. But now I use that same energy and dedication to bring you an affordable dining experience you’ll never forget.”

Yes, I dressed up as Lucy Lawless channeling Stevie Nicks in SNL’s most flawless and magnificent skit: Stevie Nicks Fajita Round-Up. I even sang a song for you and everything! But I chickened out and I am not going to post it.

“Now, there you go again, you say you want burritos.
I sure hope that you can keep ’em down.
It’s only a flour tortilla, used to wrap around your meat now.
Have you any beans you’d like to share with the loneliness?”

A finished project

And finally! Behold the Widow’s Web wrap, its fuzzy tendrils and dangling loops completed just before midnight on Halloween. I hope the recipient doesn’t mind, I felt compelled to cocoon myself in its spidery stitches and take a few photos to commemorate our time together, before sending it to its new home.

And that’s it for this year’s 31 Days of Seasonally Appropriate Stuff to do in October! I hope you’ve had fun following along, or maybe at least had your interest piqued by something along the way. If you can think of anything you’d like me to tackle next year, do let me know!