Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Favorite Short Stories: Charles Beaumont - The Howling Man

Since we've been having fun discussing classic horror short stories and Richard Matheson and all that and since it's on my mind because I've been working on my Library Thing catalog, I thought I'd mention another of my favorites - "The Howling Man" by Charles Beaumont.

It's included in Charles Beaumont: Selected Stories from Dark Harvest, and was adapted into one of the most kick-ass episodes of The Twilight Zone ever.

If you've never seen it, wait up for it on Sci-Fi Channel the next time it airs! Seriously.

Originally published in 1959 in Rogue, which can be found on ebay listed as a "vintage men's magazine," it's a study of evil.

On a walking tour of Europe, the tale's protagonist encounters a group of monks who have the devil imprisoned, of course he's in his "angel of light" guise to the hero.

From outward appearances it seems they monks are a little off and the poor guy they have trapped is the victim of mistaken identity who won't shut the hell up! Hence the howling man nickname.

I finally got to see the TZ episode on WGN in the '80s and I've watched a few more times on Sci Fi re-airings. It's a wonderful black and white rendering with plays of light and lightning, skewed camera angles and SPFX as well.

The story is rich and symbolic, faithfully interpreted for TV but it should be read as well. If you've loved Beaumont, leave me comments.

If not get to a bookstore, mail order house or library. Now, do it. Don't just sit there.

4 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've seen this Twilight Zone episode and loved it, but I didn't know about the Beaumont story. I'll be picking this up.

Stewart Sternberg said...

This is a creepy story and a creepy episode. I remember as a child being disturbed watching the evil character move past columns, and as he moves past each one, the character's face changes, becoming more malevolent.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

One thing I learned from Dennis Etchison about his mentor "Chuck" was that he too great quantities of Bromo-Seltzer, which may have affected his health in his later years. I find his and Matheson's work both similar yet different, if that makes any sense.

Clifford said...

I bought this book years ago, based on the fact that he was a TZ scripter...it's been sitting on my shelf ever since. I guess I'll need to pull it out and read it soon!

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