Ghost Stories

M.R. James’ Casting the Runes also casts a long shadow. A short story written by one of the finest practitioners of the ghost story in English, it deals with a scientist (named Dunning in the original), investigating an occultist, Julian Karswell. Karswell’s book, The Truth of Alchemy, has been scathingly reviewed by one of Dunning’s colleagues, who dies in mysterious circumstances shortly afterwards. The scientist begins to suspect that Karswell’s powers might be real, and that he himself has become the victim of a curse. Once the victim is unwittingly passed some runic symbols by Karswell in person, it would appear that his days are numbered.. In addition to Tourneur’s (quite brilliant) 1957 film, Casting the Runes would also go on to be adapted several times for television and radio, and more recently it has inspired or influenced films including the Japanese (and US) horror franchise Ring and the 2014 horror film It Follows. It draws its fundamental strength from a slow and uncanny sense of psychological disintegration: is the world going mad, or is it just me ?

Ghost Stories