“11:55, almost midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before 12:00, just to keep us warm. In five minutes, it will be the 21st of April. One hundred years ago on the 21st of April, out in the waters around Spivey Point, a small clipper ship drew toward land. Suddenly, out of the night, the fog rolled in. For a moment, they could see nothing, not a foot in front of them. Then, they saw a light. By God, it was a fire burning on the shore, strong enough to penetrate the swirling mist. They steered a course toward the light. But it was a campfire, like this one. The ship crashed against the rocks, the hull sheared in two, masts snapped like a twig. The wreckage sank, with all the men aboard. At the bottom of the sea, lay the Elizabeth Dane, with her crew, their lungs filled with salt water, their eyes open, staring to the darkness. And above, as suddenly as it come, the fog lifted, receded back across the ocean and never came again. But it is told by the fishermen, and their fathers and grandfathers, that when the fog returns to Antonio Bay, the men at the bottom of the sea, out in the water by Spivey Point will rise up and search for the campfire that led them to their dark, icy death. “

That is, of course, the opening to John Carpenter’s The Fog, and the late John Houseman doing one of the best versions of the traditional old man around the campfire telling ghost stories and scaring the spit out of the children type of character. Depending on how old you may be and where you grew up; that scene may have been something you actually grew up with in real life. Stories of the local spirits roaming the material plane just waiting for you to wander unknowingly into their path and become their victim were plentiful for many a generation’s upbringing. They were a part of our childhood, they were something that created the local color of a region, and they were a great deal of fun back in the day.

The local ghost story still exists even as it seems like the interconnectivity of the World Wide Web is making more and more ghost stories and paranormal urban legends less local in nature. However, even the old local stories, as much as I loved them, were originally really not quite as local as they seemed to us back then. As a matter of fact, the truth is that many of them were just variants of stories brought over from the old countries by settlers and immigrants and remade into a local legend. Some would start as stories from back in the home country, but, eventually, they would incorporate local settings and characters into their telling and end up being told by people who swore that they knew the sorry souls involved or knew the now old man or woman who knew those sorry souls way back then or witnessed it with their own eyes in their youth. Then the years of “witnesses” and “documented events” (sometimes complete with names, ranks, and serial numbers) would enter into the tale, and the story would become firmly rooted in the area you lived in.

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In online discussions, the term “mansplaining” is fast becoming nothing more than the same kind of copout in discussions that “TLDR” has long been used for. You often see it used by intellectually lazy or cowardly people who can’t defend an incorrect statement made when faced with facts and don’t have the integrity to simply say they got it wrong. But it’s also become a way to attempt to skew the argument from the very start or to attempt to create a situation where what’s being presented cannot be argued against. I’m not sure if that’s what Max Landis was attempting to do or not with his tweet, but either way it’s a shame as it undercuts a rather interesting possible discussion about the inspiration of an iconic character’s look and the occasional basic human failings when it comes to recollection of events.

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I tend to not follow remakes or reboots that completely alter the tone and style of the original stories. There have been a few exceptions to this over the decades, but more often than not I tend to find things like classic television dramas turned into farce comedy films or lighter fare turned into grim and gritty drama to just not work for me on any level. Many modern attempts at dramas turned farce often lose any resemblance to their source material, and all too often the attempt to make lighter fare more “adult” simply comes across as poorly written material full of little more than shock value material using a familiar name for a (they hope) quick buck before word of mouth kills it. As such, I was a little late to the game (and then some) with this one.

Fortunately, I took the wise advice of Derek Tatum of the Dragon Con Horror Track. During the House of Dreadpunk panel, he gave this series a high recommendation. He’d referenced it before in other places, but he offered up on the panel an explanation of what it was that made it seem a little more intriguing than the prior descriptions I’d seen of it. The next day, while braving the crushing waves of humanity in the vendor area, I saw the trade paperback collection on a vendor’s shelf along with some other books I’d been looking for. Taking a chance, I picked it up. It still took me about three weeks to read it after getting home from Dragon Con.

Holy…

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RIP Santos Ellin, Jr.

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Back in 2006, a wonderfully conceived gimmick was used to try and create an event feeling around seeing horror movies in the theaters. This was the After Dark Horrorfest (A.K.A. 8 Films to Die For) and its collection of eight horror films that had not yet seen wide release in theaters in the United States. The promotional hook was that these films were being screened by the After Dark Horrorfest after proving themselves too intense and terrifying for conventional studio and distributor release. If you wanted to see them in the theaters, you had to get to a participating theater in your area and pay for that night or weekend’s slate of films.

The first After Dark Horrorfest was successful enough, and there would be several annual After Dark Horrorfests after it. However, the truth about their offerings was that they were somewhat hit or miss. A few of the films were pretty damned good, but most of the first eight films shown were just enjoyable if forgettable horror films. But out of that first year’s offerings, one of the two films that stood out and above the rest by quite some measure was the story of three evil, angry, and vengeful ghosts, Gravedancers.

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Next month is October. We must prepare properly.

Halloween and the run-up to it is a time of chills and thrills. Sadly, with regards to one great American Halloween tradition, the thrills have gone and been replaced by way more chills than there used to be. What was once something that was looked forward to has now become a thing of scorn and derision, and the only tradition that most people now have is of trying to avoid what was once enjoyed. This, my friends, has been the sad fate of candy corn.

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“It’s a somber mood for The Grue Crew this episode. Our Gruesome family received some devastating news this past week. Our brother in pods Santos “The Black Saint” Ellin Jr. passed on September 21st, 2017. A loyal host of the show since it started back in 2013, Santos was not just a fun voice and a bitter commenter. He was family. For this special episode of Horror News Radio, Doc Rotten, Dave Dreher, Thomas Mariani and Christopher G. Moore pay tribute to their favorite curmudgeon and try to make sense of all this sadness.”

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