For today, the last ghost story for this Halloween, M.R. James’ “The Mezzotint,” a “prints and photographs” chiller (which I think Rod Serling’s Night Gallery riffed on.)
Monte James‘ elegant ghost stories were influenced by his day job as an archivist and a medievalist. They often have books or historical artifacts that turn out to be sinister, and his tone manages to combine the cozy and genuinely creepy. The central object in “The Mezzotint” betrays a story of a long-ago crime via the form of a seemingly innocuous print of a country house.
“It was by this time rather late in the evening, and the visitors were on the move. After they went Williams was obliged to write a letter or two and clear up some odd bits of work. At last, some time past midnight, he was disposed to turn in, and he put out his lamp after lighting his bedroom candle. The picture lay face upwards on the table where the last man who looked at it had put it, and it caught his eye as he turned the lamp down. What he saw made him very nearly drop the candle on the floor, and he declares now that if he had been left in the dark at that moment…”
And for a bit of bewitching music, here is Liszt in a Mephistophelean and melancholy mode:
First Boris Berezovsky in Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz #1.
(With a camera person who was asleep at the wheel in the last moments, or perhaps so dazzled by the virtuosity that he forgot to get the Boris’ bow in frame?)
and Lang Lang playing the Liszt “Romance”
His performance is lovely, the video production is overwrought, and yet Liszt would likely have loved it.