We’re back and we’re staring in disbelief as our hands fall off.

Media Catch-up – TV

Once again, we are perched open mouthed before the small screen, gobbling down televisual delights and regurgitating opinions. This is the latest in our ongoing series of media reviews, sharing our thoughts on the TV programmes we’ve been watching lately. There’s more horror than usual in our selections, making this episode dangerously on-topic. We’ll do better next time.

Things we mention in this episode include:

We’re back and we’re puzzling over titles. If you were making a Gothic horror film about a haunted village, you might wisely consider a name like Curse of the Dead. Hell, if you wanted to cash in on the popularity of a more famous film, you could even rerelease it as Curse of the Living Dead. On the other hand, you might go for Operation Fear as something more unusual, although that is a bit too close to “Project Fear” for this post-Brexit age. If you were German, you may even consider The Dead Eyes of Dr Dracula, although you might struggle to explain why. On balance, maybe Kill, Baby… Kill! isn’t the worst title you could come up with, although it is close. Maybe another bump of cocaine will shake some inspiration loose.

Main Topic: Kill, Baby… Kill!

Building on last episode’s exploration of Gothic horror, we thought we’d follow up with a look at a film that typifies the genre. There are a great many films ostensibly linked to the Gothic, but far fewer that really embody both the tropes and the aesthetic. And, when you narrow things down in those terms, one director stands out: Mario Bava.

Kill, Baby… Kill! may not be particularly well known, but it turns up regularly on critics’ lists of the best horror films. It’s a strange affair, made on a ludicrously tight budget and largely improvised. As our hosts’ reactions demonstrate, it is not a film for everyone, Still, if you are a fan of classic Italian horror or just dreamlike atmosphere with flashes of weirdness, you’re in for a treat.

Kill, Baby... Kill! 1

Things we mention in this episode include:

Kill, Baby... Kill! 2
Kill, Baby... Kill! 3

News

Matt at Con-Tingency

Matt will be attending the Con-Tingency convention in Hunstanton later this month. The convention officially runs between the 18th and 22nd of January, but unofficial games start whenever people arrive. Matt is probably there right now. While he is excited to be going, he has promised to take things easier than usual, given his ongoing convalescence. If you are there, please do say hi to him! And tell him to get some sleep.

Matt Nixon

While we were recording, we received a message telling us our old friend Matt Nixon had just died in hospital. This makes the last five minutes of the episode unusually sombre.

If you have attended more than a few British conventions over the past 25 years, you almost certainly knew Matt. “Larger than life” may be an overused phrase, but it’s hard to think of a better description. He was a compelling presence at every gathering — boisterous, gregarious and, sometimes, abrasive. Everyone who knew Matt could tell you a tale of him getting on their nerves or saying something ill-advised, but the chances are that they would then follow it up with a memory of Matt being kind, charming, or, at least, comically mischievous. Like everyone, he was a complicated individual.

Matt’s games were the stuff of legend. All three of us played with him whenever we could. He was a creative GM, never short of an idea, and his enthusiasm and love of shocking people made him a natural at running horror. This led to Matt becoming a member of the Kult of Keepers, the Call of Cthulhu GM collective that, indirectly, spawned 7th edition.

But, most of all, Matt was a character. Drunken conversations with him were a highpoint of any convention, as well as an endless source of anecdotes. Even when he was at his most provocative, the stories we told about him afterwards were usually accompanied by wry smiles.

All three of us shall miss Matt immensely. He has left a hole in the UK gaming world that only he could have filled.

We’re back and we’re skulking around the old ruined abbey. Sure, the place is lousy with ghosts, but they’re not really that important. We’re far more concerned with the weather. If reading Gothic horror has taught us anything, it’s that storms are caused by our own inner turmoil. Or is that the other way around? Maybe we could figure it out if all these bloody ghosts would just shut up. Why won’t the past just stay dead?

Main Topic: Gothic Horror

This episode is our attempt to understand what exactly Gothic horror is. We’ve often mentioned how Lovecraft’s early work was rooted in the Gothic, but we’ve never really explained what that means. Gothic horror is one of those genres that you know when you see it, but actually defining it can be tricky.

Happily, Matt has a degree in English, and part of his studies involved the history of Gothic literature. We imposed upon him to dig out some of his dusty old texts and explain what elements go into Gothic horror and how the genre stands apart from other forms of horror literature.

Things we mention in this episode include:

mill of the stone women poster

News

Illusion Horror Con Seminars

Matt and Scott recently attended the Illusion Horror Con, taking part in seminars discussing horror GMing techniques, how to take inspiration from horror media, and the cosmology of the Kult RPG. All of these are now available for your streaming pleasure.

Paul’s Substack

Paul has started his own substack over at paulfricker.com, talking about the various projects he has on the go.

Rivers of London Launch at Dragonmeet

Paul attended Dragonmeet last month to promote the new Rivers of London RPG. He took part in a seminar on the topic, alongside Lynne Hardy and Ben Aaronovitch. While this was apparently recorded, it has yet to appear on YouTube. We shall update the show notes should this change.

The PDF of Rivers of London is out now, with printed copies due in the spring.

Our 2023 ghost story for Christmas concludes with part 4 of Nikolai Gogol’s “The Viy”.

Good friend of the Good Friends, Mike Perceval-Maxwell (host of Mr Spike’s Bedtime Stories), has once again organised a suitably eerie performance on our Discord server. He is joined by guest readers Dom Allen, John Casey, Scott Dorward, Sarah Dovey, Rina Haenze and Sue Savage.

We have broken the story up into four parts. Part 1, part 2 and part 3 are also available for download.

So fortify yourself with some brandy, listen for the cock crowing, and, whatever you do, don’t look into the Viy’s eyes!

The Viy by Nikolai Gogol

Shchedryk” (Carol of the Bells), performed by the choir “Solomiya”, is used here under a Creative Commons Attribution Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International Licence.

If you would like to read along at home, you can find “The Viy” on The Literature Network.

There is also a fantastic film adaptation of “The Viy” available on YouTube.

You can also read Scott’s review of the film, from his 2013 October Horror Movie Challenge, on this very server.

And if all this has put you in the mood for Christmas ghost stories, please check out our previous readings:

Our 2023 ghost story for Christmas continues with part 3 of Nikolai Gogol’s “The Viy”.

Good friend of the Good Friends, Mike Perceval-Maxwell (host of Mr Spike’s Bedtime Stories), has once again organised a suitably eerie performance on our Discord server. He is joined by guest readers Dom Allen, John Casey, Scott Dorward, Sarah Dovey, Rina Haenze and Sue Savage.

We have broken the story up into four parts. Our plan is to release them all as bonus episodes in the run-up to Christmas. You can download part 1 and part 2 here.

If you would like to listen to the final part live, you can hear it on our Discord server. We will be reading at 22:30 GMT on the Friday the 23rd of December.

So light some candles, mutter a protective prayer, and duck before that coffin smacks you in the head!

The Viy by Nikolai Gogol

Shchedryk” (Carol of the Bells), performed by the choir “Solomiya”, is used here under a Creative Commons Attribution Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International Licence.

If you would like to read along at home, you can find “The Viy” on The Literature Network.

There is also a fantastic film adaptation of “The Viy” available on YouTube.

You can also read Scott’s review of the film, from his 2013 October Horror Movie Challenge, on this very server.

And if all this has put you in the mood for Christmas ghost stories, please check out our previous readings: