Nightmare Magazine



The H Word


The H Word: The Monster at the End of This Essay

I’ve watched monsters topple cities, scorch the countryside. I’ve explored the caverns they dwell in and swum the depths they arose from. When I existed in a different form, smaller, a bit more eager, I sought these monsters out or, more often, whimpered while I waited for them to slither out of the shadows. Would one appear while I showered? The sound of their squelching webbed steps hiding in the hot hiss of the water’s spray? Would they hover outside my window, backlit by the moon, their claws dragging down the windowpane?


The H Word: A Jaded Eye on Good Girls Gone Bad in Asian Cinema

It’s time to let the women with the long wet hair in Asian cinema and their Western remakes rest. They’re tired. Now I’m not saying the ghost herself should disappear. I think we can all agree that the images are haunting and succeed in inducing fantastical visual scares. What I’m saying is that the Asian “revenge wraith” trope needs to be updated. Misogyny in Western horror films is nothing new, but there’s been such a dramatic and positive shift with the roles of the “Final Girl” it makes me a tad envious.


The H Word: The Living Dead—Us Versus Them

Do the dead still matter? Years ago they did. Very much so. Especially in the horror genre. The dead—of the shambling, ambulatory, flesh-hungry variety—led the vanguard of the genre’s social commentary in George Romero’s horror films from the late 1960s through the mid-eighties. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead captured conscious and subconscious social tensions of their times better than many stories in any genre. Racial conflict. Anti-war sentiment. Consumer culture. Cold War dread.


The H Word: A Celebration of Sonic Horror

You’re gonna love this band. They’re fucking terrifying. Horror fans often talk about disturbing books and movies, but music rarely enters this conversation. It’s a shame, given how some of my most terrifying experiences have come from a flimsy CD. Heavy metal, more than any other genre, scares me the most. Metal has no shortage of horror tributes. Legendary death metal band Cannibal Corpse has spent their thirty-plus-year career writing songs about serial killers, zombies, and torture chambers, with gory album covers to match.


The H Word: Sole Survivor

“Ernest Hemingway once wrote, ‘The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.’ I agree with the second part.” These are Detective Lieutenant William Somerset’s final words in the psychological horror film SE7EN. To the unblemished mind, they may ring hollow—a bleak consolation in light of the events that have transpired. Having just watched an unrepentant psychopath methodically murder five innocent people, we follow as our heroes—the jaded William Somerset and his idealistic partner David Mills—are lured out into an open field.


The H Word: Embracing the Wolf Within

A man returns to his ancestral home to bury his recently deceased brother. There, his estranged father welcomes him with trepidation, and the locals treat him with mistrust. When he falls for the owner of an antique shop who sells him a silver-headed cane, he believes his fortunes are looking up, but it is not long until he is bitten by what he believes to be a wolf. Warnings of his new ailment fall on deaf ears, and on the next full moon, his rampage kills several people.


The H Word: Hand-Me-Down Horror

“You have to give it back to me tomorrow because I have to drive an hour south again to return it, and I don’t want to pay a late fee.” He handed me the VHS tape, secure in its clunky plastic rental case. My nerves tingled as I read the title on the spine: Dawn of the Dead. The year was 2001. I was a freshman in high school when a junior on the track team learned that I loved horror movies but had never seen Romero’s magnum opus.


The H Word: The Sporror, the Sporror!

I’ve always enjoyed watching classic horror movies with my mom. Along with Vincent Price flicks and creature features, she introduced me to Godzilla and other kaiju movies. Because of this shared interest, many years ago, we stumbled upon a 1963 Japanese horror movie directed by Ishirô Honda: Matango (known in the United States as Attack of the Mushroom People). In this truly weird film, a small group of wealthy vacationers seek shelter on a mysterious island after their yacht is damaged in a storm. The island offers little for the bickering group to eat, other than huge mushrooms.


The H Word: The Horror of Hair

Hair. Ornament. Source of power. Source of beauty. Whether decoration or burden, hair is at the forefront of many cultures and has been a part of the body consciousness of women since the dawn of time. Some cultures consider it a most prized possession, one that should be donated to the gods in thanks for favor. Others consider it a defining characteristic, one that speaks of a person’s background, upbringing, and worth.


The H Word: The Devil’s Laughter

If the devil is real, he is neither skulking in dark corners nor leering at the unwary nor hatching plots of unimaginable evil. If the devil is real, he is laughing. He is proffering a juicy secret and waiting, not to see if you’re tempted, but how much. He is waiting to see whether this is the temptation that, at last, proves irresistible. Whatever it takes for you to give in, whatever marks the tipping point—whatever that is, that’s the devil.