August 2020: A Month in Horror

2020-08-31 14.01.41

This was a month in which we saw the early blooming of a subgenre: the lockdown horror film. Host, released at the tail-end of last month, continued to receive a warm welcome, while a trailer for the upcoming Lockdown Hauntings piqued the interest of horror fans (Corona Zombies, on the other hand, seems already to have been forgotten). Given that horror filmmakers built a sizeable subgenre out of wobbly handheld cameras, we shouldn’t be surprised to see how well they’ve adapted to this era of social distancing and Zoom communication. Speaking of which, as I type, a whole batch of new releases is being screened at the 2020 virtual edition of the Glasgow FrightFest

Continuing a thread from last month, the horror world saw some more awards being handed out.

KillerCon Austin held its third annual Splatterpunk Awards, which I’ve already covered in detail. Meanwhile, This Is Horror once again held its awards by online poll: voters picked The Bone Weaver’s Orchard by Sarah Read as Novel of the Year, with the other winners including Chad Lutzke’s novella The Pale White, John Langan’s collection Sefira and Other Betrayals, the anthology Nox Pareidolia, the magazine Vastarien: a Literary Journal and the podcasts No Sleep and Ladies of the Fright (winning in the fiction and non-fiction categories respectively). Bob Baldwin’s illustration for Hollow Heart by Ben Eads was named Cover Art of the Year, while Nightscape Press earned the prize for Publisher of the Year.

We also saw the ballot for this year’s Dragon Awards, which is likewise decided by an online vote and includes a category for horror novel. The 2020 finalists are Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky, Scavenger Hunt by Michaelbrent Collings, The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher, The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North and The Toll by Cherie Priest. The overall line-up led to some griping from a couple of political cranks who made the Best Horror category a few years ago: apparently, the voters didn’t choose enough right-wing authors this year. Shocking.

In sadder news, Brian Keene announced that his much-loved podcast The Horror Show will be ending early next month. Although he will continue conducting reviews with authors via is YouTube channel, he will no longer be regularly reporting on news and events from the horror world as he did on his podcast. This process, he explains, was simply too stressful:

If you’re going to do a show that — at least in part — focuses on fairly presenting news that impacts the horror genre and industry — then you’re going to have to give oxygen to some of that poisonous stuff. And when you give oxygen to the poisonous stuff, it slowly takes your own oxygen away.

Closing with a farewell, this month saw the departure of Joe Ruby, who – alongside his creative partner Ken Spears – gave generation after generation their first taste of the horror genre by creating Scooby-Doo. He passed on 26 August, aged 87.

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