A Deliciously Macabre Cult Movie


The Stranger From AfarThe best horror movie I’ve seen in a while is called The Stranger From Afar, or it’s original name, Marebito. Here are excerpts from a review on Midnight Eye: 

“Can I face the terror to which the only escape is to kill myself?” Shinya Tsukamoto, director of the cult films Tetsuo and A Snake of June plays Masuoka, a freelance TV cameraman with a finely honed proclivity for the morbid and macabre . . . 
His quest leads him deep into the catacombs of hidden tunnels that lie deep beneath Tokyo while avoiding the fearsome DERO or “detrimental robot”, rumoured to prowl the subway passages spreading terror. Amongst the subterranean ruins of an ancient city lying far from the sun, he discovers a strange, feral young girl, blank-eyed and barely human in her movements . . . In recent years, wunderkind horror director Takashi Shimizu has forged a rather envious reputation for himself as Japan’s new Crown Prince of Horror.

Read More at Midnight Eye

Don Lee is a Rock Solid Fan

Don Lee at the final resting place of Richard Sharpe Shaver, displaying some of the many books dedicated to the Shaver Mystery

Don Lee at the final resting place of Richard and Dorothy Shaver, displaying some of the many books dedicated to the Shaver Mystery

Here is one of the best articles about Richard Shaver that I’ve seen in a long time. All the older Shaver articles are great and sometimes I reread them, but here’s a guy who recently went out and did something. This is up-to-date. The guy’s name is Don Lee. He also publishes a newsletter called “Real Weird.” You can order a copy for $5.00 or offer to trade your own zine by writing to: Don Lee, 185 N. Main St # J, Eureka Springs, AR 72632

Richard Toronto introduces the piece like this:

It’s rarer still, that a fan drives to nearby Yellville and the old Layton Cemetery to put flowers at the Old Man’s grave, but that’s what Arkansas fan Don Lee did on April 11, 2015. Which is why Don has been named Shavertron’s “Fan of the Year.”

Click here to read more

Beautiful pictures, by the way…

Don Lee Shaver House

Fortean Melancholia and Paranormal Mourning


Many thanks to Andrew Wenaus for his review of my novel, Tamper!

Tamper is like the Hardy Boys in that it is a kind of mystery novel in clear/concise language, and it is like (William S.) Burroughs in the sense that there is a presiding desire to break free of some kind of invisible system of control. Yet, the system of control in Ectric’s novel is not the oppressive and determinate force of language (as it is in Burroughs); instead, it is memory, nostalgia, and melancholia. “Tamper” is, in this sense, a coming-of-age novel that is unwilling to ascribe to the rigidity of the coming-of-age narrative. Whit, the central, character does mourn his lost past but continues to revolt against the loss of wonder, imagination, and the possibility that the strangeness of life is more nuanced than we are often enthusiastic to admit.

Read More

Seeing Things

FormicaFace      FormicaFaceOutlined

Doug Skinner talks about Pareidolia at The Ullage Group:

We have a remarkable ability to see patterns where there are none, to see pictures in clouds, smoke, and rocks.  We’re particularly prone to see faces, perhaps because facial recognition is such an important survival skill . . . skills that will increase our enjoyment of blobsquatch photos, miraculous images of Biblical personalities, Shaver rocks, huge sculptures on Mars, and other works of art.

Read entire article at The Ullage Group

Related articles:

Read my article on August Stringberg  

Read about pareidolia in my novel, Tamper

A Shaver Mystery Mystery

Two things we appreciate here at Bill Ectric’s Place are literary research and the Richard Shaver Mystery, so here’s a fun article by Marq Jonz, aka Mark Jones, from his Dero-influenced blog, The Abandondero.

"Shaver Welding Dero" - art by Mikey Georgeson inspired by Richard Shaver's account of welding equipment attuned to Dero mind-tamper

“Shaver Welding Dero” – art by Mikey Georgeson inspired by Richard Shaver’s account of welding equipment attuned to Dero mind-tamper


The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (isfdb.com) lists “Return of a Demon” as Richard S. Shaver’s first published story.  Fantastic Adventures published the story, a weird tale, in its May 1943 issue.  The magazine credits the story to Alexander Blade, one of the house pseudonyms of its publisher Ziff-Davis Publications.  Given that twelve other writers used this same pseudonym, how sure can we be that Shaver wrote this story?

Read entire article

Art by Mikey Georgeson

Anyone familiar with the Richard Sharpe Shaver and the Shaver Mystery will, upon close inspection, recognize the above painting by Mikey Georgeson as a representation of Shaver’s claim that his welding torch had somehow become attuned to the evil underground mutants known as Deros (Shaver was a welder before he began writing for Amazing Stories magazine).  This is the picture that grabbed my attention, so I clicked on a link to Mr. Georgeson’s work at Sartorial Contemporary Art and was so impressed, I want to share it here at Bill Ectric’s Place.

And here are two links to Mikey’s music:

Minty Polo

Corporate Record

Seeing Things! Strindberg and Kittelsen

Left: August Strindberg; Right: Theodor Kittelsen selfportrait

Alchemy, schizophrenia, sinister wizardry, religious fanaticism, and even a knowing wink of humor, The Inferno, by writer August Strindberg (1849-1912), is an early example of the “unreliable narrator” literary device, in which the reader learns that the storyteller is seeing things from a distorted perspective. 

There is some disagreement as to how much of The Inferno is based on an actual nervous breakdown suffered by the author and how much Strindberg embellished and exaggerated his madness to make a better story (much like I did in my novel, Tamper). Having just finished reading Inferno, I have to believe that if Strindberg really went temporarily insane in the mid-1890s, he certainly recovered enough to write a delightfully macabre book about the experience.

 The main character of Inferno, presumably Strindberg himself, wanders from place to place in search of peace of mind, experiencing bouts of paranoia, hallucinations, apophenia (imagining profound connections in random coincidences), and pareidolia (seeing faces and other shapes in ordinary objects, like when someone claims to see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast).

A couple of brief passages from from Chapter 5, Purgatory:

The house is old, the rooms are low, the passages dark, and the wooden staircases wind and twist hither and thither as if in a labyrinth. There is an air of mysteriousness about the whole building, which for a long time has attracted me. My room looks out on a cul-de-sac, so that standing in the middle of it, one sees nothing but a moss-grown wall with two small round windows in it.

and later in the same chapter:

In my fireplace I burn coals which, because of their round and regular shape, are called “monks’ heads.” One day when the fire is nearly extinguished I take out a mass of coal of fantastic shape. It resembles a cock’s head with a splendid comb joined to what looks like a human trunk with twisted limbs. It might have been a demon from some mediaeval witches’ sabbath.

The second day I take out again a fine group of two gnomes or drunken dwarfs, who embrace each other while their clothes flutter in the wind. It is a masterpiece of primitive culture.

The third day it is a Madonna and Child in the Byzantine style, of incomparable beauty of outline. After I have drawn copies of all three in black chalk, I place them on my table. A friendly painter visits me; he regards the three statuettes with growing curiosity, and asks who
has ” made ” them. In order to try him, I mention the name of a Norwegian sculptor. ” No,” he savs, ” I should rather be inclined to ascribe them to Kittelsen, the famous illustrator of the Swedish legends.”

Upon reading this, of course, I had to look up Kittelsen. He was quite an artist. I’d seen his work before, a long time ago, and some of his illustrations could almost be used in the part of Tamper that purports to be the excerpts from Olsen Archer’s book on Richard Shaver:

In Labyrinths of the Damned, I have attempted to build on Mr. Shaver’s work and to integrate his theories on underground, cavern-dwelling humanoids with other related phenomena.

The Himalayan Yeti, known to Tibetans as the Demon of Kangchenjunga, seeking refuge deep in glacial ice caves.

First hand accounts of alien abductions and nefarious animal mutilations, in and around the underground Military Base in Dulce, New Mexico.

Evil Scandinavian trolls, hunched and deformed, creeping into rural towns at night to desecrate churches and steal babies. Under dark, moonless skies, they scuttled from one peat-roofed house to another, looking for an open window to a child’s bedroom.

The North American Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, sighted mostly in the Northern U.S. and Canada.

Scottish gnomes, those rumored descendants of the Picts, who, during the Dark Ages, took refuge in caverns to escape marauders, and left behind cave paintings and small quartz pebbles painted with symbols and wavy lines.

The so-called “mole people,” encountered deep in now-abandoned coal mines of West Virginia and in the extensive network of caverns the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia . . .

Just for fun, here’s a mock-up cover for Tamper using an illustration by Kittelsen called The Plague on the Stairs (this is not the actual cover of Tamper): 

Here is the complete text of Strindberg’s The Inferno,

and here is more on Kittelsen.

Enter Shavertron

Some of you know I like to lose myself in arcane archives, looking for unexplained mysteries and secret histories. Enter Shavertron, a website created by Richard Toronto, and a major influence on my novel-in-progress, Tamper.

The following is a direct quote from one of Mr. Toronto’s many editorials:

The original Shavertron was a fanzine devoted to the Shaver Mystery and the life and times of Richard Sharpe Shaver and his editor, Ray Palmer. This leaves the playing field wide open since the Shaver Mystery is rife with UFOs,  a race of evil weirdos living inside the earth,   mind control, a high-tech Elder Race pre-dating our history, abductions, conspiracies and, of course, the sci-fi pulp zine scene of the late 1940s.

“The ‘mystery” began in a 1945 issue of AMAZING STORIES magazine with an article titled “A Warning to Future Man.” Editor Ray Palmer and writer Richard Shaver collaborated from there to bring Shaver’s unusual cosmology into the world of sci-fi pulp zine literature.

The Shaver Mystery gasped its last breath when Shaver and Palmer died within two years of each other in the mid-1970s. We stopped publishing Shavertron in 1992 since most Shaver Mystery readers were gone (mostly dead) with few leftovers to take their place.

Writers like Jim Pobst, Brian Tucker, Doug Skinner, Tal, Timothy Greene (Mr. UFO) Beckley , Mary Martin (The Hollow Hassle), Branton, Bill Bliss and Gene Steinberg did what they could to keep the Mystery going.

The scene eventually merged with water cooler chit-chat about UFOs, abductions and government conspiracies, all of which were a big part of the Shaver Mystery. Back in 1947, the Shaver Mystery was a bizarre topic of household conversation (probably at cocktail time). Today it’s obscure sci-fi history…though it is now being rediscovered by a new circle of oddity seekers and outsider art buffs (Here and Here – Bill).