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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


Funny, it's always people with big bank accounts who say, "Money isn't everything!"

People with empty wallets usually utter such quaint quips as, "For God's sake, please give me a dollar, I haven't eaten in two weeks!" or "I've got a knife! Hand over all your cash!" The sort of droll witticisms that Oscar Wilde used to spout at royal soirees.

A lack of money is truly frightening, and as you know, this column is the place where we talk about all the things that make us shiver and shake like Autumn leaves in a brisk breeze. The four-letter word in question isn't fork, funk or even feck (what a feckless person doesn't have): it's FEAR.

Some people can be fairly content living with very little money, but as our society becomes more high-tech... and expensive!... those people are quickly becoming a vanishing breed. I mean, we all need our cell phones and Internet connections and iPods and cool cars and widescreen TVs and oh, the list goes on and on, up to and including sonic potato-peelers and solar-powered tweezers. Maybe I should email some Amish people to see how they enjoy living simple lives.... Oh wait, they don't have computers.

Or maybe I should call some Australian aborigines and.... Oh wait, they don't have phones. Plus, I don't know how to speak their tongue-clicking language. Personally, I think Americans should replace swear-words with clicking. The more clicks, the naughtier the swear-word. "Tony, when are you going to pay me that CLICK CLICK CLICK thirty bucks you owe me? It's been five CLICK CLICK CLICK LICK months and you said you were going to pay me back when you got your next CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK paycheck, you CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK!"

You know who was always short of money in scary movies from the Sixties? Barbara Steele, the queen of grainy black-and-white Italian horror films. Her characters were as lovely as they were greedy, and they were always killing off their rich husbands as they vehemently hissed way too much exposition. A typical rant of theirs would usually go something like this: "Yes, Orlando, my pathetic, much-older husband, I put that poison in your wine and that strange lethargy you now find creeping over your feeble body is in fact the onslaught of death! Soon you shall be buried deep in the earth while I spend your money and the rest of my life making the beast with two backs with Sergio, the delectably handsome stable-boy! Hahahahahahaha!"

The oddest of Barbara's greedy-adulteress movies was probably the lavishly titled Terror Creatures From the Grave (1965), in which her castle is attacked by the spirits of vengeful plague victims who can only be destroyed with... rain. Sorry, but a water-soluble monster isn't all that scary.

Oh sure, it was a novel idea back when Dorothy threw that bucket of water on the Wicked Witch of the West, but even then, the concept was filled with holes. Didn't the Wicked Witch ever bathe? Maybe that's why she was so green. If she couldn't stand water, what the heck did she eat or drink? Practically everything edible has at least a little water in it. Maybe she just ate leftover Thanksgiving turkey. That's usually pretty dry.

In The Devil Bat (1940), Bela Lugosi plays a scientist driven mad by the fact that perfume executives have made millions off his formulas, while he was only given a paltry lump sum. So, he builds a huge laboratory in his house so he can create gigantic bats to kill his enemies. My question is: where'd he get the money to build such a fancy laboratory? Plus, his house has a lot of secret passages, and secret passages don't come cheap. Make no mistake: they're pricey. A contractor once gave me a quote on some secret passages for my house. One look at that estimate and I decided to stick with regular old hallways, thank you very much.

Mad scientists always seem to be able to come up with enough funds to build complex laboratories. Like those mad scientists from all the old Universal monster movies, Dr. Frankenstein and all the rest... I guess we were to assume they all inherited a lot of money, along with their madness.