Posts Tagged ‘horror movies’

I don’t know how I feel about summarizing this past year–2021. In some bizarre time anomaly that is the current state of things, it simultaneously feels like I was just reluctantly typing my 2020 in Review and as if 2021 alone spanned five normal years. I am not sure how time can sprint by in a blur while raking in painful slow motion. Yet, here we are.

2020 was simple and easy to review. It was shit. 2021, however, was more complicated as so much continued to be messy and challenging while other components attempted to limp back toward “normalcy.” I found myself weak and damaged.

Floundering is a good word that comes to mind. Yet I did flounder through, and when I look back from a more pragmatic hindsight, I can see progress, accomplishments, and healing mingled with my struggles.

When I compare 2021 to 2020, I can truly appreciate the highlights. Right now (and in this post), I am choosing to focus on the highlights.

Followers Release

Perhaps the largest highlight of my year was the release of my fifth book, Followers, by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Crystal Lake Publishing was a pleasure to work with, especially in challenging times when I could not celebrate or promote a new novel in ways I have in previous years.

Followers is a novel that allowed me to question and play with themes and concepts that have come up during my time in the horror genre. It also got me to stretch and grow writer muscles. I feel like I took a step forward with this book. And it makes me want to take another. (I think I did with my yet unpublished WIP, and I stand poised for another with the next I plan to start.)

Publication is always an accomplishment for an author.

Telluride Horror Show

Telluride Horror Show was back in person this year! Vaccinated and masked but in Telluride!

After traveling next to none in more than a year prior, it felt so good to go somewhere. It was comforting to be in one of my favorite places. Even with the precautions, the event maintained itself. Most of the festivities were able to happen unchanged or simply migrated outdoors.

There was no more appropriate time to go than right after releasing Followers since I included the Telluride Horror Show in the book. While writing and editing and reading and re-reading Followers, I had been dying to walk to streets of Telluride again.

It was the vacation I needed.

And of course, we snuck in an amazing winter hike. Because one cannot survive on horror movies and booze alone… right?

NaNoWriMo

Yes, I returned to the challenge, the torment, the sprint for a second year. Last year, I used the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words in one month) challenge to complete my novel Green Eyes. A novel I am still working and querying a year later.

This year, I was struggling with my relationship with the craft. I wanted to use NaNoWriMo to find my way back to my passion for writing. I wanted to strip away all the collateral parts of writing–the querying and editing and publishing and promoting and marketing–and return to just the act itself. So I turned to a genre I have never attempted, fan fiction.

Fan fiction can never be published for profit, due to copyright infringement. Since I could never do anything with the story, there was no pressure in writing it, just the creation of the story, just the pure act.

So I took my first and one of my favorite horror movies: Scream. I focused on the original movie from the perspective of the killers, with some before and after. I watched Scream a bunch of times and combed through the script. It was an experience, and it accomplished the goal.

I don’t know that I’ll ever do anything with Father Death. I have mused on polishing it up and posting it to this blog. However, it was fun to compose and brought me back to wanting to write again.

Now, I just have to wait and see how it aligns with Scream 5.

High School Speaking

Odd and out of character, one of my favorite author things to do is speak at schools. During lockdown, I even did it over Zoom. But I did miss it, especially during spooky season when everyone wants to talk about horror.

This fall, I got to return to one high school and talk to classes all day long. There were a lot of masks and distance involved, and the pandemic has definitely changed how students behave and interact, but I loved it just the same.

At these sessions, one of the teachers read one of my pieces to the auditorium. It was multiple layers of surreal. Reading my own work aloud is always a trip, but having another person read as I listened and watched the reactions added another layer.

It was not the same as when I have visited before the pandemic, but the world is not the same. We cannot expect things to snap back when years have passed and so much has happened. So instead of noting the differences, I appreciate how fun it was.

Metal Fusion Dancing

One thing that is better, that I do more of since the pandemic is performing, which seems odd. My metal fusion dancing is unrelated to writing. However, it does share a lineage with my love of horror. I often include horror themes, props, or imagery in my performances. For example, Pennywise or fake blood.

I used to dance and perform constantly with my troupe in Tennessee/Georgia. However, it has been slow returning to the activity since moving home to Colorado. I began finally dabbling and finding my way back to the stage preceding the pandemic and lockdowns. Yet as things have opened back up, I have found more opportunities, producers, and shows. I am seeing more traction.

I also continued to dance with my Southern troupe over Zoom and joined an online metal collective. So dance is firmly rooted back in my life.

Onward…

It would be inauthentic to gloss over the depths of my depression in the past year or the ripples my struggles are still sending through my days. However, that darkness does not mean the entire year has been dark. There were plenty of highlights and joy. The best way to keep my head above the waves is to keep my eyes on those points of light and remember the tide will swell and recede.

So it is onward into another year. No resolutions. No expectations. Just the ambition and hope to continue progress and recovery and hopefully grow the ratio of highlights versus darkness.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Telluride Horror Show, back in person! If I can accurately stalk my own social media posts or count my own souvenir badges correctly, this was our fifth Telluride Horror Show attendance (inclusive of last year’s virtual rendition). I was thrilled to back in Telluride this year.

For the past two years and pandemic, the festival itself managed to go on largely unchanged. There were masks indoors and wristbands to verify vaccination or negative test status. Some events were held outside. Otherwise, all the things happened.

However, this won’t be my typical Horror Show write up because this was not my typical Horror Show experience. Not due to the fest–the fest itself was as normal as it possibly could be. The call was coming from inside the house. The trip to Telluride afforded me the time to finally take a breath, and when I did, many things surfaced in my mind. Horror has always been a coping mechanism for me, so I supposed it was an apt time for some processing.

In all cases, it was much needed.

Bridal Veil Falls

Sure, three days of horror movies and events is enough to fill a weekend. However, considering we have to drive across the state to get to Telluride, we decided to cram more into the trip. Plus there is always that masochistic outdoor streak.

My father has been scolding me yearly for being in Telluride and not doing the Bridal Veil Falls hike, so this year, we finally got it together and did the thing.

The weather was amazing. My Viking heart was singing through the frigid snow contrasted with the blazing fall colors on the trees. I was euphoric and zen, in my total happy hiking place. We took the long walk through town to the trailhead to truly absorb it.

When we got to the trailhead, there was even more snow on the mountain and we were the first on the trail, so there was no trail. We had to trailblaze through the untouched powder the entire way up. It was an adventure. And a slog. Lots of slipping and sliding. For just over a mile, it was a journey.

Totally worth it. Gorgeous frozen falls times three. It was the perfect way to kick off the weekend and get the blood pumping before sitting in theaters for three days.

Author Stalking

One of the highlights of Telluride Horror Show for me this year was all the author events. Telluride always hosts an enviable set of author activities. I have seen Paul Tremblay and Jeremy Robert Johnson in previous years. Yet this year included Stephen Graham Jones.

I was introduced to Jones’s work this year when a beta reader suggested The Only Good Indians as a comparable title to my WIP novel. I read it and fell in love with that book and Jones’s style in general. I immediately devoured My Heart is a Chainsaw and Mongrels. I was hooked and so excited to see him in person.

Jones and Tremblay both read (and Johnson riffed) at the Creepy Campfire Tales. Then, prior to a book signing, the three held a Horror Summit to discuss writing and horror genre topics.

This all hit at a strange time for me. I find myself a bit lost in my writing career, and I’m not entirely sure why. I just released my fifth book (Followers) with Crystal Lake Publishing. I have wanted to work with Crystal Lake for a long time, and releasing a book is always a success, so I should feel happy and accomplished. I already have another novel drafted and ready to submit. Though it has garnered a bunch of agent rejections, I still love it.

So, why am I questioning my writing career? Why is my resolve weakening now? Listening to these professional authors speak somehow left me feeling even more conflicted, made the real dream seem even farther away. I left the events full of admiration… and increased self-doubt, which is uncharacteristic for me.

The Movies

The Telluride Horror show is really all about THE MOVIES! So what did I see?

Admittedly, I saw less this year than I usually do. My social stamina was not where it used to be, so I did not have the drive to attend every round of every day. We also had a baby in our party, so I took several child care shifts. Then I devoted a good portion of my time to the other events (authors and trivia). Plenty of horror movies still happened.

The viewing experience was somewhat off for me this year too. At first, being in a full theater was bizarre. It had been two years since I was in a packed theater. The first time I was seated directly next to a stranger, I found myself curling toward my husband, as if I was going to crawl into his lap like a cat. But I got over that quickly and reacclimated to being social.

More than that, my triggers were misaligned. Movies that were hyped up to upset me passed over my mind smoothly, while others that seemed inane stirred unexpected responses. Ghosts were moving beneath the surface of my mind that I could not identify. The horror called to them.

The Sadness

HOLY SHIT this movie. The Sadness gets every trigger warning. Graphic, gory, disturbing, fucked… but brilliant.

The movie is unsettling enough with its COVID parallels. The news reports sound all too familiar. Then it takes a swan dive off into horrific. Yet it is not splatter or shock gore. While traumatizing, it is all calculated. The despicable things depicted contribute to the story, drive the plot points.

The movie is about showing what terrible things are right below our surface, right under our thin veil of control or civilization. The Sadness renders a sublimely sickening vision of what is behind that veil. Yet it maintains lines where the camera pulls away and leaves even worse things for the imagination of the audience. That control made what is deliberate on screen all the more effective.

While a challenging and one-time watch, The Sadness is my favorite from the fest and a movie I needed to see.

Sinister Stories Shorts

The “Sinister Stories” shorts block included some creepy and interesting offerings.

Koreatown Ghost Story was my favorite short of the fest. Extremely succinct and unnerving, it offers just enough to draw you in and deliver the right impact. I loved it.

Face Not Recognized. Try Again has an interesting concept that left me with numerous questions. You’re Family Now delivered a creepy interpretation of grief.

Let the Wrong One In

Horror comedy is always a solid bet for our group. We love it, and even when it goes wrong, it is usually ridiculous enough to keep us entertained. Let the Wrong One In brings Irish vampires. One junkie brother shows up bitten instead of strung out, and things unravel from there. The movie is funny and entertaining as long as the brothers fumble in their own house. Once the story left that structure, it sort of lost cohesion.

Antlers

The big budget, mainstream closing night movie. I have very mixed feelings on Antlers. On the surface, it is a formulaic, highly produced, entertaining horror movie with a very good monster.

Yet the formula is also a bit tired. As the story borrowed the wendigo from Native culture, it felt like another instance of white characters telling a not white story. It could have been more interesting with a couple steps out of the typical box.

The ending is also pretty weak.

When the Screaming Starts

More horror comedy. When the Screaming Starts is a pseudo mockumentary about an aspiring serial killer starting a cult. The story has a lot of potential, yet much of the comedy does not land as strong as it should.

Broadcast Signal Intrusion

To be honest, I slept through part of this movie, so I’m not sure how inclusive my opinion can be. I was well schooled on the inspirations for the movie, which definitely made it more interesting. I found the first half very intriguing, a solid mystery. Then the movie lost steam. When I woke up for the ending, I was left confused and wanting (more so than from being unconscious).

Black Friday

I was potentially the most excited about Black Friday. Holiday horror comedy with Bruce Campbell? Yes please! I was expecting something in the vein of perhaps Krampus. I’m not sure what the fuck I got. I don’t know that the movie knew what it was.

I think I was expecting the commercial commentary to be foundational, a la Dawn of the Dead. Instead, it was more sprinkled like salt as random references. Then the threat shifts from zombie-like shoppers to some sort of amalgamation monster, and that transition is poorly portrayed. All the characters are extremely cliché, but it is not pushed far enough to be caricature. Ultimately, just so disappointing.

“Folked Up Horror” Shorts

Folk horror is not my preferred genre. I definitely have selections I enjoy, but I am in no way an expert. The shorts in the “Folked Up Horror” block were bizarre. The musical taxidermist in Stuffed is fantastic and more entertaining than I usually find musicals. Then The Wet Nurse personally traumatized me with breastfeeding flashbacks and horrifying potential. The others fell relatively flat or outright confusing.

Trivia

We always attend Fright or Wrong trivia and muddle our way through. By some miracle of betting on the right question last (in person) year, we won. We managed to pull it off again this year. This time, the feat was accomplished by the combination of having two experts in 80s horror combined with two strangers joining us more fluent in filmmakers and modern horror.

Win or lose, it is always a fun time. And ridiculously hard questions.

In the End

Despite whatever cycles or processing I had percolating under my surface, the breath this trip afforded me to acknowledge them was so needed. Vacations or breaks of any kind have been scarce since the pandemic, and I am glad that we used it for Telluride Horror Show. The fest managed to preserve itself and return post lockdown with the same level of horror, community, and events.

Can’t wait until next year!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

My book Followers is a horror novel, but it is also about the horror genre itself. I have loved horror most of my life and have constantly been asked, “WHY HORROR?… HOW CAN YOU LOVE HORROR?” (insert my eye roll in black eyeliner). That question grew legs for me and became, could you love the horror genre if horror was real in your life? I explore that in the pages of Followers.

To do that, I needed a horror lover. Enter Sidney (familiar namesake, anyone?)

Of course! She was my first final girl. My Sidney uses horror as therapy, as medication, as distraction from the pain and disappointments in her real life (as much as she uses the online followers she is collecting). But to go on her horror journey, real and in the genre, I wallowed in my own love of horror. From name dropping on characters like Sidney, Wes, Pamela, Tony, Seth, and more to attending a horror film festival, Followers is about loving the horror genre.

Allow me to provide some excerpts of the nods to horror within Followers.

She tabbed away from her browser and into her active document. The bloodbath in her movie began to overshadow the chocolate-flavored recreation she had posted all over social media. She skimmed the last paragraph in the document, running her finger through the air over the words and mouthing the sentences silently as she read.

Even considering new classics like Final Destination and Saw, to crown the best bathroom scene in horror, we have to circle back to the beginning. Psycho is where it started, where the slasher genre itself started, and where this article has to end as well, she typed.

@Romero4eva: #FinalDestination is based on a woman changing planes based on her mom’s intuition! #truestory #FDlivetweet #horrorisreal
“Holy shit,” she mumbled between popcorn bites. “Did you know Final Destination was actually loosely inspired by real events?”
“I had heard that,” Wes replied, typing. “But did you know it was originally supposed to be an X-Files episode?”
“No! How do I not know all this?”
“This is why we live tweet, Sidney.”

@ChuckysBabysitter: The Bus! Gets me every time! #finaldestination #FDlivetweet #finalgirlscreams
@HorrorL0ser: BOOM! #youcantcheatdeath #finaldestination #FDlivetweet
Allison: That scene is so infamous. I remember my jaw dropped when I saw it in the theater.

“When was the first time you saw this movie?” Adam said as they sat.
The thick seats folded down and creaked under their weight. Dim lights peeked out from the thick curtains lining the wall. The wide, gray screen loomed anticipant in front of them.
The actors ran madly up and down the aisles, shrieking as their steps ground popcorn into the flattened carpet. They paused to mock and interact with the patrons. Magenta swung her wide hips as her frizzy hair bounced on her shoulders, dragging her feather duster over any face within reach. Riffraff loomed in a corner, leaning out menacingly as new people entered the theater.
“Sleepover in junior high,” Sidney answered between bites of popcorn.
“Ha! What were your first impressions?”
“I was confused but very intrigued. You?”
“My mom showed it to me, of all people.” Adam smirked.
“How old were you?”
“Early high school, I guess.”
“That seems weird,” Sidney giggled.
“It was. But my mom was weird. The best kind of weird—a horror lover. I have some strange stories. I’m surprised you never live tweeted this one.”
“Everyone live tweets Rocky Horror.”

“Hey, man,” Adam said as they approached Wes. “Look, I didn’t attack Sidney last night.”
Wes spun towards him, arms still pinned around his chest.
“Is that an actual line from Scream?” Wes replied. “It sounds very Billy Loomis.”

As the familiar festive plot unfolded, she reminded herself to swipe over the trackpad and tweet. If she did not post, was she even really watching?
@FinalGirlScreams: #SilentNightDeadlyNight was ahead of its time with killer psychology. Even if it portrays #PTSD horribly. #12SlaysofChristmas #horror #finalgirlscreams
@L1v1ngDead1te: Wouldn’t be the holidays without #12SlaysofChristmas with @FinalGirlScreams!
@Romero4eva: @FinalGirlScreams I watch this one every year. For the antlers!
@ZombieonElmSt: @FinalGirlScreams great choice! Xmas classic #christmashorror #12SlaysofChristmas

The first taste is free… if you want more, you’ll have to read Followers for yourself. You can find it now on Amazon! See how many more horror nods you can find.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

My fifth book, Followers, comes out from Crystal Lake Publishing on Friday. It seems like an appropriate time to introduce some of the cast of characters contained within its pages.

Sidney lives part of her life with the people around her but also has a secondary life online. As such, the characters in Followers appear in Sidney’s real and/or virtual life.

Real Life

Sidney

Sidney is the protagonist of Followers. A single mother with a dull day job, Sidney has big dreams of becoming a full-time horror reviewer and risqué gore model. She’s determined to make her website a success, and if her growing pool of online followers is any indication, things are looking good.

Sidney loves horror, perhaps too much to see horror blossoming in her own life. Despite all the grief she gets from her mother and ex-husband, she continues to pour fake blood on herself in pursuit of her goal. She uses all the online followers she accrues online to soothe the insecurity she feels from wrecking her marriage. The more she amasses, the more addicted she becomes to the adoration.

Kendra

Kendra is Sidney’s roommate and cofounder of their Divorced Wives’ Club. Kendra may loathe horror, but she supports Sidney’s ambition within it. She only wishes Sidney would be more cautious and calculating with all those strangers online.

Cameron

Cameron is Sidney’s young son, muddling his way through his parents’ messy divorce. Cameron presses his mother’s guilt to persuade her to let him watch horror with her.

Brady

Brady is Sidney’s extravagant photographer accomplice. As Jagged Rainbow Photography, Brady creates all of the fake blood photographs Sidney uses for clickbait on her horror articles. Brady and his husband, Jordan, also step in to help Sidney when she needs emotional support.

Aiden

Aiden is Sidney’s ex-husband. Still bitter from Sidney’s infidelity and the resulting split, Aiden makes interactions very unpleasant. He cites her love of horror as evidence of inferior parenting.

Wes

Wes is Sidney’s horror buddy. He conducts live tweets and also attends horror film festivals with her. His online persona also crosses over with hers.

Virtual Life

Adam

Adam is Sidney’s longest follower. They speak online all day, every day. Though flirtatious, he asks her about her day, and they talk about nearly all aspects of their real lives. Sidney considers him an actual friend.

Oliver

Oliver is a long-standing follower who flirts shamelessly and aggressively with Sidney. He messages daily with compliments and demanding pictures.

Max

Max is a new follower who emerges after Sidney’s blood bath pictures. He begins with the normal follower pattern but quickly escalates with alarming horror references.

Allison

Allison joins Sidney’s live tweet then begins messaging her more regularly. Sidney feels a strange safety messaging with her. They quickly become friends. Sidney finds herself confessing things to Allison she is not telling anyone else.

When Horror Crosses Over

Sidney thinks horror and her followers exist on the other side her screen. Yet the more she plays, the more she pushes on that boundary, the closer both come to her real life. Until they cross over. Find out what happens when Sidney’s online followers bring horror into her real life in Followers… on Friday!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

It is no secret that I love Telluride Horror Show. We are less than a month away right now, and I cannot wait! In my homage to horror in Followers, I included the Horror Show as one of my settings.

Followers is available for preorder on Amazon.

Learn more about the Telluride Horror Show on their website.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

We all do it. We watch the horror movie, and we say, “Oh, I would never do that!” But… would we? That’s what I asked myself when I wrote The Waning. And when I made this mini vlog!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Well, here we are: pandemic Halloween.

Restrictions may vary by region, but in Colorado, Halloween celebrations as we know them are largely cancelled. No school costume parades, no drunken costume parties, no trick-or-treating. I hear pumpkin patches and haunted houses have been operating, but I have not been. Largely, the season has been reduced to decorations and horror movies.

Which begs the question, what is Halloween? What is the Halloween spirit? What makes Halloween Halloween?

Is it Halloween without trick-or-treating down a dark street, dead leaves crunching beneath your feet? Is it Halloween without disguising yourself in another character in a drunken crowd, losing yourself in the night? Is it Halloween without being scared in a haunted house or during horror movie marathons, clutching someone’s hand tight as you cry out?

For me, I would say Halloween is all of these things. And more. I take the entire month of October to indulge in Halloween, and I truly try to do it all. Pumpkins, haunted houses, horror film festivals, parties, costumes, trick-or-treating, all the things. And I have missed all those things this year.

I resolved earlier this month to try my best to adapt and enjoy October 2020 as best I could. I decorated, even though no one will really see the house. I got my kids Halloween costumes, even though they won’t be trick-or-treating. I attended the Telluride Horror Show, even though it was all online. I decided to go all in, even if there wasn’t much we could do.

Even though it feels frivolous and borderline fucking stupid this year, I am wearing and posting my Hallowear every day. I am playing #31DaysofHorror bingo and watching a horror movie every day. Inside the house, it is still everything October and everything Halloween. I try to force myself into that Halloween spirit.

Yet it does not feel the same. Because the Halloween experience, like so many things, has a community element. Trick-or-treating includes going around a neighborhood, to other doors. Parties include groups of costumed friends, neighbors, or classmates. Haunted houses are filled with the screams of people.

The real terror this year is the distance and the isolation. The real fear is all the unknown ahead. And those are not the fun kind of horror that Halloween is about.

I just finished writing a novel that ultimately questions if someone can love the horror genre after real horror has happened in her life. That theme echoes strangely in my head these days.

Personally, I do not think Halloween is embodied by any one activity or celebration. I think it is a unique expression for each person. It means different things to different people so can’t be quantified by trick-or-treating or getting drunk dressed like a slutty pumpkin. So a pandemic Halloween can still be Halloween. It just might take some creativity and commitment.

Every year is not going to be perfect. Every year is not going to be the same. I can resign myself to letting 2020 go, to doing the best I can with the options available.

This year, Halloween might be watching Trick ‘r Treat with a bowl full of Reese’s pumpkins and a tall pour of whiskey in my Morticia costume on the couch… but it would still be Halloween. Just Halloween 2020.

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Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

I wanted to be in Telluride this weekend. I wanted to be up in the mountains surrounded by aspens ignited in golden leaves, walking through the crisp air to shiver in queue after queue for horror movie screenings at my fourth straight year at the Telluride Horror Show.

Yet, as with just about everything in recent days, the Telluride Horror Show went virtual this year. And, as with just about everything in recent days, it was better than nothing, but it was just not what I wanted. There is only so much that you can emulate online, especially when everything is now forced online into a distanced echo of what it used to be.

We do what we can under the current constraints. Telluride Horror Show definitely made every effort to virtualize the festival experience and offerings, so rather than spend another blog post analyzing my pandemic fatigue and depression, I will strive to stay on topic.

For the Shelter-in-Place Edition, the Telluride Horror Show endeavored to provide the variety of their programming and the sense of community in the usual experience online. Beyond feature films, the offerings included recorded campfire tales, director and/or cast commentaries, horror trivia, a virtual lounge, and other events I didn’t even get to sample.

However, it was all that: online. All that flat, glowing screen of the television or the smartphone. It was all socially distant. With all of life filtered through these damned screens lately, it felt so reductive. For me, rather than bringing me closer to the experience, it called attention to everything I was missing and could not currently have.

But that is just how my brain works in this pandemic.

We did the best we could, as we have been for months, with the situation. We gathered our cohort together to put on our own miniature horror fest. At times, it included children milling around in other rooms or yelling at uncooperative dogs. We employed a couple different venues for variety.

To be entirely honest, our viewing started out quite rough. The first few features we attempted were disappointing and seemed to amplify the bitterness of not being in Telluride itself. We really struggled with the film descriptions. We were misled multiple times over the weekend and found that, ultimately, we were missing the festival chatter, the reviews we would hear in lines between movies and at the bar from other movie-goers.

However, I do not enjoy writing bad reviews. As an indie artist, I do not like to rip apart something I know people put themselves into or truly loved. So, this festival recap is not going to be about how a virtual festival flirted with zoom burnout or which movies did not suit my particular palate. Rather, I am going to focus on everything the Shelter-in-Place Edition of the Telluride Horror Show did right.

Perks of watching from home:

  • Comfort: While the Sheridan and the Nugget theaters may be beautiful and storied (if not haunted) venues, they are not the most ergonomic after compound hours. Sheltering at home, it could be the couch or the floor or the bathtub or the backyard or all of the above! While I missed the long walks between screenings, some in our party who were relieved to be skipping them. And there was no shivering outside in line and zero waiting.
  • Convenience: In Telluride, we often encountered the dilemma of two conflicting screenings. However, at home, we were the film programmers. We watched the on demand movies, shorts, and events when we wanted and in the order we wanted. Had to pee? Pause! Needed a snack? Pause! Wanted to start early or run late? We could do whatever we wanted.
  • Concessions: While a normal Telluride includes sandwiches shoved in a bag, popcorn, candy, and booze, the home part of sheltering opened the door to much more elaborate snacks and meals. We could eat and drink whatever we wanted. Hell, we could have it delivered. The bar and the kitchen were inside our theater.
  • Conversation: A festival may be more of a communal viewing than a typical movie, with laughter and banter encouraged. However, it would still be disrespectful for a group of assholes (us) to chatter through an entire film. Yet, when that group of assholes is the entire audience, we could do what we wanted. Especially when we were not entirely enjoying the movie, rowdy joking was exactly what we needed to elevate the experience.
  • Cost: Holy cost effective! The Shelter-in-Place Edition included SO MUCH content for the price. And with the convenience of the format, we were able to consume so much more of it in the timeframe. Much more horror for each dollar spent.

Our viewing may have started rocky, and we may have missed a scheduled screening due to not fully understanding how those were working. Yet, we still found plenty of horror to enjoy in this year’s programming. I have never been able to watch so many shorts at a fest before!

My favorite films (in no particular order):

  • The Columnist: A horror comedy that reminded me of two of my books (clearly, the themes speak to me) where trolls on the internet push one writer too far
  • Bloodthirsty: A refreshing rendition of a neglected subgenre that finds a vegan singer struggling against all kinds of hunger as she works on her new album
  • Dark Stories: A clever anthology of spooky stories a mother tells a possessed doll to keep it distracted
  • Butchers: A rare exception to my distaste of the hillbilly subgenre with teenagers breaking down in the middle of nowhere and encountering a family of sadistic butchers
  • Possessor (honorable mention): A sci-fi mingling including an assassin who possesses others to execute her jobs until she finds herself trapped in the last host

My favorite shorts (in a very particular order):

  1. Keith: A little girl meets the monster under her bed
  2. We All Scream: A little boy is tempted by a clown in an ice cream truck
  3. Oh Deer!: A father teaches his son what to do when they hit a deer with their car
  4. Carmentis: A injured miner struggles to survive on a harsh planet
  5. There’s a Ghost in the House: A couple bickers over the appearance of an apparition in their living room
  6. Face Your Fears: A woman faces a challenge to concur her fear of the dark

In Review

This is going to sound fucking ridiculous and corny, but the truth is the truth.

<cheesyTruth>Horror festivals have always been about more than the movies for us. My husband took me to my first for my birthday (Stanley Film Festival). We made some great friends there, and they told us about the Telluride Horror Show. So we brought some friends and started attending. The next year, we brought more friends. Then we met more people, brought more people. It became its own thing.

The horror movies are always what we go for but are not what the experience is about. It is the trip and the experience–but mostly the people. This year, we could not have the trip and we had to cram the experience into the screen, but we still had (some of) the people. So we still had the part of our horror show that mattered. </cheesyTruth>

So cheers to more horror and more horror shows and to being able to bring it all back in person again in the future years!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Another year has passed. I’m not quite sure how this one managed to fly by so quickly. It feels like I blinked last New Year’s and opened my eyes on the other side of Christmas. Some of this acceleration is my own fault for packing every moment of every day with activities and experiences. It is my Thoreau-based life philosophy to suck the marrow out of every second, yet I think I may have hit the threshold this year where I nearly sucked the marrow out of myself in the process. And the rest of it is just that I am getting old and the years cycle by more rapidly.

2018 was a heavy authoring and publications year. 2019 focused more on my non-writing life. Not really by my choice but rather the swing of the pendulum. My day job progressed into a lot more travel and a promotion. The travel often gave me more opportunities to write uninterrupted (completing a draft of my next novel, for example), yet more demands and more hours also got in the way of writing, posting, reviewing, speaking.

My personal life also required more of my time. From the inevitability of increased parenting obligations to death in the family and funerals.

2019, in short, was death and travel.

A lot of other things did happen, but those were the loudest themes.  Amidst drafting my latest novel (now deeply in the cycles of editing), I also did manage to get a few works published and to get out there and pretend to be an author.

Publications

March: “This Way,” “Prison,” “The Leftovers” in 100 Word Horrors 2

March: Screechers with Kevin J. Kennedy

March: “Awake” in America’s Emerging Horror Writers: West Region

“Malignant” (formerly released with Savages) in The Horror Collection: Purple Edition

While these few pieces (mostly in March) may seem insufficient to me, especially after the year of the short story in 2018, I have to remind myself that I wrote a novel too. It is not finished and it is not published, but it is written. The story exists outside of me, and that’s an accomplishment. If it does get published, it will be my second full length novel, after The Rest Will Come in 2017. Again, something worth including in the year review.

In 2020, I hope to be able to see the novel is under contract.

Events

In annual tradition, we attended the Telluride Horror Show. I won’t regurgitate my post on the fest, but it was a fantastic year. We saw great movies, participated in epic cosplay, and kicked ass at trivia.

The films were exceptionally solid this year, and I wrote up a couple reviews for Daily Dead again.

Against my better judgement, I also participated in another book signing event. After Behind the Mask in Nashville was such a bust, I swore I would never try it again. I made an exception for Deadly Reality at The Stanley Hotel. I won’t repeat that post either.

The event was not a great fit for me and my work, but I saw moderate success at the table. It was also a fun experience (mostly with the company I brought with me) and a great trip. How many times does one wander the halls of The Stanley Hotel dressed as one of the Grady sisters?

The weekend was worthwhile, but (once again) I have resolved to stay away from signing events. However, my collaborators and I do have eyes on new attempts and new events in the new year.

So, I made it through the year, partially skidding across the line on my face. I was distracted and tested but still managed to be a writer and accomplish a couple things as an author.

In my personal life, my goal is to make 2020 a rebuilding year. I need to simplify and regroup, reestablish the foundation so the whole damn house doesn’t come crashing down on me. I’m hoping this change will benefit my writing too, give me time and focus to prioritize writing. 2020 can be a rebuilding year for all things.

I’m not sad to put 2019 behind me, so happy new year!

 

Christina Bergling

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Oh, October. October has always been my favorite month. I look forward to it whisking me away from the misery of summer every year, heavily laden with its Halloween festivities. However, I’m skidding out of this October on my face barely a shell of a person. Is there too much of a good thing? I think I can now safely say, yes. October 2019 nearly killed me with all the awesome things.

Here is my October in review, otherwise known as my excuse list for being so dormant on here and behind on all things writer-ly.

I kicked off the month on October 1st by going to see The Shining in the theater. The theater screening was a surprise but perfectly timed for my Halloween costume cosplay and the upcoming sequel release. I then continued my Stephen King binge by going to see IT Chapter Two in the theater for the third time later that week.

I countered my sluggish inactivity in a theater recliner with 13 miles of activity when we descended Pikes Peak the first weekend. Two years ago, we began our initiative to hike Colorado 14ers by ascending Pikes Peak, the mountain in our backyard. The next year, we returned to the same trail but only went up to Barr Camp (about halfway) and back. The trail was gorgeous, as usual, the perfect euphoric fall hike. And descending was so much better than dragging myself up.

That same weekend, while my calves were still knotted up from the miles, I did a horror photo shoot with the Mistresses of Macabre. I struggled to hold poses with my depleted muscles, but hopefully some good shots come out of it. At least, for once, it was fake blood free.

Next, I went to Denver to see Goblin in concert, performing the live score as they showed the film Deep Red. I had seen Goblin live before, a few years ago. They played a collection of their songs while projecting scenes from the associated movies. I really enjoyed watching the full film and having the music live. It was a great show. Following the movie, they did also play some classic hits in front of movie clips.

Then it was the event of every October the past three years: the Telluride Horror Show. I love going up to the mountains in the fall to watch horror movies and hang out with horror lovers for three days. My husband abandoned me for a different obligation, but otherwise our party grew. We also augmented the experience with cosplay from The Shining. It was ridiculously fun to walk around the fest and make friends dressed as one of the Grady sisters. I even got to write reviews for Daily Dead again.

After traveling for the Horror Show, we immediately traveled again for a surprise wedding in Tennessee. I got to reunite and celebrate with my dark sisters in the Corpsewax Dollies. There was a lot of love, partying, and dancing.

We couldn’t leave our children out of the horror fest, so we had to take them to see The Addams Family. I ended up enjoying it more than I expected, and the kids loved it.

We went equally hardcore on group costumes for the annual Creepy Crawl 5K. Our entire, large group dressed up as characters from Mario Kart, complete with cardboard box karts. The kids joined in as turtle shells, stars, and banana peels. My youngest spent three miles shoving me off the icy trail. We won best family costume.

We hosted our annual Halloween party, thankfully at not at my house this year. I dressed up as a Grady sister again but with less conviction than at the Horror Show. Instead, there was a mountain of food, drinks, kids, and good friends.

Despite a Colorado snow storm, I attended a book club that had read my novel The Rest Will Come. The weather greatly reduced the turn out (and I actually did a second makeup session today), but it was still a good experience. It is always surreal to me that an entire group of people read my book and want to talk about it, but I love to hear their opinions and questions, the outside perspectives.

I returned to the theater for a fourth time (not counting the 10 movies in Telluride) to see a sneak screening of Doctor Sleep. Stephen King and The Shining were apparently my theme of the month.

In addition to all these activities, I did my typical 31 Days of Horror movie watching with accompanying bingo and Hallowear posts. Horror movies and festive clothing every day.

Then it was finally Halloween itself. I took the day off from my day job to fully participate. In the morning, I talked at one school. Three 5th/6th grade classes crammed into a classroom to ask me questions about horror and writing. Then, in the afternoon, I spoke at another school. At this middle school, I gave a speech in front of 600+ students (the entire school) in the gym.

I don’t have a problem with public speaking. However, I am much more comfortable when there is not a stage or microphone, somewhat ironic since I dance onstage. The scale of it was intimidating. Then the microphone didn’t work. I messed up my speech a couple times. But then it was awesome. The kids asked questions until we ran out of time. Several of them thanked me or told me about their writing as they left the gym. One girl approached me to tell me how much hearing I struggled as a child helped her. It was amazing. I can honestly say I love these moments of talking to children, baring my soul for them a bit in hopes that impacts at least one of them.

Having survived all that, I bundled up my kids to take them trick-or-treating. Then I watched my traditional movie (Trick r Treat), and my month came to an end. Everything was great. I did so many things, awesome and fun things with wonderful people. I fully appreciate how ludicrous it is to say there was too much fun in October. I cannot think of anything I would sacrifice, but engaging in all the awesomeness while still working the day job and being a mom and doing regular life might have finally crossed the line into too much.

That is a bridge I will cross next year. Of course, next year, I will be refreshed and excited and back to saying yes to everything. For now, I am taking November to recover. Back to work, back to routine, a little vacation in there. I am also using NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to edit my latest novel. I recently completed the first draft and read over it during our travels to Telluride (an apt time since I included Telluride in the story and it was the perfect opportunity to fact check).

Writing my last novel was a bit of a struggle. I was initially infatuated with the idea, but then it fizzled in drafting. Yet I remained committed to finishing it. Then I kept getting sidetracked by short stories. I would make minimal progress then shelf it to write a short. When I returned to it, it would take time to engage with the story again. All of this left me insecure about the book. I was convinced it was boring and terrible. I was relieved to find that I did not hate it upon first read.

November is the time to get back on the normal track and also get this book edited.

 

Christina Bergling

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facebook.com/chrstnabergling
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