Last week I wrote about Johann Weyer’s De lamiis liber, in which this sixteenth-century scholar offered a skeptical commentary on lycanthropy. As it happens, Weyer also discussed werewolves in an earlier and better-known book: De praestigiis daemonum.
To the best of my knowledge, Weyer’s only reference to lycanthropy in the original 1563 edition of this volume comes when he’s listing human-animal transformations of classical literature (Odysseus’ men becoming pigs, Diomedes’ companions becoming birds, and Arcadians becoming wolves). The expanded 1564 edition of De praestigiis daemonum is a different matter, devoting its entire thirteenth chapter to an account of lycanthropy.
The case is that of Poligny man Pierre Bourgot (referred to by Weyer as Peter Bourgoti) who confessed in December 1521 that he and his accomplice Michel (or Michael) Verdung were lycanthropes.
Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Johann Weyer on the Poligny Werewolves (1564)”
The Maddening is the third book in Carver Pike’s Diablo Snuff series, or the fifth if we also count the side-stories Passion & Pain and Slaughter Box (and there is little reason not to do so, particularly given that the author advises us to read all four prior books before starting The Maddening).
The novel opens at a town in Mexico where partygoers on spring break are surrounded by vice and temptation. One character, Devin, goes to see an erotic circus performance with a friend; here, he encounters sexy tightrope-walker Secreta. He soon faces more than just a conflict between his Mormon faith and the town’s fleshpots, however. When the lights go out, the killings begin: the circus was organised by Diablo Snuff, a secretive and powerful organisation whose atrocities blend sex and homicide, and Secreta is just one of their lethal agents.
Secreta’s adventures in Mexico turn out to be just the first of several vignettes that open The Maddening. The next chapters play with a topic that has long haunted the horror genre: the exact relationship between fictional violence and real-life atrocities.
Continue reading “The Maddening: Diablo Snuff 3 by Carver Pike (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”
Whether you know him as Johann Weyer, Johannes Wier or Joannus Wieri, he’s a scholar who certainly left his mark on occultism. Weyer was ahead of his time in arguing that the people accused in witch trials were innocent, and his Pseudomonarchia Daemonum is a key text in demonology. Less well-known is that he also wrote skeptically on the topic of werewolves.
His 1577 book De lamiis liber contains a chapter devoted to lycanthropy. The whole book is in Latin and I’ll admit that I resorted to Google Translate, but I was able to discern the thrust of his argument. Weyer begins by expressing incredulity at reports of men having transformed into wolves, goats, dogs, cats or any other animals. After all, he argues, man was created in the image of God and by divine law placed above the beasts.
Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Johann Weyer’s De Lamiis Liber (1577)”
The year is 1978, and sisters Tammy and Terri Wilcox are on a road trip with their parents: these are “a dad who was so cheap that the only reason one of them existed is that he tried to reuse one of his old condoms” and “a mother who would reply to being told that she apologized too much with, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way!’” While Terri is left alone in the car, her resentment at various different people (her school bullies, her abusive father, the two drunken jerks currently in front of the vehicle) prompts her to throw a tantrum. In her rage she accidentally dislodges the handbrake, and the car rolls backwards into a truck – with Tammy caught between the two.
Terri survives the incident that killed her sister but retains scars both internal and external. Five years later, the parents of the now-teenage Terri decide to send her to wheelchair camp, but any hope she has of escaping bullies is soon quashed: one of the first people she meets on her trip is bus driver Leonard Randell, who previously got in trouble with mistreating a disabled child and now contents himself with verbal than physical abuse. Then, after the group finally arrives at wheelchair camp, they find that a murderer has joined them…
Continue reading “Don’t Go to Wheelchair Camp by David Irons (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”
Trench Mouth opens with a series of vignettes in which various characters – partygoers on a beach, the crew of a submarine, the population of a cruise liner – get too close to the sea and end up as meals for enormous, deadly creatures. Something has made the ocean angry, but what…?
We get an inkling of the answer when the action switches to an undersea research facility headed by Dr. Margot Yale. Things seem innocuous enough at first, as Yale’s colleagues Hobbs and Rafaelia squabble over what names to give the environment and sea life that they are monitoring. Hobbs, a dyed-in-the-wool geek who inherited the tastes of his parents (his name is short for “Hobbit”), has “fluent in Elvihs” on his CV and comes up with names like “orc-shark” and “balrog-squid” for new species. Punkish, octopus-tattooed Rafaelia, meanwhile, favours names like “dat-boi shrimp” and “Squidward”. Another of Yale’s colleagues, Vance, is interested less in the local fauna and more in the human volunteers who also inhabit the facility, and his nickname for them is uncompromising: ”guinea pigs.”
Continue reading “Trench Mouth by Christine Morgan (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”
It was inevitable that the wendigo theme would turn up in the Death’s Head Press Splatter Western series: when an entire line of books is based on gross-out horror in the old West, what could be a more natural fit than a Native American legend of cannibalism? Kristopher Rufty rises to the task with The Devoured and the Dead, the twelfth Splatter Western, which serves its readers a wendigo-sized banquet of human flesh.
Protagonist Billy Coburn narrates a story of winter 1884, a time from his childhood childhood as seen from a weary adult perspective. The narrative opens with eleven-year-old Billy and his family – parents Claire and Abe, and sixteen-year-old sister Lenora – traipsing through North Carolina. Accompanying them are three other clans: the Shumakers, the mistrusted McCrays, and a Native American family comprising tracker Ahote, his wife Chenona and their baby.
The party sets up camp in a stretch of forbidding wilderness that, according to Chenona, is haunted by evil spirits. Here, their horses start to die or disappear; Billy’s father sets off with Ahote in search of the missing animals, only for both men to vanish themselves, having presumably met their deaths. A blizzard breaks out, and the travellers are stranded with little in the way of food.
Continue reading “The Devoured and the Dead by Kristopher Rufty (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”
It seems safe to say that most people reading this post will be aware that loup garou is a French term for werewolf. However, it seems that the term may have once had a broader meaning as a loose description of sinister supernatural beings in general.
A while ago I found a citation from 1577 listing loup garou as a synonym for incubus. More recently, I’ve come across a French-Latin dictionary from 1549 that provides a few Latin synonyms for loup garou — and an intriguing lot they are. According to this volume, a Latin-speaker might refer to a loup-garou using any of the following terms: Lemures lemurum; Larua; Lycaon; Lycanthropos; Lucifugus; Solifugus; and Versipellis nycterobius.
Of these, lycanthropos scarcely needs comment, and I imagine that — again — most of my readers will be aware of the myth of Lycaon. The other terms warrent a closer look.
Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Loup Garou in Latin (1549)”
I’m proud to say that Andy Lambert has joined Midnight Widows issue 3 as a guest artist! His contribution to the comic will follow Edith, Kateryna and Gabriela as they arrive in Britain during World War II. Take a look at Andy’s gallery here, and get more info on Midnight Widows (including details on where to buy the first two issues) here.
This is a novel divided into four parts, the first of which introduces the principal characters. Robert Sinclair is a young retail worker whose social life has collapsed: he and his girlfriend have broken up; his friends have left for college; his manager Mike is obnoxious; and, gravest of all, his mother is terminally ill. He has, however, at least found a new friend in an elderly man named Josef Lazerowitz. As the two bond, Robert learns that his new acquaintance is a Holocaust survivor.
The plot thread concerning Josef is where the story’s supernatural aspect comes into play. We learn that Josef survived not only the Holocaust but also colon cancer, his health having suddenly cleared up in a seeming miracle. Since then his cancer has returned with as much abruptness (a plot point established in a graphic scene in which Josef defecates blood). In an effort to prolong his life, Josef adopts a dog – and kills it in a sacrificial rite.
When Robert meets up with the newly-rejuvenated Josef, the old man has decided to reveal all of his secrets. This leads into the second and third parts of the novel, which comprise Josef’s life story, with the tone making a dramatic shift in the process. Gone are the background of retail grind and hints of demonic activity, replaced with a story of the Holocaust.
Continue reading “Left to You by Daniel J. Volpe (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”
Anyone who follows the Splatterpunk Awards will have come to expect a certain stable of writers to turn up year after year: a band of rough-and-ready, small-press horror authors generally neglected by big publishers and big awards alike. With Body Shocks, however, we have an anomaly. This is an anthology assembled by Hugo/Stoker/World Fantasy Award-winning editor Ellen Datlow and featuring a line-up of genre heavyweights – the kind with prominent publishing credits and assortments of shiny trophies. In fact, the book even includes a story that won a 2010 Nebula Award. Also involved are some horror talents involved with the early days of splatterpunk. So, allow us to see what happens when the respectable and disreputable areas of SF/F/H comingle…
As the title suggests, various forms of bodily violation are the foremost theme. Kaaron Warren’s “A Positive” is a twisted family saga narrated by a man who was forced to give blood to his father. “A True Friend” by Brian Evenson is a short but impactful depiction of fratricide. Priya Sharma’s “Fabulous Beasts” is centred on a girl whose affinity for snakes helps her to survive her abusive circumstances. “I’m Always Here” by Richard Christian Matheson is the story of an Elivis and Priscilla-like duo named Baby and Daddy; when Daddy ails, Baby resorts to desperate measures to sustain him.
Continue reading “Body Shocks, ed. Ellen Datlow (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”