Archive for October, 2017


At this year’s Dragon Con (my first!), I attended a panel on supernatural fiction and stories that included Cherie Priest.  Priest is the author of many a fine novel, but I’m partial to Family Plot (an architectural salvage company tackles a haunted house) and Wings to the Kingdom (modern-day tale in which the Civil War ghosts at the Chickamauga battlefield are disturbed by something larger and more menacing).   I’ve only just started Maplecroft (reportedly a Lovecraftian take on Lizzie Borden), but it looks to be a lot of fun as well.

During this panel, Priest made an interesting comment about ghost stories: when someone is telling you their own ghost story, it usually just kind of peters out because it doesn’t have a “punchline” or satisfactory resolution.  It’s usually something along the lines of “so, um, yeah, that’s something that happened to me.”

That’s something that stayed in my mind as I listened to the stories that have been released so far on Snap Judgment Presents: SpookedSnap Judgment is a storytelling podcast hosted by Glynn Washington.  During its early days, it (like any storytelling podcast) struggled to get out from beneath the monolithic shadow of This American Life.  Since then, it’s become its own equally satisfying listen.

The Spooked offshoot offers ghost stories.  In the parent show’s tradition, these are supposedly true stories and for the most part, they avoid the unsatisfying endings that Priest talked about.  These are almost without fail well-told, professionally presented ghost stories, often with background sound effects that add to the creepiness.  Ghost children, haunted dolls, curses, strange desert goings-on, road trips that go over the border to places not on the map.  You could argue that these are all tropes that we’ve read or heard many times, but the best stories here have unique twists or elements that make them great fun to listen to.  I will say that one story struck me as almost too tight and well-constructed; it almost felt like an audio dramatization of a Twilight Zone episode, it was so perfect.  Maybe it’s true; maybe it’s not.  The narrator’s delivery drips with convincing sincerity, though, and wherever the truth lies, it’s a good ‘un.

Give the series a listen if you’re looking for some spooky stories this (or really, any) month.

Link to the Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked site with episodes:





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Hi all!  This marks the first post in what I hope to be a regular series of posts for October. Probably won’t be daily, ’cause I haven’t been able to pull that off since I started this cobwebby site.  Be that as it may, it’s time to blog/write again, and it’s October, so it’s time to talk spooky stuff. Over the course of October, I want to highlight songs, movies, stories, etc. that I really enjoy and that put me in a Halloween mood.

First among these is 2007’s Trick ‘r Treat, a movie that hit so many of my horror movie sweet spots.  It consists of interlocking tales that all take place on a single Halloween night.  A serial killer goes on the hunt; revelers converge for a party in the woods; a group of kids hit the town’s front porches like normal but have malicious plans for one of their group; a couple flouts Halloween traditions; a hermit gets visited by his past — all told with humor and energy, and shown via some seriously strong imagination and cinematography.  I mean, I want this yard:

Trick 'r Treat

If I ever get my Halloween night short story published, it will have a scene that owes its existence to this beautiful yard.

My favorite thing about the movie, apart from the fact it’s a lot of fun, is that it embraces Halloween as a night when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest.  There may be human killers walking around, but supernatural beings are on the prowl as well.  Those old traditions became traditions for a reason, because they kept people safe from what’s out there.

Trick ‘r Treat finds clever ways to bring its storylines together, and it has a twist on one classic tale that I, as a folklore-loving English major, should have seen coming.  But I didn’t, and I loved it all the more for surprising me!trickrtreatdvd

One thing that turns some people off about Trick ‘r Treat is that it allows violence to happen to some of its kids — most of it thankfully off-screen and in one case, on screen as the kid dies and then later when we see his body (it’s one of the film’s gorier scenes).  That’s apparently something writer/director Michael Dougherty fought for, though, when the studio wanted him to cast the film with telegenic older kids/young adults to appeal to the lucrative teen market.  I think he made the right choice, juxtaposing what is supposedly a kids’ holiday with much older and darker traditions.   And to be fair, plenty of adults get what’s coming to them, too.

That’s just some top-shelf Halloween night craziness!

Note: In looking up some stuff for this post, I found out that Michael Dougherty also directed 2015’s Krampus, which I would have ignored, but it seems to be getting some good word of mouth. Now, knowing Dougherty directed it, I really need to check it out.

NoteNote: Don’t confuse this movie with 1986’s Trick or Treat, which blends rock music, deals with the devil, and horror, but which doesn’t deliver the goods nearly as well as Trick ‘r Treat.


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