The following is a short story from Wesley's upcoming collection 'Terrors That Tingle'.
Alfred was a peculiar man; society shunned him wherever he went. Childhood was difficult for such a character. He found no pleasure in regular pastimes such as reading, TV, or the internet. Serial killers, taxidermy, and hunting were the key to Alfred’s heart, not that he wanted a relationship. The sixty-year-old had never been a people person. The second he turned eighteen he left home and never looked back. He worked any job that didn’t require too much contact with people. A childhood therapist claimed he was simply an introvert, but the explanation was simpler still: he just didn’t like people. Then, around the age of forty, he surprised himself by opening a store.
This was no ordinary store. It was a doll store. Surprisingly, the shop became a success. People flocked to see the incredible work of one Mr Alfred Thompson. Doll fanatics were amazed and even passers-by couldn’t resist taking a peek inside. He was a hit. Alfred even learned to deal with people, regardless of his disdain for them. However, despite initial success, people eventually grew tired of dolls. He became a one-hit wonder of wooden dolls.
Alfred, never one to give up at the first hurdle, found a resolution. He travelled from country to country. He would rent store space for several months, then when the hype wore off, move on. This worked well for almost twenty years, but little did anyone know, his inspiration was drifting.
Alfred worried, until he rented store space in the quaint British village of Holmfirth. Mere days after his arrival, word had spread throughout the entire village. Nosey residents swung by to see the grey-haired man and his exquisite creations. There was nothing unusual about his first week in Holmfirth. No one knew the man was considering retiring, until a young girl came by his store one day after school and gave him the inspiration he needed.
Zoe was a young girl of thirteen, who had no friends and lived in a foster home. Nobody paid her any attention. With unkempt frizzy hair, huge glasses, and dishevelled clothing, people preferred to ignore her existence. Zoe’s foster parents only cared for her as they received financial benefits from the government. She knew this. So, the young girl kept her nose buried in a book and out of people’s business.
After overhearing two kids at school gossiping about a new doll store in the village, Zoe was uncharacteristically eager to check it out. As luck would have it, the new store stood only minutes from her house.
One Monday, after the school bells rang and the gates creaked open, Zoe scurried ahead of her classmates and headed for ‘A Doll’s World’. Not the most original name, but she hoped to be pleasantly surprised.
The typical British weather of rain and wind chilled Zoe’s bare calves, and ruffled her grey school skirt. She gripped the handles of her backpack tighter, as the afternoon chill grew colder. Her oversized yellow bubble coat warmed her torso, but didn’t stop the wind prickling her face and neck. By the time she reached the cobbled street, her face beamed red. Her eyes watered from the cold. Her nose ran.
Numb and shivering, Zoe found herself in front of ‘A Doll’s World.’ She pressed up against the smooth window pane and peered inside. What was normally bare brick walls and a cement floor, had been filled with wooden shelves and a table holding an outdated cash register.
Zoe’s eyes fell on an ageing man working in the far corner. Holding a tiny knife, he carved a doll’s face. Wooden shavings sprinkled the now linoleum floor. The teenager questioned how he could work in such meagre light. Save for the receding daylight pooling the floor near the windows, darkness consumed the rest of the store. The many dolls formed shadows on the shelves.
“Eurgh!” Zoe found herself whispering. Dolls had always creeped her out yet simultaneously fascinated her. These were big. They were almost as big as her. There were boys and girls in various clothing and costumes. Expensive looking wigs sat atop their heads. Wow, he has gone all out.
Growing impatient, Zoe sidestepped to the entrance. Her icy hand met with the equally cold doorknob and twisted it. The rusty springs attached to the door resisted. Zoe cringed at the ruckus. The last thing she wanted was all eyes on her. As far as she could tell, however, she was the only customer. She was thankful for that. Despite the well-worn door springs, the second her hand fell from the knob, the door snapped shut. Squeak. Boom.
Zoe inhaled, shoulders hunching.
“Don’t be shy child, come on in,” Alfred muttered without turning to see her. How did he know I was a child?
Zoe coughed, partly out of awkwardness, partly from the dust the door had kicked up. “Thank you.”
“Do you like my dolls?” He asked, whittling the nose of a boy-doll.
Zoe took cautious steps towards him. “Yes. They are very pretty,” she replied, eyes darting and head turning.
“Thank you, I think so too,” he responded, still running the knife down the boy’s nose. Whispers poured into the store with every stroke of his knife. It sounded as though someone repeatedly said ‘shhhhh’ in sync with every precise etch. The man’s hands were wrinkled and splattered in age spots, sprouting an unusually large amount of hair. Zoe dreaded the day her hands would succumb to the ravages of age.
“Feel free to explore my child,” he offered.
His repetitive use of the word ‘child’ unnerved and annoyed Zoe.
Following his suggestion, she wandered around the store. She admired the various dolls, pausing at one in particular. She found herself running a hand across the smooth wood. Up close and personal, it became clear no expense was spared when it came to detail. From knuckles, kneecaps, veins, and even freckles, to the vividly painted eyes and finely chiselled facial features. Zoe noticed metal nails on the dolls, which didn’t make sense, but she wasn’t the expert.
Each doll burst with colour, each as unique as the next. An exploration of most time periods and fashion trends was told through dozens of dolls. Each doll had only one running theme: the look of nervousness in their eyes. Zoe wasn’t sure how he achieved this. It was unnerving yet simultaneously alluring.
“Oh, you like that one, do you?” Alfred asked, startling the young girl.
She jerked from the doll, immediately retracting her hand from the doll’s leg.
“That’s one of my favourites,” he whispered, as if his preference was a secret, or the other dolls could hear and would get jealous. A flash of rageful dolls attacking the old man ran through her mind. Eurgh. Zoe’s back fell victim to a deep chill.
“Yes…. It’s nice,” Zoe replied, admiring the doll attired in a white sailor’s uniform.
“Nice?” his voice rose.
“Oh… no…. I mean….” Zoe stuttered.
“Young lady, that doll took several months to carve!” he was yelling now, anger drenched his voice.
Alfred rose from his chair and approached Zoe, his nostrils flared. Each hand became a fist, one still wielding a knife.
“I’m sorry,” she blurted, hunching her shoulders. Underneath the yellow bubble coat her heart pounded.
Surprised by Zoe’s outburst, he stopped mid-stride. He relaxed, unclenching his tensed features.
“Oh, I am sorry child. I just spend a lot of time working on these. And I don’t get out much. Also, one loathes the word nice.” His face crinkled in disgust, as if the mere word was so sour it curdled in his mouth.
“I didn’t….k…know,” Zoe again, struggled with speech. Her lack of conversational skills from poor social interaction - if you don’t count being surrounded by kids but constantly ignored – didn’t help.
Alfred, wearing a discoloured white shirt and tatty tweed trousers, knelt by her side. His face softened as a hand gently cupped her shoulder.
“Of course you didn’t. Now let’s be done with that. Would you like some tea? And perhaps a chocolate biscuit or two?”
“Oh, yes please,” the tense atmosphere cleared at the mentioning of chocolate. It was one of Zoe’s guilty pleasures. Her salivary glands gushed as she imagined the creamy, sweet goodness melting on her tongue.
“Then come in the back,” he rose, guiding her forwards.
“What about the shop?”
“Oh, I am closing up now. I just need to lock the door and pull down the outside shutters.”
Alfred opened a red velvet curtain, exposing an outdated but charming living room. Wooden chairs upholstered in more red velvet, sat in the dark room. Several dirty mirrors were nailed to the walls. A mahogany coffee table was sandwiched between two of the larger chairs, resting on a fluffy purple rug.
“Now you make yourself comfortable and I’ll be right back,” Alfred suggested as he nudged her into the living room.
Zoe noticed one door at the back, beside one of the many mirrors. Its paint was peeling and the handle was bronzed from rust. It stood open by a sliver, enough for Zoe to see a tiny green kitchen. It was bare and a scent of mildew slithered through the crevice.
Zoe backed up to a chair. She unzipped her stuffy winter coat and folded it on the floor beside the chair. Her rucksack fell to the yellow coat, as she sat on the chair. It embraced her rump with surprising comfort. Scooting further into the chair, she took in more of her surroundings.
Cobwebs hung in the corners, the brick walls were chipped, and the rug’s seams were coming apart. Apparently, Alfred’s attention to detail was exclusive to his dolls, and nothing else. The longer her eyes stayed focused in one place, the more obvious flaws became. Give him a break, he only moved in a matter of days ago. Zoe thought, yet couldn’t help but judge the mess.
Screech. Bang. Click.
Alfred dashed by Zoe, bizarrely graceful. Was he one of those men who like men? Nah, from what I’ve read they are for the most part, trendy and normal. This man was peculiar, and in no way followed fashion trends. His trousers were stained, torn, and wrinkled. His shoes were scuffed. Nope, this man definitely didn’t care about fashion.
“Tea and biscuits coming up,” he announced before vanishing into the kitchen.
Zoe sat patiently as the kettle cried out. Mugs and plates clattered, and cupboard doors clunked. In a jiffy, he returned, carting an oak tray. It held two mugs, four saucers, a plate of biscuits, and a tiny cup holding sugar sachets and two silver spoons. He placed the tray on the coffee table and took a seat opposite his new friend.
“By all means, go ahead,” Alfred smiled, his hands gesturing to the tray.
“I took the liberty of adding milk to your tea, and one sugar. The one closest to you is yours. If you would like any more sugar, go ahead.”
Zoe took a saucer holding a mug of tea, and dunked a biscuit into her milky brew. To avoid tea dripping from the biscuit, she yanked it out and shoved half of it in her mouth. Zoe worked on the crumbly biscuit and melted chocolate, savouring the taste before it slid down her throat.
“Good?” Alfred inquired, taking a sip from his own tea, smirking at her gusto. He sighed, “Ahhh, nothing beats a good old cuppa. It’s so British and proper. One of only a few things I actually enjoy about life.”
Zoe nodded, a mouth full of biscuit, pondering the strange comment. Alfred laughed at her biscuit-inflated mouth. “I’ll never understand those monsters who drink it without milk though.”
Once the biscuit had made its way down Zoe’s throat, she took a few sips of Earl Grey tea, overcome with an urge to be polite and ladylike. That won’t last, she thought.
“Don’t let it get cold sweetheart, go ahead,” he suggested, before taking a sip himself, his pinkie pointing to the ceiling.
At his suggestion, she took a couple of hearty gulps. What’s with the pet na…. Zoe’s eyes all of a sudden became warm and heavy. What’s with the… Abrupt exhaustion prevented her from even finishing a thought.
A mug and saucer plummeted to the concrete. Tea sloshed onto the legs of the coffee table and splashed the rug. The saucer was the first to break, exploding into several pieces and dispersing along the living room floor. Next, the cup broke. Chunks of it swam in the puddle of tea, while others flew every which way.
“Oh, dearie me,” Alfred tutted.
Zoe squinted at the old man. He became a Caucasian blur. “What…” was all Zoe managed to say before she slumped into the chair, limp and unconscious.
Damn it’s hot. Why is it so hot? Eww, what’s that smell? Sweat? Burning? Pee?
Clang. Clang. Clang. What’s that ruckus?
Zoe’s eyes peeled open to a dark, odd room. No windows. One single bulb swung above, squeaking rhythmically. Chipped wooden planks covered the walls and ceiling. The floor was cold concrete. Cold?! Zoe looked at her bare feet, flat on the concrete, bound to the legs of a chair. The rope itched. Her eyes shot up her bare legs and naked torso. She gulped. Both wrists were strapped to the arms of a chair with the same itchy rope. A scream left her lungs, but never made it out her mouth.
Huh? Her tongue poked at the back of her lips, prodding tiny sharp pieces. The tip of her tongue tingled with pain. Beads of sweat broke out on Zoe’s forehead. What’s going on? Panic churned in her stomach.
Another muffled scream could be heard, but it wasn’t Zoe. Her eyes darted across the darkness, searching for the noise.
She wept as her eyes came to a halt at a cage. Inside were several children wailing against the poles. Well, that explains the clanging. Shockingly, that resolve gave her no comfort. The children, draped in dirty white cloths, were stuffed inside like sardines in a tin can. That explains the smell.
Most were Zoe’s age, but some were younger. Some sobbed hysterically, while others sniffled quietly in the corners of their confinement. Most looked exhausted, sat or leant against the poles. However, a few were rambunctious, hitting the cage or rattling the door. Despite their suffering, not one of them screamed. That’s when Zoe saw the stitches at their lips. Shrieking would be pointless.
What the hell is going on? That thought was fast becoming the theme of her current situation.
Then, a muffled scream far louder than the rest, took centre stage. Zoe followed the sound to a corner of the room. A young boy sat in some kind of device. A seat with several straps held him firmly in place. Likely, the reason his scream was so loud was because his tongue was the only muscle he could move.
A golden glow washed his face. Tears trailed his cheeks, despite his face being oddly still. There were no creases of distress. It was as if he was sat on a beach in the tropics. His eyes however, told a different story. The rims were raw and enflamed, presumably from constant crying. Lashes were clumped together. But the clearest sign of fear was the widened eyes. What made him so terrified? Zoe didn’t want the answer, but was handed it anyway.
Alfred sat on a chair at the boy’s side. With hunched shoulders, he doodled on his arm by the looks of it. Zoe frowned. She wriggled to get a better view.
Behind Alfred, built into the wall, lay a furnace. Flames whipped violently behind a tiny glass window. Now Zoe noticed it, she heard the crackling. Holy hell, is he going to burn us alive?
Panicked, Zoe attempted to escape the rope. She pulled and twisted frantically, but it was too tight. She studied her surroundings, hoping to uncover something helpful. Save for the furnace, Alfred and the boy, and the cage chock-a-block full of children, everything was smothered in darkness.
“Don’t worry my dear, it’s your turn soon,” Alfred uttered.
Turn for what?! Zoe’s heart beat quickened, thumping hard. Her attention wandered to Alfred, turning in his seat. She watched as he peeled off the flesh from the boy’s forearm. Despite his lips being stitched together, the scream was unbelievably loud. Zoe cringed, looking at the stringy flesh being torn off.
He’s being flayed alive. Zoe had read about it in some of her spooky books, but never imagined she would see it first-hand. The ripping sounds were almost as bad as the boy’s muffled shrieks of agony. Her blood ran cold. His blood on the other hand, ran down the loose skin and dripped on the concrete.
Alfred yanked off the final inch, completely detaching the skin. Blood oozed from his upper forearm, trickling down the sides and adding to the growing pool at his feet. Bone peeked from underneath the gushing blood.
Zoe gagged. Don’t vomit, it has nowhere to go! You’ll choke to death. She warned herself.
Alfred rose from the chair and opened the furnace. He discarded the stringy flesh by tossing it into the hungry flames. It sizzled, blackening and shrinking in a matter of seconds. The smell stung Zoe’s nose, as she turned away from the sight, clamping her eyes shut. It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream, it’s just a – wake up! This is not a dream! Start thinking of a way out you idiot!
A creak pulled her focus. Alfred opened an upper compartment of the furnace and retrieved a small wooden plank. He returned to his seat and placed it on a metal table by his side, which also held small pieces of equipment Zoe couldn’t quite make out. A sizzle roared as Alfred planted the plank over the flayed forearm. Again, the boy’s shriek was riddled with unthinkable agony. Blood seeped from between the stitched lips.
“Bloody hell, you’ve got a right set of lungs on you!” Alfred chuckled, holding the plank down as the fizz faded.
Alfred reached for the table and clutched a hammer with one hand, and scooped up nails in the other. Surely not?! Zoe watched in morbid fascination, praying her predictions were wrong. Nail by nail, he hammered the wood to the boy’s arm. Crinkles lined his sweaty and tear-filled face. His cheeks reddened as he half-cried half-wailed. Whack. Whack. Whack. Alfred continued hammering as if this was a normal day at the office. The boy’s suffering did nothing to deter his strikes.
In what felt like a lifetime later, Alfred let the hammer clatter to the table and wiped sweat from his brows.
“Blimey, it is getting hot in here! I think I will go make myself some lemonade,” he casually muttered.
The boy’s head leant zombie-like to the side, exhausted from the pain. Alfred gently slapped the boy’s cheek, each eye opened a peep but his face remained expressionless. “Now don’t you go anywhere!” He warned, his unsettling giggle echoing off the walls.
Before he left, Alfred snatched a needle from the table and approached Zoe. Stay away from me you freak, she yearned to say. All she could do was attempt to resist by squirming in the seat. This didn’t benefit at all when he grasped her upper arm and sank the needle into it. From the corner of her eye, Zoe watched his thumb lower as the fluid entered her system. Within a few frantic heart beats, the medicine took effect as her body slumped in the chair.
“Don’t worry dear, I’ll spare you that suffering,” he whispered into her ear.
“Isn’t she pretty?”
“Oh, she’s adorable!”
“She’s so bloody cute!”
“What a charmer.”
Compliments came in waves at Alfred’s latest addition to his collection. She was propped at her own table, to the front of the store. Customers came by the dozen, barely fitting into the store, each drawn to the little girl doll at the table.
“Her hair looks so real.”
“Her eyes are so life-like.”
She had been stuffed into a red and white striped dress, complete with red shoes and a white bow neatly looped in her hair.
“The detail is incredible.”
The day blurred by. Flocks of people continued to pile into the store until closing. “Well, look at that. You’re famous!” he squealed.
Alfred stood by his latest creation. He smoothed his hand over the face, bringing his eyes to hers. Although underneath the wood, Zoe was paralyzed even to the eyeballs, he knew she understood him.
“I have already had several offers for you! But I like your company Zoe, you are a remarkable young girl. So, what do you say? How do you feel about being my inspiration and reminder that I truly have a gift? You can be my lure to bring in customers, but at night when I work on new dolls, you can be in the basement by my side, watching me work, acting as my muse. How does that sound?” Alfred laughed hysterically, his shrillness bouncing off the store windows.
Unbeknown to the naked eye, underneath the finely sculpted wood, Zoe screamed louder than she ever had before. Of course, nobody would ever hear her cries.
Did you enjoy 'Doll Maker'? Want to enjoy other stories in the 'Terrors That Tingle' collection?
Who doesn't love a good, twisted home invasion movie? Well, here's my faves!
1) The Strangers (2008)
Starring Liv Tyler & Scott Speedman, this movie tells the story of a truly horrifying home invasion. It started with a knock at the door, where a young woman innocently asked if 'Tamara' was there. But that seemingly innocent question turned into a sinister fight for survival.
2) Funny Games (2007)
Starring Naomi Watts, Funny Games is the tale of two truly psychotic men who take a family hostage.
3) Mother's Day (2010)
Starring sensationally talented actress Rebecca De Mornay, Mother's Day revolves around a sadistic family returning to their now-inhabited childhood home, to terrorize the new owners and their party guests. One thing's for sure, the guests will never forget this party.
4) Panic Room (2002)
Jodie Foster & Kristin Stewart take the lead in this tense, nail-biting flick. After a divorce, mother and daughter move into a new house. They had no idea it apparently held hidden value, value that three crooks are determined to get their hands on. Even if that means breaking into the house and killing the new owners.
5) You're Next (2011)
It was supposed to be a nice wedding anniversary getaway. Fun. Friends. Family. Good times. Then an arrow smashes through the window. Soon this gathering turns deadly as a group of masked individuals launch an attack. But the intruders have no idea that at least one guest is more than capable of defending herself, and even retaliating effectively. This is original and breaks new ground.
6) Hush (2016)
A deaf woman is home alone enjoying the solitude of the woods, working on her latest novel. When suddenly, a masked killer appears at her window. Down one sense, this woman has to rely on sight, touch, smell, and taste to survive this madman.
7) Don't Breathe (2016)
This time we shake things up. The film takes the P.O.V of the intruders. Three youngsters break into the home of a blind man who is rumoured to have stashed away a great fortune. Little do they know that this old blind man isn't someone to be trifled with. He may be sightless, but that doesn't mean he can't hear you breathing.
8) When A Stranger Calls (2006)
A babysitter finds herself facing a chilling predator in a doctor's lavish home. But all those rooms won't save her from him. In my opinion, this is one of the better 'cat and mouse / babysitter' movies out there. It's genuinely unnerving. A sure way to send goosebumps crawling down your spine.
9) Last House on the Left (2009)
Traumatizing. Powerful. Tense.
A gang of criminals brutally assault two young women. After which, they retreat into the woods and find refuge in the home of a warm, inviting family. But will the family be so welcoming when they realize it was that gang who raped their daughter?
10) Intruders (2015)
Agoraphobia-sufferer Anna, is fear-stricken when three criminals break into her home. The intruders have no idea that agoraphobia isn't her only problem.
Other home invasion gems include Them, Torment, Swimming with Sharks, Pacific Heights, The Resident, Inside and Angst.
Looking for a great horror movie on Netflix? Want to watch a movie that after seeing it, you'll be so glad you did? Well, here is a list of 10 MUST-SEE movies on Netflix.
1) Movie: The Craft
Why MUST I see it? Classic. Witches. Crazy scenes and characters. Neve Campbell stars.
2) Movie: The Shining.
Why MUST I see it? Stephen King adaptation. Need I say more? Okay, since you insist, Jack Nicholson stars.
3) Movie: Dead Silence.
Why MUST I see it? Directed by James Wan (Insidious, Sinister). Creepy dolls. Creepy old lady.
4) Movie: V/H/S.
Why MUST I see it? Original. Anthology. Messed-up. Short films in one movie. P.O.V filming.
5) Movie: CREEP.
Why MUST I see it? Quirky. Unsettling. An odd man. Wilderness.
6) Movie: WYRMWOOD: Road of the Dead.
Why MUST I see it? Innovative zombie movie. Australian. Blood. Gore. Breaking boundaries.
7) Movie: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero.
Why MUST I see it? Infection. Island. Gory. Graphic.
8) Movie: Hush.
Why MUST I see it? Original. New. Deaf woman using every other sense to stay alive. Trapped in the woods. Tense. Hold-your-breath good.
9) Movie: Would You Rather?
Why MUST I see it? Gruesome. Cringe. Taking a game to the ultimate - and sick - level. Brittany Snow stars.
10) Movie: Queen of the Damned.
Why MUST I see it? Vampire. Old. Alluring. Unnerving. Classic. Gothic.
Spencer looked up from his laptop and stared into the darkness of his room. He shifted to sit cross-legged on the bed, but that only helped for a few minutes.
“Dammit.” Spencer swung his laptop to the side and kicked off the covers. If he was completely honest, it wasn’t just the edginess that was frustrating him. He was also hearing things. Jeez, imagine how his mother, or his father for that matter, would react if he dropped that bombshell. The sound was like when you held a seashell against your ear. Except this sound had elements that were—how could he describe it—purposeful, maybe, like someone murmuring way far away. On top of all this was a clicking similar to what he heard in his head when the dentist tapped his teeth with one of those metal instruments.
Spencer got out of bed and walked to the window. He had to be careful not to make any noise for fear of waking up his parents. (Spencer? What are you doing?) His room was a pit, a veritable obstacle course that could easily trip him up in the dark. Piles of jeans, T-shirts, shorts, sweatshirts, and underwear—both clean and dirty—lay on the floor like topographical maps of rarely explored territory. This geological landscape was subject to frequent tectonic plate action as additional clothing was added or subtracted, not to mention the forceful invasion of textbooks, backpacks, novels, and human feet.
The sound was definitely coming from outside. Inexplicably, he wanted to investigate, almost as if it were his duty. The urge to check it out, now that he was aware of it, nagged him like a mosquito bite.
He cracked open the bedroom door—not too far because it had a tendency to squeak—and squeezed into the hallway. Thankfully, the stairs were carpeted, so the rest of his trek to the front door was a piece of cake. As he stepped outside, the sound was still faint, almost like an insect buzz, but it seemed clearer. There were no competing noises, which seemed odd. No cars or leaves blowing in the cold October breeze. His bare feet started to get cold. It felt kind of mysterious, being the only one outside.
Then Spencer realized he wasn’t.
Something was slinking in the shadows across the street. The sound seemed to be coming from it. Spencer couldn’t get a good look because the figure was dressed in black, but it was disproportionally large for the adroit way in which it moved. He also could have sworn he saw large breasts swaying with the motion.
Spencer had an uneasy feeling that he was seeing something … monstrous.
He smirked, but he couldn’t shake the thought. In an instant, the figure was gone. It dashed around a house and went out of sight.
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A young boy craves adventure. An uncle is more than happy to encourage this personality trait. But will adventure lead him further into a darkness he’ll regret?
Spencer, discovers he has diabetes, victim to shots and the monotonous monitoring of sugar levels, but he copes. Even better, this gives him a mutual affliction with a young girl named Chloe, whom our protagonist happens to have a low-key crush on. This shared medical illness, leads them to realize they have another shared interest (or concern): something flying around their town murdering people. But what is it?
As usual, Anthony devices a superb plot, with excellent twists, and heavily researched characters that appear as real as you and me. We root for Spencer, developing a relationship with this young man and his struggles. These struggles aren’t just restricted to diabetes and a murderous not-so-mythical creature, but a complex family dynamic also. What more could a reader want?
Are Spencer’s struggles with the monster a metaphor for his struggles with diabetes? I feel so. It’s a strong metaphor for life in general. Events and incidents are thrown are way, and sometimes we feel a lack of control, as he feels by trying to self-care with his ailment. A strong life lesson. I am not sure if Mr Hains intended this worthy analogy, but for me, it gave the story a new level of not just entertainment, but significance.
As someone who lives in Michigan, near Lake Michigan, I love that Mr Hains chose to set this novel near that very lake. But on the other hand, it made this novel all the more unsettling and a little too close to home. However, as usual, I was spellbound to the pages, unable to put the book down!
Captivating. Brilliant. Powerful. A thrilling tale of a young man with his own personal struggles, battling a supernatural intruder to his livelihood.
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More about your author
When you read the following 'based on true events', does it give you extra chills? This isn't just the vivid imagination of a writer, this actually happened! Yes, sometimes that is merely a marketing ploy, but other times it's a promise. A promise that this did happen, and could happen again.
1) The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
Firstly Jennifer Carpenter (White Chicks, Dexter, Quarantine) is superb. She portrays a truly terrifying woman possessed. When you know this did happen to a woman at some point, drinking urine, having convulsions and being offended by all religious items, you'll be served with an extra dose of chill.
2) The Haunting in Connecticut.
A family moving into a Connecticut home with a son suffering cancer, and realizing it is haunted, did occur. Spanning back to the 1980s a family did actually move into a house that they strongly believed was haunted after several unexplained incidents.
3) The Conjuring.
Now, Patrick Wilson (Insidious) and Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) are fantastic in their portrayal of a couple of paranormal investigators, based on a married couple that does exist, Lorraine and Ed Warren. This movie is frightening as hell, so to think this genuinely did happen, is unnerving, to say the least!
4) The Hills Have Eyes.
A family ravaged by hillbilly cannibals, including one horrific rape, happened?! Oh yes, it happened. A man named Sawney Bean married and had 14 kids, most of whom were the result of incest. The family were...gulp..cannibals, who resided in caves and murdered over a thousand people!
A spin-off movie from The Conjuring produced this chilling flick, which stems from a true story. Eurgh. Creepy dolls. Yeah, real. Though the movie exaggerates the events, that doesn't change the fact that it happened.
Christ-on-a-cracker! Jaws is based on a true story?! Maybe I won't go for that summer break by the beach after all. Okay, so don't panic. A great white didn't repeatedly attack members of a family. But, there was a string of shark murders off the New Jersey shore in 1916 that sent people into a frantic panic, threatening tourism.
7) Open Water.
Again, another shark-related movie. A couple that got left behind while on a scuba diving trip and were stranded in the sea, vulnerable to drowning, starvation, and most importantly, great whites!
8) Paranormal Activity.
A couple convinced that their home is haunted, purchase cameras and set them up around the house, convinced they will find some form of paranormal activity. While loosely based on true events, it still begs the question, if you think you are being haunted, maybe don't record them? They don't like it.
9) Wolf Creek.
A psycho Australian man, basically an Aussie version of The Hitcher, terrorizes innocent people.
The real life story is a hitchhiker killer - Ivan Milat: captured and tortured many travelers during the 1990s.
10) The Exorcist.
And it only seems appropriate to end with one of the scariest movies of all time. Oh, and it just happens to be again, based on real events. The movie is based on a book which is based on a real-life tale of a young boy by the name of Roland Doe who is strongly believed to have been possessed in 1949. Several witnesses backed up the claims on this one. Extra chills!
Maybe you'll think twice the next time you scoff at 'based on real events'. Maybe a movie will record your haunting tale in the future.
Love water-based horror movies? Me too! Call them my guilty pleasure, if you will. I guarantee you'll enjoy these movies. They may make you afraid of stepping foot into a large body of water, but after watching this list, maybe you'll be glad you are now aware of just what predators are lurking under the surface.
Come on, I couldn't leave out Jaws. Still, years after its release, is one of the most successful creature feature horror movies, having grossed over $470 million! We all know the story: a shark out for blood.
2) Deep Blue Sea.
Another one of my favourite Aquatic Horrors. Here, the sharks get smart, injected with a compound by scientists in an underwater lab, allowing them to tap into uncharted territories of their brains. But what starts as an important experiment, soon turns the tables. Why would you want to make sharks intelligent? That seems like a recipe for disaster.
This one made me terrified of lakes and rivers. A bunch of genetically-modified piranhas are released into a stream, open to feast on whatever or whoever they like. A mention has to also go to Piranha 3D and Piranha 3DD, also great guilty pleasure creature features.
4) 47 Meters Down.
Now, this one just came out at theaters but is rumored to be fantastic. So far, the reviews have been impressive. Two girls go cage-diving with sharks, when the rope snaps, leaving them 47 meters under water, victim to the water-demons!
5) Open Water.
I've found this movie is quite controversial. Some love it, others hate it. It is seen as a slow burner gradually stitching suspense into the plot and building to an interesting conclusion. Most horror viewers want quick payouts and don't care enough to be patient, so maybe skip this one if you want an abundance of jumps and thrills straight off the bat. Basically, a couple goes on a scuba diving expedition, only to be left behind at sea, vulnerable to predators of the water.
6) Shark Night.
All they want is a weekend of fun. Sex. Swimming. Drinking. But when Sara's friend returns from a salt-water lake missing an arm, things go awry! It turns out someone is stocking the lake with ravenous sharks!
7) Ghost Ship.
Now, let's step away from creature feature horrors and acknowledge a flick that most seem to enjoy. A boat salvage crew discover the remains of a grand passenger line deemed lost for more than forty years! The crew hops onboard to face unexpected evils stemming from the ship's history.
8) Black Vampire Water.
A documentary crew investigates a string of brutal killings known as the Black Water murders. Could this be an investigation they will come to regret? This is slightly reminiscent of 'The Descent' but with a refreshing twist.
9) The Reef.
An invitation for sun, sea and tranquility, who'd turn that up? But when aboard a boat, and it hits a rock, capsizing, the fun is put on hold. Tension escalates between the group as some believe they should stay on the sinking boat's hull, others believe they should swim to Turtle Island. But wouldn't that leave them vulnerable to sea creatures?
10) The Shallows.
Blake Lively shows that she's more than just a pretty face in this one. She wows in the water! Nancy, whilst surfing at a secluded beach, finds herself facing a shark. Although she isn't far from the shore, dare she step from an isolated rock and swim back to the beach with a huge predator hot on her tail? This puts Nancy through her paces as she has to outsmart the shark to survive. And making things worse, she only has so long until the rock she stands on will be devoured by the sea.
So, when you think of Britain, what do you think? Tea? Crumpets? Scones? Castles? Horses? The Queen? Well, we can actually manage to offer some rather lovely-jubbly horror films. Why not enjoy these movies in the good ol' stiff-upper-lip manner, and grab a cuppa (tea) and some biscuits (cookies)?
A classic. Based on a novel by Clive Barker, a couple move into an old house and discover a horrifying creature: the man's half-brother, and woman's former lover. Talk about family drama! This creature has some rather insidious agendas in mind.
2) 28 Days Later
One of the better zombie movies, which just happens to do the UK proud! In a secret lab, a monkey is released with a contagious virus. A while later, 28 days to be specific, the virus has spread through the majority of the United Kingdom, turning everyone into raving, psychotic nutters.
3) The Woman in Black
Daniel Radcliffe shows he is more than a wand-wielding Harry Potter in this creepy story of a lawyer who is recently widowed, traveling to a remote village to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased eccentric. Spooky, jumpy, and terrific.
4) The Descent
One of my favourite movies, which does Brits everywhere proud. Some kick-ass women go on a hiking holiday and end up trapped in some rather treacherous caves. As it turns out, suffocating and starvation aren't the only threats they face.
5) Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson stars in this chilling tale of a woman searching the highway for forsaken men, enticing them into an otherworldly lair. They are seduced, stripped of their humanity, and never heard from again. Unusual, unsettling, but addictive.
6) The Conjuring 2
Set in what I call 'Vintage England' - a true representation of working-class Britain - Ed and Lorraine Warren are on another one of their paranormal investigations. They come to the aid of a single mother raising four children in a house that has witnessed some incredibly strange phenomenon. James Wan is one of the directors to watch! Every movie he directs is gold!
Melissa George, one of my personal horror heroes, starring in 30 Days of Night and others, adds edginess to this role. The story revolves around the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to another ship only to experience greater havoc on the open seas.
Two mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara meets lonely Noel, who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Schoolgirl Eleanor befriends Frank and tells him their lethal secret. They were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.
9) Eden Lake
This is pure gritty British horror, so suspenseful you'll be palpitating. Simply put, a young couple gets away for a break and finds themselves facing a rather brutal gang of chavs (thugs). Intense doesn't even begin to describe this one!
10) An American Werewolf in London
Another classic for you. Two American students travel to Britain, only to find themselves in the crosshairs of a ravenous beast.
There you have it, good day ol' chap!
Those Aussies sure know a thing or two about horror movies. They've released some terrific flicks over the years. I suggest you watch all these on the list and always stay on the lookout for Aussie horrors. They ain't afraid to push those boundaries and abolish those limits. They'll go as far as required to make a shocking but superb movie!
1) The Loved Ones
Since when do you torture a guy just because he refuses to be your prom date? Get ready for this one.
2) Wolf Creek 1 & 2
A truly deranged individual just won't stop. He'll hack you to pieces.
This is an outstanding take on the sub-genre of horror: 'zombie / apocalypse'. A must-see!
These days this movie is the new LGBT horror icon due to Netflix incorrectly putting it in the LGBT category and not in the horror one. Either way, this movie's great and has to be seen. A boy keeps having dreams that a monster is going to attack.
He wants to escape violence. A man comes to his rescue. But will this man lead him into even more violence?
6) Black Water
What lays down under? And by under, I mean the water. And by lays, I mean is hungry for your flesh! A great croc-flick! If you love creature features, absolutely check this one out!
A revolutionary vampire movie. Nothing more need be said. If you enjoy toothy films, hit this one up!
8) The Tattooist
A tattoo artist steals a tool. Little does he know that tool will lead him into a vat of trouble! Plus, for the gays and gals, Jason Behr strips off in this one.
There you have it, some of the finest Aussie flicks for the true horror fans among us, who want to experience all forms of horror from around the globe.
Like sick, messed-up movies? This is the list for you!
WARNING: some of these films are deeply disturbing.
The Last House on the Left
What's it about? A gang of deranged individuals wreak havoc among a nice family.
Why is it sick? There is a particularly graphic rape scene, which will churn your stomach!
What's it about? A wannabe-doctor performs an insane procedure on three individuals.
Why is it sick? Many many scenes are horrific, forcing you to gag and cringe mightily.
What's it about? Buddies travel Europe, wanting nothing more than sight-seeing and sex. They come across a terrifying 'business' in the slums of Europe, ruining their vacation.
Why is it sick? Multiple moments of massacre and bloodshed.
What's it about? A man who wants to turn a woman into an obese monster.
Why is it sick? This is possibly one of the strongest films in a graphic manner, I've ever watched. It's morbidly fascinating, but completely disgusting. As he force-feeds this woman, among other things, you'll be gagging up a storm.
Wolf Creek 2
What's it about? A psychotic Australian man with an odd moral compass.
Why is it sick? Among scenes of mutilation, there is a scene that stands out, where a man has his manhood chopped off. Men, prepare yourselves for this one!
What's it about? A group of New York student activists travel to the Amazon to save the rain forest, stumbling into a strange cult.
Why is it sick? Superman-strong scenes of cannibalism. Props to the special FX team as the cannibal parts are beyond realistic.
What's it about? A bizarre man who adores walruses finds himself interviewed by an American pod-caster. Only, the pod-caster uncovers more than he wanted.
Why is it sick? Completely insane! A crazy old man literally tries to turn a young American dude into a walrus. This will have you repeatedly saying 'what the f*ck?'
There you go. Prepare yourselves.
Bestselling horror author, marketer, blogger, reviewer, business owner, freelance writer.