Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Don't Be That House - A Christian's Guide To Halloween

What's a Christian to do with Halloween? I know what you're thinking: Oh, sure the horror blog is coming to defend ghosts and jack-o-lanterns! Well, no, I'm not. There's been a lot of research already done on the subject of origins and celebrations (much of it spurious, which, when it comes from Christians, drives me nuts), and I have no interest in rehashing it. Like meat sacrificed to idols, some will partake, and some will not. I'm not going to create a stumbling block by telling you to dress your kids up and go trick-or-treating.


The thing about Halloween is that it brings out the neighborhood. Indeed, for some, it can be the only real time you get to meet your neighbors in a loose, fun environment, outside of school functions or town meetings. Many well-intentioned Christians will miss out on this chance by simply not participating. They'll close their blinds, turn off the porch light, and pretend nothing is happening outside. Or maybe they'll just leave the neighborhood for the evening. They'll be that house. The one with the somewhat friendly neighbors that never has any candy.

Or, worse, they'll hand out tracts detailing the evils of Halloween instead of candy. Maybe toss in some dental floss or a healthy snack like carrot sticks for good measure.

For the love of Jack Chick, please don't be that house.

The fact is, you don't have to dress up and act spooky to make good -- dare I say, even holy -- use of Halloween. The Devil's not going to flow through your finger tips if you hand out a Snickers bar. But some kids and parents might get the idea that the Christians who live in your house are pretty nice and personable people. Toss in a "God bless," if you like. Or maybe an invitation to your church. You don't have to be in-your-face about it. Just be good-natured.

In fact, be the house with the good candy. The full-sized candy. Be the house the kids remember with a smile.

Maybe you want to even go a step further. I have friends who set up coffee and hot chocolate urns in their garage to help warm the chilly bones of intrepid snack seekers and their parents.

I spoke briefly with a woman on Facebook whose family actually sets up the grill, providing free hotdogs and burgers for parents who skipped dinner to take their kids out before dark. They do it with a smile and a God bless you, and they turn those costumed strangers into friends.

Imagine that: Christians making friends -- on Halloween!

The point is this: whatever your feelings on the holiday -- whether you believe it's a bit of harmless fun, or a tool of the very Devil himself, or somewhere in between -- Halloween can be an opportunity to be that house: the house where those nice Christians live. The house of warmth and a friendly smile. The house with the good candy and the God Bless You. The house where we met our new church friends.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Grave Robber's New Gal Friend

Horrorpunk rockers Grave Robber will see you in the funny papers. Or at least, you'll see them. Dan (Crazy Good Comics) Conner is featuring the band in his My Gal, The Zombie for a new 16-page spread. Conner says he hopes to have the book in print in time to coincide with the band's tour in November.

A big fan of the band, Conner has also featured Grave Robber on the horrorpunk/psychobilly official MGTZ soundtrack.

My Gal, The Zombie follows the misadventures of Chelsea, a girl with a great life who is bitten by a radioactive zombie. She's still a mostly normal girl, except for her green skin her new monster friends.

MGTZ is a twist on characters from Conner's other popular series, Heaven Forbid. Read MGTZ from the beginning.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bits & Pieces 10.15.14 - Deadly CYNs, Hell, And the Apocalypse

Just Another Week At AFitD

Age of Apollyon author Mark Carver has released a new novel for e-readers, with a paperback edition coming soon. CYN is Carver's foray into science fiction, and follows an ex-soldier and her husband to the edge of space -- and of human decency. CYN is available now on Amazon.

Speaking of Digital Releases, the new E.P. from Grave Robber, Straight To Hell, is now available on iTunes. The release, which was crowd-funded, will also be available on limited-edition vinyl.

The Remaining, the end-times horror from Casey La Scala, is expanding into new theaters. You can hit the website up for the most recent locations and dates. The film has a 73% audience score at Rotten Tomatoes, but few critical reviews.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gray Matter: AFitD Explores the Dark Mind of Rocky Gray

Rocky Gray is a name pretty well known in musical circles -- particularly if those circles are grinding around the floor at a Living Sacrifice or Soul Embraced concert. A musician and producer with several projects under his belt, Gray has recently turned his musical ear toward another passion: horror. His new album, "Accursed," dropped Tuesday, and has been described as the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist. He's been working in the meantime on a couple of other projects as well. Rocky took the time out of his increasingly busy schedule to talk about what he's been up to.

A Flame in the Dark: So, between Living Sacrifice, Soul Embraced, your more recent bands like Even Devil’s Die and Solus Deus, and what is it, 15 other bands you’re actually in right now?

Rocky Gray: Creep Carnival and my solo project are the only other ones besides what you mentioned (haha). I've calmed down on the projects in my old age.

AFitD: So anyway, between ALL of that, plus being an in-demand producer and session musician, you’ve composed and released this new album, Accursed. Because you were bored, or…?
RG: I had been wanting to do an instrumental horror record for 2 years, and I finally had the time so I took advantage.

AFitD: In the vein of Midnight Syndicate, Accursed is an instrumental, with individual tracks each reminding very much of a film score. Was that the goal going into it?

RG: For sure. It's the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist anywhere but in your imagination. The idea of that has always been exciting to me.

AFitD: Between the theme of the new album, and lyrical content from other projects -- most notably the Solus Deus -- you seem to have a particular affinity to horror themes. In fact, we didn’t mention this earlier, but you’re currently scoring two horror films! Not to run off on TOO large a tangent, how did you get involved with those?

RG: Yes, there's definitely a horror theme in pretty much all the projects I’m involved with to some degree. I started scoring soundtracks a while back with a movie that's still in post production, a comedy in fact. I felt right at home with composing music for film so I wanted to start doing more of that and when I saw Eric Stanze whom I had known for a few years was in the early stages of his new movie IN MEMORY OF, I hit him up and we made it happen. With THE BARN I had seen their killer poster art and looked into it a bit more and saw that they were still in production and I had just finished mixing and mastering Accursed so I sent that over to them with a message to get back with me if they needed some music done and they did.

AFitD: Working as much as you do with faith-based groups, and obviously a strong element of Christianity among your fanbase, do you find yourself having to explain or justify using that imagery in your writing and with your bands?

RG: I use to think I had to explain stuff, and sometimes I'll do that if I really need to. But most of the time, I just put it out there and have it be interpreted however the viewer [or] listener want to. Sometimes they get it and sometimes they don't.

AFitD: That’ll bring us to what is often the crux of what we deal with here at A Flame in the Dark: Do you view horror imagery as a good way to express your own faith and philosophies? If so, how so?

RG: Dark imagery is definitely how i express creatively. The early days of Soul Embraced were more dark biblical themes than in the later records such as Mythos, which was more of a focus on the luciferian elites. With music most of the time I'm just being real with you; I'm not trying to preach or any of that. I'm just like, "here's what's on my mind take it or leave it I'm just putting it out there."

AFitD: So "Accursed" is out right now. Available digitally through iTunes. And the CD is available where?
RG: Its at all the usual sites -- CdBaby, iTunes, Amazon, BigCartel etc.

AFitD: Meanwhile, you’re working on a new EP with Solus Deus and, if I’m not mistaken, you and a Wretched (of Grave Robber) have been dealing with a side project called Creep Carnival. So what can fans expect as far as new material on those fronts?

RG: "The Bloodtrail" from Solus deus is out now. It's pretty in-your-face death metal. And Creep Carnival are hoping to have a single out before Halloween.That is a fun project that is straight rock and roll with a bit of a surf rock edge to it.

AFitD: And your experience with Accursed? Can we expect more instrumental albums in the future?

RG: Absolutely. Accursed was so much fun to make, as long as I have the time to do it I'll keep putting them out.

Thank you, Rocky, for taking the time to speak with A Flame in the Dark. We're looking forward to hearing what you have coming out next!

To get the details on everything Rocky's got going on, check out his website!

IV: Ways to Celebrate 46 Years of Night Of The Living Dead

Today in 1968, film history was made with the release of George A. Romero's Night Of The Living Dead. If you're like us, you'll probably want to celebrate appropriately. We can help.

1. Watch The Movie!!
 Let's get the most obvious celebration out of the way right now. You can pick it up on Netflix, at the dollar store, or, since it's in the public domain, on YouTube. Aww, heck. Here you go.

2. Check Out Birth Of The Living Dead
The definitive "Making Of" documentary is available right now on Netflix. If you want to take a look at the lasting impact NotLD has made on our culture, you can also find Doc of the Dead (content warning: nudity and, obviously, graphic violence).

3. Take a look at Joe Kane's loving tribute
Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever is a great look at what went into the making and marketing of the film, beginning with a brief history of zombie movies in general. The real find here is the original NotLD screenplay! You can find my review of the book on Amazon.

4. LISTEN to it.
Did you know you can listen to Night of the Living Dead as an "audio movie" on Spotify? Well, you can. It's like a radio drama, or watching the movie with your eyes closed.

Celebrate zOctober, the online event! Get to know authors and others in the zombie genre, and just hang out with people who share your interest! Get started with zOctober at the Facebook page!

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Short Fiction Collection from The Crossover Alliance

We reported a few months ago on a new collective called The Crossover Alliance, a group founded to bring attention to authors writing edgier fiction from a Christian worldview. 

Not content to just sit there having a neat-looking website, TCA has gone and put together their first anthology of darker works of Christian Fiction. Called, innocuously enough, The Crossover Alliance Anthology - Volume 1, the book collects works from Mark Carver ("Age of Apollyon" Trilogy), David Alderman ("Expired Reality" series) and others.

Check out the book on Amazon or read Alderman's explanation of how they put the volume together and get yourself a chance to win a paperback copy!

Rocky Gray & The Soundtrack To My Nightmares

Rocky Gray, of Living Sacrifice, Soul Embraced, and Solus Deus, a producer and in-demand session
musician with more projects due in a week than most high school Freshman have all year, evidently had some spare time to pursue another passion. Or rather, a blend of passions.

Gray's new solo project, out tomorrow, is an instrumental in the vein of Midnight Syndicate, in which he pays tribute to his favorite genre: horror. "Accursed," of which two tracks are currently available via YouTube, has been described (by FRIGHT-RAGS.com) as "the best soundtrack to a movie that never was.

Check out the two released (and awesomely creepy) tracks below, and be sure to watch for the new album to drop tomorrow!