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  1. #1
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Hobbit Towers Halloween resurrected

    Well, as I sit here at Hobbit Towers, it’s nearly time again for Halloween. And as this is one of my favourite times of the year – thoughts of a drink, a warm fire and a big chair with a good book spring to mind! – I thought I’d put down what’s in the ‘to read’ (or listen or watch) pile this year. This might give you some ideas, or get you to recommend your own!

    Books

    Well, you can’t beat a bit of M R James in my opinion.

    Ancient relics, churches, academia and things that are there but unseen… therefore his Collected Stories is a must. Nearly one hundred years old now, and definitely old-fashioned, but one I keep coming back to. For others there’s Robert Aickman, H P Lovecraft, Sheridan Le Fanu, E F Benson (more of later) but for me it’s good ol’ MR.

    If you’re looking for something that covers such a range of horror, and with stuff a little more contemporary than Montague Rhodes, then The Dark Descent, edited by David Hartwell, is about as good as it gets. I have also mentioned this one before, but pretty much all the usual suggested mainstays are there, all in one (admittedly rather large) book: Poe, Le Fanu, King, Ellison, Bradbury, Bloch, Lovecraft, Aickman, Onions…. Lots that were new to me when I first read it. I love dipping into this one.

    For those whose arms do not have the strength to lift that one, the old-but-valuable Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, edited by Herbert Wise and Phyllis Wagner, is a good one. First published in 1944, it overlaps the Hartwell a little but is a very nice compact version of older classics.

    I have bought this year a copy of Lovecraft Tales, as I wanted a nice hardback copy, and the Collected Ghost Stories of E F Benson (now very hard to get in the UK!) that I suspect I’ll be starting on.

    Radio: Again something I’ve mentioned before: I must recommend Old Time Recordings Radio (LINK HERE) who offer a selection of old radio shows to try for mp3. I have bought a lot of these and so have a wonderful collection of spooky stories to listen to. They do very nice Halloween disks as well…but there are lots here, from series like Suspense and Lights Out to the Mercury Theatre’s presentation of Dracula. The crackling nature of some of the recordings definitely adds to the atmosphere!

    Film/DVD: Slight warning here: I like the cheesy old stuff; thoughts of a wet day’s (or stormy night’s!) watching spring to mind. I would therefore recommend one of my absolute favourites, the 1963 Robert Wise version of The Haunting, or possibly The Legend of Hell House, with Roddy McDowell, though the book is better. I also have some copies of the BBC TV M R James stories, some read by Christopher Lee and others not. I would also recommend the TV series Millennium which I think is (on the whole) very underrated. Very dark, very violent. (The episode from Season 1 called Lamentation still freaks me out!) I have copies of the original TV series The Twilight Zone on DVD which are also very good (the mastering on the new editions is superb!) but not always horror.

    This year I’ve bought to add to the pile Rod Serling’s Night Gallery on DVD, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Season One, The Munsters for a little lowbrow relief and a pile of Hammer Horror movies (including The Quatermass Experiment amongst others) which I hope to get into.

    Of more recent stuff, I’ve got a copy of the Japanese version of The Grudge 1 & 2. I quite liked the first American one with Sarah Michelle Gellar, but I think the Japanese versions are just different. Thought that about the Ring series too.

    Over to you: any other suggestions?

    Hobbit
    Mark

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Well, as I sit here at Hobbit Towers, it’s nearly time again for Halloween. And as this is one of my favourite times of the year – thoughts of a drink, a warm fire and a big chair with a good book spring to mind! – I thought I’d put down what’s in the ‘to read’ (or listen or watch) pile this year. This might give you some ideas, or get you to recommend your own!

    Books

    Well, you can’t beat a bit of M R James in my opinion.
    Agreed. I have tentative plans to return to the collected stories in December. I read about 2/3 of it in Dec. 2004, couldn't get back to it last December, so I'm delaying the pleasure for another month.
    Ancient relics, churches, academia and things that are there but unseen… therefore his Collected Stories is a must. Nearly one hundred years old now, and definitely old-fashioned, but one I keep coming back to. For others there’s Robert Aickman, H P Lovecraft, Sheridan Le Fanu, E F Benson (more of later) but for me it’s good ol’ MR.
    If I get through the James in timely fashion, I might revisit Le Fanu -- it's been years since I read more than one or two of his stories at a time -- or Walter de la Mare, or Edith Wharton, or continue where I left off with the E. F. Benson, or finally get around to Mary Elizabeth Braddon. There's also a novel titled The Ghost Writer that's interesting me, largely because a couple of friends have admired it.

    About Benson, I did find I could not read 5 to 10 of his stories one after the other in the way I did James. Not that they were bad, but there was a sameness to some of them. I don't fault Benson for that, by the way, since they weren't written to be read one after the other, but one at a time over the publication schedule of magazines.
    If you’re looking for something that covers such a range of horror, and with stuff a little more contemporary than Montague Rhodes, then The Dark Descent, edited by David Hartwell, is about as good as it gets. I have also mentioned this one before, but pretty much all the usual suggested mainstays are there, all in one (admittedly rather large) book: Poe, Le Fanu, King, Ellison, Bradbury, Bloch, Lovecraft, Aickman, Onions…. Lots that were new to me when I first read it. I love dipping into this one.

    For those whose arms do not have the strength to lift that one, the old-but-valuable Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, edited by Herbert Wise and Phyllis Wagner, is a good one. First published in 1944, it overlaps the Hartwell a little but is a very nice compact version of older classics.
    Two of my favorites to dip into. If you ever come across Alberto Manguel's two Black Water anthologies, snatch them up. Not exactly ghost/horror story anthologies, they still provide a fair amount of fantasy that disturbs and troubles. In good ways.

    Your radio listening sounds like great fun.
    [...]
    Film/DVD: Slight warning here: I like the cheesy old stuff; thoughts of a wet day’s (or stormy night’s!) watching spring to mind. I would therefore recommend one of my absolute favourites, the 1963 Robert Wise version of The Haunting, or possibly The Legend of Hell House, with Roddy McDowell, though the book is better.
    Good choices. I'd also suggest two '40s movies, The Uninvited (stars Ray Milland and Gail Russell) and a British production, the anthology movie, Dead of Night. Also, either last your or just this year a DVD set of the late '40s Val Lewton produced movies from RKO, which include The Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie (any resemblance to the novel Jane Eyre was purely intentional), and the Karloff/Lugoi The Body Snatchers (based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story based on Burke and Hare).

    The '50s also produced, The Night [/Curse] of the Demon with Dana Andrews, a smart, thoughtful script based on M. R. James' "Casting the Runes."

    I also have some copies of the BBC TV M R James stories, some read by Christopher Lee and others not. I would also recommend the TV series Millennium which I think is (on the whole) very underrated. Very dark, very violent. (The episode from Season 1 called Lamentation still freaks me out!) I have copies of the original TV series The Twilight Zone on DVD which are also very good (the mastering on the new editions is superb!) but not always horror.

    This year I’ve bought to add to the pile Rod Serling’s Night Gallery on DVD, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Season One, The Munsters for a little lowbrow relief and a pile of Hammer Horror movies (including The Quatermass Experiment amongst others) which I hope to get into.
    I agree with everything except your enthusiasm for "The Munsters". I have scripts for the Quatermass movies. I read the first 2 years ago, and hope to reread those and the third early in 2007. I might get to the novel (novelization?) of Quatermass 4, too, but I'm not counting on it.

    Of more recent stuff, I’ve got a copy of the Japanese version of The Grudge 1 & 2. I quite liked the first American one with Sarah Michelle Gellar, but I think the Japanese versions are just different. Thought that about the Ring series too.
    I liked the first (Americanized) The Grudge, and thought the first (A.-ized) Ring was quite good. The newer horror movies aren't doing a lot for me right now, though. There was a good start a few years ago with Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project and the lesser known, A Stir of Echoes, but most of it seems to be sanitized slasher films for pre-teens.

    If you want something a bit off the beaten path, try Wendigo -- an odd, mostly interesting if not entirely successful horror story.

    More later if I can.

    Randy M.
    Last edited by Randy M.; October 31st, 2006 at 10:38 AM.

  3. #3
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Nice list Randy. I like MR at Christmas too - after all, that's when a lot were written for!

    Noted on the E F Benson; I have heard similar, and read one or two stories in isolation; though i enjoyed them, I think it may be one to dip into.

    The Uninvited I'm still trying to get a copy; Dead of Night is another favourite (there's an E F Benson story in there too!); but it has been unavailable in the UK for years. It is to be released on November 13th here on DVD; I have an order in (but not for Halloween!). And yes, I should have added Night of the Demon / Curse of the Demon which is available on a great US DVD; I watched that earlier this year. The quality of the DVD picture is excellent. The person playing Carswell is excellent. That's one I totally agree with. Cat People too!

    The Munsters are a bit of comic relief. I haven't seen too much of them since the 1980's when they were shown on UK, but I remember them fondly from their limited showing here in the 1960's. I rather suspect they've dated rather badly!

    I've added the Alberto Manguel to the list. In a similar thought, I have Koji Suzuki's Ring / Spiral / Dark Water books to read at some point.

    I have Quatermass 4 also on DVD; remember it when it was shown here in the 1980's. A little disappointing but interesting. The story of the difficulties in getting it made are almost worth a script themselves!

    Stir of Echoes... yes, still haven't seen that one. The others I thought were OK but i've seen Sixth Sense a few times now.

    All good stuff.

    Any more suggestions?

    Hobbit
    Mark

  4. #4
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    The woman who played Marilyn the "ugly" niece in the Munsters was in my station a week ago for an interview. What a lovely person and she called Fred Gwynn, Uncle Hermann the whole time!!!!!

    Quote the Raven!

  5. #5
    Saturn Comes Back Around Evil Agent's Avatar
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    I decided to do a similar thing this year, and watch some "halloween" stuff. I usually don't do this, but I thought since I have no halloween parties or anything exciting this year, I'd have a DVD-marathon.

    I decided to watch all the four Harry Potter movies, and all the Simpsons Halloween specials that I own.

    I'm not that big on most horror films, but I might go to a friend's house later tonight and do another marathon with some of the scarier ones she owns.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    [...]The Uninvited I'm still trying to get a copy;
    I'd never have seen it if it hadn't been on one of our old movie channels.
    Dead of Night is another favourite (there's an E F Benson story in there too!);
    I'd forgotten that.
    but it has been unavailable in the UK for years. It is to be released on November 13th here on DVD; I have an order in (but not for Halloween!). And yes, I should have added Night of the Demon / Curse of the Demon which is available on a great US DVD; I watched that earlier this year. The quality of the DVD picture is excellent. The person playing Carswell is excellent. That's one I totally agree with. Cat People too!
    Yes to all those. By the way, if you're interested, last year someone put out on DVD the two Kolchak the Night Stalker movies. They came before the series -- acted as pilots, really, though I don't think that was the intent -- and are considerably better than the series. Good fun. Probably even kid friendly by this time.
    [...]
    I've added the Alberto Manguel to the list. In a similar thought, I have Koji Suzuki's Ring / Spiral / Dark Water books to read at some point.
    I can't quite decide if the Suzuki's interest me or not.
    I have Quatermass 4 also on DVD; remember it when it was shown here in the 1980's. A little disappointing but interesting. The story of the difficulties in getting it made are almost worth a script themselves!

    Stir of Echoes... yes, still haven't seen that one. The others I thought were OK but i've seen Sixth Sense a few times now.

    All good stuff.

    Any more suggestions?
    A couple:
    Lady in White -- it just misses being great, but certainly manages being entertaining. It's an '80s film with Lukas Haas (I think; there's a couple of the kid actors from then I have a habit of confusing)

    Carnival of Souls -- another early '60s, low-budget horror movie that manages to be a lot more suspenseful, mysterious and atmospheric than the mainstream movies of the time. There was a remake, but I've heard very little about it.

    Another one from somewhat off the beaten path, though certainly not unknown: Shadow of the Vampire. It's based on the premise that the classic silent horror movie, Nosferatu was filmed using a real vampire. It helps to know the silent movie, but it's not an insurmountable problem if you haven't. The movie has a great cast, including John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe, and offers a very nice feel for 1920s movie making.

    I can't recall if we've discussed this before and it seems probable you know of these, Hobbit, but if you're not averse to reading novels around Halloween, Susan Hill wrote two that are terrific: The Woman in Black and The Mist in the Mirror. Arguably the latter is a smoother, somewhat better crafted work, and it is certainly very good, but the former has the central image of the Woman in Black, and that's a powerful image throughout. I've heard the stageplay and BBC version of TWiB are both effective.

    Then there's Peter Straub's Ghost Story is also excellent, though I think of it more as a winter book since, as I recall, much of it takes place in winter. And if all else fails, what could possibly be more appropriate for Halloween than a book titled The October Country? There's also an anthology titled October Dreams from ROC (in the U.S., anyway) from a couple of years ago. I haven't read all of it, but what I've read was fun and effective Halloween reading.


    Randy M.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbry View Post
    The woman who played Marilyn the "ugly" niece in the Munsters was in my station a week ago for an interview. What a lovely person and she called Fred Gwynn, Uncle Hermann the whole time!!!!!

    Quote the Raven!
    That's sweet. I don't think I've ever heard anyone complain about Gwynn. He seems to have been well-liked in the profession.

    Randy M.

  8. #8
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Halloween = Pumpkins, thus the great pumpkin beers are on the shelves of the local liquor store. This is a good thing, since pumpkins spices (cinammon, nutmeg, etc.) work VERY well with beer.

    As for spooky movies, I must say, checking through the TiVO guide, there aren't many scary movies on right now. However, the US SciFi Channel started showing the old episodes of an old favorite - Tales from the Darkside.

  9. #9
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    I have always wanted to get the DVDs of Dark Shadows, a horror soap from the 70s. It was apparently on for a long time before it got big. It starts out in B&W and I think maybe at half an hour. Anyway the DVDs are outrageously expensive and the series doesn't even start at number 1. Something in the 20s I think. I just can't justify $60.00 for B&W and no beginning. One day I will probably break down and buy at least some of the later sets.

    I liked the Munsters, and no they haven't really dated too badly. I also like the Adams Family -- the TV series not the movies.


    Thought the Shadow of the Vampire was a bit confused. Like it didn't know if it was going for horror, the vamp, black humor, or quirky.

  10. #10
    Saturn Comes Back Around Evil Agent's Avatar
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    Hallowee = Pumpkins, thus the great pumpkin beers are on the shelves of the local liquor store. This is a good thing, since pumpkins spices (cinammon, nutmeg, etc.) work VERY well with beer.
    Wow. Have never really seen these. Must go look! Hopefully they'll still be there, even though Halloween just ended.

  11. #11
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    I'm really not sure about pumpkin beer - might be worth a try though if we could get it here....

    In the end I watched Quatermass, a couple of episodes of Millennium and read some Oliver Onions and some M R James.

    What this has done though is give me some more suggestions. (Yes, love Ghost Story too. ) Should keep me going beyond Halloween.

    Hobbit
    Mark

  12. #12
    Keeping The Equilibrium Erebus's Avatar
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    I didn't to get to watch anything spooky for Halloween, but I did catch up on some Stargate SG1 Season 9 episodes on DVD. 4 down, 16 to go.

    However, I entered a Halloween trivia competition with the Australian Horror Writers Association and managed to win myself a DVD box set of the Masters of Horror series. Looking forward to watching those when they arrive.

  13. #13
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Well done, Neil!

    I keep meaning to look at those - they're available here on DVD, but not been shown on TV yet. I'm waiting to hear what some of our American Forumites think before I buy, but the list of directors sounds great: Landis, Carpenter, Dante...

    Hobbit
    Mark

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by FicusFan View Post
    I have always wanted to get the DVDs of Dark Shadows, a horror soap from the 70s. It was apparently on for a long time before it got big. It starts out in B&W and I think maybe at half an hour. Anyway the DVDs are outrageously expensive and the series doesn't even start at number 1. Something in the 20s I think. I just can't justify $60.00 for B&W and no beginning. One day I will probably break down and buy at least some of the later sets.
    That's too bad. The problem is that no one at that time realized they were sitting on a gold mine once technology advanced. Similarly, a lot of the studios of the 1950s thought what they were showing was just transitory entertainment, and destroyed libraries full of old shows when they needed more storage room. The old Steve Allen show, the early Johnny Carson Tonight shows, much of the TV drama and comedy of the '50s are long gone because of that.

    I liked the Munsters, and no they haven't really dated too badly. I also like the Adams Family -- the TV series not the movies.
    The latter, like some others (Get Smart, say) I can still take in small doses, but I can't handle more than a few moments of The Munsters anymore. (Which is still more than I can take of Gilligan's Island or The Beverly Hillbillies.)

    Thought the Shadow of the Vampire was a bit confused. Like it didn't know if it was going for horror, the vamp, black humor, or quirky.
    I thought it hit quirky early and held on tight, the others were just flavors that were interspersed throughout. The whole examination of creation and control in a collaborative medium, the tug-of-war of power over the set, the attempt to control a force that resists control, all were quite intriguing. And Malkovich was terrific and Dafoe was maybe as good or better than I've ever seen him. Of course, I also enjoy old movies, the original Nosferatu among them, so the premise already had a hook in me as a viewer.


    Randy M.

  15. #15
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    I've heard some very good things about the Masters of Horror series; however, I don't have Showtime (the cable channel on which it is exclusively shown). IT has pushed some boundaries.

    ABC (I think) is starting up a Masters of Science Fiction or some similar anthology programme based on the success of the Horror series.

    Don't worry, the pumpkin beers should be on shelves at least until Thanksgiving, the traditional pumpkin pie holiday. However, in a couple of weeks, Harpoon's WINTER WARMER (which has most of the same types of spices as the pumpkin beers) will be on the shelves. It is a November to January beer.

    Sorry for the US/Beer centric post friends!

    Hallowe'en came and went here in the Garden State and we only got a few trick-or-treaters in the evening.

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