31 Days of Spooky Stuff; October 26:The Lost Boys


lostboy3Adolescence is bad enough…and when you add vampires? All hell breaks loose.


Brothers Michael and Sam move with their mother to a little town in northern California. Everything seems cool until, little by little, it becomes obvious that vampires are lunching off some of the teens who hang out at the boardwalk.

Kiefer Sutherland is their leader and he can feel the alpha waves emanating from Michael. And the girl Star is so pretty. It’s going to get ugly, and spooky, too.


Dance to the music a little bit. Then enter the Halloween drawing to win signed copies of the Wisdom Court books.

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 25: They’re coming to take us away…



…and not to the funny farm. To the place where broken, coughing bodies await release.


They say we’ll get better here, but I have my doubts.



Room 745? Are you sure?

When are visiting hours? What do you mean, what visitors?


Stay away from the germs…


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31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 24: Owls and Superstition


 Today I am reprinting a post by Rose Smith, appearing in The Aviary at Owls.com.

Owls and Superstition.

Superstitions surrounding owls have a long and ancient history. These nocturnal creatures often appear in horror mystery films, have been associated with dark, haunting night themes, and grace our Halloween decor each fall. Their wide staring eyes give them a wise appearance, while the ability to turn their head around makes them fascinating and mysterious creatures. Tufts of feathers on the top of an owl’s head gives them the appearance of horned devils and their piercing cries add to the spook effect found in the ancient folklore of many countries.

Robert Strickland, The Owl Pages

Robert Strickland, The Owl Pages

In many cultures owls were symbols of magic. In England, it was believed that if you cooked an owl’s eggs until they were ash, it could be used as a potion to improve eyesight. In India, if you ate an owl’s eyes you would get the same result.Witches were often linked to owls. One Greek & Roman superstition believed that witches could turn themselves into an owl and then they would swoop down and suck the blood of babies. Other superstitions related to witches and owls were: that the owls were messengers for sorcerers and witches, that they danced together on the graves of the dead and that if you hear the hoot of an owl, then a witch approaches.

In today’s world, we have learned that most of these owl superstitions are just stories, born in a time when people were fearful and trying to find answers to their lives and environment. However, many of these legends survived over time. Here are some other interesting and somewhat strange superstitions that are linked to owls.

  • An owl hooting or screeching at night could result in the death of a newborn baby, will cause the child to have an unhappy life, or possibly that the baby would become a witch. If the owl was heard screeching during cold weather it signaled that a storm was coming.
  • Owls apparently are the only creatures that can live with ghosts, so if an owl is found nesting in an abandoned house, the place must be haunted.
  • Death is often associated with owls such as if: an owl perches on the roof of your house or hearing an owl hooting constantly nearby.
  • If a traveler dreamed of an owl, then that meant he would be robbed or possibly shipwrecked.
  • A silly owl superstition is that if you see an owl perched in a tree and you walk around and around that tree, the owl will follow you with it’s eyes, turning his head around until he wrings his own neck. (The reality is that an owl cannot turn his head completely around).
  • Not all superstitions were bad. Owls were also believed to bring good fortune in some cultures. An Afghanistan legend states that it was the owl that presented humans with flint and iron so they could make fire. In exchange, man gave owls their feathers.
  • The Aborigines of Australia believe that owls are the spirits of women and are therefore sacred, while in Brittany is was a good sign to see an owl on the way to the harvest as it meant that it would be a good yield that year.
  • The owl is a symbol of guidance and help by the Inuits of Greenland, while the people of Indonesia saw them as wise beings using the owl’s different calls to determine whether to travel or not.

There are many, many more legends concerning the owl. The reality is that owls are very helpful to us as they are excellent at pest control, especially Barred Owls. They control the population of mice, voles, moles, rats, skunks, snakes, insects and slugs to name a few. So this Halloween, put together an owl superstition trivia sheet for the guests at your Halloween party and add a friendly wise old owl to your decor. It’s the perfect “night watchman”.

Laura C. Williams, The Owl Pages

Laura C. Williams, The Owl Pages

About the author: (c) 2005. Rose Smith is the owner of HalloweenHowl.com a website filled with Halloween party ideas, costumes, decorations, games, graphics, crafts and more. It’s Halloween fun for all ages! Come visit us at: http://www.halloweenhowl.com

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31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 23: Pestilence has descended over the house…


halloween-pumpkins-pdThe ongoing respiratory junk I’ve been fighting has gone nuclear. I now sound like an out-of-work air raid siren and am coughing billions of germs throughout the house. Of course, the rest of the family is doing so as well. Pestilence has become the way of the world. So today I’m posting  pictures for you to peruse while I continue to get caught up with the coughing I’ve suppressed to write these deathless words. Gack.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is another day.


from the El Paso County website

To enter the drawing on Halloween, comment on this post. The prize is a signed copy of the Wisdom Court novels: Edge of the Shadow; A Signal Shown; All In Bad Time


31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 22: Werewolves a deux…



were1I first saw The Wolf Man as a kid, watching it on one of Denver’s TV channels, probably presented as a “Fright Night” special. The story is basic, about a man newly returned  to his British home, at odds with his father, the lord of the manor. Lon Chaney, Jr., son of silent movie acting sensation, Lon Chaney, plays the son, Larry Talbot, as a sad outsider who soon falls victim to a nasty malady in the county: a werewolf bites him and thereafter he is forced to terrorize the area each month in search of blood. He searches for information–from the doctor, from the villagers, including the old Romani woman who finally tells him the truth. He is now a werewolf and there is no cure but death. His personal horror at what he’s become is what I best recalled  from my early viewing of the film. He fights to avoid hurting anyone, particularly the young woman who’s interested in him. He can’t connect with his father, leaving him alone with his terrible secret. It was that existential loneliness I remembered, heightened by its being filmed in black and white. Though the special effects were low-tech, the movie continues to have an emotional impact on me to this day.


In the eighties, another werewolf movie was hot and happening: An American Werewolf in London. Two American students are backpacking across England, stopping at a Yorkshire pub for a pint. When they ask about the pentagram on the pub’s wall, the pub customers become hostile and the two leave. Warned to stay on the path across the moors, they are attacked by what appears to be a wild dog, and one of the boys is killed, the other mauled before the creature is shot. Of course, the wounded man is now a werewolf and will transform at the next full moon. Despite warnings from the shade of his dead friend, he ignores the danger. And when the full moon rises, he ends up killing six people.

Directed by John Landis, the film’s colors were garish and its special effects brilliant, especially the makeup by Kenny Baker, particularly in the transformation of the bitten man from human to werewolf. That sequence was almost nauseating in showing the biological details and the pain such a change would require. That was the most horrific thing about the story for me, the gag-inducing reaction to the sheer physicality of the process.

were5So, emotional horror as opposed to physical horror…There’s a place for both, no doubt, but I was struck, as I compared the two films, at how much more affected I was by the old black and white movie over the shiny, bloody one. I’m sure it says something about my esthetic state, but I’m damned if I know what. Both films are worth watching, especially during the month of Halloween.were3


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31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 21: Halloween Jack


This is a wonderful Halloween post from Christine Valentor at witchlike.wordpress.com Enjoy!

Halloween Jack


I first met the Devil in a pub called the Boar’s Head on Old Cork road.  The night, as I recall, was all hallows eve.  Having spent my last farthing on ale I tried to barter the barkeep for  one last drink.  My mouth watered but he refused me.  “Go on home boy,” he ordered. “Get you a good night’s sleep. Come the morrow all the world will be brighter.”

He was wrong. My world was darkness. I had no intention of retreating home to my bare and filthy hovel where paint peeled off the walls, rats basked in the waste bins and I had drained every ounce of my whiskey bottles dry. I knew not where I’d wander, yet the barkeep bid me leave.  And so it was to my great fortune that before exiting through the pub’s swinging door I encountered Lucifer himself.

undead 2 pd

There he stood, hands crossed at his chest, a blithe smile on his face. He was oddly graceful, a strange dignity about him.

“Your days are numbered Jack,” he told me. “A life of thieving, gambling, drinking and whoring. What have you to show for yourself?  Well now. It seems time has expired and I’ve come to take you to the iron gates.”

The Devil. He may think himself wise, but I, Sneaky Jack Skrumpington, was much wiser!

“You don’t look like the Devil to me,” I challenged. “If you are true, then prove it. Change yourself into a shilling!”   One shilling, I reasoned, would buy me a fresh pitcher of ale.

Lucifer scowled. He laughed at my challenge, and yet, he could not resist a good dare. In an instant he transformed himself into a shiny silver coin which I did not hesitate to snatch. I quickly hid it in my pocket, right next to my rosary’s shiny cross.


Everyone knows the Devil cannot abide a cross. He was thus under my spell. Yet I was not entirely unmerciful. I  made a bargain with him. In exchange for his freedom he would give me the sum of one million ducats and another ten  years to live upon this earth.  He agreed. After all, he had no choice.

During my next ten years I lived a life of decadence.  I dined at the finest of inns, drank wine under crystal chandeliers. I slept in silk sheets upon feathered beds, beautiful women accompanying me at every turn.  I spent much of my time gaming, cheating and winning, caring not a fig for those I left in debt.  I steadily increased my ever growing fortune.


Finally it all came to an end.

It was upon all hallows eve, ten years later when the Devil returned to claim my soul. He found me sprawled beneath an apple tree, sleeping off a long drunk.

“Skrumpington!” he barked. “Your time has expired.”  His lips formed a wide smile, green teeth reflecting the light of the moon. Although he attempted his best of horrifying theatrics, commanding streaks of lightning across the sky and claps of thunder, he did not scare me. I knew better.

“Lucifer,” I pleaded, kneeling before him. “Can you not give a damned man one last request? Do it!  Do it, so you prove yourself a creature of mercy, not the evil demon they paint you!  Do it, so you prove yourself a being of justice, not the slithering snake they claim.  Forget not, Lucifer,  you were once a son of light!”

He stared at me. This remark had struck a chord.  I moved my face close to his. “Aye,” I whispered in his hairy ear. “Once, dear Lucifer, you sat at the right hand of the Father. You were his favorite, were you not?  The brightest star of the heavens, Luz the light. Oh, but  that was long before your great sin of pride, wasn’t it? You banished yourself from the heavens, fell from grace into your own lonely cavern of hell. Surely you remember?”

I stroked his neck, moved my hand across the small of his back.  He quivered at my touch.  “Show me now you have not lost all your goodness,” I urged.  “Grant  me but one last request.” I moved my lips to his cheek, kissed him gently and tasted the salt of a single tear that fell from his eye.

He nodded, for even the Devil had some shred of decency.  Besides, he knew a pacified soul would be more useful to him. He clutched my hand.  “What then would you have from me Jack Skrumpington?” he asked.

“Only a simple apple,” I answered. “Ripe and sweet, picked from this very tree.” I pointed to the top bough, heavy with fruit.

apple public domain

Lucifer nodded and like a lizard he shimmied up the bark, entrenching himself between the branches. He reached up to pick the largest, reddest apple the tree bore.

I wasted no time! In one instant I pulled my knife from its scabbard. Quickly I carved a cross in the trunk of the tree. Lucifer’s eyes widened in terror. He was now stuck on the branch of the tree, unable to descend, for everyone knows the Devil can never approach a cross.

I grinned up at him. He spat down on me. “Skrumpington,” he hissed. “You have deceived me again!”

“I will release you,” I said. “If you make me but one single promise.”

His body writhed and wrinkled, now blending into the wood of the tree. He wheezed, struggling to breathe as the tree’s tentacles closed in around him. His eyes were frightened and white. A knot in the bark swallowed him whole, then spit him out again and he hung like a folded fish on the branch.

“Very well Skrumpington!” he gasped. “What bid you this time?”

“This time…” I sighed a sigh of deep satisfaction, strolled grandly in a circle, watching him the whole time.  “This time you shall agree to never take my immortal soul, regardless of whatsoever evil deeds I may perform.”

He nodded slowly.

“Swear it!” I commanded.

“I swear it, Jack Skrumpington. I will never take your immortal soul.”

He was a defeated thing, weak and gray, his body now sliding like a stretched lump of clay . I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

For what remained of my life I continued my ways of debauchery, drinking and whoring myself  into an inevitable grave.  I was a liar, a user and a sycophant. I frequented gambling dens and houses of ill repute.  I lived only for myself and my own gain. It would later be said of me “Jack Scrumpington  never once performed a selfless act nor did any kindness toward his fellow man.”

Yet time waits for no one and even I was not immune. My body grew old.  My back bent, my bones ached with arthritis. Finally my unbridled whoring caught up with me and the syphilis pox set in.  My hands shook.  My walk became a staggered, struggling gait.  My penis withered like a crumpled twig.  My liver became diseased, bloated with cirrhosis, swollen from years of hard liquor. Yellow jaundice enmeshed my flesh.  Death, when it finally came, was a mercy.

I then found myself at the gates of Saint Peter.


The Saint shuffled his feet, looked at me and  shook his head. “Can’t take you Jack,” he said sadly, “for never in your life have you performed a single selfless act. Not once have you done any kindness toward your fellow man.” Peter leafed through his book of souls, double checking as if there might be a chance he would still find my name.  But no. He closed the book.  “Sorry Jack.” He shrugged.  “Not once.” He caught my eye with a look of genuine sympathy as he locked the white pearl of the deadbolt.


The wind gusted. I felt a chill up my spine. Winter was coming and it would be a long, merciless one.  Ice formed on the pavement beneath me.  I wore only the sack cloth I had been buried in.  My teeth chattered.

What to do?  What to do?  I’d go to the Devil! Of course I would!  At the very least, it should be warm in hell. Yes, it would be an eternity of misery, the lake of fire, but I’d embrace it, punishment for the damage I’d done in my waking life.

Lucifer peered through the gray mist that surrounded his iron gate. Upon recognizing me, he furrowed his brow and shook his head. “Oh no,” he said. “I’ve no want for you here, Jack Scrumpington.  I promised I’d never take your immortal soul and I’ll not take it. A promise is a promise.” He clasped his hands together and bowed his head.  “I may be a lot of – er – unsavory things.  But Lucifer Luz is a man of his word!” He stomped a foot and pounded his own chest.

Not fit for heaven, not welcome in hell.  I was the lowest of souls, left to wander on the brink of nothingness. I turned away from Lucifer’s gate. The thick mist clouded my eyes. I stumbled like a blind man. The night was black as pitch. I could see not one outline, not one shadow.

Just then I felt Lucifer’s warm touch upon my shoulder.

dark 9

“You’ll need something to light your way,” he said, not unkindly.  He then handed me a hollowed out pumpkin.  A lone candle burned at its base, blackening the inside rind.

“Take this lantern, Jack,” the Devil said. “May it guide you through the darkness.” He then handed me a knife.  “You may want to carve some designs in it. Allow extra light.”

It was an act of unmerited kindness, considering what I’d done to him.

In that moment I felt guilt for the first time. I was sorry I had treated him so badly.  I realized my skewed values.   But alas, it was by then, too late.

With Lucifer’s knife I carved a face in the pumpkin, triangle eyes and nose, even a smiling toothless mouth.

From that day on I was left to wander through the land of spirit. I am usually unseen but sometimes, upon all hallows eve you might find me. It is then the veils are lifted and humankind may enter our realms. Look for me in the alleyways, in your dark streets of trick-or-treaters.  I am the ghostly figure who carries a lone pumpkin of candle light to brighten my sad path.

They call me Jack of the Lantern.




I first met the Devil in a pub called the Boar’s Head on Old Cork road.  The night, as I recall, was all hallows eve.  Having spent my last farthing on ale I tried to barter the barkeep for  one last drink.  My mouth watered but he refused me.  “Go on home boy,” he ordered. “Get you a good night’s sleep. Come the morrow all the world will be brighter.”

He was wrong. My world was darkness. I had no intention of retreating home to my bare and filthy hovel where paint peeled off the walls, rats basked in the waste bins and I had drained every ounce of my whiskey bottles dry. I knew not where I’d wander, yet the barkeep bid me leave.  And so it was to my great fortune that before exiting through the pub’s swinging door I encountered Lucifer himself.

undead 2 pd

There he stood, hands crossed…

View original post 1,598 more words

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 20: The Night of the Hunter




This 1955 film is a strange, nightmarish depiction of evil loose in the land. As the Criterion Collection describes it,

The Night of the Hunter—incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed—is truly a stand-alone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humor, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic—also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish and writer James Agee—is cinema’s most eccentric rendering of the battle between good and evil.


I first saw this film at the recommendation of a friend who’d seen it decades earlier, and who shivered when she told me about it. The memory of it still scared her after all those years. While I watched it, my critical side noticed the slow pacing and wondered at some of the artificial-looking sets, but as the story deepened, the film took on the quality of a dream. The children couldn’t run fast enough to escape the evil man pursuing them. No matter what they did, he was still close behind them. The shadows darkened, my heart beat faster, and I couldn’t tell how the horror would end.

The Night of the Hunter is a spooky movie and I hope you like it.

(I’m including a link to Roger Ebert’s review of The Night of the Hunter because I always liked his film criticism, and because I miss his work.)


Comment to enter the drawing for a signed copy of each of my Wisdom Court books: Edge of the Shadow; A Signal Shown; All In Bad Time. The drawing will occur on October 31.

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 19: Poltergeist



I’ve been thinking about spooky stuff (guess why) and happened across a still from the movie Poltergeist. It’s one of my all-time favorite horror films and can to this day give me the big-time creeps. Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper do a wonderful job of creating a scare-fest aimed at middle class America. And aren’t we always more afraid of what we know? Or what we think we know?


A happy family living in a beautiful house in suburbia shouldn’t have to worry, right? Don’t bet on it. Where they live and how they came to be in that snug development spark a series of events not of this world, and it all begins when the younger daughter disappears into the great open eye of the television set. Much consternation and fright ensue, shown with fear and wit.

I think this is another movie I have to force my grandkids to see, just to get them in the mood for Halloween. I hope you’ll give it another look, in honor of the holiday. Heh-heh.








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31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 18: As Helen Lovejoy always said…




“Won’t somebody think of the children?”

Yes, somebody will.

Halloween is coming and if you and your children haven’t read Bunnicula, you’re missing a literary treat.



Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery, is a children’s book by James Howe and Deborah Howe, featuring a rabbit that sucks the juice from vegetables. Could he be a vampire bunny? Harold, dog to the Monroe family, isn’t sure, although the family did give him that strange name since finding the bunny at the theater where they’d gone to see a Dracula movie. Chester, the Monroes’ cat, is convinced Bunnicula is a vampire and tries to get Harold to help him save the family from danger. The story is dryly witty and the illustrations are great fun. (And there are six more books in the series.)

Think of the children and read a wonderful book together during this Halloween season.

To win a signed copy of each of my three Wisdom Court books, comment on this post. A drawing to determine the winner will occur on October 31.

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 17: Two Early Horror Films

I’ve always loved old movies, and when I was growing up, a couple of Denver’s TV stations offered lots of them, many of them horror films. Thus it was that I became familiar with the genre, many of them the classics, some wonderfully schlocky. I happily watched my way through the parade of traditional monsters. Somewhere along the way, however, I came across a couple of films that have been lodged in my memory ever since, and they seriously deserve to be in the horror category. They own the category.




Tod Browning’s Freaks came out in 1932, a revenge drama about a group of circus performers and sideshow artists getting even with so-called “normal” villains. Browning cast actual members of a circus sideshow who were disabled to portray the “freaks.” Audiences of the day were appalled and the film flopped in the U.S. and was banned in the United Kingdom. Freaks is, however, one of the most poignant and humane horror films I’ve seen, and the lingering question it leaves is a profound one: Who in the story are the real freaks?  The film is available at Amazon. http://amzn.to/2diNRpm










Nosferatu  By F.W. Murnau – screen capture around the 1hr 19min mark, PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22848473

Nosferatu, a German Expressionist film released in 1922, is one of the most visually frightening films I’ve seen, thanks to the appearance and performance of Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. As Wikipedia summarizes: “the film was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, ‘vampire’ became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok”). Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. However, a few prints of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.[1][2]”  

I was alone in the house when I first saw Nosferatu, and I turned on every light in the place until my parents got home. Seriously creepy. Also available at Amazon. http://amzn.to/2dWAuJl

If you’re into spooky stuff for real and haven’t seen these films, you might consider having your own little movie madness as Halloween gets closer. I guarantee some shivers down your spine.

Comment to be eligible to win a signed set of the three Wisdom Court novels: Edge of the Shadow; A Signal Shown; All In Bad Time. The drawing will take place on Halloween.