Thursday, April 01, 2010
Robert E. Howard probably has only the one classic horror story, Pigeons from Hell. I'm not here right now to judge if it's the best, but I can't think of another that I've heard discussed among a group of people who aren't already Howard fans.
Certainly, there are good reasons this story endures outside of Howard fandom, in the imagination of many readers and horror fans.
Among those is it's having been adapted for the TV anthology series Thriller, hosted by the great Boris Karloff.
Howard fans, myself included, make something of a hobby of over-analyzing and variously criticizing most attempts at adapting Howard's work. So know that there is good reason when I explain that this television episode from 1961 goes almost entirely without criticism from that community.
After watching it, I even went so far as to listen to the audiobook reading from The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard to confirm my suspicion, based on recollection, that this was one hell of an adaption.
"Pigeons From Hell" Coming to DVD in 2010 by Deuce Richardson reports the "Thriller" will be coming to DVD this year. I certainly would like to see that happen. I'd love to see more of this series.
The original story and the episodic adaptation are both great examples of horror storytelling, alternating creepy suspense, shocks and the kind of horrific ideas that stick with you afterward... the haunting of the mind. It's not terribly surprising to have that kind of effect in a short story, although I think it's a particularly fine example, but it's always a somewhat pleasant surprise from a movie and especially from TV.
I think that's what originally, once upon a time, drew me to horror, and its relative scarcity is what keeps me from being as active a horror fan as I was in past times.