Well, maybe not terror, exactly. Another dose of melancholia, is more like it. Since I've got the list-making bug this Halloween, here's another one. I thought I'd do a quick top ten of some of my favorite pieces of Halloween mood music, but looking over the mix CDs I've compiled since I learned how to do mix CDs (not that long ago, actually), I see that most of them are pretty chestnut-heavy: you got your Night on Bald Mountain, you got got your Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (aka, the Theme from the Phantom of the Opera), you got your music from Psycho.
1) "Waltz II," from the Jazz Suite No. 2, by Dmitri Shostakovich. You might recognize this as the music from the closing credits of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which was a pretty creepy movie, if not a flat-out horror film. If you know Shostakovich only from his loud, rather bombastic symphonies (as I did for a long time), his jazz suites (available on this terrific Naxos CD) are a real revelation, full of lovely, sly little melodies. He even orchestrated a version of, I kid you not, "Tea for Two."
Here's another Halloween treat: my pal John Marks has interviewed Stephen King for Salon, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the publication of The Stand. You can read the interview here, and listen to it here. It's pretty interesting stuff, all about the writing of the book, King's religious background, his current spiritual beliefs, the current election, and the end of the world. Not necessarily in that order.
King Zor Lives Again! 10/21/2008
Courtesy of my brother Mike, here comes that monster from my id, right back atcha, only bigger and noisier than ever—it's the return of King Zor! Only he seems to have mellowed over the years—he's not fighting mad anymore. In fact, he seems, well, kinda...playful.
On the other hand, maybe not. If you go here, you can watch him play with his food—to wit, a 1994 Honda Goldwing motorcycle. It's funny, but also kinda gruesome—imagine Wall-E with a serious attitude.
It's Halloween again, my favorite holiday, and I'm trying to get in the mood, despite the fact that the scariest thing I can think of right now is Sarah Palin being elected to...well, anything, really. But I'm going to soldier on, in the spirit of the season. I thought I'd do a new version of the list of Halloween reading I did a couple of years ago for Maud Newton (which had some movies on it, too); at the time I told her that it was a pretty arbitrary list, that if she'd asked me on a different day, I'd probably do a completely different list. Well, it's a different day, so here's a different list.
1) "It's a Good Life," by Jerome Bixby, who was also a screenwriter and TV writer, best known for a couple of good Star Trek episodes. Most people know this story from its superb Twilight Zone adaptation, starring a very young, very scary Billy Mumy. The story itself is a nasty slice of small-town gothic Americana, with a brilliantly bone-chilling sci-fi twist. It's still widely anthologized, I think, but I first read it in the Hitchcock anthology.
4) "The Daemon Lover," by Shirley Jackson. Another story I first read in the Bradbury anthology. It didn't really stick with me as a kid, but when I reread it in Jackson's own collection, The Lottery and Other Stories, it creeped me out. You have to be an adult, and to have had your heart broken, to be scared by this story.
7) "The Small Assassin," by Ray Bradbury. When I was a kid reading Bradbury's science fiction, a colleague of my father's at Ferris State College in Big Rapids, Michigan, where I grew up, suggested that I get a copy of Bradbury's The October Country, which he said was better than Bradbury's sci fi. It's a revised version of his first book, Dark Carnival, which was first published by August Derleth's Arkham House (best known for keeping Lovecraft's reputation alive). Bradbury writes in his introduction that the stories in the book present a side to him most of his readers don't know, and a sort of story—i.e., horror—which he had rarely written since 1946. There's some really creepy stuff here, but this one is my favorite. If you have young children, you may want to avoid it. Then again, maybe you won't.
In which I mostly write about books, movies, and TV. An all-purpose spoiler alert: Sometimes I will talk about these works on the assumption that the reader's already read or seen them, so if you haven't, be forewarned.
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