Three Classic Creepy Stories

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Telltale Heart,” were two of my favorites scary stories as a child. I believe there was an animated version of the former that came on at Halloween time, possibly the Disney version of it. I heard “The Telltale Heart” for the first time in grade five on a narrated lp that our teacher made available. A bit much for most fifth graders perhaps–I know it scared the pants off of me, but I was into that. Come to think of it that teacher was a bit creepy, e.g. he would hide in the closet of the classroom to catch kids who came back in there at recess, which was apparently a huge offence in his book.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, I found these gems on YouTube:

A third tale that I remember was about a man (a lord or count of some kind I think) who brutally traps and burns a whole village of people, but not before an old woman places a curse on him, which leads to him being hunted and devoured by a swarm of rats. I couldn’t trace this particular story, but instead found another supremely creepy H.P. Lovecraft story with a rat theme that I may have read during my Lovecraft phase. You just can’t compete with the guy for creepiness! Read it here: “The Rats in the Walls” full text by H.P. Lovecraft. I also found a condensed version of the story with illustration and narration. I love that the very talented visual interpreter of this tale is offering it free online (you can donate if you really like it): The Rats in the Walls.

Who Loves Supernatural Horror?

IncubusCharlesWalker1870Image by Charles Walker, in public domain. See Wikimedia Commons.

I do–I love supernatural horror! Granted, it’s hard to find stellar films and T.V. shows in this horror category, but there are still some greats that stand out for me, such as the fairly recent foreign films “Let the Right One In” (I have yet to see the remake) and “The Orphanage.” As for T.V. I enjoyed “Hemlock Grove,” a Netflix original, and I have grown to like “Grimm,” although I prefer less CGI and more costume/makeup, or better yet, leave-it-to-the-imagination type effects. I think “American Horror Story” is brilliant, although I couldn’t finish watching this past season, because although I can stomach all manner of demons, monsters, aliens, etc., serial killer stories give me a serious case of psychic indigestion. So sadly, I had to give up watching. But I loved the first season, and am looking forward to the witch-themed new season about to start.

I suppose my love of supernatural horror began as a child: I loved borrowing books at the library about vampires and other spooks, and read collections of ghost and macabre stories all summer long, when I could stay up late and take pleasure in scaring myself. Later I read a lot of Stephen King–my favorites of his were Misery and Pet Cemetery. It’s been a while since I’ve read straight out horror fiction, however, so I can’t comment on what’s out there now. If anyone has suggestions, I’d appreciate hearing them.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a little tribute poem, seeing as it is October and all, and proclaim Supernatural Horror as our October theme.

I got the idea for this piece from The Writer’s Portable Mentor, by Priscilla Long which has a chapter on form that assigns an “abecedarium” in which you use the alphabet to develop a themed list. I went beyond that to compose a piece in verse that contains a list of some common but evocative elements from the supernatural horror genre. This extra constraint made the exercise harder, of course,  but  it was a lot of fun to compose, and a great brain teaser.

It would be even more fun to annotate the composition with references, e.g. the use of “hounds of hell” in the T.V. show “Supernatural,” killing by fire in the novel (and film) “Carrie,” the La Llorona story used for an episode of “Grimm.” What’s your favorite (or least favorite) possessed puppet or doll story? Recognize any of your favorite tropes, themes, motifs?

On a technical note, you’ll notice I had to go back to “A” and “B” at the end to complete the last verse, but I think it worked out well. I started with just a plain old ABC list, brainstorming elements off the top of my head, but a lot of those changed as I went along.

Here you go: 

October Ode to the Odious: An Abecedarium of Supernatural Horror

© Lisa E. Coté

Apparitions, fleeting, formless,
Barrows with a secret tomb;
Cryptic signs, perplexing warnings,
Disembodied demons loom.

Elementals raised by magic,
Fear, foreboding, hounds of hell;
Gothic castles, grisly golems,
Hands of glory light the spell.

Incubuses, sordid nightmares,
Jilted lovers’ ghosts prevail;
Killings, both by fire and water,
La Llorona’s guilty wail.

Missing memories, hapless monsters,
Necromancers raise the dead;
Ouija luring naïve seekers,
Puppets pulling strings of dread.

Queerly quiet forest clearings,
Reckless hero’s hopeless quest;
Secret sects with sacrifices,
Tortured souls who cannot rest.

Unseen forces, unctuous odors,
Vampires, voodoo, vanity
Wendigo with raging hunger
Xenophobe insanity.

Yeti stalking frozen wastelands,
Zero hour in zombie zoo;
Apocalypse foretold by seers:
Beelzebub is after you!