Anthology horror is the traditional extension of gathering around and telling each other scary stories. They hearken back to the oldest root forms of scary storytelling. Come, gather ’round, and the Scariest Things will tuck you in and tell you all you need to know about horror Anthologies in Episode 97!
Anthological horror combines the brevity and power of the horror short film and the visceral familiarity of the cautionary ethical lesson. These horror segments tend to be condensed and get to the point quickly, and often feature morality plays of bad things happening to people who make morally or ethically poor decisions. Cheaters will get caught. The wicked will receive justice. The cruel will get a comeuppance. Simple. Fundamental. Horror. And, usually fun!
From bedtime stories to fairy tales, to morality fables, to campfire tales, this is part of the grand traditions in trying to sharing stories to scare your friends and families. The source materials can range from deep history (The Canterbury Tales) to folklore (Grimm’s Fairy Tales) to pulpy comic book fiction (EC Comics). This really is the oldest form of scary storytelling that there is.
The power with a good horror feature anthology often depends if the writers can combine a series of these stories to emphasize a theme or link the sequences through a series of clever hand-offs to make the anthology more than a mere assemblage of unrelated shorts. These through-lines can weave a strong narrative that can hit with a multitude of story punches from multiple fronts. Often times, the best anthologies are ones with one writing team at the head, rather than cobbling together voices of multiple writers. Creepshow (1982), Trick ‘R Treat (2008), and Kwaidan (1966) are great examples of a singular voice with multiple stories paying off in a cohesive narrative.
The Scariest Things believes that anthology horror is not only a genre steeped in lore, but it is also an ideal medium for our current stay-at-home binge-mode environment. Horror in small easy to digest bites that you can come back to. It’s horror for those with short attention spans, and for those of us who have adapted to a YouTube format of bingeing video shorts, it feels right at home. The difference here is that an anthology has been curated to work together, be it from Amicus or IFC Midnight. Well conceived anthologies will present you with a reliable standard, be it artistic or grindhouse.
In a funny way, what we do in Podcasting is much akin to the nature of a horror anthology. We at the Scariest Things are your narrators, your guides to and through tales crafted to shock and scare. Sometimes in order to thread a narrative, you need somebody to link the messaging, and the best of the anthologies have a solid throughline of continuity.
It is stunning how many great Anthologies are out there: Here are some other notable compilations that you might want to check out, as you go into horror anthology binge-mode. There just wasn’t room to include them all!
So, gather round the podcast everyone, at let us at the Scariest Things tell you of the chilling tales of dread that are… Horror Anthologies!