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Summer Reading: ‘The Ghost’s Grave’ and Gateway Horror

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Growing up in the suburbs, most of my summers were spent running around my neighborhood with my childhood best friend. We’d ride our bikes, eat honeysuckle out of our neighbor’s yard, and pretend to be Power Rangers. However, I’d have to find my own fun if my friend wasn’t available. But there’s only so much TV a kid can watch before getting bored, and only so many times I could dress up our elderly family poodle without him getting pissed at me.

One particular summer, I remember reading a book I had picked up from that school year’s scholastic book fair. This book was The Ghost’s Grave by Peg Kehret. It featured Josh, a kid spending the summer at his Aunt’s house in a small mining town where he had no friends (a relatable premise for a little young, bored me). Things get spooky when he discovers a treehouse in the woods, and a one-legged miner’s ghost appears to him, asking the boy to reunite his leg with the rest of his body. Once Josh gets up the courage to dig up the grave, he discovers a box of money buried along with the leg. A conspiracy unravels, and Josh finds that the money was meant for an animal shelter and was stolen by the manager of the town’s bank.

I think the intrigue of the conspiracy was very new and enticing to little Sebastian. As an avid true crime fanatic, I can see the threads of my obsession in The Ghost’s Grave. A decades-old crime solved by an unlikely hero, what could be more captivating for someone who went on to listen to every Buzzfeed Unsolved video ever to be released? The book also sets up the conflict in an easy way for a kid to understand: stealing from cute, defenseless animals is bad.

My memories of reading The Ghost’s Grave are also special because it was an excuse to snuggle with our old poodle. Most days, he slept in the warm sunbeam from our glass front door. I would bring most of the contents of my bed – my comforter, as many blankets as I could find, several pillows, and my favorite stuffed animal – and put them on the tile next to Napoleon to make a little nest to lay in while we hung out together. This was one of the few activities we did together that he tolerated because he was old and crotchety, and I was very annoying.

There is something special about a book you can’t put down, and The Ghost’s Grave is the one that stands out from my childhood. It was probably one of the first horror books I read on my own. I think I appreciated the freedom to read the book at my own pace and imagine what I might do if I had a friendly ghost friend. When I reflect on my younger self, I’m surprised at how much I loved horror books because I was also vehemently afraid of the dark and the concept of monsters in my closet or under my bed. Admittedly, I slept with a nightlight until halfway through high school.

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The Ghost’s Grave was undoubtedly a step in turning me into the horror freak I am today. Some other steppingstones for me were R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, and Neal Shusterman’s Unwind series. As a teenager, some of the first movies I tested my courage with were One Missed Call (yes, it was the shitty American version, and yes, I was still scared by it), Insidious, and whatever Paranormal Activity movie was currently showing at my local theater. As an adult, it’s much harder to find the time to read, and I spend much more time watching horror films than reading. But I envy the summers little Sebastian spent curled up in a nest in a sunbeam.

Sebastian Ortega is a Brooklyn-based artist and writer. They’ve always been interested in horror, from making their father read Goosebumps to them before bed to now having memorized Max Brook’s The Zombie Survival Guide. They’re especially interested in looking at the representation of gender and sexuality in horror films. When they aren’t planning for the zombie apocalypse you can find them experimenting with new recipes, hanging out in local artist communities, and forcing their friends to listen to the latest Clipping album, Saw trap style. And despite popular belief, they are not several rats in a trench coat.

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MEAT the Movie: An Indiegogo Campaign

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Filth. Horror. Glamour.

While you might typically associate those trio of words with your favorite drag monsters, they also perfectly encapsulate the upcoming queer-centric horror film by Rising Pulse Productions, MEAT. A blood-soaked whodunit, the film finds a group of queer individuals fighting for their lives against a studded (and studly) masked killer five years after a night of hard partying leaves someone dead and an innocent bystander in prison.

Directed by your friendly neighborhood “Scream Queer” Roger Connors, co-written by Conners and Zach Shildwachter, with cinematography by Mick Kunz, MEAT aims to serve you glitz and gore on a silver platter. The focus here is on true terror and suspense while deliciously draped in a high gloss aesthetic even the most critical of gay men would commend.

It isn’t family-friendly queer storytelling…the team behind MEAT wants you dripping in more ways than one.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, then MEAT needs your help in making your screens explode with visual stimulation and queer representation! Bringing such ambitions to life while looking stunning and fairly compensating the cast and crew isn’t cheap. The film’s producers have formulated a budget to help bring this movie into reality.

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Its Indiegogo features a video by the creators, giving you a peek at the film’s package, and includes a tiered list of perks should you choose to contribute – and do make sure to read those perks descriptions for a good chuckle. Queer media often bears the burden of cliché or an obscenely low budget should it circumvent said tropes. MEAT desires to be the brooding and mysterious monster that surpasses expectations and captivates LGBTQ+ audiences and allies alike. The upper echelon of gay canon awaits.

Production is slated to begin in October 2022, so please spread the word about MEAT while the Indiegogo’s still got a heartbeat!

MEAT the Movie: Official Production Campaign | Indiegogo

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BYOB (BRING YOUR OWN BODYBAG): Which Iconic Summer Parties From A Horror Movie Would Actually Be Fun To Go To?

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The presence has returned to haunt us all. It comes back every year for revenge. It can’t be escaped or reasoned with. And it plans on cooking you alive…

We are, of course, talking about the Summer. God, it’s been hot out recently.

As the time to sit back and unwind arrives, we at the Horror Press Estates have been thinking a lot about the perfect summertime party to chill at, horror movie-wise, of course. And this isn’t just because the only firepit on the estate has a demon inside it, or the fact that the swimming pool is electrified for our editor’s amusement. It’s also because, well…some of these horror movie parties look good.

Sure, you could get crumpled by a hulking super-zombie, or shish kebabbed by a dream demon, but every party comes with some inherent risk. And these are the risks we’ll have to take if we want to have fun.

I’ve broken down the science of the summer party rating into five empirical categories: Venue (where this is going down), Partygoers (general vibes and fun people), Drinks & Snacks (obvious), Music (slightly less obvious), and Am I Chill With Dying Here? (in which I determine how cool I am with beefing it at this party).

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Let’s get into it.

The Midsommar Festival from…Midsommar

By far my least favorite. Setting aside the fact that this is an evil gaslighting Swede cult for a moment, can any of these people throw a genuinely fun midsummer festival?

Yeah, everyone here seems nice until they’re forming screaming circles around a depressed girl or drugging people to dance nonstop around a maypole. On top of that, nobody here seems to have a not folk music-centric playlist hooked up to the aux. No wonder you people are insane; there’s not a single Chief Keef song, no early Kanye, there’s not even an obligatory ABBA track!
Also, the sun is out…24/7. Which, frankly, harshes my vibes and docks them quite a few points.

VENUE: 5/10
PARTYGOERS: 2/10
DRINKS & SNACKS: 0/10
MUSIC: 3/10
AM I CHILL WITH DYING HERE? A.I.C.W.D.H?: 1/10
OVERALL SCORE: 2/10

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The Graveyard Party from Return of The Living Dead

I know, I know, Linnea Quigley’s iconic gravestone dance as the death-obsessed Trash is something else, yes, but…frankly, outside of that, it’s a graveyard.

Which isn’t to say a cemetery couldn’t be spruced up to be a fun venue, but tonally the whole affair is off. Not to mention, this scenario has one of the most nightmarish and unfun ways to die when you get caught—unlike the other parties on this list, this death is inevitable and painful. What fun!

Mixed with a severe lack of refreshments, and the admittedly boring guests put this low in my rankings. Except for a few of the cast’s quirkier members and a decent playlist, this one has got to go. Except for Spider. Miguel Nunez Jr. can always stick around in my book.

VENUE: 3/10
PARTYGOERS: 5/10
DRINKS & SNACKS: 1/10
MUSIC: 6/10
A.I.C.W.D.H?: 0/10
OVERALL SCORE: 3/10

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The Meat Grinder Murder Rave from The Collection

Another toss-up for me. Everything up until a big spinning thresher blade drops down from the ceiling and starts coming for you seems pretty chill. The music is bumping, the drinks are flowing, and you’re blissfully unaware that an entomologist with a leather fetish and a lot of free time on his hands has it out for you.

It’s very clear The Collector had to be good at party planning to set it off like this, so frankly, I have to respect the work ethic. But he cuts things off way too quickly! He didn’t even let the ambiance ride. You’re either going to a.) suffer immensely, or b.) die quickly and obliviously. This is certainly a big gamble party-wise…buuut that DJ did seem like she was having fun! You know, until she got exploded by the thresher.

VENUE: 8/10
PARTYGOERS: 6/10
DRINKS & SNACKS: 6/10
MUSIC: 8/10
A.I.C.W.D.H?: 3/10
OVERALL SCORE: 6/10

Poolside Party Fouls in Nightmare On Elm Street 2

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It may seem like a bog-standard cookout at a nice house in the suburbs…and that’s because it is. We have to have a mostly normal party somewhere in here. Pro: This is arguably the nicest house in Springfield. Con: We’re still in Ohio. But hey, as long as you’re not Jesse, Grady, or Lisa, you can pretty much dip at the first sign of glass breaking and pools igniting with hellfire with no real consequence. If I die here, it will likely be super painful, but it’d be kind of my own fault. Solid party, in my opinion.

VENUE: 7/10
PARTYGOERS: 7/10
DRINKS & SNACKS: 8/10
MUSIC: 6/10
A.I.C.W.D.H?: 6/10
OVERALL SCORE: 7/10

The Cool-Ass Corn Field Party from Freddy V.S. Jason

Now, this. This is the party that separates the boys from the men. And the corn from the husk! Not only does this have a killer finale (that you can feasibly escape) involving a blaze, blades, and bursting beer kegs, but it’s also got an ideal and aesthetic venue with good sound systems. On top of that, Jason is the ultimate weapon in determining the comedown, because he’s already built to stop the party. Plus, it would make for a legendary party story if you could get a glowstick necklace around him before dying.

VENUE: 10/10
PARTYGOERS: 8/10
DRINKS & SNACKS: 9/10
MUSIC: 9/10
A.I.C.W.D.H?: 10/10
OVERALL SCORE: 9/10

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THE GLOVERFEST from Friday the 13 th Part IV

Man, I could watch this goober dance all day. Need I say more?

VENUE: 10/10
PARTYGOERS: 10/10
DRINKS & SNACKS: 10/10
MUSIC: 10/10
A.I.C.W.D.H?: 10/10
OVERALL SCORE: CRISPIN GLOVER/10

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