Posts Tagged ‘Vampires’

Think of every childhood monster you thought might be in your closet or under your bed or anywhere else a monster might hide during the day. What did your child-self know about the monster? Probably only that it was big, that it only came out at night and wanted to eat/kill you, and that maybe only the nightlight kept it away. Perhaps there were certain details, like fur or scales or whatever, but that was the extent of it. You didn’t know if the monster had any weaknesses, or where it came from, or why it chose your closet/bed/whatever. The monster just was, it wanted you, and you were only able to keep it away during the day. And it terrified you.

Now perhaps as a young child, you simply weren’t capable of thinking that any of that other stuff might exist for your monster. But if you confronted a creature like that as an adult, a monster where all you knew about it was its location, its active period, and its diet of humans, but nothing else, you’d be freaked. Because a monster is scary, but a monster that you don’t know how to fight is even scarier.

And that can be applied to nearly any antagonist in horror. The less is revealed about it, the scarier it is.

Case in point: vampires. When I first learned about vampires, my knowledge of what they were was limited to that they came out at night and didn’t like the sun, that they drank human blood (which could sometimes create other vampires), and that they could turn into bats. For a few years, that was all I knew about vampires, and they terrified me. If I ever came upon one, the only recourse I had was to try and survive till daylight, or I was dead! But when I found out that vampires were susceptible to stakes, garlic, crosses, and required invitations into private residences, they became a little less scary. Why? Because they were easier to deal with, and things that are easy to deal with are less terrifying than those that aren’t easy to deal with.

Contrast that with many of the works of the manga artist Junji Ito. I’ve had the opportunity to look at a bunch more of his work since reading his masterpiece Uzumaki (read my review of the manga here, as well as my review of the film adaptation here), and his works rarely tell us the hidden history or how to deal with the monsters featured within. He only gives us enough of a look to get the modus operandi of the monster, and then weaves the story around that. One of his works, Tomie, revolves around an immortal girl whose beauty often drives people to murder her/for her, and who keeps coming back to life no matter how much you kill her. We never get a full explanation of how she is able to do that. Is she some sort of genetic aberration? An undead creature brought back by a grudge? Ito doesn’t tell us, and forces the reader to wonder at the possibilities, as well as how much is being kept from us about these mysterious monsters.

Tomie, one of Junji Ito’s signature characters.

And that is terrifying. And Ito is well aware of that. He knows that the less you know about an antagonist, the more possibilities there are, and that makes the horror more effective. And not just Ito: HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, Adan Ranie, and other horror authors, including me, are well aware that adding a bit more mystery to our horror stories, and not letting the readers see beneath the proverbial hood of the monster, heightens the fear the reader will feel.

And this is the main reason why I was disappointed with Alien: Covenant this past weekend, as well as the catalyst for this post. Granted, that movie had a number of problems, but one thing that Covenant and its predecessor Prometheus both do is try to give an origin story to the films’ real stars, the Xenomorphs. When it comes to antagonists in horror getting origin stories, it’s on a case-by-case basis, and in the case of the Xenomorphs, I’ve actually come to dislike the idea of giving them an origin story. Part of their power is that, even for man-eating monsters, they’re so divorced from what humans perceive as normal. In fact, the name Xenomorph means “strange form,” and it’s that strangeness that makes them so terrifying and iconic.

So when Prometheus and Covenant try to explain them to us in origin stories, they put them in contexts that we can understand, robbing Xenomorphs of what makes them so amazing. Granted, it’s a question everyone who’s seen the original films has asked at some point: “Where do the Xenomorphs come from?” But it’s not a question that has to be answered. The fact that they had such a shady origin to them was part of their mystique, causing our minds to wander and wonder if maybe, somewhere in that until origin story, there’s a dark truth out there waiting to make us wet our pants. And now, that sense of wonder is gone, because these movies have given us an origin that, rather than being dark and terrifying, is at times confusing and at other times lame.

What I’m trying to get at is that sometimes–not all the time, but a significant portion of the time–you don’t need to reveal everything about your monster. Sometimes, keeping some mystery around adds more to the story, and keeps the source of our terror effective. And in a horror story, keeping things terrifying is one of the most important aspects of horror storytelling.

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If you’ve been following this blog for a while, if you know me in real life, or you read the things I post on my personal Facebook page, you know that I can be a funny guy. I love a good pun, a funny story, or a well-done prank. Or all three, if it can be done. And I try to insert humor into many facets of my life, much to the enjoyment of some and the exasperation of most others. Where do I get this reverence for humor? I’ll tell you: when a mommy and a daddy really like each other, they–

I’m sorry, but my lawyers tell me I’m not supposed to go into that. Let’s just say it might be a family trait, and leave it at that.

But guess what aspect of my life doesn’t see that many laughs? Surprisingly, not my writing. I actually don’t tell a lot of jokes in my stories. Yeah, imagine that! I don’t put jokes in my horror stories. In fact, my funniest story so far may be Video Rage: it’s got protagonist Zahara making a jab at male lead Rip’s manhood, and at a later point, main cast member Kevlar makes some bondage jokes when speaking to a Native American healer. That’s it.

Okay, now some of you non-horror fans may be reading this and be like, “Isn’t that par for the course? It’s horror.” But that’s the thing: just like how not all horror authors are dark, pessimistic creeps, neither are all horror stories devoid of humor. Stephen King, one of my biggest influences, often finds way to insert humor into his work. Ever read his novel Needful Things? That book is chock-full of comedy! There’s even a plot thread where two housewives buy objects from the antagonist that they believe are connected to Elvis Presley, and they start having hallucinations that the objects let them have a sexual/romantic relationship with Elvis! It’s freaking hilarious! And that’s just one example out of many.

But not just King: a lot of other horror stories make use of humor. One of my favorite Dean Koontz novels makes use of witty observations and funny turns of dialogue to great effect, adding a bit of levity to a very dark thriller. Buffy the Vampire Slayer often has tons of jokes and funny lines. Many slasher films from the 80’s and 90’s have funny moments (hell, Nightmare on Elm Street is often as funny as it is dark). And there are so many more examples of horror stories which sprinkle comedy in to alleviate tension and fear for a few seconds before starting it up again.

So why doesn’t my work have more laughs? Well, there may be a couple of reasons for that. One, in almost Freudian fashion, may stem from a childhood incident. And by childhood, I mean high school, but at this point in my life, the only difference to me is height and hormones. Back before Twilight poisoned the vampire genre, I tried my hands at several vampire stories. One of them was an epic, multidimensional vampire story, which for a while I was getting help with from an English grad at OSU my dad put me in contact with. During one email session, he noted that the story had a lot of humor in it. Every other line was a joke, and he said as a wishful horror writer, it should be more serious. I took that to mean no jokes, and cut the humor from that story in a snap. You may be thinking, “That doesn’t sound like that big a deal!” But to me, it may have been a huge deal. In fact, that memory is what I keep coming to when I think of where humor stopped showing up so much in my writing. You could say it forever scarred me (cue dramatic music!).

Another reason why I might not write that much humor into my stories is because of the type of humor I excel at. You see, my humor tends to be at its best when it’s situational. It’s like I’m living in a sitcom, and every word spoken has the opportunity for a funny line if I know where to look. That’s my mindset. My favorite jokes to pull on people usually reflect that. You’d be surprised how many times people have asked me how I’m doing, and I tell them, “I’m pregnant.” The reactions! They look something like this:

“YOU’RE PREGNANT?!!”

That being said, being a situational humor guy doesn’t always translate well to my fiction. I’m a plotter, which means I plan out the entire story from beginning to end. Keeping such dark stories in mind, from beginning to end, you don’t have much room to think of funny moments to add. You’re more likely thinking of the sad past of the protagonist and the arc they’re going through with this horrifying story.

Or it could just be the old adage, “Tragedy is easy, comedy is hard,” and all the stuff in the last couple paragraphs is a bunch of bullshit. That’s always possible.

Whatever the reason, it’s not that big a deal. Every author is comfortable with different amounts of humor in their work, and I’m comfortable with minimal amounts in mine (though if I ever write for Doctor Who, that might change). Besides, there’s a good chance if I tried to force more humor into my work, it would suck. In fact, I’m sure it would suck. Last night, I tried writing a horror-comedy short story about a tour of hell. The first paragraph was kind of funny, and then everything after that…not so much. Hence why I’m writing this post.

In any case, I think I’ll stick to what I’m good at. That’s what people like, and that’s what I like, so no problem. I’m sure I can fulfill all my writing dreams by not forcing jokes into my serial killer stories.

Or I could just stay at my job for the rest of my life and never make a thousand bucks off my work, but I don’t like to think like that.

If you write, how much humor do you put in your stories? What do you even think of humor in non-comedy fiction, anyway?

Lately I’ve been pondering something. Well actually, I’ve been pondering a lot of things, including how kissing is treated in different genre fictions and if swallowing the prize in a cereal box makes you a specially marked package (I ponder a lot of things, some of which are strange and some of which may appear in future blog posts), but this one thing in particular I’d like to explore. In a YouTube video I watched recently, the host of the video pointed out that a lot of movies start out with a protagonist walking in on their spouse having an affair, and how that is supposed to start a journey of transformation. This actually caused me to have an epiphany: a lot of fiction–not just movies–revolve around, or start off with characters being in, being caught, or thinking about having an adulterous relationship.

Like, a lot. A whole lot. Like if it’s not a main focus, then there’s a good chance an adulterous relationship will show up in a story at some point or another. I can think of four Stephen King stories that involve affairs as major plot points. One of the most popular TV shows out right now has an affair as a major plot point (*cough* Scandal *cough*). The novel Gone Girl, one of the most compelling mystery/thrillers of the past decade, has an affair as its catalyst. Adultery is freaking everywhere you read/view/listen!

So this got me thinking on three points. First, why do affairs show up so much in fiction? Second, is this a good trope, or a trope that should be done less? Perhaps even phased out? And third, how often do adulterous relationships appear in my own fiction?

Well, that first point is rather obvious (unfortunately). Adulterous relationships show up so much in fiction because they happen so much in real life (unfortunately). Of course, affairs have happened since the beginning of monogamy, but I’m not so sure they were discussed as openly as they are these days. Affairs were considered vulgar things, so the only places they were really talked about were places where it was okay to discuss that sort of thing: bars, raunchy plays (William Shakespeare was actually considered a very dirty and lowbrow for his time), and the occasional dirty poem (yes, those did exist). In polite society, they were only quietly discussed, and that kind of reflected how often adultery was discussed in fiction, and how it was treated when it was brought up.

Scandal, which revolves around an adulterous relationship (still love you, Olivia).

Nowadays though, for whatever reason, we’re a lot more comfortable discussing adultery. In fact, rather than being something discussed in hushed whispers, adultery can be a major and accepted talking point. When a celebrity or a politician, especially one who preaches family values, is caught having an affair, it gets discussed ad nauseum in checkout lines and on national TV. Websites that facilitate adultery are at the center of major scandals, and advice columns around the world regularly feature letters from people who had discovered their lover has a side lover. There are even people who think that having an affair is healthy, natural, or no big deal. It’s a thing, and it’s pervasive (unfortunately).

And as fiction tends to reflect the real world up to a certain extent–last I checked, there aren’t any real exiled queens with dragons calling her “Mother”– it makes sense that adultery would show up in a lot of fiction.

So that answers the first question. What about the second question? Is the adultery trope a good one, or is it overused to the point that we might want to use it less?

Well, that’s a tricky one. Affairs are so common (unfortunately) that it would seem weird to take them out of all fiction. It’s like war or murder; they’ve happened, and they will continue to happen, so you might as well base a story or two around them. Like it or not, adultery is a part of everyday life, so it will show up in fiction.

I think the thing to keep in mind is just to avoid certain clichés with adultery. Any mystery writer will tell you that the lover killing the victim over jealousy or an affair has been done to death (pun intended), so perhaps one should avoid using that cliché, or find a way to use it so that it actually comes as a surprise rather than being expected, like in Gone Girl. Another cliché to avoid is how finding out your lover had an affair is a signal to go on a journey of self-discovery, or to try something new and exciting. Like I said above, the cliché has been done quite a bit, and it really doesn’t make sense. Affairs can change lives, but I don’t think they are one of those events that suddenly change how you look at life or at yourself. A near death experience, or the realization that you become everything you didn’t want to be, maybe. But walking in on your spouse? I think that’s a more likely to cause a shouting match. Maybe an alcohol binge or a murder, but probably not a journey of self-discovery.

And while we’re on the subject, nearly all the affairs in that cliché I mentioned involve the wife or the girlfriend doing the cheating, which is odd because most affairs involve the husband or boyfriend. That’s not some anti-male sexism, that’s just statistics. We could balance it out a little more.

I guess the answer I’ve come to is that if you’re going to have an affair in your story, and it’s going to be a major plot points, make sure it’s not subject to tiresome clichés we’ve seen a thousand times.

And now to my final point how much does adultery show up in my own fiction? And yes, I have to make this a major point of this post. This is my blog about my writing, and all authors who share their work with others are a little narcissistic, including me. Can you blame me?

Surprisingly, not that much. I’ve thought about a number of stories I’ve written since I was ten years old, and of those, adultery shows up in maybe three or four. Only to really come to mind. One was a vampire novel I wrote in high school that was really me exploring my own sexuality before I was aware of it (see this post for more details), and the other was a recent short story. In the latter example, I only spent about a paragraph on the affair. It serves as one of the reasons why another character commits a double murder, but it’s far from the main focus, which is actually the environment of the characters. I actually have plenty of story ideas that involve adultery, but I haven’t gotten around to writing them, and they are a minority among all the other stories I’ve come up with but have been written yet.

Whether we like it or not, adultery will continue to appear in fiction for a long time to come.

I think this might be because adultery is just not an issue I want to focus on. Outside of a few shows I watch, I’m not very interested in adultery. This might be because I’m not interested in romantic relationships in general, or because they’re just other tropes that I would prefer to work with. Not only that, but adultery is rarely that scary. I am all or a writer, I prefer to write about scary things. Monsters, ghosts, the horrors that mankind is capable of, the fear of things that could happen to us if things were just a little different. Unless you’re dating a psychopath or something, adultery is not really that scary. The biggest fear is getting caught, and in most fiction, that is what happens. Not much incentive for a horror writer to focus on adultery. Or at least not this horror writer.

But who knows? Adultery could show up in more stories in the future. My style is still evolving, so anything is possible.

Adultery is sadly very common, which means it will continue to show up in fiction for generations to come. However, the way we use adultery in our fiction can be highly a versatile, and that ensures that it won’t be a trope that will get tired anytime soon. Just avoid the clichés, and if you don’t care to use adultery in your stories, don’t. For every writer who isn’t comfortable running about such a subject, there is always one who is.

What’s your take on adultery in fiction?

 

When I first heard about Anne Rice’s new novel, I thought to myself, “Wait. Lestat and Atlantis? Together? Either this is going to be the most brilliant thing ever or this series has finally jumped the metaphorical shark.” I can now say, having read the book, that there was no metaphorical (or literal) shark-jumping. This book was bloody brilliant, from seductive opening to heartwarming and uplifting ending.

Taking place not too long after the adventures of Prince Lestat (read my review of that here), Lestat and the vampire world is slowly but surely adjusting to all the changes that occurred in the last book. Lestat is getting used to living with Amel, the spirit that animates the tribe, though that has its problems here and there. To many vampires, it is a renaissance for their kind. That is, however, until the vampires are approached by beings who look human, but aren’t. And they’re not vampires either, or spirits. This is something totally new. And they know of Amel, and of a legendary city that has permeated our legends for centuries. The revelations they bring, and the changes they want to make, will shock the vampire world forever.

First off, I love the prose. Anne Rice writes with a style that’s light taking sugar and gossamer and turning it into words: sweet, ephemeral, beautiful. And as always, her characters are full of love, love of life and love of each other. I swear, if mankind was as affectionate as the vampires are, we would have much fewer problems getting along.

But that’s standard for an Anne Rice novel. The rest is anything but standard. The plot has so many unexpected twists which always leaves you wanting to read on and find out more. With the one twist I was able to predict, I thought it would ruin the story for me, but the story is so well-written that it kept things from getting that way. I also like the new characters, not just as characters, but in how they add new dimensions to the series. You’d think twelve books in, there’s only so much innovation a universe can get, but these characters literally added a whole new sphere to the series, and I would love to see this sphere explored in later books (which I hope we get). Not only that, but in many ways, these new characters are challenging to the vampires. They put them in a whole new arena that the vampires aren’t used to, and it’s interesting to see the vampires react to these new situations.

And finally, the philosophy in this book is just out of this world. It really made me think a bit about Earth’s major religions, and about the way we interact with one another. And if a novel can make you do that, it’s definitely one you’ll want to pick up and take a look at.

I can’t really think of anything that makes Realms of Atlantis bad or is a flaw in the story. Like I said, there’s a twist I predicted early on that I thought might ruin the story, but that wasn’t the case. Anything else would really be nitpicking, and I don’t see any need to do that.

All in all, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis is even better than the book that preceded it, earning a solid 5 out of 5. It’s beautifully written, twisty, and not only reminds me that these vampires still have plenty of life in them forty years after they first graced bookshelves around the world, but inspires me to work harder so that one day I can be said to write stories so good, that even Anne Rice will want to read them.

Go check it out, and see for yourself.

So I recently got back into reading The Complete Fiction of HP Lovecraft, after about a year’s gap since I last dove into his work on my Kindle. I actually got from 15% to 32%, which for a 1112-page book is pretty good, if you ask me.

Now, if you don’t know who HP Lovecraft is, he was kind of the King of American Horror between the reigns of Edgar Allen Poe and current monarch Stephen King, though he didn’t really achieve any sort of fame or influence until after his death. When I read him last year, I found his style old and outdated, and while some of his stories were actually pretty creepy, others were just strange or boring (see my thoughts in Thoughts on Lovecraft: Part 1).

So what were my thoughts one year later, having read several more stories? Well, he still prefers to write like a contemporary of Poe, one of his main influences in writing, which I find still rather irksome (I could parody it here, but I did that well enough in Part 1, so why try and repeat it?). I’m not that big a fan of that style, as I find it stuffy and somewhat boring, so occasionally that made for an annoyance to get through.

And Lovecraft is still a proud and unrepentant racist and xenophobe. Seriously, “The Horror at Red Hook” manages to drag so many non-white ethnicities, including Kurds and Yazidis, through the mud.

And he’s the only author I’ve ever met who’s used the word “eldritch,” meaning sinister or creepy (why didn’t he just use those words?).

But other than those problems, the tales I read in this section of the book were much better than the ones I read in the last one. Sure, the short story “Azathoth,” which was the first mention of the Elder God, is actually just a fragment of a novel Lovecraft never got around to finishing, which was annoying. Imagine, I get to the end of that short piece, and I was like, “Wait, that’s it?” Thank goodness for Wikipedia, which explained to me why I shouldn’t be so angry.

And there was that story, “Imprisoned with the Pharoahs,” which got a little dense with the language and made it annoying to get through, though as a fictional account of one of Harry Houdini’s adventures, it is pretty cool in retrospect.

But other than those two, these were very good stories. They were creepy, dark, and had some pretty nice twists and turns in them. I can see why a few of them have been adapted several times into movies or radio plays and the like. “Herbert West–Reanimator” is a fun tale about one man’s growing obsession with overcoming death and extending life (very Frankenstein), and how that obsession causes a domino fall of events that shows the readers the price of obsession. “The Lurking Fear” felt like a Stephen King novel from an earlier age, filled with elements of insanity, the supernatural, and insane tastes. And “Shunned House” needs to be made into a movie by Blumhouse Productions, because it is freaking scary! It’s a vampire novel that hearkens back to the days when vampires were barely human, and is probably the best of the stories by him I’ve read so far. Imagine a movie version, with James Wan in the director’s seat! No one would see it and think of vampires with Twilight or any of that other sentimental crap out there ever again.

Eek! Rats in the walls! Now I can’t sleep.

Also, “The Rats in the Walls” is great if you want to scare anyone around a campfire. Just saying.

You know, the more I read of Lovecraft’s work, the more I see why he’s been so influential. Sure, his early stories could be rather pointless or silly, and never approached scary, with the exceptions of a few, like “The Tomb” and “The Temple.” But as time went on, as tends to happen, he got better. He figured out what worked and what didn’t. He learned how to get into our heads and make us tremble, make us wonder. He pushed the envelope for his day, introducing elements of cannibalism, satanism, gods that care nothing for us except maybe as snacks. And he did it so well.

And even now, after I’ve decided to take a break from him, I still find myself getting inspired by him. I’ve already gotten a few new novel and short story ideas from his stories, particularly “The Lurking Fear.” I have no idea when I’ll write them, but I think that when I do, they may even chill me.

So yeah, I think I’m definitely a Lovecraft fan now. Last year I wasn’t so much of a fan, but now I think I am. He’s definitely grown on me. And I think I may visit him again someday, perhaps even before the end of the year. Especially if he gives me so many good ideas. And if you like a good scary story and can handle some old-timey writing style, then I suggest you visit Mr. Lovecraft too.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ve got my own stories to work on, so I’m going to get on that. In the meantime, I hope you have a scarily good time, my Followers of Fear. Until next time!

It’s Friday, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday! It’s also the first night of Passover, also known as “that holiday the Jews have where they remember getting out of slavery and celebrate with tasteless food and crackers.” Yeah, the diet is my least favorite part of the holiday, if you couldn’t already tell.

Now if you’re unfamiliar with #FirstLineFriday, here’s how it works. On Fridays, you:

  1. Write a post on your own blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and encourage them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs, tagging if necessary.

This week’s entry is from a vampire story I’ve been churning in my twisted mind for a while. I’m waiting to write it, though, because a certain book series kind of changed the image of vampires in the public consciousness a bit, and not for the better, in my opinion. Anyway, I have a few different openings I could use with this story, so I’m trying one today that could start the book or instead be used to open another chapter. We’ll see how I’m feeling when I write this bad boy. Enjoy:

I guess I’m what you would call a vampire. And before you ask, no, I don’t fucking sparkle.

Thoughts? Errors? Let me know in the comments below.

And while you’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday yourself? It’s a lot of fun, and for writers, it’s good practice when doing openings. In fact, I’m going to prove a point by tagging one of you! This week I choose Victo Dolore of Behind the White Coat. Victo, you have to do #FirstLineFriday either this Friday or next Friday. Have fun with it!

That’s all for now. I have to get ready to relive the Exodus from Egypt, but if anything comes up in the meantime, I’ll let you know. Have a great weekend, my Followers of Fear.

Recently I was contacted by Man Crates, a new company that “ships awesome gifts for men in custom wooden crates that he has to open with a crowbar!” Don’t worry, I think they send the crowbar with the crate. Anyway, they asked me to come up with what I would include in a crate to survive the duration of horror movie, especially since it’s October and this is the month for that sort of stuff. I was intrigued, so I decided to take up the challenge and see what I could come up with.

Turns out that list is actually pretty exhaustive. The thing about horror films, what you need to survive them besides wits and luck really depends a lot on what you’re facing. You can’t use a weapon for a werewolf on a ghost, and an exorcism for a demon won’t do much good on a serial killer. If I tried to prepare for every possible situation, I would need an entire house to stalk my supplies rather than just a crate.

So I made my list with this thought: “If I knew I was going to be in a horror movie but I didn’t know what I’d be facing or where I’d be when it happened or how long I’d be in this situation, and I could pick items to bring with me to help me survive, what would I bring?” Thus resulted my list, an entire catalog of supplies that would apply in just about any horror situation without being too specific.

I’m not sure if Man Crates were to actually compile everything from my list if they could fit it all into one crate, but I think they’d find it very helpful no matter what the situation is. So without further ado, here’s what I would want in my crate for surviving a horror movie:

Machetes: as deadly as a gun, as silent as a knife.

  • Weapons. Obviously, I need weapons. Chances are, most of what I’d likely face would be susceptible to some sort of weapon, and I can think of a few that would be helpful. First, a shotgun. Werewolves, zombies, serial killers, and occasionally vampires and some kinds of ghosts can be killed or injured by firearms, and if I needed to hunt for survival, a shotgun would be helpful. I also would like an ample supply of three types of bullets: regular, silver, and rock salt. The first two are obvious, they can kill most creatures, human, supernatural, or other. The rock salt is special, though: according to many traditions, salt can cleanse or keep away impure beings like ghosts and spirits. I figure a rock salt bullet might weaken a spirit if I’m attacked, and if I’m not facing a spirit, then rock salt might hurt or drive away anything else.
    I also would benefit from a machete and a hunting knife. If the shotgun fails, then a machete and a hunting knife would be helpful in close quarters combat or against a horde of zombies. They can also be used in stealth attacks, unlike the shotgun, and the knife in particular would be helpful in hunting. Obviously I’d need something to make sure the blades stay sharp and clean, and something to keep the shotgun in working condition, so add those to the crate.
  • Survival gear and supplies. When I saw author Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z) at Ohio State a couple years back, he pointed out that besides weapons, you need supplies if you’re going to survive any long-term terrors. While I’m trying to be more general here, I have to admit he has a very good point, and I should plan in case my survival needs happen to be longer than until the sun rises.
    A lot of what I would need are also things that I might consider taking with me on a camping trip. Flashlight and extra batteries would be the first things I’d pack. If I’m going to be fighting for my life at night, a light source will be important. Lighter fluid and matches would also be helpful. Even if I’m not in a situation where I need to assemble a cooking fire in the woods or something, some things can only be killed with fire, which means I need something to get the fire really going.

    Sometimes the simplest things will save you.

    And speaking of cooking fires, put some water bottles and energy bars into the crate. Keeping yourself hydrated and energized is important if you want to stay alive, so better have something that is easy to transport, lasts awhile, and can carry your nutrition needs. A first aid kit with the works–gauze, disinfectant, antibiotics, needle and thread, etc.–could also mean the difference between life and death, so I’d want one of those.
    Finally in this category, I think we could include an outdoor survival guide–I am not the most outdoorsy sort of guy, so having a guide would be very helpful–as well as a portable cell phone charger to call for help if things get too crazy and maybe a satellite uplink device in case I’m in an area with poor or no cell reception. Hey, you have to be prepared for as many situations as possible.

  • Other. These don’t fit into the other two categories, and I can’t think of a proper name for them, but they would be handy in a horror movie. First, night vision goggles: good ones are usually a little expensive, but if the situation becomes such that you wouldn’t want a flashlight because then someone or something might see the beam, then it’s worth it. Also, bring along The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. Even if you’re not facing a zombie apocalypse, it has some very good tips to survive out in the world when the stuff hits the fan, so it might prove useful. And a thick notebook and a supply of pens would also be pretty handy, especially if you need to be on the road for a long time or you’re facing something unseen before in human mythology or history and you want to record its weaknesses.

    Get me something slightly smaller and less clunky and cumbersome, and I think I’ll be good.

    Finally, a pack or something to make carrying this all easier would be nice. I mean, this amount of gear might be heavier than the suitcase in my hotel room, I would like something to help make carrying it all a little easier.

That wraps up my list of things I would have in my crate should I find myself in a horror movie and I’d like to survive till the end, especially if the end is several months or even years away…ooh, I hope I don’t end up in any of those movies! Anyway, thanks to Man Crates for inspiring the post. I had a fun time coming up with this list. Check out their catalog, you might find the perfect gift for a guy you know to indulge in his masculine side.

And beware of monsters! They’re everywhere this month.

What would you want in your horror survival kit? Anything here that I missed?