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Embrace The Darkness

For the majority of my life, I’ve been told that darkness leads to death. I was raised to believe that darkness and light are synonymous with evil and good. I believe this stems from the judeo-christian idea that god is light; “in him is no darkness at all.” Despite the god of the bible regularly using darkness as a tool to accomplish his will, the book of Proverbs also says “the way of the wicked is like a deep darkness.” When indoctrinated in this dogma, or the ones twisted into American ideologies, it becomes easy to draw a conclusion that darkness, wickedness, and evil are the same. Within the past few years, I’ve questioned this mindset and have found a deeper truth for myself.

Darkness is a part of who we are. It’s something that allows us to see the world through a different lens. Understanding it’s intrinsic roots in us actually helps us grow as people. From my experience, attempting to cut out the darkness leads to delusion, and false piety. Attempting to live entirely on one side of either darkness or light will lead to an imbalance in our individual lives. To understand something, we have to know both sides. To command one side without knowledge of the other is tyranny.  Life without darkness is corruption.

I believe we are spirit, mind, and body. These three components of our lives should be equally attended to for a healthy life. Maybe not always at the same time. Different seasons of our lives will lend to a different focus. It’s really up to the individual. We know what we need, and when we need it. We also need physical darkness in our lives. A third of our lives is spent sleeping, and 9 month is spent in a womb growing in darkness. Darkness has very practical benefits to our physical body. To say that our physical, mental, and spiritual worlds operate differently is baseless. So to dismiss mental and spiritual darkness as “evil” should, at the very least, be questioned. At most, should be experimented with and found individually. 

There is a Hermetic principle called Polarity. It teaches that everything is connected on one pole (or maybe a ring). 

“Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet” -The Kybalion

It’s saying that rather than being separate, darkness and light are more like two ends of the same pole—opposite, but connected. They feed into each other and allow the other to exist. This explains why one without the other leads to imbalance; why rejecting something that is a part of you leads to disingenuous living. I’m sure we all know people who live like this. They just don’t know how much they’re hurting themselves, and those around them.

This world isn’t black and white. Black and white are one, but there’s no telling when one becomes the other. Maybe I can’t guarantee that darkness and light aren’t synonymous with good and evil. I do believe that it’s something we should be experimenting with on our own, rather than taking the word of those who blindly push an archaic narrative they’ve been taught. 

I believe humanity has the ability to tell right from wrong without the aid of an external deity. The people who tell you that “darkness leads to death,” or “darkness is a dead end,” typically have something to gain from our ignorance. Or, these people who continue to push the narratives are simply ignorant themselves. Question the motives of the people telling you this. Question me! Test out this theory for yourself. How do you define darkness? Do you feel uncomfortable with the idea that darkness is a part of you? Do you associate that darkness with evil? If so, challenge that idea. Where did it come from? Maybe darkness is something that we should all come to understand as a helpful part of our psyche. We’ll never know unless we take the time to find out for ourselves. 

Embrace the darkness.

Josh T. Romero
Lead Creep

Modern Occultism

Join historian and occult scholar Mitch Horowitz for a 12-week course exploring the history and practice of modern occultism.

About this event

***This course meets weekly August 4–October 20 from 8–9:30 p.m. ET / 7–8:30 p.m. CT

Occult scholar and widely known voice of esoteric ideas Mitch Horowitz (“solid gold”—David Lynch) presents a lively, intellectually serious historical and practical exploration of modern occultism. This twelve-week course provides a comprehensive overview of the ideas, people, movements, and practices that shape our concepts of the esoteric today—and what they offer the contemporary seeker.

Each class will be presented live with ample time for questions and exchange.

On-demand viewing will be available for missed classes.

No background reading is required for the course, but helpful supplementary books include Mitch’s Occult AmericaOne Simple Idea, and The Seeker’s Guide to the Secret Teachings of All Ages.

Enjoy a free introduction to the course—Occultism Today: Mitch Horowitz and Richard Smoley in Conversation—on Wednesday, July 28 at 8 p.m. ET via Zoom!

Candyman at Guild Cinema

The original 1992 classic with the great Tony Todd, featuring a creepy Philip Glass score; a DARK ROOM HORROR co-throw! Grab your tickets now!

About this event

Dare you say his name five times? From the chilling imagination of horror master Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Nightbreed), comes Candyman – one of the greatest horror movies of the ’90s.

When grad student Helen Lyne (Virginia Madsen) begins working on a thesis about urban legends, she comes across the terrifying tale of the Candyman – a vengeful, hook-handed spirit who can be summoned by saying his name five times in the mirror. As her research leads her into the bowels of Chicago’s deprived housing projects and deeper into the Candyman’s world, Helen learns that some legends are best left well alone.

Expertly directed by British filmmaker Bernard Rose (Paperhouse) and boasting an astounding score by composer Philip Glass, Candyman ingeniously reworks Clive Barker’s original short story “The Forbidden” (originally published as part of his groundbreaking Books of Blood series) into a modern horror parable that remains as timely today as ever.

“Wonderfully playing against expectation, Candyman leaves you wondering where the story will go next, something missing in most horror movies.” – Monica Castillo, Bitch Media

“This Candyman can elicit some bona fide shivers while the picture that bears his name is high-caliber horror in its purest, most primal form.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter

Stiffed by Elvira

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I’ve had quite a few people ask about our trip to Massachusetts last October for Salem Horror Fest. I can say for certain that it was a trip worth talking about. As a whole, the trip was an amazing opportunity. The city was beautiful and a dream to visit in October. I made several friends and built awesome relationships, both personally and for business. Dark Room Horror now has merch in two shops there, Black Veil Studio and Die With Your Boots On. We got to hang with the Murray brothers and almost met Bill Crisafi and Hogan McLaughlin. But, there was a darker side to the trip that has been casting a shadow in all the wrong ways. It’s time to address the mammoth in the tomb. As amazing as this trip was, one event soured most of our experience there… getting stiffed by Elvira. This sounds like a punch-line, and I wish it was.

Let’s start at the top. Salem Horror Fest was gracious enough to have our Blood Booth at their Haunted Harbor, free of charge. We had a large, Haunted Harbor branded backdrop and provided our merchandise and services for 2 weeks of their festival. We had the opportunity to meet and shoot with some amazing people, including Amelia Kinkade, Linea Quigley, Rachel True, Andrea Subissati, Alex West, Jason Marsden, John Kassir, and Quinn Lord. All of which came through our booth, and were genuinely marvelous people. They were all happy to come into our booth, hang out with us, bring in fans to take pictures with, and really seemed like they were there to have a good time. I can easily say that some of those days were the best that I’ve ever had working.

During our evening with John Kassir, the infamous voice of the Crypt Keeper, David and I (author of our short story, The Groaning Man) were given a mind-blowing opportunity to also be in a separate room, offering our printing services for the photo op with the Mistress of Dark, Elvira. This was not an opportunity we were planning on. The festival had hired a photographer specifically for her shoot. Needless to say, we were stoked to get to offer prints at our additional cost of $10 for a high quality 5”x7”, for those who wanted them. I sent David down the hall with the printer and I stayed set up for the panel with Mr. Kassir.

After a few sales, David was approached by Scott Marcus, Elvira’s Agent. It was at this point that he introduced his idea of not charging for prints and including them in the paid package fee to expedite the customer process in a now heavily, overcrowded room. According to David, this was taken to Kevin Lynch, the Festival Director, and he went with it. I feel it necessary to add that I was never consulted during this decision process. I would have been happy to go along with it as well, after making sure that things were set in place to make sure that my employee and I were taken care of.
As the evening went on, we naturally ran out of ink in the middle of the process. This is when I was told about what was going on in that room. As far as we had been told, there were a total of 256 people who purchased tickets to this event to have their picture taken with Elvira. After being filled in on the “deal”, with the already backed up line, I had to shut down my station to run out for more ink.
Naturally, I was stoked to have this opportunity. The slight frustration about not being consulted about a major decision like this was put to rest, knowing that we would be compensated for our efforts. We now had the potential to break even in one night. I ran out, put more money on my already hefty credit card, and got back to the event with ink for the rest of the photographs. David spent the remainder of the night, both at the hotel and at our Air BnB, printing the rest of the photos to be picked up the following day.
We had succeeded the following day in providing all of the prints that were asked of us. They were then organized and placed in the hotel lobby for people to locate and take the print that was now part of their original purchase.
After the event was dying down and business was being taken care of, Kevin, who had assured me that we would be paid according to the agreement, met with Scott Marcus and immediately became elusive. I chalked this up to his demanding schedule and felt no insecurity, due to them being so accommodating previously. After a few ignored phone calls and unanswered texts, I started to worry. I then found out that Scott Marcus had collected his money and bailed, and called the “photo thing” a rip-off, refusing to pay it. This, of course, was through the word of others who were working closely with Kevin, and not from Kevin himself.
After finally getting word back from Kevin, I received a short text that read “no contract, no deal”. To Kevin’s credit, he eventually got back to me expressing his disappointment in the way things went down and that he didn’t have the money to pay me, which wasn’t that big of a deal because I had been told that the responsibility fell on Scott Marcus and Casandra (Elvira). I then invoiced Scott for the number that we were told needed to be printed. After a couple “reminder emails” this became our conversation…

Scott Marcus (scott@elvira.com):
”Josh,

We did not order any photos. Our deal with the Salem Horror Fest was a certain amount of the photo opp, went to the photographer/printer.

You need to work this out with them.

Scott”

Me
“Hey Scott,

Thanks for getting back to me. I’ve gone through this with Salem Horror Fest. Their contract never involved prints. I’ve been told by multiple sources that a call came from you that each person who purchased a ticket would walk away with their digital image and a print, all included in their ticket price.
My business and I were not consulted in this arrangement and I only found out when we ran out of ink the first time.
I believe the bill is going to the right place. Do you have a higher-up that I can speak to about this?”

Scott Marcus:
“I am the highest person you can speak with and we never had a deal for this either written or verbal.

Scott”

It was at this point that I realized I was getting nowhere with either Kevin Lynch or Scott Marcus. I turned to anyone and everyone who was involved that night to find out where the responsibility lay for our compensation. The Guest Liaison for Salem Horror Fest, seeing how entirely fucked up this situation was getting, took the time to write out a full account of what went on from behind the doors of Salem Horror and Elvira’s agency. She sent this email to Kevin, Scott, myself and two others.
Kevin immediately responded in defense of himself, stating that the evening was far more chaotic than anybody expected and that the requested $2,560 was “an inflation of the actual value provided – especially seeing that only 221 checked in and even a smaller number was actually printed.” Also, information that had not been presented until now.
He then offered us $750 and said this would “more than cover the actual cost of goods” and ended with the statement “October is a long month for all of us, and we still have another week to go. I suggest we put this behind us and move on.”
I did not accept the $750. Based on my employee’s review of the events, as well as Salem Horror’s Guest Liaison, Scott Marcus was still responsible for the bill. I found Kevin’s response confusing, frustrating and a little insulting. Scott Marcus gave no reply.
I adjusted our invoice to reflect the 221 who checked in and re-presented it to the group, asking for Scott Marcus to fulfill his verbal agreement. I’ve yet to hear anything.
Kevin’s odd response led me to believe that more went down between him and Scott than he told me about. I’ve been left with the assumption that Scott and Kevin agreed that the burden was placed on Kevin. Again, this is only an assumption since Kevin has never actually mentioned that. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me, seeing how he jumped in the middle with such a left-field offer. This told me that Kevin was taking a side. He had every opportunity to jump in and say something like “hey man, you asked these guys to do something, be cool and pay for what you asked for.” but to my knowledge, he never took that opportunity.
I don’t feel like what I’m saying or asking is unreasonable in any way. We provided a service and deserve proper compensation. This is something that I personally feel is not cool. At Salem Horror Fest, I found myself in a position several times where all of us were taking steps to help each other out. The camaraderie that was built between the staff, a few other vendors and myself was something that I’d love to write a full blog about. I suppose camaraderie can be deceiving.
Salem Horror Fest has announced that they’re setting up for 2020. Despite the great times we had, and the amazing connections we made, we will not be attending Salem Horror Fest. I will not work with an organization that refuses to have your back or acknowledge that they messed up without throwing out excuses to let themselves off the hook. We’d found a group of people who were awesome to be around. This is a group of people and an event that I would love to support, but the way things ended left me in a deeper money pit, and very few people who I’d like to associate with.
A word of caution to those attending and getting involved with Salem Horror Fest: its a fucking brilliant idea, but I got the impression on more times than this, that they don’t have it all together yet. Yes, there is a need for grace, but as a whole, they probably won’t have your back when you need them to. Don’t put yourself in any sort of situation where you’re depending on them to back you.
This is a situation that I still wish to be resolved. Having met Casandra in passing, who seemed like a cool enough person, I can only assume that she doesn’t know anything about this situation. I would expect someone of her stature to fulfill her agreements herself or through her management. I believe Scott Marcus to be the primary issue here. He has acted unprofessionally and irresponsibly. Unless Kevin Lynch or Scott Marcus want to fill me in on the entire story, I believe that I am owed $2,210.00 for a completed service that was promised compensation.

If you feel like helping out, post the pic below and tag @Elvira @Scott Marcus @Salem Horror and us, or simply share one of our posts on Social Media.

Dark Room Horror _ Stiffed by Elvira

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. We hope this long-overdue issue will be resolved.

Josh T. Romero
Lead Creep

Professional Weirdo

It takes a lot of time, work, and dedication to become a professional in any field. Becoming a Professional Weirdo takes something else…

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I met Jordan Jonas on Friday the 13th, in July 2018. This was my first official Blood Booth at Sister Bar. He walked in around 1 am, wearing a Local Boogeyman tee, and hair that looked like it jumped off the cover of August 89’s issue of Metal Hammer Magazine. He and his girlfriend, Tiffany, had come into the bar after what I could only assume was the end of his set with a new glam metal band, touring through Albuquerque. It was that moment that I decided it was time for a “bathroom break” and that on my way, I’d casually let them know what we had going on in the corner. To this day, that decision has proved itself fortuitous.

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Naturally, one of the first questions Jordan is regularly asked when meeting someone is “are you in a band?” It tends to come as a bit of a shock when they’re met with “No, I’m a magician.” After being taken back, the wheels turn and they arrive at Criss Angel, then it makes perfect sense to them. While I happen to know that Jordan does not take any cues from Angel, the jump is enough for most people to settle aesthetic in their own minds, and accept it enough to move on or ask for a trick.

To address the elephant in the hat, there tend to be stereotypes and prejudices against magicians. People often think they’re geeky, nerds who always have a deck of cards, a sleeve full of scarves, and a dove who’s been inside a secret pocket for far too long. They’ve come across as douchey, tricksters who try to make people feel stupid or inferior. Jordan is all of these things. Just kidding. Though he probably really does have a deck on him at all times. …jury’s still out on the dove. At the risk of saying something as simple as “Jordan is different”, he’s shown me a side of magic that I believe anyone can genuinely appreciate. He has developed a craft that I view as pure art. That, coupled with his eerie stage aesthetic, makes for one of those nights out you’ll not soon forget.

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Jordan has curated a performance, both on and off stage that leaves you with an “oh fuck!” sort of feeling, coupled with a strong desire to find an exorcist, and quickly. All of the shows I’ve been to and been apart of, make me want to drop everything I’ve ever worked towards and focus the rest of my life on sleight of hand. Though that may seem overly dramatic, I don’t know if I can refute it. He works this crafted skill into a show that I can only think of as “Rob Zombie’s, The Shining”, but with less fog.

Some things that have struck me most about Jordan Jonas are his attention to detail and a work ethic that puts me to shame. I had the opportunity to film him a little while back, and during the process, I had every intention of not going behind his back or filming too closely, so as not to capture how he pulls off the weird shit he does. Two cameramen in a small venue leave you in positions where that’s not really an option if you’d actually like to capture something dynamic. Much to my surprise, not only did I see him perform new things, I still have no idea how the hell he pulled them off. I’ve seen the footage, and from every angle, it’s flawless. Later, he told me the number of hours he’d put into every angel being accessible to his audience and the camera. This is art.

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Jordan is a phenomenal magician. And, because he doesn’t fit the stereotypes of many others in his line of work, I feel proud to be in his circle of close friends. If you have the opportunity, go see one of his shows. Make a night of it. Being the horror fan that he is, the genre makes its way onto his stage in a way that feels so natural, it’s spooky. You may leave having experienced genuine joy, but I’d still recommend having your exorcist on speed dial.

Follow Jordan Jonas for dates and booking:
Instagram @JordanJonas13
Facebook /JordanJonas13

 

josh t romero and tamara gray romero
Josh T. Romero
Lead Creep

The Tell Tale Heart with Josh T. Romero

Josh T. Romero-01
“TRUE! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?”

My head was resting on the interior frame of a small SUV, behind the driver’s seat, parked outside an outlet mall in California. I held a book that I can say without a doubt, has influenced who I have become today. Not to say that I am mad…
I was 15 years old when I read Poe’s short story, The Tell Tale Heart. It’s a quick-paced tale of terror that begins with the confession of a cold-blooded murder. I’d read various poems from Poe earlier on, and I could have honestly called myself a fan of his work, but it was after this reading that I fell in love with the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

The Tell Tale Heart is about a man who may not be alright in the head. It’s a first-person account of a man’s descent through madness as he recounts the tale of his murder of a man he loved. Despite his deep care, the old man’s vulture eye was responsible for our lead character’s misery.
“a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.”
All throughout the intro, our lead attempts to relieve the reader’s anxiety of his madness, yet we get the feeling that the madness existed long before he decided to rid himself of the eye forever. Poe’s crafting of this story is captivating from the opening lines. He’s at a level that many writers today aspire to. His readers are never in a dull moment.

The story of this madman falls proudly into the horror genre. One thing that makes it so terrifying, even 176 years after it was written, is that this entire account could happen today. That comfort in knowing that if this did happen, it happened a long time ago, doesn’t come out much. You could almost see this entire account being replayed in a Netflix documentary in a court or interrogation room. Looking at how mental illness is handled in the US right now, this actually hits pretty close to home.

Naturally, this particular story forces us to ask the question, what is madness? Over the years, the term “madness” has decreased in popularity, and for good reason. It was used as a blanket statement for any person with any sort of mental illness. We’ve come a long way in the fields of mental science, but I wouldn’t dare say that we’ve arrived where we need to be. Films like Psycho, Carnival of Souls, Repulsion, Silence of the Lambs, and the more recent Joker, prod at a problem with the way we regard mental illness today. Previous generations have looked at ‘madness’ as something shameful that should be locked away. Even now, there are so many of us who refuse to speak of the hell in our psyche for fear of what others might think and how they will judge. 

I know we’re dealing with fiction, but more often than not, fiction gives us a pretty solid view of what a culture is facing when it is written. What would this story look like if this man wasn’t made to fear the label of madness? How different would it have been if this one man faced his demon in the eye and communicated the grief that he held the old man responsible for? It’s hard to say because the same thing is still happening today. People aren’t getting the help that they need for fear of rejection from others, and we don’t make it that easy to get help either. Though we have made tremendous strides in the world of mental health, it’s still widely seen as its own issue, unrelated to physical health and general well-being. 

I’m tempted to admit that I’ve digressed into a topic for another write-up, but I don’t believe that I have. I believe that what makes Poe so powerful is his ability to make his readers confront a subject that they would otherwise avoid, much like horror as a whole. Mental illness, malevolence, birth defects, and the murder of a seemingly good man become conversational. In a utopian world, I would argue that horror may not exist. There would be no reason for it. In our world, the horror genre exists as a light into the shadows of the uncomfortable and the unknown. We find comfort in those shadows, knowing that we’re not alone. When we see somebody like Poe writing a story like this, we’re not the only ones who see how fucked up things can get. I think that Poe believed that this genre calls out for a response. I believe that it’s up to us to look at the issues being addressed and make our response known.

195 years ago, Edgar Allan Poe put his voice to work in a way that’s still active and relevant today. For this reason, and more to go, hail horror. Hail Poe!

 

josh t romero and tamara gray romero
Josh T. Romero
Lead Creep

THE SYSTEM OF DR. TARR AND PROF. FETHER with David Burchell

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“Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see.”
Our protagonist here, whilst on a venture through the southern stretch
of France, finds himself just miles away from a personally much-lauded
location: the Maison de Sante. Private madhouse. A place flown famously
throughout the airs of the medical community due to its unorthodox
treatments, rehabilitations. The system of soothing. This system, although
still strict at its parameters, acted as a better angel for the peoples
there. Punishments were eradicated. Confinement was a rarity. And although
still watched, there was a freeness which allowed said lunatics to wander
unwaveringly, donning the wears of sane and rational.
Upon his arrival, and with the presciences given to him by his
knowledges of the system, he begins wary, at the meeting of a young, and
beautiful, woman, a pianist. Subtly, he remains wary of her, fitting her
perhaps into the camp of the insane. But, such things progress as to elude
him, as certain aspects of hers find definition and detail—and as, at the
excusing of herself, his host, the formidable and stoutly Monsieur
Maillard, quite bafflingly reassures him of her sanity. His niece, the
young lady, is a most accomplished woman. After which, our protagonist is
regaled in rigorous explanation the changes to the system, that the
patients are not to be left liberty, that, due to a bulwark or two,
confinement is very much a thing in place. Sad, but exciting, news. There
becomes talk, both of the system’s successes and failures. “There is no
argument which so touches the feeble reason of the madman as the argumentum
ad absurdum,” says his host, proudly. The line here delves psychologically
into the machinations of the mind. Said patients in particular believed
themselves truly as chickens, and thus were encouraged and affirmed to be
so, fed only the foods of the diet of the chicken, the nonsense of the
conclusion effectively negating the crotchets and beliefs. More of this
I’ll touch on later.
Preceding a tour of the institute, it is suggested a dinner be in
order, so as to ease the stomach and the mind.
And so the evening begins.
At the table, our character is faced with very many a strange thing,
watching at the gathered guests dressed up wild and weird and overtly
lavish, stared at with the burgeoning towers and excess heaps of food, and
gallons of drink. There’s a consistent wariness plaguing him, and he
wonders again if these guests are actually patients, and if he’d been lied
to, as a means to some end, perhaps to ease him in, alleviate some shock.
But as the feast makes way, he is very swiftly assuaged of such suspicions.
These are intelligent beings, witty, and eclectic, personages, important
peoples. Excusing some of the lavisher and stranger ways in which they
dress and speak, he lowers his guard, giving in gracious to the night.
But therein lies the fault.
What starts as cordial and civil conversation, regaling their guest— our protagonist—with anecdotal tales of patients past, ascendantly swirls
into a competition of sorts. Each patient story professed out louder than
the last. Each move of the belief, acted out. The clamor rises and bubbles
and settles. Howls are heard, from some other chambering of the Maison, to
do the same. Guests at the table whisper each other’s ears, halting them
from rising upon the table, from the methods of the acts. A slip of
Monsieur Maillard’s lips, as he scolds a one of his beloved guests for
acting out, perturbs our character, as she is addressed with the namesake
of the woman she spoke: a patient believed of themselves to be a hen. But,
again, as is per our protagonist’s usual, he is persuaded of his fears
otherwise, due to the respectable, and formal, nature of his host. The host
who begins to speak so direly.
He begins again vaguely, as he’d earlier, to tell our hero of the
newer system in place, the system of a Dr. Tarr and a Prof. Fether. Cutting
that short, he merges into discussion of the dangers of letting the loons

that short, he merges into discussion of the dangers of letting the loons
run free, as they are unparalleled in wit and cunning when lumped together
so freely, as they can put on airs of sanity, rationality, mindfulness. He
talks of a rebellion that occurred one sometime ago, in which the patients
surmounted the doctors, swapping places, caging the sane, and charging, and
empowering, the insane. He talks of a man they welcomed in during this, a
stupid man, to poke fun and to play and to heckle with. An unassuming
fellow. And but how would he know? What, with their fancy dress and
bountiful feast and drowning drink? What, with their intelligences? Their
stories? Their committals to the method and to the act and to the system?
He tells to him that, in his honest, honest opinion, that that newer
system, enacted by the loony man in charge, the head rebel, was a better
system than whatever older one they used: “simple—neat—no trouble at all—in
fact it was delicious it was . . .”
The lunatics break free.
Pandemonium descends from the outs and ins of the Maison de Sante.
The bands plays frenetic a feverish Yankee Doodle.
The guests and partners and members all lavish and light find finally
a freedom, breaking the methods of their acts, blowing whistles of tea and
croaking throats of frogs and spinning rounds and rounds and rounds of
teetotums.
The windows, in they break.
Monsters attack.
Tarred and feathered monsters attacking backwards their captors,
captives.
And the whole of the night fades into traumatic memory.
To me, the System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether is a tale what warns of
supposition, of rumour, of gossip, of the dangers of believing conniving
parrots, trusting alone in appearance, hanging on tight the threads of
prejudice, and stereotype. Rutting the paths of beliefs passed on to you. A
dangerous, dangerous system, no matter how long it’s been in place. A story
of cat killing curiosity, lavish in its dress, but blunt in its execution,
telling our protagonist from the start exactly what this is, with an ending
perhaps more viscerally ironic than the whole of the piece.
Lamenting upon the tragedy of that night of the Maison de Sante, no
matter how far he scours, library after library, for the printed works of
Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether, he cannot seem to find them.
And so the arrow . . . Never made . . . Its mark.
Remember, Reader, if you will:
“Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see.”

 

 

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David Burchell
Writer

The Fall of the House of Usher with Dr. Casing

Dr Casing-01

The historical context of Edgar Allan Poe is always worth noting when discussing his work. The United States was plagued by Tuberculosis and chattel slavery. This comes across in his poetry through a variety of motifs. Do you remember reading Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher (or, perhaps, having it read to you)? I believe this particular poem is a not-so-subtle commentary on race, racial purity, and the transmission of property (among other things) within a traditional line of people. I will tell you why.
Do you recall what was so remarkable about the Usher race? The narrator immediately pulls us into a gloomy scene as he describes a long day of traveling by horseback until he was finally “within view of the melancholy House of Usher.”* He then describes his childhood friendship with the proprietor of the house and continues to note, “the very remarkable fact, that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch.”* The remarkable thing about the Usher race is, in part, the fact that it made sense for the narrator to call it a race instead of just a family. No new branches from the stem of that family line means, well, as the narrator explains, “in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain.”* The Usher bloodline was kept pure, so to speak. It never varied. The narrator denotes this lack of variation as a deficiency. After all, he is referring to a lack. The Usher race lacked deviation. It lacked diversity.
The narrator considers “this deficiency…while running over in thought the perfect keeping of the character of the premises with the accredited character of the people, and while speculating upon the possible influence which the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the other.”* The narrator is looking upon what he calls the “melancholy House of Usher” as he considers the connection between the lack of genetic diversity, the character of the Ushers, and the result of these things after centuries of continuation without variation. The narrator also considers the connection between the house and the family to be as unyieldingly entrenched in sameness. He explains that, “the consequent undeviating transmission, from sire to son, of the patrimony with the name, which had, at length, so identified the two as to merge the original title of the estate in the quaint and equivocal appellation of the ‘House of Usher’.”* The estate and the bloodline bore the same name and ultimately referred to the same thing. And, of course, the title The Fall of the House of Usher refers to the falling of the Usher race as well as to the crumbling fall of the estate as it crushes its proprietors after one fell atop the other. So, the story ends, and we are left with the notion that an attempt to keep others from crossing our borders might eventually lead to self-destruction.

Dr. Casing
Doctor of Philosophy

Edgar Allan Poe: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/932/932-h/932-h.htm)

HAIL POE

hail poe 2-01

Edgar Allan Poe.
The Tomahawk Man.
Progenitor of what some may deem as horror, the psychedelia and the
psychosis and the wherewithal of the human condition, writ upon the pages
of burgeoning, and troubling, times—whilst going through his own troubling
times, mind you: rifling through the waning cupboards of poverty,
circumstances orphaning, abandoning, coming to awful grips with the loss of
both his Wife and Mother at the early hands of tuberculosis, struggling the
throes of alcoholism, addiction, defamation. All drenched atop the
minuscule praises and recognitions he received, and the lack thereof. These
things for him compounded a depression, a life of traumatic events,
tragedies, resulting ultimately in an early, and quite befuddling death. A
mystery of mysteries. An unfinished horror story in its own right. A
haunting thing, really.
Poe was an apotheosis of the literary worlds, stretching out far across
the globe of genre. The man accredited with the namesake of a god: the
creator of detective fiction, as found within the confines of The Murders
in the Rue Morgue. The perpetuity of his inspiration and influence washes
deep, apparently beaconing out to workers and writers such as H.P.
Lovecraft, and Stephen King, and . . . and just about any avid fan or
writer or creative tucked dusty within the wheelhouse of horror. And
whether that be cosmical or societal or psychological or deeply, darkly
fantastical, Edgar Allan Poe understood truly its important, and
irreplaceable, nature within the wide of literature, within poetry—within
media. Utilizing the fragrances and tones of loss and trauma and grief and
isolation and hysteria, Poe weaved for us a twinkling scape of frightening
stars, ghastly, gravid constellations through which we can discern and
discuss and contemplate the incongruities of our own reality, of our place,
of our interpersonal relationships, and how we may navigate such twilit
vistas. He understood that horror was man’s truest name, and, that without
it, there’s not much beauty of life to see.
Our dearest, dearest Poe carved it up a stain across the plinth of
nighttime sky. Shoveling snows, beneath cloudy coverlets and fogs on
moonfull nights, you can hear it—you can feel it. It’s that warn against
the lightless corners of abandoned streets. It’s that name of yours called
distant in the hush. It’s that flush of instant fever writhing wretched
within your skins as the footsteps step ever closer and you freeze . . .
And so let us here, us doubly troubled souls at Dark Room Horror, take
you there for a moment or two, or three, to peek at the beneaths of those
gauntish, guilty floorboards, to discuss the whapping beats of those
hidden, telling hearts, and to unrest awhile uneasily, as we do delve into
the works of the Tomahawk Man. If only he could see us now, we wonder.
What a laughter that would be.
-David Burchell

The Tell Tale Heart: Josh T. Romero

The Fall of the House of Usher: Dr. Casing

The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether: David Burchell

 

Community in Horror

One of the biggest lessons that Scooby-Doo taught me is that there is safety in numbers. Shaggy, either out of wisdom or fear, knew that greater than anybody else in the group. He experienced camaraderie and lack of it and applied that knowledge of both situations to create his understanding. In many ways, I relate to him. His fears, though silly, tended to be rational, based on his personal experience. As fans of the horror genre, I believe we can all understand that. We tend not to have many irrational fears, but seeing the world for what it is, our fears are based on reality. This is not a factual, blanket statement. I’m sure there are some of us who still have a very real fear of letting your foot or hand, hang over the sides of our beds while we sleep. I’m not here to judge, I’m just pointing out that we may not have any proper ground to stand on for this one.

During an interview, John Carpenter was asked why people are drawn to his films and why he’s so successful. His response was that “we’re all afraid of the same things. It’s those fears that unite us as people.” The first time I heard that, it hit me in a heavy way. We all, at some point in our lives, feel alone. Whether that feeling is real or imagined, there’s hope in that statement that says we’re never alone. Every thought, feeling and idea we have is based on our surroundings. As depressing as that could sound, I believe that something as powerful as the feeling of loneliness, assuming you don’t want to stay there, can be turned into a desire to move. More than anything, there’s a lot of disconnect due to our own perception of how things are and how things should be. The lie that most of us tend to believe is that we have to keep at it alone, or that it’s something that can’t be changed. The truth is, there is safety in numbers. When we’re together, we’re powerful. 

Community is simple. It’s all about living life with like-minded people or people who share a common goal. To have that community, every person doesn’t have to agree on everything. In fact, the ability to challenge each other’s thoughts is how we grow as people! Community is something that can be built as long that there is a common goal. The only caveat is that it needs to be a goal worth fighting for. If the idea is too small and other opinions are too strong, the relationship will break. More than anything, we need a common ground as people. We can not grow as individuals or as a nation on our own. This is a call for that community. I believe to achieve a genuine community, it will be a challenge. But I also believe that challenge breeds progress, and if we don’t see progress as a worthy goal to chase after, we’re screwed. 

I don’t have a desire to grow the horror community. I think a goal like that would actually harm what’s already there. In an attempt to evangelize the non-horror lover, terms like “smart horror” have been coined to prove to the world that there’s more to it than just the guts and gore. Intelligent horror stories are being written now, much like intelligent horror stories were being written into Greek mythos. In my personal opinion, I think labeling something as “smart horror” is a bullshit cash grab to make another dollar off a larger audience. Yet, at the same time, I am very happy with the mainstream strides the genre has made because ultimately, it will result in more content for the lovers of the genre. 

Horror is a confrontation genre that opens the door to discuss the things we fear the most. It has the capability to challenge the way we think. It enables us to see life through a different lens and face the things we all fear. It forces us to confront those fears as opposed to living a life of elusion. I believe that challenge can produce progress in our lives, and all the more if we do it together. Get to know your local horror community. Make things happen and live life together with the goal of growing together. 

As for our area, know that’s the goal. We want to meet, and know as many people as we can who share a love for the macabre. We want to push further and further out, not to expand the horror community, but to bring this one tighter together. 

We believe that community is important and that it’s something worth fighting for.