I’ve often questioned why the works of Edgar Allan Poe are so creepy. Was he a strange recluse with a secret dark side that found its way onto the pages of his writings? Probably not. The answer is that I really didn’t know much about him at all. Sure I knew that he was the author of “The Raven” and that he had written other gothic fiction. But what were the reasons behind his taste for the macabre? I decided to investigate and maybe read some of his works again.
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;”
~ From “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
Sounds cool, huh? Edgar Allan Poe wrote tales, poems, and other works of fiction for various genres that included satires, humor and comedy. It wasn’t all just horror. Although he seemed to excel at telling stories of horror and mystery. Some of his most famous works are considered part of the dark romanticism genre. I found a website called Complete Collections of Poems by Edgar Allan Poe where you can read poems like The Raven for free. Many people at the time had interests in reading about mystery, macabre and the supernatural and Poe obliged by writing for the masses. Of course he must have reflected his own interests since he wrote so well and his works were so well received.
Any fan of Poe will want to read his most famous tales like “The Mask of the Red Death”, “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”. Many of these stories have been made into classic horror films starring the legendary actor Vincent Price. “The Light-House” is the unofficial title of Poe’s last literary work. Actually he died shortly after he began it. But it sure sounds like it could have been an awesome story! It begins with diary entries written by a lighthouse watchman. Only four entries were written by Poe. Well, actually only three entries exist from Jan 1-3. Jan 4th was written but there is no text for that entry. Although Poe never finished the work, he laid the foundation for a story theme that involved loneliness, isolation, and fear.
I think it’s safe to say Poe had some issues. Maybe some dark ones. But there was nothing I found that directly pointed to why he was so good at writing spooky stuff. I think I’m OK with that though. It won’t prevent me from just enjoying the literary works he gave us.
Haven’t read much of Poe’s works? Try reading some of his poems or one of his famous tales. I think I’ll reacquaint myself with the works of Poe. Lucky for me Halloween is the perfect season for reading.
Since I have such a long and mind-numbing drive to work I decided to listen to podcasts again. You might have guessed I’ve been researching the ones that are creepy or themed around Halloween. Well I found one that I’d consider a cut above the rest. I highly recommend you give a listen to the Lore Podcast written and narrated by Aaron Mahnke. Each episode is a true life scary story. That’s what makes them so creepy! Mahnke does a ton of research then crafts each story into an incredible tale. He has a way of telling stories that just draws you in as a listener and then holds your attention. It’s really pretty remarkable. When I listen to it, I feel like I’m listening to a spooky campfire story. Continue reading
When I was a child on lazy afternoons in early autumn my mom would sometimes play for us a special Halloween record. (You know…on a record player long before CD’s, iPods and Spotify existed). The record had two stories, the story of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The best part of the experience was listening to the soothing voice of Boris Karloff as he narrated these tales. I hope his name rings a bell. It should because he is the iconic actor who played Frankenstein’s monster in the Universal classic monster movies. And did you know he is also the narrator in the Christmas classic “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”? Well he is. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find out he had participated in a few more horror audio recordings, but I was. While listening to my Halloween playlist on Spotify, I came across a wonderful collection of horror stories narrated by Boris Karloff called Tales of the Frightened. I gave it a listen to on a very similar lazy weekend and was immediately reminded of those childhood afternoons listening to him tell spooky stories on the record player.
Apparently this started out as a radio program which were recorded and later put on an album for sale. The stories, written by Michael Avallone are short but fiendishly fun. Boris uses his ghoulishly good charm to set an eerie mood throughout the album. The stories are filled with fun subjects such as fortune tellers, vampires, ghosts, and hauntings. Boris begins each story with the catch phrase, “Are you…one of the frightened?”, and then proceeds to tell a wonderfully creepy story. If your a fan of ghost stories, then give it a listen to…if you dare!
Dolls are supposed to be soft, cute and cuddleable. Most are, but there are some dolls you might want to stay away from, especially if they are haunted! Apparently haunted dolls are not just fictional props used in movies to scare audiences. No, these little toys of terror have a sinister history and some are still around today. How can a doll become possessed you ask? And how much harm can they really do? I dug up some history on some of the more famous haunted dolls. You won’t believe what I found! Continue reading
What makes a group fire the perfect setting for ghost stories? It may be Halloween (or any fall holiday party for that matter) where guests gather around the fireplace. Everyone gets cozy and warm and waits for the storyteller to spin tales of fear and terror. If it’s summertime, the beach bonfire or campground fire pit is where these stories begin. The warmth from the fire is what causes people to gather, but time after time the setting will evoke someone to start bringing up stories of ghouls and ghosts. I think in general people are fascinated by tales of mystery. This probably goes all the way back to the days of the cavemen. They probably tried in those early days to tell stories around the fire. (That’s assuming they all understood what was being grunted of course.) During the middle ages, elders gathered their families by firesides and told tales of heroism and magic, capturing the imaginations of everyone who listened. If we take a look at holidays of the Victorian era, its easy to see how telling ghost stories around the fireplace was an important tradition. This is even reflected in the classic Christmas song “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”. The lyrics are “There’ll be scary ghost stories, and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”. It almost always happened at the Christmas Eve celebration. People would gather and try to outdo each other with the scariest tale. Charles Dickens tale “A Christmas Carol” is now probably the most famous of those wintertime ghost stories. Fortunately the summertime fireside ghost story time is alive and doing well. But unfortunately it seems the tradition of Christmas ghost story telling by the fireside has dwindled during the last century. Maybe because not everyone has fireplaces in their homes anymore. Or maybe everyone is too wrapped up in the stress of gift giving. I think this Christmas Eve I will try to bring the tradition back. After all what better way to enjoy chestnuts roasting by the open fire.