Collected Ghost Stories

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

If you want to read some good, classic, ghost stories — for Halloween, or for Christmas, which was the tradition when he wrote them — I recommend M.R. James’ Collected Ghost Stories.

The Castle of Otranto

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

The Castle of Otranto is arguably the first gothic novel. It is also terrible.

Lovecraft’s influence has been wide, but superficial

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Lovecraft’s influence has been wide, but superficial. Perhaps because his works were, in some ways, reactionary.

Pigeons From Hell

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

I recommend reading Robert E. Howard’s horror classic, Pigeons From Hell — but not the updated graphic novel.

Total Film’s 50 Greatest Horror Movies

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

If you’re looking for viewing material this Halloween, you might turn to Total Film’s 50 Greatest Horror Movies — or to my commentary on that list from a few years ago:

I’ll have to hunt down a few of those, which I haven’t seen yet — I spent last Halloween weekend catching up on horror movies — but first I must fulfill my obligation to disagree with those rankings.

I won’t quibble over one and two; they’re obviously horror classics. The first Halloween, by the way, is remarkably low-gore. Let’s skip to three. Last year I anxiously awaited seeing Suspiria for the first time — thank you, DVR and obscure cable channel — and I can say it was a total waste of time. It wouldn’t make my top 50.

Dawn of the Dead definitely deserves to be high on the list — even the fast-zombie remake — but the original Night of the Living Dead deserves to be higher — and way, way higher than 21.

The Shining is definitely super-creepy. Psycho, on the other hand, has one utterly, fantastically horrifying shower scene — and not much else. I’d rank it much lower. I don’t know The Wicker Man.

Rosemary’s Baby is brilliant. I don’t know Don’t Look Now or Cannibal Holocaust, but I have my doubts. The Thing, Carrie, and The Exorcist all belong high on the list. I only caught Carrie for the first time last year — again, huzzah for the DVR! — and it might be one of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen. It’s so much more than that one famous blood-bath at the end.

The Blair Witch Project worked for me. The Haunting didn’t. At all. I don’t know Witchfinder General.

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead is a classic, of sorts, but it’s better known for its extremely quotable sequels, the tongue-in-cheek Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness. I don’t know Peeping Tom.

Alien may be my favorite “horror” movie of all time, but I understand why not everyone would rate it as one of the top horror movies of all time: it has all the trappings of serious science fiction.

Bride of Frankenstein may be a classic, but it’s awful. Of course, the original Frankenstein is really, really awful — but it introduced an iconic character design for the monster, and it had some wonderfully gothic imagery. Still, I can’t believe the abnormal brain bit from Young Frankenstein was in the original.

I haven’t caught Curse of the Cat People yet, and I don’t know Switchblade Romance, but I did rewatch A Nightmare on Elm Street last Halloween, and I wasn’t impressed. I haven’t seen An American Werewolf in London in years, but I remember it as good ‘n’ creepy.