Showing posts from September, 2015

Horror on the Radio!

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; (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


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

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

The Borderlands (2013)

Found footage. What does that mean to you? To me it often means, 'Oh, come on, they'd have dropped the bloody camera by now.' Not that found footage horror isn't bad, but it has - just like old-school Gothic horror or sci-fi - generated quite a few lousy movies. What's worse, though, is it's produced a lot of forgettable movies that are okay, pass the time, but are nothing special. I have seen almost all of these, or feel that I have. Fortunately, The Borderlands is something special. According to DVD Extra interviews, Metrodome gave writer-director Elliot Goldner the task of producing a good found footage horror movie with a fairly traditional setting and plot. He delivered a tale that draws on the classic ghost story tradition while having a very contemporary feel. The film begins with Brazilian police investigating a church in the company of Deacon, a Vatican investigator charged with debunking alleged miracles. Something very unpleasant has happened (or

'The Strange Case of Edgar Allan Poe'

I've probably posted this before, but what the heck. For me radio drama is an excellent format for more thoughtful explorations of weird fiction, or - as in this case - those who create it. Click away to hear Poe's own creation, the proto-Sherlock C. Auguste Dupin, consider the strange case of the writer's murky fate.

'Philately will get you...'

When I was a lad I collected stamps, albeit only for about twenty minutes. I think I realised that, unless I was an utter fanatic, I wouldn't get very far in the world of philately. And  couldn't really afford to take all that time off from reading Biggles and watching Doctor Who. So my small stamp collection, which was sort of half-stuck into an album, ended up at the back of the wardrobe and has long since been chucked out. In a way, this is a pity. It seems that stamps have just been getting ever-spookier since I gave up on them. For instance, there's this latest creation from our Canadian cousins. Apparently the woman with the bouquet above is the Grey Lady of Halifax Citadel. Canada's postal service has produced a range of spooky stamps this year based on 'true' ghost stories, and they're not the first set by any means. Last year unsuspecting folk were faced with this ghost bride.

'Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand'

On ST's YouTube channel you will find videos of various things, but mostly audio stuff with pictures. Among them is this one. It's often seen as a lesser Le Fanu tale, compared to 'Carmilla' or 'Green Tea', say. But I think it stands up remarkably well, and shows how a Victorian Gothic novelist anticipated the subtle 'quiet horror' ending so widely used by modern writers.

The Fourth Man

Some consider me well read, but I've learned in nearly fifty years of reading that I'm woefully ignorant of the works of many fine writers. The same goes for film - I keep discovering gems of supernatural cinema that I should really have known about. For instance, Paul Verhoeven's 1983 film The Fourth Man should have been on my radar for years, as it was released on DVD in 2005, but I just stumbled across it the other day. Mind you, apart from describing it as a cult thriller, none of the summaries give you much idea what's on offer. IMDb says: 'A writer (Jeroen Krabbe) suspects that his lover (Renée Soutendijk), a woman widowed three times, may be responsible for her husbands' deaths.' True, but that sounds more improbable than fascinating.  Meanwhile, on Wikipedia we learn: 'The title refers to Krabbé's position as the fourth man whom Soutendijk seduces, after she presumably has dispatched her first three husbands. The film is sexually ex

Review - The Anniversary of Never

The Swan River Press has published the first posthumous collection of Joel Lane's fiction. It is, of course, a very good book, but the fact that the unifying theme is the afterlife naturally prompts mixed feelings. It is a tragedy for those of us who enjoy good short stories that Lane will produce no more. But it is heartening to realise that the body of work he produced was substantial, and a definitive collected edition will one day be with us one day. I owe a lot to Joel Lane, who supported ST in its early years, and wish I could have known him well. In the meantime this excellent book, with a moving introduction by Nicholas Royle and wonderful cover art by Polly Rose Morris, is a literary memorial service I can attend. Of the fourteen stories here, three are original to this collection. The rest appeared in anthologies and magazines, with a roll-call of editors such as Andy Cox, Ellen Datlow, Peter Crowther, and D.F. Lewis. Joel Lane's range as a writer was far gr