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Showing posts from 2015

Compliments of the Season...

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Vote!

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I'm experimenting with an online poll to try and boost the number of people voting for Best Story in each issue. Look to the right of this here post and you'll see, near the top, a chance to vote for your favourite tale in #30. It was a cracker of an issue, I hope you'll agree. So why not express your opinion? Polling closes at the end of January.

Yutletide YouTube

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A few offerings for the festive season, to fill in time if you're at a loose end and there's nothing worth watching on the telly. Here's the late, great Sir Michael Hordern reading the classic tale of a lost crown that should never have been unearthed.

A Ghost of Christmas Past

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Over at the DeviantArt site, you can find a lot of spooky stuff. Here's a seasonal image from the artist Klaire de Lys, with a unique and - for me - compelling take on the first of the spirits that visit Ebeneezer Scrooge. And here's another pose. You may be wondering how this remarkable young artist has achieved the striking effect of a crown of melting candle wax without, y'know, pouring melted wax over herself. Well, there's a make-up tutorial at her website, here . Never let it be said that I don't keep up with all the trendy things. Dear me no.

Automata - Machineries of Weirdness

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Mechanical devices designed to mimic human beings or animals. It's an odd way to carry on, really, investing huge amounts of wealth and expertise in something that is seemingly useless, yet manages to be fascinating. Weird fiction has plenty of examples of strange automata - Poe wrote an expose of 'Maelzel's Chess Player', the famous Turk, Ambrose Bierce created 'Moxon's Master', and there's also Marjorie Lawrence's wonderful life-size dancer, 'Vlasto's Doll'. But in real life these clockwork simulacra can be every bit as strange as those found in fiction. The first one I saw was at Bowes Museum, at Barnard Castle in County Durham, just a few miles from my home. It's the rather lovely silver swan - not really spooky, though certainly the stuff of fantasy. One can imagine a king or caliph in a fairy tale receiving this as a gift. Only a very spoiled potentate would not be impressed, I feel. Now we move on to something a bit stran

Spooky TV Classics

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Over at the British Film Institute, they are rather keen on spooky things. They've drawn up a list of 10 Classics of British TV Horror, and it makes for an interesting read. I've seen most, but not all, of the dramas in question, and what strikes me is how diverse and interesting they are. And yet somehow they are all very distinctly British, perhaps because most have a darkly humorous take on fear, mystery, and general weirdness (hence the inclusion of The League of Gentlemen's 2000 Christmas Special). Anyway, check out the BFI  list . Here are some of my favourites from it. Kneale-O-Rama Nigel Kneale has two 'hits' on the list, and both are technically science fiction. Yet 'The Stone Tape' was rightly billed by the BBC as a ghost story for Christmas back in 1972, as the entire setup is pure Gothic. A vulnerable young woman goes to an old country house, where she is surrounded by men, all pursuing their own agendas, and a strange force becomes focused

Texts from Carmilla

I think we might agree that J. Sheridan Le Fanu's 'Carmilla' is one of the greatest weird tales ever written, and the archetypal 'sexy vampire' story. The ending, for me, sums up the essence of the Gothic - not blood and thunder, but that most Romantic of sentiments, powerful emotion recollected in tranquillity. It was long before the terror of recent events subsided; and to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to memory with ambiguous alternations--sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door. None of which quite prepares you for a version of the story in text speak, which is here . It's very silly, but strikes the right note. After all, these are teenage girls. have we met before? haha what? I could swear I knew your face i dont think so, i never meet people i had a dream once, I thin

Strange Monuments of An Ancient Land

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The land in question is my land, as it happens. Britain, of which dear old England is a large part, is an odd sort of place. In a rather tame landscape it has many monuments more ancient than those of Greece or Rome, but most of the people who live here don't known much about them. These aerial photos of Iron Age hillforts in winter give some idea of the mysteries, hidden deep in pre-historic time, that inspired many writers of weird tales. They also look good. I can imagine Arthur Machen or Algernon Blackwood hiking to the top of any of 'em, and formulating a numinous plot. Well, a plot, anyway.

Glasgow University Spookery

In a blog article published here , Sarah Bissell discusses the long tradition of the Christmas ghost story. It focuses on books in the Special Collections at Glasgow Uni, where - as you can see - there are a lot of splendid volumes. M.R. James inevitably gets centre stage, but there's also a mention for The Eerie Book , which is a new one on me. It looks like a fun read. A Poe-esque atmosphere of claustrophobia and dread is also created in George W. M. Reynolds’ ‘The Iron Coffin’, extracted from his novel Faust (1847). Although his work is little-read nowadays, Reynolds was hugely popular in the mid-Victorian period, especially among the working classes. His serialised narratives borrowed heavily from Gothic novels, with their gratuitous use of violence situating them as ‘penny dreadfuls’. One of his most famous serials, The Mysteries of London , ran for four years, with its weekly instalments selling up to 50,000 copies each. ‘The Iron Coffin’, though somewhat subdued in the b

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

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When you've seen one Iranian arthouse vampire Western, you've seen 'em all. Well, maybe not, but as of tonight I've definitely seen one. Ana Lily Amirpour wrote and directed (as well as playing a brief supporting role in) this remarkable film, which got quite a bit of attention when it was released a year ago. It is an unusually good modern vampire flick, not least because it shuns all but the bare bones of the lore. No sparkling here, no tedious backstory stuff, just a creature of the night with familiar appetites and the strength to fulfil them. Sheila Vand stars as 'The Girl'. We first see her stalking the streets of Bad City, a gritty industrial conurbation. There are frequent shots of an Iranian oilfield (producing life blood of a different order), trains roar by in the night, and rich folk take party drugs while poorer junkies mainline heroin. The city's all-too familiar disparities of wealth leads to the customary infestation of crime, here represen

Algernon Blackwood with 'Pistol Against a Ghost'

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HWA Bram Stoker Award

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The reading list for the Bram Stoker Award in the Short Fiction category includes two stories from ST#30. They are 'Even Clean Hands Can Do Damage' by Steve Duffy, and '30' by Helen Grant. I am very pleased that two excellent authors are in the running for an award because I think good writers deserve publicity. Oh, and I hope lots of people buy the magazine, of course. It's interesting to note that, while both stories are very traditional in some regards, they also manage to be genuinely original in some important respects. They're also very different in tone, with Helen's story somewhat playful and knowing (almost the very end) while Steve's is more sombre, as befits the subject matter. If you feel the urge to peruse those excellent tales, you can find it in print and ebook from here . Go on, get stuck in - it's quite cheap and a good read. Cover art by Sam Dawson

The Wicker Man and the Lambton Worm

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One of the first tales of weird fiction I learned wasn't from the pages of Edgar Allan Poe or M.R. James, but from English medieval history. Where I grew up in Sunderland one of the few local legends - perhaps the only one of note - is that of full-on monster v. hero action. The Lambton Worm is a ballad that tells a familiar tale. A foolish person makes a blunder that unleashes a dangerous entity upon an unsuspecting world. Well, County Durham, anyway. The worm in question starts of small, gets bigger, and eventually becomes a major nuisance that can't be killed by regular warriors. So a hero arises and - thanks to advice from a witch, no less - kills the monster. Unfortunately, the witch's bargain brings a curse upon the hero's line... If you want to read the story, the traditional ballad is here . There are some interesting twists, not least the fact that young John Lambton, the hero, is also the twit who unleashes the worm in the first place. But what's all t

Punctuation, People

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Oh, Monty - you and your promiscuous young people. Why couldn't you just write about genteel scholars looking for old books 'n' that? Gleaned this online, so I'm not sure of the source, but it looks (and reads) like the dear old Grauniad.

Lego Hell!

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Yes, Lego Hell. Or, more precisely, a young Romanian artist's interpretation of Dante's Inferno, as rendered in Lego. It's strong stuff, though I think he missed a trick in not having some group of offenders (old drunks going to the bathroom in the dark, perhaps?) fated to step on Lego bricks in bear feet - forever! Gluttony - a high-protein zone Heresy - God just doesn't like your opinion, dude Limbo - where's the bar?

Across the River (2013)

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This Italian movie was recommended to me by author Steve Duffy, and - as usual - he was right. It's a simple horror flick that exploits, but doesn't depend upon, the found footage approach. It's one of those films that manages to achieve all it sets out to do - create disturbing world of shadows, mystery, and terror within a fairly familiar landscape. The premise of Across the River is very simple. A naturalist (Renzo Gariup) sets out to conduct a wildlife survey in northern Italy, near the Slovenian border. He drives an RV into a fairly desolate, hilly, forested region and sets up night vision cameras to monitor deer, wild boar, and other fauna. He also captures a fox and attaches to it a camera plus GPS tracker. He watches as the fox ventures into a deserted village, not marked on his map, where it is attacked by an unseen beast. His curiosity piqued, he ventures across the river. Most of the film is set in the lost village, which is a character in itself

Supernatural Tales 31

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Coming soon! An issue literally packed with supernatural fiction, because that's what it's for, really.  Here are the contents: 'Deletion' by Stephen McQuiggan A man with a bad reputation in a small town finds himself the focus of unwanted attention. But why do so many people have trouble remembering his name? 'Before the Days of the Urban Fox' by Malcolm Laughton 'Suddenly Alyn looked back at the wall. A creature sat atop it—exactly where the dog stared. It was man-shaped, and it murmured and murmured.' 'Krogh's Remains' by C.M. Muller Bereavement drives a woman to seek out a lost uncle, but he proves elusive. His obsession with books, on the other hand, is all too evident... 'What I Found in the Shed' by Tom Johnstone 'It had that strange, half-human, keening quality. But I knew it was a baby.' 'In Loco Mortis' by Mike Chinn 'What’s your name, by the way? I may have known once—

Malevolent Visitants! News from Sarob Press

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Sarob Press has announced a new title, and it's a doozy. Malevolent Visitants will be a new collection of stories by C.E. Ward, one of the best writers of the traditional ghostly tale. Clive Ward's fiction appeared regularly in Ghosts & Scholars magazine during the Nineties and he established himself as a direct descendant of M.R. James thanks to his style and erudition. His tales of the supernatural offer erudition, humour, and chills in roughly equal proportion. I'm a fan, in case you hadn't guessed. As you can see from Paul Lowe's covert art, Clive's work tends to focus on rural and historical themes. The bloody heritage of England crops up in various forms in his first two collections, Vengeful Ghosts, and Seven Ghosts & One Other (both published by Sarob, and long out of print). Here's some more information from the Sarob announcement: Be prepared for a restless night when every small sound will have you staring into the deeply shad

November Nunkie!

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Last night my old friend Mike and I went to the Lit and Phil in Newcastle to hear Robert Lloyd Parry of Nunkie Theatre perform 'A Pleasing Terror', one of his now extensive repertoire of shows based on the works of M.R. James. Last night's show featured 'Canon Alberic's Scrap-book' and 'The Mezzotint', but during this autumn/winter tour Rob is doing other stories, among them 'Casting the Runes' and 'A Warning to the Curious' - it depends on the venue. Rob played to a packed house, having built up a considerable following over the last few years. He was always a confident performer, of course, but his mastery of his material was never more apparent than last night. He switched from humour to horror and back with great aplomb, drawing attention to the way in which Dr. James made those two effects complementary, rather than contradictory. (I should emphasise again that these are performances of the stories, not simply readings. RLP uses M

The Kibbo Kift - Mystic Folksy Weirdness

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An interesting Guardian article looks at a British political movement that's almost forgotten, yet produced some of the most striking ideas and images of its time. The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift was formed after the Great War to revitalise an exhausted, demoralised nation and - by extension - the entire world. Its founder, artist John Hargrave, styled himself White Fox and exhorted people to go camping, learn craft skills, and breed superior beings. If that sounds a bit proto-Nazi, well, associated groups in Germany were assimilated by the National Socialists. But to be fair to Hargrave, he seems to have been equally opposed to communism and fascism, eventually forming his own 'Green Shirts' and arguing for peaceful coexistence and a world government. That rational, if highly idealistic, objective was married to some quasi-mystical notions. 'Hargrave held that the postwar reconstruction was doomed “because the rulers have not the courage to abandon the mechanical

It Follows (2014)

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This American horror movie may have slipped by some folk, which is a pity. It's an excellent reworking of a familiar theme - one used in at least two classics of the genre and quite a few lesser movies. It Follows is the story of Jay (Maika Monroe), a teenager enjoying her summer who goes out on what becomes a very bad date. She is drugged and strapped to a wheelchair, then confronted with what she is assured is a shape-shifting entity that is going to kill her, if it catches her. The twist is that the thing, which only its 'targets' can see, can only move at a walking pace. In theory, you can always stay one step ahead. In practice... As in Night of the Demon, the very first sequence in the film has already shown us that something truly disturbing is going on. So the film wastes relatively little time on the notion that Jay is crazy or the victim of a sick prank. Instead she and her friends try to find out what they're up against and how to evade or defeat it. It

In the City of Ghosts - Review

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Full disclosure - I received an inscribed copy of this book from the author, who was also kind enough to dedicate it to me. That means a lot, and I am very grateful. I only hope I can maintain a stiff upper lip in the course of this review. The book consists of 13 stories, of which seven originally appeared in Supernatural Tales . There are also two new stories (one of novella length), one from The Silent Companion (journal of the literary society A Ghostly Company) and three from  Ghosts & Scholars . And, of course, there's an excellent Paul Lowe cover. The novella 'The Changelings' strikes me as a central piece, a summation of the author's interests and obsessions. The setting is contemporary, a London council estate where people live in soulless flats, the lifts break down, and residents rely on booze and sex to break the monotony. A group of friends, one of whom is into the occult, hold a seance. Something is conjured up and people start to disappear. Th

Hallowe'en Montyfest

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M.R. James is the central figure in the development of the British ghost story, influencing writers as diverse as Ramsey Campbell, Robert Westall, H.P. Lovecraft, and Susan Hill. Put another way, if Monty James hadn't existed, ghost stories and by extension modern horror fiction would be very different. So here are a few dramatised examples of his work, and works influenced by him. We begin with the Christmas 2013 Mark Gatiss adaptation of 'The Tractate Middoth'. Time-shifted to the inter-war years, the story works well and it's good to see Monty's usual mix of scary incident and light, comedic interludes used to such good effect. Excellent cast, too.

Hallowe'en Reads - the Best of British

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Everyone in the world, even people Scooby Doo onesies, are recommending ghost stories, so I might as well have a go. As it's a bit late to recommend that you zoom off and buy copies of this or that book, I've decided to link to texts that are readily available online. In some cases there are readings or dramatisations on YouTube. So, click on the title to go to the text. Algernon Blackwood - 'Ancient Sorceries' Blackwood's story from the case-book of the psychic detective John Silence is one of my favourite witchcraft tales, and goes way beyond the usual rigmarole. It's a must for cat-lovers and anyone who wants their story to have a sense of place as well as acute characterisation. The American radio version from the series Suspense is good for its time, but watch out for an interesting take on 'Welsh' accents.

The First Ghost Story Awards... Awarded!

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Here they are - on the left is Brian Showers of The Swan River Press (Best Collection), and in the middle is D.P. Watt. (Best Story). Interesting that there's room for someone/thing on the right, too, but we can't actually see 'em... Anyway, Brian Showers received the award for the Le Fanu tribute anthology, Dreams of Shadows and Smoke , while D.P. Watt won best story for 'Shallaballah', an M.R. James 'sequel' published in the Ghosts & Scholars newsletter. Congratulations to them both, again, and remember - as a reader of modern ghost stories you can vote for next year's winners. And here's a reminder of the rules: You can vote for supernatural fiction published in this calendar year, 2015. Your vote must arrive by midnight on February 28th 2016. You may vote for up to three ghost stories and up to three ghost story collections or anthologies. You do not have to put your votes in any order: they will be treated as of equal weight. You a

Hallowe'en Radio Fun

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I like radio shows. It's been said many times, but the best medium for suspense is audio. I'm currently enjoying the sci-fi mystery/horror series Limetown , which has a Stephen King meets Nigel Kneale vibe. And talking of Kneale, I'm looking forward to the BBC's Sunday night reboot of The Stone Tape as a radio drama. There used to be a lot of more ghost stories and weird tales on the wireless, especially in the form of American shows produced by big networks. You can find a list that provides a good sample here . And, ahem, I have uploaded a few examples to ST's YouTube channel. (Yes, there is one.) The same channel has links to lots of radio and some TV dramas. Here is a little sampler.

M.R. James in The New Yorker

'The name of Montague Rhodes James is not widely recognized in America, and there will be little fellow-feeling for the world he chose to inhabit.' So begins an essay  by Anthony Lane, which sums up the appeal of the Jamesian ghost story rather neatly. He offers New Yorker readers a decent potted biography of MRJ and extracts from some of the most famous stories. And Robert Lloyd Parry's performances get a mention - can transatlantic fame be far behind? I like Lane's way with words: 'What truly provoked him, and what filtered into the underground strata of the stories, was not so much misogyny as a more basic, mortal panic at gazing into the face—or, heaven preserve him, below the waist—of the unknown.'

Ghost Story Award - Awarded!

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Mark Valentine sends this modern, digital daguerreotype from Nottingham, where he's just presented Brian J. Showers of Swan River Press with the GSW for an excellent Le Fanu tribute volume. Well done, Brian! And kudos to all the contributors, of course.

Stealing Sheep - Apparition

A clever little film that looks as if a very strange old postcard had come to life. The village is Turville in Bucks, apparently. More info here .

Trollhunting!

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This short film from BBC Earth gives a fascinating insight into Icelandic folklore. Icelanders sort-of believe that their landscape is inhabited by hundreds of trolls. They are key figures in a national story, and seem to be discussed much as soap opera characters are by urban Brits. Like fairies in rural Ireland, trolls have their places and their ways, and to cross them invites bad luck. The film is full of beautiful images of a fascinating place, and it's easy to see why the legend of the trolls took root on an island that manages to be cold and stark yet oddly welcoming. Icelandic trolls come across as fairly pleasant, rustic types. Norwegian trolls, though, seem to be just plain badass.

A Spooky Poem, by Cardinal Cox

The Bloodless Nun About the House wanders shade of a nun Walks straight through one solid-brick garden wall It’s six centuries since she felt the sun Tales are told of what evil had been done Winter does not force her into a shawl About the House wanders shade of a nun Seduced, ‘tis said, by squire’s wastrel son Most mournful is her circuit round the Hall It’s six centuries since she felt the sun And so through ages her doomed fate has run She once interrupted a county ball About the House wanders shade of a nun She’s seen in late mist at dawn of Whitsun And in an attic scratches a scrawl It’s six centuries since she felt the sun Sin, tears and suicide this curse began Responds to chapel bell funeral call About the House wanders shade of a nun It’s six centuries since she felt the sun

Portmanteau or Anthology? More Hallowe'en movies

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I'm not sure if there's a major difference between portmanteau horror films and anthology etceteras. So far as I can make out the terms are interchangeable. The point is that I like the format - it's good to know what, as a film begins, you're going to see the work of different writers/actors/directors. So, what would be ideal Hallowe'en viewing? In no particular order, here are some memorable examples. Dr. Terror's House of Horrors Peter Cushing. That should be enough for you, but if not, this 1965 effort from Amicus is sure-fire beer and pizza viewing. There are far scarier films, there are far funnier films, and there are many other horror films you can make witty(?) remarks about, but for me this one has the lot. Cushing plays a strange chap who offers five train passengers a chance to see their future in his deck of Tarot cards. No prizes for guessing which card turns up quite frequently. It seems that nobody's future involves a win on the Prem

Cursed Paintings - The Art of Fear!

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Here's a link to an excellent article about paintings that, for whatever reason, give people the willies, or wiggins. I was surprised to find that there really are such things. Having read dozens of weird tales about haunted pictures and so forth, I'd always assumed they were just a convenient fictional device. But no, there really are paintings that upset people so much they have be hidden away. Edwin Landseer’s 1864 “Man Proposes, God Disposes” has creeped people out since its debut with its dual polar bears scavenging at the wreckage of the ill-fated Franklin expedition to the Northwest Passage. One creature has a human rib bone rapturously clenched in its fangs; the other lunges at a scrap of fabric drenched in a blood-red color. William Michael Rossetti mourned it as the “saddest of membra disjecta.” The widowed Lady Franklin was unsurprisingly dismayed, and some even asked if Landseer, known for his noble dogs , was getting a bit unhinged. The painting is so weir

In the City of Ghosts

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The first ever hardback collection of Michael Chislett stories has arrived! In the City of Ghosts is a splendid book from Sarob Press, and I'm not just saying this because it's dedicated to me. Yes, for only the second time in human history, an author much-published in ST has been kind enough to put my rather odd name on that priceless page. I am moved. I will of course be providing a review of the book in due course, but given the dedication and the fact that most of the stories here appeared in ST first I think it's fairly certain that I will approve. And check out this rather splendid Paul Lowe cover. The image on the right is 'The Waif', a story from the very first issue of ST. (The left, I think, is from 'Not Stopping At Mabbs End'.) It really has been too long, but I hope this book proves the first of many Chislett volumes. The guy has an awesome amount of fiction just waiting to be collected by discerning publishers.

Hallow'en Radio!

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Lest we forget, much spookiness was once heard on the wireless. It's often claimed that radio is a better medium for horror than TV because you the former engages the imagination more. I think the jury is out, but radio has the edge when it comes to atmosphere. However, radio drama has obviously been superseded by the visual media (for now), so most of the shows on this list are older than me. The latest dates from 1979. I've heard most of 'em, and they are of course variable as to sound quality, and indeed script quality. But I particularly recommend Orson Welles in his Mercury Theatre's version of Dracula , plus Ronald Colman in The Dunwich Horror . Other classics include 'Casting the Runes', 'Carmilla', 'The Wendigo', and 'The Horla' with the great Peter Lorre. A special mention is due to 'Three Skeleton Key', a non-supernatural tale that has a simple, horrifying premise and was dramatised for radio several times.

Halllowe'en Movies

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What's the best kind of Hallowe'en movie, I wonder? For me there has to be an element of traditional horror - whether it be a touch of the Gothic, a bit of ghostliness, or (in science fiction) a laboratory where things Clearly Got A Bit Out of Hand. But it's very difficult to define a rock-solid Hallowe'en film in simple terms, because sometimes the best horror jumps out at you from behind a cliché or something even more innocuous. There are lots of obvious choices for late October viewing, and some of the best films are the most readily available, The early work of John Carpenter, the best of the early slasher movies, classic ghostly tales like The Innocents and The Haunting. So what about something a little different, perhaps as an appetiser before the main event? 1. Tucker and Dale v. Evil This is one of those horror spoofs that de-constructs the genre in a way that's genuinely affectionate rather than smart-alecky. Tucker and Dale are just two regular coun

Skeletons (2010)

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Here's another one of those films with a supernatural theme that quite passed me by when it appeared. Skeletons stars Andrew Buckely and Ed Gaughan as two suits, Bennett and Davis, whose job consists of using a combination of natural psychic ability and esoteric gadgets to exorcise the (figurative) skeletons in other peoples' cupboards. Their boss is The Colonel (Jason Isaacs), who is considering the team for promotion. No more domestics, they could be dealing with politicians and royalty - as in the case of 'Thatcher-Mitterand'. Unfortunately (this being drama and all) things are not going swimmingly with the team. Bennett is troubled by the way they just crash into people's lives, reveal their darkest secrets, and leave with a sheaf of forms. Davis - the one with the major talent - is a solitary weirdo obsessed with reliving one perfect moment from his childhood. When the team are detailed to try and find the lost husband of the lovely Jane Baron (Paprika Steen

'The Way Through the Woods'

THEY shut the road through the woods Seventy years ago. Weather and rain have undone it again, And now you would never know There was once a road through the woods Before they planted the trees. It is underneath the coppice and heath, And the thin anemones. Only the keeper sees That, where the ring-dove broods, And the badgers roll at ease, There was once a road through the woods. Yet, if you enter the woods Of a summer evening late, When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools Where the otter whistles his mate, (They fear not men in the woods, Because they see so few.) You will hear the beat of a horse's feet, And the swish of a skirt in the dew, Steadily cantering through The misty solitudes, As though they perfectly knew The old lost road through the woods. But there is no road through the woods. KIPLING For National Poetry Day

Mark Gatiss Speaks!

Well, he spoke to the excellent Shadows at the Door , where you can find a substantial interview. I like interviews that cover a lot of ground, and that's certainly the case here. The obvious question, following the success of his adaptation of 'The Tractate Middoth', is whether the BBC is going to do more ghost stories for Christmas? The only trouble is that I’d love to do it every year but they haven’t asked! (laughs) But I would love for there to be a broader field for others like Sheridan Le Fanu, who was James’ great hero, and all the people who came after him. James was the best, but it was would be nice to mix it up a bit. If only there were more of them, a Ghost Story for Christmas… Well, we could do with an anthology series really. We could indeed. I was pleased to see that MG would like to do 'Count Magnus'. He also talks about another great writer, H.G. Wells, and I was delighted to learn that Graham Duff - another genre fan with his roots in comedy -

Worst Horror Films Of All Time?

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Hard to believe that anyone sat through all of these, but there's  a list on the internet so it must be true... And, to be honest, I like the look of some of these efforts. We all know in our heart of hearts that most horror films are forgettable, derivative tosh. So truly bad ones at least stand out in some way. Read at your own risk. Among the choice titles on offer here are:

The Phantasmagorical Imperative: and Other Fabrications, by D.P Watt

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Please note, this is a review of the pdf of a beautifully-produced book from Egaeus Press . It has a wonderful cover and copious internal illustrations, photographs, and so on. It's very much a collector's item - see below... (I'm not one of those collecting it, though, as I asked for a pdf to review.) In her introduction to this collection of  strange tales Victoria Nelson notes that D,P. Watt's protagonists tend to be 'a cross between M.R. James's buttoned-down antiquarians and H.P. Lovecraft's high-strung, slightly hysterical misfits'. That's a good summation of the kind of person we encounter in this collection of somewhat surreal weird tales, which take place in a twilight zone between mainstream British horror and the Kafkaesque provinces of European literature. The title story deftly evokes the oddness of the sort of small village that we've seen in quite a few horror films. But the theme here is not so much horror as strangeness.

Horror on the Radio!

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I loved radio horror. I love readings, and dramas, and dramatised readings, and if there are readingised dramas I'd probably love them too. Which brings me to Radio 4, the BBC's main conduit for comedy, drama, and factual programming. There are not one but two classic adaptation of supernatural horror stories coming up. On Hallowe'en ( which falls on a Saturday, this year, so be warned), the BBC is broadcasting an adaptation of Nigel Kneale's classic TV ghost story The Stone Tape . It stars Romola Garai, Julian 'Mighty Boosh' Barratt, and Julian Rhind-Tutt, which is a stellar cast. There's a gallery at the web page, with the actors standing around in a haunted house. Well, that sort of thing. It is a location recording, which should add to the atmosphere. Julian Barratt in a serious hat And that's not all. In a thread cunningly titled Fright Night, Radio 4 follows The Stone Tape with an adaptation of Ring , the novel by Koji Suzuki that became

Don't Forget the Ghost Story Awards! (As if you would)

THE GHOST STORY AWARDS To vote, you must be a member of A Ghostly Company, or a reader of the Ghosts & Scholars Newsletter, or of Supernatural Tales . You may send your vote by email to; markl.valentine@btinternet.com. (The fifth character in the email address is a lower case L for Lima, not i or a number 1.) Your vote must arrive by midnight on February 28th, 2016. You may vote for up to three ghost stories and up to three ghost story collections or anthologies. You do not have to put your votes in any order: they will be treated as of equal weight. You also do not have to give three titles in either category: you may if you prefer give only one or two. Remember that the story or book must have been first published in English in print and paper format in 2015. The term “ghost story” will be interpreted broadly to refer to work about any supernatural entity and to allow for ambiguity. You should head your email or letter GHOST STORY AWARDS and follow this format: You

Recommended!

Legendary editor Ellen Datlow has a recommended list of horror from 2014. Guess which plucky little magazine is well represented? It is of course a very  long list , but it's good to see ST represented at all in the teeth of such heavyweight competition. Thank you, gentle reader, for supporting the magazine! Here are the mentions: Oldknow, Antony “Ruelle des Martyrs,” Supernatural Tales 26. Logan, Sean “The Tagalong,” Supernatural Tales 27. Greenwood, John “The House Warming,” Supernatural Tales 27.. Jakeman, Jane “Quarry Hogs,” Supernatural Tales 27. Wandless, William H. “Doorways,” Supernatural Tales 28.

King on Sloane

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Over at the New York Review of Books , Stephen King extols the achievement of the little-known American author William M. Sloane . Many years ago the ghost story writer David G. Rowlands told me about Sloane's novel To Walk the Night , and I sought it out. Believe me, it's worth finding, as is Sloane's second horror novel The Edge of Running Water. I say horror, but as King observes, Sloane was a genre-spanning author. My copy of To Walk the Night blurbs it as 'A terrifying novel of death and the supernatural', but contains a discussion of Einsteinian space-time. And I recall Brian Stableford listing Sloane's horror novels as 'scientific romances', putting them in a tradition that began with H.G. Wells. This is quite reasonable - both stories deal with scientific concerns, but also go over the line into unconventional theorising. They are also notably devoid of 'pulpy' elements in style or content, instead offering careful, understated charac