February 2021: A Month in Horror

Protest movements and countercultures have often appropriated fictional characters as icons, and this month saw another example of the phenomenon with protesters in Myanmar dressing up as the ghostly nun from The Conjuring 2 and its spin-off The Nun. Holding a banner reading “The Nun Will Never Forgive Dictatorship”. The protest took place outside the Chinese embassy in Yangon, spurred by allegations that China aided Myanmar’s military junta.

Elsewhere this month, we found icons of horror media becoming irrevocably tarnished. At the start of February, Evan Rachel Wood accused Marilyn Manson of grooming her as a teeanger, adding to a substantial list of allegations against the singer going back to 1998. Towards the end of the month, another woman – Bianca Allaine – mounted accusations of her own, claiming she was on the receiving end of an emotionally abusive relationship with Manson that began when she was sixteen.

Meanwhile, multiple people who worked with Joss Whedon came out against their former colleague. Ray Fisher, who performed in Justice League, led the charge last summer; this month, a number of actors from Buffy the Vampire Slayer went public with their stories. Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordeilia in Buffy and Angel, called Whedon cruel and abusive, particularly in relation to her pregnancy: “Joss was the vampire”, she wrote on Twitter. Other Buffy actors to speak out about Whedon include Michelle Trachtenberg, who appeared in the series as a teenager; she has accused Whedon of “not appropriate behavior” and alleged that there was a rule on set stating that he was “not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again.”

In more positive news, the ballots for the Splatterpunk Awards and Bram Stoker Awards were unveiled this month.

Bidding farewell…

Born in Hungary before relocating to Britain, Victor Ambrus was an accomplished a illustrator with a distinctive technique yet a broad stylistic range. His more comical projects involve writing and illustrating a series of books starring a portly Count Dracula, which started with Dracula: Everything You Always Wanted To Know But Were Too Afraid To Ask (1980), but he was also capable of dramatic historical scenes and all manner of fantasy figures. His art for Shakespeare’s Tales (1976) depict jovial Falstaff and murderous Macbeth with equal verve, while the Hamlyn Book of Legendary Creatures (1982) included everything from ethereal fairies to disturbing creatures of nightmare. His skill at recreating historical settings earned him regular appearances on television’s Time Team. He passed away on February 10, aged 85.

David G. Barnett founded Necro Publications in 1993, a company that put out books by such horror talents as Edward Lee, Ryan Harding and Charlee Jacob (who used Barnett as a character in her novel Season of the Witch). Although known primarily as a publisher, Barnett also wrote his own fiction including the Tales of the Fallen series, the standalone novel Spying on Gods and the collection Dead Souls; he has also worked as a cover designer and even a DJ. He died in a car accident on 22 February, aged 53.

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