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Halloween Countdown, Day 24

Originally uploaded by steve4710
LITERATURE OF THE DAY: Today's story is "The Spirit's Whisper" by the ever-spooky J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873).

Excerpt from "The Spirit's Whisper" by J. Sheridan Le Fanu:
Yes, I have been haunted!—haunted so fearfully that for some little time I thought myself insane. I was no raving maniac; I mixed in society as heretofore, although perhaps a trifle more grave and taciturn than usual; I pursued my daily avocations; I employed myself even on literary work. To all appearance I was one of the sanest of the sane; and yet all the while I considered myself the victim of such strange delusions that, in my own mind, I fancied my senses—and one sense in particular—so far erratic and beyond my own control that I was, in real truth, a madman. How far I was then insane it must be for others, who hear my story, to decide.

Read the complete story.

Next, here's a classic scene with Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera for your Friday:

LINKS OF THE DAY: Today I'd like to recommend some Halloween-appropriate music that's available for free listening online. I hope you enjoy it!

* One of my favorite groups to listen to during the Halloween season is Nox Arcana. Whether you want music inspired by the Grimm Brothers, Edgar Allan Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft, or music inspired by pirates, vampires, and haunted houses, their albums are a perfect backdrop to October. You can listen to many of their songs at their website.

* Celebrating its 10th year on the air, "Out ov the Coffin" is a specialty radio program hosted by D.J. Ichabod. What was born as a means of spreading dark and esoteric music to the Nashville area is now available to the whole world over the web, both as a live stream and an archived show. Last year's special Halloween show included "guest cameos" from Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Bela Lugosi! This radio program is great fun, and it's brought to you by WRVU, broadcasting from my alma mater, Vanderbilt University. Go 'Dores!



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 26th, 2008 12:08 am (UTC)
I just can't read Le Fanu, his prose is more convoluted than Poe's!
Oct. 26th, 2008 01:13 pm (UTC)
Oh no! Not even "Carmilla"? I love "Carmilla." Maybe, like Poe, he's even better heard than read; perhaps you'd like him more in audiobook form?
Oct. 26th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
I read that as a teenager and I was surprised at how obvious the lesbian themes were for the time, but other than that I thought it was overlong and boring.

Maybe I should try audiobooks, you certainly provide plenty of audiolinks to get me started.
Oct. 26th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
I wonder how many theatergoers fainted or had unseemly accidents during the unmasking scene when Phantom first hit the screens?

Kewl, the Devil's Grandmother! I remember seeing another picture from this TV show(?) in an old Famous Monsters of Filmland compilation!

Oct. 26th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
How the unmasking scene was filmed, from Mary Philbin's IMDB entry:
"On the Phantom set Mary seldom worked with Chaney alone, most of the time it was under [director Rupert] Julian's supervision - but due to Chaney and his arguments - Chaney would direct his own scenes including several scenes with Mary. Her big test with Chaney came for the climactic unmasking scene - there was a shot of Mary on the floor (Chaney not in view) screaming after her character "Christine" unmasks the Phantom and is supposed to cry. Julian had gone through several takes of the scene with Mary; although this was not to Mary's fault - as Mary could cry at will and did not need the use of glycerin or onions (which was used for making "cold crying" in films at that time, or causing one to cry on cue), but all takes failed to satisfy Julian. This angered the cast and crew and Julian called it a day and they shut down early. But Lon Chaney remained behind and asked Mary and the crew to stay and reshoot the scene themselves. Given Chaney's clout, they all agreed. Mary set herself up for the scene - with Charles van Enger rolling the film (ordered not to stop no matter what happens or get involved - by Chaney) and Chaney just off-camera preparing for the scene. What Mary did not expect was Lon Chaney turning on her and the barrage of insults he launched at her. Mary was deeply hurt, but too proud to cry and was on the verge of leaving to report him to Carl Laemmle. Then Chaney rose his hand to strike her and Mary fell back screaming, remembering "the wild rage in his eyes", her hand to her face and then the tears flowed. Once it was caught on film - Chaney stopped and then began to comfort Mary and told her what he was really up to and he really meant none of those terrible things. It was then that Mary respected Chaney and grew to even adore him as much as she did Erich Von Stroheim, so much so, Chaney would always be on the set when Julian was directing Mary in future scenes, even if he was not in it."

Oct. 27th, 2008 12:38 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely fascinating! I hadn't read that before. Thank you so much for the story and the link. It makes me appreciate the scene all the more.
Oct. 27th, 2008 12:38 pm (UTC)
Yikes! Separated at birth, eh?
Oct. 27th, 2008 01:24 pm (UTC)
I think the Devil's Grandmother (as related by Turgenev in Bubnoff and the Devil, the Devil has a grandmother but no mother) was a test makeup done during the Golden Age of television.

The FMoF book was old and falling apart back in the sixties when we inherited it from our cousin. It also had Forrest J. Ackerman's 10 scariest film moments. I recall Gwymplaine's death in the Iron Maiden was one, blood running under a door in The Cat People was another. Dame Edith Evans opening her eyes in the coffin in The Ace of Spades. Something from Dead of Night (a 1940s anthology picture).
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )