Category Archives: Ogmios/David Ward
I figured I’d take the opportunity to do my “On…” column on one of my favourite books this time around, and, strangely enough, it has nothing to do with visceral horror! I’m writing about an old and treasured favourite: Serendipities by Umberto Eco. I know Eco isn’t for everyone. One friend of mine once said he could never finish a book by him because he constantly had to refer to the dictionary. While he’s not that bad, some of his books are a little dense. I wanted to write about a favourite and much more accessible title. Outside of his fiction, I’ve re-read his essays more than any other type of his works – some of his academic and theoretical books make my brains drip out of my ears. Read the rest of this entry
The Cenobite bites it. The Order of the Gash lays smashed and shattered upon a mound of bones and blood, confined forever to a sea of dust and ash. This is the worst-kept secret about this novel, which has been under discussion and hinted about for decades: Pinhead dies. I can understand Barker’s choice to do this; he’s quite literally killing his darlings.
Touted as Barker’s “much-anticipated return to horror” (a comment, by the way, that also found its way on to the jacket of his last novel for adults, Mister B. Gone – perhaps it was due to a change in publisher?), The Scarlet Gospels is the closing chapter in the lives of two of Barker’s longest-lasting creations: Pinhead and Harry D’Amour. Admittedly, Harry doesn’t have quite the same cultural resonance as the BDSM angel of death from Hellraiser, but he’s a contemporary of, if not older than, Pinhead. D’Amour first made an appearance in Barker’s novella The Last Illusion (found at the end of The Books of Blood VI and later adapted by Barker for the screen as The Lord of Illusions, starring Scott Bakula as D’Amour), and then he crops up again in Everville, the Second Book of the Art. Pinhead, on the other hand, and despite the innumerable excrescences that comprise the Hellraiser sequels, only appears in one Barker story: The Hellbound Heart and its film, Hellraiser. Read the rest of this entry
Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favorite things. Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years. Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too. Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on… something they love.
“Rivers” is a song from Skinny Puppy’s fifth studio release, Rabies. It’s not a goth-industrial hit; you won’t hear it on the dancefloor at goth nights (and you never did); most non-Skinny Puppy fans have never heard of it; but it is absolutely brilliant. Early Skinny Puppy was characterized, generally, by two sorts of sounds: one included thumping percussion, eerie repeated synthesizer tracks, disjointed broken sampling, and Nivek Ogre’s voice; the other included atmospheric synth pads that sometimes included samples from horror films (these were found both sounds – take “Icebreaker” from Bites). Both “Rivers” and “Worlock” from Rabies are both firmly Skinny Puppy songs on an album that is essentially a Ministry album with a Skinny Puppy mask (no great surprise: Ministry’s frontman, Al Jourgensen, was a producer). A lot of people gush about “Worlock” – with good reason. It’s a fantastic song, and one is pretty much guaranteed to hear it at a Skinny Puppy concert. This is far less likely, if not impossible, with “Rivers”. Read the rest of this entry
My column on all things Hellblazer is going to start in the middle. Why? Because beginnings reek of convention, something that strikes me as anathema to John Constantine. So I’m going to skip over scores of brilliant writers and artists, some of whom are my favourite in the field, and go straight for Mike Carey, who took the reins of Hellblazer from Brian Azzarello in 2002. He starts with a dead man. Read the rest of this entry
Through the Woods
As a child, I remember being terrified when I first heard the story of Bluebeard (“Be bold, be bold…” still runs a shiver down my spine). It may have been the first time I ever heard a truly scary fairy tale—something that toed the line between a fairy story and gruesome horror. Not much later, I was introduced to the original Grimms’ Fairy Tales, which, as lovers of fairy tales and myths we all discover, are absolutely nothing like the sanitized versions we know from Disney and the children’s section of most bookstores. Some prefer the gruesome ones; some prefer the nicer ones; some prefer a balance. Fairy tales, like most fictions, are totally subjective, but I definitely fell for the darker, bloodier stuff. “What do you mean, they cut her toes off to fit in that slipper?” More after the jump.
“The forest is mankind’s nightmare.”
… says the Doctor, looking around a newly forested Trafalgar Square. Over the course of one night a massive forest has grown up everywhere. Not just London, not just the United Kingdom, not just Europe – everywhere. The Earth is covered in forest, from top to bottom.
When I sat down to watch Neil Jordan’s masterful 2012 vampire film, Byzantium, I was filled with more than a little apprehension. I gave up on the “beautiful” vampire some time in the late 1990s when Lestat, protagonist of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, was busy entertaining self-indulgent and mediocre conversations with God and the Devil in Memnoch the Devil (a largely forgettable novel). “That’s it!” I thought, and throwing the book to the ground, I vowed to never again indulge in the onanistic drivel of most teen goths. Don’t even get me started on the Twilight franchise. More on Byzantium after the jump.
One of my earliest memories is staring, with abject horror, at an image of a large, slick worm with razor-sharp teeth thrusting out from the page through a man’s burst and bleeding chest. My father owned an illustrated version of the Alien script, and it was full of photographs from the film. I knew I shouldn’t have been looking at that book; it was a taboo. This was my introduction to the creations of Hans Rudolf Giger, the Swiss surrealist painter who died yesterday, tragically, in hospital after falling down a stairwell.
Giger spent most of his life bringing nightmares to life with intensely disturbing subjects and landscapes that gave pleasure through their utter wrongness. You’d find landscapes of dead babies, flesh-like deserts, gateways to terror, and creatures of unknowable horror made even more disturbing by their all-too recognizable genitalia. His paintings, particularly those framed in his biomechanoid phase, reminded me of industrial music: layers and layers of strangeness that could be viewed on macro- and microcosmic levels. There was also a very dark sense of humour in a lot of his work; through the twisted and brutalized forms were comical faces and situations – from Timothy Leary’s open, laughing mouth and brilliant, maelstrom-wrought eyes to a porcine, lascivious Aleistar Crowley wearing a dunce cap. Every time I look at one of my Giger books, I spend a lot of time looking at every painting. I discover something new each and every time.
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Thor is a twit.
He’s boastful, arrogant, temperamental, and downright stupid. His half-brother, Loki, got the advantage on him more times than not, and Thor’s ususal response was to hit him with a hammer or come crying back (well, ok, screaming and yelling – that’s more manly, after all) to the Allfather, Odin. I can’t blame Loki for playing games with the Asgardian; he kept falling for them. He was quite possibly the easiest Mark in Norse myth, and for the trickster Loki, a source of endless entertainment.
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Perhaps it’s due to my early reading life furnished in horror, but for as long as I can remember, I have been intensely aware of my inner conversations and thoughts, because I never know who might be listening. I don’t believe in psychic phenomena, and I’ve never seen or experienced anything to dissuade me from this opinion, but I also don’t claim to have an in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the mind or the brain’s physiology. I suppose I remain both open- and closed-minded on the prospect.
I blame Stephen King for this – some of the first novels I ever read were by him and surrounded the nature of psychic power: Carrie, Firestarter, and, of course, The Shining. In fact, I think it may be The Shining that made me really consider the idea that someone could actually hear my thoughts. While hardly a visceral terror, I find the notion of someone impinging on my mind to be a horrifying concept. I’ve always loved King’s approach to psychic power; instead of a godlike power akin to something you’d find in the pages of X-Men, King’s psychics run a whole spectrum. Some have next to none; some just have a glimmer; some shine.
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