Posts tagged Hollow Earth

Open Submissions Call for CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth

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“The nethermost caverns … are not for the fathoming of eyes that see; for their marvels are strange and terrific … out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth’s pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.”
— H. P. Lovecraft, The Festival

We’re excited to open submissions to our sixth anthology…

CHTHONIC

The full title of this book will be
CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth

Pelucidar. The Hollow Earth. DEROS, and the Shaver Mysteries. Blue-litten K’n-yan, red Yoth, and black, lightless N’kai. The Amigara Fault. Derinkuyu. Agartha. The world (and worlds) below. Inner earth, a near infinite space of vast, echoing potential … our (possible?) birthplace, and the place where we all return, either as corpses, or something other? … the churning, chaotic underworld, and true home of all that is weird, unconscious, and forbidden. Descend with us in this anthology of weird fiction; descend to the realms CHTHONIC.

We are looking for weird fiction that explores the mystique and terror of caverns, abyssal spaces, and subterranean worlds. As with previous MMP anthologies, we will be including a seed story from H. P. Lovecraft’s oeuvre (in this case, The Rats in the Walls, though many of his stories went underground). We want to see bizarre civilizations, mind-boggling physical and biological phenomena, horrific rituals, mad science and madder sorcery. We want to feel the tunnel floors beneath our feet shake with the passage of beasts, machines, and gods that have never seen the light of the sun; sentient oils, intelligent muck, living rock, molemen, formless spawn and Efts of the Prime, worms, Dholes, and ghastlier things. But CHTHONIC won’t be just a serving of pop culture “surface” material, if you’ll pardon the pun. We like to see stories with depth (oh god, another one, sorry!); emotional and psychological explorations of the internal spaces of the human mind and soul, as well as the ground below. Write us stories that induce crushing claustrophobia or open us wide to new dimensions of thought and being. If your story can do both, so much the better.

Final story count for the anthology will be determined based on quality and number of submissions. CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth will be released as a softcover paperback and as an electronic book in multiple formats.

Submission period closes JULY 31, 2017. The anthology will be released in early December of 2017.

Submitting

Please use Standard Manuscript format when submitting. That’s double spaced, left justified, Times New Roman or Courier or something at least readable, a header on the first page (at least) with your author info and word count and… well, you know the drill. RTF or DOC files preferred, but DOCx and text files also accepted. Obviously, you could send us something that’s not in Standard Manuscript format, but it will lower your chances of it being looked at seriously.

We will look at both original work and REPRINTS.

To submit a story to CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth send an e-mail (with the story file attached, not in the body of the email) to: submissions@martianmigrainepress.com, with subject line: CHTHONIC, title of your story, and your name.

Length

For short fiction, we’d like to see anything from 1,500 to 7,000 words.

FLASH FICTION: got something under 1500 words? Send it in. However, the following still applies…

NO POETRY.

Payment

All accepted submissions will be paid .03CAD per word, via Paypal, as well as two contributor copies (paperback) of the anthology, and copies in all electronic formats (mobi, EPUB, and PDF). Authors are also entitled to electronic copies of three additional Martian Migraine Press titles of their choosing.

Replies and Queries

We will try to acknowledge receipt of your submission within a week of its arrival in our inbox. The submission period itself will close on July 31, 2017 and we should be responding to all submissions, yes or no, throughout the submission period and no later than August 2017. We do our best to ensure that all submissions are contacted and kept up-to-date, but sometimes items fall through cracks, so, if you haven’t heard from us by September 15 2017, please query.

For full details, please consult the submissions page

The Voyeur at the Threshold: Shimizu Takashi’s “MAREBITO”

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(this review appeared originally on the Lovecraft eZine, May 23, 2013)

Marebito (2004)

Directed by: Shimizu Takashi
Starring: Shinya Tsukamoto, Tomomi Miyashita

J-horror films rarely tread beyond their traditional revengeful ghost-children territory (or at least, the films that see release beyond Japan don’t) so it’s refreshing to come across Marebito, (loosely translates to The Stranger From Afar, apparently) which is undeniably weird, disturbingly perverse, and, though its treatment of the themes is heavy-handed and clumsy at times, definitely a Lovecraftian film.

This is a film set against a backdrop of holes, abysses, caverns: all the hollow places in the earth and in the human mind. Appropriately enough, it was filmed in the 8-day hole between director Shimizu Takashi’s two Juon (aka The Grudge) films. It’s a film about emptiness and the madness that results from contemplation of that emptiness: the things we do to distance ourselves from it or encounter it more deeply. Marebito’s protagonist Masuoka (a freelance  professional cameraman), does both, often at the same time, using his always-to-hand video equipment as combination filter and microscope. He is a fully urbanized human, sheltered and fed (and feeding upon others) through the media that cocoons him.

As a story, it’s also full of holes: hard-to-parse gaps in the narrative that make it difficult to follow, character motivations that seem to come out of nowhere and are barely resolved before disappearing. Dropped hints. Suggestions of tunnels that could be travelled down but fade from the film’s memory in only minutes. This could be deliberate on Takashi’s part, an attempt to induce a paranoid dream-state in the audience, or it could be the result of the speed of filming. Chances are also good that this narrative disorientation is entirely a cultural thing: I admit I haven’t watched a lot of J-horror (outside of The Ring) so I am perhaps unfamiliar with some of the subtleties.

Our pill-popping and voyeuristic cameraman becomes obsessed with the look of horror that he captured in the face of a man who killed himself (in what we’re to understand is a sudden and gruesome fashion) in a subway tunnel. Why Masuoka was filming a suicide we’re left to guess, but it’s clear he’s not entirely well, mentally. In any case, his obsession with learning the fearful thing that drove the dead man to suicide leads Masuoka deep below Tokyo, down endless Escher-staircases, to a place he begins to call the netherworld. Along the way he encounters the ghost of the suicide and they engage in a philosophical discussion on such occult subjects as the Hollow Earth and crank favourite Richard Shaver’s DEROs (or Detrimental Robots). Masuoka shows the ghost the video of its own death, causing it to vanish.

Further descent brings him to a place he calls “Mountains of Madness” (using some clever but very low-budget matte photography effects, the actor appears to wander across unreal landscapes) where he encounters a thoroughly creepy, pale girl, chained by her ankles to the wall of a small grotto or oubliette. As singular, horrific images go, this is pretty unsettling stuff, which I assume is why it’s used in many of the promotional materials. Mute, catatonic, and more beast than human, Masuoka nevertheless decides to free the girl and return with her to the surface world, where he deposits her in his closet-apartment, a space jammed to the ceiling with surveillance and video equipment. The girl (who he calls F) folds herself into the smallest space she can find (under a futon) and falls asleep. Through the rest of the film, Masuoka monitors her via various linked cameras and his cell phone. Naturally, odd things begin to happen, both in the collected footage and in the increasingly fractured perception of Masuoka.

F begins to deteriorate, and her captor receives calls on his phone from artificial voices who advise that she is dying, that she should not have been brought to the surface. By accident, Masuoka learns that F can only tolerate blood as nourishment, and though animal blood will do, she really enjoys the human variety. If this listless, autistic creature is a vampire, then she is one of the weirdest ever in film. Masuoka, no less a monster, and already far removed from the normal human social spheres by his work and voyeuristic fetish, has little trouble taking the next logical steps in keeping his bizarre pet healthy.

One thing leads to another (even as the straight-ahead narrative gives way to greater and greater porosity) and by the end Masuoka becomes a classic Lovecraftian protagonist, consumed by his obsession and destroyed by the very knowledge he sought.

Visually, Marebito is ugly and flat looking, a fault due mostly to the cameras used. Flat, but also real as a result, and the home-made, voyeuristic feel of the film gives it a very disturbing vibe. I could imagine coming across this footage and being instantly alarmed by some of the contents.

Shinya Tsukamoto (as Masuoka) is sometimes clumsy in his emoting (there is a scene where F drinks blood from a cut on his finger and he is either trying hard not to laugh or is actually aroused; who can tell?) but overall he manages to depict a depressed, fetish-burdened man descending into horror and insanity fairly well. However, the over-use of internal monologue narration by Masuoka, although effective in the first quarter of the film, tends to become droning, soporific, and fails to capture the emotional tension as his madness descends upon him. Again, this might be a deliberate choice, but it was an off-note for me.

Tomomi Miyashita’s performance can only be described as intense. Her portrayal of the catatonic underworld vampire F has the severity and simplicity of Noh theatre: her postures and expressions, her bestial vocalizations, everything about her is thoroughly unpleasant and creepy. Whenever she was on-screen, a line from Lovecraft’s The Festival kept going through my mind…

Great holes are dug where earth’s pores ought to suffice,
and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl

And that was Marebito for me: an uneven, extremely porous and shifty narrative film experience that was at the same time (and perhaps for the same reasons) effectively dreamy and nightmarish. I’m not sure it would stand a second viewing (due to its cheapness and hole-y plot) but as a late-night venture into a part of horror culture I’m not over-exposed to, it was pretty good.

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