Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Outsider

Today I want to talk about one of Lovecraft’s shortest but possibly most effective short stories, The Outsider.

The Outsider is a beautifully written short regarding a chap escaping a castle.

The story is told in first person, which was a means of story telling Lovecraft favoured to an extent. Our narrator talks about his life, focusing on how lonely and isolated he has been and ultimately how unhappy. He has no real memory of other people, or even where he is from originally. He also describes his environment, the dark and rather run-down castle that squats in an endless forest. The narrator has never even seen natural light. All his knowledge from outside world comes from books.

But despite the dark and lonely life the narrator is not completely downtrodden he has a determination to free himself. He climbs the tallest tower of the castle, but the stairs don’t reach the entire way, and so he climbs the walls until he reaches a trapdoor. When he pushes through he realises he is not up high as expected but rather at ground level in another world.

He’s rather chuffed with this.

The narrator is in a churchyard and walks through, passing through countryside until he reaches another castle. A very familiar castle. However, there are people in this castle and desperate for human contact the narrator clambers in a window. The people inside become terrified and flee from him. Though the narrator doesn’t realise its him they are running from and instead becomes afraid himself, what else must be close to him that scared all the people.

He eventually sees himself and he’s not exactly a person, he sounds more like a ghoul. The narrator tries to return to his old castle but finds the way barred. Now he is trapped in this world, still completely alone.

My Thoughts

This story is effective for several reasons, it plays on common fears of loneliness and isolation, the feeling of being trapped. Then the hope of escape only to have that hope ripped away and finding yourself in a worse position. It plays on the fear of trying something new only to find it putting you in a worse situation with no way back.

The plot is simply structured, told from the point of view of the narrator, allowing the reader to live in the narrators head, feel what he feels and also, importantly know what he knows and nothing more.

This is of course, a classic horror story harks back to the Gothic genre, with spooky settings in the form of the old castle, themes and bone-chilling characters.

Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Monkey’s Paw

Today I want to talk to you about the short story The Monkeys Paw. 

I cannot imagine that you will not have seen, or heard of, one of the parodies of this story. Someone finds a severed monkey hand that grants wishes that all turn out to produce hopelessly ironic consequences. The adaptations and parodies cross almost all mediums from television to plays, films, comics and even cartoons. The Simpsons did a Halloween episode of the story, the turkey’s a little dry! 

That aside, the original short story was penned by W.W Jacobs in 1902 and was published in the collection titled The Lady of the Barge. 

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Legend of Sleepy hollow

Today I want to talk to you about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Sleepy Hollow is a short story written by Washington Irving in 1820 and I imagine most of you will be familiar with the story even if you have not had the opportunity to read the original short.

The story follows Ichabod Crane, a meek man, as he contends with the local bully Brom Bones for the hand of the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel.

This story has been adapted time and time again, it’s been television series, it’s been a play, it’s been movies, and it’s been animated by Disney. It is almost impossible not to know this story in one iteration or another.  

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe

Today I want to talk to you about one of the slightly lesser-known stories by Edgar Allan Poe, and by lesser known I do not mean unknown, I just mean that it isn’t referred to as much as say The Raven or The Tell-tale Heart.

I am talking about William Wilson. The story of a man who encounters his doppelganger and was inspired by Washington Irving’s “An unwritten Drama of Lord Byron” which was also about a doppelganger.

I personally feel that this short story is underrated, especially as Poe himself labelled it as his best effort.

It was published in the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in 1840. It has since been adapted many times across many different countries in both film, comic, and radio play. It is also referenced in various modern creations, for example by one of my favourite modern authors Stephen King who’s novel The Outsider draws a parallel between the situation faced by the main character and Poe’s story of William Wilson. The Outsider has been said (by King) to have been inspired by the story William Wilson.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: Frankenstein

Today I would like to talk about one of the most well-known classic horror stories, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I’m going to warn you straight up I have strong feelings about the main character in this story that I struggle to get past.

Summary

This story is presented in an almost inception -like manner, or if you prefer a Woman in Black manner, that being the narrative within a narrative. The novel is presented as a fictional correspondence between Capt. Walton and his sister Margaret Savile. Walton is exporting the North Pole by Sea when he and his crew spot a gigantic person on a dogsled and several hours later rescue a gentleman by name of Victor Frankenstein.

Once onboard, Victor is only too keen to tell Walton the story of his entire life beginning with his childhood including his parents’ adoption of Elizabeth Lavenza, the orphaned daughter of an Italian nobleman with whom Victor falls deeply in love with. The family also adopt another orphan Justine who becomes a nanny for the other children. During this telling, Victor makes clear his interest in the sciences and is not shy about praising his ingenuity. Victor goes off to university at Ingolstadt, shortly after his mother’s passing, and to deal with the grief he buries himself in his experiments and becomes obsessed with the idea of bringing life to non-living matter.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: Carmilla

Today I want to talk to you about one of the classic vampire stories, Carmilla.
This novella was written by Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872, a full 25 years before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, and follows the relationship between two young women.

Summary

The story is presented in a framing device, being a book by Dr Hesselius. The stories protagonist, Laura, describes her childhood in Styria, which is notably picturesque. Laura explains that when she was six, she had a vision of a beautiful visitor to her bedchamber, who she then describes as biting her, although no injury was ever found.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: Christmas Carol

In the spirit of the season, I want to talk about one of the classic pieces of literature tied closely to Christmas. But this is a horror appreciation site, which limits my options but also presents me with a great one.

Today, I am going to talk about A Christmas Carol.

Holiday cheer and ghosts, what more could you want?

Written by Charles Dickens and published in 1843, A Christmas Carol is the story of Scrooge, a miserly chap whose sole focus is money. He cares not for anyone around him be they friend, family, or any part of his community. Then one Christmas Eve Scrooge is visited by three ghosts, the ultimate self-help team, who turn his perspective on its head. By the end of the book he realises that worth is not in money but in people.

While today we think of Christmas Carol as being all about Christmas, when it came out it was not seen that way. This is because at the time Christmas was a very religion focused holiday, unsurprisingly. A Christmas Carol took the focus away from religion and made it the far more the humanitarian holiday we know and love today. Odd for a story about ghosties.

Admittedly this is one of those instances where I saw the film before reading the book, what with there being a lot of film versions (FYI The Muppets Christmas Carol is one of the best ones and everyone should watch it, while not a perfect adaptation it’s got Michael Kane singing with puppets so…yeah).

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Classic Horror, Famous Horror Writers

Famous Horror Writers: R.L Stine Writing Prompts

One thing with this lockdown is that even as it’s being lifted in many places, we still need to be sensible and protect ourselves and our communities. 

So, while many places are reopening and businesses will need your support, we still shouldn’t be flippant about going outside and mingling with sizeable crowds. 

That being said, it has been a long few months. Speaking of my experience, I’ve been working from home since mid-March and restricting my time outside to essential trips maybe once or twice a week. Cabin fever has well and truly taken hold.  

To keep my mind from turning into mush, I’ve been testing myself with writing prompts and thought I’d share some with you, as I cannot be the only person going slowly mad with being indoors this much. 

Just to be clear, I did not make these myself, R. L. Stine did! Over on masterclass.com 

These are my favourite three 😊

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Classic Horror, Katie Recommends, Reviews

Classic Horror: Best Three Lovecraft Stories

I’m feeling a little indulgent today and have decided to talk about one of my favourite writers, H.P. Lovecraft. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you will already be aware that Lovecraft is one of my top three horror authors and was the inspiration behind a few of my own short stories.

Today I want to talk about some of my favourite stories, The colour out of space, the shadow over Innsmouth, the Call of Cthulhu, the Dunwich horror and the mountains of madness. I love all of these stories for their ability to build tension, create dramatic and loathsome settings and ultimately bring those things together and give a satisfying pay off at the end of the story.  

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: Lovecraft is being made into films and I’m happy scared.

Being a huge Lovecraft fan I am both excited as Hell and nervous as Hell about the adaptation to film of some of the stories.

That’s right some!

It’s old news that The Colour Out of Space is being turned into a film, but recently the news broke that The Colour Out of Space is the first of THREE films. That’s right we’re looking at a trilogy.

The Colour Out of Space, directed by Richard Stanley is due out this year and is set to star Nicolas Cage has been hailed as been an adaptation that is more faithful to the original story.

“We had been hellbent on finding the Lovecraft adaptation that truly captured cosmic dread without the camp”.

Sounds good right?

But while I’m excited, I’m also worried. Lovecraft has a special place in my heart, to the point where I put it permanently on my skin, twice! So the risk that this might end up horribly wrong is a real concern.

How do you feel when your favourite stories get made into films?