The Dark Door Volume 1 zine review
The featured art is by Chris Cote

Ill-advised records have been providing music as “Beats to Lie Awake and Succumb to Crippling Anxiety to” for some time. From their signature, never-ending lo-fi beats channel to their custom comps that evoke imagery from such iconic games as Silent Hill, the creator behind Ill-advised has also dabbled in the world of horror with also a few manga spotlights and now a new zine full of frightful tales to macabre horror art.

But, how does the jump from YouTube music go to the printed press with the first issue of the Dark Door horror zine? Exceptionally well would be the answer.

At only 72 pages, the first volume of the Zine packs in a lot of exquisitely macabre material. Split between art, short stories, and links to playlists (provided via QRC), the zine hits all the marks of what one would want from a gothic evening — reading and sipping wine in the boudoir or study. 

What gives the release a frightfully dark aesthetic is the glorious black and white art that adorns the pages. This captures a familiar vibe of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” as well as the iconic art from “The Thief of Always“. Provided by the immensely talented Chris Cote, the illustrations are bound to transport the horror nerd back to their youth of first discovering horror. While Cote provides the majority of the illustrations for the book, there are several other contributors that bring to life dark landscapes or gothic cuteness. On art alone, the zine is certainly worth the price of admission. 

The stories included in the inaugural release are the only area where the collection shows slight fault. The tales themselves are all intriguing and competently crafted, but the selection seems more eccentric than the visual direction of the book. For example, Brain Injury from Samuel Frost is a disturbing metaphysical nightmare about a man trapped in his own mind. Yet, the short is one of few that feel at odds with the more macabre/gothic vibe the release tries to capture. 

Regardless, the short spooky stories are all engaging reads. The mix of poetry and storytelling gives the zine depth, too, in terms of literary variety. The collection just feels slightly less focused when you begin to break down the content covered in the written word.

The Dark Door Art Sample

A cool addition to the format comes via playlists included in the pages. A brief intro to the inspiration behind the playlist leads to the QRC code for quick access. For those who like lo-fi hip hop, Ill-Advised Records is a dark perversion of the formula, adding in ominous and distorted electronics while still keeping the ‘chill’ flow that has become its own sensation — thanks to channels like Lo-Fi Girl.

Certainly, the devious tunes may not garner as much universal appeal as the previously mentioned YouTube behemoth, but for fans of horror, Ill-advised Records carve out a quaint niche in the saturated genre. More importantly, the atmosphere of experiencing the art and stories is undeniably heightened by having the music fill the room.

It is apparent the Ill-advised Records and the people behind “The Dark Door” know what the audience wants. More importantly, they deliver on the expectations with a beautifully curated zine. Anyone who thrives when immersing themselves in all things ‘spooky’ will find The Dark Door horror zine perfect package to sink into the abyss too. Check it out, links are below!


Info: The Dark Door Horror Zine

The Dark Door can be found here:
Individual copies are only $10, and subscriptions for the next four issues are $35

They are also always looking for submissions to the zine on an ongoing basis. 
Writing submissions: 
Art submissions: 

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