by Nimrod Tzarking
The walls are white, immense. A void. Gauzy specs wiggle in the air, wrinkles in the eye revealing flaws in the infinite, giving way to ghosts.
The ghosts live in the electric. The electric lives in the walls. The walls are throbbing with crazed ectoplasm. How much of me lives in there?
It’s a fresh day. The walls are screaming hundreds of names; I do not know which one is mine. Janet, Doris, Evey, they moan. Juanita, Natasha, Lucille. Faces dance in the ectoplasm. There are no mirrors here, but sometimes a face reaches out. Sometimes they cluster.
One is reaching out to me today. It slinks from the wall and into my grasping hands, its surface sticky and its color inconsistent. I hold a right hand to it, and my left to the face I am wearing. I am not a blind person- I cannot feel if they’re actually the same, or if this is just what faces feel like. My reflection is muddy and distorted in its surface. It coos and licks my earlobe. I wrap my arms around it and kiss its sticky face. I do not remember any songs, so I hum a new melody. Light flickers.
Its voice is tiny but unbreakable. It whispers, these faces are not Yours. Perhaps once they were. Now, You grow around their bones.
I look at her fellows in the walls. Each face has a different character. Among them are warriors, mystics, victims and tricksters. Their features are always in motion. Noses pinch and wrinkle. Eyes wander, laze, and squint. Mouths curl, gape, undulate and smack.
Time wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for meals. They come on plastic trays, each morsel segregated in a shallow rectangle pit. I touch foods. I fill my fists with peas, sprinkle them in gravy, and smear my skin with taters. The ghosts sing oooo and aaaah. These boundaries are my play-things. Perhaps I am an artist.
The square white men get frantic when I paint. The void-white walls are stained with streaks of jelly scrawled in shapes unplanned. My arms have an intelligence of their own. Mashed carrots pool in subtle crannies, edges tugged by the weight of having-worked. No mind could guide these subtle forms. Only an artist. Only a room.
They are wordless when they fetch me, draped in ham and tossing crumbs. But I see they carry suds in buckets and wheel a bed with straps.
Leather bites into my arms. Fluorescents whiz overhead. The ghosts sing from their lightbulbs, fear not, for we are here. I smile. A voice grunts with disgust beyond my eyes, whispers a hateful word. Someone’s scrubbing the walls I left behind.
The wheels pause. More leather is crammed in my mouth. Rolling my eyes as far as they’ll go, I see a metal box with blinking lights above my head. A metal band with white muffs wraps around my skull. The machine hums. The dial twists.
A pulse runs through my head, but I feel no fear. The electric is within me now, and I am inside of it. I am in the walls.
Nimrod Tzarking is a middling dungeon master and a bad influence on children. He eats nothing but whey powder, eggs, and coffee. He teaches literacy in Kansas, which means he might not be teaching for long. His fledgling website (nimrodtzarking.wordpress.com) features angsty fan fiction and Bizarro fiction reviews. You should be his friend!
To see your name up in pixels, submit your twisted little stories to to Eric Hendrixson at FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.
The latest collection from David Agranoff is available, full of hardcore punks and supernatural horror. Presenting: PUNK ROCK GHOST STORY
PUNK NEVER REALLY DIES!
“David Agranoff is a razor sharp writer, a storyteller with a hard rock pacing, a magician of ideas, an adventurer in subcultures, an expert in underground music scenes.”
–John Shirley, author of Wetbones
“Agranoff puts you on tour with one of punk’s great mysteries in this stunning and unflinching dive into the blood, sweat, and vitality that helped punk rock change the world and destroyed one of its legendary bands.”
–James Chambers, author of Three Chords of Chaos
In the Reagan 80s, at the height of hardcore punk, bands eager to make it big crisscrossed the United States in beat-up tour vans with little more than DIY passion and boxes of handmade records. Basements, warehouses and dive bars were alive with the raw energy of the underground scene. But in the summer of 1982, legendary Indianapolis hardcore band, The F*ckers, became the victim of a mysterious tragedy.
They returned home without their vocalist and the band disappeared. A single record sought by collectors, a band nearly forgotten, and an urban legend passed from punk to punk. What happened to The F*ckers on that tour? Why was their singer never seen again? No one has been able to say. Until now…
For the first time, the truth behind Indiana’s lost hardcore legend THE F*CKERS, is revealed. And the most shocking secret is that it could happen again.
From the author of Amazing Punk Stories and Boot of the Wolf Reich, David Agranoff, Punk Rock Ghost Story is a one of a kind supernatural horror set against two very different eras of punk rock history.
Get it here!
It’s getting close to the Halloween season and the time of year in which everyone goes nuts for horror. It’s also the time of year in which people start trying to figure out what their 31 Days of Halloween movie list will be. Any self-respecting horror fan knows that this is the season for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and A NIGHTMARE OF ELM STREET but what if you are looking for recommendations that aren’t the most famous examples of the genre?
I find it frustrating looking for “underrated” horror recommendations. Most of the time it is lists that includes movies like MARTYRS, SUSPIRIA, or AUDITION. Come on! Every single horror fan has seen those movies (if you haven’t, you’re a horror novice). With that in mind, I tried to create a list of horror movies that most self-identified horror fans actually haven’t seen. There are ghost movies, creature features, and hardcore gore flicks here. No matter where your tastes to the genre lay, there’s bound to be a few on this list that you’ll dig and haven’t seen – yet.
FIEND WITHOUT A FACE – Arthur Crabtree, United Kingdom, 1958
(Classic Hollywood Creature Feature)
Invisible aliens that eat nuclear energy and steal human brains and spinal columns to use as bodies are invading!
Everybody loves a good old-fashioned monster movie but so few have seen this great and crazy independent production. While the classic Universal and Hammer films still enjoy popularity this one has slipped into obscurity (even with the Criterion Collection backing it). It’s drenched with classic 50’s paranoia and nuclear war themes but what really makes this stand-out is the amazing monster design. Disembodies brains with antennas and spines for tails are brought to life with wonderful stop-motion animation.
There’s a special charm to the horror of this era and FIEND WITHOUT A FACE is a great demonstration of that aesthetic.
SOLE SURVIVOR – Thom Eberhardt, United States, 1983
(Before FINAL DESTINATION and IT FOLLOWS There Was This)
This is a really cool little gem from the 80’s that seems to be just now finding its audience. A woman is the sole survivor of a plane crash. As she goes back to her life she begins to suffer from “survivor’s syndrome” – an overwhelming feeling that she should have died. Then strange silent people begin to stalk her as she suspects “death” is coming to claim her.
Oddly overlooked when it was released, horror fans are beginning to embrace this almost direct combination of FINAL DESTINATION and IT FOLLOWS – that was just made decades before them. A suspenseful and engaging slow-burn that culminates with a completely out of left field (in a good way) third act.
ANGUISH aka ANGUSTIA – Bigas Luna, Spain, 1988
(A Movie That Is Really More Frightening Now Than When It Was Released)
For the first twenty minutes of this movie you’re going to be wondering why I recommend it. It starts off really cheesy and bad but at about the one third point something happens and it all beings to make sense. Then when the real movie starts you’ll be filled with dread as you realize where this is all headed.
This is the very rare movie that is more disturbing now than when it was released. When this was made the plot was just a horrible fantasy but the events have come true in modern day United States. Trust me, go into this one blind. Don’t read any descriptions or watch any trailers as they give away the twists and reveal the “real” plot.
Every other movie on this list but two get a trailer. This is the first one that you really shouldn’t watch the trailer for.
GHOSTWATCH – Stephen Volk, United Kingdom, 1992
(“Live TV” Gone So Very Wrong)
This movie is a wonderful surprise considering how many strikes it has against itself. It’s made-for-TV, it’s a mockumentary, and large segments are straight-up found footage. No matter your opinions on those techniques, you gotta check this out if you’re looking for a seriously creepy movie.
The BBC is doing a live Halloween broadcast of a supernatural investigation into a supposedly haunted house. The movie cuts back and forth from the studio with the “show’s” host and various guests to the location crew. It shouldn’t be a surprise that everything goes wrong (this is a horror movie) but not in the ways you would guess. This movies goes in some very unexpected directions. Seeing this when it first aired must have been crazy as the BBC did not advertise that the Halloween special was a “movie.”
For this one I don’t have the trailer but you can watch the entire movie on YouTube here:
NECRONOMICON – Brian Yuzna, Christophe Gans and Shusuke Kaneko,
United States, 1993
(90’s Cthulhu Mythos Special Effects Extravaganza)
Considering how popular movies based on H.P. Lovecraft stories and the Cthulhu Mythos have become, I’m always shocked that this movie isn’t more well-known. Hell, this flick has never even been released on DVD.
A three story anthology with segments loosely based on the stories “the Rats in the Walls,” “Cool Air,” and “the Whisper in the Darkness.” Each story has that 90’s low budget horror feel. Monsters and mad scientists fill every minute of the movie and there’s even a giant Cthulhu made with practical effects.
Plus a great wrap-around story starring Jeffrey Combs as H.P. Lovecraft investigating the fabled Necronomicon at Miskatonic University make this a ton of horror fun.
DAY OF THE BEAST aka EL DÍA DE LA BESTIA – Álex de la Iglesia, Spain, 1995
(80’s Style Satanic Adventure)
A priest becomes convinced that the Anti-Christ is about to be born and he must make contact with the devil to stop this from happening. He enlists a metalhead to help him commit as many sins as he can in order to sell his soul and double-cross the prince of darkness. After also getting the help of a TV host who specializes in the occult, the trio go on a drug-fueled adventure to save humanity from Hell.
This movie is SO much fun! If you long for the days of 80’s tongue-in-cheek adventure horror (think RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and RE-ANIMATOR) you’ll love this. Bright psychedelic colors and non-stop satanic imagery make this movie go down great with a few beers.
And who doesn’t want to watch a priest push random people down subway steps?
DEADGIRL – Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, UNITED STATES, 2008
(Young Boys and a Chained-Up Zombie Chick – It Goes Bad)
This one’s fucking grim.
A group of high school boys discover a naked chained-up zombie chick in an abandoned house. After some debate the boys decide that they aren’t going to tell anyone and they are going to use the zombie as their sex slave. This movie takes the concept of an adolescent male sex fantasy and turns it into a dark and disturbing tale of how far people will go when nobody’s watching.
Written by Trent Haaga who is best known for his work on the playful gore flick made by Troma studios but there’s no sign of Troma’s joy on display here. This is just pure pitch-black hardcore horror.
TRIANGLE – Christopher Smith, United Kingdom, 2009
(Completely Mind-Blowing Horror/Sci-Fi Trip)
A group of friends go out for a summer sailing trip. When a sudden freak storm trashes their boat they are left stranded at sea. They think they are saved when an ocean liner shows up but then they discover that the ship is abandoned. Or at least they think it is…
TRIANGLE is one of those wonderful unsung gems that once you watch it you have to recommend it to everyone you know. The problem is what makes this movie truly excellent is all things I can’t tell you about. The joy to this movie is watching its mysteries slowly develop and how every time you think you know what is “really” going on the movie pulls the rug out from under you.
This is another movie that gives away the twists in the trailer so I can’t share it with you.
GROTESQUE aka GUROTESUKU – Kôji Shiraishi, Japan, 2009
(Seriously Fucked-Up Shit)
A young couple are kidnapped on their first date by a crazy “doctor.” They awake tied down to gurneys and the man begins his psychological and physical torture. No film on this list is more appropriately named – this is a truly grotesque straight-up gore flick. In order to enjoy this one you gotta be the type of person OK with eyeball popping, genital torture, and mutilation to every part of the body in-between.
This one goes so far over-the-top in its violence that numerous retailers around the world have refused to sell it and the movie is officially banned in the U.K. (that’s right – they still ban movies).
DREAM HOME – Pang Ho-cheung, Hong Kong, 2010
(Gore/Home Invasion Ramped-Up to 11)
A woman has been saving to purchase her “dream” apartment but right when she’s going to close the deal it all falls apart. This breaks her and she goes on a vicious murder spree through the apartment building she wanted to live in.
Intense, action-packed, gory as all Hell – this is one wild ride. Some of the gore effects and set-pieces are jaw-dropping in how far they go. It moves with the break-neck speed Hong Kong action movies are known for but how it compliments that with exploitation sensibilities is what really makes DREAM HOME stand-out.
HELLDRIVER aka HERUDORAIBĀ – Yoshihiro Nishimura, Japan, 2010
(Japanese Weirdo Action Gore Freak-Out)
From the “Tom Savini of Japan” who brought the world the amazing TOKYO GORE POLICE comes another modern classic of Japanese splatter. A meteor brings a zombie epidemic to Japan but these aren’t no ordinary zombies – they are fast, can think (sort of), and can even combine their body parts to make organic cars and planes.
The story focuses on a group of people attempting to track down the “head” zombie but, honestly, plot isn’t the big focus here. The movie is much more concerned with its crazy special effects and set-pieces that feel like they were pulled directly out of an anime.
DETENTION – Joseph Kahn, United States, 2011
(Smart Bizarro Teen Horror/Sci-Fi/Comedy)
I almost don’t even know where to begin with this movie – that’s how fucking insane it is.
It innocuously starts off as a story about a group of teens in detention being hunted by a serial killer. But soon time travel, body swapping, and even a grizzly bear from outer space turn this into one of the most fun genre-bending flicks you’ll ever see. Funny, smart, and completely unafraid to go balls-to-the-wall insane at a moment’s notice.
Imagine if Carlton Mellick III wrote SCREAM and got Lloyd Kaufman to direct. That’s what DETENTION is like.
INBRED – Alex Chandon, United Kingdom, 2011
(Sadistic Hillbilly Horror with a Smile)
I love torture porn and this was one that completely passed me by on first release. It enjoys a cult-following in the U.K. but was sadly missed by the sickos in the rest of the world.
A group of students are trapped by townspeople in the middle-of-nowhere and are forced to perform in a gruesome live circus/snuff show. This is the type of shit that would fill H.G. Lewis with glee and will leave the gore-hounds howling. You can practically feel how much fun the director is having putting the characters through pure hell.
If you like your horror mean-spirited, gory, and action-packed, boy do I have one for you here!
THE BAY – Barry Levinson, United States, 2012
(Eco-Horror and the Best Argument for the Found Footage Format)
Found footage gets a lot of shit – and rightly so. Overwhelming it is a technique to hide poor filmmaking and a complete lack of competent character writing. Due to the overwhelming laziness in most uses of the filmmaking technique (quick pet peeve – FF is a filmmaking technique NOT a genre) most viewers outright dismiss any movie using it.
Which is what makes THE BAY so brilliant – it shows what everyone else is doing wrong and tells a story that could only be told by using FF. A deadly parasite infects the water of the Chesapeake Bay and leads to an environmental disaster. The viewer is placed on the front lines as the movie uses phone videos, security camera footage, Skype calls, news footage, and more to detail the deaths of hundreds.
COHERENCE – James Ward Byrkit, United Kingdom, 2013
(A Dinner Party in the Twilight Zone)
A group of friends are having a dinner party when a blackout occurs. They make the best of it but begin to get bored and suspicious. When they go outside they see one house up the street has power. They investigate and so kicks off a surreal nightmare that would have made Rod Serling proud.
This is a fantastic example of how a clever artist can accomplish so much with so very little. With just a budget of $50,000, the movie uses ingenious tricks to melt-down reality with just a properly placed knock at the door or just a simple piece of paper.
LANDMINE GOES CLICK – Levan Bakhia, United States, 2015
(Just Pure Cruel Fucked-Up Shit)
Three American tourists are on a hiking trip when one of them steps on a landmine. What at first seems like an accident quickly becomes apparent that it is not. Now trapped on top of an explosive device, the tourist must figure out how he will survive.
This may sound like that is just an action thriller but make no mistake – this is nasty hardcore horror. Torture and sexual violence make this into one mean-spirited piece of cinema. And just when you think you know where everything is going, the movie completely turns on its head.
RESOLUTION – Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorehead, United States, 2012
(Paranoia and Cosmic Horror In The Middle Of Nowhere – With Meth)
Benson and Moorehead are quickly becoming hot on the indy horror scene. 2014’s romance horror hybrid, SPRING, drummed up a ton of praise on the festival circuit but their skill was already apparent with their 2011 debut.
A guy gets a message from his former best friend who is now living strung-out on drugs in the woods. He goes there with an extreme plan to help him – he’s going to handcuff his friend to the wall, take care of him, and once the detox is over give him a choice to go back to drugs or come back to the city with him. But there’s other people and things in the woods that is going to make his plan a lot more difficult.
This low budget marvel starts off as a kind of sleazy thriller but evolves into Lovecraftian cosmic horror. It’s truly amazing how much the directors were able to pull off with so little. This movie also features my all-time favorite zero-budget scare.
So there’s my recommendations for you! I hope you seek out the ones that sound interesting to you and give more exposure to these overlooked horror gems.
In October I will be doing my own 31 Days of Horror in which I’ll be watching and writing short reviews on 31 movies that I haven’t seen. You’ll be able to follow my progress at www.JeffBurk.wordpress.com
Happy Haunting, everyone!
By J. Peter W.
“Dude, Are you getting up?” Alex asked, standing impatiently at the doorway.
I looked at him and shrugged. “I can’t.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s my knees. They quit on me.” I pulled back the blanket and revealed the blasted things. They both squinted in the sudden light, covering their eyes and mumbling.
Alex stepped into my bedroom. He hesitated a few feet from the bed. “What the fuck?”
“Yeah, I know. They just gave up. Stopped shaving. Stopped eating. Now they won’t even get out of bed,” I said.
Both knees had grown extensive, wild beards. Their hair lay in curled strands of unkempt and untended locks that flared around my legs. The fingernails on their tiny hands were two weeks late of a good clipping.
“So you’re just gonna lay there, enabling them? Come on, man. It’s time we do something about this,” Alex said. He went over to my stereo and fumbled through some CDs. Sneering back to me, he said, “This is the one,” and popped the disc in. He pushed play and the room filled with obnoxious waves of Eye of the Tiger.
“Dude, no,” I said, but he was already pulling back the curtains and lifting the blinds.
“It’s time, man. We gotta get those knees back into the flow of things.”
Sunlight shot in with an intrusive brightness; even I shielded my eyes.
Alex ran to the bathroom, singing the lyrics as he went. He returned with scissors and a grin that teetered on the line of mischievous and downright evil. “Hold their arms back,” he said.
I grabbed the grubby little arms of my right knee first. Alex snipped the beard into a close crop and then did the same with the hair. After we finished trimming the left knee, Alex set the scissors on my bed and helped me get up.
“I don’t think they like this,” I told him.
“Of course they don’t, but they need it. We’re doing this for their own good.”
I nodded and followed his lead. Moving to the beat of the song, I lifted my legs and bent my knees, taking them out of their comfort zone. I could hear them grumbling and cursing under their breath as I began to jog in place.
“That’s it, man. Let’s go. Get that blood flowing. Doesn’t it feel great?”
The music started to swim through me, forcing me to smile at the silliness of our actions. “Actually, it does. I think they’re coming around.”
I could feel the heavy, dark clouds lifting from their minds. Their tiny shoulders rose, no longer dragging down. Finally, their faces turned towards the window, letting the sunshine fill them with warmth. They were radiating strength and power, slapping high fives and dancing to the song. They were once again ready for the world.
When the song ended, Alex stopped jogging and turned the stereo off.
He turned to me, “Ready to go?”
“I can’t,” I said.
“What’s wrong now?”
“It’s my brain,” I told him.
“Your brain?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s scattered.”
I pointed to the desk, where tiny pieces of my brain sat in a tight circle playing cards and puffing on cigars. In the far corner two pieces were in a deep conversation about western politics. Under the bed one was wandering aimlessly, daydreaming of California beaches.
“Well,” Alex said, “let’s go round them up.”
J. Peter W. lives beneath trapped doors, writing with night eyes and night fingers. He is the author of numerous short stories, novellas, and novels including The Severed Limbs of Rheum Vimorae, The Dead Arms and Other Stories, and A Friend In Me. You can follow him on Twitter at @jpeterw013 or check out his blog at jpeterw.blogspot.com.
Want to see your name up in pixels? Send your bizarro flash fiction stories to Eric Hendrixson by pasting them into the body of an email (no attachments or flamboyant formatting) to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com. Submissions should be no longer than 1000 words and in the bizarro genre.
That lovable pop star Beck has released a video for his latest single, “Wow,” and hidden among the surreal imagery, dancing girls, and all the pretty horses, there is bizarro author Cody Goodfellow, one bushy-faced cowboy standing tall in a sea of nothingness. That’s probably a good way to describe Cody’s fiction, too. Check out the video!
The latest collection by Kevin Strange is here! All the Toxic Waste From My Heart will be available for purchase on September 17th, but it can be pre-ordered at Amazon today!
Since 2012 Kevin Strange has been smashing medulla oblongatas with his unique brand of horror and bizarro fiction. He returns here with a brand new collection of short stories sure to leave readers recreationally deranged or at the very least psychotically inclined.
All The Toxic Waste From My Heart features ten brain-bending tales ranging from the whimsical fantasy of a boy who falls in love with a whale fart to an apocalyptic wasteland full of cannibalistic sludge monsters.
Fans of Strange know that he only gets better and weirder with time. And ALL THE TOXIC WASTE FROM MY HEART proves to be no different.
BONUS: This collection includes four erotic spider microfiction stories. What’s an erotic spider microfiction? Read on to find out!
If people are comparing it to A Nightmare on Elm Street, then it’s right up bizarro’s alley. Baskin is a Turkish horror flick about five cops who inadvertently wander into a dream-like Hell-like surrealistic nightmare world. Check out the trailer below.