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Conceiving's Top 5 Horror Movie Inspirations

Written by Thomas S. Flowers

What is horror? God, we could spend hours discussing just that, couldn't we? For many, horror is art and it's a form of expression through dark and dreadful images. For others, it's a thrill ride, a rush of endorphins that jolt the nerves into a frenzy. For some of us, horror is simply an escape, just as most movies are. We watch and we read because we want to be entertained. But not just any old entertainment. For those seeking out the shadows, horror offers something more strangely than your everyday bakery. Just the other day, while watching Gilmore Girls with my wife, I kept saying (and thinking) something bad was about to happen whenever I felt the scene was too happy. Just what said bad was is subject to conjecture. Death inevitably being the ultimate conclusion, right? Whenever I whispered those words, "something bad is about to happen," my wife would lean over and ask me to stop saying that. I'm not sure if I was being annoying or if maybe, just by mentioning the phrase, she too began to question the safety of those wonderfully joyful moments between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, injecting anxiety into an otherwise sunny, tear jerking show. As a horror fan, I guess I expect the worse, even when I'm not intending to. It's a reaction to the composition of the story that doesn't sit well with me, that goes against my ingrained belief that "nothing good ever lasts," or "there are no free rides," or "happiness comes with a price," etc. etc. And perhaps this is ultimately why I write and deal in dark fiction, my natural nihilistic disposition that something bad is always waiting to happen.

In writing horror, one my favorite things to do when developing a new story is to think of the most horrible conclusion to what would normally be an ordinary and/or happy moment. When writing my new book Conceiving, I thought of what would constitute being a veteran the same as living in a nightmare? What would turn taking care of an ailing grandparent something befitting a so-called horror tale? Or getting a new job? Keeping an old one? Or what about that moment in every parent's life which ought to bring the most joy, having a baby. Now, horror fan or no, you can imagine, especially if you've experienced any of the above circumstances, they can be pretty frightening. As a new parent, there are many "what ifs" that cross your mind and can typically scare the shit out of you. If you're taking care of a sick loved one, knowing the end could come anytime is constantly there. And if you're a veteran, well, this should go without much explanation, the nightmare of war is an open wound. The trick isn't that these are extraordinary scenarios, rather, when cast into the realm of the macabre, horror reveals the proper questions and refuses to allow it to be hidden. Horror forces us to look at the worst case scenarios in the hopes of eliminating whatever it is we're so afraid of.

If you're a horror fan, turning everyday life into something much worse shouldn't be too hard. Just like with my experience with watching Gilmore Girls, because we gravitate towards horrible conclusions, it becomes almost instinctual to turn ordinary into unordinary, or the natural into the supernatural. Considering the motivations of my characters in Conceiving, and being a huge horror movie nerd myself, there are several films I could point to as having influenced my storytelling, movies that have forced me to question things. Here I've selected my top five movies that I feel have directly influenced this new book.

Lord Of Illusions Cover

5. Lord of Illusions (1995)

While not widely received, I think this is one of Clive Barker's most interesting film adaptations of his writing. Based on the short story of the same title, we follow the adventure of private eye D'Amour as he investigates the strange death of his client's husband, Swann. My attraction to this movie as an influence to my book is with the ruthless cultists. Not much is really known about them. They don't talk much, but we know they're ordinary people. They're not forced to do anything. They simply believe in the authority of their leader, Nix. Belief can give many people hope. Belief can be a happy, joyful experience. Belief can also be horrifying, especially if you're the one going against said belief if you happen on the wrong side, as they say. These silent cultists inspired the creation of the group surrounding Baelo University in Conceiving.

Friday The 13th Part Vii Cover

4. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

It's no secret that I'm a big Friday the 13th nerd, and one of my favorites in the series has always been Part 7. Not only does Jason have an array of interesting toys to dispatch his victims with, but there is a twist in the story that may or may not be a total rip-off from Stephen King's Carrie. Character Tina Shepard (played wonderfully by Lar Lincoln) has a gift for telekinesis and partial precognition, a psychic, more or less. As an influence for one of my characters in my book Conceiving, the part of Luna, Tina was, for the most part, the real inspiration and not, sadly, Jason. Different in her own right, Luna is the heir to a power that is passed on generationally, skipping every other generation. Luna's grandmother is a voodoo priestess, and in the story, it's not just a religion, but a supernatural gift that is passed on from grandmother to granddaughter. Luna had already experienced some of that gift the night her parents died when she was a young girl, but now, as her grandmother's health declines, her own abilities intensify. Compared to the movie, while Tina has an arsenal of abilities, Luna only has one, the ability to see into people's minds and their futures.

The Omen Cover

3. The Omen (1976)

One of the greatest classics to dawn cinemas in our modern age, and one of the most terrifying movies to boot. Everyone has their own threshold, but for me, anything dealing with realism and demonic horror will typically disturb me in some way. The Omen does that for sure, watching little Damien and his odd stoic behavior and apocalyptic telling of his birth and the unstoppable deaths of those around him are jarring, to say the least. As for inspiration for my book, what stands out the most to me is the unsettling ineffectiveness of those working to stop the demonic forces surrounding Damien, that there is another power at work, a power his father, Robert Thorn, cannot stop. That in itself is scary. Our inability to stop the inevitable. That sometimes the "bad guys" win. That there are forces beyond imagination working against us. I think this somewhat sets the mood throughout the entire book.


2. Rosemary's Baby (1968)

One of the best Roman Polanski movies ever made and one that is still today quite frightening. The realism and humdrum of the pace in the movie is what jars me the most. The mystery that builds and builds and when the conclusion is finally revealed for all to see, we're shocked into submission. Here we follow a young couple, Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse, as they pursue the American Dream. The "dream" home and "dream" job and "dream" family. And everything about this movie feels like a dream. The architecturally magnificent towering apartment building, Guy's "break" in Hollywood, and the sudden pregnancy, all these situations are things that are normally celebrated, yet here in the movie we question every turn around the corner. Once happy unquestioned things are now questioned. In part, this became a huge inspiration for both Boris and Neville Petry in my book. A young couple seeking to claim their slice of the American Dream, wanting the "dream" home (more or less), the "dream" job, and the "dream" family. But much like Rosemary, Neville begins to question the authenticity of those once desired wants.

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man Cover

1. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

It would seem like an odd film to claim as a major inspiration for one's book. But it's true. And it's not just because one of my characters, Bobby Weeks, happens to suffer from lycanism. The inspiration is mostly due to the inevitability of cosmic forces that typically bring supernatural forces together, much like magnets. Case in point, in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, while Lawrence Talbot works desperately searching for a cure for his disease, dodging law enforcement and the loony bin, he eventually is forced to confront Frankenstein's monster. There's nothing quite like another monster that brings out the monster in you, am I right? As inspiration for my book, in the end, Bobby will have to face his own Frankenstein monster, a creation that desires to keep someone he loves.

Horror DNA would like to thank Thomas for making us part of his publicity tour! You can follow along the tour with the following hashtags: #Conceiving #SubdueSeries #paranormal #HookofaBook. Make sure to pick up his latest novels by clicking one of the links below.

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Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter.

He is published with The Sinister Horror Company's horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein and Apocalypse Meow. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Books, Dwelling, Emerging and Conceiving, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC.

In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in History.

He blogs at machinemean.org, where he does author interviews and reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can learn more about Thomas and all his strange writings by joining his mailing list at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.

Dark things are dwelling in Jotham, Texas. Malicious forces are seen emerging from the sinister house on Oak Lee Road...

With little memory of the events that took the lives of his friends, Bobby Weeks tries to move on with his life, and finds a job at a warehouse on Galveston Island. The evil in Jotham won't leave him behind, though. Strangers from the cursed town find him, offering information about what happened to his friends. It all leads back to Baelo University...back to Jotham.

Luna Blanche has always been gifted, but now she must use those gifts to save Bobby...

Luna goes to the Mississippi Delta to take care of her dying grandmother. She misses Bobby, and when she attempts to see Bobby through her mind, all she finds is a deadly future. Fearing his life is in danger, she leaves the Delta and searches for him in Jotham.

Neville and Boris Petry want nothing more than the picturesque American Dream...

After Boris accepts a new job teaching at Baelo University, the Petrys move to Jotham to finally live out their dream. Following a drunken faculty party, Neville discovers she is pregnant. She should be ecstatic, but dreadful dreams lead her to feel as if something is wrong with the baby, her husband...and the school.

Four destinies bound on a collision course, a plot conceived in the shadows of Jotham...and an evil biding its time...waiting for them all.

Dwelling, Book One in the Subdue Series

A group of inseparable childhood friends are now adults, physically and psychologically devastated by war...

A horrifying creature emerges from a sandstorm just before Ricky Smith dies in battle. Forced to leave base housing, his widow Maggie buys a home on Oak Lee Road in the town of Jotham. Maggie is isolated in the historic house...and disconcerted by strange clicking sounds inside the walls.

Jonathan Steele attempts to drink the painful past away...

Jonathan was wounded in that fateful battle and now suffers from PTSD. He wants to put the nightmare behind him, but when Ricky's ghost appears with cryptic warnings about Maggie's house, he begins to question his sanity.

Bobby Weeks is a homeless veteran struggling with a lycanthropic curse...

Afraid of bringing harm, Bobby stays far away from those he loves. But after a full moon, a mysterious woman approaches him and reveals a vision about a house with a sinister presence, and he realizes staying away might no longer be an option.

Minister Jake Williams lost his faith on the battlefield...

While Jake will do anything to reconnect with God, he turns to vices to fill the religious void. But a church elder urges him to take a sabbatical, and a ghost tells him to quit the ministry, and his life is more out of control than ever.

When Maggie wakes in a strange subterranean cavern, she can't deny her home harbors dark secrets. Desperate, she sends letters to her old friends to reunite in Jotham, and events conspire to draw them all to the house...unaware of the danger awaiting them.

The friends have already been through hell, but can any of them survive the evil dwelling beneath the House on Oak Lee?

Emerging, Book Two in the Subdue Series

Traumatized by war, friends gather for a reluctant reunion...

A historic house in Jotham, Texas harbors a malevolent force, and as her fear grows, widow Maggie Smith pleads with three lifelong friends to gather in her home. But will their presence combat the darkness...or feed it?

Minister Jake Williams fears Maggie has had a breakdown...

Feeling he has no choice, Jake locates the other intended guest, Bobby Weeks, who agrees to go with him but struggles with keeping his lycanthropic curse hidden.

Jonathan Steele, a wounded veteran battling PTSD, arrives with his disgruntled wife. After drinking too much at dinner, Jonathan insults the homeless Bobby, and Bobby is missing from the house the next morning.

The dark past of Maggie's home awakens in the present...

Jake, whose faith is in doubt, confides in a local priest while he and Jonathan search for Bobby, and Ricky's ghost makes another visit to Jonathan, causing him to become fixated on saving Maggie from the evil that surrounds her.

As the danger intensifies, trust is elusive, and betrayal is certain...

Maggie might be lost, Bobby confronts a terrible choice, and Jake and Jonathan fight to save them all-before they become more victims of the horror emerging beneath the deadly house in Jotham.

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