Thursday, October 9, 2014

31 Days of Suspense: "The Pasteboard Box"

Now and then when discussing the horror genre people will discuss the impact of what is left unseen - in films such as Cat People (1942) where the audience does not see the terrifying creature around which all the tension is generated, or the short story "Casting the Runes" by M.R. James where something the protagonist cannot perceive is haunting him to his doom. In other words, the audience is left to employ their imagination to fill in the gaps and this can often be far more terrifying than anything the creators deliberately set in front of them.

On January 17, 1946, Joseph Cotten starred in the Suspense episode "the Pasteboard Box," in which he portrays a man who kills his twin brother and assumes his place. You can download the episode from here.

The episode derives its title from the box which Cotten places his brother's decapitated head inside. In fact, he completely eviscerates his brother's corpse in order to dispose of it. Pretty ghastly stuff for a prestige CBS radio drama, no? And yet, the details of the dismemberment are left to the audience's imaginations. Their sick, twisted, macabre imaginations.

Tomorrow: "Th-they're like naughty children in a classroom! Whispering, fidgeting and laughing behind their teacher's back but blandly innocent when his gaze is turned upon them..."

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