Live horror: Don’t Go Into the Cellar Presents…13th March 2015, Art House Southampton

skull, cellar, morbid curiosities

Don’t go into the Cellar Presents…

A spooky evening was had by all as The Haunted Eyeball attended Morbid Curiosities, a production based around classic horror stories, adapted by Don’t Go Into the Cellar and performed at the Art House.

Jumping at the chance to enjoy a live performance of some of our favourite classic horror stories, the Haunted Eyeball raced to see Morbid Curiosities on, the appropriate evening of Friday 13th March 2015. Climbing up to the cramped, yet cosy, upstairs rooms of the Southampton Art House, we hungrily devoured four tales of ghoulish terror, originally authored by Victorian crime writing gentleman Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the 20th Century’s finest weird fiction writer, H P Lovecraft. The atmosphere was built by the obligatory spooky skull and strange, horned creatures perched on an intimately sized stage. We couldn’t wait to find out what stories would unfold and who would present them to us? Would it be Lovecraft, of Sherlock Holmes, or…or…

In fact, Harry Houdini (Jonathan Goodwin ) was to be our narrator, and he presented the evening using a rather jarring inflection. He SPOKE like this, “Ladies AND GENTLEMEN!” which was in some ways far scarier than the first act. Indeed, the HORRORS that he proclaimed would FOLLOW made us ALL the JUMPIER because of his randomly loud VOICE.

OK, we are nitpicking about volume. In a larger room it would be fine, and the presenting style perfectly fit Houdini’s outlandish, earnest sense of showmanship. It drew us directly into a ghastly world of horror and mystery.

After introducing himself, Houdini passed the first story to his associate, the genteel Mrs D’Odd (Amy Bullock). She described her rather tongue in cheek ghostly encounter, based on Selecting a Ghost by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Nailing the pomposity and the aspirations of a would-be aristocrat, this drew belly laughs and many eerie moments, all played out nicely with an excellent payoff.

With one ghostly tale laid to rest (or not), Houdini returned to ponder over a horned skull, and talk of false séances that enraged him. Although very well performed, Playing with Fire by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was simply less impressive as a story – and this is a personal reaction. Basically, when you bring unicorns into it, it all veers away from the horror we’d turned up for, and for some reason it was a little harder to follow. Although performed with gusto by ‘Houdini’, we wanted some real, gut-wrenching horror, dammit, and were on tenterhooks for the eventual appearance of anything by H P Lovecraft. Given Houdini’s presence, we already had an inkling what of one of the stories would probably be, but were wondering what the other one might be from.

Part two

It turned out that both of the last two stories were by H P Lovecraft, and here the show fully hooked us again.  ‘Miss Rhodes’ (Amy Bullock) gleefully told the tale of The Hound, wherein a twisted couple, whose playful games with the dead would make Leatherface blush, get a nasty surprise when they grave rob an ancient amulet. Amy Bullock clearly took delight in the monstrous side of Miss Rhodes’ character. A truly great interpretation.

To our considerable delight, another Lovecraft gem followed. Of course, the presence of Harry Houdini meant we had immediately suspected that one particular story had to be told, and we were not disappointed. Under the Pyramids was bombastically presented, and vivid enough to smell the incense.

The stories of Conan Doyle and Lovecraft more than overcame the cramped conditions of the Art House top floor, and despite the presence of bright light, electronic speakers and drunken shouting from outside. The second half of the show was strongest, from a horror fan perspective – but when it got there it delivered pretty much what we were hoping for. Morbid Curiosities was an enormously fun event, and  we recommend for all UK-based Eyeballers to attend one of their shows as soon as possible. We can only hope that the shows get the creepy locations which they truly deserve, maybe somewhere like an old manor house or the Vaults of a long-disused port. The Haunted Eyeball sincerely hopes to see ‘Don’t go Into The Cellar’ and its other uncanny productions again. Nothing compared to hearing Lovecraft’s uncanny words spoken aloud with a group of people, and we had chills when the show rounded off with:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,

And with strange aeons even death may die..

Cast and Credits

Houdini – Jonathan Goodwin

Mrs D’Odd, Miss Rhodes – Amy Bullock

Director – Gary Archer

Scripted by Jonathan Goodwin

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Monster Monday: Patrick Bateman ‘American Psycho’ created by Brett Easton Ellis

**Contains American Psycho spoilers because…well, go read and watch it, it’s awesome, and horrible, and hilarious, and deeply upsetting. Welcome to the Haunted Eyeball.****

We’re moving away from Disney this week (though we’ll definitely be returning to the demonic house of mouse at some point) and we’re taking a humanoid approach to this week’s Monster Monday. Well, he can pass for human, anyway. Mostly. What Patrick Bateman actually is, is something far more terrifying.

Doesn't seem so bad, does he...

Doesn’t seem so bad, does he…

He’s a yuppie. Which, to clarify for those born after 1980, means he’s a stupidly rich, callous motherfucker. Actually, probably easier to just call him a banker and leave it at that. Striding the streets of late 190s New York in Armani, while utilizing a very strict skincare routine, Bateman kills and kills again, he stomps tramp to death along with their poor puppies, he gives drugged out dates chocolate covered urinal cakes as a dessert. He also has extremely convoluted thoughts on the music of Whitney Huston when she was an 1980s diva. That’s the sort of monster we’re dealing with. Shudder. However, if  you’re interested, there’s a very interesting study into how rich people get progressively less empathic – though we doubt that that would really explain Bateman, either.

Oh, and he NEVER gets caught.

Now, to be clear, this really isn’t going to be an incredibly in-depth analysis of everyone’s favourite American Psycho (no, not you Dexter). There’s a time and place for that (we love us some analysis) but, not on here and not today, anyway. This Monster Monday about Patrick Bateman is purely to celebrate how he makes us confront our inner sickos. Or if he doesn’t well, good for you.

So let’s talk Bateman.

american_psycho

Frankly, compared to what else is out there, Patrick Bateman is almost comical. Not least because, well, he might just be completely out of his mind, and the whole horrific story is  delivered by an unreliable narrator cop-out of the highest order. (The author has denied it’s all in Bateman’s head, though). That and the ten page monologues on what Bateman likes to wear and why Hip to Be Square like, totally sums up important stuff, probably. Yes. He takes himself so seriously, it should be a comedy. (We’d argue it is…a very very very very dark one). See, mostly, Patrick Bateman just likes to hurt people. Women especially. Yick. The jarring flip from Bateman’s discussion of the latest GQ cover and angst about the right business card, right over to incredibly detailed descriptions of torture, murder and things that would make Leatherface shake his head, are all part of the character’s hypnotic appeal. This is one twisted fuck, and he lives on Wall Street.

That’s up against some pretty stiff psychotic competition.

Let’s be clear. The ‘all a dream’ explanation for Bateman would suck. Unless you’re that unfortunate woman he treated to his hose pipe and rat douche which, well…but it would remove the power of the book. It’s basically pure splatterpunk translated through the uppity lens of high literature. What’s the difference between this and a masterpiece like Ketchum’s ‘The Woman’? Apart from, like, awards and publishing ‘accolades’. Still, they’re both brilliant, but you know, labels are bad, mmkay?

This is how a date with Patrick Bateman generally ends, by the way...

This is how a date with Patrick Bateman generally ends, by the way…

However, Bateman definitely falls under ‘M’ for ‘Monster’. But even worse, surely, (unless you are the unfortunate hooker being brutally chainsawed through the crotch by him at the time) are the people who are stopping him from even being caught. His disgustingly rich father has to be protecting him. That’s hinted at. Suggested. Never overt. Conspiracies are comforting. Otherwise, the world would see what a sicko Bateman is, and they would stop him. The world would definitely stop him. Right? Bad guys are caught all the time. Aren’t they? It’s a good thing we’re all rational enough to deal with this and have enough security in the world’s empathy that this sort of thing is laughed off as an anomaly of a sick mind…..*nervous laugh*

Brett Easton Ellis' sick little mind, to be precise. *gives Brett an unwanted hug*

Brett Easton Ellis’ sick little mind, to be precise. *gives Brett an unwanted hug*

Only, we all go a little mad sometimes. Bateman is one way to pin it to the screen or the page. Or the musical theatre outing. Nice. Because, when the highest rated, most heavily downloaded show (Game of Thrones) has a man getting SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER his cock brutally chopped off by another guy who looks like a psychotic hobbit (no, really he does, and he also deserves his own Monster Monday when the series actually finishes) plus, all the graphic rape in the show and head’s gleefully exploding END SPOILER END SPOILER END SPOILER then, we can’t get on our high horse about about Bateman anymore. We are desensitised. We deserve Bateman now. He’s been absorbed and chewed up.

This is best epitomised by the newish West End musical of American Psycho, starring Doctor Who as Bateman (a far more appropriate use for creepy babyfaced gurner Matt Smith, in our opinion). Surely, if popular culture is going to grind up and spit out something as blackly vicious as Ameican Psycho, and shove a load of ironic songs in it (I’m also looking at you, Evil Dead) then it’s only a matter of time before we get a Hellraiser musical. Well, we can hope.

Monster Monday: “Gashunk gashunk” – Juni Ito’s ‘Gyo’ Manga

There are plenty of reason to love Junji Ito’s work.

We’re about to cover just one of them, which should be more than enough for now…

Juni Ito’s manga is unfailingly horrific, disturbing and marvelous. If you love horror of any kind, we can’t recommend his back-catalogue highly enough. For the sake of this Monster Monday, however, we want to focus on his series GYO (The Death Stench Creeps)
and the disturbing, and mostly unexplained, phenomena that it tries to explain. Well, there is a rational explanation given. In the loosest possible sense of ‘rational’. Perhaps ‘plausible’ is the best description for what happens in this manga. It’s really dream logic, which makes it work, the sense of a nightmare you can’t quite climb away from and situation getting worse and worse.

Title page from the first manga novel. Fish with legs. Yes, it sounds silly...at first....

Title page from the first manga novel. Fish with legs. Yes, it sounds silly…at first….

The basic premise of the two book manga GYO (The Death Stench Creeps): Volume 1
is that sea life has started climbing out of the ocean on strange, organically manufactured but artificially installed little legs. The setup is pretty bloody weird already, but the horror doesn’t end there. The first appearence of a ‘fish with legs’ is almost funny. But it’s merely the warning shot of a much bigger disaster for humanity. Because these things are powered by the gassy stench of death itself, and the attacks from the ocean to the land are about to get much more deadly, and much larger, too.

Most notably, starting with this Gshunking monster:

Continue reading

Monster Monday: The Pantomime Cat

Welcome back Eyeballers! Monster Mondays, and new articles, return to the slightly revised Haunted Eyeball.

But first, the terror!

It’s not typical for Enid Blyton to be the harbinger of nightmares, but thinking back to our youth, one of her books was responsible for a great deal of dread, angst and nightmares.

Whilst trying to think back to the things that really, truly wigged us out as a child, we suddenly come across the worst thing in the world.

The rather unkindly named ‘Fatty’ gets a nasty shock. Sure, you find out LATER it’s only a criminal in a cat suit….but some images are meant to stay with you.

(Image from a rather awesome Enid Blyton site. If you need to remember something Blyton based, go here).

Why this image is terrifying.

It contains almost all the elements required to freak out an over-imaginative six year old.

  • An oversized animal.
  • An oversized animal staring out a window.
  • At you.
  • Unexpectedly.
  • In the dark.

And herein lies the pure personalised terror. And frankly, we’d take Pinhead over this creature any day of the week, and down any dark alley, too.

Having awoken the entirely rational terror of humanoid creatures that can look you in the eye, expect to see a few more of these beasts referred to in some future Monster Mondays.

Even the other pictures here, which attempt to make it more cuddly, more ‘cute kitty’ kind of fail. The real image of it, for the Eyeball, remains that black and white portrayal of something inhuman, raggedy yet thoroughly INTENT. Seared into the background of our memories, it’s still capable of sending our nerves quite a long way towards the wimpier end of fight or flight. Oh yes, over the years we have toughened up, learned that real life can be scarier than fiction, braved Wolf Creeks and Pumpkinheads. But the uncanny valley we entered when we first laid eyes on the picture above has, quite effectively, creeped us the fuck out for many years since.

Which, let’s be clear, was not usually the result of a hundred page Enid Blyton readathon.

This is all further proof that fear is purely subjective. After all, one famous author commented that what scared him the most was a Christmas tree running away on its roots, in a Rupert the Bear comic.

We are all at the mercy of our own thoughts processes. The only answer is to become thoroughly and totally desensitized. Time to order that ‘A Serbian Tale’ monstrosity on Amazon. Or, actually…nope.

Interview: Chris Davis author of the Takers Series

Hi Chris, welcome back to the Haunted Eyeball. Takers 3 is now out and it’s really good to see Kel return too, so we’d like to ask you all about the new installment. Continue reading

Review: Takers 3: Bloodlines by Chris Davis

We were pleased to learn that Kel was returning and that he’s as stubborn and anguished as ever. To recap, Los Angeles is plagued by humanoid creatures called Takers, which are like vampires only many levels worse. These emotionless monsters suck souls as well as blood, and they can create half-human offspring which must feed on a smorgasbord of blood, souls and human food to stay alive. Continue reading