The Fires of Garbagehead by Tim O’Neal

Homeland is a small town in the center of America, or the middle of nowhere, depending on how one chooses to look at it. Either way, it’s a bad place for one’s car to break down, but that’s precisely what happens to Daniel on his journey to distance himself from the scandal and ignominy on the campus where his lascivious behavior got him into trouble.
What initially seems like a quaint dose of old-fashioned Americana grows increasingly offputting, and Daniel is eager to be on his way, but the residents of Homeland and the mysterious, filth-shrouded figure known only as Garbagehead have other plans.
There is evil simmering beneath the surface, but there’s no need to worry because all sins are purified in the fires of Garbagehead.
Tim O’Neal captures the often eerie sensation of rural small-town dynamics as experienced through those who are only passing through in truly spectacular fashion. He manages to develop such a viscerally tainted and claustrophobic atmosphere within the first few pages that the arrival of Garbagehead and the revelation of the town’s awful secret feels natural when it comes. I would greedily consume more tales of Homeland and those who reside there, under the watchful eyes of Garbagehead.

This title was released as the second Emerging Authors volume brought to us by the partnership of Godless and D&T Publishing. You can obtain this for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

Lost Words In a Dream by Lucas Milliron

Mark’s life is one of banality punctuated by terror. Living in a sparsely furnished apartment and working at a filthy cesspool of a fast-food restaurant, he thought he might have escaped the horrific events that transpired in Leesburg. But the dread and panic are always there, just beneath the surface, waiting to erupt, and some wounds never heal.
Recollection of the events from his past come through only sporadically, intruding on his daily life at unexpected moments, triggered by seemingly unpredictable stray thoughts or disturbing noises and visions. As Mark struggles to remain in the here and now, he finds himself increasingly drawn into memories that he simultaneously wishes he could forget and desperately needs to unravel.
Maybe he didn’t escape at all, and it’s all happening again.
Milliron masterfully crafted this tale of cosmic horror, utilizing the imprecision of traumatic memories to provide us with an unreliable protagonist around whom the story plays out. This story has everything one could hope for in cosmic horror. Milliron blends a perfect mixture of secretive cults hidden within small-town populations, unspeakable horrors breaching the barriers that separate our world from somewhere cold and dark, hallucinatory visuals described with frightful detail, and a stochastic narrative that leaves the reader dizzied and struggling to piece together the mystery.
Lost Words In a Dream is a story that will stick with you long after you’ve reached the conclusion, and you’ll find yourself wishing you could go back in and experience it fresh all over again.

This title was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You can obtain a copy for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

Midsommar (2019)

Ari Aster’s Midsommar doesn’t receive the credit it deserves within a lot of the horror communities I interact with. The same goes for his previous film, Hereditary.
To some extent, I think it’s simply a matter of taste…some people seem to have little patience for more atmospheric horror, and Midsommar relies heavily on atmosphere much as movies like It Follows and Session 9 previously did. Similarly, there are psychological and symbolic elements scattered throughout the narrative, both subtle and overt. This is very much a movie for those who enjoyed Hereditary’s relatively slow burn horror and drip-fed revelations.
In both movies, the overall focus is that of cult activity, albeit framed quite differently from Hereditary to Midsommar. In this one, the communal religious sect from Sweden is quite upfront about their existence and adherence to old rituals and practices. Speaking of those rituals and practices, Aster did a fair bit of research into mythical traditions as well as actual practices within the prehistoric Nordic cultures to cultivate a plausible framework for the cult’s beliefs and activities. Mingling that blend of fact and fiction with the supernatural allowed him to craft an unsettling, tense, and phantasmagorical experience with this movie.
Florence Pugh puts forth an excellent performance as the emotionally and psychologically fragile, Dani. Her breadth of expression and emotive display is stretched about as far as a single performance could manage. On the opposite side of the central relationship, we have Jack Reynor’s performance as Christian which, while no less impressive, leans more toward emotionally distant and confused throughout the tale. Watching the relationship deteriorate from the already well-eroded substrate at the beginning is both heartbreaking–as we feel sympathy for Dani–and satisfying–as we feel increasing contempt for Christian.
The rest of the cast is no less impressive in their respective roles, but they all take a backseat to the dominant spotlights of the movie…the crumbling relationship between Dani and Christian, and the increasingly disturbing unveiling of the nightmare the outsiders have wandered into as guests/sacrifices.
Comparisons with The Wicker Man (1973) are certainly appropriate. The same element of outsiders being manipulated into playing preordained parts in a larger, primitive ritual is present in both movies. The same sort of disquieting undercurrent runs beneath the surface in both movies, though it certainly seems to breach the surface far more frequently and earlier in the film in this case. In fact, if you took The Wicker Man and blended it with a splash of Believers (2007), a dash of Shrooms (2007), and just a touch of Rosemary’s Baby (1968), you would have something quite similar to Midsommar.
It’s best to sit down and just experience this movie as it all plays out before you. There’s certainly gore (though the movie doesn’t rely on it as the backbone of the story), nudity, and psychological aspects that might be disturbing for some viewers…but there’s also a compelling story taking place.