Wailing Well is the ultimate camp story. I actually told it to a large group while on a campout. I would like to say everyone was frightened but unfortunately it generated only a polite reception.The more popular where's my arm (told by someone else) did a lot better.It sort of bothered me, thinking I had done a lousy presentation but I realized that what todays audiences seem to want these days, or this particular group anyhow, is the simple scare in a very short and compact story. The influence of too many bad horror movies I guess.A bit of a downer but there it is.
For a second there I misconstrued your use of the word 'camp'! I think you've hit upon one of those 'sad but true' facts. I wonder if M.R. James' stories are now more or less unreadable to horror fans? I'm not sure if it's bad horror movies to blame - I like horror movies and some modern ones are very good. But it's a different skill - listening to a story requires an ability to be attentive, remember details, and anticipate events in the mind's eye. Films do much of our imagining for us.
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