Posts Tagged ‘DeanSexton’

I’ve been busy drafting the final act of my novel, (we’re well over 60,000 words now!) but I thought I’d take a break from squeezing the creative juices out of my brain to offer you a taste of what’s in store. Tragedy is a common theme shared by all the characters in the book, but the one that breaks my heart the most while writing has to be the love affair between the wolf and the bat, two quarters of the quadrangle who make up the betrayed. They are my take on the Shakespearean trope of the star-crossed lovers, and I hope you’ll enjoy a smattering of their sorrow.

Stay scary my darklings.


Nearly fifty years had passed since the dread lord freed them from Alcide’s shackles and replaced the old with new, and no matter how far they fled the pale gaze of the moon followed them. As the blood wolf’s curse spread the hunters came, some with ambitious dreams of slaying the fell beasts that plagued the land for fortune and fame, and others with vengeance poisoning their hearts. No matter their cause they all came armed with silver, and their numbers swelled as the country fell to darkness.

There were a precious few who held compassion for the dread lord’s damned children, a hierarchy of holy men and women known as the Order of the Dragon. Some within their sect were monsters like themselves, refuges in search of sanctuary and a desire to end his tyranny, none more so than the son he’d cast aside.

Sebastian and the order aided them as the hunters presence cinched around their throats like a noose, and procured safe passage to a coastal town east of Norwich. Yarmouth was still in its infancy when Thomas and Morrigan built their home there next to its crashing shores, a small timber cabin blessed by the salt of the sea. 

Yarmouth was a haven for their kind, but despite its quaint allure Thomas suspected it was just another pen, a secluded seaside prison away from the lives they may endanger. At least there was freedom in this newfound captivity, but the world would always see him as an animal best kept behind bars, and that knowledge aggrieved his heart. 

Morrigan helped him lug the galley to shore. The full moon was fast approaching, its ginger stare already creeping across the blackening surface of the ocean. There was a bite to the air, and the cold surf caressed their shins as they hauled the boat into the water and the undertow nipped at their ankles.

The sea was angry, and Thomas sensed the coming of a storm.

“How many nights have we done this,” he held out his hand and Morrigan took it as she climbed inside the tottering galley, “How many more must we endure?”

He followed her into the boat and it rocked as it took on his weight. When it settled he grabbed an oar and pushed its tip into the silt below until the galley set adrift.

The coastline faded as the waves carried them out to sea.

Thomas stared at their cabin atop the hillside, and followed the smoke billowing from its chimney up to the dark clouds congregating in the sky. He had a penchant for getting lost up there, the only place in the world where he was free from the chains that bound him. Up there he was still a little boy gazing through the stars in search of his father, wondering if he was out there somewhere looking for him as well.

“A great many less than before,” Morrigan said and removed him from his thoughts. She polished the gem beneath his neck with her thumb, and gazed into his silver hemmed eyes, “the beast only awakens once a cycle now, a small burden in light of the alternative.”

“It should not fall on you to bear,” Thomas snarled; the beast already peering through his skin.

“The things we do for love,” she said, words stolen from the dread lord’s lips; like suicide. She placed her hand on the scruff of his chin and shifted her violet eyes toward the setting sun behind him, now a tiny sliver of dying orange light along the undulating horizon. 

Hunter checked their distance from the shore, and when he was certain the wolf could not survive the swim back he grabbed the stone anchor next to this feet and tossed it overboard. The hemp rope attached to it hissed and snapped against the starboard gunwale as the heavy stone sunk into the murky water beneath them. 

“Don’t you grow weary of this existence, of wading into the silence of the water and being warden to the beast,” he said and found the only stars in his life that mattered were the ones resting upon her face. He wanted nothing more than to not see himself as an encumbrance within their reflection, but he could not.

“I mourn only for the plight it brings you, and my inability to help you escape its crushing weight,” her saddened face glistened beneath the moon’s brightening light like an alabaster angel wrapped in a cascade of fire. He’d never thought her more beautiful than he did just then, riding the ocean waves in the path of the oncoming storm. 

“He loves you, you know. I’ve seen it in the way he looks at you,” Thomas’ stomach filled with poison, and he clenched his abs to hinder the monster gestating within.

“So let him look,” she smiled. It was a harmless thing, like a childless woman admiring another’s newborn, “My eyes see only you.”

Thomas’ ribs quaked, and a fire coursed through his flesh that livened the hairs covering his body. Bones cracked beneath his skin, and his joints unhinged with a sickening pop. His hands bore down on the gunwales of the galley as his body turned to splinters. Water spilled over its bow as the wind picked up and the waves engorged, and cold saltwater doused his scorching cheeks. His mouth extended with a meaty snap, and the shedding teeth inside piled atop his tongue. Silver crescents peeked from the void beyond his jaws, and his neck vibrated as a sonorous growl filled the space within it.

“Hold me,” he choked, and she did, even when his flesh turned to a blanket in her arms she held him close to her heart. 



What Colin saw on my face when I burst through the basement door must have shocked him. Normally, I’m a composed old bastard, if not a miserable one, and it shows on my face, my frown wrinkles have frown wrinkles, but as I rushed passed him toward the downstairs kitchen I could tell the kid knew something was sour.
He spoke intelligible words as I stumbled to the sink. Warm and itchy droplets of sweat spread upon my brow like wildfire and my heart was pumping like a couple of horny rabbits mid coitus. And you know what? I liked it. The chest pain, the nervous sweats, the anxiety blended up with a hint of arousal and terror. It made me feel young, like I did before Wilma sucked the youth right out of me.
I leaned over the sink and let a steady stream of cold water douse my face, feeling the drops of sweat turn into icebergs upon my head.
What the fuck was going on in that basement, and why was everyone acting so peculiar? My mind had already found the answers to those questions but had disregarded them. I lived in the real world for fuck sake, a place where mutant plants that infect human beings didn’t exist no matter how obvious the signs were around me .
“You okay Mr. Ashman,” Colin asked from my side, his voice an affable hum piercing through the chaotic ringing in my ears. I tilted my head toward him, letting the stream of cold water trickle into my ear. That curious look was on his face again, the one that resembled a mixture fear and excitement. I didn’t like it. The boy was torn, if he’d been a little older I’m sure he would have seen nothing but money in that damn plant just as I had. Lucky for me he was still innocent, despite his misfortune, and I could see that although he was curious he was concerned.
“I’m fine kid, thought I heard a ghost,” I said, swallowing a mouth full of cool water. I turned the tap off and wiped my face with a trembling hand, “You were calling me?”
“There’s… something I think you should see,” stammered Colin, “out front.”
I followed Colin to the bay window at the front of the shop. I didn’t see it before but the kid looked frazzled, like he’d finally witnessed something in his life he couldn’t explain.
“Kid now’s not the time to be pulling any shit,” I barked delaying my eyes from glancing through the large window in front of us to discover what had put the spooks into the boy.
“Just look,” Colin hissed.
I shrugged and turned my attention to the window, forcing my peepers to witness another abnormality.
Apparently our customers hadn’t left. They were standing on the sidewalk in front of the shop, in a straight line like a company of soldiers. Their backs were hunched and their arms hung limp at their sides. There was an abject horror to their unity, like a swarm of bees, or a murder of crows. Staring at their faces made me feel like I’d swallowed a hurricane and my gut was trying its damnedest to digest the fucker. The glazed over look in their eyes was still there, but it had worsened-
I once read an article about the Mauthausen Concentration Camp situated in Austria during the second world war. It was a place where Nazis exterminated the higher educated people from the areas they occupied during the war. It was an awful piece of literature, not because of its prose but because of the photographs that were posted alongside it. One of those photographs came to mind while I was staring out that window. In it stood a throng of prisoners from the Ebensee sub camp. Their bodies were frail, almost nonexistent and their eyes contained a measure of plight that only they could ever comprehend. Beneath the pain though I remember noticing how hungry they looked, like starving vultures. It pained me to see how far humanity had fallen, how evil they’d let themselves become, to see the way so many had suffered. But that hunger in their eyes, it terrified me, it was the kind of hunger that doesn’t discriminate. As I stared out the window I saw that same hunger in our customers’ eyes, and that hunger was focused on us.
“Well I’ll be fucked by a rusty flagpole,” I stammered.

Wilma, an excerpt from chapter 8. DEAN SEXTON

Hiring Colin from an entrepreneurial perspective was like winning the lottery. That boy was a workhorse, hell he worked harder than me most days and I’m no pooch-screwer. He was motivated, always keeping busy, be it watering the flowers or sweeping the floors. He gave the place a strange kind of glow. Until his arrival Wilma’s had become a red bricked nexus on the downtown strip, but he brightened the place up, cleansing its dreariness.
I have to admit I was a little upset he was only able to work on weekends and I truly believe he felt the same way, if it were up to him I‘m positive he would have never left the shop. That’s part of the issue with custody, the child almost never gets to have a say. So often that which we wish to protect we inevitably destroy.
I couldn’t complain too much though, I’m a man who believes in being thankful for what he’s been given and despite him only working weekends he did wonders for Wilma’s. After a couple of months there were customers inside Wilma’s again and business was improving. I was beginning to think I was wrong about my ex-wife leaving me with a curse.
How age can make a fool out of you, playing tricks on your mind, making memories a distant haze of foggy events that morph ceaselessly. It enfeebles your senses and instincts, forcing you to make choices you never would have made in your youth.
Not letting go of Wilma was the second biggest mistake I ever made, after she left I was destroyed, emotionally crippled. Despite her absence I always felt as though she was somehow still around me, as though she was living within the walls of that damned store, I always thought it was just my minds way of coping with her loss, but she was there, she never left. I think it was Colin’s positive nature that awakened her, that brought her back from whatever hell she’d been living in. Don’t misunderstand me, I hated the bitch, marrying her was the first big mistake I made in my life, I guess when she left I felt as though I was cheated, she made me suffer for so long that I thought I’d never be free of her, then like the coming of nightfall she left because of a Spanish flower. The destruction and emotional instability came from my hatred for her, and I think, not unalike Colin’s positive attitude that my hatred also played a part in her return.
There I go again, getting ahead of myself, jumping face first into the shit-hurricane. It’s kind of hard not to when it comes to Wilma, she was, well, she was the kind of woman who isn’t easily forgotten. The kind of woman who carried a chip on her shoulder for anyone who didn’t give her the attention she felt she was entitled to. That’s part of the reason why I am the way I am, even though she’s dead she’ll never really let me go, not completely anyways. Even now that she’s nothing more than a pile of ashes the bitch still has a hold on me.
We had a good run the kid and I, before the devil woman came back . I went from dangling on the edge of bankruptcy to being a successful business owner. Townsfolk stopped wasting their gas driving to Grimsby for flowers and started coming into the shop, buying local, which is something that I recommend everyone to do. Supporting a corporation is a lot like spending money on a hooker. In the end the hooker does all the leg work and the pimp walks away with most of the money.
I was glad things were moving inside that store again, it was nice having what I’d always considered my burden become my reward, my back pay for all the years of suffering and nagging, all the years of listening to that cunt’s tongue waggle at both ends.
Customers weren’t the only thing moving around inside that shop though, oh no, there was something much less beneficial lurking within its interior.

WILMA - Chapter Three - Dean Sexton

Here she is my lost ones, the antagonist of the story in all her sickening glory. Hopefully she gives you mortifying daydreams on this thundery summer morning!


Growing from the dirt floor beneath the basement window was a plant, and not just any plant but the strangest fucking plant I’d ever laid eyes on. Its peduncle was a translucent green that had a circumference of thirty inches and it rose out of the ground in a slight spiral. Beneath the peduncle was a thicket of long greenish auburn vines that spread out in every direction, slithering across the floor like the tentacles of an octopus. As I gawked at them I noticed they were covered by countless fibers that resembled the quills of a porcupine. As my eyes followed its peduncle toward the ceiling, they witnessed marvel after marvel. Large, membranous auburn petals spread out from it the size of bath towels. They had an almost erotic appearance and curved voluptuously from their center. Branching off its peduncle were dozens of beautiful flowers that appeared to be a hybrid of a lily and an orchid. Their petals were crimson with a slight hint of black and their pistils were a garish yellow that reminded me of a cat’s eyes. I felt discomfort rumble within my gut as I looked at them, they were staring at me, dozens of yellow eyes leering at me as I stood ogling at it in astonishment, watching my every move. At the peak of its peduncle were its calyx, enshrouding a massive flesh colored bulb like embracing arms. Whatever kind of flower it was it hadn’t matured yet, only its children had come to life, surprising given the living condition of the shop’s musty basement. Its bulb was about five feet tall and rested a few inches beneath the ceiling. Judging by its appearance I was sure it would never bloom, its fleshy bulb looked rotten and sticky, like the skin of someone suffering from necrosis, or an untreated burn. Long red veins traveled through the petals and seemed to glow beneath the faint sliver of sunlight shining in from outside. I can’t be certain, but as I stared at that damned bulb I swear it was moving, pulsating even. It looked like it wanted to come to life but didn’t have the strength to do so. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of dread, something was off about the plant, and I had the sudden urge to bolt up the fucking stairs and forget I ever saw the freakish looking thing in the first place. I didn’t though, I just stood there staring at it like a horny teenager in love.

Here’s chapter two of Wilma to read on this dreary overcast day! It introduces you to the second protagonist, Colin Romero, a bookish teenager who’s trying his best to escape the side effects of his broken home and the hands of his abusive drunkard father. Fun fact the protagonists both pay homage to horror industry veterans, Colin’s being pretty easy to figure out. Brownie points to whoever can figure out who Roger Ashman pays tribute to! Enjoy my lost ones! ❤

WILMA - Chapter Two - Dean Sexton

His name was Colin Romero, and the day I met him I almost kicked him out of my store, my first possible customer in weeks and I was ready to toss him out. He came into Wilma’s with his back-pack slung over his right shoulder drooping toward his ass. I could see it was overloaded by the expression of exhaustion on his gaunt face. I didn’t know it then, mainly because I thought every adolescent hoodlum that walked the streets of Smithville was a crook, but that bag was full of books.
He walked into the store, lugging his heavy knapsack around as his hazel eyes darted around its interior, looking like a teenager who‘s just stumbled into his first titty bar. He trudged through the shop, his bag swinging like a nylon pendulum as he gawked at the floral display I’d set up at the front of the store. Valentines day was coming up and I’d put together several bouquets of roses on a table. There were roses of every color, red, pink, white, but his eyes kept returning to the black ones, as if he were staring at an impossibility. Every time that pendulum hanging from his shoulder swung I felt my teeth grind within my trap, I was sure the clumsy fucker was going to knock over a flowerpot or worse swing it straight into the glass cooler where I kept a variety of flowers for custom arrangements, but it never did, the boy was as graceful as a ballerina, minus the tutu.
I watched him walk around silently, my eyes never leaving his tiny mitts, (as I said before there was a time when I thought that every kid in the shit-ville was a crook), as I waited for one of them to reach out and stuff something into his knapsack.
He didn’t notice me sitting behind the glass counter, my callused hands folded atop its surface, my head tilted slightly to one side. I had a nice vantage point behind a pot of mums and the cash register.
Eventually he reached for his knapsack, and like a spider anticipating the moment when the fly becomes tangled within its web I slid out from behind the counter, teenage criminal was on the menu, and I couldn’t wait to sink my fangs into him.
I placed my grey hair dusted mitts on his shoulders while one of his hands disappeared into his pack and began to squeeze, just tight enough to put a little shock out of him. No pain, just fear.
“Shoplifting is a major crime,” I growled as I let my fingers slide down his chest, letting them sink into the concave between his collarbone and shoulders.
“I wasn‘t, I mean I know sir, I m-,” stammered Colin as he wriggled to free himself from my grip, discovering that there was still some power within this gaffer’s paws.
I grabbed the arm that had disappeared into his knapsack and tugged it free. I’ll admit I was a little embarrassed when I saw what was clutched between his fingers, and I’m a man who doesn’t like to admit anything nearing embarrassment. It was a book with a crisp red flower on its cover, Deciphering the Rose, by Lawrence Tate was written across it in a fancy cursive font. I let go of his shoulders and brought my hands down to my hips. I was in a situation, a delicate one. I’d more or less assaulted the kid and he knew it, I had to think hard about what came out of my mouth at that moment or else I was liable to find myself out of a home and a business, stink-hole or not. I stood in front of him looking like an elderly, handicapped gorilla, swaying from side to side, my face an expression of idiocy
“It’s the black roses, they don‘t exist in nature,” stammered Colin as he clutched his book like a bible against his chest, letting his knapsack droop further toward the ground. I glanced inside it as I stared at him and noticed it was loaded with books.
“Reaching into your bag like that in a store is a good way to find yourself in a pile of shit boy,” I grunted as I scanned the contents of his backpack.
“I know, I was curious,” he said pleasantly, running his free hand through the shaggy sandy blonde mess atop his head.
“Stupid is what you were,” I said, narrowing my eyes as he stared back. He shrugged and lowered his head. I was beginning to see why this kid was such a bookworm, apparently human interaction wasn’t his thing, something we had in common.
“I’m sorry sir, I’ll leave,“ he said, bending over to zip up his knapsack. For a kid who had nothing more to hide than a bunch of books he sure had the jitters when it came to talking to me, and as he leaned over I got a clear picture of why. On the back of his neck were three swollen, purple finger length bruises. The kid was someone’s punching bag.
“No trouble kid, just, try to be more cautious,” I said looking at the plum colored bruises that raised from the flesh beneath his hair line. Someone was beating on him, and I had a pretty good idea of who it was.
Colin’s father was Richard Romero, the town drunk, a man I’d grown to know and loathe.
Rick was the type who spent his weekends at the bar, and when I say weekends I mean weekends. He’d hit the legion at opening and close the place down and that meant Colin was left to his own devices, left alone to wander a shitty country town that had little more to offer him than a twenty-four hour Tim Horton’s and a Giant Tiger. Colin being a resourceful boy and one who understood a good thing when he saw it, used his father getting liquored up at the local watering hole as an opportunity to explore, a chance to get away. Now Smithville is a place that doesn’t have a whole lot of landscape to explore, there’s the 20 mile creek, a murky slug of water that starts at the border of Hamilton and travels through Smithville, splitting the town in half before spitting itself into the Chippawa Creek near Wellandport. Aside from the filthy channel of water that’s welcoming to no creature other than the pike, snappers and suckers that call it home there’s a dismembered railroad track and more farmland than your eyes can handle. In fact you’d be hard pressed to find anything interesting if you were a fourteen year old boy, but in all the time I knew Colin I never once heard him complain. I guess anything is better than sitting in front of a bar, basking in the stench of flat beer and stale cigarette smoke, listening to stories of men who’d been defeated, men who’d lost it all, men whose only savior was the bottle, broken men, men who’d be better off if someone put them down like wounded animals. Rick was one of those men, his wife, Colin’s mother had left him a year after his birth. I’d heard him mourning her on one of the few occasions I found myself boozing within the Legion’s dingy basement, how he’d have given her everything if she’d have just let him, how if she stayed they’d be sitting pretty, the three of them living the life of luxury. Typical drunken banter. The part he always left out was how the drink was what really drove her away, how his problem with the bottle was why she took her son and fled, fled from the late night screaming matches and four am beatings, from having to explain to her parents that the bruises on her cheeks came from her inescapable clumsiness, and the black eyes as well. What really drove her away, and this is my reflection on the matter of course, was the night Rick snuffed a cigarette out on Colin’s head. He was no older than ten months and Rick had been into the cups heavy, he said that the boy was a curse, that he’d crippled him and stolen away his youth, hindering his dreams.
You hear things in small towns, you either believe them or disregard them, it wasn’t until I saw the scar on the boy’s hairline that I discovered just how sick Richard was. I’m glad the bastard’s gone.
“I will sir,” he said as he tucked his book into the front pouch on his knapsack. He half smiled at me and started toward the front door, lugging that damned backpack over his shoulder.
“I dye them,” I said to his back. “The roses, I dye them, and my name isn’t sir, it’s Roger Ashman. Sir is a name for a fucking knight…and I‘m far from chivalrous.”
“Really? Why?” Asked Colin, releasing the door handle and gazing at me with intrigue.
“I started doing it for funerals and around Halloween,” I said as I motioned him closer.
“How,“ asked Colin and for the first time I noticed just how inquisitive he really was.
“I fill a vase with water, and ink,” I said, giving him a friendly wink. “Then I just dunk them in.”
“They’re pretty neat.”
“They are aren’t they?”
I’m not sure why I did what I did after our clumsy introduction, perhaps it was the bruises on his neck that forced my hand or his misplaced enthusiasm for botany, more than likely it was because I’d become lonely after Wilma left me. For whatever reason, I doomed that kid to a lifetime of nightmares.
“Say kid, you interested in a job?”

It’s been too long since I let my imagination free, burdened by the weight of another man’s legacy I have been forced to live a life of non-existence, meandering in a world that wasn’t made for me, craving and craving a moments reprieve, an opportunity to return to doing what I love. After a year of being a workhorse, I’ve been given that chance, to finally make something remarkable, to do something worthwhile, to leave a legacy of my own for my son to cherish. I’ll be honest it was slow going getting to this point, actually sitting in front of the keyboard had become an alien thing to me, a pastime that some other man had once enjoyed in some other life. It’s refreshing to say that man has returned as easily as oxygen to my lungs, natural, necessary and today I have some new words to share with you, er- rather new old words, a redraft of sorts from the novella I’m submitting for publication over the next few months.

Some of you are familiar with Wilma, a tale of an elderly man suffering from the scars his abusive wife inflicted on him while managing the business she left behind, struggling to move on with his life while the horrors from his past are quietly growing and growing beneath him, thirsty for his blood. It’s a bit campy, and a bit tragic, but that’s life isn’t it? A little bit of pain to go with our pleasure. For those of you who are not familiar with the story I’ve been working on for a little more than I year I urge you to take a moment and give this excerpt a read, I promise it won’t take you too long, a couple puffs of a cigarette, or a few eager sips of coffee. That’s all, not much really.

Thank you to my lost ones, my dearest darklings who’ve had faith in me all these years. Your ongoing interest in my work has not been forgotten and hopefully this will be the year I have something to give back for all your continued support.

Enjoy my darklings, perhaps there will be a little more to share, should you crave a bigger taste of horror.

WILMA - Chapter One. - Dean Sexton

I’d like to tell you about the day I saved the world . . . Well, maybe not so much the world as it was the small community of Smithville- and Smithville really isn’t so much of a community as it is a small shit-heap with a population no bigger than four or five thousand. To be honest, it wasn’t worth saving, it’s a greasy place, full of liars, bigots and cheapskates, a place that in all my years of living there did less for me than I did for it. I’m not going to brag about how big of a hero I was- or am for that matter, and to tell you the truth I’d have just as soon fled if it weren’t for the boy, and other, more personal reasons, leaving its citizens to the fate the cheap bastards deserved.
A hero is defined as someone who fights to protect those who cannot protect themselves, someone who looks beyond humanities shortcomings and strives to save them despite their flaws and stands tall in the face of evil. If that’s the case then I can no more be called a hero then a villain, for it was partially my fault the whole mess started in the first place. I think you’d be more apt to call me a janitor because all I really did was help clean up the damned mess. The boy was the real hero and I guess this is his story rather than mine. I’m just the supporting character, a crotchety old bastard who had a wife once, a vile succubus of a woman that left me with the burden of running her wretched flower shop, a flower shop that was nothing more than a festering boil on the tip of my cock, both itchy and irritating. At least I’m free of it now, free to move along, to find somewhere else in the world to live out my remaining days as a bitter old man with a fantastical tale to tell, but that doesn’t make the stinging sensation in my prick go away every time I think about her, every time I hear her name.
Wilma, what a thorny skinned bitch she was. right until the end she was a pricker bush lodged inside my asshole, a living breathing case of colon cancer. We won’t start with Wilma though, partly because I don’t want my bitching to scare you off, and partly because I’m not feeling too particularly masochistic at this very moment. We’ll start with the boy, mainly because it seems like the most innocent route to take.
-Christ I hope he turns out all right. He was a good kid, kind of surprising considering the shitty hand he’d been dealt. I hope that after what happened he’ll be able to screw his head back on straight. I also hope he finds a more fulfilling hobby that botany, although I don’t think I need to do much hoping, after what happened I’m sure it’ll be a long time before he sets foot in another flower shop.

Hello fiends, it’s the Maestro of the Macabre Dean Sexton here to take you on an adventure into the realm of terror and madness, a world bloated with guts and gore and all the miserable things that mutter to our dark natures.
Today boils and ghouls we’re going to take a look at one of my favorite genres, the Creature Feature, which if you can believe it will be turning 100 years old today, sheesh talk about one from the crypts! So gather your barf bags and bring your sheets up to your throats as we look at a dying genre and a few of the monsters that have made it so terrorific!
To take a proper look at the genre we must return to its roots and they were firmly planted a century ago in 1915 with a silent German film entitled The Golem. The Golem was co-written and directed by Paul Wegener and is thought to be the birth of the creature feature. Following in Wegener’s footsteps F.W. Murnau released Nosferatu in 1922, an expressionist horror film based off Bram Stoker’s Dracula that gave birth to Count Orlok, and the first cinematic representation of a vampire but definitely not the last.
In America Universal, (then named Independent Moving Pictures Company) saw an opportunity to capitalize on the success of the European monster movies and when the Lon Chaney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame became an overnight sensation in 1923 the company realized they were on to something. Chaney went on to become the face of horror during the 1920’s and paved the way for the character actors who followed him after his death in 1930.

Despite the overwhelming poverty that strangled the economy during the Great Depression executive Carl Laemmle Jr. produced a series of massive successes for Universal, the most prominent of these films being Dracula and Frankenstein. Both films were released in 1931, and launched the careers of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Carl Laemmle taking inspiration from European cinema ushered in a new genre of American cinema, the Monster Movie, a genre that saw nearly twenty years of unrivaled success with hits like The Mummy, The Black Cat, and The Invisible Man, movies that would spawn characters who would become pop culture icons and synonymous with the Universal name.
By the 50’s Universal had retired most of its original line of horror characters as the market had grown stagnant from over exposure, however with the release and success of the Creature from the Black Lagoon in 1954 the Universal monsters returned to theaters as double features and aired on television as part of the famous Shock Theater.

But that my dearest darlings is just one half of the Creature Feature’s origins, its more human side so to speak. Its other half began in 1933 with the release of Merian C. Cooper’s King Kong, a film that is hailed as the birth of the true monster movie and the start of a trend that would take the world by storm
In 1945 the world witnessed the birth of the nuclear weapon and it ushered in the Atomic Age, a period of unmatched dread and paranoia. The Cold War had begun and people retreated into their homes in search of an escape from the horrors of the outside world. Bomb shelters were built and humanity sat by their televisions preparing for the worst, that what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki would happen on American soil.
Filmmakers looked to this paranoia as an inspiration for their films and movies such as Godzilla, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Them! helped to propel the genre to new and terrifying heights. People started leaving their houses and headed to the Drive-in to watch these movie monsters as a way of escaping their foreboding sense of terror, transforming their fears into entertainment.
The Atomic Era saw the birth of filmmakers such as Ray Harryhausen and Ed Wood, whose films are cherished by modern directors like Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg who have taken direct inspiration from their films.
After 1960 monster movies faded into obscurity and it wasn’t until 1975 that the genre returned in full force with Spielberg’s Jaws and again in 1979 with Ridley Scott’s moody sci-fi/ horror film Alien. Both Jaws and Alien served as the second coming of the monster movie and were the start of what we call the modern day Creature Feature and following their success other filmmakers jumped on the bandwagon and gave us viewers more monsters to terrorize our nightmares.

The eighties, or what I refer to as the decade of horror, gave us hits like Gremlins, Critters, The Fly, The Thing and an assortment of other horrifying new creatures to scare us and saw the Creature Feature genre split into multiple sub-genres. Gone were the familiar faces of the Universal monsters and in there place sat a new, more terrifying breed of monster. Special effects and advancements in prosthetics and animatronics brought these new beasts to life in ways that the character actor never could and the creature feature thrived. Their popularity however would not last forever, and these new beasts although terrifying, were not invincible. With the birth of the slasher genre and with films like Black Christmas, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street becoming commercial successes the Creature Feature slowly faded into obscurity once more.

Since the decline in the genres popularity in the late eighties we have seen several attempts to re-conjure the magic of the creature feature, films of note being Tremors, Mimic, The Relic, Splinter, The Ruins, and Jurassic Park, however none of them have managed to recapture the mania that films like Frankenstein, Jaws and Alien invoked. Sure many of them were critical and commercial successes but the saturation of the genre just isn’t what it used to be. Perhaps it’s a testament to our time, where the real terror isn’t from something inconceivable, extinct or manufactured, but instead from our own inevitable extinction brought upon us by our ignorance and unwillingness to change. Perhaps humanity has finally realized that the creatures we’ve created over the years aren’t the real monsters at all, but rather visual representations of our darkest selves. Perhaps I’m just being melodramatic and nostalgia is forcing me to keep my head firmly in the past. In any case I long for the triumphant return of the creature feature, or at the very least the next phase in its ever evolving history.


The Ancient Eight.