Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

The other day, I was just doing laundry, like any other working mother might. Honestly, I may spend half my life washing and putting away laundry. Anyway, I was trying to figure out what clothes I would want to pack for Telluride Horror Show. I ended up doing an inventory of my horror/Halloween/gothic wardrobe.

I ended up with over 40 items. Now, in high school, I was a typical damaged little goth girl. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, and I don’t do anything I like a little. And when I grew up, I became a horror writer. None of this is unexpected. Some pieces are from my gothic recovery period in my early 20s. Some are horror movie shirts. There are just a lot.

Some have been woefully neglected, so I resolved to wear them ALL in the month of October. And if I’m going to do something so festive, I might as well hop on social media and share that silliness with everyone. So I am going to post pictures of each of my ensembles on Instagram, Twitter, here…

Now, am I model? Nope. Do I have a perfect appearance by societal definition? Absolutely not. This is all just fun and games. This is about the clothes.

So in addition to #31DaysofHorror bingo, I will be posting pictures for #Hallowear all month. Enjoy!

 

Christina Bergling

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Some days (most days), I do not have time to be crazy. Yet crazy I remain.

I just surfaced from the longest depression cycle I can remember since I used to drink all my feelings. Unlike my usual three day lows, this was over a month of symptoms reading like a flyer for depression, which is nothing like my usual experiences. Sleeping did not reset it. Talking did nothing. I could not run or dance it out. It was just depression, without cause or end.

Such mundane, typical, relentless depression is decidedly inconvenient for someone as I busy as I keep myself. I learned, in this odd cycle, that I cannot multitask while depressed. It is like my brain is half paralyzed. Thoughts are heavy and slow, and suddenly one monopolizes all my synapses.

For the usual day or two, this is not a big deal. For multiple weeks, this was an epic wrench in the system. I am sure my frustration at the reduction in my productivity and focus only served to enrage the repressive fire.

Yet, on the flip side, depression stimulates my writing. Apparently, I have to devote full attention to it, but it awakens a different part of my brain. Different ideas, which only appear in this mood, flourish. I can write in any mood, but it is a specific experience in any variety of depression. It feels like a door opens in the back of my mind, like the veil between conscious and subconscious becomes thinner.

So the writer’s mind unfurled below and around me, yet the rest of my life suffered. As I climb out of the hole, I am standing in the crater of everything I need to catch up on. Sometimes, when I try to do everything (work and write and be a mom and be a partner and be active and take care of myself), I feel like I fail a little bit at all of them. Since nothing gets my full attention, everything suffers.

Sometimes, it fells like it’s never enough.

Yet I don’t know any other way to be. I can’t give up any part of me. I have to work, but I also have to write. I have to take care of my family, but I have to take care of myself to do that. So reduction is not really an option, but I don’t have time for these hindrances. I don’t even want to dare sickness or another damn injury.

I am just glad to be on the other side. For a while, my mind did not feel like my own. My thoughts and feelings moved in such alien patterns that I felt lost on foreign terrain, like an intruder in my own bones. I just wanted to be able to function like myself, feel like myself, just be without thinking about it.

But I can feel “normal” cresting. I can catch of glimpse of the other side. Hell, I was manic earlier this week. If anything breaks a depression, it is mania. If nothing else, cycling and movement in my moods is part of my normal. I need to ride the wave. I don’t know how to exist on a placid sea.

In any case, I have to pull my shit together. October starts on Sunday, and October is my season. Horror season. Halloween season. The busiest month of my year. In addition to all the customary Halloween traditions and celebrations, we are attending the Telluride Horror Show. Plus there is #31DaysOfHorror, to which I am adding a bingo game this year. And, after a laundry inventory, I am going to rock all my Halloween/horror/goth attire for the month for #Hallowear.

I’m on the other side now; let’s do this.

 

Christina Bergling

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This October, a friend on Twitter invited me to participate in #31DaysofHorror, in which you strive to watch one horror movie each day. Initially, I thought I would participate here and there, as I could. I should have known better. Once I started, I became obsessive as I always do. After the Nightmare on Elm Street in theater marathon added 7 movies to my total in one night, I decided to go for 50 movies in the month of October.

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And I got to 51.

Honestly, it was a blast. It was a lot of horror. Daunting at times, mind eroding at others. Yet ultimately, it was fun to indulge in so much of the holiday horror spirit and be able to share it with plenty of awesome people online. My poor, little mind may never recover, but I will definitely be doing it again next year. Probably even harder, if I know myself at all.

So I give you my 51 movies of horror in October. Happy Halloween!

 

 1_wyrmwood Wyrmwood

A bunch of interesting ideas that lacked the execution to really make them work. I wanted to like it, but it needed more development and polishing.

 2-cabininthewoods Cabin in the Woods

One of my favorite horror movies. A refreshing spin on horror lore, archetypes, and the genre in general.

 3-wearestillhere We are Still Here

Simplistic, well executed horror. A well balanced and creepy haunting story.

 4-28dayslater 28 Days Later

A movie that changed the zombie genre. Always amazing.

 5-28weekslater 28 Weeks Later

The overproduced and Americanized sequel that pales in comparison to its predecessor. Fine movie, disappointing sequel.

 6_ghostsofmars Ghosts of Mars

Bad, just so very bad. But I do love John Carpenter. And Ice Cube.

 7_headless Headless

We found this movie on a list of most disturbing horror. It was definitely graphic and gross and depraved–but all with purpose. I really enjoyed it.

 8_humancentipede2 Human Centipede 2

More graphic,  more twisted, and more disturbing than its predecessor. Who knew it was possible? Yet still well done.

 9_humancentipede3 Human Centipede 3

What. The. Fuck. The franchise completely went off the rails into ridiculous and just awful.

 10_whatwedointheshadows What We Do in the Shadows

Interview with the Vampire meets The Real World. Just hysterical and wonderful.

 11_yourenext You’re Next

One of my favorite newer horror movies. So well done and all about the survivor.

 12_thepurgeelectionyear The Purge: Election Year

Perfect watch for this election year. Chock full of social commentary and blood.

 13_letmein Let Me In

Potentially my favorite remake. I adore Let the Right One In, and this one manages to live up to it.

 14_thefog The Fog

Creepy and classic.

 15_vhs V/H/S

A very clever horror anthology that made me nauseous. With the shaky cam filming rather than the content.

 16_finalgirls The Final Girls

A horror comedy I have loved since first seeing it at The Stanley Film Festival.

 17_hanselandgretel Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

I was very skeptical of this selection but found it gory and very fun.

 18_nightmare A Nightmare on Elm Street

Just as brilliant as it is classic. This one may contain my favorite death scene in ALL of horror.

 19_freddy2 A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

The homoerotic sequel that does not make a whole lot of sense.

 20_freddy3 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

The second best in the franchise; the sequel that should have followed the first.

 21_freddy4 A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Eh. An acceptable chapter.

 22_freddy5 A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

Terrible. Just TERRIBLE. I only watched it because it was in the theater in the middle of the marathon. I would have napped through if I didn’t have so many Monsters.

 23_freddy6 Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

The humor is on point, and Freddy is awesome, but the rest of the movie was just crap.

 24_freddy7 New Nightmare

I am utterly torn on this one. I love when horror makes fun of itself, and the premise is clever. Plus a great cast reunion! Yet I hate what they did to Freddy when he leaves the screen.

 25_freddyvjason Freddy vs Jason

A great Freddy movie. Just fun.

 26_feast Feast

Funny and creepy and gross but enjoyable.

 27_inthemouthofmadness In the Mouth of Madness

Amazing. Required for both horror fans and writers (like myself).

 28_theguest The Guest

Unnerving and well balanced. A perfect blend of suspense.

 29_vhs2 V/H/S 2

The entries in this anthology might be inferior to the first collection, but the filming did not make me sick, which made it easier for me to participate and enjoy.

 30_evildead2 Evil Dead 2

When the franchise really embraced itself.

 31_armyofdarkness Army of Darkness

A little bit of ridiculous fun with the undead.

 32_dragmetohell Drag Me to Hell

Campy and gross. Very fun.

 33_americanmary American Mary

Sexy horror and depraved fetish. Basically, me in a nutshell. One of my very favorite movies.

 34_otis Otis

Funny and twisted. When revenge becomes a family affair.

 35_talesofhalloween Tales of Halloween

Not the best Halloween anthology I have seen (clue: it’s Trick r Treat) but still a festive watch.

 36_deadsnow Dead Snow

Nazi zombies. Nazi. Zombies! So good.

 37_vhsviral V/H/S Viral

I hated the final chapter in the franchise. It’s like the filmmakers got financing and did not know what to do with it.

 38_halloween Halloween

The Halloween classic that started it all.

 39_halloween2 Halloween II

A direct continuation of the first.

 40_halloweenh20 Halloween H20

The third and only other entry I recognize in the Halloween franchise. I love watching Laurie decide to face her demons.

 41_candyman Candyman

Clever twists on the haunting convention.

 42_leslievernon Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Absolutely brilliant horror comedy that comes after every horror convention and archetype.

 43_theconjuring The Conjuring

As my husband always says, creepy as balls. And balls can be pretty creepy.

 44_thereanimator The Re-Animator

The B-rated Lovecraftian classic.

 45_scream Scream

My VERY first horror movie!

 46_scream2 Scream 2

I am still accepting that they killed Randy.

 47_scream3 Scream 3

I do like the jabs at horror and Hollywood, but really? What?

 48_scream4 Scream 4

My favorite of the sequels. I like the critique of nouveau horror and reboots.

 49_saw Saw

Another genre changer. Gritty and raw and original.

 50_silenceofthelambs The Silence of the Lambs

One of my favorite movies (not just horror). Hannibal Lecter is the best serial killer.

 51_trickrtreat Trick r Treat

THE Halloween movie. This film embodies everything I love about the holiday in one anthology. Our post trick-or-treating tradition.

What horror movies did you watch in October? Any Halloween traditions? What’s your favorite scary movie?

 

Christina Bergling

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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

halloweenghosts

As the sun retreated from the sky and the last rays of light died in the air, Marla’s small body began to materialize on top of the cracked asphalt. Her hips appeared first, the round bulbs of her pelvis spiraling out of obscurity as spinal vertebrae sprouted to climb up to her shoulders and bare skull. The tiny skeleton curled on the street in the fetal position, with her eye socket rooted to ground.

The skeletal fingertips twitched and jerked against the rough blacktop as the skull softly swayed side to side. As the bones began to animate, muscle and flesh blossomed along their edges like moss, overtaking the form as veins and arteries snaked up through the tissue. Hair budded from the fresh scalp until the wily mass of strands draped over Marla’s little shoulders.

Within seconds of dusk, the entire child body returned to the street, complete with the torn clothes. She lifted her head slowly from the pavement, her ejected eye clinging to the ground before popping up to dangle along her shredded cheek. Her right hand flopped half detached as it dropped from her bloody forearm. She stood on crooked legs with flaps of flesh shaved down and hanging over her knees.

Marla stood straight in her broken body, eye wagging with each movement, under the growing moonlight. The headlights of a large truck blazed up over her. She turned the eye still in her head to the vehicle before it drove through her in a swirling puff of steam. The edges of her form wavered before snapping back into shape.

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Marla turned unaffected by the truck driving through her, or the staggered series of cars that followed. She moved instinctively to the southwest corner just as she did every year. She stepped onto the curb, with one shoe on and one bare, scraped foot, as the contorted figure of her mother shambled toward her through the streetlight.

Abigail’s head cocked at an extreme angle, and her spine warped in sympathy. Blood had poured from her gaping headwound, drenching her face and clothes in a waterfall of red. Her feet splayed out in divergent directions, causing her to hobble even slower than the twisted corpse of her daughter.

“Hello, my beautiful girl,” Abigail whispered in a rasp as she wrapped her arms around her shattered child. “Welcome to our night.”

“I missed you, Mommy,” Marla said as she cuddled into her mother’s blood-soaked sweater.

“I missed you, beautiful.”

Abigail took Marla’s destroyed face in her hands, allowing the suspended eyeball to roll along her palm. Marla smiled sweetly with the facial muscles she had left.

“Don’t look at me like that, Mommy.”

“I’m sorry, baby. If I had known you hadn’t buckled your seatbelt, I would have never left the parking lot.”

“You don’t have to say that every year, Mommy.”

“You just had to get a new costume that night.”

“The one I had looked stupid.”

“No, it didn’t, but I wanted you to have a good Halloween.”

“It’s OK, Mommy. We can have another good Halloween tonight.”

“What should we do tonight?”

“I want to go see Daddy and Jakey.”

“No, baby. We don’t go see them.”

“Why not?”

“The same as every year. We don’t know how long it has been. It would make me sad to go and see Jake all grown up or your daddy as a grandpa.”

“It hasn’t been that long. Jakey will still be little. Just like when we left.”

“We don’t know that, Marla. We don’t go see them. Now, come now. Let’s do something fun.”

“Can we borrow bodies?” Marla perked up, and the tear in her cheek deepened as she grinned.

“Oh, that sounds like fun. What do you want to do with them?”

“I want to go trick-or-treating! But, this year, I want to be the momma and you be the kid.”

“Are you sure? It’s way more fun to be the kid.”

“No. It’s better to be the grown up.”

“That’s what all kids think. Until they become grown ups. But I suppose you never have to worry about that.”

“I still want to be the momma.”

“OK, baby, you can be the momma. You can even pick the bodies.”

“Yay!”

Marla leaped in excitement then took her mother’s hand in her attached arm, her other hand waggling loosely on threads of traumatized flesh. The two mangled forms moved unseen through the darkness as scurrying trick-or-treaters began to flood the streets.

ghostsonroad

Marla let her eye move over each group of figures in the night. The child body would have to be young to still have an adult escort. She watched a parade of tiny princesses march down the sidewalk, mothers snapping pictures with their phones like paparazzi. She looked over a group of unchaperoned tweens running by giggling under their masks.

Finally, she caught sight of a young boy marching down the street. He smiled euphorically under his pirate’s eyepatch, swinging a hefty bucket of candy at his side. Behind him, his mother weaved absentmindedly as her eyes fixated down on the glowing screen of her phone. She gripped a large travel coffee mug tightly with the other hand, taking compulsive sips every couple steps.

“Them,” Marla said, pointing confidently, knowing the living could not see her.

“The pirate and his mom?”

Marla nodded enthusiastically, her hanging eye bouncing up and down.

“Well, I’ve never been a pirate before,” Abigail laughed. “OK, darling, you know what to do.”

Marla stepped in the path of the distracted mother and placed her palms together out in front of her. As the woman turned Marla’s fingertips into mist, Marla swung her arms, as if swimming in the water, and dove right into the mother’s chest. Somewhere behind her, Abigail did the same to the young pirate.

“This feels weird, Mommy…I mean, son,” Marla said moving her arms in the strange new skin.

The living flesh felt awkward, heavy, confining. Marla and Abigail took a moment to shift and fidget, finding their bearings locked back under the bars of the bones. Marla took an awkward step forward and nearly toppled over. She realigned herself over her feet and brought the hefty cup to her lips. The acidic taste of the liquid bit her tongue, and she immediately spat it out.

“Eeww! What is this?” Marla held the cup out to her mother in the pirate costume.

Abigail reached the young boys hand’s forward and took a sip.

“Oh,” Abigail said, knowingly. “That is not coffee at all. That’s wine.”

“Wine? Why would she have wine in a coffee mug?”

“Because being the kid is more fun, dear,” Abigail laughed.

The two moved forward in staggering steps until walking became more familiar. With each passing house, they moved more naturally until they strode like all the other living people. They approached the next house with the porch light on and hesitated at the base of the driveway.

“What is it?” Marla asked, awkwardly juggling the coffee mug and oversized smartphone.

“I haven’t trick-or-treated in decades. Even in decades when I was alive. I’m nervous, I think.”

“That’s silly, Mommy. Son. Just go up there; ring the bell; and say, ‘Trick or treat!’”

“OK, I’m going.”

“What do I do?”

“While I trick-or-treat?”

“Yeah.”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“Yes. You follow me and stand here waiting for me. That’s it. Just don’t drink that cup. You’re having enough trouble walking in that body already.”

“Maybe the kid does have all the fun.”

“Told you.”

Marla watched her mother toddle up the concrete in the little pirate body and stood drumming her fingers on the cup she was not supposed to drink. When Abigail disappeared around the edge of the house, Marla took a deep sip on defiant principle then winced as it burned down her throat and pooled heat in her stomach.

Marla would never grow up to understand adults.

She turned the cup over and dumped the wine in the street. The red liquid looked just like all the blood that had poured out from her head when she went careening through the windshield so many Halloweens ago.

“That was weird,” Abigail laughed as she skipped back with a heavier bucket.

They moved house to house, repeating the same pattern around dark, curved blocks. With each stop, Marla grew more anxious. She tapped the mother’s toe on the hard ground. She crossed her arms and wished she knew how to operate the phone she shoved into her back pocket. Other children began to grow scarce on the street.

“I think that’s enough now, Mommy,” Marla said. “I mean, son.”

“Oh, come on. I can get this kid even more candy. Look at all the porch lights on that street.”

“No, I don’t want to anymore.”

“Not having any fun, beautiful?”

“Next year, I want to be the kid again.”

“I thought you might say that.”

Abigail smiled and took Marla’s hand, strange in the reversal of the angle.

“Well, let’s go put them back where we got them, and we’ll have a little time before our night is over,” Abigail said.

They walked the borrowed bodies back along their meandering trail to the driveway where they started. Marla drew her energy toward her center then thrust it upward. As she appeared wispy and disfigured again beside the mother, she felt herself expand into the freedom outside of the flesh. She watched the mother return to the surface disoriented, looking confused at the empty coffee mug in her hand.

Taking her mother’s ghostly hand once more, Marla followed her through the quieting streets. Jack o’lanterns flickered with dying candles on the porches. Music thumped out from lingering Halloween parties. The light air would have been crisp and the leaves would have crunched under their footsteps if they could feel either.

Abigail led Marla back to her spot in the middle of the intersection. She did not think of the way she could hear the front end of her car collapse or the way she saw the body of her child go flying past her head and through the windshield. She never saw Marla’s actual body on the street; she never left the driver seat.

“Are you ready to sleep, darling?” Abigail said.

“Yes, Mommy. It was a good Halloween.”

ghostinstreetlight

Marla crouched down on the pavement and lined herself up just as she had materialized, still clinging to her mother’s hand like an afterthought.

“Yes, it was, but next year, you can be the kid again.”

“Sounds good, Mommy. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, beautiful. I’ll see you next year.”

Abigail bent down and pressed her lips to her daughter’s cracked forehead, even as the cars continued to drive through and over them. Before Marla turned to plant her eye socket back on the pavement, she watched her mother hobble away into the night, back to her place. With each step, a layer disintegrated from Abigail’s form, as if she was melting into wisps in the air. Marla faded too. She felt herself shedding coherency until she dropped her head, and they both blew away before the sun pierced the sky.

 

Christina Bergling

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facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

horror

When you tell people that you are an author, the inevitable first question is always, “Well, what do you write?” To which I nonchalantly answer, “horror.” I love seeing the reactions. Usually, it is either shock with an awkward stumbling or fascination. In any case, the reaction generally provides a pretty solid gauge on how the remainder of our interaction on the subject will play out.

morbidwriting

If the questioner remains interested, the follow up question is naturally, “Why horror?” Especially if we start discussing The Waning. Everyone seems to have a strong reaction to that book, one way or another. Most people can get behind zombies and the apocalypse like in Savages with how mainstream those themes have become. Not everyone can take captivity and seemingly endless (and some might say, pointless) torture, however. I have family members who could not even finish The Waning; it was too “dark.”

thewaning_swag

It is not an easy question to answer: why horror? With most things, you can get away with the canned response that you just like it. With horror, however, being so centered around darkness, pain, suffering, and all undesirable facets of life, people have a harder time understanding why someone would be drawn to it, would willing sign up to be disturbed. A common assumption is that you are damanged, broken in some way. Being not just a voyeur but a creator of such content makes you all the more suspect.

For multiple reasons, I have been ruminating on my own attraction to pain, damage, and even horror as well as introspecting on the patterns of my own mind. It is an easy assumption to correlate a comfort and enjoyment of negative things with damage or defect. Even just in my own personal instance, the preference seems innate rather than acquired. Cultivated, perhaps, yet it seems to have been a part of me as long as I can remember.

I have always felt the allure of horror. It resonated with my mind, spoke to something inside me. A darkness, maybe. Even in the youngest, happiest, most sheltered parts of my childhood, I found myself drawn to things like Halloween, fascinated by all the morbidity that surrounded them. Innocuous though the start, it grew into something else. A symptom of something deeper. I was always fixated and intrigued by pain, my own and that of others.

thedarkness

As a young child, I remember feeling so much. It was a perpetual and unmanageable swell of emotions, constant and unrelenting. I experienced the most intense happiness and infatuations, yet more than that, I had a well of pain and unhappiness. I felt such strong dark and negative feelings without seeming cause. And, in an attempt to figure myself out, I remember trying to find excuses for how I felt, trying to classify my emotions into the boxes I understood. Boxes, I would learn, that would never fit me.

Yet, as I grew older, it became more clear that the darkness was in me, not infecting from outside circumstance but inherent. The pain inflicted by external stimuli, though traumatic at times, never seemed to be as black or as consuming as the kind that blossomed from my center. Instead, I sought out excuses for how I felt; I manufactured circumstance to confirm what originated somewhere beneath and behind my consciousness. It took a lot of time and severing endless strings of denial to make peace with that part of me, to identify myself as the culprit under all the layers I created.

I lost my mind, dissolved into the darkness in my teenaged years. When I think back to the way the pain devoured and distorted my mind in those darkest days, I do not know how I made it to the other side. I do not know how I functioned. I do not know how I graduated high school early, how I held down jobs, how I kept my parents at bay, how I maintained any kind of interpersonal relationships, how I went to college. I cannot remember either. Every fragment and remnant of that period in my mind is a flicker in a blur of so many substances and unchecked moods.

bipolar_by_snook1092

I was a mess. Yet, in that mess, I was pure. I was honest. I was unrefined. And because of that, I am still irresitably drawn to that darkness. And anything that speaks to that caged and sedated part of me.

Like horror.

I am not saying one needs to be damaged and defective to enjoy horror. Nor am I saying that is the reason I respond to it on such an instinctual level. Horror, for me, is an outlet to part of myself. It confronts realities in our world and in our culture (and myself) that may not be pleasant but remain just as real. Personally, I enjoy the experience of that confrontation.

I can write a version of myself on the page who does not have her shit together, who relents to her broken mind, who is so inescapably damaged. I can empathize with a character on the screen in their worst and most tormented hour. I can toy with the darkness inside of me, letting my fingers play in the edge of the flame, without burning down my entire life.

I enjoy the flirtation with the dangerous part of me, my undesirable yet pervasive center. It is like having an affair behind the back of my sanity. Exciting and wild.

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Horror speaks to me in the language my base self understands. I am attracted to the pain the same way I used to actively seek my own, whether through self-destructive behavior or abject self-mutilation. All that is still inside of me, and my indulgence of horror is my safe, neutered way to still interact with it.

Ultimately, despite all my therapy and self-examination and understanding, I do not know why the darkness comforts me, why the pain seems native. I do not like that I find a grotesque familiarity in suffering. Could it be the damage of deformed neurotransmitters? Could it be the absense of adequate neurochemicals? Is it some association forged in experience that tumbled out of my memory? Is it something wrong with me, or is it simply me?

I spend a disproportionate amount of my life in depression. Not because my life is unsatisfactory but because that is half of the symptomology of my brain. Perhaps my affinity for horror is merely an adaptation to this. It does substantially decrease the burden to feel at home in my own sadness; it does help to surrender and wrap myself up in the black rather than fight or resist it. Maybe it’s my survival mechanism that I never knew I would need until bipolar blossomed across the wrinkles of my mind.

Regardless of causality and circumstance, independant of reasoning, I accepted myself long ago. I have embraced and actively cultivate all of these tendancies and preferences bubbling inside my head. I find joy in the darkest places and experience the breadth of a full spectrum of emotions. I live in extremes, for the better and worse.

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I am not sure if this post is ultimately about horror or bipolar or just some rambling about weird musings I have had lately. I know I’ve written about my attraction to horror before and our cultural attraction to it. To keep the answer simple, I write horror to get it out of my brain. For whatever reason, it breeds between my cells, and I express it. I feel better letting it out and indulging in it. It is just who I am.

 

poeminblood

 

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
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By night, I might be a twisted horror-loving author… but by day, I am a mild-mannered (haha, not really!) solutions architect and technical writer, slinging XSLT, HTML, and CSS code and cranking out user help documentation.

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This very much makes me a person of multiple minds and multiple lives.

5-Coding-Challenges-to-Help-You-Train-Your-Brain

All in all, this also amounts to a severe amount of computer screen time every day. Somewhere in these glaring hours, I began to muse about what would happen if my two professions intersected. If horror became code, what would it look like?

coding

So much as the XSLT I write translates XML for viewing in HTML, I translated a bit of my favorite horror movie killers into XSLT. This may not be the most well-formed or correct portion of a stylesheet I’ve ever written, but hopefully, it is the right amount of geeky horror humor. (Sorry, I had to post it as an image to avoid it being read as code.)

Microsoft Word - Document1

 

(If the code is unreadable as an image, here is a PDF.)

Oh the horror!

codingHorror

What would it be like if your job was blended with a horror movie?

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

My favorite holiday has always been Halloween. I have said it before; I have written about it before. Since I can remember, I always enjoyed and waited for Halloween above all others.

halloween

I love the fall weather and colors.

I love the crisp (or snowy) night.

I love the costumes.

I love the candy.

I love the fear and the horror.

I loved it in my earliest memories as I love it now, as I share the holiday with my children.

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I also started writing when I was a child. I remember my passion truly being ignited during a writing unit in fourth grade, but I believe I was crafting miniature tales even younger than that. Even in my naive, sheltered, and happy youth, I found myself drawn to the darkness, attracted to the infancy of horror I was exposed to within my coveted holiday.

My young brain was stimulated by all the conventional Halloween imagery. Haunted houses. Jack-o-lanterns. Witches. Ghosts. Monsters like Frankenstein, vampires, and werewolves. Bats and spiders. Each year, as these images began to populate the stores, TV shows and movies, and my classrooms, my mind began to whir with spooky stories.

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Each October, I remember I would start to write Halloween tales, complete with illustrations in black, green, orange, and purple. From construction and computer paper, I would self-publish my own childish horror books. I remember being filled with such joy and pride as I folder the paper into the book shape and showed my mother what I had created. A pride I would later revitalize in a mature evolution when I held my first published book in my hands.

This year, I remember that youthful tradition by teaching my daughter how to write and illustrate her own Halloween story and by taking the time to craft a short piece of festive fiction here. I could have crawled inside this one and made a home, which makes me wonder if I should not write something in the young horror fiction (a la Goosebumps) someday, but I forced myself to keep it short. Just a scary little glimpse.

Enjoy.

halloween night with pumpkin in grass tree bat and hunting house in background

 

The Green Light

That house loomed over me as long as I remember, dark and slumped on a dismal plot of land along our walk to school, staring down at us with wide and lopsided windows like a drooping face. Everyone knew the house was haunted. The McAllister house. The murder house. That damn house. It had many names. If we walked alone, we quickened our step to a near jog until we had passed the edge of the property; if we passed it in a group, laughing conversations lulled, and all eyes cast sideways up towards the black house perched between gnarled and twisted trees.

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The house haunted all of us. It was the torrid subject of village lore, its tales a crucial part of our own cultural indoctrination. We all knew how the rich father murdered his wife then stalked and killed his own children one by one inside the house. Dares to set soles of shoes on the wilted grass were defined rites of passage.

Yet it haunted Derrick most of all.

I grew up in his shadow, watching him both enamored and unnerved by the place. As if a splinter of the very structure was lodged in his brain tissue, swollen and infected under the skin where he could not reach to scratch it.

And when he disappeared, I knew where he had went. The police told our parents that he must have just run away. My mother wept, and my father turned his lips into his mouth and hung his head, and they both questioned what they had done to drive him away. But I knew he had not left us, not left me behind over any fight with our parents. I knew he had finally done it. He had finally walked through that door to see what was in the house.

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With my older brother’s disappearance, his obsession became my own.

“Dude, come on!” Jacob hollered from the safety on the sidewalk beyond the dead yard. “You do this every goddamn day.”

I ignored Jacob’s irritated plea as I did every day as we walked home from school. Instead, I let my gaze stretch and lose focus, crawling up the dead leaves and grass matted down under the black trees that bent in a twisted dance, reaching until I could hear the creak of the wood on the porch and feel the cold metal of the knob on my palm.

“Dude, fuck you, Mikey,” Jacob said, his voice edging on quiver. “I’m going home.”

“He’s in there.”

“Not this shit again. No, he’s not.”

I ignored Jacob, as I always did in the shadow of this house. The mere sight of it had a captivating power over me. As if I could hear Derrick’s voice whisper wafting on the breeze from the dilapidated siding.

He was in that house. I could feel it the same way I knew he was sleeping in his room on the other side of my wall every night.

“Mikey, what are you doing?”

Jacob’s voice was farther behind me now. Growing more distant by the syllable. Startled from my trance, I turned to find him still on the sidewalk. I had wandered halfway up the dead lawn. The fear twisting his face matched the fear quivering his voice, but his features were growing more distant. I continued to walk, to mount the hill even as I looked back at his pleading. By the time I broke eye contact with him, the jagged trees had already passed over my head, and the porch boards creaked beneath my meager weight.

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This close to the house, wrapped under its damp shade, I could almost feel it breathing. As if oxygen was being sucked in through the shingles and the siding, as if the house expanded and slumped, as if a gruesome thumping emanated from its dark center. I could feel its life vibrating up from my sneakers, creeping up along the tingling flesh of my legs, reaching into my very chest.

I felt home, the way I felt sitting in front of the fire with Derrick when the snow fell outside the windows of our house.
The door swung open wide suddenly, yet I was not even startled. I walked into the darkness without hesitation, the way I would walk into my own room.

The darkness swallowed me whole with a wide mouth, and I heard the door creak waning behind me. When the door slammed and extinguished all light, my comfort unnerved. I felt my fear begin to bristle along the edges of the fine hair on the back of my neck. The house grew deeper in the dark, an undulating shape formed by the rhythm of the strange breathing of the wind outside and the steady thumping below my feet.

Something heavy walked above me, footsteps shaking the air over my head. I did not dare move; I only clutched my arms tightly around myself and waited, eyes wide and reeling in the dark. Something scratched along the floorboards beside me, so close I could feel the vibrations in my feet. My heartbeat started to throb, and I think I stopped breathing as I waited on edge.

What was I doing here? I should have stayed on the cracked sidewalk with Jacob like I had every other day. I should have walked home to our empty house and watched my mother stare absently into a pot as she stirred dinner and sat with my father as he silently lost himself in the TV. Where the whole house was where Derrick was not.

No. I needed to be right here.

As I steeled myself, the loud whine of neglected hinges echoed through the darkness, silencing the other noises. The green light emanated from a door up the unforgiving staircase and sliced through the black, splitting my sight and casting hard shadows. The wider the door swung, the more light spilled down to me. It washed down the steps and got tangled in the black shape of the banister.

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I followed the light. There was really no other choice. I stepped slowly and deliberately, outstretching my hand toward the banister. The wood was rough and scratched at my fingertips as I carefully began to ascend the stairs. Each board cried out under me. I just kept moving towards that light.

At the summit, I kept my eyes trained on the glowing shape of the open door as I side stepped in its direction. I allowed my hand to trail the banister, feeling the splinters steadily piercing my fingertips. As I grew closer to the opening, I became aware of something near me. The dark air changed, felt full and disrupted. I stopped moving, silencing the creaks under my feet, to hear the steady, wet sound of breathing.

The sound was right in front of me. I shielded the light to allow my pupils to dilate. As the darkness took on shape, a figure materialized against the wall, shadowed and obscure. I could only make out the reflection of the green light against the two large orbs of eyes staring at me intently.

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The thing saw me see it, yet neither of us moved. Its breathing did not change though mine seemed to strangle in my throat. I waited. Waited for it to jump forward and attack me, waited for it to do anything. The two glowing spheres in front of me remained unmoved and unblinking, and the wet breathing panted in my face.

Keeping a peripheral awareness trained on the dark figure, I began to inch away. I dropped my hand to bathe in the green light and felt somewhat safer blinded by its glow. I walked until it overtook my sight. I walked until the doorframe disappeared behind me. I walked until I was temporarily lost in the green haze.

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My eyes finally gauged the light and allowed the room to take shape before me. A bed slumped against one wall; a ravaged dresser leaned against another. A dead rug draped over the floorboards sprinkled in a menagerie of broken toys. A long and lanky figure folded on top of itself on the edge of that rug, pointing absently at a shattered doll with a spindly digit.

I took another step forward, permitting my hand to extend into the cold air toward the bony shoulder that seemed so familiar. Before my fingertip could make contact, it shifted, and I drew my arm back protectively.

“Michael,” it said. I knew the voice. From the very marrow vibrating in my bones, I knew the sound of it. “Michael, you finally came.”

The figure stood in front of me, growing to be a head taller than me, casting the shadow I had grown up underneath. The boy unfolded his limbs before turning to face me, the green light carving sharp shadows across the face that looked so similar to my own.

“Michael,” Derrick said, stepping towards me. “You’re here. You’re finally home with me.”

The skin on Derrick’s face stretched strangely as he smiled at me with wide eyes, reaching out his arms. I smiled back and dove into his cold chest, allowing him to wrap around me the way he would when I had hurt myself and no one was looking.

We froze in brotherly embrace. In the pit of my stomach, I felt truly home.

And the green light went out.

Halloween-Background

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

(The delightful people at Man Crates [mancrates.com], where you can get an array of manly kits and sets in wooden crates, ammo cans, or tactical bags [including zombie survival!], asked me what I would need to survive a Halloween movie. I stepped it up and went for the full horror franchise.)

So you lived through a horror movie. Congratulations. So have 1-3 people in almost every horror movie ever from the awful to the awesome. If you are going to prove you have true Halloween and horror chops, you have to make through an entire horror franchise, or in the least to the closing film (until they reboot it 10 to 20 years later).

Surviving a horror franchise is not for the faint of heart. At a minimum, it would require scraping through at least three full length films. If you are aiming to live up to Laurie in the Halloween movies or Sidney in the Scream series, you are going to have to condition, prepare, and (most importantly) fight.

sidney_scream

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Cardio

Not unlike Zombieland, the #1 rule is cardio. Because you are going to be running your ass off, movie after movie, up misadvised staircase to tripping in a field. You need to be in top physical condition to sprint and run and hide from the serial killer at your heels, who will always walk faster than you can run without fail.

rule1cardio

Take it easy now, though. A horror movie franchise is a marathon not a sprint. You cannot go blowing your whole cardio load on the first chase sequence; you are sure to end up dead before the next reel that way. Work on your interval training so that you can sprint away in an emergency but always keep running through script after script.

Helpful supplies: Workout DVDs, heart rate monitor

Hydration

Closely linked to cardio, you need to take care of your body, and most importantly, you need to hydrate. Could you really run through a minimum of three films, consistently stumbling at the most inopportune moment, hurdling the bodies of your fallen castmates without so much of a swig of water? Sure, the movies make it look like their characters can do it, but the smart know better. Hydrate, snack, definitely sleep between features. In short, keep your body in peak physical condition.

Helpful supplies: Hydration pack or water bottles, iodine tablets for filtration in a pinch

Sin Avoidance

We all know the old paradigm for horror movies: Those who have sex die; those who drink or use drugs die. Basically, those who sin are guaranteed a death scene. Granted, those commandments have largely been evolved from since Scream called out the genre on their existence. However, you might as well be safe because you are going to need all the help you can get. Not to mention, sins like sex, drinking, or drugs can deplete the muscles and dehydrate you or weaken your mind, all making you a much easier target. You may be able to sneak out of one horror movie with these infractions, but they are bound to catch up to you in a whole franchise.

Helpful supplies: Bible or other code of conduct (depending on who is defining “sin” in the series)

Survival Skills

When you think horror movie, you might think big-breasted woman running (falling) stupidly as she flees a slow-walking killer. Yeah, those victims all die. Those victims do not even get to see the first set of credits roll by. Sure, those characters have their place, nameably dying before you to keep you alive, but you need to do better. You need to develop some survival skills.
Think You’re Next. Sure, that’s not a horror franchise (yet), but if anyone would survive a long-standing horror franchise, it would be Erin. If it is a tactic that could help you survive the apocalypse, there is a good chance it could help you survive a horror franchise. Plus, you never know what the set will be in the next film. Adapt and overcome!

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The ability to hide or camouflage yourself is paramount. Running and cardio are great and necessary, but how monotonous would it be if that was all you did for multiple movies? You also need to be able to evade and avoid. Punctuate your sprints with an ultimately unsuccessful hide in a closet. Sure, it did not work, but at least you caught your breath as you deafened the audience with your panting.

Strategy is also key. You do not just want to be running around in a panic, running up stairs or jumping into rooms with no secondary exit. Think! Think beyond your primal fight or flight instincts and actually make decisions that will keep you alive. Maybe practice some yoga or meditation to learn how to control your physical body and still think clearly in high stress (death and murder) situations.

Helpful supplies: Meditation for Dummies book, black clothing, sound shoes

Sound Communications

The best way to knock off victims in a horror movie is to isolate them. Of course the phone line is going to be cut; of course there is no cell signal; naturally the power has gone out. If you want to reach the outside world and rescue, you are going to need sound communications means that traverse these obstacles.

soundcomms

It would not be a bad idea to cultivate a personal relationship with some sort of law enforcement character. Someone who might miss you if you disappeared, someone who might exchange walkie talkies with you. Yes, this poor bastard will get snuffed out along the way for helping you, but hey, he might just save your life once before that happens. Since you have to survive multiple times, you have to take your life saving where you can get it.

Helpful supplies: Satellite phone, walkie talkies

Personal Connection

The only way anyone is going to even remotely entertain the idea of letting you claw your way through a horror franchise is if you have a personal connection to the killer. The audiences need the drama. Plus, why else would we buy that this killer keeps coming after you movie after movie?

Take our examples of Laurie and Syndey. In the Halloween movies, Laurie is Michael Myers’s sister. Sure, she does not always know that. And sure, she vanishes for part of the franchise, but any Halloween fan pretends those movies never happened anyway. In the Scream movies, even though the killer is vanquished at the end of every film (spoiler alert!), a new killer or killer emerges in the next installment, and they are all, in some way, connected to Sidney. A boyfriend, a brother, a copycat, a cousin.

If you want to be valuable enough to be written into multiple endings, you better make yourself indispensable to your adversary.

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Helpful supplies: Memento from relationship with the killer (just to remind everyone why you are indispensable)

Ultimate Faceoff

While the running and evading and hiding is necessary for the first few movies, every horror franchise eventually culminates in an ultimate faceoff between the persistent survivor and the killer. Some protagonists may survive multiple movies just to finally be defeated at this glorious moment, but you are not trying just to make it to the last movie; you are trying to live to see the final credits of that final film (again, until the reboot). You better be prepared for this ultimate faceoff.

faceoff

It may happen in each movie of the franchise. You may think you have killed the killer over and over. Whether it happens once or three or five times, you eventually will have to man up and fight the killer face to face.

By the conclusion of the franchise, the killer will have become stronger and more impervious to death with each movie. You will also get beat to hell a little more each time you escape. You may have been stabbed multiple times by this point. You need to rehabilitate your body. In your off film time, indulge in some physical therapy and some self-defense or martial arts classes. For all your running and cardio, at this point, you are going to need to be able to fight.

The fight is only over when the killer is dead (or at least when you and the audience are sneakily convinced the killer is dead). Since this killer has survived just as many horror movies as you have, you are going to have to bring out the big guns (ironically, a gun almost never works). You need to rely on your survival skills to provide you with a weapon to finally put down your killer. (If it is a gun, remember, head shot.) Perhaps a baseball bat with nails through the end? Maybe a vehicle and a large cement wall? Get creative.

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Helpful supplies: Weapon of choice or opportunity

Surviving a horror franchise takes an unteachable blending of charisma and interest, physical condition and preparation, and a sound mind (not to mention current genre trends and dumb luck). If you prepare enough, you might just be able to join the ranks of those blood soaked survivors who lived through not just one horror movie but an entire series.

What do you need to survive?