Faithful Frighteners: Leeman Kessler

Faithful Frighteners is a series of interviews with persons of faith in the horror and weird fiction scenes.

Leeman Kessler is a Nigerian-born American actor who, since 2010, has been depicting H.P. Lovecraft on stage and online as part of his popular web-series, Ask Lovecraft. He is a co-host on the horror podcast Miskatonic Musings as well as the Christian/Pop-Culture podcast Geekually Yoked. He is a missionary kid married to an Episcopal priest and spends most of his day chasing after his daughter Amanda. His short fiction has appeared in Resonator, Cthulhu Lies Dreaming, and Weirdbook #32.

JR: How, when, and why did you get into horror culture (film, literature, video games, etc)?

jm1.18.15-5LK: I was a Blockbuster junkie in high school and even wound up working there over many summer and winter breaks during undergrad. The horror section was one I returned to again and again. I loved the cheese and the ridiculousness and the sense that those movies were getting away with something. I was more a fan of the comic supernatural series like Leprechaun or Child’s Play or Night of the Demons than slashers or suspense horror. Continue reading Faithful Frighteners: Leeman Kessler

Guess who invited us to dinner: A review of The Invitation (2015)

Directed by Karyn Kusama
Written by Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi

Review by Alex Smith

The Invitation, directed by Karyn Kusama, which released to VOD this April, will hopefully reach a larger audience when it arrives on Netflix this month. The premise is simple enough: Will and his new girlfriend accept an invitation to a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills hosted by Eden, his ex-wife. The two divorced years ago following their son’s death, and with that split their old friends have split off as well. Following a disturbing omen en route to Eden’s house, the couple arrives to cocktails and smiles. Continue reading Guess who invited us to dinner: A review of The Invitation (2015)

Faithful Frighteners: Daniel Mills

Faithful Frighteners is a series of interviews with persons of faith in the horror and weird fiction scenes.

Daniel Mills ( is the author of Revenants (Chomu Press, 2011), The Lord Came at Twilight (Dark Renaissance Books, 2014), The Account of David Stonehouse, Exile (Dim Shores, 2016), and the forthcoming Moriah (ChiZine Publications, 2017).


JR: How, when, and why did you get into horror culture (film, literature, video games, etc)?

D Mills Author Photo (1)
Daniel Mills

DM: It’s difficult to pinpoint a “when” or a “how” since as far as I can remember I have always had an interest in horror. I can recall being four years old and watching Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People then repeatedly rewinding/re-watching the climactic scenes with the banshee and phantom coach. I was also deeply affected by Schwartz and Gammel’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark anthology series and remember reading myself into a frenzy of terror night after night long after I was old enough to know better. Continue reading Faithful Frighteners: Daniel Mills

Creature-Feature Conversations: The House by the Cemetery

Creature-Feature Conversations is an ongoing series of informal discussions about obscure, unique, or cult horror films.

Orrin Grey is a skeleton who likes monsters, movies, and especially monster movies. His stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, and been collected in Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings and Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts. From 2011 until 2016 he wrote a monthly column on vintage horror cinema for Innsmouth Free Press that has now been collected into Monsters from the Vault. You can visit him online at

Jonathan Raab is the author of The Hillbilly Moonshine Massacre and Flight of the Blue Falcon. His novella Cold Call will be featured in Turn to Ash’s Open Lines anthology later this year, and his novella The Lesser Swamp Gods of Little Dixie will be available just in time for Halloween.

The House by the Cemetery (directed by Lucio Fulci, 1981)

FrostyJR: This is the second time I’ve seen this film all the way through. I watched it a couple of years ago when I first started getting into Italian horror, and I just bought a few Fulci films on a lark. Although I consider this one of the lesser films from Fulci’s catalog that I’ve seen, it’s still a solidly ridiculous but entertaining flick. How would you explain the plot to someone who’s never seen it?

Orrin Grey photoOG: Badly? Before I get to that, I just need to say that this is only the… let’s see, carry the nine… second Fulci film that I’ve ever seen, the first being probably his most famous, The Beyond, about which I remember almost nothing except that I’m pretty sure it had the same library in it as this movie. Honestly, if I were trying to explain House by the Cemetery to someone who hadn’t seen it, I probably wouldn’t even mention the plot, just tell them that it’s sort of an Italian mash-up of old dark house, giallo, and slasher films and let them draw their own conclusions. Continue reading Creature-Feature Conversations: The House by the Cemetery

Faithful Frighteners: Tom Breen

Faithful Frighteners is a series of interviews with persons of faith in the horror and weird fiction scenes. You can read the first interview with Scott R. Jones here.

Tom Breen is the author of Orford Parish Murder Houses: A Visitor’s Guide and co-author of Old Gory: Two Tales of Flag Horror. He also co-manages Orford Parish Books, which “specializes in the unsettling, the weird, the subtly troubling. Short fiction, illustrated books for strange children, themed chapbooks, [and] fake newspapers[.]”

JR: How, when, and why did you get into horror culture (film, literature, video games, etc)?

Tom BreenTB: When I was a kid, I was fascinated by collections of ghost stories, books about “real life” hauntings, and horror movies. This lasted until 6th grade, when I was 11 or 12, and my teacher decided all of these things, plus Dungeons & Dragons, were making me a danger to myself and others. Well, it was a different time (the 1980s, to be specific).

So I had to make weekly visits to the school psychologist, and any interest in the macabre was pretty much therapy’d out of me by the helping professions. This lasted until I was in college. For reasons that are now obscure to me, I started reading H.P. Lovecraft, an author my father liked. That was really it, though; I still had an aversion, bred by that early adolescent experience, to anything horror-related. I remember being 23 years old and driving to Chicago with friends, and being legitimately worried about reading a Ramsey Campbell book I had brought with me. I don’t know what I was worried about, I just had some deep, weird anxiety about plunging into this (literally, when I was younger) forbidden world. Continue reading Faithful Frighteners: Tom Breen

This is what it means to make it: A review of Rainbows Suck by Madeleine Swan

27255603Rainbows Suck by Madeleine Swan
Published by Eraserhead Press

Bizarro is a genre that allows for my favorite kind of social commentary: on-the-nose. Rainbows Suck by Madeleine Swan represents the strength of the genre: it manages to be funny and thought-provoking in a well, isn’t it obvious what it’s all about kind of way, and in so doing, delivers the sharpest kind of critique of social media, celebrity, and western civilization’s obsession with both.

It’s about a lot of other things, too, including the meaning of art, the self-destructive nature of its pursuit, the line between commercialism and integrity, cultural colonialism, rape, regret, mental health issues, sexuality, and the intersection of too many other serious issues to count. But it works precisely because of the freedom that bizarro fiction offers us: absurdity, literalism, break-neck humor, kaleidoscopic imagery.

If you’re into bizarro, this one is a no-brainer. It’s short, evocative, and doesn’t take itself too seriously about anything. If you need convincing, here’s the gist: our entertainment world (and, it’s implied, more than that, or, more than that because of entertainment’s power over our lives and culture) has been taken over by alien rainbows, who take lonely wannabes and American Idolize them to the nth degree: turning the attention-hungry and the desperate into living works of Art, some grotesque and some beautiful, with most somewhere in-between.

Our protagonist finds herself homeless and without hope, so she takes on indentured servitude as Art in a lesser rainbow entertainment house, where she is forced to act up for attention from the public, lest the button on her lower back cause her pain.

What follows is a drug-fueled love story, and a meditation on the confluence of media/public perception, reality, and internal self-worth. That sounds heady—and it is—but because of Swan’s stream-of-consciousness style and willingness to delve into the gonzo-absurd, such heavy topics are rendered in tasty, bite-sized morsels of gushing rainbow and glitter.

Faithful Frighteners: Scott R. Jones

Faithful Frighteners is a series of interviews with persons of faith in the horror and weird fiction scenes.

Scott R. Jones is owner and project editor of Martian Migraine Press, a  transgressive weird small press out of Canada. His latest anthology, Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis is available now.


JR: How, when, and why did you get into horror culture (film, literature, video games, etc)?

Scott R. Jones

SRJ: If we’re going to go all the way back to the moment I became aware of horror, I would have to relate the moment in grade school when a classmate brought in the comics adaptation of the Creepshow anthology film. Something about the artwork (I think it was a predominantly Bernie Wrightson effort, wasn’t it?); I still vividly recall the revulsion I felt at the depiction of strands of saliva stretching between the teeth and lips of screaming victims. “Father’s Day,” and that one where the murderer buries his victims up to their necks at the shore before the tide comes in. The effect on me was deep; so troubling that when I heard Stephen King’s name mentioned on the radio weeks later, I burst into tears. But, y’know, I was ten.

I’m guessing it wasn’t until my early twenties that I got into horror fiction. I consider myself fortunate that my first adult exposure was to Ramsey Campbell (his Cold Print was a revelation), and from him I moved on into the other weird authors (Lovecraft et al.), many of which fared badly in comparison to Campbell. Continue reading Faithful Frighteners: Scott R. Jones

Horror culture and review blog; publisher of horror and genre fiction.


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