Friday, October 21, 2016

Trick or Treat - Gothics and Beyond

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I have my daughter to thank for this topic. She is a makeup blogger (I should say "vlogger" since she mostly focuses on videos these days), but for a change of pace she did a post on her favorite spooky books. Here's her video:



I've read a lot of the books she mentioned, and I agree with her comments. The first really scary book I remember reading was THE UNINVITED by Dorothy Macardle.

Around the same time - I was in high school - I discovered the gothics of Victoria Holt, books like MISTRESS OF MELLYN and BRIDE OF PENDORRIC. I also enjoyed Anya Seton's GREEN DARKNESS, many of Phyllis A. Whitney's and Dorothy Eden's books, and everything by Mary Stewart. Soon I added more authors to the list: Evelyn Anthony, Velda Johnston and a few male authors, like Edgar Allen Poe. Stephen King later joined my list of favorites, even though sometimes his books were too scary - books like CUJO and PET SEMATARY weren't for me, but I loved THE STAND, FIRESTARTER and the short story collection, NIGHT SHIFT.

I like suspense and thrillers but not gore or horror. I'm a huge fan of mystery and suspense short stories. I'd barely hit puberty when I discovered Alfred Hitchcock's short story collections, as well as Twilight Zone and Outer Limits anthologies, and Ray Bradbury's short stories. Bradbury's The Ravine is one of the scariest short stories I ever read, up there with Bradbury's The Wind.

Pretty much any Alfred Hitchcock anthology will have a few real chillers. One of my favorite collections is ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: STORIES MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME. I remember "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles" gave me nightmares. I can still remember the opening lines (and/or the last lines) of some of my favorite spooky short stories. What I can't remember and what is driving me NUTS, is which anthologies these stories were in. I'm not great at remembering titles, either. I kept a lot of my old books but nowhere near all of them, so whenever I find a vintage paperback with mystery short stories, I add it to my collection.

In between reading and re-reading my favorite spooky and/or suspenseful mysteries, I'll try to squeeze in a few of my favorite mystery movies, too. A campy old favorite, THE LAST OF SHEILA, is now available on DVD and on YouTube. It's been a long time since I've watched THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and - talk about campy! - MURDER BY PHONE (aka THE BELLS).
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