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Join Nikky as she tries her best to explain to Mick that a ‘Peregrine’ isn’t a ‘Pair of Grins’ all this and more on the Weird School – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children episode of Byte Sized Horror!

Real skull. Don't ask. You wouldn't believe it if I told you.

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Book Reviews

You Like It Darker

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Released in May of this year, You Like It Darker is the latest short story collection by Stephen King.

In the afterward King says. “You like it darker? Fine, so do I.” This sort of declaration might lead one to believe that this collection is going to be darker than his others. That we might reach depths of horror that we haven’t yet seen before, even from the King himself. This is a promise that this book does not deliver on. But that isn’t to say that You Like It Darker wasn’t still a damn fine read.

The good stories

The first story in the book, Two Talented Bastids, started everything out on the right foot. This is the story of a man named Mark. Mark looks after his father, who he lovingly calls Pop. Pop is a famous author His best friend, Butch, was a famous painter before he passed.

Everyone wants to know how two men who are lifelong friends suddenly become famous in their forties. But as far as the men in question are concerned, they’re just two talented bastids. That is, until Pop dies, and leaves a story to explain to Mark how one fateful hunting trip changed their whole lives.

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Another tale I appreciated was Rattlesnakes. This is a sequel to the classic King novel, Cujo. If you haven’t read Cujo, this will spoil the ending for you. I, for instance, had not read Cujo.

Rattlesnakes is about Vic Trenton. A recent widower, he’s traveled to Florida to heal from his losses. There, he meets a lovely woman about his age (old) who appears to be not quite right in the head. She walks around around town like Delta Dawn, not with a suitcase in her hand but wheeling a twin stroller. Years ago, her twin sons were killed by rattlesnakes. And she’s never really gotten over that. So she wheels around the stroller and pretends they’re still in there. At least, everyone assumes she’s pretending.

Easily my favorite story in the book was Danny Coughlin’s Bad Dream. Imagine if you had a prophetic dream, but just one. That’s exactly what happens to Danny. He dreams of the location of a murder victim. When he goes to the location, which he’s never been to before, he finds the poor woman in question. Of course, the police find this extremely suspicious. And one detective grows so suspicious that he starts taking matters into his own hands.

The bad stories

Of course, not all the stories can be great. One that I especially disliked was Finn. This is the story of a young man with bad luck. I mean, terminally bad luck. So bad that he’s kidnapped in a case of mistaken identity.

This story just didn’t have a satisfying ending. Nor did it have a satisfying middle. There was just no real conclusion.

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Another story that missed the mark was On Slide Inn Road. It’s the story of a family on a car trip to see a dying sister when they’re overtaken by some rough people outside of an old abandoned inn. This story also doesn’t seem to have any sort of cohesive storyline. It’s just the story of a family having a really bad day. It doesn’t go anywhere.

Overall, this was a collection that shows King’s patterns. He writes over and over about men who have lost their wives and their sons. Men who have survived their families and been left alone. Most of the main characters in these stories fall into that category. Perhaps in that way, these stories are darker than the ones King has written in the past. At least for him.

Fans of King’s work will love this book. I loved this book. I loved catching up with the lonely widower from Cujo. I loved meeting monsters who might or might not have crawled out of the back of a Buick. And while none of these stories were dark enough to disturb my sleep, they were good enough to keep me up reading late.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, Cursed Neighborhood

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Episode five of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was one of the best kind of horror stories. It is a dark, eerie tale of a mean house that is determined to destroy anyone who dares reside within it.

The story

Our story begins in 1682. A group of colonists are attempting to take over land that is very much not theirs. When the colonists are killed, they vow to curse the land.

Fast forward to modern times, and the land in question is a little suburban neighborhood. Carlette Norwood moves in with her husband, mother, and daughters. The house seems like a dream come true. Until, of course, their beautiful dream home becomes a nightmare. The curse of the colonists wrapped itself around the neck of each family member, turning them into people that they didn’t recognize. People who don’t exactly like each other.

What worked

While I wouldn’t say that the acting in this episode is flawless, it was several steps above what we’ve seen so far. Every actor seemed to understand their role and reacted in realistic ways. I was especially impressed by the young woman playing Angelique. She had the good sense to not overplay the role, giving each scene exactly the right amount of energy.

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Of course, there was one actress who way overplayed every scene. But rather than being terrible, it was terrific. And that was Chloe Zeitounian, who played the neighbor Stacy. Stacy the neighbor was creepy as shit. After an unnamed neighbor dies by suicide, Stacy shows up at Carlette’s house with a bottle of champagne, sipping coffee with a big old smile. Well, okay it probably wasn’t coffee.

Stacy was a fantastic character, and I hope there was a crazy neighbor just like her. I bet her house was haunted as hell, but she just decided that her ghost was like a stray dog that everyone else thinks is dangerous. She probably put a bejeweled collar on the colonist ghost and renamed him Kori spelled with an I on purpose.

Finally, I want to talk about the theme of ancestral curse and ancestral protections that this episode discussed.

Charles County was cursed by the colonists who took the land that rightfully belonged to the indigenous tribes. They took what their ancestors had given them, and left a curse in their wake.

At the end of the episode, Carlette talks about being protected by her ancestors. Ancestors that survived horrible things most of us can’t imagine. I am sure that their strength blessed Carlette, and helped her to save Angelique.

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What didn’t work

While this episode was certainly better than most of the season, it wasn’t perfect. The thing that most stood out to me as being frankly unneeded was the inclusion of maggots attacking Brian.

Paul A Maynard in Suburban Screams.

In multiple scenes, during which Carlette is narrating, Brian has maggots coming out of open wounds. Never once does Carlette mention a maggot issue.

It feels like there is a clear reason why the creators did this. This story doesn’t have a lot of blood, gore, or jump scares. And a core goal of horror content is to cause a reaction.

Stephen King has a great quote about this goal. “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

The inclusion of maggots in this story admits that someone involved didn’t think the story was terrorizing or horrifying enough. But it was. The story was freaky all on its own without the inclusion of our wriggling friends.

Is it true?

This might be an unpopular opinion, but aside from the completely unnecessary maggots infesting Brian, I think this episode is the most honest and accurate one so far.

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The thing about hauntings is that they’re seldom what we see in the movies. Haunted houses don’t have glass vases flying off shelves and wallpaper peeling to reveal 666 painted in blood over arcane symbols. Haunted houses dig into the minds of those who live there, causing bad luck and bad vibes. And that’s exactly what happened here. There are no massive explosions. No spirits throwing people downstairs or demonic dogs chasing children from the attic. This house dug into the hearts and minds of a loving family, ripping them apart.

So yes, I do think this episode is likely true.

The further we get into Suburban Screams, the more I enjoy it. This episode was eerie, upsetting, and riveting. I hope that Carlette and her daughters are healing from this horrific journey. And I’m thankful to them for sharing their story. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Happy Father’s Day Herman Munster!

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Herman Munster would be so proud, collage by Jennifer Weigel
Herman Munster would be so proud, collage by Jennifer Weigel

Today for Father’s Day I want to celebrate one the best dads in horror ever: Herman Munster! Herman Munster of television celebrity is a perfect example of a good father in a genre awash in epically horrible parents. He is fun to be around, cares deeply about family, and has a huge heart. He is essentially the naive and loving Frankenstein’s monster despite his horrific appearance, and is aptly employed at a funeral home.

Herman is lovable, hardworking, and always ready with the physical humor dad jokes, even if he is too naive to catch on to his role in the punchlines all the time. He is devoted to his wife Lily Dracula and son Eddie and will do whatever he can to protect them. His generosity extends beyond just his own, with the family taking in his niece Marilyn (who is painfully normal by comparison to the Munsters), and father-in-law Grandpa.

Portrayed by Fred Gwynne, Herman Munster is kind of the epitome of the good father in horror. Sure, he’s a brute, and can be a little dim sometimes, but he’s really just a big teddy bear at heart, and always ready for a good laugh. And apparently Herman Munster was even nominated by his son Eddie for Father of the Year in Season 2, Episode 25, so it all comes around full circle. If the show highlight doesn’t load, you can find it here.

And to celebrate more great Hollywood celebrities, here’s a poem for Ed Wood and an homage to Theda Bara

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