It’s difficult to find a person who’s seen the first season of True Detective and isn’t a fan (especially after the rather obtuse second season). Part of the first season’s charm can be traced to Matthew McConaughey’s revelatory turn as the cosmic, nihilistic, philosophy-spouting detective, Rust Cohle. However, it didn’t take long for fans of genre fiction to recognize some distinct similarities behind Cohle’s monologues and the work of cult horror writer and noted recluse, Thomas Ligotti (namely, Ligotti’s book The Conspiracy Against the Human Race). After much Internet hand-wringing, True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto did admit that, yes, he was inspired by Ligotti’s work. Whether or not Pizzolatto outright plagiarized Ligotti is a moot discussion that can easily lead to a “what is art?” downward spiral. At at least the attention prompted Penguin publishing to re-release Ligotti’s first two story collections, Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe. The stories within are dense and cosmic, but once you get the hang of it, they’re more frightening than Poe, Lovecraft and King.
Scary websites are a dime a dozen these days, but The Lineup shows real promise. The recently launched site offers well-curated listicles, such as “5 Freaky New Horror Movies” or “15 Spookiest Ghost Tours Across the Country.” What differentiates The Lineup from similar sites, however, is the quality of the suggestions. For example, I’m genuinely excited to check out a number of recommendations in “10 Forgotten Mystery Masterpieces,” which provides helpful links for finding the books online. The article “5 Insane Asylums and the Horrors that Happened There” provides creepy snippets and links for more information on each story. While the operation’s tagline is “Where murder and mayhem is delivered daily,” the authors of the website tend to steer away from gore and focus on mystery. One of the best examples of the site’s eerie style is The Lineup podcast, which features real stories told by real people. There are just six episodes so far, but they have been steadily released every month, suggesting there’s more to come—and thankfully so.
—Joshua Emerson Smith
The sale of independent radio station KPRI (102.1 FM) was more depressing than scary. The aural results of the sale, however, are downright creepy. The new owner of the station is Educational Media Foundation, which specializes in adult contemporary Christian rock. The new K-Love format is what you’d probably be forced to listen to if you were being indoctrinated into a Southern California cult. To each their own when it comes to musical taste, but I’m with comedian Mike Birbiglia, who says: “I’ll listen to Christian music—but by mistake. It starts out like a Bon Jovi ballad. It’ll be like, ‘I woke up in the morning/And I got myself some oatmeal/And I put some raisins in it/Christ is God. Christ is God. God, God, God…’” Stryper, Newsboys, Mandisa? Sorry, but no. I’ll risk being smitten by saying that when it comes to the commercial radio dial, Led Zeppelin is God.
Metal music and Halloween are natural complements. Or, more accurately, metal is the perfect soundtrack for the annual celebration of drunken mischief and petty vandalism of Devil’s Night, which happens on October 30. But most metal isn’t actually scary. It’s mostly good, mischievous fun. Theatrical metal act Ævangelist provides the kind of harrowing, deeply unsettling listen that few other metal bands can pull off. Their new album Enthrall to the Void of Bliss, released October 9 via 20 Buck Spin, is what a descent into madness would sound like accompanied by death metal growls. There are atonal screeches of guitar, a horror-soundtrack ambiance, disembodied voices, eerie metallic clangs and all other manner of avant-garde strangeness happening. It’s loud and intense, but it’s what’s happening in the background that’s the most unsettling. The most terrifying things are often those we don’t have explanations for, and I sure as hell can’t explain most of what’s going on here. Those brave enough can listen to the entire thing at listen.20buckspin.com.
I hate being scared. Hate. But there’s something about the Halloween season that gives me a backbone for terror. When the smartphone game Indigo Lake opens, you’re drifting in a rowboat toward the haunted Camp Andrews— an island of wood cabins where you collect clues and solve puzzles to find your ghost-hunting friend Dr. James Everett. To my delight (and eventual horror) this game is in firstperson and mist clings to your screen, the way it would if you had rain droplets caught in your lashes. Then shit jumps out at you, and you lose it. You also get to drive a 4x4 truck to get around the island. I’ve jumped into it with a case of the hand-sweats just to feel less vulnerable. I’ll say without shame that I played the game at work to write this. I haven’t found James Everett yet and should the iOS demons attempt to snatch my soul, my office mates could fight off the supernatural forces, right? It’d be a shame to die with a 5S though.
Arguably the Internet’s greatest viral video and subsequent meme, Technoviking isn’t scary per se, although he is undoubtedly a formidable force. No one knows this better than Matthias Fritsch, the struggling German video artist who shot the footage of Technoviking at a Berlin parade in 2000. He uploaded it onto his website, only to watch it blow up on social media and YouTube in 2007. Fritsche has made some money over the years from the vid, but The Rise of Technoviking isn’t a clever way to cash in further. Rather, it’s a well-produced 50-minute film that, as one of the doc’s interview subjects puts it, “asks a lot of important questions for the Facebook generation and the digital world in general.” Fritsch interviewed dozens of experts, philosophers and artists, but not Technoviking himself as he is suing Fritsch in German court. What’s more, The Rise also eloquently addresses issues of privacy in public spaces. As artist Alessandro Ludovico eloquently puts it in the doc, “we are kind of voluntary agents of surveillance.” Now that’s scary. Stream it for free at vimeo.com/subrealic.