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mark mclaughlin


We're extremely proud to include Bram Stoker Award winner Mark McLaughlin's column Four-Letter Word Beginning with `F' as one of the features EXCLUSIVE to HORROR GARAGE!

Mark McLaughlin

Mark McLaughlin's fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in more than 800 magazines, anthologies, newspapers, and websites, including Horror Garage, Doorways, Hungur, Cemetery Dance, Space & Time, The Black Gate, Galaxy, Writer's Digest, FilmFax, Dark Arts, Midnight Premieres, and two volumes each of The Best of the Rest, The Best of HorrorFind, and The Year's Best Horror Stories. Collections of his fiction include Pickman's Motel, Slime After Slime, Motivational Shrieker, At the Foothills of Frenzy (with Shane Ryan Staley and Brian Knight), and All Things Dark and Hideous (with Michael McCarty). Also, he is the co-author, with Rain Graves and David Niall Wilson, of the poetry collection The Gossamer Eye, which won a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry. His most recent poetry collection, Phantasmapedia, was a finalist for the Stoker Award.

In September 2008, Delirium Books/Corrosion Press released Monster Behind the Wheel, a novel Mark wrote with collaborator Michael McCarty. In that same month, Skull Vines Press released Attack of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster, also co-written with Michael McCarty. These and other books can be ordered at www.horror-mall.com. Be sure to visit Mark online at www.myspace.com/monsterbook and


Welcome once again to my online fear-tasting salon, where I pour forth cinematic terrors, sniff them, swirl them around in my glass, and then guzzle them down. I'm writing this on New Year's Day. My holidays were lots of fun this year, so I'm still in the holiday spirit. And in honor of the holidays--a time for kids and immature goofs like me!--I rented two very different 2006 releases, dark fantasies aimed at youngsters: Monster House and Nanny McPhee. Watching them, I found an intriguing link, a surprising slant on fear between the two of them.

Here's a quick overview of both movies (revealing lots of their plots! If you haven't seen one and/or the other, you may want to stop reading now and visit your nearest movie rental outlet before reading on.):

Monster House is a 100-percent-CGI feature about two young boys who discover that the house across the street is a living, predatory, ravenous entity. The house is inhabited by a crabby, scrawny old man with a shocking long-time secret. He would have fit in quite well in any vintage Scooby Doo cartoon, hatching some overly complex scheme and hollering about how he'd have gotten away with it if it weren't for those pesky kids and their dog (funny how the old men in those cartoons never happened to mention, "By the way, how come that dog can talk and walk on his hind-legs? Is he a mutant or what?").

We eventually learn that years ago, the old man's wife, a hefty circus gal with an abundantly hearty appetite, had died in the house while it was under construction, and her hungry spirit continues to live in--and animate--the building. The scenario of an old man living inside his wife reminds me of those carnivorous deep-sea fishes where the female is huge and horrendous and the male is a weensy pipsqueak who swims in her wake. One of the boys in the movie makes the observation that the not-so-little missus is literally the old man's "house-wife."

The old man loves his gigantic architectural mate and will do anything to protect her. The two of them are happy enough when left to their own devices, but alas, they live in a world with other people, and so "playing well with others" doesn't figure into the big picture for them.

Nanny McPhee is very much like a dark retelling of Mary Poppins. Both are about magical British nannies who soon win over every member of a troubled family, even down to the pets. But while Mary was all pretty dimples, cloying sweetness, and lively show-tunes, Nanny is more into hairy warts, cryptic comments, and decidedly witchy behavior. (The first time I saw Mary Poppins, I later asked a couple friends, "Now, she's supposed to be a witch, right? I mean, how else can all that magic stuff be explained?" But apparently they didn't think she was a witch at all, so maybe that was just something I read into it).