Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. “Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay.” For more information please reread.
Welcome to Wyrd Britain, a blog concerned with stories in, of, from and about the stranger places of Britain.
Stories that explore a Britain other than the one we think we know. A Britain where the ghosts are unquiet, where the woods are alive and where distinctions between the present, the future and the past are permeable.
Mankind in its present state has been around for a quarter of a million years, yet only the last 4,000 have been of any significance.
So, what did we do for nearly 250,000 years? We huddled in caves and around small fires, fearful of the things that we didn’t understand. It was more than explaining why the sun came up, it was the mystery of enormous birds with heads of men and rocks that came to life. So we called them ‘gods’ and ‘demons’, begged them to spare us, and prayed for salvation.
In time, their numbers dwindled and ours rose. The world began to make more sense when there were fewer things to fear, yet the unexplained can never truly go away, as if the universe demands the absurd and impossible.
Mankind must not go back to hiding in fear. No one else will protect us, and we must stand up for ourselves.
While the rest of mankind dwells in the light, we must stand in the darkness to fight it, contain it, and shield it from the eyes of the public, so that others may live in a sane and normal world.
We secure. We contain. We protect.
— The Administrator
A research team from an electronics company move into an old Victorian house to start work on finding a new recording medium. When team member Jill Greeley witnesses a ghost, team director Peter Brock decides not only to analyse the apparition, which he believes is a psychic impression trapped in a stone wall (dubbed a “stone tape”), but to exorcise it too – with terrifying results…
Matthew Sweet explores the dawning of the age of Black Aquarius – the weirdly great wave of occultism that swept through British popular culture in the 1960s-70s. From journals like the Aquarian Arrow to the diabolical novels of Dennis Wheatley, lurid accounts of satanic cults in the Sunday papers and the glut of illustrated books, part-magazines, documentary film and TV drama, it was a wildly exuberant seam of British pop culture.
I love horror films and fiction but lately I’ve begun wondering about their portrayal of knowledge. I can’t think of any horror works which do not cause horror by increasing knowledge–in Psycho and Silence of the Lambs the climactic reveal is what’s in the basement; in The Changeling it’s in the attic; in The Shining one of the most horrifying/memorable scenes shows what’s in room 227; I thought Misery might be an exception, but the reveal there is Annie’s past as documented in her scrapbook. In Texas Chainsaw Massacre there are a couple of reveals, including the nature of the BBQ the teens have eaten and Pam’s realization that she’s taken refuge with Leatherface’s brother. In The Ring, the nature of the ring and its importance to Sadako are initially a mystery, and seeing the tape is fatal unless you spread that knowledge by endangering someone else.
Have any works managed to increase horror without revealing new information? And has anyone written compellingly about the politics/philosophy of horror in regards to knowledge (in any format–mass-market nonfiction, blogs, dissertation, whatever)?