Sumiko Saulson on Horror Writing

Originally posted on

Gender Role Reversal in Happiness and Other Diseases

by Sumiko Saulson

Happiness and Other Diseases is a dark fantasy set in contemporary times but rooted in Greco-Roman mythology. These are not the gods who sit upon high in Olympus; these are darker creatures that reside in the Demos Oneiroi, the world of dreams. It is conveniently located in Hades, at the point where dead souls arrive. It is no accident, when everyone knows that Somnus and Thanatos, the deities of Sleep and Death, respectively, are very closely related. They’re twin brothers.

While Happiness and Other Diseases is strictly speaking, neither horror nor romance, it has elements of both running concurrently through it, in the same way that James O’Barr’s The Crow and the movie franchise it spawned, and Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale do. As such, it can also be considered a dark romance.

I didn’t set out to write a…

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Originally posted on Written in Blood:


If you’re looking at December’s Scream Queen of the Month and thinking, “Where have I seen her before?” then perhaps it was here:


That’s Chelan in her debut role as  Laurie Anne Winterbarger, the first onscreen victim of Pennywise the Clown in the 1990 TV adaptation of Stephen King’s IT.

Or, perhaps you remember Chelan Simmons this way:


That’s Chelan (along with Crystal Lowe, not pictured) as Ashley Freund in the Tanning Beds of Terror in Final Destination 3 (2006).

 Chelan Simmons was born on October 29, 1982 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The youngest of three children, she has been a natural performer since the age of 2 years old. Her genre credits include Carrie (TV, 2002), Monster Island and Snakehead Terror (TV, 2004), Chupacabra Terror (Video, 2005), Caved In (TV, 2006), Wind Chill (2007), Ogre (TV, 2008), Malibu Shark Attack (TV, 2009), Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

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Movie Review: Cry_Wolf (2005) – It Came So Close.

The other day I vowed to start watching more horror movies. I kept this promise by watching one that very same night.

cry_wolf-6Cry_Wolf was a strange movie, but at the same time, a great one to start my reviewing off with. The initial set up had me nestled down and expecting a run of the mill slasher. Rich kids at a fancy school, daddy issues, boundary issues, and a secret society (club) consisting of old friends and of course, the new guy. They play a game. A game of lies. It is a drunken, sorority version of the childhood favourite of Duck-Duck-Goose.

Cry-Wolf-2005-movie-posterThe aim of the game is take turns in guessing who is lying. The winner determined either by one finding the ‘liar’ or the liar escaping unsuspected, get a pile of money.

The first part of the movie is relatively boring, until they decide to spice up the game. Taking on the whole school, by creating a serial killer. As luck would have it, a young girl in their town had just been found murdered. What a perfect preface. All goes along boringly until the killer appears. The character they conjured comes to life and starts stalking the newbie, the one whose brain power had been used to create the fake back story of a killer.

This is where the film will either get interesting, or lose you, depending on what you are looking for. It is also att his point cry wolf the teamwhere the movie loses the moniker of being a boring slasher movie.

Members of the group start disappearing, and it become clear that the new guy in town is the object of his affection. Members of their group fall away, claimed to be victims, but no bodies are found, and barring a small drop of blood on a removed tongue piercing the movie is clean.

This film was so close to being very clever, that you are willing yourself to be drawn deeper into the world, but even the presence of Bon Jovi as the journalism teacher and pseudo-antagonist for the lead characters subconscious has everything fall just short. 39188_jon_bon_jovi

Is the killer real? Is it all just in the imagination of the new guy on campus, or perhaps it is all just one big lie! Did the game ever end?

I desperately wanted to like this movie. I wanted to love it, but ultimately I ended up feeling uncertain. The movie was made on a budget after the director – Jeff Wadlow – won a million dollar fund at a film festival. Unlike many low-budget horror movies, it was clear that this one was had a purpose, it had a goal and it was so close to hitting it.

At the end of the day however, I would rather watch a film like Cry_Wolf which makes the effort and falls short than I would a cliché ridden slasher that never tried.

blood blood blood out of 5