Check out Fresh Fiction’s review to discover why:
(review by Amber Keller, 22 January 2014)
I really fell in love with the ghost stories of M. R. James while lurking in a sentry box, dressed as a Victorian serial killer (they wore top hats apparently), ready to jump out on unsuspecting tourists with an exclamation of “tickets please!”
Let me explain.
I worked weekends at The London Dungeon to help pay my way through college in the early 90s. To pass the time during each shift i sometimes listened to audiobooks, sneakily hiding my headphones beneath my costume. These were the days of books-on-tape, or cassettes (which, to explain to younger readers, were like mp3 files stretched across two reels of dental tape and listened to via an iPod device the size of a house brick). One of the audiobooks was a collection of M. R. James tales read by Michael Hordern. I had read a couple of James’ classics and knew i was in for a flesh-creeping time – and then i heard “The Ash Tree”. By the gods my heart nearly stopped in my chest at that one and for once it was me who got a fright when the tourists came asking for directions.
I then discovered the telly adaptations of some of James’ tales, presented by the BBC each Christmas. The tradition continued into the new millenium with a series of Christopher Lee-narrated adaptations, which i enjoyed during Christmas hols in the wilds of Ireland. And of course just last month, Mark Gatiss made his directorial debut with his fun, Hammer-esque M. R. James adaptation “The Tractate Middoth”.
But the one that got to me the most was “Whistle…” And to my delight, Father Christmas (or perhaps his pal Krampus) left a copy of the BFI’s double bill dvd “Whistle and I’ll Come to You” under the tree for me this year. The disc includes both the 1968 and 2010 versions, plus extras featuring contemporary master of the macabre, Ramsey Campbell. I’ve seen both versions before of course – and both are beloved to me in different ways. I think one exploits shaky denial in the face of fear and the other channels total, harrowing despair. If you haven’t seen them, do seek them out. But (ahem) a warning to the curious… both are utterly disturbing in the true spirit of James’ original short story “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad” (also included in audio form as a nice bonus on the dvd – now all i need is a draughty sentry box. The garden shed will have to do).
Here’s to the traditional festive ghost story – long may they continue to scratch at our windowpanes, rattle our doors.
And tangle with our bedsheets.
Happy Horrordays y’all!
And it just wouldn’t be that time of the year without the Christopher Lee Christmas Message.
Take it away Sir Christopher of Lee!
Here’s to a stonking 2014.
Pssst! Wanna win some ebooks?
All you have to do is post a photo caption (in the comments below this blog post).
Contest ends Friday the 13th December, so get posting!
(judge’s decision is final, no mince pie-based alternative to the prize can, or will, be offered)
A strange phenomenon has swept the planet. In a plot twist that defies time and space, it is now kind of cool to like Doctor Who. As the world over seems to be going batshit mental in anticipation of the special anniversary episode, i’ll just take a moment to pause and reflect.
It wasn’t always this way you see – as many folks of a certain age will know, being into Who used to be something you kept very much under your wide-brimmed hat.
I am an (unearthly) child of the 70s, so “my” Doctor was Tom Baker. I admire each of them of course, and especially Jon Pertwee who starred in my favourite ever Doctor Who adventure ‘The Daemons’.
I was lucky enough to meet Tom Baker many years later during my London Dungeon days in the mid 90s. He is a giant of a man and he bellowed his ideas for bringing out a live victim for the Theatre of the Guillotine show with that mad, brilliant glint in his eye.
I remember watching, lump in throat, as Baker’s Doctor regenerated into Peter Davison’s incarnation like it was yesterday. A new generation of fans will experience that powerful feeling of optimistic loss soon enough when Matt Smith’s Doctor regenerates into Peter Capaldi’s.
I met Doctor the Fifth, too, many years later at a party and recounted how i’d once seen him at a telly shoot when i was a kid. I remembered being astonished that the Doctor ate sandwiches! “He eats!!!” Mr Davison laughed. Like all the actors portraying the Doctor he came across as a charming and thoroughly likeable man. Those qualities are probably what has kept the character and show going for a staggering 50 years.
Well, that and the rubber monsters.
(See, we Whovians knew they were cool all along)
Happy 50th, Doctor!
There it is then, the first book i ever bought and read on screenwriting. It was written by Syd Field, who has passed away aged 77.
If you told me back then that i’d someday be teaching university classes using some of Field’s theories i’d never have believed you. But then i’d never have believed it possible that i’d be a produced screenwriter either, if not for the inspiration i gained from Syd Field and his book.
Today, i raise a cup of coffee in salute to the man who was such a legend that he even had ‘PLOT PNT’ on the license plate of his car.
Syd, you were one of a kind and you’ll be missed. Here’s to you.
Happy Halloween dear f(r)iends!
Plenty of Tricks and Treats for you here, in Count Frazula’s Halloween Playlist:
(Spotify) Halloween Playlist 1 – Count Frazula
And here’s my favourite of the latest Halloween viral videos (thank goodness the characters in my tales aren’t this sensible! HELL NO!)