While I hate to pigeonhole myself, I find that, with the Haunted Hollow Chronicles, I’m very much considered a splatterpunk/retro-eighties style author. At least for now.
Not such a bad lot in life, actually. I grew up on 80s horror, metal, and action cinema, and it’s still very much a part of who I am. Films and shows such as STRANGER THINGS and IT FOLLOWS bring me a deep sense of… completion, for lack of better.
I have already addressed how I wrote The Haunted Hollow Chronicles (book 3 is essentially finished, pending publisher approval) with a very deliberate exclusion of modern internet-focused technology so that the characters feel the isolation and vulnerability I remember as an 80s kid. There were plenty of desolate backwoods parking, partying, and “rumble” (we didn’t call it that — I mean, how quaint) spots that attracted us, the southern American trash teen.
Places with no adult supervision, let alone police presence. Spots where one’s B-movie fueled imagination could easily cast one’s adolescent sense of self as a character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday The 13th, or -if you’re really imaginative- MAD MAX, and its numerous, mostly Italian post-apocalyptic imitators. Places where one might feel a sense of peril where there wasn’t any — but could be.
All the cliche’s – parking with your girl behind an abandoned factory, running out of gas, being chased by crazed hillbillies, meeting your rival to settle a score in a circle of hooting classmates and headlights — not so inconceivable. We did these things, or knew kids who did.
So I’m led to wonder — what draws the younger folk to the trappings of this era? Because surely to Godzilla, my decrepit age group is not the only one consuming al this nostalgic horror media.
2015’s THE TURBO KID could have come right out of 1986, with it’s synth soundtrack, gory practical effects, and grungy post-apocalyptic setting (complete with Michael Ironside, THE go-to villain for the best and/or worst of the eighties exploitation classics) yet it’s makers let all us 80s survivors in on the joke, sometimes with the subtlest of winks, sometimes with a billboard. It makes perfect sense that BMX bikes will be the chief mode of transportation when the gas runs out — yet it is sublimely hilarious to see the film’s hulking, scarred thugs hunkered over and peddling around on a whirring two-wheeler, same as the titular kid.
It’s set in the future — which is 1997 to the film’s internal hapless post-nuke scrabblers. It feels “80s” because it’s made very deliberately like an 80s movie. Scanning through the user reviews on iMDB, it’s not hard to spot who’s been around long enough to know this is a loving homage and who are the whippersnappers inclined (rightfully from their view) to sneer at the low budget and the quirky acting. Yet even those detractors admit it has a powerful charm. This point I make to illustrate my own curiosity regarding the 80s nostalgia fad.
Take the Netflix dramedy G.L.O.W. It nails the era and its values, yet… still seems like an all-knowing look back somehow. “Those people are naive, and oh my God, do they not know how different, silly and meaningless this will all be in a few years???” we are led to think.
Not that that’s bad. It’s a great show. It’s just — I find that I don’t want the real 80s; a time when, not only nuclear apocalypse but the other more insidious apocalypse of corporate domination stood as looming threats, influencing our daily lives for better or worse. The 80s we geezers are feeding to today’s iPhone-addled youth, is decidedly better than the real thing.
At least, it looks much cooler on film.
If I had a nickel for every upcoming horror film synopsis or blurb that used some variation of the term “80s throwback/homage/celebration” the total would come to $8, 677.05, adjusted for a circa 1985 economy. Enough for about three VHS movies back then.
Still, getting into the head of a genre nerd born in say 1995 and feeling how they feel when they listen to Duran Duran or watch The A Team, The Fly, or even, say, Rocktober Blood sounds like a good time.
Doubtful we’ll have the of technology for such recreational brain-vading until at least 2025 though, and by then everybody will be marking out over the early 2000s, leaving the 80s about as irrelevant as the 50s, an era with which, for the record, I was quite enamored during the 80s.
But enough ramble-niscing. Here in the deepest catacombs of North Carolina’s nights, your ol’ pal Pattie doesn’t get a chance to spend much time around younger schlock culture geeks. I’d love to hear from some post-eighties babies who dig the vibe of that decade. What’s cool about it? What’s ludicrous? Help me help you help me be the best retro-recaller I can, so I don’t have to write fifty scenes of characters whining about their smart phones not working.
Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction.
HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.
Please enjoy an excerpt below from Crescendo of Darkness.
“A Whisper in the Air” by Jeremiah Donaldson
Employees at a job find solace in playing music on break, but a haunted melody draws in more than just new musicians.
Jim pushed the steel door open and exited the building. The evening breeze made him shiver. He pulled his flannel tighter while people poured from the doorway behind him. They spread out into the parking lot full of vehicles and lights from all the new hires that had just started. ‘Newbies’ was the preferred term, and it was Jim’s turn to be one, again. The last call center had gotten old. Simply walking through those doors had started to put a cloud over his day that was instantly gone the second he went outside.
He scanned the parking lot for any of the various people that he knew, but deep shadows were everywhere, so he waded through the crowd.
Bass from someone’s vehicle thundered with higher pitched sounds underneath. A word or two from conversations around him were audible as he passed car after car. Cigarette smoke and vapor floated across headlights as if fog had moved into the area as it was known to do on cool nights. He detoured around a small circle of people bouncing a hackysack between them in an empty spot.
Then something stood out in the din around him.
An acoustic guitar was picked and tuned for a second before the player started an upbeat rock melody that Jim didn’t recognize. The notes made it to him through the clash of sounds, but were barely a whisper. His friends would be in that group
He tried to focus on the sound and let it lead him to its source, but it came from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Could more than one player be strumming the same tune? He doubted it, especially since the notes sounded as if they were being made up on the spot. It made him want to bob along as he walked, but the tune needed some drums. And bass. And a singer, belting out a gravely song.
Jim’s fingers moved of their own accord as he memorized the notes being played, imagining himself plucking the bass lines along with the guitarist. The rhythm put a bounce in his step until he was almost skipping along while playing air bass. Then the notes began to repeat themselves and he thought he had it…
“What the fuck are you doing?”
A chorus of laughter sounded from Jim’s left.
He turned to his friend’s voice before he realized the tune had stopped. “Shit, there you are. I’ve been looking the place over for you.”
Arek blew out a cloud of vapor. “We’ve been standing here, watching you bounce across the parking lot like you’re listening to a techno version of ‘Little Green Bag’.”
“I was listening to whatever you all were playing. That’s how I found you. That would be a pretty good song if it had something else going for it.”
Arek pointed a thump at Stan who was putting a new string on a guitar. “You didn’t hear us playing shit. Numbnut snapped my ‘E’ string on first break.”
To read the rest of this story and thirteen
other horror music shorts, check out:
Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson
Cover by Carmen Masloski
Let music unlock your fear within.