Michael Avallone – Tales of the Frightened (1963)

Review by Justin Tate

A collection of 26 eerie vignettes. They were written by Michael Avallone specifically for Boris Karloff to narrate. However, only 13 stories were chosen for Karloff’s “Tales of the Frightened” LP (between volumes 1 and 2). Karloff, along with Vincent Price and Thurl Ravenscroft, is one of the most iconic horror voices in history and his vocal talents add generous depth to what otherwise might be ho-hum flash fiction.

Listening to his narration along with the book, my mind frequently drifted away from plot and became more focused on Karloff’s vocal mastery. He increases speed when tension is high, slows down to brood over mystery, and generally makes everything creepier. The text is meant to have a by-the-fire chatty feel, but he finds numerous opportunity to increase the casual tone through vocal inflection when I might not have read it that way.

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Alan Ryan (ed.) – Halloween Horrors (1986)

Review by Justin Tate

Like most ’80s short story collections, this one is a mixed bag. Less mixed than most, however. The majority of stories are quite good, some borderline exceptional. “Miss Mack” by Michael McDowell is the most alluring entry, and this is the only publication where you can find it. Here’s a mini review of each story:

Introduction / “Halloween Night” by Alan Ryan

In lieu of a dull prosaic introduction, Ryan wisely opens this anthology with a short poem that celebrates the mischief and merriment of Halloween—specifically Halloween night when all the heavy hitters come out. Cute!

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