Horror Week at Davenport Library wraps up today with this terrifying suggestion from Lynn. Read at your own risk!

Handcarved coffins“Handcarved Coffins” (in the book Music for Chameleons) is a piece of novelistic journalism; Capote’s spare and economical style makes the ever-increasing  suspense immediate.

A state cop relates the stories of a series of horrific murders to Capote. The first are killed by rabid rattlesnakes that attack a couple as they open their car doors. The next die in a fire, trapped in their basement. The victims are sent a small, balsa coffin with a candid photograph of themselves. As the murders mount up, the recipients  are more aware of their fate and suffer unique torture as they wonder how and when they will die.

The murders are impossible to anticipate and guard against, and, seemingly, have no connection to each other. Their very randomness and the generic small midwestern town setting  give the murders a sense of universality – (this could happen to ME).  The fact that the victims seem entirely innocent makes the evil more purely heinous. Because this is supposed to be a piece of reportage, Capote never switches perspective to the psychopath, as is so common now. This is a piece of simple, classic horror. And it may be true.

Now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite scary book or movie? Leave a comment!

Here’s Tana’s gruesome entry for Horror Week at Davenport Library. Read it if you dare!

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The Washington Post describes The Gargoyle “as engrossing as it is gruesome, the kind of horror you watch with one eye closed.”  Truly, the opening scene is horrifying — we witness the unnamed narrator being burned alive.  Perhaps even worse, we then watch him endure seemingly endless and excruciating treatments for these burns, treatments so painful that he anxiously awaits his  release from the hospital just so he can finally commit suicide.   It should be noted that the narrator is no angel — he’s a coke-addicted pornographer, a cynical character most would consider undeserving of redemption.  Yet redemption he receives.  It comes in the form of visits from a beautiful sculptor, Marianne Engel, who specializes in sculpting gargoyles.  The only problem is that Marianne is a fellow patient, a schizophrenic from the pysch ward.   She regales him with stories of their love affair — an affair that supposedly took place over 700 years ago in Germany, when she was serving as a scribe in the monastery of Engelthal and he was a wounded mercenary.

As Marianne continues to visit, she shares other tales of deathless love from other countries (Japan, Iceland, Italy) and she earns the trust of both the patient and the hospital staff.  It is into her care that he is released. Still, all is not well.  Marianne begins a frenzy of work on her final 27 sculptures and the narrator deepens his dependence on morphine.  To break his addiction, he literally goes to Hell — here the author leans heavily on allegories from Dante’s Inferno.

Fantastic fiction?  Perhaps.  Still, a definite page-turner — as long as you can keep one eye open.

Rita brings us this terrifying recommendation for Horror Week at Davenport Library.

This movie is the reason I NEVER go to scary movies. Wait until Dark was produced in 1967. It starred Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin and Richard Crenna. It was being shown at the Capitol theater in downtown Davenport. A fellow worker and I went to see it as we both enjoyed the work of Audrey Hepburn. It scared the beejebees out of me. The scarest for me was you thought Audrey Hepburn had finally killed Alan Arkin, and the only light on the screen was from the refrigerator  door. All of the sudden Alan Arkin leaps out of the dark into the light of the refrigerator door. I remember everyone in the Capitol theater gasped!!!!It took me weeks to sleep at night, as every time I closed my eyes I saw this scence.

Wait Until Dark is an innovative, highly entertaining and suspenseful thriller about a blind housewife, Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn). Independent and resourceful, Susy is learning to cope with her blindness, which resulted from a recent accident. Susy is terrorized by a group of criminals who believe she has hidden a baby doll used by them to smuggle heroin into the country. Unknown to Susy, her photographer husband Sam (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) took the doll as a favor for a woman he met on an international plane flight. Alone in her apartment and cut-off from the outside world, Susy must fight for her life against a gang of ruthless criminals, led by the violent, psychotic Roat (Alan Arkin). The tension builds as Roat, aided by his gang, impersonates police officers and friends of her husband in order to win Susy’s confidence, gaining access to her apartment to look for the doll. The climax of the film, a violent physical confrontation between Susie and Roat in her dark kitchen, is one of the most memorable and frightening scenes in screen history. All performances are outstanding, particularly those of Audrey Hepburn who plays a vulnerable, but self-reliant woman, and Alan Arkin, in perhaps his best role, as the ruthless, manipulative Roat. Allmovie.com

Horror Week at Davenport Library continues with Bill’s bone-chilling suggestion.

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I generally don’t seek out media that scares the hell out of me. I’m highly suggestible and it seems a little too masochistic.

But, if you’re a glutton for punishment, any of The Exorcist trilogy will mess with your mind when the lights are out.

There’s something about the unnatural voices, inhuman body movements, haunting use of classical music, and periodic interruption of calm with the occasional terrifying act.

The Exorcist line will have you groping for the lamp and checking the doors after every creak.

To help get you in the mood for a deliciously frightening Halloween, the librarians at Davenport Public Library are going to share some of the favorite blood-chilling books and movies. Read on if you dare!

GentlemenI’ll get things started with an episode from the late, lamented tv series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “Hush”, from the 4th season, has almost no dialogue, but it’s this very silence that adds to the horror. One night while everyone is asleep, The Gentlemen – tall, spectral figures dressed like funeral directors – magically steal the voice of everyone in Sunnydale. The people panic and chaos reins. The next night The Gentlemen, accompanied by their gruesome, Igor-like henchmen, go in search of their first victim. The trapped man is unable to scream for help and The Gentlemen cut out his heart.  Of course, Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles and company soon find a solution, but not before everyone is thoroughly terrified.

There are two things that completely freaked me out about this show – the fact that no one could speak (and therefore were unable to call for help) and the fact that The Gentlemen, their skeletel faces grinning widely, floated above the ground as they wandered through the silent town searching for victims, their terrifying helpers limping along at their sides. I couldn’t look out the window after dark for months after seeing the show.

Written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, this episode was nominated for an Emmy for Best Writing and is often included in lists of 10 best Buffy episodes.

AHHHH, ARE YOU GOING?!

NightLivingDeadFigge

Night of the Living Dead on Friday, October 30 at the Figge Art Museum Auditorium

Just think how creepy it will be to watch Night of the Living Dead and then have to walk down the long, chilled stairway of the Figge Art Museum into the shadowy field of hanging bodies of corn?

Corn Zone by Michael Meilahn; currently on display at the Figge Museum in the Orientation Gallery through early February 2010

Corn Zone, 2007 © Michael Meilahn and Nick Nebel; currently on display at the Figge Museum in the Orientation Gallery through early February 2010

national_parksThey conjure images of magnificent scenery, destinations for summer vacations with family and sites of historical significance. Most American’s feel a fierce pride in these beautiful places and they should – the National Parks preserve some of the most beautiful and most important locations in our country. They are also uniquely American – before Yellowstone was set aside as the first National Park in 1872, land was preserved only for royalty or the very wealthy. Never before had land been set aside for the people and, like so many of the ideals that America has reached for, it has now become a standard for the rest of the world.

Ken Burn’s spent 8 years filming and creating the six-part PBS series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea which explores the history of the National Parks, from exploitation to spiritualism to conservation, a mirror of the character development of the American people. Co-written with Dayton Duncan, the companion book is as magnificent as the lands and peoples it portrays, heavily illustrated and with vivid writing that bring to life the characters and events that shaped the parks.

Be sure to visit the PBS website for the series which has some cool features including background information on the filming of the series, a place for you to share your own National Park stories and in-depth information about visiting the parks. And in case you missed the series when it ran in September, you can now watch the episodes online. Or put a hold on the library’s copy. And celebrate your American heritage.

When the book  is penned about the salad days of summer of ’09, it will surely feature a section about all the summer blockbusters everyone was skipping due to recession belt-tightening.  Well, good reader, many of them are here for you to lock in holds at DPL!

I’m sure there was an 80’s toy they haven’t decided to make a movie of yet, right?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Public Enemies
The Hangover
Up
Terminator Salvation
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Star Trek
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Angels and Demons
Bruno

something missing Something Missing by Matthew Dicks must make the reader sympathize with and care about Martin, who makes a living by breaking and entering upper middle class homes and systematically robbing the owners. The author succeeds by giving Martin many positive attributes (kindness, empathy, a strong work ethic) to counterbalance his antisocial career.

Martin’s obsessive compulsiveness proves useful in his career as a thief, albeit a conscientious, thoughtful thief who has real fondness for his “clients.”  The book describes in detail his methods and the scrupulous recordkeeping he develops so his thefts will never be detected.

An uncharacteristic slip leads to personal involvement with actual people and not just their “things” and eventually results in a romantic relationship. Martin is a complex character who grows from a fascinating, yet rigid and circumscribed, thief to a man who welcomes, rather than avoids,  connections and relationships.

wettest countyNo, this has nothing to do with rainfall. Rather, the “wet” refers to moonshine.  The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant, a fictionalized account about the real-life Bondurant brothers in Depression-era Virginia is gritty, gutsy and sometimes even gory.  It’s narrated primarily by the youngest brother, Jack, who is in fact, the grandfather of the author.  The author, Matt Bondurant, also enlists the help of  Winesburg, Ohio author Sherwood Anderson who started his own investigation (in 1934) of the brothers’ dramatic confrontation with the county sheriff.  In doing so, Anderson was the first to dub Franklin County the “wettest county in the world.”

The story begins in 1928 when a pair of thieves rob Forest Bondurant of his large stash of bootlegging money and end up cutting his throat.  Somehow he manages to reach a hospital 12 miles away.  Soon after, two anonymous men appear at the same hospital, one with legs totally shattered, the other castrated.  Needless to say, they aren’t talking. You get the picture — this is real roughneck country and the Bondurant boys are no angels.

Bondurant does an excellent job of imagining and portraying the probable lives of his ancestors.  It’s not always pretty, but it does give the reader a gripping view of their struggles to survive during Prohibition in the poverty-stricken foothills of westernVirginia.