Hush Little Baby


It’s a bit late or very, very early for Halloween but I’d like to announce that my short horror story, “Hush Little Baby”, has been published in The Haunted Traveler and can be read here The Haunted Traveler Volume 1 Issue 2

I’d also like to issue a warning, the contents of the story are of a disturbing nature.

The House on Gambol Street


The room was dusty, graceful sweeps of cobwebs decorated the ceiling and windows in ghostly garlands. Dancing, glittering motes streamed down as Kitty tiptoed through. Her wake caused more flurries of dust to rise like translucent blooming winds and it swirled around her, sneaking into her eyes and nose, tickling her throat. Kitty’s chest seized, covering her mouth, she surrendered to the fit.


The house was ancient to her twelve-year-old eyes. The decrepit, rambling Victorian with a sagging roof and missing shingles sat on the outskirts of town, near the end of Gambol Street where the pavement ended and the road became dirt. Outside, the summer evening was hastily advancing, the sky a dreamy violet and vibrant magenta. Kitty stalked silently through the house, her sneakered feet padding across softly creaking floorboards and musty carpets, rousing plumes of dust from their slumber. She passed a bank of windows, the glass broken and jagged. Shining pieces lay on the floor, catching the last bits of sunlight. A breeze stirred the sun bleached curtains; the moth eaten lace lunged for her. Squeaking with surprise, Kitty jerked away, skittering out of reach.


She found the staircase, her first goal accomplished and with a racing heart, she ascended, her hand gliding on the grimy railing. The steps moaned under her weight and she passed through curtains of cobwebs. Strands of the webs stuck to her face and arms, getting into her mouth and snagging in her eyelashes. She ignored the rising disgust and tried to rid herself of the silvery threads but they refused to be dislodged, nestling in around her neck and graying her ponytail. Cold fear tingled through her, raising goose bumps on her skin as she remembered stories she heard of this house and its occupant. Stories that inspired her derision, they weren’t so funny now.


The house had been abandoned long before Kitty was born, and from the questions she had pestered her parents with, it was empty before their time as well.


According to the stories told, the house had been home to the wealthy Markham family; their sole child was a daughter of great beauty and therefore had been widely courted. It was not a young, dashing heir that had captured Isabella Markham’s heart but the lowly clerk in her father’s store. They had made a pact to elope but on the night of their meeting, Isabella was left standing alone in the dark forest on the edge of town. The next morning, riddled with anger and despair, the heiress discovered her love had abandoned her. She had hung herself from the rafters of her bedroom. Still, Isabella was believed to roam the halls of the house. Kitty skepticism had spurred the dare. A dare that brought her inside the house.


She reached the landing, finding it dark. A murky twilight filtered in through the dirty windows. Kitty put a hand to the wall to help guide her down the hallway and to the bedroom. It was there that she was to go to the window and wave down to her waiting friends. She opened the door. The hinges protested, warning her with a rusty symphony.


The bedroom was a ghost of a once beautiful chamber. The walls were yellowed and smeared with some brown substance, dingy landscape paintings hung askew. Kitty stepped forward on the faded rug, intent on the two windows covered in moth eaten lace. The bed, a dark wooden, four poster creation with velvet hangings lay to her right. Something moved in her periphery and Kitty cried out, jumping. Her grimy hands went to her mouth and her heart thundered in her throat. She couldn’t see much past the foot of the bed, only shadows but something had moved.


As she slowly advanced, her eyes darting to the bed every other step, Kitty found herself wondering if the story was true. Something was there; she could feel its eyes on her, an icy fire danced along her skin. Kitty could hear nothing but the sound of her heart beating within her and sweat beaded along her brow, rolling down her face and leaving tracks in the grime she had acquired in her trespass. She wiped at her skin as the sweat stung her eyes. More than anything, Kitty wanted to complete her task and flee.


Kitty emitted a strangled shriek as the mattress springs groaned. She abandoned the dare, not caring whether she’d be branded a coward and bolted for the door. Freedom was only feet away when something yanked her back with violent force. The breath was knocked from her and her vision grayed, marred by bright, dancing sparks as her head hit the solid floor. She blinked rapidly, trying to regain her sight and wished she hadn’t when a face appeared over her.


Leathery skin was stretched taut over sharp bones. Hollowed eyes bored into her, deep darkness that held the glittering fire of life and intelligence in their centers. It grinned at her, sharp, jagged yellow teeth bared. Thin, ghostly wisps of gray hair clung to its skull, falling like cobwebs around the weathered visage. They tickled at Kitty’s nose as the creature knelt over her. She gagged, the smell wafting from it was foul, a dry mustiness combined with a deep earthiness.


Kitty opened her mouth to scream, help was only feet below her, but the creature’s hands wound about her throat. It squeezed and fire erupted along the skin of Kitty’s neck. She struggled, trying to escape but the creature slid atop her, pinning her firmly to floor. As the pressure turned into pain, Kitty’s vision waned, blackness encroached, narrowing her sight. It leaned in, closing the distance between them until the creature’s face was only inches above her. The creature began to lose tangibility, blurring around the edges. At first Kitty believed it was due to her failing sight but as she watched, helpless and terrified, she discovered that the creature was actually disappearing. The pressure eased and Kitty gulped in the musty air, the creature smiled, becoming evanescent as Kitty breathed it in.



It had been ages; decades even, since she had last ate. Her ancient body had thirsted beyond sanity for a vessel. Too long had she waited, and she had feared that the house she had been summoned into would be forever her crypt. How nice it was that such a foolish child had strode into her lair. She felt Kitty’s soul, her consciousness battle against oblivion as she overtook the child’s body. Possession was never a comfortable transition. She thrust the squirming soul back into the darkness of the subconscious and locked Kitty away.


She strode out of the room, the promise of freedom thrumming through her veins. Even though she knew that her time was already fleeing, could feel it tugging like a river’s persistent current, she was nonetheless eager to be once more about the cattle. She had only the vessel for protection; once the body was gone she’d be dragged back to this house. It had been Isabella’s ineptitude at dark magic that had created the curse and sealed her in the house unless she had a human host. For a decade, she had lived as Isabella Markham, had murdered the girl’s parents and roamed the country feasting upon flesh until she had been caught and killed.


She’d be careful this time, she promised herself. This body was young and she had decades of life she could live. The vow, a moment before made of iron resolve, wavered as Kitty opened the door and walked out into the dreamy purple haze of the summer twilight. Two children stood there, faces mirror images of anxiety. She grinned, her stomach growling.


“You were supposed to wave,” the boy said. Kitty tapped into the well of memories and pulled forth a name. Bobby.


“I got distracted. It’s scary up there,” Kitty said, laughing. Bobby’s face paled as she took a step toward him. He backed away.


“You lost the dare.”


“Fine by me,” Kitty said. “I want to go home.”


She turned away and began walking up the long dirt driveway. She heard the girl, Mina, race to catch up, her sneakered feet crunching on the loose pebbles hidden just under the soil.


“I think it should count that you went in at all,” Mina said, matching Kitty’s stride.


“I’m just glad to be out of that house,” Kitty said as they turned, reaching the mouth of the long drive, their feet scuffing plumes of dirt along the rural road.
Kitty knew she’d have to be careful out in the world; too easily would it be for her to be frivolous with her chance at freedom, especially when there were so many warm bodies to tempt her and she was so hungry. She grasped Mina’s hand in hers, relishing the feel of the girl’s pulse. Kitty grinned; perhaps she’d have a snack before going home to her loving parents.

Horror Video Games Part 4: Clock Tower


I remember seeing an article in a gaming magazine about Clock Tower for the PlayStation when it first came out. Just the words “clock tower” was enough to pique my interest but the pictures pinned the game into my mind. A young, dark-haired woman pursued by a maniac with a pair of very large, blood splattered scissors through a mansion.



I never got the chance to play Clock Tower for the PS but I was fortunate enough to come across the original on a SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) emulator. The game was never originally released outside of Japan but through the hard work of international fans, the text has been translated and the game found its way into the hands of more people. Also PlayStation released a port of the game for the PS 1 in 1997, there is a PC version as well and can be downloaded in the original Japanese for Nintendo’s Virtual Console on Nintendo Japan’s website. But if you ever have the opportunity to play Clock Tower: The First Fear (as it has come to be known to distinguish it from the other Clock Tower game) then I recommend doing so for those of you who might like an old school survival horror game.

What Kind of Place Will We Be Living In

A collage of screen shots from the game


Jennifer Simpson is one of four orphan girls being adopted by the Barrows family. She arrives at the mansion with the other girls, Ann, Laura and Lotte and their adoptive mother, Mary Barrows. The girls speculate about the house as Mary leaves to fetch her husband. As they talk, the girls realize that Mary has been absent for an unusually long time and Jennifer offers to find her. Shortly after entering the hallway, Jennifer hears a scream and rushes back to the parlor only to find the room empty.



Inspecting the rooms in search of her friends can yield different results. In the first floor bathroom, there is a chance of finding the room thick with steam. Throwing aside the shower curtain, Laura is discovered hanging by her hands, dead. But that is not the only surprise, for a young man erupts from the bath water wielding a giant pair of scissors and starts stalking Jennifer.



Of course, the first encounter with Bobby Barrows/the Scissorman could be in second foyer instead. Upon entering that room, the stained glass dome bursts and Bobby is seen with his scissors embedded in Ann’s torso as the pair plummets to the floor.



Jennifer is not in the position to fight back. Unarmed, she’s no match for Bobby. However, in a pinch, mashing the panic button can save her life if she is struggling with the murderer. Jennifer pushes Bobby back and is able to escape. And escape is the object of this game. It is truly about survival.



Hiding is the best option and the Barrows Mansion has many hiding places. My heart thunders as Jennifer scrabbles over boxes to hide behind an old wardrobe or scurry under a bed. Moments later, Bobby enters, snapping together the blades of his scissors. He paces, confused before leaving, disappointed. But Jennifer cannot stay put long, Bobby has an uncanny ability to spring up when least expected, even in a hiding place.



Bobby isn’t the only danger found in the mansion. In one bedroom, there is a mirror where Jennifer’s reflection can reach out and strangle her to death. The same room has a potentially homicidal parrot. A hallway in one of the wings has weak floor boards and if Jennifer is running, she can fall through and it’s game over. A key pocketed in the nursery wakes a demonic doll that flies around Jennifer, finally attacking the girl and killing her unless the panic button is mashed.



Finding Mary in one of the rooms can spawn one of two events. She either tries to comfort Jennifer with a one-armed hug (there’s a knife hidden behind her back) or offers to soothe the girl with a drink. If it’s the drink, you better hope and pray Jennifer has picked up the ham because Jennifer wakes to find herself in a cage with a very hungry Simon Barrows, Mary’s husband. I didn’t during one game and now I have to start over. Every time I load the save file, Jennifer is attacked and eaten by Simon.



And then there is Dan, Bobby’s brother. He has to be encountered to finish the game. Jennifer finds him underground in a secret area. Dan is revealed behind red velvet curtains, a deformed and gigantic, infantile creature that chases Jennifer. Scrabbling up a hill, Jennifer accidently knocks over a fuel barrel and Dan combusts. From there, it’s an elevator ride to the clock tower and the final meeting between Jennifer, Bobby and Mary.



This game has a lot of variables, capable of unlocking a list of endings. Sometimes Jennifer is the lone survivor, gazing out over the land as the sun rises, other times she is joined by one (or several) of her friends. Sometimes, Jennifer doesn’t survive at all. It depends on what is done, which rooms are gone into at certain times, what items are inspected or picked up. Freeing the crows in one room never hurts; they swoop in to aid Jennifer at a crucial moment. There are surprises and seemingly random events. Clock Tower: The First Fear is never a dull game.


Additional Information and Fun Facts:


  • Clock Tower was one of the first survival horror games along with Alone in the Dark series, Project Firestart, Night Trap, The 7th Guest, Doctor Hauzer, D, Phantasmagoria, and The 11th Hour.
  • The game was said to be based on the 1985 Dario Argento’s movie Phenomena starring Jennifer Connelly. Reading the film’s description, I have to say that there are similarities.
  • A Hollywood script for a film adaptation of the game series has been passed around several times but as of now, it has fallen into the depths of script purgatory.
  • Clock Tower has spawned three sequels and several spin-off games as well as inspiring several more.

Horror Video Games Part 3: Resident Evil


Resident Evil is one of my all time favorite video games series. I love abandoned places and zombies, puzzles and experiments gone terribly wrong. And the first several games in the series combine those elements well. There are a LOT of RE games and spin-offs/side games in the series, some of which I haven’t played or have even heard of before doing a little research for this post. So I’ll only talk about the first game since I could easily go on for hours.

Resident Evil/Resident Evil: Director’s Cut/ Resident Evil Archives

The first game of the series was released in 1996, but was rereleased as a director’s cut and later remade. Resident Evil Archives contains the same plot of the original but with added rooms and areas, the introduction of several new (non-playable) characters, one of whom is Lisa. Her story is a heartbreaking thread woven into the plot but she is also very, very scary.

There was an incident involving a series of cannibalistic murders in the area surrounding Raccoon City and the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactical And Rescue Team) Bravo team is sent in to investigate. After contact is lost with Bravo, the Alpha team is sent in. Set down, the team becomes separated as a pack of very strange dogs appear (if you’ve seen the movie, they look like those) and start chasing them. A handful of the members manage to make it to a mansion located nearby. Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton and Albert Wesker.


You can play as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine. Both have their own special tool that is unique to them, although (if memory serves me right) either one of them can also pick up the other’s item but it takes up space in the item carrier. And believe you me that space is at a premium. Excess items can be stored in item boxes (they look like large, wooden trunks) scattered throughout the area. Any room with an item box is a safe room. You cannot and will not be attacked there. It’s a good place to heal; exchange items and save, using a typewriter.



The objective is to the explore the mansion and the surrounding grounds, gleaning information about what has happened on memos, reading journal entries and reports. One of my favorite entries to read is the groundskeeper’s journal (again if I remember correctly). The last page reads simply: “Itchy. Tasty.”



Foes range from zombies, which are encountered almost from the first to a giant, poisonous snake that you have to fight twice. Genetically engineered creatures also appear. The Hunters are large, almost gorilla-like animals that have a very annoying and startling screech. The first time I played this game, my brother was watching me play and we experienced the first encounter with a Hunter at the same time. There was a lot of screaming involved. They remain my least favorite foe. Sharks (Project Neptune, and thank you Umbrella for giving me another reason besides Jaws to be afraid to go into the water), crows, dogs, snakes (little ones), and large spiders also make an appearance because zombies just weren’t enough to scare you out of your pants, I guess.



As you explore, you move further and further into Umbrella’s secret facility. The mansion is only a front; the out buildings housed a laboratory, Project Neptune and a mutated plant. Beneath the courtyard, a series of tunnels lead to an underground facility. It’s here that all the pieces of the puzzle regarding the nature of Umbrella’s experiments come together to form a whole, and disturbing picture. It’s also where Tyrant is housed, and he’s the game’s last boss. Tyrant stands about seven or eight feet tall (my estimate) and is muscular. He is a single-minded, hunting/killing machine, and nerve-wracking to fight.



Resident Evil is the only game in the series to have multiple endings. They depend on decisions made at certain moments. The endings and the fact that you get a closet key make the game playable several times and always fun to return to.

Horror Video Games Part 2: Dino Crisis


Jurassic Park meets Resident Evil? There is probably a much better way of describing this game but this one works for me, since I love both RE and Jurassic Park. 😀

Made by Capcom and produced/directed by RE’s creator Shinji Mikami, Dino Crisis has a distinct Resident Evil aura. Both games have an almost claustrophobic feel to some of their environments (i.e. narrow hallways) and dark atmosphere, they also have puzzle solving elements, which I love in a game. Plus there is  science gone wrong.

Regina is the main character. She’s one member of a special forces team sent to a secret government facility to find Dr. Edward Kirk, who was thought to be dead. He was discovered during a recon mission by another SORT (Secret Operation Raid Team) member, Tom. Dr. Kirk was the head of a secret weapons team, creating something called Third Energy which ripped a hole in the fabric of time. Hence the dinosaurs and all the survival, run-for-your-life fun.

Regina and her fellow SORT team members (Cooper, Gail and Rick) parachute onto the island. During the decent, Cooper goes off course and becomes a T-Rex snack. His whereabouts remain a mystery to the others. Exploring the facility, several mangled and chewed bodies are discovered and the SORT agents are clueless as to what happened to the scientists until Regina encounters a dinosaur.

From that moment on, the game is all about surviving as you try to find a way off the island. Dinosaurs are everywhere, velociraptors roaming the hallways and a T-Rex that stalks you along outside passages and bursts through windows. Ammo and health items are key (as they are in RE), you run out of either and it could be the last mistake you make.

Four possible endings can be played out, depending on what is chosen at specific times. Each ending unlocks a new outfit for Regina, one of them a very cute, almost Pebbles Flintstone type dress complete with a bone gun. If you complete the game in under five hours, a mini game is unlocked (American version, only, I think) called Operation: Wipeout. This is a game with limited ammo in which the point is to bag a certain amount of dinosaurs during an allotted time.

Though short, Dino Crisis has just enough material to provide re-playability and has very tense moments. But it also has lighter moments, which gives it an excellent balance in my opinion. The characters are well done, each having their own personality. Gail is no nonsense, and tough as nails, Rick is more laid back and the team’s comedian while Regina is in the middle, sharing the best qualities of her teammates.

I think Dino Crisis might be a good game to start with if you’re interested in trying a survival horror game. It’s a little more panic inducing than outright scary but still an entertaining member of the genre.


Horror Video Games Part 1: Castlevania N64


I am a gamer, have been since first playing games on the Atari system when I was a kid. My first horror game was Friday the 13th on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and I remember playing it with my heart in my throat. Jason, in all his pixelated glory, was a near unbeatable foe. I never could survive an encounter with him. But, I think it was Castlevania for the N64 that woke a deep love for horror games in me.


The opening of this game still excites me, a sweeping view of a grand castle and the strains of a haunting and melancholy tune played on a violin by Malus. There are two playable characters: Reinhardt Schneider and Carrie Fernandez. Each have their own special weapons. Reinhardt has a whip and a dagger, while Carrie has magic orbs that home in on targets and a set of rings.

They share the same adventure, trekking through the Forest of Silence, the Castle Wall and then the Villa but then diverges to separate levels unique to one character. Some levels can only be accessed through Carrie (i.e. the Underground Waterway) or Reinhardt (i.e. the Tunnels). Others are shared. There are also several different endings that can be unlocked. That makes this game have a great re-playability.

I love the atmosphere. Dark, tense and horrifying. Time slips from day to night, which is important to some aspects of the game. There is blood and implements of torture, supernatural foes and some very disturbing bosses. But there is also beauty to be found in Castlevania. One of my favorite levels is the Villa.

The Villa is reached after completing the Castle Wall area and fighting several Cerberuses. A timeworn cemetery greets you as you pass through the Villa gates, some of the tombstones still retain their epitaphs and are readable. Entering the Villa, you find yourself in a large foyer with a staircase. Exploring the house, a small indoor garden can be found. Red roses encircle the room. If the time is right, you’ll meet Rosa. She is the garden’s caretaker, responsible for the white roses. What white roses? There aren’t any but as the scene progresses, we learn the reason why. Rosa waters them with blood.

A maze lies behinds the Villa and it’s here that you meet Malus, a frightened boy that has lost his family. This part never fails to make my heart race. In order to help Malus, you must follow him through the maze while being chased by a large creature reminiscent of Frankenstein’s creature wielding a chainsaw and two hellhounds. I can still hear Malus’s scared “Help me!” and the revving of the chainsaw in my head.

As Reinhardt, one of the most memorable moments is entering the Tunnels, a labyrinth of seemingly endless pathways. Shortly after discovering a poisonous river, a scantily clad woman emerges from the murky depths, her arms chastely covering her chest. Walking toward Reinhardt, more of her is seen. Below her waist is the body of a spider. These spider women are the dominate foes of the level, gliding down from the Tunnel ceilings, skittering toward you from the shadows and spewing poison whenever they get the chance.

The Castle Center provides a harrowing challenge. To release the seal and fight the boss, two ingredients are needed. One is mandrake, the other magical nitro and it’s with the nitro that comes all the fun. One jump, one slip from an edge or a hit from the traps or enemies and you explode. Playing through this, my hands shake every time. Once the seal is broken, a massive bull awakens. As you battle him, his flesh falls from his body, leaving only a gigantic skeleton until you defeat him.

Castlevania has left a lasting impression on me. From entering the Forest of Silence to fighting the incarnations of Dracula, it has held endless fascination and frustration. At times creepy and beautiful to downright scary (there’s a statue in the Castle Center that weeps blood which then becomes a monster), it is a game I return to again and again.





Of Many Things



I have been without internet for roughly 500 years. Okay, since June but it feels like a very long, long time. I missed my blogaversary and the release of Romantic Ruckus which contains my story, “Lingering”. I also missed a great deal of your posts, and I intend to at least catch up on some of them, if not all. My inbox is ridiculous and intimidating, there’s enough in there to keep me busy reading for months.

Dreaming Blithely has turned a year old. It’s hard to believe I’ve been sharing my thoughts and fiction with you all for that long. It has passed by so quickly. And I’m happy to have found such a great community of bloggers. Thank you for making me feel at home.

Here are some interesting stats of the last year:

Top 3 Countries with the most views

US 616
United Kingdom 120
Canada 112

October was the busiest month at 216 views

Top 3 Posts

Home Page/ Archives 441
About 53
Love Stories Part 1: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy  41

Top 3 Search Terms

7 Nights of Darkness
Elizabeth Bennet stories
Love stories Severus and Lily Darcy Elizabeth Jane Eyre Rochester

Interesting Search terms

osb nun love story


Back in late November/early December, I sent in a quirky little love story by the name of “Lingering” to Strange Musings Press. Much to my surprised delight, it was accepted for inclusion in their anthology, Romantic Ruckus, stories of love gone hilariously wrong. Since I couldn’t do much in the way of promoting the anthology when the Kickstarter campaign began and then after its initial release, I’d like to talk a little about it now.

The opening line came to me first, part of a conversation my MC, Gabe was having with her husband about her ability to talk to the dead. You see, Adam didn’t believe her gift was real until after his death. Haunted by Adam, Gabe didn’t feel the need to date until a charming customer enters her life. As she prepares to move on, Adam grows protective and a rather strange love triangle forms. If I may say so without sounding like I’m tooting my own horn, “Lingering” is a funny and sweet story. It is one of my favorites, unlike anything I’ve written before.

If the anthology seems like something you’d be interested in, check it out. I think clicking the link to see the awesome and hilarious cover is worth it alone.

Again, I’d like to thank you all for spending time with me and stopping by my humble blog over the past year. It truly has been a joy to get to know you. 🙂




Short Story Spotlight: The Grammarian’s Five Daughters


Growing up, I was never into short story anthologies. I read Goosebumps, Choose Your Own Adventure books, various novels, and the works of Shel Silverstein. And as a young adult, I went through a Stephen King phase, reading about anything of his that I could get my hands on. Which included his short story collections. And that’s when, I think, I discovered the magic of the form. Short stories were, and still are, a box of chocolate to me. Each story was a different flavor and texture, some nuttier than others and some containing a delicious surprise that was unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable.

About ten years ago, or more, my brother gave me The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: The Thirteenth Annual Collection, edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. Inside is gathered the stories of many talented writers, the tales steeped in shades of magic or probing the darkness. It is a delight to read, and every so often the volume calls to me from my bookshelf and I once more lose myself within its pages.

One of my favorites, and it so difficult to choose (which is why I will list some more favorites at the end of this post) is The Grammarian’s Five Daughters  by Eleanor Arnason. This story is whimsical, part fairy tale and part grammar lesson, both beautiful and charming. If interested, you can read it here The Grammarian’s Five Daughters

And as threaten–uh, promised, here are some of my other favorites:

  • Crosley by Elizabeth Engstrom
  • The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse by Susanna Clarke
  • Halloween Street by Steve Rasnic Tem
  • Darkrose and Diamond by Ursula K.Le Guin
  • The Girl Detective by Kelly Link
  • Harlequin Valentine by Neil Gaiman
  • You Don’t Have to Be Mad by Kim Newman


Do you read short stories and what are some of your favorites?

7 Nights of Darkness: A Low Budget Horror Movie


7 Nights of Darkness is one of my favorite horror movies, though those of you who are familiar with it might think I’m a little crazy. It is a low budget movie made in 2011 by Allen Kellogg who also stars as Carter (one of my favorite characters, by the way). The special effects are a little crappy (and I say that with complete love of the movie), but still effective, except for the part where Lina (strapped into the lobotomy chair) is being taunted by Randy and her face turns into a computerized greenish sort of screaming expression which I think is supposed to be the ghost possessing her. Still, I did scream at that part the first time I watched this movie.

The movie is about 6 people doing a reality show. They must spend 7 nights in an abandoned asylum and complete the given tasks in order to split the 1 million dollar prize money. It sort of reminds me of that old MTV show (I think it was on MTV) Fear, where people took cameras and ghost-hunting equipment into empty hospitals, prisons and asylums. Anyway, back to the movie.

Odd things start to happen, a bucket comes flying out of nowhere, a baby is heard crying in the middle of the night in an empty bassinette, maggots appear on pizza, and these occurrences wear on the nerves of the contestants. The above mentioned possession of Lina scares the hell out of Randy, and he tries convincing the others to leave with him. When that fails, he asks them to at least help him get Lina (once more catatonic after the brief screaming incident) out. They agree but when they enter Randy and Lina’s room, they find the lobotomy chair empty. Lina is gone. One by one, the contestants disappear until only Carter and Brooke remain.

I think the reasons why this movie is a favorite and effectively scary is that it uses several tried and true horror movie elements. Jump scares, atmosphere, tension-building and disturbing (okay, maybe unnerving is a better word) scenes. It also employs several elements that can be found in other horror movies, namely The Ring, The Grudge, with just a dash of House on Haunted Hill thrown in for good measure.

If you are a fan of straight-to-DVD movies, (or creepy ghost girls and dolls) I recommend that you check out 7 Nights of Darkness. I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed. And make sure you watch through the credits, there a bit of a surreal bonus scene that’s worth watching.

What low budget movies are your favorites?