Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Despite enjoying horror fiction in all its forms, I'm not really a big fan of Halloween.  We don't get trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood, so there's not much to set it apart from any other autumn night.  But I did spend some time trying to find seasonally-appropriate viewing and reading, without much success. 

After looking in vain for a decent horror movie in my DVD collection, I wound up watching the Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror X," not one of the better Treehouse of Horror installments but the only one I hadn't already seen ad nauseam over the years.  Then I reread a few stories from Reggie Oliver's massive collection Dramas from the Depths.  Oliver is one of my favorite modern writers of strange and ghostly fiction, and I'd been looking forward to rereadinf Dramas from the Depths virtually since I finished the first time, in June of this year

The stories I read Sunday night were "The Evil Eye," "Tiger in the Snow," "The Seventeenth Sister," "The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini," and "The Time of Blood," all of which are excellent.  "Tiger in the Snow," a ghost story that turns a slyly satirical eye toward modern art, is a particular favorite of mine, and I admire "The Time of Blood" even more.  Like M. R. James, Oliver has a knack for pastiche, and he uses it to great effect in this story, about the strange visions that afflicted an eighteenth-century French nun and the modern scholar who uncovers the cache of documents that reveals her history.

After finishing "The Time of Blood" I remembered that there was one Halloween-themed DVD I could stand to watch: the 1977 Dr. Seuss special Halloween is Grinch Night.  Even though it won the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, the special isn't particularly good, and it definitely isn't scary, but I have a nostalgic fondness for it all the same, particularly the opening musical number, "I Wouldn't Go Out on a Night Like This."

By then, damp squib that I am, I was ready for bed.  As I got ready to go to sleep I reread one last Reggie Oliver story, "Music by Moonlight."  And that was my Halloween.

(Then on November 1st I bought some marked-down candy and have been trying unsuccessfully not to shovel it in like a spoiled child.  Butterfinger bars and Starburst are my Kryptonite.)

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