This is one of those columns where I take a break from movies and talk about other aspects of horror that I like.
It is hard to discuss the history of horror without invoking Edgar Allen Poe somewhere. Love him or hate him (his Gothic approach to storytelling can lead to some obscure and flowery phrasing, to be sure) you can't deny he helped shape the genre. It still baffles me that the Poe awards are for mystery stories rather than horror, I mean I know why but still...
His one novel was kind of a washout so his real legacy is in his poems and short stories. Here are a few I like:
The Cask of Amontillado- By far, my favorite Poe story, this is about a narrator who takes advantage of a frenemy's weakness for booze and a festival atmosphere to lure the man to a miserable end.
Hop-Frog- This story of a dwarf and a cripple (same guy, two afflictions) made to perform for a king and his court. When the king gets abusive towards a dwarf girl that Hop-Frog loves, he plans an elaborate and gruesome revenge.
The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether- A young man visits an insane asylum to see a new method of caring for the inmates. He is treated to a fancy dinner party with the staff of the asylum, who all seem rather odd and eccentric. You can see the ending coming from miles away but it doesn't make it any less darkly funny.
These are just a few beyond all the classics like Tell-Tale Heart, Fall of the House of Usher and The Black Cat. If you haven't read any since school, you should check some out today.