Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
Another summer done gone. Segue to fair season — county fairs, state fairs, and, in Vermont, a world’s fair — conjuring up visions of junk food, sleazy barkers, and adolescent passion amid the pigs and pumpkins. Then October arrives. The nights are longer, darker and more mysterious. The frost is on the pumpkins and death is in the air as we creep toward Hallowe’en, the night the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead disappears and the dead roam freely among us (at least that’s what those wild and crazy Celts believed). It’s a time of things passing strange, things that go bump in the Vermont night, things that make us afraid, very afraid. Why? Maybe it’s that idea of spring as a beginning, winter as the end, with autumn therefore hastening us to our grave. Maybe it’s just all that darkness. It’s not that dread exactly descends upon us this time of year. We seek it out, hoping to be scared. We even pay to be scared, visiting haunted places, reading scary books, and watching scary movies.
We’ll pick up a good frightening book to take to bed, reading while trying to ignore the sound of twigs snapping just outside our window and strange animal noises that seem awfully close. Here’s a very short list of chilling classics: Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Shining by Steven King, The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells, Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and practically any short story by Edgar Allen Poe.
I’m sure there are many I’ve forgotten, overlooked or don’t know about. Please tell me about some of your favorites, and I’ll add them to the list.
Of course, we also need to spend a few nights with some popcorn and a good hair-raising movie. All of the above books have been made into or inspired movies — Dracula some 200 of them.
For last year’s movies, we took in two classics from the 30s, Frankenstein (it’s alive, it’s alive) and the creepy, unsettling Freaks. We also did Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Psycho, and Night of the Hunter — good chills all around. We need a list for this year so help us out with your spookiest. We prefer to have our shivers served without a lot of gratuitous gore and graphic violence. We avoid any movie that ends with . . .of the Dead, for this will surely feature cannibalistic zombies with decomposing bodies, and I will be up on my soapbox shouting: “Real zombies don’t eat people.” And we’re not partial to chainsaws.
Your suggestions please.