Welcome to the first edition of the Once Upon the Weird newsletter. I’m thrilled that you’ve decided to join me on this strange journey into the dark, where something always lurks over your shoulder.
Nothing to worry about, really.
Just . . . don’t turn around.
The skeletal structure of this realm may shift and twitch over the coming weeks, as I adjust the parameters of its creation, testing out what functions and what does not. For the moment, I’ll be featuring five or so tidbits of horror and related news and essays each week, along with a highlighted short film.
Thank you — and remember, don’t turn around.
Shirley Jackson Film Presents a Gothic Drama (The Verge)
A new trailer was released for Shirley, a dark gothic drama about one of Shirley Jackson’s worst periods of depression. According to reviewer Adi Robertson (who saw it at Sundance), although the movie is loosely based on Jackson’s life, the characters and relationships are fictitious — allowing the movie to unfold like one of the author’s own stories.
Issá Lopez (director of the critically acclaimed Tigers Are Not Afraid) is working to write and direct a werewolf Western being produced by the master of monster movies, Guillermo del Toro. In this interview, Lopez discusses what draws her to the idea of werewolves and the challenges of working in the genre.
Scream 5 is Officially On Its Way (Den of Geek)
The fifth movie in the Scream series has been confirmed — with David Arquette set to reprise his role of Sheriff Dewey Riley. Set to be directed by filmmaking trio Radio Silence (known for their horror comedy hit, Ready or Not), Scream 5 could be a fun addition to the franchise.
In The Secret of NIMH, Mrs. Brisby goes on a quest to protect her family by seeking help from a nearby group of rats. However, the movie also layers in dark, adult themes. Jonathan H. Kantor explores the strange history behind the movie and the book its based on, which draws from research on rodent populations, animal experimentation, and The Book of Revelation to develop a complex children’s story.
Are There Goblins in Rural Kentucky? (Interstellar Flight Magazine)
Cassandra Rose Clarke dives into her experience of watching Hellier, a documentary TV show reminiscent of The X-Files. The show follows a group of paranormal researchers who investigate claims of small creatures terrorizing a small town in Kentucky. As they pursue the mystery, things grow increasingly weird with no easy answers as to what exactly is happening.
“Hellier isn’t really about proving or disproving anything,” writes Clarke. “It’s about following a trail. The trail starts with the doctor’s email but doesn’t track to a single line; rather, it fractals out, so that what started with an email about aliens ends with a ritual to the god Pan inside an Appalachian cave.”
The Last of Us II is one of this years most anticipated games (it certainly is mine). The game is in a post-apocalyptic world in which mold spores that infect people and turn them violent. Bringing back characters from the first game, The Last of Us II promises to be a bleak tale of revenge, with devastating consequences.
(Note that while the post linked here is spoiler-free, recently leaks about the game spoil the storyline. So if you don’t want to know too much, I wouldn’t recommend digging deeper than this most recent trailer.)
Short of the Week
“The Cat with Hands” is a near-perfect short film. From the opening image of a figure reflected in a crow’s eye to the blending of stop motion animation with live action, director Robert Morgan carefully crafts a dark fairy tale with a unsettling ending.