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Horror Tales From A Modern Crypt

Remember the well-known TV series of the 90s called Tales From The Crypt? Those half-hour short stories full of horror, black magic, science fiction, etc., always ending with a maleficent final twist? Well, there‘d be a perfect new edition to the old episodes, if you adapted a recent collection of short stories written by an Italian author Stefano Benni. His Cari Mostri (Dear Monsters) opens the door to modern horrors.

Stefano Benni, a famous Italian journalist and writer, and a host of seminars on reading and imagination, sheds light upon our contemporary world in the very best traditions of horror and terror literature. Cari Mostri is a collection of short stories, which demonstrate how distorted our society is and how the value balance has shifted onto the dark side.

At first glance, each story or tale is an easy reading, with a rather simple plot and, of course, an unexpected ending. The book begins with a story of a man who is asked to adopt a strange creature called Wenge. It looks like a real monster and naturally you start to expect that all the suspicious things that the main hero experiences (such as a disappearance of his cat and dog and, finally, a murder of his ex girlfriend) are the villainies of this disgusting creature. However, the real monster turns to be the hero who hides his cruelty and hatred in his ruthless heart.

The other story mocks our high-tech society totally dependent on digital systems and virtual reality. Imagine that one day you wake up to find out that your TV is not working, your computer doesn't recognize your password and no ATM accepts your credit card stating it is not valid. In truth, none of the passwords and pins are valid. And you don‘t exist anymore. That‘s the worst nightmare of the 21st century man. Doesn't this send you the goosebumps?

Stefano Benni masterfully applies a touch of irony and humor to his stories, which in turn facilitate to expose the real fear we bear inside of us. We are the real monsters with our anger, jealousy, vanity, hatred, stupidity, obsessions, greed, irrationality, false determination or inability to listen and hear. And perhaps the choice of short horror stories as a proper genre is considerably more effective than a solid philosophical study or article.

The plot of some stories is characterized by an exceptional imagination of the writer. Do you know what the witch was planning to do with modern Hansel and Gretel? If you think of serving them as a main course, think twice. Or better think modern. Contemporary witches sit on the diets and trade the kids to pedophiles instead. In Cari Mostri you‘ll also find original interpretations of what happened to Michael Jackson or Edgar Alan Poe on the very last day of their lives. There‘s also a cool cat detective story untangled by a cat detective in search for a cat murderer and eater.

Do you really get scared to death by these horror stories? Heck, no. Though you understand what you are really meant to fish out from this easy reading. Not to mention that the grand finale of each story still makes you raise your eyebrows either in disbelief or in surprise. What would you expect of two best friends who get only one ticket to the concert of their beloved boy band? Don‘t count on a common sense here!

A number of Stefano Benni novels have been translated into other languages and translation rights of Cari Mostri/Dear Monsters have also been acquired. So if you don’t read in Italian, put it down on your reading list. Some day you’ll enjoy being scared…

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