Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012

Hope it's a great and scary day for everyone.

I'm celebrating by listening to an I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere episode called "Re: Vampires."

It's a discussion of Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, including a mention of a film that sadly never happened, Sherlock Holmes and the Vengeance of Dracula, described here by Harry Knowles.

It's helped get me in the mood for a chilling day!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Free Neil Gaiman Audio for Halloween Through Oct. 31 is offering an exclusive Halloween story from Neil Gaiman as a free download, and $1 will be donated to charity.

According to Audible's Facebook page, "Click-Clack the Rattlebag," a ghost story that's "subtle, witty and deceptive" according to the synopsis.

You can read more on Audible's site, where Gaiman describes the tale's origins here.

Audible will donate to when you download.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Favorite Short Stories - The Emissary by Ray Bradbury

In an essay from J.N. Williamson's How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction,"  Ray Bradbury discussed the writing of many of his chilling stories collected in Dark Carnival from Arkham House, his first book. Many would later go into The October Country (1955).

In that piece, "Run Fast, Stand Still, Or The Thing at the Top of the Stairs, or New Ghosts from Old Minds,"  Bradbury wrote that he developed a list of nouns in his early writing life and set out to pen a story for each of those. "The Dwarf," "The Crowd," "The Jar" and many others followed.

One of my favorite of his noun tales is "The Emissary," a touching and beautifully written story that chills.

It's tells of a young boy with an illness that keeps him in bed, and the emissary of the title is his dog. Since he can't get out, he sends his the pet on missions, to bring back scents and signs and occasional friends from the outside world.

Of course, being a Bradbury story, it features the crisp and vivid sense display of autumn.

 Lying there, Martin found autumn as in the old days before sickness bleached him white on his bed. Here was his contact, his carry-all, the quick-moving part of himself he sent with a yell to run and return, circle and scent, collect and deliver the time and texture of worlds in town, country, by creek, river, lake, down-cellar, up-attic, in closet or coal-bin. Ten dozen times a day he was gifted with sunflower seed, cinder-path, milkweed, horse-chestnut, or full flame-smell of pumpkin. Through the loomings of the universe Dog shuttled; the design was hid in his pelt. Put out your hand, it was there…

It's a tale with touching moments, and it creates well the feeling isolation and illness in a past era.

Things go well until Dog fails to come home. There's worry, of course, and much more before the brief tale concludes. To say anything beyond would be to give away too much, but it is perfect reading for Halloween and for the fall and for the late night when the mind is open to suggestions of things not otherwise accepted.

It's a story to be read not with jaded, nothing-scares-me rigidity, but with a sense of dark wonder and willingness.

Check it out. It's a must in the original prose form, but it can be found in many adaptations. It was a Ray Bradbury Theater episode, was read by Tom Baker as a Late Night Story on British television and is a part of many other collections including The Stories of Ray Bradbury. Go on, give it a look, and come back and tell me what you think.

Bradbury's essay also appears in his Zen in the Art of Writing

Sunday, October 21, 2012

American Horror Story Asylum

Didn't get to watch on premiere night, but thanks to the DVR, I'm now caught up on this season of American Horror Story.

Grim, strange, kinky, brutal.

It's immediately quite different from Season 1 in tone, though it continues to shuffle iconic horror tropes in interesting ways.

Ghost hunters in a contemporary haunted house get more scares than they bargained for, and then we flash back to a fifties with a much more horrific alien abduction than the Betty and Barney Hill case it channels, with a bit of  role reversal.

Then there's the '50s mental institution run by a typically stern but unconventionally complicated nun portrayed by returning Jessica Lang, and the ante is upped by James Cromwell as a twisted mad scientist type. Whew, lots of carnage and strangeness and a nasty edge.

I don't always find American Horror Story completely satisfying, but I'm always intrigued by what it does and how it does what it does.

I'll stick around for more.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Carrie: Back to Basics?

The tone of the new Carrie trailer is interesting. I had a ho-hum feeling when I read of another remake, even with the accompanying news that Hit Girl herself, Chloe Grace Moretz, would be joining Julianne Moore as Carrie and her mom, respectively.

The second trailer now available on, along with that official URL and preferred hashtag, brings a little more enthusiasm.

In wonderful Stephen King fashion, you'll recall, the novel looks back on the event with a pop culture scrapbook approach that includes excerpts from articles including preliminary reports of a rain of stones from the Wendover, Maine, Enterprise, a  Reader's Digest "Drama In Real Life" account and references to a memoir called We Survived the Black Prom. 

Maybe the trailer's misleading, but I find myself intrigued by a potential point-of-view that looks at the town in flames and attempts to explain how things got that way. That gives things a little distance from the Brian De Palma original and even takes a step or two away from the 2002 version which flashed back from a police interview.

A remake's really uncalled for, but if there's gotta be one...

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