Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Does it Take More to Shock Us Now?

I was watching the news tonight and there was a wee bit about Saw 3, saying how it has taken over 40 million dollars on its opening weekend and has been at #1 on the US charts for 3 weeks. It's looking set to overtake the first two installments in the Saw franchise.

It's interesting... I watched Saw and thought wow, what a movie. But I also cringed and winced and hid behind my hands a few times (you're such a wuss, Marty). I haven't yet managed to watch Saw II. Whenever I'm at the video shop hunting for something to watch, I pause before Saw II and then move on, likewise with Hostel and The Hills Have Eyes. I just can't bring myself to watch them.

I did manage to watch Wolf Creek, but that was the last of these "pseudo-snuff" or "horror-porn" films I've watched (I heard those terms branded about somewhere recently and thought, yeah, that kind of describes them). 'Head on a Stick;' man, what a frightening and cold scene that was.....

I like my horror hidden in shadows. I prefer the more atmospheric movies rather than the shotgun ones. The Others, or The Blair Witch Project - movies where your imagination gets to play in the darkness.

But hey, these explicit films are drawing the crowds. Perhaps this is because our society has become desensitized to violent acts, and it takes more to scare or unsettle us now.

I'm building up to watch The Hills Have Eyes remake though. I remember seeing the original back when I was young; I brought my small tele into the lounge because I was too scared to watch the flick by myself in my bedroom. So I sat the tele on a chair, plugged my headphones in, and scared myself silly! Boy oh boy, that was an experience.

I've heard the remake is pretty good, so I'm determined to see it. I can always hide behind my wife :)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Oh the horror, the horror...

I've had no chance over the past two weeks to indulge in any writing due to this rather chaotic event called marriage... I exchanged vows and rings with me wifey on the 20th October, and then had the family staying with us up until the 27th, so life as I'd known it had become rather disrupted, quite insane and incredibly sleep deprived...

After dropping them off at the airport yesterday morning at 6am, I stumbled back home and curled up in bed until noon - that was the first time I've slept in like that since my mad university days. But oh boy, did I need to! I was in bed by 9:30 last night too, so me wifey's comments ('you're just an old married man, now) were sure ringing true yesterday...

But today is different. My fingers are itching to type, my head is buzzing with images and my novel is calling - screaming - out at me to pay it some attention. I intend to lock myself away in my (recently reclaimed) study and lose myself in my novel this weekend. My aim is to finish the thing before the end of the year and I'm on track to do so (I've only got 100 pages to go over in this final edit before I'm ready to send it to a publisher).

I've also got Macabre - the New Era in Australian Horror to deal with, and Angela and I intend to finalise the line up of contributors very soon and get cracking on the editing. I can't wait for that anthology to come out because I think it's going to be a ripper.

So let the Ringmaster signal the curtains down and the house lights up, and we'll take a short intermission between acts. The bearded lady and that shifty shadow man need a drink before the next act begins...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The day after... (or actually two days)

I remember having the poster of Saturday the 14th up on the wall of my bedroom when I was growing up - I had a lot of horror movie posters pinned up on those walls back then, courtesy of my dad working at a video shop - but that one poster stood out because it appealed to my sense of humour. I can't actually remember if I saw the movie or not, but judging by the reviews on IMBD, I can safely say that my sense of humour has 'matured' since then. Now, one of my all time favourite movies is The Rocky Horror Picture Show; it's astounding, it really is...

(hmm... maybe Dr Frank N Furter is the reason I did a PhD, so I could also be called a Dr...)

I don't have any real reason for bringing this up; thinking about World Horror day made me remember that mad poster is all. It's amazing what jogs your memory. All of the Friday the 13ths I've lived through, and this is the only time I can remember actively thinking about that movie.

I guess this has been my most active Friday the 13th, though.

World Horror Day - what a momentous day! Hopefully this is only the first in an annual event, because it is a brilliant idea. The day was pretty successful from the AHWA's point of view, and therefore from an Australian horror writers perspective. We managed to get some good media attention from Robbie Buck's show on Triple J, ABC 612 in Brisbane and 774 ABC in Melbourne, plus the Village Voice newspaper in Sydney. Not to mention the readings that took place to a full house at Fantastic Planet in Perth.

So well done Shane Jiraiya Cummings for getting together the media releases and sending them out to various media outlets.

Horror Day really did capture the attention of everyone involved or with an interest in the horror genre, and this is exactly what is needed to help bridge the great divide that seems to exist between 'the mainstream' and the horror genre. My hat goes off to all of those who organised events or did their bit for the genre.

(I often wonder how many people have heard of the Horror Writers Association, the Bram Stoker awards, the International Horror Guild, Cemetery Dance publications... the list goes on - the horror genre is thriving, yet there is little or no awareness of it outside of its imediate family).

It takes a year or two before people start to realise that you are serious and won't be going away, but with the professionalism, motivation and dedication shown by so many on Friday, I don't think it will take long for this day to have an even greater global audience.

As for the AHWA, we launched our all new website on Friday the 13th, and the change-over seemed to go pretty well. The new site looks absolutely fantastic, and there is huge potential for the continued growth of the organisation and for Australian horror writers. My second big thanks of the day goes out to Andrew McKiernan of Kephra Design for developing the website and for getting us up and running for World Horror Day!!

Okay, I have to go now because the shadows are calling, and I know who lurks within those darkened places...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

World Horror Day of Action

Don't forget about World Horror Day this Friday 13th!! It's a great chance to help horror gain a bit of recognition. People always assume that horror has to be full of blood and guts and dismemberment, but that's a misconception that is hurting the genre.

Horror is an emotion; it's a feeling of dread, terror, a feeling of fright, and you don't need a bucket full of blood and a chainsaw to elicit those responses from the reader. Just think of movies like The Others, or The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project - they are good horror movies and with minimal bloodshed.

I remember when I was a kid out camping, we'd sit around the campfire telling spooky stories. That was fun -and freaky!!! But those stories were not all violent and disgusting.

So c'mon, give the horror genre a break...

Here's the Media Release the AHWA put out:

Friday the 13th October has been designated the 'Horror Day of Action'.

Horror Day is a call to arms for all fans of dark fiction to buy a horror book, give away a horror book, buy or rent a horror movie, or read ghost stories to the kids. In short, it is a day to raise awareness of the genre.

The Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) has sent a media release to many Australian newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and TV stations, to encourage awareness of horror literature. AHWA committee members and some prominent Australian horror authors will also be participating in media interviews to further promote Horror Day.

So please support Australian dark fiction (and dark fiction in general) by spreading the word - and remember to pick up a book or DVD on Friday 13th.

Events to look out for:
Richard Stubbs from 774 ABC Melbourne will be interviewing AHWA's Vice President Kirstyn McDermott at 1:10pm this Friday.

The Village Voice newspaper (Sydney) will be publishing an article on World Horror Day and will be interviewing local horror writers to add local flavour.

Brimstone Press is sponsoring a Horror Day reading at Fantastic Planet bookstore (Shafto Lane, Perth) at 6pm, Friday the 13th. The reading will feature many prominent WA dark fiction writers, including Stephen Dedman, Lee Battersby, Lyn Battersby, Shane Jiraiya Cummings, and Carol Ryles. The event will be MCed by Shadowed Realms and Brimstone Press editor Angela Challis.

Robbie Buck from Triple J will be talking with Angela Challis about World Horror Day during their Drive Time show.

Head on over to the Articulate website on Friday for a "recommended reading" list by Australian horror writers/fans. And while you're over on that side of town, check out Gary Kemble's blog http://garykemblenews.blogspot.com/2006/10/happy-horror-day.html for a whole range of horror-related interviews and features.

The World's Fastest Compiled Anthology, edited by Martin Livings and Stephanie Gunn, will be available from 12:01am Friday the 13th (GMT+1200) to 11:59pm Friday the 13th (GMT-1200) on www.horrorday.martinlivings.com.

Australian author Rob Hood has added a Horror Day page to his website, full of stories, quizzes and lots of prizes. Check it out at www.roberthood.net/horrorday/index.html.

Further info on Horror Day is available at www.myspace.com/horrorday

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Let the show begin!

Welcome to my brain; there's a full carnival of oddities lurking about up here, dancing and spinning across my imagination... The one in charge is a dark fellow, more comfortable within the shadows and the hiding places of night, but he is my muse and I haveto listen to him; his are the ideas that my eyes see and my hands type onto the screen.

I'm a writer of horror, and the one responsible for setting up the Australian Horror Writers Association (http://www.australianhorror.com). I also draw a little and write awful poetry, which I'm sure you'll encounter in the depths of this blog...

Anyway, feel free to join the carnival, we're all slightly mad here :)