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If you're a twisted teen yourself, you might appreciate it. I can't imagine it impressing anyone else. Stoker handled the tenth chapter of twenty-four of this round robin novel, in the company of Arthur Conan Doyle and other people who posterity hasn't been so generous to. It makes no sense as an isolated short story. As chapter 10 of a novel that's already included murder and a trial, Stoker's stuck with the aftermath as an amnesiac comes to terms with what he or his wife may or may not have done. He could have thrown a spanner in to annoy the next writer in line.

Instead, he went generously, tediously conservative. There's nothing supernatural about this early story, apart from some ambiguous dream foretelling. It turns out love and effort are worth more than gold, or something like that. The author's American travels mean he can write with authority about regional quirks and habits. That's the only positive I could get out of this minimalist story about a sleeper car of burly men disturbed by the arrival of a mewling infant.

When an eligible bachelor saves a child's life and learns that he doesn't have a dad, he becomes immediately fixated on obtaining his presumed young widow mother, as you would.

What follows is some stuffy drawing room courting and a twist ending that, if possible, makes things even creepier. We never did learn why this fellow's single. When a whiff of exotic petals casts our narrator's mind back to his boyhood, I was expecting some sort of rip-roaring adventure. Not pre-adolescent angst for an unrequited crush, lifted only by foiling a mildly nefarious plot. Stoker has a knack for pathetic characters. As he weeps impotently into his beloved's lap, this lad's a young Jonathan Harker in the making.

It was unlikely that this was going to be a tale of blood-curdling terror amid all the mundane reminisces, and sure enough the eponymous Mick is merely a train driver who drives trains really fast. This gets points for Stoker's authentic American knowledge, but an N-word takes them away.

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Didn't expect people to start treating each other a bit more fairly some day, did you? Well, you're going to suffer for it.

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A comedian is requested to attend a wake and lighten up the proceedings. Instead, he simply makes the widow feel a little better. When a seven-page story wastes valuable lines explaining the parentage of one of its characters, you know what the ending's going to be even before the conveniently-worded Last Will and Testament shows up. We're supposed to be glad that the lucky young couple win the rights to their undeserved wealth over their miserly landlord, but they're all as greedy as each other.

But his penchant for frustrating characters spoils another story, as our narrator throws away the only piece of damning evidence so as not to make trouble. This hasn't been my favourite reading month. Stoker's unrealistic romances never have conventional obstacles. When you hunt down your prey after a few years, she won't have anything as mundane as a husband or suitor to break your heart; she'll have conveniently secluded herself from the world of men due to some moronic rule that you can work around.

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It's also taken for granted that a middle-aged man will court a year-old maiden rather than her more appropriately aged aunt, which is a bit unpleasant. I always got bored when Narnia got fighty, so even as a kid, I would have been turned off by this conventional giant-slaying tale. If Stoker was trying to modernise fairy tales, he could have ditched the conventional caste system and not made it all about royalty. Except for all the small details, like calling crocodiles alligators and basically presenting Malays as Red Indians, that suggest the theatre manager may not have Hodgson's hands-on experience in these matters.

Writing this one chapter in, I have no idea what the tone or subject matter of this second collection is going to be. But this is a serviceable enough introduction that sets up the scaffolding of the framing narrative.

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A travelling theatre troupe gets snowed in on a train in the middle of Scottish nowhere. The capitalised Manager stage-manages a cosy fire where everyone can share their stories. I assumed they were all going to be works of fiction, but Stoker's brief author's note has made me less sure. Maybe we'll dig up some Edwardian dirt.

This is one of several stories that might be a genuine memoir from Stoker's travelling years. Even if its simple tale of equine rescue is entirely fictional, the vivid Swiss scenery isn't. Before colour photography, glossy magazine paper and cheap Jet2 flights, travelogues like this must have been captivating. The action's the least important element. The peaceable kingdom has fallen into disharmony, selfishness and greed in the unspecified generations since the previous story.

I have to keep reminding myself this was 70 years before Narnia. It doesn't have as much going for it, though there are some talking animals in this one. This is a feminine story to balance out the masculine battles, about a kind girl who gives up her time to help out the birds. Unlike in real life, they actually bloody appreciate it.

What's a garish, dirty duster doing among Stanhope's prized collection of assorted exotic knick-knacks? The truth is soppily romantic and ever so slightly sexist.

I daresay some readers will have been moved to tears by this sentimental story of sacrifice for love. But I don't have human emotions. This is essentially a lighter take on 'The Coming of Abel Behenna,' with acceptance, sportsmanship and prayer in place of that other story's jealousy, homicide and guilt. I assume this one was written first, as it's more simplistic and over-romanticised, but maybe he decided to write two versions for different audiences.

A Lesson in Pets The saga of demon-hunting brothers Sam and Dean Winchester is driven almost entirely by their emotional connection, courtesy of engaging performances by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Yes, creator Eric Kipke's initial goal of "scar[ing] the crap out of people" is achieved on a weekly basis, but even when the stakes are outright apocalyptic and the monsters all but unstoppable, it's the ties that bind these bros that have made this show a fervently loved fan-favorite.

In its original form, as a zombie comic book by writer Robert Kirkman and artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, The Walking Dead was the little series that could: an independent, black-and-white horror story that slowly but surely eclipsed all but the biggest full-color corporate superhero comics in popularity. Ryan Murphy's FX series has been a showcase for some of the most treasured tropes horror has to offer as a visual genre — killer clowns, demonic nuns, haunted hotels, you name it.

And in an era where the big-screen's genre offerings are still driven by found-footage minimalism, AHS 's more-is-more attitude is a throwback to the days of the Grand Guignol. It's horror for the animated-GIF era. If you need to sum up British satirist Charlie Brooker's internationally acclaimed anthology series, Twilight Zone: The App is as good a description as any.

Like Rod Serling's seminal show, this British show's star-studded episodes use horror and science fiction elements as a lens into contemporary anxieties — with the focus on technology and its alienating, dehumanizing potential. Its best installments the stomach-churning "The Entire History of You,"the pitch-black, go-for-broke satire of "The National Anthem" demonstrate that the era of selfies and social networks has simply given us new tools with which to do the same damage to one another we've always done.

And the second series' highlight "White Bear," in which a woman awakes in a strange house with no idea how she got there, is as warped and eerie a take on crime and punishment as TV has ever delivered. Lovecraft and a paranoid schizophrenic.


In the end there was nothing supernatural about any of it — but who cares? The journey was truly nightmarish enough. High school is literally hell on earth — beat that for a high concept! The genius of Joss Whedon's star-making series was taking a metaphor for adolescent angst, giving it fangs, and handing its heroine a wooden stake. Buffy Summers and her Scooby Gang faced down more than their fair share of menaces from beyond, but like Twin Peaks before it, Buffy realized that great horror was rooted in human experience; the death of Buffy's mother was as harrowing as TV has ever gotten, with nary a demon in sight.

That said, there are few more nightmarish TV moments than watching the "gentlemen" of the show's "Hush" episode float by, silently smiling as they steal voices and hearts literally, in both cases. From the Arctic isolation of its first-season standout "Ice" to the still-controversial, Texas Chainsaw Massacre —referencing inbreeding freak-out "Home," the show's best creepy, skin-crawling episodes have lost none of its power to disturb all these years later. How the hell did a show as visually audacious, narratively perverse, and mind-bogglingly gory as Hannibal wind up on the Peacock Network?

Before its unceremonious and unfortunate third-season cancellation, Bryan Fuller's adaptation of Thomas Harris's series of serial-killer novels — starring cannibalistic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter and his arch-frienemy, FBI profiler Will Graham — was nothing short of a horror lover's fever dream. It treated murder as performance art, peeling away the flesh and gristle of the human body in sensuous, spectacular slow motion to expose the heart of darkness within.

In the process it made pretty much every other Prestige Drama look like a student film. As the Phantom of the Opera once said: Feast your eyes, glut your soul. While most TV promised little more than an entertaining diversion between commercials, there was one show that billed itself as a journey into another dimension.