Presenting 13 Authors in Honor of Halloween!
1. Edgar Allan Poe
|born January 19, 1809
From: The Tell-Tale Heart
I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant.
2. Washington Irving
|born April 3, 1783
The dominant spirit that haunts this enchanted region is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannonball in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever seen by the countryfolk, hurrying along in the gloom of the night as if on the wings of the wind.
3. Daphne Du Maurier
|born May 13, 1907
From: The Birds
He took the blanket from his head and stared about him. The cold gray morning light exposed the room. Dawn and the open window had called the living birds; the dead lay on the floor. Nat gazed at the little corpses, shocked and horrified. They were all small birds, none of any size; there must have been fifty of them lying there upon the floor. There were robins, finches, sparrows, blue tits, larks, and bramblings, birds that by nature’s law kept to their own flock and their own territory, and now, joining one with another in their urge for battle, had destroyed themselves against the bedroom walls or in the strife had been destroyed by him. Some had lost feathers in the fight; others had blood, his blood, upon their beaks.
4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
|born May 22, 1859
The whole aspect of this monster was formidable and threatening, and it kept changing its colour from a very light mauve to a dark, angry purple so thick that it cast a shadow as it drifted between my monoplane and the sun. On the upper curve of its huge body there were three great projections which I can only describe as enormous bubbles, and I was convinced as I looked at them that they were charged with some extremely light gas which served to buoy up the misshapen and semi-solid mass in the rarefied air. The creature moved swiftly along, keeping pace easily with the monoplane, and for twenty miles or more it formed my horrible escort, hovering over me like a bird of prey which is waiting to pounce.
5. Nathaniel Hawthorne
|born July 4, 1804
From: The Ghost of Dr. Harris
The next day, as I ascended the steps of the Athenaeum, I remember thinking within myself: ?Well, I never shall see old Doctor Harris again!? With this thought in my mind, as I opened the door of the reading-room, I glanced towards the spot and chair where Doctor Harris usually sat, and there, to my astonishment, sat the grey, infirm figure of the deceased Doctor, reading the newspaper as was his wont! His own death must have been recorded, that very morning, in that very newspaper! I have no recollection of being greatly discomposed at the moment, or indeed that I felt any extraordinary emotion whatever. Probably, if ghosts were in the habit of coming among us, they would coincide with the ordinary train of affairs, and melt into them so familiarly that we should not be shocked at their presence.
6. J.K. Rowling
|born July 31, 1965
The Harry Potter series
From: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets page 131
By the time Halloween arrived, Harry was regretting his rash promise to go to the deathday party. The rest of the school was happily anticipating their Halloween feast; the Great Hall had been decorated with the usual live bats, Hagrid’s vast pumpkins had been carved into lanterns large enough for three men to sit in, and there were rumors that Dumbledore had booked a troupe of dancing skeletons for the entertainment.
7. M. Night Shyamalan
|born August 6, 1970
From the film The Sixth Sense:
COLE: I see dead people… Some of them scare me.
MALCOLM: In your dreams?
Cole shakes his head, “No.”
MALCOLM: When you’re awake?
Cole nods, “Yes.”
MALCOLM: Dead people, like in graves and coffins?
COLE: No, walking around, like regular people… They can’t see each other. Some of them don’t know they’re dead.
8. H.P. Lovecraft
|born August 20, 1890
From: The Call of Cthulhu
The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way down toward the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher’s elevated knees.
The cries were shocking; and as I stood in the brilliant apartment alone and dazed, listening to their vanishing echoes, I trembled at the thought of what might be lurking near me unseen. At a casual inspection the room seemed deserted, but when I moved towards one of the alcoves I thought I detected a presence there – a hint of motion beyond the golden-arched doorway leading to another and somewhat similar room. As I approached the arch I began to perceive the presence more clearly; and then, with the first and last sound I ever uttered – a ghastly ululation that revolted me almost as poignantly as its noxious cause – I beheld in full, frightful vividness the inconceivable, indescribable, and unmentionable monstrosity which had by its simple appearance changed a merry company to a herd of delirious fugitives.
Read the Wikipedia article about The Outsider.
More about H.P. Lovecraft short stories here
9. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
|born August 30, 1797
From Frankenstein (Chapter 4, 1818 edition):
It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.
10. Stephen King
|born September 21, 1947
From: The Shining
The woman in the tub had been dead for a long time. She was bloated and purple, her gas-filled belly rising out of the cold, ice-rimmed water like some fleshy island. Her eyes were fixed on Danny’s, glassy and huge, like marbles. She was grinning, her purple lips pulled back in a grimace. Her breasts lolled. Her pubic hair floated. Her hands were frozen on the knurled porcelain sides of the tub like crab claws.
Danny shrieked. But the sound never escaped his lips; turning inward and inward, it fell down in his darkness like a stone in a well. He took a single blundering step backward, hearing his heels clack on the white hexagonal tiles, and at the same moment his urine broke, spilling effortlessly out of him.
The woman was sitting up.
11. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
|Abbott born October 2, 1895; Costello born March 6, 1906|
12. Anne Rice
|born October 4, 1941
From: Interview With the Vampire (Vampire Chronicles series)
“No,” said the vampire abruptly. “We can’t begin that way. Is your equipment ready?”
“Yes,” said the boy.
“Then sit down. I’m going to turn on the overhead light.”
“But I thought vampires didn’t like the light,” said the boy. “If you think the dark adds atmosphere–” But then he stopped. The vampire was watching him with his back to the window. The boy could make out nothing of his face now, and something about the still figure there distracted him. He started to say something again but he said nothing. And then he sighed with relief when the vampire moved towards the table and reached for the overhead cord.
At once the room was flooded with a harsh yellow light. And the boy, staring up at the vampire, could not repress a gasp. His fingers danced backwards on the table to grasp the edge. “Dear God!” he whispered, and then he gazed, speechless, at the vampire.
The vampire was utterly white and smooth, as if he were sculpted from bleached bone, and his face was as seemingly inanimate as a statue, except for two brilliant green eyes that looked down at the boy intently like flames in a skull. But then the vampire smiled almost wistfully, and the smooth white substance of his face moved with the infinitely flexible but minimal lines of a cartoon. “Do you see?” he asked softly?
Read more about the Vampire Chronicles here.
13. Marcello G. Caputo
|born October 30, 1974
From Universal Monsters:
From its founding in 1912 by German immigrant Carl Laemmle (1867 to 1939), Universal almost immediately specialized in horror, debuting in 1925 a film adaptation of the novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera (directed by Rupert Julian), where the frightening character of Erik, a brilliant but deformed musician who lives hidden in the cellars of the Paris Opera, was played by Lon Chaney. The film is rightly still considered one of the best interpretations of the novel, thanks to the fidelity with which the writers Elliot J. Clawson and Raymond L. Schrock followed the story as written, and to the extraordinary ability of the director to create a mysterious and dark universe with a striking gothic atmosphere in which horror mixes easily with romance.
Opening in theaters September 6, 1925, and costing just under a half-million dollars to make, The Phantom of the Opera is silent but extraordinarily rich in atmosphere and pathos. It represents the beginning of a long and legendary history that led to this great American production house becoming the very icon of horror cinema.
Lon Chaney’s monster finds inspiration in Murnau’s Nosferatu (he sleeps in a coffin), but he goes beyond that, representing on the big screen the idea of a man rejected by society who goes mad and decides to exile himself in the basement of a theater, a better place than the prisons and torture chambers where he spent most of his life. His obsession with Christine reflects an unconscious wish to nevertheless regain a little joy from life, something that has been taken away from him in a world where he has been marginalized.
Chaney’s performance hinges almost entirely on body language. More telling than his disfigured and partially covered face, in fact, are gestures that externalize his discomfort, as when he indicates with his hands the place where he sleeps, using a languid movement that transmits great sadness and melancholy.