Wanderings With The Fae No.5. Some Roads Are Stranger Than Others.

The Bog Cush Road.

Have you ever found a stretch of road that just feels strange? For no apparent reason you’ll drive or walk that bit faster, a shiver running through you, an urge to look behind, an unexplained ominous air.

For years this stretch of road was part of my school run route and the way to my nearest shop. No matter how many times I drove along it, it never failed to leave me uneasy.

Was it the thought of sinking into the watery depths on either side of the road?

Did the spindly trees seem to close in on me?

I could find no folklore, no local tales of hauntings, nothing to explain my daily reaction, just a strange stretch of road that left me cold.

Have you ever found one?

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Wyrd Harvest Press: Charity Donation – Winter 2018

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The winter 2018 charity handover from the profits of Wyrd Harvest Press / Folk Horror Revival books has now been made. Congratulations to Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust who receive £500.00 for their Save the Meadows Appeal

In thanks to our donation, we have been given the chance to name a newborn lamb in April (yes I have requested a black one) so we will be asking then (Not Now) for name suggestions and we will put a short-list to a poll on the group

Thank you for voting and Thank You especially for buying our books. We will continue to charitably donate the sales profits we receive for our books quarterly to the Wildlife Trusts, and we have more great books coming in 2019, so please continue to stock your bookshelves with our quality books with the extra bonus of helping biodiversity and natural habitats

The Wyrd Kalendar – The Winter Mix


Join the Kalendar Host this Winter for a delicious collection of wintry treats. Words from Wyrd Kalendar, Darren Charles and Howard Ingham mingle with music from the likes of The Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Moon Wiring Club, Tir na nOg, Keith Seatman, Sleeps in Oysters, Cleo Laine, Haushka, Sean Wesche, Atomic Rooster, Medieval Babes, Belle and Sebastian, Frank Zappa, Simon and Garfunkel, Aztec Camera, Faimly, Joy Division, Muddy Waters, Timo Hanninen, Panu Aatilo, David Cain, The Chills, The Fall, Vashti Bunyan, Wayne Slawson, John Williams, White Stripes, Gustavo Santolalla, Sigur Ros, Caravan, Kate Bush, The Tea Party, Danny Elfman, The Mamas and the Papas, Animal Collective, Pete and the Pirates, Gorillaz, Grouper, The Impressions and The Divine Comedy.

Buy the Wyrd Kalendar book: http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/chris-lambert/wyrd-kalendar/paperback/product-23371751.html

Buy the Wyrd Kalendar Album: https://megadodo.bandcamp.com/album/wyrd-kalendar

Lise Richardson’s Folk Horror Inktober 2018

Lise Richardson’s Folk Horror Inktober 2018

 

For those of you who have read Adam Scovell’s inspiring and enlightening Folk Horror book – `Hours Dreadful and Things Strange’ (2017) – will be well familiar with his list of definitive Folk Horror TV and Cinema and if you have ever wondered what those productions would look like as a charming sketchbook which almost act as a set of Folk Horror flash cards then look no further…..

Lise Richardson is an illustrator and comedy enthusiast based in Bath, UK. She designs posters for comedians, venues, and gigs as well as making books, zines editing The Independent Comedy Appreciation Society (it’s a nice magazine about thoughtful comedy written by comedians) This October Lise set herself an Inktober challenge inspired by the classics of the Folk Horror genre and fortunately for the rest of us she has put the results of this challenge into a lovely little zine.

Impressed by seeing her work on Instagram Folk Horror Revival got in touch with Lise to find out more.

Folk Horror Revival: Firstly can you tell us a little about yourself – your background, how you ended up as an illustrator and involved in the comedy scene?

Lise Richardson: I’ve been an illustrator on a broadly professional level for about nine years, give or take. I’ve always produced art as a hobby, but since I was about fifteen I’ve sold my work through commissions, online shops and at fairs and markets. I suppose I was never any good at anything except drawing, so it never even occurred to me not to try and make a living off it. I just finished my second degree – I did a BA in Graphic Communication here in Bath, having completed a four year vocational degree in Fine Art and Photography in 2014 back in Finland (I’m half Finnish).

I love comedy. I grew up on Billy Connolly and Eddie Izzard and Monty Python. There’s not a huge stand-up scene in Finland, but I saw what I could live, and once I moved back to the UK I really wanted to see what live comedy was like on a grassroots level. We’ve got a club, Komedia, right in the centre of town, and after about eight months of anxiety over going to a gig on my own, I went and saw Mark Watsons tour show in 2016. Since then, I’ve seen… well, probably about 100 shows a year? I started running a terrible weekly gig in a pub with my partner in 2017, and off the back of that ran a venue for Bath Comedy Festival, then we got more ambitious and did semi-regular gigs in a slightly nicer pub, and then Komedia let us put on people’s Edinburgh shows in their Arts Cafe, and now I more or less live and breath live comedy.

Since I started going to gigs, I got to know a lot of “up and coming” acts, people working on their first Edinburgh shows and that sort of thing, and I started designing posters for them. I’m no good at stand-up (I’ve done a gig or two, and I think everyone who saw it can agree that I definitely Made an Attempt), so it’s a practical way of me being involved with the comedy industry professionally.

This year I started making a magazine with a deliberately clunky name; The Independent Comedy Appreciation Society. It’s really the culmination of my intense love for “alternative” comedy – I’ve grown tired of terrible club gigs and boring mainstream acts, so it’s me very earnestly (and I hope amusingly) shouting BE THOUGHTFUL! BE INTERESTING! at the world of comedy, with the help of a bunch of incredible contributing comedians, through the medium of paper and illustration.

FHR: Who are your influences/heroes?

LR: It’s interesting, I’d say as a creative my biggest influencers are people like Josie Long, Will Sheff, Moose Allain… funny, incredibly talented and earnest people who keep producing things because they can’t NOT produce them, be that art or comedy shows or music or zines. I find people who are giddy and excitable very inspiring, they make me want to make things and share them with people.

As an illustrator, I’m a big fan of Graham Humphrey’s work. I love old horror film posters, and I really enjoyed his promotional art for the first series of Inside No. 9… I wrote my first university essay about those! I think I tried to get away with writing about comedy for my design degree.

I went to a talk from Lizzy Stewart and just fell in love with her work and mentality towards producing work. She made a poster for Daniel Kitson, which impressed me so much I think I told about ten people within a day and then bought all her zines.

Oh, and overall my largest enduring influence has to be Reece Shearsmith. I’ve loved The League of Gentlemen since I was a teenager and I think he doesn’t receive as much credit as he’s due for being a multi-talented creative. His illustrations are incredible, they’re really characterful, kind of a Ralph Steadman vibe but he’s got his own strong style. Of course all his writing and directing and acting is brilliant as well.

FHR: Do you consider your work to fit into the Folk Horror genre and if so what is it about it that you feel fits that label?

LR: I’m fascinated by folk horror, I feel like I learn more about the genre all the time but it’s also all so familiar. I used to be in a folk metal band as a teenager, and I’d do loads of illustrations of very pagan things influenced by the music I was into at the time (it’s more just folk without the metal for me these days!) – lots of forests and witches and standing stones.

My Folk Horror zine is a celebration of the haunting characters, places, and thoughts from all the films I watched, but in terms of illustration, it’s also an exploration of what I can achieve in black and white. For me, folk horror is all about old, familiar foreboding, particular places and faces and feelings. Illustrating those characters and things was a way for me to spend some time reflecting on the genre. Some of the techniques I’ve used are influenced by the style of woodcuts and engravings (particularly for the first illustration in the zine, for A Field In England), which feel very fitting as well.

FHR: What are your experiences of Folk Horror? Do you have memories of particular films, books or TV shows?

LR: I’m relatively new to the genre, but I do think a lot of things I enjoyed growing up have a distinct element of folk horror to them. A Field in England was the only film I’d seen before I started the Folk Horror Inktober project, but I loved it from the moment I saw it.

Probably my earliest Folk Horror memory is from a tv play that was on at my nan’s house in at Christmas in the 1990s or early 2000s. I can’t even remember what it was, probably a Ghost Stories for Christmas? I feel like it might’ve been Lost Hearts, because that felt very familiar when I got to it for the zine. Either that or I’ve made up how haunted I was as a kid by the sound of a hurdy-gurdy.

FHR: Do you think of Folk Horror just as a genre or does it reflect on your life more widely than just being a topic or style you have used in some of your work?

LR: I think once you get into the genre, it colours your perception of other media. What is Withnail and I, if not a folk horror disguised as a comedy?

I’m quite keen to write and illustrate a folk horror myself. There are some really great horror stories that have been produced as graphic novels, I adore In The Pines by Erik Kriek which is five different murder ballads in one book, a bit like an anthology horror. That’s something I’d like to try making – maybe not quite as ambitious as five stories in one for my first attempt, but I’m keen to try it.

A little while ago I went to a comic and zine fair in Bristol, and I really think zines are a great medium for Folk Horror. That feeling of a particular place or person or atmosphere frozen in time, that can really be conveyed through a zine. I bought Henry Miller’s Records And Tea zine, which is actually a radio show in book form, and though that’s not overtly a Folk Horror, it’s got the feeling of one. You know at the end of Children of the Stones, where Adam and Matthew leave the village, and pass Hendrick coming back, and there’s that ominous feeling of it all repeating again and again forever? Records and Tea has that vibe, but it’s a benevolent version of it. It’s the past contained in a book in the present. Of course, there are actual folk horrors in zine form too. I picked up Christopher Harrison’s The North! The North!, which is a fantastic and funny take on the genre.

There’s definitely Folk Horror to be found in live comedy too. Not in straight telly stand-up, but in fringe shows. A friend of mine (also an avid zine collector), Sam Nicoresti, he’s working on a show at the moment that is almost more Folk Horror than it is traditional comedy (but it is very, very funny). He’s got these puppets of the characters of his mother and father, and they are these deeply pagan, haunting figures that loom over the audience in the dark. The whole show has this unpredictable foreboding to it. The same could be said for Sean Morley’s show this year. It’s called I Apologise For My Recent Behaviour, and there’s this part (which I shan’t spoil entirely) where he creates this incredible cult-like atmosphere, it’s a very unsettling show that really plays with the idea of what live comedy can achieve. I think a lot of comedy performers and writers are toying with bringing other genres into their work, sketch groups particularly. The Death Hilarious have been doing it for a while, I absolutely adore what they do – if you enjoy the Americana Folk Horror films, things like Wisconsin Death Trip or The Carnival of Souls, I think you’ll love the intense atmosphere they create in a room. The Delightful Sausage are another great example – you know the idea of modern technology not quite coping with a kind of enduring horror from the past? Like in The Stone Tape, or Blair Witch Project? That’s what they do. It starts off silly and fun and then the mood turns and there are these brilliantly creepy pagan creatures (by softsoftworkshop on Instagram, their puppets are amazing) and concerning thoughts and it’s beautiful and dark and so so funny. So yes, I do think Folk Horror impacts the way I see other things in my life, and in other genres too.

FHR: Can you give an outline of the content of your Inktober 2018 zine release and how/why you ended up creating it?

LR: It’s a month’s worth of illustration as part of the yearly Inktober challenge, plus a couple of bonus drawings I didn’t share on my social media. The idea of Inktober is to produce a drawing every day, it doesn’t have to be in actual ink but that’s what it started off being. It’s all about developing your mark-making skills, or improving your drawing practice if there is something you know you’re not particularly strong at. For me, it was a way of keeping myself accountable for a month, and becoming quicker at designing a single image in one sitting. There’s a list of official prompts for Inktober, but I had recently bought “We Don’t Go Back”. It’s not so much a straight list of film descriptions, as a collection of personal reflection relating to every film and tv show on this massive list and that’s what I based my challenge on.

We got through 33 items on that list, which is only a fraction I know, and I drew SOMETHING based on each one. For some, it was like a quick poster design (Murrain, The Treasure of Abbot Thomas, The Stalls of Barchester), and for others it’s more like a study or snapshot of a particular scene (Häxan, Wisconsin Death Trip, Baby). For a lot of the illustrations, it’s me pushing myself to consider design elements even in quick drawings.

I’d wanted to see so many of the films for a while, initially because I wanted to see what The League of Gentlemen were referring to in their shows, and following that, out of fascination for the genre. My partner sourced an incredible amount of them online and from the library, so it was pretty budget friendly as a project. I never got my hands on The Wicker Man, though.

FHR: What is next?

LR: I’ve just finished work on the next issue of my quarterly self-published comedy magazine, so immediately next is producing badges to go with that, and sending out copies to subscribers. I’m taking part in a little pop-up comic and zine fair I’m helping out with here in Bath, on the 8th of December at Komedia. It’s a kind of charmingly DIY alternative to the big Christmas market. The Folk Horror zine will be available there, as well as all my other books and cards and whatnot. It’s all in my online shop too, of course.

In terms of projects, I’m working on a children’s picture book at the moment. I’ve done some illustration for kids but nothing in the form of a book, so I’m giving that a go. My mate Jenny Grene, who I work with on comedy colouring books and cards, is really good at illustrating for kids, and I find her work really spurs me on into experimenting outside of my very particular comedy niche. That’s kind of why I made the folk horror zine too, I feel it’s important to keep trying new ideas and finding new audiences. I’d hate to keep trotting out the same thing year after year. I used to be quite a prolific pet illustrator a few years ago, and then I produced a dog-themed flipbook that went a bit viral, and I practically stopped drawing dogs overnight. I think any hint of success drives me a little mad. A varied practice is important, and I think producing the Folk Horror zine gave me an opportunity to step away from comedy for a moment so I could get out of a kind of mental rut.

FHR: Do you have any particular artists that have left an impression on you (not necessarily Folk Horror)?

LR: At the moment I’m really into Richard Todd’s illustrations. He’s a comedian, and I only recently discovered his work – he had a fantastic poster in Edinburgh this year! I’m annoyed I didn’t find a flyer of it actually, I collect illustrated flyers. Well, all flyers, but the illustrated ones are my specialty, I wrote my second dissertation on them (which is a more accessible topic than my first, which was about comic foregrounds, those things at the seaside that you stick your head through and it’s your head on the body of a lady in a bikini or a bodybuilder). Illustrated posters are wonderful. I’ve got a bunch around the house, there are a couple screenprinted ones for Machynlleth Comedy Festival designed by Drew Millward who does brilliant super detailed work, and it’s really fun.

 

You can order Inktober 2018 (33 illustrations, 36 pages total. 120mm square booklet – roughly the size and shape of a CD sleeve, except a lot thicker and printed on nice thick recycled paper. Black & white) from (https://www.liserichardsonart.com/)

SHOP WITH JENNY GRENE: (https://etsy.com/uk/shop/liseyandjenby)

Instagram: (https://www.instagram.com/liserichardsonart/)

Twitter: (https://twitter.com/liserichardson)

Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/liserichardsonart/)

WYRD KALENDAR, REVIEW BY JOHN PILGRIM

“Gripping, sometimes terrifying but always surprising: this is the year described in the Wyrd Kalendar. Live it if you dare…” – Sebastian Baczkiewicz, Creator of BBC Radio 4’s “Pilgrim”

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Following the cult success of “Songs from the Black Meadow” in 2016, Chris Lambert is set to bring more delight to all those who enjoy the curious, magical and mythical with the release of the Wyrd Kalendar album which is published by Mega DoDo.

The strange, or more appropriately, wyrd stories of the calendar months which are to be found in the book of the same title provide the starting point for each of the artists on this remarkable release.  A captivatingly diverse musical landscape opens out before us and quickly seduces the listener into an enchanting world of folk, electronica, psychedelia and forgotten horror soundtracks.

The new year is heralded in with Widow’s Weeds (led by Grey Malkin, formerly of The Hare and the Moon) with their occult tinged hymn Song for January. This sets the tone for an unsettling but captivating hour. The imaginative electronica of Keith Seatman leads us on before the talented psych-folk singer Emily Jones brings to life the words of her long dead ancestor in Waiting for Spring. And then, before we know it, Crystal Jacqueline is playing us all for fools as she goes Chasing the Gowk.

A personal favourite of this reviewer is the song for May, as Ghost Box’s Beautify Junkyards provide Portuguese pastoral enchantment in the form of May Day Eve.  Those people who had the good fortune to see Beautify Junkyards on their recent visit to these shores will be happy indeed with this sweet vernal offering.  Soon we feel the warmth of the sun on our backs as Alison O’Donnell of Mellow Candle, Flibbertigibbet, Firefay and United Bible Studies teams up with David Colohan in the wasp celebration of Deadly Nest.

The second half of the year unfolds with Scarfolk collaborator Concretism treating us to the vivid imagery of A Fair by the Sea and Icarus Peel exploring lost love and yearning in the musical lament The Weeping Will Walk.

The mellow mists of Autumn begin to fold around us as folk rock duo Tir na nOg invite us to raise a seasonal glass mbine and then it is the turn of Wyrdstone to immerse us in the haunting harvest celebration of The Field.

The Soulless Party leave their familiar abode of the Black Meadow to take us for a deliciously unsettling Dark November Drive
 The year concludes with the ever delightful Rowan Amber Mill who sing us out with The Witch’s Lament.
 A final gift comes in the form of the album’s closing titular track by the shape-shifting talents of The Mortlake Bookclub.

This album and the accompanying book illustrated by the hugely talented Andy Paciorek are the fruits of rich imaginations at work. You would be foolish indeed to consider going through the year in any other way!

The album is available to buy from January 1st 2019 from Mega Dodo as a CD and as digital download, with all profits being donated to Cancer Research UK. https://megadodo.bandcamp.com/album/wyrd-kalendar

The Wyrd Kalendar book is available from http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/andypaciorek

Mega Dodo Bandcamp

www.wyrdkalendar.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Folklore Thursday: Winter is Coming. Al Ridenour and the Krampus

Ho Ho Horror …Krampusnacht approaches and Folk Horror Revival were fortunate enough to catch up with Al Ridenour, Xmas-monster hunter extraordinaire the author of

The Krampus

And The Old, Dark Christmas
Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil

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Folk Horror Revival:  When did you first become aware of Krampus and what in particular about the tradition appealed to you?

Al Ridenour: In the mid-1980s, after putting in my undergrad years studying Germanic languages and literature, I ended up going to school in Berlin for a year.  Berlin is not in a region with a native Krampus culture but there’s some awareness of the figure. I remember suddenly around Christmas, encountering rows of postcard reproductions of this really lovely Edwardian-era lithograph of a devil’s head with lolling tongue.  I bought one without really knowing what it was, and it was up on my wall or fridge for years before I really realized what it was. I’d been aware at the time of Knecht Ruprecht, the sort of northern German cousin of the Austro-Bavarian Krampus, but hadn’t really gotten the story on this horned fellow. 

Around that same time, I was reading The Golden Bough and found myself particularly fascinated by descriptions of Perchten, another (closer) cousin to the Krampus, but had assumed this was an extinct rather than living tradition.    I hadn’t seen the word “Krampus” in Frazier’s writing because around 1890, the word was still gaining currency.  The Krampus postcards were just beginning to circulate, and it was these that helped popularize the word, myth, and created a sort of homogenous visual representation.  Before that, it was more diverse, loosely related clusters of very regional figures and traditions (like the Perchten) customs

In any case, my really getting into the tradition happened via a second encounter with these postcards around 2004, when digital reproductions began circulating online.   At that time, it all clicked, and I realized this was more than a bit of antique art –- that it was a tradition still being enacted by contemporary Austrians and Germans in stunning costumes.  I began pining over YouTube videos showing the live events, and eventually began planning a trip to partake in the fun myself.  My casual trip research as to the most traditional locations to visit became the basis for my book.

The appeal?  Well, they’re monsters!  Need I saw more? And as an artist and fabricator myself, the craft of the costumes really appealed to me.  There was also such a scarcity at the time of English information on the creature, that it also sparked my more scholastic, puzzle-solving side.   And reading up on the topic finally put that relatively useless degree in German to good use!

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FHR:  On the Folk Horror Revival Facebook group, a video post depicting Krampus and some crying kids, kicked off a kerfuffle with some folk even talking about the children developing Post Traumatic Stress Order as adults. Personally as a kid I loved being scared … monsters, ghosts, UFOs, horror films and comics, dinosaurs – I loved all that, the scarier the better.

What are your thoughts about the issue? Do you think things like the Krampus are too scary or potentially damaging to kids or do you think the wrapping in cotton wool of children is an overreaction?

AR: Well, I couldn’t agree more about a childhood — err, lifelong – passion for frightful s stuff.  It’s likely that this proclivity may be a bit stronger in boys, and more still in males who identify as horror fans, but the Krampus is also a creature of fantasy and fairy tale, of the imaginative faculty in general.  If you look at our culture’s media output, it’s pretty clear that there’s a universal, thriving market for imaginative extra-mundane tales.

Yes, kids undeniably sometimes cry when they encounter the Krampus, but I feel like I often have to offer a corrective to the view that the whole tradition is primarily about punishing or scaring kids.   People outside of Bavaria and Austria tend to miss its playful aspect, not see that it’s really more about play than punishment.  While the core myth is that of a punishing figure accompanying St. Nicholas on his annual visits to children’s homes, the practice of enacting this particular story, the private Hausbesuch (“home visit”) is rather uncommon these days.  The bulk of the Krampus activity in Europe is a public one, the Krampuslauf or Krampus run, which hardly pretends to be about the figure’s role as punisher.  Performers in the Krampus runs typically leave kids alone and instead chase or engage in mock battles young adults of their own age.

I devoted the concluding chapter of my book to this “cotton wool” approach to children in regards to Krampus culture.  In the era of trivializing “participation awards” in schools, the house-visits particularly give the child an opportunity to really achieve mastery over his own fear but also mastery of some small task – a performance. In the old days, the child would be called upon to recite for St. Nicholas bible versus or the like, but in more secular times, this is often just the performances of some memorized piece of music or poetry.   The whole family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even great-grandparents are assembled for this moment of truth where the child can shine, where he becomes a star. That such a drama would be staged in the home, with elaborate, expensive costumes, secret preparations and care to ensure success in every detail—all the trouble, work and love devoted to this child-centered production seems very touching to me.  If the goal were merely to scare a kid straight, there would be much simpler, brutish ways to do it. 

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FHR:  Are there any other aspects of folklore or indeed society and culture that also intrigue you?

AR: The word “liminal” seems to be a popular word to throw around in folklore studies, and also seems a pretty good catchall for answering this.  When I was a kid that concept would have been embodied by the monsters I adored transgressing the borders of the natural and supernatural.  Tten growing up in the punk rock era, the transgression of societal norms became attractive in another way.  In the 1990s, I was part of a national (American) group dedicated to this.  It was called the Cacophony Society and was a national network of art-provocateurs and urban explorers responsible for founding the Burning Man festival and serving as prototype for “Project Mayhem” in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club.  It was started in San Francisco in the late 1980s, and I ran the Los Angeles lodge of the Society throughout the 1990s.   We engaged in a lot of pranks and hoaxes, things that would later go on to be called “flash mobs.” 

That interest in rather aggressively engaging the public in guerilla street theater ended up spawning an event called “Santacon,” namely, a drunken mob of costumed Santa Clauses that would take to the streets once a year.  I met Chuck Palahniuk, who was a member of the Portland Cacophony lodge at one of these when San Francisco, and Los Angeles members gathered with our comrades for a Santacon in that city. Sadly, I don’t remember much of the meeting as I was more than adequately soused for the occasion, though I do have vague recollections of police in tactical gear showing up to prevent out entrance to a local shopping center.   Santacon, like the Burning Man festival, went on to establish itself as an annual event outside of the Cacophony Society, and those of us who’d found it thrilling and challenging in the mid-1990s outgrew it.   Missing that chaotic annual revel (though not the heavy drinking),led me to start a Krampus run in Los Angeles. 

The funny thing is that impulse to occupy liminal spaces has caused me to double back to a more traditionalist mindset. Initially getting behind Santacon’s impulse to mock tradition I ended returning to the traditional via Krampus.  (Americans tend to think of the Krampus as a sort of “enemy” of St. Nick, Christmas, and all that is holy, but at home in Europe it’s associated with very traditionalist, religious culture, albeit more of a folk Catholicism than the top-down Vatican business.)

My embracing the traditionalism of the a figure like Krampus is not really that surprising though, given that even in the midst of my subversive Cacophony Society years, I still connected with very traditionalist thinkers like Carl Jung. Early on, I recognized my disposition as more romantic than classical.  I’ve always thrived on narratives where rational progressive thought collapses, and only the mythic offers hope.  That sort of unexplained, unexplainable liminal experience is something that’s always attracted me. Something like the Krampus tradition or Carnival are traditionalist ways to embrace the subversive, terrifying and absurd.

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FHR: You travelled quite extensively researching your book; are there any particular place or places, or experiences from these visits that have really stuck in your mind. If so, where and why?

AR: I wish I could have done more traveling for the book, but it’s not like I had a travel budget from the publisher.   I was able to make it to a handful of Krampus runs in Austria and Bavaria, but the bulk of my research was really done after the fact, following up on contacts I had made and through those visits, engaging others in the Krampus network via email and social networking.  Over the years there were a couple visits by my Austrian friends, where I got in more first-person interviews, and our Los Angeles Krampus group was also able to host the first costumed Europeans to run along with us in an American Krampus Run in 2014.

As far as memories, one that really struck me, and came to mind answering your question about children’s fears, was an incident I witnessed at a Krampuslauf in Munich.  I remember seeing this young, visibly trembling boy near the front of the crowd where the Krampuses were passing.  His parents were gently, but insistently nudging him forward toward an encounter.   Soon, I noticed, that it wasn’t just me, but others were all sort of breathlessly watching the boy deal with his fears.  Eventually he made it to the front of the crowd, and a costumed performer immediately took in the situation, crouched low and extended a claw.  By the time the boy stuck out his own hand to meet the monster’s, his parents were patting his back, and all the spectators were beaming — but none more than the kid himself!  We could all feel his pride, and it was really touching. And he went on to enjoy the other monsters, getting braver and braver with each encounter.  I felt kind of honored, like I’d secretly shared in an important milestone in this kid’s life.

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FHR: In your work as an artist on projects such as The Art of Bleeding, The Cacophony Society and The Museum of Mental Decay, there is a clear appreciation of the weird and grotesque. Could you tell us a little more about your art?

AR: I’ve talked a bit already about the Cacophony Society, but the Museum of Mental Decay was one of our Halloween events repeated over a few years. It was a sort of haunt or haunted house experience subversively interpreted – no readymade horrors from films, but stuff from a more dangerously surreal or dangerously real perspective – the latter, for instance represented by an installation with barely human urban panhandlers stationed in a sort of simulated back alley setting complete with stinking dumpster, all aggressively trying to sell visitors handfuls of human hair.  Another year, I constructed an immense walk-in womb installation covered in slippery amniotic goo.  I was covered in goo myself and trying to engage visitors with a giant man-sized fetus I’d constructed, encouraging them to hold the slimy thing or even spank it.  When they tried to escape, my assistant and I would try to lasso them with the 15-foot umbilical cord attached to the fetus.

On and off from 2004-2012, I directed The Art of Bleeding, a rather hard-to-define performance troupe of sorts offering live multi-media shows parodying first-aid and safety education. It was an uncomfortable mix of short original videos and animation I did, repurposed vintage health-and-safety films, puppets, costumed kiddy show characters, and nurses in fetishistic uniform. At the time I owned an ambulance that would also often be featured in the events, including one show about traffic safety staged in a parking lot filled with “crashed” cars (old junked cars I’d bought) with bloodied actors in each telling their accident stories. 

Over the last years, I’ve been sculpting and selling Krampus masks as well as costumes. My house is always a sort of evolving series of installations too, much of it with an increasingly folk horror vibe, including now a life-size sculpture of a sort of forest witch sculpted entirely from found woodland materials.

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FHR: I am assuming that horror films and possibly comics may have played a part in your childhood? Could you name a few of your favourite movies, books and artists or art-works for us please?

AR: I grew up on horror films, especially the old Universal pictures, which are more nostalgia now, but a couple I still I consider great films, like The Bride of Frankenstein, with all its visionary design, horror, pathos, and wall-to-wall music score.  I especially love it for its arch humor. Films that combine the morbid or grotesque and humor will always be near and dear to me– Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant, The Loved One, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Evil Dead II and Drag me to Hell, for instance.

My infatuation with Universal films encouraged a passion for Lon Chaney’s films, and silent films in general.  I love how they seem to emanate another, less substantial world. Guy Maddin’s art films are both wryly funny and evoke this silent world nicely.  His recent Forbidden Room is a truly phantasmagoric wonder!

I’m undeniably something of a Germanophile, and it’s possible that the German influence on those Universal pictures was part of it. 

in part because of the influence of Germany’s horror films of the silent era

 that trickled into those Universal pictures. Of all the silent German horror classics, Nosferatu was most formative.  The original, but also Herzog’s remake, are lifelong favorites. If you’ve not seen it, Herzog’s Heart of Glass is also a hauntingly dreamlike period piece, in which the actors all performed under hypnosis. I also love Scandinavian work like  (Häxen, Caligari, The Virgin Spring, The Juniper Tree, The Kingdom) and Eastern European/Russian films like Valerie and her Week of Wonders, Sweet Movie, W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, and Viy (1967).  I worked in the film industry for ten years as an animator partly inspired by Jan Svankmajer’s stop-motion, and that of the Brothers Quay who emulate his style.

Peter Greenaway’s films seem to have something of the same painterly emphasis on formal compositions as the Quay’s, and he has that dry wit balancing all that sumptuous imagery. My taste in art has become a bit more curmudgeonly thanks to Greenaway, and I now feel a strong affinity for the northern Baroque he celebrates, particularly Flemish vanitas paintings, allegorical scenes, and of course Bosch and Bruegel. In my early incarnation with the Cacophony Society, I was more influenced by modern, transgressive art, particularly performance art, but not so much today.

I am not a big reader of fiction, though I have a strange and vociferous appetite for nonfiction about literary movements and authors, naturally the Gothic and Weird Fiction in particular. Flannery O’Connor is one exception, and I’ve read and re-read everything she’s written multiple times.

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FHR: What is next on the agenda? Are there any other books in the pipeline?

AR: Yes, absolutely! And very much within the FH wheelhouse.  I have not yet signed a contract, so probably should not mention specifics now, but within the year, I should have an announcement about a sort of survey book that I hope will interest the FH community.

As a sort of promotional adjunct to the book, and because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I’ve also embarked on a podcast in which I discuss topics somewhat related to the upcoming book as well as my The Krampus and the Old Dark Christmas.  It’s called “Bone and Sickle”.  The core of the show is me sharing my research on a topic — say, Walpurgis Night or cuckoos — in a very discursive talk mingled with a constant stream of sound clips and quoted passages from 19th and early 20th century texts read by my partner Rick Galiher, who plays my butler.  The whole is set in a very M.R. Jamesian study full of these old volumes, and there’s a certain uncomfortable tension between my “character” and the butler throughout. Thus far, I think it’s hitting all the marks FH fans would appreciate, though it’s been a lot of serious production work with original music and effects flowing throughout the entirety of the show.  I’m very excited about it and the book!

Check out the Saint, Devil, Sugar-Bread & Whip: Krampus and Nicholas edition of Bone and Sickle here – https://www.boneandsickle.com/2018/11/28/the-krampus-saint-devil-sugar-bread-and-whip/?fbclid=IwAR2NPB5OMZ69xz035pnzWmXlmxvKTiiaewB8z1CCbR2n2rqWf-FYUXZ5WWs

Al Ridenour:
A native of Pasadena, California, Al Ridenour holds BA’s in German and English literature, has worked as an author, journalist, animator, and artist, and has been a fixture in the West Coast underground art community since the mid-1990s. His Krampus research has taken him to the Austrian Alps and Munich, and brought him in contact with cultural anthropologists working in Salzburg and Vienna as well as dozens of members of contemporary European Krampus groups. In 2013, Ridenour co-founded Krampus Los Angeles, an organization that’s made the city ground zero for American Krampusmania. Ridenour has translated and produced the only English-language version of 19th-century Krampus play, written articles, and lectured on the topic at the international Goethe-Institut and elsewhere, and exhibited his Krampus suits at the University of Southern California’s Doheny Museum.

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If any  UK Revivalists are in the Whitby area on Saturday 5th December pop along to the Krampus Run – more details here – https://spark.adobe.com/page/SabqDn8I1AN4L/?fbclid=IwAR0x4QWgEg12aShz1seqaTmRZeBIvhQcIq7ygZ3F_QB7ArsC5g-xhx0_znY

And read Another great Krampus interview with Decadent Drawing here – https://folkhorrorrevival.com/2018/11/23/the-whitby-krampus-run-an-interview-with-elaine-edmunds-and-laurence-mitchell/ 
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Interview with Al Ridenour first published in the book  Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies
Available from ~ http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/andypaciorek

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FOLK HORROR REVIVAL AGAINST FASCISM

AF edit

Again to make it VERY VERY CLEAR Folk Horror Revival is against all bigotry and always has been.
Do NOT think for a second that this is virtue signalling- it is NOT! , there are very personal reasons for us taking this stance and recent occurrences have prompted us to speak out loud and clear!

It is clearly stated in our Facebook group rules and description  –

“No hate speech or bullying

Make sure everyone feels safe. Bullying of any kind isn’t allowed, and degrading comments about things such as race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or identity will not be tolerated.”

We wanted Folk Horror Revival to be as apolitical as possible, but the recent threats made to a friend and associate of ours by Neo-Nazi Heathens has forced our hand to clearly and undoubtedly state that FOLK HORROR REVIVAL IS AGAINST FASCISM!!

Yet some folk have completely wrongly accused us or implied otherwise.
Our admins work extremely hard to keep posts from fascist factions out of the group and to refuse admittance to people of that ilk who request to join. They are sneaky bastards though and sometimes creep in as wolves in sheep’s clothing. As soon as we are aware they are gone in a cloud of dust.

Other folk without reading our group description or rules have misunderstood some posts. To clarify  – “The posting of Tribal, folk custom and / or other cultural items is allowed but not intended to be seen as ‘horror’ but is shared for inspirational and educational purposes. No offense is intended by the sharing of such material and respect should be accordingly granted in response.” We will discuss the matter with members who question the material. However if they do it in a hostile manner, they are also breaking group rules and that must be addressed. We will handle the issue but we will NOT tolerate being abused by anyone.

We reserve the right to censor and delete comments (even those we may agree with). That does not make us a Totalitarian regime, it is us making Our group a safe, pleasant place and not yet another internet battleground that the arrogant think they have a right to soil with their arguments. There are plenty other places to do that, Not FHR.
Any post that a person has issue with can be reported to Admins and we will deal with it. Don’t take matters into your own hands. This provokes fights and it is not what we want for our group.

It is Our group – Our Rules . Break them and your comments and in some cases your membership will be removed. We will not tolerate bullying to the Admins or other Members. If anyone has a problem with that, they are free and welcome to leave the group. We have blocked more people than many other groups will ever have joining them, so numbers matter little to us.

Our rules and stance are not up for debate – abide or leave, either through your own choice or ours.

I also want to push further the point about our stance  from my personal perspective.

I  – Andy Paciorek – am the creator of Folk Horror Revival – I am of mixed nationality. I am a mongrel, a nomad and as such Nationalism is abhorrent to me and therefore it is frankly very obvious that my creation, my project would not support that. Especially as my father was lucky to survive passing through Auschwitz and being interred in Belsen as a teenager prisoner before being forced into hard labour. He was lined up to be shot until last minute a Nazi said they needed more ditch diggers on the front line, where an SS officer pushed him into the mud and walked across the length of his back. So hardly likely my project would tolerate nazism.

I grew up  suffering racism – not ‘is this facebook post a bit appropriated’ racism but spat upon, punched in the face, hearing monkey noises, eggs thrown at windows at three in the morning and so forth racism!! So hardly likely my project would tolerate racism.

So anybody who accuses or implies that Folk Horror Revival has any sympathy towards nazis, neo-nazis, racism and any other bigotry is so far off the mark.
It is not only entirely incorrect to make those accusations or implications against us, it is actually very hurtful and harmful. so I hope this post is read and makes our stance and the truth of the matter very very clear!

AF edit

Wanderings With The Fae No.4. Carrowkeel, where once they were.

Follow the track through the pass in the Bricklieve Hills and enter another world.

Bricklieve derives from Breac Sliabh, “the Speckled Hills", in old Irish "speckled" was a term used to describe places of entrance to other worlds, thin places.

While many Neolithic sites have become sterile, their power lost amid roads and modern noise and the footfalls of thousands, Carrowkeel retains it’s depth and energy.

To climb to the cairns, on a day when the low cloud shrouds every horizon and the world is reduced to the hilltop around you, is to immerse yourself in a time gone these 5000 years.

To crawl on your hands and knees through the portal and to sit inside is to understand true liminality. On certain days the energy within has been overwhelming, crawling out dizzy, disoriented to sit in thoughtful recovery for a while.

This is a special place.