Writing Horror

When I prepare to write a review of a story or movie, it goes something like this:  I scribble some notes, on a tablet or in the margin of the book.  Usually, I use these notes to prompt larger points.  More ideas flow as I write.  It’s highly exhilarating; I just started writing reviews for a blog, but I love it.  At the same time, it doesn’t seem particularly hard.  Indeed, it’s easy to discuss how I feel about something I’ve read.  Sometimes, it’s easy to analyze it on a deeper level, especially if I apply a handy academic paradigm.  Paradigms make all analysis easier.  I went through four years of liberal arts schooling and two years of an English Master’s program; I know how to break things down and analyze them.  My point?  I find it relatively stress-free and enjoyable.

Continue reading “Writing Horror”

Writing Horror

Exploring Poe-tential Evil in “The Black Cat”

black catNot surprisingly, Poe mentions madness early in the story “The Black Cat.”  It’s kind of his shtick.  He starts where many horror writers start: at the end of the story, with a narrator recounting a tale of terror and travesty.  But unlike narrators in other stories, this narrator is damned by the events of the tale, and perhaps seeks solace in his retelling.  Also unlike narrators in other stories, he’s not sitting around a fireside, and so many horror stories (“The Monkey’s Paw,” “The Bodysnatchers,” “The Turn of the Screw,” to name a few) start by the fireside. Our narrator sits in a prison cell, but he does not expect your sympathy.  He is honest about his previous callousness.  Not only doesn’t he expect your sympathy; he doesn’t expect you to believe his story.  He proclaims: “For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.  Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence.”  Poe knows how to write an introduction.  Are you intrigued yet?  I was. Continue reading “Exploring Poe-tential Evil in “The Black Cat””

Exploring Poe-tential Evil in “The Black Cat”

Anything is Paw-ssible with “The Monkey’s Paw”

The_Monkey's_PawThe cautionary tale is one we’ve all heard. A mysterious stranger comes from an exotic land and brings a talisman that tempts the protagonist. The stranger warns the protagonist not to use the talisman, but the protagonist does. Doom ensues. The protagonist’s purported greed is punished. Continue reading “Anything is Paw-ssible with “The Monkey’s Paw””

Anything is Paw-ssible with “The Monkey’s Paw”

“The Voice in the Night” and the Illusion of Place

The voice in the night 2“The Voice in the Night,” by William Hope Hodgson, published in 1907, starts like a stereotypical horror story: “It was a dark, starless night.” But Hodgson manages to provide suspense – and at least a few small surprises – throughout the telling of his story. As is typical of old horror stories, a narrator regales us with macabre events that have passed. George, the narrator, is sailing through the Northern Pacific with his friends, when they hear a faint voice coming from a small boat. Continue reading ““The Voice in the Night” and the Illusion of Place”

“The Voice in the Night” and the Illusion of Place

Snatch a Dose of Horror with “The Body-Snatchers”

body-snatchersRobert Louis Stevenson does horror supremely with “the Body-Snatchers.”  After all, what better sustenance for horror than a story about the illicit collection of corpses for money?  In life, we all face situations where we have to choose between right and wrong.  Sometimes, the right action is obscured, but usually the choice is clear.  Only, the right action is difficult to take, for various reason.  Such a conundrum becomes the impetus for further action in “The Body-Snatchers.” “The Body-Snatchers” is a gruesome story about the domino effect that follows a blatantly wrong choice, and the chooser’s concomitant fall. Continue reading “Snatch a Dose of Horror with “The Body-Snatchers””

Snatch a Dose of Horror with “The Body-Snatchers”

A Trip to the Bazaar: Exploring the Afterlife

bazaarWe all hope we’re going up to that spirit in the sky when we die.  If you’re a cynical doubter like me, you just hope there is, indeed, a spirit in the sky – a gate with a St. Peter-esque figure, surrounded by some winged cherubs and signaling entrance into eternal, infinite bliss.  But, hell, if that’s too much to ask for, I’ll take reincarnation, as long as I don’t have to come back as something lame like a flea or an earthworm.  I mean, haven’t we all thought, “Damn, I hope there’s something?”  I think even those with the strongest faith – and I don’t count myself among them – sometimes doubt the presence of an afterlife.  In any case, it’s something we all think of, just not daily or compulsively. Continue reading “A Trip to the Bazaar: Exploring the Afterlife”

A Trip to the Bazaar: Exploring the Afterlife

15 Minutes of Horror with Guy De Maupassant’s “Was it a Dream?”

maupassant skeletonLife is hectic.  Sometimes, I need a quick horror fix.  So I picked up my coveted horror anthology and looked for a story that wasn’t too long.  I saw “Was it a Dream” and recognized Guy De Maupassant’s name, so I found a winning contender.  Surprisingly, this random stumble yielded pleasing results.  “Was it a Dream” initially reads like a romance story, but soon transmutes into the vaguely macabre and otherworldly.  “Was it a Dream” is a horror-genre classic, borrowing the best from the genre and ending with a pointed – and poignant – statement about humanity and the way we memorialize the dead. Continue reading “15 Minutes of Horror with Guy De Maupassant’s “Was it a Dream?””

15 Minutes of Horror with Guy De Maupassant’s “Was it a Dream?”

A Trip to the Bazaar: Reading “A Death” from Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams

bazaarWho murders someone for a single silver dollar? In Stephen King’s “A Death” Jim Trusdale is accused of doing just that. Want to characterize Trusdale? Think of a skinny version of Lennie from Of Mice and Men. Trusdale is notably slow, and people laugh at his speech. But, unlike Steinbeck’s hulking Lennie, Trusdale is about 140 lbs. The townsfolk accuse Trusdale of killing ten-year-old Rebecca Cline, leaving his hat under her dress, stealing her silver dollar, and leaving her dead body in an alley. Sheriff Barclay becomes certain Trusdale didn’t commit the act, but, to the reader’s chagrin, he says nothing. Continue reading “A Trip to the Bazaar: Reading “A Death” from Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams”

A Trip to the Bazaar: Reading “A Death” from Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams

Warming Up to Horror? Try “August Heat”

August HeatAmong the most appealing elements of the horror genre is its diversity. I grow skeptical when people say they don’t like horror. I think there’s something in horror for everyone, an assertion that I hope my blog will prove, one day when I’ve been at this for a very long time. (Two weeks is hardly enough time to capture the intricacies and variety of the genre). You can, for instance, watch a mildly eerie old black and white film – maybe a Tod Browning – or watch someone’s limbs get torn off, shred by last sickening shred, in an Eli Roth film. You can read something as dark as Poe, or you can take a lighter, simpler helping of horror, say with the story “August Heat” by William Fryer Harvey. I read “August Heat,” last night, and thought it was a refreshing dose of abnormality. As a side-note, I’ve avoided major spoilers in this review. Continue reading “Warming Up to Horror? Try “August Heat””

Warming Up to Horror? Try “August Heat”

A Room for Dying: Space and Place in “The Masque of the Red Death”

masque 2Because it’s Halloween, a little Poe seemed apropos. To be honest, I was looking for a short number that I could read and write about quickly before enjoying the public viewing of Psycho accompanied by the Erie Orchestra’s rendition of the original score. And, my boyfriend, Michael, and I want to go out to dinner before the movie. So here’s something quick to chew on for Halloween: Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” heightens the terrifyingly unknown nature of death by sticking death in what we can essentially call a “non-place” and inverting biblical references. Continue reading “A Room for Dying: Space and Place in “The Masque of the Red Death””

A Room for Dying: Space and Place in “The Masque of the Red Death”