It’s that most wonderful time of year again, when the leaves change colors and the spirits become restless! In the “spirit” of Halloween, I again present a series of classic horror stories to properly get you in the mood. I’ve been doing this since 2007, and you can read the old editions here: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and my 2010 post on the true story of the “Lady of the Lake“. It is likely that not all of the links in those old posts work, but the lists are there.
We begin with an audio story from the classic radio series “Lights Out.” It was written by Arch Oboler, whose great novel House on Fire I recently blogged about…
The Dark, Arch Oboler (1962). When paramedics respond to a call at a remote mansion, they find an insane woman, a horribly, impossibly mutilated body… and a darkness that spreads like fog and carries death with it.
The Groom, Emily Carroll (2015). Emily Carroll’s illustrated stories capture perfectly the classic feel of old dark folk tales, and she has rightly been praised for her work. In The Groom, two children find an abandoned diorama of a wedding scene, and take it as a toy. As it is missing a groom figure in the box, they fashion their own crude representation. But when their play turns darker, it awakens something terrible.
Scoured Silk, Marjorie Bowen (1919). When Mr. Orford finally is engaged to be remarried, he takes the unusual step of bringing his young bride-to-be to visit the grave of his first wife. The visit deeply disturbs Elisa, who becomes frantic about calling off the wedding. Her fears turn out to be justified, though nobody can imagine what true horror lies in Orford’s history.
The Yellow Sign, Robert W. Chambers (1895). An artist finds himself haunted by an unsettling church watchman, a man who reminds him of a “coffin-worm.” The recurring appearances of this watchman seem connected to an infamous play, The King in Yellow: it is rumored that reading it leads to madness and death.
The Thing in the Hall, E.F. Benson (1912). Francis Assheton and Louis Fielder have long been interested in pushing the boundaries of knowledge, in all areas of exploration. When Fielder decides to open himself up to psychic contact with supernatural beings, however, he is unprepared for the inhuman thing that answers his call.
Leiningen Versus the Ants, by Carl Stephenson (1938). When a rampaging wave of army ants threaten to overwhelm Leiningen’s plantation in Brazil, Leiningen chooses to stay and fight rather than flee. His plantation is too valuable to him and, he reasons, how could he be outsmarted by a bunch of ants?
We’ll end it there for this year — have a happy Halloween!