Showing posts from August, 2010

213 today

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, proto-feminist, muse to poets, and crafter of the first 'mad scientist' Gothic horror story. As Frankenstein began as a ghost story (supposedly) it merits mention here. And, of course, it was very much a staple 'modern myth' of Hammer films along with Dracula. It's a while since I read it, but I recall Frankenstein says some magical mumbo-jumbo over his creation to get it to live, which pushes the story close to the Golem of Prague and similar tales. I always liked the version below, not because it was 'The True Story' at all, but because of the splendid OTT plot and excellent cast.


Stephen Volk's 1992 drama is hard to obtain on DVD. I've seen absurd prices quotes. Fortunately it's available to watch online if you don't mind risking eye strain. If you're too young or foreign (or both) the context is this. It was billed as a Hallowe'en visit to a genuine haunted house and the presenters - particularly Michael Parkinson - were seen as 'safe' or reassuring TV personalities who'd never been involved in drama or indeed hoaxes. The one exception was Craig Charles of Red Dwarf fame, but as you'll see he did his bumptious Scouser act to further allay viewer suspicion. That said, for a hoax show it played fair. You can see the writer credit for Volk in the opening titles, and the closing credits have a cast list. (Weirdly, there's also a credit for a Mike Chislett.) In addition to the 90 minute show below I've added a brief video showing the various sighting of 'Pipes', the genuinely disturbing spook. A lot of peopl

A Warning to the Curious - Pop Song

I'm sure if the Provost of Eton were with us today, he'd be blasting out power chords from his Fender with the best of them and giving it lead vocals. In Latin. Mediaeval Latin. Coz that's how he rolled.

A Warning to the Curious - Short Silent Film

I like this. I think the music is good, the modern characters don't detract from the basic setup, and it stays faithful to MRJ's plot.

Right, everybody spend money on this book

Sarob Press is back, and this time they're kicking ass like a very rude hero in one of those loud confusing films your mother doesn't like. Well, more precisely they are publishing a new collection of ghost stories by Clive Ward, also known as C.E. Ward, possibly for tax purposes. Anyway, here are some facts... NEW for October 2010 from WORLD FANTASY AWARD winning SAROB PRESS C.E. Ward : Seven Ghosts and One Other In 1998 we published   Vengeful Ghosts   by C.E. Ward as our second publication (and our first by a living author). The collection was very well received, sold out pretty quickly and is long out of print. Indeed, it's now something of a collectors item. We are pleased and very proud to now present Mr Ward's long-awaited second ghost story collection ...   Seven Ghosts and One Other . These eight Jamesian tales include two new long and previously unpublished supernatural stories and the authorised completion of M.R. James' unfinished “The Game of B

The Messengers

This first Hollywood venture for the HK horror experts Danny and Oxide Pang passed me by when it was released in 2007. The Messengers is one of those horror movies that pass the time nicely, but without stirring too much in the way of thought or feeling. Perhaps it's unfair to compare it too closely with The Eye, a favourite celluloid ghost story. But there are parallels, not least the idea that some people are gifted (or cursed) with an ability to see the dead. The basic story is simple. A family who have obviously been through the wringer buy a sunflower farm in the back of beyond. We know Something Bad has happened to the previous occupants - the official version is that they moved away, but a monochrome intro sequence makes clear they didn't really go far. Soon it becomes apparent that the farm is haunted. But by what? There is some significance to the crows that flap about the place, the stains that won't be shifted, the scratches on the floor. You get the general id

Encyclopedia Phantasmagoria

Here is a useful list of Fontana books of ghost and horror stories. One I wasn't aware of is Supernatural , edited by Robert Muller. This is a collection of stories based on Muller's scripts for the obscure BBC portmanteau Gothic series. I was impressed by the writers marshalled to produce the short stories. Supernatural - not to be confused with the current US TV show - is not available on DVD, which is a pity. It had a starry cast (that's the great Billie Whitelaw on the cover below) and some damn good stories. Thanks to a kind friend I have a DVD of the series that was clearly for internal use and is a bit wonky. But I've managed to run all but one of the shows by trying them on two different DVD players and my laptop. So I'll cobble together a review of this series you can't see, yet. Rosemary Timperley – Dorabella, or In Love With Death Mary Danby – Lady Sybil, or The Phantom Of Black Gables Brian Leonard Hayles – Heirs, or The Workshop Of Filthy Crea

A Tale of Two Sisters

When I first watched this Korean horror movie about four or five years back I thought it was interesting but flawed. Now, having been prompted by someone's praise to watch it again, I think I was inattentive. The plot makes perfect sense - but you have to sit through some deliberately disorientating and harrowing stuff to get right to the ending. Along the way you get not one but two major plot twists, which I can't discuss because it would scupper your enjoyment, dear viewer. So what else can I talk about? The basic setup. The two sisters of the title return to the family home in the country to live with their father and stepmother. Not surprisingly, the latter is unpopular with the girls (who are early teenagers, I'd guess). The father seems remote and ineffectual while stepmom attempts to play happy families. It emerges that she was a nurse and worked with the girl's late mother. It's hinted that the mother was unstable and this contributed to her death in some

The Bleeding Horse

Brian J. Showers of Swan River Press informs me that he still has a good few copies of this excellent collection of ghostly tales in the 'localist' tradition of Le Fanu. It makes for a really good read. Indeed, if you want a volume to snuggle down with at the end of summer, as the nights lengthen, this is one to read by the light of a guttering candle. Here's a bit of blurb. Follow this link to see more: Each story features a recognisable Dublin setting and infuses it with a spectral history. Among the mysteries you will be invited to unravel are: the origins of The Bleeding Horse pub's gruesome name ('The Bleeding Horse'); the mysterious events leading to the discovery of Jack B. Yeats' final painting ('Oil on Canvas'); the eerie and persistent repercussions of a tragic omnibus accident in 1861 ('Favourite No. 7 Omnibus'); the possible resting place of the stolen Irish Crown Jewels and what guards it ('Quis Separabit'); the ident

Good News from Sarob

Ghost story enthusiasts will know that Sarob press produced some excellent short story collections before its founder, Robert Morgan, put it into hibernation a few years ago. Well, ghost story fans rejoice! Sarob press is back with a new collection of traditional ghost stories by C.E. Ward. I'm proud to say that a tale from ST is among them. Clive Ward's first collection for Sarob was particularly spiffing, and I'm glad to say I still have my copy of Vengeful Ghosts, now a bit of a collector's item. All in all, an auspicious renaissance of the spooky tale.