To celebrate the release of our second Self Made Hero book of M. R. James adaptations – Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Vol 2 – we’re going to be counting down to Christmas in true Jamesian style, with a new haunting image and nugget of info every day.
In our Big Cartel shop, between now and the 20th of December, you can get Vol 1 & Vol 2 together for the very special price of £15.
On top of that, we’ll be giving away a copy of the book via Twitter every Sunday in the lead up to Christmas. Check the #MRJ2GIVEAWAY hashtag for details of how to take part.
Jason Arnopp is the author of the novel The Last Days Of Jack Sparks (Orbit Books), which Alan Moore has dubbed “a magnificent millennial nightmare”. His latest book, From The Front Lines Of Rock, is a non-fiction collection of interviews he wrote in a previous life as a Kerrang! journalist.
Free book when you sign up to Arnopp’s newsletter: bit.ly/ArnoppList
I’ve never been a big fan of the vampire. Specifically the classical vampire, who mopes around gothic castles in frilly shirts, moaning about his own immortality. Yes, sometimes all that sleeping in coffins can be effectively creepy, and Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee have done a great deal for the romantic vamp’s cinematic cause, but generally speaking I’ve no time for those tediously self-obsessed bastards.
The kind of vampires that get my blood pumping are either spooky, such as the ones in the 1979 TV adaptation of Salem’s Lot, which ensured my young self wouldn’t sleep with his curtains open for years, or feral, such as the kinetic beasts of From Dusk Till Dawn. The masterstroke made by 30 Days Of Night, whether you’re talking about Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s 2004 graphic novel, or David Slade’s 2007 film adaptation, is the introduction of vampires who are spooky and feral.
These villains are just really, really horrible. Aside from looking as though they just rose up out of Hell, there’s not a trace of romance about them. They see humanity as a bunch of walking screw-top bottles full of blood, just waiting to be cracked open. Their icy contempt for the people of Barrow, Alaska is mirrored and amplified by the sub-zero environment. Brilliantly, these creatures speak their own freaky tribal language, which sounds like a demonically-possessed grandfather clock. In the movie, the first thing that leader Marlow says, in this clicky tongue, is, “The heads must be separated from the bodies”. Christ, start as you mean to go on, why don’tcha?
That’s what vampires should be. Foul, fanged fiends, who couldn’t care less if you’re a virgin or not, just so long as you’re full of the red stuff. Marlow and company do so much to make this story a thing of vile beauty, and given the story’s frozen setting, now’s the time to visit or revisit Barrow, Alaska. Yeah, plough right into this genuinely frightening nightmare, while there’s still a bite in the air, and the drinks and the shadows are longer than usual.