Issue #1: Haunted Holidays
Have a Haunted, Jolly Christmas
by Mark Orr
I’d be amazed if there is anyone reading this expository essay who is unfamiliar with the 1843 Charles Dickens novella, A Christmas Carol. The classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and that memorable Christmas Eve when he was visited by a series of ectoplasmic entities in order to adjust his attitude toward a more compassionate perspective has permeated the culture, having been adapted to stage, screen, radio, television, and other media hundreds of times over the past almost one hundred and eighty years since publication. It is by far the ghost story of any kind that has been the most adapted, with the runner-up, Aleksandr Pushkins’ “Queen of Hearts,” coming across the finish line as a distant second.
While I am resolute in my insistence that the best film version is the 1951 production starring Alastair Sim, I have to say that my favorite is, even after sixty years, the first one I saw—Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. The very first animated Christmas special, it aired on NBC in 1962, and for many years afterwards. I still sing along with all the songs whenever I watch it. The Christmas pleasures of one’s childhood never quite lose their sparkle. Christmas is all about watching Mr. Magoo as Scrooge and imbibing numerous tall glasses of homemade eggnog heavily laced with intoxicating liquors for this Auld Phart at Christmas time. And yeah, the grandchildren, of course. Sure, them, too.
One might think that Mr. Dickens would have been satisfied with a single great and grand Christmas ghost story. One would be mistaken. Legendary British anthologist and editor Peter Haining’s 1992 collection, Charles Dickens’ Christmas Ghost Stories, contains no fewer than ten, including the aforementioned novella. Nor was Dickens alone in his fervor to link the Holy Ghost with more earthly spirits. Once he opened the floodgates, the entire Victorian spooky story writing community jumped all over the notion as if it were a loose football in the end zone. To list them all would eat up my allotted word count pretty quickly. READ more Horror Curated NOW!