Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Ghost Tales of the Arctic: The Frozen Spectre

Haunted Boardwalk
Haunted Boardwalk

One Halloween night, as the sun slipped beneath the horizon, the young children were coming back from their rounds through the little Yup’ik village on the tundra in Southwest Alaska. The teenagers had waited their turn and eagerly squeezed out of their home, as their mother told them they were allowed to leave. They raced through to each of the small houses that dotted the dark, decrepit, and narrow boardwalks that snaked through the village. Not all of them donned costumes and there was still not yet a flake of snow on the ground, a rare occurrence for such a chilly autumnal night. The tall grass line the boardwalk like two moving walls that whispered with the winds that rushed through the spaces between the houses. They grabbed candy within the first house, then came back out and started back off; at each of the doors, they held their plastic grocery sacks aloft, and they became more heavily laden with candies and treats.

After coming out of the fourth house they spotted something strange emerging from the tall grasses onto the boardwalk behind them—it was a traditional Yup’ik parka, the hood was up and the ruff obscured the view of the face within. It wouldn’t have been strange except for the fact that it had no visible feet or hands. The teenagers sprinted to the next house, scared to death and unsure of what the seemingly floating parka had really been, but they were unwilling to say anything about what they had seen to the adults that were now handing them candy.

Ghost Parka
Photography by Joe Leahy

Between each and every stop for candy, the teens stepped outside and the floating parka had appeared again, as if it was just waiting to scare them. They had all grown up hearing the traditional stories of ghosts and ghouls—all meant to teach them to be cautious in one way or another, as a way to keep them safe in their unforgiving lands. They had a sense that they were being pranked—as if to test their knowledge and preparedness, but not a single one of them could muster up the courage to approach the floating apparition or to try to figure out who was toying with them.

The far north side of the village is where the last batch of houses resided—the travel between where the teenagers were and where their last glimpse of the prized sweets laid was a lengthy weaving, dismally unlit sprawling boardwalk. This path took them directly past the hauntingly abandoned teacher’s quarters that the entire village regularly avoided being near and even speaking about in passing. They made their way down the boardwalk towards this last remaining treasure trove of candy, when the little parka appeared behind them once again. One of the teens looked behind them as they crawled into the artic entry of one of the houses and saw its silhouette looming alone between the spirit-infested teacher’s quarters and the house they entered, blocking their dark and dreadful passage home.

The teenagers reappeared cautiously from the house, but the little parka was nowhere to be seen–each house they exited they huddled together in fear that the ghostly figure would leap out of the shadows and attack them from the front or back, but it didn’t. Then one of the teens gasped and pointed, there it was in the darkness beneath a building, huddled behind one of the steel posts that propped it up from the permafrost–it sat upright, waiting for them. All at once, it sprang up toward them with a hideous scream and chased the teenagers down the boardwalk, growls emanated from the unending abyss of the hood. As the spirit overcame them, they recognized the dead black eyes that sat deep in his sunken frostbitten features; it was the village boy whose snow machine had broken through the ice on the river. The boy had then managed to climb out from what would have been a certain death only to succumb to the elements before anyone could find him, only a year prior.

Broken Ice
Photography by Eberhard Gross-Gasteiger
Categories
Featured Indie Horror

Giant Horror Book Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive ALL FOUR BOOKS by these amazing authors. Don’t miss this incredible giveaway, ENTER TODAY!

Atlas of Lore

ATLAS OF LORE ISSUE #1 OREGON by Puzzle Box Horror

The first edition of the Atlas of Lore contains the haunted lore of Oregon including 5 original ghost stories and the legends behind them. Oregon’s most haunted locations archived and Lovecraft’s Hidden City brought back to life. With beautiful artwork by Felipe Kroll and master storytellers from the US, UK, and Brazil this first edition will delight paranormal horror fans and ghost hunters alike.

Thousand Miles To Nowhere Book Cover

A THOUSAND MILES TO NOWHERE by David Curfiss

When a stranger shows up and infects almost everyone Matt Tanner knows with the zombie virus that destroyed the world fifteen years prior, he’s forced to make a decision: flee with only a handful of survivors, or stay in the mountains and rebuild. But when Matt discovers the stranger was carrying a letter addressed to him from someone he thought he’d never hear from again, he’s forced to reconcile demons from the past with the chance for a future with the brother he left behind.

Avoiding the withered zombies that roam the wastelands and the flesh-eating humans that stalk the night, Matt struggles to find the balance necessary to keep everyone alive and his own mind sane.

But when things go wrong and he watches friend after friend die, can he survive, or will the wastelands consume him, too?

Working Stiffs Book Cover

WORKING STIFFS by Lucy Leitner

Something has gone horribly wrong in the Pro-Well Pharmaceuticals factory and ex-meth dealer Marshall Owens, the company’s owner and drug genius, must keep the surrounding Pittsburgh area from finding out. Unfortunately, the undead assembly line workers have other plans.

The infection spreads and chaos reigns supreme as the surviving Pro-Well employees battle their way through offices with whatever weapons they can scrounge from the supply closet. They must get outside. But they don’t know that The General is out there amassing a shambling, rotting army of Pittsburgh’s finest.

Will the employees make it?

Will two repulsive workers find love in a janitor’s closet?

How many office workers can one man take down with the blade of a paper cutter and some staplers?

Will Marshall Owens go back to selling meth?

And most important of all, will Pro-Well’s stock value plummet?

Planet Dead Book Cover

PLANET DEAD by Sylvester Barzey

America is now the home of the dead and the land of the survivors! Building a wall and isolating from the rest of the world sounded like a good idea when trouble was everywhere else but now we got some American sized problems and we’re locked inside a burning house! 

An unknown virus has quickly taken over the world. People are dying but like an 80s b-rated horror movie, they won’t stay dead for long. This is the world Catherine Briggs calls home, one where her family is thousands of miles away and doesn’t even know she’s alive. 

An Army veteran with a bit of a drinking problem, Catherine is forced into the role of a hero when a clueless Sorority girl storms into her life in the dead of night. But this blonde is more trouble than she’s worth…so Catherine might just kill her if the zombies or the backwoods cannibalistic clowns don’t eat them first. 

Planet Dead has every bit of nightmare fuel to keep you up for days. Can a modern day wonder woman survive long enough to be reunited with her family or is hope the only thing that stays dead in the Apocalypse?

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Gretel & Hansel (2020), a Grimm Fairy Tale

Creepy Foggy Forest
Photography by Silvana Amicone

Folklore has an extended history of portraying witches as evil, human-sacrificing, child-eating monsters–and for with all of the religious turmoil and economic insecurity that these stories sprang from it’s no wonder. Hansel and Gretel are no different, in fact, it may be the most telling story of them all; for the real evil lies not within the woods, but in the home from which Hansel and Gretel are inevitably turned out.

The Origin of Hansel and Gretel

The original tale of Hansel and Gretel, like many tales that came before literacy and written record was a tale passed down through verbal methods–if you grew up having fairy tales read to you, then you’re probably familiar with the tale of these two siblings. Two children lost in the woods, a trail of breadcrumbs, and a cottage made out of delicious sweets. A wicked witch traps the siblings, intending to eat them, but they trick her, narrowly escape with their lives, and make it back home to their father.

Hansel & Gretel at the Witch's House
Hansel & Gretel at the Witch’s House

While the story doesn’t give us an exact date of when the story was to have taken place, the Brothers Grimm recorded and published the first printed version in 1812, but the story has roots that show it existed in oral traditions for hundreds of years prior. There are theories that date this tale back to the famine that ravaged Europe during the 1300s, which would place the origin somewhere during the Medieval era. The key-point of the story is that the family of Hansel and Gretel are on the brink of starvation–there is so little that the story suggests that their father’s wife, referenced as the children’s stepmother, would rather sacrifice the lives of the children than go without herself.

Survival is the name of the game–this developed the mood of scarcity, gumption, and the bond between siblings. Their family must survive the famine, then the siblings must survive the parents, as well as the hardships of the woods, not to mention the witch herself. It’s easy to overlook the sinister nature of all of these aspects of the tale as soon as there is mention of a cottage made out of candy and sweets. That is the one part of the tale that plants this story firmly into the category of fairy tale, because even though witches may be no stranger to fictional tales, we know all too well that humans can do awful things to one another, including abandoning their children for selfish reasons.

Giving Folklore New Life

Gretel & Hansel (2020) Movie Poster
Gretel & Hansel (2020) Movie Poster

From the origins of Hansel and Gretel, to this newest take on its adaptation to film, the director Osgood Perkins did a wonderful job in honoring the roots of this fairy tale, while also making it unique, visually tantalizing, as well a tasteful combination between the old and the modern. Since he originally made his debut as a horror writer/director with a beautifully tragic and superbly horrific possession film entitled The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015), Perkins has given us a fresh perspective on what we should expect from horror. His movies are particularly dark and dreary, the hauntingly realistic settings in which he places his characters bring a dramatic, eerie, slowness that takes you through someone’s story, instead of rushing you to the end. Just like with his first true horror success, Gretel & Hansel (2020) takes us on a journey upon which we are allowed to savor the terrifying circumstances our protagonists take.

If you noticed the glaring differences between the folklore and this new film adaptation, you’re not the only one–the most obvious of which is the age of the siblings. In the original folklore they’re either portrayed as twins, or as an older brother/younger sister pair, but here we see Gretel as the big protective sister. This change is captivating as it gave us Sophia Lillis exploring her talents for horror again after she brought us It (2017) as well as It: Chapter Two (2019) as Beverly Marsh–the sole girl “loser” in an otherwise boys-only club. Suffice it to say Lillis is exceptional in both her role as Beverly and now as Gretel.

It’s not like there haven’t been multiple attempts to capture the original story on film, but it seems like any film that ventured to capture the dark and terrible nature of this tale of caution have all been conveyed with too much of a sense of fantasy and not with the reality with which it was treated in this newest adaptation.

Long live Gretel the Good.

Gretel & Hansel IMDB Listing