007) CD Review #2: “A Breathe of Fresh Air” & “Down There”

Last week I gave you my first two reviews from Cemetery Dance Magazine. This week I’ll do it again. And even though it’s very early in this series of posts, I’ve already made a prediction. Old CD stories are “old horror”, ie: simple storylines but with gruesome, powerful visuals., and new CD stories are “modern horror”, ie: complex stories relying more on the psychological than the visceral.

Let’s see if that pattern continues…

(Oh yeah, in case you missed it, here’s an intro to CD from an earlier post.)


THE OLD: “A Breathe of Fresh Air”

Author blurb provided by CD in front of Edgar F. Tartro's story.

Author blurb provided by CD in front of Edgar F. Tartro’s story.

AUTHOR: Edgar F. Tartro

APPEARANCE: CD Issue #1 (Dec. 1988), story 2 of 12

PLOT, (with spoilers!):

Benji Drummond is a little guy who’s been in the local lockup for 6 weeks, and he’s been complaining about the heat and smell in the place. Sheriff Olsen knows it’s bad. He’s seen the black phlegm Benji has been hacking all over the walls & even requested an air quality report.

When screams come from his cell the night before Benji’s release, the sheriff finds the face & chest of Benji’s mammoth-sized cellmate “shredded like jello slashed with razor blades.” Meanwhile, Benji himself is gone and the small air vent is ripped open like a piece of cardboard.

Captain Coyle arrives the next morning to inspect the situation and is convinced Benji escaped through the open cell door when the sheriff attended to the wounded man. But Olsen insists his back was never turned. Also, he points out, Benji was scheduled for release in only a few hours, making escape an implausible choice of action.

While Captain & Sheriff continue to argue the logistics, the mailman delivers the air quality report, which conveniently explains everything: it cites high levels of carbon dioxide, poor circulation, and the presence of animal feces. The sheriff reads it was specifically Desmodus Rufus, and dramatically reveals this is the scientific name for a Vampire Bat.

In the story’s final paragraph, readers see the “former Benji Drummond” in his new home: hanging upside down in the air vent of a nearby Day Care facility. Beneath him lay a pile of fresh droppings.

MY GRADE: B-

MY REVIEW: Tartro’s story is good, if not a tad predictable. The descriptions are solid and despite the brevity of the piece we can actually see a complete (if simple) arc in Benji’s character. He begins as an annoyance, transitions quickly to a problem, and eventually becomes a horrible killing monster. Best of all, the ending paragraph pushes the story to a darker level than expected, which is a nice touch.

Yet Tartro’s story does suffer from two significant flaws:

Cemetery Dance, Issue #1

Cemetery Dance, Issue #1

First (and worst) is the title. I was convinced the use of ‘breathe’ instead of ‘breath’ would be explained, but guess what… no dice. It’s an actual typo. In the title. Yes, goofs like this are part of the writing process & we’ve all found mistakes in newspapers or first editions, but I still have a hard time getting over this one. I mean, it’s the first five words readers see. The best I can do is chalk it up to Chizmar’s youth (he was just 23 at the time) & the fact that he was publishing this premier issue pretty much alone. Strangely, however, it’s something I find kind of quaint, to be honest. I’m neither upset nor turned off by it. Rather, I’m endeared to the situation. It reminds me of my own early days of glaring typos that made it to print even after trusted editors scoured the piece with their proverbial fine-toothed combs. Still, to be fair I did have to knock the story’s grade down a bit because of it.

Second, the pacing is goofy. The opening moves along at a nice clip but is suddenly derailed by the dialogue between Captain Coyle Sheriff Olsen, something which could have been done in a few paragraphs rather than a full third of the story. It’s pretty clear Tartro was establishing a source of superiority & a reason to doubt Sheriff Olsen’s competence, however this point simply isn’t worth the space it takes up.


THE NEW: “Down There”

Author blurb provided by CD at the end of Keith Minnion's story.

Author blurb provided by CD at the end of Keith Minnion’s story. (I like this guy’s name!)

AUTHOR: Keith Minnion

APPEARANCE: CD Issue #73 (March 2016), story 2 of 5

PLOT (with spoilers!): Declan Curragh is a upper-ranking Naval officer going on a mysterious mission to Adak, Alaska. (For reference, that’s one of the furthest-reaching islands of the enormous, south-west-sweeping archipelago that separates the U.S. from Russia). Declan doesn’t talk much on his long, stacattoed trip, though he is polite to the various ticket agents, stewardesses & other passengers he meets along the way.

His semi-stoic calm, however, is replaced with frustration when he reaches Adak & what’s left of his on-site team. He explains to his chief paleontologist that his excursion to the higher-ups was useless. “They just didn’t believe it,” he explains simply.

The remainder of the story is of Declan, alone, completing his journey. He enters an old, unobtrusive volcanic vent, taking an arc lamp with him down the long tunnel. He reaches the end point of excavation & steps into the other tunnel- a perfect trapezoid with sharp edges that nevertheless reveals no evidence of any tool work despite having been there since the Proterozoic Era.

Illustration provided by CD for "Down There".

Illustration provided by CD for “Down There”. A 2-page spread! Pretty cool, huh?

When the walls open to the final, large cavern with “wild, unnerving geometries”, Declan sees the altar there has a still-fresh carcass of a sea lion with collected buckets of blood underneath. He removes it, takes a leather-wrapped parcel from his pack, and turns off his arc lamp. Then, quickly and before he can think his way out of it, Declan removes his clothes, pours the buckets of blood over his naked body, lays upon the altar, unwraps a stone knife with “insane, etched glyphs that glowed faintly”, and slits his own throat.

The story’s final sentence tells readers that a collective of “bellowing, shrieking” things “like vast, black locomotives” of unknown definition or origin approach with gathering speed.

MY GRADE: A

Cemetery Dance, Issue #73

Cemetery Dance, Issue #73

MY REVIEW: This is an odd story in that the Horror element literally doesn’t appear until the final few paragraphs. While the pace is slow (perhaps excessively so at times), this is also a common design of modern Horror. We know something nasty is going to go down eventually, yet we are lulled into complacency by watching Declan’s slow progress towards his downfall. We grow to like him quickly and almost forget we have no idea where he’s going or what he’s doing. We simply know his quest is important (monumentally so, though we don’t pick that up until near the end), and that we are rooting for him.

And yet, the tone of Horror is there throughout, which is what makes Minnion’s story such a fun read. Allow me to elaborate with just a few of the story’s many examples…

1- The opening sentence includes a stewardess pointing to Adak and telling Declan, “…And this is where it ends.” She means his trip, of course, but Minnion is already teasing us with ominous verbiage.

2- One of the fellow passengers Declan connects with is a precocious girl of about ten who is happy to see that “people in the Navy are [both] officers and gentlemen.” This description coming from the most innocent of the story’s characters prepares us for the tragedy of Declan’s sacrifice. He’s not just some pawn-like chump. He’s a great guy who is nice to kids, and he’s a true hero, dying horribly to save (we assume) us all.

3- There are numerous poetic lines that collectively cast a shadow of gloom over Declan’s travels. My favorite is, “Solid dark clouds rushed by above, and the wind was a constant, keening wail.” The movement of the clouds = Declan’s doomed travels. The sound of the wind = Declan’s moaning heart. Yep. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Meanwhile, when we are (finally) given the truth of Declan’s situation (ancient beings- either alien or demons- are living in the remote bowels of an Alaskan volcano and their power and hunger is pacified only by repeated sacrifices of blood and flesh), we suddenly realize Declan’s excursion to his superiors was an attempt to end it all. We don’t know if the plan was to nuke the mountain, plug the exit, or merely fund the slaughter of untold wildlife as continued payment. We only know the higher-ups have incorrectly deemed the ‘timing’ to be wrong. As such, Declan decides to take matters into his own hands.

We never find out if Declan was right or wrong, if the volcano’s monsters are satiated or killed or only more enraged. We are left, instead, with one of modern Horror’s most powerful emotions: unfulfilled hope. We hope Declan was right. We hope he saved the world. And depending on what kind of reader you are, you’re free to interpret it that way. But no matter who you are or how you read it, your hope will remain without true answers. And that, my Horror-loving friends, is solid, scary stuff.


FINAL THOUGHT

Did my observation hold true? Yep. Dead on. The older story was once again simple but descriptively memorable while the newer one was complex, subtle, and of the mind-screw variety.

But I know this won’t be a perfect formula. Somewhere along the way there will be a transition. And some of the older stories are already indicative of what is to come, even if they haven’t yet mastered the new mode of Horror storytelling. And some of the newere stuff does revert to the old ways, reminding us all of what our foundations are… and why they are so important.

Who knows, maybe my next CD review will have one of each.

Agree or disagree with any of this?


I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

-K. Edwin Fritz

K. Edwin Fritz

K. Edwin Fritz

Official Horror Blogger of the Fiction Vortex

Keith Edwin Fritz entered this world on Halloween. The year, 1974, was the same as when Stephen Edwin King published his first novel. Keith prefers to think neither the date nor their middle names were a coincidence.

Today Keith teaches 7th Grade Language Arts and writes to his heart’s content during his "spare time". The best of these moments are nearly always by moonlight. The worst of them are also by moonlight.

Keith lives with his wife, Corina, in Lawrenceville, NJ.

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006) CD Review #1: “Body Perfect” & “A Devil Inside”

Last week I gave you an introduction to Cemetery Dance Magazine.

This week, I get to start sharing what’s inside. While there are loads of Horror-related goodies between any CD covers including interviews, articles, & reviews of their own, this blog is going to concentrate on the fiction.

As a reminder, each post I’m going to give you 2 reviews: 1 from an old issue, and 1 from a new one. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a change in trending over time.


THE OLD: “Body Perfect”

The author blurb provided by CD in front of Rasmussen's story.

The author blurb provided by CD in front of Rasmussen’s story.

AUTHOR: William C. Rasmussen

_cd001a

Cemetery Dance, Issue #1

APPEARANCE: CD Issue #1 (Dec. 1988), story 1 of 12

PLOT, (with spoilers!): Martin Murry is a college kid who comes across a poster featuring a stunningly beautiful blonde beach babe. He is so impressed with her that he not only buys the poster and eagerly hangs it above his dorm room bed, he also spend the next few hours staring at it, seemingly mesmerized. He feels she is utterly perfect but for one detail… he only wishes she had blue eyes like his. He barely notices the throng of goggle-eyed young men in the background of the poster. As he falls deeper and deeper into her gorgeous embrace, he soon falls asleep. The poster then rustles against the wall & slips from its scotch-taped bonds and flutters down to land directly over Martin’s sleeping form. When his roommate comes home the next morning, Martin is gone and a new poster featuring a gorgeous beach babe with blue eyes is on his bed. The roommate begins to stare, fixated. He doesn’t notice that one of the young men in the background looks exactly like Martin.

The illustration provided by Cemetery Dance to accompany Rasmussen's story. (She's not exactly as... attractive... as described in the story. But I promise, Chizmar DOES hire better artists in the future).

The illustration provided by Cemetery Dance to accompany Rasmussen’s story. (She’s not exactly as… attractive… as described in the story. But I promise, Chizmar DOES hire better artists in the future).

MY GRADE: C+

MY REVIEW: Rasmussen’s story is very short and very simple. But it’s also very predictable. The collection of other young men in the poster’s background & the implication that the beach babe either modified her eye color to match Martin’s desires, or (a far creepier notion) perhaps even took his own actual eyes were both nice touches. The story itself is told relatively well considering how short it is.

As a reader of lots of horror, however, this was no doubt a disappointment. My first impression was “THIS is the premier story of the premier issue of Cemetery Dance?!?!” The word ‘lame’ does come to mind while describing it, but that would honestly be far too harsh. I need to remember this was published in 1988 and Richard Chizmar (the CD Editor-In-Chief) undoubtedly had a limited number of submissions to choose from. After all, Cemetery Dance wasn’t the household name in Horror back then that it is today. Still, Rasmussen had been noted for being published in numerous magazines already by then, and I would have expected something a little more… fulfilling. Overall, I enjoyed it for what it was: A simple, straightforward tale of some kind of demonic possession.

It did get me thinking, though, about how this journey through the pages of the hallowed Cemetery Dance will change and grow and evolve. I have no doubt there will be certain stories that will stand out both as memorable tales AND influential to readers & Chizmar alike… perhaps even to the genre itself. I look forward to coming across them.

As for Rasmussen’s “Body Perfect”, however, you can safely pass. You aren’t missing much.


THE NEW: “A Devil Inside”

AUTHOR: Gerard Houarner

Cemetery Dance, Issue #73

Cemetery Dance, Issue #73

APPEARANCE: CD Issue #73 (March 2016), story 1 of 5

PLOT (with spoilers!): An unnamed narrator is in love with his woman, Marita, but is convinced there is a devil inside him who says it loves Marita too. This devil has been there all his life.

Time passes & Marita becomes pregnant. She thinks their son will be just like his father.

More time passes. The narrator hears the devil in his son’s colic wails & everyday life struggles. His parents assure him it gets better. Marita asks why he loves her. He says she’s his angel but thinks it’s because she banishes his devil. When he asks her the same question, she doesn’t answer.

He dives into work, bringing ire from his family & neglects his son. Marita knows something is wrong, that he is perhaps a danger to them all, yet she chooses to trust him nevertheless.

His company is in trouble so the roles he & Marita have had til now switch. Fatherhood & a lost sense of value sends him into depression. When his sister dies, he misses the funeral. When Marita plans family outings & dinner guests, he barely remembers conversation. He decides the devil inside him belongs there.

One night he finds himself over his son’s crib with a knife in hand. Marita is there too, pointing a gun at him and screaming. She asks what he’s doing. He says he wants to see if their son has a devil inside him. She pleads for him to drop the knife. The devil inside him speaks again, insisting she’s going to kill him because that’s what angels do: they kill devils. He moves toward their son, saying she’ll have to make a choice. He reaches the knife down, bringing it to his son’s throat. He watches his son’s little hand grasp the blade. She fires. He falls, relief washing over him. She chose right AND he feels the devil leaving him. But it goes into her, and their last eye contact is one of love. His final act before death is to look to his son, whose eyes indicate his own devil had just entered him as well.

MY GRADE: A

The image provided by Cemetery Dance to accompany Hauer's story. Just look at that detail!

The illustration provided by Cemetery Dance to accompany Houarner’s story. Just look at that detail! (I told you they got better). [Image is split left & right across 2 pages]

MY REVIEW: This story was powerful. That’s the word that keeps coming to me. Yes, the action was light. Yes, the ending was somewhat predictable. But the constant interior monologue coupled with the years-long passage of time creates a connection between reader & character. The words ‘depression’, ‘insanity’, ‘suicide’, and ‘murder’ never appear in the story, yet we are constantly thinking about all of them. Perhaps best of all, the devil itself is never clarified as either an actual demonic possession nor an insane man’s internal metaphor for his struggles. Better still, it doesn’t matter which it is. They come to the same thing.

The most compelling element of Houarner’s story is his language. It is often eoloquent: “It [the devil] lived in the space between heartbeats, in the eclipse of an eyeblink, in flesh numbed by shrapnel,” and sometimes almost surreal: “She was an angel, different from the one inside him. The thing possessed her all the way through, and it hadn’t fallen. Not yet. She lived in light.”

The real beauty of the story, then, isn’t the events that take place but the build up TO those events. Houarner’s ability to set the stage is so believable and so delicate that when the inevitable occurs, we are still rocked with the shock of it. Not because it genuinely surprises us, but because the character’s pain has by then become our own.

Overall, this is a beautiful story with a horrible outcome… the very example of what good Horror should be. I shall eagerly look forward to more of Houarner’s work.


FINAL THOUGHT

Cemetery Dance has undoubtedly gone through a huge transformation over its 27 years of publication. The stark contrast between these two stories at the opposite ends of its existence is probably going to be a common thread: One is guttural, simple, and indicative of the Gore & Grue which was the mainstay of Horror at the time… the other is subtle, complex, and a shining example of the Psychological Horror which modern fans look for. I expect my future reviews will see a lot more of this, though I have no doubt there will be numerous exceptions to that rule as well.

I look forward to them all.


Agree or disagree with any of this?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

-K. Edwin Fritz

K. Edwin Fritz

K. Edwin Fritz

Official Horror Blogger of the Fiction Vortex

Keith Edwin Fritz entered this world on Halloween. The year, 1974, was the same as when Stephen Edwin King published his first novel. Keith prefers to think neither the date nor their middle names were a coincidence.

Today Keith teaches 7th Grade Language Arts and writes to his heart’s content during his "spare time". The best of these moments are nearly always by moonlight. The worst of them are also by moonlight.

Keith lives with his wife, Corina, in Lawrenceville, NJ.

Become an FV Insider!

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005) An Intro to ‘Cemetery Dance Magazine’

Last week I shared & discussed a cool petition to help make Halloween a national holiday. Sadly, the petition failed to get to required 100,000 signatures to get looked at by the government. In fact, it fell miserably short, garnering only 12,483 names.

Wow.

It looks like I have a lot more work to do to get average people interested in Horror.

To that end, this week I’m super excited to introduce you to what will likely be the mainstay of this blog: reviews of short stories published in my favorite Horror magazine, Cemetery Dance.


WHAT IS CEMETERY DANCE?

Chizmar in his office. What a great job.

Chizmar in his office. What a great job.

Cemetery Dance is a Horror-exclusive print magazine founded in 1988 by Maryland native & University of Maryland Journalism graduate, Richard Chizmar. Chizmar spent pretty much every dollar he’d had (plus some borrowed dough as well) to launch his ‘underground hobby publication’. He was 23 years old at the time.

Chizmar’s design was typical but not bland. Each issue featured original Horror fiction from some names you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. As time went on, there were also reviews, interviews, & articles, all relating to the Horror genre. What Chizmar aimed for was (and I’m cribbing this directly from the ‘Very Brief History of Cemetery Dance’ page of their website): “horror blended with a strong dose of mystery and suspense and wonder. The kind you used to see on television on The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, the kind you could find deep in most bookstore’s Horror sections, but usually far, far away from the Bestseller Lists…

Cemetary Dance, Issue #1. Image was drawn by Chizmar's college roommate.

Cemetery Dance, Issue #1. Image was drawn by Chizmar’s college roommate.

The premier issue came out in December of ‘88 and thanks to heavy promotion in the established Horror mags of the time (and much to Chizmar’s delight), nearly half of the 1,000 printed copies sold right away.

Cemetery Dance #2. Still just black & white, but a better cover image, for sure.

Cemetery Dance #2. Still just black & white, but a better cover image, for sure.

Six months later issue #2 came out & sold slightly better.

Those first couple of issues were… well, to be brutally honest, they were a bit rough around the edges. (You’ll see what I mean when I start reviewing those older stories in the upcoming weeks).

Yet despite the crudity of the magazine itself (and, indeed of most of the stories within it), there was a certain harsh honesty and fundamental appeal to both the stories & the magazine’s design. Meanwhile, Chizmar was never satisfied, and each successive issue was clearly better than the last.  

Cemetery Dance #3. Ooo! A third color now!

Cemetery Dance #3. Ooo! A third color now!

By the time issue #3 was published in December of ‘89, Cemetery Dance had a respectable following. This was particularly interesting since two of the biggest names in Horror- Twilight Zone and The Horror Showhad recently closed shop. Sensing a hole begging to be filled, Chizmar then began publishing at a breakneck pace, printing & selling 4 issues per year & growing quickly to a print run of 10,000 copies/ issue.

Cemetery Dance #14. Coveted for its original publication of Stephen King's "Chattery Teeth".

Cemetery Dance #14. Coveted for its original publication of Stephen King’s “Chattery Teeth”.

Their big moment in those early days was the unexpected submission of an original, never-before-published story called “Chattery Teeth” by a guy named Stephen King. It appeared in the 1992 Issue (that’s issue #14 if you want to try to get your hands on it) and solidified Cemetery Dance as an important name in Horror.

Chizmar & King. Yeah, they're pretty much friends now.

Chizmar & King. Yeah, they’re pretty much friends now.

Around that same time, Chizmar began toying with the idea of launching a book imprint in addition to the magazine. Chizmar began the book publications slowly (and regular readers were understandably frustrated at the suddenly slower pace of production of the flagship magazine), but it grew quickly in popularity. Then, similar to King’s surprise short story, the CD book imprint got its own boost of fame & publicity when a guy by the name of Dean Koontz asked them to print a limited-edition of his short story collection, Strange Highways. Soon CD was equally famous for its special-edition hardcover publications of novels & collections as well as its magazine.

Brian James Freeman, current 'Cemetery Dance Magazine' Editor-in-Chief.

Brian James Freeman, current ‘Cemetery Dance Magazine’ Editor-in-Chief.

Today, Chizmar runs the book imprint while management of the magazine has been handed to Pennsylvania native, Shippensburg University Journalism graduate, & respected Horror author Brian James Freeman.

Both the book imprint & the magazine are still in continuous production. The magazine recently published issue #75 (a double-sized Joe Hill special), and the published book list has passed more than 300 full-length titles.

Today Cemetery Dance is easily one of the biggest names in Horror. They are known for having printed a Who’s-Who of the most respected names in the genre, including: King, Koontz, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Charles Beaumont, Graham Masterton, Richard Laymon, Bentley Little, Michael Slade, Douglas Clegg, Jack Ketchum, William F. Nolan, Joe R. Lansdale, Poppy Z. Brite, Ronald Kelly, & Rick Hautala, just to name a few.

But perhaps more impressive, CD is also known for continuing to ‘discover’ many authors before the big publishers even know about them.

These days, the magazine rarely calls for open submissions, but when they do they get an incredible response. Last year they announced a single slot open for an upcoming issue & got more than 5,000 submissions in less than a week.

Needless to say, getting published in Cemetery Dance is not just a mark of distinction, it’s often the beginning of a whole new career. To a lowly Horror lover & unknown author such as myself, getting picked up by Chizmar’s remarkable creation is one of the top 5 items on my bucket list.

It’ll probably never happen, but a guy can dream, can’t he?


MY (VERY) LAME CLAIM TO FAME

Short version: I own every single issue of Cemetery Dance Magazine.

It took me 7 years, hundreds of dollars, and an incredibly understanding wife to find & purchase them all. It’s one of the few things I’m genuinely proud of owning.

Long version: (You can skip this part. Really. Just scroll down to “MY PLAN” & move on with your day. I’m just going to vomit out a history of how difficult it was to find them all).

You’re still reading? Ok. You must have about as much of a life as I do. Sorry to hear that. I hope I can give you a bit of entertainment by showing how pathetic my own is…

Cemetery Dance #53. How can you not love that image?

Cemetery Dance #53. How can you not love that image?

I can’t recall when or where I first came across Cemetery Dance, but I do remember it was issue #52 & that the image on the cover- a conch shell on the beach weeping with blood- caught my attention immediately. I also can’t recall if it was a single story or interview or article within those pages that floored me so or if it was the overall magazine. I just remember turning the last page & vowing immediately to start a collection. I wanted to own & read every issue that had ever been printed.

I had no idea what I had just done.

While the later issues (anything after, say, #25) were relatively easy to find even though they were long out of print (I found the vast majority on ebay), there were nonetheless several holes.

Cemetery Dance #44. Still one of my favorite covers.

Cemetery Dance #44. Still one of my favorite covers.

Certain issues were extremely hard to find. #44 seemed to be coveted for its unique, compelling cover & #50 seemed to be a milestone issue everyone wanted to keep to themselves.

Cemetery Dance #50. A milestone, special-edition issue.

Cemetery Dance #50. A milestone, special-edition issue.

The early issues, though… dear God, those early issues were IMPOSSIBLE to find.

Get this: Issues 4, 5, 6, & 7 had less than 3,000 copies printed, ever.

And issues 1-3 had only a thousand copies printed.

When & if they did go on sale, they went for crazy prices and were gobbled up within hours. (I once saw issue #2 for sale at $500. I remember feeling the jab of having a lowly teacher’s salary in a whole new way that day because I knew there was no way I could ever afford it).

But I was persistent.

I contacted rare book dealers & got my hands on #12.

I scoured Craigslist in all my surrounding states & one day snared #9.

I contacted Cemetery Dance themselves & asked if they might happen to have any old copies lying around. (They didn’t. In fact, Brian James Freeman personally responded to me saying that even they didn’t have any copies of Issue #1 & if I found an extra could I please let them know).

Eventually, I got down to having just 3 issues missing from my collection: #6, #7, & of course the golden egg, the premiere issue #1.

My fist lucky break came through the set-up of automatic notifications on ebay.

I used to get 2 or 3 emails a week this way, but all of them were for the wrong issue (#16 or #27 or #11). For 7 full years I dealt with this. I got so used to disappointment that it began to feel like a pipe dream.

Cemetery Dance #7. I had nightmares about finding that damned guy crawling out of that grave.

Cemetery Dance #7. I had nightmares about finding that damned guy crawling out of that grave.

Then, one astounding month in the winter of 2015 I found & nabbed 2 of them in a single, 2-week expanse. I got #7 in a bundle of 2 issues for the low, low (no, REALLY low) price of only $10 (I resold the other issue since I already owned it… so my total cost spent: just $5. Damn!)

Cemetery Dance #6. As a guy with a genuine Hallowbirthween Day, this one gets me right in the guts.

Cemetery Dance #6. As a guy with a genuine Hallowbirthween Day, this one gets me right in the guts.

Then, just 12 days later, #6 popped up all by itself. There was a small bidding war for that one, but in the end I got it for $48. (I don’t think the other guy knew who he was up against. My original bid had been $75 & I watched the final 3 minutes like a hawk with my finger on the Increase Bid button).

Finally, I was left with just issue #1, and that one really did cost me. When it FINALLY showed up on ebay, it was sitting there with an opening bid of $25 on a 10-day listing. But they also had a Buy-It-Now price of $100. I didn’t even hesitate. And despite having to sleep on the couch for a couple nights (kidding… my wife did growl at me, but she was actually pretty cool about it), I know I got it for a steal. Not more than 2 months later I saw another copy for sale at an estate auction of all places. It went for $200 and was easily in poorer condition than mine.


MY PLAN

So, am I a bit obsessed? Yes.

Does my wife shake her head in begrudging confusion when I show off my collection to my friends? A bit.

But who gets to benefit all that hard work & insanity? You do.

In addition to chatting about Horror in general, “The Bone Pile” will attempt to (eventually) read & review every damned story Cemetery Dance Magazine has ever printed. And I’m one of the few people in the world who can do it, because I own every damned copy.

But be patient with me. As of this date, there are already more than 550 stories.

Yeah. This is going to take me a while.

Because the older stories are… um, subpar… and because the new stuff is current, my plan is to review 2 stories each time I post: 1 story from an old issue & 1 story from a recent issue. To be honest, I have serious doubts as to how I’ll be able to do that in only a thousand words, but what the hell… I know I’ll have a ton of fun trying.


FINAL THOUGHT

Lots of people have collections. Many of them border on (or widely surpass) an obsession. I have no disillusions that my Cemetery Dance collection is one of these.

But the thing is, most people rarely get to show off their collection. It’s usually reserved for a once-a-year visit from an old friend. Worse still are the family members who couldn’t give two hoots about your odd tastes & smile politely when you spread your arms wide at what you’ve spent years to collect and display.

But me? I get to write to you fine people any time I like. And if you’re reading a blog with the subtitle of “Horror Reviews and Introspectives”, I’m willing to bet you’re going to love it.

And even if nobody ever clicks a single LIKE button or leaves a single comment, I get to re-live each story one-by-one as I review them.

Best of all, there are still dozens upon dozens of CD stories I still haven’t gotten around to reading. Most, in fact, are still sitting on my shelf just waiting to be cracked open and discovered. I sure as heck can’t wait for that moment.

I hope you’ll be here to join me when it happens.


Like what I’ve had to say?

(Or think I’m totally nuts?)

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

-K. Edwin Fritz

K. Edwin Fritz

K. Edwin Fritz

Official Horror Blogger of the Fiction Vortex

Keith Edwin Fritz entered this world on Halloween. The year, 1974, was the same as when Stephen Edwin King published his first novel. Keith prefers to think neither the date nor their middle names were a coincidence.

Today Keith teaches 7th Grade Language Arts and writes to his heart’s content during his "spare time". The best of these moments are nearly always by moonlight. The worst of them are also by moonlight.

Keith lives with his wife, Corina, in Lawrenceville, NJ.

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004) Make Halloween A National Holiday

Last week I wrote my first review on Stephen King’s The Long Walk.

I had intended on making this week’s post my first review on my favorite Horror magazine: Cemetery Dance, but that’ll have to wait til next week… you see, something with a pressing due date came up.


WHERE I FOUND THIS AWESOME IDEA

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn my Facebook feed is flooded with Horror-related interweb nuggets. As a Horror reader & author, I have to admit that the speed & accuracy of the stuff that pops up there as they relate to my real-life interests is genuinely creepy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written an email or private message & casually mention a particular company or product then, WHAM!, 6 hours later there it is being advertised on my newsfeed.

But I deal with that stuff like most of you do. I shake my head, try to ignore the constant feeling of being watched, double-check to make sure the black electrician’s tape is still securely covering my computer’s camera lens, and move on with my day.

 

But not all tracking programs are evil. Thanks to all the Horror-related stuff I read & post, I also get notified about stuff I’m actually interested in.

 

Last week I was graced with a link to an online whitehouse.gov petition which made me immediately click & sign.

I’m writing this week’s post in the hopes that you’ll join me.


happy halloween

Merge this…

THE PETITION

This is the petition.  The goal is to make Halloween a National Holiday.

 

You: Wait… it’s ISN’T already?

Me: Nope. Shocking, right? So you should click & sign. (At worst you’ll be getting a bunch

USA flags

…with this!

of Halloween-related ads on your Facebook page for the next 3 months. Not great, but better than back-t0-school ads, believe you me).

There are several reasons why you should do this…


REASON #1: I’m Selfish

Halloween Birthday

The preferred term is “Hallowbirthween Day”

Halloween happens to be my birthday.

(No, really)

(And, yes, my mother does still call me her ‘little pumpkin’) 

Anyway, as such, I firmly believe my birthday should be a National Holiday. Just think: I could get the day off work every time I have successfully revolved around the sun one additional time, people!!!

Let’s make this happen!


REASON #2: Money

Ok, for serious, did you realize that Halloween is the 2nd biggest commercial holiday of the year? It is!

All that candy.

All those lawn decorations.

All those slutty cat costumes.

Yep, Halloween is big money. And if there’s one thing that big money likes is when people have the time to go spend said money.

I’m not saying making Halloween a National Holiday would revitalize the economy, but it couldn’t hurt.


REASON #3: Time

Ok, ok, probably the best real reason is the time that this holiday has been taking away from the rest of life. Mostly this comes in the form of trick-or-treating and/or attending costume parties. Both take time & both have been pushed to the nearest weekend for a good decade now.

In my mind, this is sacrilege.

Halloween, after all, comes on October 31st, not The-Saturday-Closest-To-But-Not-Going-Over October 31st. I don’t know about you, but when communities “vote” to make their official trick-or-treating nights to any day other than Halloween, I revolt. I go begging for candy on the 31st anyway, ringing doorbells & feigning ignorance at each door that open, all to make the damned point that your inconvenienced life this 1 day a year is not sufficient enough reason to change how the calendar works.


REASON #4: CAMARADERIE

the_best_front_yard_decorations_for_halloween_06

I hope this won the neighborhood contest.

Ok, ok… the real best reason for making Halloween a National Holiday is the only one that really matters: Camaraderie..Think of your days gone by when you & your mom or dad dressed up like cowboys or giant M&Ms & trolled the neighborhood with you.

inventive costume 2

What, no Maggie? (Still, great family bonding going on here)

Think of the joy of counting & dividing & trading your loot later that night.

Think of that one amazing party

inventive costume 1

Truly creative idea… but I wonder what his view is like all day long.

that college friend threw whose decorations were so over the top you wondered how many credit cards they maxed out for your single night of entertainment.

inventive costume 3

“Heeeeeere’s Johnny!”

Think of the photos you have stuffed in a box or stored on an old computer that proudly display that one guy with that one amazing homemade costume or that one unique party game that brought so many strangers together for one glorious night.

inventive costume 4

All those brush strokes! Wow!

Yeah. Halloween can do that.

And unlike Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, & Memorial Day, Halloween allows you the option of hanging out with family OR friends. What a bonus.


FINAL THOUGHT

John Pinette

One of the greats. Seriously, if you haven’t listened to John Pinette, go buy his “Show Me the Buffet” special. It’s downright quote-worthy.

Halloween is a great holiday, for Horror lovers and non-Horror people alike.

I mean, in the words of the great (and sadly, late) John Pinette: “You knock on the door & they give you candy! It doesn’t work any other day of the year! Believe me, I’ve tried!”

That concept alone warrants you should click this button & sign that petition.

Agree or disagree with any of this? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

-K. Edwin Fritz

K. Edwin Fritz

K. Edwin Fritz

Official Horror Blogger of the Fiction Vortex

Keith Edwin Fritz entered this world on Halloween. The year, 1974, was the same as when Stephen Edwin King published his first novel. Keith prefers to think neither the date nor their middle names were a coincidence.
Today Keith teaches 7th Grade Language Arts and writes to his heart’s content during his "spare time". The best of these moments are nearly always by moonlight. The worst of them are also by moonlight.
Keith lives with his wife, Corina, in Lawrenceville, NJ.

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002) What Horror Is

001) What Horror Isn’t

Welcome to the FV Blog

Review: Great Sky River