Monthly Archives: October 2012

Give Me Gory Gouda: Submit to the Scary Dairy Contest!

DeliCheeseVariety

You probably remember my talking about Culture Magazine’s Annual Scary Dairy Contest—write a 500-word-or-less scary story about cheese. I’ve participated a couple of years now, resulting in “The Things that Eat You” in 2010 and “Slow Grill” in 2011.

This year, myself and last year’s winners Dave Goudsward and Amanda will be judges. So, get out your pens and get gory with gouda, creepy with cream cheese or sadistic with Swiss, then post it (and get further details) here:

http://www.culturecheesemag.com/blog/wfertman_scary-dairy-story-contest-2012

Hurry! A winner will be chosen November 1, so you’ve got just a couple of weeks to enter.

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out this seriously creepy ice cream ad:

On Paranuptials: Demon Birds and Haunted Dolls…

Nathan and I shared secrets and more than just a couple of ghost stories last week on The Invisible World’s Ep. 116: The Paranuptials Special. If you missed it, fear not…you can listen to the show here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theinvisibleworld/2012/10/04/the-invisible-world-ep-116

Or here:

The Invisible World Paranuptuals Special 10/03/2012

Oh, and if, after the episode, you want to know more about the demon bird and see a pic of Joselyn the haunted doll? Check it out below:

The Demon Bird

Haunted, Possessed Dolls

Yeah, Josleyn, Yeah…not too happy, Nice work, hubby!

I’ll be at Rock & Shock with the NEHW this Weekend!

If you love horror and rock and roll (and you’re not at ComicCon in NYC), shoot on up to Worcester, MA to the Palladium & DCUCenter for Rock and Shock. I’ll be joining the New England Horror Writers for a weekend of panels and mayhem…and stop by the NEHW to get some scary books signed by the authors, just in time for Halloween! A complete list of authors appearing is here: http://nehwnews.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/the-nehw-at-rock-and-shock/

Rock and Shock offers plenty of meet and greets with celebrities (this year Peter Criss from KISS and Anthony Michael Hall will be among them). You can also catch the red-carpet premiere of the new horror-sci-fi thriller Infected, the cast of FEARNet’s Holliston, and sit in on lots of great panels (organized by Fangoria magazine) such as Women in Horror with Heather Langenkamp (yes—from A Nightmare on Elm Street), friends and fellow writers Stacey Longo Harris and Tracy L. Carbone, and Lisa Marie (yes—Ed Wood). Check out the schedule here: http://rockandshock.com/schedule/ (as for me, I’ll be on the Breaking into the Biz panel with writing buds TJ May, Jason Harris, and Matt Bechtel (NECON E-books) at 6 p.m. Friday Night). All of that, plus plenty of vendors. Hope to see you there!

Kevin Lucia on The General and Universal Theories of Horrific Appeal – It’s All About the Story

FairfieldHillsCreepyHouse

Earlier in the year, a fantastic horror writer named Kevin Lucia was finishing grad school and, on his blog, presented a fascinating 9-part series on the nature of horror. I fell in love with this series, and Kevin has very graciously allowed me to reprint it here so others can enjoy it, too. Visit me every Thursday through October 18 for the next installment, and on October 25, some of his fiction—free—as a Halloween treat!

Kevin Lucia is a Contributing Editor for Shroud Magazine, and a blogger for The Midnight Diner. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. He is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles, and he’s currently working on his first novel. Visit him on the web at www.kevinlucia.com.

The General and Universal Theories of Horrific Appeal – It’s All About the Story

To be honest, I feel like my last post about Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror, “Attraction to Monstrous Power & Psychoanalysis” was pretty weak. It was right after school, and I’d forgotten about the psychoanalysis part, wanted to skip it and go straight to this, but didn’t want to leave anything out. Then, I was left with a blog post that didn’t seem nearly long enough, but too long to add in Carroll’s actual theories on “horrific appeal”.

So here it is, today. Carroll’s answer as to why so many folks are attracted to horror, drawn to something that scares, terrifies, disgusts, or repulses them. Why we seek those things out – both in print and on screen – and, in my own addendum, why horror writers labor in this field to begin with.

First, Carroll begins by relating horror to tragedy, riffing off Hume and Aikins‘ take on Aristotle’s Poetics, (and that just tickled me so much I ordered it, for myself). The question they asked was, like Aristotle in regards to tragedy, how it’s possible for audiences to derive pleasure from any genre whose objects cause distress and discomfiture (pg. 179)? In real life, these things would be distressing or displeasing.

So why? Why seek them out in art and fiction?

Carroll makes an excellent point before getting into the meat of things; that, for the most part, like tragedies, horror generally takes a narrative form. So, because of this, Carroll suggests that – though important ingredients in the formula – it’s NOT the monsters or objects of terror that interest us, that we derive pleasure from, but that the narrative itself holds the most interest for us.

In other words, as always…..

It’s all about the story.

So, according to Hume, audiences don’t take pleasure in bad things happening, but rather we’re interested in the rhetorical framing for these events, we derive pleasure in watching events unfold towards an unknown conclusion. In other words – using tragedy here as an example – the interest audiences take in the deaths of Hamlet, Gertrude, Claudius, or even Romeo & Juliet, is not sadistic, but….

…is an interest that the plot has engendered in how certain forces, once put in motion, will work themselves out. Pleasure derives from having our interest in the outcome of such QUESTIONS satisfied.” (pg. 179)

So, connecting this to horror: it’s not the tragedy or the death or the object of horror audiences and readers are attracted to, it’s how well these things are worked into the story’s narrative, and how they are resolved. Carroll has been building up to this point, because throughout the work, he’s analyzed the different narrative structures of horror film and fictions, and he’s found this:

these stories (horror), with great frequency, revolve around probing, disclosing, discovering, and confirming the existence of something that is impossible, something that defies standing conceptual schemes. It is part of such stories – contrary to our everyday beliefs about the nature of things – that such monsters exist. And as a result, audiences expectations revolve around whether this existence will be confirmed in the story.” (pg. 181)

Because, according to Carroll, the center of the horror fiction is something that is unknowable, something which cannot exist, given our acceptable schema for the world. So, according to Carroll, the real drama in a horror story resides in establishing the existence of the monster and in disclosing its horrific properties. Then, once this has been done, the monster must be confronted, so the narrative is then driven by the question as to whether or not the creature can be destroyed.

So, leaping from this, Carroll posits:

“…these observations suggest that the pleasure derived from the horror fiction and the source of interest in it resides, first and foremost, in the processes of discovery, proof, and confirmation that horror fictions often employ.” (pg. 184)

In other words, Carroll believes we’re attracted to the majority of horror fictions because of how the plots of discovery and the dramas of proof intrigue us. Arouse our curiosity. Abet our interest, in ways that are satisfying and and pleasurable.

He makes a point here to mention that feeling disgust is an integral part of this process. In other words, monsters in these types of tales must be disturbing, distressful, or repulsive on SOME LEVEL, if the process of their discovery is to be rewarding in a pleasurable way. It’s not that we crave disgust, according to Carroll, but that disgust is just something that happens naturally in the disclosing of the unknown – whose disclosure is a desire the narrative instills in the audience, then proceeds to satisfy.

And for that desire to know about the unknowable – the monster MUST be unknowable in some way, or impossible, or the familiar warped into the repulsive – so that the monster defies our conception of nature.

So that basically, Carroll’s General and Universal Theories of Horrific Appeal spin on the idea that because the majority of horror fictions are narrative-based stories bent on discovering unknown or unknowable things, that even as audiences are necessarily disquieted or distressed or even disgusted and repulsed by the revelation of these things, we are drawn to how these things unfold within the structure of the narrative, our desire to know is what draws us into these stories, and that – like with Hamlet’s death – we aren’t sadist and violent and depraved in consuming different types of horror, we simply want to discover, to know, to see how it all ends. We are fascinated with the process of the investigation, exploration, discovery, and then – if possible – overcoming of unknowable, impossible things. **

So. On to my final look at this, Noel Carroll’s sections entitled “Horror and Ideology” and “Horror Today.”

**Carroll does make a point that it’s very likely some folks seek horror fictions out for their gore and violence and bloodshed, once again, not because they’re demented sick freaks, but because they perceive viewing these films as an endurance test, a test of their “courage” or “manhood.” He, however, does not believe this to be largely the case, and also believes that those types of movies NOT be held up as a standard for horror in general.


Kevin Lucia: Final Reflections on “The Philosophy of Horror”, Part Three: Attraction to Monstrous Power & Psychoanalysis

SpireWestminsterHallBaltimore

Earlier in the year, a fantastic horror writer named Kevin Lucia was finishing grad school and, on his blog, presented a fascinating 9-part series on the nature of horror. I fell in love with this series, and Kevin has very graciously allowed me to reprint it here so others can enjoy it, too. Visit me every Thursday through October 18 for the next installment, and on October 25, some of his fiction—free—as a Halloween treat!

Kevin Lucia is a Contributing Editor for Shroud Magazine, and a blogger for The Midnight Diner. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. He is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles, and he’s currently working on his first novel. Visit him on the web at www.kevinlucia.com.

Final Reflections on “The Philosophy of Horror”, Part Three: Attraction to Monstrous Power & Psychoanalysis

I was thinking this would be my final post on this subject, but seeing as how Carroll ends his work The Philosophy of Horror with a section sub-titled “Horror Today” that mixes in some discussion of post-modernism, I may have to save that for a separate, fourth and fifth post, because its implications intrigue me, and may or may not hold the center-pinning for my paper this semester.

So in review, Carroll critiques three solutions that are often offered as to the paradox of why people enjoy horror. The first solution he critiques is Lovecraft’s treatise on cosmic fear, which he essentially rebuffs because while acknowledging that it certainly holds works of horror to a very high standard, it cannot be used as a summation of ALL that is horror. Then, he examines Rudolf Otto’s ideas of religious awe, disbelieving this explanation as misapplied, because very rarely does this monstrous thing that stupefies us, holds in trembling awe ALSO become a thing we feel the need to pay homage to, show devotion.

The third solution he critiques is the following, one he says may often be connected with the solution of religious awe: is that horrific beings attract viewers because of their power.

Carroll clarifies things like this; these monstrous beings – like in religious awe – induce awe, and we identify with monsters because they’re powerful, maybe even making monsters wish-fulfillment figures. And in some cases, Carroll feels this explanation serves nicely. He cites Melmoth the Wanderer, Dracula, and Lord Ruthven as monsters whose powers are very seductive – both in nature, and the lure of being as powerful as they.

Again, however, Carroll cites that this explanation is simply not broad enough to fit the whole genre. What about rotting, muttering, cannibalistic and brainless zombies? Slime monsters? Mutated insects? Carroll goes so far as to assume that these and many other horror tropes are not exactly wish-fulfillment figures.

Psychoanalysis:

Carroll also address the method of applying psychoanalysis to horror films, but I’m going to only briefly mention that here, simply because – like the other solutions he critiques – psychoanalysis, with its heavy reliance on unconscious sexual urges or unconscious wish fulfillment, simply doesn’t apply to horror in general, or very well at all.

Essentially, Carroll asserts the same thing about psychos analysis in relation to horror as he’s said concerning these other solutions – it applies well to certain movies and books and certainly may give greater insight into those particular work and sub-genres, but it’s too much a stretch to attach repressed sexual desires and repressed fantasies and wish-fulfillment scenarios to horror cinema in general.

Carroll cites this problem in particular with a psychoanalytic look at horror: that very often, these repressed urges must be understood to be in some way sexual, and it’s very hard to apply that to every movie monster ever to grace the screen, because for a “hardline Freudian” (his terms) everything must come back to a sexual act, which is simply too hard to apply to all horror movies.

Carroll does offer some wiggle-room for things like repressed anger or anxiety or fears, suggesting that if this theory wasn’t bound by its insistence on sexual meanings, the scope widens a little bit. He asserts that movies like The Excorcist, Carrie, The Fury and Patrick – all movies that feature telekinetic powers activated by emotions and stress or anger or possession – could gratify a repressed, infantile rage.

But, Carroll ultimately comes to the conclusion that sometimes in horror cinema and fiction, monsters are just monsters, and that’s all.

Next, I’ll post Carroll’s own solution to this paradox, something he calls The General and the Universal Theories of Horrific Appeal.

Tonight: Nathan & I dish on how the paranormal affects marriage on The Invisible World’s PARANUPTIALS special!

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Me and Nathan tied the knot up at gorgeous Howe Caverns, Howe’s Cave, NY, on September 15, 2012. Photo by Bill Buckbee.

If there’s one question I get asked frequently about my relationship with Nathan and the paranormal, it’s “so, what’s it like to live with each other?” Well, we’ll tell all tonight on The Invisible World’s Paranuptials Special!

“Tonight on Episode 116: It’s the PARANUPTIALS SPECIAL! Recently married Nathan Drake Schoonover and Kristi Petersen Schoonover are both personalities in the paranormal world with work in television, radio and writing between them. Tonight we explore just how their relationship has been affected by both be business of paranormal and by the phenomena themselves! All this plus Paranormal News, a campfire story and more! It’s going to be a great one!”

You can tune in at 11 p.m. EST tonight and listen live here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theinvisibleworld/2012/10/04/the-invisible-world-ep-116

Past your bedtime? Don’t worry, I’ll be posting the archived episode as soon as it’s available!

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