Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween Special! Sheffield Gothic Recommends

Hellish Halloween and spoooOOOooOOooky salutations, Gothic aficionados! We here at Sheffield Gothic generally celebrate this day all year round, as all good Goth kids should, but today - for your reading pleasure - some of us here have put together a list of some potential spooky reads and treats, some films and frights.

Here are Sheffield Gothic's redrum recommendations for the most wonderful time of the year:




First up, we have a soul-piercing piece on Kostova's The Historian from our long-distance Goth - Ellen Bulford Welch

The Historian

When Bram Stoker wrote Dracula he unleashed a phenomenon that would be a ubiquitous part of popular culture for years to come. Generations have been alternately terrified and seduced by the pointy-eared Nosferatu, the delightfully OTT hammer horror performances of Christopher Lee and the characters of Charlaine Harris’s True Blood series. In the last few years, the vampire has also undergone a somewhat saccharine conversion, manifesting (to the delight of teenage girls the world over) in the form of a tortured immortal teenager with a penchant for soulful piano playing and sparkling in the sunlight. In Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel The Historian, however, we return to a world in which vampire law is refreshingly sinister and creepy. The novel centres around Paul, a studious historian, who discovers a mysterious Dracula-themed notebook left on his library desk. To his amazement he learns that his academic mentor, Professor Rossi, came into possession of a similar document twenty years earlier. Soon after this conversation, Rossi is violently abducted, prompting Paul and the Professor’s enigmatic, vampire-obsessed daughter Helen to embark on a thrilling world-wide rescue mission. The most compelling element of the novel is the way in which Kostova skilfully turns the most disappointing aspect of Stoker’s seminal work into a narrative tour de force. Whilst the first two thirds of Dracula are filled with iconic, hauntingly atmospheric scenes, the final pursuit of the un-dead aristocrat across Eastern Europe leaves the reader with the deeply unsatisfactory feeling of anti-climax. In The Historian, however, Kostova skilfully handles Paul and Helen’s journey across the globe to allow for action and painstaking historical excavation in equal measure. Dracula, for example, is traced back to his non-fictional counterpart Vlad Tepes (commonly known as Vlad the Impaler), allowing for fascinating insights into his bloody origins in the Ottoman Empire. Well worth a read this Halloween!

Ellen 'Hellish' Bulford Welch



Next, we present a couple of creepy 'commendations from Carly Stevenson:

-'This living hand now warm and capable' by John Keats, who was born on Halloween (1795). This poetic fragment is the perfect Halloween read, as it conjures a creepy-crawly, deathly hand that will 'haunt thy dreaming nights' thereafter.

-The Witch dir. Robert Eggers. One of the best horror films of 2016, in my opinion. Get your coven together and marvel at this exquisite piece of cinema. You'll never look at ravens in the same light again.

-John Carpenter's Halloween because TRADITION.

Carly 'possibly insert Robert Louis here?' Stevenson



Next, we have a series of spooky selections from Lauren Nixon:

Over The Garden Wall: I've waxed lyrical here on the blog before about Patrick McHale's excellent 2014 mini series, Over the Garden Wall, but if you haven't watched it yet then Halloween is the ideal time to do so for multiple reasons that I won't ruin for you. Just trust me, and take the trip into The Unknown.

Adventure Time, 'The Creeps': Okay, yes. Another cartoon. We all know I'm an easy scare, but honestly this episode of Adventure Time is perfect Halloween viewing even if you've never watched before. Finn, Jake and friends are invited by an unknown host to a strange mansion for a murder mystery party and things begin to get very strange.

Emily Carroll: Canadian comic creator Carroll is particularly known for excellently creepy and atmospheric webcomic 'His Face All Red' and her anthology collection 'Through the Woods'. Carroll also has a number of her horror comics for your immediate consumption on her website http://www.emcarroll.com

Lauren 'Nightmarish' Nixon



Finally, an alarming assortment from Daniel Southward:

-Jeremy Dyson's The Haunted Book. an incredible find for me that, was wonderfully mind-bending. While the text first presents as just an anthology of ghost, witch and other supernatural stories, we are thrown layer by layer into increasingly archaic texts all before an ending that has repercussions for the reader that will leave you tingling for days afterwards. It's a damn good read from a damn good writer and one that reaches out of the text to drag you kicking and screaming into a terrible realisation that you, dear reader, may be the haunted one. 

-Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. A webseries that starts as a slightly irregular pastiche of standard children's puppet-based learning shows, DHMIS takes a gradually darker and darker streak, but the song on it are ruddy catchy. It's an interesting series of six episodes that starts (relatively) innocent, but by the end has mind boggling implications. Worth a watch, though be warned of gore and mice made out of raw meat. If you've already seen it, then all I can say is: What's your favourite idea?

-SCP. So, this is kind of hard to describe. While Creepypasta gets a lot of attention for being an open-access internet scary story platform, though it falls under some severe criticism because of this (poor writing, for the most part. the SCP society is something similar, if slightly legitimised by the consistency of their reports and lack of first person narrative. It's a series of short files about a secret society that secure, contain, or protect the public from, certain supernatural objects. These objects and entities range from the benign to the horrific - from an amazing butter-like substance, to an autonomous sentient mass of blood, flesh and organs with a large yellow eye. There's a Youtube channel called SCPReadings, which goes through some of them and they're well worth a listen if you want to be mildly freaked out.

Danny '2016 is scary enough' Southward.



So that's all folks! Check out our recommendations and let us know what you thought. Feel free to contact us on the usual channels - tune in to our terrifying twitter, find us on our flesh-less facebook, or send us an enigmatic email at gothicreadinggroup@gmail.com

(normal emails preferred to enigmatic ones).

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