The Ghost of a Tower

By Kathryn L Ramage

Layer Marney towers

Or, the story behind a cover photo.

The photograph for the cover of Who Killed Toby Glovins? was taken at a place called Layer Marney, which is about 1/2 an hour’s drive outside Colchester in the UK. I went there at the end of the same day I wandered around the lanes of the Suffolk countryside in search of Abbotshill; after I visited Lavenham, I drove south again down around the other side of the city. This was my last stop of the day.

Let’s call this part of the journey “Looking for Foxgrove.”

I’d never heard of Layer Marney until last spring, when I was searching online for places to see in the vicinity of Colchester. While making my travel plans for my upcoming trip, I came across the Web site for this house and not only though it looked interesting, but that a photograph of the towers might do nicely for the cover of my next Freddie Babington mystery. The story had already been finished and sent to my editor at that time.

I had no specific house in mind when I’d first described Foxgrove, where Toby Glovins’s murder occurs, but I haven’t been visiting stately homes all …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

DVD Review: The Uninvited

By Kathryn L Ramage

The Uninvited ghost

I first saw this film in the early hours of a New Year’s day, when I was about 12. After spending the week after Christmas at my grandmother’s house, my family drove home on a snowy New Year’s Eve and got in in time to watch the usual Times Square midnight countdown on TV.

Mom and Dad went to bed right afterwards, but before my little sister and I could pack up the big Christmas box of Legos, the same TV station began to show a movie; its opening caught our attention.

We stayed up to watch the whole thing, and didn’t get much sleep afterwards.

The opening scene? A black and white shot of waves crashing on a ragged, rocky coastline, and Ray Milland’s voice saying:

“They call them the haunted shores, these stretches of Devonshire and Cornwall and Ireland which rear up against the westward ocean. Mists gather here, and sea fog, and eerie stories. That’s not because there are most ghosts here than in other places, mind you–it’s just that people who live here are strangely aware of them. You see, day and night, year in, year out, they listen to the pound and stir of the waves. There’s life …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

DVD Review: Night/Curse of the Demon

By Kathryn L Ramage

Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes...

This 1957 film is loosely based on M.R. James’s 1911 short story, Casting the Runes–a story about a warlock who sics a demon on his enemies by secretly passing them a slip of paper with a runic curse on it. The only way his victims can escape a horrible fate is by giving the runes back to him without him knowing it, so that the curse rebounds back on the caster. Although the plot and characters are altered from those in James’s story, this version is generally considered one of the best films adapted from his work, and one of the best horror films of its era.

It’s a British film with a mostly British cast, but with an American star to draw a U.S. audience, which was a common practice at the time. It was released in the UK under the title Night of the Demon and in the US as Curse of the Demon.

The DVD has both versions of this film on it: the 95-minute original UK version and the US release, which is about 10 minutes shorter. The order of the scenes are slightly rearranged in the US version, and two full scenes plus some other little …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

Now on sale: Storylandia 19, Who Killed Toby Glovins?

By Ginger Mayerson

Where to buy: online store; also Amazon (eligible for free shipping); and Kindle.

Sample pages

Where to buy: online store; also Amazon (eligible for free shipping); and Kindle.

Who Killed Toby Glovins?
Kathryn L. Ramage
ISBN: 978-1-942007-10-4

Freddie Babington has solved two mysteries. When he travels to Norfolk in the autumn of 1923 to attend the wedding of Amelia Marsh and Evelyn Tollarhithe, he doesn’t anticipate a third murder investigation. Then, on the evening before the wedding, a friend of the groom is found stabbed under circumstances that look compromising for Evelyn. Freddie agrees to take the case for Amelia’s sake. As Freddie digs deeper behind the friendship between Evelyn and Toby Glovins, and uncovers old family secrets, he learns that the question of who murdered Toby is more complicated than it first appears. And so, he discovers, are his feelings for the disappointed bride.

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three cats. As well as being the author of numerous short stories, novellas, and essays, she is the author of “Maiden in Light,” “The Wizard’s Son,” and “Sonnedragon,” novels set on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period. All three are part of an intended series of fantasy novels that mostly take place in a dukedom called the Northlands, a part of the Norman Empire that roughly covers the north-eastern U.S. For more information, please visit her website at www.klr.wapshottpress.com.

Also by Kathryn L. Ramage
The Wizard’s Son
Maiden in Light
Sonnedragon
Storylandia 10: Death Among the Marshes
Storylandia 16: The Abrupt Disappearance of Cousin Wilfrid

Where to buy Storylandia …read more

Source:: Storylandia

      

DVD Review: The Night Strangler

By Kathryn L Ramage

Murder in Pioneer Square area

Both this movie and The Night Stalker are on the same DVD. I was originally planning to do both as one review, then cut it into two pieces at the last minute.

After the enormous success of The Night Stalker, a sequel was inevitable. This second movie aired on ABC in 1973, about a year after the first. The plot follows the same general outline as its predecessor: newshound Carl Kolchak investigates the bizarre murders of a number of women and discovers that the killer is a man with supernatural powers, but Carl has trouble getting the truth published due to the efforts of the city’s officials and his own newspaper’s management. But there are several differences that make me prefer this sequel to the original. First, the city where this second series of murders occurs is Seattle instead of Las Vegas, and the story makes use of an interesting historical attraction. And while I like movies about vampires and werewolves, I like it more when the monster is something a little more out of the usual.

In addition, the tone of this sequel is lighter, less cynical and more comical, and the story sets up tropes that will be part of the television series that eventually followed.

Like The Night Stalker, this movie begins with Carl Kolchak’s pithy narration describing the late-night murder of a young woman who worked as an exotic dancer (not a stripper; she and the other girls who work at place called Omar’s Tent wear outfits like Barbara Eden’s from I Dream of Jeannie) under the stage name of Merissa. As Merissa walks through the darkened streets of the Pioneer Square area, the oldest part of Seattle, a cadaverous-looking man leaps out of the shadows to throttle her. Police will find her with her neck broken …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

DVD Review: The Night Stalker

By Kathryn L Ramage

Second murder

Now that I’m finished with Dark Shadows, I’ve decided to go on to another short-lived but influential series that began life as a Dan Curtis production and the movie that started it off.

The Night Stalker, screenplay by Richard Matheson, aired on ABC in 1972. According to the interview with Dan Curtis on this DVD, it was a huge success, hitting the highest ratings for any made-for-TV movie up that point. Different from Curtis’s previous work with its gothic settings and trappings, this was a thoroughly modern and cynical horror movie that let a vampire loose to hunt in a big and brash city, and introduced a vampire hunter who was nothing like Van Helsing.

We first see Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin), not in what would become his trademark seersucker suit and battered straw hat, but as a guy in a T-shirt in a small and shabby apartment. He pushes the Play button on his pocket tape-recorder, then gets a beer from a tiny fridge, and wanders around in the background before settling down on the bed to listen to his own recorded voice saying:

“This is the story behind one of the greatest manhunts in history. Maybe you read about it–what they let you read about it, probably some item on a back page. However, what happened in that city between May 16 and May 28 of this year was so incredible that to this day the facts have been suppressed to save certain political careers from disaster and law enforcement officials from embarrassment.

This will be the last time I will ever discuss these events with anyone. So when you’ve finished this bizarre account, judge for yourself its believability and then try to tell yourself, wherever you may be, it couldn’t happen here…”

We have it right up front …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

CD Review: Dreams in the Witch House

By Kathryn L Ramage

Dreams in the Witch House scrapbook

Brown Jenkin has always creeped me out more than any of the betentacled, rugose, crinoid, or even squamose eldritch monstrosities that feature in Lovecraft’s other stories. It’s not Brown Jenkin’s rattiness that disturbs me, but his little human face and tiny human hands and feet, and his nasty way of chittering. Not to mention the gruesome death of the protagonist at the end of this story.

The first time I played this CD, it was during an evening hour with the light slowly fading as the sun went down. The Calico Horrors Part 2 and 3 were having one of their wrestling matches, so the sounds of squeaks and soft, furry thumps in the shadowy recesses beneath the living- room furniture, plus the occasional skitter of little claws on the floorboards augmented my listening experience of this audio drama about a malignant, mathematical witch and her rat-like familiar.

The Lovecraft story is online at http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/dwh.aspx.

The Dark Adventure Radio Theatre’s version of Dreams in the Witch House is narrated from the point of view of a character who barely features in Lovecraft’s tale, a young man named Frank Elwood (Sean Branney). He’s the only other Miskatonic University student who has a room in the same ancient Arkham house as the hapless Walter Gilman (Andrew Leman); the other inhabitants of the house are all immigrants, mostly Poles. After the horrific events of the original story have concluded, Elwood goes to see a priest–not for confession, but for guidance and some spiritual comfort in light of the terrifying things he’s witnessed. He tells Father Ivanicki about his friendship with Gilman, beginning with the day of their meeting and ending with Gilman’s ugly death.

Walter Gilman was a brilliant young mathematician. Like so many Miskatonic students, he also dabbled in the occult and sought to read …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

DVD Review: The Dunwich Horror

By Kathryn L Ramage

Wilbur Whately's idea of a date

In some ways, this is a rather silly film as well as a loose adaptation of the original short story, but I can’t be too hard on it. It was, after all, my childhood introduction to the works of H.P. Lovecraft; if I hadn’t watched this movie and noted that it had some unusual elements that I hadn’t seen in other horror movies, and then seen the same title on the spine of a library book a few years later, who knows where I’d be today?

This was on television more than once in the early ’70s, and for years I was under the impression that it was one of those scary made-for-TV movies that aired during that time period and traumatized so many of my generation with images of little goblins dragging Kim Darby into the chimney or a Zuni fetish doll chasing Karen Black. Now that I see it on DVD, I realize that it was an AIP theatrical release. It’s actually one of the early examples of sexed-up Lovecraft–see also Dagon and From Beyond. The bowdlerized version I grew up with didn’t have visions of naked orgies, nor did the tentacled horror locked up on the top floor strip the clothes off one of its victims.

What we did see, even on ’70s television, was that Wilbur Whately gets a girlfriend so he can try to repeat his mother’s experience with human / Old One hybrids.

This version of The Dunwich Horror begins with a prologue at the Whately house, which is much larger, fancier, and in better condition than the dilapidated farmhouse of Lovecraft’s story. When we get a better look around the place later on, we can observe that the interior has the same sort of decayed opulence as the Usher house… and will meet with …read more

Source:: The Northlands

      

CD Review: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

Photograph of Charles Dexter Ward with his ancestor Joseph Curwen's portrait

“From a private hospital for the insane near Providence, Rhode Island, there recently disappeared an exceedingly singular person. He bore the name of Charles Dexter Ward and was placed under restraint most reluctantly by the grieving father who had watched his aberration grow from a mere eccentricity to a dark mania involving both a possibility of murderous tendencies and a profound and peculiar change in the apparent contents of his mind. Doctors confessed themselves quite baffled by his case, since it presented oddities of a general physiological as well as psychological character.”

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
H.P. Lovecraft

When I began …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Revisiting the Dark Shadows movies

Old Barnabas

A little while ago, I came to the conclusion that I’d watched House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows too early in my viewing of the television series; I decided that I’d watch them again after I’d finished the show to see if I understood how they fit into the overall story better.

With that purpose in mind, I Netflixed both this past weekend. I also took the opportunity to get some screencaps to dress my old reviews up.

House of Dark Shadows

At the end of my original review of this film, I said that I could never …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Dark Shadows: The Very End

The Lottery (not by Shirley Jackson)

We’ve seen the last of Barnabas Collins, Julia Hoffman, and the Collins family of the 1960s/70s.

Back in 1840, Desmond Collins tears down the transdimensional stairway built by his cousin Quentin. He tells his fiancee Leticia Faye what Barnabas told him about the room in Collinwood’s east wing that intersects with an alternate reality, then they go upstairs to take a peek into the room.

Desmond and Leticia watch as the alt-Flora and alt-Julia discover the body of Lamar Trask on the carpet. The two alt-ladies have no idea who this person could be, but assume that he must have been stabbed …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

CD Review: The Thing on the Doorstep

Miskatonic Student ID for Asenath Waite

The latest thrilling episode of Dark Adventure Radio Theatre from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society just arrived in the mail this past week. It’s The Thing on the Doorstep, a Lovecraft short story of a peculiar marriage between two students of the occult that involves possession and leads to a contest of wills. A visit from a grotesque and stunted creature in a trenchcoat brings horrifying news about which one triumphed in the end.

…read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Storylandia 18 review on Amazon

“words flow effortlessly from page to page. A must read.”
Amazon review Storylandia 18 paperback, also Kindle

Click here to know more about Storylandia 18: L’Amande et La Fleur

Want to know how you can help us out?

Webhosting donations:
If you like what we’ve been publishing here, you can help out with the webhosting bill with a donation, if you are so inclined. Donations go right to the webhost, DreamHost, so the temptation to spend it on something else will be nonexistent.

Or we’ll be equally grateful if you send us a PayPal donation …read more

Source:: Storylandia

      

Dark Shadows: Leaving 1840

Desmond and Quentin face execution

And leaving behind Dark Shadows in the 1970s too…

I stopped the last time with Daphne and Quentin finding themselves in that alternate reality that intersects with an empty room in the abandoned east wing of Collinwood.

They don’t stay there very long–only a few minutes, enough to witness Catherine accepting Morgan’s proposal and hear the alt-Samantha’s advice that the couple live somewhere else once they’re married. Alt-Samantha takes care of someone named Justin, who apparently isn’t able to talk but the family hopes will speak again someday. Then the alt-Daphne comes in, and Quentin and Daphne are suddenly back in …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Storylandia 17 review on Amazon

“Well done. Each story should be planned as a read aloud event for teens to adults – the good old fashion way.”
Amazon review by Shirley Riefenhauser, Storylandia 17 in paperback, but also in Kindle.

Click here to know more about Storylandia 17: Collected Stories by Arthur Davis

Want to know how you can help us out?

Webhosting donations:
If you like what we’ve been publishing here, you can help out with the webhosting bill with a donation, if you are so inclined. Donations go right to the webhost, DreamHost, so the temptation to spend it …read more

Source:: Storylandia

      

Dark Shadows: Daphne Discovers the Alternate Dimension

Edith dead?

In the aftermath of his elder brother Quentin being found guilty of witchcraft and the family estate subsequently coming under the control of Gerard Stiles, Gabriel Collins seethes with resentment. Gerard, who is the real warlock around here, set Quentin up–but Gabriel doesn’t know that. He only knows that he hates Gerard almost as much as he hates Quentin.

Gabriel pretends he’s unable to leave his wheelchair, but he can walk well enough when he’s up to something. Increasingly jealous of his wife Edith’s relationship with Gerard and outraged at her constant insults to him about her preference for the other …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Dark Shadows: Warlocks and Witchcraft Trials

Desmond choking

In 1840, Gerard Stiles, possessed by the warlock Judah Zachary, wants revenge against the Collins family since a Collins was among the judges who condemned Zachary 150 years earlier. He’s setting up Quentin Collins to be accused, convicted, and beheaded for witchcraft, just as Zachary was himself executed.

To start with, Gerard throttles Quentin’s cousin and best friend, Desmond, using Desmond’s cravat and one of those voodoo dolls so popular with the Dark Shadows witch community.

Gerard leaves the “strangled” doll on the trans-dimensional stairway that Quentin is constructing in his basement workshop / laboratory at Collinwood. Quentin displayed the stairs …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Storylandia 15 print review

“Storylandia is the title of ‘The Wapshott Journal of Fiction,’ published by Wapshott Press. The Spring 2015 issue, Storylandia #15 (Wapshott Press pb, 142pp, $7.60), is dedicated to the work of Julie Travis, a writer who will be familiar to older readers from the early days of our predecessor The Third Alternative and possibly from other places as well. It contains five stories, all of them previously unpublished, and which, though the writer admits a preference for the term ‘slipstream,’ have about them much that should appeal to horror genre purists.”
Black Static #53, only available in print.

Click here …read more

Source:: Storylandia

      

DVD Review: Horror Express

Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing disapprove

I recently mentioned this as one of my favorite movies. Since I wrote a brief review of it a long time ago, I thought this would be a good time to drag that out, revise and extend it a bit, and repost it.

I love Horror Express more than is reasonable. It stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, but it’s not a Hammer film. Hell, it isn’t even Amicus or Tigon.

It was produced by a Spanish studio with a little help from Granada TV, and filmed in Spain; beyond Cushing, Lee, and Telly Savalas, there are few actors in the …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Storylandia 15 author Julie Travis interview

“PT: You’re a UK writer and much of your work seems very solidly grounded in the landscape here, and yet your first collection is appearing from a US publisher. Can you tell us a little as to how that came about? What has it been like working with Wapshott Press?

“JT: It came about by chance. I see my work as quite ‘British’ in terms of the folklore element as well as in the physical landscape. Some years back I trawled the Internet looking for possible publishers and came across Wapshott Press amongst others (I’ve had several stories published by North …read more

Source:: Storylandia

      

DVD Review: A Dark and Stormy Night

Suspects

This is one of my favorite movies, right up there with A Room With a View and Horror Express. Watching it for the first time led me to start hunting down movies from that genre, and eventually led to my watching and reviewing Dark Shadows.

This 2009 film was Larry Blamire’s last–and I really wish he’d do some more. As his previous works were loving parodies and recreations of the low-budget sci-fi movies of the 1950s and ’60s, A Dark and Stormy Night spoofs the Old Dark House movies that were popular from the 1920s through the ’40s. …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands