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Featured Indie Horror

Be Cautious of The Dollmaker (2019)

If you hadn’t noticed by now, we really enjoy what Horror Short Film producers ALTER have been putting out into the horror universe, so much so that some of us dedicate a good amount of time just going through their content every week, just for fun. Even if you haven’t heard of ALTER until now, this is a great one to start with. Who knew such a wealth of horror culture would lay within the confines of the lower-budget, self-produced content of YouTube? Well, we did, but now you do too!

ALTER’s The Dollmaker (2019)

Almost a year to the day ALTER came out with what can only be described as one of the creepiest, blatantly paranormal films yet. We won’t spoil the story for you, so let’s just leave you with this–a mother’s love is eternal.

Mother grieving
Photography by Kat Jayne

The question that this short horror film leaves us with is, to what lengths would a mother go in order to preserve the memory of her lost child? Grieving the death of a child is a long and arduous journey; it ruins marriages and it can ruin lives, with some people never fully recovering from the pain. So to cope with that loss, it’s not incredibly difficult to believe that a grieving mother would turn to the supernatural to bring back some semblance of normality after her child was taken from her. The Dollmaker (2019) shows us the gritty and uncaring attitude that would accompany the kind of person willing to take monetary advantage of someone who is suffering this kind of loss, but it also shows us what can happen when we don’t seek the help we need. Both psychological and supernatural influences are at work in this simple, yet incredibly complex story and hopefully it freaked you out as much as it did us. You can find ALTER’s Youtube channel here, if you’d like to check out what else they’ve produced.

Movies That Capture the Disintegration of a Family After Loss

Pet Sematary (1989)

Based upon the Stephen King’s Pet Semetary (1983) novel, where the regular American family by the name of the Creeds move into their perfect home in the countryside. What they don’t know is that they have moved in right next door to a pet cemetery that was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, which is revealed to them by their mysterious neighbor just after disaster has struck their happy home. What evil have they awakened?

Pet Sematary IMDB Listing

The Ring (2002)

Based on the Japanese movie, Ringu (1998), if you’re not old enough to remember the sensationalism that surrounded this movie when it first came out, you certainly missed some pretty great scares. I’ll never forget after watching that movie, I would randomly get calls from friends telling me in a creepy gravelly voice that I had, “seven days.” The story starts off with a bang, as we see the fate of a teenage girl who has watched the mysterious videotape–those who have the misfortune to watch it will be doomed to die within seven days. We follow a journalist, that we know is the aunt of the teenager we saw die at the beginning of the movie, as she investigates the videotape and races the clock before she suffers the same fate as her niece.

The Ring IMDB Listing

Orphan (2009)

After the heartbreaking experience of losing a child just before it has been born, the Coleman’s decide to adopt a nine-year-old who is the picture of perfect manners and an amiable, talented girl. We start to see the dark nature that plagues this girl as she hides her behavior in front of her adoptive parents.

Orphan IMDB Listing

The Babadook (2014)

If you ever come across a disturbing storybook called, “The Babadook,” that has randomly turned up in your home, it’s probably a sign that something sinister is afoot. The story takes place six years after the violent death of, our protagonist, Amelia’s husband and she is still plagued by his memory. Amelia also happens to be struggling to discipline her six-year-old son, Samuel, who she believes has been hallucinating about a monster who he says has invaded the house. When Samuel tells his mother that the Babadook is coming to kill them both, she ends up getting her son medicated–she could have never imagined what would happen next.

The Babadook IMDB Listing

The Witch (2015)

Not quite in the same line of grief and loss as the rest of the movies in this list, The Witch (2015) still deals with a certain type of grief–the anger that comes when people place blame for the death or loss of a child. This period-piece is as dark and nail-bitingly exquisite as they come, from the perspective of typical New England colonialists we get witchcraft, black magic, and possession. We see a family of farmers who have moved to an unconquered plot of land that sits on the edge of a dark and dreary forest. Is evil looming within its shadowy depths? You bet your ass it does, watch it and see just how messed up Robert Eggers’ debut film that still left me rooting for the Witch of the wood.

The Witch IMDB Listing

Hereditary (2018)

The Graham family has suffered the loss of one of its most beloved members, the grandmother, and matriarch–Ellen. This is when things start to turn creepy for them because it’s only then that the family begins to find out mysterious and dreadfully frightening new things about their family’s ancestry. Once they realize the malevolent destiny that they have inherited, we see the breakdown of each and every character within the movie.

Hereditary IMDB Listing

Pet Sematary (2019)

A remake of the original Pet Sematary (1989), there are a few swap outs when it comes to the characters that we knew from way back when, but this movie actually had a lot more mixed reviews that you might expect. Not everyone was a fan to see this one remade for the big screen, but it was actually still pretty compelling.

Pet Sematary IMDB Listing

Check out a couple of other ALTER shorts we loved!

Check out our other articles about creepy dolls!

Are you a fan of creepy dolls and the roles that they play within supernatural and paranormal horror lore? Well then take a moment to read these articles, we guarantee you’ll learn something new!

Categories
Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Indie Horror Reviews

Book Recommendation – A Voice So Soft

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is A Voice So Soft by Patrick Lacey.

Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He currently spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He is the author of such works as Bone Saw, We Came Back, Dream Woods, A Debt to be Paid, Sleep Paralysis, and A Voice So Soft. Patrick lives in Massachusetts with his wife, his oversized cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him.

Author Patrick Lacey

Synopsis

Angie Everstein, America’s newest pop queen, is sweeping the nation with her number one single “Forever with You.” When a string of murders and strange occurrences plague the country, police officer Mike Mallory believes Angie is somehow connected. Joined by a psychology professor, an amateur record producer, and Angie’s twin sister, Shawna, Mike will need to act quickly to stop the murders from spreading. Because Angie’s coming home to Salem, Massachusetts for the concert of a lifetime on Halloween night. And her fans are quite rabid.

Review

“Patrick Lacey has quickly become a must-read for me with each new book”

Brian Keene, author of The Rising and Ghoul

“Patrick Lacey’s A Voice So Soft is exactly the kind of book I needed to break me out of a reading slump, and it did so with silky, pitch-perfect smoothness.”

Michael Patrick Hicks, author of the Salem Hawley Series

“The opening of the book is fantastic. It’s horrifying and gruesome, and it immediately gives you a sense of where the book is heading (introducing a main character and giving a first glimpse of the mysterious power behind the music). But instead of pausing to slowly build back up the tension the creepy moments continue on, with strange and unnatural occurrences happening every few pages. There’s lots to unsettle you and build anticipation for what’s to come, and I love how the book throws the reader right into all of it and doesn’t let up.”

Ben Long, reviewer at @reading.vicariously

To read the full review, click here!

A Voice So Soft by Patrick Lacey is available now at Horror Hub Marketplace

Categories
Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Indie Horror Reviews

Book Recommendation – Crazytimes

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is Crazytimes by Scott Cole.

Scott Cole is a writer, artist, and graphic designer living in Philadelphia. He writes mostly horror, bizarro, and absurdist fiction. He also likes old radio dramas, old horror comics, weird movies, cold weather, coffee, and a few other things too. Need a book layout or a movie poster designed? Want to option one of his stories for film? Feel free to contact him at 13visions@gmail.com.

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Synopsis

You wake up Monday morning and everyone is crazy. Everyone was already crazy, though, right? But somehow things are worse today. People are angry, throwing chairs out of office windows, eating rocks, violently scratching their necks, and running naked through the streets. They’re killing each other for no reason and laughing through the carnage. The whole city is like this. And meteors are falling from the hazy skies above. How are you going to survive? Do you even want to? This isn’t just another manic Monday. This is Crazytimes.

Review

“…fuses Cronenbergian body horror and visions of the apocalypse onto a wry, heartfelt-yet-absurdist first-person narrative that falls tonally somewhere between Joe Lansdale and Sam Raimi.”

Shawn Macomber, Rue Morgue

“A tongue-in-cheek orgy of gore-splattered insanity”

Peter Caffrey, Ginger Nuts of Horror

“The book is gruesome and fast-paced with lots of creative kill scenes. All manner of limbs are dismembered, bodies split open, and gory flung about with reckless abandon. It’s also really gross as whatever virus is infecting people has some real nasty side effects. Ultimately the book plays out like a trashy, fun, grindhouse B-movie (think Planet Terror meets The Crazies)”

Ben Long, reviewer at @reading.vicariously

Crazytimes by Scott Cole is available now at Horror Hub Marketplace

Categories
Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Indie Horror Reviews

Book Recommendation – Ghost Mine

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea.

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. You’ll also find him every week on the Final Guys podcast, available everywhere. He’s a bestselling author of over 25 books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

Hunter Shea author photo

Synopsis

Deep in a Wyoming mine, hell awaits. Former cattle driver, Rough Rider and current New York City cop Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Teddy Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla, in the Deep Rock Hills, abound. The only problem-those who go seeking their fortune never return. Roosevelt’s own troops are among the missing, and the President wants to know their fate – and find the gold. Along with his constant companion, Teta, a hired gun with a thirst for adventure, Nat travels to a barren land where even animals dare not tread. Along the way, they are joined by a Selma, a fiery and beautiful woman in search of her brother who was swallowed up by Hecla years earlier. What they stumble upon is a hellish battle of underworld forces while being tortured by the ghosts of their checkered pasts. There’s a mystery in Hecla thousands of years old. Solving it could spell the end of the world.

Review

“What do I not see enough of in books? Horror stories full of scares and violence set in the old American West featuring spooky abandoned (or not) gold mines and a climactic fight of Biblical proportions. How do I know I need more of this? Because I just finished Hunter Shea’s Ghost Mine and loved every second of it! If you wanted to make comparisons you could use The DescentBone TomahawkConstantineThe Lone RangerScooby Doo, and Indiana Jones – but then throw them away because none of them do this story justice. Instead you need to stop everything, go get this book, and then buckle up because it’s a hell of a ride. This is my first time reading Hunter Shea and I’m hooked! Excuse me while I go get everything else he has ever written!

Ben (@reading.vicariously)

To read the full review, click here!

Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea is available now at Horror Hub Marketplace

Categories
Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Indie Horror Reviews

Book Recommendation – Jennifer Strange

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is Jennifer Strange by Cat Scully.

Cat Scully is the author-illustrator of the queer young adult horror series Jennifer Strange, pitched as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark meets Evil Dead. She’s best known for her world maps, which have been published with Random House, Simon and Schuster, and Sourcebooks. When she’s not writing and illustrating books, Cat works in video game development for the Deep End Games on their next title Romancelvania.

Cat Scully author photo

Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange is the Sparrow, cursed with the ability to give ghosts and demonic spirits a body – a flesh and blood anchor in the mortal world – with the touch of her hand. When a ghost attacks her high school and awakens her powers, her father dumps her unceremoniously in the care of her estranged older sister Liz, leaving only his journal as an explanation. Drawn to the power of the Sparrow, the supernatural creatures preying on Savannah, Georgia will do anything to receive Jennifer’s powerful gift. The sisters must learn to trust each other again and uncover the truth about their family history by deciphering their father’s journal…because if they can’t, Jennifer’s uncontrolled power will rip apart the veil that separates the living from the dead.

Reviews

“JENNIFER STRANGE is a gruesomely fun, demon-infested YA romp in which two teenage sisters learn and ply the family’s secret demon-fighting trade. A promising debut.”

Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Survivor Song

“This debut novel is overflowing with sardonic wit and memorably feisty (and satisfyingly angry) female protagonists…It’s clear this is a story that has more to come, and horror buffs will happily anticipate the next volume.”

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Wow, I had SO much fun with this book! There’s an element of mystery to it right from the beginning, but then it also turns fairly gruesome and horrifying very early on. It reads like a typical YA book, so I was actually caught off guard (in the best way) by the brutality and pulse-pounding scares of our protagonist’s first major paranormal encounter. It’s violent, it’s instantly memorable, it lasts for three glorious chapters, and it instantly hooked me into the book. From that point on reading this was pure bliss.”

Ben Long, reviewer at @reading.vicariously

To read the full review, click here!

Jennifer Strange by Cat Scully is available now at Horror Hub Marketplace