The Heartbreaker available on Amazon now!

Halloween may have come and gone, but our love for all things horror continues all year around. To celebrate with you, my first collection “The Heartbreaker” is available for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in Paperback formats.

UK: https://amzn.to/2BWQN4Z

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07LDS6LP4/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_y0PUDbY354S85

If you have downloaded or read the book already, why not share your review on Amazon and Goodreads with other horror fans. It would be great to hear what you think.

I’ll soon be recording more audio stories for my youtube channel, so if you like to listen to your horror you can subscribe and check out the short story The Cat’s Hand via: https://youtu.be/GFfFnIxA81s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Film Review – Arrow Video’s Climax

Gaspar Noé’s Climax is a mesmerising, mind-bending spectacle that is not just a feast for the eyes and ears – but an emotional and psychological journey that will take you on a path one-less travelled in the realms of horror. It’s closest relation – at a guess – would be Suspiria. But as I haven’t seen the latter I can only comment from my own experience.

If you are a horror fan and are looking for something different, a unique take on horror – then I highly recommend Climax. You won’t be disappointed.

I had seen the Blu Ray release in the Arrow Video range in my local store. It had caught my eye an number of times while browsing, drawing my attention to the distributor’s modern releases alongside the remastered classics.

After (what felt like hours of) browsing the same old Netflix selections on Saturday night and switching off a few with disappointing starts, I instantly clicked on Climax in desperate hope of finding a good film to watch. I don’t regret my choice in the slightest. It’s Monday morning and I’m sitting in a coffee shop still thinking about how great this film is.

I occasionally dip into and thoroughly enjoy foreign language films but have rarely experimented with art-house films. Climax has very little to offer in the way of story and it doesn’t need to. The premise is: a bunch of dancers are hired to work with a renound choreographer Selva (played by The Mummy’s Sofia Boutella) and after a successful rehearsal they have a party to celebrate. The punch is spiked and the trip works its dark magic. Chaos ensues. This simple idea is the thread that holds it together beginning to end.

The film opens with an aerial shot of a woman running through snow. She falls, leaving blood-stained tracks. The film then cuts to a TV screen where we’re invited to watch a series of interviews that introduce the dancers about to embark on this creative life-affirming journey. Very reminiscent of the interviews in Michael Jackson’s This Is It and Madonna’s In Bed with Madonna (or Truth or Dare as it was titled in the US). Piled either side of the TV set were a number of French horror titles – for the aficionadas among us.

When the end titles followed so early on in the film, I knew I was in for something unconventional. Excited by not knowing what to expect next.

And boy was I pleasantly surprised. What came next was one of the most captivating pieces of dance/film-making I’ve ever seen.

This hypnotic scene was thrilling to watch. I’m no dance expert but, there were definitely elements of vogue-ing infused with street and contemporary choreography. And like the opening interviews you are invited to get to know a little more about the characters through the dance. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen on the small screen. I could only imagine the impact of watching on the big screen.

Moving on, the dancers separate into their cliques and we are treated to observe their conversations – which centre around love, sex and relationships. They dip into the punch some more and another dance sequence follows. This time we’re treated to watching the sequence from the ceiling – another aerial shot. Again, this is visual delight to see how bodies look and move from above. All the while the spiked punch starts to take effect. At this point I felt like I should’ve switched off by now but, something compelled to keep watching. I just couldn’t keep my eyes of the screen.

Opening credits flash in the middle of the film – signalling Act 1 was over and all hell was about to break lose. And it did.

The camera weaves in and out of the building, observing the unfolding stories. At no point did any of it feel rehearsed or planned and, at times, it feels like it’s all been filmed in one take. Passing from scene-to-scene, story-to-story – everything had a natural flow to it. And as the chaos mounted toward its climatic finale we were treated to watch from an entirely different angle. Because of the drug – the dancers’ world is literally turned upside down.

I highly recommend this film. If someone had told me the synopsis of this movie I probably would’ve said: “no, I don’t think so – sounds pretentious.” But it’s not. Its a horrifying movie that taps into the characters’ insecurities, twists them round with a dose of LSD-infused punch to bring out rage and paranoia and have those secret, lies and deceptions work against them.

And to top it all off – who did spike the punch? Only one way to find out.

Want something different? Watch this.

Mind blowing. 5 out of 5.

Climax is available from Amazon on Blu Ray and DVD.

Check out the trailer here.

Audio Short Story: The Cat’s Hand

The Cat’s Hand – Audio Story

For those who like to listen to horror stories, The Cat’s Hand is now available on Youtube. Click here to hear the story narrated by the author. If you like it – why not subscribe to the channel. More short audio stories to come.

Story by Mark Young. Illustration by Grant Springford.

Fancy more audio horror stories delivered straight to your inbox?

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

If you enjoyed the Cat’s Hand, why not check out Mark Young’s The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Something for the weekend? Could this be your next good read?

The Heartbreaker FRONT FINAL 2018 QUARTER SIZE

Are you ready?

Spring is in the air and with the warm weather approaching there’s nothing like heading out to the garden or a park and enjoying a refreshing drink. A picnic perhaps. And to accompany all that – losing yourself in a good book.

You may even be on your holidays. Travelling on a plane. On a sun lounger by the pool or on the beach with the sound of the waves crashing on the foreshore.

Or maybe you’re tucked up in bed ready to get stuck into a damn good horror?

Thank you readers!

Last weekend, I was thrilled to find out The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories reached #37 in the Top 100 free kindle charts on the Amazon bestsellers: Low Fantasy & Dark Fantasy Horror charts. Not bad for my first book and first attempt at marketing. So thank you to all of those who have downloaded or purchased a copy so far. I’m so excited for you to read it and to hear what you think.

It’s now Friday and a new weekend is upon us and the perfect time to tuck into one of the books, if you’re like me, that are piling up and crying out to be read. Oh, the screams coming from those pages – it’s enough to keep a man awake at night!

“A little more knowledge might light our way.” Yoda, Star Wars, Episode III

So I wanted to take this opportunity to talk a little more about the stories in this anthology, to give you a little more flavour of what to expect.

First of all, you won’t be reading the same story twice; or a whole bunch of stories that are similar in theme, content, character and kills. Secondly, “no two points of view feel the same.”

To quote one Amazon reviewer: “I also liked the fact that there’s a range of different protagonists in this anthology – male, female, gay, straight, old, young. Because of this no two viewpoints feel the same.” The Reader.

I really worked hard to make sure there was something here for everyone and to give each reader some variety. It was important to me to create characters that readers could relate to, feel for. And in case of the villains – revile in their delectable devilry. I also wanted to create a cast within each story where the characters also brought out the best and the worst in each other. Protagonists, antagonists and supporting characters all have backstories (in the appropriate measures of course) which I hope readers will enjoy.

When I read anthologies, I connect with some stories more than others so I’m really excited to hear which stories people liked and which characters they felt most connected to.

The stories of The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories

To wet your appetite, give you more of a taster, I thought it was a good idea to give you a run down of each story – a mini blurb if you like. (I’ve omitted The Heartbreaker from the list but you can find details here). So here we go…

  • BLACK MIST. Under the watchful eye of her sinister step-father, Ray, teenager Rosie takes time out from her studies when she is leant a mysterious book by the equally mysterious proprietor of Liandri’s Second-Hand Book Store & Other Antiquities. As the threat increases on Rosie’s life, our heroine decides enough is enough and turns to the pages of this curiously gothic-looking book for help.
  • CURSE OF THE DREAMWEAVER. Jackson Moon is a young football star who has it all. Career. Fame. Fortune. And a loving family. He’s about to lose it all. All in a single moment. One bad choice. And for every choice that’s made – there’s always a price to pay.
  • THE ARTIST. Actress Josephine Winthrop is invited to dinner by the elusive benefactor of her play. The Count, as he is known, seduces Jospehine into a world of love, passion, art and opportunity. But The Count is not all he makes out to be and things take a sinister turn when Josephine begins to feel she’s not quite all there.
  • LET’S NOT TALK ABOUT KEVIN. Locked up in the basement, Kevin wonders why his parents don’t love him anymore. With no friends or family to talk to, and only a radio for company, things take a sudden turn for the better. Or at least that’s what he hopes for when unexpected visitors arrive.
  • HEAVENLY WATERS. Kicking back in his boat on a secluded lake is how Tony enjoys his spare time. Cracking open a can of beer, he hopes to catch a large pike rumoured to be hiding in these calm, but murky waters. But he gets more than he bargained for when something much larger and more beautiful snags his interest. A seductive mermaid leads him into a hidden paradise where pleasures beyond his imagination await his arrival.
  • THE GOOD BOY. Plagued by the loss of his missing son, and haunted by dreams of his own childhood, Jacob Stone receives a call to visit his ex-wife who claims she has seen the ghost of their son, Toby. Pulling the clues together, Jacob goes in search of the boy to discover what happened to him. And to find out if he’s dead or alive.
  • LIVING WITH YOUR PARENTS CAN BE MURDER. What could possibly go wrong when you’re in your forties and still living with your parents? A mother who’s an incessant nag. A father who doesn’t say boo to a goose. And a green demon who constantly plays devil’s advocate. In this comedy horror, Sandy Bulwinkle is about to find out what can go wrong when his living situation comes crashing down and he can’t take the pressure any more.
  • THE VANISHED. Be careful what you wish for is how the saying goes. But what if you wish for something buried deep in your subconscious? Something you didn’t even realise was there? Bullied. Lonely. Confused. Growing up is hard for Matthew. And his life is about to get even more horrifying when his dreams and his nightmares come true – finding himself in a post-apocolyptic world all of his own making.
  • THE UNFORGIVING. Struggling to cope with single-parent life, Mike Saunders does his best to connect with his five-year-old son, Aiden. And as Aiden’s behaviour becomes even more strange and erratic, the father of one finds himself revisiting the past in the hope of making a better future for both him and his son.
  • GONE. Forty. Single. And still trolling the bars seaching for the one, Ethan has outlived the life he once knew. Now in the middle of a hot summer, a single bite from a mosquito is about to change all of that. Faced with a sudden illness that feels like death, he wakes to find an unexpected companion lying in his bed.
  • THE DIARY OF ETHEL EDIE BROWNE. On the outside Penny Arbuckle appears to be prim and proper – a gentrified young woman living in modern times. But independent and confident, Penny’s fearlessness is put to the test when an old diary from the 1920s mysteriously appears on the bedroom floor. Can reading the thoughts of a housewife who lived a hundred years ago bring the past to life? After all, they’re only words on a page. Aren’t they?
  • PROTÉGÉ. It’s a blazing hot day and Ben Chambers is stuck in traffic on the motorway, late for an interview. On his arrival his host, a man called Vanguard, challenges him to a game of chess. But who is interviewing who? What is Vanguard’s secret? And why was Ben really invited to a secluded lodge in the middle of the woods?

There you have it, folks. I’ve tried not to give too much away.

Super villains. Vampires. Mermaids. Monsters. Ghosts. Evil Step Fathers. Zombies. Demons. Serial killers. Clones and cannibals.

Blood. Bones. Fangs. Gore. Spooks. Thrills and spills. Psychological scares. Horror and terror.

This anthology has them all. And more.

Don’t forget to check out The Heartbreaker page for more details on the book’s title story. Would be great to hear what you think.

Happy reading and enjoy your weekend.

The Heartbreaker FRONT FINAL 2018 QUARTER SIZEMark Young’s The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories is now available worldwide from Amazon for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in Paperback.

Text by Mark Young.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

© 2019 Mark Young. All rights reserved.

Nightmares and Scary Tales – Part Three

Freddy Demon Artwork FINALThe Tales Parents Tell Their Children

Wes Craven’s film speaks on many levels. But I can’t help but think as I write this that it also served as a warning about the dangers of getting into cars and going with strangers. A cautionary tale echoed through Nancy’s words: “whatever you do, don’t fall sleep.” Which mirrored my parents’ and teachers’ warnings: “don’t talk to strangers.”

The 80s in the UK was an era of an adult society still feeling the rippling affects of the Moors Murders in the 1960s. The dangers of going off with strangers were further installed in children from regularly televised government warnings.

In their way they were installing fear into our innocent minds – the kind fear that in its rational form (a baser instinct) is there to protect us.

Fictional character Freddy Krueger was a child killer – a real life predator – before he was a demon and I guess this is why he tapped into that fear already installed in my psyche.

When I first saw A Nightmare on Elm Street I didn’t just see the first one in the series. No. My cousin had the first five films and when we went to stay with them one summer (it’s gotta be 1989 by now so I’d be 13 years old) we watched all five films. Back to back in one day while the parents were out. Freddy had dug his claws in and I was hooked!

An American Werewolf in London

Previous visits to the rellies when I was younger included a viewing of an American Werewolf in London. It was, again, the dream sequence where the zombie soldiers storm the family’s holiday home that freaked me out. The bulging eyes. That skin. And those teeth.

Recently there’s been talk of a remake. But for me, the combination of David Naughton’s performance as David Kessler and the special effects used in this film for the werewolf transformation scene are one of the best cinematic visual pieces of all time.

Watching the sequence you really get a sense of the pain and terror David experiences as a result of the flesh stretching and tearing and reforming across rapidly breaking bones snapping into place and changing the shape of his entire body. Let’s hope the remake sticks to those practical effects and not CGI. Or at least a combination of the two.

Hammer Horror and Vincent Price

It wasn’t just the visual and sound effect aspects of storytelling that sent shivers up and down my spine. The late night Hammer Horror re-runs had plenty of those, but it was crisp, eloquent tones of actors like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

It mattered not whether they were the hero or villain – the protagonist would always convey the urgency and horror of their discoveries; the gleeful antagonist savouring his triumps with machiavellian delectation. And then there was Vincent Price.

Although his works are far too plenty to mention indepth here, it is worth mentioning that contrary to a common belief he was never in a Hammer Horror. Something I learned recently.

Shark FINAL

But like his peers he leant his voice to many horrror story recordings and one particular pop record back in 1982. His voice on that recording would haunt me for years and would often send me running to hide behind the locked door of the bathroom. At least until the record was over. Why I ran to the safety of the bathroom I’ll never know. Seeing as I already feared Jaws rearing his ugly head up through the toilet bowl (see Nightmare & Scary Tales – Part One).

What did Captain Howdy say?

Speaking of scary voices and and hiding in bathrooms this brings me onto my next subject. I may have been scared as a child to go to the toilet thanks to Jaws. But fear can get us at any time and at any age.

“We’re going to get you,” dad would often tease us with his impression of a deadite from the Evil Dead, which would send me running in fits of laughter to hide behind the sofa or up to my bedroom. But it was his story of when he took my mum to see The Exorcist when they’re were 19 that always sticks in mind. He’d recount the film was so terrifying and that mum was so scared by it that he had to escort her to their outside toilet at night (don’t forget this was the 70s) every time she needed to use the loo.

Again another innocent, but entertaining tale that transcended from one generation to the other and into the mind of a child. Who or what was The Exorcist?

And still, even by today’s standards and voice altering filters, the voice of Pazazu the demon is one of the scariest on film by a long shot.

It was only in recent years I rediscovered a real passion for reading that I had when I was a kid. And particularly for dark fantasy and horror. I’d discovered a few years back The Exorcist was based on a book. And it became of my favourite books of all time. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

Axe Wielding Demon FINALJames Herbert and Stephen King

James Herbert and Stephen King not only adorned my parents bookshelves, but they often entered conversation when they and friends discussed the books they’d been reading.

Rats was James’ first and most popular title – one I read for the first time at 16 for a school summer reading project.

And there were countless Stephen Kings. But I do recall them speaking about how some of the endings from the Master of Horror would often let the books down. A sentiment I stumble across the internet in recent times.

Needless to say, regardless of how you feel about his endings, Stephen King’s characterisations, world building and iconic horror villains make his books part of the staple diet – especially if you are new to the dark fantasy and horror genre like I was.

‘It’ has to be my favourite. I read it a few years back ahead of the 2017 movie. The use of stories within a story to world-build and get the reader to grasp the reach and power of this demonic force reaping terror throughout Maine – is not only genious, but it also blends in the horrors some of us face in the real world. Making the characters we’ve known to love and hate all the more relatable and engaging.

I loved ‘It: Chapter One’. I missed Tim Curry’s Pennywise the first time around. And I thought Bill Skarsgaard’s take on the character put him up there with the best horror icons of all time. Here’s hoping Chapter Two is as good as the first. And as the Easter eggs from Chapter One suggests – I hope they make that ending work.

One helluva a rollercoaster ride

I guess that’s how horror came into my life. The why? I can only guess. I’ve always likened my love of horror to the highs and the lows, the twists and the turns (and, of course, those screams) of a rollercoaster ride. It’s the exhilaration. Providing the book/film is really well-executed (again sorry for the pun – I promise this one was unintentional).

When your stomach churns and your heart beats faster, don’t you feel that little bit more alive? Like me, do you still get invested in the hero’s/heroine’s journey and liken it to your own? Hell yeah! Don’t we all?

A wild stab in the dark

I could hazard a guess and say those are just some of the reasons why I turned my hand to writing horror. Remember when I said before when there are those that like to scare and those who like to be scared?

Now I’m at a time in my life where I’ve faced my demons, turned my back on them just like Nancy did with Freddy. And I guess writing horror is my way of exorcising those demons once and for all. It’s my way of contributing to the wider world and this mysterious thing called life. Providing escapism and that thrill of the rollercoaster ride for all those who dare to board the train.

Insert maniacal laughter here.

Did you enjoy this blog? Be great to hear what you think in the comment section below. Or even share your thoughts on facebook or twitter.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Mark Young’s The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories is now available worldwide from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in Paperback. But be warned: there are no height restrictions on this ride.

Artwork by Grant Springford. Text by Mark Young.

© 2019 Mark Young. All rights reserved.

Nightmares and Scary Tales – Part Two

Demonlings Demons FINAL

Urban Playground Myths

The playground was probably where I first heard of the Gremlims.

There was no internet, no streaming TV back in 1984. Through other kids regaling stories of their cinematic and illegal home video experiences I was introduced to the world of dark fantasy and horror.

Standing on the concrete netball court in our school playground, a fellow classmate bragged how she got in to see the 15-rated movie. Her stories of the film invoked my imagination.

Who was Gizmo? Who was Stripe? And what about this Gremlin (like so many of his kind he was not worthy of a name) that gets blended to mulch in the kitchen?

My mind exploded (much like that poor Gremlin)! What on earth could something so horrifying look like? With the flame of imagination already ignited, hearing of such horrors further induced a morbid fascination for such gruesome obscenities.

But why? When such things already scared the bejesus out of me. Remember it was the mid-80s. I was eight at the time and a lot more innocent and susceptible to such suggestive cues than I am now. Aren’t we all? Hmm, maybe.

The storybook of the film fuelled the fire for my love of dark fantasy and horror. But unbeknown to me at the time, it would come to mean something else entirely as I meandered my way though life.

Along with Roald Dahl’s other macabre creations (The Witches, The child-eating giant from The BFG and The Twits – just to mention a few) you could say this book was one of my first introductions to horror writing.

My aunt even got her partner at the time to draw me a picture of Gizmo in the Barbie-mobile (from this book) to hang on my bedroom wall.

Come to Freddy

1984 didn’t just give us Gremlins, but probably the biggest horror icon (outstripping his contemporaries in terms of popularity and notoriety) since Universal Pictures gave us Bela Lugosi in the title role of Dracula back in 1931.

I had no idea who Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees were back then. Sure, I’d heard of Friday the 13th and Halloween but then they were just mere titles of really scary movies at that point.

And although I had no idea who Leatherface was, I had heard of the then-banned Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I needn’t say more. The title spoke for itself.

Pinhead Demon Artwork FINAL

And like The Shining (see Nightmares and Scary Tales – Part One) – I became aware of Pinhead through the Hellraiser TV spot albeit this was to be three years later.

But even several years before I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street, the bogeyman who came to haunt my dreams – quite literally – was none other the demonic child killer himself: Mr Freddy Krueger.

The power of great stories and great characters

A film will always be someone else’s vision of a story they want to tell. But when it comes down to listening to the spoken word or reading it on the page – it is there stories really take on a life of their own, particularly in the mind of a child.

When a friend told me her parents had allowed her to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street I wanted to see it straight away. Yes, she saw it on pirate video. One eight year old may have gotten away with sneaking into see a 15-rated film, but another passing for 18? No way.

Menacing Demon FINAL

Once again morbid curiosity dug it’s claws in. And this time the claws didn’t belong to a curious cat.

The burned man with knives for fingers who terrorises and murders children in their sleep. The blood of a slaughtered teen gushing upward from out of a bed. The slaughtered girl dragged across the ceiling to her death. Remember I hadn’t seen the film. These images came to me by spoken word.

At that age this film was a forbidden fruit. My parents wouldn’t allow it. It was too graphic and I was too young. And to be honest if they’d allowed me, given my previous record, I probably would’ve run a mile. But this time it wasn’t my conscious mind that went into overdrive.

How the spoken word can fill your dreams with nightmares

I had nightmares.

Freddy Kruger chased me through the streets. My feet even sunk into the squelching steps on the staircase as his clawed hand closed in. That imagined laughter as he called my name.

Those eyes in the pit of his scarred face bored deep.

Somehow Wes Craven’s story and vision had bypassed the cinematic screen and through the power of storytelling made it into my subconscious mind.

Now that is the power of a great story and characterisation.

When it’s communicated through word of mouth and taps into the fears already in our psyche the power of suggestion is already underway.

Do you remember ‘the stranger with bunny rabbits in his car’ I mentioned in Part One of this blog? As I said before, the stories, the warnings our parents give us to protect us also spark the imagination and set the creative mind a-wandering.

They also kept me safe as a child and I thank them for it. Which leads me onto the Part Three of this blog.

The Tales Parents Tell Their Children.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Mark Young’s The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories is now available worldwide from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in Paperback.

Artwork by Grant Springford. Text by Mark Young.

© 2019 Mark Young. All rights reserved.

The Heartbreaker hits #37 on Amazon.co.uk!

Big shout out to all those who have downloaded their free Kindle copy of The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories.

This weekend the book reached number 37 on Amazon’s Top 100 Free Kindle stores in both the Low Fantasy and Dark Fantasy Horror categories. Thank you to all those who have shown their interest in the book, I can’t wait to hear what you think.

But don’t worry if you haven’t yet got your copy yet and want to share in the love. The free promotion is running worldwide on Amazon until tomorrow. That’s two days left to get your copy.

Vampires. Killer Mermaids. Monsters. Ghosts. Evil Step Dads. Zombies. Demons. Clones and Serial Killers. “The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories” anthology has them all. And more.

UK: Amazon.co.uk

US: Amazon.com

Please check out The Heartbreaker page for availability in other territories and more book details.

The Heartbreaker FRONT FINAL 2018 QUARTER SIZE

 

The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories.

The Heartbreaker FRONT FINAL 2018 QUARTER SIZE

It gives me great pleasure to share my new book with you: The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories.

Vampires. Killer Mermaids. Monsters. Ghosts. Evil Step Fathers. Zombies. Demons. Clones and Serial killers. This anthology has them all. And more.

The book is available for you and your friends on Amazon Kindle for free until Tuesday 23rd April.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have writing it. Be great to hear what you think.

It is available on:

UK: www.amazon.co.uk

US: www.amazon.com

For all other territories and book details please check out The Heartbreaker page at my website: https://markyoungofficial.com/theheartbreaker/

Please feel free to sign up to my blog and social media via the links below.

Hope this message finds you well and enjoying this glorious weather we’re having.

Best wishes

Mark

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Nightmares and Scary Tales – Part One

Caped Demon FINAL

We’re watching you

Menacing Demon FINAL

“Go to sleep! Behave yourself! Or the bogeyman will get you.” A warning to children throughout countless generations that if they don’t do as they’re told something far greater than their parents’ wrath will come to get them.

The ghoul beneath their bed. The monster in the cupboard. The creature creeping up the stairs and along the hall. Creaking floorboards, creaking doors. Then there’s the stranger with a box of bunny rabbits in the back of his car.

Tales to tame us? To keep us safe? Or delightfully amuse and entertain? After all there are those that take pleasure in scaring and those that enjoy the thrill of being scared, are there not?

What these embodiments of fear were going to do when they got you was entirely down to the child’s vivid imagination. Which is hardly surprising when the lights went out and you only had the darkness and the safety of your duvet for company.

“And in spite of what our fears suggested that old cat riddled with curiosity dug in its claws and dared us to creep out of bed.”

Video nasties

Tooth Fairy Demon FINAL

Like Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy you believed the bogeyman was real. Why wouldn’t you? As young children most – if not all – of us believed what our parents told us.

And in spite of what our fears suggested that old cat riddled with curiosity dug in its claws and dared us to creep out of bed. Along that same haunted hall and down the stairs to peer through the crack in the living room door and sneak a peek at the video nasty playing on your parents’ TV screen.

Silent Rage

So what was playing on that VHS video recorder back in 1982? To be honest I can’t quite remember. I was only six years old at the time. But I do remember the first film that terrified me as a kid.

Karate Demon FINAL

Chuck Norris’ Silent Rage. The details of which I can now recall having rewatched the film a few months ago – but had no memory of until then. Except the ending.

A small Texan town is terrorised by a psychotic, yet invincible killer. It was the movie’s final scene where (SPOILER ALERT!) the killer is sent to his doom down a well only to burst through the water’s surface moments later.

I lay awake at night terrified that the killer was somewhere out there, waiting. Undying. Relentless. Enraged. Roll credits.

I chuckled through most of the movie on this second viewing. I was curious to see if it would invoke that fear I’d experienced as a child. Needless to say it didn’t.

But it was certainly worth the try.

“I lay awake at night terrified that killer was somewhere out there, waiting. Undying. Relentless. Enraged.”

The Shining

Axe Wielding Demon FINAL

My first viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining wouldn’t be until many years later. Hell, I only read the book for the first time last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

But it was the televised trailer that struck fear into the heart of my soul. Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance pummelling the bathroom door with an axe and peering through the splintered crack. In real life it could actually happen, so no movie moment says: “I’m coming to get you” better than: “Here’s Johnny!”

But an iconic horror villain is only as effective as their brave, but petrified counterpart.

And so equally, it’s Shelley Duvall’s performance as Wendy that I also associate with fear. With the sheer terror torn across her face and in the whites of her scared and widened eyes, even today I can feel that fear reaching for me through the screen.

Alien

Chestbusting Demon FINAL

Alien was the first proper horror film I tried to watch as a child. That I was allowed to watch, should I say – for the most part my parents deemed horror too scary for me to see (and quite rightly so).

Now I say tried. It was tea-time one Sunday evening as I made a brave attempt to watch Sigourney Weaver and her crew of the Nostromo through the gaps between my fingers.

But that first shot of the eyeless monster and its razor-sharp, metallic teeth dripping with acid was just too much for six-year-old me. It had me running up to the safety of my bedroom. The Xenomorph (as it’s now known) kept me afraid of the dark many nights.

Jaws

Now whether I saw this on video or television I’m not too sure. But this time it wasn’t the final scene where (SPOILER ALERT!) Robert Shaw’s Quint is eaten alive by the great cartilaginous sea beast. Cue John Williams’ Academy Award Winning Theme. No, there is a moment where Roy Schneider’s Martin Brody peers into a sink and down a gurgling plug hole and we are left to wonder…

Shark FINAL

Well, did I peer down the plug holes in our house and wonder? Possibly. Was I afraid to get in the bath? Maybe. But what I do remember is being afraid to sit on the toilet in fear of a shark somehow finding its way up the outlet pipe and into the bowl to bite my bum.

Remember I was only a kid.

I laugh now, but there was more chance of a Gremlin getting in there than a shark. And their teeth were just as sharp.

Gremlins and the pirate video

Two years on and I was still too young to see a 15-rated film. I was eight-years-old by this point. And Gremlins would be one of my first experiences of a pirate video (Return of the Jedi was also another). Crackling screens. Jumpy pictures. Terrible sound.

There was the flashing Gremlin. The dancing Gremlin dressed like Jane Fonda or one of the kids from Fame. The whole gang of them in the cinema singing along to Hi-Ho Hi-Ho (it’s off to work we go) from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves before being blown to pieces. Pure genious. The perfect blend of comedy and horror.

Demonlings Demons FINAL

For those that don’t know – The Gremlins was a 1943 children’s book created by renowned children’s author Roald Dahl; intended to be picked up by Walt Disney for a feature length animated film.

The story’s premise centred on claims by Royal Air Force Pilots that these so-called Gremlins were the cause of their planes’ mechanical troubles and mishaps.

The movie never got any further than pre-production due to establishing rights over the story and Dahl’s insistence on final approval of script and production.

Thus, it was never meant to be. At least not in this version any way.

But the pirate video was not my first introduction to the Gremlins…

Click here for to Part 2 – Urban Playground Myths.

Do you have any stories to share about your first encounters with horror? Feel free to share in the comments below. Join in the conversation, I’d love to hear from you.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Mark Young’s The Heartbreaker: 13 Dark Fantasy & Horror Stories is now available worldwide from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Artwork by Grant Springford. Text by Mark Young.

© 2019 Mark Young. All rights reserved.