Sardonic Tales: “The Blue Light”

A few years ago, I did a thing where I picked a movie that would make a good double-feature with one of the stories in my then-newest collection, Painted Monsters. This year, for the Countdown to Halloween, I thought it might be fun to do the same thing, but with my now-newest collection, Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales.

This may have been the hardest one of these to pick a movie to go along with. I definitely didn’t have movies in mind when I was writing “The Blue Light,” a story that was penned to go into an anthology of fairy tales retold in a post-apocalyptic milieu. As far as I know, the anthology never happened, but I’m happy with the story. I like the weird setting with its ever-present dust, its decaying industrial aesthetic, and its perpetual war.

The fairy tale that I chose to retell was “The Tinderbox,” though it comes in a number of other variations. I picked it because it has good monsters–these giant dogs with saucer eyes that have haunted me ever since I first read the story as a kid. Besides the assorted versions of the fairy tale, and illustrations of same by the likes of H.J. Ford, Kay Nielsen, Harry Clarke, and others, I know that I was picturing a lot of the art of Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius, while writing this story.


I wracked my brain trying to come up with the right movie to go along with “The Blue Light,” and I’m still not sure that I’ve done it. To capture the tone of the story, I imagine something like Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. If that’s not horror-y enough for Halloween, though, the rusting industrial aesthetic of the City is pretty well represented in Christophe Gans’ Silent Hill.

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