Saturday, 20 January 2018

'The Girl in the Stairwell'


Women in Horror Annual 2 (WHA) by [Katz, C. Rachel]

Victoria Dalpe's contribution to WHA 2 is a remarkably powerful vignette that genuinely blindsided your humble reviewer.

A young woman sees the body of another young woman - a stranger. The narrator is just one of a group of onlookers, and has no special knowledge of the death. But she climbs down into the stairwell to kneel next to the dead girl and indulges in an ostentatious display of grief. She also steals the dead girl's ID. When the polcie arrive she gives a bogus statement, claiming they were friends on a night out.

She then leverages her ill-gotten celebrity to have sex with an attractive man, all the while gloating/obsessing over her narcissistic antics.

All in all, it's a telling portrait of what might be termed the Trumpian society - nothing is true, all that matters is fame, self-confidence, and self-gratification. Truly a horror story for our time. And all packed into so few words. Victoria Dalpe is a very gifted writer.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Peter Wyngarde

Peter Wyngarde, whose birth place, name, and date are all disputed (1927? 1933?) was a British actor best known for his appearance in TV shows that were quite determinedly cool. He found fame as Jason King, the playboy/agent in Department S, which spawned a spinoff entitled (logically enough) Jason King. This is what he looked like...



After being repeatedly mobbed by female fans it later emerged that Wyngarde was gay. Unfortunately not entirely shocking revelation was part of a wider scandal-sheet story that marred his later career. But long before Jason King sashayed into view on Wyngarde put in an excellent performance in the 1962 film Night of the Eagle, based on Fritz Leiber's novel Conjure Wife. If you haven't seen it, it's worth seeking out this low-budget, black and white production. What it lacks in resources it makes up for in excellent casting, good direction, and a solid script.



Oh, and he also appeared (uncredited) as the ghost of the evil valet Peter Quint in The Innocents (1961). On a personal note, I thought his performance as Dracula at the Sunderland Empire in the mid-Seventies was pretty darn good, too.

Friday, 12 January 2018

'Eyes Like Kali'

Another first-rate story from WHA 2. Author Tanya Smith gives us a title with a classic, pulpy feel, heralding a modern, psychological tale of horror. Dr Chakrabarti is dozing during his shift at a psychiatric facility in the US. He dreams of an outcast girl in a filthy sari, a ghost who died in the filth of an Indian city. He wakes to a different kind of nightmare in the Danvers State Hospital, where he tries to do his job well in distinctly trying circumstances.

This is an intensely atmospheric, not to say hallucinatory, tale. The black eyes of the ghost-girl remind the doctor Kali, with her necklace of skulls. He is surrounded by dangerous mental patients, and violence erupts during his night shift. An image of a third eye - graffiti by a disturbed inmate - blends with dream images. Chakrabarti tries to type up his notes on a female patient who has hanged herself. The scent of jasmine and rain obtrudes, the smell of the city where the girl died.

I am not sure if this story has a message, other than the obvious one - that we are all haunted, and all to some extent culpable in the sufferings of others. Whatever the artistic intent it is a powerful piece.

More from this running review in due course. It's proving a wild ride so far.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Art of the Spooky - Laura Makabresku





Strange stuff. You can find more eerie, weird, and sometimes nightmarish images here.