A Look Back At Some Of Our Favorite Goosebumps

If you were anything like me as a kid (which I can assume you are, seeing as how you’re reading a horror fiction blog), you loved and lived for Goosebumps. R.L. Stine was (and still is!) an absolute master of his genre and invited children of all ages into the wild world of horror. So for this article, I wanted to take my wonderful readers on a trip down memory lane with twelve of our favorite classic Goosebumps tales that we might want to go dig out of our parents basements!

DedWelcome To Dead House

The introduction to the Goosebumps series starts with Amanda and Josh as they move into Dark Falls, into a home that one wouldn’t describe as “cheery”. When Amanda starts seeing children and strange occurrences around the house, she quickly finds out that they aren’t quite…alive. The undead must take the blood of a freshly dead individual for survival and Amanda, as you could have guessed, is their next target.

Monster Blood

imagesSpanning over four books (Monster Blood, Monster Blood II, Monster Blood III, Monster Blood IV), this series was one of the first huge hits of the Original Goosebumps. We meet Evan (who appears in all four books) as he moves to his Aunt Katheryn’s house. Aunt Katheryn is an old deaf woman who never learned to communicate. Along with a new friend Andrea (“Andy”), they discover “Monster Blood: A Surprising Miracle Substance” in a novelty shop in town.The book moves on as the two discover what exactly Monster Blood does and the GIANT (see what I did there?) mess it can create!

Stay_out_of_the_basementStay Out of the Basement

Dr. Brewer is acting funny and it is up to his kids, Margaret and Casey to find out why. They notice that the ex-botanist is spending an awful lot of time in the family’s basement, but are quickly stopped when the go to explore. What they find in the basement is nothing that expected as they realize that the botany that their father studied in the past might not have really come to an end.

Night of the Living DummyN11665

Slappy is one of the most iconic figures in all of Goosebumps history. He has been the antagonist of three books in the original series, and even more beyond that. If people remember anything from Goosebumps (beyond that spooky green lettering on the covers), it’s Slappy’s face, which has haunted many of our childhood dreams and left us all with a severe fear of dolls and puppets. When twin sister Lindy and Kris, local twins and natural competitors, find Slappy they are quickly appalled by the puppet coming to life, verbal attacking them, and urgently seeking out to create more havoc in their lives.

The_Haunted_MaskThe Haunted Mask

Carly Beth, upset with her silly duck costume for Halloween, goes to the costume shop to find something a little more…frightening. The shop owner refuses to sell the poor, tormented, shy girl the mask she wants, but she takes off with it anyway, throwing her money to the shopkeeper as she escapes through the front door. The mask turns her voice to a low grumble. It is shocking at first, but she likes the horrifying mask and the effects it has on people. That is, until the mask doesn’t come off. This book is another iconic series of the original novellas in the Goosebumps collection and was a big favorite in the television series that many of us still might have on VHS…somewhere.

The Werewolf of Fever SwampWerewolf_of_Fever_Swamp

Like a lot of the Goosebumps books, Grady and Emily move to a new house. In this case, they are with their scientist parents who want to test a theory about “Swamp Deer” from South America, which they keep penned up in their backyard. They meet Will Blake, the only other kid in town beside the “weird girl” down the street. He tells them how the area became “Fever Swamp” after a breakout disease killed off much of the townsfolk – and those who survived went insane. The book progresses as animals start dying, the swamp hermit comes about, and blame begins to spread around the town that has quite the share of secrets for Grady and Emily to discover.

One_Day_at_HorrorlandOne Day at HorrorLand

Lost while looking for Zoo Gardens Amusement Park, Lizzie, Luke, and Clay (all being driven by Lizzie and Luke’s parents, obviously) come across the sign for HorrorLand, Where Nightmares Come To Life. The park is only a mile away, and with hope of Zoo Gardens dwindling, they decide to give it a go. They soon discover that the rides are not exactly safe, are a bit more scary than they intended, and are manned by a group of questionable employees known as “Horrors”. These employees scoop up the kids and forcibly set them up on a gameshow in the park…which might be the last thing they ever do!

Attack of the MutantAttack_of_the_mutant

Skipper is a heavyset comic book nerd who only reads one comic: “The Masked Mutant”. This character is an arch-super-villain that Skipper simply obsesses over. His obsession turns to reality however when he finds himself inside one of his famed storylines, now fighting to save “The Galloping Gazelle” against all odds. He and Libby, a young red-haired girl with a rather large secret, set out to face the Mutant and finish the comic story once and for all – of course, with a twist!

NttA Night in Terror Tower

Sue and her brother Eddie set out on their vacation in London. They are taking a tour of the infamous “Terror Tower” when they are separated from the group and almost kidnapped by a man in black who has been following them throughout the tour. Through a fast-paced series of events, the two are transported back in time to when the tower was under the watch of the Lord High Executioner. Sue and Eddie come to find that, in this era, they are Prince Eddie and Princess Sue…and are doomed to face the executions that took place in the Tower centuries ago.

The Beast From The EastThe_Beast_From_the_East

Ginger and her twin brothers, Pat and Nat, get lost in the woods. While trying to find their way back, they see that the trees start to appear a bit different and rub off on them in different colors. They come to meet a community of Beasts who immediately let them know they the children are now part of the game they play call “Beast of the East”. Though the beasts won’t explain the rules of the game to the three, they did not hesitate to tell them that if they don’t tag another player by sunset, then they lose the game. And here, losing means getting eaten.


Frighten Up Your Day With These 7 Horror Podcasts

There is no denying that horror is on the rise! We can’t seem to get enough of it and people are constantly finding new ways for us to enjoy our creepy stories. One of my personal favorites, especially working in an office-style job (Horror blogs aren’t always a full-time gig! Ya dig?), is horror podcasts. These audio files – some weekly, some bi-weekly, and some monthly – keep me entertained while I do my day-to-day work and, as someone who really enjoys a little scare, I find it makes the day easier to listen to these wonderful podcasts!

1) NoSleep Podcast

The first podcast on our list might be the current champion of horror fiction podcasts (at least in this writer’s opinion). Starting withNoSleep stories on Reddit.com’s /r/nosleep, a forum for folks to share first-person horror tales, David Cummings and his crew of bump-in-the-night makers share stories in a POV that makes you believe that maybe, just maybe, these things might have happened. Everything is true on NoSleep, right? Beware!

2) Lore

Aaron Menke solos this amazing podcast to not only horrify, but to educate. If you’re the type who wants to learn a little Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 11.14.23 AMbit while you get creeped out, this is the perfect podcast for you. Each episode, Aaron breaks down a theme in the horror genre and tells the listener about its background and some seriously freaky details about the mythology – or “lore” – around the theme.He also just announced that the podcast will soon be coming to the small screen, so if podcasts aren’t your thing, you can get your Lore fix via television! Everybody wins!

3) Night Fears

NightFearsJethro Arola sets up the chills in his podcast, Night Fears. This podcast may not have the listening audience that NoSleep or Lore has, but he certainly has the stories that are bound to keep you up at night (even a few by yours truly!). The podcast is well put together and Jethro is easy to listen to, even if he is describing some truly terror-based plots. Definitely one to check out!

4) Smalltown Horror

smalltown horrorA newcomer to the scene, Smalltown Horror’s bi-weekly podcast is breaking out like they were trapped in Crazytown…which is ironic because, well, that is essentially what the story is. Without giving away too much, you can follow Ryan Jennings as he searching for answers around “Crayton” which has a sign as you enter that has been aptly modified by a large “Z” between the “A” and the “Y”. If you haven’t heard them yet, you still have time to catch up! Hurry to it while it is still only a few episodes deep!

5) We’re Alive

Do you like Walking Dead? Do you like mutilated creatures that haunt every corner of whaScreen Shot 2016-05-20 at 11.14.48 AMt you know is left of the country? Do you like getting so close to characters only to find yourself a tearful mess as they succumb to the world around them? Of course you do! And that is what We’re Alive can promise. This HUGE story podcast has been drawing in listeners for quite some time, and have still yet to lose their standing as one of the best horror fiction podcasts out there.

6) Victoria’s Lift

This podcast may not be as well known as some others on the list, but the build of it all Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 11.16.01 AMand regular contribution from writers make it always fresh, always exciting, and always scary. Victoria guides characters up and down levels in this building…this strange, mysterious building…where every floor tells a tale of it’s own that will leave you gripping the arms of your chair. The setup is amazing and they always seem to deliver a good fright. Definitely a podcast to add to your feed!

7) Welcome To Night Valenightvale

If you want a little humor with your horror, Welcome to Night Vale is a great place to start. Told through a series of newscasts, weather updates, and tons of other interesting mediums, find out what the hell is actually going on in the desert city of Night Vale, all with a good taste of creepy twists!

Making That Horrifying Bad Guy

Most stories have a good guy and a bad guy. This much, we know. Not to say that there aren’t plenty of other options (the English degree in me is screaming “Man vs. Man, Man vs. Society, Man vs. Environment”!), but I would say that this is a pretty easy beginning for a lot of folks and, for the most part, the option on writing that we have written at least once.

Admit it.

When writers create works of horror, they aim to do one thing, no matter the bad guy – scare you. In movies this might not be as difficult or complex. Our reaction to what we see is almost immediate, where as in writing we don’t get that satisfaction. You really have to create something terrifying to you, then be able to convince the reader that what is stalking your protagonist through the woods on a dark night is scary as well. Which is a lot easier sad then done. Which is what leads me to these few pointers on making an effective villain in horror writing.horror-icons

I will admit that, in my opinion, terror works better over horror. Horror is the reaction to something unfortunate or disturbing, while terror is that looming, disturbing feeling you get before the massacre happens. Me personally, I love to lay in bed at night, try to fall asleep, but not be able to because what I read is still haunting me and I am waiting for something bad to happen. It is the difference between a quick jump or, as I said before, reaction and the dread that I feel over a long period of time.

Making a villain that brings about terror takes practice however.

When making your villain, you want to target certain fears in people. So what are people afraid of? How can you hit that target? Depends on what your writing. We know that people are regularly afraid of what is different or outside of our normal. It makes people uncomfortable. We can start there.

Make your bad guy do something – even if they are a regular human – that is just a little different from the rest of society. It taunts the protagonist and the reader. Strange little details like this will make the reader ask questions, which only develops more thought into the character.

Why does he keep his fist clenched? Why is he always looking over his shoulder? Why is he counting his steps as he takes them?

Something is off about him and the reader will need to know what it is. The more they ask, the farther into the book they will read. Hopefully your story will be a s good as your hook!

Appearance makes a world of difference, obviously. You can creature a giant foaming-at-the-mouth monster with four brilliant claws on each hand, smeared in blood and….so on and so on…(not knocking monsters, but they aren’t this writers cup of tea), but for the terror aspect, you might want to not give it all away immediately, but still give enough that the reader can identify the thing. Again, the key is to give them questions, even when giving answers. Keep the pace.

There are certainly tropes that come along with horror/terror appearances – blood, bandages, old and torn clothing, poor hygiene, etc. – but I love to see people use this outlet to show off their true creativity.

One of my favorite characters I ever wrote (coming soon in my new novel, which is almost done) is Johnny Thunder. Johnny is a man who hosts a television show…or something of the sort. He is no more or less human than you and I but dresses in his campy green suit, appears pale and frail (in the story he is compared to a character just before they succumbed to cancer), and has a smile that is too large for his face.

imgresJust with that description, you want to know more about this guy. What kind of show does he host? Is he sick? What happened to him? What makes him evil?

(That last question is quickly answered in the story, I promise)

Reasons for what they do also play a big role in making your baddy something really horrifying. If you give a character an unreasonable or strange reason to do what they do, it boggles the mind of your reader and can make them more afraid – or even angry – with your villain. And that’s a good thing. If they can’t relate to him/her/it, they will see it as absurd and different, wanting your much more relatable protagonist to come out on top.

Give the villain control over…everything. What makes your monster/creature/bad man/etc scary is the fact that the fate of your protagonist is in its hands. That will make your readers stomach turn, which is what you want. Make it kill some well-developed good guys. Make it twist the plot. Make it the one calling the shots, eliminating the candle of hope for your good guy. It’ll make folks sweat.

Also, it is good to remember that you don’t want to overdue it. Don’t make them annoying. Have others read your story and see if they get frightened or just bothered by your villain. If it is the latter, do some rewriting. Get details of what they didn’t like so you can make those changes. Never be afraid to make changes!

Oh, and just so it’s said, don’t let these words restrict your writing. Be creative, have fun, and if you want to create a slashing, crazy, no-creep, all-gore super monster GO FOR IT! Just keep writing!

(above image from thehollywoodoutsider.com)


Two-Sentence Horror Stories

If you’re anything like me, you love some flash fiction when it comes to your horror. There is nothing quite like a scare on the go! But one of the things that has gained popularity over the last few years, especially on sites like Reddit.com, is the two-sentence horror story.decorative-letterart-scary-2

It is exactly what you imagine. the author has to find a way to frighten the reader with only two sentences – most of the time consisting of a set up sentence and a twist. I have searched the internet and found a few of my favorites for all of you to enjoy!

So if you have a minute – like, literally just a minute – go ahead and give ’em a read!

A few hours after I was buried alive, I was thrilled when I heard someone digging me out. My joy quickly faded when I realized the sound was coming from under me.” – tsl3161991

You hear your mom calling you into the kitchen. As you are heading down the stairs, you hear a whisper from the closet saying “Don’t go down there honey, I heard it too“. – comparativelysane

A woman keeps pounding on my door at night. I’m not letting you out.” – Pizzaface4372

He came back inside covered in bite marks. A rather unusual thing to happen to an astronaut.” – OnceInAYellowMoon

1f9d7d23a2fbe733bb9308102ca30dbeMy sister says that mommy killed her. Mommy says that I don’t have a sister.” – i-am-the-assbutt

I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy there’s somebody on my bed.”” – justAnotherMuffledVo

I can’t move, breathe, speak or hear and it’s so dark all the time. If I knew it would be this lonely, I would have been cremated instead.” – Graboid27

I can’t sleep” she whispered, crawling into bed with me. I woke up cold, clutching the dress she was buried in.” – [deleted user – Reddit]

There was a picture in my phone of me sleeping. I live alone.” – guztaluz


The Top 5 Horror Novel Classics

We see a lot of horror online and in fiction. Short stories, novellas, and PDF files float around the internet without issue and reach tens of thousands of people at a time (even more if you have a name for yourself or happen to land a reading in a podcast, etc.). There is an endless stream of murky, dreadful horror stories flowing through the world wide web every single day. But a few creepy stories stand out above the others. A few have survived the test of time.

Which is why I bring you my top 5 Horror Novel Classics!

5) The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This classic ghost tale, written in 1898 has been one of the (as weird as it sounds) classic contemporary stories. This novel set a brilliant pace for the horror writing we see today. It allowed for twists and turns, with a protagonist that you could identify with in her confusion around her new employment at “Bly”, a large estate of which she is to care for the children of the owners within.171361

We read the retelling of the story in the novel (nobody does meta quote like horror!) as it is made clear that something is off about the young man our protagonist is meant to look after. In case you didn’t know already and happen to be brand spankin’ new to horror, here is a list of reasons why this is never a good sign in scary novels. Through a few series of events we find that some of the old employers of the house might not have exactly left after death. It is difficult to say more without spoiling too much if the book (if you haven’t read it yet), but by the end of classic, you are left who who is at fault, which is something I still struggle with to this day!

4) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

This story was on that I really had a hard time figuring out where to put on the list. I knew immediately that would end up in this top 5, but was unsure as to how high it should sit. On one hand, it is one of the most popular children’s tales in horror. There have been so many re-workings of the play between books, movies, television, theatre – even radio shows – that nearly every person who has ever had any interest in the horror scene knows the words “Sleepy Hollow”.

legend-sleepy-hollow-other-stories-washington-irving-book-cover-artOn the other hand, I felt as though the story was a bit saturated and was more cautious, seeing as how far separated the tale was from the original writing. With the other novels on this list, the stories are set in stone, this 1820 piece isn’t even an actual novel, but rather a short story written by Washington Irving after the American Revolution – one of 34 stories in his collection.Now, this is not to say “it is not long enough to be of merit”. If I said that, I would be so pompously wrong (again, the reach this story has had in 200 years is insane!). But it did make me question if it should sit higher on the list that our top three, which I think really take the classic horror lit cake, if such a delicious cake existed.

Long story, without any fear of spoilers, Ichabod Crane, disheartened from his failure to earn the hand of the lovely Katrina, heads home after a harvest party, only to find himself running face-to-face…well, rather face-to-shoulders with the phantom of a Major in the Revolutionary War.

If you don’t know the rest, I obviously will recommend you give it a read.

3) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

This next work is another seen across all mediums. In fact, let’s go ahead and say that the rest of this list falls into that category, just to save me from having to type out the obvious. If they’re in the top three, you have heard about them somehow in someway. That’s a promise.41303H5AA0L

Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the masters of classic. With other novels and stories such as Treasure Island, The Body Snatcher, and The Bottle Imp, there is no denying that R.L.S. is a man of the ages when it comes to not only horror, but to fiction in general. This work, arguably his most popular and well-known piece, tells of the fights between good and evil inside of a man. The duality of man has always been a questionable topic, but Stevenson took that idea and moved it forward in this work.

The name “Hyde” has become synonymous with the evil within a man and has left a lasting impression on the way we understand the human mind (at least in the literary world, that is). The ongoing, everlasting battle between good vs. evil in the brain of genius/madmen owes itself heavily to the text in this amazing selection.

2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Also known as Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, this tale was written by a rather young Mary Shelley, having started at the age of 18.

91i6nusistl-_sl1500_Now, before we dig into this, throw away the idea of the giant green man with the flat-top head, please. Yes, we know that is the popular image of Frankenstein. Yes, we know that that is how most people see it. Yes, we know you dressed like that for Halloween 2 years ago. Please, we get it.

But even though that character may be on the windows of folks every October, this character – or more so this story – is the one that inspired it. Shelley’s classic tale of a young science student who goes off on an experiment to resurrect a stitched man made of numerous cadavers. The story is told by Frankenstein to Captain Walton in the North Pole, which is told by Walton to Margaret Saville (that’s double meta!). When the creature becomes alive as a hideous, disfigured beast, Frankenstein (who is the doctor/student, NOT the monster) dismisses the creature, who after a series of more events, flees to the North Pole, where we find Victor (Frankenstein) and Walton, where this story began. I’ll leave out details and the end for spoiler sake, as is tradition.

This beautifully crafted tale has done much for the horror scene and has created a famous monster, a ton of stereotypes (both good and bad) for horror, and even it’s own genre within the realm of horror itself. It is one of the greatest works of all time, but only second, possibly, to our number one pick…

1) Dracula by Bram Stoker

There has not been a most prominent figure in the world of horror – and possibly in all of literature – than Dracula. The vampiric, terrifying killer is known worldwide, even allowing the writer to have one of Horror’s greatest writing achievements to be named after him for all of his contributions to the genre!bram-stoker-dracula-1

Telling the story of Dracula and his attempt to move to England from Transylvania in order to find more victims, and the rise and hopeful stopping of such an attack by Professor Van Helsing (amongst others). What makes it even more horrifying is that the character of Dracula was loosely based (or believed to be so) on an actual man who would torture and kill many people under his rule in what is now Romania, Vlad the Impaler – or better known as Vlad Dracul

I cannot even begin to say how widespread Dracula and the modern day vampire has reached (insert Twilight joke here, please), but this is one of the few stories that, even if you aren’t familiar with the classic story itself, you know enough of the details and characters to piece it together. We know who Dracula is, we know what he did, and because of this, Bram Stoker gets his name at the very top of this at #1.

Breaking The Stereotype: An Interview With Author, Brianna Abello

As most people who are familiar with my writing and website know, I started my journey with horror fiction on the NoSleep forum over at Reddit.com. While I was there, I ended up striking up some conversation with a wonderful individual called “/u/Mixiacoo”, and over time our EDsconversations about the world of horror, writing, publishing, etc. became fairly regular. Little did I know that /u/Mixiacoo happened to be the amazingly talented Brianna Abello!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Brianna, she is the founder of EerieDolls.com, a reviewer of all things creepy, and a powerful contributor towards the movement of women in the horror genre (even so much that she was previously mentioned in my article about misconceptions in horror!).
And now, here she is!
  • 1) So tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello! I’m Brianna. I write short scary stories online and share them on my horror story blog Eerie Dolls. I am currently working on season two of Tales From the Basement which is my collection of free stories on on the site.
  • 2) What was it like building Eerie Dolls? How did that come about?
I created the site last fall, up until that point I was writing and sharing my stories in different places. Eerie Dolls was suppose to be a simple online writing portfolio, where I could showcase all my work in one place. I didn’t originally plan for it to become a blog Tales from the basementhowever I began adding new features and behind the scenes posts each time. Eerie Dolls hosts season one and two of Tales From the Basement along with other horror related items.
The stories in Tales From the Basement have different themes and narrations, they are often published weekly or biweekly. I also include a section on the website called The Basement which is where I add story add-ons such as maps, pictures, notes and more.
I wanted to have a space online that I could dedicate to both my love of horror and my writing.
  • What inspired you to start writing? Why horror?
I have always been a horror fan, it is a genre that I have enjoyed watching and reading since I was young. It wasn’t until I entered middle school that I began to notice my interest in horror seemed a bit strange to others. A few friends and family members quickly began expressing their dislike of anything horror related as soon as I would bring the topic up.
I began writing scary stories around the same time I started watching horror movies. Since I was not allowed to watch many horror movies or any scary TV series I decided to find the next big thing to satisfy my love of horror. I asked my mother to buy me a couple of journals which I quickly filled up with stories. I would sit and write down any possible scary scenario that I could possibly imagine on those pages. I felt the need to write these stories and thoughts down and I did so in secret for many years. To this day I still have a very active imagination, I’ve always had terrifying nightmares which have been both a blessing and a curse. Some of my scariest pieces have been inspired by the nightmares I’ve had.
  • So there’s been quite a few women in horror recently, but not too many. What’s it like being a woman horror writer? Have there been any challenges?
Yea, this year I have had the privileged to connect with a few other women horror fans through Facebook groups. It is very exciting especially because growing up I did not know any women who loved horror as much as I did. I did not know of any women horror writers until a couple of years ago. Growing up when I did mention to someone that I liked scary stories I would always get an awkward stare and the usual sly comment about how I should be into romance and stuff, not horror.
I think it has changed a bit over the years, there are many women involved in the horror genre who are making it big. These past couple of years have been an exciting time, I have been able to read some amazing material from different women horror writers. I would say the biggest challenge right now is to break through the stereotypes and fear.
  • What’s your favorite novel? Story? Movie?
Growing up my favorite book was East by Edith Pattou, I still keep a copy at home and read it whenever I want to zone out. I am also a huge Harry Potter Fan. I love books that can transport you to a different world, that goes for horror too. My all time favorite movie is Gremlins, I had the privilege of meeting Zach Galligan this year at Walker Stalker Con which was a dream come true. The Descent is also one of my favorite movies to watch, it is a great movie it has everything I look for in a horror flick.
  • So you’re a guest at WishCon this year! What do you have planned for all the lucky folk attending?
Ce6mw17UIAAQCEAI’m very excited to attend WishCon this year, like I said earlier I didn’t know many women who loved horror so this is going to be a great event. Right now I am working on a few things at once, I’m hoping they will be ready by the that time. I am looking forward to attending it really is going to be a great event!
  • What’s next for Brianna Abello?
I have a couple of projects under my belt right now, I’m editing a few pieces I’d like to submit to writing contests. I am also editing season one of Tales From the Basement, I’d love to have a revised copy to give to readers if they prefer a different format. Season two of TFTB is up on Eerie Dolls right now, I will hopefully be releasing a new story collection called Tales From the Attic which will host longer stories with one similar theme for a small price.
I’d love to continue writing on Eerie Dolls, add more pieces and story add-ons to The Basement. I am working on a few other manuscripts and am hoping to narrate some more of my stories on YouTube (if I find the time)!
  • Where can we find you and more of your work?
Readers can connect with me through email: briaabello@gmail.com, Twitter: @briaabello,  or on the ED Facebook www.facebook.com/eeriedolls
Thank you for your time! I enjoyed answering these questions!

Shakespeare’s Horror, 400 Years Later

With this year being the 400th anniversary of the death of one of my favorite authors of all time, William Shakespeare, I figured it would only be appropriate to have an article based one my favorite plays by the Bard – Titus Andronicus, one of (if not his only) true horror plays.imgres-1

Written around 1590, Titus Andronicus was Shakespeare’s attempt to create a revenge play, which was a theme that seemed to be doing well with other playwrights at the time, showing that even the likes of the creative man that was Shakespeare had to bend to the will, at points, to the need of his audience. It shows a side of Shakespeare that we don’t often think about amidst our beliefs that he, the master of all things theatrical, created nothing but smash hit after smash hit of tragic and comedic gold.

The play was very popular during the late 16th Century, when it was produced, but left the favor of the crowds as we saw the 17th come in and the class of people begin to shift. The Victorian era ushered in an audience that had no taste for things such as graphic violence, revenge using said violence, and found the subjects of rape and cannibalism, which are seen very bluntly and without shame, in the show’s productions, much more uncomfortable, leaving the seats emptier as the century progressed.

But now, here in the 21st century, we see a resurgence of the play, finally having it become reintroduced to audiences across the world. Here in the United States, it has become a play imagesthat is regularly performed in new and creative ways or even as pieces that could be considered avant garde. Many experimental theatre group use the play as a base for their productions, performance artists are inspired by it, and people find it more appealing and accepted across the board.

But why? Why now?

Could be that we as a culture has been desensitized to things such as violence and even rape (at least in our media)? Especially in horror, are these themes so commonplace that even what was considered grotesque back then might be something uninteresting in our era? It’s possible. There is no doubt that we have exposure to things unsightly and obscure. With the internet at full bloom and content access at all-time high, we just don’t find ourselves shocked by anything anymore.

But I like to think that a lack of sensitivity has nothing to do with this play coming to fruition once again. I like to believe that we aren’t cruel people who simply aren’t fazed anymore by anything but the worst of horrors.

No, I like believe that people are able to understand the human psyche more; to know what makes us tick and what drives our emotions. I like to believe that maybe Shakespeareimgres was ahead of his time and was able to point out humanly flaws and raw emotion that maybe people of the 17th century weren’t able to face without a grimace. It sounds cliche, but maybe it was all just a bit too “real”. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but maybe that “desensitization” have given us thick enough skin to be able to look at something as horrifying, but masterfully done, as Titus Andronicus and work with it – mold it even – to become something new and beautiful.

Ironically, we have made it fit into the class that shunned it only a few hundred years back.