As he passed the sign declaring HELL IS REAL, Tyler laughed.
“Ain’t nobody who lives like us doesn’t know that,” he said, glancing at his silent companion. “And sure as shit, you and I know it’s true.”
The thing in the passenger seat slid its one gleaming eye toward him, a slight dip of its head acknowledging that yes, of course they both knew that.
Tyler had met his demon years before, standing in his path at an old familiar crossroads. And since that night, it had stayed beside him, because kin always knows kin.
Kin always stays with kin, especially in a family like theirs.
There had been no deal between them. No binding oaths. Just recognition of the truth, and a promise to never, ever look away.
Hell was real. Threaded through the corn fields, collected in sleepy diners, all the tired kinfolk spoke the truth with their very existence. Those bits of black matter, connecting everything, seeing everything, never looking away.
There was no way they could.
Hell was on the TV. Hell was on the radio. In every petty war and grim announcement on the eleven o’clock news, you could see it. You could know it. And Tyler kept driving, because it helped him feel like there was an escape somewhere. Some place he’d finally know rest. Where his demon would meld into him and finally take him away from this place.
Because hell wasn’t under the ground. It wasn’t a place separate from reality. Hell was the world he continued to trudge through, no matter what.
HELL IS REAL.
“Sure is,” he muttered under his breath. “It sure is.”
Another hundred miles to go.
He knew he’d wonder longer than that whether one of his hopeless kin put up that sign.
The hall of antlers was a place Henry only saw in his dreams.
It was staggering to think of how many bodies it had taken to fill that expanse. How much blood, how many lives. In the dream, the question was soft, merely wonder, because awe was the only way to traverse such a place.
And in the dream, the antlers screamed as they broke. No avoiding them–it was impossible to take a step in any other direction. The only way through the dream was forward, but in those splintering howls and shrieks, all Henry could hear were warnings.
Halt Stop Go back
But there was no other way.
When he reached the end, the same figure always peeled itself out of the dark. A great horned god, Herne or Woden, so massive in stature that it could only be the night itself.
KNOW ME, it always said. REMEMBER I WILL COME FOR YOU.
The dream always ended with those words. But being a person of solid skepticism, he never put any stock into dreams. He went about his life and his business unharmed by any antlered god, unscathed by even the darkest night.
It was daylight when it finally came to claim him.
He should have known before the deer on the path opened its mouth and screamed.
Okay! So we are six days away from Halloween, I am 6k away from meeting my 25k word goal for THE WILD HUNT (now tentatively titled IN THE HEART OF THE HOLLOW FOREST) and I still owe you guys some awesome movie recommendations.
And do I ever have some movie recommendations.
First up on my list is Ginger Snaps. The best part about this movie? Lycanthropy as a vehicle for the horrors of puberty. Twins Brigitte and Ginger are morbid outcasts obsessed with death. They take photos of elaborately staged deaths, they gleefully traumatize their peers with grisly projects, and they’ve made a suicide pact to be dead by sixteen. They’re as close as close can be…
Until Ginger gets bitten by a werewolf.
And things spiral completely out of control from there.
For me, there are three things that make this film solid. One–Brigitte and Ginger’s dynamic. They would do anything for each other, and watching that splinter in the face of Ginger’s imminent transformation HURTS (but in the best possible way). Despite that, the two remain incredibly snarky, and that leads me to point number two: the humor. This movie makes no apologies for its morbid sense of humor. It has something to say, and one of the most effective ways of getting that message across–of how dangerous and awful and ostracizing and terrible it is to be expected to be a dainty girl when you feel like a friggin’ werewolf inside–is by carrying that message with a healthy dose of laughs. The humor helps us relate. It helps us get it. And by the time things culminate to terrible effect at a Halloween party, we’re fully strapped in and ready for things to go horribly wrong.
There’s a lot more to this film than just “scary werewolf tale.” Stick around till the end. You’ll appreciate it.
Next up is Trick’r Treat. I caught this on Netflix several years back, and while the initial summary didn’t do much for me, it was a Halloween film and that was just what I was looking for. I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of watching an anthology of stories, but the reason it works is because those stories are woven together. The execution is stylish, smart, and absolutely perfect for Halloween.
You’ve got Sam, the avatar of Halloween itself…
…who’s on a quest to make sure everyone respects his holiday. I won’t spoil the stories, as watching them unfold is what makes the movie as awesome as it is, but it’s a funny, grisly, gory romp perfect for Halloween.
Next up is something I found a verrrrry long time ago. It’s an animated adaptation of a book I’ve already mentioned. And while it’s very difficult to find on DVD, you can find it here on YouTube (thanks, YouTube). It’s old, and the animation is kinda rough, but it’s narrated by RAY BRADBURY HIMSELF and is, in places, a word-for-word adaptation of one of my very favorite books ever. Behold:
Yeah, yeah, I know. What is that animation? WHO CARES. That is my childhood, damn it.
(Speaking of my childhood, I won’t do a write up of one of my favorites from much younger years, but I can just drop this link here for anyone who misses a certain Halloween Beavis and Butthead special. And before you ask, of COURSE my parents didn’t endorse me watching B&B at a young age, but my older brother did, and our love for Cornholio transcended parental rules.)
And last up on the list is The Crow. This movie is so early 90s it hurts. But it is a CLASSIC, and so long as you forget that the terrible sequels even exist, you can enjoy it for exactly what it is–a moody, gothic film that’s equal parts music video, revenge tale, and love story.
It is so over-the-top dramatic that it borders on almost being too much, but that’s exactly what I love about it.
I saw this when I was thirteen, and as a wee batty goth child, I was FLOORED. It was PERFECT. Sequences set to Nine Inch Nails and the Cure? SOLD. I mean, look at how many times I’ve used caps in one paragraph. I have feelings about this film. While it’s not 100% faithful to the comic book (and oh God, the original James O’Barr book will destroy you) it can still be enjoyed on its own.
Plus, Sarah is amazing. And she breaks my heart. This scene still always reduces me to tears.