Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Teatro Proberto

Yes, that's 10 pm on Saturday, 1 October in the Regency Lounge of the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton, as part of the Fantasycon entertainment.

But that's not all! You don't want to miss the tentacular spectacular  


which promises tassels & tentacles and who knows what other dreads & delights!

But wait - there's more!

We'll also be presenting our 10-minute version of CORRUPTION after the break.

(for immature audiences only)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Best New Horror 22 signing

I hope you'll all come along to the Best New Horror 22 signing at Fantasycon. I'm thrilled to be in there with all those big names!

And look - free wine! Does it GET any better than that?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

No woman will dare go home alone...

...after seeing CORRUPTION!

Wow, what a sleazy film. We just watched it again while rehearsing our 10-minute version, preparing for Fantasycon. Lasers, hysteria and fisheye lenses, complete with inexplicable slapped-on jazz score and Peter Cushing really slumming it in the uncut European version of the prostitute murder. It's truly mind-boggling.

Teatro Proberto will be performing on Saturday 1 October at Fantasycon, as part of "From Beyond Burlesque". It's a double bill for us of BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW: THE PANTO and CORRUPTION. Do come along and join the fun!

"You can't escape the shock - the terror - of CORRUPTION!"

If only that were true.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Are you ready? Do you dare?

Last year at the World Horror Convention in Brighton, Lord P and I performed our ten-minute version of the 1960s Peter Cushing sleaze classic CORRUPTION, complete with glove puppets. People seemed to like it so we thought we'd try something a little different for Fantasycon at the end of this month. (We did consider CORRUPTION: THE OPERA but neither of us felt quite courageous enough for that.)

So we decided to put a fresh spin on a beloved BritHorror classic and have come up with BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW: THE PANTO. We hope you'll join us in returning to those thrilling days of yesteryear when we were all so much more innocent, so much more willing to join in and so much more willing to give ourselves freely to the Devil.

In the extraordinary event you've never seen it, hie thee hence to the trailer to see why this must be remedied!

Monday, 5 September 2011


Or is it Yog-Potatoth?

When there's no more room in the ground, the potatoes will walk the earth.

"Come, Sergeant Howie, it is time to keep your appointment with the Potato Man."


...only a potato...
...only a potato...
...only a potato...

Thursday, 1 September 2011

FrightFest 12 report

John and I had an amazing time at FrightFest in London last weekend even though we had to miss everything on Monday due to John being needed back at work. Still, we saw 15 out of 27 films – plus the short film showcase, so hey, not bad for our first time!

Here’s my report – incomplete and in no particular order:

FINAL DESTINATION 5 was our favourite of the weekend. Far and away the best of the franchise. Absolutely stunning disaster (suspension bridge collapse), wildly creative death scenes and probably the best 3D I've ever seen (and I'm not a fan of 3D at all). I'm sure the experience was enhanced by seeing it in a packed auditorium with people who cheered and applauded in all the right bits but I still recommend it as a sign that money and mainstream studios don't *always* screw things up. Also of note was the fact that our seats were way closer than I’d ever normally sit (2nd row, off to the right), but that actually seemed to enhance the 3D experience. It was almost like an IMAX film. We fully intend to see this one again in the cinema as soon as it’s out!

Lucky McKee's THE WOMAN was absolutely stunning. A beautifully brutal film but not for everyone. I'm not even sure how to recommend it. *I* loved it (if one can really love such a film) but a lot of folk said they didn't see the point and didn't know why they had to see it. Maybe they left before the ending??? I had no idea where it was going but I thought the ending was right and powerful. It was a standout for me and I have even more respect for Lucky, who seems incredibly shy and nervous but still has the conviction to make a searing film like this. He’s being called a misogynist and the film is apparently “degrading to women”. I despair of the human race sometimes.

FRIGHT NIGHT was just mediocre. David Tennant was fun but that's really it. Weird too that the 3D in this was really insubstantial compared to FD5. Come on, Disney! You have more money than anyone, so there’s really no excuse. This had one really great scene for me and one enjoyable cameo for fans of the original, but that was it. Plus – they made Peter Vincent a Vegas magician with a sexy vampire show (fair enough for a reboot/update) but then didn’t even exploit that! We only got about a minute of the Vegas show’s rehearsal. I still can’t believe they overlooked the chance to show lots of sexy vampire showgirl action. What a missed opportunity!

I also felt let down by del Toro's DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, which I had high hopes for. It deteriorated into a mess with silly creatures, stupidly loud "Boo!" moments with no payoff and loads of stupid people doing stupid things. A real shame.

TROLL HUNTER was a wildly entertaining low-budget creature feature from Norway. Scary and drily humorous in equal measures. Loved it!

SINT (Saint) - Dutch horror from Amsterdamned director Dick Maas. The "true" story of the evil St Nicholas (Sinterklaas) who was a bishop-turned-pirate and who returns whenever there's a full moon on 5 December to slaughter as many people as he can. This one was wildly entertaining and I hope it gets a Christmas release. It features an amazing sequence of an evil zombie St Nick racing across the rooftops of Amsterdam on horseback - fantastic!

THE WICKER TREE was an unexpected disappointment. Just not very good at all. And double sad for me as I was really looking forward to that one. 

KILL LIST was hyped way too much and as a result, couldn't measure up. Lots of people loved it but we thought it was very muddled and it felt thrown together. After an overlong first hour it does suddenly shift into very scary territory which might make it worth seeing just for that. If any of you do see it, don't read anything about it beforehand and you should probably avoid the trailer too, as I'm guessing it will contain spoilers.

Last of all, I loved THE INNKEEPERS although most people were disappointed in it. It does fizzle out at the end but it's nice to see a slow-burn atmospheric ghost story with some genuine scares and a likeable and quirky central character who doesn't do anything daft. I forgave it all its flaws.

My top 5:

Final Destination 5
The Woman
The Innkeepers
Panic Button
Tucker & Dale vs Evil

Another highlight for both of us was DEMONITRON, a trailer for a wacky (but alas, fake) Italian horror film:

We thought we'd be "filmed out" by the end of the weekend, but we're gluttons for - well, something - because last night we went to see Almodóvar's THE SKIN I LIVE IN. John called it "high class Eurotrash" and we both thought it was superb. Imagine an Argento/Cronenberg cocktail of Vertigo, Frankenstein and Eyes Without a Face and you've got a tiny taste of this elegantly deranged and perverse melodrama. But beware spoilers! The less you know going in, the better.

For both JLP and John Forth's reports on the films, see this RCMB thread.

Severed heads

The Eighth Black Book of Horror from Mortbury Press is unique in that it not only contains some great horror stories - it also features the severed heads of all the authors on the cover!

I seem to be alive, however. That's me upside-down in the middle, looking horrified as the others bleed all over me. And the usually dapper Lord P looks very pale and tragic indeed. Perhaps it's because Tina Rath is screaming behind him.

These books are a must for any horror fan, not least because of Paul Mudie's always fantastic covers. I was reading the series long before I found myself trapped in its pages. Number 8 features my story "The Coal-Man", a revenge-gone-wrong tale of two sisters who torment each other with stories of the evil Coal-Man who lives in the cellar. Escalating the game eventually proves deadly for one of them and the past haunts and finally catches up to the surviving girl.

 The stories:

HOME BY THE SEA - Stephen Bacon
BOYS WILL BE BOYS - David Williamson
TOK - Paul Finch
LITTLE PIG - Anna Taborska
HOW THE OTHER HALF DIES - John Llewellyn Probert
MUSIC IN THE BONE - Marion Pitman
THE COAL-MAN - Thana Niveau
MEA CULPA - Kate Farrell

Death Rattles & Delicate Toxins

Do you remember? And were you afraid?

Back in the mid-80s, a UK genre television show was aired on Channel 4 that pushed the boundaries of accepted broadcasting standards. As far as can be established, only six episodes were ever shown, but hardly anybody can remember seeing them. Official records offer scant information, and no recordings of the episodes seem to exist. Rumours abound about brief clips on Youtube and water-damaged master tapes found in a media vault, but nobody has stepped forward with anything more solid than hearsay.

But six authors do remember watching the series, and their imperfect recollections form the basis of the stories in Death Rattles.

I'm one of the six. I only saw one episode. It was called "Antlers" and it disturbed me profoundly. I saw it via a grainy pirate broadcast on a public-access channel one night when I was very ill, so my memories of it are pretty messed up. As was my head after seeing it.

You'll almost certainly never get to see the show in its original form, so this may be your only chance to experience . . . DEATH RATTLES . . . the notorious lost TV series.


Rattling Cages: an Introduction by Stephen Volk
Episode 1: Scattered Ashes - John Llewellyn Probert
Episode 2: Seen And Not Heard - Gary Fry
Episode 3: Antlers - Thana Niveau
Episode 4: The Children of Moloch - Simon Bestwick
Episode 5: Cow Castle - Paul Finch
Episode 6: His Father's Son - Gary McMahon

(I thought MY story was disturbing until I read some of the others!)

Don't let the title DELICATE TOXINS fool you: there's nothing delicate about this collection, its inspiration or indeed my contribution to it, "White Roses, Bloody Silk".

The anthology is a tribute to the weird fiction of Hanns Heinz Ewers (1871 - 1943), a controversial German writer who explored themes of obsession, transformation, decadence and blood. I set my story in Victorian England, where a dinner party disintegrates into murder and madness when the hosts' mysterious German guest livens things up for them and shows them that they really have no idea what true decadence is.

I had a blast writing this story and I was delighted to learn that it's featuring in a course study on gothic literature at a university in the States.

The Pier

We live in a lovely little corner of Britain, with this fabulous Victorian pier on our doorstep.

All along the promenade are little commemorative plaques, some of them with very weird inscriptions. I was reading them one day and a few of the more cryptic ones made me wonder. What if they weren't actually written by the living to remember the dead? What if they were something else, something much older and more sinister? Somerset is the original Wicker Man country, after all. It's a place rich in pagan tradition and many of its strange rituals are lost to time. Or are they?

The story it inspired, "The Pier", was first published in The Seventh Black Book of Horror, published by Mortbury Press.

I was delighted when it was later chosen for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror vol. 22, which will be launched at Fantasycon - Saturday 1 October in Brighton.

Where the stories come from

I was a fearful child, plagued by nightmares and anxiety. Horror saved me. Scary films gave me an outlet for purging all that darkness. Fear became my friend. Jason and Freddy were my childhood companions. On the literary side, Poe was my first great horror love, followed swiftly by Stephen King and Ramsey Campbell. Their stories scared me silly while at the same time inspiring me. I still had nightmares, but now they were more like visits from a slightly sadistic muse. Writing all the scary stuff down turned it from a curse into a blessing.

My first published story was "From Hell to Eternity", a quirky little 3k-worder that won First Place in the Whitechapel Society's 2009 Jack the Ripper short story contest. Since I was a little girl I've been fascinated by Jack the Ripper and this was a chance to combine him with another of my pet loves - the giallo.

"The Death of Dreams" was next, written for the charity anthology Never Again, published by Gray Friar Press.

My story is about a futuristic worst-case Britain with no right to privacy, where any and everything is fair game for the tabloid press, including the subconscious images from your dreams. The images are captured via a device called the Dreamcatcher and then published out of context with lurid headlines. It's the kind of paranoid idea that really scares me and one I imagine I'll find myself drawn to again.

Paranoia rears its head again in "Bruised Fruit", which arose simply from peeling a banana and finding it was rotten at the base. Ugh! This story appears in the final issue of Necrotic Tissue 14, the cover of which features the scariest Easter Bunny I've ever seen.

So when people ask "Where do you get your ideas?" all I can say is that they're in my head scaring or unnerving me and they have to come out. I write because I have to, because I'd probably go mad otherwise.

(Unless I'm already mad...)

Can you feel it? It's alive... watching.

There was to be a Thana Niveau website. But the designer seems to have been sucked into some hellish void where my anguished cries cannot reach him. So until he can find his way back I shall have a blog. And Facebook of course.

Where to start? Well, I'm a horror writer. And like my good friend Ramsey Campbell, I'm unapologetic about that. I love horror. I LIVE for horror. Horror keeps me sane and gives me a place to purge all my fears and neuroses and weird ideas. But not alone. I share my dark little life with fellow horror writer John Llewellyn Probert, in a gothic Victorian library filled with arcane books and curiosities, where spirits surround us on every side.

"Life is very much more exciting now than it used to be..."