The Fisherman (2016, Word Horde)
Written by John Langan
Abe lost his wife to cancer after only two years of marriage. Dan lost his wife and two children in a car accident. These two men have bonded in their grief by fishing in and around the Catskills and the Ashokan Reservoir. One day Dan suggests they try Dutchman’s Creek, a body of water Abe isn’t familiar with and can’t seem to find on any of his maps. Dan seems to know where the creek is and on a rainy Saturday morning, they head out. A fateful stop at a diner in the area leads to them to hear the story of how Dutchman’s Creek got its name and a warning to stay away from this place.
Donnie Darko (2001)
Written & Directed by Richard Kelly
Donnie Darko is a troubled teenage boy living in Middlesex, Virginia. He has bouts of chronic sleepwalking and sees a psychiatrist for his many emotional problems. His parents constantly worry about him while trying to raise his two sisters, his mother especially has Donnie on her mind at all times. Then a strange twist of fate occurs. An airplane jet engine crashes down on the house, right on top of Donnie’s room. However, he has been pulled from sleep, wandering to the local golf course where he encounters Frank, a man wearing a ghoulish bunny rabbit suit. Donnie is told the world will end by the close of October and from there he is encouraged to commit acts of vandalism that are seemingly random. However, there is a pattern to all the things Frank has Donnie doing and only, in the end, will the truth be revealed.
The Belko Experiment (2017)
Written by James Gunn
Directed by Greg McLean
The employees of Belko Industries’ Bogota, Columbia office, are off to another day of work. The company is a non-profit specializing in getting Americans jobs in other countries around the world, so a very high-end staffing agency. Mike Milch is put off by the newly hired and overly aggressive new security outside the building but shrugs it off. As the day begins, everything goes south, when an external presence takes over the building, locking it down in every way possible. The P.A. system is used to inform the employees that they have to kill two of their co-workers or there will be consequences. Of course, the employees call the voice’s bluff, and an example is made by detonating what they thought were innocuous tracking chips used in the case of kidnapping. Now human nature begins to reveal its true face when it becomes every man and woman for themselves.
For July, my book will be The Fisherman by John Langan, recent winner of a Bram Stoker award. The book is described thusly:
“In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.”
Join me, won’t you?
Universal Harvester (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017)
Written by John Darnielle
The town of Nevada, Iowa doesn’t have much going for it in the late 1990s, apart from the Video Hut. Twenty-something Jeremy works full time there while living at home with his widower father. Life is pretty quiet until customers start returning videos with hesitant complaints about “something wrong with the tape.” Jeremy finally sits down to watch these movies and finds sudden cuts to home video footage spliced in. These strange videos reveal a possible dark secret one of the townspeople is keeping. Jeremy begins to share these film clips with his manager and other people close to them causing more and more people to become entangled in the darkness surrounding his town.
Tank 432 (2016)
Written & Directed by Nick Gillespie
A group of soldiers fights an enemy unseen. They tow a couple hooded prisoners in orange jumpsuits along behind them. The war is happening in what appears to be the English countryside. They stumble across scenes of massacres, other soldiers killed in brutal and obscene manners. On the run from a strange figure that appears seemingly out of nowhere, the group holes up in an abandoned British bulldog tank in a field. As their minds begin to splinter and they are plagued with disturbing dreams, the dreaded reality of the situation starts to become clear.
Written by Graham Walmsley
Cthulhu and Lovecraft are so prevalent in the world of tabletop it is often hardly worth noticing when someone comes along with these names slapped on their product. Every noteworthy game like Munchkin, Gloom, or Smash Up will inevitably have the Cthulhu expansion. The tabletop RPG world has Call of Cthulhu at the top of a virtual mountain of madness of games (Trail of Cthulhu, Age of Cthulhu. Delta Green, etc.). There are some great games amongst all of this, but for me personally, I am very picky about how horror and games meet, especially the weird fiction genre of Lovecraft. My preference is always for a role-playing system that is light and allows for a lot of creative freedom at the table. I know this is not everyone’s style of game, but after writing lesson plans for weeks and weeks and weeks, if I run something I want to have to do very little prep-work and be surprised by my players and where they take the story. Cthulhu Dark seems to do just that.