Not wholly human, nor completely vespertilian, their bodies glistened as they came, tumbling through the night sky with abhorrent and deliberate ease. Their wide, empty, white eyes pierced the darkness which cloaked them. They struck with frightening voracity, precise in every manner, their three-clawed feet stretched out to welcome their prey.
A Short Story by Washington Irving.
The story is set in 1790 in the countryside around the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town (historical Tarrytown, New York), in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is renowned for its ghosts and the haunting atmosphere that pervades the imaginations of its inhabitants and visitors. Some residents say this town was bewitched during the early days of the Dutch settlement. Other residents say an old Native American chief, the wizard of his tribe, held his powwows here before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. The most infamous spectre in the Hollow is the Headless Horseman, said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during “some nameless battle” of the American Revolutionary War, and who “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head”.
I read HP Lovecraft in my teens and early twenties. Like many of my friends, we all enjoyed a good scare and Lovecraft provided something primeval in his mythos. Films such as the Evil Dead and Reanimator supported this stage of life, but were they really any good and true to the books?