We could just start our own horror magazine

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Freddy Fenech head shot

We could just start our own horror magazine

The Jae Prowse column

2020 has been…a year.

Personally, it’s been one of ups and downs. That’s not to say it was worse than anyone else’s – we’ve all had a very difficult year in one way or another – but I was considering 2020 before I wrote this and tried to plot the different ‘moments’.  

I was ill with Covid-like symptoms in March, which had me bedridden for a week and then it took an age to get my sense of taste back properly. I couldn’t get a test back then so I’ve no way of knowing what it was, though it’s likely to have been the dreaded C-19.

Then lockdown commenced, which was kinda fun at first. The kids were at home, the weather was great. We had fun as a family and spent most of our time in the garden, enjoying the sun.

Then my mental health, which I’ve kept in check for quite a number of years, went haywire and I was signed off work for a few months. In hindsight, I’d been in trouble since the turn of 2020, but was so used to compartmentalising things that it crept up on me and then completely knocked me over. I got help quickly and my family were fantastic. My mum is a fellow sufferer so she was a great source of help. My wife kept me fed and made sure I took my medication. Things could have been a lot worse.

While off work, I spent a probably unhealthy amount of time reading horror-related articles and it was here that the seed of Horrified began to grow. I was becoming a little tired of the very US-centric horror websites. Even the UK-based ones largely ignored British horror in favour of the almost guaranteed clicks from referencing the latest Halloween film. Increasingly, I felt that there should be a website that really celebrated British and European horror and left the US stuff to the rest to cover. 

As I mulled over the idea, I decided to focus more intently on British horror. As much as I love European horror, I felt that carving a niche would be a better option than spreading whatever it was I was going to create too thinly. Thus, Horrified was born. But, it wasn’t called Horrified yet. There was no name, no website, no real idea of what to do. I just knew that I wanted to do…something. 

So, I started with Twitter. 

The name came quickly. I discovered the title while scanning the various books, blu-rays, etc., around my desk one day and the name jumped out. I confess, I wasn’t super excited by it but Horrified seemed to fit the bill. Impulsively, I created a Twitter account and got to work posting a few bits and pieces, imploring followers from my personal account to give it a follow and was pleased to discover a base of around 100 followers within a few weeks. Then I lied and said a website was on the way. 

Honestly, the only way I get anything done is to put myself under pressure to do it. Announcing a website made it seem more real and even though I’d not even registered a domain name, I started scouting around for potential writers. This is where things got, and continue to be, difficult. I can’t pay any contributors and I absolutely detest asking people to do things for free. I made a point of letting potential contributors know that there was no money involved but was rewarded with incredible generosity from so many people. It completely astounded and humbled me. Yes, of course, there were one or two sneering comments about how out-of-order it was to expect people to do things for free, but my hope was that most would see the value and potential in Horrified (even if I wasn’t yet convinced myself) and want to be part of it. I knew it’d be incredibly hard work for no financial reward but giving writers a platform to see their work published online and displayed with care rather than slung up with no effort felt like a good, positive thing. 

It was slow at first but I soon had a handful of pieces and a few fiction items (I’d decided upon a Stories page following a suggestion on Twitter). What I needed now was a website. I’m not by any stretch a technical person but I can figure stuff out and make them just about work, so I slowly pulled a website together. The logo went through several incarnations too until one of Horrified’s first contributors, the very talented Andy Roberts, offered to create a new one based on the briefest of briefs. He gave me three options, but the one that you should by now recognise is the one I immediately fell in love with. 

Meanwhile, Horrified’s Twitter following was continuing to grow and the website was coming together. I started to think that it might actually happen. I’d even planned a publication date. Then I got overexcited and published it all two weeks early…

The reaction was pretty amazing. I thought I might get 100 people reading the articles each month, which would represent success, but I was managing that every day within a few weeks. We’re now at around 200-300 per day which is staggering (at least, to me). It certainly must have helped that the success of HOST offered renewed interest in British horror. That and the ongoing lockdowns giving people more time to sit and read! 

Of course, just as things were going well, I received the new that my day job was under threat. Perfect timing, as ever. After several weeks, the dreaded news that I was to be made redundant finally filtered through. Another tricky period commenced and mentally it was (and still is) a lot tougher than I’d envisaged. Thank god for Horrified.

If I’d have been granted a wish at the very beginning, it would have been to have Horrified still going after a month rather than disappearing due to lack of interest. But as I look back at our first few months, it’s hard not to feel pleased with how far we’ve come. I’ve tried to consolidate some of the big moments for the website and I think the following have been really exciting:

– The Stephen Volk celebration

I wouldn’t have even considered the prospect of featuring such a brilliant writer on the website, let alone publishing an interview with him. Stephen was so exceptionally generous with his time and it was a great honour to have been lucky enough to run a huge feature on him. The short story he wrote for us was just the gloriously delicious icing on the cake. 

– Horror stories from Horrified (vol 1)

A bonkers idea that somehow came to fruition and worked. I have to thank our Fiction Editor, John Clewarth, for his tireless work on this along with the great number of submissions we received. We’ll definitely be running a Vol 2 in the spring. 

– A Ghost Story for Christmas retrospective

This was something I wanted to produce from the very start. It was a monumental piece of work to pull together but so very worth it, due to the quality of writing from all the contributors. One of my proudest moments was pressing the Publish button and sending it out there. Had no-one read it, I’d have still enjoyed publishing the retrospective. 

But what of British horror in general? 

Well, the aforementioned HOST really focused the gaze of the horror community (Ugh! I hate that phrase) back on British and low-budget horror. It demonstrated the art of the possible and, one hopes, inspired a great number of British filmmakers to have a crack at their own horror efforts. 

Meanwhile, Horrified have begun to cover a number of low-budget horror films and shorts from British filmmakers. It’s been a hugely enjoyable experience to help champion these less-heralded films by hugely talented filmmakers working on such tiny budgets but producing outstanding work. We’ll be doing more of that next year, for sure, with more in-depth features into forthcoming productions and the filmmaking process. This isn’t reserved for just films either as we’ll continue to review books from small publishers and self-published works too. 

The next steps are, in no particular order (or 100% set in stone), a digital and physical magazine, YouTube channel, the aforementioned Volume 2 of Horror Stories from Horrified (including an audio version, if possible), a podcast, a Euro-horror version of Horrified, a proper News section, and even a British horror documentary at some stage. Yes, we’re thinking big, but why not? We’re not short of ideas, just short of time and money. Who isn’t? 🙂

All the remains for me to say is thank you to all our readers. Thank you to all our contributors. And thank you to all the Horrified gang working so hard in the background. Without all of you, collectively, none of this would exist. It’s been an absolute pleasure and an incredible experience so far. There’ll be further challenges to come in the new year – sadly 2021 isn’t going to be quite the fresh start that we’d all like – but I hope Horrified allows you to briefly escape to rigours of life in the strange world we all live in and find horrors of a far more pleasing kind. 

Cheers,
 
Jae – Editor-in-chief (30th December 2020)
 
Freddy fenech head shot

All change, please. All change.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything so here I am, back again, with some verbal diarrhoea and an update or two. 

First of all – I’ve changed my name. Well, not changed exactly, reverted to my real, weirdly spelt moniker (blame my parents). Yes, Freddy Fenech was a smokescreen, a disguise, a cunning ruse to throw my workplace off the scent of my existence on Twitter. The ‘joy’ of working for corporate entities, you see, is that there are spies everywhere and I wanted free reign to speak in any manner, about any subject and with as much fruity language – in the absence of a proper vocabulary – as I felt necessary without being summoned to the headmaster. With my job in throes of no longer being my job, however, I feel it’s high time to reveal myself. Cue: applause or casual indifference. Still, you can follow me @JaeProwse if you like. 

Second: have you seen or read any of Horrified‘s A Ghost Story for Christmas retrospective yet? Without wanting to blow one’s trumpet (too much), it is rather splendid. Yes, I’d liked to have done more in terms of exciting visuals and stuff, but how about those illustrations from Sarah Coomer and Rich Phillips? Amazing! Stunning! Gorgeous work from both! I’ve linked to Sarah’s website and Rich’s Twitter page – in lieu of a website – so do take a look. 

Sarah also contributed a fine essay on Lost Hearts too, so do have a read. Which brings me to the other writers who so generously wrote pieces for the retrospective. I wasn’t going to list the names…actually, I will. Here’s a full list of contributors and links to their social media pages, where available, so you can follow them and see what else they’re up to:

Dr Derek Johnstone: Introduction – The Ghost Story for Christmas and the Christmas Ghost Story

Graham Williamson: Whistle and I’ll Come To You / The Ash Tree / Number 13 / Martin’s Close

Lee Broughton and Richard Higson: The Stalls of Barchester

Daniel McGachey: A Warning to the Curious

Sarah Coomer and Ellis Reed: Lost Hearts

Conrad Kurtz; The Treasure of Abbot Thomas

Johnny Restall and Paul Childs (Paul’s essay will be published later this week): The Signalman

David Evans-Powell and Adrian Pennington: Stigma

Jon Dear: The Ice House / Whistle and I’ll Come to You (2010) / The Dead Room

Simon Allen: A View From a Hill

Paul Lewis: The Tractate Middoth

Peta Stamper: Martin’s Close

Please spend a minute or two following them all as collectively they’re producing fantastic work from television to critical writing, podcasts, fiction, lecturing, websites, producing, art, etc. My thanks to them all again for their efforts and incredible generosity in helping to bring Horrified‘s A Ghost Story for the Christmas retrospective to life.

I must also introduce and thank the following people who have kind enough to join the Horrified team and help me to keep this unwieldy beast in check!

*ANNOUNCEMENT TRUMPET*

John J Johnstone: Editor-at-large

John has been the font of great knowledge and editorial wisdom behind-the-scenes, helping to edit the Ghost Stories retrospective and will be invaluable in assisting with editorial duties the forthcoming magazine and some of the bigger pieces lined up for 2021. John is very busy and in-demand with his own profession but will contribute features to Horrified where time allows.

Ally Wilkes: Reviews Editor

Ally has been a wonderful contributor of book reviews in recent months and will take up the position of Reviews Editor, looking after all facets of fiction and non-fiction critical work. I’m really looking forward to working with her on this as we’re under increasing demand to review publications and Ally’s skills and experience are a perfect fit to oversee this. 

Melissa Cox: Web Content Editor

Melissa has also been working behind-the-scenes uploading and editing content ready for the website. You might be surprised to know that uploading each piece takes a surprisingly long time as here at Horrified, we like to format in a certain style to present the writers’ work in the most appealing way possible. They’ve worked hard researching and writing a feature or story, so we want to ensure that their submission isn’t just dumped on a webpage and sent out with little thought. Melissa has been brilliant working alongside me and ensuring each article looks its best. 

Rebecca McCallum: Admin, Planning and Ideas Wizard

Not an official title (we’ll have to agree on one), but Rebecca has been a brilliant organiser of Horrified‘s stuffed and poorly maintained – my fault – inboxes. She’s also a font of brilliant ideas and plans which we’ll be introducing in 2021. She’ll also form part of an editorial team in due course. 

John Clewarth: Fiction Editor

If you’re a fiction writer who’s submitted a story to Horrified, you’ll already know John. A fantastic editor who knows a good story when he reads one. He was instrumental in pulling Horror Stories for Horrified together and is a lovely chap to boot. 

Of course, we also have a number of regular writers and reviewers who never fail in producing brilliant work. We’re always on the look-out for more though, so do get in touch.

So that’s the team so far – as we grow (and hopefully we will), we’ll be bringing in more team members. Who knows where we’ll be this time next year. Pretty exciting though! 

Finally, then – we somehow managed to produce a digital volume of short festive tales Horror stories from Horrified: Christmas. Amazingly, we were oversubscribed for story entries, though any that didn’t make the final 16 will be published on the website this month. 

On the subject of the digital book, I just wanted to say that it was very hard work but incredibly fun and rewarding to pull together, but the feedback has been excellent – aside from a few download links not appearing in inboxes, which is hugely frustrating. My apologies to those who go in touch wondering where their link was. We think it looks great and it has sold relatively well for a publication produced by a tiny website so we’ll definitely look to do another in the spring. My thanks to John for his stellar work and to every writer who submitted. Thank you so much – I hope the book did you proud. 

Alright – that’s more than enough for now. All that remains for me to say is a very merry Christmas to all of you. Thank you for continuing to read Horrified and I hope the first few month’s of our existence has been as much fun for you as it has for us. 

Onward, to 2021! 

Cheers,
 
Jae – Editor-in-chief (3rd December 2020)
 
Freddy fenech head shot

An amazing weekend has reached a conclusion, and what a weekend it was… 

In case you missed it (surely, you didn’t!), Horrified ran a celebration of the tremendously talented Stephen Volk, writer of the seminal Ghostwatch, along with Afterlife, Gothic, numerous books – including a new favourite, The Dark Masters Trilogy – short stories and essays: a veritable high priest of wordplay (though I’m not sure he’ll thank me for calling him a high priest. Sorry, Stephen). 

The celebration marked the first time we’ve dedicated a weekend specifically to a British horror personality, though I dare say we will do again as it was tremendous fun. We produced some excellent content – visits to the website increased ten-fold so it’s safe to say you thought so too – our contributors really stepped up to ensure we had everything from reviews to essays to an interview with Stephen (a three-parter!). The great man even wrote a brand new short story for us – that’s the stuff dreams were made of when I first decided to set up a website. My thanks to Ann Laabs, John Clewarth, Ally Wilkes, Paul Gorman, and Graham Williamson for their stellar contributions, and, of course, Stephen Volk for being so engaged with what we were doing despite being very busy working on his next book. 

A special mention as well to Stephen’s publisher, PS Publishing, who kindly offered to run a brilliant competition to win not one but five of Stephen’s books. Incredible generosity. 

The next big project for Horrified is our long-gestating retrospective on the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas. There’s a lot to be done, I’ve managed to bring in another editor to help with the numerous essays on the various episodes and we also have some amazing artwork courtesy of Sarah Coomer so it’s going to look stunning. I’m already very proud of what I’m certain will be a truly wonderful retrospective. We’re due to publish the last week of November or the first week of December (TBC) so do look out for that. Following this, we’ll also be publishing our first eBook of Christmas Ghost Stories, which are currently in the process of being edited by Horrified‘s fiction editor, John Clewarth. Thank you to everyone who sent stories in for possible inclusion. We’ll be making the final selection shortly and will let everyone know whether they’ve been successful. Rest assured, though, even if you don’t make it into the eBook, you’ll definitely be published on the website. 


Slight segue – I bloody hate jump scares! Some people can watch horror films chock full of them and not jump once. Others crave them. Me? I’m a wincer. When I know there’s one coming I’ll find myself exploring the very corner of the TV screen with my eyelids pinched together as if I’m straining to find meaning in the area where two corners of plastic television frame meet. As much as I adore horror, I hate jumping out of my skin, especially when it’s done cheaply. 

I blame Val Lewton. If it wasn’t for the fabled ‘Lewton Bus’ in Cat People, a million and more horror films wouldn’t exercise the trope. That said, Lewton did it best. The reason I mention it is that I watched the US found-footage film Hell House LLC just the other night. I fully expected jump scares galore but writer and director Stephen Cognetti does, by-and-large, resist, preferring instead to build absolute dread and terror. It pays off handsomely, especially during a particularly frightening scene in which one of the Hell House crew receives a highly disturbing visit in the small hours. The final scene wasn’t quite as effective as I’d have liked, certainly not compared to one of the great British found-footage films in The Borderlands, but Hell House LLC is one of the better films of the sub-genre (and what a fine double-bill they’d make). A great Halloween watch. 

Finally, delusions of grandeur may have taken over once again. Flicking through the channels on Halloween, I was dismayed to see that terrestrial television featured just a single themed nod in the direction of the horror fan’s traditional favourite date in the calendar. Of all the days of the year, especially given that social gatherings are far more unlikely to have occurred, given the pandemic and all, they could have made an effort with an almost literally captive audience. 

Yes, I’m well aware that terrestrial television is hardly the home of the viewer who now has access to everything from Netflix to Shudder but it was still a bit of a miserable show. Anyway, I resolved to do something for Halloween 2021 and run a film festival that brings British horror fans together. Yes, I am that idiotic. A few conversations later (one of which that began prior to Halloween) and I discovered that it may be possible. Whether it happens on Halloween, is as huge and well-attended as my delusions allow, or actually happens at all is up for debate. However, there are lots of things I want to do with Horrified and I intend to, for better or worse, try them all out at some point. Why not, indeed?

Cheers,
 
Freddy – Editor (2nd November 2020)
 
Freddy fenech head shot

While I remain for now in full-time employment – at least, until I hear in the next week or so – Horrified is taking up so much of my time that I am on the verge of being unable to do both.

Obviously, I can’t give up my day job as Horrified doesn’t pay the bills, so it’s either a case of shutting down the website, scaling back hugely, or…

…calling on the kindness of friends of Horrified.

Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money. I do have a Patreon page but I can understand people’s reticence to spend their hard-earned cash propping up someone they don’t know, especially with the current state of world affairs!

No, what I’d like to do is establish a Horrified Editorial Team. The website (and magazine – it’s coming. Honest!) already has a number of wonderful contributors which is growing all the time, and John Clewarth is doing a sterling job of looking after editorial duties for fiction, but I could really do with some skills in other areas.

I’m now in a position to review books and I’ve had several offers to help with reviews, which is great, but I need some help manning the inbox, editing copy, uploading content (I have a pretty precise way of doing it which might drive people mad, but it’s the best way to keep things relatively uniform), doing some SEO work and a number of other facets of website life.

I can’t pay myself (or anyone else a the moment) and the website makes next to nothing – I’ve tried the Amazon affiliate approach but that will take a long time to establish and requires a great deal more traffic – hence the need for some proper SEO, promotion of the website etc.

This isn’t a whine about how awful things are, I really think Horrified has the potential to be a really big website. I’ve been amazed and thrilled that it’s received nothing but a positive response so far and I can’t begin to thank the amazing work of all our contributors. It’s been brilliant.

But it’s getting bigger all the time and I need help to keep momentum going. So…here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Features editor (film and television)
  • Reviews Editor (build contacts with publicists for review purposes)
  • Books Editor (build contacts with publishers, supply copies for reviewers)
  • Columnists (fortnightly column for mainstream and indie British horror)
  • SEO person (to help improve rankings fo Horrified and content)
  • WordPress/Elementor editor (to help with uploads and maintenance of content)
  • General contributors
 

Please understand, I’m under no illusions that I’m asking a lot (probably too much!) but if you can help, and do believe in what Horrified is trying to do, get in touch via horrifiedmagazine@gmail.com for a chat.

Cheers,
 
Freddy – Editor (5th October 2020)
 
Freddy fenech head shot

Jaws The Revenge - the most reviled and mocked of the series, but were the odds stacked against the film from the very start? Freddy Fenech finds out...

While I remain for now in full-time employment – at least, until I hear in the next week or so – Horrified is taking up so much of my time that I am on the verge of being unable to do both.

Obviously, I can’t give up my day job as Horrified doesn’t pay the bills, so it’s either a case of shutting down the website, scaling back hugely, or…

…calling on the kindness of friends of Horrified.

Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money. I do have a Patreon page but I can understand people’s reticence to spend their hard-earned cash propping up someone they don’t know, especially with the current state of world affairs!

No, what I’d like to do is establish a Horrified Editorial Team. The website (and magazine – it’s coming. Honest!) already has a number of wonderful contributors which is growing all the time, and John Clewarth is doing a sterling job of looking after editorial duties for fiction, but I could really do with some skills in other areas.

I’m now in a position to review books and I’ve had several offers to help with reviews, which is great, but I need some help manning the inbox, editing copy, uploading content (I have a pretty precise way of doing it which might drive people mad, but it’s the best way to keep things relatively uniform), doing some SEO work and a number of other facets of website life.

I can’t pay myself (or anyone else a the moment) and the website makes next to nothing – I’ve tried the Amazon affiliate approach but that will take a long time to establish and requires a great deal more traffic – hence the need for some proper SEO, promotion of the website etc.

This isn’t a whine about how awful things are, I really think Horrified has the potential to be a really big website. I’ve been amazed and thrilled that it’s received nothing but a positive response so far and I can’t begin to thank the amazing work of all our contributors. It’s been brilliant.

But it’s getting bigger all the time and I need help to keep momentum going. So…here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Features editor (film and television)
  • Reviews Editor (build contacts with publicists for review purposes)
  • Books Editor (build contacts with publishers, supply copies for reviewers)
  • Columnists (fortnightly column for mainstream and indie British horror)
  • SEO person (to help improve rankings fo Horrified and content)
  • WordPress/Elementor editor (to help with uploads and maintenance of content)
  • General contributors
 

Please understand, I’m under no illusions that I’m asking a lot (probably too much!) but if you can help, and do believe in what Horrified is trying to do, get in touch via horrifiedmagazine@gmail.com for a chat.

Cheers,
 
Freddy – Editor (5th October 2020)
 
Freddy fenech head shot

It’s been a sad couple of days for the big cinema chains. In case you don’t already know, Cineworld announced the closure all of its theatres in the UK and US on an ostensibly temporary basis.

Odeon then followed suit by revealing that they’d only open at weekends for the foreseeable future. A number of high profile films have either been pushed back a number of times in the increasingly vain hope that cinemas will reopen permanently to a rabid public or have looked at alternatives such as streaming and VOD. Meanwhile the Prime Minister encourages people to go to the cinema while insisting people should keep apart for their own safety. Oxymoron indeed. 

Eschewing, the government’s clarity-free thinking for a moment, the challenge for cinemas, even if they were to throw open their door again tomorrow, is that people are (and will continue to be) fearful of watching films in confined spaces with other members of the public. There’s an understandably palpable fear of other people and the potentially fatal, not to mention highly contagious, malady they may unwittingly be carrying.

It’s almost as if this entire nightmare was a horror film…

Of course, if the big cinema chains are dying, those poor indie picture houses have probably already flatlined. They may well rise again in the future, but sadly that means very little to those who have lost their livelihoods in 2020. 


So, we’re all stuck at home. Again. Yes, it’s not a full lockdown but the alternatives in the current climate aren’t particularly appealing. Fortunately, depending upon how you view it, I’ve been doing some browsing to see what British Horror can be enjoyed across the various streaming platforms. 

At present, Amazon Prime has a number of Hammer films, indies and so on available to watch for free (if you have Prime). Here’s a list to get you started…

  • The Mummy
  • The Curse of Frankenstein
  • The Abominable Snowman
  • The Curse of the Werewolf
  • The Quatermass Xperiment
  • X The Unknown
  • Quatermass II
  • Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
  • Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
  • Wake Wood
  • Dr Terror’s House of Horrors
  • Crooked House
  • Haunted House of Horror
  • Blood of the Vampire
  • The Devil’s Men
  • Prevenge
  • An English Haunting
  • Horror Hospital
  • Whistle and I’ll Come to You (2010)
  • Let Us Prey
  • Day of the Triffids (1964)
  • The Cat and the Canary (1978)
  • Eat Locals
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Attack the Block
  • Howl
  • The Borderlands
  • Byzantium
 
And if none of those float your boat, remember you can always curl up and read some of the latest articles and stories on Horrified. Just this week, we’ve had article including A Dark Song, Witchfinder General, Don’t Look Now, Dracula A.D. 1972, Elisabeth Lutyens, and The Vampire Lovers
 
If it’s a chilling story or two you’re after then our most recent tales include The Subtlety of Serpents, The Periphery and The White Tree.
 
Coming up there’s articles on Xtro, early nineties television show Chimera and a feature on Inside No. 9’s Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. We’ve also plenty more stories and a number of new books reviews and competitions, plus a Ghostwatch-related treat for Halloween. 
 
That’s all for now. I’ve films to stream! 
 
Until next time.
 
Cheers,
 
Freddy – Editor (5th October 2020)
 
Freddy fenech head shot

You may have seen over the past couple of days on social media that I’ve been asking a number of questions about possible avenues of commerce for the website. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a grand plan to make millions and flee for warmer climes (at least, not one that involves Horrified) but I’d dearly love to be able to do this on a more permanent basis. How wonderful it would be to pay contributors for their, quite frankly, Herculean efforts thus far. Everyone has been extraordinarily generous with their time, expertise and offers to become involved with the Horrified ‘project’ – yep, I said it.

Back to my point. I’ve posted a few questions asking what kind of Horrified(y) items you lovely people might be persuaded to part with your hard cash for and it seems that fridge magnets are a popular choice! I do intend to offer branded items at some point, but what I really want to do – and what remains the abiding intention for Horrified – is to keep moving forward with the celebration and championing of British horror. 

With that in mind, it has to be something a bit more exciting than simply selling a Horrified mug. Yes, brand recognition is important (I can never quite shake off my marketing background) but it pales in comparison to the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of posting a new article from a contributor and reading the comments from those who’ve enjoyed it. The website has been a joy to edit and will continue to grow over time but the worst thing I could do at this stage is to start including annoying ad pop-ups, banner, etc., as it would ruin the reader’s experience which, even for some funds in the Horrified coffers, just isn’t worth it. 

The answer, I hope, is a digital magazine. The title of this column was prophetic after all. I said prophetic – stop laughing at the back! If all goes to plan, the magazine will include exclusive content, stories, interviews and tons of other stuff. It may include some ads, though these will be relevant to British horror or they won’t feature at all. The main thrust of the mag, as with the website, is for contributors with a love of British horror to present their passion for the subject – be that writing, illustrations, and so on.

Horrified Magazine mockup (illustration by Alisdair Wood

There’s no date for publication at the moment. I’m going to pull the magazine together slowly until I’m happy with it and then publish and see how things go. I’ve been really encouraged by the reaction to the proposed magazine and the offers of help from some very talented people. The cost is likely to be about £3.99 and I’m thinking about a subscription offer, though I’m still exploring this and it will depend entirely upon sales of the inaugural issue. 

Ideally, I’d love a physical mag but at this point in time it’s just not feasible. Nonetheless, Horrified is definitely keen on potential submissions for the magazine, both non-fiction and fiction. If you’re interested in writing* something for the mag, please email horrifiedmagazine@gmail.com (please title the email Horrified Magazine so we know what your pitch is pertaining to). 

Until next time.

Cheers,

Freddy – Editor (21st September 2020)

hugo

*At the risk of sounding like a broken record, all submissions are currently unpaid but I genuinely hope that we’ll be able to offer contributors something in 2021.

Is it too early for a follow-up post? Actually, yes. Probably. There are a couple of things I need to keep you up-to-date with.

First, I’ve posted a few tweets to give you, my dearest reader, a flavour of what’s coming up on Horrified. I am more than a little excited about some of the writers who are busying themselves with features on some of the cream of British horror. It’s no stretch to say that we’ve some writing coming your way that I can’t wait to read let alone publish. Also, without going into detail (as we’d literally be killed!), we’ve had enquires for one or two Horrified writers to work on some upcoming physical media releases, which is amazing and a real tribute to the work that we’ve been lucky enough to publish.

Some of the content I’ve been lucky enough to post so far has been pretty damn good, right? That’s absolutely no reflection on me; I am no more than the conduit for this stuff, but the quality of work has been more than I could possibly have hoped for. I’m loathe to highlight certain pieces of work for fear of leaving others out but if I may draw your attention to a few of the writers that have absolutely blown my mind with their brilliance. Emma Louise Platt’s wonderfully inciteful Duality in The Descent;  Jane Nightshade’s piece on Frenzy (which just appeared one morning in my inbox, ready to go); and Caitlyn Downs feature on The Woman In Black, which has had a number of long-time fans of the film enthusing about Caitlyn’s new take. That’s not to mention Andrew Screen’s in-depth look at Nigel Kneale’s Beasts, Graham Williamson’ Tom Baker career retrospective and Andy Roberts’ deepest of dives into The Flesh-Eating Curiosities of Eurocine. Agh – do you see how difficult it is to leave anyone out?! So much good stuff. Do check out all of their writing if you haven’t already.

It’s not just British horror film and television writing – the Stories page has been a brilliant addition too. I’m happy to report that, not only are people reading the stories (I confess, I wasn’t 100% sure the page would receive many visits) but you’ve been commenting, reviewing and sharing them on social media too.  I’ve definitely been unnerved by some of the stories that have found their way to Horrified such as John Clewarth’s Beyond the Horizon which proper freaked me out!

Speaking of John, I’m very happy to announce that he’s offered to help edit the Stories section of the website. He’s a fantastic writer and will be a wonderful fiction editor for Horrified. If you’re keen to submit some short horror fiction, email John at johnclewarth@gmail.com. He’s very nice. Promise. We’re still going to be championing new and emerging writers, so do continue to send your work in (fiction to John, everything else to horrifiedmagazine@gmail.com). By the way, all the fiction we currently have in our schedule will definitely be published so don’t worry that your hard work might go missing.

Finally, I’m back to work later this week on a full-time basis (boo!) so production may slow a little to an article every two-to-three days, at least until I can get the balance right. With that in mind, though, I’m thinking about getting the Horrified Patreon page into shape. I know, I know, everyone does it and we’re all desperately trying to cling onto our jobs so handing over any of our hard-earned cash is a bit of a stretch for even the best-paid (well, maybe not the best-paid). However, I am planning to build in some tiers with exclusive content, maybe a digital magazine version of Horrified, some branded swag, etc., so watch out for it and if you feel so inclined, maybe this Horrified thing will take off.

Which leaves me with one final note of thanks. Without you reading, commenting, sharing and encouraging me (and the writers), Horrified wouldn’t be possible. I love receiving emails with pitches and submissions and it’s the greatest feeling publishing a new article or story. It takes a bit of work to get them uploaded, source images, get the formatting right and so on because they’re all completely unique (there are no crappy bog-standard blog uploads around here, no Sir!). But it’s worth every second I spend doing it. I think I might love you all a bit. 

I’m not crying, I’ve just got something in my eye!

Until next time.

Cheers,

Freddy – Editor (15th September 2020)

hugo

Right, I thought I’d give this a try. Essentially, I thought I’d write the type of brief intro that editors often prefix magazines with.

The only real difference being, I’m going to do it as a kind of bi-weekly column and see where it goes, if it works, whether anyone reads it or whether I should just stop waffling and get on with my day job. Oh, and it’s not exactly brief. Sorry.

So, let me first explain how Horrified got here. A few months ago, with the collapse of Fangoria following the Cinestate sexual misconduct scandal still a hot topic, I somewhat stupidly posted this on my personal Twitter page:

twitter

I was joking. Sort of.

A number of conversations later, however, it dawned on me just what a preposterous proposition this was. Yes, it took A NUMBER of conversations for this to occur. I’m naturally a big thinker (some say naïve, but I just hit them with my Star Wars figures) and tend to worry less so about minutiae. Plus, I had grand visions of a glossy magazine that would outsell Scream Magazine, Fangoria, etc. A really inclusive, beautiful website with writers pitching incredible articles and traffic through the roof, a podcast, film production, and so on….and so on.

Oh, also I imagined handing in my notice at work as I went full-time on this thing. That was, and still is, my favourite daydream.

Once I got over these delusions of grandeur, I started to really think about what might actually possible. A website seemed like the most straightforward solution, but I’d need content and since I’m neither a particularly good writer nor quick at turning around articles, and I knew I didn’t have the budget to pay anyone, I’d need to rely on the kindness of strangers. And how you responded!

Say what you like about social media but building the Horrified name without any sort of product (a website, at the very least) would not have been possible without Twitter. 99% of the writers that came forward did so because they’d seen the Horrified posts asking – practically begging – for pitches and submissions.

At the time, I wasn’t even sure which path the website would take. I knew I wanted to cover British horror, initially because most horror websites seem to focus on the biggest films and the biggest stories, which usually results in the lion’s share of content discussing US-made films. Of course, this is completely understandable as the subject matter is popular, meaning plenty of willing potential readers.

But I didn’t want Horrified to get lost in the white noise and become another ‘also-ran’ horror website. There was no way to out-muscle the likes of Bloody Disgusting or Dread Central but what I could do was look closer to home and instead celebrate European horror. Yet, even this seemed too broad and it became clear that to make this work I’d need to really refine the Horrified’s outlook. Hence, British horror.

Now, I love world horror. I’m a fan of everything from Korean zombies to Universal monsters to the Golden Age of the Slasher movies. But I adore British horror. Give me Ghost Stories for Christmas, Nigel Kneale’s Beasts, Ghostwatch, The Blood on Satan’s Claw, Twins of Evil, Dead of Night (I could go on…) and I’m absolutely, deliriously, joyously happy. Therefore, it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to decide to focus solely on British horror, albeit with the occasional nod to horrors further afield – just to stretch our legs, you understand.

And so, with the Twitter page live, I started to build a following and, although I’ve been loathe to use the term before because I refused to believe it existed, something of a community. It wasn’t long before I’d received a number of submissions – and I have to say at this point, I’m so grateful to those who decided to chance their arm before they had any idea whether the website would ever actually exist – followed by one or two emails enquiring whether I had any plans to publish short horror stories. Honestly, I hadn’t given it a moment’s thought until then, but I’m glad I made the decision to incorporate a Stories page as we’ve had some absolutely brilliant stories through and I hope we have many more in the future.

I worked away quietly on the website at night while my family slept soundly; my wife delighted not to have me snoring in her ear – and tried my best not to swear and throw my laptop through the window on numerous occasions. Eventually, it was in the kind of shape that I thought gave a it a sheen of professionalism, rather than the look of a fan site. Yes, I do suffer from delusions of grandeur(!) as previously mentioned, but I genuinely want Horrified to the look the part as well as be a huge success. There’s no reason that it shouldn’t grow as long as we keep providing you, the reader, with quality articles, features, stories and more. We simply wish to continue celebrate and champion British horror. 

Horrified will do our best to publish, give a voice to and champion anyone who wishes to try their hand at writing about their passions. If we had tenets, this would absolutely be one. Along with, ‘All gifts grateful received’ and, probably, ‘Bring beer’. 

That’s more than enough for now – my next column will feature more British horror and less waffle. But I can promise nothing at this stage 🙂

I hope we’re doing you proud so far.

Cheers,

Freddy Fenech* – Editor

P.S. Rest in peace, Diana Rigg. An absolute titan. Theatre of Blood and Detectorists are two huge favourites at Horrified House.

hugo

*Incidentally not my real name.

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