Trick ‘r Treat screening – Q&A with Michael Dougherty: why is Hollywood afraid to produce original films? Plus Sneak Peek of Trick ‘r Treat!

Courtesy of WeaverFilms

Q/A Part II and 9 minute sneak peek of TRT after the break:

(more…)

Advertisements

October 6, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Entertainment, Fantasy, Film, graphic art, Horror, Mystery, Popular Culture, Sci Fi, Supernatural, Suspense. Comments off.

Trick ‘r Treat Trailer…

Our previous post on Trick ‘r Treat here

Courtesy of HollywoodStreams

September 9, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Art, Entertainment, Fantasy, Fiction, Film, Horror, Popular Culture, Supernatural, Suspense, True Blood. Comments off.

Bumped: DVD on sale Tuesday!!! Horror: Wired: How the internet saved ‘Trick ‘r Treat’…

Update 2: kewl Sam figure:

Click image for MiM Amazon Store

Click image for MiM Amazon Store

Update: 10/4/09– DVD goes on sale this Tuesday. We have been waiting AGES for this one!

trickrtreatdvdEditorial Reviews:

Wizard Magazine
“The best Halloween film of the last 30 years.”

Sammuel Zimmerman, Fangoria
“We have a new classic on our hands.”

Fangoria
“No film since John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN has captured the creepy spirit of the holiday.”

Andrew Kasch, Dread Central
“Trick ‘r Treat is the film that horror fans have been waiting for – the antidote to every insipid remake, sequel and over hyped “holy grail” we’ve had to suffer through in recent years.”

Dustin Putnam, themovieboy.com
“Twisted, violent, tense, and blissfully maniacal… One of the most handsome, lushly detailed horror features in years. Trick ‘r Treat is destined to put the most sour of souls in the Halloween spirit.”

Product Description
The doorbell rings, the cry goes out: Trick ‘R Treat! But, wait. What’s actually going on during this ghostly All Hallows Eve? Something eerie and unexpected. Something splattered and spooky. Something that brings ghouls, vampires and werewolves into the night. Answer the door – a shocking surprise awaits. From producer Bryan Singer (director of X-Men and Superman Returns) and writer-director Michael Dougherty (co-scripter of X2 and Superman Returns) comes a multitale bag of wicked yarns, four cleverly interlocked stories built on Shocktober admonitions like always check the candy and don’t extinguish the jack-o-lantern before midnight. So answer the door now: Experience horror made for today’s fright fan. DVD Features: “Trick ‘R Treat: Season’s Greetings” with optional commentary by Director Michael Dougherty

trickrtreatpic11

Click image to go to Official Film Site

Courtesy of wired:

The low-budget horror film weaves four stories that take place on Halloween night. The film languished in distribution hell for a few years until festival screenings and film blogs helped resurrect it.

Per SciFiWire October 6th is the release date:

…Confirming what director Michael Dougherty told us at Comic-Con, Warner has announced that his Trick ‘r Treat movie will drop on DVD and Blu-ray on Oct. 6; the Blu-ray will feature Dougherty’s commentary, a “Season’s Greetings” animated short film, “Trick ‘r Treat: The Lore and Legends of Halloween,” additional scenes and special effects comparisons….

Full trailer and book review after the break:

(more…)

August 14, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , . Entertainment, Fantasy, Film, Horror, Popular Culture, Supernatural, Suspense, Warner Bros.. Comments off.

Update: Michael Dougherty’s short ‘Season’s Greetings’; Reviews In! Trick R Treat and Zombieland…

Update: Coolio! The short by Michael Dougherty that inspired his Trick R Treat full length feature, no spoilers:

Courtesy of GeekonFilm:

From the same writer/director of the highly anticipated “Trick ‘r Treat” comes the 1996 short animated film “Season’s Greetings,” which first introduced the character of Sam, a very important player in the soon-to-be-released film. For those patiently waiting to see the film, this short contains no spoilers, so feel free to watch and comment.

For more news about Michael Dougherty, Trick ‘r Treat and any other movie news you could possibly care about, check us out at http://geekonfilm.wordpress.com

Sounds like MiM will have a fabulous weekend watching Zombieland, Paranormal Activity and Trick R Treat!!!

Reviews by GortheMovieGod

October 6, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Entertainment, Fantasy, Film, graphic art, Horror, Mystery, Popular Culture, Sci Fi, Supernatural, Suspense, Urban Fantasy. Comments off.

Haunted Short Stories ~ 26 ~ ‘The Kit Bag’ by Algernon Blackwood (1908)

Courtesy of Project Gutenberg Australia


When the words ‘Not Guilty’ sounded through the crowded courtroom that
dark December afternoon, Arthur Wilbraham, the great criminal KC, and
leader for the triumphant defence, was represented by his junior; but
Johnson, his private secretary, carried the verdict across to his
chambers like lightning.

‘It’s what we expected, I think,’ said the barrister, without emotion;
‘and, personally, I am glad the case is over.’ There was no particular
sign of pleasure that his defence of John Turk, the murderer, on a plea
of insanity, had been successful, for no doubt he felt, as everybody who
had watched the case felt, that no man had ever better deserved the
gallows.

‘I’m glad too,’ said Johnson. He had sat in the court for ten days
watching the face of the man who had carried out with callous detail one
of the most brutal and cold-blooded murders of recent years.

Be counsel glanced up at his secretary. They were more than employer and
employed; for family and other reasons, they were friends. ‘Ah, I
remember; yes,’ he said with a kind smile, ‘and you want to get away for
Christmas? You’re going to skate and ski in the Alps, aren’t you? If I
was your age I’d come with you.’

Johnson laughed shortly. He was a young man of twenty-six, with a
delicate face like a girl’s. ‘I can catch the morning boat now,’ he said;
‘but that’s not the reason I’m glad the trial is over. I’m glad it’s over
because I’ve seen the last of that man’s dreadful face. It positively
haunted me. Bat white skin, with the black hair brushed low over the
forehead, is a thing I shall never forget, and the description of the way
the dismembered body was crammed and packed with lime into that–‘

‘Don’t dwell on it, my dear fellow,’ interrupted the other, looking at
him curiously out of his keen eyes, ‘don’t think about it. Such pictures
have a trick of coming back when one least wants them.’ He paused a
moment. ‘Now go,’ he added presently, ‘and enjoy your holiday. I shall
want all your energy for my Parliamentary work when you get back. And
don’t break your neck skiing.’

Johnson shook hands and took his leave. At the door he turned suddenly.

‘I knew there was something I wanted to ask you,’ he said. ‘Would you
mind lendang me one of your kit-bags? It’s too late to get one tonight,
and I leave in the morning before the shops are open.’

‘Of course; I’ll send Henry over with it to your rooms. You shall have it
the moment I get home.’

‘I promise to take great care of it,’ said Johnson gratefully, delighted
to think that within thirty hours he would be nearing the brilliant
sunshine of the high Alps in winter. Be thought of that criminal court
was like an evil dream in his mind.

He dined at his club and went on to Bloomsbury, where he occupied the top
floor in one of those old, gaunt houses in which the rooms are large and
lofty. The floor below his own was vacant and unfurnished, and below that
were other lodgers whom he did not know. It was cheerless, and he looked
forward heartily to a change. The night was even more cheerless: it was
miserable, and few people were about. A cold, sleety rain was driving
down the streets before the keenest east wind he had ever felt. It howled
dismally among the big, gloomy houses of the great squares, and when he
reached his rooms he heard it whistling and shouting over the world of
black roofs beyond his windows.

In the hall he met his landlady, shading a candle from the draughts with
her thin hand. ‘This come by a man from Mr Wilbr’im’s, sir.’

She pointed to what was evidently the kit-bag, and Johnson thanked her
and took it upstairs with him. ‘I shall be going abroad in the morning
for ten days, Mrs Monks,’ he said. ‘I’ll leave an address for letters.’

‘And I hope you’ll ‘ave a merry Christmas, sir,’ she said, in a raucous,
wheezy voice that suggested spirits, ‘and better weather than this.’

‘I hope so too,’ replied her lodger, shuddering a little as the wind went
roaring down the street outside.

When he got upstairs he heard the sleet volleying against the window
panes. He put his kettle on to make a cup of hot coffee, and then set
about putting a few things in order for his absence. ‘And now I must
pack–such as my packing is,’ he laughed to himself, and set to work at
once.

He liked the packing, for it brought the snow mountains so vividly
before him, and made him forget the unpleasant scenes of the past ten
days. Besides, it was not elaborate in nature. His fraend had lent him
the very thing–a stout canvas kit-bag, sack-shaped, with holes round the
neck for the brass bar and padlock. It was a bit shapeless, true, and not
much to look at, but its capacity was unlimited, and there was no need to
pack carefully. He shoved in his waterproof coat, his fur cap and gloves,
his skates and climbing boots, his sweaters, snow-boots, and ear-caps;
and then on the top of these he piled his woollen shirts and underwear,
his thick socks, puttees, and knickerbockers. The dress suit came next,
in case the hotel people dressed for dinner, and then, thinking of the
best way to pack his white shirts, he paused a moment to reflect. ‘Bat’s
the worst of these kit-bags,’ he mused vaguely, standing in the centre of
the sitting-room, where he had come to fetch some string.

It was after ten o’clock. A furious gust of wind rattled the windows as
though to hurry him up, and he thought with pity of the poor Londoners
whose Christmas would be spent in such a climate, whilst he was skimming
over snowy slopes in bright sunshine, and dancing in the evening with
rosy-checked girls–Ah! that reminded him; he must put in his
dancing-pumps and evening socks. He crossed over from his sitting-room to
the cupboard on the landing where he kept his linen.

And as he did so he heard someone coming softly up the stairs.

He stood still a moment on the landing to listen. It was Mrs Monks’s
step, he thought; she must he coming up with the last post. But then the
steps ceased suddenly, and he heard no more. They were at least two
flights down, and he came to the conclusion they were too heavy to be
those of his bibulous landlady. No doubt they belonged to a late lodger
who had mistaken his floor. He went into his bedroom and packed his pumps
and dress-shirts as best he could.

Be kit-bag by this time was two-thirds full, and stood upright on its own
base like a sack of flour. For the first time he noticed that it was old
and dirty, the canvas faded and worn, and that it had obviously been
subjected to rather rough treatment. It was not a very nice bag to have
sent him–certainly not a new one, or one that his chief valued. He gave
the matter a passing thought, and went on with his packing. Once or
twice, however, he caught himself wondering who it could have been
wandering down below, for Mrs Monks had not come up with letters, and the
floor was empty and unfurnished. From time to time, moreover, he was
almost certain he heard a soft tread of someone padding about over the
bare boards–cautiously, stealthily, as silently as possible–and,
further, that the sounds had been lately coming distinctly nearer.

For the first time in his life he began to feel a little creepy. Then, as
though to emphasize this feeling, an odd thing happened: as he left the
bedroom, having, just packed his recalcitrant white shirts, he noticed
that the top of the kit-bag lopped over towards him with an extraordinary
resemblance to a human face. Be camas fell into a fold like a nose and
forehead, and the brass rings for the padlock just filled the position of
the eyes. A shadow–or was it a travel stain? for he could not tell
exactly–looked like hair. It gave him rather a turn, for it was so
absurdly, so outrageously, like the face of John Turk the murderer.

He laughed, and went into the front room, where the light was stronger.

‘That horrid case has got on my mind,’ he thought; ‘I shall be glad of a
change of scene and air.’ In the sitting-room, however, he was not
pleased to hear again that stealthy tread upon the stairs, and to realize
that it was much closer than before, as well as unmistakably real. And
this time he got up and went out to see who it could be creeping about on
the upper staircase at so late an hour.

But the sound ceased; there was no one visible on the stairs. He went to
the floor below, not without trepidation, and turned on the electric
light to make sure that no one was hiding in the empty rooms of the
unoccupied suite. There was not a stick of furniture large enough to hide
a dog. Then he called over the banisters to Mrs Monks, but there was no
answer, and his voice echoed down into the dark vault of the house, and
was lost in the roar of the gale that howled outside. Everyone was in bed
and asleep–everyone except himself and the owner of this soft and
stealthy tread.

‘My absurd imagination, I suppose,’ he thought. ‘It must have been the
wind after all, although–it seemed so _very_ real and close, I thought.’
He went back to his packing. It was by this time getting on towards
midnight. He drank his coffee up and lit another pipe–the last before
turning in.

It is difficult to say exactly at what point fear begins, when the causes
of that fear are not plainly before the eyes. Impressions gather on the
surface of the mind, film by film, as ice gathers upon the surface of
still water, but often so lightly that they claim no definite recognation
from the consciousness. Then a point is reached where the accumulated
impressions become a definite emotion, and the mind realizes that
something has happened. With something of a start, Johnson suddenly
recognized that he felt nervous–oddly nervous; also, that for some time
past the causes of this feeling had been gathering slowly in has mind,
but that he had only just reached the point where he was forced to
acknowledge them.

STORY CONTINUES AFTER THE BREAK:
(more…)

October 26, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . American Literature, English Literature, Entertainment, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Popular Culture, Supernatural, Suspense. Comments off.

Haunted Short Stories – 25 – ‘The Haunted and The Haunters’ by E. G. E. Bulwer-Lytton (1857)

Courtesy of Mitsu Matsuoka, Nagoya University

A friend of mine, who is a man of letters and a philosopher, said to me one day, as if between jest and earnest, “Fancy! since we last met I have discovered a haunted house in the midst of London.”

“Really haunted,—-and by what?—-ghosts?”

“Well, I can’t answer that question; all I know is this: six weeks ago my wife and I were in search of a furnished apartment. Passing a quiet street, we saw on the window of one of the houses a bill, ‘Apartments, Furnished.’ The situation suited us; we entered the house, liked the rooms, engaged them by the week,—-and left them the third day. No power on earth could have reconciled my wife to stay longer; and I don’t wonder at it.”

“What did you see?”

“Excuse me; I have no desire to be ridiculed as a superstitious dreamer,—-nor, on the other hand, could I ask you to accept on my affirmation what you would hold to be incredible without the evidence of your own senses. Let me only say this, it was not so much what we saw or heard (in which you might fairly suppose that we were the dupes of our own excited fancy, or the victims of imposture in others) that drove us away, as it was an indefinable terror which seized both of us whenever we passed by the door of a certain unfurnished room, in which we neither saw nor heard anything. And the strangest marvel of all was, that for once in my life I agreed with my wife, silly woman though she be,—-and allowed, after the third night, that it was impossible to stay a fourth in that house. Accordingly, on the fourth morning I summoned the woman who kept the house and attended on us, and told her that the rooms did not quite suit us, and we would not stay out our week. She said dryly, ‘I know why; you have stayed longer than any other lodger. Few ever stayed a second night; none before you a third. But I take it they have been very kind to you.’

“‘They,—-who?’ I asked, affecting to smile.

“‘Why, they who haunt the house, whoever they are. I don’t mind them. I remember them many years ago, when I lived in this house, not as a servant; but I know they will be the death of me some day. I don’t care,—-I’m old, and must die soon anyhow; and then I shall be with them, and in this house still.’ The woman spoke with so dreary a calmness that really it was a sort of awe that prevented my conversing with her further. I paid for my week, and too happy were my wife and I to get off so cheaply.”

“You excite my curiosity,” said I; “nothing I should like better than to sleep in a haunted house. Pray give me the address of the one which you left so ignominiously.”

My friend gave me the address; and when we parted, I walked straight toward the house thus indicated.

It is situated on the north side of Oxford Street, in a dull but respectable thoroughfare. I found the house shut up,—-no bill at the window, and no response to my knock. As I was turning away, a beer-boy, collecting pewter pots at the neighboring areas, said to me, “Do you want any one at that house, sir?”

“Yes, I heard it was to be let.”

“Let!—-why, the woman who kept it is dead,—-has been dead these three weeks, and no one can be found to stay there, though Mr. J——– offered ever so much. He offered mother, who chars for him, one pound a week just to open and shut the windows, and she would not.”

“Would not!—-and why?”

“The house is haunted; and the old woman who kept it was found dead in her bed, with her eyes wide open. They say the devil strangled her.”

“Pooh! You speak of Mr. J——–. Is he the owner of the house?”

“Yes.”

“Where does he live?”

“In G——– Street, No. —-.”

“What is he? In any business?”

“No, sir,—-nothing particular; a single gentleman.”

I gave the potboy the gratuity earned by his liberal information, and proceeded to Mr. J——– , in G——– Street, which was close by the street that boasted the haunted house. I was lucky enough to find Mr. J——– at home,—-an elderly man with intelligent countenance and prepossessing manners.

I communicated my name and my business frankly. I said I heard the house was considered to be haunted, that I had a strong desire to examine a house with so equivocal a reputation; that I should be greatly obliged if he would allow me to hire it, though only for a night. I was willing to pay for that privilege whatever he might be inclined to ask. “Sir,” said Mr. J——–, with great courtesy, “the house is at your service, for as short or as long a time as you please. Rent is out of the question,—-the obligation will be on my side should you be able to discover the cause of the strange phenomena which at present deprive it of all value. I cannot let it, for I cannot even get a servant to keep it in order or answer the door. Unluckily the house is haunted, if I may use that expression, not only by night, but by day; though at night the disturbances are of a more unpleasant and sometimes of a more alarming character. The poor old woman who died in it three weeks ago was a pauper whom I took out of a workhouse; for in her childhood she had been known to some of my family, and had once been in such good circumstances that she had rented that house of my uncle. She was a woman of superior education and strong mind, and was the only person I could ever induce to remain in the house. Indeed, since her death, which was sudden, and the coroner’s inquest, which gave it a notoriety in the neighborhood, I have so despaired of finding any person to take charge of the house, much more a tenant, that I would willingly let it rent free for a year to anyone who would pay its rates and taxes.”

“How long is it since the house acquired this sinister character?”

“That I can scarcely tell you, but very many years since. The old woman I spoke of, said it was haunted when she rented it between thirty and forty years ago. The fact is, that my life has been spent in the East Indies, and in the civil service of the Company. I returned to England last year, on inheriting the fortune of an uncle, among whose possessions was the house in question. I found it shut up and uninhabited. I was told that it was haunted, that no one would inhabit it. I smiled at what seemed to me so idle a story. I spent some money in repairing it, added to its old- fashioned furniture a few modern articles,—-advertised it, and obtained a lodger for a year. He was a colonel on half pay. He came in with his family, a son and a daughter, and four or five servants: they all left the house the next day; and, although each of them declared that he had seen something different from that which had scared the others, a something still was equally terrible to all. I really could not in conscience sue, nor even blame, the colonel for breach of agreement. Then I put in the old woman I have spoken of, and she was empowered to let the house in apartments. I never had one lodger who stayed more than three days. I do not tell you their stories,—-to no two lodgers have there been exactly the same phenomena repeated. It is better that you should judge for yourself, than enter the house with an imagination influenced by previous narratives; only be prepared to see and to hear something or other, and take whatever precautions you yourself please.”

“Have you never had a curiosity yourself to pass a night in that house?”

“Yes. I passed not a night, but three hours in broad daylight alone in that house. My curiosity is not satisfied, but it is quenched. I have no desire to renew the experiment. You cannot complain, you see, sir, that I am not sufficiently candid; and unless your interest be exceedingly eager and your nerves unusually strong, I honestly add, that I advise you NOT to pass a night in that house.

“My interest IS exceedingly keen,” said I; “and though only a coward will boast of his nerves in situations wholly unfamiliar to him, yet my nerves have been seasoned in such variety of danger that I have the right to rely on them,—-even in a haunted house.”

Mr. J——– said very little more; he took the keys of the house out of his bureau, gave them to me,—-and, thanking him cordially for his frankness, and his urbane concession to my wish, I carried off my prize.

Impatient for the experiment, as soon as I reached home, I summoned my confidential servant,—-a young man of gay spirits, fearless temper, and as free from superstitious prejudice as anyone I could think of.

F——–,” said I, “you remember in Germany how disappointed we were at not finding a ghost in that old castle, which was said to be haunted by a headless apparition? Well, I have heard of a house in London which, I have reason to hope, is decidedly haunted. I mean to sleep there to-night. From what I hear, there is no doubt that something will allow itself to be seen or to be heard,—-something, perhaps, excessively horrible. Do you think if I take you with me, I may rely on your presence of mind, whatever may happen?”

“Oh, sir, pray trust me,” answered F——–, grinning with delight.

“Very well; then here are the keys of the house,—-this is the address. Go now,—-select for me any bedroom you please; and since the house has not been inhabited for weeks, make up a good fire, air the bed well,—-see, of course, that there are candles as well as fuel. Take with you my revolver and my dagger,—-so much for my weapons; arm yourself equally well; and if we are not a match for a dozen ghosts, we shall be but a sorry couple of Englishmen.

I was engaged for the rest of the day on business so urgent that I had not leisure to think much on the nocturnal adventure to which I had plighted my honor. I dined alone, and very late, and while dining, read, as is my habit. I selected one of the volumes of Macaulay’s Essays. I thought to myself that I would take the book with me; there was so much of healthfulness in the style, and practical life in the subjects, that it would serve as an antidote against the influences of superstitious fancy.

Accordingly, about half-past nine, I put the book into my pocket, and strolled leisurely toward the haunted house. I took with me a favorite dog: an exceedingly sharp, bold, and vigilant bull terrier,—-a dog fond of prowling about strange, ghostly corners and passages at night in search of rats; a dog of dogs for a ghost.

I reached the house, knocked, and my servant opened with a cheerful smile.

We did not stay long in the drawing-rooms,—-in fact, they felt so damp and so chilly that I was glad to get to the fire upstairs. We locked the doors of the drawing-rooms,—-a precaution which, I should observe, we had taken with all the rooms we had searched below. The bedroom my servant had selected for me was the best on the floor,—-a large one, with two windows fronting the street. The four-posted bed, which took up no inconsiderable space, was opposite to the fire, which burned clear and bright; a door in the wall to the left, between the bed and the window, communicated with the room which my servant appropriated to himself. This last was a small room with a sofa bed, and had no communication with the landing place,—-no other door but that which conducted to the bedroom I was to occupy. On either side of my fireplace was a cupboard without locks, flush with the wall, and covered with the same dull-brown paper. We examined these cupboards,—-only hooks to suspend female dresses, nothing else; we sounded the walls,—- evidently solid, the outer walls of the building. Having finished the survey of these apartments, warmed myself a few moments, and lighted my cigar, I then, still accompanied by F——–, went forth to complete my reconnoiter. In the landing place there was another door; it was closed firmly. “Sir,” said my servant, in surprise, “I unlocked this door with all the others when I first came; it cannot have got locked from the inside, for—-”

Before he had finished his sentence, the door, which neither of us then was touching, opened quietly of itself. We looked at each other a single instant. The same thought seized both,—-some human agency might be detected here. I rushed in first, my servant followed. A small, blank, dreary room without furniture; a few empty boxes and hampers in a corner; a small window; the shutters closed; not even a fireplace; no other door but that by which we had entered; no carpet on the floor, and the floor seemed very old, uneven, worm-eaten, mended here and there, as was shown by the whiter patches on the wood; but no living being, and no visible place in which a living being could have hidden. As we stood gazing round, the door by which we had entered closed as quietly as it had before opened; we were imprisoned.

For the first time I felt a creep of indefinable horror. Not so my servant. “Why, they don’t think to trap us, sir; I could break that trumpery door with a kick of my foot.”

“Try first if it will open to your hand,” said I, shaking off the vague apprehension that had seized me, “while I unclose the shutters and see what is without.”

I unbarred the shutters,—-the window looked on the little back yard I have before described; there was no ledge without,—-nothing to break the sheer descent of the wall. No man getting out of that window would have found any footing till he had fallen on the stones below.

F——–, meanwhile, was vainly attempting to open the door. He now turned round to me and asked my permission to use force. And I should here state, in justice to the servant, that, far from evincing any superstitious terrors, his nerve, composure, and even gayety amidst circumstances so extraordinary, compelled my admiration, and made me congratulate myself on having secured a companion in every way fitted to the occasion. I willingly gave him the permission he required. But though he was a remarkably strong man, his force was as idle as his milder efforts; the door did not even shake to his stoutest kick. Breathless and panting, he desisted. I then tried the door myself, equally in vain. As I ceased from the effort, again that creep of horror came over me; but this time it was more cold and stubborn. I felt as if some strange and ghastly exhalation were rising up from the chinks of that rugged floor, and filling the atmosphere with a venomous influence hostile to human life. The door now very slowly and quietly opened as of its own accord. We precipitated ourselves into the landing place. We both saw a large, pale light—-as large as the human figure, but shapeless and unsubstantial—-move before us, and ascend the stairs that led from the landing into the attics. I followed the light, and my servant followed me. It entered, to the right of the landing, a small garret, of which the door stood open. I entered in the same instant. The light then collapsed into a small globule, exceedingly brilliant and vivid, rested a moment on a bed in the corner, quivered, and vanished. We approached the bed and examined it,—-a half-tester, such as is commonly found in attics devoted to servants. On the drawers that stood near it we perceived an old faded silk kerchief, with the needle still left in a rent half repaired. The kerchief was covered with dust; probably it had belonged to the old woman who had last died in that house, and this might have been her sleeping room. I had sufficient curiosity to open the drawers: there were a few odds and ends of female dress, and two letters tied round with a narrow ribbon of faded yellow. I took the liberty to possess myself of the letters. We found nothing else in the room worth noticing,—-nor did the light reappear; but we distinctly heard, as we turned to go, a pattering footfall on the floor, just before us. We went through the other attics (in all four), the footfall still preceding us. Nothing to be seen,—-nothing but the footfall heard. I had the letters in my hand; just as I was descending the stairs I distinctly felt my wrist seized, and a faint, soft effort made to draw the letters from my clasp. I only held them the more tightly, and the effort ceased.

Story continues after the break:

(more…)

October 25, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . American Literature, English Literature, Entertainment, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Popular Culture, Supernatural, Suspense. Comments off.

Haunted Short Stories – 18 – “Guests From Gibbet Island” by Washington Irving

Courtesy of ReadPrint.com

”]

Whoever has visited the ancient and renowned village of Communipaw, may have noticed an old stone building, of most ruinous and sinister appearance. The doors and window-shutters are ready to drop from their hinges; old clothes are stuffed in the broken panes of glass, while legions of half-starved dogs prowl about the premises, and rush out and bark at every passer-by; for your beggarly house in a village is most apt to swarm with profligate and ill-conditioned dogs. What adds to the sinister appearance of this mansion, is a tall frame in front, not a little resembling a gallows, and which looks as if waiting to accommodate some of the inhabitants with a well-merited airing. It is not a gallows, however, but an ancient sign-post; for this dwelling, in the golden days of Communipaw, was one of the most orderly and peaceful of village taverns, where all the public affairs of Communipaw were talked and smoked over. In fact, it was in this very building that Oloffe the Dreamer, and his companions, concerted that great voyage of discovery and colonization, in which they explored Buttermilk Channel, were nearly shipwrecked in the strait of Hell-gate, and finally landed on the Island of Manhattan, and founded the great city of New-Amsterdam.

Even after the province had been cruelly wrested from the sway of their High Mightinesses, by the combined forces of the British and Yankees, this tavern continued its ancient loyalty. It is true, the head of the Prince of Orange disappeared from the sign; a strange bird being painted over it, with the explanatory legend of “DIE WILDE GANS,” or The Wild Goose; but this all the world knew to be a sly riddle of the landlord, the worthy Teunis Van Gieson, a knowing man in a small way, who laid his finger beside his nose and winked, when any one studied the signification of his sign, and observed that his goose was hatching, but would join the flock whenever they flew over the water; an enigma which was the perpetual recreation and delight of the loyal but fat-headed burghers of Communipaw.

Under the sway of this patriotic, though discreet and quiet publican, the tavern continued to flourish in primeval tranquillity, and was the resort of all true-hearted Nederlanders, from all parts of Pavonia; who met here quietly and secretly, to smoke and drink the downfall of Briton and Yankee, and success to Admiral Van Tromp.

The only drawback on the comfort of the establishment, was a nephew of mine host, a sister’s son, Yan Yost Vanderscamp by name, and a real scamp by nature. This unlucky whipster showed an early propensity to mischief, which he gratified in a small way, by playing tricks upon the frequenters of the Wild Goose; putting gunpowder in their pipes, or squibs in their pockets, and astonishing them with an explosion, while they sat nodding round the fire-place in the bar-room; and if perchance a worthy burgher from some distant part of Pavonia had lingered until dark over his potation, it was odds but that young Vanderscamp would slip a briar under his horse’s tail, as he mounted, and send him clattering along the road, in neck-or-nothing style, to his infinite astonishment and discomfiture.

It may be wondered at, that mine host of the Wild Goose did not turn such a graceless varlet out of doors; but Teunis Van Gieson was an easy-tempered man, and, having no child of his own, looked upon his nephew with almost parental indulgence. His patience and good-nature were doomed to be tried by another inmate of his mansion. This was a cross-grained curmudgeon of a negro, named Pluto, who was a kind of enigma in Communipaw. Where he came from, nobody knew. He was found one morning, after a storm, cast like a sea-monster on the strand, in front of the Wild Goose, and lay there, more dead than alive. The neighbors gathered round, and speculated on this production of the deep; whether it were fish or flesh, or a compound of both, commonly yclept a merman. The kind-hearted Teunis Van Gieson, seeing that he wore the human form, took him into his house, and warmed him into life. By degrees, he showed signs of intelligence, and even uttered sounds very much like language, but which no one in Communipaw could understand. Some thought him a negro just from Guinea, who had either fallen overboard, or escaped from a slave-ship. Nothing, however, could ever draw from him any account of his origin. When questioned on the subject, he merely pointed to Gibbet-Island, a small rocky islet, which lies in the open bay, just opposite to Communipaw, as if that were his native place, though every body knew it had never been inhabited.

In the process of time, he acquired something of the Dutch language, that is to say, he learnt all its vocabulary of oaths and maledictions, with just words sufficient to string them together. “Donder en blicksen!” (thunder and lightning,) was the gentlest of his ejaculations. For years he kept about the Wild Goose, more like one of those familiar spirits, or household goblins, that we read of, than like a human being. He acknowledged allegiance to no one, but performed various domestic offices, when it suited his humor; waiting occasionally on the guests; grooming the horses, cutting wood, drawing water; and all this without being ordered. Lay any command on him, and the stubborn sea-urchin was sure to rebel. He was never so much at home, however, as when on the water, plying about in skiff or canoe, entirely alone, fishing, crabbing, or grabbing for oysters, and would bring home quantities for the larder of the Wild Goose, which he would throw down at the kitchen door, with a growl. No wind nor weather deterred him from launching forth on his favorite element: indeed, the wilder the weather, the more he seemed to enjoy it. If a storm was brewing, he was sure to put off from shore; and would be seen far out in the bay, his light skiff dancing like a feather on the waves, when sea and sky were all in a turmoil, and the stoutest ships were fain to lower their sails. Sometimes, on such occasions, he would be absent for days together. How he weathered the tempest, and how and where he subsisted, no one could divine, nor did any one venture to ask, for all had an almost superstitious awe of him. Some of the Communipaw oystermen declared that they had more than once seen him suddenly disappear, canoe and all, as if they plunged beneath the waves, and after a while come up again, in quite a different part of the bay; whence they concluded that he could live under water like that notable species of wild duck, commonly called the Hell-diver. All began to consider him in the light of a foul-weather bird, like the Mother Carey’s Chicken, or Stormy Petrel; and whenever they saw him putting far out in his skiff, in cloudy weather, made up their minds for a storm.

Story continues after the break:

(more…)

October 19, 2010. Tags: , , , , . American Literature, English Literature, Entertainment, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Popular Culture, Supernatural, Suspense. Comments off.

Haunted Short Stories – 15 – ‘An Eddy on the Floor’ by Bernard Capes (1899)

Courtesy of TheLiteraryGothic

I had the pleasure of an invitation to one of those reunions or séances at the house, in a fashionable quarter, of my distant connection, Lady Barbara Grille, whereat it was my hostess’s humour to gather together those many birds of alien feather and incongruous habit that will flock from the hedgerows to the least little flattering crumb of attention. And scarce one of them but thinks the simple feast is spread for him alone. And with so cheap a bait may a title lure.

That reference to so charming a personality should be in this place is a digression. She affects my narrative only inasmuch as I happened to meet at her house a gentleman who for a time exerted a considerable influence over my fortunes.

The next morning after the séance, my landlady entered with a card, which she presented to my consideration:

Major James Shrike,
H. M. Prison, D——

All astonishment, I bade my visitor up.

He entered briskly, fur-collared, hat in hand, and bowed as he stood on the threshold. He was a very short man—snub-nosed; rusty-whiskered; indubitably and unimpressively a cockney in appearance. He might have walked out of a Cruikshank etching.

I was beginning, ‘May I enquire—’ when the other took me up with a vehement frankness that I found engaging at once.

‘This is a great intrusion. Will you pardon me? I heard some remarks of yours last night that deeply interested me. I obtained your name and address from our hostess, and took the liberty of—’

‘Oh! pray be seated. Say no more. My kinswoman’s introduction is all-sufficient. I am happy in having caught your attention in so motley a crowd.’

‘She doesn’t—forgive the impertinence—take herself seriously enough.’

‘Lady Barbara? Then you’ve found her out?’

‘Ah!—you’re not offended?’

‘Not in the least.’

‘Good. It was a motley assemblage, as you say. Yet I’m inclined to think I found my pearl in the oyster. I’m afraid I interrupted—eh?’

‘No, no, not at all. Only some idle scribbling. I’d finished.’

‘You are a poet?’

‘Only a lunatic. I haven’t taken my degree.’

‘Ah! it’s a noble gift—the gift of song; precious through its rarity.’

I caught a note of emotion in my visitor’s voice, and glanced at him curiously.

‘Surely,’ I thought, ‘that vulgar, ruddy little face is transfigured.’

‘But,’ said the stranger, coming to earth, ‘I am lingering beside the mark. I must try to justify my solecism in manners by a straight reference to the object of my visit. That is, in the first instance, a matter of business.’

‘Business!’

‘I am a man with a purpose, seeking the hopefullest means to an end. Plainly: if I could procure you the post of resident doctor at D— gaol, would you be disposed to accept it?’

I looked my utter astonishment.

‘I can affect no surprise at yours, said the visitor. ‘It is perfectly natural. Let me forestall some unnecessary expression of it. My offer seems unaccountable to you, seeing that we never met until last night. But I don’t move entirely in the dark. I have ventured in the interval to inform myself as to the details of your career. I was entirely one with much of your expression of opinion as to the treatment of criminals, in which you controverted the crude and unpleasant scepticism of the lady you talked with. Combining the two, I come to the immediate conclusion that you are the man for my purpose.’

‘You have dumbfounded me. I don’t know what to answer. You have views, I know, as to prison treatment. Will you sketch them? Will you talk on, while I try to bring my scattered wits to a focus?’

‘Certainly I will. Let me, in the first instance, recall to you a few words of your own. They ran somewhat in this fashion: Is not the man of praetical genius the man who is most apt at solving the little problems of resourcefulness in life? Do you remember them?’

‘Perhaps I do, in a cruder form.’

‘They attracted me at once. It is upon such a postulate I base my practice. Their moral is this:

To know the antidote the moment the snake bites. That is to have the intuition of divinity. We shall rise to it some day, no doubt, and climb the hither side of the new Olympus. Who knows?

Over the crest the spirit of creation may be ours.’

I nodded, still at sea, and the other went on with a smile:

‘I once knew a world-famous engineer with whom I used to breakfast occasionally. He had a patent egg-boiler on the table, with a little double-sided ladle underneath to hold the spirit. He complained that his egg was always undercooked. I said, “Why not reverse the ladle so as to bring the deeper cut uppermost?” He was charmed with my perspicacity. The solution had never occurred to him. You remember, too, no doubt, the story of Coleridge and the horse collar. We aim too much at great developments. If we cultivate resourcefulness, the rest will follow. Shall I state my system in nuce? It is to encourage this spirit of resourcefulness.’

‘Surely the habitual criminal has it in a marked degree?’

‘Yes; but abnormally developed in a single direction. His one object is to out-manoeuvre in a game of desperate and immoral chances. The tactical spirit in him has none of the higher ambition. It has felt itself in the degree only that stops at defiance.’

‘That is perfectly true.’

‘It is half self-conscious of an individuality that instinctively assumes the hopelessness of a recognition by duller intellects. Leaning to resentment through misguided vanity, it falls “all oblique”. What is the cure for this? I answer, the teaching of a divine egotism. The subject must be led to a pure devotion to self What he wishes to respect he must be taught to make beautiful and interesting. The policy of sacrifice to others has so long stunted his moral nature because it is a hypocritical policy. We are responsible to ourselves in the first instance; and to argue an eternal system of blind self-sacrifice is to undervalue the fine gift of individuality. In such he sees but an indefensible policy of force applied to the advantage of the community. He is told to be good— not that he may morally profit, but that others may not suffer inconvenience.’

I was beginning to grasp, through my confusion, a certain clue of meaning in my visitor’s rapid utterance. The stranger spoke fluently, but in the dry, positive voice that characterizes men of will.

‘Pray go on,’ I said; ‘I am digesting in silence.’

‘We must endeavour to lead him to respect of self by showing him what his mind is capable of.

I argue on no sectarian, no religious grounds even. Is it possible to make a man’s self his most precious possession? Anyhow, I work to that end. A doctor purges before building up with a tonic. I eliminate cant and hypocrisy, and then introduce self-respect. It isn’t enough to employ a man’s hands only. Initiation in some labour that should prove wholesome and remunerative is a redeeming factor, but it isn’t all. His mind must work also, and awaken to its capacities. If it rusts, the body reverts to inhuman instincts.’

‘May I ask how you—?’

‘By intercourse—in my own person or through my officials. I wish to have only those about me who are willing to contribute to my designs, and with whom I can work in absolute harmony.

All my officers are chosen to that end. No doubt a dash of constitutional sentimentalism gives colour to my theories. I get it from a human trait in me that circumstances have obliged me to put a hoarding round.’

‘I begin to gather daylight.’

‘Quite so. My patients are invited to exchange views with their guardians in a spirit of perfect friendliness; to solve little problems of practical moment; to acquire the pride of self-reliance.

We have competitions, such as certain newspapers open to their readers in a simple form. I draw up the questions myself. The answers give me insight into the mental conditions of the competitors. Upon insight I proceed. I am fortunate in private means, and I am in a position to offer modest prizes to the winners, Whenever such a one is discharged, he finds awaiting him the tools most handy to his vocation. I bid him go forth in no pharisaical spirit, and invite him to communicate with me. I wish the shadow of the gaol to extend no further than the road whereon it lies. Henceforth, we are acquaintances with a common interest at heart. Isn’t it monstrous that a state-fixed degree of misconduct should earn a man social ostracism? Parents are generally inclined to rule extra tenderness towards a child whose peccadilloes have brought him a whipping. For myself have no faith in police supervision. Give a culprit his term and have done with it. I find the majority who come back to me are ticket-of-leave men, ‘Have I said enough? I offer you the reversion of the post. The present holder of it leaves in a month’s time. Please to determine here and at once.’

‘Very good. I have decided,’

‘You will accept?’

‘Yes.’

Story continues after the break:

(more…)

October 15, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . American Literature, English Literature, Entertainment, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Popular Culture, Supernatural, Suspense. Comments off.

Next Page »

%d bloggers like this: