When it begins, Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid gives little indication of just how bizarre it will eventually become. When we are introduced to heroin addict Alistair, his girlfriend Eden and his dealer Angel – and the characters’ dialogue points out to us the irony of people involved with the drugs trade having names like “Eden” and “Angel” – it threatens to be no more than a heavy-handed jaunt through inner-city squalor. As it transpires, however, this opening sequence is Dorothy’s Kansas, and there is an extremely twisted Oz in store for us.
After passing out from his latest fix, Alistair regains his senses to find that Eden has gone missing. When he goes looking for her, he runs into a band of monstrous nuns:
Peering from the nuns’ black veils are the pale, grotesque visages of nightmares. One has Saint Christopher medals lodged in the ravaged cavities that once housed her eyes. In her right hand, she clutches the wooden handle of a rusty-headed hammer. Beside her, the lidless, shriveled eyes of an especially twitchy nun stare dryly from her head. The corners of her mouth have been carved upward into a permanent smiling wound. In each bloody hand, she wields a sizable shard of glass like a deadly transparent dagger. The next noun looks as though her face has been crudely molded out of clay but never given features.
This week’s snippet of werewolf history comes from Thomas Blount’s Glossographia, an early dictionary published in 1656. Besides The Damnable Life and Death of Stubbe Peeter (1590) the Glossographia is the earliest text I’ve covered for this series, and it specifically mentions the Stubbe Peter/Peter Stumpp case in its entry on the word “Werewolf”:
Werewolf or Were-wolf (were in the old Sax. was sometimes used for man) this name remains still known in the Teutonick, and is as much as to say Man-wolf; which is a certain Sorcerer, who having anointed his body with an Ointment, made by instinct of the Devil, and putting on a certain inchanted Girdle, does not only to the view of others, seen as a Wolf, but to his own thinking, hath both the shape and nature of a Wolf, so long as he wears the said Girdle, and accordingly worries and kills humane creatures. Of these sundry have been taken in Germany, and the Netherlands. One Peter Stump, for being a Were-wolf and having killed Thirteen Children, Two Women, and One Man, was at Bedhur, not far from Cullen, in the year of 1859 [sic], put to a very terrible death.
The year given for Stumpp’s execution is an obvious typo: he was killed in 1589, not 1859.
What happened when nineteenth-century detective author Dick Donovan tried his hand at vampire fiction? We got one of the odder specimens of Victorian vampire: the Woman with the Oily Eyes. And she’s the topic of my latest post at WWAC….
Part of the three-author collection Beyond Reform collection (which itself won a Splatterpunk Award this year) “The Martini Club” introduces us to Jane, Summer, Jody and Ellen. These dour true-crime enthusiasts were brought together by a shared interest in the life and crimes of Alfred Martini, an incarcerated serial killer who gained notoriety in the eighties as the Subway Slasher, Martini is a man most would see as a monster – but the women of the Martini Club do not necessarily agree:
“We’ve beaten this to a bloody fucking pulp, going back to when we all met in the chat room. Alfred Martini didn’t kill all those women, it was what society turned him into that killed them. It was his pedophile mother, abusive father, and the constant ridicule of his peers that perverted him. You guys all know how sweet he is in real life. He’s sorbet,” Jane explained exhaling with a deeply ingrained passion.
Between them, these four women have developed a plan to break the Subway Slasher out of prison, smuggle him to a retreat in the middle of nowhere and spend the rest of their days with him as the sort of family that would do Charles Manson proud.
The World of Fashion was a publication that ran from 1824 to 1879 and included fiction alongside its coverage of clothing. In an 1841 edition of the magazine we find an anonymous story called “The Hand of the Were-Wolf”, which opens with a short history of the werewolf legend, traced dubiously to Chaldea:
The term Were-Wolf has probably descended to us from the Chaldeans, and other pastoral nations, who were obliged to live continually on the defensive against the wolves that followed their flocks; and the terror inspired by these animals favored the nocturnal depredations of unprincipled individuals, who availed themselves of a disguise, as a wolf, to perpetrate mischief of all kinds.
The story takes us to the French village of Ryans, where a local family — the Gordes — are believed by superstitious villagers to be werewolves. The inescapable prejudice takes its toll on the Gordes, who are forced to live in poverty and squalor. One by one they die of disease; the sole survivor is Simon Gorde, who wishes that he really were a lycanthrope:
“Ah! would that I were the Wolf they say I am; I would revenge the injuries that are heaped upon me. But no! I would not eat their flesh, or drink their blood. I would pursue, and torment them; the unfeeling wretches who allowed my family to die–my father, mother, sisters, all! Why have I not the power to transform myself into a Wolf, if my fathers did so; at least I should find carrion, and I should not perish with hunger.”
I’ve got a new article up for the WWAC Patreon subscribers to read. It’s about how Superman and his supporting cast have adapted to the new decade, my case studies being Superman Smashes the Klan, Lois Lane: Enemy of the People and Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?
There’s a preview here, and if you want to read the whole thing, you can subscribe to the WWAC Patreon…
I spent the month watchin’ horror films and readin’ horror stories. Granted, I do that all year round, but October is when I do it more. It’s an annual tradition of mine. And on this particular October I succeeded in selling another story of my own — updates on that coming soon…
Once again, horror fans were able to bathe in the annual glut of Halloweentime releases. Some old monsters returned in the likes of Hellraiser, Halloween Ends, WerewolfBy Night (based on the Marvel comic) and Terrifier 2 (the subject of dubious reports describing audience members allegedly vomiting and fainting). Perhaps the best-received revival was AMC’s Interview with the Vampire, adapted from the 1976 Anne Rice novel. A much earlier vampire classic also got another go-around courtesy of the audio drama Re: Dracula.
Newcomers to horror cinema include Prey for the Devil and Barbarian, the latter a sleeper hit. Also of note is Wendall & Wild, a horror-themed stop-motion collaboration between Henry Selick and Jordan Peele, which received positive reviews but, alas, seemingly negligible promotion. Elsewhere, big names brought their talents to horror series on Netflix: Guillermo del Toro opened his Cabinet of Curiosities while Mike Flannigan invited us to The Midnight Club.