Ah, September First, the sweetest of days! The two worst months of the year are behind us, and the two best are just beginning. Among autumn’s many pleasures, I count the Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge very highly. Hosted once again by Carl V., proprietor of Stainless Steel Droppings (and a man of admirable taste in literature), R.I.P. V fills me with gleeful anticipation. I’ve been waiting all year for these precious 61 days of horror and hauntings to roll around.
I will be participating in Peril the First: to read (at least) four books in any of the seasonally-appropriate categories (Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, and Supernatural–basically, anything that sets spines a-tingling). In the pool for this year’s Challenge:
Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger
The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
Dracula, Bram Stoker
The Book of Were-Wolves, Sabine Baring-Gould
Fox Evil, Minette Walters
The library delivered Her Fearful Symmetry to me surprisingly quickly, so I’ve already finished it and am writing it up. I have wanted to re-read The Historian since I first read it in 2007, and darn it, this year I’m doing it! In fact, I started reading it today, and already feel myself under its spell. (It’s truly an excellent novel; I hope on second read to be more able to parse out its magic, rather than surrendering to it, but no promises!) I’m not sure I’ve ever actually read Dracula all the way through, and I suspect that the fact that I don’t know is proof that I haven’t. The Baring-Gould is a bit of an unusual inclusion–a folkloric study of werewolves, and a classic in its field. I’ve been wanting to ‘meet’ the real Sabine Baring-Gould since I read Laurie R. King’s The Moor, in which he was a cantankerous pivotal character. And of course, I’m absolutely ready for another turn with Minette Walters, given how thoroughly I enjoyed The Ice House.
I will probably do a bit of the Short Story Peril, although I won’t be focused on it. I have collections by Elizabeth Gaskell, Edgar Allen Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft decked up for when the mood catches me. Yes, still with the Lovecraft. He’s hard to shake, once you start. Not so much in the “I feel a creeping horror tearing at the edges of my sanity” way that I think he hoped for, as an “Oh dear, I wonder how sad, crazy Howard is doing up there in the attic. Best check in on him, see what he’s written lately. Oh, more creeping horror tearing at the edges of your sanity? That’s nice, dear. Do have some tea.” I just worry about the poor mad thing, up there all alone. I fear he’ll do himself an injury.
Most delightfully, there’s a new category this year: Peril on the Screen. There’s nothing I like better, this time of year, than to settle in on a dreary Saturday afternoon and scare myself silly with the thrillers and chillers of the silver screen. I’m thinking of the following:
Shadow of the Vampire
Le Pacte Des Loups
The Haunting (1963 version, of course!)
Let the Right One In
Something Gothic starring Vincent Price
I failed to make it all the way through The Haunting the last time I tried to watch it; that movie is a classic of the “suggest, don’t show” school of horror films, and without splashing so much as a drop of blood on the screen, it got to me. I’ll try to do better this time. And I know I read Let the Right One In for last year’s RIP Challenge, but I haven’t seen the movie in, hmm, almost two years? It’s due for another watching. Les Pacte Des Loups has been on my to-watch list for ages, and I have no good excuse for not doing so earlier. I saw Shadow of the Vampire some years ago and really enjoyed it; it’s also due for a re-watch. And then there’s Vincent, of course; no Halloween season is complete without an appearance by the master. I don’t have anything particular in mind; I’m hoping for one of the early films, something with a decrepit old house and an imperiled ingénue in a filmy peignoir. Surely AMC or TCM will toss up an afternoon of Gothics sometime in the next few months. I’ll just put out a Search & Record on Vincent’s name and see what the DVR drags in.