(Thus Far, we haven’t published any fiction. I figure we’d get things started with a flash piece from mine. And you have something that mixes horror tropes and actions click on the ‘Submissions’ Link and send it out way!)
By J.M. Perkins
‘Drop him!’ I command, wishing my voice was deeper.
The perp does, but then starts stalking right towards me. “Halt!” I command and this time she doesn’t listen.
The first bullet I fire is just that: copper coated lead. I can already tell it’s not gonna do shit. I hit her anyway, more reflex and lingering sanctification than anything else. I don’t even know why the brass insists the first shot has to be norm (that’s what my other sidearm is for). Oh well, regs are regs I guess.
The next two shots are silver. Even during the day there’s a surprising number of wolf gangbangers nowadays; and they don’t stop just ‘cause the sunlight makes them wear their human skins. These slugs hit her without noticeable effect – but silver is light and less effective than a norm round unless you have a susceptibility to it.
I pull the trigger again and again and again. The garlic and holy water infused bullet with a crucifix etched on the front doesn’t work. But if I thought she was a vampire I’d already be running back to the squad car where the crossbow is locked above the dash. The compressed flower petal shell doesn’t do anything (only had it work once actually). And the distilled absurdity round causes her to laugh uncontrollably but otherwise keep advancing (I’m always relaxed when that one doesn’t work, anyone who has bravado concerning Cthuloids is a liar and a fool).
It’s not til round seven that she goes down: cold iron, as pure as we can make it. Shoulda known. While she’s lying on the ground I check the norm.
“You ok?” I ask.
Tears stream down his face. “She was going to take me to the everspring fields, I was to be a prince.”
“Yeah. Sure you were… I’ll get your statement in a second.”
The perp is coughing up something that looks like glitter and smells like potpourri. I call in for an ambulance, wrap her tiny wrists (smaller than mine, even) in golden binding chord.
“You have the right to remain silent,” I say, “Anything you say, do or incant may be used against you in a court of law or through the column of the threefold return. You have the right to consult an attorney, summoner or cultural translator before speaking to the police and to have said party present during questioning or trial by honored combat now or in the future.”
It’s times like this I can’t help but think how much simpler being a cop was before the return.
In case you didn’t notice the handy dandy Submissions link, ActionHorror.com is now officially a short fiction market. We even have a listings at Duotrope and Ralan’s. We’d love to publish or republish that is Action Horror short stories. Alternately, if you have a relevant movie, podcast, collection, novel, et al; we’d love to review it.
So fire up your email client and get submitting us stories and sending us review requests!
These are my top picks for video games that manage to give you all the action you could want while while making you piss yourself just a little. If I’m being honest; more than movies, more than literature it is video games that are my first and greatest influence in how I approach and understand story.
(Note: I’m encompassing survival horror under the banner ‘action horror’ cause… well, I want to.)
5. Resident Evil:
Or ‘Biohazard’ as it is known in Japan. One of the first games to do justice to zombies. Forget the increasingly terrible movies and remember instead the ‘holy shit’ awesomeness of running and gunning the T-Virus infected dogs… because Umbrella help you if all you had left was a knife. Seriously Resident Evil, thank you so much for ensuring I never, ever had enough ammo. Bonus points for the series giving up its addiction to camera angle scares (starting in Resident Evil 4) but staying just as scary.
4. System Shock
This game did not get the wide adoption it deserved. Probably one of the best examples of video game writing I’ve ever seen. All you have is your weapons, your wits, and your psionic powers against an army of I don’t even know whats and the psychotic AI that’s managing it it all. Unlike a lot of the games on the list… SS remains almost entirely out of print today. Which is too bad.
3. Bio Shock
This spiritual successor to System Shock definitely lives up to its pedigree. An Ayn Rand flavored under the sea extravaganza which with so many delightful vignettes courtesy of the deranged ‘splicers’ of Rapture. Granted, I do think that the final boss was a little… silly; in the way that all super steroid final bosses are. But everything up till that point was pure gold. Love the tension of weighing ‘should I or shouldn’t I attack that eight foot tall armored mutant over there to suck the life essence out of the little girl he’s protecting.’ Decisions, decisions.
2. Half Life
Still one of the pinnacles of the first person shooter genre. The level of polish and care that went into the game shames 99% of the first person shooters out there. One word: headcrabs. Nowadays, we have two words: poison headcrabs. Recently found out the ‘zombies’ sounds are actually a man’s screaming voice begging for help. Neat! Now I have more things to have nightmares about.
Ahh doom, you will always have a special place in my heart. With the exception of the film Aliens, this is why we’re obsessed with with space marines battling unimaginable horrors in spaceeeeeee *echo, echo, echo*. Looking back on it now, it’s easy to forget that the demon design used to scare me. But they really, really did. I remember grabbing an ‘unprotected’ key only for the walls to lower and five of these guys come rushing out throwing fireballs and making my soundblaster contort itself into the low-res language of hell. Good times.
Left 4 Dead 1 & 2: Great game(s). Pitch perfect take on the ‘infected’ style zombies. Amazingly designed to force you to work as part of a team. More homages than you can shake a chainsaw at. The director AI is a thing of beauty and why I’m still playing these games a two years later. Still, I didn’t include it primarily because there’s something about getting the opportunity to play as one of the infected that drains the horror from the experience.
So what did I miss? What would be on your top five list of Action Horror Video Games?
A good illustration of what games constitute Survival Horror vs what constitutes Action Horror. I enjoy both (sub)genres but I think it’s interesting that more often than not Survival Horror transforms into Action Horror; not only as a series but even within an individual game.
After attending many conventions of all sizes and sorts this past year; I have to say that the energy, enthusiasm and spirit of fun at Anime Conji was wonderful and exceptional. The convention is only three years old, and I can’t wait to see how it develops. I think Anime Conji is one convention I’ll be attending for years to come.
Not the best movie by far (Charlton Heston spends the film gunning down Hippy Luddite Mutants in cheesetastic glory) but one of the earliest Action-Horror films. While I work on a post about the legacy of I am Legend I thought I’d share.
Occasionally, I’m reluctant to tell people that I write horror. My problem is that -for a lot of people- ‘Horror’ means movies like Hostel or Saw, gleefully gory scholckfests in which the characters exist for no other reason than to murdered (or worse) horribly. The term ‘torture porn’ is wholly appropriate for this sort of work.
Picture above, what I don’t write.
I know good people who like that sort of thing so I won’t speak ill of the (sub)genre. And to be fair; I’ve been known to enjoy stories with violence, gore and despicable acts happening to both the innocent and guilty alike. So why split hairs?
For me, I’m interested in efficacy. I’m interested in characters who fight. Whether they live or die is immaterial; I’m interested in the struggle. And I think this struggle is often in its purest form in Action Horror.
Pictured above, the kind of book I try to write.
My most important goal in everything I write is to tell a compelling story populated by Characters the reader cares about. If there’s a secondary goal, it’s this: to remind readers that -no matter how f***ed up the situation they are never powerless. Things don’t always work out for my Characters but that’s not the point. The struggle is the point. The pushing past fear is the point.
I use horror tropes and a fixation on fear because I believe that one of the greatest challenges in modern life is mastering our fear.
I write Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. But what I find myself writing most is Action Horror and it’s probably the genre closest to my heart. I love a story where someone shoots a fucking vampire in the face. Speaking of which…
Some of my favorite examples: Aliens, World War Z, and innumerable chronicles about creature hunters. Sadly, Van Helsing has to be included in this list… but don’t hold that against the genre.
Think every zombie movie ever made. Think space marines vs xenolife. Think the Thing’s R.J. MacReady testing the blood of his coworkers.
If I wanted to be literary, I would claim to be carrying on a three thousand year old tradition. That is to say, I want to retell Beowulf over and over again because goddamn do I love that story. If I want to be crass I say I like stories where people kill cool looking monsters in endless varieties of awesomely violent ways. I’m sometimes afraid to admit that I write ‘horror’ because the strongest association in people’s head nowadays is torture porn (a la Saw, Hostel and innumerable others incarnations).
Exact definitions are difficult because you could conceive of all horror stories as ‘action’ (running, screaming for help, or even begging for help are all ‘actions’). I just look at what I like to write as one part of a continuum. On one end is torture porn (which focuses on victimization and -well- torture) and on the other end there’s action horror (where the emphasis is on plans, the skills and abilities of human beings faced with an impossible situation). And it’s the latter that generally interests me.
I adore considering the best laid plans of men battling nightmares. It doesn’t matter if they’re soldiers, obsessives or ordinary people who ‘peaked behind the veil.’ They might not live through the night, but they’re not going to go down without a fight.
(Comment! Commenting is awesome. If you like great stories you can read my fiction CHEMO: Town of Golden by clicking here or listen by clicking here and skipping to the 22 minute mark.)