The Woman In Black (1989 United Kingdom)

A truly memorable piece of work, once seen never forgotten. Unlike American made horror, the Brits know how to do subtle, relying on the potency of a story full of suggestion and anticipation. And when the great Nigel Kneale is involved with a script the result is usually quality and this is quality. Plus the special effects are few which lulls the viewer into thinking that this film is set in the real world, thus making us a bit more uneasy. No monsters, no blood or violence, no cliches, just terror. You’re constantly thinking: Is she there? Isn’t she? Where is she? What’s that sound? What’s upstairs? Everything’s fine…or is it? Aaah! [Read more…]

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Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce Vol 1 (read by Charlton Griffin)

Named after a hanged felon, Ambrose Gwinett Bierce (1842–1914?) fittingly turned his literary gift to the macabre. In this he became the successor to Poe, adding to the master’s repertoire a distinctly American style of Gothic, and the horror he witnessed on the battlefields of the American Civil War. Charlton Griffin reads eight of his chillers here, including his masterpiece, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” His other classic, “The Moonlit Road” is part of this collection too. In a resonant and well-modulated baritone Griffin employs a curious detachment; although he skillfully negotiates some difficult locutions, he undercuts suspense and ignores a tale’s trajectory. This is not really a criticism – Bierce’s tales are sparse and uniquely solitary, living by the maxim: less is more. He packed so much power into so few words. A smattering of creepy music and sound effects that conjure up being lost in a forest, rounds out this audio performance, although it gilds the lily rather than adds anything of real meaning. I do recommend this as a worthwhile audio book.

Rose Red (2002 USA)

Stephen King screen adaptations have become quite a conundrum. He has lambasted most of them for altering characters and flow. King purists stick to the argument that the phenomena and events he describes simply cannot be captured visually. Rose Red represented ABC’s televisual attempt at the horror master’s work. Scripted and executive produced by King, it’s more ironic than terrifying; the only example I’ve seen where the TV/ movie shortcomings orignate from Stephen King’s story rather than the production values or casting. This three part mini-series revolves around a haunted house, named Rose Red, in Seattle. [Read more…]

The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)

A gothic suspense novel with echoes from several Victorian novels. The familiar device of a “story within a story” is employed, and sometimes it even contains another story. This story-telling tradition strongly reminds the reader of earlier classic tales. In fact the “rule of threes” goes throughout this book echoing its fairytale feel. There is the structure of the book itself, “Beginnings, Middles and Endings”. There are three generations in the earlier saga. This is the author’s first novel, and promises well if she stops being so rooted in the gothic canon and makes a bold leap into the unknown and the supernatural she is clearly so drawn to.   [Read more…]

The Mummy (Anne Rice)

The_Mummy_coverRice started writing paranormal romance before it was in style. The Mummy has the perfect mix of tragedy, romance, history and emotion that she pulls off so well, without any extra flab added to the story. Compared to her other novels, The Mummy is incredibly short, with my version only being 398 pages. They fly by at the speed of sound. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I’ve always loved ancient Egypt and have been fascinated by Ramses the Great. [Read more…]

Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968 UK)

dracula-has-risen-from-the-grave-01The musical theme startled me on a first watch. James Bernard never wrote a better score than this one – it’s so threatening as well as thrilling. The psychedelic opening titles are also mesmerizing. In so many ways it is the quintessential Hammer horror film. It has all of the elements which have made me a fan of the Studio. The fairy-tale Central European setting, the Gothic Castle Dracula with the quaint little village huddling under its menacing presence. [Read more…]

The Raven (1963 USA)

raven02An absurd adventure – styled comedy. The plot is thinner than a supermodel’s waistline and even at 85 minutes it outstays its welcome. But I will be kind. Edgar Allen Poe may have turned in his grave, but the rest of us get to have fun as we see horror gods Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, not to mention Jack Nicholson ham it up in style as the weird and wonderful cast of this very silly story of wizards and hocus pocus. [Read more…]

Masque Of The Red Death (Edgar Allan Poe)

Lon ChaneyDream in the language of dream, with an imagery shining forth in a symphony of sound and colour. Not to get too pretentious about it, but Masque is the greatest short story of the last 200 years. It contains a Biblical weight and foreboding tone that resonates in the reader’s back teeth. This is an Old Testament horror from the Prophet of Doom himself!

[Read more…]

Pit And The Pendulum (1961 USA)

pit and the pendulum The original tale of one man’s descent into torture, madness and near-death at the hands of a bunch of terrifyingly faceless tormentors becomes even more creepy as a ‘whodunit’. It also helped immensely that screenwriter Richard Matheson was on a roll. He breathed new life into Poe’s classic-if-fusty material, giving it a wicked, almost contemporary spin. [Read more…]

The Wolf Gift (The Wolf Chronicles) Anne Rice

d459eea0860ca2fdb481b8d63b880d1eAnne Rice is master of re-creating age-old myths and re-presenting them for a modern age. Yet she always manages to avoid the modern day tendency to clean up, water down or make pretty that we often find in other attempts to re-write the gothic horrors. The hero in this book remains a hero even after he’s taken on the personality of a Man Wolf. [Read more…]

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