Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dark Corners, Bright Holidays

Hello there!

This is it for the year at R.G. Male’s Dark Corners. I hope it’s been as great an experience for you the readers as it has been for me. I would like cap off the year with a bit of tradition. Below you will find some handy-dandy Christmas gift suggestions from for all of your horror-loving, head-banging, friends and loved ones.

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and safe Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and a fabulous New Year. Speaking of which I will return again in January with more looks into all of the dark corners.

Stay safe, and think green!


Alice Cooper: Along Came A SpiderQuiet Riot: RehabIron Maiden: A Matter of Life and Death

Stratovarius: Elements Pt.1Motley Crue: Too Fast For LoveTwisted Sister: Still Hungry

Twisted Sister: A Twisted Christmas


Day of the DeadStrangelandPoltergeist: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

The Blair Witch ProjectHellraiser: InfernoAlien Resurrection

The Nightmare Before Christmas Collector's Edition

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #3-5: Horror Boldly Goes

Space... the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Event Horizon... its seven-year mission... to return from Hell... to seek out a new crew to torment... to boldly go where the Nostromo has gone before. Space is no stranger to horror. The basic conditions of the actual area known as space is dangerous and it is a seeming antithesis to life; cold, barren, and empty for the most part. For the longest time space was a great unknown. It still is a source of many questions and a never-ending parade of mystery. What is out there, waiting to be found, or ready to come here and find us? Science fiction that takes place in space doesn't fit into a particular sub-genre of its own unless it contains certain other hallmarks, which can then make it Space Opera.

Space Opera seems like an odd genre to which to add horror. It is historically know for its melodrama and romantic plots. It is also a heavily clichéd form of science fiction. By definition its characters, plots, and the civilisations, which inform most of the settings, all tend toward the massive, powerful, and grandiose. It is working in contrast to all of that where the best horror might be found. In keeping with Space Opera's past, horror doesn't have to be the only other genre added in, though of course such additions should tend toward being tropes and the like only. These additional elements can be from other science fiction sub-genres or from other full genres entirely. The use of vast space faring empires in Space Opera opens up several facets upon which to build.

The new frontiers of the galactic empires, governments, and federations lend themselves well to plots that are perfectly at home in Westerns, or Adventure stories. Those frontiers can be filled with horror. The series Firefly is a fine example of fusing Space Opera and Westerns. With the addition of the Reavers it veers straight off into horror. Cyberpunk is another possible addition to Space Opera and horror. Though lacking the 'Opera' aspects per se the movie franchise Aliens and its assorted book series' is certainly cyberpunkish with the company conspiracies of Weyland-Yutani Corp. Moving from Alien to its sequel Aliens moves from space horror to Military Science Fiction horror. Military Science Fiction often overlaps with Space Opera sometimes by necessity.

Mood: cold.
Music: Cyanide by Metallica and Satellite by Def Leppard.

Metallica: Death Magnetic
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Def Leppard: On Through the Night

In space no one can hear your spleen!

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #3-4: Cybernetically Enhanced Horror

I have personal experience with cyberpunk horror. My first consideration was not deciding why put horror into a cyberpunk story. The base storyline was in place and the main characters were set. A strong sense of urgency was missing though. The story needed punch. Oddly enough the sense of overpowering dread was lost with the level of hopelessness and desperation that the story had. What it needed was a shot in the arm, something to kick the horror up a notch. That horror boost came from the sense of security mentioned last article. It came not just in shattering that greater security than a modern setting held. The danger, the fear in facing the horror of such a plot and antagonist was actually heightened by grounding it versus the best that science and ballistics could offer.

The science fiction nature of the cyberpunk milieu allows for the characters, and the reader, or viewer, with them to share a moment of dawning terror without stepping over the line into the usual impossible odds ethos of Lovecraftian horror for example. The horror is greater because it is less of a man vs. nature conflict. It takes away the resignation that the end is inevitable. It leaves room for hope. Hope that is then crushed. The horror is kept fresh and within arms length. It is much more satisfying to pit characters of skill and power against something that ultimately terrifies them than it is for the everyman. That which frightens the usually fearless, or appals the morally bankrupt, is something with which to be reckoned. At least this is true with the right set up and the right situations.

It is easy to slip away from the horror into a more action-oriented mode where the importance is placed on survival more than dealing with the cause and coping with the fear elicited by the situations. The conventions of cyberpunk can be used to add different layers of horror. The dystopian nature, moral grey areas, and the tough choices arrayed before the protagonist can be bent to psychological horror. Good and evil are strained and skewed. The cultural commentary brought to life by the dark science can be darkened further by the horror elements added. Greater depth, and nuance, is possible when adding cyberpunk’s essential layer of man vs. himself conflict, and setting that against or in contrast to the external conflict. Personal horror of oneself could even in itself be a goal.

Mood: retro.
Music: Better by Guns N' Roses and Toreador II by Apocalyptica.

Guns N' Roses: Chinese Democracy
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Apocalyptica: Reflections

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