Horror Is At It’s Best When….
by Mark Matthews, editor and contributing author to “Garden of Fiends”
Horror is at its best when it reveals a larger truth about the world we live in. Either through metaphor (ex: Godzilla as the atom bomb, The Blob as communism) or simply through shining the light in the dark places that other genres may avoid. Horror is not afraid to go there, and when it does, it has capacity that other genres do not. Right now, opioid addiction is an epidemic. Everyday we hear horror stories such as toddlers found in the back-seat of a car with overdosed parents in the front or a batch of fentanyl-laced heroin killing scores of people. Such is the theme of the newly released anthology: Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror
Addiction as horror in film is nothing new. We’ve seen plenty of addicts exist in horror movies already. How can we forget the plight of the heroin addict in Saw? Or the protagonist in the Evil Dead remake trying to detox in an isolated cabin. Her detox is indeed frightening.
The Exorcist is tops on many lists as the most frightening movie (and novel) ever made, and one can easily see it as a metaphor for a mother fighting the demon of addiction in her daughter. The spitefulness and cunning of the possessed Regan certainly resembles that of an addict. The coldness of her breath seems the disease of addiction. The way her skin changes, same way a heroin addict’s flesh shows track marks. Underneath all her maleficence, the true Regan is suffering underneath and needs saving. The mother makes desperate attempts to get help from every professional possible, but feels more and more powerless as things get worse and nothing helps. Her last resort is something spiritual, and the treatment feels like warfare.
What parent wouldn’t beg to the addiction possessing their child: “God damn you, come into me! Take me!” and then fling themselves to their death, all in order to save their daughter.
Horror and addiction go hand in hand, and a helpless parent trying to save their child from addiction is the theme behind my own title (and the title track) in the anthology, Garden of Fiends. Other stories feature the monstrosity of what it means to be chemically dependent, where the compulsion to get high causes true horror. The craving for a substance is not much different than a vampire who craves blood.
Most mirrors can’t reflect things in the dark, but horror can, and is at its best when it does. I invite you to spend some time in the garden.
Check it out Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror
with stories by; Kealan Patrick Burke, Jessica McHugh, Max Booth III, Glen Krisch, John FD Taff, Johann Thorsson, Mark Matthews, Jack Ketchum
“There’s something here to scare anyone and everyone. Garden of Fiends pushes all the wrong buttons in all the right ways!”
-Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of Dogs of War and Mars One
“Garden of Fiends is scary in the realest of ways. What fertile ground for horror; stories that already, by nature, take place in the Twilight Zone; where lies and shady acts are the rule; where men and women step out of one world and into another; a place where addiction is king. John FD Taff’s ‘Last Call’ is worth the price of admission alone.”
–Josh Malerman, Bram Stoker nominated author of Bird Box
“A brilliant and original concept, Garden of Fiends captures the struggles of addiction and the horrors they inflict on those affected by it. Yes, it is dark and visceral, but with moments of hope throughout that make this a memorable collection of stories.”
–The Horror Bookshelf