Before deciding to take writing seriously Paul had done many things, printer, caving, the SCA, Brew-master, punk singer, music critic etc. Starting with his time as the vocalist as such bands as The Repressed and FCOH, he moved on to being a DJ and then to the glamour of being a music reviewer(sarcasm implied here). Since then he has appeared in numerous science fiction, and horror magazines and anthologies. Born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, he moved to Appalachia in his 30’s for the peace and adventure found there. He has three children, two who live in his native Pennsylvania, and one interrupting his writing constantly at home. Married to his lovely wife Leslie for over twenty years, they live in a fairy tale town in nestled in a valley by a river.
WHAT IS A PADDYWACK?: AND OTHER IMPORTANT QUESTIONS BY PAUL LUBACZEWSKI
Amazon best seller Paul Lubaczewski returns with a collection of short stories that are always horrific and yet often dark and personal as well with “What Is a Paddywack.” It includes the 2018 Annual Critters Readers' Poll runner up “The Last of the Ashiptu” and much more including the novella “The Fire That Remembers.” Stories of ghosts, witches, haunted buildings, demons and dark monsters from this world and beyond the stars themselves populate the pages of this collection. Terror leavened with deeper emotions are on tap in the pages of “What Is a Paddywack.”
Amazon best seller Paul Lubaczewski presents a collection of horror and science fiction torn straight from the psyche. Thirteen tales of revenge, witchcraft, ghosts, greed, and terrors from beyond the realm of human understanding populate “What Is A Paddywack”
What the critics are saying about Paul Lubaczewski
“Paul doesn’t pull punches in the horror department, really building the tension especially in the hunts, where anything can happen.” -Biff Bam Pop!
“Paul Lubaczewski is a super talented writer able to grab and hold the attention throughout his entire story.”- GBHBL
“Paul Lubaczewski wrote something that was a beautiful,weird, but beautiful gleam of light in this year of 2020.”- Punk Rock Horror Podcast
“The important aspect of all this is the fact readers will care about the characters involved… and that makes all the difference.”- Diabolique Magazine
Revisiting the ‘Masters of Horror’: Cigarette Burns by Richard martin
We are living in a golden age of horror on TV. Shows like ‘The Walking Dead’, ‘Supernatural’ and ‘American Horror Story’ have effectively taken the genre mainstream, offering weekly doses of gore and mayhem to the masses. Go back a decade or two however, and genre fans had far fewer options to choose from. Anthology shows, like ‘Tales From the Crypt’, ‘Monsters’ or ‘Tales From the Darkside’ were king during the horror heyday of the 1980s, providing cheesy and cheerful tongue in cheek horror in half hour bites. It wasn’t until 2005 that the TV horror anthology show got serious, and delivered arguably the most consistent, memorable and scary anthology show to date.
The brainchild of horror legend Mick Garris, the show’s title is no hyperbole. ‘Masters of Horror’ brought together the best horror talent Hollywood (and beyond) had to offer. Episodes directed by undisputed genre luminaries such as John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento and Stuart Gordon were like hour long movies brought to your TV screen. High production values, A-List talent and a free reign to do whatever they pleased resulted in some truly unforgettable work from a group of horror legends let off their leash. These are stories that have stayed with me in the fifteen years since many initially aired and, in this series, I’ll be revisiting all twenty-six episodes, one at a time, to shine a light on a fondly remembered and undeniably influential moment in horror TV history.
Join me as I take a look back at;
Directed by: John Carpenter
Starring: Norman Reedus, Udo Kier, Gwynyth Walsh, Christopher Redman
Original Air Date: 16 December 2005
Synopsis: A theatre owner and rare films dealer is sent to track down an infamous movie that is said to have instigated rioting and bloodshed at its’ initial screening before seemingly being destroyed.
This is it! The big one folks, the episode that is probably the best known of Masters of Horror’s twenty-six episode run, perhaps the best-regarded and probably my personal favourite. To say I was excited to get to ‘Cigarette Burns’ would be an understatement. My expectations at the time I first watched this episode, way back in 2005, were sky-high. I was already in love with movies John Carpenter movies like ‘The Thing’ and ‘Halloween’ and was only a few years away from discovering classics such as ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ and ‘Big Trouble In Little China’. Couple this with this episode’s story, of a legendary horror movie that causes anyone who views it to commit horrific acts of violence, and this episode was always going to be something that appealed to me in a big way. Re-watching it now I also appreciated the added bonus of horror icons Norman Reedus (‘The Walking Dead’) and Udo Kier (‘Suspiria’, ‘Blade’), but did it live up to the fond memories?
The episode opens with a signature Carpenter soundtrack (simple yet creepy) and a voiceover by Mr Bellinger (Udo Kier) as Kirby Sweetman (Norman Reedus) drives up to a huge mansion, where he meets Kier’s wealthy cinephile. He has invited Kirby as his reputation as a man who can track down obscure, seemingly lost movies, and he has a job for him.
The fictional film within a film (‘La Fin Absolue du Monde’, translated as ‘The Absolute End of the World’) is almost a character in and of itself in Cigarette Burns. Every character we meet is completely consumed by it, whether it be the people who want nothing more than to finally watch it, or those destroyed by the fact that they have, and lived. A huge part of the success of this episode is that the film is built up to such a degree, yet we don’t end up with wholly satisfactory answers, leaving your imagination to fill in the blanks, all the while suggesting that the answers are beyond the capability of our minds to fathom, and that the worst our brains can conjure doesn’t do justice to the truth.
Carpenter doesn’t waste any time in setting up some bizarre possibilities in motion, as Bellinger makes Kirby an offer he can’t refuse (i.e. $200,000) and before he heads off on his journey to find ‘La Fin Absolue du Monde’, he is introduced to the film’s star; a de-winged angel, chained to a pedestal in Ballinger’s living room. We aren’t offered any further information (that comes later) and although Kirby is obviously troubled by what he sees, he is also desperate and agrees to take the job.
We soon see why the $200,000 means so much to Kirby when we learn via flashbacks that the theatre he owns was bought using money borrowed from his future father-in-law. A father-in-law that is now demanding the money back following the unexpected death of his daughter, a death which it is heavily implied that Kirby is at least partially responsible for. Desperate to both keep his theatre and rid himself of the man that serves as a constant reminder of his dead girlfriend, this sub-plot serves to give Kirby some backstory but, if I were to have a minor quibble with the episode, it would be that it doesn’t really add a great deal beyond that and, at times, drags the forward momentum down a little. I would argue that $200,000 is incentive enough, and his other motivations only draw focus from the far more interesting enigma of ‘La Fin Absolue du Monde’
The episode is a fairly slow burn, more than making up for a lack of action scenes with an overbearing sense of foreboding. A lot of what follows is Kirby speaking with people close to the film, researching and digging, getting closer and closer to a fabled print that he is convinced exists. These encounters start off low-key (although no less disturbing) with a visit to a film reviewer who saw the initial screening thirty years ago. His house is filled with hoarder level stacks of paper, millions of pages that we learn is his second attempt at a review of the movie, which he speaks about in fearful reverence before sending Kirby further down the rabbit hole.
Things escalate quickly from there as Kirby meets somebody physically disfigured just from being present at a private screening some years earlier, then a group of snuff filmmakers who, in a brutal scene, decapitate his taxi driver on camera whilst waxing lyrical about the power of movies. The camera doesn’t seem to flinch from the violence (although that is largely clever editing and camerawork playing a trick on us) and it is all the more jarring and effective for the fact that Carpenter has allowed the tension to build and build to this point, suggesting that something awful was going to happen when the film is screened, then having this shocking scene burst the tension before Kirby has found it.
We aren’t shown how Kirby escapes his predicament, as this is one of a number of blackout moments he has throughout the episode. The suggestion is that the closer he gets to the film, the more it affects him, and he has begun to see things that aren’t really there, blacking out when they appear. After this particular blackout, he walks up to find his captors all dead or dying and he escapes, with the information on where to find the movie.
The build-up has been so effective that the third act has a lot to live up to when Kirby finally delivers ‘La Fin Absolue du Mon’ to Bellinger but it pays off, and then some. We get glimpses of the infamous film and it is suitably horrific, playing like a supernatural snuff film with art-house sensibilities. Fun fact, there is a 2-second scene in this film within a film which is the only bit in all 26 hours of Masters of Horror I just can’t watch (fingernails breaking as they’re dragged down a brick wall). I shuddered just typing that description!
We are also treated to perhaps the best on-screen death in all of Masters of Horror as well, as Bellinger, after having gone mad from watching it, is inspired to create his own masterpiece, by threading his intestines through the movie projector and letting it run. Throughout the episode Norman Reedus has been dependable and watchable, playing Kirby as an introverted, troubled loner. Udo Kier, on the other hand, steals the show. He’s a grand mix of sadistic and arrogant, chewing scenery and going big, and it’s a joy to behold. His death scene is one of the series most memorable moments and his performance is a big reason why.
To answer my opening question, ‘Cigarette Burns’ is every bit as gripping, tense, disturbing and grotesque as I remember. The concept, and the talent involved, pretty much guaranteed that this would be a personal highlight but everything about this episode just comes together so well. It feels very cinematic and executes some pretty big ideas and pulls off a largely downbeat, almost nihilistic tone. I often see people suggesting that ‘Cigarette Burns’ is the best thing John Carpenter has made since the mid-90s and I don’t see this as a slight to his later movies, but rather a testament to just how good this episode is.
Join me next time as I’ll be looking at episode nine of the first season, William Malone’s ‘Fair-Haired Child’. See you then!
If you missed any of Richard's previous Revisting The Masters of Horror articles, you can find links to them all here on our handy landing page
Richard is an avid reader and fan of all things horror. He supports Indie horror lit via Twitter (@RickReadsHorror) and reviews horror in all its forms for several websites including Horror Oasis and Sci Fi and Scary
TODAY ON THE GINGER NUTS OF HORROR WEBSITE
THE HEART AND SOUL OF HORROR FEATURES
“60 SECONDS TO CREATE THE SCARE OF YOUR LIFE!” – NYX HORROR COLLECTIVE LAUNCHES ITS INAUGURAL FILM FESTIVAL, 13 MINUTES OF HORROR.
Nyx Horror Collective is a community of diverse women creators who develop, celebrate, and elevate original, women-led horror content for film, TV and new media.
Nyx Horror has had a busy year since their inception in August 2020, creating the groundwork for a dark sci-fi audio drama, connecting with industry leaders, and offering live Q&As with some of the most prolific names in the horror genre.
The engine continues to move forward with the launch of their inaugural micro-short film festival, 13 Minutes of Horror. 13 Minutes is a themed, 60-second film challenge for women horror filmmakers from around the world, inclusive of BIWOC, LGBTQ+ women, disabled women, and non-binary creators; this year’s theme is folklore. Several films will be featured between August 13 - 15, 2021, including thirteen official selections. Additionally, filmmakers have the opportunity for their work to be viewed by a judges panel that features some of the top women working in the horror space today, including award-winning horror author and film producer Tananarive Due (Horror Noire), award-winning filmmakers and production designers Courtney and Hillary Andujar (The Wind, Body at Brighton Rock, Freaky), Academy Award-winning VFX Supervisor Sara Bennett (Ex Machina, Annihilation, Possessor) and Head of Television for Vertigo Entertainment, Robin Jones (Doctor Sleep, His House, Bates Motel, The Stand).
NYX Horror co-founders Melody Cooper, Kelly Krause, Lisa Kröger, and Mo Moshaty are helming the project as festival producers. One of the missions at NYX Horror and with 13 Minutes is to give women horror filmmakers of all identities and backgrounds greater exposure and more opportunities through strategic partnerships with established industry professionals.
And recent connections are the very reason Nyx Horror has chosen to extend their original submissions deadline from May 28th to June 4th.
“I am excited to see the sheer numbers of women who are emerging in the horror genre space right now,” says Kröger. “Women’s perspectives are something we’ve been lacking, and that is changing.”
“We’re making some really great connections in the industry who are noticing Nyx for its behind-the-scenes work in elevating women and marginalized creators,” says Moshaty. “It’s a great feeling and we want to have the ability to share that with our official selections when the time comes.”
the heart and soul of horror websites
Horseman by Christina Henry
Horseman by Christina Henry
From the bestselling author of Alice, Lost Boy and Near the Bone comes an atmospheric take on the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in which Christina Henry once again crafts a terrifying and beguiling new take on a beloved classic…
Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knows about the Horseman, but no one really believes in him. Not even Ben Van Brunt's grandfather, Brom Bones, who was there when it was said the Horseman chased the upstart Crane out of town. Brom says that's just legend, the village gossips talking.
Twenty years after those storied events, the village is a quiet place. Fourteen-year-old Ben loves to play "Sleepy Hollow boys," reenacting the events Brom once lived through. But then Ben and a friend stumble across the headless body of a child in the woods near the village, and the sinister discovery makes Ben question everything the adults in Sleepy Hollow have ever said. Could the Horseman be real after all? Or does something even more sinister stalk the woods?
Horseman will publish on September 28th in hardback from Titan Books.
OF COURSE I KNEW about the Horseman, no matter how much Katrina tried to keep it from me. If ever anyone brought up the subject within my hearing, Katrina would shush that person immediately, her eyes slanting in my direction as if to say, “Don’t speak of it in front of the child.”
I found out everything I wanted to know about the Horseman anyway, because children always hear and see more than adults think they do. Besides, the story of the Headless Horseman was a favorite in Sleepy Hollow, one that had been toldand retold almost since the village was established. It was practically nothing to ask Sander to tell me about it. I already knew the part about the Horseman looking for a head because he didn’t have one. Then Sander told me all about the schoolmaster who looked like a crane and how he tried to court Katrina and how one night the Horseman took the schoolmaster away, never to be seen again.
I always thought of my grandparents as Katrina and Brom though they were my grandmother and grandfather, because the legend of the Horseman and the crane and Katrina and Brom were part of the fabric of the Hollow, something woven into our hearts and minds. I never called them by their names, of course— Brom wouldn’t have minded, but Katrina would have been very annoyed had I referred to her as anything except “Oma.”
Whenever someone mentioned the Horseman, Brom would get a funny glint in his eye and sometimes chuckle to himself, and this made Katrina even more annoyed about the subject. I always had the feeling that Brom knew more about the Horseman than he was letting on. Later I discovered that, like so many things, this was both true and not true.
On the day that Cristoffel van den Berg was found in the woods without his head, Sander and I were playing Sleepy Hollow Boys by the creek. This was a game that we playedoften. It would have been better if there were a large group but no one ever wanted to play with us.
“All right, I’ll be Brom Bones chasing the pig and you be Markus Baas and climb that tree when the pig gets close,” I said, pointing to a maple with low branches that Sander could easily reach.
He was still shorter than me, a fact that never failed to irritate him. We were both fourteen and he thought that he should have started shooting up like some of the other boys in the Hollow.
“Why are you always Brom Bones?” Sander asked, scrunching up his face. “I’m always the one getting chased up a tree or having ale dumped on my head.”
“He’s my opa,” I said. “Why shouldn’t I play him?”
Sander kicked a rock off the bank and it tumbled into the stream, startling a small frog lurking just under the surface.
“It’s boring if I never get to be the hero,” Sander said.
I realized that he was always the one getting kicked around (because my opa could be a bit of a bully— I knew this even though I loved him more than anyone in the world—and our games were always about young Brom Bones and his gang).
Since Sander was my only friend and I didn’t want to lose him,I decided to let him have his way—at least just this once. However, it was important that I maintain the upper hand (“a Van Brunt never bows his head for anyone,” as Brom always said), so I made a show of great reluctance.
“Well, I suppose,” I said. “But it’s a lot harder, you know. You have to run very fast and laugh at the same time and also pretend that you’re chasing a pig and you have to make the pig noises properly. And you have to laugh like my opa— that great big laugh that he has. Can you really do all that?”
Sander’s blue eyes lit up. “I can, I really can!”
“All right,” I said, making a great show of not believing him.
“I’ll stand over here and you go a little ways in that direction and then come back, driving the pig.”
Sander obediently trotted in the direction of the village and turned around, puffing himself up so that he appeared larger.
Sander ran toward me, laughing as loud as he could. It was all right but he didn’t really sound like my opa. Nobody sounded like Brom, if truth be told. Brom’s laugh was a rumble of thunder that rolled closer and closer until it broke over you.
“Don’t forget to make the pig noises, too,” I said.
“Stop worrying about what I’m doing,” he said. “You’re supposed to be Markus Baas walking along without a clue, carrying all the meat for dinner in a basket for Arabella Visser.”
I turned my back on Sander and pretended to be carrying a basket, a simpering look on my face even though Sander couldn’t see my expression. Men courting women always
looked like sheep to me, their dignity drifting away as they bowed and scraped. Markus Baas looked like a sheep anyway, with his broad blank face and no chin to speak of. Whenever he saw Brom he’d frown and try to look fierce. Brom always laughed at him, though, because Brom laughed at everything, and the idea of Markus Baas being fierce was too silly to contemplate.
Sander began to snort, but since his voice wasn’t too deep he didn’t really sound like a pig—more like a small dog whining in the parlor.
I turned around, ready to tell Sander off and demonstrate proper pig-snorting noises. That’s when I heard them.
Horses. Several of them, by the sound of it, and hurrying in our direction.
Sander obviously hadn’t heard them yet, for he was still galloping toward me, waving his arms before him and making his bad pig noises.
“Stop!” I said, holding my hands up.
He halted, looking dejected. “I wasn’t that bad, Ben.”
“That’s not it,” I said, indicating he should come closer.
“Horses,” he said. “Moving fast.”
“I wonder where they’re going in such a hurry,” I said.
“Come on. Let’s get down onto the bank so they won’t see us from the trail.”
“Why?” Sander asked.
“So that they don’t see us, like I said.”
“But why don’t we want them to see us?”
“Because,” I said, impatiently waving at Sander to follow my lead. “If they see us they might tell us off for being in the woods. You know most of the villagers think the woods are haunted.”
“That’s stupid,” Sander said. “We’re out here all the time and we’ve never found anything haunted.”
“Exactly,” I said, though that wasn’t precisely true. I had heard something, once, and sometimes I felt someone watching us while we played. The watching someone never felt menacing, though.
“Though the Horseman lives in the forest, he doesn’t live anywhere near here,” Sander continued. “And of course there are witches and goblins, even though we’ve never seen them.”
“Yes, yes,” I said. “But not here, right? We’re perfectly safe here. So just get down on the bank unless you want our game ruined by some spoiling adult telling us off.”
I told Sander that we were hiding because we didn’t want to get in trouble, but really I wanted to know where the riders were going in such a hurry. I’d never find out if they caught sight of us.
Adults had an annoying tendency to tell children to stay out of their business
TODAY ON THE GINGER NUTS OF HORROR WEBSITE
THE HEART AND SOUL OF HORROR WEBSITES
That specific monster, the Jabberwock, haunted my childhood. With every little bump in the night or strangely cast shadow, I thought it was him coming for me. For a time, I feared looking at mirrors, believing he’d pull me through into the Looking Glass World where I’d never be able to escape. To this day I struggle to sleep in a room that has a mirror.
My Manxome Foe: The Jabberwock