Armadillocon 2022 takes place this year from August 5 to August 7 at the Austin Southpark Hotel. I’m scheduled for five events, two of which I’m moderating. (Cthulhu help us.)
I’m including my schedule below (and if you don't see me at these, check the bar), and you can find the full schedule here.
Hope to see you there.
Friday, August 5
Modern Horror Fiction: From the Bigs to the Indies
Southpark A, 10pm - 10:45pm
A discussion of contemporary horror fiction--what's hot, what trends we see, and what to look for--from major and independent publishers.
Panelists: Derek Austin Johnson (moderator); John Hornor Jacobs; Tonia Ransom; Josh Rountree
Saturday, August 6
Texas Weird: What Is It, and Why You Should Seek It Out
Ballroom E, 1pm - 1:45pm
Texas is its own place, and its SFF literature has its own unique flavor. We bring together a few experts and novices to talk about what it is and what you should be reading.
Panelists: Jayme Lynn Blaschke (moderator); Derek Austin Johnson; Mark Finn; Rick Klaw; Tex Thompson; Joe R. Lansdale
Movies: What You Should Have Watched 2022
Southpark A, 3pm - 3:45pm
Panelists discuss the movies, television shows, and other visual media released since the last Armadillocon.
Panelists: Cassandra Rose Clarke (moderator); Derek Austin Johnson; Rosemary Clement-Moore; A. T. Campbell
Reading - Derek Austin Johnson
Conference Center, 8:30pm - 9pm
Story to be announced.
Sunday, August 7
The World of Analog Horror
Southpark A, 1pm - 1:45pm
Local 58, The Mandela Catalog, Gemini Home Entertainment. Explore the world of this unique subgenere of horror, and why it can be so effective.
Panelists: Derek Austin Johnson (moderator); Holly Lyn Walrath; E. A. Williams; John Hornor Jacobs; Eva L. Elasigue
Last night on social media I provided a list of introductory horror movies. It included the following:
I usually find these lists a challenge—not because of how difficult they are to put together, but how easy. Seriously, if you want to provide an introductory viewing list, you find yourself recommending a lot of pretty standard titles. As a CineFix host opined on their Top Five Horror Movies of All Time video, horror has a strong center; there’s something about this particular genre that makes the classics more classic than most. Take a look at the above list. You can ask why, say, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre didn’t make the cut, or why David Cronenberg is absent, but by and large the selections I included are pretty much unarguable.
Because of this, I began wondering what my list would look like if I didn’t include any of my previous selections. I love the ten previously listed, but I keep wondering what gems are hidden from somebody who sees Hereditary or Us and wonders what else might be available. So here’s a list of ten additional introductory horror movies. I’d like to say this is more idiosyncratic, but many still probably meet the criteria of “classic.” The only limitations I included were (1) they could not have appeared on the previous list, (2) only one movie per director (which is why you don’t see Curse of the Demon here), and (3) no director in the previous list can appear here.
The post-quarantine world moves fast. For those interested, I’m scheduled to be at Multiversecon this October. If you attend come say hi.
Yeah, 2020 was a crap year, and if 2021 is even marginally better we will consider it a miracle. I don't need to repeat the litany of events; most of us probably developed PTSD from our collective daily doom scrolling. May the entire year lay near the bottom of history's dustbin.
As bad as 2020 was, it turned out great horror. I kept up with what I could for a change, and seldom found myself disappointed by the books and movies released. Below are my favorite horror books published during 2020, all of which I recommend.
Movies didn't have as groundbreaking a year as in previous years, for obvious reasons, but that doesn't mean worthwhile efforts weren't released on streaming services such as Shudder. There were a lot of great movies available if you knew where to look. Of the movies released in 2020, I'd recommend the following.
Found in the huge anthology Midnight in the Pentagram edited by Kenneth W. Cain, James Newman's story concerns the aftermath of an exorcism, and the effect it has on the protagonist, at that time fifteen years old. Far from the happy ending implied by most possession tales, Newman suggests what would follow is a mélange of post-traumatic stress, isolation, and, to some extent, longing, all told in elegant prose with mounting unease. It's a story I wish I had written.
"Your ghosts follow you."
His House is a powerful little thriller about a Sudanese couple seeking refuge in England, but inexplicable things occur when they arrive at a tenement home in London. Taut and gripping, with strong performances and breathtaking imagery.
Thanks to Gabino Iglesias for the recommendation.
It's the last Friday the 13th of 2020. What could go wrong?
You would think, as a child of the 1980s, I would have been a slasher fan. It was a golden age for such franchises: Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and of course Friday the 13th hunted down scores of teens who refused to heed messages like Just Say No, Abstinence Only, or for that matter "Where's the Beef?" But I wasn't interested in these sorts of tales at all. I preferred the landscapes and monsters proffered by Universal and Hammer, in part because the fantasy elements offered escape from my mundane adolescence. It wasn't until I read Carol J. Clover's Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film in college that I grew to appreciate and love the slasher story. By then, however, the form had played out; Freddy was dead, Jason lumbered like a zombie, and Michael Myers's gigantic knife couldn't cut through his series' overgrown mythology. It took Wes Craven's Scream to revive the form, and to cement the rules into popular culture.
For all of its seeming limitations, the slasher story remains incredibly robust. From David Gordon Green's Halloween to the metafictional Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, the form offers more interest and social insight than my pretentious teenage self could imagine.
This includes novels and stories. For modern examples, see Sadie Hartmann's slasher selections. It leaves out a few of my own favorites, such as Stephen Graham Jones's The Last Final Girl, but it offers both a good starting point for the novice and solid recommendations for the seasoned horror reader.
As a reminder, my slasher story "Final Girl" will appear in the anthology Campfire Macabre, coming soon from Cemetery Gates Media. Details on where you can find a copy soon.
Enjoy your Friday the 13th while you can...
My slasher story "Final Girl" will appear in the anthology Campfire Macabre, coming soon from Cemetery Gates Media. I share a table of contents with Tim Waggoner and Yolanda Sfetsos, among many others.
Details on where you can find a copy soon.
Jeani Rector's The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories is available on Kindle from Hellbound Books. My story "Proof of Afterlife" appears within.
For those who prefer their stories inked onto the skins of dead trees, a paperback edition is available.
Derek Austin Johnson has lived most of his life in the Lone Star State. A member of the Turkey City Writer's Workshop, his work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Tell-Tale Press, Skull Fragments: A Skelos Sampler, Rick Klaw's Rayguns Over Texas!, Nova Express, Moving Pictures, Her Majesty's Secret Servant, and Revolution SF. His film column "Watching the Future" appeared each month at Hugo Award-winning SF Signal.
He lives in Central Texas.