Things That Go Bump In The Night by Gerri Brousseau

Each season seems to bring with it certain classic tales.  Christmas brings us “A Christmas Carole,” by Charles Dickens, and when I think about Halloween and of some of the favorite stories I enjoyed at that particular time of year, I can’t help but recall “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow,” written by Washington Irving.

According to Wikipedia, the story is set circa 1790 in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town (based on Tarrytown, New York) a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow.  It tells the story of Ichabod Crane, a lean, lanky, and extremely superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut, who competes with Abraham “Brom Bones”  Van Brunt, the town rowdy, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer, Baltus Van Tassel.  As Crane leaves a party he attended at the Van Tassel home on an autumn night, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, who is supposedly the ghost of a Hessian trooper who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during “some nameless battle” of the American Revolutionary War, and who “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head”.  Ichabod mysteriously disappears from town, leaving Katrina to marry Brom Bones, who was “to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related”. Although the nature of the Headless Horseman is left open to interpretation, the story implies that the Horseman was really Brom Bones in disguise.  Alas, poor Ichabod, meeting his fate over the love of a woman.

I’m certain when one thinks of tales of the macabre, however, we cannot go without mention of Edgar Allen Poe.

Wikipedia tells us Edgar Allan Poe (born Edgar Poe, January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre.  He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.  He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.

When I was in college, fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your mindset, I had to take one semester of Poe.  One of my favorite stories of his is “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a short story by Poe first published in 1843.  It follows an unnamed narrator who insists on his sanity after murdering an old man with a “vulture eye”.  The murder is carefully calculated, and the murderer hides the body by dismembering it and hiding it under the floorboards.  Ultimately the narrator’s guilt manifests itself in the hallucination that the man’s heart is still beating under the floorboards.

This brings me to the master of suspense and the psychological thriller, Sir Alfred
Hitchcock.  Who would ever forget that shower scene in “Psycho”?  I understand Janet Leigh was never able to take a shower again after that, but only bathed.   I read “Psycho initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted a re-review which was overwhelmingly positive and led to four Academy Award nominations. “Psychois now considered one of Hitchcock’s best films and is highly praised as a work of cinematic art by international critics.

In this season of ghosts and witches, what is your favorite tale of the macabre?  Dare to speak the name …. Dare to share …. but beware of things that go bump in the night.

About Susan Hanniford Crowley

Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Author
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10 Responses to Things That Go Bump In The Night by Gerri Brousseau

  1. Susannah Hardy says:

    Gerri, you’ve listed three of my favorite stories/movies (although I will say that Washington Irving, who also gave us the legend of Rip Van Winkle, is a tough read nowadays. Poe is more readable IMHO) What do all three of these works have in common? The terror the characters feel does not come from the external circumstances each is facing — the terror is deeply psychological, and the reader/viewer experiences it along with the character. This is far, far more frightening, and something fiction writers need to keep in mind. Great post!

  2. Gerri Brousseau says:

    Hi Susannah,
    Thanks! Yes, one wonders about the darkness in the minds of some authors. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Jamie Pope says:

    I love Poe. My favorite is THE BLACK CAT. I started writing partly because of him. When I was in highschool we had to write a story in the style of an author we had studied that semester. I picked him and realized how much I enjoyed writing.

  4. Gerri Brousseau says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Thank you so much for visiting Nights of Passion and even more for commenting. Yes, Poe was quite an interesting guy. I think his writing appeals to the dark side in each of us. I bet he would be delighted if he knew he inspired you to write. You probably were not the first, and, I venture to guess, probably won’t be the last to be inspired by him. Thanks again for commenting.

  5. Gerri, I second all three choices. I spent my childhood within spitting distance of the real Sleepy Hollow, went through a serious Edgar Allan Poe phase when I was nine or ten and Psycho, well, that’s a classic. I love how some viewers insist they see red in the shower scene when the film is entirely in black and white – that’s some powerful imagery.

    For pure psychological horror (and more in my blog on Monday on that) – Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews still gives me the creeps.

  6. Gerri Brousseau says:

    Hi Anna,
    Thanks for visiting me at NOP and especially for commenting. I agree with you, that scene in Psycho was something powerful. Sometimes I wonder why we read things (or watch movies) that we know will give us the creeps. Now whose Psycho????? ha ha ha ha …. or perhaps I should say … bwahahahaha.

  7. Katy Lee says:

    I was just thinking about the shower scene from Psycho this morning! How that movie must have blown minds. 🙂

    • Gerri Brousseau says:

      Thanks for commenting, Katy. I must share something with you and my readers, something that really did happen to me. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, I lived in a far away land called California. I was engaged to a man who happened to work about 10 minutes from my apartment. One fine morning he decided to suprirse me before I left for work, so he drove over. Having his own key, he let himself in. Upon entering the apartment, he heard the shower running and knew he was going to frighten me, but that didn’t stop him. Yes, I was in the shower, washing my hair when he tapped on the shower door. I let out a scream, but once realizing it was my boyfriend … we both laughed. I must tell you, for one moment that scene from Psycho flashed through my mind. Thanks for visiting me at Nights of Passion and especially for your comment.

  8. gailingis says:

    Like Katy said, the movie shower scene “Psycho” was horrible. To add to the misery I felt seeing that movie, I dislike any kind of mystery/murder/. I don’t know what possessed me to go see it. Give me comedy, romance, drama, but nothing that goes bump in the night.

    • Gerri Brousseau says:

      Hi Gail, Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you, but we just got our power back. I’m with you … I can’t see paying money to get the $hat scared out of you. If you read my post above yours, you know I experienced the shower scene (without the slashing) and I can tell you … for about 2 seconds, I was really scared.

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