Friday, January 27, 2012

The Funeral by Richard Matheson

I don't really know what I'm supposed to add to The Funeral.

It's a very funny story. The temptation to be the zillionth Seton Hill commentator to point out the parallels to the song "Monster Mash" is just too damned easy. There's a bunch of monsters gathered around for the 'funeral' of one of their own number, everything goes tits-up, the strangely nebbish and easily shocked funeral director watches everything go south and nearly goes insane, things eventually settle down once the combative witches stop trying to pick fights, the 'corpse' thanks him for the quality presentation of the funeral, and the story ends with the funeral director accepting a request from an Unspeakable Horror From Beyond The Stars to set up his/her/its/fhtagn funeral.

Kicking the tires and lifting the hood of the story, this story tells me three things. One, nobody does absurdist comedy-of-manners style comedy better than the British and this feels like a VERY British story. If I were to steal this riff, I'd watch a lot of Blackadder or A Little Bit of Fry and Laurie. Second, it's not that hard to defang classic monsters. We've all seen them a hundred times before and we've internalized the lyrics to the point where the song is way too familiar. Forget the whole "Twilight ruined vampires foreeeeever" malarkey. Matheson proved back in the '60s that this shit is played out. Third, there's a lot of mileage to be had in monster comedy. As much as it is a comedy of manners, it's also a high-octane cartoon. There's pratfalls and bright colorful characters and an atmosphere of loony, over the top menace. This would make a bomb-ass movie.

Anyway, yeah, it's a damned fine yarn. I like monsters, I like Matheson, I like funny. I don't....I don't really know what I can add beyond that.


Nicole Galloway-Miler said...

I agree that it was difficult to figure out what I was going to write about. There just really isn't a lot of material to work with. I felt like I was grasping at straws. However, recently I watched Fright Night (the original and the remake with Colin Farrell). I think it's a refreshing change to have a light-hearted comedic vampire tale. It also reminded me of Sesame Street and the adorable monsters who live there. I think its interesting to consider these different portrayals of monsters. It is nice to see new spins on the old favorites, so to speak. It occurred to me that monsters are universal and loved by people of all ages and backgrounds. Then again, this could simply be me grasping at some more straws.

Cin Ferguson said...

Fun commentary, Creature. :) Though you felt like you didn't have a lot to comment because it would seem redundant, you did it with style. Not many people write 'tits up' and 'monster' in the same piece of work. :) I enjoyed the read.


Jennifer Loring said...

You definitely get points for using "tits-up" in your post. But I will ninja-kick anyone who says that vampires are played out. You haven't read MY novel yet! :D