Episode 1 – Influences, Holders, Faces

Hello. Abby and Kris talk about the origins of their interests in horror, common pitfalls in online horror fiction, and craft the next creepypasta cult classic: the Face Man.

Stories mentioned:


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  • Looking forward to the second episode! I’d like to hear a bit more of your thoughts about how scary stories resolve, what leads to satisfying endings? Does the protagonist _have_ to end up dead/scarred by whatever they experience? Hearing you both disect an ending that succeeds/lets you down would be fun!

    • GaranjeAutomatic

      A lot of stories can also end with the protagonist becoming some sort of monstrous force, or they’ve been it all along. Jeff the Killer, for example.

      … Except just kidding. I was thinking more Eugie Foster’s “In the End, He Catches Her” and that kinda stuff.

  • Indy

    Huzzah, I love the question of what does or doesn’t make something creepy.

    I’d be curious to know what you think of the Search and Rescue Woods series. (searchandrescuewoods on tumblr – it’s also on reddit, but I think the author wanted to start their own site)

    It’s an interesting mix of gore, nonspooky weirdness, and realistic tragedies. I feel like they work together as a unit, due to the frequent tone shifts.

    • The Search and Rescue series is a good one. The nosleep podcast versions of those were really well done. I liked the slow building of the mythology.

  • Eben Charles Sullivan

    Have either of you seen the film ‘The Witch’? I’d love to hear thoughts on that, and contemporary horror films in relation to the types of tropes that you two discussed this episode.

  • Really enjoyed this. Hope you make it a regular thing.

    I’m interested in hearing your experience in creating long horror fiction. Horror, and especially creepy-pasta, are areas of fiction in many ways defined by the short story.

    Both of you are creating long-form horror fiction, and I think it might be interesting to hear what you consider the key differences between creating long-form and short-form horror.

  • Jacob Warbrick

    really enjoyed the first episode, guys! as for topics for future episodes, I’d be interested to hear your take on the current trend of sort of self-aware, tropey ‘meta’ horror? (Cabin in the Woods, the ‘Scream’ Netflix series sort of dabbles in it as well). can’t wait to hear more!

  • Jacqueline K.

    The Beast in Over The Garden Wall is made of faces so maybe that’s The Face Man?
    I don’t know a lot about horror because even bad horror stories scare me and I don’t really like that feeling, but things like OTGW and Broodhollow or games like Oxenfree and Limbo I can “forgive” because of the art style. I also like The Dark Tower series, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe and the idea of H.P. Lovecraft (the stories seem really great but I’ve never tried to read them because I don’t think I’d be able to see past the racism), so I guess my genre of choice would be dark/gothic fantasy/fiction, maybe?

  • Ross Smith

    I challenge y’all to keep up a pace of reading, watching, or listening to horror stuff. Work some recos in among the breakdowns. You guys break it down real good; I like that.

    • Ross Smith

      Also fun first episode and thank you for doing this. Great job

  • Remy Vogler

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on video game creepypasta, a notoriously bad subgenre, and specifically how you feel those sorts of stories could be approached better. I loved all those old urban legends about hidden things in Pokemon, etc, and I feel like there’s a lot of potential in the setup of a haunted or otherwise Weird video game, but I can’t really point to any single story that I feel has convincingly pulled it off.

    • Sean

      i, for one, can not understand how Ben Drowned is as popular as it is. maybe we were so unerved by game glitches in the past we thought that something super natural was happening.

      • I was fairly impressed when I saw that someone had reconstructed the video game experiences in that story using the actual LoZ: Majora’s Mask game. It probably helps the story that the game itself was already kind of creepy.

  • Samakain.

    Hurrah! I’ve been a fan of both of you for a while and I’m very happy to see you guys putting this out there. You are both excellent and both goofin and spookin so definitely looking forward to future episodes.

    I’d be interested to hear you talk about how much is too much to show. You talked on this episode that you need to give your audience space to fill in the details on their own which is of course true but where do you draw the line between putting your idea across and letter their ideas fill in the spaces.

    And do you think it’s possible to manipulate that accurately enough to draw on certain insecurities or fears? and if so how?

    Also, what is your weak spot when it comes to being spooked?

  • xamaryllix

    I love the fuck out of this.

  • GaranjeAutomatic


    Well, mine in sense of ownership, not integration. That extra heart I got in the bathtub just keeps on beatin’ away. I tried to put it under the floorboards until I remembered that I’m in a 2nd floor apartment in the 21st century. Why won’t the heart be still? BE STILL, MY BEATING HEART

  • Idu Julian

    I agree, Ligotti is absolutely wonderful. Too bad I can’t seem to find his books anywhere. Also, would there be any chance of reading that thesis-esque writing about haunted objects? I’m making a thesis myself about modern horror and it would be a very helpful aide.

  • Belinda

    Love the first episode, cannot wait to hear more! Horror is a fascinating genre and there aren’t enough good podcasts out there that talk about horror, on a meta-level. You guys are also hilarous and it’s really fun listening to you both.

    I’d love to hear your views about the SCP Foundation. It’s a really interesting way to do horror I think, to unfold subjects of horror through “scientific” reports. There’s been some terrific SCP “anomalies” and really awesome stories written about anomalies. One of my favourites is “We need to talk about 55” by QNTM.

    • Spencer Schwartz

      SCP is definitely cool and Kris covered it when he was doing Scared Yet? as a series on his youtube channel!

  • Admiral Mini Bar

    I’m really glad to see Scared Yet make a comeback. I’ve always enjoyed the in-depth horror discussion and I’m so glad to get even more of it from a delightful duo.

    I’ve always had some difficulty with horror. It’s not that I can’t handle the FEAR it’s just that I find myself reading an interesting story where bad things happen to people and not a SCARY story.

    I’m not sure if it’s a matter of realism, but I can always feel it when a piece of work crosses a certain line and then I’m just partaking in a fun fantasy story with a lot of bad events. I can suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy the story, I just don’t get a cold case of the creeps.

    I wonder if there is that kind of line for the both of you?

  • This is kind of specific, but I’m interested to know your thoughts on the use of the murder of a pet as a device in horror. Do you find it gratuitous, or do you think that it can work?

    • falsebooles123

      I think it has a good effect for atmosphere and helps send a really big shock to the protaganist without being strong. My favorite use is in the novel The Last Date by Edmund Plante

  • Nick Grugin

    1.) YESSSSSS! Howard & Straub in the same podcast, this is my thesis man! Seriously tho, so happy you two are finally doing a horror podcast

    2.) Based on this first episode, seems like you both are kinda of the thought that unseen horror = best horror, (definitely agree here) . Have you ever read/seen/played any horror wherein the revealed horror was actually scarier then what you might have imagined?

    3.) Have either of you ever read the creepypasta Pale Luna? Related: What is it about outdated formats/media (VHS/Floppy disks/tape decks/etc) that have a strange appeal to them when horror stories are built around them.

    4.) Environment you’d like to see used in a horror story (Ex: Submarine) and environment you think is overused in horror stories (abanndoned hospital/sanitarium/etc)

    Sorry for the opus of a comment here. Keep it up, and thank you for including links to the stuff you all talked about in the ep. Love finding out about new areas of horror, podcasts, etc.

  • Brent

    Oh man SO glad to hear more pontifications about horror, Kris! Abby, I’m new to you/your work but I really enjoyed all your thoughts! Enjoyed the show!

    What I would like to hear discussed: The deeper themes/fears that horror taps into. Like, how so much horror isn’t really about X but is about the unknown, or fear of the Other. So much of this comes back to a lot of similar ones, but not all of course. Which do you guys think are more powerful or universal? Etc.

    Looking forward to the next show!

  • Albedo12

    This can only be a good thing! Great first ‘cast.

    Glad you mentioned Pseudopod as I used to be a listener but it dropped off my subscriptions a few years ago and I eventually forgot it existed. Gonna give it another shot.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on found footage. I’m a fan of the style, but only the variety of the shorts in the V/H/S anthologies (and and Local 58 of course) give me hope that it’s not dead yet. Too many people just seem to want to re-make Blair Witch.

  • just downloaded, can’t fucking wait to listen to this on my flight home

  • I think a big conceit of the Holders series that ties into “these steps seem insane for the amount of payoff” coupled with “I don’t want a tool that lets me murder people; I’m not really about murder” is that that even though it’s written as an instructional, we are readers are still outsiders looking in. We’ve discovered this network of Seekers who are sharing their findings on the different Holders, and a Seeker isn’t necessarily a normal, typical person; that anyone who would dedicate themselves to tracking these artifacts down is probably a little morally/ethically darker than the norm.

    There’s also the implication that the artifacts are part of a set, so even if the thing at the end is just a pair of glasses, you still need them along with the other 100 or however many to get the “true prize” at the end.

    Overall though I think the thing that made The Holders fail was the crowdsourced authorship, because any time you open the door for something like that you inevitably get amateurs who write something terrible into the canon, be it either the Artifact of Terror Death Edge Murder, or the Ultimate Super Artifact that Rules Over the Others and is Totally the Most Important. I know I’ve read at least three of the latter.

  • Travis Smalley

    Really enjoyed the ‘Cast!

    I liked the bit on Instruction stories! I run a lot of horror-based tabletop role-playing games, and I ran a game not unlike that recently; the players were in a town where all the kids had vanished, and were finding scattered notes detailed ‘imagination games’ the kids had played that all read like, “At midnight, go around your house and turn off all the lights. Then, stare out an empty window into darkness. Tell yourself, “Someone is there, I just don’t know how to see them.” Tell yourself this until you can feel them looking back at you. Then, turn around, close the door, and go to bed.”

    Eventually, of course, they had to ENACT these rituals, to figure out what happened and I swear I’ve hardly ever seen player so jumpy.

  • Mike

    I’m excited for Scared Yet to be back in a new form! I was jonesin’ for new episodes of the Youtube series, so this is music to my earholes! Abby, thank you for the recommendation of The Whistlers – fantastic stuff and absolutely worth the two hour investment! More like this please!

  • Adam Butcher

    Really enjoyed this. Only comment: the audio quality really grated on me. Didn’t get to hear Abby’s mellifluous tones properly. Can ya fix?

  • Alexander Steinberg

    Have either of you read Annihilation by VanderMeer? Pretty short (<200 pages) vaguely sci-fi modern weird fiction. One of the only 'horror' stories I've really enjoyed.

    I'm curious what you think of it AND what you think of it being made into a movie.

  • Cole Jenkins

    I just got around to listening to this, and it is great!

    I generally don’t like second person fiction, but there are sometimes things that do it well. Two recent-ish things in particular came to mind, both variations on instructional material, while I was listening to this and since you didn’t mention them, I thought I would direct your attention to them:

    The first is Pseudopod 433: 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism by Jon Padget http://pseudopod.org/2015/04/09/pseudopod-433-20-simple-steps-to-ventriloquism/ This starts in the seemingly mundane world of the sorts of pamphlets you could order out of the backs of comics when I was a kid and moves, with terrific pacing, into a dark world of secret magic and cults.

    The second is http://www.nightvalepresents.com/withinthewires/ Within the Wires by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson. This is from the same people who do Welcome to Night Vale (which incidently if you ever do a podcast on comedy and horror, which given your own work makes a lot of sense, is pretty obvious) and initially seems to be one of those meditation/relaxation recordings, but is apparently intended for an inmate in some dystopian prison.

  • Jason Kelley

    I love creepypasta. I love Kris Straub. I loved this.

  • Trainshaman

    Supremely late to the party, but have to say, good episode.

    Upon hearing second person instruction manual horror, I immediately thought of an employee orientation video as media for horror. Possibly in a 70’s style, super 8 type of deal, where they cheerfully welcome employees and talk about the dos and don’ts at work that has little moments of oddness that implies the horror. Things like talking about midnight surprise inspections, and when a mistake or fault is found, immediately assume safety position #3 as seen on the screen where a handy dandy little black and white drawings hows a person crouching down with their backs against the wall and their hands clasped on their neck, the narrator cheerfully exclaiming ‘The inspectors can be fickle! Protect your medula oblongata!’ etc. Obviously in a more deft and subtle manner than that.

    (If it has not become painfully apparent, I am a big big fan of Local58.)

  • Kirsty Mills

    Love this so much, I was really missing the Scared Yet videos, this is just what I needed.