Spooktober 2023, Days Twenty-One through Thirty-One


Spooktober is a 31 day event of coming up with original horror ideas based on prompts my writing group…  Just look at the post before this for an explanation.  And surprise!  I got on a crazy tear and finished posters for all of the prompts.  Enjoy.

SPOOKTOBER DAY #21 — Undead (× Kafkaesque or 1920s or SuperHero)

TITLE:  Our Boy Balthasar

PREMISE:  Balthasar always said “better dead than fed,” meaning federal, meaning state’s evidence, you see?  Well, they got him.  Just blasted apart with tommy guns.  You know those things are .45 calibre and fully automatic?  Disgustipatin’.

But he didn’t stay dead (undead).  Cops got a problem with that and turned him into public enemy numero uno.  Now he’s dyin’ all the time, and the funny part?  Never once did a crime (kafkaesque).  And everybody who’s ever had a problem with the boys in blue?  They started knocking down his door, looking for a leg up on their respective situations.  Well, a dead boy’s gotta make a living.

Our Boy:  Themes: Fuck the Police;  Motifs: Cufflinks and Fisticuffs. Fisticufflinks?  Colors: He’s a Bit Green;  Shapes: Somehow All in One Piece;  Textures: Kind of a Looker;  Powers: Live Again and Thrashin’ Pigs (superhero);  Places: Punchin’ Up a Precinct (in the 1920s).

HORROR ELEMENT:  What if super-hero powers hurt and were grody?  Not an original take, but a fun one.


SPOOKTOBER DAY #22 — Lost Media (× Police Procedural or Toys or Chuck Tingle Tingler)

TITLE:  I Was a Lost Media Pounded in the Butt by a Cop That Was Not a Bastard – Content Warning: Unreality

PREMISE:  Detective Flex Biceppi is gonna have to work long and hard to get to the bottom of this witness – me, a lost media with a sweet sweet ass.  Listen, just because I’m a VHS tape of random daytime TV from 1983 doesn’t mean I’m easy.  This interrogation is going to get pretty intense…

I, VHS Tape:  Themes: Smurfberry Crunch is Fun to Eat. A hearty, healthy breakfast treat.  Motifs: Adverts (toys) and Perverts;  Colors: RCA;  Shapes: Tracking Errors and Static;  Textures: Hard Plastic;  Powers: Be Sexy, Somehow;  Places: The Police Precinct.

HORROR ELEMENT:  Maybe the case is a gross serial killer thing.  Slashedy sleesh.


SPOOKTOBER DAY #23 — Haunted House (× Sitcom or Big City or Buddies)

TITLE:  A Modern Haunting

PREMISE:  Linda and Louise are two young ladies in the big city (big city) and sharing an apartment, on the heels of college (buddies).  As the general public becomes aware again of women’s rights and other modern issues in these late 1960s, politically conscious hijinks ensue (sitcom).  Just to make things a little more hinky, well, there’s one old school misogynist these gals can’t quite escape – an old grey ghost who is randy for Louise.

The Leering Ghost:  Themes: The Patriarchy Will Not Be Smashed;  Motifs: Vaporous Essence, Big Forehead;  Colors: Grey and Transparent;  Shapes: Kinda Like Charlie Grodin;  Textures: Barely Tangible Sticky Like Spiderwebs;  Powers: Get Your Goat;  Places: Apartment 2-G.

HORROR ELEMENT:  It’s a man’s man’s man’s world, and is it worse to get by knowing that, with your awareness raised by feminisms?  Wouldn’t it be better to be a Susie Homemaker and give The Man what he wants?  No, you lose either way.  Also a ghost perv.


SPOOKTOBER DAY #24 — Found Footage / Epistolary (× Fire or 1950s or Vehicles)

TITLE:  Fire Red

PREMISE:  I (epistolary) never told anyone what happened in Desert Rose, New Mexico.  How the place burned to ash (fire) when it was well outside the blast radius of the nuclear test.  Why the police caught me doing nearly two-hundred on the highway out of there (vehicles).  Now you come in here with those stars on your shoulders and try to make sense of what’s in those old DoD film reels (found footage), and you think I’m going to tie this in a neat little bow for you?  What I have to say only asks a lot more questions.

Fire Ghosts:  Themes: The Eldritch Aspect of Physics;  Motifs: Nuclear Energy and Fire;  Colors: All the Colors of Flames;  Shapes: Fire Ghosts started their existence as the people of Desert Rose, and retain those rough outlines, though they are hard to see through the roiling fire that surrounds them.  Textures: They float around as if weightless, but must have some substance because they couldn’t pass through solid materials – without burning through them first.  Powers: Somehow a nuclear test infected Desert Rose with something like a zombie plague – creatures compelled to convert the living into more of themselves – except that these were floating burning bodies, groaning beneath the crackle of flames or randomly screaming.  Places: Small Town New Mexico, or Coming Soon to a Nuclear Test Site Near You.

HORROR ELEMENT:  Burning to death is no joke.


SPOOKTOBER DAY #25 — Vampires (× Medieval or Revenge or Art&Artists)

TITLE:  The Visigoth

PREMISE:  Vittorio was not named Vittorio.  Not when he was born.  He bore many names since the Dark Ages (medieval), when The Artist (artist) said he wanted to immortalize his beauty.  But what that sculptor lacked in skill he made up for with cursed undying blood (vampires).  Now Vittorio stalks the streets of Late Renaissance Europe, contending with the demands of his curse while spending the rest of his time looking for the source of the bloodline (revenge).  For legend has it that if he can end the beginning of the vampire lineage, his curse will end.  And he does not care if that means a return to humanity, or a quick trip to the grave.

Vampires:  Themes: Different vampires will play up different aspects of the legend – the need, the exploitation, the danger, the eroticism.  For this one to work, I think vampirism has to really suck.  Chronic Illness as a theme, perhaps.  Motifs: Involuntary Transformation and Barely Restrained Monsterings;  Colors: Waxy Flesh With a Darkness Inside;  Shapes: Beautiful Mans with Occasional Beasty Bits;  Textures: Fur and Fang;  Powers: Live Forever.  To avoid losing his identity, he has to avoid using all the better powers of his state – flight, turning into a mist or a beast, mesmerism, etc.  Places: The Northwestern Peninsulae of the Mediterranean Sea.

HORROR ELEMENT:  Falling to Pieces.


SPOOKTOBER DAY #26 — Folk Horror (× Documentary/Reportage or Stephen King Style or Plants&Flowers)

TITLE:  A Quilt of Sorrows

PREMISE:  This genre relies on outsider perspective – what happens when you encounter people who may look like you, but have foreign and evil ways.  I don’t know why, I just don’t feel like going there at the moment.  So how to get an outsider without getting someone from literally outside the village?  We all start as outsiders – as children – and have to learn everything about the society we live in.

We learn values through that process, and if we were in a culty village that does human sacrifice, I imagine kids would be introduced to the ideas of mystickal murder (stephen king style) in a way that made it seem appealing.  What if the lesson didn’t take?  Brilliantine Runyon became a social outsider for not getting with the cruelty of childhood games.  Sympathetic elders invited her to adult activities like their quilting circles and bake-offs and gardening (plants&flowers), but gently plying her on why she should be more evil just never seemed to go anywhere.

Fuck, I need an outsider to make the doc/report angle work.  Let’s make this a movie where somebody is documenting the quilting bee and gets close to Brill (documentary/reportage).

Everybody Around You, Brilliantine:  Themes: Social Isolation, Generational Abuse;  Motifs: Kind Faces and Tortured Animals;  Colors: That Summery Folk Horror Shit;  Shapes: Hoops and Looms and Cottagecoriana;  Textures: Soft Cloth, Tough Thread, Pointy Needles;  Powers: Get Culty or Get Dead;  Places: The Village of uhh… Wilthropshire. ham. pington. shale. upon brixby.

HORROR ELEMENT:  The classic appeal of the genre – if you’re the only person who isn’t into evil, does that actually mean you’re the evil one?  Burn, baby, burn.


SPOOKTOBER DAY #27 — Werecreatures (× Gothic or 1940s or Dogs)

TITLE:  Good Ol’ Blue

PREMISE:  A werewolf (werecreature) in dog form (dogs) hides from werewolf hunters by playing domestic dog to a stranger.  Little does weredoggo suspect, the stranger he chooses is a meatfisted Amurrican fascist bully creep.  Butch decides he likes this new dog and names him Blue, and they play games together like fetch and sic-your-vicious-dog-on-helpless-animals-and-children.  For the werewolf, it’s a tightrope act.  Be too werewolfy and Butch’s neighbor with the silver bullets comes around.  Be too vicious pet and you might just get shot anyway.  Be not vicious enough, and Butch beats you with a stick.

What’s a dog to do?

Edit to Add:  Fuck!  Forgot to include subprompts again.  Changed John Birch Society to Amurrican because JBS was established in 1958, changed ’50s to ’40s…  What’s gothic?  Um… The werewolf in human form looks like an emo kid, 1940s version (gothic).  Ha-cha-cha, I got a million of ’em.

Butch:  Themes: Conformity and Brutality;  Motifs: Tight Haircut and Stiff Suits;  Colors: Ruddy White;  Shapes: Man-shaped;  Textures: Hairy Knuckles;  Powers: Antisocial Personality Disorder can feel empowering if you wanna roll with it.  Places: Suburbia in the late ’40s (1940s).

HORROR ELEMENT:  Vicious dogs are so scary.  Some people are just like that.

SPOOKTOBER DAY #28 — Psychological (× Rural/Backwoods or Mirrors or Phobia)

TITLE:  When Autumn Falls

PREMISE:  This image I got from Midjourney makes me want to turn this into a martial arts story.  Hm.

Autumn and Yvonne are sisters very close in age, and therefore sibling rivalry (psychological).  Autumn, the redhead, is the older sister.  Blondie Yvonne feels she has something to prove.  At the same time as they hate each other, they also have no company in the world except for each other.  Dad and mom wanted to escape from civilization by building a cabin (rural/backwoods) estate in remote New England, and the only other people they interact with are servants – not really peers.

On a lark, when they read a book about wrestling, they decide to take that up as a hobby, and their rivalry becomes more physical.  At first it’s following the diagrams in the book, then they escalate into innovating new techniques and torments.  Yvonne develops a phobia (phobia) of mirrors (mirrors) because they remind her of Autumn – especially when they come at you out of nowhere.

Mom dies and dad tries to take solace with the girls, but they have no room in their hearts for anything but hating each other, and he holes up in his room, on a path to death from despair.  In the attic above him, the girls have one more match.  Autumn tricks Yvonne by pointing her head at shiny glass – a mirror – but this time Yvonne doesn’t react by going weak with fear.  She does a cool flippy move and sends Autumn out the plate glass window and into the waterfall rocks far below.

Bad Siblings:  Themes: Self-Hatred and Abuse;  Motifs: Elegance and Anger;  Colors: Fall Jewel Tones, Somber Chiaroscuro;  Shapes: Skinny Girls in Big Dark Rooms;  Textures: Bony Limbs Entangled;  Powers: Ruin Everything;  Places: The Big Cabin Over the Waterfall.

HORROR ELEMENT:  From Poe’s William Wilson, “In me you lived – and, in my death – see by this face, which is your own, how wholly, how completely, you have killed your self!”


SPOOKTOBER DAY #29 — Mummy (× Evil Twin/Clone or Whodunnit or Dinosaurs)

TITLE:  The Wrap

PREMISE:  Ashton Clay’s twin brother Rushton (evil twin/clone) went big into egyptologies (mummy) and disappeared from society for several years.  Now he’s back, with an idea that he can achieve some kind of supernatural power by folding his brother into his schemes – literally.  Rushton has mummy wraps that he can telekinetically control like an army of snakes, and a reanimated Coelophysis (dinosaurs) skeleton as an attack dog.  What’s worse, sometimes Rushton takes advantage of being a twin to make it look like Ashton is doing bad things (whodunnit).

Rushton Clay:  Themes: Bondage and Control;  Motifs: It’s All About tha Mummy Wraps Babey;  Colors: White of Course;  Shapes: Snakey;  Textures: Silky Linen;  Powers: Rushton is a Master of Puppets;  Places: Must be getting this stuff from museums.

HORROR ELEMENT:  Scary situations could arise, but on the whole, this one is more silly than scary.


SPOOKTOBER DAY #30 — Dark Web / Technology (× Virtual Reality or Body Snatcher or Slasher)

TITLE:  We Have Legs Now

PREMISE:  A social media site became a nigh-essential cornerstone of modern society across the entire globe, and squandered billions on an inane gambit to take that success into virtual reality (virtual reality).  In trying to figure why it wasn’t working out, the CEO decided it must be because the avatars were only waist-up at launch – they had no legs.  Where to get millions of virtual legs fast?

If you’re in a virtual reality environment and you have legs, you’d best use them to run.

The Chopper:  Themes: Corporate Viciousness, Fake Positivity;  Motifs: Bland and Cutesy;  Colors: Cyber-Blue and Bloodspray;  Shapes: Corporate UX, Choppin’ Blades (slasher);  Textures: There is no sense of touch in virtual hells (dark web/technology).  Powers: The Chopper zips around the internet looking for people playing VR games with a web connection, and does his misdeeds right quick.  Places: The Metaverse or Whatever They’re Calling it Now.

HORROR ELEMENT:  If you get your legs chopped off in a game (snatched body part? close enuf) you get them chopped off in real life.  And then what?  Your only escape is to rely on corporations selling mobility back to you at a premium.


SPOOKTOBER DAY #31 — Noir (× Odd Couple or Imprisonment/Jail or Scary Room)

TITLE:  Inescapable

PREMISE:  Two very different women (odd couple) must learn to live together – with whatever life is left to them.  Vivacious Cassie has been left home while her parents go on a second honeymoon, but neglected to inform anyone before paying a visit to morose Vera, who lives in a crumbling estate on the side of a mountain.  When a rockslide seemingly destroys the estate, workers decide it’s safer to let the ruins rot until spring.  No way anybody could have survived that fall.

So the ladies are trapped (imprisonment/jail) in a precarious ruin that could finish falling apart at any moment, while nobody knows to look for them until long after they’re dead.  There’s one way out – one room (scary room) with windows – and it is both rickety and at the outer limit of where the house is perched on the cliffside, so walking in it could send them plummeting.

The story begins before the collapse, with Cassie trying to do an intervention on the morose girl.  She should get out more, whatever.  But it doesn’t go well and she’s leaving in a huff, when the soup goes down.  Trapped, she tries to rally Vera to help them both escape, and only then does she realize the extent of Vera’s depression.  At first she responds with anger, then pleading, then an unplanned confession of love.  It’s a tumultuous story with a lot of talking in dangerous dark environments (noir).

Depression:  Themes: HateMyselfs and WannaDies;  Motifs: Wrack and Ruin;  Colors: Darkness and Dust;  Shapes: Broken Buildings and Lives;  Textures: Splintery;  Powers: Make u Goth;  Places: Home is Where the Hurt Is.

HORROR ELEMENT:  Love is cool but it is no cure for depression.  That bullshit is the real Inescapable.



  1. says

    Every time I see this headline, I read it as “Spocktober.” Which doesn’t sound either horrifying or fun. Maybe a movie about some Vulcan exchange students on Earth going out trick-or-treating when the veil between worlds is thinnest (sort of a “Tholian Web” tie-in there?), and finding themselves at the mercy of suddenly-uncontrollable emotions that they have to learn to talk about and process if they’re to get back to the material world without killing each other before their schoolmaster finds them missing…?

  2. says

    see, that’s the point. ideas should be cheap. it’s easy for writers to get stuck on them, like, “this is the only good idea i’ll ever have, i need to devote decades to getting it just right.” better to crap out lots of ideas and work in a way that gets more works done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.