Welcome to today’s installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be talking to creators working in horror and share and recommend various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
There is something about Ray Bradbury and Halloween. Bradbury has a magical way of pulling his readers into the story. A good writer should be able to do this, but Bradbury does more. People often talk about the good old days as they wax nostalgic about a simpler or more innocent time. Two themes Bradbury continuously explores is the loss of innocence and confronting death.These themes along with the spirit of Halloween are discussed in The October Country, The Halloween Tree, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury was able to bring his stories to life with the Ray Bradbury Theater, an anthology that ran from 1985-1992. Most of the episodes are based on Bradbury’s stories from The Martian Chronicles and The October Country. These stories evoke the pure fears and imagination of childhood, the harsh realities of adulthood, and the mysteries of the unknown.
Each episode begins with Ray Bradbury inviting you to check out the inner workings of his mind. He sits at his desk typing away surrounded by physical manifestations of his stories. “All this is my Martian landscape. Somewhere in this room is an African veldt. And I’m surrounded on every side by my magician’s toyshop. I’ll never starve here.” In the friendliest voice, he greets his readers and puts his imagination on display. Here is a list of some of my favorite Ray Bradbury Theater episodes.
The Veldt (Season 3 Episode 11)
What’s worse than bratty kids? Spoiled bratty kids who rely on technology to do everything for them. Plus, they have a magical nursery. What can go wrong in a virtual Africa filled with hungry lions? Nothing, as long you keep your kids happy. This tale focuses on the evils of dependence on technology, which at the time it was written was a pretty prevalent fear. I wonder if this can apply today?
The Pedestrian (Season 3 Episode 5)
Bradbury had a lot of misgivings about television. Another tale cautioning against technology, is “The Pedestrian.” David Ogden Stiers, of Mash fame, stars as Leonard Mead. Mead becomes a target of the police when he takes a suspicious walk at night. Why is this considered a criminal activity? Because he is the only one out of his house not watching television.
The Skeleton (Season 2 Episode 2)
“The Skeleton” is a very funny and gross episode. Eugene Levy plays Bert Harris, a hypochondriac who has become increasingly aware of his skeleton. Levy, a well-known comedic actor, is great as Harris who tries to put on weight to smother his skeleton. He seeks the help of a creepy bone specialist who agrees to help him with his problem, leaving some very gruesome results.
The Emissary (Season 2 Episode 3)
This is a great Halloween story. A bed-ridden little boy looks to his beloved dog to bring him news of the outside world. Besides his family, his only visitor is his favorite teacher Miss Haight. One day, an accident happens leaving Martin without any visitors. His dog is tasked with bringing back a special visitor . . . wherever he can find one.
The Lake (Season 3 Episode 3)
“The Lake” is a heartbreaking story of first love and loss. A man returns to the beach from his childhood and remembers the young girl he used to play with. They built sandcastles together until she disappeared into the lake. Years later, he might be able to find her where he last saw her.
Celebrate this Halloween with Ray Bradbury Theater is available on Amazon Prime and also available for sale on DVD.