Archive for psychological horror

Richard Gavin

Posted in Recommendation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by scottsplatter

I recently finished Omens (published by  Mythos Books )  by Richard Gavin, and wanted to sound the horn for him.  The 12 stories here showcase a diverse and peculiar dread. Gavin has some great ideas  and his command of language and tone made this a quite enjoyable.

His work has been compared to such shambling giants of the macabre as H.P. Lovecraft,  and Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Ligotti and Omens deserves such comparisons. It’s not as nihilistic as Ligotti, or as cosmic as Lovecraft. Of the three, I’d place it closest to Poe. The pervasive creep factor that each of those writers possess is present in Richard Gavin.  His imagination is impressive and unique, and he does a really nice job of overlaying that strange darkness into a modern setting.

I’m always looking for more writers that capture this side of horror. The current crop of writers that are making waves seem more straight forward. That is not to say they are unskilled or not to be enjoyed.  I have just always favored more obscure tales of secrets, nightmares, and oddities and Gavin impressed me.

He has a brand new collection entitled The Darkly Splendid Realm (published by Dark Regions) that I’m anxious to get my hands on. The introduction was written by Laird Barron (who I swear I will do a post on one of these days). It was Barron’s involvement that brought Richard Gavin’s name to my attention and I’m grateful for it.

sound and fear

Posted in Rumination with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by scottsplatter

Scientific American ran a story about a month ago regarding the brains reaction to “scary music” when paired with visuals and then without visuals. They looked the way music is used to heighten fear in movies and how the brain reacted when watching the scene, and when closing your eyes during the scene. The result was that those who closed their eyes had greater reactions in the emotional centers of their brains than those who didn’t. It was scarier not to see it.

Chalk one up for the imagination.

This was interesting to me with regards to listening habits of dark ambient and experimental music. I’ve always gotten so much more from a release when I dim the lights and just absorb it. It’s a canvas for the imagination. It’s something, probably the primary thing, I always hoped to achieve with Gruntsplatter and some of my other projects. It’s why I rarely use vocals or samples. I didn’t want anything that made the music too concrete.

Everything I have done has a theme or implied story behind it, but I hope that by leaving it abstract the listener has been able to fill in the blanks with their own ideas of what was going on. I’ve gotten some nice emails over the years that have related some of those visions, or from people who have used Gruntsplatter to augment their create processes while painting or writing. It’s about the best compliment I can think of.

I wonder with the way that ingesting music has evolved just how many of the secret stories hidden in atmospheric music will go untapped. Will people continue to turn out the lights and listen attentively or will it all just blend into the background din of life. Even I don’t do it as often as I used to.

Science has now documented the emotional charge the pure sounds can evoke without the distraction of other outside stimulus. Make a point to experience that with some of your favorite dark releases.

Gary Fry

Posted in Recommendation with tags , , , , on July 6, 2009 by scottsplatter

I first became aware of Gary Fry through this interview over at Horrorworld. Fry has a PhD in psychology, and incorporates that knowledge and his own philosophical view of the world in to his writing in a powerful way. His is a horror of the mind and one that uses themes and undercurrents well to give the prose multiple layers on which it works.

fry_cov_sm_impelled The stories are so tightly written and his voice is unique. While I am not as well versed in horror as I could be, I haven’t read anything that feels quite like Fry’s work. The stories work your intellect as well as your imagination. I  appreciate those underlying messages and bits of sociological commentary a lot. It’s something I try and include in my own work, and it’s something that is always there in my music. 

 The cover to the left is from his first collection, The Impelled and Other Head Trips, which is the one I am just finishing up. He has a couple newer releases, the most recent of which Mindful of Phantoms I am looking forward to checking out. In addition he runs Gray Friar Press with a number of good looking titles I expect to pick up as I can.


Posted in Recommendation, Video with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by scottsplatter

Pin is another of those movies that not enough people are aware of. The trailer below really doesn’t do the movie justice. It was directed by Sandor Stern, who primarily did  TV work from the 70’s to the mid 90’s and even stars some folks who went on to actually have careers… like Terry O’Quinn and David Hewlett.

Released in 1988, the story revolves around two kids who got their moral compass and advice from a life size anatomical  dummy. Their father, a doctor, used ventriloquism to speak to them through the dummy to answer questions and give punishments etc. This makes a deep impression on one of the kids and as they grow up and the parents die he becomes a bit of a nutter that continues to seek advice and counsel from the dummy. Despite how that might sound, it’s definitely worth a look.