Spooktober is a 31 day event of coming up with original horror ideas based on prompts my writing group
argues over votes for. As an additional challenge for myself, I wanted to come up with iconic monsters, like Barker’s cenobites or Silent Hill’s misshapen creatures, by addressing different aspects of creature design. The idea was that if I’m not ignoring or forgetting any of the elements that can contribute to a monster’s success, I’m more likely to chance on a hot discovery, so each of my entries include Themes, Motifs, Colors, etc., as ways of describing the starring monsters.
That was the idea, but shortly after the event began some other participant pushed the emcee to add another layer of challenge with extra optional themes for each day. Many of those themes were facetious, and as I compulsively included all of them, my ambition to do iconic monsters fell apart. I still had the fields to fill out in my descriptions, but now what purpose are they serving?
My posters this year are more epic than last because I finally dropped a few bucks on Midjourney. Midj can only rarely do outputs that work for me unmodified; almost all of these are worked over with web-based photoshop knockoff Photopea. A very few actually include elements from DALL-E 2 and even Artbreeder, which has some fun new features to help it keep up with the big boys. On posting, I haven’t done all the image tags alts and descriptions, so inaccessible! I’ll try to get to that later.
BLANKET CONTENT WARNING (individual stories may have some as well): Horror as a genre is inherently ableist on the regular. Expect “psycho” and “insane” and for me to dabble in ableist tropes I wouldn’t normally allow, as part of my ableism policy. Know that it’s just for an exercise in genre foolery that will never become a full-length creative work, and I mean nothing by it. Insanity in horror films has fuckall to do with IRL mental illness; it’s just a bad joke, and one I let myself descend to in today’s batch.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #11 — Surreal Horror (× Youtube/Streaming or Underwater or Anime)
CONTENT WARNING: Shades of Child Sex Abuse. Skip to DAY #12 to avoid!
TITLE: The Stream
PREMISE: Twitch (youtube/streaming) sponsored the making of a movie to prominently feature their platform, and gave hip and punky Japanese auteur Toshiaki Junichiro total creative license. He came back with a meta-movie that was not flattering to the service, so they tried to suppress it. Within the movie, streamer Nobu777omegA does streams where he silently comes into view of the cam and puts on obscure anime (anime). Tonight’s selection was a VHS of children’s cartoon Amigyomi the Sweet Mermaid Girl. There’s almost a complete original faux-retro anime shown within the movie, but it’s intercut with Nobu777omegA being a creepy freak.
In the screening room late at night, Cindy Blaschke of Twitch corporate is in the grip of paralysis. She finally leaves the room during a scene of Nobu jacking off to cartoon baby mermaids, and walks the halls of Twitch HQ in a daze, haunted. Making the call to bury the movie was easy. Forgetting it was the hard part. People and situations from her life began to have parallels, casting everyone she knows in the worst light (surreal).
Cursed Movie: Themes: Pervy Creepery and Innocence Enslaved; Motifs: Meta Meta and The Camera Eye; Colors: Blue Filter Light; Shapes: Fishbowls and Cartoon Baby Limbs and Goldfish Tails; Textures: Otaku Slimes; Powers: Molests Brains; Places: Screens and Screens.
HORROR ELEMENT: At the end of the story, Cindy went to her bed, which had turned into a shimmering round blue pool. Exhausted, she slipped inside (underwater), where she became a cartoon mermaid in a fishbowl, held by huge greasy palms in the dark.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #12 — Dark Fantasy (× Isolation or Swashbuckler or Ice & Snow)
TITLE: Josefina and Blasfemia vs. The Wall of Ice
PREMISE: Blasfemia (née Ximura) finds her sister Josefina at the bottom of El Torre Alucine, where she finally escaped from (isolationed) dream life in a strange world devoid of magic. Freshly empowered with her usual sorceries, Josefina joins Blasfemia in her (swashbucklery) war against The Ascetic Order of The Scourge Dragon. But the Order expels them to The Northern Wastes (ice & snow), where the sisters must rally an army of rebels and desperate sad people to get back into the Lands of Weal. The border is marked by a massive magical wall of ice, and before you can even think about burning your way through it, you must deal with the border monsters, who keep children in cages, and do tortures and such.
Border Monsters: Themes: Overbearing Strength and Unthinking Obedience; Motifs: Cruel Expressions and Bulging Veins; Colors: White, Black, and Grey; Shapes: Apes and Dogs; Textures: Flesh and cloth have irregular boundaries, Some have chains or razor wire they drag like ghost chains; Powers: None, Just Big and Crappy; Places: They only exist north of the Wall of Ice. If any make the mistake of going to the Wealside, they rapidly melt and evaporate. The masters do not want to look upon the vileness they bring into the world.
HORROR ELEMENT: Let’s be real. It can’t be truly horrifying because my bad bitches will destroy any and all border monsters with their dark majesty and extreme brutalities. Spooktober fail.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #13 — Cult (× Hollywood or Hallmark or Spy)
CONTENT WARNING: This one will make a lot more sense if you watched The Idol or if you watch the video at the link below first.
TITLE: The Idol, Season Two
PREMISE: The Weeknd’s universally reviled TV show about
a small Hollywood cult making good how bitches be lyin’ gets a second season. In this one, Haim’s cousin in the CIA realizes Jocelyn would make an excellent spy and engages her to fetch the agency some killer blackmail on fictionalized Russian leader Piotr Shmutin. To do this, she abandons her cultists to create a new group in Russia and cozy up to oligarchs.
Meanwhile, in a parallel plot, jealous Tedros takes back his cultists and pushes them to try starring in Hallmark movies about christian romance or whatever. But it’s too small potatoes to get Jocelyn’s attention, so he pushes Hallmark to do a live show, where he can demonstrate his cool new flex, and mutate the culties into fancy monsters on international television.
Tedros Cultists: Themes: Corrupted Youth and Enchantment; Motifs: Hollywoodified Youth Culture – Piercings, Tattoos – Unconventional Bondage; Colors: Flesh Tones, Red; Shapes: They’re still human-like enough to be beautiful, in a wrong way; Textures: Sweat-Moistened Flesh; Powers: Make people think they are the coolest for no apparent reason; Places: The cult is still shacked up in Jocelyn’s place, waiting for her fabled return from Mother Russia.
HORROR ELEMENT: Y’know, mutations ‘n’ shit. I guess it’s a shame when pretty young people are manipulated into cults with the promise of celebrity a la scientologie, but in the Idolverse that usually turns out alright in the end. I’m bettin’ those mutants will be well-loved.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #14 — Clown / Circus (× Disappearance or Hypnotism or Neil Breen Paranormal Thriller)
TITLE: A Cruel Laugh
PREMISE: Everyone remembers the movie that finally put Neil Breen’s (neil breen paranormal thriller) name in the mouths of Joe Public, back in good ol’ 2027. Was it a good story? Was it a good movie? That’s subjective, but A Cruel Laugh seemed to pierce the psyches of those who watched it, to haunt their hearts for years after.
Breen played an aging clown in a circus where an evil clown kept getting away with murder. The evil clown was a latin gigolo played by John Leguizamo in what would tragically be his last performance. It was a normal enough thriller up until the third act reveal of supernatural powers in the central cast. Juan de Bozo had been snaring his victims with the power of mesmerism (hypnotism) and the love interest lady clown Slaphilda Bombas had not disappeared because she was murdered, but rather because she used a magic power (disappearance) to escape Juan, and didn’t know how to reappear until later in the proceedings. The screenplay somehow kept forgetting whether she was simply invisible or fully ethereal and intangible.
At last Breen’s Stone Gonzo, still believing Slaphilda to be murdered, wrought vengeance upon Juan by manifesting the power of telekinesis. He tormented him for a while by throwing scarves and oversized shoes at him, but finally just ripped him in half, in a massive spray of CG blood. Slaphilda appeared in the rain of blood drops and made passionate love to Stone for seven full minutes of uncensored screen time.
Super Clowns: Themes: Repression and Resentment; Motifs: Intense Expressions, Elaborate Hand Gestures; Colors: Clowntastic Rainbow Puke; Shapes: Puffy Clothes with Oversized Accoutrements; Textures: Grease Paint and Monkey Brains; Powers: Mind Control, Invisibility / Intangibility, Telekinesis; Places: The Big Top.
HORROR ELEMENT: Clown sex. I mean, I’m down, but I’m guessing most people aren’t.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #15 — Revenant / Revenge (× Geezer Teaser/Psycho Biddy or Wild West or Killer Animal)
TITLE: Body of Evidence 2: Stop Using Sex as a Weapon
PREMISE: The heir to the Dino De Laurentiis cinematic empire was the world’s biggest “Body of Evidence” fan, and dug up Madonna and Willem Dafoe to play in a sequel. Somehow Rebecca Carlson (psycho biddy) survived being shot and presumed dead (revenant), rescued by some dude she was banging. Defense attorney Frank Dulaney (geezer teaser) is the object of her revenge (revenge). But he’s already ruined his own life, losing his marriage, ending up in a tourist ghost town (wild west) playing a consarned prospector for gin money.
Producer Dinosaur Junior is so hot for the idea of Madonna that he still thinks of her as very sexy, which plays well with the ol’ gal’s state of mind. They agree she should be ultranaked for movie, and we all know Willem is down to do full frontal. So her character tries a new variant on her “fucking people to death” power called “fucking them insane” and breaks the old lawyer’s mind with carnal knowledge. By the end of the movie he sees himself drowning in snakes (killer animal) every time she makes him fellate the strap.
Rebecca Carlsons: Themes: Sex and Death, Motifs: Sex and Death; Colors: Peroxide Hairs and Painted Faces; Shapes: Skinny Old Lady Body… of Evidence!; Textures: Plastic Surgery, Powers: Sexy Naked Sex; Places: Rattlesnake Gulch, galdurnit.
HORROR ELEMENT: You know I’m into it, but I dunno if the average person wouldn’t consider this horror. Maybe. Maybe.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #16 — Alternate Dimension (× Lynchian or Competition or Creepypasta)
CONTENT WARNING: This one will make a lot more sense if you know about “The Backrooms” – a sort-of public domain horror concept associated with “Creepypasta.” Good luck with that shit lol.
TITLE: Backrooms Boogie
PREMISE: Lonely hearts inspired by Shall We Dance?, retirees, youths in need of low impact physical therapy, well, sometimes they get invited to take dance lessons via flyers at the community center. Of the damned. If you no-clip through the dance floor into the backrooms (creepypasta, alternate dimension), well, cheer is mandatory (competition), and the dance might last forever.
The Backrooms may be the most Lynchian (lynchian) creepypasta, despite being inspired by video game glitches. What happened to Laura Dern’s Nikki Grace in Inland Empire, if not a fall into another reality – with its own looping inescapable geography? Grab an almond water. Welcome to the dance.
Contestants: Themes: Insomnia and Illness; Motifs: Banal Visuals and Overt Menace from Things That Should Not Feel Threatening; Colors: Yellow, People Colors; Shapes: People Shapes, Lurching or Stooped or Spasmodic; Textures: Lined Faces, Oily Skin; Powers: Dance Forever or Get Gone; Places: The Backrooms.
HORROR ELEMENT: How can anything be scary anymore? Altered states. The surreal evokes those times when you are bent by lack of sleep, or more dire circumstances.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #17 — Summer Camp / Cabin (× Conspiracy or Lovecraftian or Mutants)
CONTENT WARNING: FUCK! How many of these are shit-ass inside jokes? This one will make a lot more sense if you’re familiar with the ways NaNoWriMo – the org, not the concept – have been fucking up their PR so badly they may never recover. Wish I had a funny video to share about it. It’s really quite amusing.
TITLE: Web 2.0
PREMISE: When NaNoWriMo ditched the campnano website in order to fold everything under the banner of their messed up ass web 3.0 site (conspiracy?), some late hangers on were still in a cabin at the time it was deleted. They found themselves trapped in a virtual cabin (cabin) from which the doors had vanished. Only a few laptops offer some possible means of escape, if the writers can figure out programming type stuff with no API and no prior experience.
But obstacles. They are slowly mutating into horrible-looking monsters. If they return to the real world, will the mutations (mutants) become real as well? It’s like, revulsion of the self and outsiderness and the world moving on without you, maaan (lovecraftian).
Also a kaiju-sized Heather Dudley occasionally tears the roof off to threaten them with mod powers, before plopping the roof down and disappearing again into the mists of interweb. When will she ban them from existence?
Mutant NaNo Kids: Themes: Dorkery and Awkwardness; Motifs: Viking Helmets and Pencils; Colors and Textures: Human with Accents of Metal and Fur; Shapes: The humans are abstracted into cartoonish proportions like Monsters Inc background freaks; Powers: Sort of getting some writing done sometimes; Places: The Internet Archive, if they’re lucky.
HORROR ELEMENT: Obsolescence? It ain’t that spooky. More Spooktober Fail.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #18 — Dreams & Nightmares (× Giallo or Cats or Silent Film)
TITLE: Le rêve d’un chat
PREMISE: In 1891 one of the lesser known French decadents wrote a tawdry tale of murder framed as the dreams of a cat (dreams & nightmares, cat, giallo). Twenty-two years later, an aristocratic fan bankrolled a cinematic adaptation (silent film).
Le rêve prefigured the slasher genre, as nothing more than a series of murders with a razor-thin pretense of story to connect them. In this, contemporary critics regarded it as abhorrent trash. The fans regarded it as truly evocative of dreams, speaking to some fascinating dark truth.
The Original Slasher: Themes: Anonymity and Voyeurism; Motifs: Scraping and Slashing; Colors: Shit be Black and White; Shapes: The killer wears a long, dark leather coat, black leather boots and gloves. Their face is partially obscured by a hood and not as manly as one might expect – eyes not visible, mouth impassive. Textures: Leather and the Metal of Blades; Powers: Kill ’em All; Places: The beautiful victims are lounging around a house that doesn’t make sense, doing mindless activities that don’t matter. The way a cat would imagine human lives.
HORROR ELEMENT: The idea of a killer just getting away with terrible deeds was too dark to contemplate for some people, so many stories of the time included a “lol it was all just a dream or a trick” ending. But in making this the dream of a cat, the author implied our lovely fuzzy friends would kill us all if given the chance. Must have been a dog person.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #19 — Gothic (× Musical or Tropical or Factory)
TITLE: A Fábrica de Pianos
PREMISE: The Piano Factory is a slightly unusual entrant to the paperback gothic genre of the sixties and seventies, in that it was written by a Brazilian and set in Brazil. Other than that, it was a pretty stock affair. Dilapidated manor, young lady in jeopardy, brooding byronic dude.
Visconde Agostinho Soares ruled a stretch of jungle with one significant money-making industry to offer: a piano factory. But he mismanaged it, abusing and driving away anybody who once worked there, and became reclusive in middle age, watching his fortune dwindle away as the vines crept through organ pipes and piano frames.
A bank sends a young lady to evaluate whether it’s worth acquiring the estate from him and they develop an abusive relationship. Some of the visconde’s remaining servants try to protect her, more just look for petty excuses to be cruel to her or each other.
Things escalate through scenes of people getting dropped in snake pits, crushed by chandeliers, trampled by peccaries, or shredded like cheese on piano wires.
Visconde Agostinho: Themes: Hatred of Self and of Others, Civilization as a Disguise for Beasts; Motifs: Cruel Faces and Hands; Colors: A Shadow at the Eyes, The Sun on His Skin; Shapes: A Silver Fox… Of Doom; Textures: Manly Hands Upon Thee; Powers: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, Ooh. Also Money. Places: The Estate, The Piano Factory, and The Jungle.
HORROR ELEMENT: Love hurts, love scars, as Nazareth sang. Whaddyagonna do? Astrud flees in the bright light of day, eschewing gothic convention, but falls down stairs and dies of dehydration as water trickles by. Agostinho keeps watch over her until she is gone, and the end leaves the question open – what became of the beast?
SPOOKTOBER DAY #20 — Cryptid (× Mockbuster/Sharknado-Style or Eco-Horror or Stoner/Psychedelic)
TITLE: Lizzie Lives
PREMISE: The Lizard of Loch Lochy lives (cryptid)! Why is there a Lake Lakey in Scotland? Who cares? It has its own cryptid, and she’s at it again. Maybe there was never a Lizzie outside of legend, before the chemical dumping (eco-horror). Maybe an escaped pet lizard mutated into a giant menace. But now we have to deal with it (mockbuster/sharknado-style).
Scientists are dealing with it, until throuple of stoners (stoner/psychedelic) Alisdair Cringe, Blurissa, and MacDhui get into the giant lizard tranquilizers and accidentally unleash Lizzie on the burgeoning metropolis of um… Invergloy. idk, on goog street view the area looks like it has a population of six.
Lizzie: Themes: Nature in Chains, Explosive Rage; Motifs: Claws That Snag and Teeth That Pierce; Colors: Grey, Dorsal Splashes of Blue, Neck Turns Red When Angry; Shapes: More of a Natural Lizard Bod than Nessie; Textures: Scales Not So Rugose as Those of Gojira; Powers: Embiggen; Places: Loch Lochy and Invergloy.
HORROR ELEMENT: The Insignificance of Human Life Before the Power of Nature.
Sadly the last days of the event will not likely have posters. Covers. Whatever these things are. I’m very busy and unlikely to catch up. Might not even get the text version of ’em done at this rate. But twenty is better than nothin’, amirite?