Black Static #54

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The September–October issue contains four long stories by Steven J. Dines, Ralph Robert Moore, Julie C. Day, and Malcolm Devlin.

The cover art is by Richard Wagner, with interior illustrations by Richard again, Joachim Luetke, and Ben Baldwin. Features: Coffinmaker’s Blues by Stephen Volk (comment); Notes From the Borderland by Lynda E. Rucker (comment); Case Notes by Peter Tennant (book reviews, including an interview with Damien Angelica Walters); Blood Spectrum by Gary Couzens (DVD/Blu-ray reviews).


Perspective by Steven J. Dines
illustrated by Joachim Luetke

Item image: Perspective

Walking at night, there are moments – seconds but sometimes longer – when it feels like it belongs to you: the dark. When the traffic suddenly stops whipping by your elbow and the pavement seems devoid of staggering, leaning drunks. When the silence deepens and holds, holds, like a breath trapped inside a juddering lung, and the only sound is your own shoes beating out a rhythm through your streets.

Your city.

Your dark.


A Pinhole Of Light by Julie C. Day
illustrated by Richard Wagner 

Item image: A Pinhole of Light

Like this life, the afterlife is unfair. A woman dies at twenty-nine and leaves her infant daughter behind. Eight years later she is still trapped on the other side. When I’m in my happiest frame of mind, I imagine Veronica searching for my darkroom each time I turn on the blood-red light. In my darkest moments, I know I’m failing her. She still hasn’t arrived.

I’m an experienced photographer. I should be able to do better.


Not Everything Has A Name by Ralph Robert Moore
illustrated by Richard Wagner

Item image: Not Everything Has A Name

Tommy drove Sheila out to the valley, pulled up in front of a one-story building with no windows.

Beat-up cars in the small parking lot, plus one shiny red convertible.

Sheila released her seat belt, retracting clip rippling her blouse. Swung her eyes to Tommy. “Is this safe? It doesn’t look safe.”

He brushed his hair from his forehead. Smirked. “It’s cool. I’ve been here before.” Scrunched his eyebrows, his sophisticated look. “Too scared to follow your bad boy inside?”

Tommy’s palm pushing the wooden front door open, letting out the wails of Middle-Eastern music.

Dark as a cave inside.

Cigarette smoke, cue balls clicking.


Dogsbody by Malcolm Devlin
illustrated by Ben Baldwin 

Item image: Dogsbody

Gil McKenzie didn’t get the job in the marketing agency on account of the fact he turned into a werewolf that one time.



Coffinmaker’s Blues by Stephen Volk


In Penny Dreadful Frankenstein’s first creature tears the head off his sibling, a werewolf turns a tavern into a butcher’s shop, a bride/whore bloodily savages a john. In American Horror Story: Freak Show a Southern dandy psychopath bathes in blood, a magician saws a woman bloodily in half, we’re treated to countless stabbings, hangings, suicides, mutilations, and imprisonment by killer clown. Elsewhere on prime time: severed heads bob in aquariums and a binge-tsunami of death comes at as predictably as Quincy’s end-gag over shared pizza. While on the big screen, an endless blood-drenched massacre called À l’intérieur (Inside) portrays gruelling physical punishment for no other reason than to put you through the wringer.


Notes From the Borderland by Lynda E. Rucker


One of the earliest columns I wrote for Black Static was on the topic of women and mental illness in horror. I’m returning to it again this month inspired by another viewing, this time of the film Queen of Earth starring Elisabeth Moss and Katherine Waterston. With Joe Swanberg acting as one of the producers, you might expect it will deliver that mumblecore-all-grown-up-now commitment to rambling, improvisational-seeming dialogue and dig deep into the mundanity of everyday lives, and you’d be right. Yet as much as I love the gothic, I think mundanity is a fine setting for horror, because as the unsettling mood creeps in, it stands in even greater contrast to what we feel ought to be unfolding before us. And make no mistake: Queen of Earth definitely takes us beyond the realm of the dark human dysfunction mapped in more strictly realistic films and well into the territory of psychological horror.



Case Notes: Book Reviews by Peter Tennant

Item image: BS54 Case Notes


Bone Idle in the Charnel House by Rhys Hughes, A Confederacy of Horrors by James Robert Smith, Dark Equinox and Other Tales of Lovecraftian Horror by Ann K. Schwader, Cult of the Dead and Other Weird and Lovecraftian Tales by Lois H. Gresh, Rapture of the Deep and Other Lovecraftian Tales by Cody Goodfellow, Lovecraft Alive! by John Shirley


Sing Me Your Scars, Paper Tigers, Q&A With Damien Angelica Walters

Blood Spectrum: DVD/Blu-ray Reviews by Gary Couzens

Item image: BS54 Blood Spectrum

Tale of Tales, Kaos, Southbound, The Lesson, Last Girl Standing, Curtain, Landmine Goes Click, The Unfolding, Queen of Earth, Crimes of Passion, Roadgames, The Count Yorga Collection, The Bloodstained Butterfly, Men & Chicken, Microwave Massacre, The Booth at the End, The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season, The Mermaid, Tank 432, Shark Lake, Vampyres

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