Devious Dialogues: Mike Thorn and A.M. Novak on the Child’s Play Franchise

From the 1988 release of director Tom Holland’s Child’s Play to Don Mancini’s 2017 film Cult of Chucky, the horror genre’s most famously devilish doll has lived a long and varied life. With their latest Devious Dialogues piece, Mike Thorn and A.M. (Anya) Novak look back at the series entries and provide their thoughts on the newest addition.

Anya: What’s the horror appeal with dolls? Everything from Annabelle (2014) to Puppetmaster (1989) to Dead Silence (2007) has been focused on creepy toy dolls with nasty intentions. Movies like Child’s Play (1988) seem to tap into a subconscious trauma in our collective psyche. Do you personally find dolls like Chucky to be unsettling?

Mike: Ooh, good question! Fundamentally, I think creepy dolls work on the fear of animating the inanimate, which upends our understanding of natural laws. They also tap into horror’s almost ubiquitous dealings with the uncanny (which, to grossly oversimplify, describes the familiar rendered strange); living dolls play on this idea in a number of ways, because they are vaguely human in appearance but assumed to lack human characteristics (most specifically, consciousness). There’s also the subversive idea of perverting or defiling the innocent — these kinds of horror movies work on our assumption that children’s toys should provide comfort and joy. These baseline fears are reconfigured in different ways by different films. I think the Chucky series is well-aware of all of these underlying anxieties, but it uses the possessed doll motif to various narrative and tension-building ends in all of its entries.

Read the full article in Vague Visages.

Thorn’s Thoughts: Strange is the Night by S.P. Miskowski

Strange is the Night is the second S.P. Miskowski book that I’ve read this year (the first being her remarkable new novel I Wish I Was Like You). Based on these two works, it’s clear to me that Miskowski offers the world of contemporary dark fiction something vital and distinct, not simply ‘delivering the goods,’ but rather, writing on her own plane entirely. This collection is a page-turner of the first order, yes, but it’s also something more.”

Read the full review on Unnerving Magazine‘s website.

31 Days of Horror: Join Mike Thorn in His Darkest Hours


Tim Murr reviews Darkest Hours:

“Horror fiction, regardless of how well it is written, often goes exactly where seasoned reader expect it to go. It’s rare that a writer in the horror genre hits us with a perspective or idea that we didn’t see coming. Nor is it unusual for a story or novel to haunt us with creepy images, vivid descriptions of gore, or a heartbreaking death. How often, though, does an author pull this off with superior literary quality?

This is the territory the reader will find themselves in with Mike Thorn’s Darkest Hours.”

Read the full review in Biff Bam Pop.

“A most disturbing collection” – Review of DARKEST HOURS by Brandon Wilson

Darkest Hours

Brandon Wilson of The Weal wrote an early review of Darkest Hours (coming this November from Unnerving Magazine‘s book line).

Excerpt: “Thorn’s stories seem to nearly always feature the desires of their characters becoming corrupted and turning back on them tenfold. It’s really this theme that keeps the reader’s attention, that their initially innocent desires could be twisted, corrupted and fed back into some unspeakable primal evil.”

You can now read the full review online.

Thorn’s Thoughts: The Wish Mechanics

When I reviewed Daniel Braum’s The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales, I focused primarily on its dealings with the horror genre. Upon finishing his newer (and stranger, and maybe even better) collection The Wish Mechanics, I realize that I cannot (and should not) even try restricting my reading of Braum’s work to a single category. If anything, it’s worth exploring the ways in which Braum’s work consistently evades the controlling containment of individual genres. The Wish Mechanics is full of stories that probe at the perimeters of fantasy, horror, science fiction, magic realism, weird fiction, and everything in between.

Read the full on Unnerving Magazine’s website.