Horror Bites Welcome to Horror Scribes Horror Scribes is an ode to old-school horror. I say this fully aware that old-school horror is an apathetic term vomited around a lot these days, whether it’s on the back cover of an Adam Nevill release or on the blurb of every new Conjuring movie. It’s the lazy reviewer’s shortcut. It says there are a few scenes that will make you jump. Old-school horror is, to me, so much more than just a tag. It is the reason horror worked in the early days it became mainstream: it is fear, naked and exposed. While new wave horror deals with its causes, old-school horror bares its effects. Helpless, defenceless, impotent…. this is how we feel when we bear the brunt of it. This is how we feel walking the corridors of Hill House, or when quiet Simon rushes down to tell the others about the parachutist. It is the simplicity of fear that is old-school. New age writers and directors often gloss over this. An intricately layered backstory of biblical demons doesn’t trump a helpless mother’s fear for her ravaged young daughter. And it is this fear, at its most basic, that we celebrate at Horror Scribes. Flash stories are the perfect medium for this. It’s what budding writers should first master: fear at a molecular level, before it’s dressed up with narration. The key is to always remember what lies underneath the layers when they eventually unravel. We’ve been at it for 2 years now. We’ve read and published A Horror Scribes Magazine Issue 1 hundreds of stories celebrating this fear. We’ve grown as a community, from two founding members to hundreds of followers. This newsletter is a celebration of our community. It is a forum where we will talk about horror, what we like and hate in the the genre regardless of medium, what has caught our eye recently and what our upcoming projects are. We will also use it to showcase exclusive content which is not on our blog, and introduce you to some of our contributors as well as emerging authors who have impressed us. We hope you enjoy this first issue of Horror Bites. And of course, do keep terrifying us! Ash and Miriam The Horror Scribes Team Twitter: @horror_scribes www.horrorscribes.com Instagram: @horrorscribing

Horror Scribes Lists Have we mentioned that we’re huge horror fans? Here’s where we list what we actually like... or absolutely hate. Having recently caught up with the new series of Black Mirror, we thought we’d list some of our favourite, but lesser known, anthology films. I enjoy concept almost as much as narrative in horror. The antichrist as a kid is a concept. A host family trying to raise him is the narrative. The best horror films excel at both. I’m content with one, which is why I’m a huge fan of horror anthologies. These are, above all, a medley of concepts presented in bite-sized chunks. My equivalent of an open buffet or a free bar. I’ve been a huge fan since the days of Creepshow all the way through to the recent revival of the genre with V/H/S and the ABCs of Death. I’ve seen bad ones and I’ve seen good ones. Here are three stellar ones that might have flown under your radar: Dead of Night (1945) Dead of Night is perhaps one of the most insidiously influential films of all time. Its segments have been copied and imitated so much that watching the original now might feel like a rehash of clichés. Might… but won’t. The eeriness of the film is still as effective today as it was when it came out, helped in no small way by the Victorian veneer of the setting in the wraparound story: a country home in rural England. It is there that guests have gathered, with one in particular getting increasingly agitated by the feeling that he knows everyone else without having ever met them. And what they will do. And say. The other guests, in an effort to share their own disturbing experiences, tell their tales of the macabre which include a malevolent antique mirror, a strange child dressed in 19th century clothes at a birthday party, a couple of golfers who refuse to let something as trivial as death get in the way of their rivalry and the best of the lot, a ventriloquist dummy with a mind of its own. Dead of Night’s wraparound story is a particular highlight. While these tend to be fillers in most anthologies, this one is as unsettling as any of its segments. And packs quite a punch. Three… Extremes (2004) Three Extremes consists of 3 short films from high-profile directors from Hong Kong (Fruit Chan), Korea (Park Chan-wook, director of the record-breaking Oldboy) and Japan (Takashi Miike of Audition and Ichi the Killer fame) respectively. All three segments are extremely effective and show off each of the directors’ unique vision as storytellers. The three stories are independent of each other with no wraparound story tying them together. What they have in common is everyday people’s

capacity for cruelty, and their justification for it. The violence in each story is beautifully crafted, almost operatic and theatrical, as it is often portrayed in the best of Asian horror. The stories themselves are very culturally relevant. There’s a macabre twist on back-alley traditional medicines, an extreme reaction to widening social gaps, and an uneasy interpretation of the burden of expectations on young performers. There is a lot that is disturbing there, but always engrossing. It is a tribute to three directors at the top of their craft, and a horror palette that viewers should look deeper into rather than only sampling through subpar Hollywood remakes. Phobia 2 (2009) One of my personal favourites due to one segment in particular. The reason you might not have seen this one is because it is, together with the entertaining but inferior Phobia 1 (or 4Bia as it is better known as), a Thai film. It is actually one of the highest grossing films in Thai cinema, and absolutely deserves wider recognition worldwide. The film consists of 5 stories which vary from good to tremendous in terms of quality and storytelling, all with the underlying theme of karma running through. They’re very short segments, clocking at around 20 minutes each and this makes them sharp and snappy… and incredibly creepy. The stories are all different in tone and scope. There’s the story of a dealer who sells cars that have been in fatal accidents, a pair of backpackers who come across a truck with an interesting cargo, a young man who ends up in hospital next to a disturbing patient, a boy who joins a monastery to atone for a terrible crime. The last segment, about a group of friends on a horror set, is one of my favourite horror shorts of all time. It manages to be hilarious and scary at the same time. The story is incredibly self-aware and goes all out satirising a lot of Asian horror conventions without spoofing them. It remains engaging and smart from the first frame and is as good a love letter to horror clichés as Scream or Cabin in the Woods. Go check it out now!

Meet our Contributors Deborah Lee Singer’s story “The Good Girl” was an honourable mention in our last competition around the theme of Deja Vu. Deborah lives in Cork, Ireland and is a technical writer. She spent ten years as a university lecturer teaching horror literature and film and wrote her doctoral thesis on gender in horror. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I’ve always been a huge Horror fan and started reading and watching Horror at a very young age. I completed a BA in English, I wrote an MA thesis on Horror remakes, and a PhD thesis on gender in Horror films. I also taught university courses in English Literature and Cinema for 10 years. I loved teaching courses on the history of Horror in particular as students in these classes were extremely vocal. In these courses, I covered everything from the first early Horrors, to adaptations of literature, to postmodern Horror, tv Horror, and Horror culture today. I left teaching a few years ago to start a family and now work as a technical writer. I love my day job because I get to write all day but I also spend a lot of it thinking about my flash fiction and short story writing. I’m also working on a novel at the moment when I get a chance. Flash fiction is a fairly modern platform for horror. What do you think is contributing to its growing success? I think flash fiction works particularly well for Horror because it’s the most visceral genre and I feel that it can do the most with the least amount of words. I also think it’s also the hardest genre to write as it has to evoke the biggest reaction. Your story was quite intriguing. We had a long discussion about our varying interpretations of it while we were judging. Can you tell us about how you came up with it? My story came from the conversations I have with my two-year old about her dolls. Not that they’re going to kill anyone (!) but that they have thoughts and that they are watching what myself and my daughter do. This of course started me thinking about when I bring my little girl to the park and what the doll might think of this. The madness that comes from our everyday lives is a theme across my stories and I imagined how a doll might start to go mad if they were trapped in the monotony of everyday life but weren’t supposed to react to it.

The Good Girl Katie had always been a good girl. She never complained, not even when she fell over or when kids pulled her hair. She was quiet and did what she was told. Every day, she went for a walk to the park with her Mommy. But lately, strange things were happening. Tommy Durham would run down the slide and fall face first on the concrete below. His mother would run to him and hold a tissue to his nose. But the blood always poured down his face and onto his coat. This always scared Katie and she would start to cry. Next, an ice cream truck would drive past the playground and its jingle would get stuck at the same point in the song. Its shrill tone was deafening. Finally, Millie Monahan’s mom would slip and fall into the pond, sending the ducks into a frenzy. One day, as if by clockwork, the events happened again. Except this time, Tommy Durham fell onto a sharp stone and blood poured from his head. Katie smelled a strange new smell. Next, the ice cream truck lost control and mounted the pavement, crushing Susie Griffin. Then, Millie Monahan’s mom fell into the pond, only this time the ducks raced towards her and pecked at her face rather than flying away. Katie had enough. She had to escape this nightmare. Her Mommy grabbed her hair as she was trying to flee but Katie had taken a kitchen knife with her that morning. It was the first time she had thought of that. She stabbed her mommy until she let go. Katie blinked her plastic eyelids for the first time in sunlight and saw clumps of her synthetic hair twisted around the little girl’s bloody lifeless hand. Deborah Lee Singer One sentence horror story from author Kevin J Kennedy. Check out our blog for his full interview. The clown had absolutely terrified me, I told the officer as he cuffed my blood stained hands behind my back.

Horror Scribes Reviews Adam Nevill’s The Ritual has recently been adapted into a movie. Here’s how we think it fares compared to its creepy beginnings. The Ritual (2017) If you go down to the woods today…make sure you’ve read Adam Nevill’s creepy, dread-filled horror novel first (or watched the movie). And insist on NOT taking that short-cut, no matter how much your mate whinges on about his meniscus. Seriously. Leave him. Friends are replaceable. Guts, however, not so much. The movie closely follows the main plot of the book, other than a few key differences: the motivation behind the trip and the detail of some of the events. Similarly to the book, the film is clearly split into two halves. Getting lost then getting found. And it’s in the second half that the changes from the original story are obvious. As true with any horror, the moment we ‘see’ the horrific perp, is the moment it loses its impact. Princess Mononoke’s Forest Spirit, albeit with additional and intriguingly placed limbs, sprang to mind for me. See for yourself and see if you agree. But even so, The Ritual is still one of the most unsettling, original (in spite of the subject matter), gripping, at times trippy, horrors you’ll see this year. And for once it left me wishing I hadn’t read the book first. 8.5/10

Exclusive Flash Fiction We asked our followers to send us stories to be published in Horror Bites exclusively. Here is one of our favourites. It slithers. The sudden shiver. The unexplained dread. That’s it, homing in. Some call it the ancient serpent. The root of all evil. Others call it a metaphor. It’s real alright. I can see it. Them. There are millions of the bastards. Or just one, with legions of little pieces. I’m not sure yet. They speak with one voice. Mum and Dad were at each other’s throats the first time I saw it. The shouting was vicious. More so than usual. I was standing close, hoping they would stop. I saw it. It was on the floor, wriggling. It looked like a fat slug, as big as the neighbour’s collie, but black. The blackest black I’d ever seen. More than just an absence of colour. It was an absence of anything real or tangible. And it was twisting on our kitchen floor and moving towards my mum. No one else saw it. My dad looked directly at it and didn’t see it. He just went back to shouting. But something wasn’t right. He felt it and my mum felt it. It was close and something wasn’t right. Just wasn’t right. I tried to warn them but my ten year old self could only whimper. It bit my mum. It reared up and clamped on her leg. She didn’t feel it. Didn’t even look down. What she did was take hold of the bottle of wine they’d been enjoying, and smashed it on dad’s face. It slithered back when the blood spilt. It had grown twice in size. It flared, faded and disappeared and my mum then, and only then, understood what she had done. My dad never truly recovered. Neither did my mum. I’ve seen them loads since. Whenever someone bruises and hurts. Whenever someone batters and lashes. Whenever someone snaps. It’s them, biting. Some are tiny like earthworms. Some are big, like trucks. One lies permanently in Lower Manhattan. Gigantic, coiled and unmoving. I don’t think it’s dead. I think it’s digesting. I’ve watched them. I know what they are and what they leave in their wake. The source of all evil is not a metaphor. AD

Next on Horror Scribes Here are a few of our upcoming projects 2018 Competitions As from January 2018, we will be accepting rolling submissions for the following scheduled competitions: Trapped Flash 5 stages of Grief Urban Legends 7 Deadly Virtues March 2018 June 2018 September 2018 December 2018 Entry fee for each competition will be £3 per story. The winning submission will receive a prize of £100. The runner up will receive a custom designed Horror Scribes mug. Horror Scribes Anthology We are working on a Horror Scribes Anthology magazine that will compile stories from selected contributors. The magazine will be available for purchase this year. We’ll annouce our launch date on our blog very soon.

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