The Hanged Man of Oz by Steve Nagy
Once again, I’m returning to the world of short stories. This time I’m pulling one out of the random short story collection of horror themed cinema related tales called The Cutting Room. The short story being reviewed this time around is called The Hanged Man of Oz by Steve Nagy.
The tale follows a man named Michael who is in love with the girl next door, yet he struggles to find the courage to speak to her. After weeks, he finally manages to say hello, get to know her, and finally get a date. On the first date they watch The Wizard of Oz. It’s a film that he doesn’t like much but is willing to tolerate for the sake of her. But as they watch she tells him of all these bizarre macabre stories as they watch the film and as he watches it with her begins to see dark images in the film he never seen before. After the date, Michael finds that he is nervous and on edge. He becomes obsessed with the film finding himself having to watch it just to not be twitchy. He begins to be haunted by illusions of the movie characters. And he begins to conclude that maybe his new girlfriend and her friends might be doing something to him.
The good? I like stories where the author can take a simple idea and make something elaborate out of it. It is so simple, yet quickly it becomes its own thing. It has scary tone and has mystery to it as well. The story forces the reader to ask, is he going crazy or is the movie truly haunted? And it keeps the reader guessing until the end.
The bad? Despite the scary build up, it did lose much of its edge with hallucinations. The characters are silly looking in the movie, so it was hard for me as a reader to imagine the being scary. I’m sure the author could have used details to make them darker and more distorted from Michael’s point of view. Also I didn’t like the ending. I felt it was lame and just not very good. Not that it was truly awful or anything. I just expected something better I guess.
Overall, it’s a unique scary tense tale. It does become less scary in the second half due to the lack of detail. But it is a very unique read. So if you stumble across this and find it as single a short story for dollar or so, I’d say it’s worth the look. There’s a lot of interesting ideas thrown around in this less than perfect story.
3 smoothies out of four.
Overall Rating: One man’s obsessions with a haunted movie leads to a unique horror story
Have You Read This Story?
SamieFoster (author) on March 23, 2020:
It's in the Cutting Room. The same book mentioned in the introduction and shown in the photo.
Thomas Fitzhenry on March 23, 2020:
Where can I find this short story??