As Halloween quickly approaches, many of us partake in activities more geared for this time of year. Many of them are group activities like horror nights at theme parks and haunted houses, but some are done in more solitude. Like reading scary books and stories. When you want a good scare, it’s easy to turn to the likes of Stephen King. But if you want to turn to something even more classic, why not check out the works of Edgar Allen Poe.
In this day and age, poetry is not something that too many people delve into. But if there is one poem that people want to hear, especially at this time of year, it’s Poe’s The Raven. The story of a menacing bird, who really doesn’t do much but sit around and say “Nevermore.” With much of Poe’s work, it is the guilt the storyteller carries with him that turns a slightly supernatural event into unspeakable horror.
There have been some great renditions of this poem. You can’t go wrong with horror giant Vincent Price:
The version most people are familiar with is from The Simpsons.
But when it comes to Poe, there’s more than just the bird to give you a scare. His most popular short story is The Tell-Tale Heart. This is one that most of us read in school. I felt so smart when I realized that the the beating of the murder victim’s hideous heart was actually the murders own beating heart. But it works just as well as a supernatural tale.
If you want to dig a little deeper into Poe’s grave works, I have some other suggestions for you. A murdered cat keeps coming back in The Black Cat. Poe had a knack for writing from the murder’s perspective. In those cases, the murder gets his comeuppance, but in The Cask of Amontillado, revenge is a sweet liquor for the narrator, who disposes of his victim in a horrid fashion.
There are Poe stories for every kind of horror fan. If you’re looking for classic haunted house kind of stories, The Fall of the House of Usher and Ligeia are for you. Like what they call torture porn? Then check out The Pit and the Pendulum. Premature Burial is like a found footage film about, well, being buried alive. And if you want to read the one that he got the most angry letter about, check out Berenice… You’ll never look at teeth the same way again.
To give credit where credit is due, Poe also wrote the first “solve the clues” mystery with The Gold Bug. But that may not the best for Halloween reading. Maybe more something for Thanksgiving.
For Halloween and beyond, I’ve hunted down some chilling and silly Edgar Allen Poe shirts that you’ll enjoy… nevermore!