The high shaman of Canadian micropress erotic horror Scott R. Jones joins us to talk about formative horror experiences, his Christian Gnosticism, and worldview and philosophy in horror literature.
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)?
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.
Edited by Scott R. Jones; Published by Martian Migraine Press
Available for pre-order now
“From Beyond” is a Lovecraft story that, while lacking the elegance and polish of some of his other works, is effective precisely because it presses the right buttons in very few words. It’s profoundly Lovecraftian in the hidden-world-higher-dark-power aspect. Human beings stumble blindly through magic and forbidden science to open up a dangerous and increasingly hostile new world that is always just out of sight. It’s only a few pages long, with most of the terrors generated by the reader’s mind. Lovecraft supplies us with just enough details to stoke the fires of imagination.
The film From Beyond, conversely, shows quite a bit—and liberally dumps buckets of slime and blood everywhere—while also under-explaining the true nature of the creepy-crawlies that float, bite, suck, consume, and ultimately corrupt and metamorphize the humans who come in contact with the infamous Resonator. Or, is it the bodies of that characters themselves that cause the corruption? Does the pineal gland, once stimulated, assume a life of its own, pushing the characters into new states of abominable evolution?
Martian Migraine Press has assembled an all-star team of horror writers who tackle these themes. In Resonator -New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond, these writers pick up where Lovecraft and Gordon left off, tracking the fate of the Tillinghast family and the Resonator technology through a variety of weird and slimy tales of lurid erotica, old-fashioned splatterpunk, and paranoid science fiction-horror.
I feared that the collection would at one point run out of steam—after all, how many different ways can you rebuild and re-frame a concept like the Resonator technology? The writers of this collection—expertly assembled by Scott R. Jones—managed to write stories with common themes and gross-outs, but that stand on their own in setting, characterization, and creativity. None of these stories feel like repeats or filler; each new story has a fresh and viscous take on the terrors that lurk in the branes beyond and within the human heart.
While there are reasons to like every story in this collection, I have a few personal favorites.
“IPO” by Darrin Brightman explores the Post-9/11 commercialization of the Resonator technology. Brightman’s social critique is so on-the-nose it’s easy to miss: the very machines meant to protect us make us see monsters, everywhere.
“Film Maudit” by Christopher Slatsky explores one of my favorite horror tropes: that of a forbidden film and/or a haunted movie theater (see Mer Whinery’s “The Projectionist” in our upcoming High Strange Horror release). A gorehound who has seen it all attends a special screening of a supposedly lost art house/snuff film, with the experience enhanced by the RestoRed Oscillator, an almost-forgotten spookshow gimmick that thrills the audience in new and horrifying ways.
“Bug Zapper” by Richard Lee Byers follows a scientist and a team of Army Rangers—wearing armor and popping pills to keep them motivated—as they try to destroy a special tower the government built to keep the invisible monsters away. Turns out, we are far more connected to that invisible ecosystem than even Tillinghast could have imagined, and mucking around in t-space wasn’t the best idea after all.
“Parasitosis” by Lyndsey Holder is about a man with unexplained psychological issues—including the ability to see emotions and psychological states—exploring the meaning of memory and current experiential reality, one moment at a time. This story is disorienting as it is frightening.
“The Wizard of OK” by Scott Nicolay shows us an Aleister Crowley devotee as he uses an unspeakable mix of technology and blood sorcery to explore space and time, at the expense of one very lost and damaged woman and her son. There’s a demon-thing-god-worm-creature that defies the imagination, with a psychic and physical presence that preys upon our unsympathetic characters, resonating with both physical and emotional fear.
“The Divide” by Damir Salkovic is the soul-scarring final piece. It’s more of a science fiction sequel to the original story, with a near-utopian future consisting of a wealthy elite seeking greater and greater thrills and experiences that lead them all the way to the center of creation. There they encounter a fate—and a truth—far worse than they could possibly have imagined.
There’s plenty more to like. This is a creative exploration of form and content around the shared conceit of technology/sorcery and third-eye truth. In case you missed the original story, it’s included at the beginning of the collection, so don’t worry about being lost in the shuffle. Each author takes those primordial ideas and conjures up terrors both immediate and existential. In Resonator, merely getting eaten alive by unseen monsters from outside time and space is the least of your concerns, and one of the more noble fates the hapless characters end up suffering.
This book comes with my strongest recommendation for fans of both science fiction-horror and body-horror.
5/5 Resonance Waves
Muzzleland Press is proud to announce that we will be publishing the new short fiction collection from independent horror author Matthew M. Bartlett.
Gateways to Abomination, Bartlett’s first collection, was an underground hit, generating praise from The Arkham Digest, PlayWithDeath.com, and many others for its disturbing and original take on occult horror. Bartlett’s grotesque, vivid style makes his work stand out as a unique contribution to the current Weird Renaissance.
Bartlett has also published stories in Faed published by A Murder of Storytellers, in Resonator: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond published by Martian Migraine Press, and in High Strange Horror published by Muzzleland Press. His next release will be The Witch-Cult in Western Massachusetts, an illustrated chapbook.
Muzzleland Press will publish the as-yet untitled follow up to Gateways to Abomination, a short fiction collection featuring his infamous cult and radio broadcasts, grotesque bio-horrors, and new dark and disturbing settings and characters. Accompanying the book will be a small series of short horror films set in Bartlett’s twisted universe.
The book is tentatively scheduled for late 2015 or early 2016.
For updates on Bartlett’s writing, check his blog at www.mathewmbartlett.com.