Audio Review: Ghostly Terror! and Vampire Horror!

(AudioGo, �13.25 each)

AS the cold winter evenings draw in, there’s nothing better than curling up in front of a blazing fire with a nice glass of wine, the wind howling outside, and a spine-tingling ghost story on the stereo… Fortunately these two collections are packed with a chilling variety of narratives, ensuring there’s something for everyone from a wealth of the genre’s greatest talents.

Ghostly Terror! collects three nerve-shredding short stories from the golden age of the ghost story, each read by experienced actors including Andrew Sachs, Laurel Lefrow and Steven Pacey. It includes Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook by MR James, The Beast With Five Fingers by WF Harvey, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

These are tales where the atmosphere and sense of mounting dread far outweigh any cheap shocks, and the listener is rewarded by establishing the right sort of environment for enjoying these stories with plenty of shivers up the spine. Forget your modern ghost films like Paranormal Activity or Insidious – if you’re looking for scares then go no further than these classics.

If you’re still in search of chills, there are plenty of bloodsucking buttock-clenchers on Vampire Horror! Featuring The Vampyre by John Polidori, MR James’ Wailing Well and An Episode of Cathedral History, and For the Blood Is The Life by F Marion Crawford, the readers are Bill Wallis, Anthony Head, John Telfer and Cornelius Garrett.

Polidori’s Lord Ruthven, lead character in The Vampyre (1819), pre-dated Dracula by almost eighty years, but its protagonist never gained the popularity of the latter character. It’s obviously an important influence on Stoker’s novel, and one of the first modern portrayals of the vampire as seductive nobleman.

The remaining tales offer different takes on the vampire myth, generally involving the resurrection of ancient evil, and succeed in blending strong narration with a subtle musical background to enhance the impact of the stories themselves.

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A neat collection of classic genre fiction, ideal for Halloween.

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