Pictures from CT Horrorfest 2016

By Jason Harris

 

The 3rd Annual CT Horrorfest took place at The Matrix Conference Center in Danbury, CT. on August 27.

George Romero (Night of the Living Dead).

Author Stacey Longo.

Krampus.

Zach Galligan (Gremlins).

Stranger Things’ Eleven.

Mark Steger (Stranger Things).

Robert Maillet (The Strain).

Kevin Van Hentenryck (Basket Case).

Tyler Mane (2007s Halloween).

Jason Voorhees.

James Marshall (Twin Peaks).

Erika Ervin (American Horror Story),

The Women of The Evil Dead (Ellen Sandweiss, Besty Baker, and Theresa Tilly).

Ricou Browning (Creature from the Black Lagoon).

‘O Little Town of Deathlehem’ is Horror for the Holiday Season

 

By Stacey Longo

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If you’re wondering what to get the horror fan in your family this holiday season, look no further than Grinning Skull Press’s O Little Town of Deathlehem, a robust collection of holiday horror stories. Edited by Michael J. Evans and Harrison Graves, this anthology, is sure to please the most twisted of souls.

Starting off strong, the anthology opens with “One of His Own” by Catherine Grant, a Krampus tale that offers an almost tender-hearted look at the Christmas demon. Almost. It’s followed by “Christmas Wine” by Matt Cowan, a fun little story about having to make a terrible choice around the holidays. As you turn the page to the next story, and the next, you’ll be happy to realize that each tale is a delightful holiday present of its own.

Other personal favorites in this collection include “All I Want For Christmas” by Raymond Gates, about a writer struggling to finish his novel who unwittingly accepts help without considering the source. John Boden’s “The Antiphon” was a fabulous, lighthearted look at what can happen if you make a spelling mistake when addressing a letter to the big guy at the North Pole. And “Special Delivery” by Simon Bradley reveals a different, more human, and not always jolly side to dear old Saint Nick that you won’t soon forget.

Overall, O Little Town of Deathlehem is an enjoyable read of high-quality stories that is sure to please the hardest people to buy for on your Christmas list this year.

Have You Heard of Santa’s Traveling Companion, the Krampus?

Have You Heard of Santa’s Traveling Companion, the Krampus?

by Bracken MacLeod

Being more of an every-day-is-Halloween kind of guy, you’d be correct in assuming that I’m not a big fan of Christmas. The enforced cheer, expected gift-giving, and seeming endlessness of the season all leave me feeling colder than a winter Nor’easter. With the renewed interest in an Alpine figure who used to be associated with the holidays, however, some of the cheer of the season has crept into my spirit.

We’re all aware that during this time of year Santa Claus is the figure held up as the arbiter of who has been naughty and nice. Where Santa used to leave bad little children a lump of coal in their stockings instead of presents, his role in children’s programming and as a spokesmodel for a variety of wholesome family products has left him toothless and passive-aggressive (the jolly old elf today simply rebukes unruly children for their wickedness by failing to stop at their houses on Christmas Eve). It wasn’t always so, however. For centuries in Europe, St. Nicholas (the precursor to Santa Claus) has been known to have had a variety of traveling companions entrusted with making sure evil children got their just desserts. In recent years, one in particular is standing head and shoulders above the rest, having made his way to Twenty-First Century America and into my heart.

Picture courtesy of the Pushed Buttons Burning-in website

The Krampus is the ancient embodiment of accountability for wickedness balanced against St. Nicholas’ reward for virtue. He appears as a wild, bestial, goat-like figure wearing chains and bells that foretell his coming. As jolly old St. Nick is out leaving good children gifts and treats as a reward for good behavior, Krampus is prowling the night dishing out punishment for those who have fallen short of his exacting moral standards. He carries with him two fearsome instruments that should quicken the pulse of anyone who has been naughty more often than nice. First is a tied bundle of birch branches known as a “ruten” that he uses to whip naughty children (the beating is euphemistically called a “birching”). Second is a sack or a wooden tub that he wears on his back. Truly rotten children are stuffed in the sack to be taken away for further punishments that may include drowning in a river and/or inclusion in Krampus’ own Christmas dinner.

Unlike the modern Kris Kringle who doles out a half-assed punishment by failing to reward naughty kids (ostensibly making Christmas morning like any ordinary day), the Krampus does twice the work he needs to do just in case you were thinking of doing something bad later. Unwilling to let anyone become too comfortable with their own piety, Krampus still visits good families during the holidays, leaving them small gold-colored rutenas a reminder to remain morally upright. Krampus visits the good and bad alike — the holiday version of Scared Straight.

Although Krampusnacht is typically celebrated in parts of Europe on December 5 (the night before the Feast of St. Nicholas) with parades, elaborate Krampus costumes, and public birchings, I am as happy as a little school child to find that he has started to infiltrate the whole of the holiday season. Being a horror writer and fan, it really brings opens up the splendor and joy of the season to have my own Christmas demon waiting in the wings to inject a little horror into the holidays and scare the bejeepers out of everyone whether they need an attitude adjustment or not.

Gruβ vom Krampus!

Bracken MacLeod is a member of the NEHW.