Jamie Thomson's Dark Lord: The Early Years gets right down to business: an unnamed narrator suffers a million agonies, while calling out for his hellion lieutenants to aid him, and we quickly learn that this is the Dark Lord, feared and tyrannical ruler of a distant kingdom, and that he has been transported to a suburban parking lot in our world. And that he's been put in the body of a child. Before you can ponder this conundrum for too long, he's in the custody of child services, in hospital, and is being treated as a delusional car-accident victim whose fantasy of being a mighty and merciless sorcerer/warrior are the desperate gambit of his amnesiac psyche. The well-meaning child psychologists deliberately mishear his name ("Dark Lord") and dub him "Dirk Lloyd," and place him with a foster family while they sort things out. And we're off to the races.
Dark Lord plays out this scenario with perfect deadpan humor (the book just won the Roald Dahl Humour Award). Dirk's foster brother and schoolmates are at first bemused by his insistence on his true identity and his penchant for tenting his fingers and bellowing mwa-ha-ha, but Dirk is a tactical genius who knows how to humiliate bullies with a few well-chosen words, how to make himself a king among jocks with shrewd assessments of kids' weaknesses; how to break teachers' grip on their classes with cutting remarks. His friends play along with his "Dark Lord" game, let themselves be called his "court in exile," but no one really believes that Dirk is really an interdimensional Darth Vader.
But Dirk is (probably) not delusional. At least, the author is very careful not to collapse the possibility one way or another, until just the right moment. This is wickedly funny, brilliantly told stuff, and you'll never have more fun cheering for evil.
Brits may already be familiar with this book -- it was published more than a year ago in the UK under the slightly different title Dark Lord: The Teenage Years (there's also a UK sequel that came out last March called Dark Lord: A Fiend in Need -- presumably a US publication will follow).
This week saw the publication of the seventeenth Walking Dead collection, Something to Fear. Robert Kirkman really is the absolute master of holding out a tiny, frayed thread of hope and then snatching it away from you. For years I've read these books, watching this vivid, gripping world turn to ruin and cruelty and entropy; cheered for the small, bright moments; dared to hope that things were going to improve, the dark give way to dawn.
Yeah, like that's going to happen. If you're following the TV show, you'll have met the Governor, who is a king-hell villain of the first water.
(Video link) Do many people tell you your child is "interesting"? Or "precocious"? Or "downright terrifying"? If you have a special child with a very specific talent for scaring the living bejesus out of people, then here is the fictional casting agency for you (by Barely Political)! (via JoBlo)
Here's footage of a vicious and terrifying prank from a Brazilian candid-camera show, in which victims were put in an gimmicked elevator whose lights went out, allowing a small girl in horror-makeup to sneak out of a hidden compartment and "appear" when the lights came back on, ready to scream at them.
Marc Hagan-Guirey creates magnificent paper craft models of famed horror film houses. He makes his "horrorgami" structures from a single sheet of cut-and-folded paper. Above is the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. Others in the ongoing series include the Amityville Horror house, the Bates Motel, and the Addams Family abode. Hagan-Guirey's Horrorgami is on exhibit at London's Gallery One And A Half through November 14. He discusses the project in the video below.
Dan from the Journal of Ride Theory sez, "I hope someday your travels bring you to the Pacific Northwest around
Halloween time, because you will absolutely LOVE the Davis Graveyard.
It's an amateur yard display of near theme-park quality. And as a
bonus for you and me, they have LOTS of Haunted Mansion references --
a full-sized horse-drawn hearse, a skeleton trying to get out of a
coffin, a singing statue who briefly recites the Ghost Host's
narration, and a replica of the frightened gravedigger. And that's
just the icing on top of all the geeky pop-culture references on the
gravestones, the excellent projected ghosts, etc.
You would plotz."
I plotzed. Holy moly. The Davis family are the greatest human beings on the face of the earth. Why isn't there a Nobel Prize in Hauntology?
Jason sez, "Available for THREE DAYS ONLY, Cryptocurium is proud to offer two
hand cast solid resin Lovecraftian relics, 'The Nyarlathotep Artifact' and 'The Dunwich Cthulhu Idol.'
'The Nyarlathotep Artifact' depicts The Crawling Chaos himself in his form as the
faceless Black Pharaoah carved from 'Egyptian lapis lazuli' and bearing an inscription in mysterious alien hieroglyphics.
'The Dunwich Cthulhu Idol'is a small but menacing sculptural piece
said to have belonged to the infamous Old Wizard Whateley and once
resided at Miskatonic University before being 'lost' in 1928.
Both items are solid, hand-cast resin, hand painted and individually signed and numbered by artist Jason McKittrick."
Here's the audio from Disney's classic "Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion," narrated by Thurl Ravenscroft, starring a young -- Andy Griffith show era -- Ronnie Howard. I had this in the original Disneyland Little Long Playing Record edition, and played it to death, as you might expect.
Metafilter's Hippybear has included links to lots of supplementary material in a MeFi post, too.
There's also a beautiful CD reissue from Disney, with excellent liner notes and additional data-tracks with the visuals from the original Little Long-Playing Record.
Theoretical physicist and mathematician Benjamin K. Tippett has posted a paper called "Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific," which analyzes the account of Gustaf Johansen, the author of the manuscript embedded in HP Lovecraft's famous story The Call of Cthulhu, and tries to account for the weird geometries that hide "the corpse city of R'lyeh." It's got rendered diagrams and everything. Science!
We contend that all of the credible phenomena which Johansen described may be explained as being the observable consequences of a localized bubble of spacetime curvature. Many of his most incomprehensible statements (involving the geometry of the architecture, and variability of the location of the horizon) can therefore be said to have a unified underlying cause.
We propose a simplified example of such a geometry, and show using numerical computation that Johansen`s descriptions were, for the most part, not simply the ravings of a lunatic. Rather, they are the nontechnical observations of an intelligent man who did not understand how to describe what he was seeing. Conversely, it seems to us improbable that Johansen should have unwittingly given such a precise description of the consequences of spacetime curvature, if the details of this story were merely the dregs of some half remembered fever dream.
We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.
Grand Guignol was a Parisian theater that between 1897 and 1962 staged macabre plays known for their cartoon horror and violence. LIFE shares with us vintage photos of this splatterpunk paradise. Above, "Burned by vitriol thrown at him by his girl who comes to seek forgiveness, her lover turns slowly to reveal his elaborately blighted face. Then he strangles her." "Shock Value: Inside Paris’ Grand Guignol Theater, 1947"
Darren sez, "Rising up in time for Halloween and el Dia de los Muertos, Póstumo is a deck of zombie playing cards by Colombian artist Obsidian Abnormal and American scallywag Darren J. Gendron. The deck features gruesome zombie art, one-eyed jacks, suicidal kings, and fun twists on the normal suits - human hearts, zombie-killing clubs and brains. So many brains."
Love the detail on these -- replacing the suits was a moment of genius. The face cards are AMAZING.
We remixed the suits into spades, clubs, hearts and brains, taking literal representations of each. Spades are now actual shovels, while clubs are shown as bats and other blunt objects. Hearts take on a fleshy connotation. Diamonds are replaced by the most valuable thing to a zombie - BRAINS.
The font is specially designed for Póstumo by Obsidian, creating a distressed and fleshed interpretation of Garamond. The final versions of each card have up to 10 different illustrations of brains, clubs, spades or hearts.
The Daws brothers' "Missing in the Mansion" is a great little Blair-Witch-style short horror movie about ghosts in Disneyland. It's actually plenty scary. Inside the Magic's Ricky Brigante, an association producer on the movie, notes that it was shot mostly on location at Disneyland, which must have taken some doing.
Death Waltz Recording Company deals in exquisitely-curated horror/cult movie soundtracks reissued on vinyl in gorgeous packaging with newly-commissioned cover art. Several months ago, I posted about their fantastic reissue of John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's Escape From New York soundtrack. Since then, I've picked up several more Death Waltz reissues like Giuliano Sorgini's "Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue," Johan Söderqvist's "Let the Right One In, " and John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's "Halloween II." Surprise, surprise, now I want all of them. In fact, Death Waltz offers a subscription service for six releases in limited-edition colored vinyl complete with a numbered lithograph and poster. Yes, that will be on my holiday wish list. Juno Plus just posted an interview with Spencer Hickman, Death Waltz's zombie-in-chief:
Where was the idea for Death Waltz born?
My three loves have always been music, movies and art, and I’ve always worked within that to an extent, whether it’s doing horror fanzines, putting on film festivals or working in record shops. And I was just thinking there’s a real lack of soundtrack music out on vinyl, even though vinyl is the only physical format growing in sales. So I decided to do start my own label – it’s just something I wanted to do. It was originally only going to be soundtrack reissues but now we’re moving into current films…
You obviously have a predilection for horror – where does that stem from?
I think I was 12, and my dad gave me a copy of The Exorcist on bootleg video. Around that time I was watching stuff like Salem’s Lot on TV, scaring myself shitless. There was a video shop that opened up down the road from us, and because there were no laws then, we joined and I would go down and rent stuff like Cannibal Holocaust. I remember watching a double bill of Cannibal Holocaust and Last House On The Left when I was about 13. I’m surprised I’m a functioning member of society. I basically watched a lot of shit and then the odd gem.