I couldn’t sleep last night and watched a few short adaptations of some M. R. James ghost stories, including one called the Mezzotint. The writer who adapted them is called Mike Gatiss and is well known for his involvement in the Sherlock series of detective mystery TV shows and other clever stories.
I realised that A Christmas Carol is a ghost story! Sounds strange but I think of it as a Christmas story and it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside rather than the slight weirded out shudder I get from ghost stories at this time of year. But then I prefer a taut, spooky, tension building story any day to a horror film, all lumbering zombies and nightmarish vampires. The ones where people Always run upstairs towards the danger instead of out the front door and to the safety of the police station (I mean a British police station, no guns, no odd sheriff who arrests you instead of looking for the real culprit, no hidden secret). No I prefer the subtle horror of a tap that continues to drip even after the lead piping connecting it to the mains water has been severed by a hacksaw… Or the gradual encroachment of a garden full of roses with sharp thorns and a deadly scent that can envelope an unwary new tenant attempting to cut back the thorny undergrowth.
And why do they put on these spooky little horrors at this time of year? Is it the lengthening hours of dark, dank, cold, mist and fog? The snow falling so that tracks can be left but then fade before an investigation can find them in the morning? Subtle screams muffled by an unseasonably rising tide? Its like a box of dark chocolates, with Evil centres.
I am quite particular in what I prefer. No evil dead films. More sneaking spooks, less fangs, more clues.